Images of War - The Americans From The Ardennes To VE Day
Brooke S. Blades
Author: Dr. Brooke S. Blades
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Image of War Series
7.5 x 9.5 inch paperback
250 black and white illustrations
Publication date: 8 February 2020
About the Author
Dr. Brooke Blades is an archaeologist and historian whose research has included examinations of sites from WWII in France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. An interest in Normandy first emerged during a visit in 1986 and has expanded greatly beyond an initial focus on documenting the landscape of Omaha Beach. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, daughter Emma and three cats.
Another excellent resource for the history buff and the military modeler arrived on the market last month published by Pen & Sword Books. Adding to Pen & Sword's Image of War Series, The Americans from the Ardennes to VE Day is the third and final volume authored by the Dr. Blades encompassing the historical period from December 1944 to May 1945. The 1st volume "The Americans from Normandy to the German Border" and the 2nd volume "The Americans on D-Day & in Normandy were both published in 2019 covering the period from D-Day to autumn and winter 1944.
Dr. Blake in his new book delivers an overview of the Americans from the Ardennes to VE day in text and rare images, some I have seen before and most I had never seen. The wartime images are clear and all have short captions included. A majority of the images are from the NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) with a few from other contributors. Each chapter begins with a brief summary of the images to follow.
The book consists of five chapters including sections on Image Credits, Notes and References. Dr. Blade brings to his readers an overview of General Eisenhower's leadership during the Ardennes Nazi offensive, also known as The Battle of the Bulge to the end of the war known as VE day on 8 May 1945.
Chapters One and Two start with the second day of The Winter Offensive with General Eisenhower assembling a meeting with his commanders. Other topics addressed in Chapter One include: The Offensive, The Northern Flank, Kampfgruppe Peiper, Bastogne, Third Army Response and Reactions. For the modeler several black and white archival images are presented with Allied and Axis vehicles. Along with images of vehicles, included are images of landscapes which would make interesting vignettes or dioramas. With chapter two, The Ardennes Winter, we see the end of the Bulge with Third Army losses the highest for any operation during the campaigns in Europe.
American troops riding on a captured Tiger B tank painted with a white star in Gersonweiller, Germany as photographed by Sanderson on 15 December. (NARA)
Top Image - A group from the 101st prepared to advance near Bastogne on the same day, 31 December, as photographed by Gilbert. (NARA)
Bottom Image - Omitz recorded an image of 35th Tank Battalion from the 4th Armoured Division advancing on Sainlez south of Bastogne on the 31st. (NARA)
A Sherman with the new 76mm gun near Fraineux east of the River Meuse on 27 December. (NARA)
The vulnerability of American armour was reflected in this view of anti-tank shell penetrations on the side of Sherman "Concerto in C" near Etienne, Belgium, Rachline photographed soldiers studying the six holes on 16 January. (NARA)
Top Image - General Patton visited the 87th Division on 30 January (NARA)
Bottom Image - General Troy Middleton of VIII Corps visited the front on 28 January in this Mallinder photograph. (NARA)
In chapters three through five the author describes the advance to the Rhine with the American and British armies, the crossing of the Rhine and ending with VE day. All along the author has inserted numerous black and white images depicted in the scenes the soldiers endured and the aftermath of battles during this period of the war in Europe. It is also interesting to note that there are more than sixty-four images of armour and artillery included in the book.
Europe on VE Day
Although this 256-page book contains a few short brief chapters, the author has included a multitude of images which gives the reader an excellent overview of the Battle of the Bulge. In typical "Images of War" style, the images allow the reader to gain knowledge by merely reading the captions with the image. The author has brought to print just how terrible this war was and how the soldiers endured horrible hardships during the struggle to defeat the Third Reich.
This book can be an excellent historical resource for the time period from December 1944 to May 1945, especially for the modeler who wants to depict a vehicle or artillery subject in a vignette or diorama. By viewing the many images, inspiration for the next build can be obtained.
Highly Recommended for Beginner to Advanced builders as an excellent resource.
Thanks goes out to Pen and Sword Books and Casemate Publishing for this review copy.
Reviewed by Phillip Cavender, AMPS Central South Carolina
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