Book Alert: Patton’s Juggernaut: The Rolling 8-Ball 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division

This month saw the release of a new book by retired general and WWII veteran Albin F Irzyk titled Patton’s Juggernaut: The Rolling 8-Ball 8th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division.  Irzyk, who turned 100 years old earlier this year, is a well known figure to those interested in US Armor history.  He has appeared in numerous TV documentaries and has authored several books about his experiences as a young officer in the 4th Armored Division during WWII.

Publisher’s Description:

This is the biography, not of an individual but of a small military unit. The life span of this unit was extremely brief – less than three years. It began on September 10th, 1943 and ended on May 15th, 1946, when it ceased to exist. It is about the 8th Tank Battalion, 4th Armored Division.

Combat was the destiny of this Battalion. It was created as a Combat Battalion. It was organized primarily, fundamentally, and solely to fight the German Army in Europe. And fight it did, splendidly, spectacularly and courageously.

I feel very possessive about this Battalion. I was a major factor in training it for combat. I was in it every day the Battalion was in combat, much of it after assuming command at the age of twenty seven. I believe that there was a special bonding between my men and me.

It was a great honor and privilege to command these tankers and to witness what they accomplished. In my opinion, our nation has never fully understood or appreciated the fantastic role played by such boys and very young men.

They proved themselves on the toughest testing ground of man – the field of combat. Nothing in my long, full life could compare with the priceless opportunity that I had to command the men of the 8th Tank Battalion. This is their story.

Book Alert: British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II

Osprey Publishing has released a new hardcover book by David Fletcher titled British Battle Tanks: British-made tanks of World War II.  This book is a follow-up to last years book British Battle Tanks: World War I to 1939.  For those familiar with the WWI book, this new book follows the same format, although with a slightly higher page count (280) than the previous book.  This is a well illustrated book, with photos, drawing or charts on every page accompanying the text.  These books are both published in association with the Tank Museum at Bovington.  Author David Fletcher served for many years as the Museum historian and is widely regarded as one of the most knowledgeable researchers on the topic of British armor.

Publisher’s Description:

Building on the earlier volume dealing with British armor of the First World War, this is the second of a multi-volume history of British tanks by renowned British armor expert David Fletcher MBE.

This volume traces the story of the British use of the tank through the early years of World War II, when Britain relied on its own tanks built in the late 1930s, and those designed and built with limited resources in the opening years of the war. Plagued by unreliable vehicles and poorly thought-out doctrine, these were years of struggle against an opponent well versed in the arts of armored warfare. It covers the development and use of the Matilda, Crusader, and Valentine tanks that pushed back the Axis in North Africa, the much-improved Churchill that fought with distinction from North Africa to Normandy, and the excellent Cromwell tank of 1944–45. It also looks at Britain’s super-heavy tank projects, the TOG1 and TOG2, and the Tortoise heavy assault tank, designed to battle through the toughest of battlefield conditions, but never put into production.

Book Alert: Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War

According to Amazon, today marks the North American release of the new book Dubno 1941: The Greatest Tank Battle of the Second World War by Aleksei Isaev.  This is a 224 page hardcover published by Helion and Company.  Mr. Isaev has written numerous books on the Eastern Front during WWII, primarily in Russian.

Publisher’s Description:

In June 1941 – during the first week of the Nazi invasion in the Soviet Union – the quiet cornfields and towns of Western Ukraine were awakened by the clanking of steel and thunder of explosions; this was the greatest tank battle of the Second World War. About 3,000 tanks from the Red Army Kiev Special Military District clashed with about 800 German tanks of Heeresgruppe South. Why did the numerically superior Soviets fail? Hundreds of heavy KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, the five-turret giant T-35 and famous T-34 failed to stop the Germans. Based on recently available archival sources, A. Isaev describes the battle from a new point of view: that in fact it’s not the tanks, but armored units, which win or lose battles. The Germans during the Blitzkrieg era had superior T&OE for their tank forces. The German Panzer Division could defeat their opponents not by using tanks, but by using artillery, which included heavy artillery, motorized infantry and engineers. The Red Army’s armored unit – the Mechanized Corps – had a lot of teething troubles, as all of them lacked accompanying infantry and artillery. In 1941 the Soviet Armored Forces had to learn the difficult science – and mostly ‘art’ – of combined warfare. Isaev traces the role of these factors in a huge battle around the small Ukrainian town of Dubno. Popular myths about impregnable KV and T-34 tanks are laid to rest. In reality, the Germans in 1941 had the necessary tools to combat them. The author also defines the real achievements on the Soviet side: the Blitzkrieg in the Ukraine had been slowed down. For the Soviet Union, the military situation in June 1941 was much worse than it was for France and Britain during the Western Campaign in 1940. The Red Army wasn’t ready to fight as a whole and the border district’s armies lacked infantry units, as they were just arriving from the internal regions of the USSR. In this case, the Red Army tanks became the ‘Iron Shield’ of the Soviet Union; they even operated as fire brigades. In many cases, the German infantry – not tanks – became the main enemy of Soviet armored units in the Dubno battle. Poorly organized, but fierce, tank-based counterattacks slowed down the German infantry – and while the Soviet tanks lost the battle, they won the war.

Book Alert: Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank

Those interested in early WWI tank combat on the Eastern front may want to check out this new book titled Fallen Giants: The Combat Debut of the T-35A Tank.  Written by Francis Pulham, this is a 144 page softcover book.  Beyond that, we really don’t know much about this one or about the publisher, Fonthill Media.  This would appear to be the first book on tank warfare written by this author.

Publisher’s Description:

The Soviet T-35A is the only five-turreted tank in history to enter production. With a long and proud service history on Soviet parade grounds, the T-35A was forced to adapt to the modern battlefield when the Second World War broke out. Outclassed and outdated, the T-35A tried to hold its own against the German invaders to no avail. Very little is known about these strange vehicles, beyond their basic shape and photographs of them on parade grounds and battlefields. For the first time, actual battlefield photographs have been cross-referenced with maps and documents to bring about the most complete look at the T-35A in the Second World War to date. It is a grim depiction of the aftermath of the giants that were the Soviet T-35A tanks.

Edit: Sonny Butterworth posted a comment with some additional information about the author of this book.  We thought it merited posting in the main article.

The author has a Facebook page on which he regularly posts photos from his private collection. This book should be one of, if not the most, authoritative works published on the T-35, at least in English. From what I understand, Frankie Pulham has worked on identifying individual tanks by chassis numbers and their specific features in order to document their combat careers and fates. So should be a good book both for rivet counters and those interested in this tank’s operational history.  He is now working on a book documenting T-34 variants, including those produced outside of the Soviet Union.  You can also listen to Frankie talk more about the T-35 and his book on this podcast.

Book Alert: British Infantry Tanks in World War II

Kagero Press has released a new entry in their Photosniper series. This new book by Dick taylor is titled British Infantry Tanks in World War II (Photosniper). This is a softcover book of 96 pages with color photos and illustrations. While we have not gotten our copy of this book in the post yet, we have been pleased with other books of this series as well as with other books written by Dick Taylor.

Publisher’s Description:

Before the start of the Second World War, British armored doctrine was in a terrible muddle. Opinion had been divided between the proponents of the tank who saw it as the weapon of break-in, using it as an infantry support weapon, and those who saw it as the weapon of breakout, using it to restore mobility and to destroy the enemy’s forces behind the frontline. In many ways it was a division between those who saw the tank solely through the prism of the experience of the First World War, and those who saw it a decisive weapon for the future. Britain was also conscious of the continuing requirements for imperial policing, in which small tanks and armored cars had already proved their worth. As a consequence, it was decided that Britain needed three different classes of tanks: Light tanks for the policing role that could also be used for reconnaissance duties in a general war, fast and lightly armored Cruiser tanks for breakout and exploitation, and heavily armored but slow Infantry tanks for the break-in.

Book Alert: Nothing Impossible: Memoirs of a United States Cavalryman In World War 2

A new memoir of a WWII armor veteran has been released.  Nothing Impossible: Memoirs of a United States Cavalryman In World War 2 tells the story of the late Wallace Clement who served in the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Italy.  This is a softcover book of 210 pages.

Publisher’s Description:

Merriam Press World War 2 Memoir Series
First Edition 2017

The late Wallace Clement served in three wars, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. A West Point Cadet, he entered the Army as a 2nd Lt. in 1940, rising to the rank of Major in 1944, serving with the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion in Italy where late in the war he was captured and ended the war as a POW.

He served in the Korean War, as a Lt. Colonel, and in Vietnam as a Brig. General as assistant division commander of the 23rd Americal Division.

He was awarded every medal that a soldier can receive save for the Medal of Honor.

This is his story, written by him, and edited by a good friend, Sean Heuvel, who as a boy listened to Clement tell his tales of his service.

Book Alert: Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II (New Vanguard)

Tomorrow is the release of the latest entry in the Osprey New Vanguard series, Soviet Lend-Lease Tanks of World War II (New Vanguard).   This is a 48 page softcover with numerous illustrations and photos, following the well established format of previous entries in the series.  As far as we know, this is the first book to deal exclusively with the issue of the Lend Lease tanks sent to the Soviet Union.

Publisher’s Description:

The Red Army suffered such catastrophic losses of armour in the summer of 1941 that they begged Britain and the United States to send tanks. The first batches arrived in late 1941, just in time to take part in the defence of Moscow. The supplies of British tanks encompassed a very wide range of types including the Matilda, Churchill, and Valentine and even a few Tetrarch airborne tanks. American tanks included the M3 (Stuart) light tank and M3 (Lee) medium tank and the M4 Sherman tank, which became so common in 1944–45 that entire Soviet tank corps were equipped with the type. With these Western tanks, the Soviets were finally able to beat back the German tide in the East.

This study examines the different types of tanks shipped to the Soviet Union during the war, Soviet assessments of their merits and problems, and combat accounts of their use in Soviet service using full colour artwork, contemporary photographs and detailed cut-away illustrations.