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A GI in the Ardennes - The Battle of the Bulge Denis Hambucken
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military. 2020.
Price: £25.00 / $32.95
A little over 76 years ago, on December the 16th 1944, the Germans launched a surprise attack on the northern sector of the line, through the lightly defended Ardennes forest. The Allies regarded the area as difficult terrain and thus less vulnerable to attack. However, the Battle of the Bulge proved to be the last dangerous throes of a dying beast, a thorn in the Allies’ side which could easily have turned gangrene and altered the course of the war. In hindsight it was the German’s last major offensive in the West.
Whilst we fight the Winter blues and try to survive the frustration of lockdown, spare a thought for the men and women who, through December and January 1944, fought a desperate holding action in snowy and freezing conditions, on the front line or in the first aid stations. Their bold actions and sacrifices allowed the Allies to stop the German momentum and push on towards ultimate victory less than 9 Months later.
“A GI in the Ardennes - The Battle of the Bulge” charts the course of the action as it unfolded then puts the honest GI under the microscope, sharing personal memories and stories of those that lived through it, such as the Angels of Bastogne and 18 year old GI Bill Campbell. As well as the more notorious events, such as German soldiers masquerading as Americans and the massacres. This, intermixed with photographs of original GI equipment, from uniforms, weapons, vehicles, rations, and personal comfort items, adds a more human element to the book and strikes a cord with the reader
Denis Hambucken’s book stands out from others as it not only shares the history but is visually stimulating and gives the reader a 360 view of the battle from the GI’s experience. A social and military observation, leaving a deeper understanding and appreciation of the human story.
The square 25 x 25cm format hardback Pen & Sword 2020 English edition is beautifully presented. Its over 140 pages are packed full with high quality coloured photographs and period imagery, cleverly inserted into the text body, on more than 100 themes. It’s rich content can be felt through the book’s weight!
“A GI in the Ardennes” is well researched and an interesting read, which will no doubt inspire fellow collectors, rewarding them on nearly each and every page. I personally love the great M1 helmets shots. However, it is not just a visual museum but an ideal book to quickly get to grips with the Battle of the Bulge. Having said that, it should not be read too quickly but instead fully appreciated and enjoyed. For what the book offers the price seems very reasonable indeed.
The M1 Helmet of World War Two - A Basic Overview.
Euroclones - An essentiel collector's guide
M1 v. M75 An essential comparison: US M1 and Austrian M75 steel helmets.
Understanding Austrian Army caps
An introduction to British and Commonwealth WWII Officer's peak caps.
British and Commonwealth Mk.II steel helmet reference book
Photo: Daniele Piselli
In terms of collector‘s reference books British steel helmets have been rather unfairly neglected, that is until now however. In the space of just two years, just as many have been published. I am speaking about the recent and hotly anticipated title, “MKII helmets of the Second World War and their use in the Italian Campaign” by Daniele Piselli and published mid 2020.
The other book is the Blake’s volume on Civil Front helmets, entitled, “Helmets of the Home Front: An Introduction to Markings of Non-Military Helmets Used on the British Home Front in WW2”. Both complimentary books which no doubt will prove valuable assets for the helmet collector and a timely welcomed addition to the bookshelf.
This may be the age of the internet but good collector’s reference books go further than any blog or forum, can inform and education, and quite frankly are worth their weight in gold!
Piselli’s publication focuses on the combat variety of Mk.II helmet and is written both in English and Italian. At 130 pages it is crammed full of photograpghs and essentiel accompanying text, that is printed in softback with an attractive and no nonsense cover.
This is the first of its kind but even so the author doesn’t profess it to be the definitive last word on Mk.IIs, instead a valuable and practical resource that can guide a collector through the minefield of helmet collecting. As even humble Mk.II collecting has been tainted by fakes in recent years as the interest in the genre has notably risen.
The book should address many of the nagging questions and will certainly make identification and cataloging more accurate. It contents have been broken down systematically, examining the key features of the Mk.II helmet, from shells, colours, chinstraps and liners, to helmet nets, camouflage and unit flashes, culminating in a look at the Battle of Montegabbione.
Compared to the huge libraries available on the US M1 and German helmets, it is indeed a breath of fresh air to see the British, Canadian, South African, and New Zealand Mk.IIs finally addressed.