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By Helmut Ritgen

Textual content through Oberst a.D. Helmut Ritgen with unique wartime photos by means of the writer. This well-informed account of the sixth Panzer department is principally helpful as the writer fought with the eleventh Panzer Regiment. It files the inception, formation and constitution of the department and chronologically follows its growth during the conflict. The textual content is supported via color images taken via the writer in the course of global struggle II and gives an in depth exam of existence within the Panzers while at the same time documenting their relentless growth. Feared by way of Allied squaddies and devastating of their quick prosecution of the early conflict the Panzers have been the trendy German combating males; good outfitted, beautifully inspired and unstoppably winning. until eventually the Allies have been capable of consolidate their troops, re-engineer their gear and redraw their strategies the Panzers ruled Europe with a thunderous conquering energy.

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22 Between the wars, the Army had not given much thought to Britain’s rapidly changing social milieu, because the possibility that it would ever have to deal with recruits of the like of Doug Arthur or Anthony Cotterell seemed far too xxii INTRODUCTION remote to worry about. Its leaders had been told repeatedly since the 1918 Armistice to forget about conscripts and Continental commitments entirely, and instead concentrate their efforts on imperial policing. As a tiny, anaemically financed force of condottiere recruiting its officers from the genteelly poor upper-middle class and its private soldiers from the half-starved slums of Mile End and Salford and the Gorbals, the Army had little need to think much about modern Britain at all, let alone the possibility of another European war, or the mass assimilation of millions of civilians into its ranks.

The Italian campaign took place not in picturesque Tuscan INTRODUCTION xxv landscapes, but along mud-choked hill tracks in which conditions reminiscent more of Passchendaele than a modern war of movement tested the limits of British troops almost to destruction. Even the northwestern European campaign had its grim chapters, especially during the bitter winter of 1944 when British troops in southern Holland froze in the flooded polder marshes. But foreign travel also meant exposure to new sights, people and ideas.

The scene is the plain of Santerre in Picardy, a chalky expanse of sugar-beet fields between the River Somme and its tributary the Noye, a placid, docile landscape disturbed only by modest ridges and little valleys. The First World War has been raging across Europe for almost two years, but this little patch of France has seen little military activity as yet. Its scattered woodlands and medieval hamlets, copses and church spires are still much the same as they were centuries ago. Its placid immunity is about to disappear, however.

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