Friday 13 January 2023

Book Review: Surviving World War Two Tanks in the Ardennes

A trip to a Second World War battlefield can be a very time consuming thing to plan. A tourist arriving in a foreign country armed only with a camera and the vague notion that a battle took place somewhere nearby is doomed to a rushed and ultimately unsatisfying experience. Thankfully, it has never been easier to arm oneself with the required knowledge to explore famous war sites. As the name implies, Surviving World War Two Tanks in the Ardennes by Craig Moore is a complete travel guide for armour enthusiasts who wish to see the site of the Battle of the Bulge with their own eyes.

The book starts with a general tips pertaining to the nature of your visit and the kind of artefacts you might see in the Ardennes. Most of the advice is specific to this area, but some is generally applicable any time you travel to see battlefield sites. The introduction continues with an overview of the Battle of the Bulge: why and where it was fought, the major players on each side, and a summary of the flow of the battle. A map of the area with the location of 46 points of interest is also included. Most of these are tanks, but some contain other vehicles or just a portion of a vehicle such as a turret.

Detailed descriptions of each of the 46 sites follow. Each chapter gives instructions on how to find the tank or other artefact. Brief statistics about each vehicle are provided, but more importantly Moore tells the story of that particular vehicle's service and how it came to be where it stands today. In most cases, three modern colour photographs of the vehicle are included (if the chapter covers a group of vehicles or artefacts, only one photo of each is included). There are also a handful of older photos of some exhibits, both during their service in the war and afterwards, when they were already war relics on display. These photos both let you know what to expect and can serve as some help when trying to locate the vehicle for yourself.

Contrary to the book's title, not all the tanks here are from the Second World War. For instance, the M47 Patton Tank in Dierkirch and IS-3M and ISU-152K at the Bastogne Barracks are also covered. 

Surviving World War Two Tanks in the Ardennes is a worthwhile investment for any armour enthusiast headed to Belgium. This book is also the next best thing to actually embarking on an international trip that might be difficult for many at the moment.

This review is based on a digital copy provided by Pen and Sword Books. Surviving World War Two Tanks in the Ardennes is available in February 2023 at a RRP of £15.99.

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