With Raupenschlepper Ost on the Eastern Front

...from PeKo Publishing

Title: With Raupenschlepper Ost on the Eastern Front
Author: Wilhelm Bender
Publisher: PeKo
ISBN: 978-615-5583-68-1

This new book from Peko Publishing is something a bit different I think. It is the story of the author's own wartime service, from 1939 to surrender at the end of the war, accompanied by his own photographic record of that career. A 180-page hardcover book in landscape format
There are 19 chapters, and the first 14 of those are all full of an incredible collection of archive images, all illustrating the wartime life of the author. It goes from his joining the Wehrmacht as a medic in 1939 and his time serving in Poland and then amidst the occupation troops in France, amidst the captured bunkers of the Maginot line. He spent time in a hospital unit before he was again posted as a medic to an artillery unit, which was sent to the Eastern Front. The final 5 chapters are short text only elements, as in the final months of the war there events left little opportunity to be bothered taking photographs. Amongst the photo collection, there are pictures of both people, equipment and of course various places where he served. There is something special in my mind as many of the photos show the personnel in the units, and the author is able to name so many of them within the captions. It makes it all very personal. As the the equipment, military vehicles will enjoy the many pictures of the Raupen Schlepper Ost which was used to tow the 10.5cm leFH 18. In addition, the unit used a lot of trailers, and these are mostly examples of the Hf.7 Stahlfeldwagen, originally a horse drawn infantry wagon, but with an A-frame hitch for vehicle towing. Some of them, along with some of the RSOs have the addition of wooden box bodies, for use as stores wagons etc, clearly added by local workshop units. In the final stages of the war, after having had to abandon much of their equipment prior to evacuation, the unit was refitted, but this time issued with captured Russian 122mm artillery pieces.
The photos are all beautifully clear, printed each one filling a page. Not only is the personal nature of the whole book of interest to historians, but so many of the pictures provide first class references for modellers in particular. Whether it is the uniforms and personal equipment we see, the detail of the RSO tractors, on trains and in the field, or the landscape settings which might inspire a diorama or two. This is one I highly recommend.
Thanks to Peko for our review copy.