Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Interesting new book challenges common knowledge of WWII

Looks like I found another book to add to my nighttime reading.
In my new book The War in the West: Germany Ascendant 1939-1941, first in a three-volume history, I am challenging a number of long-held assumptions about the war, many of which are based on truth by common knowledge, rather than through detailed and painstaking research.\

My Damascene moment came some years ago when I was being given a tour of the Small Arms Unit at the British Staff College at Shrivenham. I was glancing at a German MG42, known as a “Spandau” by the Allies. “Of course, that was the best machine gun of the war,’ I commented, relaying what I’d read in many books.

“Says who? Says who?” retorted my guide and head of the unit, John Starling. In the next few minutes, he proceeded to deconstruct everything I thought I knew about this infamous weapon: that its phenomenal rate of fire caused massive problems of over-heating, that it was widely inaccurate (for which having since fired one, I can now vouch), that is was incredibly expensive to manufacture, massively over-engineered and lacked certain simple additions that would have made its handling so much easier.
I love stuff like this. He talks about looking at the "operational" level of the war as opposed to the strategic or tactical level. It's all about the nuts and bolts of things, rather than the dynamic flair of personalities.

As someone famously said "Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."


  1. Interesting. RCPL has this book available, will get it shortly. The particular example of the MG42 is a bit off though. I've qualified with the MG3 in West Germany in the 1980's and those issues simply weren't present. If you look at our post (WWII) machine gun (the M60), there is a striking resemblance......

    1. Good call on checking the library. The last four or five times I've looked for a book there, they didn't have it, so they've sort of dropped off my radar. (For instance, I couldn't find anything by Jeff Cooper.)

  2. (For instance, I couldn't find anything by Jeff Cooper.)

    Food Lion doesn't have Kobe beef either. LOL.... Cooper was an interesting guy. His Gargantuan Gunsite Gossip (collection of his newsletters) is a fun read and Principals of Personal Defense is a classic, still referenced quick read.