Pen & Sword's Fallschirmjäger 1937-41

Author/Artists: Franҫois Cochet


Pen & Sword


$24.95 from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 112 pages, softcover
ISBN: 978-1-526740663

Paratroops have always been considered a somewhat elite force. For one thing, it is a volunteer service as it takes a rather special soldier to willingly jump out of a perfectly good airplane and then dangle in the air, possibly under fire, before landing on the ground and possibly breaking something. Even then the dangers are not over as paratroops cannot carry heavy artillery or other nice things that standard ground troops often have. If it cannot be carried or fit through the door of the plane, then they don't get it. However, paratroops can be placed behind enemy lines to secure roads, bridges or air fields and that is what the German army used these troops for in the first half of the war.

It is somewhat surprising that even though developed by the Soviets, the USSR rarely if ever used airborne troops. Yet the usefulness of these men was not overlooked by either the Germans or the Japanese who used paratroopers with considerable success early in the war.

This book concentrates on the development and use of the German Fallschirmjäger up until the start of the invasion of the Soviet Union. It is mostly a photo essay, but is divided into several sections. These include the origins, the use in the early years of the war (Poland, Scandinavia, and Belgium), the reorganization of the corps, operations in Crete, and the start of the war with the USSR. Thanks to the rather Pyrrhic victory in Crete where many transport planes were lost, the Fallschirmjäger  were not used in a major operation again, but were still some of the toughest troops that the Allies had to face.

The author has done a superb job of combing the archives to provide us with photos used to illustrate this book. For this is mostly a picture book. The images are well chosen and for the most part, quite clear and crisp. It is a fine addition to the 'Images of War' series and a book that deserves being on your shelf.

June 2019

Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy of this at this link.

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