Here we look at a title from Pen and Sword's image of War series titled The Waffen-SS Ardennes Offensive.


The following introduction is taken from the Pen and Sword website:

In late 1944 under extreme pressure on both the Eastern and Western fronts, Hitler realized he needed to force the Allies into negotiating a truce thereby saving Germany from total defeat. Using the Christmas period to enhance the vital element of surprise, he ordered a devastating attack through the rugged and mountainous Ardennes region with the key Allied port of Antwerp as the objective.

This book, with its extensive text and rare and unpublished photographs with detailed captions, tells the story of the Waffen-SS offensive, known as Wacht am Rhein (Watch on the Rhine). These formidable SS armoured units with supporting Wehrmacht divisions initially achieved dramatic success making full use of the harsh winter conditions and terrain. Gradually the Allies regained the upper hand on the attackers who were increasingly suffering from lack of reinforcements and resupplies. After defeat at the pivotal battle of Bastonge, remaining Waffen-SS units withdrew and were transferred back to the Eastern Front. As described in this classic Images of War book, the Fuhrer’s gamble so nearly paid off and the ruthless fighting spirit of the elite Waffen-SS divisions caused the Allied command serious concern.


This offering from Pen and Sword is a soft backed title as part of their Images of War series. This release is authored by Ian Baxter, and looks at the Waffen SS units that were used udring what is better known by myself as the Battle of the Bulge. As I am sure many of you are aware, these titles are light on text and heavy on period photographs. The contents of this release are as follows:


The Fuhrer’s Plan

The Main Commanders

Main Waffen-SS Units used for the Ardenne’s Offensive

Chapter   1   Preparation and Assembly

Chapter   2   Attack (Watch on the Rhine)

Chapter   3   Race for Bastogne

Chapter   4   Turning Point



Order of Battle

Anybody who has picked up an Images of War title from the Pen and Sword collection will know that these books are filled from front to back with period photographs showing life and death as it was, rather than how we are told it was. The text in the title gives you the outline of the idea behind this offensive, what it did and did not achieve and shows you the men of the SS who were part of the forces utilised by Germany, in what in effect was a last gasp gamble to enable Germany to survive and avoid the indignation of being captured by the Allies. The speed at which these troops along with standard German units cut through the Allied lines caused serious concerns, but it was all for nought, due to a lack of supplies and reinforcements. In effect, hastened the end of the war, due to the losses during the offensive. 

The period photographs included in the title give you a look at those behind execution of the offensive, but more importantly shows you the men in the field. It is these photographs of the men and machines during the operation that the modeller will find the most useful. While the SS are widely condemned for some of the actions they carried out during World War II, it cannot be denied that they were a formidable force, even during this period of the War. What I like about the photographs is that it shows the troops not just fighting, but living during the lulls in combat. You can look at the faces of many shown here, and you can almost see that they know the end in coming, and despite that they continued on.


Another addition to the \images of War series of books, titled Waffen-SS the Ardennes Offensive, that gives you a taste of what this offensive was all about, the conditions in which it was fought and the men and machines tasked with carrying it out. Each of the photographs is accompanied by a caption, and while I have not checked every one of them, the details appear to be correct. 



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