Panzer Leader : Memoirs of an Armoured Car Commander, 1944 1945

The armoured reconnaissance units were the spearheads of Hitler’s Panzer divisions, moving stealthily ahead of the tanks to locate the enemy. Otto Henning’s armoured car unit of the elite Panzer-Lehr-Division fought throughout the campaigns in the West in 1944 and 1945, arriving in Normandy a few weeks before D-Day and finally surrendering in the Ruhr pocket in mid-April 1945. Henning describes the difficulties that reconnaissance forces such as his faced in the close terrain of the Normandy bocage and the threat posed by the Allies complete control of the air. He experienced first-hand the devastation wrought by the Panzer Ace Michael Wittmann’s lone Tiger tank against the British 7th Armoured Division at Villers Bocage, as well as ensured the chaos and demoralisation of the Germans retreat across France. After the Battle of the Bulge and the final fighting in western Germany, Henning surrendered and endured terrible conditions in a prisoner-of-war camp until he escaped in 1947. This is a fascinating and often harrowing account of the final campaigns in Western Europe.