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Synopsis

The photos in this book are taken from an unpublished album that belonged to a member of the elite German Paratroopers. First Sgt Wilhelm Plieschen served with Fallschirmjager Machine Gun Battalion 7, which suffered very heavy losses in the invasion of Crete, then saw bloody conflict as Hitler’s "Fire-fighters" on the Russian Front and later put up fierce resistance in places such as Monte Casino.

The revealing images that Jon Sutherland has compiled for us depict these struggles in dramatic detail, ranging from photographs taken en route to Crete of the paratroopers in a JU52 to 20 May 1941, when Plieschen was dropped over Crete. Some show other paratroopers drifting down and others feature formations of German aircraft amidst flak.

Additionally, Sutherland has included amazing images depicting Germans on the deck of the badly damaged and abandoned HMS York in Souda Bay. There are photographs showing Major Erich Schulz decorating paratroopers on Crete and the then Commander of the Fallschirmjager, General Kurt Student inspecting the troops. We later pay witness to Plieschen in Russia, where outstanding rare photos of paratroopers in heavy winter camouflage clothing portray the men enduring the heavy fighting that occurred in the region.

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