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Men-at-Arms 420: The Waffen-SS (4) 24. to 38. Divisions & Volunteer Legions

by Gordon Williamson, illustrated by Stephen Andrew

Osprey Publishing Ltd, ISBN 1-84176-592-9, 48 pages.

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The fourth and final book in the series covers the 24. Waffen Gebirgs (Karstjager) Division Der SS, 25. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS “Hunyadi” (ungarische Nr. 1), 26. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS (ungarische Nr. 2), 27. SS-Freiwillengen Grenadier Division “Langemarck”, 28. SS-Freiwillengen Grenadier Division “Wallonien”, 29. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS (russische Nr. 1), 29. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS (italiansche Nr. 1), 30. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS (russische Nr. 2), 31. SS-Freiwillengen Grenadier Division, 32. SS-Freiwillengen Grenadier Division “30 Januar”, 33. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS “Charlemagne” (franzosische Nr. 1), 34. SS-Freiwillengen Grenadier Division “Landstorm Nederland”, 35. SS- Und Polizei Grenadier Division, 36. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS, 37. SS-Freiwillengen Kavallerie Division “Lutzow”, 38. SS-Grenadier Division “Nibelungen”, and a variety of miscellaneous foreign contingents, typically referred to as “Volunteer Legions”.

I found this title to be the most interesting of the four, since it provides information on some of the most infamous and dastardly formations used during World War Two. In particular, foreign units such as the 29. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS (russische Nr. 1) (and its notorious commander Kaminski) and the 36. Waffen Grenadier Division Der SS (a.k.a. the Dirlwanger Brigade) are of interest to me for their part in the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Aside from scratch German formations, units from Belgium, France, Hungary, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands and Russia are profiled. Smaller, but no less fascinating groups are mentioned such as those made up of Britons, Cossacks, Indians and nominally-Soviet citizens from the Ural Mountain region.

It must be appreciated that many of these later formations were “divisions” only in name, so the reader should not get the idea that the SS had such a vast number of men in uniform. This is also the reason why some of the same numbers were used for different units; some units were never formed (beyond being written on a sheet of paper), while some were so short-lived that the numbers were re-cycled.

Some of the ethnic units raised later in the war also had unique items of uniform such as national crests worn on the sleeves, or the peculiar national eagle worn by Italian troops. All of this is shown to excellent effect in the 55 well-captioned B&W photos.

The commentary for the color plates will allow for a better understanding of the subject at hand and will be of assistance in aiding the understanding of newcomers to this field of modeling, especially due to the unusual units that are described. There are a total of 25 individuals depicted within the eight pages of color plates. Oddly enough, I found the Italian uniforms to be the most interesting…

These books are uniformly (get it?) well done, with my favorite being this last one, because it describes many of the more notorious or unusual foreign volunteer units in some detail. What really recommends these books, however, is this: if you wish to know what a specific SS unit’s uniforms looked like at a particular point in time, this series represents “one stop shopping” at its finest.

Highly recommended

Frank De Sisto

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