World of Tanks MMO – Beta Preview

World Of Tanks is a free MMO PC-game currently in development and beta-phase by the Belorussian development team behind Wargaming.net and scheduled for release later this year. For those unaccustomed to online gaming, MMO is short for Massive Multiplayer Online. In the case ofWorld Of Tanks (WoT) you will play with up to 60 players, 30 vs. 30, driving tanks on a single map.

Check out my full World of Tanks preview here ->


Gettysburg Battlefield Panorama

On the afternoon of July 3rd Confederate general Robert E. Lee ordered Pickett's division (amongst others) to attack the Union position on Cemetery hill in an all out effort to break the Union line. After an hour (or more) long cannonade, which achieved little damage as the Confederate artillery mostly overshot, Pickett, reluctantly, sounded the attack and forward went some 12.500 men in what would be later called Pickett's Charge.
Pickett's three brigades came in from the left half of this view, to the left of Codori's farm (the red building) marching obliquely to the wall. Pettigrew's six bloodied brigades came on from the center and right in a straight line. After crossing the wooden fence bordering Emmitsburg road) musket-volley's intermingled with cannon fire and wrecked the attacking formation.
The Copse of trees where the Pickett-Pettigrew charge hit home on the afternoon of July 3rd is on the right of this picture taken at 'the Angle'. This location and moment in history is called the 'High Water Mark' of the Confederacy. It was here Armistead broke through for a moment, raised his hat on his sword and shouted his men on only to be mortally wounded moments later when the Union troops reformed and counter-attacked.
On the right side of the picture we can see the wall making a sharp angle to the right and a few dozen meters to the rear -in front of the markers- the continuatie of the stone wall. It was here Pettigrew's (formerly commanded by Heth) battered division assailed and crossed the wall. And in fact got further then Armistead at the 'High Water Mark'.
Eventually all Confederate troops where beaten back and streamed across the field towards Seminairy ridge. Lee whept and could only mutter "It is all my fault".
Panorama picture taken from The Gettysburg Daily, a great site for information on Gettysburg amongst which dozens of panorama pictures.


World War II in animated maps

There is nothing better if you want to understand the actions and movements in war then looking at a map. Hence I have a shelve full of historic and militairy atlasses depicting wars, campaigns and battles. These days however, there are numerous animated maps to be found online which are quite convenient. They of course don't have the 'depth' of these -quite bussy- maps in an atlas but the animation makes them usefull and very interesting all the same.

For an easy understanding of World War II you can acces a some great maps through the links below.


A Canadian on the Eastern-Front

Whilst on vacation in beautiful Southern-France I read a handful of great and interesting books on military history. About a few of those I would like to share a word with you.

Panzer Gunner is a very special book, not only because of the style in which it is written: a very personal, very open biography, but more because of the strange history of its writer: Bruno Friesen. The sub-title of the book says it all: "From my native Canada to the German Ostfront and back."

Only now, after all these years, mister Friesen has decided to tell the remarkable history of his youth. Born in a German-speaking Mennonite family which emigrated from the Ukraine to Canada to seek their fortune away from the Communists Bruno's father sends him and his brother to prosperous Germany in 1939. Many a good chance and a good future he hopes to find there for the two young lads but that turns out not to be the case as they are separated and threated as "The Americans".
Bruno tells in a very personal way about his experience on a farm in Northern-Germany, his subsequent job in the shipyards and the change of the early war years.

By 1942 he is drafted into the Wehrmacht like many young 'German' boys and trained as a driver, and later as a gunner, on the panzer IV. Here the true magnificence of his biography starts, the detail of the account makes it stand out from all other 'panzer-biographies'. He tells about the sergeant's bullying tricks during training, the experience on garrison duties in Italy (after the Italian defection), visits to the brothel in Trieste and the battles on the Eastern-Front. Bruno's account is not a simple one, telling about the fights, the action and the stress of battle. No, he takes you into the driver's seat of the Panzer IV and explains how it is driven, how gear-changes work and how the steel monster is navigated. The same for the Jagdpanzer IV, tank-destroyer. Which crewmember does what, how is the gun loaded and above all how is it adjusted, aimed and fired. Truly fascinating stuff and a must read for everyone interested in the period.

After the war Bruno Friesen returns 'home' to Canada. His war-experience is a serious drawback for his career and makes life difficult. So he decides not to speak about it, until now. And I am glad he did.

- Panzer Gunner by Bruno Friesen fascinating 'in-depth' personal account of the job and life of a panzer's driver and gunner 4/5