Battleground Prussia: the Assault on Germany’s Eastern Front 1944-45 by Prit Buttar

This is a good account of the war in Prussia from late 1944 to the end of the war. It’s complementary to Christopher Duffy’s book in that it entirely focuses on Prussia and covers a slightly longer timeframe.

It has a lot of personal anecdotes that are interesting. It also covers the maritime evacuation along with the well known disasters.

Vitebsk: the Fight and Destruction of the Third Panzer Army by Otto Heidkamper

This describes operations around Vitebsk from May 1943 to June 1944. It shows the steady reduction of German capacity with a corresponding increase in that of the Russian forces. The Germans were able to stave off one problem after another until Bagration in late June 1944. At that time they were seriously degraded.

One question I have wondered is how much the German lack of success was due to interference from Hitler removing operational flexibility. Of course, it’s very convenient for members of the German armed forces to blame their defeats on someone else. Perhaps they really were doomed to defeat.

The title of chapter 1 “the combat situation of the Third Panzer Army in the summer of 1943” gave some humour.

Rising Sun, Falling Skies: the Disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II by Jeffrey R. Cox

This is a reasonable account of the Java Sea campaign of 1942, which ended with the destruction of the American-British-Dutch-Australian fleet and the occupation of the entire Netherlands East Indies. Just about everything that might have gone wrong went wrong.

One key point is that for the Americans, British and Australians, they could accept defeat and retreat. For the Dutch this was the battle, giving up Java was like the British having to give up India.

It paints a very negative picture of MacArthur, claiming that he was very slow to react to events in the Philippines.