On the heel’s of Richard’s awesome movie reviews I am gonna give you awesome people a book review and a list to go with it. Today’s review about the memoir of one of the Soviet Union’s great heroes of World War Two, Dmitriy Loza.
Loza started his career very briefly on T34s before being transferred to the Inomarockniy (I butchered that, I know) which were men and units that were solely outfitted with Lend-Lease equipment. Interestingly, men assigned to these units would stay on the equipment for the duration and even had a special stamp on their military IDs identifying this qualification. Also of note, many Inomarockniy units were Guards units. So, it is interesting to get a view of the wartime service of a man who served in them.
I came across the book when researching about Soviet Lend-Lease units in WWII as I was working on designing and building a Soviet Lend-Lease list. I had seen Loza’s rules in the game, and knew I wanted to use him. So, going through Amazon I found his book. I will say, I had to wait over a month to receive it and paid nearly 50$ for a book that was less than 200 pages. By all accounts, the book itself is a bit hard to find. However, it was well worth the money. Loza writes the book as a series of vignettes, starting at Operation Bagration, through operations in Romania, Hungary, and culminating in the Soviet Operations against Vienna. It then transfers to the Soviet August Storm Offensive in Manchuria against the Japanese. This also adds to the book’s value as August Storm is a little known facet of the war.
What really is great about the book, though, is the stories Loza tells. As a veteran myself, I know some of the things you see and do in war are almost too crazy to be real. Loza’s stories are told in a flair bordering on almost tongue in cheek. Some highlights: Ambushing Tigers they literally caught sleeping, Direct firing a Katyusha barrage at a Sherman that was about to be overran by a company of Germans, A 40mm cannon round traveling down a Sherman barrel and killing the tank commander inside, and a blow by blow account of fighting in Vienna. Throughout, Loza praises the reliability and performance of the Sherman and demonstrates that by 1944-1945 the Red Army was a highly skilled and proficient organization.
As the basis of my list, I selected the Hero Lend-Lease Tank Brigade, a digital exclusive list attached to Berlin on Forces Of War. My friend and I play at 2000 pts, so I built to that point standard. Heroes makes my units Veteran in all things except for to-hit, and don’t follow Hen & Chicks. This allows my units to be much more maneuverable and tactically flexible than is typical in a Soviet force. The core of my force is 13 Lend Lease Shermans (called Emchas to the Soviets), with 9 packing the 76mm gun and 4 the 75. Loza himself can infiltrate a unit of Shermans, and also has moving ROF 2 and halted ROF 3 with his 76mm gun. The combination of Heroes and 76mm guns allows Soviet Emchas to play almost like US Armor, my favorites. Also, 76mm Emchas are highly survivable at FA7 and Protected Ammo+Fearless which allows remounts on 2+. The other formation units are rounded out by some faust toting infantry, and a full section of Lend Lease ZSU Quad 50s. Having 6 formation units gives the force a degree of survivability from formation breaks. The support consists of a template weapon with the excellent 160mm mortars (that range in as Veteran) and Flying Tank Tip-3 Sturmoviks. I have played this setup in a few games, and have been very pleased with its performance against the Panzers!
Loza’s book is a gold mine of little known facts and a memoir written from a perspective of a Soviet tanker in WWII, that in itself is a sort of rarity. I highly recommend the read, and it has served as inspiration for me to build a list to do it justice.