Home Forums WWII Red Sniper on the Eastern Front – book comments

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    Ivan Sorensen

    So just finished reading Pilyushin’s “Red sniper on the Eastern Front”.
    I thought I’d share a few thoughts with you lot.

    As a lot of memoirs (and especially Soviet ones) it’s basically a series of vignettes that collectively tell the story of the authors war experience:

    He served as a sniper around Leningrad, was wounded several times, his family was killed during the siege and he was put in charge of an improvised sniper school.

    Random things of note:

    *Many of the scenes could just as well have taken place on the Somme in WW1. The Leningrad front had extensive trench fighting, complete with snipers preying on each other, trench raids and so forth.

    *Most of the men in his unit are from Leningrad itself or nearby. They are rather highly motivated to defend the city.

    *They’re occasionally joined by citizen militia from the town itself though they don’t seem to spend much time at the front after the initial defense.

    *The soldiers repeatedly remark on the efforts of the city-people in helping create defenses and trenches.

    *Relatively little tank action. They encounter German armour a few times. I think they only see Soviet armour once, during one of the big counter-attacks towards the end of the siege.
    This would make sense for what is largely a siege.

    *They seem to be on good terms with their political officer and regard him quite fondly.

    *On two separate occasions, they encounter “Romanians” which the translator notes may well have been either French SS or Spanish “Blue division” based on German troop records.

    *There is one woman sniper mentioned specifically (since she is a friend of the author) and I believe a few more are hinted at.

    *Even the snipers frequently fight with submachine guns, carry out trench raids, aid machine gunners and so forth. I had always imagined they were far more separate. Now I wonder whether this was typical or a condition of this particular area (or even this particular unit)

    *The enemy is almost universally referred to as “Fascists”. The characters don’t talk much about politics except in the context of the war and the front. A few characters are referred to by friends as “communists”, presumably suggesting they are party members.
    There are mentions of political lectures going on, but the author doesn’t spend much time on them. I imagine for most soldiers, it was just a way of getting out of the trenches for a while.

    Worth a read?
    I’d say so. The writing style is very “clipped” in the style that seems typical for Russian writing at the time. Each chapter is brief and focuses on a single event or sequence of events.

    Events are well described and vivid, even with the terse writing style.

    If you are interested in Leningrad or snipers in general, pick this one up.

    Nordic Weasel Games

    Rod Robertson


    This looks like a grand book. I will see if I can find it at the local library and then read it. Thanks for the reference.

    Have you read the two books by Robert Forczwk entitled “Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front” The first book covers 1941-1942 and the second covers 1943-1945. Excellent books and wonderful sources for tactical level wargame scenarios (company-sized and small kampfgruppe-sized battles) on the Eastern Front. With a little creative bath-tubbing the tactical encounters can be distilled down to interesting skirmish level games too.  They’re well worth a read if you haven’t done so already.


    Rod Robertson.

    Ivan Sorensen

    I’ll have a looksie for those. I just finished “Command the Red Army’s Sherman tanks” as well which was a fascinating read with a lot of skirmish tank potential 🙂

    Nordic Weasel Games


    While I am really into WW2 i found your review interesting.  I will be asking my inter library loan design find this for me.  Thank you!

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