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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 19, 2015 12:09PM) (new)

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This is the glossary (Part Three) for the SECOND WORLD WAR and The Liberation Trilogy and Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith. This is not a non spoiler thread so any urls and/or expansive discussion can take place here regarding this book. Additionally, this is the spot to add that additional information that may contain spoilers or any helpful urls, links, etc.

This thread is not to be used for self promotion.

The Liberation Trilogy Boxed Set by Rick Atkinson by Rick Atkinson Rick Atkinson

An Army at Dawn The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #1) by Rick Atkinson The Day of Battle The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #2) by Rick Atkinson The Guns at Last Light The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (World War II Liberation Trilogy, #3) by Rick Atkinson all by Rick Atkinson Rick Atkinson

Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith by Jean Edward Smith Jean Edward Smith

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African & Middle Eastern Front

Here are some of the battles listed of the African and Middle Eastern Front:

Battles of Fort Capuzzo: June 1940-November 1942
East African Campaign: June 1940-November 1942
Italian conquest of British Somaliland
Battle of Keren
Battle of Keren June 1940
Battle of Gondar
Battle of Dakar: September 1940
Battle of Gabon: November 1940
Operation Compass: December 1940-February 1941
Battle of Keren: February 1941-April 1941
Siege of Tobruk: April-November 1941
Iraq Campaign: May 22, 1941
Operation Brevity: May 1941
Operation Skorpion: May 1941
Operation Battleaxe: June 1941
Syria–Lebanon Campaign: June-July 1941
Iran Campaign: June-July 1941
Battle of Gondar: November 1941
Operation Crusader: November-December 1941
Battle of Gazala: May-June 1942
Battle of Bir Hakeim:
Battle of Madagascar: May-November 1942
First Battle of El Alamein: July 1942
Battle of Alam el Halfa: August-September 1942
Second Battle of El Alamein: October-November 1942
Battle of El Agheila: December 1942
Operation Torch: November 1942
Operation Terminal
Battle of Casablanca
Tunisia Campaign: November 1942-May 1943
Battle of the Kasserine Pass
Battle of Sidi Bou Zid
Battle of Medenine
Operation Pugilist
Battle of El Guettar
Battle of Hill 609
Operation Vulcan

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Readers eager to learn more about the campaign in Western Europe, as well as the earlier struggles in the Mediterranean, have no shortage of resources from which to choose. A full array can be found in the Selected Sources at the back of The Guns at Last Light, just as extensive bibliographies can be found on the campaigns in Africa and Italy in, respectively, An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle. Moreover, on the website, I have listed a number of manuscripts, monographs, and unpublished documents used as supplemental sources in volumes two and three which do not appear in the published bibliographies.

For a big-picture understanding of the global war, I recommend: Gerhard L. Weinberg, A World at Arms; Max Hastings, Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945; Antony Beevor, The Second World War; Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett, A War to Be Won; Chester Wilmot, The Struggle for Europe; and Richard Overy, Why the Allies Won. Perhaps the most vivid and tactile account of the war may be found in the National World War II Museum, in New Orleans. Over the past decade, the museum has vastly expanded its artifacts, pavilions, and archival holdings; it now offers a thorough, compelling experience about the war’s origins, campaigns, personalities, and consequences. For more information, visit the website at

Commendable works on the war in North Africa include: Correlli Barnett, The Desert Generals; Martin Blumenson, Kasserine Pass; David Fraser, Knight’s Cross: A Life of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel; Arthur Layton Funk, The Politics of Torch; Kent Roberts Greenfield, ed., Command Decisions; Nigel Hamilton, Master of the Battlefield: Monty’s War Years, 1942-1944; W.G.F. Jackson, The Battle for North Africa;

For insight into the campaigns in Sicily and Italy: Michael Howard, The Mediterranean Strategy in the Second World War; Carlo D’Este, Bitter Victory: The Battle for Sicily, July-August 1943 and Fatal Decision; Anzio and the Battle for Rome; John Ellis, Cassino: The Hollow Victory; Martin Blumenson, Bloody River; Mark Zuehlke, The Gothic Line; Mark W. Clark, Calculated Risk; Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., Command Missions; Ronald Lewin, Montgomery as Military Commander; Kenneth Macksey, Kesselring: The Making of the Luftwaffe; and Norman Lewis, Naples ’44.

In western Europe, for the Normandy invasion, noteworthy works include Antony Beevor D-Day; Carlo D’Este, Decision in Normandy; John Keegan Six Armies in Normandy; Olivier Wieviorka, Normandy; Stephen E. Ambrose, Pegasus Bridge, and Joseph Balkoski, Omaha Beach and Utah Beach.

Operation MARKET GARDEN is described fully in Martin Middlebrook, Arnhem 1944: Robert J. Kershaw, “It Never Snows in September”; Geoffrey Powell, The Devil’s Birthday; and Cornelius Ryan, A Bridge Too Far. Commendable works on the Battle of the Bulge include John S. D. Eisenhower, The Bitter Woods; Charles B. MacDonald, A Time for Trumpets; and Danny S. Parker, ed., The Battle of the Bulge: The German View.

Other works of note, either about particular campaigns or other aspects of the war in Europe, include Russell F. Weigley, Eisenhower’s Lieutenants; Andrew Roberts, Masters and Commanders; Mark A. Stoler, Allies and Adversaries; Charles F. Brower, ed., World War II in Europe: The Final Year; D. K. R. Crosswell, Beetle: The Life of General Walter Bedell Smith; Martin Blumenson, The Battle of the Generals; John Nelson Rickard, Patton at Bay: The Lorraine Campaign, 1944; Derek S. Zumbro, Battle for the Ruhr; John Toland, The Last Hundred Days; David Kahn, The Codebreakers; Eric Larrabee, Commander in Chief; S. M. Plokhy, Yalta: The Price of Peace; and Diane Shaver Clemens, Yalta. Fine books on the home front during the final year of the war include David M. Kennedy, Freedom From Fear; Doris Kearns Goodwin, No Ordinary Time, and David Reynolds, Rich Relations.

German perspectives on the war in the West can be gleaned from Joachim C. Fest, Hitler; Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1936-45: Nemesis; Geoffrey P. Megargee, Inside Hitler’s High Command; Siegfried Westphal, The German Army in the West; Hans-Adolf Jacobsen and Jürgen Rohwer, eds., Decisive Battles of World War II: The German View; Frido von Senger und Etterlin, Neither Fear nor Hope; and Joachim Ludewig, Rückzug: The German Retreat from France, 1944.

For a broader understanding of the air war: Donald L. Miller, Masters of the Air; Tami Davis Biddle, Rhetoric and Reality in Air Warfare; Richard G. Davis, Carl A. Spaatz and the Air War in Europe; Conrad C. Crane, Bombs, Cities & Civilians; and Max Hastings, Bomber Command.

I rely more than most historians on the work of war correspondents, perhaps because I was one myself. Among my favorites: Osmar White, Conqueror’s Road; Alan Moorehead, Eclipse; Eric Sevareid, Not So Wild a Dream; R. W. Thompson, Men Under Fire; Ernie Pyle, Brave Men; W. C. Heinz, When We Were One; Iris Carpenter, No Woman’s World; Robert Capa, Slightly Out of Focus; A.J. Liebling, Mollie & Other Pieces; Don Whitehead, “Beachhead Don”; and Margaret Bourke-White, Purple Heart Valley. A good anthology can be found in Richard Collier, Fighting Words: The War Correspondents of World War Two.

Those who took part in the struggles between Normandy and Berlin wrote many enduring memoirs and meditations. To name a few worthy of note: Charles R. Cawthon, Other Clay; Forrest C. Pogue, Pogue’s War; Paul Fussell, Wartime; Bert Stiles, Serenade to the Big Bird; June Wandrey, Bedpan Commando; J. Lawton Collins, Lightning Joe; Harry C. Butcher, My Three Years With Eisenhower; Vernon Scannell, Argument of Kings; J. Glenn Gray, The Warriors; and Marshal De Lattre de Tassigny, The History of the French First Army.

I often hear from readers keen to learn more about a particular veteran or unit. A good place to start for the U.S. Army is the Military History Institute in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, at the Army Heritage and Education Center: A comparable repository is the Air Force Historical Research Agency at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama: The U.S. Navy’s History and Heritage Command is in Washington, D.C.: Official U.S. military records and photographs are kept in the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. To get some sense of what the Archives have to offer, visit

(Source: Rick Atkinson's site on The Liberation Triology)

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This is an interesting video from ContinentalTV - some great footage:

World War II In HD "The Mediterranean And North Africa"

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Great adds Christopher - thank you.

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Patricrk patrick | 435 comments Watched the North Africa tape for this book to refresh myself of this campaign.

Battlefield is a World War 2 documentary series initially issued in 1994-5 that explores some of the most important battles fought during the Second World War. The series employs a novel approach where each battle is the climax of an extended series of events. The presentation is particularly effective using a perspective you never get in most war documentaries. Battlefield provides detailed accounts of individual battles from World War II, including troop movements, arms deployed, motivation of key players. Rare footage specific to each battle is included. Very comprehensive, exhaustive, entertaining. These documentaries were produced and aired over several seasons as separate series. Series One is focused on the main key battles in WW2, and Series Two deals with other lesser known but also key battles.

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Outstanding Patricrk - I am sure that all of the group members who are going to be past of this trilogy journey will very much enjoy them.

I plan to watch them myself this evening.

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9th Infantry Division



The 9th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army is nicknamed the "Old Reliables." It was created during World War I as the 9th Division, but it was never deployed overseas. The division proved to be an important asset during World War II, Vietnam, and the Cold War.

During the pre-war buildup for World War II, the 9th Infantry Division was constituted August 1, 1940 at Fort Bragg, NC. The Old Reliables were among the first U.S. troops to enter combat in WWII. Along with the 3rd Infantry and 2nd Armored Divisions, the 9th landed in North Africa on November 8, 1942. It pushed through Tunisia into Bizerte, which fell May 1943. The 9th Infantry Division then entered the Sicily campaign with landings at Palermo in August. The Division took part in the capture of Randazzo and Messina.

After Sicily, the Old Reliables were sent to England to re-equip and train for the impending cross-channel invasion of France. The 9th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach in Normandy on June 10, 1944 (D-day plus 4). The Division advanced to cut off the Cotentin Peninsula and assisted in the capture of the fortified French port city of Cherbourg. Click to preview or purchase "The Boldest Plan is the Best" from Amazon.comIn July, the division participated in the breakthrough at St.-Lo and in August helped to close the Falaise Gap. The Old Reliables then swept across northern France. The 9th Infantry Division held defensive positions near the Roer River from December 1944 through January 1945, and then crossed the Rhine at Remagen Bridge on March 7, 1945, pushing into the German Harz Mountains. On April 21, 1945, the Division relieved the 3rd Armored Division along the Mulde River near Dessau and held that line until VE Day, (May 8, 1945).

During WWII, the Old Reliables spent 264 days in combat, participating in eight separate campaigns. The 9th Infantry Division lost 4,581 soldiers killed in combat, 16,961 wounded, 750 missing in action, and 868 captured. Their total of battle and non-battle casualties represented more than 240 percent of their authorized strength. Along with this sacrifice, Old Reliable soldiers earned 4 Medals of Honor, 86 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1,789 Silver Stars, and 5,518 Bronze Stars.

Shortly after the war, the 9th Infantry Division was inactivated. Nevertheless, they were re-activated on July 15, 1947 at Fort Dix, NJ, serving some 15 years before being inactivated once more.

(no image) Eight Stars To Victory: A History Of The Veteran Ninth U.S. Infantry Division by Joseph B. Mittelman (no photo)
9th Infantry Division Old Reliables by Turner Publishing by Turner Publishing (no photo)
A Dark and Bloody Ground The Hurtgen Forest and the Roer River Dams, 1944-1945 by Edward G. Miller by Edward G. Miller (no photo)
Nudge Blue by Donald E. Lavender by Donald E. Lavender (no photo)
Marshall and His Generals U.S. Army Commanders in World War II by Stephen R. Taaffe by Stephen R. Taaffe (no photo)
There's a War to Be Won The United States Army in World War II by Geoffrey Perret by Geoffrey Perret (no photo)
Desert War The North African Campaign 1940-43 by Alan Moorehead by Alan Moorehead Alan Moorehead
Desert War in North Africa by Stephen W. Sears by Stephen W. Sears Stephen W. Sears

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3rd Infantry Division



The 3rd Infantry Division is a mechanized infantry division of the United States Army based at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Nicknamed the "Rock of the Marne," the 3rd Infantry Division's current configuration consists of four Brigade Combat Teams (BCT), one Aviation Brigade, and various support elements. The unit has served the United States in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Cold War, and now in Iraq.

The 3rd Division was activated at Camp Greene, North Carolina in November of 1917 for service in the First World War. The 3rd Division was composed of the 4th, 7th, 30th, and 38th Infantry Regiments, the 10th, 18th, and 76th Field Artilleries, and the 6th Engineers, with a total of 28,000 men. The Division as a whole entered combat for the first time during WWI on July 14, 1918. During the German's last offensive of the war, the 3rd Division held their positions on the Marne River as units on either side of them withdrew. This action spoiled the German bid for Paris and earned the Division their nickname, the "Rock of the Marne." The Division's motto, "Nous Resterons Là" which is French for "We shall remain there," also comes from that action. During WWI, two members of the 3rd Division were awarded the Medal of Honor.

Click to preview or purchase "The Boldest Plan is the Best" from Amazon.comThe 3rd Division was designated the 3rd Infantry Division in 1941. The Division first saw action on November 8, 1942, landing in French Morocco. The Rock of the Marne was in the vicinity of Salzburg, Austria when World War Two ended on May 6, 1945. During the course of the war, the 3rd Infantry Division fought in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, France, Germany and Austria for a total of 531 consecutive days of combat. 3rd Infantry Division soldiers earned 36 Medals of Honor during WWII. At Anzio in the Italian Campaign, the Division fought off three German divisions. While there it suffered more than 900 casualties, the most in one day of any division in World War II. The most highly decorated soldier of the war, Lieutenant Audie Murphy, served with the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division.

(no image) History Of The Third Infantry Division In World War II by Donald G. Taggart (no photo)
The GI Offensive in Europe The Triumph of American Infantry Divisions, 1941-1945 by Peter R. Mansoor by Peter R. Mansoor (no photo)
There's a War to Be Won The United States Army in World War II by Geoffrey Perret by Geoffrey Perret (no photo)
Dogface Soldiers The Story of B Company, 15th Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division-From Fedala to Salzburg Audie Murphy and His Brothers in by Daniel R. Champagne by Daniel R Champagne (no photo)
Endkampf Soldiers, Civilians, and the Death of the Third Reich by Stephen G. Fritz by Stephen G. Fritz Stephen G. Fritz

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2nd Armored Division



The 2nd Armored was formed at Fort Benning, Georgia on 15 July 1940, originally commanded by Major General Charles L. Scott, with Colonel George S. Patton in charge of training. Scott was promoted to command the I Armored Corps in November of that year, which put Patton, now a brigadier general, in command of the division. The Division served with the First, Seventh, and Ninth Armies.

The 2nd Armored was organized as a "heavy" armored division having two armored regiments of four medium tank and two light tank battalions of three companies each. Along with the 3rd Armored Division, it retained its organization throughout World War II while all 14 other U.S. armored divisions were reorganized as "light" armored divisions having three tank battalions, each consisting of three medium tank companies and one light tank company. Both types had an infantry component of three mechanized battalions, although the heavy divisions maintained an "armored infantry regiment" organization.The core units of the 2AD were the 41st Armored Infantry Regiment, the 66th Armored Regiment, the 67th Armor Regiment, the 17th Armored Engineer Battalion, the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, and the 142nd Armored Signal Company.

The 2nd Armored had three artillery battalions: (the 14th, 78th, and 92nd). The Division also had support units, including the 2nd Ordnance Maintenance Battalion, a Supply Battalion, the 48th Armored Medical Battalion, and a Military Police Platoon.

Elements of the division were among the first U.S. military to engage in offensive ground combat operations in the European and Mediterranean theater during World War II. The 2nd served in North Africa along with her "sister" division, the 1st Armored. The remainder of Torch's American component were infantry divisions, the 1st, 3rd, 9th and 34th Infantry Divisions. They were part of the Western Task Force of Operation Torch, which landed at Casablanca on 8 November 1942.

As the reserve force of the Western Task Force of Operation Husky, the division landed on 10 July 1943 in support of the 1st Infantry Division at the Battle of Gela. Afterward, the division next went into action in the second landing at Licata, Sicily on 21 July following the 3rd Infantry Division's better-known earlier landing on 10 July. The division then fought through to Palermo.

Normandy invasion
The division then landed in Normandy on 9 June 1944 under the command of then Major General Edward H. Brooks, operated in the Cotentin Peninsula and later formed the right flank of the Operation Cobra assault. It blunted the German attack on Avranches, then raced across France with the rest of the Third Army, reaching the Albert Canal in Belgium on 8 September. It crossed the German border near Sittard, 18 September to take up defensive positions near Geilenkirchen. On 3 October, the division launched an attack on the Siegfried Line from Marienberg, broke through, crossed the Wurm River and seized Puffendorf 16 November and Barmen 28 November.

Rhine campaign
The Division was holding positions on the Roer when it was ordered to help contain the German Ardennes offensive. The Division fought in eastern Belgium, blunting the German Fifth Panzer Army's penetration of American lines. The Division helped reduce the Bulge in January, fighting in the Ardennes forest in deep snow, and cleared the area from Houffalize to the Ourthe River of the enemy. After a rest in February, the division drove on across the Rhine 27 March, and was the first American Division to reach the Elbe at Schonebeck on 11 April. It was halted on the Elbe, 20 April, on orders. In July the division entered Berlin-the first American unit to enter the German capital city. During World War II the 2nd Armored Division took 94,151 prisoners-of-war, liberated 22,538 Allied prisoners of war, shot down or damaged on the ground 266 enemy aircraft, and destroyed or captured uncountable thousands of enemy tanks and other equipment and supplies.

In 238 battle days the 2nd Armored suffered 7,348 casualties, including 1,160 killed in action. The division was recognized for distinguished service and bravery with 9,369 individual awards, including two Medals of Honor, twenty-three Distinguished Service Crosses, and 2,302 Silver Stars as well as nearly 6,000 Purple Hearts; among those receiving the silver star were Douglas MacArthur, Bill Bowerman, Hugh Armagio, Stan Aniol and William L. Giblin. The division was twice cited by the Belgian Government and division soldiers for the next 50 years proudly wore the fourragere of the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

(no image) Hell on Wheels: The 2D Armored Division by Donald Eugene Houston (no photo)
Through Mobility We Conquer The Mechanization of U.S. Cavalry by George F. Hofmann by George F. Hofmann (no photo)
Home of the Infantry The History of Fort Benning by Peggy A. Stelpflug by Peggy A. Stelpflug (no photo)
Roer River Battles, The Germany's Stand At The Westwall, 1944 45 by Dave Higgins by Dave Higgins (no photo)
Tank Combat in North Africa The Opening Rounds Operations Sonnenblume, Brevity, Skorpion and Battleaxe by Thomas L. Jentz by Thomas L. Jentz (no photo)

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SS Contessa


Prior to the landings in French Morocco, and after the fall of France in World War II, the U.S. State Department had maintained in French North Africa an unusually large number of very able consular officials. This group was under the leadership of Mr. Robert Murphey, later General Eisenhower's political adviser. From these sources and from the military attache in Tangiers, the U.S. Army obtained much detailed information concerning conditions in Morocco and were placed in contact with loyal Frenchmen who opposed the Vichy regime and were not friendly toward Axis forces.

One Englishman and one Frenchman were smuggled into London, Karl Victor Clopet and René Malvergne. Clopet had an intimate knowledge of the ports, beaches and coast defenses along the entire coast as a result of living in Casablanca for over 12 years and with tight connections to salvage operations there. Malvergne was familiar with every turn and bar in the Sebou river channel, knew all of the shipping which was engaged in the coastal trade, and provided important information concerning pro-Nazi political sentiment which was stronger in the Port Lyautey area than in any other section of Morocco.

It was realized early on that there were not sufficient berths in the port of embarkation to permit all of the Western Task Force to load and embark simultaneously. One Sub Task Force would have to load early, a full week before setting sail. The 60th Regiment and the 1st Battalion Combat Team of the 66th Armored Regiment were well organized and all were as well trained as could have been expected, to include some amphibious training. A commanders conference was held on 14 October in Washington D.C. with Gen. Patton. It was noted that a counter sign for the attack had not been developed yet for identification purposes during operations. Someone suggested the words "George Patton" which met with unanimous approval. The challenger would call "George"; the challenged, if a friend, would answer "Patton". On the night of 15 October, troops and equipment were embarked. Some last minute loading was done on 16 October, and at 13:40 on that day, the sub task force sailed for Solomon's Island in Chesapeake Bay, where they had their rehearsal training.

On the beaches at Solomon's Island, tests of naval gunfire or air support were not allowable, but tests of communications and procedures would be the primary focus. On 17 October, all rehearsal training seemed to be going according to plan. Transports were riding at anchor with landing craft swarming in the water about them. However, at some point, Colonel Demas T. Craw reported from one of the ships that the ship's captain had refused to hang any nets or lower any craft, giving the reason that his crew was not sufficiently trained to go on the expedition. After Gen. Truscott visited with the ship's captain for a while, and informing him that the inadequate state of training and preparation was known, his refusal would have no effect on the overall operation. The captain relented, and training on that ship began. The next day, their voyage to North Africa began.

During the military preparations, another question arose from Naval commanders, how would supplies be carried up the Sebou River to the Port Lyautey airfield? Where was a ship big enough to carry these supplies, and go through a river that might be at most 17 ft (5.2 m) deep? The SS Contessa was the Navy's pick as such a ship. A message was sent to the boat's commander—Capt. William H. John—to go to Newport News to undertake a secret war mission.

The Contessa was a Standard Fruit Company vessel designed for the hauling of bananas and coconuts from Caribbean ports to the U.S. and to be hostess to cruising vacationists. She was drafted for war service in light of the critical ship shortage due to the war. The ships steward was a colorful man who spent his off hours trying to save the souls of the crew and the other half praying for the Contessa's welfare. The boat was nearing the end of her rope, she was salt cracked, rust stained, and her degaussing equipment was gone.

Upon arriving at Newport News, the Contessa went immediately into dry dock for 24 hours for repairs and preparation for her voyage to support the landing at Port Lyautey. By the evening of 18 October, she was completely loaded with gasoline, ammunition and bombs. The naval convoy had set sail already; the Contessa would have to catch up. She was short many crewmen, so the Norfolk city jail was opened up and a crew was made of those seamen who were serving time.

Eventually, the Contessa set sail, and met up with her convoy in the middle of the Atlantic. Her next stop would be at Port Lyautey airfield.

Twelve Desperate Miles The Epic World War II Voyage of the SS Contessa by Tim Brady by Tim Brady (no photo)
Sailing the Troubled Sea A Nebraska Boy Goes to War by Herbert Nolda by Herbert Nolda (no photo)
Command Of Honor General Lucian Truscott's Path to Victory in World War II by H. Paul Jeffers by H. Paul Jeffers (no photo)
With Utmost Spirit Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 by Barbara Brooks Tomblin by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (no photo)
The Path to Victory The Mediterranean Theater in World War II by Douglas Porch by Douglas Porch Douglas Porch

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Great White Fleet of 1907



In the years after its triumph in the Spanish-American War, the United States quickly grew in power and prestige on the world stage. A newly established imperial power with possessions that included Guam, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico, it was felt that the United States needed to substantially increase its naval power to retain its new global status. Led by the energy of President Theodore Roosevelt, the US Navy built eleven new battleships between 1904 and 1907. This expansion of naval strength was fortuitous as Japan, recently victorious in the Russo-Japanese War, presented a growing threat in the Pacific.

Relations with Japan were further stressed in 1906, by a series of laws which discriminated against Japanese immigrants in California. Touching off anti-American riots in Japan, these laws were ultimately repealed at Roosevelt's insistence. While this aided in calming the situation, relations remained strained and Roosevelt became concerned about the US Navy's lack of strength in the Pacific. To impress upon the Japanese that the United States could shift its main battle fleet to the Pacific with ease, he began devising a world cruise of the nation's battleships.

In addition to sending a message to the Japanese, Roosevelt wished to provide the American public with a clear message that the nation was prepared for a war at sea and secure support for the construction of additional warships. From an operational standpoint, Roosevelt and naval leaders were eager to learn about the endurance of American battleships and how they would stand up during long voyages. Initially announcing that the fleet would be moving to the West Coast for training exercises, the battleships gathered at Hampton Roads in late 1907 to take part in the Jamestown Exposition.

Sailing under command of Rear Admiral Robley Evans, the fleet consisted of the battleships USS Kearsarge, USS Kentucky, USS Illinois, USS Alabama, USS Maine, USS Missouri, USS Ohio, USS Virginia, USS Georgia, USS New Jersey, USS Rhode Island, USS Connecticut, USS Louisiana, USS Vermont, USS Kansas, and USS Minnesota. These were supported by a Torpedo Flotilla of seven destroyers and five fleet auxiliaries. Departing on December 16, 1907, the fleet steamed past the presidential yacht Mayflower as they left Hampton Roads.

Flying his flag from Connecticut, Evans announced that the fleet would be returning home via the Pacific and circumnavigating the globe. While it is unclear whether this information was leaked from the fleet or became public after the ships' arrival on the West Coast, it was not met with universal approval. While some were concerned that the nation's Atlantic naval defenses would be weakened by the fleet's prolonged absence, others were concerned about the cost. Senator Eugene Hale, the chairman of the Senate Naval Appropriation Committee, threatened to cut the fleet's funding.

Responding in typical fashion, Roosevelt replied that he already had the money and dared Congressional leaders to "try and get it back." While the leaders wrangled in Washington, Evans and his fleet continued with their voyage. On December 23, 1907, they made their first port call at Trinidad before pressing on to Rio de Janeiro. En route, the men conducted the usual "Crossing the Line" ceremonies to initiate those sailors who had never crossed the Equator. Arriving in Rio on January 12, 1908, the port call proved eventful as Evans suffered an attack of gout and several sailors became involved in a bar fight.

Departing Rio, Evans steered for the Straits of Magellan and the Pacific. Entering the straits, the ships made a brief call at Punta Arenas before transiting the dangerous passage without incident. Reaching Callao, Peru on February 20, the men enjoyed a nine-day celebration in honor of George Washington's birthday. Moving on, the fleet paused for one month at Magdalena Bay, Baja California for gunnery practice. With this complete, Evans moved up the West Coast making stops at San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco.

While in port at San Francisco, Evans' health continued to worsen and command of the fleet passed to Rear Admiral Charles Sperry. While the men were treated as royalty in San Francisco, some elements of the fleet traveled north to Washington, before the fleet reassembled on July 7. Before departing, Maine and Alabama were replaced by USS Nebraska and USS Wisconsin due to their high fuel consumption. In addition, the Torpedo Flotilla was detached. Steaming into the Pacific, Sperry took the fleet to Honolulu for a six-day stop before proceeding on to Auckland, New Zealand.

Entering port on August 9, the men were regaled with parties and warmly received. Pushing on to Australia, the fleet made stops at Sydney and Melbourne and was met with great acclaim. Steaming north, Sperry reached Manila on October 2, however liberty was not granted due to a cholera epidemic. Departing for Japan eight days later, the fleet endured a severe typhoon off Formosa before reaching Yokohama on October 18. Due to the diplomatic situation, Sperry limited liberty to those sailors with exemplary records with the goal of preventing any incidents.

Greeted with exceptional hospitality, Sperry and his officers were housed at the Emperor's Palace and the famed Imperial Hotel. In port for a week, the men of the fleet were treated to constant parties and celebrations, including one hosted by famed Admiral Togo Heihachiro. During the visit, no incidents occurred and the goal of bolstering good will between the two nations was achieved.

Dividing his fleet in two, Sperry departed Yokohama on October 25, with half heading for a visit to Amoy, China and the other to the Philippines for gunnery practice. After a brief call in Amoy, the detached ships sailed for Manila where they rejoined the fleet for maneuvers. Preparing to head for home, the Great White Fleet departed Manila on December 1 and made a week-long stop at Colombo, Ceylon before reaching the Suez Canal on January 3, 1909. While coaling at Port Said, Sperry was alerted to a severe earthquake at Messina, Sicily. Dispatching Connecticut and Illinois to provide aid, the rest of the fleet divided to make calls around the Mediterranean.

Regrouping on February 6, Sperry made final port call at Gibraltar before entering the Atlantic and setting a course for Hampton Roads. Reaching home on February 22, the fleet was met by Roosevelt aboard Mayflower and cheering crowds ashore. Lasting fourteen months, the cruise aided in the conclusion of the Root-Takahira Agreement between the United States and Japan and demonstrated that modern battleships were capable of long journeys without significant mechanical breakdowns. In addition, the voyage led to several changes in ship design including the elimination of guns near the waterline, the removal of old-style fighting tops, as well as improvements to ventilation systems and crew housing.

Operationally, the voyage provided thorough sea training for both the officers and men and led to improvements in coal economy, formation steaming, and gunnery. As a final recommendation, Sperry suggested that the US Navy change the color of its ships from white to gray. While this had been advocated for some time, it was put into effect after the fleet's return.

Teddy Roosevelt's Great White Fleet by James R. Reckner by James R. Reckner (no photo)
The Incredible Great White Fleet. by Samuel Carter III by Samuel Carter III (no photo)
Theodore Roosevelt and the Great White Fleet American Sea Power Comes of Age by Kenneth Wimmel by Kenneth Wimmel (no photo)
The Great White Fleet - Our Nation's Attempt at Global Diplomacy in the Twilight of its Innocence, 1907-1909 by Robert A. Hart by Robert A. Hart (no photo)
They'll Have to Follow You! The Triumph of the Great White Fleet by Mark Albertson by Mark Albertson (no photo)

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USS Ranger


In the 1920s, the US Navy commenced the construction of its first three aircraft carriers. These efforts, which produced USS Langley (CV-1), USS Lexington (CV-2), and USS Saratoga (CV-3), all involved the conversion of existing hulls into carriers. As work on these ships progressed, the US Navy began designing its first purpose-built carrier which was dubbed USS Ranger (CV-4). Laid down at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company on September 26, 1931, Ranger's initial design called for an unobstructed flight deck with no island and six funnels, three to side, that were hinged to fold horizontally during air operations. Though smaller than Lexington and Saratoga, Ranger's purpose-built design led to an aircraft capacity that was only marginally less than its predecessors.

As work on Ranger progressed, alterations to the design occurred including the addition of an island superstructure on the starboard side of the flight deck. The ship's defensive armament consisted of eight 5-inch guns and forty .50-inch machine guns. Sliding down the ways on February 25, 1933, Ranger was sponsored by First Lady Lou H. Hoover. Over the next year, work continued and the carrier was completed. Commissioned on June 4, 1934 with Captain Arthur L. Bristol in command, Ranger commenced shakedown exercises off the Virginia Capes before beginning air operations on June 21. The first landing on the new carrier was conducted by Lieutenant Commander A.C. Davis flying a SBU-1. Further training for Ranger's air group was conducted in August.

USS Ranger (CV-4) - Interwar Years:
Later in August, Ranger departed on an extended shakedown cruise to South America which included port calls at Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo. Returning to Norfolk, VA, the carrier conducted operations locally before receiving orders for the Pacific in April 1935. Passing through the Panama Canal, Ranger arrived at San Diego, CA on the 15th. Remaining in the Pacific for the next four years, the carrier took part in fleet maneuvers and war games as far west as Hawaii while also experimenting with cold weather operations off Alaska. In January 1939, Ranger departed California and sailed for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to participate in winter fleet maneuvers. With the completion of these exercises, it steamed to Norfolk where it arrived in late April.

Operating along the East Coast through the summer of 1939, Ranger was assigned to the Neutrality Patrol that fall following the outbreak of World War II in Europe. The initial responsibility of this force was to track warlike operations of combatant forces in the Western Hemisphere. Patrolling between Bermuda and Argentia, Newfoundland, Ranger's seakeeping ability was found lacking as it proved difficult to conduct operations in heavy weather. Continuing in this role through 1940 and 1941, the carrier was returning to Norfolk from a patrol to Port-of-Spain, Trinidad when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7.

USS Ranger (CV-4) - World War II Begins:
Departing Norfolk two weeks later, Ranger conducted a patrol of the South Atlantic before entering drydock in March 1942. Undergoing repairs, the carrier also received the new RCA CXAM-1 radar. Deemed too slow to keep up with newer carriers, such as USS Yorktown (CV-5) and USS Enterprise (CV-6), in Pacific, Ranger remained in the Atlantic to support operations against Germany. With the completion of repairs, Ranger sailed on April 22 to deliver a force of sixty-eight P-40 Warhawks to Accra, Gold Coast. Returning to Quonset Point, RI in late May, the carrier conducted a patrol to Argentia before delivering a second cargo of P-40s to Accra in July. With the completion of this mission, Ranger operated off Norfolk before joining four new Sangamon-class escort carriers at Bermuda.

USS Ranger (CV-4) - Operation Torch:
Leading this carrier force, Ranger provided air superiority for the Operation Torch landings in Vichy-ruled French Morocco in November 1942. Early on November 8, Ranger began launching aircraft from a position approximately 30 miles northwest of Casablanca. While F4F Wildcats strafed Vichy airfields, SBD Dauntless dive bombers struck at Vichy naval vessels. In three days of operations, Ranger launched 496 sorties which resulted in the destruction of around 85 enemy aircraft (15 in the air, approx. 70 on the ground), the sinking of the battleship Jean Bart, severe damage to the destroyer leader Albatros, and attacks on the cruiser Primaugut. With the fall of Casablanca to American forces on November 11, the carrier departed for Norfolk the next day. Arriving, Ranger underwent an overhaul from December 16, 1942 to February 7, 1943.

USS Ranger (CV-4) - With the Home Fleet:
Departing the yard, Ranger carried another load of P-40s to Africa before spending much of the summer of 1943 conducting pilot training off the New England coast. Crossing the Atlantic in late August, the carrier joined the British Home Fleet at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands. Putting out on October 2 as part of Operation Leader, Ranger and a combined Anglo-American force moved towards Norway with the goal of attacking German shipping around Vestfjorden. Avoiding detection, Ranger began launching aircraft on October 4. Striking a short time later, the aircraft sank two merchant vessels in Bodo roadstead and damaged several more. Though located by three German aircraft, the carrier's combat air patrol downed two and chased off the third. Returning to Scapa Flow, Ranger commenced patrols to Iceland with the British Second Battle Squadron. These continued until late November when the carrier detached and sailed for Boston, MA.

USS Ranger (CV-4) - Later Career:
On January 3, 1944, Ranger was designated as a training carrier and ordered to operate out of Quonset Point. These duties were interrupted in April when it transported a cargo of P-38 Lightnings to Casablanca. While in Morocco, it embarked several damaged aircraft as well as numerous passengers for transport to New York. After arriving in New York, Ranger steamed to Norfolk for an overhaul. Though Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Ernest King favored a massive overhaul to bring the carrier on par with its contemporaries, he was discouraged in following through by his staff who pointed out that the project would draw resources away from new construction. As a result, the project was limited to strengthening the flight deck, installation of new catapults, and improving the ship's radar systems.

With the completion of the overhaul, Ranger sailed for San Diego where it embarked Night Fighting Squadron 102 before pressing on to Pearl Harbor. From August to October, it conducted night carrier flight training operations in Hawaiian waters before returning to California to serve as a training carrier. Operating from San Diego, Ranger spent the remainder of the war training naval aviators off the California coast. With the end of the war in September, it transited the Panama Canal and made stops at New Orleans, LA, Pensacola, FL, and Norfolk before reaching the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on November 19. After a brief overhaul, Ranger resumed operations on the East Coast until being decommissioned on October 18, 1946. The carrier was sold for scrap the following January.

Uss Ranger The Navy's First Flattop From Keel To Mast, 1934 1946 by Robert J. Cressman by Robert J. Cressman (no photo)
With Utmost Spirit Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 by Barbara Brooks Tomblin by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (no photo)
Aircraft Carriers A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events, Volume 1 1909-1945 by Norman Polmar by Norman Polmar (no photo)
Wildcats Over Casablanca November 1942 - Operation Torch by John W. Lambert by John W. Lambert (no photo)
Meeting the Fox The Allied Invasion of Africa, from Operation Torch to Kasserine Pass to Victory in Tunisia by Orr Kelly by Orr Kelly (no photo)
The Path to Victory The Mediterranean Theater in World War II by Douglas Porch by Douglas Porch Douglas Porch

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USS Massachusetts


Battleship Massachusetts, known by her crew as "Big Mamie," was assigned as flagship for a covering force of warships supporting the invasion of North Africa, "Operation Torch." On November 8, 1942, she engaged the French battleship Jean Bart in a gun duel and fired the first American 16" projectile of World War II. By the end of the day she had fired more than 700 16" projectiles, silencing the Jean Bart and contributing to the sinking of five enemy ships.

After a brief overhaul in December 1942, Massachusetts went on to the Pacific to participate in the invasions of the Gilbert Islands, the Marshall Islands, strikes in the Caroline Islands, and a bombardment of Ponape Island in May 1944. She returned home for modernization before participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and air strikes on the Japanese home islands. On August 9, 1945, during a bombardment of the ironworks in Kamaishi, Honshu, Big Mamie fired the war's last 16" shell. Over the course of the war, she sank or damaged 5 enemy ships and shot down 39 aircraft. She earned 11 battle stars for her World War II service and never lost a man in combat.

The Massachusetts arrived home on September 13, 1945. Through the efforts of former crew members and Massachusetts schoolchildren, Big Mamie was saved from the scrapheap and was towed to Fall River in June 1965. She was opened to the public shortly thereafter and now serves as the Commonwealth's official memorial to Bay State citizens who gave their lives in World War II and the Persian Gulf War. USS Massachusetts is one of five National Historic Landmarks on exhibit at Battleship Cove, the world's largest collection of historic naval ships.

(no image) USS Massachusetts by Turner Publishing (no photo)
(no image) Uss Massachusetts by NORMAN LOTT, ARNOLD S. SUMRALL, ROBERT F. FRIEDMAN (no photo)
Historical Dictionary of the United States Navy by James M. Morris by James M. Morris (no photo)
Allied Battleships In World War II by Robert O. Dulin Jr. by Robert O. Dulin Jr. (no photo)
With Utmost Spirit Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 by Barbara Brooks Tomblin by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (no photo)
The Path to Victory The Mediterranean Theater in World War II by Douglas Porch by Douglas Porch Douglas Porch

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USS Joseph T. Dickman


USS Joseph T. Dickman, a 21,900-ton attack transport, was built at Camden, New Jersey, as the civilian passenger ship Peninsula State. Completed in 1922, she was soon renamed, initially becoming President Pierce and a few months later President Roosevelt. Operating commercially until 1940, she was then taken over by the War Department, renamed Joseph T. Dickman and converted to a troop transport. In May 1941 the Army transferred the ship to the Navy. Designated AP-26, she was commissioned in June and spent the next four months taking part in amphibious exercises and undergoing further shipyard work. Between November 1941 and January 1942 the ship carried British troops to India by way of the Cape of Good Hope.

After her return to the U.S. in February 1942 Joseph T. Dickman received modifications to better suit her for amphibious operations. She was employed in training and transport duties in the Caribbean area for much of the year, and in October and November 1942 participated in the invasion of Morocco. She made a transport voyage to the South Pacific between late December 1942 and mid-March 1943. Redesignated APA-13 in February 1943, Joseph T. Dickman steamed across the Atlantic to North Africa in May and in July landed troops during the invasion of Sicily. Participation in the Salerno operation in September 1943 was followed by transportation service in the Mediterranean during the next two months.

Joseph T. Dickman went to the British Isles in February 1944 to begin preparations for the invasion of France. During the Normandy invasion in June she was part of the force that assaulted "Utah" Beach. From mid-August until late October 1944 Joseph T. Dickman participated in the invasion of southern France and subsequent transport missions in that region.

With the amphibious phase of the European war at an end, in January 1945 Joseph T. Dickman went to the Pacific, initially carrying troops to the war zone and, in March and April, taking part in the Okinawa invasion. She was then employed on logistics duties until the summer, when she was converted to a casualty evacuation transport. This work was completed just before Japan's mid-August decision to surrender brought an end to the fighting. For the rest of 1945 Joseph T. Dickman helped bring veterans home from the former war zone. She was decommissioned in March 1946 and turned over to the Maritime Commission. Joseph T. Dickman was sold for scrapping in January 1948.

We Shall Suffer There Hong Kong's Defenders Imprisoned, 1942–45 by Tony Banham by Tony Banham (no photo)
The United States Coast Guard in World War II A History of Domestic and Overseas Actions by Thomas Ostrom The United States Coast Guard and National Defense A History from World War I to the Present by Thomas P. Ostrom by Thomas Ostrom (no photo)
With Utmost Spirit Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 by Barbara Brooks Tomblin by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (no photo)
The Path to Victory The Mediterranean Theater in World War II by Douglas Porch by Douglas Porch Douglas Porch
Bloodstained Sea The U.S. Coast Guard in the Battle of the Atlantic, 1941-1944 by Michael G. Walling by Michael G. Walling Michael G. Walling

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USS Thomas Jefferson


SS Thomas Jefferson (APA-30) was a President Jackson-class attack transport. She was ordered built by the U.S. Navy for use in World War II and was assigned the task of transporting troops to and from battle areas. For this dangerous work, she was awarded six battle stars for World War II service and four for the Korean War.

She was laid down under Maritime Commission contract (MC hull 56) as President Garfield on 5 February 1940 at Newport News, Virginia, by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company for the American President Lines; launched on 20 November 1940; sponsored by Miss Eugenia Merrill; acquired by the United States Navy on 1 May 1942 from the War Shipping Administration; converted into a troop transport (AP-60) by her builders; and commissioned on 31 August 1942, Commander Chauncey R. Crutcher in command.

Following a brief shakedown, the new transport participated in amphibious exercises in the Hampton Roads-Virginia Capes area. On 23 October, the transport embarked elements of the 3rd Infantry Division and got underway the next day with Task Group (TG) 34.9, the Center Attack Group, for the invasion of North Africa. All units of Task Force (TF) 34, the Western Naval Attack Force, rendezvoused south of Cape Race, Newfoundland, on the 28th and arrived off Morocco on 7 November. Thomas Jefferson ... was one of four transports loaded with the troops that comprised the assault wave against Fedhala. She was in Fedhala Roads at 2353 that night and had her boats in the water before 0200 the next morning. The transport lost 16 of her 33 boats that began the assault, because they landed on a rocky beach approximately three miles from their designated area.

On 11 November, Jefferson's boats rescued survivors of the torpedoed USS Joseph Hewes (AP-50). The next day they picked up survivors of USS Hugh L. Scott (AP-43), USS Edward Rutledge (AP-52), and USS Tasker H. Bliss (AP-42) which had been torpedoed by the German submarine U-130. On the 15th, Thomas Jefferson joined a homeward-bound convoy and returned to Norfolk, Virginia, on the 26th.

On 27 December 1942, Thomas Jefferson steamed in a convoy bound for the South Pacific. She disembarked troops at New Caledonia and Australia in late January 1943; and, during the passage back to Panama, she was reclassified an attack transport and redesignated APA-30 on 1 February 1943. She departed the Panama Canal Zone on 3 March with a convoy bound, via Norfolk, for New York.

The attack transport returned to Norfolk in mid-April and participated in landing exercises to prepare for the invasion of Sicily. She reached Oran on 22 June with her troops combat loaded. After two more weeks of practice landings, she sortied with TG 85.2, Attack Group Two, for the "Bailey's Beach" area of Sicily. The sea was rough on the morning of 10 July as the troops clambered down Jefferson's debarkation nets into landing craft. However, when they did land, there was very little opposition. During the operation, the transport's gunners shot down two enemy planes.

Thomas Jefferson returned to Algeria and was assigned to TG 81.2, the Transport Group of the Southern Attack Force, for the assault on Salerno. She departed Oran on 5 September and arrived off Salerno the night of the 8th. The transport landed her troops on schedule on the beaches in front of Torre di Paestum despite fierce air opposition and steamed to Oran to shuttle reinforcements and supplies to Italy. Then, late in November, she loaded elements of the 82nd Airborne Division and headed for the British Isles. After disembarking the paratroopers at Belfast, Thomas Jefferson continued onward to the United States.

Thomas Jefferson arrived at Norfolk on 1 January 1944 and moved up the coast to New York in early February. On the 11th, she stood out to sea with the largest single troop convoy of the war on a return voyage to Belfast. The transport next held weeks of amphibious training before steaming to Weymouth, England, to join the Normandy invasion fleet. On 5 June, Thomas Jefferson got underway for France with the mighty Allied armada that was to begin the invasion of "Fortress Europe" and, early the next morning was at her assigned position off the beaches. Her boats landed their troops at 0630. The ship completed unloading that afternoon and, at sunset, re-crossed the channel to Weymouth.

Thomas Jefferson remained in the British Isles for a month before returning to North Africa early in July. From Oran, she was routed to Salerno to practice amphibious operations with the 36th Infantry Division in preparation for the invasion of southern France. She joined TF 87, the "Camel Force," to land assault troops on the east flank of Provence. Departing Palermo, she arrived off the assault area on 14 August. The next morning, her boats landed troops on Red Beach. The transport completed unloading on the 16th and returned to Naples, Italy, to begin shuttling reinforcements and supplies from Italy, North Africa, and Marseilles to the southern beachhead. On 24 October, she got underway for the United States and arrived at Norfolk on 8 November.

The ship departed Norfolk on 15 December 1944 for the Pacific war zone. She called at San Francisco, California, and arrived at Pearl Harbor on 28 January 1945. Routed on to the South Pacific, the transport trained with marines in the Solomons and then combat loaded them for the assault against the Ryukyus. She was at Ulithi on 17 March and sortied with TG 53.2, Transport Group "Baker," of the Northern Attack Force.
Participating in the Okinawa invasion.

Thomas Jefferson was off the Hagushi Beaches of Okinawa on 1 April when Admiral Richmond K. Turner gave the command to "Land the Landing Force." Her boats left the line of departure at 0800 and landed 30 minutes later. After five days off the bitterly contested island, the transport headed for Saipan and Pearl Harbor. On 8 May, she departed Hawaii carrying troops and cargo for Okinawa. The ship unloaded there and steamed homeward. After calls at Ulithi, Guadalcanal, Espiritu Santo, the Russell Islands, New Caledonia and Hawaii, she arrived at San Francisco on 15 July. She moved down the coast to San Diego, California, and sailed from there on the 23d to return to the Far East. She called at Pearl Harbor and then headed, via Saipan, to Japan.

Arriving at Sasebo on 22 September, Thomas Jefferson got underway for Manila three days later. She returned to Sasebo with occupation troops and supplies on 20 October. The transport was then assigned to "Operation Magic Carpet" duty, returning servicemen from overseas to the United States. On 4 January 1946, Thomas Jefferson was assigned to the Naval Transportation Service to transport servicemen's dependents to Pacific bases. She shuttled passengers and cargo between San Francisco, and Pearl Harbor for the next 10 months. On 17 October, the ship departed San Diego for the U.S. East Coast and arrived at New York on 4 November. She entered the navy yard for alterations and repairs which were not completed until March 1947.

Thomas Jefferson began the return voyage to the U.S. West Coast on 14 March 1947 and arrived at Oakland, California, on the 30th. Until August 1949, the transport plied between San Francisco and ports in Hawaii, Guam, Midway Island, Okinawa, Japan, China, and the Philippines. She made another round trip to New York in September and October and returned to San Diego on 10 November. Assigned to the Military Sea Transportation Service for duty on 31 October 1949, she continued her Pacific runs until 1950.

Thomas Jefferson was at San Diego on 25 June 1950 when the North Koreans invaded South Korea. She made a round trip to Yokohama and, on 28 August headed back to the Far East. The transport called at Yokosuka and Kobe before arriving at Inchon, Korea on 20 September for eight days. In October, she was again in Korean waters, shuttling troops and cargo from Pusan to Riwon, north of the 40th parallel. The ship returned to Sasebo on 10 November and then got underway for San Francisco.

The attack transport remained at San Francisco from 1 December 1950 to 24 January 1951 when she headed directly to Pusan with troops and cargo. She off-loaded between 8 and 10 February; returned to the United States; and was back at Pusan on 2 April. The next day, the ship got underway for San Francisco, but stayed only to embark troops and supplies before beginning the return voyage, via Amchitka, to Japan. The transport made voyages to Korea again in May and August. She returned to San Francisco on 10 September 1951 and did not sail west of the Hawaiian Islands until 1954.

APA-30 cruised to the Far East in August and December 1954 before returning to San Francisco for inactivation. She was placed in commission, in reserve, on 7 March 1955 and out of commission, in reserve, on 18 July of that year. The transport was stricken from the Navy list on 1 October 1958 and transferred to the Maritime Administration for disposal. She was sold to Zidell Explorations, Inc., Portland, Oregon, on 1 March 1973 and scrapped.

Thomas Jefferson received six battle stars for World War II service and four for the Korean War.

With Utmost Spirit Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 by Barbara Brooks Tomblin by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (no photo)
The United States Navy in World War II by S.E. Smith by S.E. Smith (no photo)
Omaha Beach A Flawed Victory by Adrian R. Lewis by Adrian R. Lewis (no photo)
Omaha Beach D-Day, June 6, 1944 by Joseph Balkoski by Joseph Balkoski Joseph Balkoski
The Path to Victory The Mediterranean Theater in World War II by Douglas Porch by Douglas Porch Douglas Porch
Okinawa The Last Battle of World War II by Robert Leckie by Robert Leckie Robert Leckie
The Ultimate Battle Okinawa 1945--The Last Epic Struggle of World War II by Bill Sloan by Bill Sloan Bill Sloan
The Two-Ocean War by Samuel Eliot Morison by Samuel Eliot Morison Samuel Eliot Morison

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USS Leonard Wood


USS Leonard Wood (APA-12) was a Harris-class attack transport that served with the US Navy during World War II.

Leonard Wood, ex-Nutmeg State and Western World, was built in 1922 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation at Sparrows Point, Maryland; purchased by the War Department in 1939 and renamed Leonard Wood after the former Army Chief of Staff; served as an Army transport until acquired by the Navy 3 June 1941; and commissioned 10 June (with Hull ID AP-25), manned by the United States Coast Guard, Comdr. H. G. Bradbury, USCG, in command.

On 8 August 1932, Western World ran aground at Porto do Boi, Brazil. She had 166 crew and 85 passengers on board at the time. The passengers were taken off by the German ship General Osorio and landed at Rio de Janeiro. She was refloated on 10 September, subsequently repaired and returned to service.

After training off North Carolina, Leonard Wood departed Halifax, Nova Scotia, 10 November 1941 carrying reinforcements around the Cape of Good Hope to British outposts in the Far East. After debarking troops at Bombay and Singapore, she returned, entering Philadelphia Navy Yard in March 1942 for conversion to an attack transport. She was re-designated APA-12 on 1 February 1943.

Alterations completed late in April, the attack transport trained in Chesapeake Bay for the invasion of North Africa. She departed Hampton Roads 24 October carrying almost 1,900 fighting men from the 3rd Infantry Division and slipped in close to beaches at Fedhala, French Morocco, on the night of 7 to 8 November. The next morning, she sent her boats ashore and provided gunfire support while also rescuing survivors from torpedoed sister ships.

Leonard Wood remained in the first line of transports, carrying out her mission until 12 November when enemy submarines, which had already sunk or damaged six Allied ships, forced the remaining transports to finish unloading at Casablanca. Departing 17 November, she arrived Norfolk on the 30th for repairs and more amphibious warfare training.

The transport sailed 3 June 1943 and arrived Mers el Kebir, Algeria, 22 June where she prepared for the assault on Sicily. She sortied with TF 65 on 5 July and 4 days later, began unloading waves of troops in the Wood's Hole sector, some 5.5 miles west of Socglitti, Sicily. At dawn of the 10th, her gunners fired at an enemy bomber which dropped bombs 200 to 300 yards astern, and kept up an antiaircraft barrage throughout the day, helping to splash three planes. With unloading completed and damaged landing craft salvaged, the ship got underway for Norfolk, Virginia on the 12th, arriving 4 August.

Three weeks later, she departed Norfolk for San Francisco, embarked troops, then steamed for Honolulu, arriving 27 September. Leonard Wood spent the remainder of World War II in the Pacific, distinguishing herself in seven amphibious landings.

In the Gilbert Islands and Marshall Islands operations, the ship gained experience, especially in cargo handling, which proved invaluable when Leonard Wood later took part in the final push toward victory with the landings at Saipan, Leyte, and Lingayen Gulf.

Leonard Wood departed Pearl harbor 29 May 1944, bound for the capture and occupation of Saipan, Marianas Islands. Arriving Eniwetok, Marshall Islands, an atoll Leonard Wood had helped to secure just 3 months before, the ship fueled, watered, and provisioned before departing 11 June for her assigned anchorage off Saipan.

Arriving 15 June, Leonard Wood unloaded and cleared all boats in 49 minutes. For the next 9 days, the transport stood off Saipan, unloading cargo and receiving on board casualties for transfer to hospital ships. The transport sailed 24 June for Eniwetok, and then returned to Pearl Harbor 20 July.

After Saipan, the ship made transport and training runs between Pearl Harbor, Eniwetok and Guadalcanal until she sailed from Guadalcanal 8 September for the capture and occupation of Angaur Island, Palau Island Group. Arriving 7 September, the ship landed troops, and then began unloading cargo and receiving casualties. Leonard Wood completed unloading 21 September, and departed for Manus Island 27 September.

Remaining at Manus just long enough to fuel, provision and reembark troops, the transport sailed 12 October to begin the long-awaited liberation of the Philippines. Arriving off the Leyte beachheads 20 October, Leonard Wood debarked troops and cargo in record time and steamed for Palau only 10 hours later.

For the next week, Leonard Wood prepared for further operations in the Philippine Islands, departing Sansapor, New Guinea, 30 December 1944 for the assault on Lingayen Gulf. Many Japanese suicide planes attacked the formation and Leonard Wood helped down one of them.

Arriving Lingayen 9 January 1945, she again unloaded troops and cargo while firing at enemy planes before departing the same day for Leyte. Leonard Wood took part in her last amphibious landing with the Mindoro Island assault 9 February 1945. Debarking her troops and cargo in less than 5 hours, she steamed for San Francisco via Leyte, Ulithi, and Pearl Harbor, arriving 27 March.

After repairs at San Francisco, Leonard Wood began transport duties between the United States and the western Pacific, making two runs to Manila and one to Tokyo.

The ship's Coast Guard crew debarked 22 March 1946 when Leonard Wood decommissioned and was redelivered to the Army at Seattle, Washington, pending transfer to the War Shipping Administration. The ship was sold to Consolidated Builders, Inc., for scrap 20 January 1948.

Leonard Wood earned eight battle stars for World War II service.

The United States Coast Guard in World War II A History of Domestic and Overseas Actions by Thomas Ostrom by Thomas Ostrom (no photo)
Soldiers Lost at Sea A Chronicle of Troopship Disasters by James E. Wise, Jr. by James E. Wise, Jr. (no photo)
With Utmost Spirit Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-1945 by Barbara Brooks Tomblin by Barbara Brooks Tomblin (no photo)
D-Day in the Pacific The Battle of Saipan by Harold J. Goldberg by Victor Brooks (no photo)
The Path to Victory The Mediterranean Theater in World War II by Douglas Porch by Douglas Porch Douglas Porch

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Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle


Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle, born in 1922 in Algiers and shot in the same city, is known to have murdered 24 December 1942 Admiral François Darlan, the former head of the Vichy government, the de facto power in Africa French North.

He received his secondary education at the Lycée Stanislas in Paris. He was then a student at Algiers, where his father was a journalist with The Dispatch Algeria. His action, which cost him his life, greatly changed the political situation in North Africa, to the takeover of the civilian and military authorities by General Giraud and ultimate unification of decision-making bodies of the French Committee of National Liberation in the authority of de Gaulle.

As one who did not approve of the armistice, he attended November 11, 1940, at the Arc de Triomphe, the anti-German student demonstration. He then joined the free zone through the line illegally and being returned to Algiers, where his father was a journalist with the Algerian Dispatch, he made ​​a trip to the Youth Building. After his BA in 1942, there was surprised by the Allied landings on 8 November 1942 during Operation Torch, and regretted that his comrades who had participated in the coup of November 8th, and enabled the successful landing do not have associated with their business.

Following the landing, Fernand Bonnier de La Chapelle was one of the first to engage in Africa Corps Franc training under the initial direction of Henri Astier ‘d Vigerie, former head of the northern resistance African. This choice of engagement necessarily imply hostile to vichysme personal beliefs. Indeed, this training was founded by a group of resistance on 8 November that were unbearable maintain the power of the “Admiral of the Fleet” François Darlan compromise notoriously in collaboration, and, on the other hand, did not want not serve under the generals who came to shoot the allies in Oran and Morocco, and, in the case of Admiral Jean-Pierre Esteva had opened without a fight Tunisia forces axis.

When Henri Astier was appointed head of the police as Deputy Secretary of the Interior, and hoped that by Darlan (and wrongly) to attach, the Corps Franc Africa maintained informal relations with last, and it was Bonnier who was designated to provide this link. So he went often visit, to this end, the home of Henri d’Astier, where he also met the abbot Lieutenant Pierre-Marie Cordier, also resistant November 8, friend and confessor of Astier.

At that time, members of the Body franc came almost every night in Algiers, where they covered the walls of unkind Darlan slogans such as “The Admiral Fleet!”. Darlan not only risked blame for his past collaboration policy vis-à-vis Germany, but also for his attitude has since maintained in the Allied camp the exclusion laws inspired Hitler and the crackdown Vichy, such as internment in concentration camps in the south of thousands of French resistance, Spanish Republicans and Democrats in Central Europe, guilty of having committed in 1940 in the French Foreign Legion to to fight for France (see political situation in Africa released (1942-1943)).

It is in this climate that, moving from words to deeds, Fernand Bonnier de la Chapelle drew the short straw with three of his comrades (Otto Gross, Robert and Philippe Tournier Ragueneau), who had participated A few weeks earlier, the coup of 8 November 1942, thus contributing to the success of Operation Torch, one of them who would devote to rid France of Darlan, whose presence can not made ​​any union with the Free France .

Following the draw, Bonnier procured an old gun “ruby” 7.65, and December 24, 1942, chose to do his gesture day he first met Father Cordier which he confessed. The priest, after hearing, gave him in advance, given the strength of its decision, the absolution. Then Bonnier, accompanied by car by his comrades, appeared in the late morning at the Summer Palace with an identity card in the name of Morand. Darlan was absent, he was advised to return in the afternoon.

He returned to the Summer Palace where he settled into a hallway to wait Darlan. After waiting some time, he finally saw the Admiral appear and go to his office, accompanied by Captain Frigate Hourcade. Bonnier met him and shot him with two bullets.

Then as Hourcade clung to him, he wounded a ball away, but was quickly extinguished by the occupants of neighboring offices. Asked the same evening by the commissioners Garidacci (head of mobile brigades) and Esquerré, he claimed to have acted alone and did not seem to worry about the sequence of events.

The next morning, December 25, 1942, a captain judge buckled in less than an hour of instruction. After a declaration of Bonnier saying he had acted alone for reasons of moral cleanliness, the judge found out enough to close the investigation, and signed an order referring to the military court of Algiers.

The court sat that night and rejected requests for further investigation, which, however, were right, presented by M Viala and Sansonetti, counsel for the accused. The rest of the procedure took place in less than a quarter of an hour, and the court, without taking into account neither patriotic motives Bonnier, nor his age, was sentenced to death.

A clemency, which was suspensive appeal was then immediately presented. It should legally be submitted to the Head of State, Marshal Petain and Darlan as other members of the Imperial Council exercised their authority “in the name of Marshal prevented.” This procedure would have led to wait until the end of hostilities to allow it to decide.

Nogues, dean of the Imperial Council, proclaimed himself acting high commissioner, under an order made by Darlan December 2, 1942, but not published (which it withdrew any legal value, even in the legal order of Vichy) and, usurping the function of Head of State Marshal, which yet he claimed to have his powers, he immediately rejected, at night, the clemency. Giraud, who headed the military justice as Commander-in-chief, refused to postpone the execution, and gave the order to shoot the next morning Bonnier.

But at night, shortly after the conviction, however, was an event occurs, which could have saved Bonnier at the last minute. This alarmed by his conviction, had asked to speak to a police officer again. It was the Commissioner Garidacci who came to hear him. It seems that Bonnier is then revealed that the Abbe Cordier knew his business, and he is also invoked the protection of Henri d’Astier, Interior Secretary of the Office, which he knew hostility Darlan. He had hitherto relied on it in case of success of his act, but was not aware of the steps already taken by Astier and his friends, he suddenly felt abandoned. Garidacci retained in his possession this confession without telling anyone, instead of communicating it to his superiors, with the intention, do you think, to sing his head later, Henri Astier, so that it was only discovered a few days later, during a search of his office, too late to Bonnier.

Giraud was elected on the same day by the Vichy members of the Imperial Council, instead of Darlan. When various people, including Henri Astier, appeared to Giraud, just elected for the grace of Bonnier, it replied that it was too late.

Bonnier was rehabilitated by a Chamber judgment revisions to the Court of Appeal of Algiers, December 21, 1945, which held that the “execution” by him of Admiral Darlan was done “in the interest the liberation of France. ”

On his grave is written, “Death to France” de Gaulle declared that he had acted in the interests of France.

The assassination of Darlan by Bonnier de La Chapelle has given rise to many theories, some postulating that the order to kill the admiral came to the camp of General de Gaulle’s entourage, others blaming foremost conspiracy to supporters of the Count of Paris. British historian Antony Beevor said meanwhile that Bonnier de La Chapelle was recruited by the SOE: the wish to get rid of Darlan Secret Service of the United Kingdom, have organized the attack and initially planned to evacuate to Bonnier Algeria, after completing the operation.

Admirals of the World A Biographical Dictionary, 1500 to the Present by William Stewart by William Stewart (no photo)
Defeat and Triumph by Stephen Sussna by Stephen Sussna (no photo)
Verdict on Vichy Power and Prejudice in the Vichy France Regime by Michael Curtis by Michael Curtis (no photo)
We Killed Darlan Algiers 1942 A Personal Account of the French Resistance in North Africa, 1940-1942 by Mario Faivre by Mario Faivre (no photo)
Ian Fleming's Commandos The Story of the Legendary 30 Assault Unit by Nicholas Rankin by Nicholas Rankin (no photo)

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General Terry Allen


Terry de la Mesa Allen was born in Fort Douglas, Utah, United States to Colonel Samuel Edward Allen and Conchita de la Mesa, daughter of a Spanish-American colonel. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1907, but was discharged after failing two courses, including an ordinance and gunnery course in his senior year in 1912. He completed his education by acquiring a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and entered the US Army as a graduate of the university's Reserve Officer Training Corps on 30 Nov 1912. In 1913, he served under General John J. Pershing along the US-Mexican border. He married Mary Frances Robinson in Jun 1928, and had a son in 1929 who eventually would become an army officer as well.

During WW1, Allen served in France as the commanding officer of the 3rd Battalion of the US 358th Infantry Regiment of the US 90th Division, with the war-time rank of major. In France, he was remembered as a fearless leader who did not hesitate from personally leading patrols into no-man's land. He remained in Germany as an officer in the occupation forces until Sep 1920. In Jun 1924, he completed courses from the Cavalry School at Fort Riley, Kansas, United States, in 1926 a course at the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and in Jun 1935 the Army War College in Washington, D.C.

On 1 Oct 1940, a year before the US entered WW2, Allen was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. When the war began for the US in Dec 1941, he became the assistant division commander of the US 36th Infantry Division. Between 19 Jun 1942 and Sep 1943, he headed the US 1st Infantry Division "Big Red One" in North Africa and Sicily. As the head of the 36th Infantry Division, he was known for his tendency to push his men to fight the hardest but at the same time for his compassion to make sure his men got all they deserved, even if it was just an extra pair of dry socks. To some he was as flamboyant as his commander George Patton, and he had the list of victories to back him up. The combat records solely did not impress his superiors, however; his compassion for his men spoiled them, and the officers viewed the men of the 1st Infantry Division as undisciplined and a disgrace for the US Army. Patton, himself unorthodox and popular, held Allen as a valuable and talented colleague, therefore allowing Allen to maintain his position. When Patton lost part of his influence for the "slapping incident", Allen suffered, too. He was relieved of command and sent back to the US the head up the 104th Division, consisted of mostly draftees and other newly enlisted personnel. In Oct 1944, however, Allen was given another chance. The 104th Infantry Division fought its way into Germany by means of France and Belgium. When WW2 ended in 1945, he held the reputation of never losing a single battle in the war; in fact, he had never lost a battle in his entire career.

After the war, Allen retired on 31 Aug 1946 at the rank of major general. He passed away in 1969 in El Paso, Texas, United States. He now rests in peace at the National Cemetery at Fort Bliss, Texas besides his son, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1967.

Omaha Beach A Flawed Victory by Adrian R. Lewis by Adrian R. Lewis (no photo)
The Big Red One America's Legendary 1st Infantry Division from World War I to Desert Storm by James Scott Wheeler by James Scott Wheeler (no photo)
Terrible Terry Allen Combat General of World War II - The Life of an American Soldier by Gerald Astor by Gerald Astor Gerald Astor
Here is Your War by Ernie Pyle by Ernie Pyle Ernie Pyle
The Fighting First The Untold Story Of The Big Red One on D-Day by Flint Whitlock by Flint Whitlock Flint Whitlock
Bitter Victory The Battle for Sicily, 1943 by Carlo D'Este by Carlo D'Este Carlo D'Este

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Lloyd Fredendall


Fredendall, Lloyd, born on 28 December, 1883, died on October 4, 1963, was an American general of World War II. He led the U.S. 2nd Corps in the North African Campaign. He oversaw the landing of the Central Task Force during the Operation Torch (landings in North Africa). General Lloyd Fredendall is best known for being the commander of Second U.S. Corps early in the Tunisian campaign. In February 1943, the Allies suffered defeats in Tunisia against Erwin Rommel (the battle of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine battle) led to the dismissal of Fredendall and its replacement by George Patton in March 1943.

The general view, Fredendall was neither friendly nor competent. U.S. General Lucian K. Truscott describes it thus:

“He was small, but it was a foul-mouthed big mouth, who railed constantly against his superiors as well as against his subordinates. He was quick to draw conclusions, but often unfounded categorical. It was seldom that Fredendall kind of PC, whether to visit the outposts or from recognition. But he could not bear that his subordinates, who were yet in contact with the terrain and local conditions, give their opinion”

One of his superiors, an Englishman, General Kenneth Anderson, had said before Kasserine that he thought Fredendall was incompetent.

He spoke and gave his orders using its own jargon and the infantry was “do the little walkers”, and artillery, “cap guns.” Instead of mentioning the map coordinates agreed, he used his own code, as “the place that starts with a C”. All this field training, in terms of performers, a waste of time and sometimes dangerous confusions.

Before Kasserine, Fredendall was dug by an engineering company a vast underground headquarters, but located 120 kmbehind the front line. This was necessary, he said, because, he said: “There was receiving radio links much better than on the surface.”

General Omar Bradley said of Fredendall: “It’s a real drag on all U.S. troops.” Fredendall not only never visited the front, and never took the advice of the unit heads who were at the forefront, but spreading it over the troops and fragmented into small groups stationed too far from each other. And isolated American soldiers could neither assist nor receive the artillery barrages. But the firepower of artillery was the main asset of Americans.

After the defeat at Kasserine Pass, Eisenhower went to visit the Second American Corps. On 5 March, 1943 , he asked Omar Bradley: “What do you think of the command here? “” Really bad, “said Bradley,” I talked to all commanders. As one man, they said they had no confidence at all in Fredendall.” On March 6, 1943, on the orders of Eisenhower, Patton replaced Fredendall, which was transferred to America. Until his retirement in 1946, it dealed only with training camps.

For the historian Carlo D’Este (also US officer retired), Fredendall was “the most inept of all senior officers who have worked at the General Staff during the Second World War.” And Commander Ernest Harmon (Second Armored US), in his account of the battle of Kasserine, Fredendall said it was “a son of a bitch” and “a coward both physically and morally.”

Kasserine Pass by Martin Blumenson by Martin Blumenson (no photo)
Meeting the Fox The Allied Invasion of Africa, from Operation Torch to Kasserine Pass to Victory in Tunisia by Orr Kelly by Orr Kelly (no photo)
There's a War to Be Won The United States Army in World War II by Geoffrey Perret by Geoffrey Perrett (no photo)
Desert War The North African Campaign 1940-43 by Alan Moorehead by Alan Moorehead Alan Moorehead
The Victors Eisenhower and His Boys The Men of World War II by Stephen E. Ambrose by Stephen E. Ambrose Stephen E. Ambrose

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Carleton S. Coon


Carleton Stevens Coon (23 June 1904 – 3 June 1981) was an American physical anthropologist, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, lecturer and professor at Harvard, and president of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.

Carleton Coon was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts to a Cornish American family. He developed an interest in prehistory, and attended Phillips Academy, Andover where he studied hieroglyphics and became proficient in ancient Greek. Coon matriculated to Harvard, where he studied Egyptology with George Reisner. He was attracted to the relatively new field of anthropology by Earnest Hooton and he graduated magna cum laude in 1925. He became the Curator of Ethnology at the University Museum of Philadelphia. Coon continued with coursework at Harvard. He conducted fieldwork in the Rif area of Morocco in 1925, which was politically unsettled after a rebellion of the local populace against the Spanish. He earned his Ph.D. in 1928 and returned to Harvard as a lecturer and later a professor. Coon's interest was in attempting to use Darwin's theory of natural selection to explain the differing physical characteristics of races. Coon studied Albanians from 1929–1930; he traveled to Ethiopia in 1933; and in Arabia, North Africa and the Balkans, he worked on sites from 1925 to 1939, where he discovered a Neanderthal in 1939. Coon rewrote William Z. Ripley's 1899 The Races of Europe in 1939.

Coon wrote widely for a general audience like his mentor Earnest Hooton. Coon published The Riffians, Flesh of the Wild Ox, Measuring Ethiopia, and A North Africa Story: The Anthropologist as OSS Agent. A North Africa Story was an account of his work in North Africa during World War II, which involved espionage and the smuggling of arms to French resistance groups in German-occupied Morocco under the guise of anthropological fieldwork. During that time, Coon was affiliated with the United States Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency.

Coon left Harvard to take up a position as Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1948, which had an excellent museum. Throughout the 1950s he produced academic papers, as well as many popular books for the general reader, the most notable being The Story of Man (1954).

Coon did photography work for the United States Air Force from 1954-1957. He photographed areas where US planes might be attacked. This led him to travel throughout Korea, Ceylon, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Taiwan, Nepal, Sikkim, and the Philippines.

Coon published The Origin of Races in 1962. In its "Introduction" he described the book as part of the outcome of his project he conceived (in light of his work on The Races of Europe) around the end of 1956, for a work to be titled along the lines of Races of the World. He said that since 1959 he had proceeded with the intention to follow The Origin of Races with a sequel, so the two would jointly fulfill the goals of the original project.(He indeed published The Living Races of Man in 1965.) The book asserted that the human species divided into five races before it had evolved into Homo sapiens. Further, he suggested that the races evolved into Homo sapiens at different times. It was not well received. The field of anthropology was moving rapidly from theories of race typology, and The Origin of Races was widely castigated by his peers in anthropology as supporting racist ideas with outmoded theory and notions which had long since been repudiated by modern science. One of his harshest critics, Theodore Dobzhansky, scorned it as providing "grist for racist mills".

He continued to write and defend his work, publishing two volumes of memoirs in 1980 and 1981.
He died on June 3, 1981, in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

The Races of Europe by Carleton Stevens Coon by Carleton Stevens Coon (no photo)
(No images) Story of Man & The Hunting Peoples & The Origin of Races & Adventures And Discoveries: The Autobiography Of Carleton S. Coon & Racial Adaptations & The History of Man & The Seven Caves: Archaeological Explorations in the Middle East & A North African Story: The Anthropologist as OSS Agent 1941-1943 by Carleton Stevens Coon (no photo)

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General Orlando Ward


Orlando Ward was born in Macon, Missouri on November 4, 1891, but moved to Denver at an early age. In 1914 he graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, and was commissioned in the cavalry. In 1915 he accompanied General John Pershing on his campaign into Mexico to try to capture the bandit Pancho Villa, who had been raiding towns along the Arizona-Mexico border.

Seeing the end of horses in warfare he switched to the artillery, and during the First World War at the second battle of The Marne in France he took charge of a battalion of Field Artillery, and was instrumental in helping to stem a German attack. For his action he was awarded the Silver Star.

Between the wars he had various postings, including a stint as an instructor at the US Field artillery school at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where he developed many innovations in gunnery, including a technique to concentrate battalion fire very quickly, which made the US artillery much more effective during WWII. Immediately before the war he served as secretary to the Army Chief of Staff, General George C. Marshal.

After the outbreak of the World War II he skipped a rank to be promoted to Major General, and became commander of the army’s First Armored Division, known as “Old Ironsides”. He led them as part of Operation Torch, the American invasion of North Africa. At the Battle of Kasserine Pass, the first time the US Army had encountered the Germans, the First Armored was sent reeling by sudden attacks from the Germans. Ward felt one reason was that his division had been split up into smaller units which weakened their ability to repulse strong concentrations of German troops. Headquarters believed this was the result of planning by the Corps commander, General Lloyd Fredendall, who was replaced with General George Patton. As the campaign along North Africa slowly progressed, Patton felt that Ward was not aggressive enough, eventually relieving him of his command, although Ward had been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his action in Tunisia during an assault at Meknessy Heights in 1943, as well as another Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

Ward returned to the States and became Commandant of the Tank Destroyer Center at Camp Hood, Texas, and later Commander of the Artillery School at Fort Sill. In 1944 he took command of the US 20th Armored Division in central Europe, and it was his troops that seized the German city of Munich in April 1945. In his book, “An Army at Dawn”, author Rick Atkinson stated, “In the American Army few relieved commanders got a second chance to lead men in combat; Ward was an exception because he was exceptional”.

In 1946 following World War II General Ward was given command of the Sixth Infantry Division in South Korea. In 1949 before hostilities in Korea began, he returned to the US and became the Chief of the Office of Military History, Department of the Army, where he supervised the production of the official US Army Military history of World War II.

Orlando Ward retired from the army in 1953 and returned to Denver, where he died on February 4, 1972.
(Source: http://fairmountheritagefoundation.or...)

Major General Orlando Ward Life of a Leader by Russell A. Gugeler by Russell A. Gugeler (no photo)
Out of the Blue U.S. Army Airborne Operations in World War II by James A. Huston by James A. Huston (no photo)
The Generals American Military Command from World War II to Today by Thomas E. Ricks by Thomas E. Ricks (no photo)
Nothing Less Than Full Victory Americans at War in Europe 1944-1945 by Edward G. Miller by Edward G. Miller (no photo)
First Blood US 1st Armored division in Tunisia by Claude Gillono by Claude Gillono (no photo)

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With the Nazi rise to power in 1933, Germany began to rearm. Among those weapons systems the new regime desired was an effective dive bomber. While this need was initially met by the Henschel HS-123, effort continued on other designs. At Junkers, designer Hermann Pohlmann worked on a new dive bomber drawing from the firm's earlier Ju K 47. These efforts were encouraged in 1935 when the German Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium - RLM) issued specifications for a new dive bomber. While four firms entered the competition, two were immediately eliminated and the Junkers design squared off against the Heinkel He-118.

Powered by an imported Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine, Pohlmann's design was designated Ju 87 V1. While the prototype was built and Sweden and secretly brought to German in 1934, issues with the airframe delayed is completion until late 1935. An ungainly looking aircraft, the Ju 87 V1 possessed inverted gull wings and a braced tail with twin tailfins. Testing with the prototype moved forward but was soon halted when chief test pilot Willy Neuenhofen was killed in a crash on January 24, 1936 when the aircraft's tail section collapsed. Re-tooling the design, Junkers changed the tail design to a single vertical stabilizer.

As the design progressed, the Ju 87 V1 met resistance from RLM who were unhappy with its use of an imported engine. To rectify this issue, plans were made to use the Jumo 210 instead. Though testing in early 1936 went well, some Luftwaffe officers felt the aircraft was underpowered and the program was threatened with cancellation. Rescued by Colonel General Ernst Udet, a World War I ace and RLM officer, work continued. The following month, the Ju 87 V1 won the competition after Udet was forced to bail out of his He-118 prototype when the propeller broke apart in flight.

Designated the Ju 87 Stuka (short for Sturzkampfflugzeug), the new dive bomber was an all-metal, cantilevered monoplane that featured spatted, fixed landing gear. Early models mounted two 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns in the wings with a single, rear-facing 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun for the radio operator/gunner. Capable of diving at angles of 60-90°, the Stuka possessed an automatic dive recovery system that engaged when the bomb was released. This allowed the aircraft to safely terminate the dive if the pilot succumbed to g-induced blackout.

Built largely of duralumin, the Ju 87 Stuka was constructed in such a way that large segments of the airframe were assembled as single units. This allowed entire sections of the aircraft to be quickly replaced and decreased the time required for major repairs. In 1937, testing of the Ju 87 Stuka continued as several variants of the Jumo 210 were tried in an effort to increase power. As efforts to improve the aircraft continued, production on the Ju 87 A began at Dessau. As these rolled off the line, Junkers completed the design for an upgraded Ju 87 B.

The first mass-produced model, the Ju 87 B saw an upgrade to the Jumo 211D engine and addition of sirens mounted on the wings. These were intended to frighten the enemy as the aircraft attacked. Other improvements included redesigned landing gear. A Ju 87 C variant was also created for naval use, though it was only built in small numbers. As World War II progressed, Junkers continued to evolve the Stuka as no replacement was available. In 1941, production began on the Ju 87 D which had an enhanced engine, greater range, and better defensive armament.

The Ju 87 Stuka's combat debut came in 1937 with the German Condor Legion during Spanish Civil War. Initially flying the Ju 87 A, the Legion soon switched to the newer by Ju 87 B. During these operations, no aircraft were lost. Having learned invaluable lessons in Spain, Stuka crews were at the forefront of the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Aiding in opening World War II, they flew precision strikes and were a key element of the German blitzkrieg. Relentlessly attacking enemy positions, the Ju 87 Stuka inspired fear and inflicted heavy losses.

In 1940, the type continued to have success during the invasion of Norway and the campaigns in the Low Countries and France. Utilizing effective forward ground controllers, Stuka squadrons were able to provide fast, effective ground support to allow German forces to rapidly advance. In the course of these campaigns, the Ju 87 also proved itself as a deadly anti-shipping weapon. The Ju 87's run of success came to an abrupt halt during the Battle of Britain that summer. Lacking air superiority, Ju 87 units began taking heavy losses as British Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires took advantage of its slow speed.

As a result of these casualties, the Ju 87 Stuka was withdrawn from the battle in mid-August. No longer effective on the Western Front, the Stuka found new life flying in the Mediterranean where it continued to be effective against shipping. With the German offensives into the Balkans in early 1941, it reprised its role in blitzkrieg operations. This continued with the German victories in that Battles of Greece and Crete. Stuka units also aided Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in North Africa participating in engagements such as the Battle of Gazala and Second Battle of El Alamein. With the arrival of American forces during Operation Torch in late 1942, the Stuka again became vulnerable and losses mounted.

The Ju 87 Stuka's final heyday came with the invasion of the Soviet Union and the opening of the Eastern Front in June 1941. Flying at the leading edge of the German advance and possessing air superiority, the Stuka operated with impunity. In this role it saw effective use at notable engagements such as the Battles of Stalingrad and Kursk. As Soviet armor became more numerous, a final variant of the Ju 87 was created. Dubbed the Ju 87 G, this model entered service in early 1943 and possessed enhanced armor and two 37 mm cannon for destroying Soviet tanks. A successful aircraft, this variant remained in use until the end of the war. As Soviet fighter opposition grew, Stuka units began taking heavy losses. Obsolete and with numbers dwindling, the Stuka began to be replaced in the final months of the war by ground attack variants of the Focke-Wulf 190. Still in use at the war's end, over 6,500 Ju 87s were built during its production run.

(no image) Phoenix Triumphant: The Rise and Rise of the Luftwaffe by E.R. Hooton (no photo)
Arming the Luftwaffe The German Aviation Industry in World War II by Daniel Uziel by Daniel Uziel (no photo)
The Luftwaffe Creating the Operational Air War, 1918-1940 by James S. Corum by James S. Corum (no photo)
Ju 87 Stuka Volume One Luftwaffe Ju 87 Dive-Bomber Units 1939-1941 by Peter C. Smith Stuka Volume Two Luftwaffe Ju 87 Dive-Bomber Units 1942-1945 by Peter C. Smith by Peter C. Smith (no photo)
The Luftwaffe A History by John Killen by John Killen (no photo)

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Battle of El Alamein



In July 1942, General Erwin Rommel and the Italo-German Panzer Armee Afrika, (part of the Deutsches Afrika Korps) were only 113km (70 miles) from Alexandria. The situation was so serious that Winston Churchill made the long journey to Egypt to discover for himself what needed to be done. Churchill decided to make changes to the command structure. General Harold Alexander was placed in charge of British land forces in the Middle East and Bernard Montgomery became commander of the Eighth Army.

On 30th August, 1942, Erwin Rommel attacked at Alam el Halfa but was repulsed by the Eighth Army. Montgomery responded to this attack by ordering his troops to reinforce the defensive line from the coast to the impassable Qattara Depression. Montgomery was now able to make sure that Rommel and the German Army was unable to make any further advances into Egypt.

Over the next six weeks Montgomery began to stockpile vast quantities of weapons and ammunition to make sure that by the time he attacked he possessed overwhelming firepower. By the middle of October the Eighth Army totalled 195,000 men, 1,351 tanks and 1,900 pieces of artillery. This included large numbers of recently delivered Sherman M4 and Grant M3 tanks.

On 23rd October Montgomery launched Operation Lightfoot with the largest artillery bombardment since the First World War. The attack came at the worst time for the Deutsches Afrika Korps as Erwin Rommel was on sick leave in Austria. His replacement, General George Stumme, died of a heart-attack the day after the 900 gun bombardment of the German lines. Stume was replaced by General Ritter von Thoma and Adolf Hitler phoned Rommel to order him to return to Egypt immediately.

The Germans defended their positions well and after two days the Eighth Army had made little progress and Bernard Montgomery ordered an end to the attack. When Erwin Rommel returned he launched a counterattack at Kidney Depression (27th October). Montgomery now returned to the offensive and the 9th Australian Division created a salient in the enemy positions.

Winston Churchill was disappointed by the Eighth Army's lack of success and accused Montgomery of fighting a "half-hearted" battle. Montgomery ignored these criticisms and instead made plans for a new offensive, Operation Supercharge.

On 1st November 1942, Montgomery launched an attack on the Deutsches Afrika Korps at Kidney Ridge. After initially resisting the attack, Rommel decided he no longer had the resources to hold his line and on the 3rd November he ordered his troops to withdraw. However, Adolf Hitler overruled his commander and the Germans were forced to stand and fight.

The next day Montgomery ordered his men forward. The Eighth Army broke through the German lines and Erwin Rommel, in danger of being surrounded, was forced to retreat. Those soldiers on foot, including large numbers of Italian soldiers, were unable to move fast enough and were taken prisoner.

For a while it looked like the the British would cut off Rommel's army but a sudden rain storm on 6th November turned the desert into a quagmire and the chasing army was slowed down. Rommel, now with only twenty tanks left, managed to get to Sollum on the Egypt-Libya border.

On 8th November Erwin Rommel learned of the Allied invasion of Morocco and Algeria that was under the command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. His depleted army now faced a war on two front.

The British Army recaptured Tobruk on 12th November, 1942. During the El Alamein campaign half of Rommel's 100,000 man army was killed, wounded or taken prisoner. He also lost over 450 tanks and 1,000 guns. The British and Commonwealth forces suffered 13,500 casualties and 500 of their tanks were damaged. However, of these, 350 were repaired and were able to take part in future battles.

Winston Churchill was convinced that the battle of El Alamein marked the turning point in the war and ordered the ringing of church bells all over Britain. As he said later: "Before Alamein we never had a victory, after Alamein we never had a defeat."

Pendulum of War The Three Battles of El Alamein by Niall J.A. Barr by Niall J.A. Barr (no photo)
El Alamein 1942 The Story of the Battle in the Words of the Soldiers by John Sadler by John Sadler (no photo)
The Phantom Army of Alamein How the Camouflage Unit and Operation Bertram Hoodwinked Rommel by Rick Stroud by Rick Stroud (no photo)
The Crucible of War Montgomery and Alamein The Definitive History of the Desert War by Barrie Pitt by Barrie Pitt (no photo)
The Battle of Alamein Turning Point, World War II by John Bierman by John Bierman (no photo)
El Alamein The Battle that Turned the Tide of the Second World War by Bryn Hammond by Bryn Hammond Bryn Hammond
Destiny in the Desert The Story Behind El Alamein - the Battle That Turned the Tide by Jonathan Dimbleby by Jonathan Dimbleby Jonathan Dimbleby

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The Nebelwerfer ("Smoke Mortar", literally "Fog thrower") was a World War II German series of weapons. They were initially developed by and assigned to the Wehrmacht's so-called "chemical troops" (Nebeltruppen). This weapon was given its name as a disinformation strategy designed to lead spies into thinking that it was merely a device for creating a smoke screen. They were primarily intended to deliver poison gas and smoke shells, although a high-explosive shell was developed for the Nebelwerfers from the beginning. Initially, two different mortars were fielded before they were replaced by a variety of rocket launchers ranging in size from 15 to 32 centimetres (5.9 to 13 in). The thin walls of the rockets had the great advantage of allowing much larger quantities of gases, fluids or high-explosives to be delivered than artillery or even mortar shells of the same weight. Nebelwerfers were used in every campaign of the German Army during World War II with the exception of the Balkans Campaign. A version of the 21 cm calibre system was even adapted for air-to-air use against Allied bombers. The name was also used to fool observers from the League of Nations, who were observing any possible infraction of the Treaty of Versailles, from discovering that the weapon could be used for explosive and toxic chemical payloads as well as the smoke rounds the name Nebelwerfer suggested.

After the crew had loaded and aimed the launcher, they had to take cover 10 to 15 metres (11 to 16 yd) away to avoid the exhaust flames, and would fire the rockets with an electric switch. After firing, however, a long streak of smoke was visible from a considerable distance, leaving the Nebelwerfer vulnerable to counter-battery fire. It was therefore necessary to relocate the launcher and crew as soon as possible after firing. The loud, shrill howling noise of the incoming rockets led American, and other Allied soldiers in the Sicily campaign to give it the nicknames "Screaming Mimi" and "Moaning Minnie".

Generally, mortars of the Nebeltruppen were organized into batteries of six or eight mortars, three batteries per battalion. The towed rocket launchers had six launchers per battery, three batteries per battalion. Usually, three battalions formed a regiment. Midway through the war brigades were formed, each with two regiments. Each regiment was sometimes reinforced with a Panzerwerfer battery of 6-8 vehicles. From 1942 their designations changed from Nebelwerfer to simply Werfer.

As part of the general expansion of the Waffen-SS it began to form its own Werfer units in 1943, although they never formed any unit bigger than a battalion. These were organized much the same as their Army counterparts.

The 1st, 2nd and 5th Nebelwerfer Battalions, each equipped with twenty-four 10 cm Nbw 35 mortars in three batteries, were ready when the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939. The 1st and 2nd Battalions participated in that campaign while the 5th remained in Western Germany. One battery of Artillery Regiment 222 was converted to 10 cm NbW 35s and participated in the Norwegian Campaign. By May 1940 five more battalions had been formed, all equipped with 10 cm NbW 35 mortars, filling out the sequence from 1 to 8, but only the first five were combat ready when the Battle of France began on 10 May 1940.

The first 15 cm NbW 41 rocket launchers were delivered in July 1940, forming three new regiments, the 51st though 53rd Nebelwerfer Regiments, each with three battalions. The 54th Regiment was formed from the 1st and 7th Nebelwerfer Battalions. The Nebel-Lehr Regiment was formed from the Nebeltruppen school in Celle on 29 April 1941 with two battalions, one each with 10 cm NbW 35 mortars and 15 cm NbW 41 rockets. The independent Nebelwerfer Battalions retained their mortars with the exception of the 8th, which received rockets before Operation Barbarossa. The only way of differentiating the units equipped with mortars during this period from those with rockets being the "d." or "do." suffix added to the designations of the rocket-equipped units. Beginning in November 1941 the eight Decontamination Battalions were fully equipped with 28/32 cm NbW 41 rockets (some had sW.G. 40 and 41 launching frames earlier) and reorganized into three Heavy Werfer Regiments.

During early 1942 the 10th Mountain Werfer Battalion was formed from the 104th Decontamination Battalion and sent to 20th Mountain Army in Finland. In late 1943 Werfer-Battalion 11 was organized from two batteries already in Finland, including the battery from Artillery Regiment 222 that participated in the invasion of Norway. A new Panzerwerfer battery was sent from Germany to be its third battery at the same time. Both battalions retreated into Northern Norway after the Finnish armistice in September 1944 after the Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive.

The 9th Nebelwerfer Battalion was given rockets, redesignated as the first battalion of Werfer-Regiment 71 and sent to North Africa late that year. Most of the second battalion were sent to Tunisia in early 1943 where they surrendered in May. The remainder of the regiment fought in Sicily and mainland Italy for the rest of the war.

Panzerwerfer batteries began to reinforce the Werfer Regiments beginning in mid-1943 and the regiments were paired into brigades beginning in early 1944. In late 1944 the brigades were redesignated as Volks-Werfer Brigades although no organizational changes occurred. A total of fifteen Werfer and Volks-Werfer Brigades were formed, plus one Positional Werfer Brigade (Stellungs-Werfer-Brigade) during the war.

The Wehrmacht by Tim Ripley by Tim Ripley (no photo)
Of Arms and Men A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression by Robert L. O'Connell by Robert L. O'Connell (no photo)
Hitler's Army The Men, Machines, and Organization 1939-1945 by David Stone by David Stone (no photo)
Cross Of Iron The Rise and Fall of the German War Machine 1918-1945 by John Mosier by John Mosier (no photo)
The Encyclopedia of Weapons of WWII The Comprehensive Guide to over 1,500 Weapons Systems, Including Tanks, Small Arms, Warplanes, Artillery, Ships, and Submarines by Chris Bishop by Chris Bishop (no photo)
The Rise of the Wehrmacht The German Armed Forces & World War II, Vol. 1 by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. The Rise of the Wehrmacht The German Armed Forces & World War II, Vol 2 (Security International) by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. (no photo)

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Battle of Kasserine Pass



In November 1943, Allied troops landed in Algeria and Morocco as part of Operation Torch. These landings, coupled with Lieutenant General Bernard Montgomery's victory at the Second Battle of El Alamein, placed German and Italian troops in Tunisia and Libya in a precarious position. In an effort to prevent forces under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel from being cut off, reinforcements were quickly shifted from Sicily to Tunisia. Advancing west, Montgomery captured Tripoli on January 23, 1943, while Rommel retired behind the defenses of the Mareth Line.

To the east, American and British troops advanced through the Atlas Mountains after dealing with the Vichy French authorities. It was the hope of the German commanders that the Allies could be held in the mountains and prevented from reaching the coast and severing Rommel's supply lines. This plan was disrupted by the Allied capture of Faïd east of the mountains. In an effort to push the Allies back into the mountains, the 21st Panzer Division of General Hans-Jürgen von Arnim's Fifth Panzer Army struck the town's French defenders on January 30.

Driving the French back, von Arnim's panzers conducted a classic blitzkrieg campaign against elements of the US 1st Armored Division. Forced to retreat, Major General Lloyd Fredendall's US II Corps was beaten back for three days until it was able to make a stand in the foothills. Having driven the Allies back into the mountains, von Arnim backed off and he and Rommel decided their next move. Two weeks later, Rommel elected to make a thrust through the mountains with the goal of decreasing pressure on his flanks and also capturing the Allied supply depots in the western arm of the mountains.

On February 14, Rommel attacked Sidi Bou Zid and took the town after a day-long fight. During the action, American operations were hampered by weak command decisions and poor use of armor. After defeating an Allied counterattack on the 15th, Rommel pushed on to Sbeitla. With no strong defensive positions in his immediate rear, Fredendall fell back to the more easily defended Kasserine Pass. Borrowing the 10th Panzer Division from von Arnim's command, Rommel assaulted the new position on February 19. Crashing into the Allied lines, Rommel was able to easily penetrate them and compelled US troops to retreat.

As Rommel personally led the 10th Panzer Division into the Kasserine Pass, he ordered the 21st Panzer Division to press through the Sbiba gap to the east. This attack was effectively blocked by British troops. In the fighting around Kasserine, the superiority of German armor was easily seen as Panzer IVs and Tigers quickly bested US M3 Lee and M3 Stuart tanks. Breaking into two groups, Rommel led 10th Panzer north through the pass towards Thala, while a composite Italo-German command moved through the south side of the pass towards Haidra.

Unable to make a stand, US commanders were frequently frustrated by a clumsy command system that made it difficult to obtain permission for barrages or counterattacks. The Axis advance continued through February 20 and 21, though isolated groups of Allied troops hampered their progress. By the night of February 21, Rommel was outside Thala and believed that the Allied supply base at Tébessa was within reach. With the situation deteriorating, the commander of the British First Army, Lieutenant General Kenneth Anderson, shifted troops to Thala to meet the threat.

By the morning of February 21, the Allied lines at Thala were reinforced by experienced British infantry back by massed US artillery. Attacking, Rommel was unable to breakthrough. Having achieved his goal of relieving pressure on his flank and concerned that he was over-extended, Rommel elected to end the battle. Wishing to reinforce the Mareth Line to prevent Montgomery from breaking through, he began withdrawing out of the mountains. This retreat was sped along by massive Allied air attacks on February 23. Tentatively moving forward, Allied forces reoccupied Kasserine Pass on February 25.

While complete disaster had been averted, the Battle of Kasserine Pass was a humiliating defeat for US forces. Their first major clash with the Germans, the battle showed an enemy superiority in experience and equipment as well as exposed several flaws in the American command structure and doctrine. After the fight, Rommel dismissed American troops as ineffective and felt they did offer a threat to his command.

Responding to the defeat, the US Army initiated several changes including the immediate removal of the incompetent Fredendall. Sending Major General Omar Bradley to assess the situation, General Dwight D. Eisenhower enacted several of his subordinate's recommendations, including giving command of II Corps to Lieutenant General George S. Patton. Also, local commanders were instructed to keep their headquarters near the front and were given greater discretion to react to situations without permission from a higher headquarters. Efforts were also made to improve on-call artillery and air support as well as to keep units massed and in position to support each other. As a result of these changes, when US troops returned to action in North Africa, they were significantly better prepared to face the enemy.

Kasserine Pass by Martin Blumenson by Martin Blumenson (no photo)
Meeting the Fox The Allied Invasion of Africa, from Operation Torch to Kasserine Pass to Victory in Tunisia by Orr Kelly by Orr Kelly (no photo)
Exit Rommel The Tunisian Campaign, 1942-43 by Bruce Allen Watson by Bruce Allen Watson (no photo)
Bloody Road To Tunis by David Rolf by David Rolf (no photo)
Rommel's Desert War Waging World War II in North Africa, 1941-1943 by Martin Kitchen by Martin Kitchen (no photo)
Foxes of the Desert The Story of the Afrika Korps by Paul Carell by Paul Carell (no photo)
The Wehrmacht Retreats Fighting a Lost War, 1943 by Robert M. Citino by Robert M. Citino Robert M. Citino

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Heinz Kohler | 3 comments Jerome wrote: "Nebelwerfer

The Nebelwerfer ("Smoke Mortar", literally "Fog thrower") was a World War II German series of weapons. They were initially developed by and assigned to the Wehrmacht's so-called "che..."

That's a fascinating story. But even if the Nebelwerfer were designed to deliver poison gas, as you say, were they ever used in that way? That would be news to me. Interestingly, during the very period you describe, I was going to school in Berlin where we were forever preparing for allegedly imminent British poison gas attacks. Which explains the way we spent every Wednesday, as shown in the attached photograph.

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Jerome | 4365 comments Mod
I don't recall any use of chemical weapons during the Second World War, although many of the belligerents made preparations for it.

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Valentine Tank


At quick glance there would seem to have been little point the Valentine in 1940 as the tank offered essentially the same as the Matilda II but had thinner armour, at closer inspection the Valentine had significant advantages over the Matilda II, it was approximately 20% cheaper to build than the Matilda II, it required around 30% less man hours to build than a Matilda II and it was exceptionally reliable. The first production Valentine was completed in June 1940, too late to see action in France. Production increased rapidly and by the end of the year, despite only being in production for half the year nearly equalled Matilda II production for the entire year.
The Valentine is odd in British tank doctrine as it didn't fit properly into either a Cruiser or Infantry tank concept but it was liked by it's crews as it was easy to drive and more importantly was extremely reliable, something that couldn't be said for other British tanks of the period, it's very low profile was also used to great advantage.

Armour consisted of cast and rolled plates and was generally 60mm thick, although the turret front was slightly thicker at 65mm, this offered excellent protection against the German 37mm and good protection against the German 50mm guns at medium ranges but obviously offered little protection against the German 88mm flak guns and the long 75mm guns.

Armament originally consisted of a 2pdr gun in a 2 man turret, this offered tactical disadvantages and so a 3 man turret was designed and was known as the Valentine III, as with other 2pdr armed tanks the 2pdr could be replaced with a 3" Howitzer which offered High Explosive and Smoke shell. With the increase in German armour thickness and as with other British tanks the 6pdr was installed in the Valentine, the first version to carry the 6pdr was the IX and the Besa machine gun was removed. The first 6pdr armed Valentine was completed in August 1942, later in the Mk X the machinegun was added back. The Mk XI replaced the 6pdr with a 75mm gun.

Other variants of the Valentine included a Scissor Bridge and in March 1942 the first Bishop was completed, this installed a 25pdr Howitzer on a Valentine chassis. In 1943/44 some of the 2pdr and 6pdr tanks were converted to a Duplex Drive, similar to that used on Shermans. A self propelled tank destroyer mounting a 17pdr gun was based on the Valentine hull - the Archer.

Into the Vally The Valentine Tank and Derivatives 1938 1960 by Dick Taylor by Dick Taylor (no photo)
Britain's War Machine by David Edgerton by David Edgerton (no photo)
Men, Ideas, And Tanks British Military Thought And Armoured Forces, 1903 1939 by J. P. Harris by J. P. Harris (no photo)
The Tank War The Men, the Machines and the Long Road to Victory by Mark Urban by Mark Urban Mark Urban
The Tank Men by Robert Kershaw by Robert Kershaw Robert Kershaw

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General Stafford LeRoy Irwin


Stafford LeRoy Irwin March 23, 1893(1893-03-23) November 23, 1955(1955-11-23) Stafford LeRoy (Red) Irwin (March 23, 1893-1956) was born at Fort Monroe, Virginia. He was a career United States Army officer. He was in the cavalry with General John Pershing. He later served in the Field Artillery branch. During World War II he served overseas in the ETO. Stafford Irwin was the son of Major General George LeRoy Irwin. George Irwin also served in the Field Artillery branch. Education In 1915 Stafford Irwin graduated from the United States Military Academy. His class had many famous members, many of whom went on to high rank. Because of the achievements of many of its members, the USMA class of 1915 is known as "the class the stars fell on".

During 1916, Irwin participated in a United States military action in Mexico as a member of the 11th Cavalry. The expedition was led by General John Pershing.

Irwin was stationed at Fort Sill as a gunnery instructor during World War I. He also served with the 80th Field Artillery. Peacetime Between World War I and World War II, Stafford Irwin held a variety of positions. He was a professor of Military Science and Tactics, Yale University, from 1919 to 1920. He served as an instructor to the Oklahoma National Guard from 1920 to 1924. He spent the period of 1929 to 1933 as an instructor at the Field Artillery School. Irwin was assigned to the Organized Reserves from 1933 to 1936. [edit] World War II Stafford Irwin was the commander of artillery for the 9th Infantry Division in North Africa. He was noted for performing well during the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Later in the war he was given command of the 5th Infantry Division during Patton's drive across Europe. General Stafford would finish the war as the commander of the XII Corps and serve in that position until September 1945.

After the war, Irwin returned to the United States and became both commander of V Corps and Post Commander of Fort Bragg. He finished his military career as the commander of U.S. Army forces in Austria from 1950 to 1952. He retired in 1952 due to medical problems. Lt. Gen. Irwin died in 1955 of a coronary occlusion in Asheville, North Carolina. Military education In addition to attending West Point, Irwin attended the Field Artillery School in 1926, Command and General Staff School 1926-1927, and the Army War College in 1937.

Irwin was married in 1921 to Helen(Hall) Irwin and together they had one son, Francis LeRoy. After Helen died in 1937, Irwin remarried in 1941 to Clare (Moran) Irwin. His second marriage also produced a son.

In Final Defense of the Reich The Destruction of the 6th SS Mountain Division "Nord" by Stephen M. Rusiecki by Stephen M. Rusiecki (no photo)
Advance And Destroy Patton As Commander In The Bulge (American Warriors Series) by John Nelson Rickard by John Nelson Rickard (no photo)
Waltzing into the Cold War The Struggle for Occupied Austria by James Jay Carafano by James Jay Carafano (no photo)
The Siegfried Line The German Defense of the West Wall 9-12/44 (Military History) by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. by Samuel W. Mitcham Jr. (no photo)
Operation Cobra and the Great Offensive Sixty Days That Changed the Course of World War II by Bill Yenne by Bill Yenne Bill Yenne

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General Ernest Harmon


Ernest Nason Harmon was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on February 26, 1894, son of Ernest and Junietta (Spaulding) Harmon. Orphaned at the age of 10, Ernest went to live with relatives in West Newbury, Vermont, where he attended high school at Bradford Academy, graduating in 1912. After attending Norwich University for one year, Harmon received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, graduating in 1917 as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, Cavalry. He married Minnie Leona Tuxbury on August 15, 1917.

On March 17, 1918, Harmon left for France with the 2nd Cavalry “F Troop”, the only cavalry unit to see overseas duty in World War I. During tours of duty in Georgia, Vermont, Kansas, Washington D.C., Texas, and Kentucky, Harmon advanced through grades to the rank of major general in 1942, when he became commanding general of the famous “Hell on Wheels” 2nd Armored Division, leaving the states for the invasion of North Africa. His on-site reporting and interventions during the Kasserine Pass battles against Rommel’s German 10th Panzer Division, helped stabilize and reorganize the U.S. Army II Corps, which had been thrown into disorder after the initial German attack.

General Harmon later commanded the 1st Armored Division during the Tunisian, Cassino, and Anzio campaigns, the capture of Rome, and the advance north to the Arno River in Italy. Harmon’s corps commander in North Africa, Major General Omar N. Bradley, stated that, “more than any other division commander in North Africa, he [Harmon] was constantly and brilliantly aggressive,” adding that, in Europe, “he was to become our most outstanding tank commander.” General George S. Patton, Harmon’s commander on two occasions in North Africa, stated: “If it is desired to have an Armored Corps [for operations in the European Theater of Operations], I should recommend General Harmon to command it.” General Harmon and General Patton were good friends and sometimes vacationed and hunted together.

In 1944, after returning to the 2nd Armored Division in Belgium as its commander, General Harmon and his division gained fame when they broke through the Siefried Line at Aachen, Germany and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. In 1945, Harmon received orders to turn over his command to the British and move his Corps Headquarters near to Pilsen, Czechoslovakia (Dysina). One of the huge tasks which lay before him was to negotiate and oversee good relations between the U.S. and Soviet troops on the demarcation line. In his autobiography, “Combat Commander”, Harmon writes: “By the time I arrived in Czechoslovakia and assumed command of 110,000 American troops, lined up face to face with the Russian army along a demarcation line that knifed through Bohemia fifty miles west of Prague, it was evident that our wartime alliance with the Soviet Union was already breaking up.”

On August 15, Harmon staged a big celebration in Pilsen, with three U.S. infantry divisions, two armored divisions, plus supporting artillery, passing by the reviewing stand filled with principal Russian generals and their staff officers, as well as Czech cabinet ministers. In his book, Harmon states his strategic reason for this: “It seemed important to me, in our relations with the Russians, to make sure they had a clear picture of our military power.”

In January 1946, Harmon took command of the VI Corps, which became the U.S. Constabulary. He served as Commanding General of the Third United States Army from January 10, 1947 to March 14, 1947, and then served as Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Army Ground Forces, from March 1947, until his retirement in February 1948.

General Harmon, often referred to as “Old Gravel Voice” by his soldiers, was known and highly respected as a “fighting man’s general”. He received numerous decorations and medals, including the Czechoslovakian Military Cross 1939 and the Czech Order of the White Lion.

From 1950 to 1965, General Harmon served as president of Norwich University where, during his tenure as president, he considerably expanded the physical campus of the university and the size of the student body, as well as raising the quality of the faculty members and strengthening the institution’s financial stability.

Three years before his death, Harmon wrote a forward for the book, Hell on Wheels, a history of the 2nd Armored Division during World War II. In his forward, he wrote: “No greater privilege can occur in the career of any soldier than to be given the command of troops in combat. This is always true and applies to any organizational echelon, from squad to field army. But the most satisfying command slot is the one with the double X on the map symbol, the division. Moreover, when you add the old tank tread to the symbol to designate one of the army’s few armored divisions, you have the greatest of all commands. At least, this was my thought when I first took over the Hell on Wheels division, 2d Armored, on July 31, 1942.” General Harmon died at the age of 85 on November 13, 1979.

(no image) Combat Commander: Autobiography of a Soldier by E.N. Harmon (no photo)
(no image) United States Army in World War II: Mediterranean Theater of Operations, Cassino to the Alps by Ernest F. Fisher (no photo)
Professional Military Development of Major General Ernest N. Harmon by Matthew B Dale by Matthew B Dale (no photo)
Anzio Italy and the Battle for Rome - 1944 by Lloyd Clark by Lloyd Clark (no photo)
Major General Maurice Rose World War II's Greatest Forgotten Commander by Steven L. Ossad by Steven L. Ossad (no photo)
Old Glory Stories American Combat Leadership in World War II by Cole C. Kingseed by Louis P. Masur (no photo)
Through Mobility We Conquer The Mechanization of U.S. Cavalry by George F. Hofmann by George F. Hofmann (no photo)
Patton's Drive The Making of America's Greatest General by Alan Axelrod by Alan Axelrod (no photo)
Our Tortured Souls The 29th Infantry Division in the Rhineland, November - December 1944 by Joseph Balkoski by Joseph Balkoski Joseph Balkoski

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Bernard Freyberg


Bernard Cyril Freyberg (1889-1963) earned the Victoria Cross for courage on the Somme in November 1916 plus a further four DSOs for similar acts of bravery.

Freyberg, who was born in Britain but raised in New Zealand, qualified as a dentist in 1911 but sought (and received) a commission into the New Zealand Territorials in 1912. The following year Freyberg abruptly switched careers by becoming a ship's stoker.

In London when war broke out in 1914 Freyberg met and persuaded the First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to give him a commission into the Hood Battalion of the infant Royal Naval Division.

Having served during the defence of Antwerp with the Royal Naval Division in August 1914 Freyberg was posted to Gallipoli where after a remarkable performance during the initial landings (when he swam from ship to ship lighting flares as part of a deception operation, earning him a DSO) he served until the Allied evacuation.

As with many ex-Gallipoli soldiers Freyberg's next destination was the Western Front. It was while serving on the River Ancre during the tail-end of the Allied Somme Offensive that Freyberg earned a Victoria Cross for refusing to leave the Hood Battalion in spite of suffering no fewer than four wounds in the space of 24 hours. He had earlier led his battalion's attack at Beaucourt which resulted in the capture of 500 prisoners.

The following year brought Freyberg a promotion on 21 April 1917 to Brigadier-General - making him at 27 the youngest in the British Army. He was given a brigade and then a divisional (29th) command. By the armistice he had been wounded on nine occasions.

Freyberg's military career did not end in November 1918 however. He served variously in command and staff roles until the onset of the Second World War, when he was handed command of New Zealand forces in the Mediterranean.

In April 1941 Freyberg played a role in the defence of Greece and subsequently led British and Greek troops on Crete until their humiliating defeat which owed at least something to his weak leadership.

Next came service as a Corps commander in 8th Army in the Western Desert in North Africa, during the course of which he saw action at the Second Battle of Sidi Rezegh and at Minqar Qaim (where he was further wounded).

Having played a prominent role during the Second Battle of El Alamein in November 1942 he led the flanking force en route to Tunisia. His next role was as commander of New Zealand forces in Italy, which culminated with his troops entering Trieste in triumph on 2 May 1945.

With his remarkably distinguished - and award-laden - military career drawing to a close, during the course of which he had earned no fewer than four DSOs in addition the Victoria Cross and rose to the rank of Lieutenant-General, Freyberg subsequently served as New Zealand Governor-General in 1946.

Made a baron (of Wellington and Munstead) in 1951, Freyberg died in 1963.

Bernard Freyberg, VC Soldier Of Two Nations by Paul Freyberg by Paul Freyberg (no photo)
They Fought at Anzio by John S.D. Eisenhower by John S.D. Eisenhower (no photo)
Born to Lead? Portraits of New Zealand Commanders by Glyn Harper by Glyn Harper (no photo)
Monte Cassino Ten Armies in Hell by Peter Caddick-Adams by Peter Caddick-Adams (no photo)
Anzac Fury The Bloody Battle Of Crete 1941 by Peter Thompson by Peter Thompson (no photo)

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Hitler's Final Solution

Sign used during the anti-Jewish boycott: "Help liberate Germany from Jewish capital. Don't buy in Jewish stores." Germany, 1933.
— Stadtarchiv Nürnberg

The origin of the "Final Solution," the Nazi plan to exterminate the Jewish people, remains uncertain. What is clear is that the genocide of the Jews was the culmination of a decade of Nazi policy, under the rule of Adolf Hitler. The "Final Solution" was implemented in stages. After the Nazi party rise to power, state-enforced racism resulted in anti-Jewish legislation, boycotts, "Aryanization," and finally the "Night of Broken Glass" pogrom, all of which aimed to remove the Jews from German society. After the beginning of World War II, anti-Jewish policy evolved into a comprehensive plan to concentrate and eventually annihilate European Jewry.

The Nazis established ghettos in occupied Poland. Polish and western European Jews were deported to these ghettos. During the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, mobile killing squads (Einsatzgruppen) began killing entire Jewish communities. The methods used, mainly shooting or gas vans, were soon regarded as inefficient and as a psychological burden on the killers.

After the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the Nazis began the systematic deportation of Jews from all over Europe to six extermination camps established in former Polish territory -- Chelmno , Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek. Extermination camps were killing centers designed to carry out genocide. About three million Jews were gassed in extermination camps.

In its entirety, the "Final Solution" consisted of gassings, shootings, random acts of terror, disease, and starvation that accounted for the deaths of about six million Jews -- two-thirds of European Jewry.

JUNE 22, 1941

German mobile killing squads, called special duty units (Einsatzgruppen), are assigned to kill Jews during the invasion of the Soviet Union. These squads follow the German army as it advances deep into Soviet territory, and carry out mass-murder operations. At first, the mobile killing squads shoot primarily Jewish men. Soon, wherever the mobile killing squads go, they shoot all Jewish men, women, and children, without regard for age or gender. By the spring of 1943, the mobile killing squads will have killed more than a million Jews and tens of thousands of partisans, Roma (Gypsies), and Soviet political officials.

DECEMBER 8, 1941

The Chelmno killing center begins operation. The Nazis later establish five other such camps: Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau (part of the Auschwitz complex), and Majdanek. Victims at Chelmno are killed in gas vans (hermetically sealed trucks with engine exhaust diverted to the interior compartments). The Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka camps use carbon monoxide gas generated by stationary engines attached to gas chambers. Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest of the killing centers, has four large gas chambers using Zyklon B (crystalline hydrogen cyanide) as the killing agent. The gas chambers at Majdanek use both carbon monoxide and Zyklon B. Millions of Jews are killed in the gas chambers in the killing centers as part of the "Final Solution."

JANUARY 20, 1942

The Wannsee Conference, a meeting between the SS (the elite guard of the Nazi state) and German government agencies, opens in Berlin. They discuss and coordinate the implementation of the "Final Solution," which is already under way. At Wannsee, the SS estimates that the "Final Solution" will involve 11 million European Jews, including those from non-occupied countries such as Ireland, Sweden, Turkey, and Great Britain. Between the fall of 1941 and the fall of 1944, the German railways transport millions of people to their deaths in killing centers in occupied Poland.
(Source - Copyright © United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC)

The Origins of the Final Solution The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 by Christopher R. Browning by Christopher R. Browning (no photo)
Hitler and the Final Solution by Gerald Fleming by Gerald Fleming (no photo)
The Architect of Genocide Himmler and the Final Solution by Richard Breitman by Richard Breitman (no photo)
Holocaust The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews by Peter Longerich by Peter Longerich (no photo)
The Unwritten Order Hitler's Role in the Final Solution by Peter Longerich by Peter Longerich (no photo)
Murderous Medicine Nazi Doctors, Human Experimentation, and Typhus by Naomi Baumslag by Naomi Baumslag (no photo)

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Luitpold Himmler (German: [ˈhaɪnʁɪç ˈluˑɪtˌpɔlt ˈhɪmlɐ] ( listen); 7 October 1900 – 23 May 1945) was Reichsführer of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler later appointed him Commander of the Replacement (Home) Army and General Plenipotentiary for the administration of the entire Third Reich (Generalbevollmächtigter für die Verwaltung). Himmler was one of the most powerful men in Nazi Germany and one of the persons most directly responsible for the Holocaust.

As a member of a reserve battalion during World War I, Himmler did not see active service. He studied agronomy in college, and joined the Nazi Party in 1923 and the SS in 1925. In 1929, he was appointed Reichsführer-SS by Hitler. Over the next 16 years, he developed the SS from a mere 290-man battalion into a powerful group with its own military, and, following Hitler's orders, set up and controlled the Nazi concentration camps. He was known to have good organisational skills and for selecting highly competent subordinates, such as Reinhard Heydrich in 1931. From 1943 forward, he was both Chief of German Police and Minister of the Interior, overseeing all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo (Secret State Police).

On Hitler's behalf, Himmler formed the Einsatzgruppen and built extermination camps. As facilitator and overseer of the concentration camps, Himmler directed the killing of some six million Jews, between 200,000 and 500,000 Romani people, and other victims; the total number of civilians killed by the regime is estimated at eleven to fourteen million people. Most of them were Polish and Soviet citizens.

Late in World War II, Hitler charged Himmler with the command of the Army Group Upper Rhine and the Army Group Vistula; he failed to achieve his assigned objectives and Hitler replaced him in these posts. Shortly before the end of the war, realising that the war was lost, he attempted to open peace talks with the western Allies without Hitler's knowledge. Hearing of this, Hitler dismissed him from all his posts in April 1945 and ordered his arrest. Himmler attempted to go into hiding, but was detained and then arrested by British forces once his identity became known. While in British custody, he committed suicide on 23 May 1945.

The following may be disturbing - be forewarned -
The Architect of Genocide Himmler and the Final Solution by Richard Breitman by Richard Breitman (no photo)
Anatomy of the SS State by Hans Buchheim by Hans Buchheim (no photo)
Hitler and the Final Solution by Gerald Fleming by Gerald Fleming (no photo)
The Face Of The Third Reich Portraits Of The Nazi Leadership by Joachim Fest Joachim Fest Joachim Fest
The Order of the Death's Head The Story of Hitler's SS by Heinz Höhne by Heinz Höhne (no photo)
Death Dealer The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolf Höss by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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The Holocaust

The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. "Holocaust" is a word of Greek origin meaning "sacrifice by fire." The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.

During the era of the Holocaust, German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority": Roma (Gypsies), the disabled, and some of the Slavic peoples (Poles, Russians, and others). Other groups were persecuted on political, ideological, and behavioral grounds, among them Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and homosexuals.


In 1933, the Jewish population of Europe stood at over nine million. Most European Jews lived in countries that Nazi Germany would occupy or influence during World War II. By 1945, the Germans and their collaborators killed nearly two out of every three European Jews as part of the "Final Solution," the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe. Although Jews, whom the Nazis deemed a priority danger to Germany, were the primary victims of Nazi racism, other victims included some 200,000 Roma (Gypsies). At least 200,000 mentally or physically disabled patients, mainly Germans, living in institutional settings, were murdered in the so-called Euthanasia Program.
As Nazi tyranny spread across Europe, the Germans and their collaborators persecuted and murdered millions of other people. Between two and three million Soviet prisoners of war were murdered or died of starvation, disease, neglect, or maltreatment. The Germans targeted the non-Jewish Polish intelligentsia for killing, and deported millions of Polish and Soviet civilians for forced labor in Germany or in occupied Poland, where these individuals worked and often died under deplorable conditions. From the earliest years of the Nazi regime, German authorities persecuted homosexuals and others whose behavior did not match prescribed social norms. German police officials targeted thousands of political opponents (including Communists, Socialists, and trade unionists) and religious dissidents (such as Jehovah's Witnesses). Many of these individuals died as a result of incarceration and maltreatment.


In the early years of the Nazi regime, the National Socialist government established concentration camps to detain real and imagined political and ideological opponents. Increasingly in the years before the outbreak of war, SS and police officials incarcerated Jews, Roma, and other victims of ethnic and racial hatred in these camps. To concentrate and monitor the Jewish population as well as to facilitate later deportation of the Jews, the Germans and their collaborators created ghettos, transit camps, and forced-labor camps for Jews during the war years. The German authorities also established numerous forced-labor camps, both in the so-called Greater German Reich and in German-occupied territory, for non-Jews whose labor the Germans sought to exploit.

Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units) and, later, militarized battalions of Order Police officials, moved behind German lines to carry out mass-murder operations against Jews, Roma, and Soviet state and Communist Party officials. German SS and police units, supported by units of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen SS, murdered more than a million Jewish men, women, and children, and hundreds of thousands of others. Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi German authorities deported millions of Jews from Germany, from occupied territories, and from the countries of many of its Axis allies to ghettos and to killing centers, often called extermination camps, where they were murdered in specially developed gassing facilities.


In the final months of the war, SS guards moved camp inmates by train or on forced marches, often called “death marches,” in an attempt to prevent the Allied liberation of large numbers of prisoners. As Allied forces moved across Europe in a series of offensives against Germany, they began to encounter and liberate concentration camp prisoners, as well as prisoners en route by forced march from one camp to another. The marches continued until May 7, 1945, the day the German armed forces surrendered unconditionally to the Allies. For the western Allies, World War II officially ended in Europe on the next day, May 8 (V-E Day), while Soviet forces announced their “Victory Day” on May 9, 1945.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, many of the survivors found shelter in displaced persons (DP) camps administered by the Allied powers. Between 1948 and 1951, almost 700,000 Jews emigrated to Israel, including 136,000 Jewish displaced persons from Europe. Other Jewish DPs emigrated to the United States and other nations. The last DP camp closed in 1957. The crimes committed during the Holocaust devastated most European Jewish communities and eliminated hundreds of Jewish communities in occupied eastern Europe entirely.
(Source: This is the introduction from the United States Holocaust Museum site -

Yesterday, Today and Then Tomorrow by B.J. Woods B.J. Woods (no photo)
Holocaust by Charles Reznikoff by Charles Reznikoff (no photo)
The Holocaust and the Christian World Reflections on the Past, Challenge for the Future by Carol Rittner by Carol Rittner (no photo)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank by Anne Frank Anne Frank
Night (The Night Trilogy, #1) by Elie Wiesel by Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Hanns Alexander

Hanns Alexander (1917–2006) was a German Jewish refugee who tracked down and arrested the Kommandant of Auschwitz Rudolf Höss.

Born in Berlin to father Alfred Alexander and mother Henny Alexander, he grew up in Nazi Germany and in 1936 he and his family fled to England.

In 1940, he joined the Royal Pioneer Corps and in 1945 he became an interpreter for the 1 War Crimes Investigation Team at Belsen.

Later that year he became a full-time Nazi hunter who tracked down and arrested Gustav Simon and Rudolf Höss.

After the War he had a long professional career as a merchant banker at S.G. Warburg. Hanns died in London at 89 years old.

His story is featured in the book Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding.

Motherland Growing Up with the Holocaust by Rita Goldberg by Rita Goldberg (no photo)
Hanns and Rudolf The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding by Thomas Harding Thomas Harding

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Rudolf Hoss

Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss (represented in German as Höß, also sometimes spelled Hoeß, or Hoess) (25 November 1901[2][1] – 16 April 1947) was an SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel), and from 4 May 1940 to November 1943 was the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, where it is estimated that more than a million people were killed.[3][4] Höss joined the Nazi Party in 1922 and the SS in 1934. He was hanged in 1947 following a trial in Warsaw.

The Paradox of Power A Transforming View of Leadership by Pat Williams by Pat Williams (no photo)
The Nuremberg Interviews by Leon Goldensohn by Leon Goldensohn (no photo)
Death Dealer The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz by Rudolf Höss by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss
The Commandant An Account by the First Commanding Officer of Auschwitz by Rudolf Hoess by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss
KL Auschwitz as Seen by the SS by Rudolf Höss by Rudolf Höss Rudolf Höss

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust within The History Book Club:

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Auschwitz concentration camp (German: Konzentrationslager Auschwitz [ˈʔaʊ̯ʃvɪt͡s] ( listen)) was a network of concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II. It consisted of Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II–Birkenau (a combination concentration / extermination camp), Auschwitz III–Monowitz (a labor camp to staff an IG Farben factory), and 45 satellite camps.

Auschwitz I was first constructed to hold Polish political prisoners, who began to arrive in May 1940. The first extermination of prisoners took place in September 1941, and Auschwitz II–Birkenau went on to become a major site of the Nazi "Final Solution to the Jewish question". From early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered Jews to the camp's gas chambers from all over German-occupied Europe, where they were killed with the pesticide Zyklon B. At least 1.1 million prisoners died at Auschwitz, around 90 percent of them Jewish; approximately 1 in 6 Jews killed in the Holocaust died at the camp. Others deported to Auschwitz included 150,000 Poles, 23,000 Romani and Sinti, 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, 400 Jehovah's Witnesses, homosexuals, and tens of thousands of people of diverse nationalities. Living conditions were brutal, and many of those not killed in the gas chambers died of starvation, forced labor, infectious diseases, individual executions, and medical experiments.

In the course of the war, the camp was staffed by 6,500 to 7,000 members of the German Schutzstaffel (SS), approximately 15 percent of whom were later convicted of war crimes. Some, including camp commandant Rudolf Höss, were executed. The Allied Powers refused to believe early reports of the atrocities at the camp, and their failure to bomb the camp or its railways remains controversial. One hundred and forty-four prisoners are known to have escaped from Auschwitz successfully, and on October 7, 1944, two Sonderkommando units—prisoners assigned to staff the gas chambers—launched a brief, unsuccessful uprising.

As Soviet troops approached Auschwitz in January 1945, most of its population was evacuated and sent on a death march. The prisoners remaining at the camp were liberated on January 27, 1945, a day now commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In the following decades, survivors such as Primo Levi, Viktor Frankl, and Elie Wiesel wrote memoirs of their experiences in Auschwitz, and the camp became a dominant symbol of the Holocaust. In 1947, Poland founded a museum on the site of Auschwitz I and II, and in 1979, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp by Yisrael Gutman by Yisrael Gutman (no photo)
Auschwitz True Tales from a Grotesque Land by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk (no photo)
Auschwitz A Doctor's Eyewitness Account by Miklós Nyiszli by Miklós Nyiszli Miklós Nyiszli
Auschwitz A New History by Laurence Rees by Laurence Rees by Laurence Rees
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski by Tadeusz Borowski Tadeusz Borowski

See also the discussion folder dedicated to the Holocaust and other threads which are specific to Auschwitz within The History Book Club:

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Ottoman Empire


The Ottoman Empire was an imperial state that was founded in 1299 after growing out of the break-down of several Turkish tribes. The empire then grew to include many areas in what is now present-day Europe to and it eventually became one of the largest, most powerful and longest-lasting empires in the history of the world. At its peak the Ottoman Empire included the areas of Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, Hungary, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. It had a maximum area of 7.6 million square miles (19.9 million square kilometers) in 1595 (University of Michigan). The Ottoman Empire began to decline power in the 18th century but a portion of its land became what is Turkey today.

The Ottoman Empire began in the late 1200s during the break-up of the Seljuk Turk Empire. After that empire broke up the Ottoman Turks began to take control of the other states belonging to the former empire and by the late 1400's all other Turkish dynasties were controlled by the Ottoman Turks.

In the early days of the Ottoman Empire the main goal of its leaders was expansion. The earliest phases of Ottoman expansion occurred under Osman I, Orkhan and Murad I. Bursa, one of the Ottoman Empire's earliest capitals fell in 1326. In the late 1300's several important victories gained more land for the Ottomans and Europe began to prepare for Ottoman expansion.

After some military defeats in the early 1400s the Ottomans regained their power under Muhammad I and in 1453 they captured Constantinople. The Ottoman Empire then entered its height and what is known as the Period of Great Expansion, during which time the empire came to include the lands of over ten different European and Middle Eastern states. It is believed that the Ottoman Empire was able to grow so rapidly because other countries were weak and unorganized and also because the Ottomans had advanced military organization and tactics for the time. In the 1500's the Ottoman Empire's expansion continued with the defeat of the Mamluks in Egypt and Syria in 1517, Algiers in 1518 and Hungary in 1526 and 1541. In addition, parts of Greece also fell under Ottoman control in the 1500s.

In 1535 the reign of Sulayman I began and Turkey gained more power than it had had under previous leaders. During the reign of Sulayman I, the Turkish judicial system was reorganized and Turkish culture began to grow significantly. Following Sulayman I's death the empire began to lose power when its military was defeated during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

Throughout the rest of the 1500s and into the 1600s and 1700s the Ottoman Empire began a considerable decline in power after several military defeats. In the mid-1600s the empire was restored for a short time after military victories in Persia and Venice. In 1699 the empire again began to lose territory and power subsequently.

In the 1700s the Ottoman Empire began to rapidly deteriorate following the Russo-Turkish Wars and a series of treaties during that time caused the empire to lose some of its economic independence. The Crimean War, which lasted from 1853-1856, further exhausted the struggling empire. In 1856 the independence of the Ottoman Empire was recognized by the Congress of Paris but it was still losing its strength as a European power.

In the late 1800s there were several rebellions and the Ottoman Empire continued to lose territory and political and social instability in the 1890s created international negativity toward the empire. The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 and uprisings by Turkish nationalists further reduced the empire's territory and increased instability. Following the end of World War I, the Ottoman Empire officially came to an end with the Treaty of Sevres.

Despite its collapse, the Ottoman Empire was one of the largest, longest lasting and most successful empires in the world's history. There are many reasons as to why the empire was as successful as it was but some of them include its very strong and organized military and its centralized political structure. These early, successful governments make the Ottoman Empire one of the most important in history.

Osman's Dream The History of the Ottoman Empire by Caroline Finkel by Caroline Finkel (no photo)
The Ottoman Empire, 1700-1922 (New Approaches to European History) by Donald Quataert by Donald Quataert (no photo)
A Peace to End All Peace The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin by David Fromkin (no photo)
Lords of the Horizons A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin by Jason Goodwin Jason Goodwin
Shadow of the Sultan's Realm The Destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by Daniel Allen Butler by Daniel Allen Butler Daniel Allen Butler

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British Lee-Enfield Rifle


The Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) affectionately known as the "SMELLIE."
Starting life as the No 1 Mk 1 and finishing as the No 1 Mk VI, it was used all over the world in two World Wars. Most probably the finest bolt action battle rifle ever produced, it was easily capable of 15 rounds a minute of accurate fire in the hands of a trained soldier. However, a Small Arms School Corps QMSI managed a rate of 37 rds a minute in the 1930's.

Britain declared war on the 4th Aug 1914. By mid August the Belgians were no more than an irritating hitch to the German advance. Only one intact force stood in the way of the Germans - the BEF. The first shots that the British fired were at Malpaquet, the Germans were pulled up short near Mons as the withering rifle fire of the British caused them heavy casualties.

2 days later on the 25 August 1914 at Le Cateau the story of Mons was repeated only on a bloodier scale. Once again the Germans attacked in tightly bunched waves and again they were met with rifle fire so intense that they thought the British were equipped with machine guns. At the end of the day 3 British Divisions fell back with the loss 7,812 men and 38 field guns. Some 2000 of which became POW's.

By September 1st 1914 the forward elements of the German Army were a mere 30 miles from Paris. The BEF had earned the title 'Contemptible Little Army' from the Kaiser, and the reputation of the SMLE rifle was born.

An account from Lt R A Macleod 80th Bty XV Bde RFA stated:
"Our Infantry were splendid they had only scratchings in the ground made with their entrenching tools, which didn't give much cover, but they stuck it out and returned a good rate of fire. The German Infantry fired from the hip as they advanced but their fire was very inaccurate."

What was conclusively proved in 1914 was the awful power of the SMLE in skilled hands. From the Boer War the Army had worked unceasingly to achieve a standard of speed and accuracy of rifle fire never before considered possible in any Army. The battles of Mons, The Marne and First Ypres showed how successful the training had been.

In a sense the first few months of the Great War represented the high¬water mark for the SMLE as an infantry weapon, since time and skilled instructors necessary to achieve such standards were just not available thereafter.

Trench warfare saw the return of many weapons thought to be obsolete; mortars, grenades being amongst them but above all was the rise in importance of the machine gun which was soon to rule the battlefield.

This said, what is not stated is that the main reason for the Army placing such an emphasis on rapid rifle fire between the Boer War and the start of the First World War was that the Treasury would not unduly fund machine guns so the army had to place ever more stress on rapid musketry as a substitute for machine gun fire. Also a lot of the armies hierarchy still believed that cavalry and bayonet charges were still the way wars should be fought.

Whilst it has been often accepted that the Short Magazine Lee Enfield is inferior to the Mauser System, particularly as regards the strength of the action and accuracy, it is most likely one of the most "soldier proof" rifles ever designed. It was also preferred for it's reliability under the most adverse conditions, as well as it's speed of operation. In 1912, trials conducted at Hythe against the German Service rifle, it was found that about 14 - 15 rounds a minute could be fired from the Mauser, compared with 28 for the SMLE.
(Source: http://www.leeenfieldrifleassociation...)

Rifles An Illustrated History of Their Impact by David Westwood by David Westwood (no photo)
British Enfield Rifles, Vol. 4, the Pattern 1914 and U.S. Model 1917 Enfield Rifles by Charles R. Stratton by Charles R. Stratton (no photo)
Raising Churchill's Army The British Army and the War Against Germany 1919-1945 by David French by David French (no photo)
The Lee-Enfield Rifle by Martin Pegler by Martin Pegler Martin Pegler

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Iron Cross


Germany gave many different types of awards to recognize acts of bravery, courage and valor. Among them are daggers, swords, war badges and even metal shields. These medals were not standard issue, instead different medals were used by the respective organizations of the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. They could be earned by various ways, from being involved in a successful mission, to having completed a certain number of mission, to acts of bravery, or to have been wounded or killed in action. In the event of death, the medal will be presented to the next of kin. A number of decorations were also designed to recognize service rather than valor.

The Iron Cross in its various classes was a standard medal awarded to all organizations of the Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. Despite the prestige of this medal, it was very widely awarded having about 6 million recipients throughout wartime. The Iron Cross awarded during the second world war had 1939 imprinted in the center, which is the year of its reintroduction. The Iron Cross was awarded to recognize acts of bravery.

The Iron Cross comes in two grades, Second Class and First Class. The Iron Cross First Class could only be awarded to one who had previously receive the Iron Cross Second Class. Hence, the First Class was more restricted and more highly prized. Both the medals looked very similar and were worn on the same position on the lower left side of the uniform. When the Iron Cross First Class was awarded, the Iron Cross Second Class was signified with a small ribbon attached to a button.

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was a highly distinguished medal recognizing acts of valor within the German armed forces. Unlike the Iron Cross, it was worn on the neck with a striped black, white and red ribbon attached. First awarded on September 30th, 1939, approximately 7361 of these awards were presented during the war, of which 43 were awarded to foreigners.

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves was introduced on June 3rd, 1940 to further recognize acts of courage. As with the preceding medals, the Oak Leaves could only be awarded to one who had earlier receive the Knight's Cross. A fan of three silver oak leaves decorated the Knight's Cross, just above the clip on the medallion. In all, 890 had been awarded during the second world war. Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves

A highly prestigious medal, it was introduced on July 15, 1941 to further recognize Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves recipients for further acts of valor which was beyond the call of duty. A pair of swords crossed at 40 degrees was added below the oak leaves. Only 160 of these had been awarded, a further testament of the honor attached to this medal.

Introduced the same time with the Oak Leaves and Swords, many consider the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds to be the highest award that can be earned during the war. A set of diamonds inlaid on the Oak Leaves and Swords was added. Awarded only to the most highly decorated and heroic figures of the armed forces, only 27 servicemen had receive this award, one of which was General Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.

The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds was of the highest recognition, Hitler intended to limit this award to 12 of the most distinguished servicemen in the entire German armed forces after the war ended, assuming an axis victory. As the Third Reich collapsed, an exception was made and only one award was ever presented.

The only Golden Oakleaves, Swords and Diamonds holder was Hans Ulrich Rudel of the Luftwaffe. A Stuka dive bomber pilot, Rudel destroyed 518 Russian tanks (that's five Russian tank corps), 150 flak and artillery positions, 700 trucks, sunk the Russian battleship Marat, a Russian cruiser, a Russian Destroyer, 70 Russian landing craft, and hundreds of other targets (bridges, railways, bunkers). He also heavily damaged another Russian battleship, the October Revolution. Rudel flew 2,530 combat missions, of which 400 were in a Focke-Wulf 190, claimed 11 air victories and was shot down 32 times.

World War II German Battle Insignia by Gordon Williamson by Gordon Williamson (no photo)
The Face of Courage The 98 Men Who Received the Knight's Cross and the Close-Combat Clasp in Gold (Stackpole Military History) by Florian Berger by Florian Berger (no photo)
German Combat Awards 1935-1945 by Alan Beadle by Alan Beadle (no photo)
The First World War in 100 Objects The Story of the Great War Told Through the Objects that Shaped It by Gary Sheffield by Gary Sheffield (no photo)
Gurps WWII Iron Cross by Gene Seabolt by Gene Seabolt (no photo)
The First World War in 100 Objects by Peter Doyle by Peter Doyle Peter Doyle

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Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Interesting questions. A good thing to do with The Day of Battle is to go through the extensive glossaries for the Liberation Triology that we have added to along the way (Second World War) - there are three links provided in message one - there are a lot that have been added already. There probably is no one book Matthew but one open course that I recommend is the one from Harvard - here is the link - we had that posted in the Second World War folder which is also a source.

Here is a Wikipedia source that lists numbers:


Sicily by Andrew J. Birtle by Andrew J. Birtle Andrew J. Birtle

Bitter Victory The Battle For Sicily, July August 1943 by Carlo D'Este by Carlo D'Este Carlo D'Este

Also if you are looking for stats:

World War II A Statistical Survey The Essential Facts and Figures for All the Combatants by John Ellis by John Ellis (no photo)

World War II in Numbers An Infographic Guide to the Conflict, Its Conduct, and Its Casualities by Peter Doyle by Peter Doyle Peter Doyle

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WW2: The Siege of Malta


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Malta Spitfires:

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Operation Pedestal. The Crucial Malta Convoy of 1942

The story of one of the truly epic events in the history of naval warfare. The survival of Malta was the vital hinge upon which turned the whole Allied strategy in the Mediterranean Theatre of war. This film describes how a vital convoy was forced through to relieve the valiant island of Malta, despite appalling losses.

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1940 Malta before the bombs fell - Italian

June 18, 1940. Giornale Italie No. 049. The island of Malta, claimed by Italy. Shown are ships of the Royal Navy (probably HMS Warspite, HMS Malaya, and the escort carrier HMS Eagle). An unveiling of a bust in honour of Fortunato Mizzi, founder of the pro-Italian movement on Malta.

Interesting footage

Malta in 1933 b&w.wmv (English)

Interesting to see Malta before it was resorted to rubble from the bombings.

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Here is an interesting article about Malta which you might enjoy: (it does discuss some of the religious history of Malta which Atkinson alluded to in the beginning of the chapter for this week's reading:

Beneath Malta’s Beauty, a Tangled History

Source: The New York Times

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TRIDENT conference begins in Washington, D.C.
May 12, 1943

For nearly two weeks, Prime Minister Churchill, President Roosevelt, and their senior commanders discussed global war strategy, including the paramount issue of where Anglo-American forces should strike following the invasion of Sicily.

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Invasion of Sicily Newsreel (Operation HUSKY - July 1943)

Source: Youtube

This appears to be a propaganda film. This film was posted on Rick Atkinson's website for the book.

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