THE WORLD WAR TWO GROUP discussion

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ARCHIVED READS > 2018 - April - Any Campaign/Battle (land, air or sea) during 1939-1940 (inclusive)

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message 1: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments The April 2018 theme read is on any campaign or battle; land, air or sea, that occurred in 1939-1940 (inclusive).


message 2: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments I have to try and work out which book I will be reading for this theme, so far these are two contenders:

The Blitzkrieg Legend The 1940 Campaign in the West by Karl-Heinz Frieser The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West by Karl-Heinz Frieser

Norway 1940 Chronicle of a Chaotic Campaign by Harry Plevy Norway 1940: Chronicle of a Chaotic Campaign by Harry Plevy


message 3: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "I have to try and work out which book I will be reading for this theme, so far these are two contenders:

The Blitzkrieg Legend The 1940 Campaign in the West by Karl-Heinz Frieser[book:The Blitzkrie..."


I have to say I am interested in the first one. So that has my vote. LOL.


message 4: by Edward (new)

Edward Ripple (edrip222) | 1 comments Norway. Interesting campaign.


message 5: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Thanks Dj for your assistance :)


message 6: by James (new)

James Martin (albacore) | 49 comments I was a bit afraid I'd have to skip this read after searching Bangkok's used and new bookstores for a month and having no luck finding anything in this time period (I even made a trip to a mall when I called and they confirmed they had James Holland's The Battle of Britain in stock, but it turned out they had a tiny illustrated book seemingly for children with the same name and by the same author....very strange.

Fortunately today I stopped by a wonderful little used bookshop in Chiang Mai and found With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain, just the book I needed to participate for this month. I've never read a history of the Battle of Britain and I'm quite looking forward to this highly-rated book.


message 7: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Glad you found something for the theme read and just in the nick of time. I hope you enjoy the book and I will look forward to your comments James.


Rogier pinkers  | 1 comments I would choose and recommend A bridge too far, Cornelius Ryan. Just because I live near Arnhem , and the airborne museum, though i never have read a book about it.


message 9: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Rogier pinkers wrote: "I would choose and recommend A bridge too far, Cornelius Ryan. Just because I live near Arnhem , and the airborne museum, though i never have read a book about it."

Good choice Rogier but a bit outside the time frame of 1939-1940, that book would be a perfect fit for the 1943-1944 theme in a few months time :)


message 10: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments OK, I'm going to go with "The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West" by Karl-Heinz Frieser. I'll try and get started today and hopefully a few group members will join in the theme read with me.


message 11: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments From one of the first chapters in "The Blitzkrieg Legend" in which the author has been discussing how unprepared Germany was for a conflict with Britain and France:

"In a conflict with Great Britain and France, both of which were sea powers, the most important component of the armed forces would have been the navy. At the beginning of the war, however, the German navy was still being built up. Apart from the battleships and heavy cruisers that were not yet ready for combat, it had only three armored vessels (dubbed pocket battleships), a few destroyers, and fifty-seven submarines. Only two pocket battleships and twenty-three submarines were ready for swift deployment in the Atlantic early in September. Raeder, the Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine (commander in chief of the navy), commented on the nearly hopeless inferiority of his naval forces upon the outbreak of the war: The navy, he noted, could demonstrate only 'that it knew how to die decently'."


message 12: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Thanks Dj for your assistance :)"

What can I say, I am always willing to offer an opinion. Both the books looked good though. So I will be waiting to hear about either of them.


message 13: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "From one of the first chapters in "The Blitzkrieg Legend" in which the author has been discussing how unprepared Germany was for a conflict with Britain and France:

"In a conflict with Great Brita..."


Hmm, I have to question this a little bit. What date is he looking at?

The Norway Campaign had a larger grouping than that and the attack on Poland made use of at least one of the older Battleships.


message 14: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Dj, apparently that was the situation upon Britain's declaration of war in 1939.


message 15: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Dj, apparently that was the situation upon Britain's declaration of war in 1939."

So looks like he would be discounting the older Battleships that they used for training. Which were WWI vintage.


message 16: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments I think that would be fair, they wouldn't stand much chance against the British fleet eh!


message 17: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "I think that would be fair, they wouldn't stand much chance against the British fleet eh!"

Maybe. Much of the British Fleet at the start of the War were older class ships as well. Many of them served well during the war. Few of them got into actual gun range of various ships, the Bismarck as a sitting duck doesn't really count all that much. LOL. But that example is valid, since it would have been one German Battleship against at least six British if not more.


message 18: by Wade (new)

Wade (wade1) | 316 comments Dunkirk...by Norman Gelb.


message 19: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 499 comments RIVER PLATE 1939 by Angus Konstam. This an Osprey look at the sinking of the GRAF SPEE.


message 20: by Devika (new)

Devika | 11 comments I am reading a book called The Longest Winter by Alex Kershaw, and it takes place during the Battle of Bulge. It is the #1 bestseller in Prisoners of War History.

https://www.amazon.com/Longest-Winter...


message 21: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Seems folks are reading some interesting books on the subject :)


message 22: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Some interesting information from the book; "The Blitzkrieg Legend". I've read this material before but others may still find it of interest:

" ... Once again, the horse was to take the place of the engine. Thus, in the spring of 1940 the Wehrmacht was characterized not by Panzers and motor vehicles but by hoses. During World War I, the German army used 1.4 million horses; during World War II, it used 2.7 million, almost twice as many. Among the 157 divisions (including those that were still being organized) that the Germany army had in May 1940, only 16, about 10 percent, were fully motorized. The others mostly marched along at traditional infantry speed, followed by horse-drawn vehicles. In the campaign in the west, also, the infantry was the Queen of Battles."


message 23: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments And:

"Most of the German divisions were equipped rather modestly, it not skimpily. Only half of them could be classified as fully combat ready. Hitler had plunged the as yet unprepared Wehrmacht into the adventure of a world war - and its equipment was correspondingly adventurous. In terms of material, most German divisions could certainly not stand comparison to a standard division of the French army or even the British army. Some German divisions hardly came up to the level of World War I. Many sons carried the same machine guns that their fathers had carried during the last war. Frequently, it was even the fathers themselves who had to fight with the same machine guns they had used in World War I."


message 24: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments I read further into the statement above and the author goes onto explain:

"The first wave consisted of the active duty divisions of the peacetime army that had been reinforced with reservists. The second wave consisted of mostly younger soldiers from Reserve I (fully trained). The third and fourth waves included soldiers from Reserve II, in other words, members of the white age classes who had merely gone through a brief training cycle lasting two to three months. The Landwehr (territorial forces) accounted for a similarly large percentage and included veterans of World War I, most of whom were already over the age of forty. In addition, many Landesschutzen (regional defense personnel) more than forty-five years old had already been recalled to active duty. They were assigned to guard duty and security missions in rear areas. But the personnel shortage was so serious even Landsschutzen units were put under the control of field units. The problem now was to equip those regional defense units in whatever minimum way possible. At the start of the war, many regional defense soldiers had neither steel helmets nor boots, gas masks nor mess kits. In some cases, they were not even issued a uniform, so that only an armband reading Deutsche Wehrmacht identified them as soldiers."


message 25: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 499 comments When you read those facts, it is difficult to understand how the German conquered as much as they did. Is that where the 'legend' comes in or just that their opponents were equally unprepared?


message 26: by Marc (new)

Marc | 1374 comments Devika wrote: "I am reading a book called The Longest Winter by Alex Kershaw, and it takes place during the Battle of Bulge. It is the #1 bestseller in Prisoners of War History.

https://www.amazon.com/Longest-Wi..."


That's a really good book!


message 27: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Apr 04, 2018 04:16PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Betsy wrote: "When you read those facts, it is difficult to understand how the German conquered as much as they did. Is that where the 'legend' comes in or just that their opponents were equally unprepared?"

I think it comes down to better tactics and better use of their weapons and resources (at that time) Betsy.


message 28: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments 'Aussie Rick' wrote: "Some interesting information from the book; "The Blitzkrieg Legend". I've read this material before but others may still find it of interest:

" ... Once again, the horse was to take the place of t..."


A Friend of my used to say. Hark the Blitzkrieg cometh, clippty clop.


message 29: by Dj (new)

Dj | 2077 comments Betsy wrote: "When you read those facts, it is difficult to understand how the German conquered as much as they did. Is that where the 'legend' comes in or just that their opponents were equally unprepared?"

I am reading a book about Manstein, and they come up with some pretty interesting information on that. The German's have been flawed in the numbers and equipment, but they had a sound tactical and operational feel that was institution wide. Something that the Western Allies early in the war lacked in a profound measure. So it became a case of the Germans being on the same sheet of music with the use of Radios, Air Support and keeping Officers as close to the front as possible to take advantage of opportunities. This 'wrong footed' the French and the British, even though the Germans were not fully sold on the use and employment of Armor.


message 30: by Colin (new)

Colin Heaton (colin1962) | 1943 comments The key to German success was later adopted by the USMC (MAGTF), and later others. Command and control of ground and air assets were all under one commander. There was no relay of comms, permissions, etc.

The senior field commander on the ground had his FO who called in the coordinates, pilots took their cue from the ground, not an air controller. This saved a lot of time, and FO's being at the front relayed back for artillery, mortar and aircraft strikes with precision and eyeball on target efficiency.

Also tankers and pilots used throat microphones, not mouth to mic, which gave a more clear transmissions and removed background sound distortions. Communication was the essential method of the German victories.


message 31: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments The book; "Case Red" by Robert Forczyk covered numerous incidents of how the Germans were shocked by the effectiveness of some French tanks but I figured I would share a few more accounts from the book; "The Blitzkrieg Legend":

"The 1st Panzer Division experienced such a clash on the morning of 17 May north of Laon at Crecy: 'Although the southern exit had been secured, French tanks did tuen up there and one of them simply ran over our security outposts and rode towards Mortiers along the advancing columns of the 1st Motorcycle Rifle Battalion. That French tank was knocked out in Mortiers only after the surprised Panzer Battalion of the 1st Panzer Regiment mounted up and hit the French tank, that was simply driving through the German positions, with several well-aimed rounds from the rear. The crew surrendered. It was found that the French tank (B 2) was just about saturated with 3.7-cm hits and also had some 7.5-cm hits without a single round having penetrated its armor."

Case Red The Collapse of France by Robert Forczyk Case Red: The Collapse of France by Robert Forczyk


message 32: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (last edited Apr 04, 2018 05:08PM) (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Here are a few more incidents:

"The following episode took place on the same day, not too far away: 'In the evening of 17 May, the 6th Panzer Division had beaten off an attack by heavy French tanks in the Hauteville-Neuvilette bridgehead. In the process, one antitank gun in the unit of Oberleutnant Neckenauer made 25 hits on a French tank. That tank was knocked out only with the 26th round that hit the tracks. Just a day before, in Stonne south of Sedan, a single Char B had attacked a German Panzer column and had knocked out thirteen Panzers and two German antitank guns. Its armor later showed 140 hits without a single projectile having penetrated'."


message 33: by Charles (new)

Charles | 110 comments In rather slow time I have been listening to the audiobook of Hitler's Pre-Emptive War The Battle for Norway, 1940 by Henrik O. Lunde Hitler's Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940.

Very comprehensive and an interesting read. It has some excellent coverage of pre-war Norwegian defence issues, such as the parlous state of country's defence budget, and equipment procurement.

I'm up to the bit where the Germans have just landed and the King has been woken to be told "we are being invaded." "By whom?" he responds (!). This highlighted the difficult position the Norwegians were placed in with their neutrality, as they were having to balance against two rather powerful groups, and were willing to fire on either the allies or the Germans in order to protect their non-aligned position.


message 34: by Tony (new)

Tony | 291 comments I’m reading First Light by Geoffrey Wellum First Light, written by Geoffrey Wellum about his experiences as a fighter pilot in WW1, much of it covering the Battle of Britain. I’m about 75 pages in and so far we’ve mainly covered his training, and now he’s been posted to 92 squadron, flying Spitfires.

I was surprised to read that his CO, briefly until he was shot down at Dunkirk, was Roger Bushell - who was captured, became a POW, and organised the escape from Stalag Luft III. He was the basis for Roger Bartlett, “Big X”, Richard Attenborough’s character in The Great Escape.


message 35: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Charles wrote: "In rather slow time I have been listening to the audiobook of Hitler's Pre-Emptive War The Battle for Norway, 1940 by Henrik O. Lunde[book:Hitler's Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940|1..."

Good selection for the theme read Charles. I liked that story about the Norwegian King.


message 36: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Tony wrote: "I’m reading First Light by Geoffrey Wellum First Light, written by Geoffrey Wellum about his experiences as a fighter pilot in WW1, much of it covering the Battle of B..."

I hope you enjoy the book Tony, keep us all posted on your progress.


message 37: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Here are some details on Operation 'Niwi' where Fieseler Stork's were used to transport German soldiers to targets in Belgium, the small towns of Nives and Witry. The objective was to seize crucial crossroads in the Ardennes Forest in order to smooth the passage of the German Panzer offensive through Belgium, unhinging the local defences and clear a path to the Meuse River:

http://www.historynet.com/niwi-nine-m...


message 38: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments The author of "The Blitzkrieg Legend" mentions one action in the Ardennes that drove the Germans to desperation and shows what potentially could have happened if more resources were allocated to completing defensive works in the Ardennes region and if the French soldiers kept their nerve. The account concerns the La Hatrelle pillbox:

"The pillbox was so well camouflaged along a defile that was secured by mines that it could be engaged only by Panzers advancing individually. The latter would have had to go into position completely exposed along the forward slope and would thus have gotten within the range of the French antitank gun that had opened fire from the pillbox's tiny gun port. Now the infantry again and again tried to attack the pillbox from various directions but failed during the approach. Finally, one Panzer managed to get around the pillbox, driving down a steep slope between the trunks of the dense Ardennes trees. Then it had a technical breakdown and came to a stop.

The pillbox really had the attackers in despair. They had already been trying in vain for three and a half hours to take the French position. At last, a Panzer was able to knock out the French antitank gun with a direct hit on the gun port. But it still took thirty minuted before an assault team seized the pillbox by storm against strong resistance. The men manning the pillbox had managed to hold up the advance guard of the Kruger battle group for four hours."


This is a translated page from Google but it offers some interesting information and photographs:
https://translate.google.com.au/trans...


message 39: by James (new)

James Martin (albacore) | 49 comments Tony wrote: "I’m reading First Light by Geoffrey Wellum First Light, written by Geoffrey Wellum about his experiences as a fighter pilot in WW1, much of it covering the Battle of B..."

Michael Korda quotes from Wellum's account in With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain. I would love to read this book at some point.


message 40: by James (new)

James Martin (albacore) | 49 comments I'm a bit more than halfway through Michael Korda's With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain. So far this is a very good read, covering the backgrounds of both the Luftwaffe and RAF Fighter Command, and centers mostly around Air Chief Marshall Dowding's then revolutionary and much-opposed efforts in everything from radar stations staffed by women to putting radios and rear view mirrors in Spitfires. A couple interesting things from the first half of this book:

Despite the prestige and size of the British Navy, the Luftwaffe pilots and crews were much more likely to survive a ditching in the English Channel. According to Korda, "....Germans were far better provided with emergency equipment in case they came down in the sea. German aircrews not only had rubber dinghies that rose to the surface and inflated automatically but also had bright yellow flying helmets that, along with fluorescent dye, made their airmen more visible in the water to the crews of German rescue seaplanes. Many British pilots, by contrast, would die of hypothermia, bobbing in the sea in their Mae West jackets within sight of the bathing beaches of southern England."

These losses led Dowding and Air Vice Marshall Park, leader of Number 11 Group covering London and Southeast England, to discourage fighters from being vectored towards intercepts over the sea. Dowding eventually ordered the RAF to fire upon German rescue floatplanes, believing he was justified as a defender in preventing crews from reaching their bombers. However, he believed Germans shot down over Britain should in no way be harmed, as they would be POWs and therefore not end up back in bombers.


message 41: by Tony (new)

Tony | 291 comments James wrote: "Tony wrote: "I’m reading First Light by Geoffrey Wellum First Light, written by Geoffrey Wellum about his experiences as a fighter pilot in WW1, much of it covering th..."

I'm really enjoying it James, I'd recommend it, and it's extremely well written. I like the sound of With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain. In fact I was tempted to get it, but ended up being a good boy and reading something from my book pile instead!


message 42: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments James wrote: "I'm a bit more than halfway through Michael Korda's With Wings Like Eagles: A History of the Battle of Britain. So far this is a very good read, covering the backgrounds of both the ..."

Very interesting post James, good information on the German efforts to protect and save their pilots ditched in the sea. It sounds like a pretty good book.


message 43: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments I found this information interesting, from the book; "The Blitzkrieg Legend":

"The weakness of the Sedan Sector was not so much due to a shortage of bunkers (this kind of criticism only bears witness to that fateful Maginot mentality) but rather to a shortage of mines. During World War II, the use of mines proved to be the most effective means for stopping enemy tank operations before they got started. In July 1943 the German Panzer divisions trying to break through the Soviet front at Kursk first of all got stuck in kilometre-wide mine belts. At El Alamein, Rommel also had ordered about 500,000 mines to be planted along a front of seventy kilometres. In the spring of 1940 the French Second Army had to watch almost the same frontline width, but it had only 16,000 mines. Of that number, 7,000 each were earmarked for the delaying action of the cavalry divisions in the Ardennes as well as for use in the line of the blockhouses along the border. That left only 2,000 mines for the actual defense lines along the Meuse River. Of those, the 55th Infantry Division got only 422.

Looking at it more closely, however, that was actually 422 mines too many because when Guderian's eight hundred battle tanks started out on their final break-through on 14 May, almost no mines had been planted in the ground. French officers had concentrated so much on building bunkers that they paid hardly any attention to the mines. At first, only some of them had been laid. Before the German attack, however, the French removed the few mine barriers that did exist in the Sedan Sector. Most of the mines were shipped to a depot near Vrigne-aux-Bois (north of the Meuse River) where they had to be greased again due to soil moisture. That is where they were discovered in 1941."


message 44: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments The author mentions the exploits of Feldwebel Walter Rubart who was subsequently awarded the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross for his actions in cracking open the French defences on the Meuse:

" ... 'As with glass too quickly cooled,' Clausewitz warns on panic, 'a single crack breaks the whole mass.' In the case of the German crossing of the Meuse the crack was due to the efforts of a German sergeant, Walther Rubarth.

Three Panzer divisions were stalled on the right bank of the Meuse after the French blew the bridges. Rubarth and his small squad of assault engineers were the only Germans to get across the river. He destroyed seven French bunkers, carving out a bridgehead, and sowing such fear among the enemy that first a regiment and then a division cracked with 20,000 men fleeing in what became known as 'the Bulson panic'. The fall of France was under way."


Map on the German crossing of the Meuse:
https://www.themaparchive.com/breakth...


message 45: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments The author of "The Blitzkrieg Legend" has provided a very good account of the Battle of Stonne which was a very hard fought battle between German and French forces. The village changed hands seventeen times between 15 and 17 May 1940. One German officer said, he will never forget three battles: Stonne, Stalingrad, and Monte-Cassino.

Some pretty interesting links to details on this battle:
http://www.johnsmilitaryhistory.com/S...

http://tankarchives.blogspot.com.au/2...


message 46: by Jonny (last edited Apr 07, 2018 12:46AM) (new)

Jonny | 1686 comments Too many books, too little time.. my obsession with the mid-/late- war period left me a bit bare, but I've made a start on
Coventry Thursday, 14 November 1940 by Frederick Taylor
Coventry: Thursday, 14 November 1940. Should be some interesting parallels with his earlier work on Dresden
Dresden Tuesday, 13 February, 1945 by Frederick Taylor
Dresden: Tuesday, 13 February, 1945


message 47: by 'Aussie Rick', Moderator (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) | 17325 comments Jonny wrote: "Too many books, too little time.. my obsession with the mid-/late- war period left me a bit bare, but I've made a start on
Coventry Thursday, 14 November 1940 by Frederick Taylor
[book:Coventry:..."


I really enjoyed his book on Dresden so I'll be keen to hear your thoughts on his book on Coventry, keep us all posted.


message 48: by Jonny (last edited Apr 08, 2018 12:54AM) (new)

Jonny | 1686 comments An interesting first paragraph from Taylor:
"The first civilian victims of bombing in Coventry died, in fact, more than a week before war broke out. On Friday, 25 August 1939 at 2.32 in the afternoon, a 5-lb bomb exploded in the carrier of a tradesman’s bicycle parked against the kerb outside Astley’s, a well-known hardware store in Coventry’s main shopping street, Broadgate. Friday was market day in Coventry, and the streets in the city centre were busy. Five passers-by were killed , twelve seriously injured and forty or more needed treatment."
Coventry suffered the first fatal bombing in an IRA bombing campaign; the cell is wound up but unfortunately the 'Mr Big' (known in true nor fashion as 'The Strange Man' escaped justice.
Coventry Thursday, 14 November 1940 by Frederick Taylor
Coventry: Thursday, 14 November 1940


message 49: by Charles (new)

Charles | 110 comments Charles wrote: "In rather slow time I have been listening to the audiobook of Hitler's Pre-Emptive War The Battle for Norway, 1940 by Henrik O. Lunde[book:Hitler's Pre-Emptive War: The Battle for Norway, 1940|1..."

Another example of the chaos and disorganisation in the senior Norwegian ranks at the time of the German invasion is seen through the debate on how the general mobilisation should be announced. Two senior members of the high command clashed, with one sticking to the regulations and stating that notifications should be sent by post (despite the Germans already occupying a number of major population centres), with another arguing for an announcement over the radio. In the end, it was agreed that protocol should be followed, and that notifications were to be sent by post. However, as news of the invasion spread, many conscripts and general volunteers appeared at mobilisation centres, although a formal military response had yet to be agreed.


message 50: by Tony (new)

Tony | 291 comments Here’s some fairly typical Spitfire action from First Light by Geoffrey Wellum.

” ‘OK, Gannic, let's sort this lot out.' Pancho peels off. I catch a glimpse of the oil-streaked belly of his aeroplane. Stick over and I follow. The squadron falls out of the sky behind the 110s and it doesn't appear that they have seen us. I pick a 110 two removed from the leader. He's a little wide. It's obvious I'm closing my target too fast. Mustn't let my speed build up too much if I can help it. Ease back the throttle, must reduce this overtaking speed or else I shall make a balls up of the whole attack. I am still well up on Pancho. Back with the throttle a little more, that's a bit better. Now line him up, sights on, hold it steady. He's growing bigger quite rapidly. Hold the line, Geoff, hold it, not quite there yet; right, you bastard, now's the moment and I press the gun button. Vibration, noise and recoil. Take that little lot. This is a damn good burst, quick now or you'll collide with the bugger. Stick forward, flung against the straps and I pass just underneath his tail. Blimey, that was a shade close. No return fire and I have at least hit him well and truly. I glimpse a gush of smoke or something from somewhere around the centre section wing root and then he is past and gone.
Pull up, regain height, come on, Geoff, open the throttle, give her all she's got. Up we go, that's nice, roll over and looking down I see two 110s going down, one with black smoke. Hope it's mine.”


Alongside the action there’s plenty about life as a pilot during the BoB, and also a fair bit of soul searching as Geoffrey Wellum considers fear, life and death - both his own, his friends', and enemies'. At this point “Boy” Wellum, as he is now called, is 19.


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