Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Military Snapshots - The German A7V tank

The A7V was the only German tank to make it into production during World War I. Twenty-four A7Vs were built compared to the roughly 8,000 tanks built by the British and French in that conflict. Photo courtesy of Patton Museum of Armor and Cavalry, from Tanks by Michael Green & James D. Brown

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Military Snapshots - Aerial view of Betio during World War II

The western half of Betio (i.e., the invasion area) as seen from a B-24 during a bombing mission in October 1943. The invasion beaches are at the top of the photo (north) and run from left (west) to right: Red-1, Red-2, and Red-3 (obscured by smoke). Some barbed-wire barriers, trenches, and roadways can be seen. The T-shaped structures along the beaches are overwater latrines. Official Signal Corps Photo, from Tarawa and the Marshalls: A Pictorial Tribute by Eric Hammel

Monday, August 16, 2010

From the Pages - Hell Hawks!

As gifted as the pilots of the 365th Fighter Group were in air-to-air combat, these aviators were perhaps best known for pioneering many air-to-ground combat techniques. From Normandy to Germany, the men known as the "Hell Hawks" would wreak insurmountable havoc upon German troops, armor, airfields, and supply lines. In the following excerpt from Hell Hawks! The Untold Story of the American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht, authors Robert F. Dorr and Thomas D. Jones describe several of the Hell Hawks' harrowing experiences attacking the retreating German troops across France in September 1944.


As the German army fled to the relative safety of their own frontier, scourged by flights of merciless Thunderbolts, Lightnings, and Typhoons, the Hell Hawks raced into the arms of newly liberated Paris. Trucked to the base of the Eiffel Tower, the first wave of men found the streets full of women eager to please Americans. Wrote Johnson, “It was impossible to go more than a block without being propositioned several times. Few of the men spent much time on their feet while in Paris.”

A 386th intelligence officer later wrote of the experience: “Beautiful, friendly Paris, with its lovely and fascinating, and wicked women, was the downfall of practically the entire squadron, officers and men alike. Only by tremendous efforts of willpower were most of us able to drag our frayed and worn out bodies homeward long enough to make a half-hearted attempt to carry on the war—and to recuperate for yet another orgy.”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Military Snapshots - The Barracks at Stalag XII A

For POWs being held at Stalag XIIA in Limburg an der Lahn, Germany, basic survival was a daily struggle. For Jewish-American POW Ivan Goldstein, that struggle came with added dangers. Shown in this photo is the barracks of Stalag XII A -- a cold, dirty barn housing American prisoners, including Goldstein. Photo courtesy of The Granger Collection, New York, from Surviving the Reich: The World War II Saga of a Jewish-American GI by Ivan Goldstein.

Friday, August 6, 2010

From the Pages - War Stories of the Battle of the Bulge

The 84th Infantry Division formed part of the American Ninth Army, based north of the Ardennes, and was transferred to the First Army a few days after the German attack began. The battle-tested 334th Infantry Regiment, which Albert Garland belonged to, was the first into Belgium and held its place in the front lines with heavy artillery support. In the following excerpt from War Stories of the Battle of the Bulge, Garland describes serving on the front lines during the initial German attack and American response.

On the morning of December 20, 1944,I was a first lieutenant commanding Company L, 334th Infantry Regiment, 84th Infantry Division. For the past month, we had been in almost continuous action as part of the U.S. XIII Corps, Ninth U.S. Army, in and around the north German towns of Prummern, Beeck, Wurm, and Lindern. (For part of that month, we were under the operational control of the British XXX Corps, then commanded by Lt. Gen. Brian Horrocks.) Our primary objective from the beginning was the Roer River, and we were getting close to it despite strong German resistance and miserable conditions.

I had been told the previous evening that our battalion—the 3rd Battalion—was being pulled out of the lines for a short stay at the division’s rest center at Eygelshoven, a small Dutch town that lay just across the border some ten to twelve miles from our present location. I had also been told that my mess crew and its equipment was going there right after it had delivered a hot breakfast on the 20th, and that I could expect a number of two-and-a-half-ton trucks to reach me shortly after the mess crew departed. These trucks would take my company to Eygelshoven, at which time I would release them to their parent unit. (If I remember correctly, these trucks belonged to a quartermaster truck company, one of several such units then supporting the division.)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Military Snapshots - Japanese "Nells" over Rabaul

The first Japanese attack on Rabaul was made by Navy Type 96 land attack aircraft (Mitsubishi G3M "Nells") from Truk on January 4, 1942. Although nearly obsolete by Japanese standards, the bombers were untouched by Australian antiaircraft guns or interceptors. Photo courtesy of Ron Werneth, from Fortress Rabaul: The Battle for the Southwest Pacific, January 1942-April 1943 by Bruce Gamble