Category Archive 'WWII'
18 Nov 2016

Mystery of the Sea

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hmsexeter
HMS Exeter

Science Alert:

The wreckage of six warships and a submarine that have lain on the bottom of the Java Sea since 1942 is now missing, and naval authorities are at a loss to explain the disappearance.

The vessels – including three Dutch ships, six British ships, and a US submarine – all sank during the Battle of the Java Sea in World War II, when allied forces suffered a huge defeat at the hands of the Imperial Japanese Navy off the coast of Indonesia.

The discovery was made during preparations for next year’s 75th anniversary of the battle, with the Dutch defence ministry the first to confirm on Tuesday that the wrecks of two of its ships – HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java – had completely disappeared.

A large piece of a third Dutch ship, HNLMS Kortenaer, has also vanished.

Shortly after, the British ministry of defence confirmed that HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter had disappeared, with much of a third vessel – HMS Electra – gone as well.

A US submarine, the USS Perch, is also missing.

Naval researchers used sonar to create a 3D map of the seabed where the shipwrecks once lay, and while the vessels are no longer there, the indentation they left on the sea floor is still visible.

While the cause of these disappearances hasn’t yet been confirmed, naval authorities are launching an international investigation, suspecting scrap metal salvagers are to blame.

Complete article.

02 Sep 2016

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation Rules That the Soviet Union Did Not Invade Poland in 1939

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SovietInvasionPoland

Human Rights in Ukraine reports on a remarkable ruling, denying obvious fact.

Russia’s Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of Perm blogger Vladimir Luzgin for reposting a text which states that both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland in 1939. The Supreme Court’s ruling came on September 1, 2016, the 77th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion of Poland, 17 days before the anniversary of the Soviet invasion from the east.

Henry Reznik, the well-known lawyer who was representing Luzgin, commented that the Supreme Court has discredited itself through this ruling and promised to appeal further. He added that an application to the European Court of Human Rights was simply demanded.

As reported here, 37-year-old Vladimir Luzgin was convicted in July this year by the Perm District Court and fined 200 thousand roubles. The charge was under Article 354.1 of Russia’s criminal code (‘rehabilitation of Nazism’) and concerned Luzgin’s repost of a text on his VKontakte social network page entitled ’15 facts about Bandera supporters, or what the Kremlin is silent about’.

It may be no accident that the ‘offending text’ should be Ukrainian, and fairly nationalist, however it was specifically over the following paragraph in the repost that the criminal proceedings against Luzgin were initiated:

    “The communists and Germany jointly invaded Poland, sparking off the Second World War. That is, communism and Nazism closely collaborated, yet for some reason they blame Bandera who was in a German concentration camp for declaring Ukrainian independence”.

Russia’s Supreme Court has now agreed that this paragraph constitutes “the public denial of the Nuremberg Trials and circulation of false information about the activities of the USSR during the years of the Second World War”.

It is hard to know what is most shocking in all of this. A prime contender must be Alexander Vertinsky, dean of the History Faculty of the Perm Humanitarian-Pedagogical University. He proved willing to appear for the prosecution and claim that the paragraph really did contain “statements that do not correspond with the position accepted at international level”.

There are also two Russian courts willing to agree that since the Nuremberg Trials did not mention the Soviet invasion, the information was ‘knowingly false’. With the Soviet Union as one of the victors exerting considerable influence at Nuremberg, it was highly unlikely that Soviet collaboration with the Nazis and its invasion would get a mention.

The rulings are extraordinarily cynical. Whatever was said at Nuremberg, any genuine historian will confirm that the Soviet Union invaded what was then Poland on September 17, 1939.

To deny this is absurd when the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its secret protocols which carved up Poland between the Soviet Union and Germany have long been in the public domain, and can be read about in any history book.

Complete story.

31 Aug 2016

Clive Caldwell

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CliveCaldwell
Group Captain Clive “Killer” Caldwell”

WWII Today (August 29):

On 29 August 1941 Clive Caldwell was attacked by two Bf 109s North-West of Sidi Barrani. One of his attackers was the Bf 109 E-7 “black 8” of 2./JG 27 piloted by one of Germany’s top aces, Leutnant Werner Schroer who was credited with 114 Allied planes in only 197 combat missions.

Caldwell’s P-40 “Tomahawk” of 250 Squadron was riddled with more than 100 rounds of 7.9 mm slugs, plus five 20 mm cannon strikes which punctured a tyre and rendered the flaps inoperative. In the first attack Caldwell suffered bullet wounds to the back, left shoulder, and leg. In the next pass one shot slammed through the canopy, causing splinters which wounded him with perspex in the face and shrapnel in the neck. Two cannon shells also punched their way through the rear fuselage just behind him and the starboard wing was badly damaged. Despite damage to both himself and the aircraft, Caldwell, feeling, as he remembers, “quite hostile” turned on his attackers and sent down one of the Bf 109s in flames.

The pilot of the second Messerschmitt, the renowned Leutnant Schroer, shocked by this turn of events, evidently made off in some haste. Caldwell’s engine had caught fire, however he managed to extinguish the flames with a violent slip. He then nursed his flying wreck back to base at Sidi Haneish.

Hat tip to Woodpile Report.

08 Aug 2016

Mapping The Blitz

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LondonBombs

Bomb Sight is an interactive map project of the University of Portsmouth, allowing to viewer to see where each of more than 30,000 German bombs fell on London between 7 October 1940, and 6 June 1941, killing 30,000 people.

31 Jul 2016

You Kids, Get Off My Plane!

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1943BoeingStearman
1943 Boeing-Stearman Model 75

Philip Handleman, in the Wall Street Journal, vents over the disrespect for WWII heroism, and other people’s property, that’s rife in America these days.

The military used my Boeing Stearman, built in 1943, to instruct eager cadets in the basics of airmanship, a skill desperately needed in the war against ruthless totalitarian foes. Near war’s end, the aircraft wound up at the Livermore, Calif., naval air station. It was assigned to the shore establishment of the USS Bunker Hill, one of the most battle-hardened aircraft carriers of the Pacific campaign. …

When I stop to think of the young men who flew this magnificent wood-and-fabric creation in its heyday, I get goosebumps. They were the swashbuckling daredevils of the Greatest Generation, tempting fate in the open air. They vanquished vicious enemies and set the country on a trajectory to longstanding aerospace pre-eminence.

With such a patriotic introduction, you would think that the people strolling across the ramp would be especially respectful. Indeed, most passersby were polite, pausing to gaze in quiet awe at the authentically restored biplane in the bright-yellow paint scheme used by the Navy in the early war years. Others, usually on crutches or confined to wheelchairs, stopped to share splendid memories of learning to fly in an aircraft like mine.

Unfortunately, a small but persistent stream of attendees approached my Stearman with a sense of entitlement. Parents let their preteens thrust their hands against the biplane’s fabric. Some raised their children, with feet dragging across the wing, to get a peek inside one of the two open cockpits, as if the 73-year-old trainer were a jungle gym. When I defended the aircraft, telling the pokers and prodders to cut it out, some parents indignantly stared. I wondered if those libertines would tolerate me groping their minivans in a supermarket parking lot.

It struck me how this indulgent attitude differed from the culture of selflessness embraced by the cadets who trained in the biplane. Personal restraint and self-discipline have been spurned in favor of the mentality that says anything goes.

29 Jul 2016

WWII Jurassic Graphic

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WWIIDinosaurs

An amusing effort to illustrate in an imaginative way the larger scale of WWII conflict on the Eastern Front.

11 Jul 2016

Arguing the Lee-Enfield’s Superiority

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When I was younger, you could find barrels of them in gun stores selling for $35. Nobody wanted them. Their ungainly full-length stocks seemed to have been fashioned from old telephone poles and there is this great big hunk of crude iron dividing the stock into two parts just above the trigger. They have a huge, ugly monstrosity of a magazine hanging out the bottom, and though it is removable, it is not actually intended to be changed or removed, which makes the whole thing a kind of material self-contradiction.

All in all, they look to have been made by subterranean morlocks, a species with no previous acquaintance with firearms, to be as cheap, crude, and inexpensive as possible. The US Springfield is in comparison beautiful. To the American eye, these things simply do not look like a rifle is supposed to look. You cannot make a fine-looking sporter out of one of them whatever you do. And, finally, they fire a rimmed cartridge which has nothing especially positive going for it and which is decidedly inferior to the .30-06. There was just plain never any reason you’d want to own one.

Time, though, has a way of changing things.

Back then, most American shooters turned up their noses at Model 1911 .45 Automatics. Americans liked revolvers. The military .45 was considered loose, sloppy, and intrinsically inaccurate compared to a Smith & Wesson sixgun that functioned like a fine watch. Time went by, Jeff Cooper evangelized, custom gunsmiths accurized them, and target shooters started winning matches with them. As WWII receded into history, the handgun that the marines used to break Banzai charges at Bloody Ridge on Guadalcanal began suddenly to seem bathed in glory. Everybody wanted one.

The same sort of thing has been happening more recently to the old SMLE. It used to be part of the untouchable category, along with Mosins, Arisakas, and Mannlicher Carcanos, of surplus clunkers useless for making into sporters that nobody particularly wanted to own. Now, it is becoming widely regarded as “the best fighting rifle” (the Springfield being described as “the best target rifle” and the Mauser 98 as “the best hunting rifle”) of the Great War.

Bloke-in-the-Range’s video is amateurishly produced, to say the least. (It breaks in the middle because his camera suddenly runs out of battery power.) But I think it is actually, nonetheless, well worth watching, because he makes the best case for the SMLE that I have yet heard.

I picked one up recently at a local farm auction. Now I’m equipped for the Apocalypse. I’ve got myself a modern rapid-fire assault rifle, 1917-style.

29 Jun 2016

Vichy France Propaganda Postcard, 1942

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VichyPostcard
The French hen shelters all the national chicks of Europe (including the German one bearing the swastika), while confused Switzerland and Sweden (neutral nations) think about it. Disgruntled Great Britain is entering an American trap with a Jewish star-of-David on its door.

Hat tip to Kaj Małachowski.

30 May 2016

My Father’s War

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WGZInduction1942
My father (on the left, wearing jacket & tie, holding the large envelope), aged 26, was the oldest in this group of Marine Corps volunteers from Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania, September 1942, so he was put in charge.

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William G. Zincavage, Fall 1942, after graduating Marine Corps Boot Camp

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WGZBillyClub
Military Police, North Carolina, Fall 1942
He was only 5′ 6″, but he was so tough that they made him an MP.

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3rdDivision
Third Marine Division

1stAmphibiousCorps
I Marine Amphibious Corps

First Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Solomon Islands Consolidation (Guadalcanal), Winter-Spring 1943
New Georgia Group Operation (Vella LaVella, Rendova), Summer 1943
“The Special Troops drew the first blood.” — Third Divisional History.

“We never saw them but they were running away.” — William G. Zincavage

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3rdAmphibious-Corps
III Marine Amphibious Corps

Third Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Marianas Operation (Guam), Summer 1944

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5thAmphibious-Corps
V Marine Amphibious Corps

Fifth Amphibious Corps, Third Marine Division, Special Troops:
Iwo Jima Operation, February-March 1945

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Navy Unit Commendation (Iwo Jima)
Good Conduct Medal
North American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Four Bronze Stars

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While recovering from malaria after the Battle of Iwo Jima, he looked 70 years old.

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But he was back to normal in December of 1945, when this photo was taken shortly before he received his discharge.

24 May 2016

Highly Desirable WWII German Assault Weapons Found in Syria Were Probably “Out of Africa”

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Stg44
STG-44, aka Sturmgewehr 44, the world’s first assault weapon.

The US backed Free Syrian Army [FSA] allegedly uncovered a stockpile of 5,000 STG-44s in 2012. A video released at the time had WWII militaria collectors everywhere wishing the weapons could be accessed and imported.

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So, how did 5000 of those historic pieces get to Syria? Probably from Africa.

JWH1975 explains that first the Russians captured them.

When WWII ended in 1945, the Soviet army retained and stored every StG-44 it found. By best estimate, in 1948 there were about 102,000 StG-44s in Soviet custody. As the SKS and AK-47 were already entering Soviet use, the captured StG-44s were not issued to Soviet units but rather made available for transfer abroad, with Czechoslovakia being the first and main recipient, followed by East Germany. Hungary also received a small (about 4,000) batch, and Yugoslavia also received some prior to it’s split with the east bloc. These joined StG-44s captured by the Yugoslavs themselves. Finally the Soviets transferred a few to North Vietnam; these in turn were joined by more transferred from Czechoslovakia and East Germany (which themselves had come from the USSR) as those two countries phased the type out.

Lots of them ended up in Africa, dispatched by Russia, and its satellite proxies Czechoslovakia and East Germany, to Soviet-sponsored insurgent groups in Algeria and Somalia, with others also sold to the governments of Egypt and Libya.

01 Mar 2016

You Start a Tiger Tank by Cranking it!

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Who knew?

“The inertia starter ” Schwungmasse ” works by rotating a heavy mass at speed, once it reaches 60rpm a lever is pulled below the hand cranking arm, this pushes the drive pinion onto the fly wheel, making the engine rotate and start.”

It’s a Panzerkampfwagen VI, the Tiger I, named by Ferdinand Porsche.

This one is Tiger 131:

On 21 April 1943, a Tiger I of the 504th German heavy tank battalion, with turret number 131, was captured on a hill called Djebel Djaffa in Tunisia. A 6-pounder solid shot from a Churchill tank of the British 48th Royal Tank Regiment hit the Tiger’s gun barrel and ricocheted into its turret ring, jamming its traverse and wounding the commander. The crew bailed out and the tank was captured. After repairs, the tank was sent to England for a thorough inspection.

The captured tank was officially handed over to the Bovington Tank Museum by the British Ministry of Supply on 25 September 1951. In June 1990, the tank was removed from display at the museum and work began on its restoration. This was carried out both by the museum and the Army Base Repair Organisation and involved an almost complete disassembly of the tank. The Maybach HL230 engine from the museum’s Tiger II was installed (the Tiger’s original Maybach HL210 had been sectioned for display), along with a modern fire-suppressant system in the engine compartment. In December 2003, Tiger 131 returned to the museum, restored and in running condition. This Tiger was used in the film Fury, the first time an original, fully mechanically operable Tiger I has appeared in a movie since World War II.

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Lyrics translated here.

18 Feb 2016

WWII Randall Zacharias Fighter

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RandallZ5-375

RandallZ9-375

RandallZ11

RandallZ7-375

Mitchell Harrison on Facebook recently

The Zacharias Fighter is arguably the most iconic knife Randall ever made. It was the original DNA for the Model #1 All Purpose Fighting Knife and the military models that followed. Bo Randall’s WW2 fighting knives are what started the legend.

Bob Gaddis writes in his book that Army Lt. James H. Zacharias came to Bo in mid 1942 requesting a combat knife. Bo and the Lt. penciled out a knife designed to slash and thrust, yet be tough enough to open cans, ammo boxes and handle any other field duty required.

According to Gaddis on June 15, 1942, Bo logged his order book with “1 special made Jap sticker”, then in November 1942 and January 1943 he logged a total of 3 more for Lt. Zacharias (a total of 4). There is a picture of a Zacharias style fighter on page 67. No one knows if the pictured knife is one of the original 4, but it’s obviously a very early knife. There is a lot more detail in Bob’s book and I encourage you to get it. Well worth the money. …

[The original Zacharias Randall has these features:]

-It is a double pinned stag handle
-The finger grips are on the top for an edge up fighting grip
-The choil is a double step, very similar to the pre-war hunters
-The sheath is a Clarence Moore, but it has had additional lacing added to the edges
-The blade is “fullered” (some called it a blood groove)
-The hilt is asymmetrical with a teardrop shaped lower quillon
-Lt. Zacharias’ initials are carved in the butt and filled with some sort of red material

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Based on the people I have asked, this is the only known example of the original 4 knives…… Until now. …

This knife turned up in an obscure gun auction. All I know at this point is the man recently passed and the family auctioned his guns and this knife. The auction house would not give me his name, but did verify that he was a Marine and his Initials were J.R.C. I am fairly certain he was the original owner of the knife. The auction company has forwarded my contact info to the family, so there may be more forthcoming.

Things to note:

-It is a double pinned stag handle
-The finger grips are on the top for an edge up fighting grip
-The choil is a double step, very similar to the pre-war hunters
-The sheath is a Clarence Moore which was obviously custom made to match the hilt
-The hilt is asymmetrical with a teardrop shaped lower quillon
-Initials are carved in the butt and filled with some sort of red material

I can’t prove it, but I am convinced that this is one of the first 4 knives based on the matching initials in the butts. Could these [both] knives have been together in WW2 when two servicemen personalized them with identical red block initials? Perhaps I will hear from the family and be able to tie the owner’s record with that of Lt. Zacharias. We’ll see.

Obviously I am very proud and excited to add this knife to my collection.

02 Jan 2016

Tausender Blick

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LandserCleaningMauser

From Ian McCollum at Forgotten Weapons, a classic “thousand yard stare” photo of German landser cleaning his Mauser.

23 Dec 2015

Daily Mail: “Terrifying Cache of Weapons Found!”

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BritWWIIcollection-1
In the police van, we can see a nifty Bren gun, a kukri, several swords, a few rifles, some pistols, a bolt-action with a barrel bent 90 degrees, and… (everyone lick his lips) yes, there is a German MG42.

Poor Martin Johnson of Penistone, Yorkshire died young at only 51. He seems to have led a quiet and harmless life, but despite his misfortune of residing in the pussified and socialized Britain of today, he was clearly a sound chap with a keen interest in WWII weapons, who had successfully over the course of a lifetime (despite living under a hoplophobic tyranny) amassed a pretty nice collection.

Not very long after the unlucky fellow’s toes turned up his busybody neighbors were summoning the local constabulary to check in on him. The rozzers inevitably stumbled upon the old boy’s collection, and this being today’s Britain, they all had panic attacks and wet their pants. 100 houses were evacuated, because Yorkshire’s finest somehow convinced themselves that Mr. Johnson’s collection had WMDs. His stash (of doubtless long emptied and defused) WWII mortar rounds were assumed to be loaded with mustard gas!

The Daily Mail shrieked aloud over the “terrifying cache” of “potentially dangerous” trinkets.

Who knows? Certainly not Yorkshire cops or Limey reporters. Mr. Johnson may very possibly have had a completely legal collection of totally deactivated pieces. The odds certainly favor that likelihood.

If any of those rifles or pistols were functional, he would, if caught, have been jugged longer than a Muslim terrorist for mere possession. If those machine guns were not deactivated, why! the government would probably have also fallen.

Despite grudging ackowledgements by officialdom that Johnson’s cache of shells was found to be unloaded, the bomb squad evidently could not resist eliminating some WWII collectibles with a “controlled explosion.”

BritWWIICollection-2
Note that the Bren gun has been carefully labelled with a red tag reading “CAUTION FIREARM.” After all, someone might have mistaken it for a bicycle!

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