Category Archive 'WWII'
29 Jul 2016

WWII Jurassic Graphic

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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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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


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.


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


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


Third Marine Division

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


III Marine Amphibious Corps

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


V Marine Amphibious Corps

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


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


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


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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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.



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.


Lyrics translated here.

18 Feb 2016

WWII Randall Zacharias Fighter

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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


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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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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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.”

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!

06 Dec 2015

Tank Saw Some Recent Action



28 Nov 2015

Shot Through His Iron Cross


Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross belonging to Major Wolf-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg, Commander Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 13, killed in action Saint James, Normandy, France, 14 July 1944.

25 Nov 2015

Pretty Nearly There

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A British 17-pounder round lodged in a block of armor from a Tiger I, which it failed to completely penetrate.

22 Oct 2015

Rommel Photos & Letters to be Auctioned in New York

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Heritage Auctions at their Historical Manuscripts Grand Format Auction #6149 in New York on November 4 – 5th, among many interesting items, will be offering several lots associated with WWII German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel:

Lot 49179: An never-sent autograph letter, written two weeks before Rommel’s death by forced suicide, dated October 1, 1944, to Hitler justifying reverses at Allied hands in Normandy and attempting to defend his Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Hans Speidel (arrested three weeks earlier for participation in the plot to kill Hitler).

Lot 49180: A typed letter to Captain Helmuth Lang,his aide-de-camp, dated September 18, 1944, thanking that officer for his letter and commenting on Rommel’s recovery from an Allied air attack two months earlier.

Lot 49181: Four Photograph Albums compiled by Hellmuth Lang containing 750 photographs, a presentation copy of Cornelius Ryan’s Book The Longest Day, and an original copy of Rommel’s Death Announcement.

Lot 49182: A signed photograph of Erwin Rommel (see above) formerly the property of his aide Helmuth Lang.

Heritage Auctions’ Thoughts on Rommel’s Last Days.

24 Sep 2015

WWII Unit Identification

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