Tallest German surrenders to short soldier Second World War picture

Corporal Bob Roberts was overseeing the surrender of dozens of enemy soldiers during the Battle of Normandy when the 7ft 6ins German loomed into his view.
Tallest German surrenders to short soldier in World War Two picture


Cpl Roberts, who stood two feet below him at 5ft 6ins, had the daunting job of frisking the German lance corporal for weapons before taking him prisoner.

Out of shot of the photo, Cpl Robert’s comrades and even the captured German soldiers sniggered together at the sight of the little and large encounter.

It was a moment of lightness during the grim duty of war.

For just a few minutes before the picture was taken, Cpl Roberts faced a life-or-death duel with another German soldier who pulled out a pistol as he pretended to surrender.

Luckily, he raised his gun in the nick of time and shot the enemy soldier dead.


“But my mates who were watching the rest of the men saw this giant of a guy approach me and I was aware they and the Germans were having a good laugh.

“The Germans were saying that he was the tallest man in the German army, he was 7ft 6ins tall.

“My mates took some pictures of me with him with a camera they had taken from the Germans. Luckily he didn’t give me any aggravation…”

http://London Daily Telegraph: Tallest-German-surrenders-to-short-soldier-in-Second-World-War-picture



Coastal Command Maintains Constant Vigilance

Royal Air Force 1939-1945- Coastal Command

A Mosquito of the Banff Strike Wing in action in the Kattegat on 5 April 1945.

A Mosquito of the Banff Strike Wing in action in the Kattegat on 5 April 1945. There the Mosquitos discovered a convoy of seven ships evacuating Germans troops back to the Fatherland. In the ensuing attack a flak ship and a trawler were sunk, but one No 235 Squadron Mosquito struck a mast and spun into the sea, killing its crew. Losses among the embarked German troops were heavy. (photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)



ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 314) Two Lockheed Hudson Mark Is of No. 206 Squadron RAF based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, flying at low-level over the North Sea during a reconnaissance sortie by five aircraft of the Squadron to observe the movements of German warships in the Heligoland Bight area. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


RAF Coastal Command was known as the “Cinderella Service” since they received nothing but hand me down aircraft from Bomber Command and anyone else they could find to scrouge aircraft. The planes pictured above are Lockheed Hudson’s orignally built for the Royal Air Force.

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 282) Lockheed Hudson Mark I, P5120 ‘VX-C’, of No 206 Squadron RAF based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, on a patrol over the North Sea. This aircraft was written off in a landing accident at Bircham Newton on 20 June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


While useful, the planes were slow, 246 mph or 397 km/h, and range limited, 1,960 miles or 3,150 km. Keep in mind these specifications are for a properly maintained aircraft operating under good conditions. In operational service, I presume they were marked down for a range of 1600 miles. That would be 800 miles out over the ocean and 800 miles back. Even then, in bad weather, that would be pushing it.


ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 339) The wireless operator/air gunner of a Lockheed Hudson Mark I of No. 206 Squadron RAF based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, signals with an Aldis lamp to four other aircraft of the Squadron to ‘close formation’ while returning from a reconnaissance sortie in the Heligoland Bight area. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Communications were problematic. Given the crewman isn’t on oxygen and is wearing a short sleeve shirt, the plane must be flying low and it must be summer.

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 296) The interior of a Lockheed Hudson Mk I of No. 206 Squadron RAF, June 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


In the first years of the war the main task of Coastal Command was maritime patrol and reconnasiance of the seas surrounding Great Britain.  This task included attacking U-Boats, protecting Channel convoys, protecting Atlantic convoys, and occasional search and rescue.


ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (C 3691) An airborne lifeboat is parachuted by a Lockheed Hudson of No. 279 Squadron RAF to the crew of a USAAF Boeing B-17 who had difficulty in getting into their dinghy after making a forced landing in the North Sea. 279 Squadron were based at Bircham Newton, Norfolk, at this time. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


ROYAL AIR FORCE 1939-1945: COASTAL COMMAND (CH 7501) Sunderland II W3984/RB-S of No 10 Squadron RAAF, October 1942. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


The demands placed on Coastal Command were far beyond its capabilities as the pilots lacked training and the entire command suffered from a lack of aircraft and ground support. Finally, Coastal Command was placed under the tactical command of the Royal Navy in late 1940 and slow improvement began. But it took a long time.


THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939 – 1945 (CH 7504) Allied Aircraft: A Short Sunderland Mk II flying boat of 10 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, used for reconnaissance and anti-U-boat duties Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

One of the mainstays of Coastal Command in the early years was the Short Sunderland flying boat. (The plane was built by Short Brothers, Ltd. ‘Short’ is not a reference to the size of the plane)

The pilots and air crew performed a monotonous mission well. There were many crews who flew thousands of hours of reconnaisance patrols and never saw anything during the entire war. The ocean is a big place.

ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CH 413) The two side-gunners in a Short Sunderland Mark I of No. 10 Squadron RAAF, mount watch from their positions by the open dorsal hatches mid-way along the fuselage, during a flight. Two .303 Vickers K-type gas-operated guns were usually fitted in these positions during operations Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-1945 (CH 13997) Anti-Submarine Weapons: Leigh Light used for spotting U-boats on the surface at night fitted to a Liberator aircraft of Royal Air Force Coastal Command. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


From the website  “The Leigh Light was developed to solve a problem with anti-submarine radar during the Second World War. By 1941 the British had developed radar systems capable of detecting a surfaced U-boat, but interference from the surface of the sea meant that the radar signal would be lost during the final attack run.

The solution to this problem was to fit a bright light to the attacking aircraft. [A design] … by Squadron Leader Humphrey de Verd Leigh, used a controllable spotlight suspended below the belly of the aircraft….”

The blinding white Leigh light was often the last thing a UBoat kommandant saw before depth charges were dropped on top of him.

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-1945 (CH 14001) Anti-Submarine Weapons: A Royal Air Force Liberator illuminated by a Leigh Light on the airfield at St Eval. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


Dunkirk British Army Retreats from Germans

DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1524) British troops during the evacuation from Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1528) British troops in the sand dunes at Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Comments Charles McCain: while regular army and elite regiments such as the those comprising the Brigage of Guards, held together, support units and formations of untrained reservists sent over from the UK tended to break under the intense stress of conducting a fighting retreat. Officers sometimes abandoned their men and men sometimes abandoned their officers.

Many people take a certain pleasure in condeming the French for collapsing in World War Two. It bears pointing out that the French rearguards at Dunkirk fought off the Germans until all British and French troops waiting to evacuate could be withdrawn. Only then did they surrender to the Germans.


DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1531) British troops in the sand dunes at Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1520) British troops during the evacuation from Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:



DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1137) Men of the 2nd Royal Ulster Rifles awaiting evacuation at Bray Dunes, near Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1519) British troops during the evacuation from Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


DUNKIRK AND THE RETREAT FROM FRANCE 1940 (HU 1530) An officer rests in a trench dug into the sand dunes at Dunkirk, May 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Comments Charles McCain: the sand tended to absorb a portion of the explosion of German bombs. Second, while sharpnel from bombs could be deadly, it blows out and up and not down. If you were in a trench, you were usually safe from bombs and sharpnel unless they landed on top of you.

DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1529) British officers in a trench dug into the beach at Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1152) Rescued troops on board the destroyer HMS Vanquisher, May 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:


DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1147) A lifeboat with survivors from the Isle of Man steam ferry SS Mona’s Queen, mined off Dunkirk, comes alongside the destroyer HMS Vanquisher, 29 May 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1148) A lifeboat with survivors from the Isle of Man steam ferry SS Mona’s Queen, mined off Dunkirk, comes alongside the destroyer HMS Vanquisher, 29 May 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Air Attack Königsberg Capsizes After Pounding by Norwegians & RAF


Reichsmarine/ Kriegsmarine light cruiser Konigsberg

Konigsberg Visiting Gdynia, Poland, circa 1935. Note the offset arrangement of her after 15cm triple gun turrets. (US Navy History and Heritage Command).


The Königsberg on fire and sinking.

[Images courtesy of the US Navy History and Heritage Command]

9 April 1940, during the German invasion of Norway, Norwegian coastal artillery located on the approaches to Bergen fired effectively on Konigsberg and caused major damage to the ship which almost sank. On 10 April 1940, Royal Navy dive bombers of the Fleet Air Arm sank the ship.


Artwork by Adolf Bock, 1941, published in a book on the German Navy published by Erich Klinghammer, Berlin, during World War II. It depicts the light cruisers Köln and Königsberg landing troops at Bergen, Norway, on 9 April 1940. (USNA)


German damage control crews labored through the night, but the damage from the guns of the Norwegian fort had been grievous. Nonetheless, the ship was afloat–but not for long.

Approximately 0700 on 10 April 1940, sixteen Skua dive bombers of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm located Konigsberg in Bergen Harbor. German AA crews were exhausted and thought the British planes were German. The first British bomb hit knocked out electric power to the AA guns. Thus, before the Germans were fully alert a half dozen or more 500-pound armour piercing bombs had hit the Konigsberg.

With fires spreading out of control and water pouring into the ship from holes opened in the sides, the Kommandant ordered the crew to abandon ship, and the Konigsberg rolled over and sank. This was the first sinking of a major warship by aerial attack to occur. Many more would come. (Source: The German Invasion of Norway April 1940 by Geirr H Haarr)


While the British and French had long been urged by then First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill to block Swedish iron ore shipments to Nazi Germany through Norwegian territorial waters, hand-wringing on behalf of the French and the British delayed this action. (The French Minister of War refused to speak to the Prime Minister who would avoid being in the same room with him if possible. Their respective mistresses also hated each other. This ill feeling caused delays in decision making as you might imagine).


+Halftone reproduction of a photograph taken while the ship was transiting the Kiel Canal, about 1935.


Moored in a German harbor, circa 1936. Note the ship’s crest on her bow, and what appear to be old torpedo boats tied up in the right distance.


When British ships were finally ordered out to lay mines in the sea lanes used to transport the ore and to capture the ice free port of Narvik, they ran into German forces who were staging a surprise invasion of Norway including the occupation of Narvik. Germans got to Narvik before the British by taking incredible chances in terrible sea conditions and managing to find the fjord which led to Narvik. Ten German destroyers carrying troops navigated in pitch dark down the Narvik fjord and put the troops ashore.

Captain Warburton-Lee, RN, VC.
Early that morning, while the exhausted German sailors were sleeping and their guard-ship not very alert, British destroyers under the Command of Captain B.A.W. Washburton-Lee, VC, skipped in and sank three destroyers and damaged more.
Their commander was killed in the action and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour in Great Britain. Several days later the battleship HMS Warspite went down the fjord with numerous destroyers protecting her and her big guns hit the remaining German destroyers and blew them out of the water.

King Haakon VII and Crown Prince Olav seeking shelter on the outskirts of Molde during a German bombing raid on the city in April 1940.
While the invasion of Norway by the Germans was success, they failed in to accomplish one of their key objectives which was capturing the King. The Germans were looking everywhere for the King and Crown Prince (the Queen had died in 1938) and had been bombing any town or village they were rumored to be in.
On 1 May 1940, a British cruiser took them and leaders of Parliament from the small coastal town of Molde to a temporary capitol in  Tromsø.  King Haakon VII and the crown prince took refuge in a small cabin in the nearby woods.By the end of May, the Germans had attacked France and both France and Great Britain began to withdraw their forces. On 7 June 1940, the Royal Family and government ministers boarded HMS Devonshire and were spirited away to England. The King had been a Danish Prince elected King of Norway. He was an uncle to England’s King George VI.
Königsberg on her visit to Britain in 1934; she is flying the British White Ensign and firing a salute. (US Navy History and Heritage Command)

+Vertical aerial photograph, probably taken while the ship was under attack by British aircraft at Bergen, Norway, on 9 April 1940. Note the prominent swastika identification markings on her deck, fore, and aft. This was used in most German Navy ships to prevent them from being attacked by their own airforce.
Being attacked by your own planes was a constant problem particularly in the European theater. Pilots saw what they wanted to see. No matter what recognition devices ships employed their own planes attacked them.

Nazis Built Biggest Artillery Piece of World War Two


Dora, heaviest cannon of World War Two fired 48 times

Before the German attack on Sevastopol, Hitler sent his commander on the scene, Erich von Manstein, the heaviest cannon in all of World War Two which they Germans called “Dora”. She fired an 80cm caliber shell and her barrel was thirty-two meters long. Moving Dora to her specially prepared location thirty kilometers (18 miles) outside of Sevastopol required sixty railway cars.

Once in place and reassembled, the cannon sat on a double set of railroad tracks. Dora could fire a high explosive shell weighing five metric tonnes (five and 1/2 US short tons) a distance of forty-seven kilometers.

The cannon fired forty-eight shells during its existence. Toward the end of the war Dora and other heavy cannon’s under construction or never completed were destroyed by the Wehrmacht.



The 800mm (31.5 inch) Heavy Gustav Cannon Railway Gun nicknamed “Dora” prepares to fire on Soviet positions at Sevastopol… The gun had two types of shells. The armor/concrete-piercing shell weighed 7.1 tons (7,100 kilograms) and could pierce 22.9 feet (7 meters) of reinforced concrete or 3.3 feet (1 meter) of rolled steel armor. The high-explosive shell weighed 4.8 tons (4,800 kilograms) and left a 30 foot (10 meter) wide crater…Dora rolled forward to the Crimea for the attack on Sebastopol on four trains, complete with anti-aircraft gun cars.

Some 450 men crewed the gun. Four parallel rail tracks had to be laid for Dora to be mobile once in place. With anti-aircraft crews and guards, 5,000 men were attached to the gun. Two giant cranes, shipped by Krupp from Essen, helped assemble the gun and then served her with ammunition. The curve of the tracks seen here would allow the gun to be placed by three diesel-electric locomotives.

Photo above and caption courtesy of


Zentralbild Generalfeldmarschall Erich EGE von Lewinski genannt von Manstein, geb. 24.11.1887 in Berlin Oberbefehlshaber der Heeresgruppe S¸d im II. Weltkrieg. Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. Von einem britischen Milit‰rgericht zu 18 Jahren Haft verurteilt, 1953 jedoch bereits freigelassen. UBz.: von Manstein als Generalmajor im Jahre 1938

Herr Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein

Erich von Manstein remains an enigmatic figure decades after the end of World War Two and of his death in 1973. The only scholarly biography of von Manstein is titled Janus Face.  The most revealing and fascinating book about him continues to be: Bounden Duty: Memoirs of a German Officer, 1932-1945 by Alexander Stahlberg.

I’ve read this book five or six times over the years and I give it five stars because it is the only one of its kind. Stahlberg served from 1942 until the end of the war as von Manstein’s adjutant or personal orderly officer as it translates from German. His memoir is the best and only primary source about von Manstein since von Manstein’s family will not release his papers.

Unquestionably, Field Marshal von Manstein was a military genius and the best German commander of World War Two if not the best ground commander in any army in World War Two. Had Hitler put him in overall command of the Eastern Front the Russians would have paid even a higher price than they did pushing the Germans out of their country.

According to Stahlberg, von Manstein had several opportunities to murder Hitler but chose not to. Before Hitler visited von Manstein’s forward headquarters in Russia, a small group of his staff officers entreated von Manstein to allow them to kill Hitler but he refused permission. “Prussian Field Marshal’s do not mutiny.”

While he was acknowledged by the other Field Marshals as “first among equals” and they would have followed his lead had he murdered Hitler and seized power he would not do it.  Von Manstein was a great general, perhaps one of the great captains of history. But he could have been a great man and he threw that chance away to the detriment of the world.

One of the more curious aspects of the 20 July 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler was how many of the Field Marshals knew that many officers were working on the plot yet they did nothing to help or hinder. Stahlberg says he told von Manstein a week before the attempt.


Sources: Stopped at Stalingrad: The Luftwaffe and Hitler’s Defeat in the East, 1942-1943 by Joel S. A. Hayward &

Crowding Disaster Kills Thousands of French at Agincourt

Above is YouTube vid of Kenneth Branagh’s magnificent, spine-tingling giving the famous “we few, we happy few, we band of brothers….” speech to his men just before the battle.  Branagh, a brilliant actor played Henry V (King Harry to his men) and directed the film as well.
Henry-V-Branagh (1)
Kenneth Branagh as Henry V learns the French have withdrawn from the battlefield leaving him the victor. The King led his army in person.
Long before the countries of Europe existed more or less as we know them, huge parts of Europe and places around the world belong to various ruling dynasties. Through inheritance. marriage and clever dynastic moves, the Kings of England had come to rule a good portion of what today is modern France including the area of Normandy. In fact, Henry V controlled so much of France after the Battle of Agincourt that he became Regent of that country.
To maintain their rule the parts of France which belonged to the Royal House of the Plantagenets, the English had to keep fighting in France to maintain their rule.  The English victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt on 25 October 1415 — Saint Crispin’s day is one of the great battles of history.

English long bowman at the ready

Personally led by King Henry V himself, the English beat the hell out of the French, largely due to the bravery of the English long bowmen and the incredible force of their arrows which could actually penetrate the armored suits of the French knights. At least that is the theory. No one is certain. Henry V, known as King Harry, led his noble men at arms in their suits of armor and formed them in a line four deep.
Kenneth Branagh as Henry V on the White Cliffs of Dover
The English archers were positioned on the flanks. King Henry’s deployment forced the French, who outnumbered the English by more than 5 to 1, to attack on a very narrow front of 750 yards. This had the effect of packing them together very tightly so they could hardly move and thus the French became jammed together.
English long bowman

The English long bowmen fired barrage after barrage of arrows high into the air over the mass of Frenchmen. Arrows fired high came down with tremendous force, each arrow having a sharpened iron arrowhead known as a bodkin point.


Bodkin1A bodkin point arrowhead. The iron part is about 4 ½ inches long.


Naturally, there is great historical debate over what happened at Agincourt. Experiments have been conducted which prove, or disprove, that the English arrows could penetrate French armor although the ones I have seen on YouTube and elsewhere don’t seem to account for the parabolic effect of the flight of the arrow and the additional force that would give the arrow as it fell.

While the arrows may, or may not have, been able to penetrate the steel armor of the richest nobles, they could penetrate chain mail. (Foot soldiers and lower ranking nobles on foot rarely wore more body protection than chain mail). Further, and more disruptive, the lack of protection horses had from the rain of English arrows was a “game changer.”

An armored knight on a steed was a powerful “weapons system” but unhorsed, he couldn’t move very quickly. In fact, without help, he couldn’t get back on his feet. Killing or disabling a mounted knight’s horse with a flight of arrows would hardly have been difficult.

Without his horse, a medieval knight wearing the battle armor of a mounted man, and not the lighter armor of a man expecting to fight on foot, would have been easy to neutralize since once unhorsed, his mobility was almost zero. Given the visor which covered his eyes except for a tiny slight, he would have difficulty seeing anything not directly in front of him.

An interesting theory claims that numbers of French men-at-arms who were attacking on foot were apparently killed in a classic crowd disaster. There were rank after rank of these men. When crowds press forward into a small space, the force generated begins to create a huge jam of people with more and more force being exerted by people in the back continuing to push forward. This asphyxiates those jammed into the small space who get pushed together so tightly they cannot move — or breathe. The force is also enough to break bones.

If this indeed happened to the thousands of Frenchmen on foot then while they were being jammed together so tightly they could not breath, and their armor plate was no doubt breaking the bones and spines of the men in front of them, it might explain why literally thousands and thousands of Frenchmen died.


Arrows fired by English longbow men could easily penetrate chain mail

According to a research paper by John J. Fruin, Ph.D., P.E.  The Causes and Prevention of Crowd Disasters:      

Crowd forces can reach levels that are almost impossible to resist or control. Virtually all crowd deaths are due to compressive asphyxia and not the “trampling” reported by the news media. Evidence of bent steel railings after several fatal crowd incidents show that forces of more than 4500 N (1,000 lbs.) occurred. Forces are due to pushing and the domino effect of people leaning against each other.

When the Frenchmen began to endure this horror, panic would have set in, which would only have increased the intense force pushing the men together as some tried to go forward and others backward. Into the midst of this panicked crowd, the English bowmen were shooting upwards of 50,000 arrows a minute. They didn’t aim at individuals. They just fired masses of arrows into the air so they would come down in an arc onto a crowd.

figure above is from Medieval Character Models. (Arrows would have gone through the chain-mail)

There were 5,000 plus English archers and they could fire about ten arrows a minute. They were well trained although physical exhaustion would have led to a slackening of fire after a time. If you have ever fired a bow and arrow for just a few times you become aware of the muscle power required.

Still, whatever the pack of French knights and men at arms were trying to do, they were doing it under a hail of deadly arrows. And only the wealthiest men could afford the best steel armor which could not be penetrated by English arrows. Only a handful would have been wearing armor like that. Most would have had inferior armor and chain mail which the English arrows could and did penetrate.

French casualties were said to be in the thousands against a handful of English dead and the French who survived their calamitous defeat left the battlefield in shock defeated in mind and spirit.

From Henry V. After the slaughter of the French knights and gentlemen on foot, the French herald comes and informs Henry that he has won a great victory.


I tell thee truly, herald,
I know not if the day be ours or no;
For yet a many of your horsemen peer
And gallop o’er the field.


The day is yours.


Praised be God, and not our strength, for it!
What is this castle call’d that stands hard by?


They call it Agincourt.


Then call we this the field of Agincourt,
Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.