Nazis Built Biggest Artillery Piece of World War Two

Dora

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.

www.hpwt.de/2Weltkrieg/Dorae.

 

 

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 worldwar2database.com/gallery

 

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 &

http://hpwt.de/2Weltkrieg/Dorae.htm

License Plates and Vehicle Identification Marks of the Wehrmacht

License Plates and Vehicle Identification Marks of the Wehrmacht

by

Charles McCain

copyright (c) 2017

author of An Honorable German published in hardback 2009 by GCP/Hachette & paperback 2010. Available on Kindle and Nook.

http://charlesmccain.com/an-honorable-german/

 

the first two letters on the number plate identify this as a Luftwaffe truck. This is a Mercedes “type LG3000”. This guy was probably stuck in Russia which isn’t a place you wanted to be stuck. Note the relatively narrow tires.

WL is the abbreviation of Wehrmacht Luftwaffe (that is W=Wehrmacht [which translates as ‘Defense Forces’ or ‘Armed Forces’] L=Luftwaffe –Air Force)

It may seem odd that German military vehicles – not tanks but other vehicles – had license plates or number plates as the Brits call them. But they did. One sees them in lots of photographs of German vehicles although as the war goes on one notices the plates are either missing or have been painted over or smeared with oil since the back color of the plates was white and stood out.

Tank 411 fires its flamethrower

The markings on tanks were normally a large three digit number painted on each side of their turret and often on the back of the turret. This was their radio call sign so their squadron commander could identify and direct specific tanks under his command to do specific things instead of just saying over his radio, “hey you, the tank under the tree…”

Tiger tank in Russia identified as Number 323 (German National Archive)

Soviet tanks did not have radios so once a battle started they could not be controlled by a superior officer which is why they normally attacked in waves. This was a major issue for their tank forces. At the same time, I should point out that radios in American and British tanks often didn’t work because of battery problems or having their antennas ripped off or having wires come loose after repeated firings of the main battery.

 

Sd.Kfz.250 German Army halftrack. The first two letters of the number plate identify this as an army vehicle. (W=Wehrmacht H=Heer (Army)

German military police constantly set up checkpoints and the number plate was one of the key issues they checked. Did the number plate correspond to the registration which was required to be carried in every vehicle? To drive a German Army vehicle, you had to have a license to drive that specific type of vehicle. That is, you had to have a license to drive a passenger car, a license to drive various classes or trucks, etc.

One can imagine the Feldgendarmarie knocking on one’s vehicle window and demanding, “license and registration.”

German Navy truck. You can see the first two letters on the number plate are WM. (W=Wehrmacht  M=Marine (navy)

On German vehicles, the number plates were coded in the following way: WH (Wehrmacht, Heer (army)), WL (Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe), WM (Wehrmacht, Marine (navy)), or SS. Each license plate began with one set of these letters. These two letter combinations were followed by five to six numerals, usually divided into a group of two numerals followed by a group of three or four numerals.

The first two numerals indicated which command the vehicle belonged to such as Army District, 10th U-Boot Flotilla, etc. and specifically what type of vehicle it was. The last three or four numerals comprised the actual code letters of the vehicle.

Each type of vehicle would have its own code. So each type of truck made by Mercedes or Ford would have had a different designation. Ford’s German subsidiary, as well as GM’s Opel subsidiary, continued to manufacture trucks for the German Army all through the war. German units tended to prefer Fords over Mercedes because the Fords were more durable and and easier to maintain.

WH on the license plate identifies this as a German Army truck. This happens to be a Ford. Ford-Werke in the Third Reich manufactured trucks for the German Armed forces. This continues to be a subject of great controversy as you might imagine. Henry Ford himself was a notorious anti-Semite.

 

This is a restored German Army Ford truck. You will note the ‘WH’ on the left front fender. The marking above the number plate indicates this truck belongs a specific company. The number of the company is hidden by the headlamp. On the right front fender is the divisional symbol of the Großdeutschland division. (This photo appears on so many websites that I was unable to determine who I should credit)

So a license plate on a German Armed Forces truck which began WH, belonged to the Army. The next two numerals would indicate what specific model of truck and to which type of unit such as a panzer or infantry division or Armee Korps it belonged to and the last three numerals would indicate which specific truck of a specific model it was. It was a bit more complex than this but this will give you a sense of what the number plates mean.

Note the numeral ‘3’ as the first numeral on the license plate of both trucks pictured above. Since these are both the same model of Ford truck they have the same letter designation.

 

A Luftwaffe (WL) Ford V3000 truck in Italy, 1943. photo courtesy of German National Archive.

Each type of vehicle would have its own code. So each type of truck made by Mercedes or Ford would have had a different designation. Ford’s German subsidiary continued to manufacture trucks for the German Army all through the war. German units tended to prefer Fords over Mercedes because the Fords were more durable and and easier to maintain.

 

In this photograph you can clearly see the silhouette of the German Army helmet used to mark vehicles of the Großdeutschland division. The mark below that indicates this vehicle is assigned to a reconnaissance unit.

All German Army divisions had a distinctive symbol which they put on signs, equipment, vehicles, etc. Example: the elite Großdeutschland (Greater Germany) division had as its symbol a white silhouette of a German Army helmet (1935 pattern). A tank or other vehicle of GD (as it was abbreviated) would also have had a tactical symbol indicating which type of unit the vehicle belonged to: infantry, armor, medical, engineers, etc.

Additionally, vehicles were marked with the insignia of the division and/or higher formation or ad hoc formation they were assigned to. Example: vehicles assigned to the 4 Armee during the invasion of France in 1940, had a ‘K’ on their vehicles which stood for ‘Kluge’. Günther von Kluge commanded 4 Armee during the attack on France.

 

You can see the Balkenkreuz clearly on this German dive bomber Ju 87 Stuka. The Luftwaffe was the first of the German Armed Forces to use the symbol.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balkenkreuz

 

German Luftwaffe Tornado attack jet with post-war design of the Balkenkreuz

Every German military vehicle, tank, or plane was also, then and now, marked with a version of the Balkenkreuz, which is said to be the symbol of the Teutonic Knights, a Germanic Catholic military/religious Order which conquered and ruled parts of Prussia and Eastern Europe in medieval times.

Sources: Wehrmacht Camouflage and Markings 1939-1945 by W.J.K. Davies and Wehrmacht Divisional Signs 1938-1945 by Theodor Hartmann. If you have a deep interest in this subject I would purchase one or both of these books. A lot of information on the internet is wrong.

Information on the Teutonic Knights can be found here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teutonic_Order

 

 

 

 

Charles McCain

copyright (c) 2017

author of An Honorable German available from any online bookstore as well as Kindle and Nook.

http://charlesmccain.com/an-honorable-german/

 

Three Wars Shot in Face, Head, Stomach, Ankle, Leg, Hip, and Ear Sir Carton de Wiart

CECIL BEATON PHOTOGRAPHS: POLITICAL AND MILITARY PERSONALITIES (IB 3449C) Political Personalities: Half length portrait of Lieutenant General Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, Mr Churchill’s special representative in Chungking. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125075

 

The most decorated man in the British Army in the 20th Century or certainly close to it. Given the various medals handed out during wars, it is difficult to say who is the most decorated. But Lieutenant General Carton de Wiart is certainly in the top five most decorated soldiers of the British Army.

 

World War One. Carton de Wiart, center. Photo courtesy of London Daily Mail

 

http://wdailymail says de Wiart bio best-Wikipedia-entry-VC-winning-officer-shot-face-head-stomach-ankle-leg-hip-ear.html

Says Wikipedia: “He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp; and tore off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in the First World War, he wrote, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war.”

wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian Carton de Wiart

 

In great britain, when something official is done it is said to have been “gazetted” since it appears in the official London Gazette. Carton’s Victoria cross was “gazetted’ ON 9 September 1916.
For the award of the Victoria Cross, La Boiselle, France, 2 – 3 July 1916, Captain ( T / Lieutenant Colonel ) Adrian Carton de Wiart, DSO, 4th Dragoon Guards, command 8th Bn, Gloucestershire Regiment.

For most conspicuous bravery, coolness and determination during severe operations of a prolonged nature. ( La Boiselle, France ).

It was owing in a great measure to his dauntless courage and inspiring example that a serious reverse was averted. He displayed the utmost energy and courage in forcing our attack home. After three other battalion Commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands, and ensured that the ground won was maintained at all costs. He frequently exposed himself in the organisation of positions and of supplies, passing unflinchingly through fire barrage of the most intense nature.hIS GALLANTRY WAS INSPIRING TO ALL.

Adrian Carton de Wiart was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 29th November 1916.

http://www.victoriacross.org.uk/bbwiart.htm

 

Lt. Gen. Carton de Wiart, oil on canvas, 1919. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery London.

THE BRITISH MILITARY MISSION TO POLAND, 1919-1921 (Q 92207) Major-General Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, the Chief of British Mission to Poland, on his charger. Photograph possibly taken in Lwów. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205335609

 

LIEUTENANT COLONEL ADRIAN CARTON DE WIART (Q 68300) Lieutenant Colonel Adrian Carton De Wiart VC KBE CB CMG DSO. Unit: 4th Dragoon Guards (Royal Irish), attached to 8th Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment as Commanding Officer. Death: 5 June 1963. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022089

 

Lieutenant Colonel Carton de Wiart was awarded the Victoria Cross for the following action: “On 2 July – 3 July 1916, at La Boisselle, France, Lieutenant-Colonel Carton de Wiart’s dauntless courage and inspiration averted what could have been a serious reverse. He displayed the utmost energy in forcing the attack home and after three other battalion commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands and made sure that the ground was held at all costs. In organising the positions to be held, he exposed himself fearlessly to enemy fire.” Carton de Wiart was born in Belgium.

He joined the British Army and fought during the Boer War of 1899-1902, sustaining a serious chest wound. On the outbreak of the First World War, Carton de Wiart was serving with the Somaliland Camel Corps and engaged in suppressing a rebellion by Mohammed bin Abdullah’s Muslim forces. In an attack upon an enemy fort at Shimber Berris, Carton de Wiart was shot in the face, losing his left eye. He served on the Western Front from 1915, commanding three infantry battalions and a brigade. He was also seriously wounded seven times, losing his left hand in 1915.

Carton de Wiart spent the interwar years in Poland, serving with the British Military Mission between 1919 and 1921 and escaping the country as it was overrun by German and Soviet forces in 1939. He then served in Norway and was en route to take up a command in Yugoslavia when his aircraft was shot down. Carton de Wiart was taken prisoner by the Italians by whom he was released in 1943. He spent the remaining war years in the Far East, witnessing the Japanese surrender at Singapore. Carton de Wiart died in 1963.

www.iwm.org.uk/bio of carton de wiart

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORWAY APRIL – JUNE 1940 (N 107) The Evacuation from Namsos 2-3 May 1940: British soldiers on the quay at Namsos awaiting evacuation. On the left is Major General Carton de Wiart. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205225966

British Indian Army, British Army and British Commonwealth Troops Reclaim Burma from Japanese

The largest all-volunteer fighting formation of the British Empire in World War Two was the British Indian Army which was recruited in British India then comprised of modern day Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh. More than 2.5 million men served in the British Indian Army and they fought all over the world.

 

 

ALLIED FORCES IN NORTHERN BURMA, JUNE 1945 (HU 87180) Mandalay fell to the 19 Indian Division after fierce fighting during the drive on Mandalay from the north. Picture shows: Tanks with infantry speeding along the road to attack a village near Madaya, 12 miles north of Mandalay. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205085629

 

THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 87182) Mule convoy carrying supplies into Burma. Photo shows: Mule convoy crossing a stream, the water is muddy and leech infested. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205088016
THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 88980) Imphal to Kohima: the meeting at MS 109 of the 7th Cavalry and 33 Corps. Jemader Karnail Singh of 7th Cavalry shakes hands with Major AC T Brotherton, a 33 Corps Staff Officer. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205219276

 

THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 88979) Wingates Expedition: Air Supply Dropping of Rations. View from an aircraft of a message written on the ground with parachutes. It reads ‘Plane land here now’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205219283
BURMA VICTORY: 4TH CORPS CAPTURE MEIKTILA (IND 4447) Men of an Indian Regiment charge burning remnants of Seywa during the drive on Meiktila. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205225485

 

BURMA: BRITISH TROOPS CROSS SHWELI RIVER (SE 1790) After the heaviest air and land bombardment in this sector of the Burma front, British and Indian troops of the 36th Division forced a crossing in assault craft over the Shweli river to Myitson. The Shweli is the last river barried to the 36th Division’s advance into central Burma, and the Japanese opposed the ferry crossing fanatically. This image shows men of the Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205225496
THE WAR IN THE FAR EAST: THE BURMA CAMPAIGN 1941-1945 (HU 87183) Tanks of the 25th Dragoons near Fort White. 25-pounders re-established in the gunners box on Kennedy Peak open fire again on the retreating Japanese. Picture shows: General Lee tank on Hill 8225. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205088015
THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4470) British troops in the Sittang Bend area, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205584

Defensive measures for Burma were never put into place by the British because they did not believe Burma was under much threat. By the time they did, it was too late. After a series of small engagements with invading Japanese, British Army, British Indian Army and Commonwealth troops under General Sir Harold Alexander (later Field Marshal, Earl Alexander of Tunis) made a fighting retreat to British India where the Japanese were halted. The climate made fighting even more miserable than fighting could be.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4459) General Sir Claude Auchinleck, Commander-in-Chief India, inspecting troops, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205588

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4463) 4.2-inch mortars of 33rd Anti-tank Regiment, Royal Artillery, in the Sittang Bend area, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205582

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN BURMA 1945 (SE 4468) 5.5-inch guns of 63rd Medium Battery firing on Satthinagyon, 1 August 1945. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205583

Battleship HMS Rodney at War

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1417) Royal Marines remove old paint from the X gun turret on board HMS RODNEY before repainting. Another of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen beyond the men. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185114

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1426) On board HMS RODNEY ‘Boys’ receiving instruction on how to ‘heave the lead’. The lead weighs 10 to 14 pounds and the picture shows a Boy standing in the ‘chains’ about to heave the lead. Going in and out of harbour a Leadman is always in the chains taking soundings which he calls out to the bridge. The Forth railway bridge can be seen in the distance. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185116

 

MEN OF THE HMS RODNEY KEEP FIGHTING FIT. 20 JANUARY 1943, MERS-EL-KEBIR, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 14364) A game of deck hockey during the dog watches on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147536

 

GUNNERS KEEP UP TO THE MARK ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15733) A gunnery spotting table rigged up on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. A model ship and model splashes are used to indicate to the gunnery control officer high up in the director control tower, the accuracy of his ‘fire’. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149007

 

SENDING UP THE HEAVY SHELLS ON BOARD THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15737) In a 16′ shell ammunition room on board HMS RODNEY a sailor revolves a shell into the hoist while an empty shell container returns to position to fetch another shell from the tray. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148757

 

MIDSHIPMEN TRAINING ON THE BATTLESHIP RODNEY. MARCH 1943, ON BOARD HMS RODNEY. (A 15736) Midshipmen being trained in rifle drill on the forecastle on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148756

Canadian Built Lancasters Bomb Nazi Germany

Given its relatively small population, Canada made an immense contribution to Allied victory in WW Two. Canadian troops, most of whom were volunteers, fought all over Europe although mainly in the Italian campaign and the battles in Northwest Europe. The 3rd Canadian Infantry Divison comprised a part of the Allied forces on D-Day.

 

Lest We Forget
44,000 Canadian soldiers, sailors, and airmen lost their lives in World War Two.

 

British built R5727, the pattern Lancaster, in Gander 23 August 1942.

photo courtesy of Bomber Command Museum of Canada

“On September 18, 1941, a decision was made to build Lancasters in Canada and the first drawings arrived in January 1942. For a country still largely agrarian and just recovering from a decade of depression, the challenge was immense. 500,000 manufacturing operations were involved in building a Lancaster which was made up of some 55,000 separate parts even when engines and turrets were only considered as one and small items such as rivets, nuts, and bolts were not included. A Lancaster from England was flown across the Atlantic in August 1942 to act as a “pattern” and a Crown Corporation named Victory Aircraft was formed to do the work in Malton, Ontario.”

More than 130,000 Allied pilots trained in Canada which also “hosted” tens of thousands of German prisoners of war. Famed U-Boat ace Otto Kretschmer was held in a Canadian POW camp.

KB-882 is one of over 400 Mk-10 Lancasters built in Canada.

 

Workers at the Victory Aircraft Plant in Malton, Ontario
celebrating the rollout of KB799, the one-hundredth Canadian built Lancaster.

 

Lancaster R-5727 over Montreal 24 Aug. 1942

The first Canadian-built Avro Lancaster B Mark X, KB700 “The Ruhr Express”, taxying after landing at Northolt, Middlesex, following a delivery flight across the Atlantic. KB700 was the first of 300 aircraft built by Victory Aircraft of Malton, Ontario, and flew operationally with Nos. 405 and 419 Squadrons RCAF.
CH 11041
Part of
AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION
Royal Air Force official photographer
Crouch F W (F/O)

 

11 Jan 1945
Moose – Ghost Sqn
Snow’s snow and fun’s fun, but when snow hits the stations of the Canadian Bomber Group, it just means a lot of work for all personnel, air crew and ground crew types alike. Up a-top the starboard wing of a Canadian-built Lancaster on the station where the Moose and Ghost squadrons are based, four of the boys scrape off the stubborn snow. They are, left to right, LAC F.J. Chapioniere, a fitter from Champion, Alta.; LAC B. Holiday, Elgin, Ont.; LAC J.G. Chagnon, St. Hyacinthe, P.Q., and LAC W. Van Norman, Guleph, 90 Nottingham St., Ont.

 

ground crew of a Canadian Lancaster

 

Untitled, 4/23/04, 1:34 PM, 8C, 9590×6580 (1650+8275), 150%, A.I. Basic, 1/60 s, R83.9, G77.6, B95.0

Let’s Go Canada! by Henri Eveleigh 1939–1945

(Issued by the World War Two agency, Canadian Bureau of Public Information)

We Shall Remember Gallant Few of Battle of Britain

“…the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization….”
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to the House of Commons.
 18 June 1940
 bob-pilot

One of the most haunting images from the Battle of Britain is that of Squadron Leader Brian Lane DFC (above middle) taken immediately after he landed from a combat sortie in September of 1940. (photo courtesy of IWM).

The strain and exhaustion on his face belie his young age (23) and make this one of the best-known and most powerful photographs to come from the era. (photo courtesy of IWM).This was taken during the Battle of Britain at Fowlmere, Duxford’s satellite station.

#####

“Sitting nearest to the Spitfire’s engine on the wing is Brian Lane, who had joined the RAF after escaping a dead-end job as a factory supervisor. He was appointed temporary commanding officer of 19 Squadron, part of the Duxford Wing, in September following the shooting down of its CO. In one logbook entry, he describes an encounter with the enemy in suitably Boys’ Ownish terms.
     “Party over London. Sighted big bunch of Huns south of the river and got in lovely head-on attack into leading He 111s. Broke them up and picked up a small batch of six with two Me 110s as escort. Found myself entirely alone with these lads so proceeded to have a bit of sport. Got one of Me 110s on fire whereupon the other left his charge and ran for home. Played with the He 111s for a bit and finally got one in both engines. Never had so much fun before!”
Lane was awarded a DFC for his bravery and survived the battle, but his luck was not to last. During a sweep over Holland in December 1942 his Spitfire was jumped by Me109s. No one saw his aircraft go down but it was assumed to have dived into the North Sea. Lane was 25.                                                 The men sitting next to Lane on the wing with German Shepherd Flash and spaniel Rangy are George “Grumpy” Unwin and Francis Brinsden, both of whom survived the war. So did the two men standing to the left, Bernard Jennings and Colin McFie – the latter after being shot down and captured during a sweep over France in July 1941.
       Howard Burton, the man in the dark jumper, and Philip Leckrone, the man on the far right, were not so fortunate. Burton went on to serve in the Middle East but died when in June 1943 when the Hudson bomber bringing him back to Britain disappeared over the Bay of Biscay. He was 26.
Leckrone was an American who had chosen to fight for Britain. Known to the boys as Uncle Sam, he went on to join 71 Squadron, an American volunteer unit flying Hurricanes. On 5 January 1941 his aircraft collided with another in the squadron during training and he was killed. He was 28.
      John Boulton (pictured on the left with two fellow pilots and a spaniel leaning on the tail of a Hurricane) was 20 when the battle claimed him. He was flying next to Gordon Sinclair (the man on the right by the tail) over Croydon on September 9 when their aircraft collided. Sinclair survived but Boulton’s aircraft careered into a Me 110 and plunged to earth.
The man in the middle with the moustache is Jerrard Jefferies, who changed his surname to Latimer later in the war to carry on an old family name. He joined the RAF in 1936 and fought in the battle with 310 (Free Czech) Squadron, as did Boulton and Sinclair. After the battle he transferred to Bomber Command and died over France when his Lancaster bomber was shot down. The spaniel in the picture, thought to be called Rex, died when he accidentally jumped into the propeller of Jefferies’ Hurricane as he tried to greet his master.
One of the two pilots pictured seated by a Nissen hut is the only man in the photographs still living. Wallace “Jock” Cunningham is 93 now, but in poor health. The officer next to him is Arthur Blake, a Fleet Air Arm pilot attached to the RAF and known in the wing as Sailor. the Battle of Britain was in its last days when it claimed him. Blake was ‘weaving’ behind his squadron – acting as lookout – when he was surprised by an Me109 and shot down. He was 23 when he met his death.

telegraph.co.uk/history/world-war-two/

lest we forget
2353 British and 574 overseas aircrew fought in the battle of britain. 544 were killed between July and October 1940. Another 791 died later in the war, in combat and as a result of accidents.

 

 

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Brian Lane. The epitome of the gallant few who won the Battle of Britain. Lane was No. 19 Squadron’s fourth Commanding Officer in less than 12 months. Of his predecessors, one was posted away, one was shot down and made a prisoner of war, and one was killed. Lane was extremely well-liked by his men and was a very gifted fighter pilot. He wrote a book about his experiences in the battle, “Spitfire!” which was published in 1942.

Lane was killed in action 13 December 1942. He was 25 years old. (Imperial War Museum)

LEST WE FORGET

Brian John Edward Lane

Squadron Leader No. 19 Squadron, Royal Air Force.

born 18 June 1917–reported missing-in-action presumed dead– 13 December 1942, age 25.