While Politicians Bluster Our US Navy Is Vigilant and On Patrol Around the World

US Aircraft carrier George h.w. bush in Atlantic Ocean
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ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 8, 2017) The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) at sea during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017, Aug. 8. Saxon Warrior is a United States and United Kingdom co-hosted carrier strike group exercise that demonstrates allied interoperability and capability to respond to crises and deter potential threats. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold /Released)
strike hornet landing on USS george h.w. bush

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 5, 2017) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the “Ragin’ Bulls” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 37 prepares to land aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) in the Atlantic Ocean during exercise Saxon Warrior 2017. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro)

 

aircraft carrier gerald r. ford training in the atlantic
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ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 28, 2017) An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 flies over USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78). The aircraft carrier is underway conducting test and evaluation operations.(U.S. Navy photo by Erik Hildebrandt/Released)

 

“… Americans understand that their Navy is deployed around the world, around the clock, ready to defend America at all times.” U.S. Navy statement.

US AIRCRAFT CARRIER THEODORE ROOSEVELT IN THE PACIFIC

PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 9, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Pacific Ocean. Theodore Roosevelt is underway conducting a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with its carrier strike group in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Austin R. Clayton/Released)

 

uss theodore Roosevelt battle group in the pacific

PACIFIC OCEAN (Aug. 6, 2017) The Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (CSG) participates in a strait transit exercise. The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) is underway conducting a composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) with its CSG in preparation for an upcoming deployment.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Anthony J. Rivera/Released)

 

Aircraft carrier uss nimitz in the indian ocean
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INDIAN OCEAN (July 19, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) transits the Indian Ocean. Nimitz is deployed in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Preston/Released)

 

aircraft carrier uss nimitz in the bay of bengal
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BAY OF BENGAL (July 17, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) leads a formation of ships from the Indian navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and the U.S. Navy July 17, 2017 in the Bay of Bengal as part of Exercise Malabar 2017. Malabar 2017 is the latest in a continuing series of exercises between the Indian Navy, JMSDF and U.S. Navy that has grown in scope and complexity over the years to address the variety of shared threats to maritime security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Cole Schroeder/Released)

 

aircraft carrier uss nimitz in asian waters

PACIFIC OCEAN (June 21, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59) conduct a replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202). Nimitz and Princeton are on an underway in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tyler Preston)

 

USS dwight d. eisenhower in the atlantic maneuvering with Canadian frigate

ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 27, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), the dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Perry (T-AKE 5) and the Royal Canadian navy Kingston-class maritime coastal defense vessel HMCS Glace Bay (MM 701) transit the Atlantic Ocean. Dwight D. Eisenhower is underway conducting a bilateral group sail with the Canada 150 anniversary celebration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jessica L. Dowell/Released)

 

aircraft carrier uss eisenhower with an international battle group including guided missile destroyer uss winston s. churchill transiting atlantic
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ATLANTIC OCEAN (June 27, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), the guided-missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), the Military Sealift Command dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Robert E. Perry (T-AKE 5), the Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Charlottetown (FFH 339), the Royal Canadian Navy Kingston-class maritime coastal defense vessel HMCS Glace Bay (MM 701) and the Royal Canadian Navy Kingston-class maritime coastal defense vessel HMCS Moncton (MM 708) transit the Atlantic Ocean. The ships are underway conducting a bilateral group sail with the Canada 150 anniversary celebration. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tony D. Curtis/Released)

 

uss george h.w. bush and battle group passing the rock of Gibraltar in the Mediterranean

 


STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR (July 24, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) passes the Rock of Gibraltar. The ship and its carrier strike group are conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael B. Zingaro/Released)

 

us guided missile cruiser uss hue city asserting our right of passage in the international waters of the black sea. We don’t care if putin doesn’t like it.

ODESSA, Ukraine (July 13, 2017) The Ticonderoga class-guided missile cruiser USS Hue City (CG 66) departs Odessa, Ukraine, for the at-sea phase of exercise Sea Breeze 2017. Sea Breeze is a U.S. and Ukraine co-hosted multi-national maritime exercise held in the Black Sea and is designed to enhance interoperability of participating nations and strengthen maritime security within the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Weston Jones/Released)

 

us navy ships in coral sea working with our Australian allies
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CORAL SEA (July 10, 2017) The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), front, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell (DDG 85) and USS Barry (DDG 52) conduct maneuvers during Talisman Saber 2017. Talisman Saber is a realistic and challenging exercise that brings service members closer and improves both U.S. and Australia’s ability to work bilaterally and multilaterally, while preparing them to be poised to provide security both regionally and globally. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Holmes/Released)

 

 

FEATURED IMAGE:  ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 8, 2017) The guided missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) fires its Mark 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise alongside the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69).  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Neo Greene III/Released)

Anderson Shelter Bomb Proof Yet Cold & Wet

Usually tougher than nazi bombs,anderson shelters, were named after home secretary  John Anderson. He also served as MINISTER OF HOME SECURITy, A WARTIME DEPARTMENT, ATTACHED TO THE HOME OFFICE.

 

AIR RAID SHELTERS IN LONDON, 1940 (HU 63827A) Mrs Alice Prendergast of 3 Western Lane, Balham, is not at a disadvantage through building an Anderson shelter where her vegetables grew. She planted her vegetables on top of the shelter, and now has lettuce, beetroots and marrows growing. Mrs Prendergast is seen watering the vegetables on the top of her shelter. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205070170

 

“While a properly installed Anderson shelter could withstand the effects of a hundred-pound bomb falling six feet away, Anderson shelters often leaked, were cold, dark and cramped and amplified the noise of falling bombs.”

http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-to-do-during-an-air-raid

While given free to people of limited means, others had to pay £7.  Anderson shelters were useful only to the middle class because one had to have a garden (backyard in the US) as usually referred to in England. More than three million were eventually erected in gardens throughout those cities in England often bombed by the Nazis. (source: Warrior Race: A History of the British at War, by Lawrence James. 2003)

BOMB DAMAGE IN BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND, C 1940 (D 4127) Although some debris has been cleared on this site on James Street, Aston Newtown, Birmingham, brick rubble can be clearly seen. Dominating the photograph, however, are the twisted remains of several Anderson shelters, one of which is still standing and intact, although warped. In the background, all the houses in row of terraced homes is missing a roof. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205198720

Unfortunately, the fourteen galvanized and corrugated steel plates which were bolted together to create the Anderson shelter weren’t waterproof. Unless one took extra measures, as many did, to make the shelter more comfortable, it wasn’t easy to get a restful night’s sleep. The shelters were often damp or even had standing water in them. They were cold. People waited until bombs got close to run to their Anderson shelters because they didn’t like being in one.

 

AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS DOG AT WORK IN POPLAR, LONDON, ENGLAND, 1941 (D 5949) An Anderson shelter remains intact amidst destruction and debris, after a land mine fell a few yards away. The three people that had been inside the shelter were not hurt. The effects of air raids in this area of London can be clearly seen behind the shelter. This photograph was taken on Latham Street in Poplar. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205198906

 

The reference to the landmine falling a few feet away is slightly inaccurate. What the Germans dropped were heavy sea mines which could break through heavy roofs, even ones made from cement, and the go off, creating a powerful explosion. Having learned this technique from the Germans, the Allies dropped sea mines on Nazi Germany.

 

A WORKING CLASS FAMILY IN WARTIME: EVERY DAY LIFE WITH THE SUTER FAMILY IN LONDON, 1940 (D 778) Doris and Alan Suter step down into the Anderson shelter in the garden of their home at 44 Edgeworth Road, Eltham, London, SE9, sometime between June and August 1940. Their mother, Mrs Suter, can just be seen behind them outside the shelter. Alan is carrying his gas mask box with him. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205195781

Obviously, this was an upper working class family given how well the children are dressed and that they have a back garden which provided enough room to dug in the Anderson shelter. The box around the boy’s neck is his gas mask.

AIR RAID PRECAUTIONS, 1940 (HU 104527) Sir John Anderson, the Home Secretary, examines hosing equipment used by the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) in Southampton, 25 February 1940. His visit coincided with a large-scale Air Raid Precautions (ARP) exercise in the towns of Portsmouth, Gosport and Southampton. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205229899

 

An Anderson shelter stands intact amongst a scene of debris in Norwich, c.1941

(photo courtesy Imperial War Museum)

“Anderson shelters – named after Sir John Anderson – consisted of two curved corrugated sheets of steel, bolted together at the top and sunk three feet into the ground, then covered with eighteen inches of earth. If constructed correctly, they could withstand the effects of a hundred-pound bomb falling six feet away. However, many Anderson shelters leaked, were cold, dark and cramped and amplified the noise of falling bombs.”

http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-to-do-during-an-air-raid

 

 

England During World War Two

A Royal Air Force Lockheed Hudson Mk VI (AE626) of the Middle East Communications Flight flying over the Egyptian pyramids, 1942. (Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum)

 

Two soldiers of the Royal Military Police with Anna, a four-year-old Austrian girl with whose family the men were billeted, in the Klagenfurt area of occupied Austria, May 1945. (Photo courtesy Imperial War Museum)

comments Charles McCain: since the Third Reich had given few people any choice about anything (Austria had been annexed by 3rd Reich) Anglo-American soldiers were billeted families whether they liked it or not and sometimes troops kicked the Germans out of their home. Payback is a bitch.

Men of the Airborne Division adjust their harnesses alongside an Armstrong Whitworth Whitley ‘PX-G’ of No. 295 Squadron RAF, October 1942. (photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

Men of the Royal Navy play cards on board the submarine HMS Tribune, 1942. (photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

Sergeant R Gregory photographs Driver A Hardman during a tour of the Acropolis in Athens, October 1944. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

HMS Howe passes through the Suez Canal on her way to join the British Pacific Fleet, 14 July 1944. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

A signaller operates an Aldis lamp on board a British warship, 1942. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

WRNS officers are shown the sights of Quebec by a member of the Canadian Mounted Police Force after the first Quebec Conference, 23 August 1943. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

Churchill tanks of A and B Squadrons, 43rd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment, 33rd Brigade negotiate obstacles during training, October 1942. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

Armourers of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) re-arm a Hawker Hurricane aircraft at the Fleet Air Arm airfield at Yeovilton, Somerset, 2 September 1943. (Courtesy Imperial War Museum)

Members of the ATS operate the height and range finder at an anti-aircraft gun site, December 1942. (Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum)

Chamberlain Betrays Czechs & Countdown to War Begins

“You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”
WInston Churchill to Chamberlain in 1938 on the munich agreement.
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“…a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.”

Chamberlain (centre, hat, and umbrella in hands) walks with German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (right) as the Prime Minister leaves for home after the Berchtesgaden meeting, 16 September 1938. On the left is Alexander von Dörnberg, German diplomat, and SS officer, Chief of Protocol Foreign Office of Nazi Germany. (German National Archive)

 

From left to right, Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano as they prepare to sign the Munich Agreement. German National Archive.

This agreement was then forced on the Czechs by Britain and France.

[Ciano was Mussolini’s son-in-law who later played in role in overthrowing him. There are several versions of how Ciano came to be shot. This is my favorite although apocryphal:  Hitler told Mussolini to have Ciano shot. Musso said Ciano was the father of his grandchildren. He could not have him shot. Hitler replied that Musso was not tough enough to be a dictator. “I will have him shot.” Shortly thereafter the SS in the Salo Republic shot Ciano.]

In the fall of 1938, Hitler had made a fool of Prime Minister Chamberlain through his sham negotiating in Berchtesgaden. The PM had returned to England after betraying the Czechs and forcing both them and the Skoda Works, the finest armament works in Europe, into the hands of a madman.

“I believe it is peace for our time.”

Commentary from the Imperial War Museum: “Neville Chamberlain holding the paper containing the resolution to commit to peaceful methods signed by both Hitler and himself on his return from Munich. He is showing the piece of paper to a crowd at Heston Aerodrome on 30 September 1938.

He said: “…the settlement of the Czechoslovakian problem, which has now been achieved is, in my view, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which all Europe may find peace.

This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine…

….(waves paper to the crowd – receiving loud cheers and “Hear Hears”). Some of you, perhaps, have already heard what it contains but I would just like to read it to you …”.

Later that day he stood outside Number 10 Downing Street and again read from the document and concluded: ‘”My good friends, for the second time in our history, a British Prime Minister has returned from Germany bringing peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.” (Photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

Charles McCain: Except, of course, it wasn’t.

Hitler was hardly going to keep his word and anyone who had observed him for a time knew that. The Czechs had been betrayed by Chamberlain.

Said Chamberlain in a radio broadcast, “How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.” 

Chamberlain (left) and Hitler leave the Bad Godesberg meeting, 23 September 1938. German National Archive)

Czechs had been supplying steel of the highest quality to the Royal Navy

Yet many in Great Britain did know something about Czechoslovakia including this most critical fact: the Czechs had been supplying steel of the highest quality to the Royal Navy, steel of the quality required for warships no longer cast in sufficient amounts in Great Britain. *

The Admiralty knew this. Men of industry and finance knew. Chamberlain and the cabinet knew–but persisted in lying to the people of Great Britain as well as deluding themselves. They continued to live in what Aristophanes referred to as “Cloud-cuckoo-land”

*(Source: “Engage the Enemy More Closely: the Royal Navy in te Second World War” by Correlli Barnett)

Lord Halifax revealed as guilty of high treason–tried to negotiate peace with the Nazis without disclosure to war cabinet.

Neville Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini, Lord Halifax, and Count Ciano at an opera in Rome, Jan 1939

Daily Telegraph of London, 2008:

“Lord Halifax, Britain’s Foreign Secretary at the outbreak of the Second World War, secretly met with an Old Etonian who tried to broker a peace deal with the Nazis, according to newly-declassified security files.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2650832/Lord-Halifax-tried-to-negotiate-peace-with-the-Nazis.html

Charles McCain: A sordid spectacle. History has rightly judged  Chamberlain harshly along with his crony, the leading appeaser of Hitler next to Chamberlain, Foreign Secretary, the arch-schemer, Lord Halifax. Documents released in last 10 years prove Halifax committed treason by carrying on peace negotiations through dubious second parties without informing the war cabinet.

In November of 1937, while Lord President of the Council (a cabinet position), Halifax paid a private visit to Herman Goering, the obese kleptomaniac and drug addled C-in-C of the Luftwaffe. Since Halifax was a member of the Cabinet, the Germans thought of this as an “unofficial” official visit. This was done with Prime Minister Chamberlain’s knowledge and approval.

Lord Halifax with Hermann Göring at Schorfheide, Germany, 20 November 1937 (German National Archive)

Although Halifax was not then Foreign Secretary, he informed Adolf Hitler and “the evil gang who work your wicked will” * that the British government did not oppose Nazi Germany’s stated policy to incorporate Austria, half of Czechoslovakia and several former Imperial German provinces of Poland into the Third Reich.  However, the honourable gentleman, Lord Halifax, loftily said this must be done peacefully.

(*Churchill in a speech during World War Two describing Hitler’s murderous and evil myrmidons.

Lord Halifax with Hitler on 19 November 1937

This interference in foreign affairs by Chamberlain and his trusted fellow appeaser, the noble Lord Halifax, led to the resignation of Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden. Would Halifax take the position? Certainly, if the Prime Minister asked him then naturally it would be his duty to accept the position which he did.

A deeply religious man was Halifax. Hence, a good man said his acolytes. Not one to dirty his hands with common politics or common people. (As a peer of the realm, he was a member of the House of Lords). There were few among the elite who attended divine service on a more frequent basis then Lord Halifax. Presumably, God was on his side, it was said.  Many who knew him referred to him behind his back as the “Holy Fox.”  It wasn’t a compliment.

CHURCHILL STATES THE TRUTH

Only a few both saw and were willing to state the truth. One of those was Winston Churchill, roundly condemned for what he said in Parliament after Chamberlain returned from Munich waving the piece of paper signed by Hitler which meant “peace in our time.”

Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain reviewing German troops during Chamberlain’s visit to sign the Munich Agreement.

Winston Churchill on chamberlain’s capitulation in Munich to Hitler, house of commons, 5 October 1938.

I will, therefore, begin by saying the most unpopular and most unwelcome thing. I will begin by saying what everybody would like to ignore or forget but which must nevertheless be stated, namely, that we have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat, and that France has suffered even more than we have.

The utmost my right hon. friend the Prime Minister… has been able to gain for Czechoslovakia in the matters which were in dispute has been that the German dictator, instead of snatching the victuals from the table, has been content to have them served to him course by course…”

He was heckled by other Conservative members of Parliament during this speech. Churchill’s judgment on Chamberlain after the signing of the Munich agreement:  “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour and you will have war.”

Chamberlain having a sincere handshake with Adolf Hitler.

You can read Churchill’s entire speech to Parliament on the Munich agreement here:       winstonchurchill.org/resources/speeches/the-munich-agreement

 

3 September 1939, Great Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany for attacking Poland, whose territorial integrity had been hastily guaranteed by those two countries. After the craven conduct of the British on Austria and Czechoslovakia, Hitler was stunned. He turned to his vacuous Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, who had assured him the British and the French would do nothing, and said, “now what?”

Ribbentrop was an opportunistic, immoral, evil toad of man along with being stupid. At the Nuremberg Tribunal, an American interrogator asked him several questions about German foreign policy during the Third Reich. Ribbentrop said he did not know the answers. Are you telling me, the American interrogator said, that as Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany you did not know what the foreign policy was? “I am sorry but I must say ‘yes'” (As in ‘yes he did not know). him on four counts: crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity

He was rightfully convicted of crimes against peace, deliberately planning a war of aggression, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, and hanged 16 October 1946.

This iconic photograph of Churchill was taken by famed photographer Yousuf Karsh on 30 December 1941 immediately after a speech Churchill had given to the Canadian Parliament. This photo came to represent Great Britain’s defiance of the Nazis.

On 10 May 1940, Germany attacked France who surrendered within six weeks. On that same day, 10 May 1940, two days after Chamberlain had suffered a humiliating defeat in Parliament, his majority dropping from 280 votes to 80 in a vote of confidence, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister of Great Britain and led the British Empire to victory over the Nazis.

His speeches as Prime Minister rang with defiance against the Nazis and continue to inspire those who value individual freedom.

“He mobilized the English language and sent it into battle to steady his fellow countrymen and hearten those Europeans upon whom the long dark night of tyranny had descended.” 

Edward R. Murrow on Churchill in 1954.

 

“It’s the Invasion!….Ten Thousand Ships Headed Right at Me!”

the Germans on D-Day
D-DAY – ALLIED FORCES DURING THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 6 JUNE 1944 (A 23844) Landing ships and other invasion craft seen from HMS BEAGLE, 6 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205155881

“Which way are the ships headed?” 

 “Right for me!”

Major Werner Pluskat, First German to Sight Allied Invasion Fleet, informs his higher echelon headquarters of the German 352nd Infantry Division.

At dawn on 6 June 1944, from this German bunker on a rise above Omaha Beach, Major Werner Pluskat was the first German officer to see the Allied invasion fleet which he described as headed  “straight at me.”  During the Normandy invasion, he served as the commander of the artillery battalion of the German 352nd Infantry Division, a scratch division built around a handful of surviving veterans from the 321 Infantry Division which had been torn to shreds during the Battle of Kursk in July and August of 1943 and the subsequent Soviet offensives.  *

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German actor Hans Christian Blech playing Major Werner Pluskat in the 1962 movie, the Longest Day, based on the book of the same name by Cornelius Ryan.

(Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox)

“The Longest Day,” an account of D-Day written by American journalist and narrative historian Cornelius Ryan, Pluskat told him the following in a personal interview.

Dawn of 6 June 1944

 

From his bunker overlooking Omaha Beach, Major Pluskat rang through to the headquarters of the 352nd Infantry Division to which his artillery battalion was assigned:

“It’s the invasion! There must be ten thousand ships out here!”

Division HQ: “Which way are the ships headed?”

Pluskat: “Right for me!”

Division to Pluskat several minutes later: “What’s the situation?”

“We’re being shelled!”

“Exact location of shelling?”

“For God’s sake, they’re falling all over. What do you want me to do? Go out and measure the holes with a ruler?”

 Pluskat obviously survived the war, surrendering to the Allies on 23 April 1945.

Hans Christian Blech in The Longest Day

German actor Hans Christian Blech playing Major Werner Pluskat in the 1962 movie, the Longest Day.

In this movie still from 20th Century Fox, Major Pluskat is talking to his division command after intense shelling. Most German bunkers were well constructed and survived Allied naval gunfire. 

D-DAY – ALLIED FORCES DURING THE INVASION OF NORMANDY 6 JUNE 1944 (A 23934) The Normandy coast around Bernieres-sur-Mer, Juno assault area, with smoke rising from burning buildings during the Allied naval bombardment which preceded the landings, 6 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205155953

 

Unfortunately, the naval guns of the era had a relatively flat trajectory. While battleships could, and did, hit German units 30 miles inland, targets as close as Pluskat’s bunker were harder to destroy because naval guns could not generate plunging fire like an army howitzer. So complete was Allied control of the sea, that many battleships assigned to the bombardment force were able to anchor in a long row in the English channel.

On Omaha, for instance, where very few tanks made it ashore, smaller ships such as destroyers and destroyer escorts closed the beach and directly engaged the German artillery firing from bunkers. There were occasions when the Germans were firing over the heads of the GIs on the beach at Allied destroyers who were firing back.

Naval captains took their ships in as close as they could, scraping bottom occasionally. But the invasion had to succeed. There wasn’t a “Plan B.”

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Like most accounts of historical events, there is controversy over Pluskat’s whereabouts at dawn on 6 June.  Speculation on a number of World War Two discussion boards suggests Pluskat wasn’t at his post at dawn on 6 June and fabricated his entire story which became part of the historical record and has been repeated a thousand times in various books until taken for truth.

Yet Pluskat did command the artillery battalion of the 352nd German Infantry Division. This division was dug in behind Pluskat’s artillery. The task of 352nd was to defend the stretch of beach known as “Omaha” to the Allies.

And Pluskat’s command bunker was on the heights above Omaha and remains there to this day as shown in the first photo of this post. His battalion did not retreat until they had fired all of their ammunition. So we know that he basics are true.

In an article about D-Day  in the German weekly news magazine, Der Spiegel, on 3 June 1964, their reporter writes:

“Major Werner Pluskat, commander of four coastal batteries the 352nd Division in the landing section “Omaha” was one of the first who saw the Armada. From his forward command post, he peered through the telescope, when morning dawned and the mist of the night lifted above the sea: The horizon was dotted with ships – ten thousand estimated the Major. The inferno broke out.”

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR: OPERATION OVERLORD (THE NORMANDY LANDINGS), JUNE 1944 (A 23977) HMS RODNEY bombarding gun positions in the Caen area as seen from the cruiser HMS FROBISHER. In support of the Normandy landings British Naval guns have been constantly bombarding enemy positions, often many miles inland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187109

 

Cornelius Ryan, who wrote the book, The Longest Day, was a well-known journalist of the era and a careful researcher. Born in Ireland (he became an American citizen in 1957) he worked as a war correspondent for The Daily Telegraph of London.

Incredibly, he flew 14 bombing missions over Germany as part of his work as a journalist although not required to do so. He also witnessed the D-Day landings as a journalist. It would have been difficult to fool him.

Since Ryan interviewed so many participants in the battle, Allied and German, I find it hard to believe that Pluskat made up the story about himself he told Ryan. Further Pluskat only died in 2002 at age 90 so other German veterans of D-Day from the 352nd Infantry Division had decades to accuse Pluskat of lying. To my knowledge, such accusations were never made.

Ryan’s book is a well-written narrative history of the D-Day. It contains a number of small inaccuracies. However, these are mainly due to his lack of access to records about D-Day which were still classified at the time he wrote the book in 1957 and 1958. But his interview with Pluskat is accurate.

“The Longest Day” was published in 1959.

ryan1

Sadly, Cornelius Ryan died tragically early in his life at age 54 in 1974 of prostate cancer.

*a fascinating “look behind enemy lines” can be found in the correctly translate reported written for the Allies after the battle by one of the captured regimental commanders of the 352nd German Infantry Division. Historian Stewart Bryant tracked down the original document in German written by the officer. About twenty years ago, historians discovered that hundreds of these documents had been incorrectly translated.

Bryant has translated this German report into English himself and has added valuable commentary and explanations.

You can read his excellent work here:

http://www.omaha-beach.org/US-Version/352/352US.html

P51 Mustang Saves Bomber Offensive

P51 to the Rescue

Lieutenant Vernon R Richards of the 361st Fighter Group flying his P-51D Mustang nicknamed ‘Tika IV’, during a bomber escort mission in 1944. (photograph and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

D-Day was not the Second Front.
The Anglo-American Strategic Bombing Offensive against Germany was the second front
d-day was the Third Front.
The First Front was the massive battle on the Eastern front between the Germans and the Soviets. 

 

Graves of German soldiers somewhere in Russia. (Bundesarchiv)

Because the Soviets killed over 80% of German soldiers killed in World War Two, something Stalin frequently pointed out to Churchill and FDR, the most important strategic goal of the Allies (the US and the British Empire) was to keep the Soviets in the war. The P-51 ended up playing an important role in this.

We absolutely had to think of a way to relive the intense German military power being unleashed on the Soviets by the Germans (who had a kill rate of one German soldier to 27 Soviet soldiers). The British had begun a small bombing campaign against Nazi Germany and its allies before America was in the war because there was no other way for the Brits to attack Germany.

Pilots of No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF in front of Hawker Hurricane Mk I at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 7 September 1940. (Photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

Germans Bomb London and Other Cities Throughout the UK

From the late summer of 1940 to the early summer of 1941, the German Luftwaffe bombed London and other major British cities and ports in a savage campaign which killed more than 40,000 people in the UK, half of them in London. More than one million homes were destroyed. So, the British felt little remorse at bombing the Germans.

RAF Bomber Command took unacceptable casualties in daylight bombing and began bombing only at night. The US Army Air Force and the Bomber Barons were convinced that daylight bombing was the best way in spite of the British experience.

Boeing B-17F 42-29513. 346th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bombardment Group

In our arrogance, the US believed that properly staged formations of B-17 Flying Fortress’s would be self-defending and wouldn’t need fighter cover. This assumption was proven to be completely wrong by the horrifying losses suffered during 1943 and early 1944 by the USAAF 8th Air Force flying from Great Britain.

Unfortunately, no fighter had the range to accompany American bombers all the way to Berlin and points east and then fly all the way back to Great Britain. Someone thought of drop tanks which were easy to make. However, there needed to be a rugged and fast heavy fighter to take on the German fighters over Germany.

What About the P51?

P-51D Mustang at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

American bombers finally accompanied by fighters for the entire flight

The P-51 had been a disappointment. It wasn’t fast enough. Someone thought of putting a Rolls Royce Merlin engine from a Spitfire on the airframe of a P-51. The rest is history. Fitted with drop tanks and the Merlin engine, the P-51 was able to provide fighter cover to American bombers all the way to Berlin and back. This allowed the bombing of Germany to continue and allowed American fighter to destroy the fighter arm of the German Air Force.

Every week, long before D-Day, General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, sent Stalin a book of photographs of German cities Americans had bombed. Churchill did likewise. As the Anglo-American bombing offensive took hold, the Russians felt the effects. German aircraft were withdrawn from Russia and most importantly, the famed German 88 artillery piece, anti-tank gun, and anti-aircraft gun were withdrawn in large numbers from the Eastern front to defend German cities.

P-51D cockpit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Fashion from Crimean War

As I was saying to Nikolai this afternoon, war often leads to fashion items which endure long after the war that spawned them is over.

cardigan: a knitted wool sweater with long sleeves opening down the front as worn by our spokesmodel, Nickolai.

Take the Cardigan sweater, a fashion item owned by many men and women. The garment itself is defined as a knitted wool sweater with long sleeves opening down the front.

The man who made this unlikely garment fashionable was none other than the 7th Earl of Cardigan. Is he famous for anything else? Yes, in October of 1854, he led the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War. (1853 to 1856). The causes of the war are boring and complicated. Suffice it to say that the French and British went to the Crimea to fight the Russians and the Ottomans (Turks) over something.

 

Cardigan

Cardigan was an insecure, arrogant, self-righteous, narcissistic jerk who wore a wool sweater of his own design which opened down the front. Besides having an eye for fashion, he was brave since he personally led the Charge of the Light Brigade into Russian artillery fire. 

“Here goes the last of the Brudenell’s,” said Lord James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan…and then Major General Commanding the Light Brigade, a cavalry formation which included his personal regiment, the 11th Hussars, upon receiving the order to charge batteries of Russian artillery. This was part of the Battle of Balaclava which was part of the overall siege of Sevastopol, the key Russian naval base in the Crimea.

Spokesmodel Nickolai modeling a heavy wool balaclava.

Allow me to interrupt myself to call your attention to the Battle of Balaclava (the town itself served as a British supply point). It was so cold in the Crimean winter that women in England knitted wool garments which covered the faces and necks of the English soldiers. The men received these garments when they would go for supplies at the town of Balaclava, hence the name.

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The charge of the Light Brigade accomplished nothing and was the result of inaccurate and misleading orders. But it did generate a famous poem. While many are familiar with poem, they don’t know what event inspired the poet. Below is the first stanza.

The Charge Of The Light Brigade

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Half a league half a league, 
Half a league onward, 
All in the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred: 
‘Forward, the Light Brigade! 
Charge for the guns’ he said: 
Into the valley of Death 
Rode the six hundred. 

(A league is an imprecise unit of measurement which fell out of use in the late 19th Century.)

War and fashion unfortunately often go together. The trench coat is exactly that: a coat first made in England in World War One for officers to wear in the trenches of the Western front. And “bomber jackets” are also exactly that–jackets worn by the pilot and copilots of American bombers in World War Two.

(The cockpit and navigator’s area were heated. The rest of the plane was not and other crew members had to wear electrically heated suits. Curiously, they had to clean these with gasoline. The air gunners who fired from the large opening on each side of the aircraft also wore chain mail manufactured by Wilkinson sword to protect them from shrapnel. (Invented by the British Army officer, Captain Shrapnel).

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