Massive 16 inch guns of battleship HMS Rodney

HMS Nelson and HMS Rodney were the only two battleships in the British Royal Navy with 16 inch guns.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2127) View looking forward from the bridge of HMS RODNEY in rough seas, showing two of the three 16 inch turrets trained on either beam, the barrels of the third turret can be seen in the foreground. Water can be seen coming up over the bow. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185179

All three main batteries were in the forefront of the ship before the bridge giving them an unusual appearance and the only battleships designed this was. During testing the Royal Navy discovered that if the turret closest to the bridge was traversed abeam to the maximum extent, then firing it broke all the windows on the bridge.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2115) After spending the night in the gun turrets and engine rooms of the battleship HMS RODNEY, crewmen (sailors and marines) take some fresh air on the starboard deck. Two of the triple 16 inch gun turrets can be seen in the background. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185174

Built to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty, the ships had heavy guns and heavy armour but had to reduce engine capacity to stay within the treaty limits. Unfortunately, their maximum speed was only 23 knots and that was on commissioning in the 1920s. They had a difficult time making that speed in World War Two although on occasion they made that speed and even higher such as when Rodney was trying to close with the Bismarck.

HMS Rodney had severe problems with water leaking into the ship due to defective riveting. In spite of extensive repairs made in the US Navy shipyard in Philadelphia the ship continued to have significant problems with water leaks–not a problem one wants in a man o’ war.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2147) A very clear shot of B turret on board HMS RODNEY taken from the bridge as the ship prepares to enter harbour. Beyond, on the focsle, some of the men are preparing to haul in the paravanes and get the cable cleared for anchoring. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185184

 

In her clash with the Bisarck, HMS Rodney fired 340 16-inch shell. While most firing was done in salvos, that is one barrel per turret would fire, the Rodney did fire a few broadsides. This meant all nine 16 inch guns fired at the same time. While designed for this, a full broadside was tough on the ship.

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 15453) Inside the gunhouse of one of the three 16 inch triple Mark I mounting, housing three 16-inch Mark I guns on board HMS RODNEY. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205186345
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1135) On board HMS RODNEY a group of officers and men standing on a 16 inch turret watching a ‘Fashion Parade’. Aircraft of all types (not in the picture) fly past at a considerable height to give the Navy practice in identifying the machines. Note the 16 inch guns are at maximum elevation. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185088
THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2123) Inside the gunhouse of one of the three Mark I triple mountings of HMS RODNEY showing the three 16 inch Mark I guns. In the foreground the gun lock is being shifted. In the centre the gun is being loaded and the gun on the left is ready to fire. Three members of crew can be seen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185176
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 4608) Members of the South African Division of the Royal Naval Volunteers Reserve on board HMS NELSON posing for the camera between two of the enormous 16 inch guns of A turret. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119388

While the photo above is of HMS Rodney’s sister ship, HMS Nelson, you can see just how big were these 16 inch guns. HMS Nelson was the first of the ships constructed so they were known as “Nelson class” battleships. These were the only two battleships which carried main battery guns actually larger than than the Bismarck’s 15 inch guns.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 2113) A memorial service for the Armed Merchant Cruiser JERVIS BAY, being held on the upper deck of HMS RODNEY whilst she is at sea. Comparatively few were able to attend the service, the rest being at their action stations, some being in the turrets of the 16 inch guns seen in the picture. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185173

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 200) Some of the barrels of goods passing under a 16 inch gun of HMS RODNEY as they are being rolled to the store rooms. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185017

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 7694) Changing the 16 inch guns on HMS RODNEY at Cammel Laird shipyard, Birkenhead. Lowering a gun into position in A turret. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185604

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 16216) The battleship HMS RODNEY underway in the Mediterranean (photographed from the aircraft carrier HMS FORMIDABLE). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119664

English Nursing Sisters Critical to Victory in World War Two

 Establishing a field hospital in normandy days after Dday
THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY, JUNE 1944 (B 5859) A cheery party of Sisters of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service with their baggage at No 88 General Hospital at La Delivrande, Normandy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205129366
THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944 (B 9222) A nurse attends to wounded soldiers in a field hospital, 15 August 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202480

 

ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CL 310) The interior of one of the tented wards at No. 50 Mobile Field Hospital in Normandy. Sister M Griffiths helps one of the patients into his dressing-gown (right). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211654
THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944 (B 5803) Royal Army Medical Corps nurses and women of the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS) carry a wounded soldier out of the operating tent at the 79th General Hospital at Bayeux, 20 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205202025

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY 1944 (B 5847) Women of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMS) queue for their lunch at No 88 General Hospital at Douvres-la-Delivrande, 22 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205924

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN NORMANDY 1944 (B 5841) Women of Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMS) pose for a group photograph at No 88 General Hospital at Douvres-la-Delivrande, 22 June 1944. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205923

 

nursing british wounded in france during german invasion of june 1940 before dunkirk

 

WOMEN AT WAR 1939 – 1945 (TR 2163) Nursing: Half length portrait of a nursing sister of Queen Alexandra?s Imperial Military Nursing Service outside a field hospital in France. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125325
nursing british and commonwealth troops in egypt
ROYAL AIR FORCE IN THE MIDDLE EAST, 1944-1945. (CM 6260) Airmen and n.c.o. patients resting on the balcony at No. 5 RAF General Hospital, Abassia, Egypt, attended by PMRAFNS Sisters Lindsay of Montrose (left), and D’Hondt of Hindhead, Surrey (right). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205209137
ROYAL AIR FORCE MEDICAL SERVICES, 1939-1945. (CM 2410) Recently-arrived nursing sisters of the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service gathered on the balcony of No. 5 RAF General Hospital, newly established at Abassia, Egypt. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205126790
Reykjavik Wasn’t the warmest POSting
PRINCESS MARY’S ROYAL AIR FORCE NURSING SERVICE, 1939-1945. (CS 330) Nurses relaxing in the Sister’s Mess of the RAF Hospital at Reykjavik, Iceland. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207860
lots of snow in Reykjavik
ROYAL AIR FORCE COASTAL COMMAND, 1939-1945. (CS 354) Snowed-up technical huts and airfield at Reykjavik, Iceland, during a lull in the blizzard which hit the island between 21 and 27 February 1945. Consolidated Liberator GR Mark VIs of No.53 Squadron RAF are parked on the airfield. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205207862

Royal Indian Navy Fighting World War Two

 

The Royal Indian Navy was one of the armed forces of British India. Created by the East India Company in the early 1700s, it was subsequently absorbed into the armed forces of British India. The British expanded the Royal Indian Navy in World War Two. This navy formed the basis of the modern Indian Navy.

 

C IN C EASTERN FLEET VISITS HIS SHIPS. 2 OCTOBER 1944, COLOMBO, CEYLON. ADMIRAL SIR BRUCE FRASER, GCB, KBE, COMMANDER IN CHIEF EASTERN FLEET PAID HIS FIRST VISIT TO SHIPS UNDER HIS COMMAND, INCLUDING SHIPS OF THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY, AND INSPECTED OFFICERS AND MEN. AMONG THE SHIPS VISITED WAS THE CARNATIC OF THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY. (A 26325) The C in C inspecting members of the CARNATIC’s company. Left to right: Able Seaman Muhammed Yusuf Khan, of Murree, Rawalpindi; Able Seaman (ST) James Vanspall, of Madura, Trichnopoly; Able Seaman (ST) Karunskaran Maniath, of Dharmadam, Malabar; Able Seaman Amarijit Singh Bakshi, of Ghun Grila, Rawalpindi. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205157938

 

TWENTY-THREE YEARS WITH THE INDIAN NAVY. 21 OCTOBER 1943, LONDONDERRY. TWO MEN OF THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY WHOSE SERVICE TOTALS 46 YEARS; ABBAS TAJUDDIN, CHIEF STOKER (LEFT) AND YUSUF ALI, CHIEF MECHANIC. THEY ARE BOTH FROM RATNIGARI, AND HAVE BOTH SERVED IN THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY FOR 23 YEARS. THEY ARE AT PRESENT SERVING IN THE INDIAN SLOOP KRISTNA. (A 19998) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152520

 

ON BOARD THE INDIAN SLOOP KRISTNA. 21 OCTOBER 1943, LONDONDERRY. (A 19999) The Shipwright Abdol Khalio, who comes from Gujrat, Punjab, with a wooden model of HMIS KRISTNA, the sloop in which he is serving. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152521

 

THE ROYAL INDIAN NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (IB 1535) A portrait by Cecil Beaton of an Indian naval rating operating a signal lamp on the sloop SUTLEJ at the Royal Indian Naval Station at Calcutta. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125435

 

ROYAL INDIAN NAVY AND EASTERN FLEET HARASS JAPANESE FORCES, BURMA, FEBRUARY – MARCH 1944 (A 23453) A Royal Indian Navy rating, Vincent, of Travencore, sitting on the deck of a ship collects up empty 20 mm cartridge cases and puts them into a hessian bag. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187050

 

DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE, THE UNDER SECRETARY FOR INDIA, VISITS MEMBERS OF HM ROYAL INDIAN NAVY, AT A BASE. 1941. (A 3307) The Duke of Devonshire inspecting sailors of the Royal Indian Navy. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205137710

 

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 23449) As darkness falls the bombardment of Japanese positions begins during a typical operation by Coastal Forces of the Royal Indian Navy, which include units of the Royal Navy, South African Naval Forces and Burma RNVR. Here the forward gun of one of the coastal forces boats is being fired. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187049

 

INDIAN WRENS VISIT ROSYTH, 3 JUNE 1945 (A 29070) Chief Officer Margaret L Cooper, Deputy Director of the Women’s Royal Indian Naval Service (WRINS), with Second Officer Kalyani Sen, WRINS at Rosyth during their two month study visit to Britain. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205187585

 

 

 

 

 

Dunkirk British Army Retreats from Germans

DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1524) British troops during the evacuation from Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205260329

 

DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1528) British troops in the sand dunes at Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222016

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: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205260322

 

DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1520) British troops during the evacuation from Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205260326

 

 

DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1137) Men of the 2nd Royal Ulster Rifles awaiting evacuation at Bray Dunes, near Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205086985
DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1519) British troops during the evacuation from Dunkirk, 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205260324

 

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: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205227524

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: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205086988

 

DUNKIRK 1940 (HU 1152) Rescued troops on board the destroyer HMS Vanquisher, May 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222774

 

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: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222770
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: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205222771

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

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

German Light Cruiser Köln

Reichsmarine Light Cruiser Köln

Reichsmarine sailors pose in front of a turret on light-cruiser Köln during a visit to Sydney, Australia.

 

Köln was the third of the three ‘K’ class light cruisers built for the Reichsmarine.

 

STARBOARD SIDE VIEW OF GERMAN LIGHT CRUISER KOLN WHICH VISITED MELBOURNE BETWEEN 1933-04-10 AND 1933-04-19. NOTE THE TALL TUBULAR MAST AND THE CONCENTRATION OF HER TRIPLE DRH LC/25 TURRETS WITH THEIR 15 CM SKC/25 GUNS AFT. SHE IS PAINTED IN THE STANDARD GERMAN SCHEME OF THE PERIOD WITH A MEDIUM GREY HULL AND LIGHT GREY FUNNELS. (NAVAL HISTORICAL COLLECTION).

The K class light cruisers suffered from many design problems since they were designed and built in the late 1920’s and had to adhere to the strict limit’s imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. As the design problems became increasingly apparent, the duties of the ships were limited to compensate and they increasingly failed to serve in the roles they were supposed to perform in the fleet.

The Köln patrolled the coasts of Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Civil War in 1937 and then spent the remainder of her life in the Baltic and North Sea. She participated in the Invasion of Norway and then she resumed mining operations and limited attacks on Allied Convoy shipping. In February 1943, the Köln was damaged in a submarine attack and remained out of service until March 1944 receiving repairs.

Light cruiser Koln in Baltic Stripe camouflage

 

She recommissioned as a training ship for cadets. On 12 December 1944, she was heavily damaged by a British bombing raid. She was transferred to Wilhelmshaven in February 1945 to begin extensive repairs. Once there, she was sunk on even keel during another British bombing raid on 3 March 1945. Her turrets remained above water and continued to shell the oncoming Allied advance.

The Köln was captured on 5 May 1945 by the Polish First Armored Division along with 200 other ships of the Kriegsmarine in the surrender of the Wilhelmshaven garrison. She was finally scrapped in 1946. Collected below are photographs of Köln during World War Two.

+
“Conquest of Bergen by German Light Cruisers”
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.

 

+
Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945).
Reconnaissance photograph, probably taken by the British Royal Air Force, showing the ship (marked by arrow) moored to the shore in the Fætten Fjord, about 30 KM ENE of Trondheim, Norway, 19 July 1942. Note rafts and netting used to camouflage the ship, and anti-torpedo booms moored to protect her from attacks from abeam and astern. Booms abeam have been folded to simulate a ship.

 

+
Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945).
Reconnaissance photograph, probably taken by the British Royal Air Force, showing the ship (marked by arrow) moored to the shore in the Fætten Fjord, about 30 KM ENE of Trondheim, Norway, 19 July 1942. The southern side of the Fjord is in the top center of the image.

 

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Köln (German Light Cruiser, 1930-1945).
Reconnaissance photograph, probably taken by the British Royal Air Force, showing the ship (marked by arrow) moored to the shore in the Fætten Fjord, about 30 KM ENE of Trondheim, Norway, 19 July 1942. Note rafts and netting used to camouflage the ship, and anti-torpedo booms moored to protect her from attacks from abeam and astern. Booms abeam have been folded to simulate a ship. The southern side of the Fjord is just beyond the top of the image.

 

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German cruiser Köln sunk by Allied bombing on 7 May 1945 in Wilhelmshaven, Germany.

[Images courtesy of Wikimedia and the Department of the Navy – Naval History & Heritage Command.]