“We shall Fight in France…we shall never surrender…”

 

Winston Churchill to Parliament on 4 June 1940

“…we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be…we shall never surrender.”

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1940 (F 2038) Men of the 2nd Battalion Royal Fusiliers in a trench in front of the Maginot Line, 3 January 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204830

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1940 (F 4121) Men of 2nd Battalion Essex Regiment study a map during an exercise at Meurchin, 27 April 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204923

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1940 (F 4074) Gracie Fields shares a joke with troops in a village near Valenciennes, 26 April 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204920

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1940 (F 4186) Searchlight of 10th Battery, 3rd Searchlight Regiment, Royal Artillery, near Carvin, 1 May 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204924

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1940 (F 3238) Troops from 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment, 3rd Division, training on the Vickers machine gun at Gondecourt, 21 March 1940 Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204892

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 46) Motor transport of 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards outside Battalion HQ at Conlie, 22 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204992

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 223) Men of 1st Battalion Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders constructing trenches at Aix, 12 November 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205011

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 514) Troops of the 1st Royal Berkshire Regiment, 2nd Division, checking the papers of civilians at Becun on the Franco-Belgian border, 10 October 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205029

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 2288) The Grenadier Guards building breastworks on flooded ground at Hem, December 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205065

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 86) Men of the BEF being transported from Cherbourg to their assembly area in a railway goods wagon, 29 September 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205204998

On the top right you will note the loading limits of the goods wagon for military purposes:  40 men or 8 horses.

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 415) Troops from the Royal Berkshire Regiment manning trenches near Mouchin, 29 November 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205023

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 427) The cramped interior of the battery commander’s dugout at a 25-pdr field gun battery near Mouchin, 29 November 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205025

 

THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939-40 (O 878) Lines of barbed-wire obstacles stretch across snow-covered fields near Menin, 17 Infantry Brigade sector, 21 January 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205055
THE BRITISH ARMY IN FRANCE 1939 (O 327) A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew near Douai, November 1939. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205017

 

*Featured image:  A 40mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun and crew near Douai, November 1939 Courtesy Imperial War Museum

Capturing St. Lo: the Terrible Arithmetic of War

Frankreich, St. Lô, Zerstörungen

June 1944: damage to the town of St. Lo in Normandy. By the end of the battle of St Lo in late July of 1944, the town had been completely destroyed.

(Photo courtesy of the German National Archive)

One of the most important Allied objectives in Normandy was the town of St. Lo which sat astride a strategic crossroads which the Allies desperately needed to capture. The Germans just as desperately sought to keep the Allies from capturing the town. After coming ashore, it took many weary days of brutal fighting  until American troops finally captured St. Lo on 18 July 1944.

While one will find many different and usually contradictory figures on the casualties during the campaign, historian Russell F. Weigley, writing in his magisterial work, Eisenhower and His Lieutenants: the Campaigns of France and Germany 1944-1945, says the US Army sustained 40,000 killed or wounded in the campaign. Additionally, more than 10,000 US soldiers suffered from combat fatigue severe enough to cause them to be pulled out of the fighting line. Some recovered, some did not.

According to Weigley, 90% of the casualties from the aforementioned figures were in the front-line rifle companies. In the 90th Division the rifle companies suffered 100% casualties among their infantrymen in the six week battle. More appalling, company grade infantry officers, which includes lieutenants and captains in the 90th suffered a casualty rate of more than 150%.

In real terms, this means that every single rifleman who began the battle was killed or wounded and had to be replaced and that every single company grade infantry officer was killed or wounded and had to be replaced and of those replacements, half were killed or wounded.

Casualties as a percentage among company grade officers such as lieutenants and captains were so high because they moved around a lot more than the men.

Source: Eisenhower and His Lieutenants: the Campaigns of France and Germany 1944-1945 by Russell F. Weigley

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American assault troops of the 3d Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st U.S. Infantry Division, who stormed Omaha Beach, and although wounded, gained the comparative safety offered by the chalk cliff at their backs. Food and cigarettes were available to lend comfort to the men at Collville-Sur-Mer, Normandy, France. 6/6/44. 

( photo number SC 189910-S courtesy of the US Army Center for Military History)

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Saint-Lo : Bombardement de 1944

Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie / National Archives USA

Churchill At War

 

 Photographs of Prime Minister Winston Churchill During World War Two

 

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04 Jul 1940, London, England, UK — Prime Minister Winston Churchill leaving a building. While long out of fashion, Churchill continued to use a walking stick which had been given him by Edward VII.

( Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS Courtesy PBS.org)

 

Winston Churchill

Churchill loved uniforms. He was made an honorary air commodore of 615 Squadron, RAF Fighter Command early in the war. In the photo above, he is wearing an RAF uniform of that rank. Churchill learned to fly before World War One so he earned his “wings” himself.

(photo courtesy of www.standard.co.uk)

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FDR and Churchill: Casablanca, Morocco January 1943. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill speak on the lawn of the President’s villa during a conference. (Photo Credit: Corbis, courtesy of history.com)

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comments Charles McCain: compare FDR’s appearance in this photo with the one above and you can see that his health had deteriorated markedly in just two years. He is thinner, eyes more sunken and appears exhausted and listless which he was.

World Leaders at the Yalta Conference: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, American President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill seated together during the Yalta Conference, February 4-11, 1945. (Photo Credit: Corbis, courtesy of history.com)

churchill-with-troops

Winston Churchill with D-Day Veterans: July 22, 1944. In Caen, France Prime Minister Winston Churchill speaks to veterans of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. (Photo Credit: Corbis, courtesy of history.com)

The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 17

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American artillery spotter checking range of his units shells during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, World War I. Location: France. Date taken: October 5, 1918. Photo courtesy of Life Magazine.

In addition to their highly experienced officers and NCOs both commanding their Marines and fighting with them, effective command and control was achieved by having functioning equipment, such as radios and other means of communications. This was especially critical for the forward artillery spotters and air control officers who called in the fire missions.

Prior to fighting the Americans, the Chinese Communist troops had not required this type of comprehensive command and control and they never learned how to do it during their fighting in Korea. US military experience with artillery spotters controlling fire missions went back to the First World War.

Harassing fire directed towards Japanese positions in Southern Okinawa begins during the early morning hours of May 11, 1945 as an all out offensive gets underway.

[Source: The Chinese Failure at Chosin By Patrick C. Roe, Major, USMC (Ret) Chairman, Chosin Few Historical Committee. Images courtesy of Life Magazine and the US National Archives.]