My late father served in Company I, 313th Inf. His scrapbook includes some old newspapers: The Lorraine Cross (the 79th Div's bi-weekly), and the 313th's The Dim View. Here are a few of those. Check back frequently to find more.
French amateur historian Gerard Louis' discovery and tenacity of many years, led to the discovery of 3 American Servicemen and their final resting place. This is his story in the original French and translated into English.
Popski's Private Army was a tiny elite unit of the British Army. It fought from its formation in late 1942 until the end of the War in North Africa and Italy, specializing in intelligence gathering, sabotage, and partisan support. His name was Vladimir Peniakoff. His nom de guerre was bestowed by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) when their radio operators had trouble getting their tongues around "Peniakoff". He liked it, it stuck, and as Popski he is remembered. Perhaps the greatest of Popski's gifts was his strong sense of risk versus reward...this is his story.
The numbers tell a story. They do not lie. According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 900 World War II veterans die every day. But that number is not the whole story. We cannot simply consider statistical losses when we look at that number. What we are really losing is a unique brand of warriors who let nothing stand in the way of the march toward victory, and no group of World War II veterans typified that never-say-die attitude better than that of America's submarine service.
In the cold and foggy pre-dawn hours of January 17, 1945, the U.S. 12th Armored Division's 43rd Tank Battalion prepared to renew the previous day's unsuccessful attack on German positions in and around the small Alsatian village of Herrlisheim. Thus far in that operation, the battalion had lost 12 of its tanks, and 11 others were damaged. Now, as the 43rd was resupplying and refueling its remaining 29 operational tanks, the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Novosel, felt uneasy about what was to come. He was overheard telling another officer from the division: "Meyer, you're a lucky SOB. I think we're not coming back from this one." Novosel's premonition would prove all too right for many of his men.
Jules Verne's fictional "Nautilus" submarine had every comfort, including a pipe organ and picture windows. But even Verne's fertile imagination would have been overtaxed by the possibility of submarines large enough to have hangars that could each carry and launch three bomber aircraft. It's a notion that wouldn't even have appeared in the daydreams of an errant 20th century schoolboy. But born of desperation, just such a monster submarine actually made its little-known appearance in World War II.
The Allied bridgeheads across the Seine, the Rhine, and the Roer copped the headlines, and rightfully so. But take it from doughs of the Purvis (Third) Battalion of the 314th Infantry: Neither of those three major operations is in a class with the crossing of the Meurthe River near Frambois, France. That swift-flowing, muddy, curving little stream seemed custom-built for a defending force. And the defenders in this particular instance were a numerically superior bunch of of tough krauts who knew they were holding most of the aces.
Within a few days after the Allied invasion of Normandy, the U.S. Army found itself facing a stubborn terrain that favored the defender. A significant tactical dilemma facing the U.S. Army in Normandy was the local terrain, called Bocage in French. Bocage refers to farmland separated by thick coastal hedgerows. These hedgerows are denser, thicker, and higher in Normandy than elsewhere along the French coast or in the British countryside on the opposite side of the English Channel. From a military perspective, they were ideal for defense, since they broke up the local terrain into small fields edged by natural earthen obstacles. They provide real defense in depth, extending dozens of miles beyond the coast. The Bocage undermined the U.S. Army?s advantages in armor and firepower, and the hedgerows gave the German defenders natural shelter from attack.
The entry of the United States into World War II was marked by constant setbacks spanning the Western Pacific beginning December 7, 1941 and into early 1942. After being defeated and pushed back for six months, the U.S. military machine began to turn out victories that would push back every advancement of the Axis powers and in 45 months lead to their total defeat. Thousands of books, articles and papers have been written trying to dissect and analyze every aspect of the conduct of the war by the United States. This paper will look at a few of those books and discuss their methodology and interpretation.
The master story of the Battle of the Bulge is the German breakthrough that created the bulge in American lines and the U.S. fight to restore the original line. Not well known is the story of the U.S. infantry that held the northern flank. If not for the stand by three rifle companies, the bulge may have become a break.
The "Southern Front" in Europe opened on August 15, 1944, when three American divisions, the 3rd, the 45th and the 36th, invaded the French Riviera beaches. The American divisions, soon part of the Seventh Army, were joined by French divisions in the First French Army, the primary French military contribution in the European theater.
Sixty years ago this month, out of the fog and icy mists of one of the coldest Belgian winters on record, the Wehrmacht attacked American forces along its thin defensive line in the Ardennes forest. The day will live on in the memories of the surviving American GIs who were there, as well as the German veterans, who in one final desperate surge sought to push the U.S. Army all the way back to the Atlantic ports.
The night was black as pitch, no moon, no stars, no flash of artillery fire to light the way for the Canadian infantry moving forward to the start-line of their next attack. The night was unusually quiet, as though both armies facing each other in the flatlands of the North Italian plains had gone to bed early. The only sound came from the scuffle of the infantrymen's boots on gravel as they worked their way forward.
During the last 65 years, the United States was attacked twice on December 7, 1941 and September 11, 2001 and, in both cases, eventually relied on aircraft carrier power to attack the source of the aggression.
When the 9/11 attack took place, the carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) had just been relieved from service in the Indian Ocean and was heading back to her homeport in Norfolk, Va. On hearing about the attack, the Enterprise, without an order from the chain of command, turned around and headed back to Southwest Asian waters. For the next three weeks, aircraft from Enterprise flew nearly 700 missions launching air attacks against al Qaeda and Taliban military camps in Afghanistan. It was a quick response that showed the reach of American aircraft carrier power.
The American response to the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor was less quick. It was a time when the Navy still considered aircraft carriers to be auxiliary fleet vessels rather then primary naval attack weapons. Within six months of the Pearl Harbor attack, the US Pacific Fleet?s bold initiatives would establish a new strategic role for carriers.
There was a special brand of individualism which marked the D-Day landings. If the operation succeeded, it was not only due to the high quality of planning and preparation. What saved the day were the individual acts of leadership displayed on the beaches. We will never know what motivated these leaders but they got moving when things got bogged down. What finally counted was that this exceptional victory of minds over matter.
From the time of Peter the Great, Russia embarked on path to increase their military strength that made it possible for it to become one of the greatest powers of the world. During WW2, the Soviet response to the German invasion changed from a strategy of deep operations, utilizing cavalry and mechanized formations, to one of defense in depth, which involved command and control changes, a reorganization of the force, rapid reconstitution of formations, the relocation of industries to the east, and a scorched earth policy. The Soviets went to great lengths to encourage their forces to defend in depth and to use active, flexible tactics. This change in strategy eventually permitted the Soviet army to return to the offensive and defeat the German army.
The purpose of military strategy is to diminish the possibility of resistance. It should be the aim of every leader to discover the weaknesses of the enemy, and to pierce his Achilles' Heel. This is how battles and wars are best won.
In a moment of reflection, and in my ignorance of world affairs at the time, I wondered why the British would have sought the destruction of their ally's fleet. In the ensuing years I have studied accounts written at the time. They still provide no truly logical explanation illustrating once again that in warfare there is often more emotion than logic. And, as in many historic naval engagements, a series of misunderstandings and lack of communication determined the outcome.