Saburo Sakai, WWII Japanese Ace – know who you’re up against | Pacific Paratrooper

As the Intermission stories come to a close, until we reach the break of 1944-1945, we take a look at one of the pilots the Allied Air Forces were up against…..   Saburō Sakai in the co…

Source: Saburo Sakai, WWII Japanese Ace – know who you’re up against | Pacific Paratrooper

The Role of Greenland in WW2 and The Cold War | W.U Hstry

Although Greenland has always been one of the more remote places of the world, its position leaves it with a potentially very significant role to play in any world-wide conflict. The Geographical location of Greenland is important for three reasons, the first being that it is part of the land that forms the ‘GIUK Gap’ which is an important naval choke point in the north Atlantic that is…

Source: The Role of Greenland in WW2 and The Cold War | W.U Hstry

Women in WWII | Pacific Paratrooper

In honor of Women’s History Month this week’s posts will be a dedication to them…..

As WWII unfolded around the globe, women were also affected. Some found themselves pressed into jobs and duties they would never have previously considered. Hitler derided Americans as degenerate for putting the women to work, but nearly 350,000 American females alone served in uniform voluntarily. A transformation of half the population, never seen before, that began evolving in the early ‘40s and continues today.

For the WASPs, 1,830 female pilots volunteered for Avenger Field outside Sweetwater, Texas alone and it was the only co-ed air base in the U.S. These women would ferry aircraft coming off the assembly lines from the factories to the base. They acted as test pilots; assessing the performance of the planes. The WASPs were flight instructors and would shuttle officers around to the posts where they were needed. For artillery practice, they would…

Source: Women in WWII | Pacific Paratrooper

Eye Witness Account – Bougainville | Pacific Paratrooper

stevecibik

Lt. Steve Cibik, 21st Marines

“We were a veteran company with Guadalcanal behind us and we thought we knew the jungle.  But here on Bougainville we were battling a jungle such as we had never dreamed of.  For 19 days we struggled in miasmal swamps, fought vines that wrapped themselves bout our neck like whips, birds that dived at us like screaming Stukas, bats whose wings whirred like falling artillery shells, snakes, lizards and insects without name or number.  For 19 days we attacked this natural enemy with our machetes and knives, hacking our way through…

Source: Eye Witness Account – Bougainville | Pacific Paratrooper

Japanese Diary on Kolombangara | Pacific Paratrooper

In New Georgia on the Solomon Islands a Japanese private soldier found himself thrown into a campaign that had already been lost. He and his companions from the 23rd Infantry Regiment were landed on Baanga Island, where the troops in occupation were already in retreat. U.S. forces were already well established on nearby islands and the seas around were patrolled by PT boats and destroyers, making it increasingly difficult for the Japanese to land reinforcements or supplies.Little is known about Tadashi Higa apart from what was found in his diary which was found by the Americans and translated for intelligence purposes. On the 3rd August 1943 he made the following entry…

Source: Japanese Diary on Kolombangara | Pacific Paratrooper

Do Bunny Down: when shared war stories can help to heal, by Clare Mulley

The crew of the Do Bunny, Charles ‘Chuck’ Blaney is standing, back right. (Courtesy of Chuck Blaney)

When researching biographies I am privileged to meet and exchange letters with many people whose observations, perspectives and actions present new insights into the past, and sometimes into the present. My current work, on two remarkable female pilots from the Second World War, has led to interviews with veterans and other witnesses from several sides of that terrible conflict. As always, many tales have emerged that have no bearing on the story I am telling – but which I cannot bear to let go unrecorded. This is the story of some USAAF servicemen who crashed into an enemy field, and the young German boy who was desperate to find them…

Source: Do Bunny Down: when shared war stories can help to heal, by Clare Mulley

From Holland to Bavaria: The quest starts at Dachau

Dachau is a place that can not really be described, and I’m not going to try. But seeing the vast roll-call space, let alone the registration building, execution area, gas chamber and ovens is enough to set your hair on end. Yes, it is real. It really happened. And what happened is beyond my imagination. And that hits home as I walk through the gate with the well-known horrific slogan ‘Arbeit macht frei’. That first impact, and the feeling of walking amongst ghosts will stay with me. And then to think my uncle might have been there.

Roll call area, Dachau
Roll call area, Dachau

Initially I went to Dachau as a gesture of respect to my uncle, who died when he was 22 years old at the hands of the Nazis in Germany. And I left Dachau with an incredible urge to…

Source: From Holland to Bavaria: The quest starts at Dachau

Flight from the East End

I was brought up in Richmond and I’m ashamed that people living there during the war were not more welcoming. So much for everyone pulling together, as Simon Fowler says.

London Historians' Blog

A guest post by London Historians Member, Simon Fowler

evac1The story of brave Cockneys grinning and bearing it during the Blitz in 1940 is really a myth. The start of German air raids on Docklands and the East End in late August saw many panicky families flee the bombing. Some sheltered in Epping Forest, while others made it as far as Reading and Oxford. Frank Lewey, the Mayor of Stepney, who arranged the despatch of thousands of desperate men, women and children, wrote later that he and his staff were…
“far too busy to keep records of the evacuees. It was all we could do to get them out of London fast enough. We did not know where they had all gone, or all who had gone there, except that one hundred and fifty had gone to Ealing, two hundred and thirty to Richmond and so on.”

In Richmond…

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This Week in #WW2 – Death of a Nazi and a Collaborator

IF I ONLY HAD A TIME MACHINE

THIS WEEK IN WORLD WAR II

The Death of a Nazi and a Collaborator

A year apart on October 15th, a Nazi and a Nazi collaborator both met their death. One by firing squad and one by his own hand.

On October 15, 1945, Pierre Laval, the puppet leader of Nazi-occupied Vichy France, is executed by firing squad for treason against France.

Pierre Laval, 1931 Pierre Laval, 1931

Originally he had pacifist tendencies but he shifted to the right in the 1930s.  He had been the minister of foreign affairs and twice as the French premier.  With his anti-communist ideologies, he delayed the Soviet-Franco pact of 1935 and sought to align France with Fascist Italy.  He had no desire to declare war on Germany so he encouraged the antiwar faction in the French government.  With the German invasion of France in 1940, he used his political influence to force an armistice with Germany.  When…

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Operation Mincemeat: The Biggest Bluff of WWII

History Wench

The Second World War is the setting for some of history’s greatest espionage tales. Public imagination is frequently captured by the image of a suave and intelligent agent undertaking covert missions for Queen and country. This post will detail one of the more unusual of these espionage stories – ‘Operation Mincemeat. A plan which was masterminded by Ewen Montagu and targeted the German intelligence orginisation, Abwehr.

The agent used in Operation Mincemeat was worlds away from the charming and sophisticated agent popular culture often likes to depict – he was a semi-literate tramp from Aberbargoed, Wales. This agent’s name was Glyndwr Michael. Whats more is that Michael was already dead when he successfully carried out his mission.

Michael’s personal history is one of sadness and tragedy. His father committed suicide when he was just fifteen years old and his mother died sixteen years later. He was left penniless, homeless, and depressed. Shortly after the death…

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How Many People Did Hitler Personally Kill?

History Wench

When it comes to the total number of deaths one person is responsible for Hitler is hard to top (beaten only by Stalin and Mao). The number of non-combatants killed under the Nazi regime is in the region of 11,000,000 according to Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale. I find this to be a reasonable and accurate estimate based on my own research. The true devastation and trauma of murder is easily forgotten when simply tallying death tolls as statistics – even more so when we are discussing an amount as colossal as 11,000,000. As Snyder eloquently puts it himself:

“Discussion of numbers can blunt our sense of the horrific personal character of each killing and the irreducible tragedy of each death. As anyone who has lost a loved one knows, the difference between zero and one is an infinity. (1)

But how many deaths was Hitler personally responsible for? We discuss the answer below, looking at all…

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The History Girls: Hiroshima: City of Peace, by Clare Mulley

Seventy years ago this month, on Monday 6 August 1945, the nuclear bomb known as ‘Little Boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima by an American B-29 bomber, immediately killing an estimated 80,000 people. Three days later a second bomb, the equally appallingly nick-named ‘Fat Man’, was dropped on Nagasaki, killing between 60-70,000 people. On 15 August Japan surrendered, marking the end of the Second World War. It has been argued that President Truman’s decision to drop the A-bombs on these two Japanese cities saved more lives than were lost by ending the war so much earlier than any alternative course of action. As usual the truth is more complex. Truman’s primary objectives were certainly American lives and the earliest possible end to the war, but other pertinent considerations included impressing the Soviets as the Cold War approached, the lasting need to respond to Pearl Harbour, and the pressure to justify the development costs of the atomic project. In this war, sides of very different motivations and experiences all committed atrocities and suffered from traumatising war crimes. I don’t seek to suggest equivalence. Nevertheless, it is still difficult understand the detonation of two separate…

Source: The History Girls: Hiroshima: City of Peace, by Clare Mulley

Christmas in January 1943

Pacific Paratrooper

Cabanatuan Prison Camp Cabanatuan Prison Camp

Commander Melvin H.McCoy of the U.S.Navy had survived the Bataan death march on the Philippines and was now in the notorious Davao Prison camp on Mindanao. Like most prisoners of the Japanese they were on starvation rations and men were dying on a daily basis.

On 29th January 1943 they got a lucky break. For whatever reason the Japanese had for once decided to hand over the Red Cross parcels that had been sent from the States. This was a very irregular event. Many prisoners of the Japanese never saw any of them.

Red Cross parcel Red Cross parcel

The importance of such support from home could never be underestimated:

“It’s Christmas, Commander McCoy!” he shouted. “It’s Christmas!”

I was well aware that Christmas had already passed, practically without notice, so I asked him to explain his excitement.

“Stuff from home,” he babbled. “Boxes from the States. Red Cross boxes.”

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