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


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

Photos from the Nazi Archives | The Unwritten Record

Please Note:  This post contains images of sensitive content


The National Archives has a large collection of seized foreign records. Within the Still Photos Branch, the vast majority of these records pertain to Nazi Germany. Notable series include photographs taken by Heinrich Hoffman, Hitler’s official photographer, and a number of albums from Eva Braun, Hitler’s long-time girlfriend.   In recent months, the Still Photos Branch added another small, yet important, series of seized foreign records: Photographs Obtained from the National Socialist German Workers’ Party Archives.

In 1934, the Nazionalsozialtische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, better known as the Nazi Party, established a central records center. Called the NSDAP Hauptarchiv, the archives collected records created by Nazi officials, as well as Nazi organizations such as the SS and Hitler Youth.   Under direct orders from Rudolf Hess, the Hauptarchiv also collected documents from other…

Source: Photos from the Nazi Archives | The Unwritten Record

How Marcel Marceau Started Miming to Save Children from the Holocaust | Open Culture

Rogues & Vagabonds

Earlier this month, we featured Marcel Marceau, surely the most famous mime ever to live, performing the progression of human life, from birth to death, in four minutes. In the video above, you can watch him using his hands to act out something equally elemental: the battle between good and evil. If we think about the times evil has most notably reared its head, many of our minds go right to the Holocaust — as, no doubt, did Marceau’s, especially since he had first-hand experience with the horror of the Nazis, having lost his father in Auschwitz, and even used the art of mime against it.

The Jewish Marceau (née Mangel) got his first exposure to mime from a Charlie Chaplin film, which he saw at the age of five. Later, when France entered the Second World War, he and his family moved around the country to flee the Nazis, from whom…

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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

Notorious Nazi Found Guilty of Crimes Against the Jewish People.

December 15th, 1961

Nazi SS-Colonel Adolf Eichmann was found guilty of many of the most heinous crimes of World War Two and twentieth century history on December 15, 1961, in a district court in Jerusalem, Israel. He was subsequently put to death for his role in the deportation of Jewry across occupied Europe during the Holocaust, six months later at midnight on June 1st, 1962.

As a relative nobody, Eichmann successfully rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Nazi regime, who coordinated the deportation of millions of Jews, from Poland to occupied parts of Russia in the north of Europe to Belgium and Hungary in central Europe. In Hungary, for instance, Adolf Eichmann personally made his presence felt by supervising the…

Source: What happened this month in history?

Rosie the Riveter IRL: Meet the women who built WWII planes

During World War II, the drafting of millions of men for combat left American military contractors in dire need of workers to produce munitions and vehicles for the war effort.Women on the home front stepped up in great numbers, taking over strenuous, hazardous manual labor and handling complex, technical tasks. A month after Pearl Harbor, 60 widows of the attack responded to job openings at aircraft plants in California, with the motto “keep ’em flying to avenge our husbands’ deaths.”

In addition to traditional administrative roles, women stepped in as laborers and engineers in steel mills, tank factories and, in particular, the aviation industry.Their contributions, for which they were usually paid half a typical man’s wage, became the inspiration for the government’s “Rosie the Riveter” propaganda character.When the war ended, most women workers wanted to…

Source: Rosie the Riveter IRL: Meet the women who built WWII planes

Illustrated London News May 15, 1943—General Alexander



A second triumph has come to General Alexander; with Montgomery in the field, he planned the campaign that started at El Alamein, and now, as chief strategist of the Tunisian campaign, he has used the men of the Eighth Army, the First Army, the Second American Corps and the Corps d’Afrique with brilliant results. He has completely out-generalled von Arnim and helped to bring about the repaying of the Dunkirk debt.  General Alexander was appointed C.-in-C., Middle East, in 1942, after fighting, as G.O.C., Burma, the brilliant delaying action which saved India by giving us time to reorganise. It was he, too, who was in command at last on the beaches of Dunkirk, and on that occasion as well, no  little credit is due to him as a master strategist. Now these bitter memories will be wiped out, and he has the satisfaction of knowing the enemy are suffering the same as our men at Dunkirk.

Reading the above, which is from my original edition of The Illustrated London News, 15th May 1943, the one thing that strikes me above all is the clue the last sentence gives about the reality of Dunkirk. Only the brain-dead would not have realised that that episode of the war had been an unmitigated disaster.

© Sarah Vernon

Bf 109 pilots in North Africa used to fix bottles of Coca Cola to the underside of their wings so that the drink would cool at high altitude and be ready to drink after landing.

In 1925, the Coca-Cola Company commissioned a brass watch fob in the shape of a Swastika emblazoned with the company logo and the message to drink Coca-Cola in bottles for 5 cents. This may sound…

Source: Bf 109 pilots in North Africa used to fix bottles of Coca Cola to the underside of their wings so that the drink would cool at high altitude and be ready to drink after landing.

10 Anti-Nazi David Lowe Cartoons | Made From History

Originally from New Zealand, David Low (1891-1963) was a political cartoonist who worked for many years in the United Kingdom. He is known for his satirical work in the Evening Standard, especially his depictions of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin, but also for his criticism of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of Appeasement toward Hitler.

Low’s work for the Standard during the 1930s and 40s caught the ire of the Nazis, resulting in…

Source: 10 Anti-Nazi David Lowe Cartoons | Made From History

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



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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Scars Of War | Spitalfields Life

Damage at St Clement Dane’s in the Strand from 10th May 1941 when the church was gutted

Taking advantage of yesterday’s bright October sunshine, I set out for a walk across London with my camera to see what shrapnel and bomb damage I could find still visible from the last century. Much of the damage upon brick structures appears to have gone along with the walls, since most of what I discovered was upon stone buildings…

Source: Scars Of War | Spitalfields Life