Information

Review: Volume 4 - Second World War


Contesting Home Defence makes a significant and original contribution to debates concerning the British home front in the Second World War. It asks whether the Home Guard was a site of social cohesion or of dissension, explores the competing claims made for it at the time, and traces how it has been remembered since. It argues that the Home Guard at once contributed to and challenged the notion of national unity: official rhetoric was inclusive but recruitment practices were selective – and contested. Left-wingers inspired by international anti-fascist movements trained Home Guards in unauthorised guerrilla techniques; women formed their own armed organisation, sometimes helped by defiant Home Guard commanders.

As in the campaign against Poland, it was the Luftwaffe that had perhaps the most important role. It won air superiority over the theatre of operations and was able to destroy much of the enemy's material before the army swept forward. This is the second volume in a new series that examines in detail the Luftwaffe's role in the battles of the Spring and Summer of 1940 and will be required reading for all aviation historians as well as those who model the aircraft of the period.

At the end of World War II, the man Adolf Hitler called "my loathsome nephew" changed his name and disappeared. The British born William Patrick Hitler, by then settled in the USA, remained anonymous. This title tells the story of David Gardner's search for Hitler, his discovery that he was dead and had had four sons. Those four sons established a pact that, in order for Adolf Hitler's genes to die with them, none of them would have children.

This book examines in detail the T-34, one of the most famous and successful vehicles in the history of armoured warfare. The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958 and was widely regarded as the world's best tank when the Soviet Union entered the Second World War, and although its armour and armament were surpassed by later WWII tanks, it is credited as the war's most effective and efficient and influential design.


Germany’s Western Front: 1914

Table of Contents for
Germany's Western Front: Translations from the German Official History of the Great War, 1914, Part 1 edited by Mark Osborne Humphries and John Maker

List of Maps, Sketches, and Figures

Part I: The Battle of the Frontiers in the West

The Two-Front War and Comparison of Strengths

The War's Duration and Economic Management

2. The Campaign Plan for the Western Front

The Historical Development of the Operative Idea

The Campaign Plan in 1914

The German Deployment in the West

Initial Border and Railway Security Operations in the West and the Occupation of Luxembourg

The Capture of Fortress Liège

The Strategic Reconnaissance

The Execution of the German Deployment in the West

4. The Beginning of Major Operations

The German OHL before the Start of the Advance

The Advance of the German Wheeling Wing, 18–20 August

The Right Wing (First, Second, and Third Armies)

5. The Battle of the Frontiers

The OHL before the Start of the Battle of the Frontiers

The Battles of Mons and Namur

The Operations of First, Second, and Third Armies on 21 August

The Operations of First, Second, and Third Armies on 22 August

Second and Third Armies, 23 August

First Army's Operations on 23 and 24 August

The OHL during the Frontier Battles

1. The Operations of the German Right Wing until 27 August

Second Army on 25 August

Third Army on 25 and 26 August

Second Army on 26 August

First Army's Pursuit of the British from 25 to 27 August

Second and Third Armies on 27 August

The OHL during the Pursuit-Operations to 27 August

Part II: From the Sambre to the Marne

8. The OHL at the Beginning of the New Phase of Operations

9. Operations on the Meuse and Aisne

1. Third Army's Battle North of the Aisne, 28–30 August

2. The Operations of Third and Fourth Armies on the Aisne, 31 August and 1 September

10. The Operations of First and Second Armies to the Oise

1. The Operations of First Army on the Somme and Avre, 28–30 August

2. The Battle at St. Quentin

The Beginning of the Battle, 28 August

The Battle on the Right German Flank on 29 August

The Battle on the Left German Flank on 29 August

Continuation and Conclusion of the Battle on 30 August

11. The OHL, 29–30 August

12. The Pursuit by the German Right Wing to the Marne, 31 August-2 September

1. First Army's Crossing of the Oise (31 August)

2. Second Army's Halt (31 August)

3. First Army's Advance across the Aisne

4. Second Army's Advance on the Aisne

5. First Army's Pursuit Battle South of the Aisne

6. Second Army's Crossing of the Aisne

7. Third Army's Pursuit East of Reims

13. The OHL, 31 August–2 September

14. The Pursuit of the German Right Wing across the Marne on 3–4 September

1. First Army Crosses the Marne

2. Second Army's Advance towards the Marne

3. Third Army's Pursuit Battles up to the River Vesle

4. First Army's Operations South of the Marne

5. Second Army's Pursuit across the Marne

6. Third Army Reaches the Marne

15. The OHL, 3-4 September

Comparison of the Organization of German, French, British, and Belgian Units

The Strength of the Mutual Forces on the Western Front on 22 August 1914


2. British intelligence agencies

The United Kingdom has several intelligence and security services, often referred to as the agencies. Historically, intelligence was gathered by individual branches of the military. But from 1909 onwards, separate intelligence agencies, operating alongside but independently of the military, have assumed increasingly important roles.

These are separate from police agencies such as the Special Branch or the Anti-Terrorist Branch (SO13) which have now merged to form Counter Terrorism Command (also known as SO15).

The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) was founded in 1909 as the Foreign Section of the Secret Service Bureau and is responsible for gathering intelligence overseas. It is an agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Security Service (MI5) began in 1909 as the domestic arm of the Secret Service Bureau. It is responsible for protecting the country against threats to national security, which include terrorism, espionage and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. MI5 operates under the statutory authority of the Home Secretary, but it is not part of the Home Office.

The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) began as the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) in 1919. It is responsible for providing signals intelligence for government and for the prevention and detection of serious crime. Ministerial responsibility for GCHQ lies with the Foreign Secretary.

MI5, MI6 and GCHQ work alongside each other and come under the direction of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). The JIC sets the priorities and co-ordinates the work of the separate intelligence services. It comprises senior officials drawn from the Foreign Office, Ministry of Defence, Home Office, Department of Trade and Industry, Treasury and Cabinet Office, as well as the heads of the MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.

All these agencies work alongside the Ministry of Defence&rsquos own Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS). Prior to the establishment of the DIS, each branch of the military had its own intelligence service (see sections 10, 11 and 12 of this guide).


Origins of the Second World War

Čez nekaj dni bomo obeležili 75. obletnico konca druge svetovne vojne v Evropi. Ko se danes oziramo v majske dni leta 1945, se nam kaj lahko zazdi, da je bil to radosten čas. Vsi smo vendar videli fotografije mornarjev, kako ob zmagi poljubljajo dekleta na newyorškem Times Squaru, videli smo tudi nasmejane partizane, kako korakajo po s soncem obsijanih ulicah pravkar osvobojene Ljubljane.

Toda te ikonične podobe nas ne smejo preslepiti. Ko so na stari celini puške naposled utihnile, je bilo opustošenje resnično pretresljivo: v vsega šestih letih je umrlo od 35 do 40 milijonov ljudi. Strašljiva je bila tudi škoda, ki je povsod po celini doletela stanovanjske objekte. Od z zemljo zravnanega britanskega Coventryja prek Dresdna in Varšave do Minska Evropejci na koncu povečini niso imeli kje bivati. Kot v knjigi Podivjana celina opozarja sodobni britanski zgodovinar Keith Lowe, so do konca vojne z delovanjem prenehale malodane vse institucije, ki jih običajno povezujemo z normalnim funkcioniranjem sodobne civilizacije, med njimi državne in krajevne oblasti, policija, potniški promet, pošta, prekinjena je bila celo oskrba z najosnovnejšimi živili.

Brezzakonje, bolezen, lakota in smrt vsepovsod, torej. Kako se je Evropa znašla v takem položaju? Kako je mogoče, da je po pičlih 21 letih, ki so minila od konca prve svetovne, tako imenovane vélike vojne, za katero se je nekoč celo govorilo, da si v luči opustošenja, ki ga je pustila za seboj, nihče ne bo drznil začeti novega spopada, 1. septembra leta 1939 vendarle izbruhnila še druga svetovna vojna? Kateri zgodovinski dejavniki so pravzaprav vodili v ponovni ples smrti? – Prav to vprašanje nas zaposluje v tokratni Intelekti, ko pred mikrofonom gostimo tri zgodovinarje: dr. Kornelijo Ajlec, predavateljico na Oddelku za zgodovino ljubljanske Filozofske fakultete, dr. Bojana Godešo, znanstvenega svetnika pri Inštitutu za novejšo zgodovino, in dr. Egona Pelikana, znanstvenega svetnika pri Znanstveno-raziskovalnem središču Koper.


Interrelations and economics

Problems with the Treaty of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles was neither lenient enough to appease Germany, nor harsh enough to prevent it from becoming the dominant continental power again. [11] The treaty placed the blame, or "war guilt" on Germany and Austria-Hungary, and punished them for their "responsibility" rather than working out an agreement that would assure long-term peace. The treaty provided for harsh monetary reparations, separated millions of ethnic Germans into neighboring countries, territorial dismemberment, and caused mass ethnic resettlement. In an effort to pay war reparations to Britain and France, the Weimar Republic printed trillions of marks, causing extremely high inflation of the German currency (see Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic).

The treaty created bitter resentment towards the victors of World War I, who had promised the people of Germany that U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points would be a guideline for peace however, the US played a minor role in World War I and Wilson could not convince the Allies to agree to adopt his Fourteen Points. Many Germans felt that the German government had agreed to an armistice based on this understanding, while others felt that the German Revolution of 1918–1919 had been orchestrated by the "November criminals" who later assumed office in the new Weimar Republic.

The German colonies were taken during the war, and Italy took the southern half of Tyrol after an armistice had been agreed upon. The war in the east ended with the defeat and collapse of Russian Empire, and German troops occupied large parts of Eastern and Central Europe (with varying degree of control), establishing various client states such as a kingdom of Poland and the United Baltic Duchy. After the destructive and indecisive battle of Jutland (1916) and the mutiny of its sailors in 1917, the Kaiserliche Marine spent most of the war in port, only to be turned over to the allies and scuttled at surrender by its own officers. The lack of an obvious military defeat was one of the pillars that held together the Dolchstosslegende ("Stab-in-the-back myth") and gave the Nazis another propaganda tool at their disposal.

French security demands

French security demands, such as reparations, coal payments, and a demilitarized Rhineland, took precedent at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 and shaped the Treaty of Versailles by severely punishing Germany however, Austria found the treaty to be unjust which encouraged Hitler's popularity. Ginsberg argues, "France was greatly weakened and, in its weakness and fear of a resurgent Germany, sought to isolate and punish Germany. French revenge would come back to haunt France during the Nazi invasion and occupation twenty years later." [12]

Paris Peace Conference (1919)

As World War I ended in 1918, France, along with the other victor countries, were in a desperate situation regarding their economies, security, and morale. The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 was their chance to punish Germany for starting the war. The war "must be someone's fault – and that's a very natural human reaction" analyzed historian Margaret MacMillan. [13] Germany was charged with the sole responsibility of starting World War I. The War Guilt Clause was the first step towards a satisfying revenge for the victor countries, namely France, against Germany. France understood that its position in 1918 was "artificial and transitory". [14] Thus, Clemenceau, the French leader at the time, worked to gain French security via the Treaty of Versailles. [14]

The two main provisions of the French security agenda were reparations from Germany in the form of money and coal and a detached German Rhineland. The French government printed excess currency, which created inflation, to compensate for the lack of funds in addition to borrowing money from the United States. Reparations from Germany were necessary to stabilize the French economy. [15] France also demanded that Germany give France their coal supply from the Ruhr to compensate for the destruction of French coalmines during the war. Because France feared for its safety as a country, the French demanded an amount of coal that was a "technical impossibility" for the Germans to pay back. [16] France wanted the German Rhineland demilitarized because that would hinder a German attack. This gave France a physical security barrier between itself and Germany. [17] The inordinate amount of reparations, coal payments, and the principle of a demilitarized Rhineland were viewed by the Germans to be insulting and unreasonable.

Germany's reaction to Treaty of Versailles

"No postwar German government believed it could accept such a burden on future generations and survive . ". [15] Paying reparations is a classic punishment of war but in this instance it was the "extreme immoderation" (History) that caused German resentment. Germany made its last World War I reparation payment on 3 October 2010, [18] ninety-two years after the end of World War I. Germany also fell behind in their coal payments. They fell behind because of a passive resistance movement against the French. [19] In response, the French invaded the Ruhr, the region filled with German coal, and occupied it. At this point the majority of Germans were enraged with the French and placed the blame for their humiliation on the Weimar Republic. Adolf Hitler, a leader of the Nazi Party, attempted a coup d'état against the republic to establish a Greater German Reich [20] known as the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. Although this failed, Hitler gained recognition as a national hero amongst the German population. The demilitarized Rhineland and additional cutbacks on military infuriated the Germans. Although it is logical that France would want the Rhineland to be a neutral zone, the fact that France had the power to make that desire happen merely added onto the resentment of the Germans against the French. In addition, the Treaty of Versailles dissolved the German general staff and possession of navy ships, aircraft, poison gas, tanks, and heavy artillery was made illegal. [17] The humiliation of being bossed around by the victor countries, especially France, and being stripped of their prized military made the Germans resent the Weimar Republic and idolize anyone who stood up to it. [21]

Competition for resources and markets

Other than a few coal and iron deposits, and a small oil field on Sakhalin Island, Japan lacked strategic mineral resources. At the start of the 20th century in the Russo-Japanese War, Japan had succeeded in pushing back the East Asian expansion of the Russian Empire in competition for Korea and Manchuria.

Japan's goal after 1931 was economic dominance of most of East Asia, often expressed in Pan-Asian terms of "Asia for the Asians.". [22] Japan was determined to dominate the China market, which the U.S. and other European powers had been dominating. On October 19, 1939, the American Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew, in a formal address to the America-Japan Society stated:

the new order in East Asia has appeared to include, among other things, depriving Americans of their long established rights in China, and to this the American people are opposed . American rights and interests in China are being impaired or destroyed by the policies and actions of the Japanese authorities in China."

In 1937 Japan invaded Manchuria and China proper. Under the guise of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, with slogans as "Asia for the Asians!" Japan sought to remove the Western powers' influence in China and replace it with Japanese domination. [24] [25]

The ongoing conflict in China led to a deepening conflict with the U.S., where public opinion was alarmed by events such as the Nanking Massacre and growing Japanese power. Lengthy talks were held between the U.S. and Japan. When Japan moved into the southern part of French Indochina, President Roosevelt chose to freeze all Japanese assets in the U.S. The intended consequence of this was the halt of oil shipments from the U.S. to Japan, which had supplied 80 percent of Japanese oil imports. The Netherlands and Britain followed suit. With oil reserves that would last only a year and a half during peace time (much less during wartime), this ABCD line left Japan two choices: comply with the U.S.-led demand to pull out of China, or seize the oilfields in the East Indies from the Netherlands. The Japan government deemed it unacceptable to retreat from China. [26]

Problems with the League of Nations

The League of Nations was an international organization founded after World War I to prevent future wars. The League's methods included disarmament preventing war through collective security settling disputes between countries through negotiation diplomacy and improving global welfare. The diplomatic philosophy behind the League represented a fundamental shift in thought from the preceding century. The old philosophy of "concert of nations", growing out of the Congress of Vienna (1815), saw Europe as a shifting map of alliances among nation-states, creating a balance of power maintained by strong armies and secret agreements. Under the new philosophy, the League was a government of governments, with the role of settling disputes between individual nations in an open and legalist forum. The impetus for the founding of the League came from U.S. President Wilson, though the United States never joined. This lessened the power and credibility of the League—the addition of a burgeoning industrial and military world power would have added more force behind the League's demands and requests.

The League lacked an armed force of its own and so depended on the members to enforce its resolutions, uphold economic sanctions that the League ordered, or provide an army when needed for the League to use. However, they were often very reluctant to do so.

After numerous notable successes and some early failures in the 1920s, the League ultimately proved incapable of preventing aggression by the Axis powers in the 1930s. The reliance upon unanimous decisions, the lack of an armed force, the absence of the U.S., and the continued self-interest of its leading members meant that this failure was arguably inevitable. [27]

The Mason-Overy Debate: "The Flight into War" theory

In the late 1980s the British historian Richard Overy was involved in a historical dispute with Timothy Mason that mostly played out over the pages of the Past and Present journal over the reasons for the outbreak of World War II in 1939. Mason had contended that a "flight into war" had been imposed on Adolf Hitler by a structural economic crisis, which confronted Hitler with the choice of making difficult economic decisions or aggression. Overy argued against Mason's thesis, maintaining that though Germany was faced with economic problems in 1939, the extent of these problems cannot explain aggression against Poland and the reasons for the outbreak of war were due to the choices made by the Nazi leadership.

Mason had argued that the German working-class was always opposed to the Nazi dictatorship that in the over-heated German economy of the late 1930s, German workers could force employers to grant higher wages by leaving for another firm that would grant the desired wage increases that this was a form of political resistance and this resistance forced Adolf Hitler to go to war in 1939. [28] Thus, the outbreak of the Second World War was caused by structural economic problems, a "flight into war" imposed by a domestic crisis. [28] The key aspects of the crisis were according to Mason, a shaky economic recovery was threatened by a rearmament program that was overwhelming the economy and in which the Nazi regime's nationalist bluster limited its options. [28] In this way, Mason articulated a Primat der Innenpolitik ("primacy of domestic politics") view of World War II's origins through the concept of social imperialism. [29] Mason's Primat der Innenpolitik thesis was in marked contrast to the Primat der Außenpolitik ("primacy of foreign politics) usually used to explain World War II. [28] In Mason's opinion, German foreign policy was driven by domestic political considerations, and the launch of World War II in 1939 was best understood as a "barbaric variant of social imperialism". [30]

Mason argued that "Nazi Germany was always bent at some time upon a major war of expansion." [31] However, Mason argued that the timing of a such a war was determined by domestic political pressures, especially as relating to a failing economy, and had nothing to do with what Hitler wanted. [31] In Mason's view in the period between 1936–41, it was the state of the German economy, and not Hitler's 'will' or 'intentions' that was the most important determinate on German decision-making on foreign policy. [32] Mason argued that the Nazi leaders were deeply haunted by the November Revolution of 1918, and was most unwilling to see any fall in working class living standards out of the fear that it might provoke another November Revolution. [32] According to Mason, by 1939, the "overheating" of the German economy caused by rearmament, the failure of various rearmament plans produced by the shortages of skilled workers, industrial unrest caused by the breakdown of German social policies, and the sharp drop in living standards for the German working class forced Hitler into going to war at a time and place not of his choosing. [33] Mason contended that when faced with the deep socio-economic crisis the Nazi leadership had decided to embark upon a ruthless 'smash and grab' foreign policy of seizing territory in Eastern Europe which could be pitilessly plundered to support living standards in Germany. [34] Mason described German foreign policy as driven by an opportunistic 'next victim' syndrome after the Anschluss, in which the "promiscuity of aggressive intentions" was nurtured by every successful foreign policy move. [35] In Mason's opinion, the decision to sign the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with the Soviet Union and to attack Poland and the running of the risk of a war with Britain and France were the abandonment by Hitler of his foreign policy program outlined in Mein Kampf forced on him by his need to stop a collapsing German economy by seizing territory abroad to be plundered. [33]

For Overy, the problem with Mason's thesis was that it rested on the assumption that in a way not shown by records, information was passed on to Hitler about the Reich's economic problems. [36] Overy argued that there was a difference between economic pressures induced by the problems of the Four Year Plan and economic motives to seize raw materials, industry and foreign reserves of neighboring states as a way of accelerating the Four Year Plan. [37] Overy asserted that the repressive capacity of the German state as a way of dealing with domestic unhappiness was somewhat downplayed by Mason. [36] Finally, Overy argued that there is considerable evidence that the German state felt they could master the economic problems of rearmament as one civil servant put it in January 1940 "we have already mastered so many difficulties in the past, that here too, if one or other raw material became extremely scarce, ways and means will always yet be found to get out of a fix". [38]


Later life [ edit | edit source ]

Stewart retired from the military in 1954 but in a break with convention was not rewarded with a knighthood for his services. This was most likely due to his previous clashes with Holland. He was knighted four years later by the newly elected Labour Government. Β] He retired to Northland and died in the small town of Kawakawa on 13 November 1972. He was survived by his wife Rita, who he had married in 1922, and the couple's two children. Ώ]


Military History Journal - Vol 12 No 4

    'Bigger and better' has been the driving force of progress through the ages. For guns, this would mean bigger and better shells and longer range. From the moment the discovery of gunpowder spawned the 'new dragon', the best brains in the world have worked incessantly at improving the power and range of guns. Ihe bigger the projectile, and the further it can be hurled, the greater the damage to the enemy. Ihe problem was that, on the other side of the hill, somebody else was trying to achieve exactly the same, or better. So, whichever side you were on, the latest technology and expertise were employed to improve the gun. And improve it they did. Quite logically, the question was asked: Why not build the biggest gun in the world, then you could really blast the enemy? That is exactly what the German Army did in 1937. It decided to build the biggest gun the world had ever seen. It was named Schwerer Gustav (Heavy Gustav).

From the start, the German arms industry took pride in producing excellent guns. In 1867 Krupp Steel attracted attention at the Paris World Exhibition with a massive cast-iron gun capable of firing a 1 000lb (454kg) shell. During the First World War, they astonished the world with their 420mm-calibre Big Bertha and the 2l0mm Paris Gun. The latter had a range of 130km.

In the 1930s, the resurgent German arms industry resumed research into the development of guns with long range and fort-smashing ability. In the Second World War, the knowledge gained in the First World War was used to make some notable artillery pieces. There was the 210mm Kanone 12 with a range of 115km, which was used to shell Kent the famous 280mm Anzio Annie, with a 63km range and the 800mm Heavy Gustav, the biggest gun ever built. It was not the biggest calibre gun, though. That distinction belongs to the Russian 890mm Tsar Pushka, built in 1586, and now at the Kremlin Museum, Moscow. It was never fired, for fear of the barrel exploding.

For many years, the story of the Heavy Gustav remained shrouded in mystery, as both gun and blueprints were lost during the war. This gave rise to persistent rumours, the most bizarre being that the barrel had been planted upright and disguised as a chimney stack in the hope that it would escape the attention of the occupation forces.

In the 1950s, as Germany returned to normal, the secrets of the gun were slowly revealed as those involved related their experiences. One of the most important contributions came from Dr Ing H Böhm, commander of the Heavy Gustav contingent during the war. In 1959, he published his story. Thereafter, the Nuremberg magazine, Waffen Revue, continued with research into the Heavy Gustav's past. Soon the history of this remarkable weapon was pieced together and put into print. Much of the original data was recovered.

The idea of building this monster gun originated in 1937, when the German Army watched the massive fortifications being constructed on the French border. These became known to history as the Maginot Line, which was based on the 'Impregnable Fortress' doctrine. Its proponent and architect was Andre' Maginot (1877-1932), a First World War veteran and French Minister of War from 1924 to 1931. During that time, he initiated the building of this fortified line. At the same time, the Belgians erected some massive forts on their borders, including the famous Eben Emael, considered totally impregnable.

Figure 2: Section through a Maginot Line Fort (I V Hogg, Forts & Castles,1981).

Incredibly, the lessons of the First World War had not been learnt! The ghosts of Big Bertha and the ruined Liege forts must have appeared again and again before them, but the defence experts carefully looked the other way, and went on pouring more concrete into useless fortifications. The Maginot Line bristled with guns and forts, all built in steel and concrete and designed to withstand any known weapon. Underground was a maze of command posts, living quarters, stores and ammunition dumps. It was the final word in defence, seemingly impervious to any form of attack. André Maginot was hailed a genius, and the line was proudly named after him. It proved to be a questionable honour.

The Germans knew the details of the Maginot forts, and set about devising methods to take them out in case of war. They followed the counter-doctrine to get a gun that could smash the impregnable fortress. Like Newton's Third Law of Motion, where every action has an equal and opposite reaction, history shows that for every weapon a counterweapon is soon developed: For the sword, the pistol for the tank, the bazooka and for the fort, the armour-piercing projectile.

In 1937, the German High Command commissioned Krupp Steel to design the biggest gun the world had ever seen. They specified unheard-of requirements: a shell that could penetrate 1 000mm of steel armour-plate, seven metres of reinforced concrete, and 30 metres of compacted earth, at a range of 45km. This range would place the gun outside the reach of retaliatory enemy artillery. Movement by rail was essential, and this implied breakdown into sub-assemblies with final erection on the firing site. Possible targets at this stage included the Maginot Line, the Belgian forts, the coast of England, and Gibraltar. The Russian front was not under consideration at this time.

The Krupp experts went to work, under the leadership of Dr Ing Erich Müller, a physics professor. Krupp eventually designed a gun, the like of which the world had never seen. No doubt the knowledge gained in the 1914 1918 War was put to good use. With due respect to artillerymen, firing a gun is easy. Far more difficult are the design and construction of the gun and the projectile. The real weapon is the shell the gun merely the delivery vehicle. Making the gun and the projectile requires extensive knowledge of metallurgy, steel-making, explosives, and ballistics, all of which are merely the combined results of applied chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The gun was designed with two concepts in mind: to smash fortresses, and to evaluate long-range projectiles. Research on long-range and rocket-assisted shells was well underway, and this gun would be a useful means of delivery. There is, or course, a trade-off between range and shell size. A longer range can only be achieved with lighter shells or more propellant. The laws of physics decree that you cannot have both. Artillery, for all its glamour, is only applied physics and mathematics. A projectile hurled into the air will obey Newton's laws, and its trajectory can be accurately calculated by taking into account the effects of gravity, air resistance, temperature, wind, and supersonic shock waves. These forces combine to divert the projectile from its initial straight-line course. They will also dictate the propelling force and barrel size for a given projectile and a given range - provided these parameters are within practical possibility.

Figure 3: Muzzle of the Heavy Gustav
(J Engelmann, German Railroad Guns in Action,
Squadron/Signal Books, Texas, USA, 1976).

  • Dl Schwerer Gustav (Heavy Gustav): calibre 800mm, rifled, with an explosive shell of five tons at 48km range, and an armour-piercing shell of seven tons at 39km range.
  • D2 Schwerer Langer Gustav (Heavy Long Gustav): calibre 520mm with smooth-bore attachment, with a finned, explosive shell of three tons and 135km range.
  • D3 Langer Gustav (Long Gustav): calibre 520mm with smoothbore attachment and a rocket-assisted shell of two tons and a range of over 150km.

Guns D2 and D3 used the 800mm barrel of the Dl as a sleeve for a 520mm barrel insert. The Peenemünde arrow shell and the Rochling rocket-assisted shell were among the projectiles to be tested.

The gun was officially named after Gustav Krupp, director of Krupp Steel from 1909 to 1944, but in many publications the nickname 'Dora' is used. There have been many explanations for this but without any doubt it originated from the secret code name 'Implement D'. Interchanged use of the names 'Gustav' and 'Dora' created the wrong impression that two separate 800mm guns were built.

Construction of Dl started in 1937 at the Krupp armaments factory in Essen. It was not an easy task, since existing workshops had never handled such a monster, and the arms indristry had been closed down for two decades after the 1918 Armistice. Consequently, progress was slow because there were no examples upon which to base the work. So when war broke out, the gun was not ready. Not that this mattered much, for a year later, the Maginot Line had been outflanked with barely a shot being fired at it, and Fort Eben Emael was taken by glider-borne troops who landed on its roof. For a while it seemed as if Gustav might hecome a white elephant, or more correctly, a white mammoth, but the start of the war against the Soviet Union presented new opportunities for Gustav's special capabilities.

The anatomy of Gustav was staggering by any standards. Nothing like this had ever been seen before (see Tables 1 & 2). Azimuth adjustment was only possible by traversing a curved railway track. Elevation and other functions were electrically powered. Moving this monster took a major effort, requiring a train of 28 special wagons, including two gantry cranes for assembly, and two diesel locomotives for haulage on site. The logistics must have been staggering.

The Heavy Gustav fires at maximum elevation.
(Photo: Bishop and Warner, German Weapons of World War II,
Grange Books, Kent, 2001).

This photograph appears on the contents page of the original Journal.

Equally important was the size of the crew necessary to operate the gun. The actual number of soldiers required was 250, but another 1 250 men were needed to erect, service, overhaul, and protect it. Included was a team of Krupp engineers and scientists whose job it was to evaluate the performance of every shot. At the firing site, railway staff were required to build track and handle the wagons. Four tracks were needed, the outer two for the overhead crane and the inner two for Gustav itself. The unit was commanded by a colonel.

The first gun, Gustav, was completed towards the end of 1940 and the proof rounds were fired early in 1941 at the Rugenwalde Artillery Range. Both Hitler and Albert Speer, his armaments minister, attended the occasion, as well as Dr Porsche of Volkswagen fame. Also on site were twenty physicists and engineers who measured variables concerning the gun and the projectiles for evaluation and research purposes. To eliminate weather influence, infra-red measuring devices were used. From this data, the gun settings and charge for the next round were calculated. The temperature of the powder was carefully controlled, because it affected the rate of combustion, and hence the propelling force.

Test targets for the armour-piercing shell (without warhead) were seven metre-thick reinforced concrete walls and one metre-thick steel armour-plate. Test rounds were fired at short range and on a flat trajectory. The targets were pierced with ease. The steel plate had a clean hole through it as if it had been punched out in a giant press. The high-explosive shell blasted a crater 12 metres wide and 12 metres deep in compacted earth. The test results were highly satisfactory, and exceeded the specifications of the army. Gustav was ready for action, but with no targets lined up.

In early 1941, Gibraltar was considered a potential target, but Spain's dictator, General Franco, was unwilling to allow troop movement through his country, and the plan was dropped. This may have been one of the reasons for the November 1944 decision to cancel the orders for guns D2 and D3, and they were never completed. Only Dl became operational, but after the war, the legend persisted that three separate guns had been built.

The war against Russia suddenly presented new targets for Gustav. The German drive towards the Crimea was threatened by the Russian Naval Base at Sebastopol, which dominated all movement in the Black Sea.

Owing to its strategic significance, Sebastopol was strongly defended by a chain of fortifications over a 40km perimeter, with massive underground bunkers and ammunition dumps protected by heavy artillery and coastal batteries. Many of the forts had famous names such as Fort Molotov, Fort Maxim Gorki, Fort Siberia, and Fort Stalin. Some of the ammunition dumps were more than 30 metres below the seabed, and were considered to be immune from penetration by bombs or shells.

The German Army had to capture Sebastopol, and an attack was prepared. The initial assault was by massive air and artillery bombardment, including that from the 600mm heavy mortar, 'Karl'. This was followed by an infantry infiltration, which failed to dislodge the defenders, who resisted tenaciously from the safety of their underground bunkers. A stalemate developed and eventually Gustav was called in. It was a repetition of the Big Bertha and the Liege forts episode of the First World War, but on a larger scale (See SAAACA Journal July 2000).

In May 1942, the Gustav train left Germany for the firing site at Bakhchisaray, a village outside Sebastopol. The site was carefully chosen to allow optimum use of the gun against selected targets, whilst remaining outside retaliatory range. An eight metre-deep cutting was excavated through a knoll to accommodate the curved railway track, and also to give protection against air and artillery attacks. From the safety of this lair, Gustav would emerge to open fire, and withdraw when finished. Great effort was put into camouflaging the site and a dummy gun position was built a few kilometres away.

To the credit of the security measures, Gustav never came under fire from the air, or from warships of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, which were well within range. Preparing the site took four weeks, and behind it a small marshalling yard was built to handle the 28 wagons for the gun and its accessories.

Two 110-ton overhead cranes were used to assemble the gun, which, due to the pre-fabrication of most items, took only three days. By early June 1942, Gustav was ready for action. The total number of men involved on the firing site, counting all disciplines such as infantry, anti-aircraft gunners, security police, track layers and artisans, was close to 3 800. It was a massive undertaking.

Bringing the Heavy Gustav into action required superhuman effort.
Here, overhead cranes are used to assemble the enormous gun.
(Photo: J Engelmann, German Railroad Guns in Action,
Squadron/Signal Books, Texas, USA, 1976).

This photograph appears on the contents page of the original Journal.

On 5 June 1942, everything was ready, and like a grandmaster at the chessboard, Gustav proceeded to take out his targets one by one with clinical precision. The type of fortification, and the results observed, determined whether high explosive or armour piercing shells were to be used. Ranges varied from 25km to 42km.

  • Muzzle and impact velocity - Obviously, impact velocity could not be measured for operational shots.
  • Time of flight
  • Powder mass and temperature
  • Firing chamber pressure
  • Maximum altitude - not possible for operational shots.
  • Range - not accurate for operational shots.
  • Atmospheric conditions
  • Wear of firing chamber and rifling

After the armistice, the American army found Heavy Gustav intact on its railway lines at the Grafenwöhr Panzer Training Ground. After photographing it, they destroyed it with dynamite. The reason for this act, after the cessation of hostilities, remains incomprehensible.

Possibly, the Americans feared the gun might be used again, although where, when, or by whom remains a mystery. Alternatively, they may have intended to deny the world the knowledge of this extraordinary weapon, or maybe the reason was just wanton destructiveness. Considering the US Army's destruction of the totally harmless Japanese cyclotrons after the war, there may be some merit in the latter explanation.

Whatever the reason, the world was robbed of a unique museum piece - the biggest gun ever built. In contrast, though, Kanone KS, Anzio Annie, was captured intact and transported to the US Army Museum at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, where it is on display.

What still remains of the Heavy Gustav are some inert projectiles, including one at the Imperial War Museum in London, where it dwarfs spectators standing next to it. This projectile was acquired from Krupp Steel in 1947, and is one of the few surviving anywhere in the world.

FIGURE 4: A Gustav projectile on display at the Imperial War
Museum, London. (Photo by author courtesy British Imperial War Museum).

The building of the Heavy Gustav has often been described as a massive waste of time and money. In a way it certainly was, although the defenders of Sebastopol may have thought otherwise. On the other hand, had the Maginot Line not been circumvented, and had Gibraltar been available as a target, Heavy Gustav may have played a big role in the German war effort. Many weapons now in common use have at some stage of their development been dismissed as useless. For instance, Napoleon described the submarine as of no use, and the machine gun was described by General Haig as a 'much over-rated weapon'. As it was, Heavy Gustav never really had the chance to prove itself against a target worthy of its immense firepower, and since very little tactical advantage was gained from its war service, the immense expenditure in both manpower and financial terms, could hardly be justified. Nevertheless, Heavy Gustav provided a unique laboratory for the evaluation of heavy projectiles in flight, and the knowledge so gained contributed greatly to further developments in the field of gunnery and ballistics. It was a masterpiece of engineering.

Table 1
TECHNICAL DETAILS: GUN
Calibre 800mm. Four reclining men could fit comfortably inside the muzzle
Length of barrel 32,5 metres, A two-piece barrel in an external sleeve.
Depth of rifling 10 mm
Length of firing chamber 8 metres
Breech mechanism Sliding block
Recoil 3 metres
Recoil absorption Four hydraulic cylinders
Propelling charge Brass obturation case, bagged powder. A device placed
behind the charge to prevent gas from escaping to the rear.
Mass of barrel (with breech) 400 tons
Life of barrel Approx. 100 rounds
Weight in action 350 tons. The name 'Heavy Gustav' was thus most appropriate!
Length of carriage 43 metres
Elevation +10deg to +65deg
Azimuth control None
Ignition Electric spark
Max Range: High Explosive 48km
Max Range: Armour Piercing 38km
Max altitude reached by shell 12km
Rate of fire 4 rounds/hour
Crew: Artillery division only 250 men
Total Crew: All divisions 1 500 men

Table 2
TECHNICAL DETAILS: PROJECTILE
Muzzle velocity (Max charge) High Explosive (HE) Armour Piercing
Projectile 820m/s (mach 2,5) 720m/s (mach 2,1)
Time of flight (Max range) 120 secs
Penetration: Steel 1 000 metres
Penetration: Concrete 8 metres
Penetration: Compacted Earth 32 metres
Weight 4,8 tons 7,1 tons
Length 3 metres 2,4 metres
Fuse position nose base
Mass of warhead 700kg 250kg
Mass of charge 2000kg 1850kg
Nose cone nickel chrome steel

    HEAVY GUSTAV IN ACTION, SEBASTOPOL, JUNE 1942

5 June, Target 1: Coastal Batteries
On 5 June 1942 the firing button was pressed and the first round roared away at 648m1s. The projectile reached a height of 12km before crashing onto the target after being in the air for approximately 100 seconds. Fall of shot was observed by a spotter plane, which radioed back the required corrections. After eight armour-piercing rounds, the coastal batteries were in ruins.

6 June, Targets 2, 3 and 4: Forts Stalin, Molotov and White Cliffs respectively
After six shots, Target 2, Fort Stalin, was in ruins. Target 3, Fort Molotov, required seven rounds for demolition. Fort White Cliffs, Target 4, was known to have an underground ammunition magazine under Severnaya Bay considered to be invulnerable to conventional weapons. Since its position was known to German intelligence, Gustav now zeroed in on the magazine. Eight armour-piecing projectiles bored down through the sea and through thirty metres of seabed to seek out the magazine. The ninth shell found the mark and the fort erupted like a volcano.

7 June, Target 5: Fort South-West Corner
The destruction of this target took seven rounds. On 7 June, firing was interrupted for four days to service the gun.

11 June, Target 6: Fort Siberia
The destruction of Fort Siberia was accomplished with five shots.

17 June, Target 7: Fort Maxim Gorki
Devastation took five rounds.

Bishop, C & Warner, A, German Weapons of World War II (Grange Books, Kent, 2001).
Böhm, H, Die 80cm Eisenbahnkanone "Dora" (Wehrtechnischen Monatsheften,1959)
Fritz R K, 80cm Eisenbahngeschütz "Dora" (Article 2000)
Engelmann, J, German Heavy Artillery in World War II (Schiffer Military History, Atglen USA, 1995).
Englemann, J, German Railroad Guns in Action (Squadron/Signal Books, Texas, USA,1976).
Hogg, Ian V, History of Artillery (Hamlyn Books, London, 1974).
Hogg, I V, The Guns, 1939-1945 (Macdonald Books, London, 1969).
Hogg, I V, Twentieth-century Artillery (Prospero Books, Ontario, Canada, 2000).
Hogg, I V, German Artillery of World War Two (Greenhill Books, London,1997).
Johnson, Curt, Artillery (Octopus Books, London, 1975).
Pawlas, Karl R, Waffen Revue, March/May 1973, September/November 1974, December/February 1974 (Archiv Für Militär & Waffenwesen, Nuremberg).
Purnell Weapons of War (Phoebus Books, London, 1973).
Orbis War Machine (Qrbis Books, London, 1983).


License

By Dr Ross Mahoney

Sean Feast, A Thunder Bird in Bomber Command: The Wartime Letters and Story of Lionel Anderson, the Man who Inspired a Legend. London: Fighting High Publishing, 2015. Foreword. Appendices. Sources. Index. Hbk. xiii + 169 pp.

Thunderbirds are go! It is not often that you get to write those immortal words at the start of a review to do with a book on Bomber Command however, this is no ordinary book. Indeed, it is a book that will be of interest to two distinct groups of people. First, there are those with an interest in the experience of Bomber Command operations during the Second World War. Second, there are those with a passion for the 1960s TV show Thunderbirds and other production that came from Gerry Anderson’s fertile imagination. This, of course, begs the question of how these two seemingly disparate interests are linked. Well, as Shane Rimmer, who provided the voice to Scott Tracey, recollected in the foreword to the book, the inspiration was ‘direct and personal – from his elder brother Lionel who had given up his life as a pilot during the Second World War’ (p.ix).

This biography, therefore, tells the story of Lionel Anderson, Gerry Anderson’s older brother through the letters that he sent home while also considering the impact of his death on his younger brother. The book details Lionel Anderson’s early interest in flying and his decision to volunteer as aircrew in the RAF (p.3). The book then follows a chronological order following Lionel Anderson’s experience of flying training to through to undertaking operations as part of No. 515 Squadron, which formed part of Bomber Command’s No. 100 (Bomber Support) Group. The unit had been established in October 1942 from the so-called Defiant Flight at RAF Northolt and at that time formed part of Fighter Command. The unit was then equipped with the Bristol Beaufighter and then the de Havilland Mosquito. Lionel Anderson joined No. 515 Squadron in early 1943 (p.77). The squadron was involved in operating Moonshine, Mandrel, and Serrate electronic warfare systems that had emerged as part of the pantheon of homing and jamming systems that developed during the Second World War. These were designed to provide support in an ongoing battle to defeat German equipment, such as the Freya radar net as well as defeat German night fighters. In this, Sean Feast provides a good overview of No. 515 Squadron’s role in this area.

Hawker Hurricane Mark X, AG111 ‘HK-G’, of No. 59 Operational Training Unit, on the ground at Milfield, Northumberland. Although bearing the unit codes of the Fighter Leaders School (based at Charmy Down, Wiltshire), AG111 does not appear to have been officially transferred to them. It was passed later to No. 57 OTU at Eshott, Northumberland, and crashed after colliding with a Supermarine Spitfire over Wooler on 5 May 1943. (Source: © IWM (CH 9222))

The section dealing with Lionel Anderson’s time with No. 59 Operational Training Unit is, however, problematic. Feast suggests that in late 1942, Anderson’s course transferred to Brunton, which was No. 59 OTU’s satellite airfield and that while there they became known as No. 559 Squadron. Additionally, Feast suggests that, as No. 559 Squadron, the unit could be called on to intercept incoming aircraft as part of ‘Saracen scheme’ (p.76). This is where it becomes murky as there does not appear to be a No. 559 Squadron. There is no Operations Record Book for No. 559 Squadron and C.G. Jefford’s work on RAF squadrons does not list the unit. [1] However, No. 559 Squadron was a numberplate reserved for No. 59 OTU if activated as part of Plan BANQUET. Additionally, Ray Sturtivant’s work on flying training units does suggest that, in March 1943, the squadron number above was used. [2] So what is to be made of this? First, Plan BANQUET, which originated in 1940, had been revised in May 1942. Part A of the Fighter Command element of the revised plan – BANQUET FIGHTER – called for aircraft and crews from OTUs to form squadrons as reinforcements, as such they would have received a numberplate. This process was activated by a codeword ‘APPLE’. [3] Nevertheless, as Jefford noted, the squadron numberplates allocated to fighter OTUs were not used as the units were not mobilised. [4] Second, it is reasonable that crews at OTU’s were aware of this plan, and their designation if activated. It is probably this that is being recollected rather than an official designation. This of course raises the question of whether matters, which is clearly subjective. I would suggest that the pilots being trained by No. 59 OTU were aware of their reserve role and the details of the unit’s designation. It highlights the tension between the operational record and memory and how it can be distorted.

The earlier sections of the book that detail Lionel Anderson’s decision to volunteer, his training in America and time at an Advanced Flying Unit are, for me, the real gem of this book as it is here where the letters home find their place. Indeed, the reason for this appears to be that the last letter kept by Lionel Anderson’s mother, Deborah comes from this period. As Feast explains, Deborah Anderson had reproduced the letters into a pair of hard-backed exercise books, and this is all that was left of Lionel Anderson’s correspondence (pp.69-70). This helps explain why the book’s subtitle is ‘The Wartime Letters and Story’ as the latter period has been reconstructed from other sources. Nevertheless, the use of letters in the earlier part of the book help us explore what it was like to serve in the RAF during the war and the experience of training in America. In one letter, Lionel Anderson described the planned graduation dance they held at the end of his training in America. ‘We invite our instructors and friends we have made during our stay here and, of course, we have plenty of girls.’ This recollection (p.55) both highlights the friendly relations between American and Britain but also one recurring theme in the letters, girls.

Overall, as with many books of this type, this is a fascinating insight into life in the RAF. It is made all the more interesting given the links between Lionel Anderson and his younger brother’s later work.

This book review originally appeared at Thoughts on Military History.

Dr Ross Mahoney is an independent historian and defence specialist based in Australia. Between 2013 and 2017, he was the resident Historian at the Royal Air Force Museum, and he is a graduate of the University of Birmingham (MPhil and PhD) and the University of Wolverhampton (PGCE and BA). His research interests include the history of war in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, air power and the history of air warfare, and the social and cultural history of armed forces. To date, he has published several chapters and articles, edited two books, and delivered papers on three continents. He is a member of the Royal Historical Society and is an Assistant Director of the Second World War Research Group. He is a member of the Royal Historical Society and an Assistant Director of the Second World War Research Group. He blogs at Thoughts on Military History, and can be found on Twitter at @airpowerhistory.

Header Image: The prototype Boulton Paul Defiant fighter, which first flew in August 1937. This aircraft type equipped the so-called Defiant Flight at RAF Northolt, which eventually became No. 515 Squadron. (Source: © IWM (MH 5507))

[1] Wing Commander C.G. Jefford, RAF Squadrons: A Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912, 2nd Edition, (Shrewsbury: Airlife, 2001).

[2] Ray Sturtivant, Flying Training and Support Units since 1912 (Staplefield: Air-Britain, 2007), p.242.

[3] Anon, The Air Defence of Great Britain – Volume V: The Struggle for Air Supremacy, January 1942-May 1945, (Air Historical Branch Narrative), pp.10-1.


Part 4 – Second World War (1939-1945)

The Government of Canada has a fantastic section on their website that provides us with all kinds of information about our Country. Did you know Canada has a rich Naval history? We thought we would share a 4 part series on the history of the Naval Service of Canada!

The Royal Canadian Navy and Overseas Operations (1939-1945)

The Royal Canadian Navy’s greatest contribution in the Second World War was the role it played in the Battle of the Atlantic, the grim and unrelenting struggle against the German U-boats, which is the subject of the next chapter. What is often over-looked, however, is that the RCN also manned a variety of warships, from light cruisers to landing craft, which carried out many different tasks in European and Pacific waters. The RCN’s participation in surface warfare in these theatres was primarily driven by the ambition of Naval Service Headquarters in Ottawa to build up a “balanced fleet” or “blue water navy” that would be the foundation of a post-war service so strong that never again would it face possible dissolution as it had in the 1920s.

When war broke out in September 1939, NSHQ viewed the most dangerous threat as being large surface raiders, not submarines, and to counter this threat it wished to obtain powerful fleet destroyers of the Tribal class. In the winter of 1939-40 an arrangement was made with the Admiralty in London for Canada to produce escort vessels for the Royal Navy in return for British construction of four Tribal-class vessels in the United Kingdom. Until these ships were completed, NSHQ arranged for the conversion of three large passenger ships—Prince David, Prince Henry, and Prince Robert—as auxiliary cruisers, and while the seven destroyers of the pre-war fleet were employed on convoy duty in the Atlantic the “Prince” ships mainly operated on the Pacific coast. When the fall of France in June 1940 brought the U-boats to the Atlantic littoral, the RCN became increasingly involved with the North Atlantic but NSHQ never entirely relinquished its ambition to man larger warships.

The war the navy expected: recruits at HMCS York, February 1942, doing close-order drills in front of a full-size mock-up of a King George V-class battleship.

As the first of the Tribals would not commission until late 1942, this ambition could not be realized in the short term. During the early part the war, however, many Canadian naval officers and seamen gained valuable experience by serving with the Royal Navy. The full story of their activities has never been properly told, but it should be emphasized that Canadian sailors served at sea in every theatre of war in appointments ranging from the conventional to the extreme.

Two branches of the Royal Navy in which Canadians formed a substantial presence were coastal forces and naval aviation—largely because NSHQ permitted Britain to recruit in Canada for these specialties. By 1943 more than 100 RCN officers were serving in coastal forces, commanding small but heavily-armed fast attack craft in the Channel and the Mediterranean.

The powerful Tribal-class destroyers Haida and Athabaskan steam in formation in the English Channel, spring 1944.


Power and Connection: Imperial Histories of the United States in the World

Paul A. Kramer, Power and Connection: Imperial Histories of the United States in the World, The American Historical Review, Volume 116, Issue 5, December 2011, Pages 1348–1391, https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr.116.5.1348

W hen U.S. historians begin to talk about empire, it usually registers the declining fortunes of others. The term's use among historians in reference to the United States has crested during controversial wars, invasions, and occupations, and ebbed when projections of American power have receded from public view. This periodicity—this tethering of empire as a category of analysis to the vagaries of U.S. power and its exercise—is one of the striking aspects of empire's strange historiographic career. When it comes to U.S. imperial history, one might say, the owl of Minerva flies primarily when it is blasted from its perch. 1

Yet despite recurring claims to the contrary, the imperial has long been a useful concept in work that attempts to situate the United States in global history, and it continues to be so, as demonstrated by a wealth.


Watch the video: Β Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος (January 2022).