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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:05 am    Post subject: Spot Light On Reply with quote

Spotlight on
Bailey bridge, a war-winner

According to General Eisenhower, World War II had three major inventions: the heavy bomber, the radar and the Bailey bridge. A portable, pre-fabricated truss bridge that could be carried on trucks, the Bailey bridge could be easily assembled on site without the use of heavy equipment such as a crane, and it could carry up to 70 tons. The Churchill tank, for example, weighed in at 40 tons.


The method of construction is remarkable for its simplicity and rapidity. Main components of the Bailey Bridge are panels, each of which can be quickly places in position by six men.
It was a British civil engineer, Donald Bailey, a model bridge assembler by hobby, who came up with the idea and managed to convince the British War Office to use it. It was ingenious because its parts could be transported on trucks, and it was easy for soldiers to assemble it by hand using only ropes, pulleys, jacks and hammers. Moreover, two walkways for infantry ran on the outside of the roadway to separate foot and wheeled traffic. If it was damaged by shells or bombs, the damaged section could be easily removed and a new one inserted. They were so crucial for the war effort that even Field Marshall Montgomery is reported to have said that without them the Allies would not have won the war.



The "nose"is first built up by placing the panels in position and connecting them by bolt and cross beams. Panels are held up by braces, strengthened by sway-braces. Successive panels of the bridge proper are added as the "nose" is pushed out over the river.

The Bailey bridge gained prominence when the Allied forces were crossing countries laced with rivers whose bridges had been blown up by the retreating German forces. More than 1,500 Bailey bridges were used during the campaign in northwestern Europe.



Ultimately head of bridge rests on opposite bank. Completed bridge has stringers and flooring. Finally, the "nose" is quickly dismantled and removed, foundations are secured and the bridge is ready for use.

The Bailey bridge was assembled entirely on one bank and then pushed across the river, supporting itself without any underpinning. The whole structure rested on free-turning rollers during assembly. While it was launched from one bank, the simple rule was to keep more weight on the bank than was extended over the gap at any one time. The front part, or launching nose, was a skeleton structure that went across the river first. Because the nose sagged some as it was pushed across, the nose section was given an upward tilt when the sections were being put together. All that was needed on the far bank was a pair of rollers to receive the nose. When the nose had reached the far bank, the skeleton was dismantled, section by section, as complete sections were added from the back and pushed forward. The parts of the bridge at the end were fully floored and braced.

Click here to great footage about the construction of a Bailey bridge during WWII.

Our mechanically-inclined readers can also find the detailed field manual (No. 5-277) for the Bailey Bridge here.


Written by: Aniko Kapornaki

_____________________________________________________________


Spotlight on
the Hospital in the Rock


On April 3, 1944 the first of many Allied air raids reached Budapest, Hungary. It became clear that there would be a need for a hospital that could remain functional throughout the bombings. The extensive cave system beneath Buda Castle provided a perfect site: its 30 feet thick rock walls formed natural bunkers.

The fortification of the cave system had begun in 1939 to create bomb shelters as World War 2 got underway. They were enlarged and connected over the subsequent years. In the spring of 1944 the air raid hospital, capable of treating 300 patients at a time, was ready. It had restrooms, showers, state-of-the-art operation and sterilization rooms, X-ray machines, heating and a ventilation system. It also had a diesel generator to prevent power outages, and a 20,000 liter reservoir to provide drinking water. Its personnel consisted of 15 doctors, 30 nurses, 4 surgical technicians and 2 radiology assistants.


Ward with bunk beds
In December 1944 the Soviets, now aided by Romania, reached Budapest. Since Hitler declared that the city must be held at all costs, German and Hungarian troops entrenched themselves in Buda Castle and a desperate 51-day siege ensued. Wounded Hungarians soldiers as well as several thousand civilians were treated in the hospital. Soon not only the wards, but bomb shelters, wine cellars and their interconnecting corridors were filled with makeshift cots.

In the early days of February 1945 more than 11,000 wounded took shelter under the rock surface. Medicine and food were lacking. Originally the hospital was meant to tend to people injured in air raids who would return to their homes after being treated. Therefore it had no kitchen. During the siege patients and personnel were left to sustain themselves on canned beans for weeks.


Nurses taking a brake at the entrance of the hopital during the siege
Due to overcrowding, hygiene was low, there was not enough water and the sewers were clogged. On the lower levels temperatures rose to the high eighties. Many patients were lying on straw beds or rags. When the siege ended after an unsuccessful German attempt to break through Soviet lines, the hospital, already stretched to the limits, had to cope with yet another surge of patients. Conditions remained desperate until the Soviets started relocating the patients to reopened surface hospitals in the city. After the war, Hospital in the Rock was closed.

In 1949 the hospital was classified "top secret." It was extended and refurbished to withstand chemical and nuclear attacks, and was periodically maintained to be ready for use should the Cold War turn hot. In 2007 it was converted into a museum.



_____________________________________________________________


the Hero Cities of the Soviet Union



The Hero Obelisk of Leningrad

Twelve cities of the Soviet Union were honored as "hero cities" and one city a "hero-fortress" for their heroism and sacrifice against the Germans during World War II, or as it was known in the USSR, the Great Patriotic War.

The term first appeared in Pravda in 1942 but was not officially used until May 1, 1945, when Stalin bestowed the designation on Leningrad, Stalingrad, Sevastopol, and Odessa. Of the 13 hero cities, 7 are in Russia, 4 can be found in Ukraine, while the remaining 2 are located in Belarus. There is little doubt that all of them well deserved such an honor considering the tragedies and/or victories they saw. The encirclement of these cities were sometimes more of a Soviet defeat than a victory but still caused high German casualties as a consequence.

Two of the greatest tragedies of the entire war and the bloodiest battles of all time, Leningrad and Stalingrad, exemplified Soviet sacrifice and perseverance. Both cities were named a hero city by Stalin on May 1, 1945.

During the two and a half year siege of present day Saint Petersburg (September 9, 1941 to January 27, 1944), more than a third of the city's three million inhabitants lost their life because of starvation, exposure and the shelling of the city. In addition to the one million civilians, another 300,000 Soviet soldiers died in the defense and then liberation of Leningrad.

Stalingrad was not only the bloodiest battle but also a decisive turning point of WW II in Europe. It is often rightfully said that February 2, 1943 was the beginning of the end for the Nazis and their leader. Nobody exactly knows the death toll of the battle, but there were around 2 million civilian and military casualties in Stalingrad.


The ruins of Stalingrad
Odessa and Sevastopol also played key roles in the war. The former was honored by Stalin for the heroic defensive and partisan resistance which persisted for three months from August 8, 1941 in the underground catacombs of Odessa. A much larger army of Germans and Romanians was stopped by the Soviet 9th Army, suffering significantly heavier casualties than the defenders who were evacuated by sea in the end.

Several hundred miles from Odessa, the


Gustav
Battle of Sevastopol caused great difficulty for the German Army as well. The bloody siege of the biggest city of the Crimean Peninsula started when the battle for Odessa was over, lasting from the fall of 1941 until the following summer. This was the first time the Germans deployed one of their two 31 inch (800 mm) guns, the 1,350 ton Schwerer Gustav (Heavy Gustav) railroad cannon that could fire shells weighing seven tons to a range of 23 miles. During the siege, 30,000 tons of artillery ammunition had been fired, with the Gustav firing 48 rounds. It is no wonder that the German and Romanian forces hoped for a quick conclusion, but they soon found themselves in a bloody battle with the Red Army and Soviet Black Sea Fleet holding out for 250 days, costing the Germans huge amounts of munitions, men, petrol and time.

The other 9 cities were awarded the title after the end of the war. Kiev was named a hero city on June 22, 1961, for the 20th anniversary of the start of the Great Patriotic War. Brest Fortress was declared a "hero-fortress," while Moscow was named a hero city on May 8, 1965, on the 20th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany. Kerch and Novorossiysk became members of this elite club on September 14, 1973, with Minsk following a year later on June 26, 1974.
Written by: Charlie Koves
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Classical Influences
of the Third Reich



Adolf Hitler admired ancient cultures, especially Rome with its massive public monuments that reflected the supremacy and the political might of the state. The ancient Roman obsession with order and the domination of the environment is clearly reflected in the urban planning and public buildings conceived by Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer.



The Americans blowing the Swastika off the top of the Tribune

Speer planned and sometimes built structures that were intended to rival such monuments as Nero's Golden House, Hadrian's Pantheon, and the Stadium of Herodes Atticus in Athens. Other architects, such as Ludwig Ruff and Casar Pinnau, were to plan structures inspired by the Colosseum and the Baths of Caracalla.

While planning these structures, Speer invented the concept of ruin value (Ruinenwert). Major buildings should be constructed in such a way that they would leave aesthetically pleasing ruins, becoming a testament to the greatness of the Third Reich for thousands of years. Hitler liked to say that the purpose of his buildings was to transmit his time and its spirit to posterity. Ultimately, all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was their monumental architecture, he remarked.



Zeppelinfeld, Cathedral of Light

The first commission of Speer was the grandstand of the Zeppelinfeld Stadium of the Nazi party rally ground in Nuremberg. It was modeled after the Pergamon Altar, a monumental construction built in the 2nd century BC on one of the terraces of the acropolis of the ancient city of Pergamon in present-day Turkey, which has been housed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin since 1930.

Speer's tribune was even more monumental and he insisted that as many events as possible be held at night to give greater prominence to his lighting effects. Speer surrounded the site with 130 anti-aircraft searchlights to create an effect of a cathedral of lights. He described the Zeppelinfeld Grandstand as his most beautiful work, and as the only one that stood the test of time.
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spotlight on
the Winged
Warriors of WW2


During the First World War homing pigeons were extensively used as a means of relaying messages of military nature. As two-way radio communication was not yet available, and wire telegraphs and field telephones were not applicable in certain terrains, courier pigeons provided the much needed communication links between units. The experiences of this period were put to use during WWII.

Despite the many technical advances and developments in the field of telecommunication before and during WWII, homing pigeons were not rendered entirely obsolete. On the contrary, in certain situations they were the soldiers' only means of communication, especially when radio silence had to be maintained or when the terrain did not allow the use of couriers. A homing pigeon could make the flight to its loft from thousands of miles away flying one mile per minute, making it a swift, accurate and battleground-proven means of communication.



Examination and treatment of pigeons in the Signal Pigeon center, Tidworth, England

Several thousands of birds were used by Allies during WWII (around 250,000 by the British, 54,000 by US. forces). The US Army Pigeon Service, established in WWI, put out the call for enlistment in January 1942. The Pigeon Service, part of the Signal Corps, had been downsized between the wars and had to be rebuild from scratch. Since racing pigeons was a popular sport in those times, and many of the various clubs and associations willingly donated their prize-winning birds, the army soon had enough pigeons and pigeoneers to fill its ranks and launch its own breeding program.

The Army Pigeon Breeding and Training Center at Fort Monmouth, N.J trained military personnel in the use of signal pigeons: how to feed them, how to fasten the message capsules, how to drop the birds out of airplanes, or how to jump out of airplanes with a pigeon clutched at their chest. A special vest was developed for paratroopers with pockets for stowing away the little birds.


The pigeons themselves were trained to find their mobile lofts behind the lines instead of making a beeline back to the States. When a bird reached the coop, a bell would signal the arrival of the message. A pigeoneer would then remove the message capsule from the pigeon's leg, letting the bird have a little R&R before returning to the frontline of battle.Healthcare and first aid was provided to signal pigeons by the Army Veterinary Service.




G.I. Joe receiving his Dickin Medal

The use of pigeons was not exclusive to the Allies. The Germans had their own flocks of winged messengers. Both sides tried to prevent the birds from carrying out their missions, which resulted in pigeons being a prime target for marksmen. Captured birds became prisoners of war. The Germans used falcons to intercept allied messages. However, since the predators could not tell whether the pigeons were friend or foe, and preyed equally on both, such methods were soon abandoned.


During and after the war the British awarded their most heroic furry and feathery comrades the Dickin Medal, the "Victoria Cross for animals." Thirty-two pigeons received such honors, including the American G.I. Joe, who flew 20 miles in as many minutes in 1943, delivering his vital message just in time to save a British regiment in Italy from being bombed by their allies.


After WWII the winged messengers were no longer needed. Signal pigeons were phased out of service after they delivered their last messages in the Korean War. The Pigeon Breeding and Training Center at Ft. Monmouth was discontinued in 1957.
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 5:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Operation Frantic


The Tehran Conference in December 1943 brought closer cooperation among the Allies in the ETO. Apart from the impending invasion of France, later developed into Operation Overlord, the agreement to coordinate all operations against Germany resulted in the launch of a series of shuttle bombing missions against targets of industrial or military importance. This was Operation Frantic, or Operation Titanic as the War Department newsreels called it.

Frantic was not the first shuttle bombing operation of the Allies. In June 1943 the RAF planes ran a bombing raid against the V-2 facilities at Friedrichshafen in Germany, refueled in Algeria, then hit the Italian naval base of La Spezia on their return flight to England (Operation Bellicose). Frantic was, however, the first such undertaking in cooperation with the Soviets.


Shuttle bombing had several advantages over regular "round trip" bombing missions. Instead of returning to the base they start out from, bombers could fly a straight line over Germany. This way they spent less time over enemy territory, minimizing the exposure to flak. The route to Russia was about a third shorter than that of the round trip, reducing flight time and fuel consumption, which meant the planes could carry a bigger payload.

The USAAF supplied aircraft and personnel for the operation, while the Soviets provided bases and ground crews. The USAAF gained access to three airfields in the Ukraine near Kiev: Poltava and Myrhorod for the bombers, Pyriatyn for the escort fighters. Under the supervision of Lt. Gen. Carl A. Spatz, commanding general of the US strategic air forces in Europe, these new bases had to be reinstated and supplied in four months.

Material had to be shipped from England by convoy to the arctic harbors of Murmansk and Archangelsk, then by rail over to Ukraine. Radio equipment was airlifted from the USA to Russia. Oil and gas arrived by rail from Iran and the Middle East. Ground crews took the trip from the UK to Cairo by ship, then by rail and motor convoy through the Middle East and the Caucasus, a journey of 7,000 miles.


The operation involved the 8th US Air Force in England and the 15th USAF in Italy. The bombers started out from their bases, flew over Germany or German occupied territories, attacking factories, railroad junctions or military installations, then landed at the airfields near Kiev. After reloading and refueling they returned to their home bases, bombing targets of strategic importance to the Red Army on their way home.

The first shuttle bombing mission started on June 2, 1944, the same day the preparatory bombings of the Normandy invasion coast took place. One hundred fifty B-17 Flying Fortresses and their 70 strong fighter cover left their bases in Italy to deliver their payload onto the classification yard in Debrecen, Hungary. The task force was under the personal command of Lt. Gen. Ira Eacre, commanding general of the Allied Air Forces in the Mediterranean. They refitted in the Ukraine, ran a raid against a Romanian airfield on June 6, then returned to their temporary Soviet bases. On June 11 they returned to Italy, bombing additional targets in Romania.


During the next four months 3,800 aircraft made the trip to the USSR bombing targets that were never before within effective range. The operations did not go without problems though. Despite their inability to put up an adequate air defense of the airfields, the Soviets would not yield that role to the Americans. This had serious consequences when on July 21 a task force of B-17s that had left England to bomb the synthetic oil plant in Ruhland, Germany was followed by a German plane to their Ukrainian base. Once the airfields were discovered, the Germans launched their own bombers to eliminate this new threat. The airfield of Poltava was bombed; several B-17s and a large amount of ammunitions destroyed. The lack of proper air defense, supply problems, and the rapid advance of the Eastern Front eventually led to the discontinuation of the operation in September 1944.

Written by Marietta Herczeg
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Black May


May 1943 proved to be a turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic. The German submarines threatening the lifeline of convoys that connected war-torn England to the USA lost their initiative in the hunt for Allied shipping. By the end of the month, the tables had turned and the U-boats themselves became the hunted.




In the summer of 1942 Admiral Karl Dönitz, commander of the German submarine fleet, had 330 U-boats at his disposal. Following his Rudeltaktik ("pack tactic") the U-boats sunk several hundred Allied ships with minimal losses. Of the entire German navy, the U-boats claimed 96% of all ships sunk. It seemed like no convoy was safe from German attacks.

Submarines of this era spent 90% of their time on the surface. Their design had not been altered for nearly 20 years. Below water they could not run their diesel engines and depended on batteries for propulsion. During the day enemy ships and aircraft could be spotted from miles away and the sub had plenty of time to dive and hide under water. During night, when the dark hull of the submarine was barely visible against the surface of the ocean, the subs had nothing to fear from planes.

This situation was soon to change. On July 13, 1942 the U-159, homebound to France from a patrol, was attacked and seriously damaged by a Wellington of RAF Coastal Command. What made this incident notable was the fact that the attack was carried out at night. The bomber was equipped with a new device: radar that could detect the conning tower of submarines.


On December 8 an RAF B-24 Liberator picked up a pack of submarines threatening convoy HX-217 on radar. It managed to sink one and damaged six others. After these events the U-boats became greatly hesitant to go through with their attacks in the presence of Allied aircraft. They could operate on the surface only in the Air Gap, a strip of the Atlantic that was out of range for planes both from the UK and the US.

The Royal Navy launched a training program for officers under the supervision of Admiral Max Horton in order to develop new group tactics for convoys, learn how to effectively protect the merchant ships entrusted to their care and how to retaliate against German attacks. The training and the technical superiority of the Allies started to pay off in the spring of 1943. From January to April 57 U-Boats were sunk.

On April 22 the convoy ONS-5, consisting of 42 ships and six escorts sailed from Liverpool bound for Halifax. After weathering through a Force 10 gale they reached the Air Gap on May 4 and entered the hunting ground of two "wolf packs" counting 43 U-boats in total. During that night seven ships were sunk. The convoy, however, was not defenseless.



The Hedgehog, a British anti-submarine weapon that helped win the Battle
of the Atlantic

The escort ships were equipped with radio direction finding sets and could therefore ascertain the location of the U-boats by following their radio communication. During the ensuing week-long battle the convoy's escort, reinforced with nine more warships, managed to sink nine U-boats, damage several others and keep the rest away from the convoy. In the end, Dönitz, by this time grossadmiral and commander-in-chief of the Kriegsmarine, recalled the attack.

The next three transatlantic convoys were able to defend themselves with similarly good effect. During the month the Germans lost over 40 submarines. After these failures and the loss of his son Peter aboard U- 954, Dönitz recalled all submarines from the Atlantic on May 24. The U-boats returned to the fray in autumn but could not present as great a threat to Allied shipping as before Black May.



Written by: Marietta Herczeg
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spotlight on
the Mitsubishi (A6M) Zero

During the Second World War, the airplane became one of the most dominant weapons on the battlefield. The primary asset in the fight for control of the skies, planes provided tactical and strategic support for the ground forces. The Mitsubishi Zero earned the respect and admiration of not only from those who flew them, but also from those who fought against them. At the beginning of the Pacific War the Allied fighters were distinctly inferior to the Zero since they were both out-fought and out-ranged by the world's first long-range escort fighter.


The Zero was designed by Jiro Horikoshi for high speed and superior maneuverability at low and medium altitudes. Although its performance fell off at high altitudes, at the beginning of the war the American fighters that opposed it were even worse in that regard.

The A6M was built with a Sakae 14-cylinder air-cooled engine that could generate 950 hp. at 13,800 ft. and a top speed of 316 mph at 16,400 ft. The range of the Zero was 1,265 miles, which could be extended to almost 2,000 miles with the help of an under fuselage drop-tank. Its wingspan was 36 ft. 2 in. while its length reached 29 ft. 10 in. and its height was 9 ft. 2in. It was able to climb at 3,340 ft./min. The Zero's service ceiling was 35,100 ft. and its maximum weight was 10,600 lb. The Zero's powerful armament with two 7.7mm fuselage machineguns and two 20mm cannons in the wings proved to be superior as well.

Like other vehicles or weapons during the war, the Zero went through several modifications. One main version for instance, the A6M3, which appeared late in 1942, was powered by an 1,130 hp. Sakae 21 radial engine, with superchargers which improved high altitude performance, which the Zero badly needed. The top speed was increased to 336 m.p.h. at 19,865 ft. while its best climb rate was 4,500 ft./min., although the armament and range were not changed.

In the meantime, the Allied planes became better and better, so the Japanese tried to improve their Zero as well. Slowly the Zero's overall performance started to fall below that of the Lightning, the Thunderbolt, the Hellcat and the Mustang, despite improved engines with an increased speed (358 m.p.h.) and higher and higher dive limit (410 m.p.h. and then 460 m.p.h.).

Heroism and exceptional abilities still played an important role. In one case, on June 24, 1944, Japanese aceSaburo Sakai was involved in a legendary chase with a formation of 15 U.S. F6F Hellcats, during which Sakai demonstrated his skill and experience despite the loss of one eye. He returned to his airfield untouched. All in all, even the last minute modifications such as the improved 12.7mm machine gun replacing the previous 7.7mm MG wing cannon or the armored glass windshield in 1944 didn't help that much in the competition with the American fighters.


Even when more modern Japanese fighters were at last in production, the Zero remained the number one Japanese fighter plane of the war. Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service pilots flew the Zero racked up numerous victories in its cockpit. The most well-known of these top aces was Hiroyoshi Nishizawa, whose actual total of victories are unknown (estimated around 100) due to several factors among which recording victories for pilots' units, rather than the individual still makes it difficult to tell the number of the exact kills.

In early August 1942, his air group moved to Rabaul, operating against the US forces on Guadalcanal where Nishizawa claimed six kills of F4F Wildcats, although historians have confirmed only two. After his own Zero was destroyed on October 26, 1944, at the age of 24 at Mindoro in the Philippines, Nishizawa died as a passenger on board a transport plane.

There were several other prominent fighters, among them we have already mentioned Saburo Sakai with 64 claimed victories who became the top scoring Japanese ace to survive the war. The two were close friends and keen on flying one of the 10,936 Zero fighters built in WW 2. The final version of the Zero was the A6M8c of 1945, which just reached production as the war ended.

Written by: Charlie Koves
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pavlov's House



There stands an apartment building on the banks of the Volga in Stalingrad that has become known as Pavlov's House. It was named after Sergeant Yakov Fedotovich Pavlov, the person who commanded the defense of the building during two months of the siege in the fall of 1942. The defense lasted for 58 days and became one of the symbols of fierce Soviet resistance against the Nazis.

The four-story building is located in the central area of the city of Stalingrad. It was built parallel to the embankment of the River Volga and stood on a large square called "January 9 Square." From its advantageous position the house overlooked a large open area around it, giving an approximately 1-km wide field of fire on the German supply lines north, south and west of the house. The house was initially taken by the German troops in the early days of the siege but towards the end of September a 30-man platoon of the 13th Soviet Guards Rifle Division received orders to determine the enemy's position in and around the building. The scouting party led by Pavlov managed to drive the enemy out of the house in a brutal fight and they held their position for days, even though there was only four of them alive by the time the 20-strong reinforcement arrived to the house, under the command of Lieutenant Ivan F. Afanasiev.

In keeping with Stalin's order of "not one step back," Sgt. Pavlov was ordered to fortify the building and defend it to the last bullet and the last man. The Soviet soldiers tried building barbed wire obstacles and place mines around the building. A communications trench was dug to Soviet positions that lay hundreds of yards away. Supplies could sometimes be brought in during the night through the trench but food and especially water was in short supply. Lacking beds, the soldiers tried to sleep on insulation wool torn off pipes. The defenders broke down the walls inside the building in order to make communication and repositioning easier. They set up machine gun posts in windows and positioned anti-tank units on the roof, where their PTRS-1 anti-tank rifles proved to be particularly effective when used against the thin turret-roof armor of the German tanks, since they were unable to elevate their weapons enough to retaliate if too close to the building. Pavlov reportedly personally destroyed nearly a dozen tanks using this tactic. The house was a real thorn in the side of the German troops since no matter from which side of the square the German infantry or tanks tried to close in on the house, Pavlov's men greeted them with machine gun and AT rifle fire from the basement, the windows and the rooftop. So successful was the defense that by mid-November Pavlov's men reportedly used lulls in the fight to run out and kick over the piles of German corpses, so that they could not be used as cover for the attackers.



The defenders, as well as the Soviet civilians who kept living in the basement all that time, held out in spite of being constantly shelled by German artillery, and fought off the attacks, one after the other from September 23 until November 25 1942, when they were relieved by the counter-attacking Soviet forces.

In the history of the Second World War the story of Pavlov's house stands as


The house has been rebuilt and is used today as an apartment building, featuring a memorial plaque on the east side of the building
a symbol of the determination shown by, and the sacrifice of, the Soviet forces. The Germans had previously conquered cities and entire countries within weeks, yet for two months they were unable to capture a single ruined house, defended most of the time by just over a dozen soldiers. It is reported that the building at the "January 9 Square" was marked as a fortress in German contemporary military maps. Chuikov, the defender of Stalingrad, wrote that Pavlov's men killed more Germans there than were lost in the fall of Paris. Pavlov's house was rebuilt after the battle and is still used as an apartment building today. There is an attached memorial constructed from bricks picked up after the battle on the East side, facing the Volga. After the war Pavlov was awarded the highest soviet military order, the Hero of the Soviet Union for his actions.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2012 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Operation Mincemeat

As soon as the plans for Operation Husky, scheduled for July 1943, started to take shape the need arose to draw German attention away from the site of the invasion and convince the enemy that Allied forces would land in Sardinia or Greece instead of Sicily. The British cooked up a convoluted deception plan to achieve this effect.

The inspiration came from Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels. In 1940 he drew up a list of 51 suggestions for possible deception operations. One of these included a corpse dressed as an airman, dropped from an airplane to make him seem a casualty of a plane crash, with falsified documents on his person for the Germans to find. The idea was side-tracked for years until in spring 1943 two intelligence officers, Flt. Lt. Charles Cholmondeley of the RAF and Lt. Cdr. Ewen Montagu of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve took it up again.



Montagu and Cholmondeley decided to stage a plane crash at sea. For that they needed a body whose injuries would be consistent with the scenario. With the help of Sir Bentley Purchase, coroner of St. Pancras in London they obtained a suitable corpse, that of a vagrant Welsh man named Glyndwr Michael who committed suicide in an abandoned London warehouse by way of rat poison. He had no relatives, no physical injuries and the phosphorus he had ingested with the rat poison caused fluids to build up in his lungs. Thus he made an ideal candidate for Mincemeat's drowned man. However he needed a new personality to make him a plausible bearer of the deception documents.

Montagu and Cholmondeley created a "man who never was". They named him William Martin and made him captain/acting major of the Royal Marines. They acquired a uniform that showed appropriate sign of wear and still had the holes in the shoulders from captain's pips. Since they could not photograph the dead body, they used pictures of fellow intelligence officer Ronnie Reed, a dead ringer for the corpse, for Martin's IDs.

The major's pockets were filled with various items to build an imaginary backstory. He carried bus tickets, letters from his father, a letter from the manager of Lloyds Bank concerning an overdraft, and a bill of lodgings from the Naval and Military Club dated April 25 to show that he was in London that day. He also had a jeweler's bill for a diamond engagement ring, much-read love letters and a photograph from a girlfriend named Pam. The letters were written by Hester Leggett and the photo depicted Jean Leslie, both of whom worked as secretaries at MI5.


Major Martin's cover was that of an expert on landing craft who was sent to North-Africa in preparation for the upcoming Allied invasion in the Mediterranean. For this purpose he carried a letter of introduction from Lord Mountbatten, Chief of Combined Operations to Adm. of the Fleet Sir Cunningham, CIC Mediterranean. This letter contained clues that pointed to Sardinia as the site of the invasion. He also carried a letter from Gen. Sir A. Nye, Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff, addressed to Gen. Alexander, CO of the British 18th Army Group in North-Africa. This letter was an off-the-record answer to Alexander which explained why it was carried by a personal courier instead of being sent through regular military post. It dropped hints that the Allied operations around Sicily were just a ruse-de-guerre and the main invasion force would land somewhere else.

After the body was dressed and the various items scattered on his person, including a briefcase with the deception documents chained to his belt, he was placed into a special canister filled with dry ice and driven up to Holy Loch, Scotland to be taken aboard the submarine HMS Seraph. Only the Seraph's commander knew what was in the canister, the rest of the crew were told they were transporting meteorological equipment. The submarine carried the body to Huelva, Spain where the major was set afloat in the sea. The body was found by fishermen on the morning of April 30, 1943.

Neutral Spain was a hotbed for German spies during WWII. In Huelva resided a particularly active one named Adolf Clauss, which increased the possibility of the deception documents finding their way into German hands. After the body reached the shore, two local doctors performed a perfunctory autopsy and the major was buried in the local cemetery with full military honours.

The briefcase was handed over to the Spanish Navy. The British consulate immediately started fussing about getting it back knowing that the Germans would intercept their frantic telegrams. Convinced that the briefcase must contain documents of the outmost importance, Clauss moved every stone to get a chance of reading the contents. Uncharacteristically, the Spanish denied him access and sent the briefcase to Madrid.

On May 9 Karl-Erich Kühlenthal, head of German intelligence in Madrid finally managed to have the briefcase's contents photographed. He then personally delivered the photos to Berlin convinced of their authenticity. The ruse worked perfectly: on May 13 Hitler ordered the defense of Sardinia and Greece to be strengthened. Troops, torpedo boats, fighter squadrons and guns were moved from Italy to Greece, leaving the defenses in Sicily weakened. During the first two weeks of Operation Husky the Allies suffered 1400 casualties. This number would probably have been much higher, had it not been for Operation Mincemeat.

Written by: Marietta Herczeg
_________________
A day without blood is like a day without sunshine.

Sgt. Scott Hatch (Re-enactor)
Dog Company 2/506th
101st Airborne
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