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World War II + 70 Years Forum Continuing Discussion Thread
Freepers | 10/31/10

Posted on 10/31/2010 8:21:03 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson

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To: CougarGA7
Max Hastings. Winston’s War: Churchill 1940-1945. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. 483 pp. ISBN 978-0-307-26839-6.

Photobucket"We ought not to flatter ourselves by imagining that we are irreplaceable, but at the same time it cannot be denied that two or three hundred by-elections would be a quite needless complication of our affairs at this particular time." – Winston Churchill, 17 September 1940.

While Winston Churchill makes a valid point in that politicians are not irreplaceable, it may be said that this axiom could not be applied to Winston himself. War in Europe was raging when Winston took over the reins of Prime Minister. His first action as the new PM was to preside over the defense of Western Europe upon which Hitler had on that very day decided to begin his assault. Britain would hold the distinction during the Second World War as being the one power that stood against the Nazis from the beginning right to the end and was active in the war longer than any other of the belligerents. A key to this longevity was the bulldog that refused to give in to Hitler, Winston Churchill. It is possible that if Churchill had not been Prime Minister at the time of the fall of France that Britain too would have sued for peace. But Churchill’s leadership was not always completely sound, nor was his position always completely secure. In Winston’s War, Max Hastings looks at these critical years from the perspective of Winston Churchill and the trials that the man faced not only against the Nazi juggernaut, but also with his own generals and allies.

Hastings’ look at Winston Churchill is of a more critical nature than one would expect from a western historian. While Hastings points out from the start his admiration for the man he does not try to gloss over the mistakes made by the British leader. Certainly the successes are captured in detail. The miraculous rescue of men at not only Dunkirk but again from the French coast as France succumbed to the Nazis are covered in great detail as is Churchill’s personal triumphs in persuading his partner in arms Franklin D. Roosevelt to conduct war on Europe’s “soft underbelly”. But Max Hastings also takes a look as some of Churchill’s biggest blunders. He examines the campaign for the Dodecanese, considered Churchill’s second Gallipoli, in detail even showing the American generals absolute refusal to support the campaign. Hastings also looks at many other schemes of equal daring or perhaps foolishness that while pursued by Churchill, never even made it to the drawing board.

Many do not realize just how close Churchill was from getting run out of office in 1942 with every attempt by the British Army to take on the Wehrmacht having ending in defeat. The unification of the British people that we remember from the Battle of Britain did not last throughout the entire war and by 1942 Churchill’s leadership was definitely being questioned. Hastings looks at just how near Churchill was to the end as well as taking a very critical stance of the British military men who orchestrated disaster after disaster. As success finally began to come to the Allies, Churchill’s position began to become more secure, but at the same time his role in global events became minor.

This books looks at Churchill’s struggle to maintain some semblance of the power that was the British Empire as he came to terms with the fact that in the end Britain was not to become one of the superpowers that would define the post war world.

Many of the players are quoted often in the book with Winston taking the majority of the lines. These quotes range to very familiar ones like the one at the opening of this review, to more obscure yet Churchillian quips like this one said by Winston in frustration over the actions of French Premier Paul Reynaud’s mistress:

"That woman...will undo everything during the night that I do during the day. But of course she can furnish him with facilities that I cannot afford him. I can reason with him, but I cannot sleep with him.”

This book is well researched using notes at the end of the book to tie lines in the book with the proper source material. This method leaves notation out of the text itself and requires the reader to search the notes to see if a questioned phrase has been referenced. The source material itself is wide ranged. Hastings not only cites a large number of other author’s works to put together this book, but he also uses many diary entries as well as press clippings from the time. There are many instances where Hastings has found commentary from the general populous either from editorials or from private diaries and used them in this work. This gives this look at Winston Churchill a different flair in comparison to many other works on the man. The view of the common man or woman as they too are experiencing the ups and downs of the war with their leader is represented. Some are thankful of Winston and lean on him tremendously while others see him as a doddering old fool that should be run out of Whitehall. Hastings presents both views and the idle fears and concerns as well. This provides a more complete picture of not only Churchill, but also to the sense of the British public during these times as well.

For someone who is not familiar with the Second World War or Winston Churchill, this would not be the book to introduce you to the events or man. Hastings, understanding that there is extensive reading out there on Churchill, is taking a deeper look at the man in this work. If you are someone who already has general knowledge of the history of the Second World War then this book will give you a new perspective on one of its most colorful leaders during the fight. For those who want to know more about Churchill, be prepared to see the man who kept the British hanging on against the Nazi’s aggression through a more objective and human eye than what the common history provides.


61 posted on 12/01/2010 6:28:49 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: r9etb; PzLdr; dfwgator; Paisan; From many - one.; rockinqsranch; GRRRRR; 2banana; henkster; ...
A friend is interested in learning more about his father’s experiences during the war. I will post the information here in the hope that someone seeing it might have specific information relating to the unit in question.

The gentleman managed to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps at age 16½ in February 1942. A letter he mailed home, postmarked July 27, 1944, has a return address of:

Bat. B., 12th Anti-aircraft Bn.,
c/o Fleet Post Office, San Francisco.

A preliminary search turned up the sites linked below. The first has information about the different Marine Defense Battalions, which became Anti-Aircraft Battalions in 1944. The 12th Battalion is among them. The second mentions a member of the 12th who served on Peleliu. My friend’s father also was on Peleliu.

Any additional information would be appreciated.


62 posted on 12/13/2010 9:44:47 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
Here's an article about the USMC Anti-Aircraft (formerly Defense) Battalions, Condition Red.

Before the summer of 1944, the Anti-Aircraft Battalions were designated Defense Battalions. The 12th Defense Battalion served with the 1st Marine Division on Cape Gloucester before becoming the 12th Anti-Aircraft Battalion and serving on Peleliu.

63 posted on 12/13/2010 10:46:56 AM PST by Stonewall Jackson (Democrats: "You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.")
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To: righttackle44

great book on midway:

Shattered Sword

all over ray spruance greatness

64 posted on 12/13/2010 11:01:42 AM PST by beebuster2000
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To: beebuster2000

Check out “Midway Inquest”. Caused me to re-think a great deal of what i knew about Midway.

65 posted on 12/13/2010 12:40:05 PM PST by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

Your friend should try this site:

66 posted on 12/13/2010 1:58:40 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: Lancey Howard

It looks interesting but it says the general public is not admitted.

67 posted on 12/13/2010 2:08:39 PM PST by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

Thanks for all your efforts in illuminating the ‘big picture’ of generals, admirals and the like. I was an infantry grunt landing in Marseille in December 1944. It was pretty cold, we stayed in pup tents where each guy had a shelter half and both combined to make a tent. The ground was still soft enough for the pegs. Going North we were in Patton’s Third Army for a while but were shifted to the Seventh as the Battle of the Bulge progressed. We ended up guarding Strassbourg with the French before the Nazis pushed up back.

My grunt’s eye did not see any newspapers or hear radio for some time so we were not sure how things were going elsewhere. Reading about happenings in the Pacific concurrently is quite interesting and I again thank you.

68 posted on 12/13/2010 3:25:21 PM PST by ex-snook ("Above all things, truth beareth away the victory")
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

The best place to start is here:

Veterans or next-of-kin of deceased veterans can use the online order form at (or use the SF-180) to request military records.

I used this to find out about where and when my father served. Great service and fast results even though it is from the government. :-)

You can do it all online and they will email you when the information is in the mail so you can have the paperwork.

Once he has this information he can search dates better and places, types of jobs, etc.

69 posted on 12/13/2010 3:36:52 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Looking for our Sam Adams)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good deal. Thank you. I will pass it along.

The biggest roadblock I hit when looking into my own Father's war record was being informed, when I requested a copy of his service record, that it and millions of others stored in a St. Louis archive were destroyed by a fire some time in the 1970's. That should never have happened.

70 posted on 12/13/2010 3:46:47 PM PST by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

From this article it looks like it was the 12th Defense Bn and redesignated in June of 44 to the 12th Anti-aircraft Bn.

71 posted on 12/13/2010 3:47:12 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Looking for our Sam Adams)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

My father’s were there as well in the fire but at least the archives have some information restored. It’s worth the effort to have them send you what they do have.

72 posted on 12/13/2010 4:09:44 PM PST by snippy_about_it (Looking for our Sam Adams)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
David P. Colley. The Road to Victory: The Untold Story of World War II’s Red Ball Express. Washington D.C.: Brassey’s, 2000. 215 pp. ISBN 1-57488-173-6.

"We were assigned where we were needed. There was no schedule because there was no schedule." - Sergeant Jack Blackwell of C Company of the 514th Quartermaster Truck Regiment

PhotobucketWhen the American army landed on the beaches of Normandy, they brought with them something that no other army had attempted before. They brought a complete commitment to the use of a fully motorized army. With this motorized army came a fully motorized logistics system to support it. The difficulties of supporting the multiple allied armies became apparent very early on in the campaign. Supporting the units in and around the beachhead using only the limited access of supplies at the beaches was tedious at best. When the armies broke out after operation COBRA, the problem only became extreme. Supplies were reaching the beaches and piling up near the Mulberry piers. But getting them to the front lines was an entirely different dilemma. A large part of the solution was the use of the trucking companies that had been landed on the beaches. These trucking companies were organized and administered in a fashion that created one-way designated roads for the supply truck going to and from the forward supply depots. The Red Ball Express was born. Though the Red Ball is well known in the lore of World War II history, not much is known about the make up and action of the express itself. David P. Colley seeks to change that in his book The Road to Victory: The Untold Story of World War II’s Red Ball Express, which is a rare examination of the trucking companies that were involved in the events that make the Red Ball possible.

Colley’s look at the Red Ball Express is a very complete accounting of the events that surrounded the units involved. He goes into detail as to the events leading up to its inception and implementation as well as some of the initial problems that came with this attempt to supply entire armies almost completely by truck. The process of operating this supply line took a tremendous toll on both its men and equipment. This book examines the hardships and breakdowns from the ground level as it recounts many of these issues from the accounts of the men actually involved it the operation.

Colley also looks at the problems with the Red Ball from the point of view of the commanders who were in charge of moving the supplies as well as the ones who were to receive them. The rivalry between the two armies which the Red Ball provided for is evident especially in the accounts of when one would get supplies over the other. Colley examines some of the chicanery that came with the competing for these scarce supplies as shown in his reports of one army stealing supplies from the Red Ball that were slated for the other. General Patton was party to this thievery as indicated in this book’s report of a letter the general sent to his wife stating that it was “sad to say a colored truck company did steal some [gas] for me by careful accident".

The more fascinating aspects of this book are in the details of the men making the Red Ball work. They remember a task which had them running the vehicles to destruction and the men to exhaustion. Many of these men in the trucking companies were black and with that came the issues of racism by other army personnel towards them. Colley takes the time to give notice to the racial problems that also came with the black trucking regiments but not at the expense of the entire story. His central theme is the logistical effort put forth by the Red Ball Express and his focus on the race issues involved are mostly designed to illustrate their own place in the difficulties of the overall project. He also takes note of those who really appreciated the effort of these black trucking companies and demonstrates that even in a time of a segregated army; there was still a degree of respect allotted to these companies.

This book is very well researched. For the macro historical facts Colley uses existing books and unit histories to piece together the story line of the Red Ball. But for the detailed stories and real meat of this book he relied on many interviews with men who were directly involved in the implementation of the Express. In all he utilized over 30 interviews with these men, most of them conducted by the author himself. The most harrowing, dramatic, and sometime funny stories all can be traced to these interviews that Colley took the time to make. The source material is formatted in an “end note” format which allows the reader to reference to statements in the book with notes in the back mater. This allows those who are not interested in where every piece of information came from to not be distracted by notation on every page.

If you are interested in the finer details of World War II, I recommend this book. It really pieces together the scope of the logistical problems that faced the Allied armies in France and what was attempted to try and remedy these problems. This book looks at a neglected aspect of warfare – logistics. This less glamorous component of warfare, while not the stuff for the next blockbuster movie, was still of vital importance to the conduct of war. This book provides a peek into just one aspect of the tremendous logistical effort that equipped the American soldier in their march across Western Europe.


73 posted on 02/09/2011 5:26:11 AM PST by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: CougarGA7
David Stahel. Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 451 pp. ISBN 978-0-521-76847-4.

PhotobucketAt 3:15 a.m. on June 22, 1941 the skies opened up with the thunderous boom of artillery fire. After months of preparation, the German invasion of the Soviet Union had begun. Though Hitler wouldn’t know it at the time, this was the most fatal mistake he would make in the entire war. The decision to invade the Soviet Union would eventually lead to Germany fighting a two and even three front war as Britain held out and America joined the fray. The Soviet colossus did not crumble as had every other adversary the Wehrmacht had faced and by the end of the year it was clear that they would be in a long and probably losing battle with the inexhaustible mass of Russia.

Contemporary histories often portray operation BARBAROSSA as the triumphant 1st phase of Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union that had brought the large country to the brink of collapse. They also tend to credit the Russian winter as the event that finally brought the German armies to a stop and in turn saved the Soviet empire. The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. David Stahel’s book, Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East is a study of the problems that really had doomed operation BARBAROSSA from succeeding before the invasion even began. Set before the start of the invasion and only tracking events to the end of August that year, David Stahel demonstrates to the reader how the problems that faced the Wehrmacht were insurmountable in light of the resources they had available and the leadership they had to command it. By August, long before the first rains or freezes of autumn, the German army was already at the end of its strength and was truly in dire straights.

David Stahel focuses on two major aspects that led to the German defeat in the east. These points of focus are not only vitally important to understanding the situation for Germany in operation BARBAROSSA, but they are also aspects that are usually ignored by common histories. The first of these issues is with the leadership driving the armies themselves. Much has been made of bad decisions made by Hitler during the course of the Second World War, but more often than not, the German generals who followed his orders are portrayed as brilliant strategist, with their only failings being the burden of trying to follow impossible orders from their Führer. Stahel goes beyond the erratic whims of Adolf Hitler to show the flaws within the leadership of the Germany armed forces as well. From Franz Halder’s manipulations of orders to try and force a move on Moscow (contrary to Hitler’s wishes) to Guderian’s over extension of his lines and even Paulus’ inability to show the flaws in the invasion plans in his pre-invasion war games, the flaws in the German command are shown for the fallacies that they really possessed. David Stahel explains to his readers the infighting, uncertainty, and just poor judgment that plagued the generals of Germany.

The second aspect focused on by Stahel is the logistical nightmare that was operation BARBAROSSA. He shows that even before the invasion began there were already critical shortages on vital supplies including seemingly trivial things like tires for the support vehicles. Once the invasion had begun, problems with supplies only continued to get worse. Stahel demonstrates that not only was the well know problem with the different rail gauges a problem for logistical support of the armies, but it was impossible to make up the difference with the other support means at the Wehrmacht’s disposal. The supply vehicles that would be needed to provide the supplies to the front were too few and to fragile to do the job. The horses that made up a large portion of the supply system as well as for the transport of men and artillery were simply not conditioned for the harsher Soviet conditions and suffered from a very high rate of attrition. Before the autumn rains got equipment stuck, the sandy roads clogged engines, and choked men. As Stahel shows in his analysis of logistical support, not only were many of these divisions not getting new equipment and tanks to replace their losses, they also were not receiving the parts they needed to recondition the repairable fighting vehicles they had. In this Stahel shows how the vaunted blitzkrieg was ground to a halt well before the Russian winter began freezing troops and engines.

The research for this book is extremely detailed. Stahel uses detailed footnotes at the end of each page to not only reference his source material, but to expand on the reference or recommend other sources of information for the particular piece of information. In short, this book has nearly as much “back matter” as it has writing. For this reason, the book reads much like what it likely is. It reads as if it is a doctoral dissertation that is designed to be readily defendable. For the reader of popular histories this book may not have the trappings to keep up their interest. Its attention to detail comes at the expense of leaving out some of the more interesting side notes that you would see in a general history book and some portions of it are a bit dry. However, for those who are really in search of understanding the detail of what went wrong with the German invasion of the Soviet Union, this book will deliver in spades. Another author and expert on the Eastern Front, David Glantz has referred to this book as the “state of the art” on the subject of operation BARBAROSSA and this author would have to agree completely. If you want to understand operation BARBAROSSA and those first critical months of the war in the east, this is the book to get.


74 posted on 04/20/2011 8:50:18 PM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
I've just been re-reading this thread and noticed that back in December you posted about a book titled The Making Of The Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

I can only agree with your rave review of the book after having read it twice and having a few sleepless nights because I was unable to put it down.

I wonder if you've read another book by Rhodes called Masters of Death -The SS-Einsatzgruppen and the Invention of the Holocaust? It examines the whole story of the formation of the different Einsatzgruppen their mass killings behind the Russian front which were so enormous that even today the number of their victims can only be guessed at. I highly recommend it after having recently read it in pdf format.

75 posted on 05/01/2011 6:32:45 PM PDT by Larry381 (Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare)
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To: Larry381; CougarGA7
I can only agree with your rave review of the book after having read it twice and having a few sleepless nights because I was unable to put it down.

I am sorry to say I have not read either of the books. Perhaps the author of our review has read the one about the Einsatzgrupen.

76 posted on 05/01/2011 7:21:24 PM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: CougarGA7
“The trick will be to ensure that intelligence operations work properly in the future.” – Henry C. Clausen

On December 7th, at 7:40 a.m. Hawaii Time, Mitsuo Fuchida fired a single “black dragon” from a signal pistol he carried in his aircraft. Photobucket This was a signal to the other planes in his formation that they were to commence the attack on Pearl Harbor under the configuration of having achieved surprise. Nine minutes later Fuchida ordered his radioman to send a single message back to the fleet, “To, to, to, to…” signaling that they had achieved surprise on the American forces below. The story from there is one very well known to just about anyone. The Japanese commenced on a devastating attack on the U.S. Fleet at Pearl Harbor that sank or damaged every battleship in the harbor along with several other vessels. The action catapulted the United States into war with Japan to which Germany obliged their ally by declaring war on America a few days later. The final major player in the Second World War was now an official combatant in a conflict that would shape the world for generations to come.

Before the fires on the ships at Pearl Harbor were even put out questions began to fly as to how it was possible for the Japanese to successfully attack the U.S. Fleet. Investigations were launched into the events leading up to the attack beginning with the Roberts Commission, which was formed by executive order on December 18th, 1941. Throughout the war and even after its conclusion investigations continued to try and piece together what went wrong in the American chain of command and who should be held accountable for the failure of that day. Among those investigations, Henry C. Clausen was appointed as a special investigator by Secretary of War Henry Stimson in 1945 to follow up on the recently completed Army Board hearings.

In Clausen’s book, Pearl Harbor: Final Judgement, Clausen goes into the details that made up his investigation into the Pearl Harbor attack. Unlike other investigations which consisted of a board that required witnesses to travel to Washington to testify, Clausen handled his work as a special investigator by travelling to the locations where many of the key players were currently stationed. Since at the time of his investigation, the war in both Europe and Japan were still in progress, this led him to many different locales including ones that put him very near where active combat was still underway. Since Clausen carried with him key MAGIC decrypts to show some of those he would interview, he was forced to wear a bomb pouch so that in the event that he might get captured he would be able to destroy the documents to avoid their capture. To Clausen’s dismay, the pouch was also designed to destroy him with the documents had he ever needed to activate it.

This book is an interesting look into the process of discovery in one of the investigations into the Pearl Harbor attack. In it the author takes the reader on the journey that he took and the processes he used to get his testimony that would eventually end up in the Clausen Report, Volume 35 of the Pearl Harbor hearings. Since he was trying to clear up problems with the Army Board he was often faced with interviewing people who were believed to have perjured themselves in the previous hearings. Many of these men had been evasive during the Army Board hearings in order to protect the secret that the U.S. had broken the Japanese diplomatic codes and had made their prior statements with the thought of protecting MAGIC. It was only when they were shown by Clausen that he was cleared for MAGIC by producing the decrypts he carried with him that these people began to change their story. At the end of the book he takes the time to list the fourteen people that he feels are most responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor along with an explanation as to how he has come to that conclusion. Additionally, he takes the time to point out the issues with the intelligence system in general which proved to be a major contributor to Pearl Harbor’s failure to defend itself.

There is not much in the way of notation in the body of this book for understandable reasons. This book is after all a first hand account of the Clausen investigation as told by the man himself. However, in places where Clausen or his co-author Bruce Lee, make reference to items that are not first hand accounts they are notated as a footnote on the page where they are mentioned. Additionally, Clausen provides over 150 pages of documentation that he has felt to be of vital interest on the events leading up to the attack. This appendix is full on interesting information that includes the documents that Clausen took with him on his investigation as well as many key exchanges between Washington and Hawaii. It also has many of the MAGIC decrypts including ones that would have been very telling but unfortunately were not translated until after the attack.

For those interested in learning more on the events leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack I would recommend this book. It should be noted that as with any first person account there will naturally be a degree of bias towards the individual as is human nature. However, this book is very detailed on the process and the singular appendix of documentation alone makes it a very good resource for determining what factors played a roll in the failure at Pearl Harbor.


77 posted on 05/04/2011 5:50:47 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: CougarGA7
Gamble, Bruce. Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul, Australia’s Worst Military Disaster of World War II. St. Paul, MN: Zenith Press, 2006. 270pp. ISBN 978-0-7603-2349-6.

“MORITURI VOS SALUTAMUS” – Gladiator’s hail to Caesar, “We who are about to die salute you”.

When one thinks of Rabaul during World War II, they often think of the Japanese fortress that dominated the north end of the island of New Britain. Fewer people realize that before the beginning of Japan’s expansion into the South Pacific, Rabaul was part of Australia’s “Northern Barrier” of defensive works. PhotobucketHowever, it would be a misnomer to say that Rabaul and the other defensive Australian positions were a force to be reckoned with. Manning the island of New Britain were approximately 1400 men of the 2/22nd Battalion designated Lark Force. This small force would face off against a Japanese landing force of over 5,000 troops supported by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo and his 1st Air Fleet. Needless to say the fate of the men of the 2/22nd was sealed long before the first Japanese soldier set foot on the beach. These men on New Britain would all be locked in a desperate struggle for survival as the Japanese crushed their defensive positions. Most of them would not live to see the end of the war and many of those who did would carry the scars from their ordeal on this jungle island.

Bruce Gamble examines the plight of Lark Force and its supporting units in his book “Darkest Hour: The True Story of Lark Force at Rabaul, Australia’s Worst Military Disaster of World War II”. The stories that he relates are almost always tragic in nature. He begins by showing just how woefully inadequate the defenses of the island were. Gamble describes the two shore batteries that were all that protected Rabaul from invasion, both of them on the same hill one on top of the other. He describes the island’s air defenses that consisted of only two 3-inch anti-aircraft guns and one of the two had a crack in its breachblock. From air support consisting of too few and obsolete aircraft, to the two pounder anti-tank guns only supplied with solid steel shot, Gamble paints a picture of peril for these men as the Japanese approached them.

But the author is only getting started when describing the fighting condition of the 2/22nd. Once the Japanese landed and quickly overran the Australian defensive positions, the men of the 2/22nd were in a constant struggle just to survive. Gamble describes some of the atrocities committed by the Japanese as they took control of the island including the massacre of 160 Australians who surrendered on the Tol Plantation. Others escaped into the jungle only to be ravaged by malaria, beri beri, and the ever-present threat of starvation. In the end only 385 soldiers from New Britain and its neighboring defensive post on New Ireland would escape the Japanese and make it back to Australia. The rest would find themselves back in their old barracks at Rabaul which had been converted into a P.O.W. camp. But in the end most of these men would never see home again due to the cruelest twists of fate. Bruce Gamble makes mention of the worse tragedy to confront the men of the 2/22nd in his introduction and then revisits it in greater detail towards the end of his book. He describes the incident where the U.S. submarine Sturgeon sunk an unmarked maru while patrolling the South Pacific waters. Unbeknownst to them, on board that maru were over 1,000 prisoners from Rabaul being transferred to the island of Hainan. All of the enlisted men from the 2/22nd who had not escaped capture were aboard that ship.

This book is superbly written and very detailed as it recounts the individual events and stories that took place in the first months of 1942 on New Britain. Its focus on some of the individuals involved and following their story to their escape, or more often to their demise is gripping and heart wrenching. Bruce Gamble has done an excellent job in telling the story of Rabaul. The biggest fault with the book would have to be its citation. Gamble made the decision to print the book with only an abbreviated citation. This means that as far as looking at the source material he used in this book, there is often no entry for some of the data he has put out there. The author does point out, however, that there is a complete bibliography that can be provided separately from the book if desired. This makes this book difficult to use from an academic standpoint. It is clear by the use of the abbreviated citation, that the author is more focused on the entertainment value of the book than he is its academic relevance and for this reason, I would not recommend using this book as a scholarly resource unless you go through the trouble to obtain the full bibliography.

For the casual reader of history, I highly recommend this book. It will provide the reader with a unique aspect of the Second World War. This is one of those rare books that take the time to examine one of the lesser known aspects of the war. While there are many books that look at the major events of the conflict, there are too few out there that are like this one that take a minor story of the war and presents it in a way that is informative and interesting. This book is very hard to put down.


78 posted on 05/18/2011 7:17:06 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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To: snippy_about_it

I know you posted the info back in December, but thanks for the info on requesting records.

I got documents of my Dad’s service in WWII - but not organized.

79 posted on 05/28/2011 5:52:19 AM PDT by texanyankee
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
Roseman, Mark. The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration. New York: Picador, 2002. 172pp. ISBN 0-312-42234-2.

It is always difficult for the common man to wrap their mind around the Holocaust. The thought of a government creating a national policy of destroying a singular sect of their own citizenry is almost inconceivable. Photobucket Yet there are many examples of such genocidal policies throughout history. The Nazi’s policy of extermination of the Jews is the most prolific and well known of such government policies. However, the transition of the Nazi’s policy of exclusion to eventual extermination is not a clear one. There is no set list of orders that show clearly when Hitler and Himmler made the decision to embark on a quest of Jewish extermination. This has led to many studies that try and determine when the “Final Solution,” as it will be known, was decided upon.

One marker towards the “Final Solution” was a conference held in a lush section of Berlin on the shores of Lake Wannsee. This meeting was conducted by Heinrich Himmler’s right hand man, Reinhard Heydrich. In this meeting he calls together not only members of the SS, but others from the civilian government side to coordinate details as to what the fate of Jews under German rule as well as those outside German borders. This conference, which will be called the Wannsee Conference, was held on January 20th, 1942. Clearly, this conference cannot be considered the beginning of a policy of mass murder since large scale killings had already begun long before this actual meeting. However, a look at this conference may show the effort to solidify national policy on Jewish extermination as well as put any dissenters to the policy on notice to fall in line.

In Mark Roseman’s book, The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration, another look at the significance of this conference is taken. Roseman takes an analytical approach to exploring the purpose of this conference from not only the players involved in the conference itself, but in general policy that would occur as a result of the conference. The author is quick to point out the fact that just knowing about this meeting at all is an exception instance in history. The Nazi’s went to great lengths to destroy as much of the evidence to the Holocaust as their position in the war became more desperate. Of course the scope of the Holocaust was so large that this was a largely impossible task and as a result much evidence was left behind. A copy of the minutes from the Wannsee Conference was one of these items that slipped through the cracks. Initially there were only 30 copies of this document made for a very limited distribution list. Of those 30, only one survived to be found by Allied prosecutors just as the Nuremberg Trials were underway.

An important aspect of Roseman’s evaluation of the Wannsee Conference is in his evaluation of the individuals who were involved in the conference itself. From an overall perspective this could be broken into two groups; Hitler’s government secretaries, and SS hierarchy. However, Roseman shows the importance of one section of the participants that almost places them in their own category. Representatives from the Generalgouvernement present at the meeting, including Hans Frank’s right hand man Josef Bühler had a particularly strong investment in the issue of the Jewish question. Roseman points to Frank’s desire to make the Generalgouvernement into a jewel of the German occupied areas. This desire would include ridding the land of the 2 million plus Jews that were already there or shipped to the region as a result of other efforts to relocate the Jews. As the policy of “evacuation” was discussed, which really was just a euphemism for extermination since there really was no set plan as to where to evacuate these Jews to, Bühler was quick to volunteer the Jews in the Generalgouvernement to be among the first “evacuated” pointing out the proximity of these Jews would make them easier to transport to wherever they were to be sent in the east.

Another primary issue of the Wannsee Conference that the author takes time to look at in detail is the fate of the Mischlinge. These were individuals who were only part Jewish, being either half-Jew (first degree Mischlinge), or a lesser percentage (second degree Mischlinge). These individuals were discussed in terms of who would be treated as full Jews and “evacuated” and who would be sent to the so-called “old-age ghetto” in Thereseinstadt. Roseman points out that this policy was only a temporary salvation since most of the occupants of Thereseinstadt would eventually end up in Auschwitz. However, he also shows the degree of detail in which this very grey area in the Nazi policy was addressed with the conference itself showing a clear shift against the Mischlinge in question.

This book is truly designed for the academic reader and not the casual history fan. The source material used for Roseman’s work is extensive and mostly consisting of original Nazi documentation. Because of this, the individual who is seeking out his sources will find that the vast majority of them are in the German language. Included in Roseman’s sources is the Wannsee Protocol itself, which he attaches in total at the end of his book to allow the reader to go over the primary source, used by the author and capture the context in which he refers to it. If you are a casual reader, this book may not be for you. It is an analysis of a single meeting held by the Nazis and is not designed to be gripping reading. However, for those who are just interested in obtaining a better understanding of the Nazi mindset that led to a national policy of murder, this book will provide a very revealing look at this progression. The Wannsee Conference shows an official jump from oppression to slaughter and Roseman does an extremely good job at analyzing the nuances of this progression.


80 posted on 06/22/2011 5:15:16 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson ("Every nation has the government that it deserves." - Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821))
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