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Free Republic University, Department of History presents World War II Plus 70 Years: Seminar and Discussion Forum
First session: September 1, 2009. Last date to add: September 2, 2015.
Reading assignment: New York Times articles delivered daily to students on the 70th anniversary of original publication date. (Previously posted articles can be found by searching on keyword “realtime” Or view Homer’s posting history .)
To add this class to or drop it from your schedule notify Admissions and Records (Attn: Homer_J_Simpson) by freepmail. Those on the Realtime +/- 70 Years ping list are automatically enrolled. Course description, prerequisites and tuition information is available at the bottom of Homer’s profile.
1 posted on 10/31/2010 8:21:09 AM PDT by Homer_J_Simpson
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To: r9etb; PzLdr; dfwgator; Paisan; From many - one.; rockinqsranch; GRRRRR; 2banana; henkster; ...
A couple of days ago CougarGA7 and henkster came up with the idea collecting lists of WWII flag officers to decide which should be counted among the best and which the worst of the war. That seems like a good way to launch this thread so let’s go to it.

My own knowledge of WWII generals and admirals is quite extensive. For example, I know that Ike led the invasion of France, that Patton went around slapping soldiers all the time and looked exactly like George C. Scott, and that MacArthur Returned and looked exactly like Gregory Peck. Okay, I admit I am out of my depth on this topic. But I have been paying attention to the events of mid-1940 pretty closely and I have one name to throw out in the category of Military Leaders who have Played Important Roles over the Last Few Months. In honor of the end of the Battle of Britain . . .

Air Marshal Hugh Dowding.

2 posted on 10/31/2010 8:22:56 AM 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
From the David Irving book Hitler's War (Viking, 1977. p. 684)

Near the end of the war (February 1945), Eisenhower ranked the capabilities of U.S. generals in Europe. Omar Bradley and Carl Spaatz he rated as the best. Walter Bedell Smith was ranked number 3, and Patton number 4, followed by Mark Clark, and Lucian Truscott.

Bradley himself had been asked by Eisenhower to rank all the generals in December 1945, and he ranked them as follows: Bedell Smith #1, Spaatz #2, Courtney Hodges #3, Elwood Quesada #4, Truscott #5, and Patton #6 (others were also ranked)

However, Patton was a ground commander. Spaatz and Quesada had been air commanders since the 1920s, having spent their military careers through the end of World War II in the Army Air Force, the forerunner of today's U.S. Air Force, which was not separated from the U.S. Army until 1947. It may be impossible today to make a fair comparison of commanders from two such different branches of the U.S. military.

Eisenhower's and Bradley's rankings probably included factors other than Patton's success as a battle leader. As to that, Alan Axelrod in his book Patton (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) quotes German Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt as stating "Patton was your best" and, surprisingly, Joseph Stalin as stating that the Red Army could neither have planned nor executed Patton's advance across France. Even Adolf Hitler was impressed by Patton's ability, reportedly calling him "The most dangerous man (the Allies) have."

7 posted on 10/31/2010 8:59:53 AM PDT by The KG9 Kid
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To: Homer_J_Simpson


13 posted on 10/31/2010 9:51:22 AM PDT by beebuster2000
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

Ground Commanders: Erwin Rommel, Erich von Manstein,Hermann Hoth, Tomuyuki Yamashita, George Patton, Bill Slim

Air Commanders: Albert Kesselring [also a ground commander],Pete Quesada, Jimmy Doolittle

Naval Commanders: Andrew Cunningham, Raymond Spruance, Wilhelm Marschall, Guenther Lutjens, Tamon Yamaguchi

15 posted on 10/31/2010 11:13:32 AM PDT by PzLdr ("The Emperor is not as forgiving as I am" - Darth Vader)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
General Ira C. Eaker, Commander of the Eighth Air Force
16 posted on 10/31/2010 11:28:33 AM PDT by Eaker (Pablo is very wily)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

For air, I’d submit Adolph Galland, navy Wilhelm Canaris and Isoroku Yamamoto, land Patton, Rommel, Bradley for consideration on the list of best.

For worst, there ought to be a place for both Montgomery and Eisenhower on the list. Probably MacArthur, as well, certainly Halsey.

18 posted on 10/31/2010 3:17:46 PM PDT by PAR35
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To: Homer_J_Simpson; PzLdr; PAR35
Some of these choices are pretty obvious.
For worst generals: Hitler, Stalin and possibly Churchill.
No doubt, FDR only stays off this list because he was smart enough to stay out of the general-ing business. ;-)

For best generals -- those responsible for winning the most battles: Marshall, Eisenhower, Montgomery, Zhukov, Timoshenko & MacArthur.
On the German side: von Manstein, Guderian, Rommel and Kesselring come to mind, as does Japan's Tomoyuki Yamashita

Of course, each of these had commanders under them who may deserve much, if not most, or the credit.
I'm thinking especially of MacArthur's two "German" Lt. Generals -- Eichelberger and Krueger -- who humbly made MacArthur look like the genius he considered himself to be.

Battlefield commanders are a different story, of course, and I certainly couldn't name the best or worst of those.

But we might note this: among some armies, the numbers of generals killed in battle was not just dozens, but hundreds.
And if the first measure of a good commander is courage, then all of those passed that test.

As for the quality of their generalship, yes, we might suppose that some died from their own incompetence.
But my guess is many more were put into the most difficult circumstances just because they were considered the most likely to prove successful.

So I'm suggesting a good place to begin looking for the best and worst generals is among the lists of those who didn't live to tell their stories.

20 posted on 10/31/2010 4:24:28 PM PDT by BroJoeK (a little historical perspective....)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

With apologies, I’ve just now gotten to this thread. Thank Homer for getting this started. My list will take me a bit to compose but I’ll get it up there tomorrow. It really is difficult to home in on a top ten among all the generals and commanders in the war.

When I’ve really stopped and thought about it, I found that I really like many of these commanders for different reasons. Ike is a favorite of mine because he had a unusual quality of being able to combine the generalship of leading armies with the diplomacy of holding together what was actually a very tenuous alliance. Guderian and Patton were masters of armored and mobile warfare, but not particularly savvy on the political aspects of generalship (especially Patton). And frankly, as well versed as I am on the Second World War, I don’t know everything about all the leading commanders in the fight.

My bottom 10 is actually quite easier since there were some who were truly unsuited for where they were and as a result got a lot of men killed because of it.

28 posted on 10/31/2010 10:04:08 PM PDT by CougarGA7 (It take a village to raise an idiot.)
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

And not one mention of Nimitz.

33 posted on 11/01/2010 9:44:18 AM PDT by Wizdum
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To: Homer_J_Simpson
Commanders – Part I

At the battle of Waterloo, Colonel Clement, an infantry commander, fought with the most conspicuous bravery; but unfortunately was shot through the head. Napoleon, hearing of his gallantry and misfortune, gave instructions for him to be carried into a farm where Larrey the surgeon-general was operating.

One glance convinced Larrey that his case was desperate, so taking up a saw he removed the top of his skull and placed his brains on the table.

Just as he had finished, in rushed an aide-de-camp, shouting - 'Is General Clement here?'

Clement, hearing him, sat up and exclaimed: 'No! but Colonel Clement is.'

"Oh, mon général' cried the aide-decamp, embracing him, 'the Emperor was overwhelmed when we heard of your gallantry, and has promoted you on the field of battle to the rank of General.'

Clement rubbed his eyes, got off the table, clapped the top of his skull on his head and was about to leave the farm, when Larrey shouted after him: 'Mon général - your brains!' To which the gallant Frenchman, increasing his speed, shouted back: 'Now that I am a general I shall no longer require them!' (J.F.C. Fuller, Generalship)

This tongue in cheek introduction by Fuller in a way represents the perception that many have of leadership in general. Often this portrait is painted with the opinions of others as they have built the picture that we have viewed to help us form our perceptions of the leadership in the Second World War. Here in the United States there is not much demand to explore the attributes of some of the Soviet generals who where truly successful. German commanders suffer the stigma of having been on the wrong side of history which taints their record and victimizes their achievements with the classical mantra, “the victors write the history”. On the other hand there have been those who were completely incompetent in their command, but were shielded by the need of the time for heroes, or generally the desire of historians to cast them in a better light. But for those at the top, they have mostly endured the criticisms of time’s reexaminations of them and continue to be viewed as some of the best. Some of these are obvious, others are not as much. In making my list of top ten I had to weigh many things that placed them there. Many make the list based on excellence in completely different attributes and if the rolls would have been reversed these men may have ended up in the dust bin of history as failures. Eisenhower may not have been a very successful division general in France, while Patton would certainly been a disaster as head of SHAEF. But they were not in these positions and the positions they were in were well suited for their skill sets and placed them where they are on my list. Because of the length of this, I did decide to break it into two parts though. This first part is the glamour list. These are my top 10. Actually I think I have overall a top 30 and if you asked me on a different day some of these may slip off the list for another commander, but overall I think this is a good top 10. Stay tuned for part II which will have my bottom 10.

Best Commanders: (in no particular order)

Heinz Guderian – In my own opinion he was the top German general of the war. That really is a statement considering the fact that the Germans fielded more top notch generals than any other of the belligerents in World War II. He not only was a master of using the tank in mobile warfare, but he also had a masterful understanding of what it took to keep this new war machine working. In his execution of the Sickle Cut Plan in the western offensive many of his tanks had jerry cans of fuel and loads of ammo strapped to their sides. His biggest complaint prior to the beginning of operation BARBAROSSA was that most of his support and supply vehicles were confiscated French vehicles which he had no means of maintaining to keep his supply lines rolling.

George S. Patton - Another tanker. Patton was a hard headed and controversial figure in the American Army during the Second World War, but there is one thing that many cannot deny. He got results. As the disaster at the Kasserine Pass took place in North Africa, Eisenhower of heard saying that he wished he had put Patton in command of the II Corps instead of leaving him in Casablanca. When Patton was at the front he made the most of it. His aggressiveness was first showcased on Sicily when first made his run on Palermo then began his move along the coast towards Messina. In France his biggest limitation was his supply lines. Omar Bradley wrote in his diary that Patton had told him as he moved on Metz that if Bradley would give him 400,000 gallons of gas, he would be in Germany in a week. Though this was perhaps boastful, there is not doubt that when he made his shift north to support the First Army that was reeling from the Ardennes Offensive, that Patton could take large forces and move them along offensive lines faster than about any other general in the war.

Dwight D. Eisenhower - Ike, as he was called, probably would not have made a great commander of units, but there is one thing that stands out for him over other commanders. He was a master at maintaining a military coalition and in the position he held this was absolutely critical. Many do not know just how large a task he had in front of him in doing this. Not only did Ike have to deal with keeping together two peoples separated by a common language, but he also had to deal with other nations and his how generals all of whom had different designs on how the war should be won. I’m having trouble narrowing down the number of examples so I’ll just pick one and go with it. In North Africa, Ike had to first deal with the fact that this was an unpopular move with the U.S. Army in general and the Navy felt it even justified shifting to a Pacific first policy (though Marshall dealt with that) but he also had to deal with some strong French personalities. General Giraud felt that he was coming in to take command of all forces in French North Africa which was essentially Ike’s job. Then he also had to deal with the wildly unpopular, but necessary decision to bring Admrial Darlan into the fold. Darlan was needed to bring the Vichy forces to the Allied side which saved many Allied lives, but the decision was not well like in the press and hated by the British. This political hot potato was a festering problem for Ike until Darlan was assassinated before the end of the year. His balancing of diplomacy and generalship kept the Alliance together.

Erich von Manstein – A fantastic operational general he is better remembered and perhaps rightfully so for his strategic mind. He is considered by many historians as the author of the Sickle Cut Plan which called for a shift in the planned western offensive from the area of Liege and Namur to a thrust through the Ardennes. This was the plan which crushed the French in May of 1940 as the forces quickly cut the Allied forces in two. Manstein also spent extensive time of the eastern front which I think may have been more significant had he not been shifted around as much as he was. What he did achieve while on that front was significant though. His accolades include the siege and capture of the city of Sevastapol, the destruction of Vlasov’s 2nd Shock Army when assisting in the siege of Lenningrad and even command of Army Group Don charged with trying to break Paulus out of Stalingrad. Though that effort did not allow him to get to the 6th Army, it did allow him to open a corridor long enough to allow the 1st Panzer Army to escape which would have compounded the disaster had that not been done.

Chester Nimitz - Put in command of the Pacific Fleet just days after Pearl Harbor, Nimitz inherited a naval force that had just been decimated by the Japanese attack. This did not stop Nimitz from immediately going on the offensive. With the backing of Admiral King he began planning for carrier raids in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands. This lead to the birth of the Carrier Task Force which is what our current naval formations are still based on today. Halsey’s Task Force 8 and Fletcher’s Task Force 17 harried Japanese forward forces to the point to lead them to push the matter with a naval showdown, first at the Coral Sea, and them at Midway which was a disaster for them. Nimitz was also amiable enough to work with General MacArthur, but firm enough to keep the old soldier from dominating the theater. This is no small task and in fact despite this effort it cannot be said that other leadership, including the President didn’t have to occasionally intervene.

Lucian Truscott - Truscott was involved in the European Theater from start to end beginning with his command of the landing forces at Mehdia where his units truly did rock the Kasbah. From there he continued across Africa and was a commander at Salerno and Anzio and continued on into France. He was always a reliable commander and was in charge of the planning and training of the landing forces that put Devers and Patch in southern France in operation DRAGOON. Where ever Truscott was, success usually followed and he continually moved up the ranks as the war moved on. He once said that “Polo games and wars aren’t won by gentlemen, no sonofabitch, no commander.” This personified his unrelenting style.

Jonathan Wainwright - I don’t think that anyone could have been handed a more impossible situation than Wainwright was in the Philippines in 1942. The Japanese had landed and quickly demonstrated just how ill advised MacArthur’s “defend them at the beaches” strategy was and now MacArthur was called to Australia by the President himself and Wainwright was left to try and make something of this mess. Make the best of it he did by holding out until May of 1942. At this point though he knew that to wait any longer would just mean the sure death of his men and so he finally gave up the fight. Eisenhower, said on hearing that Wainwright had surrendered to the Japanese, “Poor Wainwright! He did the fighting in the Philippine Islands. Another got such glory as the public could find in the operation…MacArthur’s tirades to which TJ and I so often listened in Manila would now sound as silly to the public as they did to us. But he’s a hero! Yah.” Despite this valiant but hopeless effort he still worried that he had let his country down in surrendering at Corregidor. When he was liberated the first thing he asked the men relieving him from the camp was “how am I thought of back in the States?” MacArthur would block the recommendation of the Congressional Medal of Honor for Wainwright who eventually receive the award in September of 1945.

Teddy Roosevelt Jr. - The son of Rough Rider and former president Theodore Roosevelt, Teddy Jr. would serve with distinction in World War II. His winning of the Congressional Medal of Honor along with his father doing the same makes them only one of two father/son pairs to both win that honor. In my personal opinion they are the only pair to legitimately win the award. Though Roosevelt was effective in his roll in North Africa, he really shown during the Normandy landings. He was one of the few commanders that landed with his troops on D-Day and was instrumental in coordinating the attack from Utah beach on that day establishing the bridgehead. Roosevelt is what would be called a field commander of the first order. He was never afraid to be right at the front and to make corrections immediately based on the situation he saw.

Georgii Zhukov - With Stalin’s tendency to purge his generals it is amazing that the Soviets had any decent generals at all. Hitler was absolutely counting on the fact and the stalemate that was the Russo-Finnish War in 1939-1940 would seem to have confirmed it. Luckly for Stalin, he did have several generals that did quite well. Zhukov stands out to me for the events in which he was involved in before the Germans attacked. Prior to the Soviets being at war with the Axis powers there was a dust up in the Mongolian frontier that really set the stage for the rest of the Pacific war. Japan tangled with Zhukov at the Mongolian town of Nomonhan. There Zhukov’s forces gave the Japanese a pretty severe black eye which I think made a difference in policy for the Japanese when it came time to decide whether to expand north into Siberia or south into the Indies. He was very sucessful on the Eastern Front first in the effort to help the besieged Leningrad and eventually to the point where he was the commander who accepted Germany’s surrender. So successful was he, that he ran afoul of the ever suspicious Stalin after the war and relegated to a lowly district commander until Stalin’s death.

Albert Kesslering - Smiling Al was an interesting commander in that he was an air commander and a ground commander. While I feel he was a top notch air commander, the thing that really sets him apart in my book is his use of ground forces. Particularly, his ability to use defensive lines in order to serve as a delaying action against opposing troops. In Italy for example, he took advantage of every aspect of the terrain and equipment he had available to make what Churchill thought would be a rather easy line of conquest, an absolute nightmare for the troops on the ground. In effect, with a minimal amount of troops he was able to turn Italy into a stalemate that ate up Allied troops and resources. Of all the generals in the war, if you were fighting a defensive action, Kesslering would be the man you would want in command of that defense.

34 posted on 11/01/2010 1:07:49 PM PDT by CougarGA7 (It take a village to raise an idiot.)
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To: r9etb; PzLdr; dfwgator; Paisan; From many - one.; rockinqsranch; GRRRRR; 2banana; henkster; ...
New Feature Announcement

I have added an index by authors, with their locations and publication dates, to the bottom of my profile. It is taking quite a while so I decided to post it before it is complete. The missing part goes from February 1939 through June 1940. I know - that is most of the war period. Even with that gap, though, it is interesting to see how the thrust of the reporting evolves over time. Last summer, for example, you couldn't swing a cat in London without hitting a Times reporter. At this point there are only two correspondents reporting regularly from Asia - Hugh Byas and Hallett Abend. Do you suppose that will change over the next year or so? Look at the output of Hanson Baldwin. The guy is a machine.

You get the idea. Scroll through it and see what you think. But keep in mind the index only includes articles posted by yours truly, so it is probably misleading in some respects.

For the time being I will continue to work on the index on a Word document and update the one on my profile when I complete another month - either a new one or one in the missing period. I hope it is useful and provides additional enjoyment for the class.


49 posted on 11/12/2010 11:28:26 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
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
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: Homer_J_Simpson; SWAMPSNIPER; mojitojoe; sukhoi-30mki

Today in Fort Myers, FL, by chance, I had the pleasure of meeting one of “America’s Greatest Generation.”

An elderly gentleman climbed into the Buick dealer’s courtesy van behind me after I was picked up and he was introduced by the driver as “Jim Sibert.”

Making light conversation, he said “In ’42 I was flying out of Page Field.” (Local Fort Myers air field)

“With the Navy?”

“No, big four-engined bombers with the Army Air Corp.”


“Yes. We were “staging” them to prepare to take them to the theater of operations.”

“Did you fly by way of Greenland?” “How did you get there?”

“San Juan, Trinidad and the Recife, Brazil. From there we flew across the South Atlantic to Accra (Ghana).

“Were you trying to get to England?”

“Oh No, we were supposed to be heading towards Japan! But we were diverted to Egypt”

Now, my mental wheels were spinning! Egypt? B-24’s? Ploesti?

I said “Didn’t they fly the Ploesti raid with B-24’s?

“That was my first combat mission!”

“They didn’t give you much fighter cover on that mission”.

“None. They told us it was going to be a surprise attack, but when we got there, they were ready for us and opened fire. I flew 32 missions and we had NO fighter cover for any of them."

By now we were at the Buick dealer. I told him that it was an honor to meet him and thanked him for his service. He must be about 92 years old.

When I got home I went on the web and searched “James Sibert Ploesti".

It turns out there were two James W. Sibert flying B-24 Liberators during WWII. One of them was killed in a freak accicent testing the planes in Alaska during cold weather conditions and included in the exchange below is the information on eventual Squadron Commander, Major James W. Sibert, who piloted the B-24 Liberator named "Queen B" on the Ploesti Raid.

Dog Driver: : [Dog_Driver] First Raid on Ploesti (HALPRO) - 09/09/2004

"I just came across a website that includes a "virtual" B-24 museum. In it, they list a group of 15 B-24s that made the first raid on the European continent on 11 June 1942 when they flew from Fayid, Egypt to Ploesti, Romania. The pilot of the "Queen Bee" was a man by the name of Lt. James Sibert. One of the crewmen who died in the crash I am investigating was also named Lt. James Sibert. Does anyone out there now anything about his first raid on Ploesti and in particular have any information regarding Lt. Sibert? I would like to find out if he may have rotated back to the states and gone to work at Wright AAF Base in Dayton, Ohio as a propeller specialist. As always, thanks for your help!!!"


Re: [Dog_Driver] First Raid on Ploesti (HALPRO) - 09/09/2004 06:42:12 AM

"The 1/Lt. James W. Sibert that piloted Queen B on the HALPRO Ploesti mission remained with the group as it became the 376th Bomb Group. He became 514th Squadron Commander by the Spring of '43, and was promoted to Major. It appears he rotated home in April '43. His rank would preclude him being the Lt. Sibert you seek. The website you referenced lists the 23 HALPRO a/c and their originally assigned pilots. The asterisks denoting those flying the first Ploesti mission are not entirely accurate, as some pilots flew different a/c on this mission due to maintenance concerns. Sibert and Queen B are not indicated as flying, but they did make the mission."

Doing a little more web searching before hitting the send key I just found out what Jim Sibert did after his 32 WWII combat missions. Sibert was an FBI agent until 1972...and was one of the two agents who witnessed the JFK autopsy.

In the interview at the link Sibert says he doesn't buy the single bullet theory and doesn't dismiss the idea that there might have been a conspiracy!

92 posted on 02/01/2012 2:53:35 PM PST by Seizethecarp
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

Mr. Baldwin wrote this before the atomic bomb was delivered by a plane.

96 posted on 05/18/2012 2:20:16 PM PDT by ex-snook ("above all things, truth beareth away the victory")
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

Mark for reading later

106 posted on 06/04/2012 7:47:43 AM PDT by 4everontheRight (And the story began with..."Once there was a great nation......")
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To: Homer_J_Simpson


110 posted on 06/06/2014 5:41:36 AM PDT by DFG ("Dumb, Dependent, and Democrat is no way to go through life" - Louie Gohmert (R-TX))
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To: Homer_J_Simpson

And here we are, at the 70th year from the war - ironically, this is Hitler’s Birthday.

I am reminded of the recent movie, “Der Untergang”, with the brilliant performance by Bruno Ganz in the role. The movie’s action started on this date, and concluded with the Breakout from the Fuhrerbunker.

113 posted on 04/20/2015 4:49:21 AM PDT by Old Sarge (Its the Sixties all over again, but with crappy music...)
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