2017
August 21, 2017
The German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun was a complex character. Fascinated by astronomy since childhood, he studied at the Technische Hochschule Berlin and the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Berlin, receiving a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. physics. Joining the Nazi party in 1937, von Braun rose to spearhead Hitler’s...
June 29, 2017
With the inevitable loss of the war apparent, Imperial Japan dispatched young kamikaze (神風 = divine wind) pilots of the 205th Air Group on suicidal missions against the American ships in the Pacific, especially at Okinawa. Although damage to the American fleet at Okinawa was significant (21 ships sunk and...
April 13, 2017
Midst bad weather in the Battle of the Bulge, General George S. Patton commissioned his chaplain to write a prayer for good weather and victory. Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend....
April 10, 2017
In December 1944, U.S. Army troops, supported by the Navy and Air Force, made an amphibious landing on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. With the aid of local guerrillas, U.S. forces easily defeated the relatively small detachment of Imperial Japanese Army forces stationed on the island. With the capture of Mindoro, U.S. forces...
April 6, 2017
Alton Glenn Miller (1904 – 1944) was a big band star in the American swing era whose recordings were best-sellers from 1939 to 1943. Traveling to entertain U.S. troops in France in December 1944, his single-engine UC-64 Norseman disappeared in bad weather over the English Channel. Of several theories proposed for the crash, it seems unlikely that...
March 30, 2017
  Montford Point Marines In July 1944, the U.S. Army and Marines recaptured Guam from the Japanese at a cost of 1,783 Americans killed and ~6000  men wounded. ~18,000 Japanese died. After the battle, the Allies developed five airfields on Guam to attack targets in the Western Pacific and on mainland Japan. Occupying Guam, racial tensions developed...
March 27, 2017
         In December 1944, in order to prevent their rescue by the advancing Allies, units of the Japanese 14th Area Army, under the command of General Tomoyuki Yamashita, murdered 139 Allied POWs at Puerto Princesa, Philippines. 150 POWs hiding in three covered trenches during an air raid warning...
March 23, 2017
In December 1944, 84 American POWs were killed near Malmedy, Belgium by the SS Panzer division Kampfgruppe Peiper. The term "Malmedy massacre" was later applied  to a series of massacres committed by the same SS unit over several days during the Battle of the Bulge. Although portrayed as outright atrocity in this video clip,...
March 20, 2017
On 20 October, 1944, during the battle of Leyte Gulf, the U.S. Sixth Army landed on the Leyte Island in the Philippines.  Shortly after the landing, General Douglas MacArthur waded ashore with his famous declaration “People of the Philippines, I have returned.”   As the Japanese rushed reinforcements to the western...
March 16, 2017
In December 1944, under overcast skies that limited Allied aerial surveillance, >250,000 German troops and armored divisions launched a surprise attack in the weakly-defended, rugged forest of Ardennes. With a thrust toward Antwerp Belgium, the advance was intended to split the Allied armies in northwest Europe. Caught completely off guard, reeling...
March 13, 2017
  From November 1944 to April 1945, Japan launched over 9,000 hydrogen balloons carrying antipersonnel and firebombs into the jet stream from the island of Honshu. Although many found their way to diverse regions of Western North America, only one caused fatalities -  On May 5, 1945, a pregnant minister's wife and five adolescents...
March 9, 2017
First elected in 1933 during the Great Depression, the Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt instituted successful "New Deal” programs designed to stabilize the economy and provide jobs and relief for the unemployed (e.g., the Agricultural Adjustment Act, National Industrial Recovery Act, Public Works Administration, Tennessee Valley Authority). With the U.S. economy...
March 6, 2017
At a cost of ~3000 American and 24,000 Japanese lives, the Northern Marianas island of Saipan was taken in July 1944. With the subsequent seizure of Guam and Tinian in August, the U.S. now had ideal locations (~1500 miles from Japan) to construct airfields within the range of the new B-29 superfortress (~5000 miles).  Additionally,...
February 23, 2017
For years a devotee of the ultra-conservative radio ministry of Father Charles Edward Coughlin, a 23 year-old USAAF P-38 pilot named Martin James Monti defected to the Axis powers in October 1944. Why a young American might actually defect to the Axis is hard to fathom. But it looks like the fiery Father...
February 20, 2017
As German military forces were beginning to suffer major losses, Adolf Hitler created a national militia called the Volkssturm ("people's storm") in October 1944. Under control of the Nazi party, rather than the Wehrmacht, the Volkssturm drafted nearly six million men aged 16-60 years who were not already members of the German...
February 16, 2017
Army (陸軍 Rikugun, a powerful, multi-generational epic about military legacy and parental love during wartime, was directed in 1944 by Keisuke Kinoshita. The film starred Chishū Ryū and Kinuyo Tanaka. The film's silent, final scene was controversial at the time and barely escaped rejection by Imperial Japanese censors. In that scene, as her...
February 13, 2017
This slick propaganda film produced by the U.S. Army Signal Corps utilized the metaphor of "hands" to inspire Americans in 1944.  
February 9, 2017
After the 1943 defeat of the Afrikorps in North Africa, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was recalled to Europe to oversee the defense of the Atlantic coast. One of Germany's most successful and popular generals, Rommel soon began to harbor doubts about Adolf Hitler's reasons for initiating the war and his leadership capabilities...
February 6, 2017
The Battle of Leyte Gulf (October 23–26, 1944) proved to be the most decisive naval engagement in the Pacific War. Japanese defeat resulted in severe losses of its remaining surface vessels and virtually ended its ability to move resources from Southeast Asia to the home islands. When the U.S. launched an amphibious assault on the central Philippine...
February 2, 2017
In September 1944 the Allies launched Operation Market Garden, an unsuccessful, airborne operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany. The goal of the operation was to encircle the Ruhr valley, the center of German industry, with a pincer movement. Including the Battle for Arnhem, Operation Market Garden, was the largest airborne battle in history. Allied forces were...
January 30, 2017
Brazil was the only South American country to send troops to fight in WWII. Initially neutral, the government of Brazil created the Força Expedicionária Brasileira (Brazilian Expeditionary Force) of ~25,000 men in 1943 after 34 Brazilians ships were sunk near the country's shore by U-Boats. Early reluctance by the Brazilian government to joining the Allied...
January 26, 2017
Designed to capture an airstrip on a tiny coral island, the Battle of Peleliu was fought from September to November 1944 by  the First Marine Division, and the U.S. Army's 81st Infantry Division. Although American military planners anticipated a relatively short battle, the Japanese, with new island-defense tactics and well-crafted fortifications put up...
January 23, 2017
After a one month blitzkrieg by the Wehrmacht, Paris fell to Nazi Germany on June 14, 1940. An armistice with Germany subsequently established a French puppet government with its capital at Vichy. The Nazi occupation of Paris lasted four years until the city was liberated by the French 2nd Armored Division and...
January 19, 2017
The Warsaw Uprising by the Polish resistance Home Army in August 1944 occurred as the Russian Army approached the city and the Germans were retreating. Unfortunately, the Russian advance stopped short of the city, leaving the Poles (who assumed the Russians would join in the battle) to stand alone against vastly superior...
January 16, 2017
Hideki Tojo , known as kamisori (the razor) for his sharp, decisive and impatient qualities, rose rapidly through the Imperial Japan's military hierarchy. As War Minister in 1940, he promoted the righteous cause of casting off imperialist colonialization of East Asia and was strongly opposed to any negotiations with Western powers. In October 1941 Tojo became premier...
January 12, 2017
In August 1944, a riot broke out at Fort Lawton, Washington between Italian POWs and U.S. African-American soldiers. Dozens of men were injured before military police intervened. The next morning, an Italian POW was found hanged. Interpretation of the riot and subsequent events, including an attempted coverup and inadequate initial criminal...
January 9, 2017
Unfortunately, this cartoon, released in April 1944, can no longer be found online in its entirety. Bugs Bunny Nips the Nips, portrayed classical Western racist stereotypes of the Japanese - short, buck-toothed people wearing thick eyeglasses and talking jibberish. At one point in the cartoon, Bugs hands out ice cream bars saying: Here's...
January 5, 2017
In July 1944,  a group of high-level German military leaders attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler and stage a coup d’état, code-named Operation Valkyrie. Lieutenant Colonel Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, wounded veteran and chief of staff of the reserve army, left a briefcase bomb beneath a table during a meeting with Hitler at...
January 2, 2017
The Battle of the Philippine Sea was the last large scale carrier battle the Imperial Japanese Navy was able to conduct. In the air, the sheer number of Japanese compared to U.S. losses inspired the American nickname for the battle - the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. In addition to Japan's lack of many experienced...
2016
December 29, 2016
In 1944, segregated African-American Navy units were assigned dangerous loading operations. Most of these men were not trained in munitions handling, and safety standards were apparently often overlooked under heavy pressure to complete loading schedules. In July 1944, a massive explosion occurred during the loading of two adjacent cargo ships at the...
December 26, 2016
In June 1944, U.S. Marines landed on Saipan, the island in the Marianas nearest to the Japanese homeland. The Allied goal was to build an air base for new long-range B-29 bombers that could attack the Japanese home islands. Japanese resistance was fierce with particularly brutal fighting near Mount Tapotchau, where Marines named the battle sites “Death Valley” and...
December 22, 2016
Carrying a ton of explosives, the V1 rocket flew at ~400 mph with a range of 200 miles. Launched from the occupied French coast, the first V-1 "Buzzbomb" (Vergeltungswaffen) attacked London on 13 June 1944, immediately after the Allied D-Day invasion. British countermeasures, including antiaircraft guns, barrage balloons and Hawker Tempest and Gloster Meteor aircraft proved...
December 19, 2016
First Battle of Guam - Guam, a U.S. possession in the Mariana islands since the Spanish-American war of 1898, was captured by Imperial Japan in their initial Pacific offensive of December 1941. This first Battle of Guam resulted in 550 Allied and 5900 Japanese deaths. Second Battle of Guam - From July-August 1944,...
December 15, 2016
On June 6, 1944, >5,000 Allied ships, supported by 13,000 airplanes performed the largest amphibious landing in the history of warfare. Code-named Operation Overlord, the invasion of ~50 miles of beach in Normandy France signaled the beginning of the tough campaign to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe.  By August 1944, northern France was liberated; in June...
December 8, 2016
This American propaganda film made by Castle Films in 1944 emphasizes the "thrill" of war. Intended to be upbeat and exciting, perhaps motivating enlistment, it captures the spirit of the era. Although a bit long, it's worth a look.
December 5, 2016
My late father-in-law Jim Evans fought with the 163rd Infantry Regiment in this campaign. Discussions with him and his comrade Jim Jackson inspired the chapter on the battle of Biak Island in my book Enemy in the Mirror: Love and Fury in the Pacific War.   First Sergeant James Lloyd Evans, U.S....
December 1, 2016
In 1942, the Office of Economic Stabilization (OES) was created to combat rising inflation. Under this mandate, the OES controlled the allocation of scarce raw materials for wartime industrial production. In May 1943, the Office of War Mobilization (OWM) was established to coordinate all government agencies (including the OES) involved in the war effort. Overcoming initial...
November 28, 2016
Allied airmen captured during WWII were incarcerated in POW Camps run by the Luftwaffe called  Stammlager Luft (abrev., Stalag). Allied POWs reported that the Luftwaffe (unlike the Gestapo or SS) respected fellow flyers, and treated airmen POWs well, with the exception of an inconsistent food supply. Since the Geneva Conventions stipulated ~10 days of solitary confinement...
November 24, 2016
The Most Beautiful was a 1944 Japanese propaganda film, written and directed by Akira Kurosawa. Young women working in a WWII military optics factory overcome many personal hardships in patriotic commitment to wartime Imperial Japan.    
November 14, 2016
The German V-2 (Vergeltungswaffe 2–"Retribution Weapon 2") was Mankind's first long-range guided ballistic missile. Powered by a liquid-propellant rocket engine, more than 3000 V-2 rockets were launched against Allied cities in 1944. The initial V-2 target was London;  later, Antwerp and Liège were attacked. ~ 9,000 civilians and military personnel were killed in the V-2 attacks....
August 25, 2016
Here are excerpts from the American Marine Eugene Sledge's diary ( published as With the Old Breed) when Sledge was at the battle of Pelieu in 1944. Although Sledge wrote a year later at Pelieu, it's not hard to imagine that this is was what the Japanese soldier Toshihiro Oura (in our last blog post)...
2015
November 9, 2015
There will be a sad day coming For the foes of all mankind They must answer to the people And it’s troubling their mind Everybody who must fear them Will rejoice on that great day When the powers of dictators Shall be taken all away [Chorus:] There’ll be smoke on...
2014
October 22, 2014
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0llB--aUnIc Video From:1944  Imperial Japanese War Movie Colonel Kato's Falcon Squadron  (Kato hayabusa sento-tai). Rakkasan may be translated from Japanese as "man falling under an umbrella." Because elite units of highly trained Imperial Japanese Army paratroopers suffered very high casualty rates in 1942, most were withdrawn to the mainland. In late 1944 they...
September 19, 2014
  Click on each image below to switch back and forth between 1944 and today. http://interactive.guim.co.uk/embed/2014/apr/image-opacity-slider-master/index.html?ww2-dday
June 14, 2014
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy. Allied casualties on the first day were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead. The Germans lost 1,000 men. This largest seaborne invasion...
June 9, 2014
These ghostly D-Day images superimposed on current photos are fascinating.  

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