WWII U-Boat Ace Dies at 105
U-Boat ace Reinhard Hardegen died this week at age 105. Although America's WWII enemy, Hardegen appears to have been an honorable warrior, revered by many today who are fascinated by the mystique of U-Boat warfare. ____________________ Captain of the infamous U-123 in the Battle of the Atlantic, Reinhard Hardegen was the role model for the fictitious U-Boat captain Rainer Hartmann in my book The Osprey and the Sea Wolf ~ The Battle of the Atlantic 1942 to be released soon. Here is an excerpt from my book about a refueling encounter at sea with a Milchkuh (milk cow) submarine: Rainer smiled as he surveyed the approaching submarine tanker, now bathed in pale moonlight. Although much wider, the Milchkuh resembled his own boat with one major difference. The Milchkuh had neither torpedoes nor deck cannon. Designed only to resupply other U-Boats and defend itself, the Milchkuh had no offensive role. Despite two formidable antiaircraft Flak cannons, the Milchkuh was especially vulnerable to air attack during refueling operations. Disconnecting equipment and refueling hoses took time, and the bulky submarine tanker was a slow diver. The refueling process was also dangerous for Rainer, since the standing order was no diving before the Milchkuh had safely submerged. Soon, the U-023 and the Milchkuh were running parallel courses, at three knots with a distance between them of 25 meters. The commander of the Milchkuh called out to Rainer from his bridge with a megaphone. “Guten Abend, Herr Kommandant. Fertig? Are you ready?” “Fertig!” Rainer yelled back, touching the brim of his cap with a brisk salute. What followed was like a slow-motion ballet between two whales far out to sea. With a signal from Rainer, Wolf’s crew on the aft deck began hurling thin lines, weighted at the tips, toward the crew of the Milchkuh. At the same time, Milchkuh crewmen threw lines toward the U-023. After a brief, friendly competition, a cheer arose from Wolf’s crew as a line they’d hurled was secured by Milchkuh deckhands. Eight seamen on the aft deck of the U-023 tended a highline between the two U-Boats, adjusting its tension as the U-Boat commanders maneuvered to maintain a safe distance between each other. On the Milchkuh, crewmen packed rubber rafts with food and water and general supplies. The rafts were then attached to pulleys on the highline and hauled in by crew of the U-023. The transfer of seven-meter long torpedoes involved more elegant maneuvers. Four torpedoes were wrapped in life jackets and floated off the Milchkuh as the submarine submerged enough to flood the deck. The torpedoes were then pulled through the water to be corralled and stowed by the crew of the likewise flooded-down U-023.... ________________
U.S. Military Force Today
https://www.statista.com/statistics/232330/us-military-force-numbers-by-service-branch-and-reserve-component/ US MILITARY PERSONNEL (1939-1945) Year Army Navy Marines Coast Guard Total 1939 189,839 125,202 19,432 334,473 1940 269,023 160,997 28,345 458,365 1941 1,462,315 284,427 54,359 1,801,101 1942 3,075,608 640,570 142,613 56,716* 3,915,507 1943 6,994,472 1,741,750 308,523 151,167 9,195,912 1944 7,994,750 2,981,365 475,604 171,749 11,623,468 1945 8,267,958 3,380,817 474,680 85,783 12,209,238 *Coast Guard listed only as wartime strength
Virulent Anti-Semitism Redux
The current eruption of virulent anti-semitism and violence against Jews in France, makes it imperative that we recall the progressive Nazi legislation from 1933-1945 that resulted in the institution of draconian measures against the Jewish community and ultimately the murder of an estimated 5- 6 million European Jews. Here is an excellent resource for review: Timeline of Jewish Persecution in the Holocaust | Jewish Virtual Library.
Return of German Military Power?
Constitutionally mandated to maintain only a relatively small defensive force, Germany has recently made moves to expand its military power. Federal President Joachim Gauck stated last week that Germany must stop using its past as a “shield” and use its armed forces more frequently and decisively. This suggests that longstanding German aversion to the use of military power may be shifting. Is Japan undergoing a similar consideration?
Will Japan Abandon Pacifism?
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last week, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe compared recent tensions between China and Japan to the rivalry between the British and German empires at the start of the 20th century. A conservative nationalist, Abe has denied that Imperial Japan forced 250,000 foreign “comfort women” into sexual slavery, urged changes in school curricula to downplay Japanese wartime atrocities and recently visited the controversial war memorial Yasukuni shrine. Tension between China and Japan has escalated since November, when China unilaterally extended its air-defense zone over the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea .
Japanese Premier Visits Yasukuni Shrine
Today's headline elicits emotions reminiscent of an earlier time. 12/25/13 TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan visited a contentious Tokyo war shrine early on Thursday, provoking swift condemnation from China and South Korea, both victims of Japan’s wartime aggression. via Japanese Premier Visits Contentious War Shrine - NYTimes.com.
Japanese Soldiers’ Remains on Biak Island
After their remains were recently uncovered on Biak Island, Indonesia, a cremation ceremony was held for nearly 300 Imperial Japanese Army troops who died there in ferocious fighting during the Pacific War. The cremated remains will be brought back to Japan and interred at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward. My late father-in-law Jim Evans fought with the 41st Infantry Sunset Division in the 1944 battle of Biak Island. The battle is fictionalized in my book Enemy in the Mirror: Love and Fury in the Pacific War.
Former American POWs invited to Japan
Four former American POWs who were captured in Guam and the Philippines during WWII met with Foreign Minister Kishida this month. The minister expressed his support and eagerness to continue the program, which began in 2010 under the Yukio Hatoyama administration. Together with nine others, who suffered the same fate under the Imperial Japanese army, they will be staying in the country along with members of their family. Now at the age range of 91 to 94, the former POWs will be visiting locations that used to serve as internment camps, as well as other places in Japan.
How Much Military Is Enough?
"The United States, a nation founded on opposition to a standing army, is now a nation engaged in a standing war. Force requires bounds. Between militarism and pacifism lie diplomacy, accountability and restraint." How much military is enough? By Jill Lapore; New Yorker January 28, 2013.
Are We Hard-Wired For War?
There is a story, believed to be of Cherokee origin, in which a girl is troubled by a recurring dream in which two wolves fight viciously. Seeking an explanation, she goes to her grandfather, highly regarded for his wisdom, who explains that there are two forces within each of us, struggling for supremacy, one embodying peace and the other, war. At this, the girl is even more distressed, and asks her grandfather who wins. His answer: “The one you feed.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/opinion/sunday/are-we-hard-wired-for-war.html
Why Are Chemical Weapons More Repugnant Than Explosives?
Syrian soldier aims an AK-47 Although killing ~100,000 people in the current Syrian conflict with conventional weapons is disturbing, recent public condemnation of ~1500 deaths due to poison gas has been much more strident. Even Hitler forbade the use of chemical weapons in warfare (if not in civilian genocide). Read this informative NY Times article: A Weapon Seen as Too Horrible, Even in War - NYTimes.com.
Human Consciousness in All Wars
Remembering a Friend Up until now, this blog has been limited to a comparison between Imperial Japan and the USA in the first half of the 20th century. Starting with December 1941, I wish to include Nazi Germany. Additionally, although the main focus of the blog will continue to be on WWII, I intend to broaden the discussion to examine human consciousness, emotion and psychology in all wars.
The Shinto Yasukuni Shrine was created during the Meiji Restoration to commemorate the individuals who had died in service of the Empire of Japan. In the shrine are numerous photographs and war paraphernalia and the names, origin, birthdate and place of death of 2,466,532 men, women and children. Recently, significant controversy has arisen regarding visits to the shrine by right wing members of the Japanese government who find little fault with Imperial Japan's aggression earlier in the century and express little regret for the suffering inflicted on millions of people in Asia.