World War Two was the most devastating tragic and desperate fight for freedom in world history ever. The start of the war in Europe is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland; the United Kingdom of Great Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later.
By Autumn of 1945 the Western democracies and communist East fought and defeated the Axis Triple Alliance of Germany Italy and Japan. A triumphant victory for the Anglo-American English speaking nations as well as the communist Eastern nations against the purely evil armies of the Triple Alliance of the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) in Europe, the Atlantic, North Africa, the Pacific Ocean and Asian territories in a huge and tremendously violent and destructive truly world wide conflict. This week world leaders gather in Poland’s capital, Warsaw to commemorate the start of this extremely bloody conflict on the 1st. of September, 1939. When Great Britain and France declared war on the evil dictator Adolf Hitler and his German Nazi controlled super power war-machine after he invaded Poland 80 years ago this week. An immense struggle ensued with Britain the only combatant who stood alone against Hitler and Mussolini, the Italian Fascist dictator. After the fall of France in the summer of 1940, Winston Churchill, the British war leader made it his sole aim to defeat the Nazi war machine and Hitler with the defence of our nation in tenacious and defiant British bull dog King Henry Fifths longbows-men Battle of Agincourt Two Fingers taunt to the German bully boy fascist Nazi party and completely racist henchmen pigs and it’s purely evil mastermind; Adolf Hitler who reigned supreme in all Europe at the time, with only Britain and her Empire to stop him.
Churchill’s refusal to capitulate and give in with all around him calling for Appeasement, this tremendously brave Anglo-American British aristocrat and world-class statesman of the highest calibre helped saved Western democracy more than any man back then in the early years of World War Two.
What ensued with American and Russian intervention later in the war with huge economic industrial and military Allied superiority was Total Victory in Europe over Italy and Hitlers Germany. And, Victory over Japan in the Pacific and Asia by August 1945. It remains history’s bloodiest ever conflict and a truly World War which witnessed the estimated deaths of 70–85 million people largely innocent civilians.
Pacific February 1942 – July 1945
Episode 23 – The World At War
Before the start of the war in the Pacific, Japan attacked Peal Harbor, the American military base located on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, because America had stopped trade of oil and other materials to Japan. After this surprise attack, the US declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941 – one day after the attack – and joined the conflict. This marked the beginning of World War II in the Pacific Theatre.
In 1942, the Japanese Empire was operating at the peak of its powers, attacking and occupying positions throughout the Pacific Ocean, ranging from Alaska to India. In a bid to stem the Japanese advance, the US military decided on a strategy of ‘island-hopping’ – fighting for control of strategic islands along a path toward the Japanese home islands, bringing American bombers within range and preparing for a possible invasion. The battles were bloody and conditions for prisoners-of-war were woeful. Japanese soldiers fought the island landings fiercely, killing many Allied soldiers and sometimes making desperate, last-ditch suicidal attacks. By early 1945, leapfrogging US forces had advanced as far as Iwo Jima and Okinawa, within 340 miles of mainland Japan, at a great cost to both sides. On Okinawa alone, during 82 days of fighting, about 100,000 Japanese troops and 12,510 Americans were killed, and somewhere between 42,000 and 150,000 Okinawan civilians died as well. Eventually the war would cease after the US detonated two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945, respectively. It was the first time atomic weapons were used in warfare and resulted in the death of about 200,000 people (although estimates vary widely).
The men from many anti-nazi nations of ‘The Dam Busters’ – RAF 617 Squadron led by 24-year old Wing Commander Guy Gibson were lauded as heroes after the infamous raid in 1944. and Guy Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Dam Buster raid.
Guy Gibson’s men needed to fly specially modified Lancaster bombers of 617 squadron which would carry the ‘bouncing bomb’ needed to be dropped from a height of 60 feet (18m), and at a ground speed of 232mph. The bomb would spin backwards across the surface of the water before reaching the dam. The raid also established 617 Squadron as a specialist precision bombing unit, experimenting with new bomb sights, target marking techniques and colossal new ‘earthquake’ bombs developed by Barnes Wallis .On the night of 16-17 May 1943, Wing Commander Guy Gibson led 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force on an audacious bombing raid to destroy three dams in the Ruhr valley, the industrial heartland of Germany. The mission was code-named Operation ‘Chastise’.The dams were fiercely protected. Torpedo nets in the water stopped underwater attacks and anti-aircraft guns defended them against enemy bombers. But 617 Squadron had a secret weapon: the ‘bouncing bomb’.
In late March 1943, a new squadron was formed to carry out the raid. 617 Squadron was led by 24-year old Wing Commander Guy Gibson was made up of aircrew from Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. With one month to go before the raid, and with only Gibson knowing the full details of the operation, the squadron began intensive training in low-level night flying and navigation. They were ready for Operation ‘Chastise’.e dams. Initially code named Squadron X,
Dam Busters Lancaster Bombers Night Raid
From 9.28pm on 16 May, 133 aircrew in 19 Lancasters took off in three waves to bomb the dams. Gibson was flying in the first wave and his aircraft was first to attack the Möhne (pictured below) at 12.28am, but five aircraft had to drop their bombs before it was breached. The remaining aircraft still to drop their bombs then attacked the Eder, which finally collapsed at 1.52am. Meanwhile, aircraft from the two other waves bombed the Sorpe but it remained intact. Continue reading “Dam Busters”
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Sir Winston Churchill ~ November, a very famous WW2 quote after victory for the British in The Second battle of El Alamein in Egypt during the North African campaign. The British General Montgomery led 8th. British Army ‘Desert Rats’ won the British armies first ever victory over German army in WW2. The Ace Tank Commander German General Erwin Rommel’s led Axis army and his beloved and infamous Africa Corps elite soldiers lost the Second Battle of El Alamein ~ November, 1942. Defeating the pride of Germany’s Wehrmacht Army Rommel’s Afrika Korps in an historic British Military victory over the German Nazis in WW2. During in the latter stages of the North African Campaign in November, 1942.
Churchill was so relieved at Montgomery’s victory over Rommel’s Africa Corps in North Africa he ordered the church bells to be rung all over Britain. The prime minister had been under intense political and personal pressure to secure a decisive victory over the “Desert Fox” who, for 18 months, had persistently outsmarted the British Eighth Army on a desolate and blood-soaked battlefield.
The second battle of El Alamein in western Egypt desert saw the Eighth Army under Montgomery punching holes Axis defences and defeat for Rommel led Axis forces and the infamous elite Africa Corps.
Following the fall of Tobruk in June 1942 – a humiliation that prompted a surge of national resentment – Churchill’s critics inspired a no-confidence debate in the House of Commons. Although their target emerged virtually unscathed, the formidable Aneurin Bevan reflected a widespread feeling when he declared waspishly, “The prime minister wins debate after debate and loses battle after battle.” The jibe cut deep.
The World at War is probably, in my modest yet quite well informed opinion on the subject, the best documentary on WW2 ever made. Produced by Jeremy Isaacs and narrated by Laurence Olivier; The World at War was commissioned by Thames Television first shown in the early 1970s on the UK TV station: ITV. Voted by industry professionals at the time and still thought of as one of the best ever documentaries on World War Two ever made.
‘The World at War’ – Thames Television 1973 Episode 21 – ‘Nemesis: Germany’ (February – May 1945) :-
Nemesis: Germany – February-May 1945. The closing weeks of the European war bring retribution for Germany in the form of carpet bombing cities like Dresden, the collapse of the Whermacht, atrocities by Soviet forces, and finally the fall of Berlin and suicide of Hitler. Continue reading “The World at War”
The English speaking Allied air-raid bombing of Germany by ’44 reached in excess of 1000 bombers per raid in endless and successive waves, both day and night, in a-all-out total land and air war in Europe post-44. With 1000s and 1000s, both military and non-military, Axis targets attacked and destroyed-a-day in all the occupied territories of Europe and, most destructively in Germany itself. In huge air raids – 1000s of bombers and 1000s of fighters at a time.
The Americans in their Boeing B17 Flying-Fortress and P51 Mustang fighter escorts by day – and the British RAF pilots in their Lancaster and Halifax bombers with night fighter escorts during night air raid missions.
These missions, however, carried a high price, especially for the American USAAF Eighth Air Force stationed in southeastern England.
Half of the U.S. Army Air Force’s casualties in World War II were suffered by Eighth Air Force (more than 47,000 casualties, with more than 26,000 dead). Seventeen Medals of Honor went to Eighth Air Force personnel during the war. By war’s end, they had been awarded a number of other medals to include 220 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 442,000 Air Medals. Many more awards were made to Eighth Air Force veterans after the war that remain uncounted. There were 261 fighter aces in the Eighth Air Force during World War II. Thirty-one of these aces had 15 or more aircraft kills apiece. Another 305 enlisted gunners were also recognised as aces.
Some say, controversially.., that the losses hitting civilian targets next to the German Nazi war machine industrial targets were far too great. Yet, as crucial to the defeat of Hitler and the evil Nazis as the land war in the East. The English speaking Allied land war as seen soon after D-Day June, 1944 often faltered. In Normandy, northern France and in the Low countries especially on their home soil of the Fatherland, it was so bitterly fought over by the German Eastern Front battle hardened fanatical SS soldiers and co. it often thwarted, advanced no more than a mile or two a day.., or ended in retreat – or, even defeat. In the Rhineland for example in enemy held territories it ended in defeat and forced the British at least into a humiliating retreat. British Field Marshal Monty’s Operation: ‘Market Garden’ Arnhem, Holland in September ’44 .., regardless of the brave actions by the men of the British Parachute Regiment, the British army went a ‘Bridge-too-Far‘ and it remains one of the worst military ‘British Blunders’ of WW2. Failing to capture an intact bridgehead over the River Rhine into Germany and an open road to Berlin.
The ongoing ariel bombardment of Berlin and industrial heartlands of the Nazi Fatherland, such as the Ruhr by the USAAF 8th Air Force and the RAF British Bomber Command under Harris ensured the English speaking Allies appeased and paid their very considerable burdens in men and materials in the inevitable destruction of Hitler and the Nazi war machine as well as the American and British armies commitments & considerable sacrifices on the Post-D-Day Second Front land war.
Ensuring Roosevelt and Churchill avoided the venomous wraith and ever worsening threat of continued hostilities after V. E. Day by Russia. The enormous threat of violence of the oldest enemy of the west: The Russian – ‘Great Bear.’ Then under the full control of that evil tyrant, leader of the Communist party, Hitler’s old foe: Josef Stalin. Whom we pacified by the combination of the English speaking Allied land War. And, crucially by America’s ‘Air-war over Europe’ and some say brutal bombing of Nazi Germany in WW2.