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On September 7, 1940, the Blitz began. The strategic bombing of London, by over one thousand planes on that night alone, was recognised at the time as being a direct measure to break the country's resistance, 'softening' Britain's shores for the planned Operation Sealion. It was a day long feared and anticipated, but the physical, political and personal shockwaves it sent through the British population outstripped all expectations."The First Day of the Blitz" tells of the enormous impact that this new terror from the skies had on the British people and the course of the war. From bureaucratic preparations, massively underestimating the decimation of housing, through the actual bombs dropped in the later afternoon and early evening, to the individual, collective and official responses, Peter Stansky argues that the first twelve hours of bombing determined much of the future of Britain. Not only was the country's ultimate victory over Germany in evidence; so too was the need for a transformation of British society. The wave of terror designed to demolish morale quite literally put into question what the British people were made of.The fact and idea of their stoicism and courage was fused into myth; with the intense feeling of camaraderie came a new consciousness of national identity, which paved the way towards the New Jerusalem of Beveridge and the 1945 Labour victory. The bombardment that so radically altered the physical face of London also changed the whole conception of what it meant - and means - to be 'British'.Weaving together a wide range of rich archival sources, among them newspaper reports, military documents, literary responses and unpublished testimonies, Peter Stansky gives a fascinating insight into the Blitz and a compelling analysis of what it signifies. It is an incisive account of British society at the very point of its transformation, and a timely examination of the first impact of terror in its modern form. We still live in the shadow of 'Black Saturday'; most relevantly to our concerns today, both the effectiveness of terror and its ultimate failure are made powerfully clear.
This book recreates the atmosphere of life as it was when the flying bombs - V1 and V2, or Doodlebug and Rocket - were launched by the Germans in a last-ditch effort to change the tide of World War II. Using photographs and maps from newspapers, museums and libraries, the book is a history of the weapons and includes many letters and anecdotes. The picture is completed by contemporary documents, statistics and colour photographs of some of those who "played a leading part". The Germans called them the "vengeance weapons". The flying bombs were designed to destroy London, but 100s were shot down on Kent by the RAF and men of the anti-aircraft batteries, or caught by the balloon barage. In terms of casualties, the "doodlebug days" were worse than the Blitz, but the people of Kent faced the onslaught with equanimity, courage and defiance. Appealing in the local press for reminisences and photographs, Bob Ogley was overwhelmed by 100s of letters and scores of telephone calls. Many people remembered how the Doodlebugs roared across the Kentish skies like a badly-tuned motorbike, how the engine cut out and the missile fell silently to earth followed by an earth shattering explosion.It was soon followed by the Rocket, which flew at 3600 mph and also arrived without warning from the stratosphere bringing a new dimension to air warfare which still casts a shadow today. By the author of "Biggin on the Bump" and "In the Wake of the Hurricane", and co-author of "Eye on the Hurricane" (with Kev Reynolds), "Hurricane Gilbert" (with Bob Hill), "The Kent Weather Book" (with Ian Currie) and "The Sussex Weather Book" (with Ian Currie and Mark Davison).
Fascinated by stories of the Battle Britain and how the outnumbered RAF fought and defeated a far superior enemy, the author writes his book from the perspective of the side who's story is usually not told. Twenty years ago Goss started contacting German aircrew who participated in the Battle of Britain. His years of research will show you the battle from a different point of view; the one not always given. You'll understand how it felt to be flying against an enemy who had nothing to lose, and how it felt to be defeated.
"The desert was quivering with heat. The gun detachments and the platoons squatted in their pits and trenches, the sweat running in rivers down their dust-caked faces. There was a terrible stench. The flies swarmed in black clouds upon the dead bodies and excreta and tormented the wounded. The place was strewn with burning tanks and carriers, wrecked guns and vehicles, and over all drifted the smoke and the dust from bursting high explosives and from the blasts of guns." - Cecil Ernest Lucas-Phillips
"It may almost be said, 'Before Alamein we never had a victory. After Alamein we never had a defeat.'" - Winston Churchill
The United States began 1942 determined to avenge Pearl Harbor, but the Allies, now including the Soviet Union by necessity, did not agree on war strategy. In 1941, both the Germans and British had moved armies into North Africa, where Italy had already tried and failed to reach the Suez Canal, and the British sought American help in North Africa, where British General Bernard Montgomery was fighting the legendary "Desert Fox," General Erwin Rommel. At the same time, Stalin was desperate for Allied action on the European continent that could free up the pressure on the besieged Soviets. Roosevelt eventually sided with Churchill and decided to land American forces on North Africa to assist the British against Rommel, much to Stalin's chagrin.
With the Axis forces trying to push through Egypt towards the Suez Canal and the British Mandate of Palestine, American forces landed to their west in North Africa, which ultimately compelled Rommel to try to break through before the Allies could build up and overwhelm them with superior numbers. Given that the combined Allied forces under Montgomery already had an advantage in manpower, Montgomery also wanted to be aggressive, and the fighting would start in late October 1942 with an Allied attack.
At Alamein, 195,000 troops in 11 divisions faced off against 50,000 Germans (four divisions) and 54,000 Italians (eight divisions), where they were able to use their superior numbers and weapons to defeat the Axis troops. Over the next few weeks, the Allies made steady progress and forced Rommel to conduct a fighting retreat to safety until his army linked up with another Axis army in Tunisia, but the fighting at the end of 1942 inevitably compelled all Axis forces to quit the theater, the first time since the beginning of the war that Africa was safe for the Allies.
The Second Battle of El Alamein was a turning point in the two-year conflict between Allied forces and a combined German-Italian force in North Africa. While the scale of the battle paled in comparison to the battles of the Eastern Front, where the majority of German troops were concentrated, it still marked an important victory in World War II, especially from the British perspective. The British, who had suffered through three years of war in which they seemed to teeter on the brink of defeat, were able to hang their hats on the victory, reviving the nation's morale and reaffirming its military might.
The Greatest Battles in History: The Battle of El Alamein comprehensively covers the entire military situation that led up to the two battles of El Alamein, analyzes the decisions made by the battles' most important leaders, and explains the aftermath of the Allied victory. Along with a bibliography and pictures of important people and places, you will learn about El Alamein like never before, in no time at all.
"The city is dead. There is no electricity, no trams. Warm rooms are rare. No water. Almost the only form of transport is sleds, carrying corpses in plain coffins, covered with rags or half clothed. Daily six to eight thousand die. The city is dying as it has lived for the last half year - clenching its teeth." - Nikolai Markevich's diary entry on January 24, 1942.
The casualties inflicted on all sides during World War II nearly defy belief, and even today estimates of the number of dead differ by tens of millions of people. Amid all of the destruction and carnage, perhaps nothing symbolizes the war quite like the Siege of Leningrad, one of the longest sieges in history and by far the deadliest.
When the Soviet-Nazi non-aggression pact of 1939 was broken by a German offensive against Russia, the surprised Red Army was quickly driven eastward away from the border with Poland, and Russian forces found themselves in a desperate attempt to defend major Russian cities from the Germany invaders. Leningrad, which had a population of roughly three million on the eve of the German attack, was one of the victims of the Russian unpreparedness, but once the siege began in the fall of 1941, the Soviets knew they were in a desperate struggle to the death. In fact, the Russians wouldn't have even been given a chance to surrender if they had wanted to, because the orders to the German forces instructed them to completely raze the city: "After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban center...Following the city's encirclement, requests for surrender negotiations shall be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our very existence, we can have no interest in maintaining even a part of this very large urban population."
The Russians managed to barely supply the encircled city through a small corridor of land that connected to Lake Ladoga, with transports crossing the lake when it froze over in winter. This euphemistically became known as the Road of Life, but the precarious conditions and the Luftwaffe also left many referring to it as the Road of Death. And even though the Nazis never managed to entirely cut off that supply route, during the nearly 900 day siege, which lasted from September 1941 - January 1944, at least 750,000 civilians starved to death, one out of every three or four members of the pre-siege population. The siege was so devastating that estimates of civilian dead from all causes were estimated at over a million. To put the massive death toll of the siege of Leningrad in perspective, roughly 35 times more civilians died at Leningrad than in the London Blitz, and 4 times more died than in the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima combined.
Of course, the civilians were hardly the only ones struggling around Leningrad during the siege, because soldiers on both sides had to deal with combat and terrible weather conditions over the course of nearly 28 months. By the time the siege was lifted, the Germans had suffered an estimated 1 million casualties, while the Soviets suffered an estimated 1 million dead or missing and over 2 million wounded. Not surprisingly, the city itself was a hollow shell of itself, with over 11,000 buildings destroyed and wreckage strewn everywhere.
The Greatest Battles in History: The Siege of Leningrad comprehensively covers the entire military situation that led up to the siege, analyzes the decisions made by important leaders, and explains the aftermath of the Soviet victory. Along with a bibliography and pictures of important people and places, you will learn about the Siege of Leningrad like never before, in no time at all.
"Approaching this place, soldiers used to say: 'We are entering hell.' And after spending one or two days here, they say: 'No, this isn't hell, this is ten times worse than hell.'" - Soviet general Vasily Chuikov
World War II was fought on a scale unlike anything before or since in human history, and the unfathomable casualty counts are attributable in large measure to the carnage inflicted between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during Hitler's invasion of Russia and Stalin's desperate defense. The invasion came in 1941 following a nonaggression pact signed between the two in 1939, which allowed Hitler to focus his attention on the west without having to worry about an attack from the eastern front. While Germany was focusing on the west, the Soviet Union sent large contingents of troops to the border region between the two countries, and Stalin's plan to take territory in Poland and the Baltic States angered Hitler. By 1940, Hitler viewed Stalin as a major threat and had made the decision to invade Russia: "In the course of this contest, Russia must be disposed of...Spring 1941. The quicker we smash Russia the better." (Hoyt, p. 17)
The surprise achieved by the German invasion in 1941 allowed their armies to advance rapidly across an incredibly wide front, but once winter set in, the two sides had to dig in and brace for German sieges of Russian cities. In the spring of 1942, Germany once more made inroads toward Stalingrad, Stalin's own pet city. Not surprisingly, he ordered that it be held no matter what. There was more than vanity at stake though. Stalingrad was all that stood between Hitler and Moscow. It also was the last major obstacle to the Russian oil fields in the Caucuses which Stalin needed and Hitler coveted. If the city fell, so would the rest of the country, and Hitler would have an invaluable resource to fuel his armies.
Stalin chose his best general, Marshal Georgy Zhukov, to lead the more than one million soldiers who would stand between Germany and the precious city. Stalin made sure that they were continually supplied with every sort of military paraphernalia available, from tanks and aircraft to guns and ammunition. Zhukov, who had never been defeated, held the line until November 19, when Stalin ordered him to attack the now weary Germans. In a carefully planned pincer maneuver, the Soviet armies attacked from both the north and the south, carefully encircling the German troops until the German general, Friedrich Paulus, begged Hitler to allow him to withdraw. But by then the Fuhrer was obsessed with capturing the city that he refused his general's pleas, so the Germans attempted to hold on, losing thousands of additional men without taking the city. When the remains of the German 6th Army finally surrendered in February 1943, they had lost about 1.5 million men and over 6,000 tanks and aircraft in a little more than 5 months of fighting. The Soviets lost a staggering number as well, with estimates of over 1 million casualties.
Altogether, the Battle of Stalingrad was the deadliest battle in the history of warfare, and the Soviets' decisive victory there is considered one of the biggest turning points in the entire war, and certainly in the European theater. Over the next two years, the German gains in Russia were steadily reversed, and the Red Army eventually began pushing west towards Berlin. Fittingly, the importance of Stalingrad was commemorated in several ways, from Churchill presenting Stalin with a "Sword of Stalingrad" to the Russians' decision not to rebuild parts of the battle scarred city as a reminder of what happened there.
Over the course of its history, England has engaged in an uncountable number of battles, but a select few have been celebrated like the Battle of Trafalgar, one of the most important naval battles in history. Before the battle, Napoleon still harbored dreams of sailing an invasion force across the English Channel and subduing England, but that would be dashed on October 21, 1805 by a British fleet that was outnumbered and outgunned. That morning, Admiral Horatio Nelson's fleet, 27 strong, bore down on the Franco-Spanish fleet, approaching at right angles in two columns. French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve's disposition was conventional - a single line of battle, ill formed due to the very light winds and the poor seamanship of many of the crews. Traditional naval warfare strategies called for approaching an enemy fleet in one line and then creating a parallel line that allowed as many guns as possible to fire. At the same time, that kind of line of battle allowed for admirals to signal during battle, and it made retreating in an orderly fashion easier. After all, if an enemy's ships pursued during a retreat, they would break their own line. The problem with that strategy as Nelson saw it is that the ability to retreat meant fighting a decisive naval battle would be made much more difficult. Thus, at Trafalgar he employed a completely innovative strategy. The British plan was to punch straight through the enemy line with two approaching columns of ships, which would cut the Franco-Spanish fleet's line in three, prompting the melee that they knew would capitalize on their tactical superiority.
By the time the Battle of Trafalgar was finished, Nelson had scored arguably the most decisive victory in the history of naval warfare. The British took 22 vessels of the Franco-Spanish fleet and lost none, but as fate would have it, the man most responsible for the victory in one of history's most famous naval battles did not get to enjoy his crowning experience. Nelson's tactics were bold and innovative, but they also unquestionably exposed the advancing column to merciless fire during the approach, especially the Victory, which was naturally at the head of the advance. Around 1:00, the Victory herself was locked in combat with the French ship Redoutable when a sniper on the French ship's mizzentop took aim at Nelson from about 50 feet away. From such a distance, Nelson was an unquestionably conspicuous target, since he was impeccably dressed in his finest military attire. It was a habit that had caused great consternation before among his men, who had asked that he cover the stars on his uniform so that enemies wouldn't recognize his rank. Nevertheless, Nelson insisted on wearing them, famously countering, "In honour I gained them, and in honour I will die with them."
The impact of Trafalgar cannot be overstated, as it literally set the stage for the rest of the Napoleonic Era. Unable to invade England, Napoleon was limited to conducting war on the European continent, and while he spent the better part of a decade frustrating the British and their allies, he was eventually undone at Leipzig and then Waterloo nearly a decade after Nelson's victory at Trafalgar.
The Greatest Battles in History: The Battle of Trafalgar comprehensively covers the entire campaign, analyzes the decisions made by the battle's most important leaders, and explains the aftermath of the British victory. Along with a bibliography, maps of the battle, and pictures of important people and places, you will learn about the Battle of Trafalgar like you never have before, in no time at all.
Cunningham was the best-known and most celebrated British admiral of the Second World War. He held one of the two major fleet commands between 1939 and 1942, and in 1942-43, he was Allied naval commander for the great amphibious operations in the Mediterranean. From 1943 to 1946, he was the First Sea Lord and a participant in the wartime conferences with Churchill, Stalin, Roosevelt and the US Chiefs of Staff, deliberating the global strategy for Allied victory. He also led a very active public life for almost twenty years after his retirement in 1946. Cunningham's papers are abundant for the period 1939-63 and are supplemented here by Cabinet and Admiralty records, papers of his service contemporaries and of Churchill, and by memories of his family and friends, as well as extensive US archives and private papers.
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the Command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, although at a great loss, with over 55,000 killed out of 125,000 aircrew. This book provides a background to the conflict.
Critical acclaim for William B. Breuer
"A first-class historian."
Top Secret Tales of World War II
"A book for rainy days and long solitary nights by the fire. If there were a genre for cozy nonfiction, this would be the template."
"Perfect for the curious and adventure readers and those who love exotic tales and especially history buffs who will be surprised at what they didn’t know. Recommended for nearly everyone."
Daring Missions of World War II
"The author brings to light many previously unknown stories of behind-the-scenes bravery and covert activities that helped the Allies win critical victories."
Secret Weapons of World War II
"Rip-roaring tales . . . a delightful addition to the niche that Breuer has so successfully carved out."
Professor Graham compares the performance of the British Army in the two world wars. He identifies as a source of failure in the World War I, Sir Douglas Haig's inability to adopt appropriate operations for his chosen strategy, or suitable tactics for the operations. Montgomery usually avoided that mistake in the World War II. Graham draws upon his own experience of combat to help the reader make a connection between the orders given to corps and their effect on small units.
English summary: The book examines the activities of British subversive warfare against the Third Reich. It focuses on the Special Operations Executive's Austrian Section. Beginning in 1940, SOE pursued a strategy to separate Austria from Germany and re-establish an independent nation-state in order to prevent long-term German hegemony in Central and Southeast Europe. This study offers a new interpretation of the re-invention of Austria during WWII. Furthermore, the author analyzes the activities of SOE's Austrian Section in Great Britain, USA, Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Slovenia and Austria in organizing resistance among refugees, Wehrmacht soldiers and opponents of the Nazi regime inside the Third Reich. Drawing from a wide range of sources, the author reveals that the systematic supply of weapons to the Slovene partisans in Carinthia was SOE's most important practical contribution in fostering resistance inside the Third Reich. However, the anti-German cooperation was soon disrupted by the broader ideological and geopolitcal conflict, reaching a dramatic highpoint when SOE officer Alfgar Hesketh-Prichard was murdered on order of the Communist Party of Slovenia. For this study, the German Association for the Study of British History and Politics awarded its dissertation prize to the author. German description: Der britische Kriegsgeheimdienst Special Operations Executive (SOE) verfolgte seit 1940 die Strategie, Osterreich als antideutschen Nationalstaat wiederzuerrichten, um die deutsche Hegemonie in Zentral- und Sudosteuropa auf Dauer zu brechen. Die SOE setzte diese Strategie in der britischen Politik und im Exil durch. Der Autor bietet eine neue Erklarung zur Wiedererfindung Osterreichs: Der Autor analysiert die Aktivitaten der Osterreich-Abteilung der SOE in Grossbritannien, den USA, Schweden, der Turkei, der Schweiz, Italien, Slowenien und Osterreich. Ihr wichtigster praktischer Beitrag zum Widerstand war die systematische Aufrustung der slowenischen Partisanen in den Karawanken, die den einzigen grosseren bewaffneten Widerstand im Dritten Reichs leisteten. Doch die antideutsche Kooperation war bereits von ideologischer und geostrategischer Konkurrenz gepragt. Die Studie geht dieser Geopolitik des Widerstandes auf den Grund. Sie wurde mit dem Dissertationspreis des Arbeitskreises Deutsche England-Forschung und dem Herbert-Steiner-Anerkennungspreis des Dokumentationszentrums des Osterreichischen Widerstandes ausgezeichnet.
The Home Guard was created in July 1940, and all Officers were listed in the Home Guard Lists which were issued at intervals throughout the war, each covering one of the UK Military Commands. These Command Lists give details of the relevant units down the chain of command. Officers are listed by unit and rank (with details of any decorations awarded during the Second World War up to 1941 or previously). Some entries identify service in previous units. These volumes are of great use to family and local historians wanting to track down the commissioned service of individuals; and for military enthusiasts and collectors they are also a useful way of tracking military service and Defence Medal entitlement. This volume on the South Eastern Command covers the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
Live models display the many different costumes worn by women at war. Included are officers and rankers, mechanics and nurses, gun crews and drivers, boat crews and aircraft fitters, cooks and Military Police, technicians and stewards; in Britain, the Mediterranean and the Far East.
Winner of both the National Book Award for Arts and Letters and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, Paul Fussell's classic The Great War and Modern Memory remains one of the most original and gripping volumes ever written about the First World War. In its panoramic scope and poetic intensity, it illuminated a war that changed a generation and revolutionized the way we see the world.
Now, in Wartime, Paul Fussell turns to the Second World War, the conflict in which he himself fought, to weave a more intensely personal and wide-ranging narrative. Whereas his former book focused primarily on literary figures, here Fussell examines the immediate impact of the war on soldiers and civilians. He compellingly depicts the psychological and emotional atmosphere of World War II by analyzing the wishful thinking and the euphemisms people needed to deal with unacceptable reality; by describing the abnormally intense frustration of desire and some of the means by which desire was satisfied; and, most importantly, by emphasizing the damage the war did to intellect, discrimination, honesty, individuality, complexity, ambiguity, and wit.
Of course, no book of Fussell's would be complete without serious attention to the literature of the time. He offers astute commentary on Edmund Wilson's argument with Archibald MacLeish, Cyril Connolly's Horizon magazine, the war poetry of Randall Jarrell and Louis Simpson, and many other aspects of the wartime literary world. In this stunning volume, Fussell conveys the essence of that war as no other writer before him has.
Easily overshadowed by the war against Germany and the intensively studied campaign in Normandy, the Anglo-Italian war and its consequences are among the least explored and understood dimensions of World War II. This volume analyzes the major military and political features of a war which began in emnity and ended in co-belligerence. The book covers the point of view of each side. The military history of the war is explored in essays dealing with the outbreak of war, the fighting in the Western Desert and on the mainland of Italy, with the attacks on and defence of Malta, and with the British and Italian air wars. The difficulties of constructing an armistice and the mainfold problems of co-belligerence are explained and contrasted as the basis of studies of the role and contribution of partisan welfare, british and Italian attitudes towards the peace treaties and the troubled issues of the future of Trieste and the Balkans.
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