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Rabu, 29 April 2009

RHINE CROSSING, OPERATION VARSITY 1945

Operation Varsity (24 March 1945) was a joint American–British airborne operation that took place toward the end of World War II. Involving more than 16,000 paratroopers and several thousand aircraft, it was the largest single airborne operation in history to be conducted on a single day and in one location.[5]

Part of Operation Plunder, the effort by 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery to cross the river and from there enter Northern Germany, Varsity was meant to help the British 21st Army Group to secure a foothold across the River Rhine in western Germany by landing two airborne divisions on the eastern bank of the Rhine near the towns of Hamminkeln and Wesel.

The plans called for dropping two airborne divisions by parachute and glider behind German lines near Wesel. Drawn from US XVIII Airborne Corps, they were instructed to capture key territory and to generally disrupt German defenses to aid the advance of Allied ground forces.

The British 6th Airborne Division was ordered to capture the towns of Schnappenberg and Hamminkeln, clear part of the Diersfordter Wald (Diersfordt Forest) of German forces, and secure three bridges over the River Issel. The U.S. 17th Airborne Division was to capture the town of Diersfordt and clear the rest of the Diersfordter Wald of any remaining German forces. The two divisions would then hold the territory they had captured until relieved by advancing units of 21st Army Group, and then join in the general advance into northern Germany.

The airborne forces made several mistakes, most notably when pilot error caused paratroopers from the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, a regiment in the US 17th Airborne Division, to miss their drop zone and land on a British drop zone instead. However, the operation was a success, with both divisions capturing Rhine bridges and securing towns that could have been used by Germany to delay the advance of the British ground forces. The two divisions incurred more than 2,000 casualties, but captured about 3,000 German soldiers. The operation was the last large-scale Allied airborne operation of World War II


ROBERT CAPA, LIFE Magazine April 1945, Rhine Crossing

On the 24th March 1945 Robert Capa was dropped by parachute, along with the men of the 513th PIR, 17th Airborne Division, who spearheaded Operation Varsity, the airborne assault across the Rhine.


"The forty seconds to earth were like hours on my grandfather clock, and I had plenty of time to unstrap my cameras. On the ground I kept clicking my shutter. We lay flat on the earth and no one wanted to get up. The first fear was over and we were all reluctant to begin the second".

Kamis, 23 April 2009

WW2 INTERESTING FACT

  • The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937)
  • The first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940).
  • 80% of Soviet males born in 1923 didn't survive World War 2
  • The highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.
  • Between 1939 and 1945 the Allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs, An average of about 27,700 tons of bombs each month.
  • 12,000 heavy bombers were shot down in World War 2
  • 2/3 of Allied bomber crews were lost for each plane destroyed
  • 3 or 4 ground men were wounded for each killed
  • 6 bomber crewmen were killed for each one wounded
  • Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe
  • There were 433 Medals of Honor awarded during World War 2, 219 of them were given after the receipiant's death
  • From 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 in Europe the Allies had 200,000 dead and 550,000 wounded
  • The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded in combat and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress).
  • At the time of Pearl Harbor, the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced “sink us”), the shoulder patch of the US Army’s 45th Infantry division was the swastika, and Hitler’s private train was named “Amerika”. All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
  • Germany lost 110 Division Commanders in combat
  • 40,000 men served on U-Boats during World War 2; 30,000 never returned
  • More US servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%. Not that bombers were helpless. A B-17 carried 4 tons of bombs and 1.5 tons of machine gun ammo. The US 8th Air Force shot down 6,098 fighter planes, 1 for every 12,700 shots fired.
(Flying Dutchman)

FIELD MARSHALL, HIGHEST RANK IN GERMAN SERVICE OFFICER OF WW2

Field Marshall (Generalfeldmarschall in german) was the highest rank a German officer on the battlefield could achieve in the Wehrmacht (Defense force in German, which consited of their army, navy, airforce, and Waffen SS). There was several of them, usually in command of an army group. i'll list them to the best of my knowledge:

Erwin Rommel, Friedrich Paulus (the only field marshall in Germany's history to surrender), Erwin von Witzleben, Werner von Bloemberg, Walter Model, Erich von Manstein, Paul Ludwig Ewald von Kleist, Fedor von Bock, Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, Gerd von Rundstedt, Wilhelm Keitel, Ernst Busch, Günther von Kluge, Wilhelm List, Walther von Brauchitsch, Walther von Reichenau, Eduard von Böhm-Ermolli, Maximilian von Weichs, Erwin von Witzleben, and finally Ferdinand Schörner.

(WikiAnswers)

Rabu, 15 April 2009

THE GREAT RAID, PHILIPINES 1945

The Raid at Cabanatuan in the Philippines on 30 January 1945 by US Army Rangers, Alamo Scouts and Filipino guerrillas resulted in the liberation of 512 [1] prisoners of war (POWs) from a Japanese POW camp near Cabanatuan and was a celebrated historic achievement involving Allied special forces during World War II.

Edward Dmytryk's 1945 film Back to Bataan starring John Wayne opens by retelling the story of the raid on the Cabanatuan POW camp. The raid was recreated in the 2005 John Dahl film The Great Raid

Behind enemy lines

Lt. Col. Henry Mucci, left

On the evening of 27 January, two teams of Alamo Scouts, led by 1st Lts. William Nellist and Thomas Rounsaville, infiltrated behind enemy lines to attempt a reconnaissance of the prison camp. The next morning, the Scouts linked up with several Filipino guerrilla units at the village of Platero, two miles (3 km) north of the camp.

In the early afternoon, Mucci and a reinforced company of 127 Rangers under Capt. Robert Prince slipped through Japanese lines near Guimba. Guided by the guerrillas, the Rangers hiked through forests and open grasslands, narrowly avoiding a Japanese tank on the national highway by following a ravine that ran under the road.

The following day at Balincarin, five miles (8 km) north of the camp, Mucci met with USAFFE guerrilla Captain Juan Pajota, whose intimate knowledge of enemy activity, the locals, and the terrain proved crucial. Upon learning that Mucci wanted to push through with the attack that evening, Pajota resisted, insisting that it would be suicide. After consolidating information from Pajota and the Alamo Scouts about heavy enemy activity in the camp area, Mucci agreed to postpone the raid for 24 hours. The Rangers withdrew to Platero.

At 11:30 on 30 January, Alamo Scouts Lt. Nellist and Pvt. Rufo Vaquilar, disguised as locals, managed to gain access to an abandoned shack above the camp where they were rewarded with a view of the prison compound. They prepared a detailed report on the camp's major features and the best attack routes. Shortly thereafter they were joined by three other Scouts, whom Nellist tasked to deliver the report to Mucci.

[edit] Strategy

Captain Juan Pajota

Lt. Col. Mucci received Nellist's report at 14:30 and forwarded it to Capt. Prince, whom he entrusted to figure out how to get the Rangers in and out of the compound quickly, with all the sickly prisoners and with as few casualties as possible.

He sent two groups of guerrillas of the Luzon Guerrilla Armed Forces, one under Capt. Pajota and another under Capt. Eduardo Joson,[3] in opposite directions to hold the main road near the camp. The Rangers were split into two groups as well: C Company, led by Capt. Prince, would attack the main camp and escort the prisoners out, while thirty members from F Company commanded by Lt. John Murphy would signal the start of the attack by firing into various Japanese positions. He predicted that the raid would be accomplished in thirty minutes or less.

One of Prince's primary concerns was the flatness of the countryside. He knew his Rangers would have to crawl through a long, open field on their bellies, right under the eyes of the Japanese guards. At Pajota's suggestion, Mucci arranged for the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) to have a P-61 Black Widow night fighter buzz the camp while the men made their way across the field. It proved to be the biggest factor in achieving the element of surprise.

Prince gives a great deal of credit for the success of the raid to others: “Any success we had was due not only to our efforts but to the Alamo Scouts and Air Force. The pilots (Capt. Kenneth R. Schrieber and Lt. Bonnie B. Rucks) of the plane that flew so low over the camp were incredibly brave men.”

About 45 minutes before the attack, Capt Schrieber cut the left engine at 1,500 feet (450 m) over the camp. He restarted it, creating a loud backfire, and repeated the procedure twice more, losing altitude to 200 feet (60 m). Pretending to be a crippled plane, Schrieber headed toward low hills, clearing them by a mere 30 feet (10 m). To the Japanese observers, it seemed the plane had crashed and they watched, waiting for a fiery explosion. It created a much-needed diversion for the Rangers inching their way toward the camp on their bellies.

[edit] Liberation by fire

Captain Pajota's guerrillas at Cabanatuan.

Two hours after Mucci approved Prince's plan, the Rangers departed from Platero. Approaching the camp by stealth was relatively easy — Pajota had prevailed upon the villagers to muzzle their barking dogs during the night. Meanwhile the P-61 had taken off at 18:00, piloted by Kenneth Schrieber and Bonnie Rucks, to provide distraction for the next hour, while the Rangers at the camp's rear crawled toward the barbed wire fences. The others, under Prince, made their way nearer to the main gate.

At 19:40, the whole prison compound erupted into small arms fire. The Rangers at the main gate maneuvered to bring the guard barracks under fire, while the ones at the rear eliminated the enemy near the prisoners' huts and then proceeded with the evacuation. A Bazooka team from F Company ran up the main road to a tin shack which the scouts had told Mucci held tanks. Though a truck moved in with a dozen Japanese soldiers, the team was able to destroy the shack and the truck. The surviving Japanese were mowed down by F Company.

Cabanatuan Prison Hut

When the Rangers yelled to the POW's to come out and be rescued, many of the POWs feared that it might be a trap so the Japanese could mow them down. Also, a substantial number of the POWs resisted because the Rangers' weapons and uniforms looked nothing like those from a few years prior. Many of them hid, forcing the Rangers to go barracks to barracks. The Rangers were challenged by the POWs and asked who they were and where they were from. Many Rangers had to resort to physical force to remove the prisoners, throwing or kicking them out. Once out of the barracks, they were told by the Rangers to proceed to the main, or front gate. Prisoners were disoriented to them because the 'main gate' meant the entrance to the American side of the camp. Many of the POWs collided with each other in the confusion but were eventually led out by the Rangers.

Zero Ward was a makeshift hospital where the sick and weak were placed (zero being the chance of survival). Rangers carried the prisoners out, and many were so light that some Rangers carried two men on their backs.

A lone Japanese soldier was able to fire off three mortar rounds toward the main gate. F Company located the soldier and killed him. Several Rangers and POWs, including battalion surgeon Capt. James Fisher, were wounded in the attack.

The alerted Japanese contingent poured over the bridge in the nearby Cabu River and into the waiting guns of Pajota's guerrillas. Pajota had sent a demolitions expert several hours earlier to set charges to go off at 19:40. The bomb went off and did not destroy the bridge, but blew a hole over which tanks could not pass. Squads of Japanese troops rushed the bridge, and the Filipino guerrillas repulsed all attacks. One guerrilla, who had been trained to use the bazooka only a few hours earlier, destroyed or disabled four tanks which were hiding behind a clump of trees.

Prince checked all parts of the camp after the raid, but he missed a deaf British soldier, Edwin Rose, who had been in the latrines. Edwin Rose woke early the next morning realizing the prisoners were gone and that he was left behind. Nevertheless, he took the time to shave and put on his best clothes that he had been saving for the day he would be rescued. He walked out of the prison camp, thinking that he would soon be found and be led to freedom. Sure enough, Rose was found by passing guerrillas.

[edit] Long trek to freedom

Weak and sickly POWs on carabao-driven carts.

At 20:15, the camp was secured from the Japanese and then Capt. Prince fired his flare to signal the end of the assault. The Rangers and the weary, frail and disease-ridden POWs made their way to the appointed rendezvous at the Pampanga River, a mile away. The Alamo Scouts stayed behind to help with casualties and survey the area for enemy retaliatory movements. Meanwhile, Pajota's men continued to resist the attacking enemy until they finally could withdraw.

Thirty minutes later, the Rangers and POWs reached the river. A caravan of about a dozen water buffalo carts waited there, driven by local villagers organized by Pajota.

During one leg of the return trip, the men were stopped by the Hukbalahap, a group that hated both American and Japanese. They were also rivals to Pajota's men. One of Pajota's lieutenants conferred with the Hukbalahap and came back and told Mucci that they were not allowed to pass through the village. Angered by the message, Mucci sent the lieutenant back to insist that pursuing Japanese forces would be coming. The lieutenant came back and told Mucci that only Americans could pass, and Pajota's men had to stay.

Former Cabanatuan POWs march to freedom.

The agitated Mucci told the lieutenant that both Rangers and guerrillas were passing through, or he would call in an artillery barrage and level the whole village. (Actually, Mucci's radio was not working). They agreed to let both groups through. Mucci, now a little paranoid, worried that the lieutenant might be working with the Hukbalahap. He took out his .45 pistol, cocked it, and asked the lieutenant if the road was clear. The lieutenant answered yes and Mucci responded:

"It's like this. It better be clear. Because you're going to head the column. I'll be right behind you. If there's even a hint of trouble, I'll shoot you first."

As the forces moved through the village, the unharmed Mucci apologized to the Lieutenant.

At 20:00, Mucci's radioman was able to get Sixth Army headquarters on the line. The Sixth Army had captured Talavera, a town ten miles (16 km) from Mucci's current position. Mucci was directed to go there. At Talavera, the POWs were ordered to board trucks for the last leg of their journey home.

[edit] Outcome and historical significance

The raid was a tremendous success — 512 POWs were liberated.

Three Americans died. One prisoner apparently died of malaria after the raid. Battalion surgeon James Fisher succumbed one day later from his mortar wounds. Fisher was the son of noted novelist and educator Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The other Ranger killed during the raid was Corporal Roy Sweezy, the BAR man for 2d Platoon, Company F. He was struck in the back by two rounds from friendly fire and died almost instantly. Both Captain Fisher and Corporal Sweezy are buried at Manila National Cemetery. Twenty-one Filipino guerrillas and 2 Alamo Scouts were injured.

An estimated 523 Japanese troops were killed or wounded.

Captain James Fisher with Robert Prince

This feat was celebrated by MacArthur's soldiers, Allied correspondents, and the American public, for the raid had touched an emotional chord among Americans concerned about the fate of the defenders of Bataan and Corregidor.

Former Cabanatuan POWs at makeshift hospital in Talavera.

Two hundred seventy-two former Cabanatuan POWs left Leyte on 11 February 1945, aboard the transport USS General A.E. Anderson bound for San Francisco via Hollandia, New Guinea. The Japanese were dealt a great propaganda blow, and their radio announcer Tokyo Rose announced that Japanese submarines, ships and planes were hunting the ship. The threats proved to be a bluff, and the General Anderson safely arrived in San Francisco Bay on 8 March 1945.

General Douglas MacArthur presented the following awards on 3 March 1945: Lt. Col. Mucci and Capt. Prince both received Distinguished Service Crosses. All other American officers and selected enlisted received Silver Stars. The remaining American enlisted men and the Filipino guerrilla officers were all awarded Bronze Stars.[4]

The raid, coupled with the equally successful raid at Los Baños on 23 February, marked the high point of cooperation between American ground and air units and Filipino guerrillas. Without the assistance of Filipino citizens both operations would have been much more difficult, if not impossible.

Ranger Captain James Fisher's memorial at Barrio Balangkare, Cabanatuan.

(Source : Wikipedia)

Jumat, 10 April 2009

Owen, Aussie best SMG




For info, Evelyn Owen, an Australian, developed his first automatic weapon, chambered for .22LR cartridge, by 1939, and offered it to Australian army. This weapon was a strange-looking revolver-type contraption with fixed "cylinder" instead of magazine, and thumb-operated trigger. However, by 1940 Owen produced its next design, in somewhat more potent (but still relatively mild) .32ACP / 7.65x17 Browning cartridge.

This was more "usual" weapon, with traditional trigger, dual pistol grips and detachable box magazine, inserted under the receiver and inclined rearward and to the left. By 1941, Owen produced several more prototypes, chambered in .45ACP, 9mm Luger and even .38 Special revolver cartridges; this work was done at Lysaghts Newcastle Works in New South Wales, Australia. 9mm prototype, made by Lysaghts, was tested against Thompson and Sten submachine guns, and found superior to both. Adopted in 1942, this gun was manufactured until 1945 in three basic versions, Mark 1-42, Mark 1-43 (or Mark 1 Wood butt), and Mark 2.

About 45 000 Owen SMGs were made by Lysaghts, and these remained in service with Australian forces until 1960s, through World War 2, Korean and Vietnam wars. In general, these weapons were well liked by soldiers due to their robustness, reliability and simplicity. The only downside of Owen SMG was its somewhat heavy weight.

Owen submachine guns are blowback operated, top-fed weapons that fired from open bolt. Receiver is of tubular shape, with the bolt body separated from the cocking handle by the small bulkhead inside. This precluded the dirt to enter the receiver area through the cocking handle slot, but also required the barrel to be made removable, as the bolt and return spring were pulled forward out of receiver.

Barrel was held in place by simple latch, located at the front of the receiver, ahead of the magazine housing. Muzzle was equipped with recoil compensator. Pistol grips were made from wood, detachable buttstock was made of steel wire on Mk.1-42 Owens and from wood on later models. Due to the top mounted magazine, fixed sights were offset to the left.

Caliber: 9x19mm Luger/Para
Weight: 4.22 kg unloaded
Length: 813 mm
Barrel length: 247 mm
Rate of fire: 700 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 32 rounds
Effective range: 100-200 meters