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Author Topic: PzLdr History Facts  (Read 9050 times)
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PzLdr
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« Reply #150 on: March 19, 2017, 07:56:00 am »

By March, 1945, the handwriting was on the wall for the Third Reich. The western Allies were on German soil. The Soviets were driving in from all points to the East. and in the Fuehrerbunker, Adolf Hitler contemplated the end. And then he ordered Albrecht Speer, his Armaments Minister, to report to him for new orders.

Those orders comprised what is popularly called the 'NERO' decree. It was both terrifyingly simple and all encompassing in scope. Hitler ordered Speer to oversee the wholesale destruction of the German infrastructure. Speer, working through the Gauleiters and the Army was to destroy every power station, dam, railroad track and yard, road, industrial complex, mine, water purification complex, petroleum source and refinery, every armaments producer and depot; in short every economic means for Germany's survival and rebirth after the war.

Why? Hitler was a social Darwinist to the core. And he believed that if Germany had failed to conquer, it deserved oblivion, and so did its people and military, who, in his view, had failed him [not the other way around].

According to Speer [a suspect witness if ever there was one], he, singlehandedly managed to foil Hitler, by convincing the generals and the Gauleiters [at least most of them], from carrying out hitler's orders. In all likelihood, a great number were ignoring the order on their own.

The result was Germany was spared the destruction envisaged [which, interestingly, closely tracked Sec/ Treasury Morgenthau's plan for the pastoralization of post-war Germany]. But Hitler called Speer on the rug for his disobedience. Surprisingly, Hitler took no action against him,; instead  trying to get Speer to state that Speer believed the war could be won. Hitler failed even in that, speer only committing to his belief in the Fuehrer. Hitler settled for that. And soon the course of the war took the destruction by national suicide out of Hitler's hands. Except his own suicide on April 30th, some six weeks later. 
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« Reply #151 on: March 19, 2017, 02:41:49 pm »

I was finishing up Law School when that happened. A lot of the ARVNs I served with got screwed when we left, and then wouldn't supply them with the arms, ammo and equipment we promised them. I was VERY depressed watching Saigon fall.
  Many got screwed.
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« Reply #152 on: March 23, 2017, 12:12:51 pm »

I just love your knowledge of history PzLdr!!!
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« Reply #153 on: March 24, 2017, 03:52:34 pm »

The problem was twofold. first the official name of the Nazi  Party WAS "National SOCIALIST German workers Party". And, second, a sizable contingent of the party [more earlier than later] believed in the "Socialist" part. Among the early adherents, Paul Joseph Goebbels, later Reichsminister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, Gregor Strasser, head of the Party organization, and his brother, and sundry others.

But by the time of the seizure of power on January, 1933, most of those folks had either come over [Goebbels], resigned from office [Strasser], fled the country [Otto Strasser], or laid low. Except for the rowdies of the STURMABTEILUNG, the SA, Hitler's 'Storm Troopers', the Brownshirts.

By early 1934, there were 4 1/2 million of them. In sheer numbers they swamped the professional army. And with the chancellorship of Adolf Hitler, their main reason for existence, terrorizing political opponents and rioting in the streets, had ended. A stint as auxiliary police pursuant to a Goering decree had ended, in part because of the uncontrollable violence of the Storm Troopers in carrying out their duties. So what to do with them?

Their leadership had a clear idea of what to do. Their leader, SA Chief of Staff Ernst Roehm called for a second revolution, to fufill the 'Socialist' in 'National Socialist'. He proposed that the SA take over policing Germany, and then proposed that the SA become the principal bearer of arms for the Reich, a Army/ militia, if you will, eclipsing the German Army. He also, privately, railed against Hitler, referring to him as the 'Private', and making veiled threats to see Hitler off if the SA was denied what he, and they regarded as their just rewards for getting Hitler the Chancellorship. Trouble was brewing.

At first Hitler tried to win Roehm and the SA over. He lavishly praised them in public. He made Roehm a Minister without portfolio in the Cabinet. He wrote flattering letters. To no avail.

He then tried to coopt Roehm. At a meeting with Roehm and the Service Chiefs, Hitler made it plain that the SA would NEVER supplant the Army, and that they, rather than the Army would be responsible for preliminary military training for German youth, and border security. Roehm acquiesced, but never intended to honor his word.

The next step was public and unequivocal warnings to the SA to cease their antagonism. Hitler spoke. so, pointedly, did the Deputy Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess. And Roehm and the boys should have listened, because the number of enemies they had made was formidable, growing, and growing united in the belief that something had to be done.

There was the Army. The generals despised the SA, everything it stood for, and its leadership, partly because they regarded them as low class savages, and partly because they saw them as morally corrupt [Homosexuality was rife in the leadership Corps of the SA, up to and including Roehm].

There was Goering. Hermann Goering saw himself, not Roehm, as the next commander of the German Armed Forces. And Goering feared the large numbers of SA formations Roehm commanded.

There was the Nazi Party leadership. They were aware of the adverse effect the SA-Hitler demarche was having on popular support. They also remembered tentative talks Roehm had had with then chancellor Von Schleicher in 1932 without Hitler's blessing.

And finally, and most dangerous of all, there were Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuehrer SS and his right hand man, Reinhard Heydrich. The SS was subordinate to the SA, a situation Himmler found intolerable. And while Roehm had been shooting off his mouth, Himmler had been acquiring police forces. In fact acquiring all the police forces in Germany, but three. Of the three, the largest was the Prussian State Police, which was under Goering's control, and included the Goering creation, the Gestapo.

Roehm should have noted that when Goering turned the Prussian police and Gestapo over to Himmler in early 1934 [Heydrich took over the Gestapo], two natural enemies had made a truce. He didn't.

As 1934 proceeded, Himmler, Heydrich and the Army began fabricating rumors that the SA was planning a putsch. Senior members of the SA, especially Victor Lutz, began reporting Roehm's more inflammatory statements to Hitler, who ordered the SA on leave for the month of July. Roehm went to Bad Wiesee to take the 'cure'. Hitler then ordered a gathering of the senior SA leaders for a meeting. Meanwhile, in Berlin, plans and suspect lists proceeded apace.

Near the end of June, Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Sepp Dietrich and some of the Leibstandarte SS flew to Essen for the wedding of Gauleiter Josef Terboven [a suicide in Norway, 1945]. From there, Hitler flew during the night of June 29-30th to Bavaria with Goebbels and Dietrich while Goering returned to Berlin. It was Goebbels who phoned Goering , Himmler and Heydrich with the code word 'Kalibri' , which in turn triggered the Berlin portion of the Night of the Long Knives.

Hitler arrived at the hotel where Roehm and some of the senior SA leadership were staying with two policemen and Dietrich close behind. Hitler burst into the room of SA Obergruppenfuehrer Edmund Heines first, finding him in bed with an 18 year old SA man. Heines was dragged outside, and later shot. Hitler then arrested Roehm, and had him hauled off to Stadelhelm prison, where he joined several other SA leaders previously arrested, and others who had been heading for Bad Wiesee per their orders, and who were intercepted on the way. Hitler then ordered Dietrich to form a firing squad, and the SA leadership was shot in batches [except Roehm].

In Berlin, Heydrich sent out SS details to kill those approved for execution by Goering and Himmler. SA leaders went down like ten pins, but the Nazis didn't stop there. Gregor Strasser was killed in Gestapo headquarters. Von Schleicher was killed in his home, along with his wife, who died trying to protect him. So were two of Franz von Papen's assistants.

Nor was the purge limited to the SA, or to Berlin. Von Kahr, who had opposed the Beerhall Putsch in 1923 was hacked to death with a pickaxe near Dachau. Old political opponents were killed. SA Gruppenfuehrer Karl Ernst was dragged off the cruise ship he was going on for his honeymoon, and executed.

And still, Roehm lived. But finally, Hitler, who had allowed Roehm to use the 'Du' form of address to him in the past was persuaded that Roehm had to go. At the prison, a warder walked into roehm's cell with a newspaper describing the purge, and a pistol with a single bullet. He urged Roehm to do the right thing. Roehm didn't. Ten minutes later SS Gruppenfuehrer Theodor Eicke, Commandant of Dachau and his aide walked into the cell and emptied two handguns into Roehm. The Night of the Long Knives was over. In his speech justifying the action, Hitler admitted to some 90 killed [the true toll was probably double that]. Most Germans approved of the action.

So who won? The big winners were the SS. In less than a month, Hitler would grant them independence from the SA, and make Himmler directly responsible to him alone. It was the start of the SS state within a state that would see Himmler's tentacles reach into every segment of German Society. Another winner was Hitler. He actually solidified his popularity with the German people.

Losers? The SA, of course. Within a couple of years they had shrunk to less than half  of their pre-purge membership, and had no access to power. But also the German Army was a big loser. Having supplied trucks and weapons to the SS, they had colluded in the murders. And while they had seen the SA eliminated as a rival, they replaced it with a far more dangerous enemy, the SS, which, by 1945, would have almost a million men under arms in its military formations, the Waffen SS.

  
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« Reply #154 on: March 29, 2017, 07:50:13 am »

1951: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted for spying for, and passing nuclear secrets to, the U.S.S.R. Julius had headed an industrial spy ring out of Ft. Monmouth N.J, where he worked as a civilian contractor for the U.S Army [one of his NKVD agent names was "Engineer"]. They became involved in nuclear espionage when Ethel's brother, David Greenglass, was assigned, as an Army EM, to Los Alamos as a machinist. At the importuning of his sister and brother-in-law, he provided diagrams of the components he worked on. Julius and his efforts initially come to light through the Venona decryption program. The Rosenbergs are executed in June, 1951.

1971: Second Lieutenant William Calley is convicted of the murder of 22 Vietnamese in the "My Lai Massacre. Calley will serve three years in house arrest. He will be the only officer convicted over the affair, despite efforts by anti-war opponents to have the "Yamash*ta Rule" applied up the chain of command all the way to General William Westmoreland.

1973: The last U.S troops are withdrawn from the republic of Viet Nam. With Nixon fatally wounded by Watergate, the betrayal of the South Vietnamese by the cowards of the U.S Congress, led by the usual suspects [Democrats] proceeds apace.
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« Reply #155 on: March 31, 2017, 10:32:48 am »

She started life as a German freighter, the GOLDENFELS. She was commanded by a Captain who was part Jewish, who was awarded one of only three Samurai swords presented to foreigners by Emperor Hirohito and who stayed at sea for over a year. And she sank more tonnage than any other surface ship in the Kriegsmarine [the ship that came closest was the pocket battleship ADMIRAL SCHEER]. Her name was 'ATLANTIS'.

ATLANTIS was part of a plan by Admiral Raeder to accomplish two goals, first to attack British shipping, and second, to force the dispersal of Allied warships to counter her operations. But unlike the pocket battleships[ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE AND DEUTSCHLAND]. ATLANTIS and her sisters [THOR, PINGUIN, KORMORANT] were converted merchant ships. They were principally armed with hidden 5.9" guns, which were the standard primary weapons on German destroyers, and secondary armament on German capital ships. They were also the functional equivalent of the main armament on British light cruisers. They were also armed with mines, torpedoes, machineguns, radio jamming equipment and scout planes. And all of it was hidden, or camouflaged.

In addition to her armament, ATLANTIS was fitted out with secure holding cells for captured merchant seamen, a variety of foreign flags, and paints and building materials to alter her appearance.

Escorted by a Soviet icebreaker, ATLANTIS broke out disguised as a Swedish merchantman. By the time she reached her operational area [the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean], she was a Japanese freighter.

During the next 18 months, ATLANTIS sank or captured some 22 ships, worth 146,000 tons, give or take. She also threw British   naval operations into panic. Periodically, ATLANTIS, if she captured a ship, would offload her prisoners onto it, and send it back, under a prize crew to German held Europe.

Rogge 'won' his Samurai sword with one of his captures. Found in a ship's safe was a top secret British study of their ability to defend Malaya and Singapore [it was BRUTALLY honest about the deficiencies of British plans, equipment, etc.]The study was turned over to the Japanese, and they used it to good result.

The jig came up on November 22, 1941. ATLANTIS Was found and engaged by H.M.S DEVONSHIRE, a heavy cruiser. In the one-sided battle [the chief weakness of the armed auxiliary cruiser was its lack of any armor plating at all] ATLANTIS was sunk. But Rogge and many of his crew were rescued by U-boats, and eventually found their way back to the Reich, where Rogge was awarded the Knight's Cross by Hitler.

Rogge went on, after the war, to serve in the West German Navy and NATO. And ATLANTIS is still remembered as the best commerce raider, EVER.
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« Reply #156 on: April 01, 2017, 08:01:20 am »

Hobbled by incompetent subordinates [read: Benjamin Butler], U.S Grant was unable to achieve at Petersburg, the turning movement he had sought versus Robert E. Lee and the Army of northern Virginia for the entire 1864 campaigning season. and having failed to turn Lee, Grant was forced to settle into trench warfare and siege outside Petersburg throughout the winter of 1864-1865, and early Spring of 1865. But as the weather warmed, Grant became active again, and he cast his eyes on a place on the extreme Confederate right called Five Forks.

Five forks was important for one reason, the last railroad line controlled by the confederacy capable of supplying Lee's Army. Lee told the rebel commanding general, George Pickett [yes, THAT Pickett], that the area was to be held at all costs. Grant told his commander, MG Philip Sheridan to take it. And in addition to Sheridan's cavalry Corps, he gave him gouvenor Warren's Vth Corps to accomplish that task.

On March 31st, there were preliminary battles at Dinwiddie Court house,in which Pickett held Sheridan, but the latter's losses were minimal, and White Oak Road, where the Vth Corps pushed back rebel troops.

Vth Corps began arriving at Sheridan's position around 10:00 PM on the 31st. As a result Pickett pulled back to a defensive line some 6 or more miles to the rear. And then he waited.

On April 1st, nothing, initially seemed to go right for Sheridan. Vth Corps took too long to deploy, and some of its units attacked , when they did attack, into empty space. But by doing so, they rolled up Pickett's right.

The attack itself started late, in the afternoon. That fact had a significant result on the forthcoming battle. Pickett, and his senior commanders believed Sheridan would not attack until the 2nd. So Pickett went to a shad bake with  his cavalry commander, Fitzhugh Lee, and neglected to inform his subordinates of either his location or plans. Additionally, due to a terrain anomaly, Pickett did not hear the sounds of gunfire that began around 1:00 P.M, initiating the battle.

Sheridan opened with an attack by dismounted cavalry from Devin's and Custer's divisions. Warren took over two hours to straighten his formations and attack, so the battle was fought mainly in the late afternoon.

The result? Pickett's line was broken, the Union got control of the last rebel railroad on the Petersburg front, Lee was forced to abandon the Petersburg works  and began the retreat that ended at Appomattox Court House. Jefferson Davis and his cabinet were forced to flee Richmond and begin the hajira that ended with Davis' capture by Union general James Wilson's cavalry.

And Pickett and Sheridan? Lee relieved Pickett of command and stated a desire never to see him in his Army again. Sheridan took up the pursuit of Lee from his southern flank, captured a third of his Army at Sailor's Creek [courtesy of Custer], got ahead of him by April 8th, and cut him off at Appomattox Court house. It was during that pursuit that Sheridan's displeasure with Warren led to the latter's relief. Warren, one of the heroes of Day 2 at Gettysburg spent the rest of his life trying to clear his name. Sheridan spent the rest of his life rising to command of the U.S. Army after William T. Sherman's retirement.
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« Reply #157 on: April 03, 2017, 07:37:04 pm »

The problem was twofold. first the official name of the Nazi  Party WAS "National SOCIALIST German workers Party". And, second, a sizable contingent of the party [more earlier than later] believed in the "Socialist" part. Among the early adherents, Paul Joseph Goebbels, later Reichsminister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, Gregor Strasser, head of the Party organization, and his brother, and sundry others.

But by the time of the seizure of power on January, 1933, most of those folks had either come over [Goebbels], resigned from office [Strasser], fled the country [Otto Strasser], or laid low. Except for the rowdies of the STURMABTEILUNG, the SA, Hitler's 'Storm Troopers', the Brownshirts.

By early 1934, there were 4 1/2 million of them. In sheer numbers they swamped the professional army. And with the chancellorship of Adolf Hitler, their main reason for existence, terrorizing political opponents and rioting in the streets, had ended. A stint as auxiliary police pursuant to a Goering decree had ended, in part because of the uncontrollable violence of the Storm Troopers in carrying out their duties. So what to do with them?

Their leadership had a clear idea of what to do. Their leader, SA Chief of Staff Ernst Roehm called for a second revolution, to fufill the 'Socialist' in 'National Socialist'. He proposed that the SA take over policing Germany, and then proposed that the SA become the principal bearer of arms for the Reich, a Army/ militia, if you will, eclipsing the German Army. He also, privately, railed against Hitler, referring to him as the 'Private', and making veiled threats to see Hitler off if the SA was denied what he, and they regarded as their just rewards for getting Hitler the Chancellorship. Trouble was brewing.

At first Hitler tried to win Roehm and the SA over. He lavishly praised them in public. He made Roehm a Minister without portfolio in the Cabinet. He wrote flattering letters. To no avail.

He then tried to coopt Roehm. At a meeting with Roehm and the Service Chiefs, Hitler made it plain that the SA would NEVER supplant the Army, and that they, rather than the Army would be responsible for preliminary military training for German youth, and border security. Roehm acquiesced, but never intended to honor his word.

The next step was public and unequivocal warnings to the SA to cease their antagonism. Hitler spoke. so, pointedly, did the Deputy Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess. And Roehm and the boys should have listened, because the number of enemies they had made was formidable, growing, and growing united in the belief that something had to be done.

There was the Army. The generals despised the SA, everything it stood for, and its leadership, partly because they regarded them as low class savages, and partly because they saw them as morally corrupt [Homosexuality was rife in the leadership Corps of the SA, up to and including Roehm].

There was Goering. Hermann Goering saw himself, not Roehm, as the next commander of the German Armed Forces. And Goering feared the large numbers of SA formations Roehm commanded.

There was the Nazi Party leadership. They were aware of the adverse effect the SA-Hitler demarche was having on popular support. They also remembered tentative talks Roehm had had with then chancellor Von Schleicher in 1932 without Hitler's blessing.

And finally, and most dangerous of all, there were Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuehrer SS and his right hand man, Reinhard Heydrich. The SS was subordinate to the SA, a situation Himmler found intolerable. And while Roehm had been shooting off his mouth, Himmler had been acquiring police forces. In fact acquiring all the police forces in Germany, but three. Of the three, the largest was the Prussian State Police, which was under Goering's control, and included the Goering creation, the Gestapo.

Roehm should have noted that when Goering turned the Prussian police and Gestapo over to Himmler in early 1934 [Heydrich took over the Gestapo], two natural enemies had made a truce. He didn't.

As 1934 proceeded, Himmler, Heydrich and the Army began fabricating rumors that the SA was planning a putsch. Senior members of the SA, especially Victor Lutz, began reporting Roehm's more inflammatory statements to Hitler, who ordered the SA on leave for the month of July. Roehm went to Bad Wiesee to take the 'cure'. Hitler then ordered a gathering of the senior SA leaders for a meeting. Meanwhile, in Berlin, plans and suspect lists proceeded apace.

Near the end of June, Hitler, Goebbels, Goering and Sepp Dietrich and some of the Leibstandarte SS flew to Essen for the wedding of Gauleiter Josef Terboven [a suicide in Norway, 1945]. From there, Hitler flew during the night of June 29-30th to Bavaria with Goebbels and Dietrich while Goering returned to Berlin. It was Goebbels who phoned Goering , Himmler and Heydrich with the code word 'Kalibri' , which in turn triggered the Berlin portion of the Night of the Long Knives.

Hitler arrived at the hotel where Roehm and some of the senior SA leadership were staying with two policemen and Dietrich close behind. Hitler burst into the room of SA Obergruppenfuehrer Edmund Heines first, finding him in bed with an 18 year old SA man. Heines was dragged outside, and later shot. Hitler then arrested Roehm, and had him hauled off to Stadelhelm prison, where he joined several other SA leaders previously arrested, and others who had been heading for Bad Wiesee per their orders, and who were intercepted on the way. Hitler then ordered Dietrich to form a firing squad, and the SA leadership was shot in batches [except Roehm].

In Berlin, Heydrich sent out SS details to kill those approved for execution by Goering and Himmler. SA leaders went down like ten pins, but the Nazis didn't stop there. Gregor Strasser was killed in Gestapo headquarters. Von Schleicher was killed in his home, along with his wife, who died trying to protect him. So were two of Franz von Papen's assistants.

Nor was the purge limited to the SA, or to Berlin. Von Kahr, who had opposed the Beerhall Putsch in 1923 was hacked to death with a pickaxe near Dachau. Old political opponents were killed. SA Gruppenfuehrer Karl Ernst was dragged off the cruise ship he was going on for his honeymoon, and executed.

And still, Roehm lived. But finally, Hitler, who had allowed Roehm to use the 'Du' form of address to him in the past was persuaded that Roehm had to go. At the prison, a warder walked into roehm's cell with a newspaper describing the purge, and a pistol with a single bullet. He urged Roehm to do the right thing. Roehm didn't. Ten minutes later SS Gruppenfuehrer Theodor Eicke, Commandant of Dachau and his aide walked into the cell and emptied two handguns into Roehm. The Night of the Long Knives was over. In his speech justifying the action, Hitler admitted to some 90 killed [the true toll was probably double that]. Most Germans approved of the action.

So who won? The big winners were the SS. In less than a month, Hitler would grant them independence from the SA, and make Himmler directly responsible to him alone. It was the start of the SS state within a state that would see Himmler's tentacles reach into every segment of German Society. Another winner was Hitler. He actually solidified his popularity with the German people.

Losers? The SA, of course. Within a couple of years they had shrunk to less than half  of their pre-purge membership, and had no access to power. But also the German Army was a big loser. Having supplied trucks and weapons to the SS, they had colluded in the murders. And while they had seen the SA eliminated as a rival, they replaced it with a far more dangerous enemy, the SS, which, by 1945, would have almost a million men under arms in its military formations, the Waffen SS.

  
Just got thru watching this Night of The LOng Knives on TV. Enjoyed it more after reading about it. Thanks PzLdr
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« Reply #158 on: April 04, 2017, 08:10:46 am »

His nickname in Japanese was "8 cents", a pun on the cost of a manicure for Geisha, since, as a junior officer, he'd lost two fingers on his left hand at Tshuhima, fighting the Russians with Admiral Togo, and a manicure for ten fingers was ten cents. He'd spent time in the United States, attached to the Japanese Embassy, attending Harvard, traveling the country and playing poker. He learned to fly in his middle years, because, as the major advocate of naval air power in Japan, he believed he should. He attended at least one of the Naval Conferences in the 20s and early 30s. He opposed war with the United States as the Deputy Naval Minister to the point that he was made commander of the combined Fleet to get him out of Tokyo and away from potential assassination. And he planned the attack on Pearl Harbor. His name was Isoroku Yamamoto. And he was born on this day in 1884 to an impoverished Samurai family on northern Japan [as was Army General Hideki Tojo].

Yamamoto was not overly upset with the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty, not for what it banned, but for what it didn't, specifically aircraft carriers, torpedoes, cruisers and destroyers. The great Tokyo earthquake fortuitously damaged, beyond repair, the hull for the new battlecruiser AMAGI, and a battleship. But the quake spared the hull of AKAGI, and the newly laid battleship KAGA. Under the treaty terms, and with the consent of the U.S and Great Britain, Japan was allowed to complete both hulls as aircraft carriers. Japan's Carrier Division 1 was born.

Yamamoto rose steadily through the Imperial Japanese Navy's ranks, commanding the Naval air establishment, captaining AKAGI, and overseeing the development of the then best naval air force in the world. And he did it with several 'super' weapons, particularly, the type 91 torpedo, and the Mitsubishi "Zero" fighter [named for the year in the Emperor's reign it was developed. In addition, he had two dedicated aircraft the equal to, or better than any other, the Daichi 'Val' dive bomber, and the Nakijima 'Kate, high altitude/ torpedo bomber.

As the '30s progressed, Japan drifted toward war, impelled by a government increasingly dominated by militarists, particularly in the Army, and as the 30s blended into the '40s, Japanese expansion, by war or coercion in China and Indochina, coupled with an increasingly hostile and belligerent U.S. foreign policy. And while Yamamoto opposed war [he flat out told anyone who would listen that Japan couldn't win against the U.S.], he planned for, as any good officer would.

And inspired by the British carrier assault on Taranto, Italy, he came up with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Six of Japan's principal carriers, AKAGI, KAGA, SORYU, HIRYU, SHOKAKU AND ZUIKAKU crossed the northern Pacific and struck the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, while other Japanese naval units spearheaded south, leading to invasions of Malaya, the Philippines,  Indonesia and Burma. That was followed by a carrier raid into the Indian Ocean that went as far as [now] Sri Lanka, and air raids on northern Australia.

Yamamoto had stated that he would run wild for six months, but that after that all bets would be off. And in Spring, and summer 1942, he proved eerily  prophetic. First, the Doolittle Raid struck Japan [they bombed four cities, not just Tokyo]. Then, the Battle of the Coral Sea followed. While a Japanese tactical win [they sunk one U.S carrier, and heavily damaged another - YORKTOWN, for the loss of the light carrier SHOHO], they lost heavily from the aircrews of ZUIKAKU, and SHOKAKU was heavily damaged. And it was a strategic defeat for the Japanese. They were forced to withdraw.

And then came Yamamoto's Waterloo, the battle of Midway [see the Midway thread in the archive]Based on an overly complex plan, with far too many moving, non-supporting parts, it was an epic failure [the fact we could read the Japanese Naval code didn't hurt, either]. By the end of the day, four of Japan's principal carriers, AKAGI, KAGA, SORYU and HIRYU had been sunk, Japan's leading carrier admiral, Tamon Yamaguchi, was dead [went down with the ship]and over 200 of Japan's best aircrews were lost. Almost 6 months to the day from Pearl Harbor, Japan had lost the initiative. the days of running wild were over.

Yamamoto oversaw the increasingly futile naval operations supporting the Japanese Army on Guadalcanal. While there were successes, there were also failures, and both Japanese naval, and naval air power continued to be bled. Eventually Yamamoto called off the Japanese efforts to re-take the island, and oversaw the rescue of the remaining troops on the island.

Isoroku Yamamoto was killed by U.S. Army P-38 aircraft while on an inspection tour of Japanese islands in the South Pacific in 1943. They knew where he'd be, and were waiting for him [the codes, again]. He was the only foreign leader, military or civilian, the U.S. assassinated, or attempted to assassinate in World War II.   
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« Reply #159 on: April 06, 2017, 09:21:40 am »

It was a two day battle with two names. The Union called it Pittsburgh Landing, after the geographic location it was fought on; the South referred to it as 'Shiloh', after a small church in the immediate area. The South's designation stuck.

Shiloh started as part of Union general Henry Halleck's plans to march on Corinth, Mississippi. His field army comprised one force under U.S. Grant, and a second Army under don Carlos Buell. Grant, who camped around Pittsburgh Landing on the Tennessee River, expected no trouble. Neither did one of his subordinate division commanders, BG William T. Sherman, whose dispositions were lax, at best.

But trouble, in the form of the Confederate Army of Mississippi, was coming. Commanded by the second senior General in the Confederate Army, Albert Sidney Johnston and with GEN P.G.T. Beauregard as his deputy, the Army had been formed by various Confederate formations withdrawn from Tennessee and other areas after Grant's Henry and Donaldson camapigns had levered them out of position.

Johnston had had a great reputation in the antebellum Army. He had led the Mormon expedition in the 1850s. And Jefferson Davis was a 'groupie'. Beauregard was the 'hero' of Fort Sumter. He had performed creditably at Bull Run. But like George B. McClellan and Isoroku Yamamoto, his battle plans tended to be overly complex. And like other Southern generals [Joseph E. Johnson comes to mind], he was overly sensitive to his rank, and his date of rank in the Rebel Army. Jefferson Davis DID NOT like him.

Johnston's plan was fairly straight forward. March north from Corinth, achieve surprise, and drive into the Union forces at Shiloh, driving them west, away from the river, and reinforcements. And initially, except for one serious hiccup [which swung the battle], and one leg wound, he succeeded.

Despite reports from outlying pickets and units that something was up, both Grant and Sherman continued to ignore the possibility that Johnston was [a] in the vicinity, and attacking them. They were soon disabused of their folly.

The Rebels drove into the Union positions like a tidal wave. And since the Union troops were encamped more for bivouac than battle, they were driven back. The rebel attack slowed, only briefly while confederate troops, who had marched since before daylight, stopped to seize Union breakfasts, and to plunder Union tents. That delay, while slight, allowed the hiccup. the Union troops withdrew not west, but northeast, toward Pittsburgh Landing. They also withdraw, on their right front into a sunken  road that became known as the "Hornet's Nest. Here Sherman rallied the troops, and they continued to beat off Confederate attacks, with heavy loses to both sides.

Enter the leg wound. While personally leading his troops in the attack, Johnston was hit in the leg, below his boot top. As the fighting continued he fell from his horse. When the bot was removed, it was full of blood. An artery had been severed. Johnston was dead.

Beauregard assumed command, but the fighting died down. Believing [probably correctly] that his men were exhausted, he ordered them to stand down, and to prepare to resume the attack the next day. It was a mistake of epic proportions.

During the night, Grant was reinforced by three of his own widespread divisions, and don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio. The next morning, Grant stole the march on Beauregard, and attacked first. It was a route of epic proportions. Beauregard retreated all the way back to Corinth. But for Halleck's orders, Grant would have been there too.

Shiloh had several profound after effects. Davis, ever sensitive, decided Beauregard was trying to take credit from, and eclipse Johnston. His animosity hardened. Beauregard never held a significant command for the rest of the war. Grant and Sherman, despite their initial failures redeemed themselves to the point that they would dominate first the Union's western theater, and eventually the whole Union war effort. And finally, Shiloh was the wakeup call to both sections of the country, that it was going to be a long, very bloody war. Shiloh represented the largest loss of life in U,S history up to that point. It would, of course, be surpassed the following year by Chancellorsville, and then Gettysburg. But it was notice, writ large of what was to come. Quite an association for a little woodland church.
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« Reply #160 on: April 07, 2017, 08:17:27 am »

She was first in a class of three, but the last to survive. She was undergoing sea trials off Japan on the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, and spent most of the war at anchor near Malaya. She was YAMATO, which along with her sister ship, MUSASHI, was the biggest battleship ever built [the third hull, SHINANO, was converted to an aircraft carrier, and sunk by U.S.S. ARCHERFISH on her first voyage].

The YAMATO class' design and construction was based on a geographic reality, the Panama Canal. Working from the premise that the Canal would factor into the size of U.S. battleship construction [particularly, their beam], the Japanese decided to go bigger. And they did. In spades.

YAMATO and MUSASHI weighed some 72,000 tons each [roughly 33% larger than BISMARCK and TIRPITZ]. Their main armament consisted of nine 18.1" guns. Their secondary, comprised of 6.1" and 5" guns, was equally impressive, and their speed was  more than acceptable [@ 28 knots]. But they were, in the eyes of the commander of the Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, 'white elephants', which he proved himself, at Midway.

Yamamoto commanded both the operation, and the bulk of the battleships from the main battle fleet that followed 300 miles behind the KIDO BUTAI [First Air Fleet]. Yet when the four carriers of the First Air Fleet were sunk, Yamamoto did not dare try to engage the U.S. carriers with his battleships [He was too far away to offer immediate support in any case]. Instead, after some dithering, he withdrew.

YAMATO spent much of late 1942-1943 at Truk, and other Japanese naval bases. She was present at the Battle of the Philippines Sea, a/k/a "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", but saw no combat. And she spent increasing time off Malaya and Indonesia, as did most of the surface fleet, because to paraphrase Willy Sutton, 'that was where the oil was'.

YAMATO WAS involved in the largest Naval battle of World War II, if not history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf. With a plan as complicated as a Swiss watch [it WAS the Japanese, after all], the Imperial Navy sent three columns against the U.S. Navy, and the landings on Leyte Island in the Philippines. Both YAMATO and MUSASHI sailed with the central column. A second force, built around older battleships approached the southern passage through the archipelago at Surigao Strait. A third column, comprised of Japan's remaining carriers sailed down from the north. That column was a decoy, bait designed to lure Halsey's fleet away from covering the landings [By then the Japanese had few proficient pilots left].

The operation seemed doomed from the start. MUSASHI was engaged by U.S. aircraft and sunk, as were at least six cruisers, including Kurita's flagship, IMS ATAGO. So Admiral Kurita withdrew [but later reversed course], and traversed the San Bernadino Strait that night. And it appeared that, just maybe the Gods of War chose to smile on Japan.

Because Halsey had taken the bait, and Third Fleet was steaming north at high speed to nail the carriers. And due to inmprecise communications, the U.S. Seventh Fleet, had sailed south to Surigao, leaving the landing beaches covered by some escort carriers and some destroyers and destroyer escorts. It had the potential for a massacre.

Kurita debauched from San Bernadino Strait with not only YAMATO, but the battleship KONGO, and several heavy and light cruisers. And although YAMATO scored several hits with her guns, Kurita's attack order  [individual engagement], plus a turn to avoid torpedoes, left YAMATO out of most of the battle, with KONGO doing the heavy lifting. And the American defense led Kurita to believe he was engaging Halsey's full strength. He withdrew.

By 1944, Japan was in bad straits. American troops had landed on Okinawa. Japan had been reduced to using her remaining airpower [land based]in suicide attacks on American ships [the Special Volunteer Corps, or as we called them, 'Kamikaze']. And the Japanese Navy decided that a grand, suicidal gesture was required from them. And that gesture was YAMATO and several escorts [the light cruiser YAHAGI and some eight destroyers]. She was ordered to Okinawa, where she was to beach herself and use her guns to support the Japanese Army. She was provided with only enough fuel for a one-way trip.

YAMATO was spotted on April 6th off the south coast of Japan, and shadowed by submarine. The next day she was attacked by waves of several hundred torpedo and dive bombers. A sea of flames, she rolled over and sank, with an explosion heard over 100 miles away, and a column of some several hundred feet high. YAMATO was gone.

And what had she accomplished in her 'life'? Very little. One could argue she was the perfection of the battleship [a better argument can be made for the IOWA class]. But in a country as resource poor as Japan, she was a waste of material that could have been put to much better use, elsewhere, say in aircraft carriers and aircraft. She represented the bankrupt Japanese naval philosophy of "the decisive battle", that guided all Japanese naval thought from Tushima on. The battle that was supposed to be fought near Japan. Between battleships. which Japan would win. Which never happened.
The nearest equivalent to YAMATO was TIRPITZ. But at least, just by existing, Tirpitz tied down substantial assets of both the Royal Navy and RAF. YAMATO tied down nothing. If she appeared, the Americans were more than happy to engage her. But concern for her was not a major component of U.S. naval strategy. And the only time she really became to focus of their attention was April6-7, 1945. When they sunk her.
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« Reply #161 on: April 11, 2017, 10:36:43 am »

1814: Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor of the French is exiled to the Mediterranean island of Elba after his abdication.

Napoleon had been forced to abdicate after fighting a brilliant defensive campaign IN France against a coalition of Russian, Prussian, Austrian, Swedish and other European troops to the east of Paris, while Wellington invaded France from Spain. The key moment came when Napoleon's Marshals refused to fight anymore.

Napoleon is allowed to keep his title, and take 600 of the Imperial Guard to Elba as his 'army'. His exile will last less than a year. Believing, probably rightly, that Louis XVIII is planning his assassination, Bonaparte slips an English naval patrol and lands in southern France, triggering the 100 Days that will culminate in Waterloo, his surrender to the English, and permanent exile to the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic. There Napoleon will be treated as a captured general [with all the honors], overseen by a British garrison. He will be accompanied by a household of volunteers, but no troops. He will die there in 1821.

1951: Douglas MacArthur is relieved of command in the Far East.

General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, overall commander of U.N. forces in Korea is relieved of command by President Harry Truman. MacArthur, who had assumed command of first the U.S., and then the U.N. response to North Korea's invasion of South Korea in June of 1950, had become involved in a more and more contentious relationship with his commander in chief, Harry Truman.

At first everything had been fine. MacArthur's troops [8th Army] stopped the NKPA on the Pusan perimeter in the southeast corner of South Korea. And while that was going on MacArthur led an amphibious force of U.S marines in the amphibious assault at Inchon, and a drive on Seoul well behind the NKPA lines. Coupled with a breakout offensive by 8th Army, it led to the disintegration of the NKPA, which then fled north as fast as it could run. So far, all well and good. The NKPA had been driven out of the South; the Republic of Korea was saved.

But then MacArthur decided to reunite the peninsula under South Korean President Syngmon Rhee. The U,N., and Truman went along. At this point things began to go south.

First, the Red Chinese of Mao Tze Dung threatened to intervene if U.N. forces crossed the 38th parallel. then MacArthur split his forces, sending the 8th Army up the western side of the peninsula, while detaching the newly created Xth Corps under his chief of staff, and sycophant [a job requirement for MacArthur's staff] Ned Almond. the reason? MacArthur wanted to do an amphibious invasion on the EAST coast of North Korea at Wonsan [By the time Xth Corps arrived, the port had been seized by South Korean troops marching overland].

Result? MacArthur had the two major components of his army separated by highly rugged terrain, unable to support each other, and about to be attacked by close to a half million Chinese troops MacArthur knew nothing about.

It started with a Chinese spoiling attack against U.S. cavalry and ROK infantry troops. They hit hard, but melted back into the hills. MacArthur, meanwhile, drove on toward the Yalu River, the border with China. And then the axe fell. Major Chinese attacks drove the 8th Army south. Both Pyongyang and Seoul would be lost. Xth Corps troops [Marines and U.S. Army] were almost surrounded around the Chosin reservoir, and driven, in abominable weather toward Wonsan.

And then, a second, non-Communist front opened between MacArthur and Truman and the U.S. government, as well as the U.S' U.N allies.

MacArthur never took defeat well [it's not a good idea to get in the way of a 'historical impulse'. Just ask Generals Homma and Yamash*ta]. And he was getting his ass kicked. Truman, meanwhile, wondered how MacArthur could have been so wrong about the Chinese [first their mere presence, then their numbers], and so lax in his dispositions, intelligence and recon.

MacArthur's response was to escalate. to that end, he sought to involve the Nationalists in Taiwan in either an invasion of Red China, or in Korea itself, the denial of Chinese Manchuria as a safe haven for enemy air, logistics and reinforcements, and the use of nuclear weapons against the Chinese. All of these issues had political overtones , to say the least. And when Truman bridled, and cautioned MacArthur about getting involved in politics, MacArthur doubled down, using a back channel to Republicans in house of Representatives, to get his position aired and supported. It was too much for Truman. After consultation with the Chairman of the JCS, General of the Army Omar Bradley, Truman relieved MacArthur of his command [The relief itself was handled badly. MacArthur first learned about it from a radio news report]. MacArthur returned to the U.S. for a series of parades, an address to Congress, and then obscurity. Truman lost the election of 1952 to a general. Just not MacArthur. He had been beaten for the GOP nomination by a former subordinate, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
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« Reply #162 on: April 11, 2017, 12:45:26 pm »

Truman was right to can MacArthur.

Korea remains a problem today, particularly with flat head running around in North Korea.  For the first time, I heard mentioned today the possible reunification of Korea.  The only way that happens will be with flat head taken out and China realizing it is in their interest to unify Korea.  Frankly, because of proximity, I believe it would be in China's economic interest to unify Korea.  Korea would become a strong market for China, much like the USA today.

But are they prepared to take out flat head to unify Korea?  I think not.

And Trump, if he honestly thinks he can run about using the military to solve problems like North Korea, he is in for a rude awakening.  China will not sit back and let their puppet get attacked by the USA.  Not happening.
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« Reply #163 on: April 12, 2017, 08:20:03 am »

1861: The shelling of Fort Sumter

It became known in the south as "The War of Northern Aggression", which is a bit rich. Because on this date, in 1861, the newly formed Confederate states of America initiated hostilities against the United States at Charleston, South Carolina.

With Lincoln's election, Southern states, spearheaded by South Carolina, began passing ordinances of Secession, and leaving the Union to form their own government, the Confederate States of America. By April, 1861, with several notable exceptions, including Virginia, most of the South, including all of the Deep  South, had seceded and formed their own government. One of the first issues facing the new provisional government was what to do with U.S. government property, specifically, armories, and coastal forts. In some cases [Gen. Twigg in Texas, for example] Union officers turned coat and surrendered Union installations, weapons, etc. In others, Union commanders refused to turn the property over.

One such case was Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The fort's commander, Major Robert Anderson was, by birth, a Southerner. But he remained loyal to the Federal government, and refused to surrender his fort to Southern interests.

At first, the Confederates didn't push the issue, even selling foodstuffs and provender to the Union troops. But attitudes began to harden, and Jefferson Davis, in the provisional capitol of Montgomery, Alabama, began to push for action. The trigger was a Union supply ship sent by Lincoln to re-supply Sumter. Davis ordered the fort taken. And in the early dawn hours of April 12th, 1861, newly minted Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard did just that. The artillery bombardment was sustained, damaged the fort, and caused some casualties, Anderson among them. But the casualties were light, and honor having been satisfied, Anderson struck his colors. the fort was evacuated, and the Union troops were allowed to leave [Beauregard had been a student of Anderson at West Point]. But from tiny acorns, mighty oaks grow. Having had Union property clearly attacked, Lincoln called for 90,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion. As a result, Virginia and several border states seceded, or attempted to do so [except Kentucky, which tried to remain neutral]. Interestingly enough, for all the  those who espoused the right of secession, Virginia sought, by force of arms, to prevent West Virginia from seceding from Virginia [the only time McClellan defeated Robert E. Lee].

Ft. Sumter was returned to the Union when a chap named William T. Sherman steamrolled the state of South Carolina in 1864-1865. The flag that had flown in 1861 was flown again. Anderson went on to be a Northern hero and a general. But his command of Kentucky proved a failure [the South violated that state's neutrality first], and he retired. Beauregard managed, after Bull Run, and especially after Shiloh, to get on Jeff Davis' enemies list. He never held a significant command for the rest of the war.

1864: The Fort Pillow Massacre

Fort Pillow was originally built by the Confederates [It was named for a Confederate general who built it. But with Union progress in 1862 in gaining control of the Mississippi, the Rebels abandoned it, and the Union took control of it. Located on the river in Tennessee, it was not a particularly easily defensible position despite the topography. In April, 1864, it was garrisoned by approximately 600 troops, half of whom were Black, and half of whom were Tennessee loyalists. And on April 12, 1864, Confederate MG Nathan Bedford Forrest came calling with about 2,00 of his friends [give or take].

Forrest had been on a raid for over a month, with varying degrees of success. But he had been stymied at Paducah, despite threats of no quarter if the fort there was not surrendered. Detaching much of his then 7,000 man force to, among other things, return to Paducah, Forrest with two divisions of troops, moved on to Ft. Pillow. By the time he himself arrived, his troops already had the fort surrounded. An attack opened with sharpshooters on high ground. they not only began causing severe casualties to the garrison, they caused a Union gunboat in the river near the fort to close its gun ports, and basically take itself out of the action [including rescuing any of the garrison if they were forced from the fort].

Forrest now issued one of his typical demands for surrender, ending with an ominous threat against the garrison tatamount to 'no quarter', if they failed to surrender. The garrison commander having been killed in the initial phases of the battle, his successor, the commander of the Tennessee volunteers asked for an hour to consider the offer. Forrest offered twenty minutes, at which point surrender was declined [both the Blacks and the Tennesseans were chary of their potential treatment by the Southerners [the former because of their race, the latter because they were perceived as traitors to the South.

With that refusal, the battle erupted in full force. The Confederates of Chalmers Division ad other units stormed into the fort. Soon increasing numbers of Union troops attempted to surrender. They were shot down. Others, fleeing toward the river were killed by Confederates who had been engaging the gunboat, or other sharpshooters. Forrest, who was not in the fort at the time, entered later, and eventually order was restored. But at least a third of the Union troops were dead, with the bulk of the dead being Black troops. Forrest lost less than twenty killed and a hundred wounded. The Confederates abandoned the fort the next day.

Ft. Pillow had two results. One was a U.S. Congressional inquiry. The second was an order from Grant to MG Ben Butler to get assurances from the Confederate Army and government that Black Union troops would be treated correctly and exchanged at the same rate as White union prisoners. when the South refused, Grant suspended prisoner exchange. For many Union troops, it led to the hell of Andersonville or its like. But for the Confederacy, the steady dimunition of manpower, and the ability to raise new levees, hit critical mass, from which the South never recovered; a loss so severe, that in the Spring of 1865, the Confederate Congress agreed to a proposal from Robert E. Lee to enlist, arm , train, and deploy slaves in the Confederate Army with the promise of manumisson at the end of their service.
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« Reply #164 on: April 12, 2017, 08:47:43 am »

On April 12, 1945, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies at Warm Springs, Arkansas, of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Roosevelt, America's only four term President, had been increasingly ill over the preceding year [check photos of him at the Yalta conference], but had kept his medical issues from the public with the aid of the sycophantic press corps. He had been visited by his long time mistress [or former mistress], Lucy Mercer the morning of his death.

Roosevelt's death brought [misplaced] joy in Berlin, and major sadness in America. He was and still is, missed by many. But not by me.
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