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Author Topic: PzLdr History Facts  (Read 16573 times)
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« Reply #300 on: October 11, 2017, 10:05:21 am »

Benedict Arnold had been a busy man by October, 1776. He had captured fort Ticonderoga from the British, along with Ethan Allen [who took all the credit], led one of two American columns that invaded Canada in the winter [traveling, on foot, through Maine], been seriously wounded in the attempt to take Quebec, and led the combined Patriot army [Gen. Montgomery had been killed in the assault] back into New York with the British hot on his heels.

And there, Arnold faced a problem as 1776 wore on. The British, under Gen. [and Canadian governor] Sir Guy Carleton began building a warship, and bringing other boats and ships down to the northern end of Lake Champlain, with the obvious intent of sweeping south, seizing control of the lake, and positioning themselves to invade northern New York.

Arnold's solution was to build or acquire a fleet of his own, but not all the same type craft as the British. Arnold built galleys that could be rowed, or sailed, and loaded the best of them with artillery. He also had three sloops and a schooner, but the British heavily outgunned him. The plan was simple. either beat the British [unlikely], or delay them until the seasonal winds and weather would make British operations to the south from Canada impracticable.

Having chosen his means, Arnold next chose the place. He chose the western passage of Valcour Island, to gather his and position his fleet. He did so fairly certain that the British would sail down the eastern side of the island, passing him before they spotted him, and  then be forced to reverse direction to engage him.

An early morning fog, and some British mistakes regarding reconnaissance, led to the British failure to sight any of Arnold's ships as they came down from the north, and they then passed east of the island. it was only when they were past Valcour that Arnold's flotilla was spotted, and the British turned to engage. By the time darkness arrived, the Americans had  caused damage to two British ships, and caused the sinking of a third. But most of the American ships were destroyed. Deploying Indians onto the New York side of Valcour, Carleton blockaded the island, determined to finish Arnold off the next day.

But Arnold and the remainder of his men and fleet escaped, in the fog that night. It wasn't until the next day that Carleton caught up with Arnold. He sank two more of Arnold's ships, but Arnold found a shallow bay, where the British couldn't follow. He beached his remaining ships, and with flags still flying, burnt them. he then led his men overland to crown Point, which he torched, and then on to Ticonderoga.
Carleton occupied Crown Point, and sent out some patrols, but the turning weather [and wind], made the possibility of re-supply and reinforcement dicey. So Carleton withdrew to Canada. The next time the British came down the Champlain route was overland [mostly, after leaving the Lake], and they were led not by Carleton, but by GEN. John "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne. And the result of that invasion was the Battle of Saratoga, an American alliance with France, and Britain's eventual defeat.

And Arnold? He would be the major reason the Amricans won at Saratoga. But by the time America won its independence, he had turned his coat, betrayed his country, and fought for the British as a brigadier general.
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« Reply #301 on: October 14, 2017, 04:43:18 pm »

Fresh over his triumph at Stamford Bridge against his brother Tostig and Harold Haadrada, Harold Godwinson, Anglo-Saxon king of England hurried his army south to meet an invasion of England from another direction, the south. To be more precise the Dukedom of Normandy, on the northern coast of France.

It was in Normandy, that in earlier times, Edward the Confessor, childless, and Harold's predecessor, supposedly promised William, duke of Normandy, that he would be Edward's successor to the English throne upon Edward's death. But the Witenagamot, the advisory council to the English throne, chose Harold Godwinson, instead. William prepared to enforce his claim to the throne militarily, and gathered an army of some 7,000 men and the ships to carry them to England.

His progress was then delayed by adverse winds form the north. but the delay worked to his advantage. Harold, who was waiting for him, was forced to disengage and march northeast when he learned of the landing of Haadrada and Tostig. and while he was so embroiled, the winds changed, and William landed at Pevsney. By the time Godwinson marched south, William was moving north. They met near Hastings, at Senlac Hill.

In a sense the two military organizations were an antithesis. the Saxons relied on a largely infantry levy, and fought in a shieldwall of heavy infasntry, a formation adopted against the Vikings, and a formation the abncient Greeks and romans would have recognized. On the other hand, William, a third generation Viking, had an army that relied on heavy cavalry [although it also comprised infantry and missile [crossbow and bow] troops.

The position favored Harold. He, and his shield wall were on top of a ridge, William below. so William's troops had to charge up the hill, while Harold's only had to hold formation [horses would not attack a massed infantry formation]. But on one of the charges, the cavalry either feigned a retreat, or demonstrated some panic in a real retreat, because Harold's infantry broke formation, and charged after them down the hill.

At that point, the cavalry turned, slaughtered their pursuers, and began to break the remainder of the shield wall. William's other troops advanced and joined the melee. And it was at that point that Harold, fighting among his men was killed, reportedly by an arrow through the eye. The Norman horse then pursued the fleeing Saxons as they fled the battlefield.

On Christmas Eve, 1066, William of Normandy was crowned King of England. Anglo-Saxon rule was over.
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« Reply #302 on: October 15, 2017, 09:45:25 am »

He is probably the least know, but ablest of the major Apache war chiefs. And while his skill at warfare [and cruelty] was legendary, he initially, at least tried to avoid war with the United States. He has been a major figure in books, movies and TV shows [ e.g. "Hondo" and has been portrayed by one actor, Michael Pate at least four or more times. The name he is known to us by is Victorio.

Victorio was a Chiricahua Apache, from the Warm Springs, or Ojo Caliente band. And the Warm Springs Apache were famed for their attachment to the valley [and the Springs] that gave them their name. It met all their needs, and they seldom wandered far from it.

Victorio came to manhood in the 1840s and 1850s. Like most apache, he hated Mexicans, and learned his Warcraft fighting them, and to a lesser degree, the Americans who showed up in New Mexico during and after the Mexican War. And as a sub-chief of Mangas Coloradus, Victorio fought in Cochise' war against the United states until Cochise made peace in 1872.

It appears that Victorio was more than ready for peace with the Americans. His people were, once again, contentedly ensconced in their homeland, and Victorio, who had received the mantle of leadership of the Chihenne Chiricahua after the murder of Mangas Coloradus, was more than willing to settle into reservation life at Ojo Caliente. But there was a fly in the ointment. and his name was John Clum.

John Clum was an Indian agent [and later publisher of the TOMBSTONE EPITAPH]. And as an Indian agent, Clum's success was measured in large part on how many Indian drew rations at the reservation at San Carlos.

San Carlos was already home to bands of Western Apache, such as White mountain, and Tonto Apaches. And despite being the same linguistic stock as the Chiricahua, the Western Apache were their enemies. But since the Chohoken [Cochise's Chiricahua were on a separate reservation, there was little to no conflict. and then Clum ordered the Chihenne to San Carlos.
Victorio didn't want to go. Neither did his people. But they went. And the western apache made sure that the land allotment for Victorio's people was an arid scrap of pestilence. Victorio led his people back to Ojo Caliente, asking for a reservation there. He was ordered back to, and returned to san Carlos. He left again, and went back to the Warm Springs. The third order to move was the charm. Victorio and over 100 of his men opted for war.

They set the frontier ablaze, from New Mexico and Arizona to western Texas [where Victorio added a sizable number of Mescalero apaches to his war band], and old Mexico.They raided ranches and farms, ambushed stage coaches. killed single individuals they came across [such as sheep herders and cowboys], and most importantly, fought the armies of the United States and Mexico to a standstill.

Victorio was a brilliant tactician. He invariably chose a fighting position that was exceptionally difficult for an opponent to flank, and which always had a back way out. He used wide ranging scouts and flank guards to avoid surprise, and could be exceptionally devious. He once lured a pursuing party of civilians into a canyon, and opened fire on them from the other side of the canyon floor, pinning the pursuers behind boulders on the canyon floor from which they returned fire. Unfortunately for them, Victorio had other warriors positioned on the ridge above and behind them, who killed them all while they were trapped. Several days later a relief party found, and buried the bodies, when they were taken under fire and killed, the Apaches having remained on the rim awaiting them.

By 1880, Victorio was feeling the pressure. Fully 1/4 of the Unites States Army was pursuing him. And so were the Mexicans. But Victorio's attempts to re-cross the border into Texas were thwarted by the 10th U.S. cavalry [Buffalo soldiers], under the command of Col. Benjamin Grierson, who defnded the few available waterholes, and drove Victorio away at Rattlesnake Springs.

Unable to find water, and with the U.S. Army closing in, Victorio fled back to Mexico with the U.S. Calvary in close pursuit. In accordance with treaty, the U.S. troopers crossed into Mexico, driving Victorio toward Mexican and Tarahumari Indians working for the Mexicans.

Victorio holed up at Tres Casillos, a series of there hills. But Tres Castillos had no back way out. While raiding parties under Nana [with Victorio's sister, Lozen], and Chiuahua  were out raiding, the Mexicans, having found Victorio, ordered the American troops back across the border [being unwilling to share the glory], and attacked.

The Mexicans claimed an Indian named Mauricio killed Victorio in the ensuing battle. Apache tradition had Victorio committing suicide with a knife when he, and the last 11 of his men, ran out of ammunition. However he died, Victorio, the reluctant scourge of three states and two countries was dead.
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« Reply #303 on: October 19, 2017, 04:14:41 pm »

He had been the field commander of parts, or all of the British Army during the Revolution. He had fought in New York, New Jersey, and throughout the South; indeed leading the southern campaign after Clinton returned to New York. But on October 19, 1781, Lord Cornwallis' area of operations was limited to the immediate vicinity of Yorktown Virginia, and Gloucester Point across the York River.

But Cornwallis, who had moved to Yorktown to take advantage of the royal Navy's command of the seas to communicate with Clinton in New York, and to open a passage for supply and reinforcement had erred. A French naval squadron under Admiral De Grasse had wrested control of the immediate area from the British, and blockaded Cornwallis from the sea. A Patriot army under Lafayette had blockaded him in from the land. And a combined army under George Washington and the French general Rochambeau had slipped away from New York [and Clinton] and reinforced Lafayette. The British, now trapped, were put under siege, and on October 19th, the writing was on the wall. A drummer boy beat a tattoo, and a British officer , bearing a white flag appeared.

Cornwallis himself missed the surrender. The ceremony was handled by his deputy, Gen. O'Hara. The British troops marched between lines of Continentals, militia and French, throwing, with great force in some cases, their weapons onto the ground. A British band played a tune allegedly written by Gen. Burgoyne, called "The World Turned Upside Down" [the Americans purportedly played "Yankee Doodle"]. O'Hara then attempted to surrender Cornwallis' sword to Rochambeau. Rochambeau directed him to Washington. A second attempt ended when Washington, in turn, directed O'Hara to American General Benjamin Lincoln, who the British had humiliated and refused to the honors of war to at Savannah. Lincoln took the sword.

Cornwallis surrendered over 7,000 men, all their equipment, and a small naval contingent under his command. He also surrendered the British troops at Gloucester. And while the negotiations dragged on, and the fighting continued in America, for all extents and purposes, the war was over. Peace was ratified in less than two years. The world had, indeed, turned upside down.
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« Reply #304 on: October 19, 2017, 04:47:17 pm »

He had started the campaign less than six months before, with an army in excess of 500,000 men from all over Western Europe: French, Germans, Poles, Dutch, Portuguese, Italians. He had fought one major battle, marched hundreds of miles, and taken the enemy's temporary capitol, Moscow.

But while he dithered there, waiting for a peace embassy that never came, the weather began to worsen. then, mysterious fires burned large parts of Moscow down. and with winter having arrived, on October 19th, 1812, Napoleon abandoned Moscow, and began withdrawing [retreating] back to the west.

Bonaparte's original plan was to move southwest, into Ukraine, and march out that way. but the Russian army appeared to his front, and for reasons known only to himself, Napoleon declined battle, moved northwest, and began his retreat toward Smolensk, Minsk, and eventually, Poland. It was a mistake.

Napoleonic, and indeed, most armies lived off the land when they campaigned, to one degree or another. The French, however, had raised such foraging to a high art [perhaps equaled only by Sherman, on his March to the Sea]. That meant, in practical terms, that Napoleon and his Grande Armee were countermarching over ground they had already picked clean - and doing it in the winter.

Without sufficient food, fuel and warm clothing, and relentlessly harassed by Cossacks and Russsian cavalry, the Army marched on, but without their emperor [he had already lit out in a sleigh to get to Paris ahead of the news, and 'spin' the result]. Eventually, the remnants of his army reached safe haven [the last man out, literally, was Marshal Michael Ney]. But Napoleon had lost over 80% of his men, and much of his equipment. But the loss with the greatest, and most profound effect on the future, was the losses Napoleon suffered in horses.

the Russian campaign and retreat destroyed Bonaparte's cavalry, and to a degree, his horse artillery. For the campaigns of 1813, 1814, and the hundred Days, Napoleon would labor under the handicap of little or no cavalry. and it would help swing the pendulum against him - for good. 
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« Reply #305 on: October 21, 2017, 06:53:27 pm »

Fresh over his triumph at Stamford Bridge against his brother Tostig and Harold Haadrada, Harold Godwinson, Anglo-Saxon king of England hurried his army south to meet an invasion of England from another direction, the south. To be more precise the Dukedom of Normandy, on the northern coast of France.

It was in Normandy, that in earlier times, Edward the Confessor, childless, and Harold's predecessor, supposedly promised William, duke of Normandy, that he would be Edward's successor to the English throne upon Edward's death. But the Witenagamot, the advisory council to the English throne, chose Harold Godwinson, instead. William prepared to enforce his claim to the throne militarily, and gathered an army of some 7,000 men and the ships to carry them to England.

His progress was then delayed by adverse winds form the north. but the delay worked to his advantage. Harold, who was waiting for him, was forced to disengage and march northeast when he learned of the landing of Haadrada and Tostig. and while he was so embroiled, the winds changed, and William landed at Pevsney. By the time Godwinson marched south, William was moving north. They met near Hastings, at Senlac Hill.

In a sense the two military organizations were an antithesis. the Saxons relied on a largely infantry levy, and fought in a shieldwall of heavy infasntry, a formation adopted against the Vikings, and a formation the abncient Greeks and romans would have recognized. On the other hand, William, a third generation Viking, had an army that relied on heavy cavalry [although it also comprised infantry and missile [crossbow and bow] troops.

The position favored Harold. He, and his shield wall were on top of a ridge, William below. so William's troops had to charge up the hill, while Harold's only had to hold formation [horses would not attack a massed infantry formation]. But on one of the charges, the cavalry either feigned a retreat, or demonstrated some panic in a real retreat, because Harold's infantry broke formation, and charged after them down the hill.

At that point, the cavalry turned, slaughtered their pursuers, and began to break the remainder of the shield wall. William's other troops advanced and joined the melee. And it was at that point that Harold, fighting among his men was killed, reportedly by an arrow through the eye. The Norman horse then pursued the fleeing Saxons as they fled the battlefield.

On Christmas Eve, 1066, William of Normandy was crowned King of England. Anglo-Saxon rule was over.

Thank you for another history lesson!!!
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« Reply #306 on: October 22, 2017, 09:00:27 am »

Charles Arthur 'Pretty Boy' Floyd grew up on an Oklahoma farm, but when times got tough, he turned to robbery as a way of life. his way of life got him in and out of prison [although he escaped when being sent to a 12-15 year stint from a speeding train]. Drifting up to Kansas City, Floyd became involved in the burgeoning gang scene, and began a series of bank robberies across several states. He also attained national prominence when he killed a federal agent.

But Floyd is best remembered for a crime he denied participating in until his dying day, the Kansas City Massacre.

In June, 1933, a small time mobster named Frank Nash was being transported to prison. Nash, disguised with a wig, was being taken to the railroad station for transport. When Nash, and his escorts arrived at the train station, they were met by a hail of machine gun bullets. Nash was killed, with the officers, either because he wasn't recognized because of his disguise [if it was a botched rescue], or because he was the target of a hit [never proven].

But the hue and cry was intense. And 'Pretty Boy' Floyd was fingered as one of the killers, despite his vociferous denials.

J. Edgar Hoover used the Kansas City Massacre to both beef up, and arm the FBI. Floyd, feeling the heat, returned to Oklahoma, where he became known as the 'Robin hood of the Cookson hills'. the locals, with no love of banks [it WAS the Depression], gave him shelter, and protected him. But law enforcement was, again, hot on his tail, and Floyd had to flee.

The end came in a cornfield, at a farm in East Liverpool, Ohio. Floyd had just finished a breakfast [for which he paid the farmer's wife well - she said he was very polite], and fled into the field when the law showed up. It was there he was killed. One of the lawmen involved was Melvin Purvis, who would go on to lead the group that killed John Dillinger.

After his death, Floyd's body was returned to Oklahoma for burial. It was the largest funeral in Oklahoma history.

So who was 'Pretty Boy' Floyd? Despite his apparent likeability, he was a career criminal, a thief, and  a stone cold killer. Floyd was believed to have committed [Kansas City Massacre aside], at least four, and possibly eight murders. He was believed to have killed at least two police officers, and one Federal agent. Pretty on the outside? Maybe. on the inside? Not so much.
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« Reply #307 on: October 23, 2017, 10:59:02 am »

If Gaius Cassius Longinus had a 'lean and hungry look', Marcus Junius Brutus was the poster boy for the 'goodness' for Gaius Julius Caesar's assassination. Descended from one of the oldest families in Rome, one of his ancestors had been one of, if not the, prime movers in the expulsion of Tarquin the Proud, the last Etruscan King of Rome. So if Brutus chose to wrap himself in the cloak of savior of Rome, the cloak had a certain 'family fit to it.

But Brutus was not all that he has been handed down to us. As a provincial official, Brutus was known for his rapacity. his interest rates on loans would have done a Mafia Don proud. As Caesar himself noted of Brutus, "What he wants, he wants badly" [and despite that Caesar pardoned Brutus, a Pompey adherent, after Pharsalus [possibly because Brutus' mother, Servillia, had been one of Caesar's mistresses (and possibly his favorite)]. But being pardoned in the Roman world, while earning accolades for the pardoner, was seen as a weakness for the pardoned. And that impacted on one's gravitas and honor.

So when Cassius approached Brutus about assassinating Caesar, Brutus was all ears. Killing Caesar would wipe out the shame of being pardoned. It would allow Brutus to emulate, and bask in the reflection of, his ancient ancestor. and on a more noble basis [from Brutus' point of view], it would restore the Republic, which meant the rule of the Senate, the 300 men who had ruled the republic before Hurricane Julius, i.e. families like Brutus'. And that meant the cut throat politics that allowed men like Brutus to rise to the top, without the permission from, or consent of, someone, say like Julius Caesar [who had politically, always been a populist, siding with the Plebs, and the provincials].

And so, on the ides of Masrch, in 44 BC, Brutus joined in the murder of Julius Caesar. and he, Cassius and their friends, the self-labeled 'Liberators' waited for the kudos and the power to come pouring in. they didn't. And within six months, Cassius and Brutus left Rome for the East, having been politically outmaneuvered by Octavian and Antony. And both sides prepared for war.

While awaiting the forces of Octavian and Antony to appear, Cassius and Brutus prepared their own forces [and squeezed the locals for cash and supplies on a grand scale].

To no avail. At Philippi, Cassius was crushed when brought to battle, and then committed suicide. Brutus, nearby, was then engaged, and beaten in turn. Brutus fled the field with several companions. And then, before the forces of his enemies could capture him, Brutus took his own life.

So what can we make of Brutus? Idealist? More than Cassius, certainly. But Brutus acted against Caesar not only out of principle but pique. Caesar was not moving his career along quickly enough. And as a Senator of Rome, Brutus chafed at Caesar having any say in his career at all. Neither Brutus, nor Cassius were considered for Caesar's coming campaign against Parthia. Neither was going to be consul that year. And neither, therefore, was in line to line his pockets, and gain legion loyalty, from such a proconsulship.

More seriously, Brutus failed to realize, as Caesar had, that the roman Republic as Brutus knew it, and wanted returned, was dead. It had been dying since Sulla. It was on its deathbed with the First Triumvirate. and it wasn't coming back. And by the time the smoke cleared from Philippi, and the war that followed between Octavian and Antony, the Republic was in its grave. Brutus may have delayed it. But in the end, he helped kill it. 
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« Reply #308 on: October 24, 2017, 06:21:01 pm »

Italy had opened WW I by refusing to fight with her erstwhile Central Powers allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary. Instead, she jumped in on the Allied side, after dickering for Austrian territory as the price of her  entry into the war. And that entry produced little but oddities. Benito Mussolini, one of Europe's leading Socialists, broke with his party, and joined the Italian Army. And that army launched a series of offensives in the same place eleven times [the Isonzo River]. The Italians were defeated in each of those offensives, suffering heavy losses while they did so. but the Austro-Hungarians lost heavily as well. So heavily in fact, that the German Army intervened and sent seven divisions to help the Austrians launch an offensive of their own. and even though the Italians spotted the reinforcements coming, and adopted a defensive position and strategy, they were still caught flatfooted when the Germans and Austrians attacked.

the Isonzo front was located in very mountainous terrain, so some of the units the Germans sent were the mountain troops of the Alpine [Mountain] Corps, including mountain battalions from both the Bavarian and Wurttemburg Army. And one of the officers in the latter battalion was a lieutenant named Erwin Rommel [one of the officers in the Bavarian contingent was future Field Marshal Ferdinand Schoerner].

Rommel had started the war in France, where he had been wounded at least twice. Known for his aggressiveness and preference for movement, Rommel was selected to serve in Wurttemurbg's Mountain Battalion. It proved to be an inspired choice, because Rommel never served in France again during the First World war. He spent the rest of the war in Rumania and Italy, where a war of maneuver was in full flow, and trench warfare was largely ignored.

Rumania was a blitzkrieg in all but name. Led by the former head of the German General Staff, Gen. Falkenhayn, the Germans rolled over the Rumanians, and knocked them out of the war in short order [with an assist from Bulgaria]. And Rommel's battalion played a significant role in that victory. they were then transferred to Italy - and the Isonzo.

Gen. Cardona, the Italian commander, and 'architect' of the eleven offensives that failed, now sought to use the terrain to his advantage on the defense. And the lynchpin of the front was Mt. Matajur. the Germans and Austrians knew it. In fact, a Pour La Merite, the 'Blue Max' was promised to whoever was first up the mountain.

Rommel by now had such a solid reputation that his commander basically made him field commander of the battalion. and with a reinforced company, Rommel set out for the mountain, and the Blue Max.

Rommel, as was his practice, used his machine gun section to blow a hole in Italian lines, and then moved through those holes at speed, while constantly maneuvering up the mountains he faced on his way to Matajur. and finally reaching that mountain, Rommel stormed it, capturing some 9,000 Italian troops and well over 50 Italian generals. And with Matajur in german hands, the rest of the German/Austrian Army poured through. By mid- November, the Central Powers had advanced some 60 miles, and were within striking distance of Venice. And Italian losses were in the neighborhood of three quarters of a million. It was a catastrophe on a scale seldom seen in WW I. It was so bad that British and French reinforcements were required to stop the Germans and stabilize the front.

Cardona was relieved. his successor, Diaz, relied heavily on the allied contingent, and refrained from the offensive for a year.

And the Pour la Merite? It was awarded to Ferdinand Schoerner, who had been first up the mountain in front of Matajur. Rommel was not amused, and complained all the way up the chain of command. And eventually, in a post office in northern Italy, he, and his commander both received the Blue Max -by mail.

Caporetto was a major Allied defeat. And it introduced the world to Erwin Rommel, and the style of warfare he would perfect in France in 1940, and wield with an artist's touch in North Africa in a little over twenty years.
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« Reply #309 on: October 25, 2017, 11:59:32 am »

Their name came from the typhoons that destroyed two fleets and ended any hopes the Mongols had of conquering Japan [although the Japanese themselves did not call their suicide pilots 'Kamikaze'. the name was a western invention]. But Kamikaze is what they are known by, and they began operations around the Philippines on this date in 1944.

By October, 1944, things were looking bleak for the Empire of Japan. As part of the naval operations that resulted in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Japan had sacrificed the last of her aircraft carriers in a decoy operation. she had also lost one of her 'super' battleships [IJS MUSASHI], as well as other battleships and cruisers, which meant that aside from surface vessels, capable of projecting power only in their immediate vicinity, Japan had lost the ability to protect land based troops from allied attack.

What Japan had plenty of was land based aircraft. And the Japanese military being a death cult anyway, it didn't take long for the Japanese to come up with the tactic of flying planes into Allied ships [In fairness to the Japanese, the Nazis tried the same thing, on a more limited scale toward the end of the war in Europe]. They had the planes to spare, and while the highly skilled pilots of 1941-1943 were mostly dead, flying a one way mission allowed pilots with rudimentary skills to possibly achieve significant damage to the Allies.

And the Kamikaze did. Off the Philippines and later, Okinawa, the Kamikaze took a major toll on American [and to a lesser degree, British] shipping. And the Japanese expanded the program. They developed a flying missile [the "Baka" bomb], and suicide speed boats, and one man subs. They even sent IJS YAMATO, the last 'super' battleship, on a one way mission to Okinawa [she never made it]. They began training civilians on the home islands to use bamboo spears against American ground troops.

It never came to that. Fearing the potential casualties of operating in Japanese home waters, and from a land invasion of Japan, the U.S. opted for the atomic bomb to force Japan's surrender. Coupled with the soviet invasion of Manchuria, it worked.

During their period of operation, over 1,300 Japanese planes crashed into American ships. During that period over 5,000 Japanese pilots lost their lives. Hundreds of [mostly] American ships were sunk. And the effort delayed the allies not a whit. It was a waste of men and material in a senseless orgy of destruction for little purpose. And it was so very Japanese.
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« Reply #310 on: November 02, 2017, 09:19:14 am »

It was a win, based on another man's plans [without giving him any credit] that signaled, in the words of Churchill, the end of the beginning. And it took place at a dusty railroad stop west of Alexandria, Egypt, called El Alamein.

El Alamein was God's answer to British inability to wage maneuver warfare. It was the position Rommel couldn't flank, anchored on the north by the Mediterranean sea, and on the south by the trackless waste of the Quattara Depression. And its significance was not lost on Gen. sir Claude Auchinleck, who had taken direct command of Eighth Army from Lt. Ge. Neil Ritchie after the debacle of Gazala/ Tobruk. Forced to fall back into Egypt, after horrific tank losses, Auchinleck regrouped at El Alamein, and began fortifying a defensive line anchored on a series of terrain features, most importantly, Rusewait ridge.

And there he stopped, for the first time, Rommel's Panzergruppe Afrika. Exhausted, equipment worn out, the Germans tried the usual flank movement on their right. But the space was finite, and the British stopped them.

Then, two things happened. Rommel was recalled to Europe for medical treatment. and Auchinleck was relieved of command during a visit by Churchill. Auchinleck was not to Churchill's taste [he was an Indian Army man]. Nor was he one of the Chief of the IGS, Alan Brooke's acolytes. So the "Auk" got the chop, and Bernard Law Montgomery got Eighth Army [and a ton of re-supply, including large numbers of Sherman tanks]. And the Germans? They dug in behind a series of minefields so vast they were called the 'Devil's Garden', put their panzers in reserve, sighted their 88s, and waited.

They didn't have to wait long. In October, Monty launched 'Lightfoot'. It failed but barely [the fact that the acting Panzerarmee commander, Georg Stumme died of a heart attack at the front didn't help], with the British trapped in the minefields, losing their sense of direction, and German superior tactical skill.

And while both sides caught their breath, Rommel returned. Monty now sought to draw out the Panzers by attacking the Italians when he could. He then launched 'Supercharge'. Having concentrated his forces to the north, he bludgeoned his way west. And despite destroying a significant number of British tanks, Rommel was still faced with 800 to his less than 100. And then he received one of Adolf Hitler's stand or die orders. He halted his already undertaken retreat for 24 hours, and then abandoning any idea of standing and dying, he retreated, initially, to Fuka.

The British, having gained control of the battlefield, stopped to capture the mostly Italian 'leg' infantry Rommel was forced to abandon as a result of Hitler's order, and the Italian inability to get a 'jump' on retreating. The British also stopped to regroup and resupply, a practice that became both synonymous with Montgomery, and an excuse for the British failure to close with and defeat the Germans in battle.

'Supercharge' was the first major defeat inflicted on the Germans by the allies in WW II. It drove them from Egypt, and eventually Libya. But it did not result in the destruction of the Axis forces in North Africa. Far from it. Rommel conducted a masterful, and on of the longest sustained retreats in military history. the Axis, instead of pulling their veteran Italian and German troops out of Africa, reinforced them in Tunisia [where the Allied landings in Algeria and Morocco had made 'Supercharge' unnecessary]. But, as Churchill said, it was the end of the beginning.
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« Reply #311 on: November 05, 2017, 10:08:01 am »

He was a wunderkind at West Point. He was sent as an observer to the Crimean War. He invented the saddle used by the U.S.  Cavalry well after the Civil War. He then left the army, and became a railroad president. But when the Civil War began, George Brinton McClellan returned to the colors.

And initially, he had great success. Posted to what is now West Virginia [which had seceded from Virginia], McClellan faced off against, and beat Robert E. Lee, also in his first command. McClellan's success led Lincoln to call him to Washington, and put him in command of what would become known as the Army of the Potomac.

McClellan took the flotsam and jetsam of Bull run, as well as new volunteers, and forged an effective military force. And if McClellan had been left in charge of a training command, he might well be remembered differently these days.

But McClellan commanded the army he had built in the field, and it was there he failed miserably, even when he won.

McClellan's first operation was the Peninsular Campaign. Rather than face off against the Confederates frontally, between Washington and Richmond, McClellan used one of his aces, the U.S. Navy's dominance, to move his army to the Peninsula, flanking the Rebels. He succeeded in surprising them. And if he had moved with alacrity, he might well have been in Richmond, or been, at least, in its environs, before any major rebel force. But speed and McClellan were natural enemies. And as he plodded up the Peninsula, stopping at every rear guard the Rebels put up [see Williamsburg], the Confederates reacted quickly, and decisively. Gen. Joseph Johnson moved the bulk of his forces from up near Bull Run to the endangered area. Stonewall Jackson was recalled from the Shenandoah Valley to join the main Army. And in what became known as 'The Seven Days Battle', first Johnson, then Robert E. Lee [who replaced the former after he was wounded in action], drove McClellan back [the Rebels having surmised McClellan' right wing was in the air courtesy of JEB Stuart's ride around the Army of the Potomac], despite being outnumbered by him [McClellan had the ability to multiply hypothetical enemy numbers in his head by a factor of ten. and then believe they were real]. He was aided in this idiocy by Alan Pinkerton, serving with the Army.

McClellan avoided complete disaster only because Jackson, perhaps exhausted after the Shenandoah, and the march to the Peninsula was lethargic, and because McClellan wound up at the base of the Peninsula in an imposing defensive position - Malvern Hill.

Lee, being Lee, attacked Malvern hill. but his plan was overly complicated, and the Union artillery, their best arm, mowed the Confederates down like ten pins as they attacked up the hill [a lesson unlearned by both the Union [Fredericksburg], and Lee [Gettysburg].

McClellan withdrew to lick his wounds and reorganize. And while he did, his relationship with Lincoln soured. McClellan was openly contemptuous of his Commander in chief [he called him "the Gorilla"], and openly rude to him. Yet Lincoln put up with it because McClellan's troops idolized him [Custer had a portrait of McClellan in his office at Ft. Abraham Lincoln - along with his own], and McClellan could train troops.

But Lincoln wasn't blind, either. He began siphoning units away from McClellan and transferring them to John Pope's Army of Virginia. Yet when Lee ambushed Pope at Second Manassas, McLellan refused to do anything to aid him. and whatever Lincoln though about that, he had no recourse but to relieve Pope, and put McClellan back in command when Lee invaded Maryland [to the delirious joy of McClellan's troops].

Lee's invasion was curious. Ostensibly to encourage [and arm] pro-Southern Marylanders, Lee invaded WESTERN Maryland, the most pro-Union part of the state. Recruitment went nowhere. Lee went to Antietam Creek, where he split his army [sending Jackson to the rear to take Harper's Ferry], while he prepared to defend against McClellan.

McClellan had several advantages. He heavily outnumbered Lee's remaining troops on the ground. He had pushed Lee's troops over a much more advantageous defensive position at South Pass. And he happened to have a copy of Lee's plans and orders recovered by Union troops wrapped around some cigars.

And while Lee wound up retreating from Antietam Creek after the battle, he did not do so immediately. And the battle itself was hardly a victory for McClellan. He moved so slowly, and so unimaginatively, that Lee not only stopped him, but Jackson made it back to the battle. And at least one Corps of the Army of the Potomac was never committed to the fight. Considering he had been reading the other fellow's mail, it was a lackluster performance at best.

And still Lincoln refused to relieve him -yet. But when McClellan failed to pursue Lee, demonstrated no intention to do, and refused Lincoln's orders  to do so, the camel's back was broken. Lincoln relieved McClellan. He would never command troops again.

And when word of the relief reached the Army of the Potomac, there were no demonstrations of anger or outrage. As McClellan rode by units of his Army, there were no cheers, nor demonstrations of affection, as there had been in the past. Even his troops knew by then, that Little Mac was not the man to lead them to victory.

And in the short run, there were none to do so. McClellan was succeeded by Burnside [Fredericksburg], and Hooker [Chancellorsville], before George Gordon Meade became the last commander of the Army of the Potomac. But it would be a Western import, U.S. Grant, who would finally lead the Army of the Potomac to final victory over Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia.

And McClellan? He went on to run against Abraham Lincoln, the man he despised, as the Democratic candidate for President in 1864. And Little Mac not only lost, but their ballots showed his old creation, the Army of the Potomac, had voted overwhelmingly for Abraham Lincoln.
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« Reply #312 on: November 07, 2017, 09:42:27 am »

He was born in the oil rich provinces of the southern Russian Empire to a German engineer and a Russian woman. His family moved back to Germany where he grew up and was educated. In 1914, he volunteered for the German Army and was seriously wounded in action later on in the war. A committed nationalist when the war started, by 1919 he was a member of the German communist Party. By 1924 he was in the soviet Union. By 1926 he was an agent of the Red Army's GRU [military intelligence. His name was Richard Sorge.

Sorge was sent back to Germany, and like the latterly recruited Cambridge 5, was told to sever all ties with communist parties, fronts and friends. Taking up the profession of journalist, Sorge then traveled around Europe, and the U.S., sending intelligence evaluations, mostly on the political scene to the U.S.S.R. He also traveled to China, making contact with Chinese Communists while ostensibly reporting on agriculture. And it was then that he first began to look into the Japanese involvement in china, because with the conquest of Manchuria, Japan now had a common border with the soviet union on mainland Asia.

Sorge was ordered to Japan, and using his journalistic cover, as well as his NSDAP membership [1933], he got an assignment there as a reporter.

Fluent in Japanese, Sorge made himself nigh on indispensable to the German Embassy, furnishing evaluations of Japanese politics, even writing up Embassy reports to the Reich [he was also sleeping with the Ambassador's wife - with the ambassador's knowledge]. At the same time, Sorge built up ring of agents. They included a Japanese- American, a European radio operator, and a close associate of the Japanese Prime Minister. These assets allowed the Soviets to obtain vital intelligence on the military intentions of the Japanese toward the Soviet Union.

It was Sorge's intelligence that convinced Stalin he could withdraw troops from the Far East because Japan did not plan an invasion, despite two border incidents in 1938 and 1939.

But Sorge's greatest 'gift' was forewarning Stalin of Hitler's intent to launch BARBAROSSA in 1941. While authorities are split as to whether Sorge gave Stalin the exact date of the attack [some say the closet he got was June the 20th, 1941], Sorge accurately furnished intelligence on the size of the invading force. Unfortunately, Stalin, for whatever reason, refused to believe Sorge's reports [as he did warnings from Churchill, and the U.S.A.]. So BARBAROSSA came as a far greater surpise than it should have to the Red Army units on the western border of the U.S.S.R.

But Sorge was running out of time. The Abwehr was suspicious of him. An SS Colonel was sent to Tokyo to investigate him Sorge fooled them both. Bu the Japanese Kempetai was not fooled, and using radio interception, they got his radio operator. And then they got him.

Sorge was arrested in October, 1941. Tthe soviets denied any knowledge of his existence. He broke under torture, and confessed everything. The Soviets refused a Japanese proposed spy swap. On November 7, 1944, he was hanged. And the man who had devoted himself to Soviet Communism, who had died for them, was not acknowledged by them for some forty years after his passing.
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« Reply #313 on: November 10, 2017, 12:07:34 pm »

Born in Switzerland, a citizen of Louisiana, Henry Wirz was a Captain in the Confederate Army. And after a career that focused largely on prisoners of war [warden, supervising prisoner paroles exchanges, prisoner transport], Wirz wound up as the Commandant of Camp Sumter. History calls it Andersonville.

Wirz could not have assumed command of Andersonville at a worse time. The Union stopped the exchange of prisoners when the south refused to countenance paroling Black union troops [it was also a way to make further inroads into the replenishment of Southern manpower]. The South was losing the war on all fronts, and soon Sherman would be marching to the Sea [Stoneman tried a cavalry raid toward Andersonville, but it failed]. Andersonville, built to house 10,000 prisoners, held over three times that number. Discipline was draconian. Anyone who crossed a deadline was shot by the guards. Food and medicine were closer to non-existent then inadequate. The only water available to the prisoners was a stream that ran through the camp. and its resultant use as a water source, as well as a toilet, led to raging dysentery and other diseases. Prisoners died like flies.

Wirz was also largely indifferent to the situation 'inside the wire', although he allowed the prisoners to try, and sentence, fellow prisoners who had organized into gangs to rob, and kill fellow prisoners. and Wirz carried out the sentences they imposed.

But so many died at Andersonville [malnourished escapees made it to Sherman's Army, and the ensuing anger played a part in the havoc reaked on Georgia], that someone had to pay. And that 'someone' was Wirz. After 100+ witnesses and two months, Wirz was convicted of conspiracy to injure Union prisoners, and sentenced to death.

Wirz was hanged on this date in 1865. He was the only figure from either side to meet that fate for mistreating prisoners. Indeed, he was the only man charged with it.

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« Reply #314 on: November 10, 2017, 12:11:09 pm »

Today is the birthday of the United states Marine Corps. doing the job since 1775. Happy Birthday from an old 'Treadhead'! And many more! Grin Grin Grin

CPT ARMOR
MACV 1971

IMJIN SCOUT
1968 - 1969
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You can get more with a smile, a handshake and a gun than you can with a smile and a handshake - Al Capone
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