Remembering D-Day 74 Years Later

Every year when June 6th rolls around I take some time with my family to remember D-Day and the awesome sacrifice made by so many to keep the world free.

The Nazi jackboot had torn across Europe with a fury, leaving countless scores of dead in it’s wake. The only way to stop it was a combined seaborne and airborne invasion by Allied Forces.

As a Military Historian, I always tell people (in the spirit of the great Paul Harvey) the “rest of the story” regarding D-Day is the two PRECEDING Amphibious Assaults in North Africa in 1942 with Operation Torch and Sicily and Italy in 1943 with Operations Husky and Avalanche. Without these landings, D-day would have been an unmitigated disaster.

 

For further study:

  1. D-Day by Stephen Ambrose

  2. D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor

  3. The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson

  4. D-Day Through German Eyes by Holger Eckhertz

  5. Band of Brothers DVD Box Set

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

World War I History: German U-Boats in Rhode Island

u53

100 Years After The Great War Arrived On Americas Doorstep

(click on above link to be re-directed)

For those of you interested in the more obscure history of World War One, here is a book I read last year that I found absolutely fascinating:

Dark Invasion, 1915: Germany’s Secret War and the Hunt for the First Terrorist Cell in America

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!

World War II History: “Steel Versus Struts and Canvas”

Bismarck

In Bismarck: 24 Hours to Doom, historian Iain Ballantyne lays out in an almost cinematic style how the German high-seas raider met her match during a contest of steel versus struts and canvas. It was the most unlikely of tales — fragile, supposedly obsolete Swordfish biplanes against the modern battle-wagon Bismarck, at the time the most powerful warship in the world. In this specially-adapted extract from the book, we ride with Canadian-born Fleet Air Arm aviator Terry Goddard, the observer of a Swordfish torpedo-bomber sent to try and cripple Bismarck on the evening of May 26, 1941. This inside account of the attack was created using the transcript of hours of on-camera interviews filmed for a project by Iain Ballantyne. It documents the last testimony of a small Band of Brothers who experienced combat against Bismarck.

May 26, 1941–7:00 PM

It is time for another set of contenders to climb into the ring for a round with the heavyweight. The battle-cruiser HMS Hood tried on 24 May and was blown apart. Three days later aviators aboard the carrier HMS Ark Royal are being called forward, asked to inflict some kind of decisive blow to slow downBismarck.

The Swordfish is deceptively antiquated-looking. Though a biplane that chugs through the air sounding like an aerial tractor, it is not actually that old, having entered Fleet Air Arm service in 1937.

It won its spurs in late 1940 by knocking out Italian battleships in Taranto harbor. The first U-boat sunk in the Second World War by the British was courtesy of a Swordfish using bombs. It is as a torpedo-bomber that it will achieve new fame in May 1941.

Slow, with only a top speed of 138 miles per hour, its two wings give it incredible lift. A monoplane needs around 30 knots of wind across the flight-deck to take off from a carrier. The Swordfish can take off from a vessel at anchor (and even into the teeth of gale).

Constructed from wood, canvas and metal struts, it can survive hits that will destroy metal skinned aircraft, for the simple reason that cannon shells and bullets pass right through it.

After the mission briefing for the attack on Bismarck comes the sitting and waiting for take-off. It is inevitable people ponder their mortality and chances of survival. Terry Goddard recognizes that dreadful weather conditions will not be a barrier to the mission.

“We knew perfectly well we were gonna fly, because if we didn’t fly there would be no tomorrow for us. We had to fly and weather be darned.”

The aircrews feel the weight of expectation, of history itself — the fate of the Navy and the nation, also the Fleet Air Arm’s honor all pressing down on their shoulders.

“It is the sitting around that gnaws at you. You’re thinking rather than doing, which is worrisome. Once you start doing things the worry disappears. It must be tough on God. In war there aren’t any atheists — both sides are asking God for help. Most of us say prayers for him to help us. I know I did. Often. Fortunately he was on my side.”

Fifteen Swordfish are ranged on the flight-deck, herring bone fashion, all fueled up and each armed with a single 18-inch torpedo, ready to go.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring

 

Military History: The Attack of the USS Stark by an Iraqi Warplane in 1987

USS Stark

On May 17, 1987, the U.S. Navy guided missile frigate USS Stark was on a patrol in the central Persian Gulf, about three kilometers outside the Iraq-declared war-zone off the coast of Iran.

Around 22.00hrs local time, Stark came under attack from an Iraqi air force fighter jet. Radars on the U.S. warship tracked the aircraft as it approached, and Capt. Glenn R. Brindel ordered his radioman to issue a warning and request the pilot to identify himself.

The Iraqi did not respond. Instead, he approached to a range of 35 kilometers and fired two Aerospatiale AM.39 Exocet anti-ship missiles.

Stark’s radars failed to detect the incoming missiles and thus the crew realized much too late that it was under fire. Underway at an altitude of only three meters and guided by their relatively simple active-radar homing heads, both missiles aimed for the part of the ship with the highest radar cross-section.

The first penetrated the hull directly under the bridge. It failed to explode but its unspent rocket fuel ignited and sparked a raging fire. The second Exocet hit almost the same spot and detonated, tearing a three-meter by 4.6-meter hole in the hull.

Combined, the two missiles inflicted massive damage and ignited a conflagration that burned for almost 24 hours. In order to prevent his ship from sinking, Brindel ordered the flooding of the starboard side of the ship, thus keeping the hole on the port side above water.

Supported by the destroyers USS Waddell and USS Conyngham, the ship barely managed to reach the port of Manama in Bahrain the next day. The destroyer tender USS Acadia affected temporary repairs.

Twenty-nine U.S. Navy personnel died in the initial explosion and fire, two of whom were lost at sea. Eight others died of their injuries, while 21 were injured. The Navy’s incident review board relieved Brindel of command and recommended him for court-martial. Eventually he received non-judicial punishment and retired early.

Read the Remainder at War is Boring

World War II History: Rare One Man Nazi Sub Photograph

In the below 1944 photo, colorized by Marina Amaral, US Army troops examine a one-man submarine that washed up on the Anzio beachhead in Italy.

According to The National World War II Museum, the submarine was converted from a torpedo, with the warhead chamber replaced with a cockpit.

US troops captured the 17-year-old Nazi pilot when the beached unterseeboot, or U-boat, was found in April 1944.

Nazi Torpoedo

Read the Original Article at Business Insider

For More Restored WW2 Color Photos Check Out the Gallery at MarinaMaral