30 November 2012

The Sinking of U-31 off Wilhelmshaven

Image size: 1600 x 958 pixel. 445 KB
Date: Monday, 11 March 1940
Place: Jadebusen, Off Wilhelmshaven, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

The sinking of the Type VII A boat U-31 by a British Bristol Blenheim bomber off Wilhelmshaven on 11 March 1940. This photo taken from the No.82 Squadron Blenheim as it flew over the submarine. It shows U-31 immediately before the impact of the bombs. All 58 of her crew were lost including the captain, Kapitänleutnant Johannes Habekost (born 3 February 1907). She was raised in March 1940, repaired and returned to service. Sunk again on November 2, 1940 NW of Ireland by depth charges from the British destroyer HMS Antelope. 2 dead and 44 survivors. Previously this boat, under the command of Kptlt. Johannes Habekost, making history after she attacked the first convoy in the war on 16 September 1939 and sank the British steamer Aviemore, part of convoy OB-4. Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-31 did not suffer any casualties until the time of her loss

Walter Storbeck photo collection
"U-Boot im Focus" magazine, edition No.2 - 2007, page 2

A column of German Wehrmacht paraded in Paris

Image size: 1600 x 1226 pixel. 534 KB
Date: 1941
Place: Champs-Élysées, Paris, France
Photographer: André Zucca (French photographer from SIGNAL magazine)

A column of German occupation troops paraded in the streets of Paris after change of the guard ceremony. Please note the German precise in this pic: The front row looks like stair-steps, and when you look at the later rows, it appears that they are organized by size from left to right as well! In 1943 these brave men were sent to Russia to the Southern Front. After the warmth and French women, sparkling wines and brave marches they were in the steppes of Azov, in the trenches filled with dirt and lice. After many days of artillery attack, many of them are mad. Russian soldiers who fought here have told how they dragged these, after a breakthrough in the river Mius of dirt from the wild-eyed. They were killed or captured everything ... In the trenches there were many bottles of champagne and wines from France, greeting cards with attached pics of French women. “The French photographer André Zucca was not a Nazi,” Ian Buruma writes in his recent article on 'Paris during the German occupation', “but he felt no particular hostility to Germany either…. Zucca simply wanted to continue his pre-war life, publishing pictures in the best glossy magazines. And the one with the glossiest pictures, in fine German Agfacolor, happened to be 'Signal', the German propaganda magazine!” Born in Paris in 1897, Zucca worked for both French and foreign publications in the 1930s, and covered the Russian–Finnish War in the winter of 1939–1940 for Paris-Soir, before becoming a photographer for 'Signal' from 1941 to 1944. After the liberation he was arrested but never prosecuted, and spent the remainder of his career as a wedding and portrait photographer in a small town west of Paris. He died in 1973. Recently, a volume of Zucca’s controversial wartime pictures of Paris was published in France

Book "Les Parisiens sous l’Occupation: Photographies en couleurs d’André Zucca" by Jean Baronnet

Panzer-Regiment 201 Receives its First German Tanks

Image size: 1600 x 1984 pixel. 196 KB
Date: Tuesday, 23 December 1941
Place: Paris, France
Photographer: Unknown

Panzer-Regiment 201 receives its first German tanks, a Panzerbefehlswagen III. The panzer with turmnummer (turret number) "R01" is the Regiment commanders tank. Pictured from left to right: Unteroffizier Schuh, Oberfunkmeister Schündel, Unteroffizier Meyer, Oberst Heinz-Joachim Werner-Ehrenfeucht (Regimentskommandeur), and Oberleutnant Hans-Jürgen Burmester (the regiment signals officer and the commander of the headquarters company). Panzer-Regiment 201 formed on 16 December 1940 with two Abteilung (detachment), each with three Beute-Panzerkompanie. The regiment was assigned to Panzer-Brigade 100 on 1 March 1941. II. Abteilung, with 4. and 6.Kompanie, renamed Panzer-Abteilung 211 on 7 March 1941. II. Abteilung reformed from renamed Panzer-Abteilung 301 on 22 March 1941. 7. schwere-Kompanie formed on 1 April 1941 and then transferred to Panzer-Abteilung (F) 102 on 4 June 1941. New 7.Kompanie formed on 1 August 1941. The regiment was assigned to 23. Panzer-Division on 11 December 1941. Converted from French to German tanks on 23 December 1941. III. Abteilung formed on 2 February 1942 and then disbanded on 5 March 1943. II. Abteilung converted to Panthers in April 1943. Regiment was renamed as Panzer-Regiment 23 on 16 August 1943. Hans-Jürgen Burmester (11 June 1916 - 22 September 1998) would be a highly successful panzer ace and commander. He received Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes in 2 September 1944 as Hauptmann and Kommandeur of schwere Panzer-Abteilung 509/17.Armee /Heeresgruppe Nordukraine (the recommendation Submitted on August 21st 1944, preliminary document and decoration on September 7th 1944 to AOK 17). He was captured by American troops in 1945. He joined the Bundeswehr in 1956, retiring in 1974.

Book "The combat history of the 23rd Panzer Division in World War II " (page 28) by Ernst Rebentisch
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151165295643457&set=o.303273499761263&type=1&relevant_count=1&ref=nf , courtesy of John Winner

U-83 in the North Atlantic During its Second Patrol

Image size: 1276 x 1600 pixel. 507 KB
Date: Between Sunday, 28 September 1941, to Friday, 31 October 1941
Place: North Atlantic
Photographer: Unknown

The Type VIIB German submarine U-83, commanded by Ritterkreuzträger Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Werner Kraus (1 July 1915 - 25 May 1990), in the North Atlantic during its second patrol in autumn 1941. At that time the U-83 was part of the 1. Unterseebootsflottille in Brest, France. The boat wears a Viking ship emblem and an interesting camouflage scheme on its conning tower. This was retained, at least initially, after the boat was attached to 23. Unterseebootsflottille in the Mediterranean in January 1942. U-83 was sunk on 4 March, 1943 in the Mediterranean south-east of Cartagena, in position 37.10N, 00.05E, by 3 depth charges from a British Hudson aircraft. 50 dead (all hands lost), including its captain at the time, Kapitänleutnant Ulrich Wörisshoffer (born 21 March 1917).

"U-Boot im Focus" magazine, edition No.2 - 2007, cover page

SS-Sturmbannführer Luis Thaler with Waffen-Obersturmbannführer Armando Giorleo

Image size: 1600 x 1260 pixel. 385 KB
Date: November 1944
Place: Italian front
Photographer: Unknown

SS-Sturmbannführer Luis Thaler (left) in discussion with Waffen-Obersturmbannführer Armando Giorleo of the Italian Waffen-SS, 29. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (italienische Nr. 1). Giorleo wears the grey-green wool tunic of the Italian Army with SS rank added to the collar, still on the early style red background despite Himmler's order substituting black from June 1944. Lieutenant-Colonel Giorleo has bright silver shoulder cords of rank on Waffen-SS style double underlay, in German infantry white over red. Luis Thaler was Italian citizen to the beginning of the war and join the SS after an agreement between the German and the Italian governments to permit "Germans" from south Tyrol to join the Reich.

Book "The Italian Army 1940-45: Italy 1943-45" by Philip S. Jowett and Stephen Andrew

29 November 2012

M13/40 of Italian XX Armored Corps in North Africa

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Date: Thursday, 1 January 1942
Place: Somewhere in North Africa
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Leutnant Erwin Seeger from XI. Fliegerkorps

A Fiat-Ansaldo M13/40 of XX Armored Corps. XX Corps, consisting of the Ariete and Littorio Armored Divisions and the Trieste Motorized Division, (formerly the Corpo d'Armata di Manovra) was the Italian counterpart to Rommel's Afrika Korps. While the main body of the Italian Army was plagued by corrupt officers, anti-fascist elements, and low morale, the XX Corps was well regarded by Rommel, and despite being armed with increasingly outdated equipment, performed well during Rommel's offensive in early 1942, moving with the panzers through Libya into Egypt. At the First Battle of El Alamein, XX Corps lead the attack on the Ruwisat Ridge on July 3, 1942, because Afrika Korps had only twenty-six panzers left after three days of battle. XX Corps was utterly destroyed by the 2nd New Zealand Division supported by British tanks. Ariete Division was most severly mauled, losing almost all its guns. By July 8, 1942, the whole of the Italian Army had on hand fifty-four tanks and forty anti-tank guns, out of an authorized strength of 430 tanks and 120 anti-tank guns. Because Axis supply favored Italian units, XX Corps could mount combat operations during the second battle of El Alamein; it was mostly destroyed on November 4, 1942, when the Ariete Division's 120 obsolete tanks were ordered to stem the tide of the British advance. The M13/40s and even older designs lacked armor and firepower to stand up to the new American-built, British-crewed M3 Grant and M4 Sherman tanks and concentrated artillery. In an after-action report, the commander of the Ariete Division reported, "the Ariete tanks had to receive very hard blows without any chance to inflict any damage to the enemy." The remnants of XX Corps retreated with Rommel all the way to Tunisia, surrendering in May 1943. Rommel wrote in his diary, "In the Ariete we lost our oldest Italian comrades, from whom we had probably always demanded more than they, with their poor armament, had been capable of performing." The photographer, Erwin Seeger, was assigned to the Kriegsberichter (War Correspondent) Abteilung (unit) of the Fallschirmjäger (Paratrooper) Armeeoberkommando (Army High Command) at XI Fliegerkorps. German Army combat photographers also carried arms, and he fought in Arnhem during Operation Market-Garden in September 1944. A book of his North African photos, "Bilder eines Wustenkriegs: Der Afrikafeldzug Erwin Rommels aus der Sicht des Ebinger Kriegsberichterstatters Erwin Seeger" (Pictures of a Desert War: Erwin Rommel's Campaign in Africa from the Perspective of the War Reporter Erwin Seeger) was published in Germany in 2005. 


M13/40 Tanks of the VII Battaglione, Ariete Armored Division

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Date: Monday, 24 March 1941
Place: Misrata (Misratah/Misurata), northwestern Libya
Photographer: Unknown

Fiat-Ansaldo M13/40 tanks of the VII Battaglione, 32 Reggimento Carri, Ariete Armored Division just before the Axis advance on El-Agheila. After the Italian Tenth Army was destroyed in Operation Compass (December 8, 1940-March 21, 1941) General Erwin Rommel and the units known as the Afrika Korps were sent to North Africa. Ordered to stabilize and hold the line, he immediately launched a counter-offensive. After taking El-Agheila (March 24), Mersa Brega (April 1), Benghazi (April 3), capturing XIII Corps commander General Sir Richard O'Connor (April 6), Mechili (April 7) and approaching Tobruk (April 11), encircling and besieging it. His German-Italian forces had maneuvered some 500 kilometers (310 miles) in combat operations, according to VII Battaglione commander S. Andreani. In his after action report, he found fault with the M13/40, which had recently become available. He found the engine underpowered, the armor too weak to withstand Allied guns, and the moving parts (like the turret and running gear) were prone to failing in contact with sand. The armor cracked when hit and the riveted construction caused the bolts to turn into shrapnel inside the tank. His men lacked enough training, and because of a two-year enlistment in the Italian Army, VII Battaglione lacked experienced tankers to train new replacements, most men having only twenty-five days of training. Despite the lack of reliability in their vehicles, the Italians and their M13/40s accompanied Rommel into Tobruk in June 1942. The M13/40 was given a new engine in 1941 and designated the M14/41, which solved some of the problems but it was obsolete compared to the M3 Grant and M4 Sherman available to the Allies. The M13/M14 served throughout World War II. 


Heinrich Himmler and SS Generals in Quedlinburg 1936

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Date: Thursday, 2 July 1936
Place: Quedlinburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

SS generals in M32 black SS uniform and M18 stahlhem. From left to right: Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler (Chef der SS und Deutschen Polizei), SS-Gruppenführer August Heißmeyer (Chef SS-Hauptamt), SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (Chef SD-Hauptamt), SS-Brigadeführer Karl Wolff (Chefadjudant der Reichsführer-SS), and SS-Obergruppenführer Richard Walther Darré (Chef Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt/RuSHA). The picture taken in Quedlinburg castle, 2 July 1936, in the 1000th anniversary of King Henry I the Fowler's death (German: Heinrich der Finkler or Heinrich der Vogler). During the Nazi regime, the memory of Henry I became a sort of cult, as Heinrich Himmler saw himself as the reincarnation of the "most German of all German" rulers. The Nazism ideology referred to Henry as a founding father of the German nation, fighting both the Latin Western Franks and the Slavic tribes of the East, thereby a precursor of the German "Drang nach Osten". For this purpose, the collegiate church and castle in Quedlinburg were to be turned into a shrine for Nazi Germany. The Nazi Party tried to create a new religion. The cathedral was closed from 1938 and during the war. Liberation in 1945 brought back the Protestant bishop and the church bells, and the Nazi style eagle was taken down from the tower. Georg Ay was local party chief from 1931 until the end of the war.


6. Panzer-Division Tanks in France 1940

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Date: May-June 1940
Place: France
Photographer: Erich Borchert (PK OKW)

A Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) from Panzer-Abteilung 65 leads a column of Panzerkampfwagen IVs during the Battle of France. 118 PzKpfw 35(t)s were issued to the 6.Panzer Division/XXXI.Armeekorps/Panzergruppe Guderian/Heeresgruppe A; used as a substitute for the better armed and armored Panzer III, the 35(t)'s main 37mm (1.45 inch) gun was not as capable and it did not have as much armor. The Czech-designed tank did have innovative pneumatic power steering, which relieved stress on the driver. The 6. Panzer-Division had some trouble adapting the tank to German use, as the manuals were in Czech. Nevertheless, 6. Panzer-Division crossed 217 miles of France in nine days, captured the British 145th Infantry Brigade at Cassel, and took part in the conquest of Flanders and the Aisne River, eventaully reaching the Swiss border. Almost all the 35(t)s would be lost during Operation Barbarossa, when their guns and armor were inferior to the Soviet KV and T-34 tanks, and the pneumatic steering failed in the cold. 

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-769-0236-23

Abandoned Jagdtiger of Schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 653

Image size: 1600 x 1148 pixel. 581 KB
Date: Tuesday, 17 April 1945
Place: Morsbronn, Alsace, France
Photographer: Unknown

Feldwebel Erich Bonike's destroyed Jagdpanzer (Hunting Tank) VI Jagdtiger (Hunting Tiger) Ausf.B (Sd.Kfz.186, alternate designation 128mm (5.04 inch) PaK44 auf Panzerjäger (Tank Destroyer) Tiger), hull number 305012, identification number 314, from 3.Kompanie/schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 653, is examined by an American soldier. Feldwebel Heinz Telgmann's Jagdtiger 332 can be seen in the distant background. Jagdtiger 314 left 653's assembly area at Hollendorf on March 16, 1945, in company with five other Jagdtigers to attack American positions in Morsbronn. 653's commander preferred a night attack to neutralize the threat of "Jabos" - "Jager-Bombern" (fighter bombers) - but the attack was ordered to proceed. On the way to Morsbronn, Jagdtiger 301 was hit by a rocket in the radio compartment, burning radio operator Hans Sager. Jagdtiger 301 Unteroffizier Hans Appel was hit by shrapnel. While approaching Morsbonn, the unit came under heavy fire from 9th Air Force Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and artillery. 314 suffered drive train problems. 314 drove into the ditch you see in this view and was abandoned and blown up by the crew. 332 was hit by rocket fire and abandoned. Hull number 305012 was the last Jagdtiger with the Porsche chassis, one of eleven built. The rest of the 85 built had a Henschel chassis, which was more costly to produce. The Jagdtiger, like 314, often broke down. The entire vehicle had to move to target the main gun, and the constant wear on the transmission and tracks caused many problems that were never solved. Many Jagdtigers were abandoned rather than knocked out. 


Early Model Jagdpanzer IV at Aberdeen Ordinance Museum

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Date: Thursday, 1 January 1948
Place: Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, USA
Photographer: Armin Sohns

Jagdpanzer (Hunting Tank) IV (Sd.Kfz.162) armed with a 75mm (3 inch) L/48 gun. Also designed as Sturmgeschütz (assault gun) neuer Art (new design) mit (with) 7.5cm PaK L/48 auf Fahrgestell (based on chassis) Panzerkampfwagen IV. This is an early production vehicle because it has four return rollers; later Jagdpanzer IVs only had three. The stopgap Marder I/II/III designs (various captured Soviet, Czech and French guns and tanks welded together to form tank destroyers) were unsatisfactory and in December 1942, the Jagpanzer IV was ordered from manufacturer Vogtlandische Maschinenfabrik Aktiengesellschaft (Vomag) in Plauen, Germany in December 1942. After a year of design and testing a prototype was presented to Reichskanzler (Reichchancellor) Adolf HItler and accepted for production. Over 750 vehicles, including the one in this view, were produced between January-November 1944. This "short" version of the Jagdpanzer IV is missing its muzzle brake, which dampened recoil and gun rising during discharge. The muzzle brake was found to give away the Jagdpanzer IV's position, and many crews had already removed them in the field. In May 1944, Jagdpanzer IVs were made without a muzzle brake. An updated version of the Jagdpanzer IV mounted heavier armor and a longer L/70 gun. This example was either captured in Italy or Normandy and shipped to the Ordinance Museum for testing. It was scrapped as part of an unfortunate consolidation during the Korean War. Aberdeen has an L/70 version that survived the cutter's torch. 

Charles Kliment photo collection

28 November 2012

U-218 in Kiel Harbor Leaving for Kristiansand

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Date: Tuesday, 25 August 1942
Place: Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

A lovely panoramic shot of the minelayer submarine U-218 in Kiel harbor. The Type VII D minelayer was one of the rarest types of boat used by the German submarine arm. Just six were built by Krupp's Germania shipyard in Kiel (U-213 to U-218). Of these, only U-218 survived the war. The boat's emblem makes identification of the submarine easy. Whereas it was customary in the submarine arm to paint emblems on the conning tower, the crew of U-218 placed their on the bow! "Drei Kleine Fische" (Three Little Fish) emblem was derived from the unit emblem of the 2.Staffel/Küstenfliegergruppe 706. As applied to the unit's seaplanes, the emblem had the fish on a blue shield. The emblem was painted on the submarine by U-218's first captain, Kapitänleutnant Richard Becker, who had previously served as an airman with 2./Kü.fl.Gr.706 before being transferred back to the U-boat arm. Kapitänleutnant Becker obviously intended the emblem to express his ties to his old squadron, but perhaps he also wanted to retain the good luck charm that had seen him throught his operational flights. The photo above shows U-218 on 25 August 1942 leaving for Kristiansand, Norway, from where it began its first operationa sortie on 28 August. On 29 September, after a month at sea, the U-boat arrived in Brest, home of the 9. Unterseebootsflottille (9. U-Flottille). It is noteworthy that the forward pressure-tight container for the Marcks rescue float (portside in front of the gun) is not present on the U-218!

"U-Boot im Focus" magazine, edition No.2 - 2007, page II

27 November 2012

German Armour Entering the French harbour of Toulon

Image size: 1600 x 1142 pixel. 419 KB
Date: Friday, 27 November 1942
Place: Toulon, Provence-Alpes-Côte-d'Azur, France
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Wolfgang Vennemann from PK (Propaganda-Kompanie) 649

Panzerkampfwagen IV (L/43) Ausf.G (Sd.Kfz.161/1) turmnummer 812 from Panzer-Regiment 25/7.Panzer-Division/1.Armee/Heeresgruppe D entering the French harbour of Toulon during Operation Lila. The battleship in the background is "Strasbourg" (the second and last battleship of the Dunkerque-class battleship built for the French Navy before World War II), while the PzKfw.IV in the foreground have jerry cans in the turret roof. On November 27, the Germans commenced "Unternehmen Lila" with the goal of occupying Toulon and seizing the fleet. Comprised of elements from the 7. Panzer-Division and SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Das Reich", four combat teams entered the city around 4:00 AM. Quickly taking Fort Lamalgue, they captured Marquis but failed to prevent his chief of staff from sending a warning. Stunned by the German treachery, de Laborde issued orders to prepare for scuttling and to defend the ships until they had sunk. Advancing through Toulon, the Germans occupied heights overlooking the channel and air-dropped mines to prevent a French escape. Reaching the gates of the naval base, the Germans were delayed by the sentries who demanded paperwork allowing admission. By 5:25 AM, German tanks entered the base and de Laborde issued the scuttle order from his flagship Strasbourg. Fighting soon broke out along the waterfront, with the Germans coming under fire from the ships. Out-gunned, the Germans attempted to negotiate, but were unable to board most vessels in time to prevent their sinking. German troops successfully boarded the cruiser Dupleix and closed its sea valves, but were driven off by explosions and fires in its turrets. Soon the Germans were surrounded by sinking and burning ships. By the end of the day, they had only succeeded in taking three disarmed destroyers, four damaged submarines, and three civilian vessels. In the fighting of November 27, the French lost 12 killed and 26 wounded, while the Germans suffered one wounded. In scuttling the fleet, the French destroyed 77 vessels, including 3 battleships, 7 cruisers, 15 destroyers, and 13 torpedo boats. Five submarines managed to get underway, with three reaching North Africa, one Spain, and the last forced to scuttle at the mouth of the harbor. The surface ship Leonor Fresnel also escaped. While Charles de Gaulle and the Free French severely criticized the action, stating that the fleet should have tried to escape, the scuttling prevented the ships from falling into Axis hands. While salvage efforts began, none of the larger ships saw service again during the war. After the liberation of France, de Laborde was tried and convicted of treason for not trying to save the fleet. Found guilty, he was sentenced to death. This was soon commuted to life imprisonment before he was granted clemency in 1947.


Jagdpanther of schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 559

Image size: 1600 x 970 pixel. 409 KB
Date: Friday, 15 September 1944
Place: Hechtel, Limburg, Belgium
Photographer: Unknown

Major Erich Sattler's knocked-out Panzerjager (tank destroyer) V Jagdpanther Sd.Kfz.173, 3rd Regiment, schwere Heeres-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 559, near the Hechtel, Belgium as it is inspected by Allied authorities. Note 88m (3.46 inch) anti-tank rounds next to the Jagdpanther. This vehicle is equipped as a Panzerbefehlswagen (command tank) with an extra radio. Dutch researcher Marcel Zwarts’ managed to interview the former commander of s.H.Pz.Jg.Abt 559, who told him the commander of this Jagdpanther, Major Sattler, was apparently injured not by enemy fire, but from a fall as he exited this vehicle! As the German 15th Army retreated into Belgium and Holland from the Allied advance in August 1944, Hechtel became a key defensive position, as it was at the intersection of two key main roads. The 1.Bataillon/Hermann Göring Regiment and Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 10 (Gramsel) were sent from Cologne to Roermond, Netherlands and then marched 50 kilometers (31 miles) to take up positions in Hechtel. The Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) executed 22 Belgians (11 men and 11 women and children) as partisans, but it is likely they were simply hiding in their basements. In addition, the 3rd Regiment of the schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 559, commanded by Major Erich Sattler, with seven panzerjägers including at least three Jagdpanthers, were sent to prevent the Allies from gaining Hechtel. On September 8, 1944, the Welsh Guards, including Lieutenant W. Hugh Griffiths commanding a Cromwell tank, was engaged by Sattler's forces. Griffiths allowed Sattler to pass and Griffith's gunner Sergeant Ivor Wilcox fired four rounds into the Jagdpanther's rear-mounted engine. Griffith's tank was missed twice by the other Jagdpanthers, but three of the German tank destroyers were destroyed by the Welsh Guards. Sattler was rendered unconscious while evacuating the Jagdpanther and after recovering his senses, evaded capture and returned to German lines. The Guards Armoured Division, including the Welsh Guards, attacked Hechtel and encircled the town on September 10. On September 12, Allied heavy artillery complled the Germans to surrender. 150 Germans were killed, 220 wounded, and 500 captured. 92 British troops were killed. Fourteen Belgian civilians were killed during the fighting. A week later, the area was used as a springboard for Operation Market-Garden. Sattler's Jagdpanther was taken to England for evaluation and testing. Today it is part of the collection at the Imperial War Museum; you can still see the four hits from the Cromwell in the rear. The Jagdpanther has been cut open on left side to reveal the crew compartment. 


A Knocked-Out Jagdpanther Being Examined by an American Soldier

Image size: 1600 x 1215 pixel. 869 KB
Date: Sunday, 1 April 1945
Place: Remagen, Rheinland Pfalz, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

A knocked-out Panzerjäger (tank destroyer) V Jagdpanther Sd.Kfz.173 is examined by an American soldier, probably of the 9th Army. While the date and place of this photo is disputed, the red primer on the vehicle, the soldier's uniform, and the absence of leaves on the trees probably indicate that it was taken during the Americans' advance into Germany in March-April 1945. Since civilians and sodliers would strip knocked-out tanks of anything useful, it's likely this photo was taken within a week of the tank being destroyed. It's possible this was a Jagdpanther from Kampfgruppe Paffrath/schwere Panzerjäger-Abteilung 654. The impact of anti-tank rounds can be seen along the road wheels. This vehicle has an early version of the 88mm (3.46 inch) Pak 43/3 L/71 gun that was a single tube; later versions of the Jagdpanther had two joined tubes that comprised the gun barrel. The gun mounting is a later version, indicating the barrel was replaced at some point with an earlier version, or this vehicle was built just as the factory was transitioning to the late model Jagdpanther. Widely considered to be the best tank destroyer of the war, the Jagdpanther was available in small numbers to units, as only 400 were made between December 1943 and the end of the war. 


Jagdpanther Tank Destroyer at Aberdeen Ordinance Museum

Image size: 1600 x 1055 pixel. 514 KB
Date: Thursday, 1 January 1948
Place: Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, USA
Photographer: Armin Sohns

A Panzerjäger (tank destroyer) V Jagdpanther Sd.Kfz.173 at United States Army Ordinance Museum in Aberdeen, Maryland after World War II. This Jagdpanther, hull number 303018, was a late model manufactured by Maschinenfabrik-Niedersachsen-Hannover (MNH) in late November or early December 1944. The Jagdpanther is considered to be the best tank destroyer of World War II, with an 88mm (3.46 inch) Pak 43/3 L/71 gun (the same as on the Tiger II). The combination of firepower, low silhouette, slope armor, and the 100mm (almost 4 inches) of armor on the gun mantlet made for an effective armored fighting vehicle. Thankfully for the Allies, the Jagdpanther production at MNH and other factories was interrupted by bombing; only 400 units were completed by the end of the war. 303018 was issued to a schwere Heeres-Panzerjäger-Abteilung (army heavy tank destroyer unit) for the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944 and captured by American troops. In 1946 the vehicle was sent to Aberdeen, where despite several coats of paint, it has rusted in place ever since. This photo shows the Jagdpanther with its original color scheme. 

Charles Kliment photo collection 

25 November 2012

Marder II "Kohlenklau" of Unteroffizier Helmut Kohlke

Image size: 1600 x 1126 pixel. 298 KB
Date: Sunday, 21 March 1943
Place: Somewhere in middle Russia
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Walter Henisch from Propaganda-Kompanie (PK) 693

The famous 7,5cm Panzerjäger "Marder II" (Sd.Kfz.131) auf Panzer II "Kohlenklau" (Coal Thief, a German music hall character) of Unteroffizier Helmut Kohlke (standing with pride, Kopfhörer/headphone on his ears) - recognizable by the cartoon painted on both sides - on the Eastern Front in 1943. The ring markings on the barrel indicate 19 claimed kills for the vehicle. The Marder II (SdKfz. 131) was an open-topped, lightly-armored German tank destroyer armed with a 7.5 cm Pak 40 antitank gun built on the obsolete Panzer II chassis. Kohlke received Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold) in 16 October 1942 as an Unteroffizier and Geschützführer in 3.Kompanie/Panzerjäger-Abteilung 561/XXVIII.Armeekorps/18.Armee/Heeresgruppe Nord. In the same day he also bestowed with Heeres-Ehrenblattspange (Army Honor Roll Clasp).He would be missing in action in the late stage of war. Panzerjäger-Abteilung 561 carried "IA" symbol as a Berlin unit. Kohlke's gun carried a triangle symbol. Other Kompanien carried different shape according to Schmitz/Thies, namely rectangle and circle. The original ''Kohlenklau'' was a cartoon figure during the Nazi era in a campaign to conserve energy in the home ''für die deutsche Rüstungsindustrie'' - it was not literally a person who steals coal, or the act of stealing coal, but someone who wastes energy. So, there is no literal translation. Kohlenklau in just the bad habbit of "wasting energy" and taking it away from where it is needed more (arm production, transportation). BTW, this "Kohlenklau" Marder II became famous because it was chosen as the box art of Tamiya Marder II 1/35 kit!

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-197-1235-15

ISU-122 Crosses the Niesse River

Image size: 1600 x 1060 pixel. 469 KB
Date: Saturday, 14 April 1945
Place: Niesse River, Oder-Niesse Line, Czechoslovakia
Photographer: Unknown

An ISU-122 of the Ludowe Wojsko Polskie, or LWP (Polish People's Army), one of twenty-one ISU-122s of the 25th Self-Propelled Artillery Regiment, 1st Polish Armored Corps, Polish 2nd Army, crosses a bridge on the Niesse (Nysa) River in April 1945. Part of the 1st Ukrainian Front, 2nd Army after crossed Poland from the Vistula to the Oder Rivers in late 1944. After regrouping in March 1945, 2nd Army crossed the Niesse after an artillery barrage and headed for Dresden. Eventually 2nd Army was part of the Soviet forces that liberated Prague. Because of steady attrition in prison camps and combat by both the Germans and the Soviets since September 1939, the Polish officer corps was decimated and 2nd Army was commanded mostly by Red Army officers. Red Army General Stanislav Gilyarovich Poplavsky (April 22, 1902-August 10, 1973) commanded 2nd Army until December 1944. The ISU-122 mounted the M1931/37 (A-19) 122 mm (4.8 inch) multipurpose gun, and was mostly used as a long range a tank destroyer; it was also used as an assault gun and a self-propelled howitzer. 1,735 were manufactured during the war at Chelyabinskiy Kirovskiy Zavod (Chelyabinsk Kirov Plant) in Chelyabinsk, Russia. 


Self-Propelled Howitzer "Hummel" at the Battle of Kursk

Image size: 1600 x 1153 pixel. 742 KB
Date: Thursday, 1 July 1943
Place: Kursk, Kursk Oblast, Russia
Photographer: Unknown

A column of three Panzerfeldhaubitze (Armored Field Howitzer) 18M auf Geschützwagen (Self-Propelled Artillery) III/IV (Sf) "Hummel" (Bumble Bee) Sd.Kfz.165 cross an open plain, probably during the Battle of Kursk. You can see most of the Hummel's crew in this photo; the open top exposed them to small arms and aircraft fire. These are early model Hummels mounting the 150mm (5.9 inch) sFH 18 L/30 howitzer with a range of 14,490 yards (13.25 kilometers) for indirect fire support. A battery of six Hummels, with an accompanying Munitionstrager (ammunition carrier) Hummel, were attached to each panzer division for Operation Zitadelle (Citadel) in July 1943; over 100 were available for the campaign. While Kursk is famous as the largest tank battle in history, it was also the scene of heavy concentrations of artillery. The Soviets barraged the Germans with fire from 3,000 guns and mortars on July 4, using half of their available ammunition and seriously reducing the German volume of fire. Hummels were used on both fronts for the rest of the war. Date and location estimated. 


"Hummel" Self-Propelled Howitzer at Aberdeen Ordinance Museum

Image size: 1600 x 949 pixel. 380 KB
Date: Thursday, 1 January 1948
Place: Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, USA
Photographer: Armin Sohns

Panzerfeldhaubitze (Armored Field Howitzer) 18M auf Geschützwagen (Self-Propelled Artillery) III/IV (Sf) "Hummel" (Bumble Bee) Sd.Kfz.165 at the United States Army Ordnance Museum after World War II. This Hummel was one of 118 sent to France to oppose the Normandy landings. Note the armor plate covering the side exhaust grilles and the added forward armored compartment for the driver and radio operator; this indicates a late model Hummel from late 1944. It was captured by the United States and sent to Aberdeen. Left in the open air, it was rusting away for twenty years until it was traded in the 1960s to the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung (Defense Technical Study Collection), or WTS, in Koblenz, Germany, which restored it to running condition. The "Hummel" was designed in 1942 as the fast-moving panzer divisions had no artillery component that could keep up; most of the Wehrmacht's artillery in World War II was horse-drawn. It mounted the 150mm (5.9 inch) sFH 18 L/30 howitzer with a range of 14,490 yards (13.25 kilometers) for indirect fire support. The Geschutzwagen was a hybrid chassis that used the suspension of the Panzer IV and the transmission of the Panzer III. The Hummel made its combat debut at the Battle of Kursk. A battery of six Hummels would normally be attached to a panzer division. An additional vehicle, a Munitionstrager (ammunition carrier) Hummel, would carry additional ammunition as the Hummels could only carry eighteen rounds. The Munitionstrager Hummel could be converted to a working gun carriage in the field if needed. Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler opposed the "Bumble Bee" name and ordered that designation discontinued because he felt it did not reflect well on a fighting vehicle. Also using the Geschutzwagen chassis was the tank destroyer "Naschorn" (Rhinoceros) which mounted an 88mm (3.46 inch) gun. 

Charles Kliment photo collection

Jagdpanzer 38(t) "Hetzer" of Heeresgruppe Sudukraine

Image size: 1600 x 1101 pixel. 395 KB
Date: Sunday, 20 August 1944
Place: Hungary
Photographer: Wilhelm Kreutzer

A Jagdpanzer 38(t) (SdKfz 138/2) "Hetzer" tank destroyer number 132, part of a mixed column of tanks, mules and horses of Heeresgruppe Sudukraine (Army Group South Ukraine), moves through a town during the evacuation of surviving German forces during the Soviet Jassy-Kishinev Strategic Offensive Operation. The propaganda value of this photo is that the forces of Heeresgruppe Sudukraine appear to escape to Hungary, when the actual situation was that the Soviets successfully prevented most of Heeresgruppe Sudukraine from escaping Romania. The Soviets effectively destroyed Heeresgruppe Sudukraine and opened the way for the Soviet Union to enter Romania and force that nation to switch allegiance from Germany to the Soviet Union. This "Hetzer" was manufactured in June or July 1944 by BMM. The Jagdpanzer 38(t) ("t" for Tschech or Czech) was based on the Skoda Works' Panzer 38(t), known as LT vz.38 before the Germans completely took over Czechoslovakia in April 1939. Superior to the German Panzer I and II, by 1943 German forces were having serious trouble competing with the Soviet T-34. Colonel General Heinz Guderian demanded a better tank destroyer, capable of defeating the T-34. The stopgap open-top Marder I/II/III series had limited mobility and exposed the crews to small-arms fire. The Jagdpanzer 38(t) was cramped and unpopular with crews because the right-mounted gun also loaded on the right, reducing the rate of fire. Four crewmen were squeezed into the hull, and the commander had trouble seeing over the top of the tank if the panzer was in a hull-down camouflaged position. Despite these shortcomings, it was a formidable opponent for the Allies, because its small size and low profile, combined with its long-range 75mm (3 inch) gun, often gave the first shot to the Hetzer. Historians debate over whether the name "Hetzer" was adopted during or after the war. Skoda continued to manufacture the Hetzer after the war, and Sweden operated the type for several decades. 

Kommunikations und Begegnungszen 

24 November 2012

Oberstleutnant Erich Freiherr von Seckendorff Observes The Battlefield

Image size: 1344 x 1600 pixel. 451 KB
Date: July 1941
Place: Iamkino Station, near Leningrad, Russia
Photographer: Unknown

Oberstleutnant Erich Freiherr von Seckendorff (21 June 1897 - 23 September 1944), the Commander of  Schützen-Regiment 114/6.Panzer-Division/XXXXI.Armeekorps/4.Panzergruppe/Heeresgruppe Nord, observes the battlefield using scherenfernrohr (scissor-scope) from the top of Panzerkampfwagen III command tank bearing the turret number '1107'. Erich Erwin Heinrich August Veit Freiherr von Seckendorff received Ritterkreuz in 4 September 1940 as an Oberstleutnant and Kommandeur of Kradschützen-Bataillon 6. He was killed in action in Lagarde, France, in 23 September 1944 as Kommandeur of Panzer-Brigade 113, buried in Bad Winsdheim-Obernzenn (Germany), and then posthumously promoted to Generalmajor. His wife is Anna Matilda Keller (married 2 December 1944) and the couple have one son, Meinhard Erich Peter Freiherr von Seckendorff (born 6 July 1944).

Helmut Ritgen photo collection
Book "The 6th Panzer Division: 1937-45" by Oberst a.D. Helmut Ritgen

Generaloberst Hoepner With Officers of 6. Panzer-Division in Leningrad

Image size: 1600 x 1108 pixel. 363 KB
Date: August 1941
Place: Leningrad, Russia
Photographer: Artur Zell (Kriegsberichter in Propaganda-Kompanie 694)

Generaloberst Hoepner (former commander of 1. leichte-Division, before it changed to 6. Panzer-Division, and in spring 1941 the commanding general of 4. Panzergruppe) visits his old unit, and discussing the recent battle situation in front of a log cabin. From left to right: Major im Generalstab Johann-Adolf Graf von Kielmansegg (Ia Erster Generalstabsoffizier 6. Panzer-Division); Generaloberst Erich Hoepner (Oberbefehlshaber 4.Panzergruppe); Hauptmann Strack; and Generalmajor Franz Landgraf (Kommandeur 6. Panzer-Division). As Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941, 6. Panzer-Division was part of the 4. Panzergruppe on the Northern Front. The 6. Panzer-Division saw action around Leningrad until October of 1941 when it was transferred to the 3. Panzergruppe (Generaloberst Georg-Hans Reinhardt) in the central sector. It lost almost every vehicle in its command on the central front, where after it was transferred to France in May 1942 for complete refitting and rest under he command of Generalmajor Erhard Raus. During ‘Operation Barbarossa’, Erich Hoepner was given command of the 4. Panzergruppe. This unit played a major part in the initial successes of the German attack, which led to the German Army getting to within 20 miles of the centre of Moscow. When the Germans failed to capture Moscow, Hoepner wanted to start a tactical withdrawal of his men who were clearly suffering from the onset of the Russian winter. Once they had recuperated, Hoepner believed that they would have been in a far better position to attack Moscow once again. Hitler could not begin to contemplate such a move especially as he had stated to his generals that Moscow was “merely a geographical concept”. Hitler dishonourably discharged Hoepner from the army. Freed from his command, Hoepner, who got involved in anti-Hitler plots before, continued with his work against his Führer. He was involved in the July Bomb Plot. The Gestapo discovered his part and Hoepner was arrested. He was tried, found guilty and sentenced to death. Erich Hoepner was hanged on August 8th 1944.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-210-0142-13A
Helmut Ritgen photo collection
Book "The 6th Panzer Division: 1937-45" by Oberst a.D. Helmut Ritgen 

Coldstream Guards' Sherman Firefly IC Guards Bridge at Namur

Image size: 1600 x 1040 pixel. 428 KB
Date: Monday, 25 December 1944
Place: Namur, Wallonia, Belgium
Photographer: Unknown

Lieutenant Robert Boscawen (March 17, 1923- ) left with radiophones, commander of 2 Troop, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, Guards Armoured Division, XXX Corps, in a Sherman Firefly IC Hybrid. Note camouflage cloth on the hull, extra road wheels, and tracks on front hull and turret. The number "52" is actually Tactical Number, not weight number (Sherman weight No.s would be "30" in black on a yellow circle). 52 refers to Regiment Seniority - British Brigades had their units ordered by seniority. Thus, Boscawen was part of 1st (Armoured) Battalion, Coldstream Guards, the second regiment of the 5th Guards
Armoured Brigade, Guards Armoured Division. Thus again, the Grenadier Guards were Senior "51", the Coldstrems were second "52", and the Irish Guards were junior "53". This tank, actually commanded by Sergeant Bastone (kneeling on right), and the rest of 1st Battalion cut off the German advance through the Ardennes to the Meuse. The IC Hybrid was an American-built late production M4 Sherman with a cast composite hull that mounted a specially designed 17-pounder 76.2mm (3 inch) anti-tank gun. Sherman Fireflies were the only Allied tank capable of penetrating the German Tiger and Panther panzers. As the situation on the Ardennes front grew critical on December 17-18, 1944, the 21st Army Group realized that the German offensive either targeted the port of Antwerp or Paris itself. Several divisions, including the Guards Armoured, were to reinforce XXX Corps. While scratch units of supply troops and light infantry were immediately rushed in from France, Holland and England on December 17 to secure the bridges and the vast supply dumps along the Meuse, heavy mechanized formations arrived on December 19. The 1st Battalion of the Coldstream Guards took up positions in Namur, one of the few remaining bridges. The masonry bridge had been blown by the retreating Germans in August 1944 and repaired by an American engineering unit with a Bailey Bridge. Boscawen survived hits on four tanks that were burned out or "brewed" during the war. The fourth loss, in April 1945, caused severe burns to him and his driver; the rest of the crew died. After recovery, Boscawen served in Parliament until 1992. 

Correction from Rex Barrett through email (thank you!)

Internees Greet Americans At Urawa Internment Camp

Image size: 1567 x 1600 pixel. 882 KB
Date: Thursday, 30 August 1945
Place: Urawa Internment Camp (Kamikizaki 5-6-3), Saitama, Japan
Photographer: Wayne Miller (United States Navy Lieutenant, Naval Aviation Photography Unit )

Prisoners at the Urawa Internment Camp, 5-6-3, Saitama Prefecture, cheer United States Navy and Marine medical personnel on August 30, 1945. Several Japanese Civil Police are also present. Father Edwin C. Ronan (November 5, 1884 - March 1, 1965) is coming out of the door to greet the Americans. Father Ronan was the Chaplain of the United States Army and the Philippine Army until his capture on Mindanao in June 1942. Urawa was opened on October 5, 1942 for civilian men, mostly missionaries and clergy, in a Franciscan convent. On January 28, 1944, Urawa Camp held fifty-six men - 30 Canadians, eleven British, seven Greeks, three Americans, three Belgians, and two Dutch - were transferred from Sumire, Sendai, and Miyoshi camps, which were closed. Urawa could hold up to 78 men. With 35,500 square feet (3,300 square meters) of land and only 10,500 square feet of buildings (990 square meters) this modern building, constructed just before the Pacific War started, had room for the internees to grow their own food. All of the internees were fluent in Japanese, so orders were given in Japanese only! The camp lacked heat, causing the United States State Department to issue a formal complaint to the Japanese through Switzerland in December 1943. The internees could see the firebombing of Tokyo on March 9-10, 1945, and subsequent air attacks. In the September 4, 1945 issue of the Los Angeles Times, Urawa internee Father Marie Gabriel Groleau (July 28, 1913 - December 25, 2000) claimed the Japanese Civil Police beat the internees. The Los Angeles Times reported that the Civil Police also ate the rations intended for the camp; Father Ronan lost sixty-five pounds. The internees, many of whom had lived in Japan for years, separated the actions of the camp guards from the Japanese population. Just before the camp was liberated, supplies were dropped from Boeing B-29 Superfortresses on August 26, 1945, but the internees gave their parcels to the public. 

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) NWDNS-80-G-473730 

Vought-Chance SB2U-2 Vindicator

Image size: 1600 x 993 pixel. 311 KB
Date: Friday, 24 February 1939
Place: Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia, USA
Photographer: Unknown

Chance-Vought SB2U-2 Vindicator used for diving tests at Langley Research Center. The SB2U was the first monoplane bomber accepted by the United States Navy in 1939. It helped the Navy prepare for the transition from biplanes into monoplanes. The Vindicator lacked dive brakes or enough power for actual dive bombing. Because of the emergency situation at the Battle of Midway, the type was pressed into combat with Marine Scouting and Bombing Squadron VMSB-241. Their SB2U-3 Vindicators made the longest over-water flight (at that time) to reinforce Midway on December 17, 1941. A nine-hour, 1,200-mile (1931-kilometer) flight, the SB2U-3 had additional fuel tanks that allowed the aircraft to make the journey guided by a Consolidated PBY Catalina. In combat, the lack of self-sealing fuel tanks and performance compared to the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero-Sen (Allied code name "Zeke") led to heavy losses on June 4, 1942. The Marines did occupy the Japanese Combat Air Patrol long enough to allow Douglas SBD-3 Dauntlesses to successfully attack the carriers, sinking all four. 

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

American Soldiers of the 99th Infantry Division March Into Captivity

Image size: 1301 x 1600 pixel. 462 KB
Date: Monday, 18 December 1944
Place: Lanzerath, Liege, Belgium
Photographer: Unidentified German SS-Kriegsberichter (War Correspondent)

American soldiers of the 99th Infantry Division are accompanied to the rear by paratroopers of 3. Fallschirmjäger-Division. While this column was marched into captivity, they could see and hear the battle between German and American artillery not far away. The 99th Division had just begun combat operations on the Roer River on December 13, 1944 when three days later the Ardennes Offensive broke with a heavy concentration of artillery fire. Despite being an inexperienced unit and their lines pierced by many German armored columns, the small unit actions fought by the 99th would prevent the timely completion of the German timetable. At Lanzerath, a German speaking municipality in Belgium, The Intelligence and Reconnaissance Platoon of the 384th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division, under the command of First Lieutenant Lyle J. Bouck, Jr., comprised eighteen men but inflicted 400-500 casualties on the Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 9, which failed to continue the assault. Bouck and his men were captured, but only one American was killed. This column of prisoners are lucky to have kept their winter coats and boots; some Americans were stripped of clothing. Many lost watches and jewelry when they were taken. The thousands of American prisoners from the 106th, 4th, 28th and 99th Divisions were marched through Northern Germany, where food and survival were constant concerns. Most men lost an average of fifty pounds during their five month captivity. Some men, like author Kurt Vonnegut of the 106th, were caught up in the firebombing of Dresden in February 1945. 

National Archives and Records Adminstration (NARA) NWDNS-111-SC-198240

21 November 2012

Ex-Prime Minister Hideki Tojo after an attempted suicide

Image size: 1600 x 1235 pixel. 361 KB
Date: Tuesday, 11 September 1945
Place: Tokyo, Tokyo Prefecture, Japan
Photographer: Unknown

US Army Captain James Johnson of Newark, New Jersey, a physician attached to the 1st Cavalry Division, works to save former Prime Minister, Imperial Japanese Army Major General Hideki Tojo after suicide attempt, September 11, 1945. Capt. Johnson was assisted by First Lieutenant Frank Aquino of Los Angeles. California and Technical Sergeant Dominic Santa Cruz of Westfield, New Jersey. Japanese doctor Tamejmitsu Ebara had administered first aid and made Tojo comfortable, moving him from the chair he attempted suicide in to a futon. The bullet passed through his chest and exited his back. Six hours after the suicide attempt, he arrived at the U.S. Army’s 98th Evacuation Hospital in Yokohama, still alive after a number of transfusions of American-donated blood. He lived to be tried and convicted in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. He was hanged on December 22, 1948. 

Truman Library

Panorama of Hiroshima's Kami-Nagarekawa-cho District

Image size: 1600 x 162 pixel. 322 KB
Date: Friday, 5 October 1945
Place: Kami-Nagarekawa-cho District, Hiroshima, Chūgoku-chihō, Japan
Photographer: Shigeo Hayashi

Panorama of devastation from the roof of Chugoku Shimbun (Newspaper) Building in Kami-Nagarekawa-cho District, 950 yards (870 meters) from the hypocenter. A commission from the Japan Science Council was sent to study the effects of the bomb in October 1945. Filmmakers and photographers from the Nihon Eigusa Studio were recruited. Shigeo Hayashi, an Imperial Japanese Army veteran of Manchuria and a former reporter for FRONT Magazine, was selected. The team arrived at Hiroshima on October 1, 1945 and began at the hypocenter at Shima Hospital. When the weather cleared, he climbed several buildings and made these panaramas. He later wrote, "Every few steps I saw the remains of another makeshift crematoria. Wherever I aimed the camera, voices from the hell of two months earlier flooded toward me." 1.) Nagarekawa Methodist Church of Christ. Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto, Minister, famously administered first aid to Hiroshima's massive number of casualties for days. 2.) On the right, the Old Fukuya Department Store. 3.) On the left stands the New Fukuya Department Store (now, Fukuya Department Store). The new building was completed in 1938 with eight stories above ground and two below. During the war, the army, control corporations, and other government agencies took over most of its retail space. The atomic bombing completely gutted the interior and killed dozens of occupants. 4.) Odamasa, a kimono fabric store, made military uniforms as well. The steel structure survived the blast but caved in soon after. 5.) Higushi Police Station, Shimo-yanagi-cho District. Relief Efforts began around these stations and moved out to the city. 6.) Hirataya-cho District's Kirin Beer Hall and Shimomura Jewelers, also known as Hondori Clock Tower. It lacked internal support and shifted. The financial district is behind these buildings. 7.) Chimney of Chugoku Shimbun Building where photo was taken. All of Hayashi's work was confiscated by Supreme Command Allied Powers (SCAP) run by US General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. 540 35mm photos and 174 4x6 photos were donated to the Hiroshima Peace Museum after their return in 1973. Hayashi later became head of the Anti-Nuclear Photography Movement. Chugoku Shimbun Building, rebuilt in 1949, was torn down in 1970. The Mitsukoshi Department Store stands on the spot today. 

Hiroshima Peace Museum 

Panorama of Hiroshima's Motomachi District

Image size: 1600 x 162 pixel. 322 KB
Date: Friday, 5 October 1945
Place: Motomachi District, Hiroshima, Chūgoku-chihō, Japan
Photographer: Shigeo Hayashi

Panorama of devastation from the roof of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commerce Association in Motomachi District, 285 yards (260 meters) from the hypocenter. A commission from the Japan Science Council was sent to study the effects of the bomb in October 1945. Filmmakers and photographers from the Nihon Eigusa Studio were recruited. Shigeo Hayashi, an Imperial Japanese Army veteran of Manchuria and a former reporter for FRONT Magazine, was selected. The team arrived at Hiroshima on October 1, 1945 and began at the hypocenter at Shima Hospital. When the weather cleared, he climbed several buildings and made these panoramas. He later wrote, "Every few steps I saw the remains of another makeshift crematoria. Wherever I aimed the camera, voices from the hell of two months earlier flooded toward me." Locations include 1.) Air-burst hypocenter over Shima Hospital. 2.) Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall; "Atomc Bomb Dome" and Peace Museum today. 3.) Motoyasu Bridge. 4.) Hiroshima Chapter, Red Cross Society. 5.) Aioi Bridge, the aiming point for Enola Gay's bombardier. The bridge built in 1932 took on a "T" shape two years later when it extended an arm to the "nose" of Jisenji Temple on the north tip of Nakajima-hon-machi. It was because of this unusual shape that it was chosen as the target of the atomic bombing. Immediately after the bombing, the bridge was strewn with debris and human and animal corpses. The floating corpses were enough to choke the river. 6.) Honkawa National School, which was used as a hospital after the bombing. Many schoolchildren were killed as they were outside constructing defenses. All of Hayashi's work was confiscated by Supreme Command Allied Powers (SCAP) run by US General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. 540 35mm photos and 174 4x6 photos were donated to the Hiroshima Peace Museum after their return in 1973. Hayashi later became head of the Anti-Nuclear Photography Movement. 

Hiroshima Peace Museum 

Tanks of 6. Panzer Division Advance Toward Cassel

Image size: 1600 x 1094 pixel. 322 KB
Date: Sunday, 26 May 1940
Place: Cassel, Nord départment, Prancis
Photographer: Unknown

Noon, 26 May 1940: row of panzers from Kampfgruppe Esebeck/6.Panzer-Division/16.Armee/Heeresgruppe B advance to attack Cassel (background), defended by the British 145th (South) Brigade/I Corps; a Panzerkampfwagen II follows Skoda's Panzerkampfwagen 35(t). Note air recognition flags, and the detachable tactical number plate on the PzKfw II, '502'! Kampfgruppe Esebeck commanded by Oberst Hans-Karl Freiherr von Esebeck. They successfully established a bridgehead across the Saint-Quentin Canal south of Cambrai on 18 May 1940. On 19 May the Kampfgruppe established bridgeheads on Canal du Nord in co-operation with Kampfgruppe Ravenstein. The Kampfgruppe nearly reached the coast between Abbéville and Montreuil on 20 May, supported by the 57th Reconnaissance Battalion. On 22 May the Kampfgruppe captured Lumbres, 40 kilometers east of Calais. The Kampfgruppe successfully occupied Saint Omer on 23 May and continued advance towards Cassel. On 24 May the Kampfgruppe was withdrawn to hold a bridgehead on the Calais-Saint Omer Canal. During 29 and 30 May the Kampfgruppe supported the operations of Kampfgruppe Koll.

Helmut Ritgen photo collection
Book "The 6th Panzer Division: 1937-45" by Oberst a.D. Helmut Ritgen

20 November 2012

Generals Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley and Lawton Collins

Image size: 1258 x 1600 pixel. 659 KB
Date: Wednesday, 5 July 1944
Place: VII Corps HQ at Le château de Francquetot à Carquebut, Manche, Normandie, France
Photographer: Unknown

General Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower (left), Supreme Allied Commander, confers with two of his Generals in France at the VII Corps Headquarter. With him are: Lieutenant-General Omar Nelson Bradley (center, Commanding General US First Army) and Major-General Joseph "Lightning Joe" Lawton Collins (Commanding-General VII Corps). U.S. VII Corps organized at the end of World War I on 19 August 1918, at Remiremont, France and was deactivated in 1919. It then reactivated at Fort McClellan, Alabama 25 November 1940 and participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers staged as the US Army prepared for World War II. In late December 1941, VII Corps HQ was moved to San Jose, California as part of the Western Defense Command and as it continued to train and prepare for deployment. Its first return to continental Europe took place on D-Day in 1944, as one of the two assault corps for US First Army during Operation Overlord, targeting Utah Beach with its amphibious assault. For Overlord, the 101st Airborne and 82nd Airborne Divisions were attached to VII Corps. After the Normandy Campaign the Airborne units were assigned to the newly crated XVIII Airborne Corps. Subsequently, the unit participated in many battles during the advance across France and Germany until the surrender of the Third Reich. The corps was deactivated in 1946. In this day (5 July 1944) on the Normandy Front, Operation Windsor, planned by general Dempsey, which began on July 4, continues. The 8th Brigade of the 3rd Canadian Infantry division, Royal Winnipeg Riffles Regiment, North Shore Regiment, Queen's Own Riffles Regiment and the Canadien French Regiment la Chaudiere control the Southern part of the airport which was still, the day before, controlled by the 12nd German SS Panzer Division. The 3rd Canadian Infantry division meets many difficulties to dislodge the Hilterjugend fanaticized soldiers who defend each farm, each crossroads and who fight until death. Their keen defense prevents the Canadians from progressing. On the American front, the US troops of the 7th Corps fight painfully in direction of Periers and La-Haie-du-Puits. The losses are terrifying: between July 4 and July 5, nearly 1,500 American soldiers were put out of fight whereas the 7th Corps progressed only by 200 meters. Saint-Jores is liberated by the soldiers of the 90th American Infantry division.

 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Elefant 150071 At Aberdeen Ordinance Museum After The War

Image size: 1600 x 936 pixel. 421 KB
Date: Thursday, 1 January 1948
Place: Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, USA
Photographer: Armin Sohns

Captured Panzerjäger (tank destroyer) Tiger (P) - Ferdinand Elephant (SdKfz 184) also known as Tiger-Sturmgeschütz mit 8.8cm PaK 43/2 seen postwar at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. Note the open hatch, which let water into the vehicle. Hull number 150071 was built at the Porsche Nibelungenwerke factory in St. Valentin, Austria in 1942 as a Porsche version of the Tiger Pzkpfw IV tank. When the Henschel Tiger design won the competition and was approved for mass production, Porsche AG had 90 tank hulls completed. Since the stopgap Marder and Nashorn tank destroyer designs were not satisfactory, these 90 Porsche Tigers were converted between April-May 1943 into Ferdinand (after Ferdinand Porsche) tank destroyers. Hull number 150071 was assigned to the Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 654 for Operation Zitadelle (Citadel) during the Battle of Kursk in July 1943, identified as number 633. Some forty Ferdinands were lost, mostly when they suffered mechanical problems and had to be abandoned. The lack of a machine gun meant they were vulnerable when they were separated from supporting infantry. Still, some 600 Soviet tanks and guns were destroyed by the Ferdinands. The best use (not always possible) was for the Ferdinands to attack at long range; the Ferdinand's gun could hit targets at two miles (4 kilometers). After Kursk, the fifty remaining Ferdinands, including 150071, were sent back to Nibelungenwerke for modifications. Additional armor was added; the front of the tank had almost eight inches (200mm) with two armor plates bolted together. A hull mounted 7.92mm (.31 caliber) machine gun, StuG III commander's cupola, wider tracks, and additional rear crew stowage were added. While the Elefants were upgraded, 1.Kompanie of 653 with eleven Elefants was ordered via rail to attack the beachhead at Anzio/Nettuno on February 1, 1944. All the remaining Ferdinands, (designated Elefants in May 1944), were given to Schwere Panzerjager Abteilung 653 on February 15. Another veteran unit of the Kursk battles, 1.Kompanie/653 was commanded by Oberleutnant Helmut Ulbricht; a "U" decorated every 1.Kompanie vehicle. Two Elefants were lost on March 1. Hull 150071, now number 102 in 1.Kompanie/653, fought in battles around Anzio throughout March and April 1944, mostly based around Cisterna. On May 22-30, 1944, the Allied breakout at Anzio caused a general flight among many surviving German units, including 1.Kompanie, who fought hard rearguard actions all the way to Rome. By May 28, only five Elefants were operational. Along the way, 150071 and another Elefant were abandoned; the Elefants lacked spare parts and the constant operations had worn out their treads. Leaving the Elefant mined and grenaded near a broken down self-propelled howitzer, 653 moved on, arriving in Vienna, Austria on August 6, with only three remaining Elefants, including one modified as a Bergepanzer (armored recovery vehicle). American soldiers, finding 150071 abandoned by the side of the road, marked it "STAY AWAY BOOBY TRAP" until it could be disarmed and sent to a collection yard for captured vehicles. 150071 was shipped to Aberdeen after the war, where it sat and rusted in the Maryland weather for sixty years, eventually growing a tree. 150071 was repainted in April 2008 and will probably be moved to the new Army Museum after 2010; its insides are quite rusted out from years in open air. 

Charles Kliment photo collection

Crusader Tanks in North Africa

Image size: 1600 x 950 pixel. 547 KB
Date: Thursday, 1 January 1942
Place: North Africa
Photographer: Unknown

Crusader Mark IIs of the British 8th Army on the move. While the Crusader was plagued with mechanical unreliability and lack of firepower and protection, it could move fast, and travel over ground that would bog down other tanks. Crews lived in their tanks; the lead vehicle has helmets, storage boxes, and packs slung around its hull. Tank crews would add railings to the outside of tanks, form a tent, and live in the desert during campaigns. Because of the mechanical issues, tanks had to be transported on trucks from the storage depots to the battlefield to prevent wear. Cruiser Mk VI Crusader (A15) tanks were designed by Nuffield Mechanisation somewhat based on the Mk III Covenanter (A13) design. Some of the major differences between Covenanter and Crusader tanks include Crusader tanks' use of five road wheels on each side for better weight distribution, different engines and engine cooling systems, different steering systems, and hand-traversed machine gun turrets on the left-front side of the Crusader hulls (although these auxiliary turrets were often removed in the field). Against their German counterparts, they were relatively lightly armed and thinly armored, and they lacked high explosive rounds, but their higher speed somewhat made up for the difference. The Crusader tanks first saw combat during Operation Battleaxe in North Africa, where they effectively served as the main cruiser tanks. In 1942, an attempt was made to upgrade Crusader tanks' armament to 6-pounder guns, but the eventual availability of M4 Sherman and Cruiser Mk VIII Centaur/Cromwell tanks relegated the now inadequately-armed Crusader tanks to secondary roles, such as anti-aircraft (with twin Oerlikon 20-mm guns) or artillery towing. Between Nov 1940 and 1945, 5,464 Crusader tanks were built.


Crusader Mark I Cruiser Tanks

Image size: 1600 x 898 pixel. 339 KB
Date: Monday, 1 April 1940
Place: Aldershot, Hampshire, England
Photographer: Unknown

Crusader A15 Mark I tanks. Note auxiliary turret with 7.92 Besa machine gun in front hull. The Crusader A15 was the sixth version of the British cruiser series of tanks, which favored speed over armor. The Crusader was a fast tank, but it was mechanically unreliable and lacked firepower and protection. When a shipment of Crusaders and a shipment of Lend-Lease M3 Stuart light tanks were sent to North Africa with the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays), the British crews initially favored the Crusader because it was more comfortable and easier to fight. However, within a few days, the Stuarts were functioning without maintenance, while the Crusaders were breaking down at the rate of six per day and needed constant technical attention. On the Crusader I, the main turret hatch had to be locked open or it would cause injury to the driver when he stood in the turret and rough ground or shell fire knocked the hatch closed. The auxiliary turret was found to be cramped, uncomfortable for occupation, and had a limited field of view; when the auxiliary turret's hatch was open, the main turret could not traverse. The auxiliary turret was deleted in favor of additional ammunition in future versions. The Crusader entered combat as part of Operation Battleaxe on June 15, 1941 with the 6th Tank Regiment. The Crusader's armor was defeated by the long 50mm (1.97 inch) main gun of its principal adversary, the Panzer III. The 2-pounder 40mm (1.57 inch) main gun of the Crusader bounced off the Panzer III's armor, while the Panzer III could engage at longer distances and their rounds went right through the Crusader. Twenty-seven Cruisers and sixty-four Matilda IIs were lost during the battle, which failed to achieve British objectives. After Operation Crusader in November 1941, which was named after this tank and achieved limited objectives (most notably the temporary relief of Tobruk), Crusader was withdrawn as a primary battle tank from other theatres, but remained in front line use in North Africa through 1943. After the North African campaign Crusaders served the rest of the war as a platform for anti-aircraft defense. Date and Location Estimated. 


Former German Heavyweight Boxer Max Schmeling as a Fallschirmjäger

Image size: 1065 x 1600 pixel. 316 KB
Date: Thursday, 13 March 1941
Place: Wolfenbüttel, Niedersachsen, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

Former German heavyweight boxer Max Schmeling (36 years old at the time of this picture was taken) posed as a jumping Fallschirmjäger (paratrooper) in the back door of transport aircraft Junkers Ju 52 "Tante". This famous person took part in Unternehmen "Merkur" (the assault on Crete) in 20 May 1941 while being a member of 4.Kompanie/1.Bataillon/Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 3/7.Flieger-Division. He became sick and didn't see much combat at all. According to some accounts, Gefreiter (Corporal) Schmeling had dysentery before he jumped at Crete, informed his Bataillonskommandeur (Friedrich von der Heydte) the night before, but was still told to carry on. Schmeling arrived at Crete in a feverish state, with an injured head and stomach cramps. He was in no condition to be involved in operations there, only two days spent at the front, and then hospitalized in Athens for a month. Showing sympathies for the Allies, he will be ignored by the Nazi leaders. He was never sent again to the front. Quoted from Eric Queen's "Red Shines the Sun: A Pictorial History of the Fallschirm-Infanterie" page 100, tells the story of Louis Hedwig who served with Max: "..von der Heydte didn't want to take Max with us but was forced to by the top. As soon as we landed Max started losing it. He asked me, 'Leutnant am I allowed to shot?' even though I was just a corporal. He had sunstroke and the runs. Von der Heydte mentions in his book that Schmeling came to him before the left the airfields in Greece the night before. Schmeling told von der Heydte that he had dysentery. Von der Heydte told him to tighten up his smock and make the jump. This dysentery caused Schmeling to suffer from heat exhaustion quickly once on Crete, thus the pictures of him exist being supported by comrades walking to the aid station with a hankerchief on his head to help protect against the sun."

Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (NAC) 2-15159

19 November 2012

Skoda 35 Tank Kompanie of Panzer-Regiment 11 Wait in A Wood for the Opening of Blitzkrieg

Image size: 1600 x 830 pixel. 499 KB
Date: April 1940
Place: Mayen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

A Skoda 35 tank Kompanie of Panzer-Regiment 11/6.Panzer-Division wait in a wood near Mayen for the opening of Blitzkrieg on France, April 1940. Around 30 January 1940, the newly-built 6. Panzer-Division left its quarters in the region of Wuppertal and on 2 February 1940 it was assembled in the area of Euskirchen with the divisional CP (Command Post) in Münstereifel. In the West the German and the Allies stayed face to face without nobody dared to take the first step although with the conclusion of the Campaign in Poland and the deployment of the armor divisions and the active infantry divisions of the German Army on its western borders all possibility of a fast Allied victory had disappeared. On 1 March 1940, the 6. Panzer-Division was displaced towards the Westerwald and subordinated under the XXXI. Armeekorps (Motorisiert) which was commanded by General der Panzertruppe Hans-Georg Reinhardt. To this Army Corps also belonged the 8. Panzer-Division and the 29. Infanterie-Division (Motorisiert). In turn the XXXI. Armeekorps (Mot.) was fitted as well in the Panzergruppe of General der Kavallerie Ewald von Kleist together with the XIX. Armeekorps (Mot.) of General der Panzertruppe Guderian and the XIV. Armeekorps (Mot.) of General der Infanterie Gustav Anton von Wietersheim. Towards the end of April of 1940, all the tracked vehicles were across the Rhine and were concentrated again in the area of Mayen, while the bulk of the division remaining in the Westerwald.

Helmut Ritgen photo collection
Book "The 6th Panzer Division: 1937-45" by Oberst a.D. Helmut Ritgen

Five Japanese Kamikaze Pilots Playing with a Puppy

Image size: 1309 x 1600 pixel. 761 KB
Date: Saturday, 26 May 1945
Place: Bansei Air Base, Fukiagehama, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu Island, Japan
Photographer: Unknown Asahi Shimbun cameraman

Photo shows Corporal Yukio Araki (age 17 years old) holding a puppy with four other young men (age 18 and years old) of the 72nd Shinbu Corps around him. An Asahi Shimbun cameraman took this photo on the day before the departure of the 72nd Shinbu Corps from Bansei Air Base for their Kamikaze (Divine Wind) mission in Okinawa. Yukio Araki died at the age of 17 years and 2 months in a suicide attack on American ships near Okinawa on May 27, 1945. Almost all Army kamikaze pilots during the Okinawan campaign were between 17 and 22 (Muranaga 1989, 12). The guides at the Chiran Peace Museum emphasize that the youngest kamikaze pilot was only 17 years old! Yukio Araki grew up in the small city of Kiryu in Gunma Prefecture, and as a child he loved model airplanes and won first prize in a contest to keep a model plane aloft for the longest time. He volunteered for the Army's Youth Pilot Training Program at the age of 15. In September 1943, he went to Tachiarai Air Base in Fukuoka Prefecture for six months of basic training, and at graduation he received the highest award for outstanding achievement, skill, and attitude. After graduation, he transferred to nearby Metabaru Air Base in Saga Prefecture for a couple of months of flight training, and he then went to Pyongyang, Korea, in May 1944 for training in a squadron assigned to fly Army Type 99 assault planes (Mitsubishi K-51s). In about February 1945, all men in Araki's 23rd Rensei Flight Squadron in Pyongyang volunteered to make suicide attacks. In the latter part of March, the men flew to Kakamigahara Air Base in Gifu Prefecture so their Type 99 assault planes could be outfitted for kamikaze attacks. During this stay at Kakamigahara, Araki's unit was renamed the 72nd Shinbu Squadron, and Araki had the opportunity on April 5 to take the train to Gifu Prefecture for a final overnight visit to his family. Although details related to his joining the Army's special attack corps and its plans for suicide attacks were supposed to be secret, his older brother and probably his parents guessed by his words that this would be his last visit. He gave three separate letters to his parents, older brother, and three younger brothers to be opened after announcement of his death. After Yukio returned to Gifu Prefecture, his older brother came alone to the air base there to visit him one last time. After the Type 99 assault planes had been converted for suicide attacks, the twelve young men of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron returned to Korea to wait for orders. On April 21, 1945, they received orders to proceed to Nanking, China, probably due to confusion in the military command at the time. One pilot lost his life and another was injured in China when American P-51 fighters attacked them. Orders came on May 5 to proceed back north to Metabaru Air Base in Saga Prefecture (where Araki had flight training in 1944), so the ten remaining pilots returned first to Pyongyang to make the planes ready. On May 17, they reached Metabaru to await further orders. On May 25, the 72nd Shinbu Squadron flew from Metabaru to the Army's secret Bansei Air Base, located at the southern tip of Kyushu, Japan's southernmost main island. On May 26, a photographer from the Asahi Shimbun took the now famous photo of Araki holding a puppy with four other members of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron around him. In the early morning of May 27, Araki wrote his last letter to his family, and soon after the ten planes took off from Bansei but one developed engine trouble so the pilot had to return. Six of the nine members of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron who continued on toward Okinawa were teenagers. That day the Japanese Navy and Army sent 175 kamikaze planes in total against Allied ships off Okinawa. Based on Mori's research of U.S. Navy records and examination of photographs, he concludes that two Type 99 assault planes of the 72nd Shinbu Squadron caused damage to the destroyer Braine, which lost 66 men killed and 78 men wounded (Warner 1982, 259-60). The 72nd Shinbu Squadron (第72振武隊 Dai Nanajūni Shinbu-tai?) of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force was formed on January 30, 1945 as the 113 Educational Flight Corps. On March 30 of the same year the unit gained its final name, the 72nd Shinbu Squadron. The Kamikaze (神風?, literally: "God wind"; common translation: "Divine wind"; official name: Tokubetsu Kōgekitai (特別攻撃隊?), Tokkō Tai (特攻隊?), or Tokkō (特攻?), were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy warships more effectively than was possible with conventional attacks. Numbers quoted vary, but at least 47 Allied vessels, from PT boats to escort carriers, were sunk by kamikaze attacks, and about 300 damaged. During World War II, nearly 4,000 kamikaze pilots were sacrificed. About 14% of kamikaze attacks managed to hit a ship.

Asahi Shimbun