20 August 2013

Heinz Guderian Visiting Tiger Company of SS Leibstandarte

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Date: Tuesday, 27 April 1943
Place: Kharkov, Ukraine, Soviet Union
Photographer: Kriegsberichter Wiesebach

Generaloberst Heinz Guderian (Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen) made an inspection visit to Tiger company of SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 / 1.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" (LSSAH) at Kharkov, April 1943. Officer wearing Sonderbekleidung Der Deutschen Panzertruppen is SS-Hauptsturmführer Heinrich "Heinz" Kling, Chef of 18.Kompanie / SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 / 1.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division LSSAH, and he is shows one of the Panzerkampfwagen VI Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger I Ausführung E (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 181) to Guderian. The coaxial machine gun was removed to make more room in the turret for the extra radio set and the hole in the gun mantlet was plugged. Ammunition stowage was also reduced and the vision block on the right side of the turret and the turret periscope were not mounted. Records show that 89 Panzerbefehlswagen Tiger I were produced during the war.

Book "Panzer Divisions in Battle 1939-45" by Tom Cockle 

12 August 2013

A Japanese Dive Bomber Shot Down Near Truk

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Date: Sunday, 2 July 1944
Place: Truk Lagoon, Caroline Islands, western Pacific Ocean
Photographer: William Janeshek

With its gunner visible in the back cockpit, this Japanese dive bomber (possibly Yokosuka D4Y Suisei or Nakajima B5N Kate), smoke streaming from the cowling, is headed for destruction in the water below after being shot down near Truk, Japanese stronghold in the Carolines, by a Navy PB4Y on July 2, 1944. Lieutenant Commander William Janeshek, pilot of the American plane, said the gunner acted as though he was about to bail out and then suddenly sat down and was still in the plane when it hit the water and exploded! When the Japanese Imperial Navy withdrew after the Gudalcanal campaign, some carrier aircraft and pilots operated from both Rabaul and Truk. The Allies named it 'Judy'. The D4Y was one of the fastest dive-bombers of the war. Its effectiveness was compromised by the introduction of improved American fighters, especially the Grumman F6F Hellcat. The photograph captures the last seconds before the plane impacts the water. You can see the rear gunner trying to see what is happening, but is not bailing out. When the Imperial Navy withdrew after the Gudalcanal campaign, some carrier aircraft and pilots operated from both Rabaul and Truk. Quite a number of carrier crews survived the Midway disaster. And when the Imperial Fleet withdrew, many of the air crews were transferred to Rabaul and Truk to continue the air war there even if the Imperial Fleet was withdrawn. This proved to be a terrible mistake. Most of these throughly trained air crews were gradually lost in the subsequent fighting as the Americans moved up the Solomon Chain. Carrier pilots are some of the most skilled individuals fighting the War. It takes a great deal of time and effort to train carrier pilots. And experienced pilots also have a great deal of experience and wisdom to pass on to the trainees and new crews. The Americans rotated experienced pilotsstate-side to help in the trainong of air crews. The loss of experienced Japanese air crews meant that when the Imperial Fleet finally emerged to do battle and stop the Americans from seizing the Marianas, they fought the Battle of the Philippines Sea with inexperienced, poorly trined air crews. The Americans by this time had better planes, but the catasrophe now known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot also resulted from poorly trained and led air crews.


11 August 2013

Award Ceremony For Russian Generals by Montgomery at Brandenburg Gate

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Date: Thursday, 12 July 1945
Place: Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany
Photographer: Unknown

British Field Marshal Sir Bernard "Monty" Montgomery (17 November 1887 - 24 March 1976) decorates Soviet generals at the Hindenburg Platz near Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, 12 July 1945. The Deputy Supreme Commander in Chief of the Red Army, Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov (1 December 1896 - 18 June 1974), the Commander of the British 21st Army Group, Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery, Marshal of the Soviet Union Konstantin Rokossovsky (21 December 1896 - 3 August 1968) and General of the Army Vasily Sokolovsky (21 July 1897 - 10 May 1968) of the Red Army leave the Brandenburg Gate after the ceremony. Zhukov (Commander of 1st Belorussian Front), on Montgomerys left, was presented with the sash of the Knight Grand Cross of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (G.C.B.), while Rokossovsky (Commander of 2nd Belorussian Front), on Montgomery right, was made a Knight Commander of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (K.C.B.). Sokolovsky (Deputy Commander of 1st Belorussian Front), in the background between Montgomery and Rokossovsky was made a Knight Commander of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (K.B.E.). The same was Colonel General Mikhail Malinin (28 December 1893 - 24 January 1960) who is standing just behind Rokossovsky. As citizens of the UK or the Commenwealth, the four generals would have been entitled to wear the title "Sir" in front of their names. So they only had the right to put the K.B.E., etc. after their name, as the Austrian pianist Alfred Brendl. The British King's Company of the Grenadier Guards formed the guard of honor and tanks of the King's 8th Royal Irish Hussars were drawn up on either side. The ceremony was held in front of a banner proclaiming "Glory to the Soviet forces who planted the flag of victory over Berlin." Note the British officer on the far left having a hearty laugh!


05 August 2013

M-2 Wildcats and F4U Corsairs at Daugherty Field, Long Beach, California

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Date: Thursday, 10 August 1944
Place: Long Beach, California, United States
Photographer: Unknown

The Naval Auxiliary Air Station (NAAS) at Long Beach, or Daugherty Field, under the jurisdiction of the Eleventh Naval District. View from atop building 75. General Motors FM-2 Wildcats and Chance-Vought F4U-1 Corsairs are undergoing maintenance. Throughout World War II, the airfield was given over to the war effort. In August, 1941, the Civil Aeronautics Administration took over control of the airport, which had increased in size to 500 acres. in 1941, NAAS Long Beach serviced carrier borne Grumman/General Motors F4F/FM-2 Wildcats, Douglas SBD Dauntlesses, Chance-Vought F4U Corsairs, Grumman F6F Hellcats, Grumman/General Motors TBF/TBM Avengers, and Curtiss SB2C Helldivers. In addition, it had utility aircraft and such patrol planes as the Consolidated PBY Catalina and north American SNJ "Harvard" trainers. In 1942, the Navy turned over the facilities to the U.S. Army Air Corps which had also established a training base adjacent to it. As the Navy's activities began to be shifted to Los Alamitos, the Long Beach Army Airfield at Long Beach became the home of the Army's Air Transport Command's Ferrying Division, which included a squadron of 18 women pilots commanded by Barbara London, a long time Long Beach aviator. Like the Naval Air Ferry Command at NAS Terminal Island, the Army's ferrying work was an immense undertaking, thanks to Douglas Aircraft's wartime production. With the end of the war, the U.S. Navy abandoned any use of the Long Beach Municipal Airport facility completely, and with it, the designation of Long Beach as a Naval Auxiliary Air Station. 

NARA (National Archives) Identifier 295426

Destroyed Catholic Church at Dulag, Leyte

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Date: Friday, 20 October 1944
Place: Dulag, Leyte, Philippines
Photographer: Unknown

Statue of the Sacred Heart at the Catholic church stands after complete destruction of the 18th-Century building. Dulag was shelled by battleships and bombed by carrier planes from October 17-20, 1944, prior to Sixth Army's XXIV Corps landings on A-Day, October 20. The town's mayor, Marcial Lagunzad, was killed along with many other civilians. Almost every structure was completely obliterated. The US Army's 96th Infantry Division, 184th Infantry, commanded by Colonel Curtis D. O'Sullivan, was to land on Yellow Beach 1 and Yellow Beach 2 near Dulag and then drive inland, directing its main effort toward an early seizure of the airfield west of Dulag. It was also to seize and secure the crossings of the Daguitan River. The 184th Infantry landed at 1000 Hours, two battalions abreast - the 1st on the southern half of Yellow Beach and the 3d on the northern half. They encountered surprisingly little resistance on either beach and were able to push inland at a much greater speed than had been anticipated. The 3d Battalion drove through the town of Dulag, which lay directly in its path, to the Dulag-Burauen Highway. The 1st Battalion pushed inland and reached the highway at 1210, just fifteen minutes after the 3d Battalion. At 1530 the two battalions established physical contact and maintained it throughout the day as they continued their advance along the highway. Eleven Japanese had been killed in the 184th Infantry's zone. After the front line moved on, the ruins were used as a hospital. The church was not rebuilt as a war memorial to those who sought refuge during the war. 

NARA (National Archives) Record Group 26: Records of the U.S. Coast Guard, 1785 - 2005 (ARC identifier: 355). Series: Activities, Facilities, and Personalities, compiled 1886 - 1967 (ARC identifier: 513164). NAIL Control Number: NWDNS-26-G-3577 

Memorial Service in Prisoner of War Heito Camp #3, Formosa

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Date: Saturday, 1 January 1944
Place: Heito Camp #3, Pingtung, Formosa (Taiwan)
Photographer: Unknown

American, British, Australian, Dutch and other Commonwealth prisoners of war honor their dead comrades. This was probably a propaganda photo staged for the Japanese press. Date is estimated; 1943-1944. Heito Camp #3 in Pingtung, Formosa (Taiwan) was a transit camp for Allied prisoners of war on their way to other camps, and a source of slave labor to clear rocky land for sugar cane production nearby. if the men did not fill their quota of railroad cars with rocks by hand, they were beaten. The Formosan conscript guards could be worse than the Japanese. Over 1000 men were incarcerated here between August 1942 and February 1945. Wainwright and the other American brass from the Philippines were brought here on their way to their permanent detention. An air attack on February 7 wrecked the camp and the prisoners were relocated to Taihoku Camp #6 in Taipei. The Japanese Commandant, Lieutenant Tamaki, boasted to the prisoners that he would fill the cemetery, and he did - a second one had to be constructed! Many prisoners were worked to death or contracted malaria from the nearby swamp.


04 August 2013

Knocked-Out Sd.Kfz.250 of Swedish SS Volunteer at Berlin

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Date: Wednesday, 2 May 1945
Place: Friedrichstraße, Berlin, Germany
Photographer: Mark Redkin

This famous picture by Soviet photographer Mark Redkin shows the knocked out command vehicle (Leichter Schutzenpanzerwagen Sd.Kfz.250 "Neue") of the Swedish SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans-Gösta Pehrsson, commander of the so called "Schwedenkompanie" (3.Kompanie / Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11 / 11.SS-Freiwilligen-Panzergrenadier-Division Nordland), at Friedrichstraße in Berlin. The body lying to the right of the vehicle appears to be Pehrssons dead driver, the Swede SS-Unterscharführer Ragnar Olof "Giraffen" Johansson. The escape attempt took place the night between May 1 – 2 1945. The above halftrack with licence plate 'SS 900915' was manned by the Aufklärungs-Abteilung 11. They came under heavy Soviet fire at Friedrichstraße. The driver SS-Unterscharführer Johansson was killed and the Swedish SS-Hauptsturmführer Pehrsson, commander of the very same vehicle, later identified the fallen in this photograph as his driver Ragnar Johansson. Pehrsson himself was wounded, but he managed to get away from the Soviets at the time. Fortunately, Pehrsson had time to get rid of his uniform jacket and changed into a Wehrmacht one before being taken prisoner. He was sent to a prison camp, which he managed to escape from. He then hide himself in an apartment in Berlin. After a while, he met another SS-man and together they walked to the British occupation zone and from there they were able to get back to Sweden. BTW, the researcher Lennart Westberg positioned the place for the photo to be Friedrichstraße 107 with the walls of the guardhouse in the backround, 200m north of the river Spree..

"Twilight of the Gods: A Swedish Waffen-SS Volunteer's Experiences with the 11th SS-Panzergrenadier Division Nordland, Eastern Front 1944-45" by  Thorolf Hillblad and Erik Wallin