Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is coolbert:

From the Military Thoughts blog we have from quite a long time ago now an entry regarding the Battle of Wuhan. An epic struggle from the Second Sino-Japanese War.

"A battle of the most momentous proportions. An epic fight on the scale of a Stalingrad?? NOW, forgotten?"

"The Battle of Wuhan . . . was a large-scale battle of the Second Sino-Japanese War. More than one million National Revolutionary Army [the Nationalists] troops were gathered, with Chiang Kai-shek himself in command, to defend Wuhan from the Imperial Japanese Army . . . It lasted four and half months, and was the longest, largest and one of the most significant battles of the entire Second Sino-Japanese War."

Wuhan - - those superlatives of "longest, largest and one of the most significant" all applying and characterized by myself as forgotten to history. Stalingrad in the east, not even as a footnote  now!

Better characterized perhaps as a figurative and not a literal Stalingrad? Enormous masses of troops, protracted fighting of the most intense and decisive nature, apocalyptic in nature, brutal cave-man like warfare the use of poison gas by the Japanese being commonplace, Wuhan best seen only as a Pyrrhic victory for the Japanese.

[release from the highest echelons of the Japanese command [from the Emperor himself] being required over and over before the gas used. To that extent the Emperor guilty of war crimes as understood during the war and even now!!]

Wuhan again better understood as a figurative Stalingrad and not literal.

"FIGURATIVE - - 2. metaphorical b : characterized by figures of speech"

More correctly so, read Page 1, Page 2 and an Interview from the Numistamp web site descriptions of a literal Stalingrad from that same Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Battle of Taierzhuang. A resounding defeat for the Imperial Japanese Army [IJA], until just recently the likes of which I had no knowledge of!

Taierzhuang seemingly the archetype upon which the Soviet in a purposeful and successful manner based the entire Stalingrad campaign?

"archetype - - classic exemplar, form, ideal, model, original, paradigm, pattern, perfect specimen, prime example, prototype, standard"

"ar·che·type - - noun 1. the original pattern or model from which all things of the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype."

That Taierzhuang is the archetype upon which the entire Stalingrad campaign was based is NOT wishful thinking. Both Zhukov and Chuikov would have more than familiar with the battle, the possibilities of forestalling an enemy attack with urban combat combined with the operational art of the double envelopment as exemplified by Taierzhuang! What occurred at Stalingrad did not develop in an organic manner but was part of an overall strategy planned?

Again, the Nationalist Chinese have been portrayed in the history books and are generally thought of as being less than spirited, lackadaisical, half-hearted, and not pursuing the war against the Japanese with vigor? The Nationalists are seen as having been corrupt, inefficient, NOT worthy of American support, more interested in fighting the communists under Mao rather than the Japanese. Far from true, the Nationalists hardly lacking in fighting spirit but rather inspired and formidable both on offense and defense!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011


This is coolbert:

This from a previous blog entry:

"May there not be methods of using explosive energy incomparably more intense than anything heretofore discovered? Might not a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings—nay, to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke?" - - Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, 1924.

That quotation as attributed to Churchill as originally found in the article:

"'Shall We All Commit Suicide?'. Pall Mall (Sep 1924). Reprinted in Thoughts and Adventures (1932) — Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill"

Also I ask the question: "And how exactly was Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill able to have the vision of the atomic bomb - - in 1924 - - way before the discovery of nuclear fission was even discovered? Can someone tell me that?"

Discoveries of sub-atomic particles such as the proton [1919] the neutron [1932] and the fissionable reaction of uranium [1938] the significance of which would be not so readily apparent to a non-scientist such as Churchill.

"The neutron has been the key to nuclear power production. After the neutron was discovered in 1932, it was realized in 1933 that it might mediate a nuclear chain reaction . . . When nuclear fission was discovered in 1938, it was soon realized that this might be the mechanism to produce the neutrons for the chain reaction"


Winston Churchill however friendly with and in conservation with some of the top scientists of the time, to include Einstein. Churchill was indeed far ahead of the learning curve, much more than his political contemporaries:

From "'Churchill and the Jews: A Lifelong Friendship' By Martin Gilbert"

"Among Churchill's visitors in the spring of 1933 was German born Albert Einstein, who had been in the United States when Hitler came to power . . Einstein, who was five years younger than Churchill, visited him at Chartwell, where he asked Churchill's help in bringing Jewish scientists from Germany. Churchill responded at once, encouraging his friend Professor Frederick Lindemann - - who was at Chartwell during Einstein's visit - - to travel to Germany and seek out Jewish Scientists who could be found places at British universities."

This too from Churchill. Again, the man far head of his peers, beyond that of almost anyone else for that matter!

"New sources of power ... will surely be discovered. Nuclear energy is incomparably greater than the molecular energy we use today. The coal a man can get in a day can easily do five hundred times as much work as himself. Nuclear energy is at least one million times more powerful still. If the hydrogen atoms in a pound of water could be prevailed upon to combine and form helium, they would suffice to drive a thousand-horsepower engine for a whole year. If the electrons, those tiny planets of the atomic systems, were induced to combine with the nuclei in hydrogen, the horsepower would be 120 times greater still. There is no question among scientists that this gigantic source of energy exists. What is lacking is the match to set the bonfire alight, or it may be the detonator to cause the dynamite to explode. The scientists are looking for this." — Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill "'Fifty Years Hence'. Strand Magazine (Dec 1931). Reprinted in Popular Mechanics (Mar 1932)"

[In his last major speech to the House of Commons on 1 Mar 1955, Churchill quoted from his original printed article, nearly 25 years earlier. Churchill referring not only to the fissionable uranium reaction but also to thermonuclear fusion as well!]

A politician such as Churchill not needing to be a scientist himself but only be aware of the potentiality, on a friendly basis with the experts who ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE AND CONVERSANT IN SUCH MATTERS!



This is coolbert:

"it was under-powered and weakly armed when compared to its contemporaries.Most critically, it was out-performed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109E during the Battle of France."

The French Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 fighter interceptor. Found during the Battle of France [1940] to be less than adequate, deficient when compared to the German counter-part.

But that is not the end of the story.

That M.S. 406 when modified and improved upon by the Finnish Air Force [FAF], a much better warplane, used successfully by the Finns in combat with Soviet forces, IN A MANNER AS WAS ALSO THE CASE WITH THE AMERICAN BREWSTER BUFFALO! The Finnish designation for the M.S. 406 was the Mörkö-Morane!

Improvements and modifications, not that so excessive and extensive but enough to create an almost new war-bird with significant potentiality. And when used and flown by outstanding Finnish combat aviators in a way to maximize strengths while minimizing weakness, deemed more than sufficient!

Improvements and modifications to include but not totally limited to:

* New and more powerful engine.
* Improved aerodynamics.
* Improved and strengthened armaments.

"The aircraft designer Aarne Lakomaa turned the obsolete 'M-S' into a first rate fighter,"

"The first example of the modified fighter, MS-631, made its first flight on 25 January 1943, and the results were startling: the aircraft was 40 km/h (25 mph) faster than the original French version, and the service ceiling was increased from 10,000 to 12,000 m (32,800 to 39,360 ft)."

And again, when flown by determined and able Finnish combat pilots, impressive with the "kill-ratio"!

"Between November 1939 and 4 September 1944, Lv28 [FAF combat unit] scored 118 aerial victories flying the Morane M.S.406 . . . The unit lost 15 aircraft."

What is it about the Finns that allows them to excel as they do? Think modern Finland, a small nation [about 4 million persons tops] but with superior educational facilities and top-notch students, Nokia, Linux, superior and  innovative designs, etc.

Think too of the Israeli and the American F-4 Phantom. That Israeli making no less than five hundred [500] changes to the basic F-4 upon arrival.

The Finn during the Second World War [WW2] comporting themselves with honor, John Keegan rating the Finn as the BEST soldier during that conflict. Apparently the ground troops and airmen both!


Monday, November 28, 2011


This is coolbert:

1. Those French assurances to the Poles, personally from Maurice Gamelin himself, French offensive action to be taken in case of war with Germany indeed to a degree acted upon, but only in a half-hearted and lackadaisical manner, NO punch, best described as a probing action on a massive scale without follow-up, this being the Saar Offensive [1939].

"The Saar Offensive was a French operation into Saarland on the German 1st Army defence sector in the early stages of World War II. The purpose of the attack was to assist Poland, which was then under attack. However, the assault was stopped and the French forces withdrew."

Assistance provided to the Poles, fulfilling the letter BUT NOT the spirit of the promise made by Gamelin. A second-front taking the pressure off the Poles, the German unwilling and perhaps even unable to fight a two-front war, French offensive action [1939] against Germany inexplicably halted, a hasty withdrawal made for reasons unclear!

2. The Western Wall [Siegfried Line] still under construction, the German holding force INSUFFICIENT TO STOP A FRENCH OFFENSIVE IF GAMELIN HAD MOVED FORWARD WITH VIGOR!!

This has been termed the Western Betrayal of Poland!!

From the wiki entry for the Phoney War:

"Both the pre-war reports of the Polish intelligence and the post-war testimonies of German generals (most notably of Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl) reported that there was an equivalent of less than 20 divisions facing France in 1939, as compared to roughly 90 French divisions. On the other hand, German orders of battle show 33 infantry divisions, plus eleven newly raised infantry divisions, plus the equivalent of six border guard divisions, all under command of Army Group C.

"After the war, General Alfred Jodl commented that the Germans survived 1939 'only because approximately 110 French and English divisions in the West, which during the campaign on Poland were facing 25 German divisions, remained completely inactive.'"

3. That French Air Force [Armée de l'Air] in 1939 both qualitatively and quantitatively inferior to the German. That one fighter/interceptor most relied upon by the French found to be wanting and generally speaking inferior the German Me-109.

"The M.S.406 was a French Armée de l'Air fighter aircraft built by Morane-Saulnier starting in 1938. Numerically it was France's most important fighter during the opening stages of World War II."

"it was under-powered and weakly armed when compared to its contemporaries. Most critically, it was out-performed by the Messerschmitt Bf 109E [Me-109] during the Battle of France . . . when the war restarted in earnest in 1940 [Battle of France], 387 were lost in combat or on the ground . . . for 183 kills in return."


* That French Armée de l'Air did NOT exist in a vacuum. Did have considerable reinforcement from the British Royal Air Force [RAF]. That English Spitfire fighter/interceptor however not having quite the performance during the Battle of France as it did several months subsequent! At least not until the arrival of American high-octane aviation gasoline [AVGAS] boosted the performance of the Spitfire considerably.

* Please be very careful when comparing those statistics of German divisions available to Hitler opposite the French [1939]! When Jodl speaks of twenty to twenty-five divisions he means fully manned, fully trained, fully equipped divisional sized contingents organized into fully manned, fully trained units at a high degree of readiness - - combat ready - - fully capable of operations beyond corps and army level as an integrated force. Additional units of divisional size more than likely NOT combat ready. Present but NOT prepared for combat as per exacting German army standards. Such is the difficulty in making order-of-battle estimates and evaluations.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sea Mines & Railroads.

This is coolbert:

Once again, the mine as an offensive weapon, in this particular case sea-mines to be exact.

Most persons conversant with various aspects of the Second World War are aware of the strategic American submarine offensive directed against Japanese military warships and merchant shipping in those waters primarily EXTERNAL to Japanese home waters.

A very successful campaign, crippling the Japanese war effort significantly, perhaps even fatally.

Perhaps even more successful and significant than the strategic submarine offensive was the laying of sea-mines in Japanese coastal waters at the end of the war, as done by American B-29 bomber aircraft. This was Operation Starvation!

"Operation Starvation was an American naval mining operation conducted in World War II by the Army Air Force, in which vital water routes and ports of Japan were mined by air in order to disrupt enemy shipping."

An aerial offensive, the laying of sea-mines, denying to Japanese naval vessels and merchant shipping  the use of Japanese INTERNAL home waters!

"This mining proved the most efficient means of destroying Japanese shipping during World War II. In terms of damage per unit of cost, it surpassed strategic bombing and the United States submarine campaign."

"Operation Starvation sank more ship tonnage in the last six months of the war than the efforts of all other sources combined."

Japanese naval commanders ordering their naval warships and too commercial vessels to run the gauntlet of sea mines, heedless of losses, in an effort to keep supplies and war munitions flowing. MERCHANT SHIPPING AS WELL NOT ABLE TO FREELY MOVE NEEDED RICE FOOD STOCKS FROM ONE AREA OF JAPAN TO ANOTHER!! VITAL NECESSITIES NO LONGER COULD FLOW, THE CIVILIAN POPULACE ON THE VERGE OF MASS STARVATION!!

"After the war, the commander of Japan's minesweeping operations noted that he thought this mining campaign could have directly led to the defeat of Japan on its own had it begun earlier."

And from comments to the National Review Online article: "The Blunders of Statesmen".

"or to destroy Japan's rail system with conventional bombing (already ijn the planning stages) at ehg cost of starving 8 million Japanese from the resulting disruption of rice distribution."

NOT ONLY a campaign of sea-mines denying the inland waterways of Japan to Empire naval and merchant vessels, but a planned campaign already underway to some extent - - the destruction of the Japanese railroad system - - would have further exacerbated an already dire situation, mass starvation of the Japanese populace a horrible and very really consequence.

"Had the war continued past August 1945, the next target for strategic bombing was to be Japan's rail system. Because of Japan's mountainous terrain, the rail system was unusually vulnerable to attack [tunnels I would presume], which would have made it impossible to move vital commodities such as rice. [it has been] argued that this would have led to widespread famine that would have forced a surrender without the nuclear attacks, but at the cost of perhaps as many as ten million deaths by starvation."

Again, a bombing campaign against the Japanese rail system already underway to some degree:

"Also of strategic importance was the sinking by carrier aircraft on 14-15 July 1945 of eight of the twelve railway ferries that carried traffic between Hokkaido and Honshu. This immediately halved deliveries of coal to Honshu."

Surrender today or famine tomorrow! Flippant yes, realistic also! No one ever said war was easy, did they!



This is coolbert:

"We in Poland do not know the conception of peace at any price. There is only one thing in the life of men, nations, and States which is above price - and that is honour." - - J. Beck 

Here with some insight into the mental attitude of General Gamelin in those months prior to the start of World War Two [WW2]. Gamelin the overall commander of French forces, making assurances to the Poles that in case of war French military action of an OFFENSIVE nature would be initiated against Germany - - WITHOUT FAIL!

Offensive action that did not occur, Gamelin seemingly having given assurances that he thought were subject to INTERPRETATION! Interpretation to the detriment of the Poles so it seems.

The fate of Poland in 1939 a done deal, that French army possessing more men, more and better tanks, an air force about equal in size and capability to the German Luftwaffe NOT going on the offensive, NOT taking the war to the German as promised by Gamelin!

"Some days [5 May 1939] after the Beck's speech General Tadeusz Kasprzycki, Poland's war minister, went to Paris and during the talks with General Maurice Gamelin, designated for the French supreme commander in case of war, and tried to obtain a commitment that the French army would engage against Germany immediately after an expected attack. It was not until after the war, that Gamelin revealed his anti-Polish feelings. For short, he regarded the Poles for warmongers, who tried to drag France into unpopular war. He promised Kasprzycki, that the French air forces would undertake an action against Germany immediately, whereas land forces would undertake limited offensive operations on the third day of mobilization and would unfold them with bulk forces on the fifteenth day of mobilization. Seven years later he admitted: 'I had accepted a formula, which always could be logically interpreted.'" - - Maurice Gamelin.

Gamelin of which not a whole lot is written in the histories of the Second World War [WW2]. NOT even really a controversial figure, a non-entity really. Gamelin was of course beholden to and at the service of the French politicians, Maurice receiving his orders, instructions, and policy directives from the duly elected political apparatus.

And even when the German offensive [1940] in the Ardennes became apparent, Gamelin hesitant, indecisive and lacking almost totally in any degree of vigor and initiative as is needed by the successful senior commander.

Gamelin did not collaborate with Vichy in the those subsequent to the French surrender [1940] and is deservedly now an obscurity whose name is mentioned hardly even in passing.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Combat Box.

This is coolbert:

Thanks to the wiki we have some info on the "combat box" as used by the B-17 bomber in missions over Germany during World War Two [WW2].

"The Combat box was a tactical formation used by heavy (strategic) bombers of the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. The combat box was also referred to as a "staggered formation". Its defensive purpose was in massing the firepower of the bombers' guns, while offensively it concentrated the release of bombs on a target."

The box having both an offensive and defensive nature:

1. Offensive - -  "concentrated the release of bombs on a target"
2. Defensive - -  "massing the firepower of the bombers' guns"

The B-17 referred to as the Flying Fortress from all the defensive armaments, the three turrets of dual fifty [.50] caliber machine guns and the two single fifty caliber waist gunners. Additional guns added with that chine turret belatedly.

Strategic bombers were felt capable of more than adequate defense, organic firepower [all those fifty caliber machine guns when  organized in a combat box] deemed sufficient!

"massed bombers could attack and destroy targets in daylight without fighter escort, relying on interlocking fire from their defensive machine guns, almost exclusively the Browning M2 .50-calibre gun"

"The practice of referring to a concentrated formation as a 'box' was the result of diagramming formations in plan, profile and front elevation views, positioning each individual bomber in an invisible boxlike area."

And again thanks to the wiki here is an image of the box:

"Combat box of a 12-plane B-17 squadron developed in October 1943. 
Three such boxes completed a 36-plane group box."

Each box consisting of a:

1. Lead Element
2. High Element
3. Low Element
4. Low Low Element

That image of the combat box a basic formation, variations on the same theme occurring from time to time. The basic still worthy of note.

One picture worth ten thousand words? That box also mitigating against mid-air collision? Massed aircraft in the same formation but having room for maneuver in emergency situations without the threat of running into another friendly?



This is coolbert:

Once more from that interview with the famous German combat aviator of the Second World War [WW2], Johannes Steinhoff:

WWII: From your wide experience, which aircraft was the most difficult to attack?

Steinhoff: "The B-17 Flying Fortress without a doubt. They flew in defensive boxes, a heavy defensive formation, and with all of their heavy .50-caliber machine guns they were dangerous to approach . . . Then you also had the long-range fighter escorts, which made life difficult, until we flew the Me-262 jets armed with four 30mm cannon and 24 R4M rockets. Then we could blast huge holes in even the tightest formation from outside the range of their defensive fire, inflict damage, then come around and finish off the cripples with cannon fire."

That R4M rocket Johannes mentions is an air-to-air rocket, an unguided missile the likes of which will probably NEVER AGAIN be used for aerial combat, the "dogfight" or otherwise.

The R4M specifically developed as a counter to the combat box formations of the B-17 bomber. Very difficult and dangerous to approach, the B-17 being also a very robust warplane, able to sustain considerable damage and remain airborne and airworthy. Conventional 20 mm cannon as carried by German fighter interceptors found to be less than adequate and NOT entirely suitable for engaging a B-17!

My intuition being correct, weapons of either considerable more destructive power [30 mm] cannon or additional  lesser type cannon [20 mm] with ammo as added to existing German combat fighter planes augmenting existing firepower BUT at the same time compromising at least to some degree combat effectiveness and aerodynamics!

"The R4M . . . rocket, nicknamed the Hurricane . . . due to its distinctive smoke trail when fired, was an anti-aircraft rocket. It was developed by the German Luftwaffe during World War II."

The R4M fired as a salvo, OUTSIDE the defensive range of the B-17 combat box, proved to be an effective weapon, albeit almost field-expedient in nature.

"A single hit was all that was needed to bring down a four engined bomber."

One hit all that was needed in some circumstances to bring down one B-17, cripples also a result, damaged American aircraft having to fall out of formation, not comprising part of the combat box, more or less defenseless, to be taken on and shot down by Luftwaffe pilots at their leisure.

Again, these air-to-air rockets probably a weapon NEVER to be seen again in aerial combat, but at the time an expedient means very deadly!!


Friday, November 25, 2011


This is coolbert:

"an unabashed, revisionist reexamination of the entire war"

Thanks to the National Review Online [NRO] we have extracts from an article entitled:

"The Blunders of Statesmen"

"EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is adapted from Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath"

HERBERT HOOVER - - 31st President of the United States completing a self-described magnum opus work "a comprehensive, critical history of American diplomacy between the late 1930s and 1945, with emphasis on the misguided policies of President Roosevelt."

[not merely limited to the policies of President Roosevelt alone!]

Hoover having begun his magnum opus in 1944, and only finishing just prior to his death in 1964. The book never published and after almost seventy years the original version now becoming available to the public!

Those mistakes made by the political leadership of what became the western allied powers prior to, during, and in the aftermath of the Second World War [WW2]. Statesmen operating at the highest level of international diplomacy and in the opinion of Hoover much to the disadvantage of the United States as led by President Roosevelt at the time!

Eighteen mistakes, blunders, serious errors of judgment of magnitude as listed by Hoover and made available for your perusal, in the "nutshell"!

1. "The first time (of importance) that Roosevelt became lost in international statesmanship was his destruction of the 1933 World Economic Conference."

2. "Roosevelt’s second lost statesmanship was in recognition of Communist Russia in November 1933."

3. "MUNICH . . . by Munich Hitler opened the gates for consummation of his repeated determinations to invade Russia. Having gone that far in providing for the inevitable war between the dictators"

4. "The fourth abysmal loss of statesmanship was when the British and French guaranteed the independence of Poland and Rumania at the end of March 1939"

5. "The fifth major blunder in statesmanship was when Roosevelt, in the winter of 1941, threw the United States into undeclared war with Germany and Japan"

6. "In the weeks before lend-lease and its war powers were forced upon the American people, Roosevelt knew definitely of Hitler’s determination to attack Russia, and he informed the Russians of it."

7. "Indeed the greatest loss of statesmanship in all American history was the tacit American alliance and support of Communist Russia when Hitler made his attack in June 1941."

8. "The eighth gigantic error in Roosevelt's statesmanship was the total economic sanctions on Japan . . . at the end of July, 1941"

9. "The ninth time statesmanship was wholly lost was Roosevelt’s contemptuous refusal of Prime Minister [Fumimaro] Konoye’s proposals for peace in the Pacific of September, 1941"

10. "The tenth loss of statesmanship was the refusal to accept the proposals that his ambassador informed him came from the emperor of Japan for a three months’ stand-still agreement in November 1941."

11. "The eleventh gigantic error in Roosevelt’s statesmanship was demand for 'unconditional surrender' at Casablanca in January 1943"

12. "The twelfth error of lost statesmanship was the sacrifice of free nations (the Baltic States, East Poland, East Finland, Bessarabia, and Bukovina) at the foreign-ministers meeting at Moscow in October 1943."

13. "The thirteenth and possibly one of the greatest of all confused wanderings in Roosevelt’s and Churchill’s statesmanship was at Teheran in December 1943. Here was confirmation of the acquiescence at the Moscow Conference of the annexations; here was the acceptance of Stalin’s doctrine of a periphery 'of friendly border states' — the puppet Communist governments over seven nations"

14. "The fourteenth fatal loss of statesmanship was by Roosevelt and Churchill at Yalta in February 1945. Not only were all Stalin’s encroachments on the independence of a dozen nations ratified, but with a long series of secret agreements other malign forces were set in motion"

15. "The fifteenth time of lost statesmanship was in respect to Japan in May, June, and July 1945. Truman refused to take notice of the Japanese white flags."

16. "The sixteenth time of blind statesmanship was Truman at Potsdam . . . the Communists had their way at every consequential point. The whole Potsdam agreement was a series of ratifications and amplifications of the previous surrenders to Stalin."

17. "The seventeenth wandering of American statesmanship was Truman’s immoral order to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese"

18. "The eighteenth series of steps in loss of statesmanship was by Truman, Marshall, and Acheson in respect to China."

Agree or disagree or unable to make up your mind is left to the devoted reader to the blog without further comment on my part.

Keep in mind too that since 1964 a considerable amount of highly classified archival material and such has been made available THE CONTENTS OF WHICH AND IMPORT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO HOOVER!

Hoover was indeed at the time of his election felt to be the one man most prepared and suited to be President of the United States. Served as President during the time of the Great Depression [1929] and is widely reviled in many circles for having done "nothing" to ameliorate suffering of the common man at the time. Is not remembered for having very ably organized and led relief and reconstruction efforts in the aftermath of both the First and Second World War.

Hoover was again indeed a controversial leader during his lifetime and now so many years after his death will be once again the subject of controversy? We shall see!



This is coolbert:

From that previous Chicago Tribune article we have a map inset showing:

"East Asian and Pacific countries with at least 50 active-duty U.S.military personnel (As of June 30)"

Those numbers of U.S. military personnel on foreign territory are:

* Japan - - 40,378.
* South Korea - - 24,655.
* Philippines - - 182.
* China  - - 82. (includes Hong Kong)
* Thailand - - 162.
* Singapore - - 157.
* Australia - - 178.
* Guam - - 4,337. (U.S. territory)
* At sea - - 12,856.

Perhaps the American military presence and now this new contingent of U.S. Marines to be permanently stationed in Darwin, Australia, is not so much meant to anger China as assuage the smaller nations of the area, SOME of which the U.S. is treaty obligated to?



This is coolbert:

America moves south!

From a previous blog entry:

"What on Earth are we doing adding a military base in Australia to (anger) China?"


"Obama says E. Asia now military focus"

"Exiting 2 wars and looking toward China, U.S. vows Marines in Australia, trade deals."

"CANBERRA, Australia - - President Barack Obama on Thursday sought to reassure Asian allies anxious about china's growing political and economic clout, announcing a strategic shift to reassert America's role in the Pacific as it pulls back from the post-Sept. 11 war."

. . . .

"Obama's decision comes after several decades in which the U.S. has closed bases and withdrawn from the region."

In particular, a contingent of 2,500 U.S. Marines will now have a permanent base in Australia. Such a large-scale deployment to the southern continent by the American military has not occurred at least since the end of the Second World War [WW2], almost seventy years ago now!!

"They [deployments] include stationing up to 2,500 Marines at an Australian military base . . . the first 200 to 250 Marines will arrive next year."

"Deploying the contingent in Darwin, on Australia's remote northern coast, gives U.S. planners a way to quickly project power into the crucial sea lanes of the South China Sea and the choke-hold straits near Singapore"

Singapore, Malacca, South China Sea, Spratly Islands, etc. As the demand for oil increases exponentially and the conflicting claims of nations in the area continues without resolution, there is the continued possibility of rising tensions, confrontation, show-down, conflict, WAR!!

The U.S. and others see the American presence in the immediate area as a stabilizing forces, preventing escalating events when they might occur from getting out of hand? A mere presence and a will-to-use creates deterrence! Better a dimes worth of prevention now rather than a dollar worth of cure later? So to speak!

Darwin is a small place and much closer to Asia than to the rest Australia. That presence of the U.S. Marines, even in relatively small numbers, represents a marked change the consequences of which for better or worse at this point cannot be foreseen. I hope this all goes well.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


This is coolbert:

Here with a follow up to the previous bio-warfare blog entry.

Again, the topic that small-pox vaccine, to be given to the infected AFTER they have shown symptoms of smallpox. Persons NOT prior inoculated but with this particular anti-dote standing a much better chance of survival. So is the thought. Normally about one-third [1/3] of those contracting smallpox perishing!

Thanks in this case to the Chicago Daily Observer.

"Shocker! Obama Donor Received $443 Million No-Bid Contract to Provide Sketchy Smallpox Vaccine"

Please note carefully the image that accompanies this particular Daily Observer article. An image that only reinforces a terrible lie and calumny directed against the American nation as a whole.

"calumny - -  noun 1. a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone or something"

An image that purports to show British military officers presenting smallpox infected blankets to American Indians. The historical truth as generally presented being that such blankets infected with smallpox were used as a means of bio-warfare during colonial times, contaminating entire American Indian tribes, a genocidal extermination done with almost diabolical and malevolently evil fervor.

A calumny dispelled by the observations of the radio talk show host Michael Medved. From the web site of Michael:

“America Was Founded on Genocide Against Native Americans” - - Michael Medved

"The 10 Big Lies About America"

“Smallpox Blankets” and Biological Warfare"

"But didn’t British authorities, and later the Americans, show criminal intent when they deliberately infected innocent tribes with the deadliest of eighteenth-century diseases?  Whenever callers to my radio show begin talking about the premeditated mass slaughter of Native Americans, it’s only a matter of seconds before they invoke the diabolical history of 'smallpox blankets' — the bedding and clothing cunningly provided to unsuspecting tribes in order to infect them with the variola major virus…"
. . . .

"The horribly misleading charges about germ warfare have achieved a monstrous life of their own, leaving many (if not most) Americans with the impression that diseases that decimated native populations resulted from a conscious, long-standing policy of the U.S. government.  No such master plan for mass murder ever existed, of course, so that all efforts to scour abundant bureaucratic records have produced only a few nasty postscripts in letters from British — not American — officials in 1763, and the largely exculpatory evidence concerning an epidemic in Mandan territory in 1837…"

It seems to be true that in some letters as addressed to his subordinates, General Sir Jeffrey Amherst, commander of English troops in British North America during the French and Indian War, DID PROPOSE AND DID THINK ABOUT SUCH A BIO-WARFARE CAMPAIGN! Thought about it and proposed it but a campaign of eradication using smallpox NEVER OCCURRED.

Disease did decimate the American Indian population of North America on a massive scale, this is clear and undeniable. From a variety of illnesses to which they had no immunity at all, American Indians died in just catastrophic numbers. Smallpox, influenza, malaria, mumps, measles, the common cold in all manifestations, etc. As best as can be determined, however, WAS NOT part of a conscious plan or military policy.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011


This is coolbert:

Well, this just has to make you wonder!!

From a note to the wiki entry for the P-39 Airacobra:


"The P-39 has the highest total number of individual victories attributed to any U.S. fighter type, not kill ratio; Finnish modified Brewster Buffaloes had the highest kill ratio."

Kill ratio [loss exchange ratio] best defined as:

"Loss exchange ratio is a figure of merit in attrition warfare. It is usually relevant to a condition or state of war where one side depletes the resources of another through attrition. Specifically and most often used as a comparator in aerial combat, where it is known as a 'kill-ratio.'"

The Brewster Buffalo. American fighter aircraft of the years just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War [WW2] and FOUND TO BE INADEQUATE BY AMERICAN COMBAT AVIATORS, AN INFERIOR WARPLANE NOT LIKED!!

As noted in a much prior Military Thoughts blog entry of mine from way back when now!

"[Buffaloes] when used by American/British/Dutch aviators, fared poorly in combat, BUT, when used by Finnish pilots against Soviet air forces, fared very well."

A fighter aircraft that when significantly modified and used by the Finnish Air Force [FAF] during WW2 was MORE THAN ADEQUATE ESPECIALLY WHEN FLOWN BY SUPERIOR AND MOTIVATED PERSONNEL!

I am not exactly sure what this all suggests! American fighter jocks in reality are a pampered elite who are found to be wanting when compared to their foreign counterparts? I hate to think that it is so.

Indeed, so well was the Buffalo flown by the FAF pilots that unheard of and unbelievable "kill ratios" were the norm, the Finn demonstrating extreme military prowess both on the ground and in the air during WW2!

"Kill ratios" of 135:2 are bandied about? For every two FAF Buffalo shot down one hundred thirty five [135] Soviet aircraft bit the dust?

And thanks to the WarBirdForum we have some answers to all this:

"The quality of Soviet planes in 1941, when the best kill ratio 67.5 - 1) was achieved, was lower than Brewsters, most common types being used were SB-2, DB-3, I-16 and I-153."

I have my doubts this alone explains everything. John Keegan rates the Finnish soldier the BEST of all the combatants during the Second World War! Again, both on the ground and in the skies this was so? Can it be denied?



This is coolbert:

From the Chicago Tribune as seen in the op-ed section yesterday - - "WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING".

In entirety two entries with a military dimension:

"Think of the U.S. military as the The Other 1 Percent - - some 2.4 million troops have fought in and around Afghanistan and Iraq since 9/11, exactly 1 percent of the 240 million American over 18 . . ."

"Being an army apart isn't a problem for the Pentagon; it has become part of the sales pitch. The U.S. military boasts of the ways in which it is better than society as a whole. And by many measures, it is right. If you remove those who are unlikely to serve because they are too fat or too criminal or are in college, only 15 percent of American ages 17 to 24 are eligible to sign up. 'Today's military is more educated and has a higher aptitude than the general population,' a Pentagon recruiting reports notes." - - Mark Thompson, Time.

"(Defense Secretary Leon) Panetta keeps talking about a much reduced military presence in the world as if that were a bad thing. But why should the U.S. with no serious state-enemy in the world like the U.S.S.R., be spending almost as much on 'defense' as we did in the Cold War? What on Earth are we doing adding a military base in Australia to (anger) China? Why shouldn't china have a sphere of influence in the Pacific? No-where has Obama challenged these neo-imperial assumptions, buttressed by what Eisenhower warned us about. We'd still have a permanent presence in Iraq if the Pentagon had its way. And why on earth do we have so many troops in Europe? It's absurd. Absurd." - - Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast.


* It has been nearly forty years now since the U.S. adopted the policy of an all-volunteer military. And this concept has been an unqualified success? I would think most experts would agree that this all-volunteer military has worked well, perhaps exceedingly well, even with the stress and strain of wars in Iraq and Afghan simultaneously all the while maintaining treaty obligations to allies!

* My own perception is that in the years to come, and not too far off now, budget constraints will mandate further defense reductions, perhaps even drastic reductions, unpalatable to some as that may be. A consequence of federal deficits run amok and an unwillingness to face reality!

* "And why on earth do we have so many troops in Europe?" Well, why is this so? The American military maintains a NATO presence of 100,000 troops [?] or so in Europe! To defend against what exactly? This commitment guards against?


Monday, November 21, 2011


This is coolbert:

From the wiki entry for the American P-39 Airacobra we have this assertion:

"The P-39 was used with great success by the Soviet Air Force, who scored the highest number of individual kills attributed to any U.S. fighter type."

That means more "kills" than the:

* P-38 Lightning.
* P-40 Tomahawk.
* P-47 Thunderbolt.
* P-51 Mustang.

With regard to the P-51, about 8,000 "kills" total, half from aerial combat, half from enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground.

"The highest number of individual kills" surprises?

The P-39 used extensively during the war primarily by the Soviet Air Force, prodigious numbers of the aircraft [half of the U.S. manufacture total] send by Lend-Lease by a variety of routes.

"4,773 . . . were sent to the Soviet Union through the Lend-Lease program"

"Flying the Lend-Lease equipment, for which every bullet was imported from the United States. the Aircobras followed one of two long paths from upstate New York to the 9th GFD  [9th Guards Fighter Division] in southern Russia. One, through Canada, along the Alcan Highway and then across Siberia. Or two, by ship to Iran, and over the Caucasus."

One route the Persian Corridor by ship, disassembled and then reassembled upon arriving at destination. The second route an aerial flight from the lower forty-eight states to Alaska, across the Bering Sea to the Soviet Union. [further shipment to the front after being dismantled and sent hence via the Trans-Siberian railway?]

The P-39 NOT favored by U.S. combat aviators. The P-39 not having superior performance ABOVE 8,000 feet altitude [2,500 meters]. More than adequate performance below that altitude and more than adequate for the type of aerial combat as encountered by Soviet fighter pilots on the Eastern Front of World War Two [WW2]!

"The tactical environment of the Eastern Front did not demand the extreme high-altitude operations RAF and Army Air Force did. The comparatively low-speed, low-altitude nature of most air combat on the Russian Front suited the P-39's strengths: sturdy construction, reliable radio gear, and adequate firepower."

In Russian the Airacobra is remembered with fondness? A recent movie from 2006 seems to suggest so? This is "Transit"!

"Transit is a story set on a secret military transit base in the remote Chukotka region, where planes from allied forces came in from Alaska" Those planes the P-39!

The Soviet combat fighter pilot during WW2 flying the P-39 know how to maximize the strengths of the Airacobra while minimizing the deficiencies! Do what you do best rather than what you cannot!


Sunday, November 20, 2011


This is coolbert:

Here with some bio-warfare items in the  news recently.

Thanks to USA Today and the LA Times.

1. "Army curbs prescriptions of anti-malaria drug"

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Almost four decades after inventing a potent anti-malarial drug, the U.S. Army has pushed it to the back of its medicine cabinet.

For four decades the U.S. Army developed and patented anti-malaria drug used extensively up-to-now being quietly and with a degree of slowness being removed from usage. The drug effective BUT THOUGHT TO ALSO PRODUCE AS A SIDE-EFFECT DANGEROUS PSYCHOTIC TENDENCIES!! It need not be said that a soldier armed with an assault rifle and four hand grenades suffering from psychotic tendencies is a big danger to everyone!

"it works in areas where mosquitoes developed resistance to an earlier treatment, chloroquine, and requires just one tablet a week, not the daily dose needed with other medications."

"Some users complained the pill caused varying degrees of psychiatric symptoms ranging from nightmares, depression and paranoia to auditory hallucinations and complete mental breakdowns"

Personal note: Stationed in Korea over forty years now, during the summer we had to take a daily anti-malaria drug once per day. This may have been chloroquine a treatment as a prophylactic - -  SUCH TREATMENTS IN THE MILITARY LEGALLY OBLIGATORY!!

Malaria is the greatest single scourge on the planet without question? About half of the human population during the last 200,000 years [that is about 100 billion persons] have died directly from malaria or the complications thereof!!

2. "Cost, need questioned in $433-million smallpox drug deal"

"A company controlled by a longtime political donor [Mr. Ronald O. Perelman a long-time massive donor to the Democratic party, USA] gets a no-bid contract to supply an experimental remedy for a threat that may not exist."

"Siga's drug, an antiviral pill called ST-246, would be used to treat people who were diagnosed with smallpox too late for the vaccine to help. Yet the new drug cannot be tested for effectiveness in people because of ethical constraints — and no one knows whether animal testing could prove it would work in humans."

This ST-246 is not the normal smallpox vaccine or an improved variant thereof, but is administered to those patients that have become infected and are in risk of death, already showing symptoms of the disease.

One-third [1/3 of those persons historically contracting smallpox perishing, the illness also until relatively recently another terrible scourge upon mankind.

Recall too the brouhaha that was the case in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The thought was that the entire American population of 300 million persons should be immediately be vaccinated against smallpox, even those medical professionals knowing that such a massive vaccination program would result in the deaths of about 300 people. About one in 1 million souls dying merely from the vaccine itself, a heart attack the cause of death!

The threat of bio-attack by terrorist entities is now felt to be nil, or so negligible and diminished that measures such as inoculating the entire American populace is not necessary? I cannot say.


Saturday, November 19, 2011


This is coolbert:

Again from a previous blog entry:

"The German fighters found that when attacking from the front, where fewer defensive guns were pointed, it only took four or five hits to bring a bomber down."

"The USAAF belatedly added a chin-turret to the B-17 to counter the head-on attack when it was realized that the bombers were vulnerable from this sort of encounter."

The B-17 bomber was susceptible to attack from the front. This was unanticipated? That nose of the warplane was normally where the navigator and bombardier sat, and WAS equipped with two front firing fifty [.50] single barrel machine guns [these were called chin guns?]. During an attack the duties of those two crewmen [navigator & bombardier] distracted them from dedicated defensive duties, and head-on attack by the most dedicated, brave, and skilled German combat aviators was then possible. The B-17 LESS well defended at the most critical moments?

A chin-turret belatedly fitted to the nose of the B-17, forward firing dual barrel fifty [.50] caliber machine guns being the solution to the danger from frontal attack.

Those guns in the turret operated remotely either by the bombardier or navigator, I do not think an additional crewman was needed or added to the original TO& E of the warplane. NO ROOM for another man either.

My intuition too tells me that that four or five hits FROM THE FRONT to bring a B-17 down were more from deaths and injury to the pilot and co-pilot rather than damage to the plane!

See here a YouTube video of a B-17 landing as seen from the nose section of a modern flying aircraft. The controls for the chin turret can be seen in the upper right, and what appears to the the cross-hairs of a "chin gun" in the upper left. Center is the Norden bomb sight.



This is coolbert:

Here with additional images of the Second World War:

As taken from the continuing series in the Atlantic Magazine. Thanks to the Atlantic in all cases and the tip from Ken!

In Focus with Alan Taylor

"World War II: After the War"

"(This entry is Part 20 of a weekly 20-part retrospective of World War II) [45 photos]"

Photographs, black and white predominantly, taken in the AFTERMATH of the war. NOT necessarily iconic images but each and everyone well worth viewing.

In general, when discussing war, think of what led up to the war, the fighting of the war itself, and the aftermath of the war, what was the outcome and what transpired at the conclusion of hostilities.

Three images in specific I have chosen from the collection for comment.

Sudeten Germans forced to flee Czechoslovakia and return to the German homeland. EXILED - - told to go and now! About 15 million such persons, ethnic Germans, told to leave locales all over eastern Europe and not return in the aftermath of WW2. About 1 to 2 million persons estimated to have perished along the way, AFTER THE WAR WAS OVER!

Chinese Communist troops of the Eighth Route Army. Rated by Evans Carlson prior to WW2 as the BEST military unit in the world for performing it's mission. This entire army defecting en masse to the communist side, men, officers and gear intact. NOTE the standard uniform, battle kit and weaponry. The communist military force under Mao to a large extent was not a rag-tag guerrilla motley crew!!

American housewife in 1945 with newly purchased television set. It can safely be said that there existed an America prior to WW2 and an America in the aftermath of WW2 and the two societies were radically different. The latter enjoying a general level of prosperity, security, ease and comfort that is not to be seen perhaps ever again! In 1939 only one in four [1/4] of the American adult male population could own an automobile and in contrast by 1947 nearly 100 % of American adult males were able to own an automobile. A marked change to the consumer society that has not abated since!

For some reason the black and white photography of the era has a certain appeal to me. Those photographers of the era were not only excellent technicians but had an artistic talent and an ability to tell a story, all rolled into one.


Friday, November 18, 2011


This is coolbert:

From a prior blog entry:

"the B-17 was also a very difficult plane to shoot-down. The plane had a lot of staying power and was able to sustain a lot of damage - - remain in the air and often return to base crew intact!!"

The B-17 WAS a very robust aircraft. Could sustain a lot of damage in combat and continue to function way beyond what was expected. Skilled pilots could maneuver and control the plane, return to base NOT unscathed, but an aircraft still controllable! The plane, upon inspection, however, found to have been damaged to such an extent that WAS NOT LONGER FLY-ABLE AND HAD TO BE SCRAPPED!!

Here thanks to Dave and his web site we have some images as gleaned and presented for your perusal and enjoyment:

"Battle-damaged B-17s"

This particular image shows a B-17 that suffered severe battle damage and yet was able to return to base. The entire nose section is shot away, that area of the plane ordinarily where the bombardier and navigator had their positions. You can only imagine what must have been the response of the surviving crew members when they saw what had occurred during that mission!!



This is coolbert:

Thanks to the DEBKAfile newsletter from only today we have many items which seem to indicate that events as occurring in the Middle East region are reaching a fever pitch, the concern with the Iranian nuclear threat now at a "boiling point" in a manner that is disturbing. You judge yourself from the headlines.

1. The BIG BANG!

"Iran loses its top missile expert in Guards base explosions"

"12 Nov. Brig. Hassan Moghadam, head of Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) missile development and sections of its nuclear program, was killed in the consecutive explosions that hit two IRGC bases 46 kilometers west of Tehran Saturday, Nov. 12 . . . Our [DEBKA] sources report increasing evidence that the first explosion was caused by a failed effort to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile. It was powerful enough to shatter windows and damage shops in Tehran.

2. Murder most terrible!

"Senior Iranian's son murdered by same method as Hamas' Mabhouh"

"13 Nov. Shortly after explosions rocked Iranian Revolutionary Guards bases near Tehran Saturday, Nov. 12, Ahmed Rezaie, 31, was found dead in Dubai's Gloria Hotel. He was the the son of a high-ranking Iranian official, Mohsen Rezaie, secretary of the powerful Expediency Council and former IRGC commander. The cause of his death strongly resembled the method by which Hamas' contact man with Tehran, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, was slain on Jan. 19, 2010 in another Dubai hotelinjected with a muscle relaxant and smothered with a pillow."

3. Barak speaks - - you should listen.

"Barak: Iran is testing uranium- and plutonium-based bombs – not tactical nuclear arms"

"17 Nov. Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose Wednesday, Nov. 16 that none of the experiments Iran was conducting was based on a neutron source. "It's always simultaneous explosions on heavy metals and certain other activities which cannot be explained," he said. DEBKA's military sources note his stress on the lack of evidence that Iran was trying to develop tactical neutron bombs. Tehran, he said, was experimenting with uranium- and plutonium- based explosives, meaning large nuclear bombs rather than small, tactical warheads."

With regard to item # 3 I first thought that what was being referred to was the "dirty bomb", a  missile warhead conventional in nature but showering the adversary when exploding with nuclear radioactive debris and NOT detonating as an atomic explosive, Hiroshima style. I am wrong?

The noted blogger Spengler describes DEBKA as being unreliable under all circumstances. I remain unconvinced this is totally true! Again, as with all things DEBKA you must judge for yourself and please do so!


Thursday, November 17, 2011


This is coolbert:

Read this amazing stuff.

First from an interview with the great German aviator of World War Two [WW2] fame, Johannes Steinhoff:


WWII: "From your wide experience, which aircraft was the most difficult to attack?"

Steinhoff: "The B-17 Flying Fortress without a doubt. They flew in defensive boxes, a heavy defensive formation, and with all of their heavy .50-caliber machine guns they were dangerous to approach. We finally adopted the head-on attack . . . but only a few experts could do this successfully, and it took nerves of steel."

And now from the wiki entry for the B-17:

"After examining wrecked B-17s and B-24s, Luftwaffe officers discovered that on average it took around 20 hits with 20 mm (0.79 in) shells fired from the rear to bring them down. Pilots of average ability hit the bombers with only about two percent of the rounds they fired, so to obtain 20 hits, the average pilot had to fire one thousand 20 mm (0.79 in) rounds at a bomber. Early versions of the Fw 190, one of the best German interceptor fighters, were equipped with two 20 mm (0.79 in) MG FF cannons, which carried only 500 rounds, and later with the better Mauser MG 151/20 cannons, which had a longer effective range than the MG FF weapon. The German fighters found that when attacking from the front, where fewer defensive guns were pointed, it only took four or five hits to bring a bomber down. To address the Fw 190's shortcomings, the number of cannons fitted was doubled to four with a corresponding increase in the amount of ammunition carried"


* It was not so much that the Luftwaffe pilots were inept as it was more that the B-17 was also a very difficult plane to shoot-down. The plane had a lot of staying power and was able to sustain a lot of damage - - remain in the air and often return to base crew intact!!

* Head-on attack did produce good results but as Johannes states was for experts ONLY and then ONLY those with strong nerves. The USAAF belatedly added a chin-turret to the B-17 to counter the head-on attack when it was realized that the bombers were vulnerable from this sort of encounter.

* Doubling the number of 20 mm cannon on the Fw-190 and incorporating additional ammo only meant that the performance advantage of the super-fast interceptor to a degree was compromised? Perhaps not!

* Those figures of obtaining hits from only 2 % of the rounds fire should not surprise? In modern ground warfare, anti-tank guided-missile gunners who achieve a 95 % accuracy rate in training are only able to hit the target 20 % of the time in real live combat!! When the adrenaline is flowing, your hands are shaking, and you know someone is trying to kill you, it becomes complicated very fast!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Convoy VII.

This is coolbert:

Arctic convoys - - miscellany.


1. Those sailor in the water either their ship sunk awaiting rescue or already demised [floaters] subjected to attack by the Greenland shark? Normally a shark only living the deepest depths [600 meters or greater] but coming to the surface to scavenge and take advantage of a situation, a food source normally not obtainable. Greenland sharks known to attack warm blooded prey [seals most of the time, humans during the time of the convoys]. Those in the water at the risk drowning, freezing to death, OR BEING EATEN!

2. NAGS detachments [Naval Armed Guard Service] attached to American merchant marine vessels authorized if and when the necessity required, according to their own discretion, to break open a cargo and use what ever war munitions or armaments found to be present and suitable for defense.

3. Soviet light-bomber/heavy fighter Petlyakov Pe-3bis aircraft almost as an afterthought configured for the air defense mission, able to provide air cover for the convoys when in the vicinity and range of Soviet northern airfields and ports.

4. PQ is properly designated and notated as PQ. [Papa Quebec period]. PQ.13, PQ.17, etc. PQ outward bound, QP return.

5. From December 1942 until the end of the war the Arctic convoys referred to as JW [outward bound] and RA [return].

6. There is a certain appeal to naval warfare of the arctic convoy variety period? A clean fight, armed military men against other armed military men, civilians not in the line of fire or involved, damage to civilian property nil to negligible, etc. NO or minimal atrocity, NO shirking your duty, NO distinction between combatant soldier and rear-echelon support troops, etc. Duty of this sort regardless of hazard has a certain attraction for a great many?


Convoys VI.

This is coolbert:

Arctic convoys - - cargo!

It cannot be said of the western allied powers they were stingy in their shipments of war munitions to the Soviets!

For merely the ill-fated PQ.17 convoy ALONE we have an idea of what quantities and types of armaments were sent via the arctic route, albeit a convoy of ships that for the most part did not complete the voyage, more than half sunk!

From the David Irving book: "The Destruction of PQ.17":

"What a cargo for the Russians! What a prize for the enemy! Seven hundred million dollars’ worth of armaments – 297 aircraft, 594 tanks, 4,246 lorries and gun carriers, and over 156,000 tons of general cargo besides – enough to equip an army of fifty thousand men if it ever arrived in Russian ports."

Considering that there were: "42 convoys totalling 813 ships" it would seem reasonable to assume that enough war munitions were shipped during the entire length of the war THROUGH THE ARCTIC ALONE TO EQUIP A SOVIET ARMY OF TWO MILLION MEN!!

Vital war munitions from this one route alone! Recall that two other routes [Persian Corridor and trans-Pacific] also existed and were in simultaneous use throughout the duration of the war.

Many of those merchant vessels also carrying very hazardous cargo, flammable or highly explosive. War munitions not merely gear but "stuff" that can go "bang" in a big way!

American merchant ships those crews paid: "extravagantly paid ($500 a month plus danger-money)" [for the time that was considerable money for a skilled or semi-skilled or even unskilled worker!]! And every penny earned!


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Convoy V.

This is coolbert:

Arctic convoys. Gauntlet!

Those allied convoys [PQ.17 the archetype in this particular instance] sailing that route from Icelandic and British ports to Murmansk and Archangel and return under continuous, remorseless, ceaseless and relentless German attack - - a gauntlet consisting of:

1. German U-boats forming a wolf pack [ Ice Devil pack]. Nine boats on station at the sailing of PQ.17, two additional boats " later attached to the for the attack".

* U-88 (Bohmann); * U-251 (Timm); * U-255 (Reche); * U-334 (Siemon); * U-355 (La Baume); * U-376 (Marks); U-408 (von Hymmen); * U-456 (Teichert); * U-457 (Brandenburg). * U-657 (Göllnitz) and * U-703 (Bielfeld).

Nine of those boats actually tallying a "kill" during the attack on PQ.17.

2. German Navy surface vessels, that combination of threat from capital ships in combination with flotillas of destroyers. A naval surface threat as posed to PQ.17 to include:

* Tirpitz. Battleship.
* Hipper. Heavy cruiser.
* "the Fifth and Sixth Destroyer Flotillas"
* Lützow [“pocket-battleship”]
* Scheer  [“pocket-battleship”]
* "the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla"

3. German Air Force [Luftwaffe]. A strike force, that proper tactically tailored combination of horizontal bombers, dive bombers, torpedo bombers augmented by a large contingent of reconnaissance aircraft. This was designated by the German as the Fifth Air Force.

"By the time PQ.17 finally sailed, toward the end of June, the German Air Force had amassed a mighty attacking force of aircraft in the vicinity of North Cape under the commanding general of the Fifth Air Force, Colonel-General Stumpff." An air armada to include:

* "103 twin-engined Junkers 88 bombers"
* "fifteen Heinkel 115 torpedo-bombers on floats"
* "thirty Junkers 87 dive bombers [Stuka]"
* "seventy-four reconnaissance aircraft, including:
    [four-engined Focke-Wulf 200– the “Condor” – the Junkers 88 and the Blohm & Voss 138.]
* "forty-two Heinkel 111 torpedo-bombers"

"Stumpff thus disposed of 264 operational combat aircraft for the strike."

4. Mine fields, friendly and foe. Thanks to the David Irving book: "The Destruction of PQ.17" we have a description of a RETURN convoy [QP.13] which suffered severe damage from AN ALLIED MINEFIELD!

[QP.13 westward bound at the same time PQ.17 eastward bound!]

"half of convoy QP.13 had continued to the United Kingdom, while the other half had just been rounding the 'home stretch' on the west coast of Iceland on 5 July, in a thick fog. Within three minutes the Senior
Officer’s ship and four merchantmen blew up, and two more were seriously damaged in explosions. The convoy had been guided into an Allied minefield off Iceland by mistake."

“At 2040 [5 July], QP.13 and British escorts struck the minefield off the North-West tip of Iceland. O-in-C unable to determine exact location of safe channel. Due to ‘thick’ weather . . . and faulty instruments convoy entered minefield. Ships sunk were: Hybert (US), Massmar (US), Heffron (US), John Randolph (US), Rodina (Rus.), and Niger (Bf.). Ships damaged were: Richard H. Lee (US), Exterminator(Pan.), and Capira (Pan.). All damaged ships were brought to port and repaired."

[PQ.17 did include as an integral part of the convoy mine-sweepers!]

Enemy attack in all cases exacerbated by the horrible and continually wretched climatic condition of the far Arctic north. NO surcease at any time, the strain on ships and crew extreme, those convoys a "cold bear" under all circumstances!! A gauntlet!


Monday, November 14, 2011

Convoys IV.

This is coolbert:

Arctic convoys continued - - intelligence!

"When the chances on both sides are equal, it is
Intelligence that makes one able to look down on
one’s opponent, and which proceeds not by hoping
for the best (a method only valuable in desperate
situations) but by estimating what the facts are,
and thus obtaining a clearer vision of what to
expect." - - Pericles to the Athenians.

The British Royal Navy having access to Ultra intelligence throughout the war and able determine with regularity and accuracy the dispositions of the German naval detachments in Norway, threatening the Arctic convoys, communications intelligence of tremendous value when evaluating the threat as posed to the convoys by the German "gauntlet"!

AND also having access to in an informal manner to the high level message traffic of the German naval most senior command LAND LINE COMMUNICATIONS secured by a cryptographic machine of a higher level of security than Enigma!

German secure land line communications with those naval forces in Norway subject to intercept [wire tapping] by Swedish authorities, the "secure" teleprinter messages of importance "read" - - noteworthy intelligence gleaned and passed to the British as determined by word of mouth and informally!!

These supposedly secure land line encrypted message traffic "read" thanks to the amazing efforts of the famous Swedish cryptanalyst Arne Beurling!!

[Beurling accomplished what he did in two weeks, not having other than message traffic to deal with, NOT having a vast array of analytical machines, a team of analysts, or even having a "peek" at the machine itself!]

The German Geheimfernschreiber secret and supposedly secure on-line cryptographic machine not so secure. The Geheimfernschreiber called Sturgeon by the British!

As to Arne Beurling and his achievement, monumental in nature, we have this excerpt from the wiki:

"In the summer of 1940 he [Beurling] single-handedly deciphered and reverse-engineered an early version of the Siemens and Halske T52 also known as the Geheimfernschreiber (secret teletypewriter) used by Nazi Germany in World War II for sending ciphered messages. The T52 was one of the so-called 'Fish cyphers' and it took Beurling two weeks to solve the problem using paper and pen. Using Beurling's work, a device was created that enabled Sweden to decipher German teleprinter traffic passing through Sweden from Norway on a cable."

"While the Enigma machine was generally used by field units, the T52 was an online machine used by Luftwaffe and German Navy units, which could support the heavy machine, teletypewriter and attendant fixed circuits. It fulfilled a similar role to the Lorenz SZ40 and SZ42 machines in the German Army."

And for the Swedes to violate their neutrality as they did during the war even if informally to the advantage of the allies it was all altruistic and a big thank you is in order? Or the Swedes had more practical reasons for doing what they did? I cannot say for sure.


Convoys III.

This is coolbert:

Sea power. The arctic convoys continued.

It cannot be said that the arctic convoys were sent forth from Icelandic and British ports unarmed, without combat support. Those allied military planners knowing full well in advance that the convoy would inevitably come under attack and be forced to run a gauntlet of German submarines, aerial attack, and perhaps even having to face the presence of large capital ships of the Tirpitz variety!

The danger to the convoys both from the elements and the enemy was extreme and everyone knew this from the start.

Indeed, the naval combat support was considerable just for the PQ 17 convoy alone. Naval combat support to include:

* "The close escort consisted of six destroyers, four corvettes, three minesweepers, four trawlers, two anti-aircraft ships and two submarines." ["defeat attacks by U-boats"]

* "Four cruisers of which two were the American Tuscaloosa and Wichita . . . comprised the close covering force." ["ward off attacks by the Germans' large destroyers and cruisers"]

* "Duke of York, with Washington and Victorious [British aircraft carrier], constituted the distant covering force." [counter to the Tirpitz and assorted pocket battleships]

* "Eight British, one Free French, and four Russian submarines were positioned off the North Cape [Norway] and special air patrols arranged."

"(initially, these [close covering force] also went right through to Russia, but repair facilities at Murmansk were so primitive, and Russian co-operation so grudging, that it was decided that is was not justifiable to risk these valuable ships . . so far to the east, and the covering [close] force was directed to turn back once the convoy had passed Bear Island)"

That close covering force unable to follow the convoys all the way to the destination, the Russian uncooperative and offering minimal and then grudging help when needed. Stalin wanted all that aid and insisted that the Arctic convoys be run all throughout the war, NOT ever at all being helpful to the allied sailors and merchant marine personnel, rather leaving the allies dangling and having to make their own appreciations and plans based upon the paranoia of the dictator.

AND according to David Irving American merchant vessels having an "embedded" NAGS contingent. Naval Armed Guards Service, naval ratings serving on a merchant ship and ready to fight at a moments notice and having at their disposal a four inch gun [100 mm] and various AAA [anti-aircraft-artillery] positions! NAGS personnel again thanks to David Irving at times carrying sidearms in case of a recalcitrant or mutinous crew!


Convoys II.

This is coolbert:

The Arctic convoys - - success!

Those Arctic convoys sailing from Icelandic and British ports, carrying war munitions to the Soviet Union during the Second World War [WW2] are most remembered for the PQ 17 convoy? More than half of the ships in the convoy sunk, disastrous consequences - - defeat on this ONE occasion being remembered more than those many more instances where "goals met", not without pain, no gain without pain, but nonetheless, those number of convoys making the passage to Murmansk or Archangel relatively unscathed an achievement of marked proportions!

Surely when taken in totality the convoys must be considered a success?

Given the record of sailings, those numbers of ships running the German "gauntlet" and delivering their cargo unscathed is rather impressive. The allies did a good job of pushing the convoys through regardless of danger and peril, both during the OUTWARD BOUND VOYAGE AND THE RETURN VOYAGE!!

From Beesly and the book "Very Special Intelligence" we have these figures:

"From August 1941 to May 1945, 42 convoys totalling 813 ships set out for North Russia from Iceland or Great Britain. Three-three ships returned without completing the voyage due to stress of weather or other causes. Of the remaining 780, 60 were sunk by the enemy, but 720 arrived safely at their destinations. The remaining 36 returning convoys lost 27 ships."

Please note that merchant vessels lost both during outward bound missions and return voyages! A gauntlet having to be run regardless of direction!

The destruction of convoy PQ 17 ALONE resulting in the sinking of twenty-four merchant ships, a considerable percentage of those vessels total lost during the almost four full years of arctic convoy sailings!

For your free download of the David Irving book: "The Destruction of Convoy PQ.17" go here!

This book available for free download in either the original [1968] or updated [2009] version.

 "WE HAVE uploaded two versions of this book. The original 1968 edition . . . and a more recent (2009) updated and revised edition, incorporating code breaking and other new materials"

Given the context of inclement weather combined with persistent and almost frenzied German attack [the gauntlet], that number of ships arriving safely at destination [but with one exception] compared to those lost indicates and suggests to me predominantly again success rather than failure. You the devoted reader to the blog make your own calculations.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Convoys I.

This is coolbert:

Arctic convoys - - decision.

Here begins a series of blog entries regarding those arctic convoys of the Second World War [WW2]. Allied merchant marine vessels carrying vital war munitions to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel.

Extracts from the book by Patrick Beesly: "Very Special Intelligence" with of course my comments.

Those convoys fraught with great danger from that combination of the inclement elements and German attack.  A gauntlet of attack from German submarines, aircraft, and surface capital ships of the Tirpitz variety.

Convoys the route of which, most dangerous, was the result of a decision predominantly political in nature on the part of Joseph Stalin. Allied military planners preferring other routes for the shipment of war munitions to the Soviet Union, the communist dictator insisting otherwise and being assuaged, danger and peril to those allied naval personnel and merchant marine sailors not a consideration!

"The decision to send supplies to Russian by the Northern route was a political one, dictated by Stalin's unwillingness to allow any extension of British influence in North Persia, which he feared would be the result if this longer but as was eventually proved far easier and more efficient route, had been used from the outset. The sea route to Murmansk and Archangel in North Russia was, from a naval point of view, completely unsound. Climatically the conditions sere appalling, quite the worst to be endured at any time by any regular succession of convoys anywhere: ferocious gales, ice, fog and for six months of the year, almost perpetual darkness. The chances of crews of sunken ships surviving were minimal. In summer the perpetual night of winter was succeeded by perpetual day; which if slightly better in one respect, meant that there would be no respite from enemy attack."

The Persian Corridor, "far easier and more efficient", and much to be preferred, LONGER and SLOWER but  allowing for greater safety and again more efficient, required merchant vessels during the early stages of the war, up unto the middle of 1943, to sail all the way around Africa, the Cape of Good Hope. From the middle of 1943, the transit being made through the Mediterranean. Munitions unloaded at Persian [Iranian] ports and sent by truck to the Soviet Union.

The third route used during the duration of the war being across the northern Pacific, from American points of embarkation to Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East, munitions shipped to the front via the Trans-Siberian railroad. From 1942 onward only Soviet vessels making the voyage and never interfered with by the Japanese, Tokyo unwilling to violate Soviet neutrality in the Pacific war!

"About half of all the lend-lease aid to the USSR went by the Pacific route; by convoy from the U.S. west coast to the Soviet Far East, via Vladivostok and the Trans-Siberian railway"

The allied powers on so many occasions during WW2 giving in to the demands of Joseph Stalin even to the detriment of their own personnel. As is the case with the arctic convoys!