Friday, June 06, 2014

June 6, 1944

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day—the day British, Canadian, and American troops landed on the beaches of Normandy.1

For baby boomers it means a day of special significance for our parents. In my case, it was my father who took part in the invasions. That's him on the right as he looked in 1944. He was an RAF pilot flying rocket firing typhoons in close support of the ground troops. During the initial days his missions were limited to quick strikes and reconnaissance since Normandy was at the limit of their range from southern England. During the second week of the invasion (June 14th) his squadron landed in Crepon, Normandy and things became very hectic from then on with several close support missions every day.

I have my father's log book and here (below) are the pages from June 1944. The red letters on June 6 say "DER TAG." It was his way of announcing D-Day. On the right it says "Followed SQN across channel. Saw hundreds of ships ... jumped by 190s. LONG AWAITED 2nd FRONT IS HERE." Later that day they shot up German vehicles south-east of Caen where there was heavy fighting by British and Canadian troops. The next few weeks saw several sorties over the allied lines. These were attack missions using rockets to shoot up German tanks, vehicles, and trains.

The photograph on the right shows a crew loading rockets onto a typhoon based just a few kilometers from the landing beaches in Normandy. You can see from the newspaper clipping in my father's log book that his squadron was especially interested in destroying German headquarter units and they almost got Rommel. It was another RAF squadron that wounded Rommel on July 17th.

The log book entry (above) for June 10th says, "Wizard show. Recco area at 2000' south west of Caen F/S Moore and self destroyed 2 flak trucks, 2 arm'd trucks, and i arm'd command vehicle, Every vehicle left burning but one. Must have been a divisional headquarters? No casualties."

Here's another description of that rocket-firing typhoon raid [Air Power Over the Normandy Beaches and Beyond].
Intelligence information from ULTRA set up a particularly effective air strike on June 10. German message traffic had given away the location of the headquarters of Panzergruppe West on June 9, and the next evening a mixed force of forty rocket-armed Typhoons and sixty-one Mitchells from 2 TAF struck at the headquarters, located in the Chateau of La Caine, killing the unit's chief of staff and many of its personnel and destroying fully 75 percent of its communications equipment as well as numerous vehicles. At a most critical point in the Normandy battle, then, the Panzer group, which served as a vital nexus between operating armored forces, was knocked out of the command, control, and communications loop; indeed, it had to return to Paris to be reconstituted before resuming its duties a month later.

My father was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his efforts during the war.

1. The British landed at Sword Beach and Gold Beache, the Canadians at Juno Beach, and American troops landed at Omaha and Utah Beaches.


  1. This was very interesting and important personal history to have your father in the great invasion on day one. its special for sure.
    he truly was in danger especially as going in close support means facing more guns.
    I was always glad canada got a beach with the big two. juno was not as hard as some others and in fact some Can troops got so far ahead they had to call them back.
    it was morally to fight and kill in this war as we were really stopping the killing or catching the killers. this because they invaded other nations and later the news about the murder camps there.
    Truly these canucks deserve our esteem and determination to protect their heritage and their ancestors rights within our own boundaries just as we fought to protect other nations boundaries.
    It was a sad but great episode in human history but despite knowing nothing of war canadians showed the when one ir morally and intellectually able to match and trum the enemy then we will overcome.
    We remember you gentlemen.

  2. Even what news seeped through Nazi censorship on D-day told us that this was indeed the beginning of the end that we so eagerly had been waiting for. That, and our joy at liberation from German occupation in May the next year is an experience that has stayed with my generation. As Norwegians, we are very happy and proud of our country's significant contribution to the war effort. With air forces the subject here, our considerable oil transportation resources played an important role in keeping the RAF and ancillary forces airborne. And since we 'are' in Canada, mention of migt be in place.

    Watching the memorial event from Normandie was a struggle to keep emotions from erupting.

    The first ship downed by the Germans on D-day was in fact Norwegian. Thanks to an English captain disobeying orders to ignore all distractions, most of the seamen were saved.

  3. On one boundary of my land here in southern England are the remains of a 2nd WW Canadian Army camp lying on the edge of a sandy heath. At the beginning of June 1944 the camp was full of bustle with tanks and lorries parked amongst the trees as the D-Day build-up continued. And then, one day, suddenly everybody was gone, the camp abandoned.

    Almost immediately, families who had been bombed out of Portsmouth took unauthorised possession of the huts and other buildings where many of them squatted for the next 15 years until they could get more permanent housing elsewhere. The huts were then demolished and over the years the silver birch sprang up to hide the site of the camp but even after 70 years the ghostly outlines of some of the larger buildings can still be traced by the brick foundations snuggling in the undergrowth. I walk my dog through the encampment and always think of the brave Canadian men who stayed in our village for that brief moment in time and wonder how many of them eventually managed to make it safely back home to their loved ones.

    On my other boundary there used to be a large house demolished some ten years ago which was utilised as a military hospital in both world wars and adjacent to which is an R.C. church with a small military cemetery in which are buried 20 or 30 young Canadian soldiers who made it through the 1st WW only to be lost to the Spanish flu in the few short months following the armistice. So near to but so far from getting home.

    I feel very blessed never having had to experience the horror many of those young men had to face.

    I was born in the far north east of England just a few days after D-Day and, with my father away in the navy, my mother befriended and entertained a number of Canadian airmen through her church to give them a home from home from whatever small resources she could muster. A few stayed in touch for some years after the war even to the extent of sending us occasional food parcels in the lean years of rationing which followed and for which my parents were doubtless very grateful.

  4. I was born during that war, and still have my last ration stamps book (when they were suddenly not needed many people kept them as souvenirs). The war always loomed large in my younger years, as that war had just happened.

    The 6th of June is an appropriate time to honor veterans who fought in that war. But it also seems to be the occasion for many loud declarations that "D Day marked the beginning of the end for Hitler" and that D Day was the most important event leading to Hitler's defeat.

    Those very self-centered statements will sound very strange to Russians, who have their own dead to honor, and a great many more of them. Although casualty figures are disputed, something like two-thirds of all German soldiers killed in the War were killed on the Eastern Front. By the time of D day the Nazis were just about to be pushed out of Belorussia back into Poland.

    It is silly to get into an argument about who "really" defeated the Nazis. But it is incredibly shortsighted to claim that it all was done by the soldiers who landed in Normandy. Unfortunately there tend to be statements like that around this time of year. I haven't heard that here, but if you listen to U.S. media around the time of this anniversary you will find yourself cringing.

    1. The French President credted Russia during his speech but Obama's speech made it sound like the Western allies (and Patton) won the war. There's no doubt whatsoever that Russia is the country that's largely responsible for winning the war in Europe.

      North Africa and Italy were sideshows. Germany would heve been defeated without D-Day but Europe would have been a different (much worse) place. We need to give more credit to Russia (USSR) and the sacrifices of the Russian people. At the same time, we mustn't forget that the USSR was Hitler's ally for the first two years of the war..

    2. At the same time, we mustn't forget that England and France favored the Fascists in Spain, Ethiopia and Munich. As their hoped-for settlement with Hitler over Czechoslovakia unraveled, England supposedly aimed at collective action against Hitler but literally sent its diplomats on a slow boat.

    3. The D-Day only happened to prevent the likes of Peoples' Republic of France and Dutch Democratic Republic from realizing as a result of Russian onslaught.

    4. @ Joe

      It is silly to get into an argument about who "really" defeated the Nazis


      The simple fact of the matter is that the Nazis could not survive a two front war much less a three front war that included Africa and the Italian peninsula.

      There is no doubt that the Nazis could have easily won the war if Hitler’s meddling had not thrust the Axis into oblivion. If not for Hitler’s meddling idiocy –European Jewry would have been totally obliterated!

      Comparing the relative courage of soldiers in the Battle of Stalingrad vs the Normandy invasion is indeed silly in the extreme. Neither battle was sufficient to garner victory – both were necessary… those and a number of other victories on all fronts.

      That all said – I am no fan of the Russians. I never could look at the face of a smiling Russian veteran on a newsreel without wondering how many German elementary girls he himself had raped.

    5. Re Tom Mueller

      The simple fact of the matter is that the Nazis could not survive a two front war much less a three front war that included Africa and the Italian peninsula.

      For some droll reason, all my comments on this thread have been removed. However, with regard to the comment an multi-front wars, the reason that Germany ended up fighting on multiple fronts was because of a disastrous strategic blunder made long before the war started. The German Naval command built the super dreadnaught battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz before the war started, although they weren't launched until 1941. They were totally oblivious to the fact that such weapons were as obsolete as horsed cavalry. Had, instead , they uses the same resources to build up their ocean going Uboat fleet, they could have had 40 or 50 such vessels available, instead of the dozen or so they actually had. With such a fleet, they could have starved Britain out of the war in 1940, obviating the Battle of Britain and the various side shows in Greece, Yugoslavia, and North Africa which used up resources that were sorely missed in the former Soviet Union in 1941. With Britain out of the war, the Wehrmacht could have concentrated its full power against the former Soviet Union in operation Barbarossa. IMHO, in such an event, the former Soviet Union would have been knocked out of the war in 1941 as it was a near run thing as it was.

    6. @ colnago: You are off by two orders of magnitude.

      In the World War II era, Germany commissioned some 1,250 U-boats into the Kriegsmarine

      The Uboot blockade was very effective until the capture of the Uboot-110 from which the British recovered a vital Enigma encryption device and accompanying documentation in May 1941.

      Had Dönitz realized the reason why the “good times” had come to an end and adopted new encryption, I reckon the war would have could have ended quite differently or at a minimum have been much more prolonged!

    7. Re Tom Mueller

      I'm talking about the situation in June of 1940. The Uboat fleet did not attain it's maximum strength until 1943. In June of 1940, the Kriegsmarine had about a dozen ocean going vessels available. Had they had 40 or 50 boats available at that time, there is every reason to believe that Britain would have been starved out of the war as their anti-submarine defenses were weak and did not achieve their full effectiveness until the middle of 1943. As it was, the Battle of the Atlantic was a near run affair. I will go further. The Kriegsmarine also built the two battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Another 30 to 40 Uboats could have been built from the materials that went into these obsolete vessels. All in all a disastrous decision by the German high command.

    8. colnago80 says,

      For some droll reason, all my comments on this thread have been removed.

      Sometimes I delete comments from Quest when he says something stupid or insulting ... or uses foul language.

      When that happens, all the comments that replied to him also get deleted. I don't lose any sleep over that. If you don't want your comments to be deleted then ignore people like Quest.

    9. Why not give Quest the heave ho as he contributes nothing to the discussion?

    10. Actually, I think I was responding to Piotr who was responding to Quest.

    11. I'm trying to recall any Quest comment that was not at least one of stupid, insulting or used foul language.

    12. Colnago, actually I think I was responding to your response to my respone to your response... and the conversation was getting quite nice, but unfortunately Quest had somehow got involved in it. I certainly wasn't responding to him, and I don't think you were. Replies sometimes get accidentally attached to the wrong post.

    13. @colnago80

      I think you may be confusing some numbers.

      Consider only the Type VII — known as the "workhorse" of the U-boats: there were 700 active in WW II. You are correct that only 30 Uboots were typically operating in wolf-packs at any given time.

    14. @calnago80

      The only way to "ban" someone on Blogger is to manually delete all of their comments. Believe it or not, I do not check for comments every few minutes or even every few hours. If someone replies to Quest before I see his comment then that reply wiil also be deleted.

      If people are replying to Quest then that suggests that some readers think his comments are worthy so maybe he shouldn't be banned?

    15. Re Tom Mueller

      I guess I'm not making myself clear. My figure of a dozen or so only applies to June of 1940. Certainly by 1943, the Germans had many more then that available. Unfortunately for the Kriegsmarine, the defenses had greatly improved by 1943, with the extension of land base air cover, escort carriers, and more numerous small ships like corvettes and frigates, this in addition to the information of German deployments supplied by Ultra. The best chance that the Kriegsmarine had of winning the Battle of the Atlantic was in the summer of 1940. Had the material that went into the German battleships and battlecruisers gone into Uboats instead, they almost certainly would have had sufficient vessels to force Britain out of the war. Also to be considered, the US was not active in the war in 1940, so the US Navy was not available to assist the British, although, in fairness, the US antisubmarine forces were even worse then the British at that time.

    16. Re Piotr

      I agree that a good discussion was underway which, unfortunately, was derailed by Quest. C'est la vie.

  5. Joe, I agree with you 100% That thought was in my mind all the while I was watching the spectacle in Normandie: What about the Russians, is this just 'our own' affair? The Russians (or the USSR) paid a horribly high price for the victory over Hitler Germany - and as one commenter remarked somewhere: The veritable war machine of Stalin's eventually would have defeated Hitler - Allied invasion or not.

    But with Stalin at the shores of Western Europe, what would postwar Europe have been like, and how would it have looked today?

    It seems to me that to the Russsians, WW2 means a lot more than to everyone else.

    I am only waiting for the show they will make on the day their war ended.

  6. It seems to me that to the Russsians, WW2 means a lot more than to everyone else.

    The Polish perspective is still different. Our soldiers, sailors and airmen fought on all the European fronts of WW2 (not to mention the "internal" fronts of anti-Nazi resistance and military intelligence) -- not because anybody planned it that way, but simply because the Poles got trapped between the Third Reich and the Soviet Union and had to play the hand they were dealt. Together with the Baltic countries we are also particularly aware of the fact that Stalin was formally Hitler's ally until June 1941.

    During the Battle of Normandy, the Poles had particularly close relations with the Canadians. Our elite unit, General Maczek's 1st Armoured Division, was attached to the First Canadian Army, and together they played a crucial role in sealing the Falaise Pocket.

    1. OK - let's try this again with intact html tags

      Hi Larry

      I applaud your homage to your father and the heroes who brought WW II to a hastier end. Bravo!!!

      Bis bis bis…
      If I may add my own personal contribution:

      Not all Germans were Nazis and not all Nazis were German. This was not a war of Canada and her allies against Germany and her allies but rather a struggle of ideologies. Thank G-d the forces of evil were vanquished! FTR - Many Germans were on the side of good. That explains why such a LARGE GESTAPO presence was required in Germany proper.

      Sadly, much WWII history has been sanitized by the victors. For example the Nazi collaborationist record (especially in Norway & France) has been expunged while the heroism of the MANY German (and other Axis nations’) have been sadly forgotten. For example, Yugoslavia’s Partisans were mostly Croat and for the most part lead by Croats (Tito is a case in point) while many Serbs were unabashed collaborators !

      I contacted Raul Hillberg shortly before he died and inquired about the glorified Resistance Movements of France and elsewhere. Raul Hillberg held most of these in great contempt and considered the German Resistance far more praiseworthy. There were some notable exceptions such as Denmark. Denmark’s record in WW II especially with regards to saving its Jewish population was exemplary!!!

      You mention Rommel. He was forced to commit suicide for his participation in one of many assassination attempts on Hitler.

      I hope you mention him on July 20 in a little more than a month.

      My own father was a prisoner of Dachau as a result of his own resistance to Hitler. My grandfather’s wealth and influence (a former senator) was able to purchase my father’s rescue. My father continued in the German Resistance, was constantly on the run from the GESTAPO and eventually joined up with the Americans in the south and volunteered his services as a translator for interrogation. My father accompanied the American forces as Concentration Camps were liberated and I still possess many horrific photos. I have filed these away - I cannot bear to look at them.

      At the end of the war, my father was invited to meet the American president at the White House (we still have the embossed invitation) and was given a rail pass to travel the United States (first class) as a guest of the president. I still have some of the postcards he wrote to my grandfather during these travels.
      for this mitzvah!

    2. Tom Mueller says,

      I applaud your homage to your father and the heroes who brought WW II to a hastier end. Bravo!!!

      I appreciate the compliment but I don't want to be identified as someone who glorifies war and uses the word "hero." Wars are horrible and always avoidable. The men and women who get caught up in them are all victims in one way or another no matter which side they fight for.

      We need to understand the history of war but, in my opinion, we don't want to glorify it by calling everyone a hero; especially, if the only heroes are the ones that happened to be on the winning side.

    3. @ Laurence A. Moran

      We need to understand the history of war but, in my opinion, we don't want to glorify it by calling everyone a hero

      If you reread my post - I think you will discern that you and I in fact agree!

      ... especially, if the only heroes are the ones that happened to be on the winning side.

      Precisely my point (or at least one of them) as a matter of fact!

      My father always had a photo of Mahatma Gandhi prominently placed in his study. Another photo was of Albert Schweitzer. I always regret that my father died before I was mature enough to ask him the important questions. I am certain that both your father and mine would unanimously and emphatically have agreed that Gandhi’s methods of non-violence would have been futile against the Nazis. Hitler’s violence could only be defeated by violence.

      Your father: imagine that some decent human being – an ocean and a continent away, who could easily have dismiss Europe’s problems as irrelevant and of no personal concern – risk their lives while witnessing dearest friends make the ultimate sacrifice to defeat an inhumane evil… you can describe your father anyway you want! I will, without apology call him a HERO!!!

      My father: I only found out a few years ago the exact reason why my father was thrown into Dachau. My cousin told me that he was trying to hide a Jewish friend in a spare apartment and was discovered. After my grandfather got my father out of Dachau, he could easily have played the coward and laid low. Instead he joined the German Reistance. My father was a HERO. He was not alone.

      So I think we do agree… when all is said and done!

    4. Tom (third comment above): Haven’t you inverted the fascism of Croats and Serbs? It was Ante Pavelić who led Croatia’s fascist Ustaše government, allied with Mussolini and Hitler, that engaged in the genocidal massacre of Serbs, Jews and Roma. Wikipedia has a chilling treatments of this scum. The current Croatian flag is modeled on that of the Ustaše. Bosnian and Croatian hooligans to this day occasionally unfurl swastikas (and Vatican) banners at their soccer matches.
      My maternal grandfather was U.S. Navy and served in both WWI and WWII, first as a seaman and later as security chief of the main gate of a Navy base. My last direct ancestor who was actually in combat was a Confederate soldier who died in a bayonet charge up a hill someplace in Kentucky. He left a widow to bring up his two boys. I probably wouldn’t have agreed with him much about anything.

    5. The situation in the Balkans was extremely complex after the Axis invasion of 1941 and the fall of the Kingdon of Yugoslavia. Ethnic, religious and political differences cut across one another. There were the fascist (and pro-Nazi) Croatian Ustaše, the royalist Serbian Četnici (initially resisting the Axis occupants but increasingly collaborating with them), and Tito's Communist Partizans (predominantly, but not exclusively Serbian: Tito's own ethninc background was half Croatian, half Slovene). As both the Ustaše and the Četnici were ultranationalists, their general attitude towards each other was genocidal (the Ustaše also wanted to exterminate the Jews and the Gypsies, and the Četnici grew anti-Semitic during the course of the war). The Partizans were in favour of a multiethnic Yugoslavia, and they were also the only force consistently (and successfully) opposing the Nazis and their allies. I won't even mention Slovene and Albanian contributions.

    6. The bowdlerization and sanitation of history by the victors cannot be better demonstrated than in Yugoslavia.

      Let us further examine Serbian & Croatia’s complicity in the Jewish Holocaust!

      May I draw to your attention: Serbia the fight against the Jewish influence had actually started six months before the German invasion when the government of Serbia issued legislation restricting Jewish participation in the economy and university enrolment.

      The first experiments in mass executions of camp inmates by poison gas were carried out in Serbia. Serbia was the first country to proudly declare itself "Judenfrei" ("cleansed" of Jews).

      In August 1942, Dr. Harald Turner (the chief of the German civil administration in Serbia) announced that Serbia was the only country in which the "Jewish question" was solved and that Belgrade was the "first city of a New Europe to be Judenfrei." Turner himself attributed this success to Serbian help.

      "The Serbian chetniks of Draza Mihailovic were represented as fighters against the occupier, while in fact they were the allies of the Nazi fascists in Yugoslavia ....The documents in this collection indicate clearly and unequivocally that the Chetniks collaborated with the occupiers, both in the military and political sphere, as well as in the domain of economic activity, intelligence and propaganda...” (source: the Serbian scholars, Dr. Jovan Marjanovic & Mihail Stanisic, The collaboration of Draza Mihailovic's Chetniks with the enemy forces of occupation, 1976.)

      Ah Yes Mihailovic - that bloodthirsty and insatiable slaughterer of Jews... the same Mihailovic who is being rehabilitated and re-embraced by Serbia today as a great Hero!

      I remind all present of Mihailovich's drive to create a "Homogenous Serbia" (shudder goes up my spine)

      According to the Wiesenthal centre on the holocaust:

      As the Chetniks increased their cooperation with the Germans, their attitude toward the Jews in the areas under their control deteriorated, and they identified the Jews with the hated Communists. There were many instances of Chetniks' murdering Jews or handing them over to the Germans.

      Reality Check - Serbs were eager and enthusiastic participants in the Jewish Holocaust and Serbian Crimes against the Jews continue to this day!

    7. Now, what about Croatia? Her history is complicated.

      Croats had just endured oppression on an unprecedented scale under Post WWI. Not unlike the Ukraine, many Croats viewed the Germans as liberators.

      SS-Obersturmbannführer Hans Helm German police attaché in Zagreb repeatedly complained to Berlin that the Croats were very uncooperative in eliminating Jews. He complained that the head of the Ustaše intelligence was a Jew and that almost all the top political leaders of Croatia were themselves married to Jews. (Even Pavelić and Slavko Kvaternik were married to half-Jewish women ).

      Imagine, the founder of the Croatia’s first nationalist party and predessesor to the Ustaše, the Party of Rights was Josip Frank, a Jew who was a friend and inspiration to Pavelić.

      So how criminal were the Ustaše? Unlike Serbia, The Germans finally had to take matters into their own hands and round up Croatia’s Jews by themselves (unlike Norway or France I may add).

      Yes of course, there were Croatian criminals, but a Jew was far better off in Croatia than in Serbia. In response to the German initiative to round up Croatia’s Jews, many Croats created an underground to relocate Jews to the Italian Albanian sector where they were left unharmed.

      Meanwhile, Zagreb’s Archbishop Stepinac issued countless baptismal certificates to rescue Jewish children. It is a crying shame that these heroic acts are lost to the expediency of historical revisionism.

      Bottom line - the suggestion that Serbs were all Partisans and good guys and the Croats were all Fascists and bad guys is patently incorrect!

    8. Finally - regarding the scope of crimes committed in war-time Yugoslavia

      To set some perspective; out of an estimated pre-war Jewish population of 8,861,800, an estimated 5,933,900 were slaughtered! None can dispute the Jewish Holocaust was a genocide!

      The Yugoslavian story is quite another matter. According to Church monographs, as well as Yugoslav census records of 1946 and according to Serbian historians such as Dr. B Kocovic; it is clear that the Serbian population actually increased during World War II.

      This fact belies the Serbian contentions they were victims of an unprecedented holocaust, the horror of the Ustasi crimes notwithstanding! As a matter of fact, of the 480 000 total Serbian War dead, two thirds were military casualties which presumably should stand as a tribute to Serb valour in opposition to fascism!

      The fate of the Croats is far less benign! By all accounts, the Croats suffered an acute reduction in population according to the same sources cited above. Furthermore, the slaughter continued long after July 1945. In the six years following the end of World War II, roughly one quarter of Yugoslavia’s population was jailed or exterminated as extolled in a speech to the Belgrade Parliament by Aleksandr Rankovic (chief of secret police) who boasted of the jailing and/or “liquidation” of over three million “enemies of the state”. (Yugoslav dailies: Borba & Politika; Feb 1, 1951)

      Winston Churchill once remarked the Balkans have a propensity to produce more history than they can possibly digest!

      A prima facie objective analysis:

    9. @ Piotr – I tip my hat! Your appreciation of history is no less keen than your scientific insight. If I may add to your contribution on the Balkans…

      The withdrawal of the Ottomons from the Balkan Peninsula started the Balkans wars which persisted in one form or another for over a century until history finally stuttered to a stall in 1995! WW II was just one skirmish in this long war, where the Serbian slaughter of Croats predated 1941 and the Serbian slaughter of innocents continued long after 1945, long after the war was over.

      Let’s be fair here. Not all Germans were Nazi and not all Nazis were German. Similarly not all Serbs were (fill in the blank). There is no terminology equivalent that parses the distinction between hapless Serbian civilians who were innocent victims of history and those brutal criminals who perpetrated unspeakable crimes in Serbia’s name. This constitutes a most unfortunate state of affairs and I regret (and rue) my usage of “Serb” in the following.

      Just as collaborators existed on all sides during WW II, so too the Partisans were in fact multi-ethnic. The overwhelming bulk of resistance activity occurred in Bosnia and Croatia. Ignoring the efforts of the Serbian Royalists not to mention Mihailović’s Četnics; in late 1943 there were 122,000 Croatian Partisans and only 22,000 Serbian Partisans.

      Those numbers changed dramatically as a result of a very lamentable decision by Churchill. The Četnics could have been persuaded to abandon any and all collaboration with the Axis on the promise of a united Greater Serbia (given the foregone conclusion of Germany’s defeat). Churchill was less than sanguine. According to Fitzroy MacLean, Churchill was interested "simply to find out who was killing the most Germans and suggest means by which we could help them to kill more”. When MacLean pointed out that Yugoslavia would become communist after the war if aid was given to Tito’s partisans, Churchill asked whether MacLean intended to reside in Yugoslavia after the war. When Maclean replied in the negative, Churchill replied “me neither, so we will direct all our aid to Tito and his Partisans.”

      In true Realpolitik response, the (oft forgotten) “Royalist” Serbian resistance exchanged their white eagle insignia, while the Četnics exchanged their skull and crossbones insignia for the “Red Star” of the Partisans. In effect, by war’s end the Tito’s Croatian dominated Partisans quickly morphed into a force for Serbian chauvinism. By late 1944 there were 150,000 Croatian Partisans and 204,000 Serbian Partisans. Go figure!

      So I repeat – the silly bowdlerized version of history peddled by the victors (as naïvely suggested by W. Benson belies the truth.

      I have not even scratched the surface of the brutal details of the Balkan Wars, the crimes of the inter-war monarchy, the slaughter of innocents by Mihailovic's Četnics nor Nedić’s collaborationist Nedićevci nor the co-opting of the Partisan movement by Serb chauvinism nor the post-war slaughter of other hapless FRY nationalities nor FRY’s ethnic cleansing that persists even today.

      To come full circle, this sad history finally stuttered to a stall in 1995, when Croatia provided ground support in NATO’s campaign to end Slobodan Milošević’s Balkan bloodbath.

    10. Tom,

      The sad fact in such cases is that you have lots of armed "bad guys" and practically no "good guys" (except, perhaps, among the hapless civilians). It is pointless to take sides if all the parties of the conflict are guilty of hair-raising atrocities. You are right that the "official" wartime history of the Balkans was later largely rewritten from a pro-Serbian perspective, but that doesn't absolve the Ustaša regime from vary real blame for acts of genocide such as the Jasenovac extermination camp. And of course Tito was anything but a good guy, despite the fact that he fought the Nazis, cooperated with the British and was played by Richard Burton in the hagiographic superproduction "Sutjeska".

    11. Piotr – I know of only one nation that came out of this war with honor intact and that would be Denmark. Every other country mentioned above has much to be ashamed of including USA, Canada, France and Norway.

      Regarding Jasenovac; there is no question that many Croats were blood-thirsty criminals bent on revenge for the slaughter they had already suffered at the hands of the Serbs during the Balkan Wars, the Serbian crimes of the inter-war monarchy and the ongoing slaughter of innocent Croat civilians by Mihailovic's Četnics. The Domobran saw themselves as locked in a desperate struggle for survival and it turns out their worst fears were indeed realized.

      I regret I did not tape-record my conversation with Raoul Hilberg. He provided many tidbits of information that would cause Larry Moran and PZ Myers to take great umbrage. I am thinking in particular of some of the worst crimes in Jasenovac committed by former Franciscan priests who swapped their habits for military uniforms.

      Talmud cites that the murder of just one innocent is tantamount to the destruction of the universe! Comparing how many thousands perished by Croatian hands vs how many thousands by Serbs is again silly. The fact still remains that the reported crimes of Jasenovac (according to Hilberg and other sources) are greatly exaggerated. The fact remains that that the Serbian population actually increased during World War II, whereas the Croatian population was annihilated.

      The fact also remains that the Nazis were very pleased with Serbian anti-Semitism and Serbian complicity in the Holocaust. The fact also remains that the Nazis were very frustrated with Croatian lack of co-operation (despite the fig-leaf of Croatian anti-Semitic newspaper banners). Unlike Serbia, Norway France or Poland, the Nazis could not rely on Croat locals to round up the Jews for deportation and had to take matters into their own hands.

      Of course, none of this makes it into history books.


  7. The Polish-German Non-Aggression Pact came in 1934. Also, the Poles, in exchange for buffering Hitler against any possibility of Soviet intervention, took the Teschen district of Czechoslovakia as part of the spoils of victory at Munich.

    1. Yes, complicity in the partitioning of Czechoslovakia was as disgraceful as it was shortsighted. It didn't even buy Polish politicians much time: Poland was Hitler's next target, just a few months later.

      Note, however, as regards 1934, that a non-aggression pact is something rather different from an agreement preparing the ground for joint aggression (as in the case of the secret protocol included in the Ribbentrop/Molotov Pact).

  8. Little bit about the Russian contribution to victory. While it's true that the Soviet Union always, from June 1941 on, always faced between 60 and 75% of German ground forces, equating that with their relative contribution to victory ignores the air and sea wars as well as the considerable direct contribution of materiel from the western allies to the Soviet war effort. Then again, D-Day was possible only because the bulk of German forces were otherwise occupied, and everyone should have noted that. But then again, again, both the Italian front and Fortitude were also instrumental in occupying those forces; even imaginary threats to Norway helped a bit.

    1. I don't think it is our job to assign relative contributions (or to argue all the actions of everybody). My point is that when U.S, media go on about how D-Day was the critical offensive of the war, they are being self-centered and patently silly.

    2. Russians of course observe how the West underrates and despises them.

    3. it's true that the Soviet Union always, from June 1941 on, always faced between 60 and 75% of German ground forces, equating that with their relative contribution to victory ignores the air and sea wars

      The really relevant figure is 80% (or so, +/-10) German military deaths on Eastern front. You know, having someone alive to use the weapons is always a plus.

    4. This is wrong for a couple of reasons. First, modern war is largely economic. It wasn't a shortage of pilots that doomed the Luftwaffe, for example, but a shortage of aviation fuel. Having some weapons for the someone alive to use is a plus too. Second, you don't count prisoners, who are out of the fight just as completely as dead soldiers. Third, as I said, the naval and air wars were light on personnel but heavy in impact.

      I thought we weren't arguing about relative contributions?

  9. Respect to your father, but it is a complex thing. I disliked the contempt thrown upon some Vietnam vets and dislike the unqualified adoration of US Afgan/Iraqi war vets. Young men have that primate nature, a willingness to be aggressive and belligerent in defense of the tribe. It's simultaneously noble and foolish. Ultimately I honor those who serve, even when they are motivated by naive nationalism. Better to reserve contempt for older men who needlessly send young men to war, and maximal contempt for chickenhawks.

    My father took part in Iwo Jima but was luckily not part of the first waves. He refuses to talk about what he did or saw but remains anti-war. It still give him nightmares. Had his gall bladder removed Friday.

  10. Normandy was in every way the glorious invasion. I don't agree the SOVIETS deserve any credit at all.
    They were completely hand in hand with Hitler and with his methods. tHey agreed to pOland being destroyed and other nations , Finland etc , being conquered andin every way generally being evil to the people groups in the Soviet Union.
    Only , if so, can a claim of coercion being used by the Peoples of the Soviet Union to defend themselves.
    ITs simply that one evil entity attacked another evil entity.
    No applause or thumbs up to soviets and leaders.
    They were supported by our money and encouragement and by a new front. We were innocent completely and did not deserve one death. We did it all out of superior moral foundations and for NO gain, including reclaiming our territory, other then justice.
    Stalin and the soiviets were just as evil as Hitler. I can't see them as worthy of thanks. After the war they continued to be evil and finally only ceased to exist in our times.The allies, just us, deserve the moral and intellectual, kudos and rightly deserved the reward of a better civilization after the war.
    Thats history. Thats the truth.
    I don't see Europeans, on any side, did any good whatsoever in ability in winning this war and against Japan.
    By the way there was so much death on the east front because all sides were so savage to the other side including shooting prisoners.
    Anglo american civilization alone deserves the victory and its been this way ever since.
    If Hitler offered Stalin Britain the Russians and the other people groups with them would today be making the white cliffs of dover RED.
    The war was won by the Allies invasion and before that the threat of invasion. The soviets fought poorly and probably would of loss.
    Even in this the YEC creationist has too do the better job of analysis.
    Anyways its a great event, though sad, and does define true patriots of our nations.

  11. Rebert makes me want to cry. If there's one single component of the WW2 that stands out as desicive, I think that will have to be the Battle of Britain.

    After Stalingrad Hitler was already lost, the rest was just a matter of time. What was the density of Soviet artillery pieces and T-34 tanks (German tank generals von Kleist and Guderian called it "the deadliest tank in the world.") on the eastern front under the Soviet army's 'home run'?

    1. There really aren't many subjects Byers knows much about. In fact, I don't recall that we've ever encountered one.

  12. i watched a lot of youtube docs on ww1 and ww11.
    I don't agree ww1 was avoidable. nothing about the sea. It was about allies against other allies. Austria invaded Serbia and germany promised protection against serbias ally in Russia. it went from there. A big moral case was made in britain to fight.

    Its a myth that Polish cavalry fought german tanks or men. Poland was not that backward in thier armies but simply outfought.
    Britain/France likewise outfought quickly at the start. the Germans were pretty good.
    Its not about how many tanks one has . The czechoslovaks could never have fought the Germans no matter how hilly. nor did any shiny weapons gonna replace basic competence and numbers.
    it simply is what it was.
    a strong and motivated german people and armies that only with alloes working together could they be defeated.
    Most of Eastern Europe was like third world countries today . The soviets were clobbered and driven back decisively.
    It was about morale, leadership, the common soldiers abilities and military intelligence.
    We beat them because we were more moral and intelligent and better led.
    Not because of money, basic soldier abilities(North Americans had none) or numbers.
    We just plain were better and beat 'em right quick.
    Europe , sadly, still lives in thge embarrassment of such evil, destruction, worthlessness of remedy, and the humiliation of having to be rescued, like in many things, by the Anglo-Saxon civilization and men.
    This is also why, i say, that better ideas like creationism do better with us and wrong ideas like evolutionism are more resisted. We just do things better and get things right relatively speaking.
    War is just another example.

    1. Well booby, it is certainly true that, during the first few months of Operation Barbarossa, the Wehrmacht gave the Russian opposition a beating, killing or capturing about a million Russian soldiers. One reason was that Stalin ignored British warnings about an imminent Germany offensive into the Ukraine which was obtained from intelligence gathered from Ultra, and was caught with his pants down. Another reason was that Stalin fell for a German disinformation campaign in 1935/1936 run from Japan by the spy Richard Sorge and cashiered his top military commanders, replacing them with incompetent political apparatchiks. However, after the snow started falling in the Winter of 1941, Russia's greatest military leader, General Winter, made an appearance and Russia was able to recover, getting Siberian reinforcements from the East. Then the high command of the Wehrmacht was subject to an unpleasant surprise when the Russian T34 tanks, at the time the best tank in the world, showed up. Not only were they superior to anything the Germans had but they were more numerous.

    2. As to the collapse of the Franco/British forces in Belgium in 1940, it was due to the strategic decisions of the high command to push their most mobile troops into that country in anticipation of a repeat of the Schlieffen Plan of 1914. Unfortunately for them, the Germans feinted with their forces in Belgium and their main attack came via the Ardennes through to Sedan. The French high command considered the Ardennes impassible by tanks. The German high command consulted General Guderian, the foremost expert on tank tactics in the world, who thought otherwise.The Panzers were opposed by 3rd rate unmechanized troops at that point, which they brushed aside and commenced a rapid advance in the direction of Dunkirk, thus cutting off the lines of communication between the force in Belgium and the rest of the French army. The French high command, which consisted of superannuated generals was unable to react quickly enough as they did not understand the tactics of mechanized divisions. The allied forces in Belgium were quite possibly saved by a counterstrike by a force under General DeGaulle at the German flank which caused Frankenberger to hold up the advance for a day (DeGaulle was possibly the only high ranking officer in the French army who knew what he was doing relative to the tactics of mechanized forces). That delay probably enabled the allied forces to safely retreat into Dunkirk and set up a defense perimeter. Absent that delay, they might well have been caught in the open and defeated.

  13. re: It’s a myth that Polish cavalry fought german tanks or men.

    Please refer to :

  14. Tom.
    Well I read about the myth of it all being debunked years later.
    This little charge against men indeed happened but was a isolated incident.
    There it is on wiki. I had seen in docs about the myth of cavalry against tanks etc being exposed as wrong. It still is said a lot. However just a wee charge against men did happen.
    anyways it was hard to face the germans as the ploes etc knew about their strength .
    So it all the more shows their patriotism to stop killers and it shows their courage.
    They were never so easily handled as later said. tHey did put up a good fight. The germans simply were very good. in fact they were not confident and saw the Poles as very tough.
    Before the war and after was a hard time for the Polish people although they also must do the right thing.
    Hard to believe it happened when now everyone visits and seems to be good buddies!!

    1. Well, booby's knowledge of military history is as empty as his ignorance of science.

      1. In the first place, nobody said that the Polish Army wasn't brave and didn't fight hard. However, in the era of scientific warfare, bravery is no substitute for up to date weapons systems. Don't believe it, just ask the thousands of French troops who died charging machine gun nests at the start of WW1. The Polish Army was almost totally unmechanized and depended for mobility on horsed cavalry. They had no chance against Germany's Panzer divisions. Check out books by General Fuller and Captain Liddell-Hart on the Second World War. On the other hand, Czechoslovakia's totally mechanized army, which, by the way, had better tanks then did the Wehrmacht in 1938 and had much better defensive ground then did Poland, would have put up a much more formidable opposition to the Germans then the Poles were able to do.

      2. Well, 19th Century German Chancellor Bismarck was once quoted as saying that the next European war would be started by some damn fool incident in the Balkans. However, the real cause of the war was the Dreadnaught contest between Germany and Britain, which forced the latter into alliance with France and Russia. IMHO, absent British support, there was no way that France and Russia would go to war against Germany and Austria.

    2. The Polish forces began modernising themselves in 1936 -- too late to catch up with the rapid developments in the Third Reich. It was a race against time, and it proved too hard for a young country, reborn in 1918 after more than a century on political non-existence, with an old-fashioned industrial infrastructure. The navy did have a few good ships including two brand-new destroyers made in the UK. One of them was sunk at Narvik, the other took part in many naval operations (Norway, Dunkirk, the Battle of the Atlantic, Normandy), survived the war, and is still functioning as a museum ship in Gdynia. The Polish airforce was being developed: an intensive modernisation programme (overcome by events) was planned for the years 1939-1942. Polish pilots, however, were very well-trained (like their Czech colleagues, by the way), and they demonstrated their combat skills flying Hawker Hurricanes and Spitfires in the Battle of Britain and afterwards.

    3. IMO – the venality of the interwar Polish regime differed little from the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws.

      This is for all you Pete Seeger fans. It is easy to fault France, Norway and a host of other nazi-collaborationist nations. How about mentioning North America’s flirtation with Nazism?

      I could wax eloquent about the Nazi connections to the "American Liberty League" that opposed Roosevelt and American participation in the war.

      And yes, President John Kennedy was a hero as lionized in PT 109. Still, let’s remember that his father Joe Kennedy was an unabashed big Hitler fan, as well as a lobbyist paid by the Nazis to keep the US out of the war. ...and not just Kennedy... it would appear many American Republicans including the Bush family financially supported Hitler's Nazis!

      Henry Ford even received the Grand Cross of the Supreme Order of the German Eagle, awarded by Adolf Hitler, from German diplomats in Michigan in 1938. Ford even kept an autographed photo of Hitler on his desk until Germany’s inconvenient and embarrassing commencement of commencement of hostilities with America

      ALL the American captains of industry loved the Führer... they were lured by the promise of huge profits unimpeded by any state interference as enjoyed in Germany by their industrialist kith and kin. That would explain why so many backed the Nazis with their checkbooks - and I wish I were making this up!

      Not only did IBM, General Motors, Standard Oil, Du Pont, Union Carbide, Westinghouse, General Electric, Gillette, Goodrich, Singer, Eastman Kodak, Coca-Cola, IBM, and ITT amoung others all established very cozy relationships with Nazi Germany - they all publically expressed their admiration for Hitler's political system as an ideal "final" solution to the waxing Labor movement in the States and admired Nazism as a model to be emulated.

      You need to consider the Zeitgeist of the day. Bolshevism was not some silly boogeyman to scare the gullible - it was a very real fear prompting the coalition of reactionary forces to oppose any incarnation of left-wing revolution. That would explain Catholic complicity, given their real fear of Modernism's evils including trade union movements eventually leading to bolshevism.

      The International Jewish Labor Bund had to be crushed at all costs. At all costs, the success of the Bund in Poland could not be allowed in America. Sadly, the notion of an international Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy was not all so incoherent and represented a real fear that resonated amoung the captains of American industry. Of course the American Left was not just a Jewish phenomenon. Until 1941, America was divided between the Left and the Right. So understand, the prospect of revolution was all too real!

  15. Canada too has much to be ashamed of! Let us also not forget Quebec luminaries such as Abbé Groulx, André Laurendeau and Georges Pelletier idolized Mussolini, Pétain and Hitler by openly embracing fascism as a model to emulate for an independent Quebec. Anti-Semitism was part and parcel of Quebec's nationalism at the time. Certainly Quebec nationalists did not hold England and its so-called alliance with “international Jewry” in high regard, resulting in Quebec's refusal to participate in Canada's war effort during World War II. Again - I wish I were making this up...

    As recently as 1996, Jean-Louis Roux, Quebec's lieutenant governor, resigned in disgrace after it was discovered he had worn a swastika on his sleeve and joined demonstrations that targeted Quebec’s Jewish shops.

    In summary, North America’s reactionary racism (anti-Semitism in particular) not to mention its Eugenics programs were little different in kind, than Germany’s. As a matter of fact, Hitler boasted that his ideas were unoriginal and in fact borrowed from Britain and North America.

    When taken to extremes, the Nazi’s eventual industrial mass-production of mass-murder re-focused North American attention on its own venal polices (both latent and overt) and ultimately forced a rethink that eventually changed the rest of the world for the better. Isn’t that what the 60s were supposed to be all about?

  16. oops - broken Link

    here it is again

    Of course the American Left was not just a Jewish phenomenon. Until 1941, America was divided between the Left and the Right. So understand, the prospect of revolution was all too real!

  17. oops - one other broken link. again my apologies.

    IMO – the venality of the interwar Polish regime differed little from the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws.

    But as I mentioned above; no nation really emerged from this war with honor intact with the solitary exception of Denmark!

  18. This thread starts with a compliment to Allies risking thier lives for other human beings safety and freedom and BANF false accusations against us as JUST LIKE THE NAZI's.
    The Anglo-American civilization has always been NOT just morally superior but without any wrong doing for anyone to complain about.
    Before the war people simply saw leaders helping make thier nations better and possibly being anti communist brought lots of applause.
    This is no different then like applause for the Soviets during and after the war because they were seen as a ally. Until it made clear they were evil and a threat also.
    There was no support for Hitler in N America except vague sense of opposing like enemies.
    Truly I have the honour to defend the men and the people backing them up in our nations against attempts to paint us in a evil or negative light. I'm truly watching thier back.
    On their behalf TO ALL accusations about any immoral deed or thought, generally, I PLEAD NOT GUILTY. They ain't here but I am.
    Tom watch your sources. Of corse thats the problem with your evolutionists beliefs too!!