Tag: World War II

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Fighting On Despite Desperate Odds

 

Why do men fight, and why are willing they willing to continue to fight to the last man, preferring death to surrender? T. E. Lawrence’s said men go to war “because the women were watching.” According to Michael Walsh, in his new book, Lawrence’s answer holds more truth than irony. Men fight for their families.

“Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All is Lost,” by Michael Walsh, investigates the last man phenomena. It explores why men fight, and why they are willing to continue fighting even when they know they will lose.

Walsh examines history through the lens of combat, starting with the Ancient Greek Battle of Thermopylae and continuing through the Marine retreat from the Chosin Reservoir in the Twentieth Century. In thirteen chapters he explores sixteen last-stand battles. Some, including Thermopylae, Masada, and the Alamo, the defenders lost and dying almost to the last man. In others, like Rorke’s Drift and the Battle of Pavlov’s House at Stalingrad, defenders triumphed against terrible odds.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Action in the Dark Days of the Battle of the Atlantic

 

C. S. Forester was one of the most popular authors of the middle twentieth century. He died in 1966. Best known for his Horatio Hornblower novels, he wrote many other books, including mysteries and many other sea stories.

“The Good Shepherd,” by C. S. Forester, was one of those other sea novels. Originally published in 1955, it was adapted into the movie “Greyhound” by Tom Hanks. Released in 2020, the movie led several publishers, including the Naval Institute Press, to republish the book.

“The Good Shepherd,” set in World War II’s Battle of the Atlantic, recounts 52 hours of a 1942 winter crossing of the Atlantic by a slow convoy. It was the worst part of the Battle of the Atlantic. The escort is inadequate; German U-boats numerous.

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Robinson’s Rescues

 

This is about a World War II Navy Chaplain, Charles Robinson, who helped free the first Allied POWs in Japan. I’m posting this on Ricochet partly because I was irritated by the recently discovered comments by the Democrat candidate Raphael Warnock in the Georgia special election for Senate, who orated from the pulpit that people cannot serve the military and God. I didn’t find this to be true during my Navy career, whether one was serving as a Chaplain or just an adherent of a religion. Some of the people I respected the most were men of the cloth and I still value their friendship and the time we served together.

The essay is unrelated to the politics of the moment, so if you’d like a break from news about the election, the essay is safe to read. I doubt any of you have heard about Father Robinson, but his story is one that is worthy of sharing and, I believe, undercuts the narrative that Reverend Warnock peddles. Father Robinson pursued studies in theology that led him to become a Jesuit Priest almost 100 years ago, and he went overseas to Japan for his first posting. What he learned while in Japan ended up helping hundreds of prisoners of war in the Tokyo area who had been tortured or were starving at the end of the war.

The full essay is based on a research project for a history class I completed earlier this year. The professor described how Father Robinson had accomplished a mission of mercy for the Jesuits at the Jesuit Sophia University in Tokyo, and due to my Navy background, she suggested I research it for the term paper. My research determined that he had done a lot more of consequence before his rescue mission to Sophia. At the war’s end, he was stationed onboard the Battleship USS Missouri (BB-63), which arrived at the entrance to Tokyo Bay a few days before it would host the surrender ceremony on 2 September 1945. Of the tens of thousands of sailors who came to Tokyo Bay and were present for the surrender ceremony, Father Robinson had a skill that ended up being critical for rescuing hundreds of prisoners of war (POW) languishing in Japan’s numerous POW camps. He used his knowledge and abilities with distinction, in ways that helped smooth the process of quickly freeing the first group of POWs and saving other lives.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Pioneering Allied Airborne Operations Recounted

 

The Germans were the first nation to airborne troops in combat, using them decisively in 1939 and 1940. The British were not far behind, developing their own airborne forces in 1940. They initially used their airborne troops as raiders.

“Churchill’s Shadow Raiders: The Race to Develop Radar, WWII’s Invisible Secret Weapon,” by Damien Lewis examines the first two combat operations by British paratroopers, Operations Colossus and Biting. It combines these stories with a look at the “Wizard War” – the battle between Britain and Germany for electronics superiority.

Colossus and Biting were intended to smash vital targets unapproachable to soldiers, except by air. Operation Colossus was a February 1941 landing by paratroopers to destroy an aqueduct delivering water to Southern Italy. Operation Biting, in February 1942, was supposed to appear to be a British attempt to destroy a German radar station. In reality, it was to carry off the radar for intelligence analysis.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Thanks for RAF Cadet Memorial Service, 8 November 2020

 

I was very pleasantly surprised Sunday morning in Mesa, AZ. The Royal Air Force Cadet memorial service was held as it has been for the past three decades or so at the Mesa Cemetery. I bore witness to this as I feared it would be another remembrance cast aside on the pyre of our fearful reaction to a middling pandemic. Not so. While people wore the city council mandated face masks, the mayor of Mesa was there to speak, as he had in the preceding years. This annual memorial service is held the Sunday before Remembrance Day, our Veterans Day, and calls to mind the special relationship between our two countries and the service and sacrifice of those who have served.

The air filled with the sound of bagpipes and bugles blew clear and true. Prayers, poems, and remembrances were offered. The roll of the honored dead was read. Mayor Giles spoke brief and appropriate words, as did the honorary British consul for Arizona. I thought the best remarks were offered by the young Royal Air Force officer, on assignment at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. More on that in a bit, but first the event in pictures:

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The US Navy Faces Off Kamikazes at Okinawa

 

As the war turned against them in World War II, Japan tried a new tactic: the kamikaze. Pilots used their aircraft as one-way bombs against Allied warships and transports. The campaign started during the invasion of the Philippines in October 1944 and continued until the last day of the war.

“Rain of Steel: Mitscher’s Task Force 58, Ukagi’s Thunder Gods and the Kamikaze War off Okinawa,” by Stephen L. Moore, examines the most intense phase of the kamikaze campaign, that fought during the Allied invasion of Okinawa.

Moore touches on the whole of the kamikaze effort. He looks at its origins, how the Japanese developed it, and their kamikaze attacks prior to and after the conquest of Okinawa. He also examines the US reaction to the campaign, including the tactics developed to counter the kamikazes. The meat of the book is the fighting off Okinawa, however.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The French Resistance and German Defiance at the Liberation of Paris

 

Billy Boyle was a detective in the Boston Police Department when the US entered World War II. He came from the stereotypical cop Irish Catholic family. His family mistrusted the English. His father and uncle wanted him to serve their country, but want him safe. To do this they get Billy a posting with Uncle Ike, an obscure brigadier general, assigned to the General Staff in Washington, DC.

“When Hell Struck Twelve: A Billy Boyle WWII Mystery,” by James Benn, is the fourteenth novel about the results of this pairing.

Uncle Ike was Dwight Eisenhower. Shortly after Billy joins Eisenhower’s staff, Eisenhower gets tagged as Commanding General European Theater of Operations. Uncle Ike is delighted to have Billy, a trained detective, around. Eisenhower needs someone for sensitive (and frequently dangerous) confidential investigations. Billy finds himself in a world of military intelligence, counterintelligence, and espionage. He becomes Ike’s go-to guy when the general needs of unquestioned loyalty for a quiet look.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The United States in a Perilous Year

 

The United States is going through some hard times right now. Some might believe 2020 to be the most challenging year faced by the Republic. The oldest among us remember a year far worse than 2020 or even the 1960s.

“The Year of Peril: America in 1942,” by Tracy Campbell, recalls that year. The United States had been unexpectedly thrust into a war, one we appeared to be losing in 1942.

Campbell takes readers through that year. He reveals the fear stalking the American public, especially early in 1942. People expected the attack on Pearl Harbor to be followed up by a Japanese invasion of the American homeland. Air raids by long-range German bombers were also expected.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Countering Domestic Spies and Saboteurs in WWII

 

The Duke of Windsor was rumored to have been a Nazi collaborator, supposedly on their list to take Great Britain’s throne when the Nazis conquered Britain. He was not alone.

Hitler’s Secret Army: A Hidden History of Spies, Saboteurs, and Traitors in World War II, by Tim Tate reveals pro-Nazi collaboration was widespread in Britain before and during World War II. The rot of fascism pervaded England’s best and beautiful.

The existence of a British Fifth Column has long been held wartime scaremongering. Tate reexamined the issue using Home Office and Treasury Solicitor files declassified between 2000 and 2017. These records expose a widespread network of espionage, sabotage, and subversion conducted by British subjects during World War II.

Member Post

 

From Sapper to Spitfire Spy: The WWII Biography of David Greville-Heygate DFC, by Sally-Anne Greville-Heygate is an endearing memoir of a father’s military career, put together and fleshed out by his loving daughter, and given life by that father’s vivid diaries of his World War II experiences combined with a large selection of family photographs, […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review – The Atlantic War Remembered

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Book Review

‘The Atlantic War Remembered’ delivers raw memories from those who lived it

By MARK LARDAS

From the ages of 11 to 16 Jacob Bresler survived five years of ghettos and concentration camps during World War II. He credits his inventiveness, his stubbornness, his resilience, and his will to survive as the reasons he made it through the war and created a new life for himself in America. He is a humanist. He does not hate. He has no enemies. He remains optimistic about the future, and believes that communication is the only way to combat ignorance and pierce the ideological bubbles we’ve segregated ourselves into. He and Bridget cover a variety of topics including the many different paths he’s traveled in his life, how he feels about the phrase “Trump is Hitler,” when we should teach children about the Holocaust, how best to counter hate, and the idea that the potential for brutality lies within all of us. Don’t miss Jacob’s autobiography: You Shall Not Be Called Jacob Anymore.

Full transcript available here: WiW68-JacobBresler-Transcript

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday. Book Review ‘Churchill’s Phoney War’ a nuanced view of a leader By MARK […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review: Heavy Date over Germany

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Book Review

‘Heavy Date’ offers a look at war through a young man’s eyes

By MARK LARDAS

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Taking Memories to the Streets

 

This year marked the 100th anniversary of observing what became Veterans’ Day in America. It was also the 75th anniversary of a series of critical battles and campaigns that sealed the Third Reich’s fate. In June, the western Allies gathered to remember the Normandy invasion. On December 16, there was another major commemoration, although not with all national leaders, remembering the battle that finally broke the Germans, the Battle of the Bulge.

On December 16, 1944, Hitler hurled his last, best troops, those who had survived the Russian meat grinder and the battering, fighting retreat from Normandy since June 1944, back through a weak point in the Allied front. Taking advantage of bad weather, suppressing American air superiority, and employing superior knowledge of local terrain, armored columns thrust deep through the Allies’ lines. Yet, the Allies were not going to break catastrophically and the Wehrmacht lacked the operational and strategic supply support needed to fully exploit any tactical or operational success. Nevertheless, the tactical situation became so desperate that the white Army leaders who had lied through their teeth, after World War I, about black men’s ability to be their peers in the infantry now called forward volunteers out of the support troops, filling in gaping holes with platoons of African American soldiers assigned to formerly all-white companies. Four years later, President Truman rejected “expert” opinion and ordered the complete racial desegregation of the armed forces with Executive Order 9981.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. 100 Years, 3 Wars, 409 Combat Missions: Living Memory

 

On Friday, 6 December, Col. Charles McGee went flying for his 100th birthday. He actually flew the aircraft, with a copilot, and walked on and off the aircraft firm of voice and stride. Colonel McGee started flying in World War II, then stayed in the cockpit for the next thirty years, seeing combat in both Korea and Vietnam. He holds the US Air Force record, to this day, of 409 combat missions. As we commemorate the 75th anniversaries of D-Day at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge this year, we note the number of World War II veterans rapidly falling to the far end of the actuarial tables. Accordingly, each one who remains with us, still of firm mind and voice, becomes more of a treasure.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review – The War for the Sea: A Maritime History of World War II

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Book Review

Readers to discover, understand World War II’s naval battles

By MARK LARDAS

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. RAF Cadet Memorial Service: 10 November 2019 [Updated Photos]

 

The town of Mesa, Arizona, hosted the annual Royal Air Force Cadet memorial service at 1045, Sunday 10 November 2019 in the center of the Mesa Cemetery. There 23 cadets died far from home, learning to fly before going to Canada to train in their warbirds.

The Caledonian Society of Arizona provided the bagpipes. The Commemorative Air Force of Arizona conducted flyovers in the basic (Stearman biplanes) and advanced trainers (T-6) used in World War II. A firing detail of seven American Legion members rendered a 21-gun salute in three volleys. British Last Post was played, on a British military bugle, followed by the U.S. version on U.S. military standard bugle. A Boy Scout troop handed out programs, British standard poppies (much larger and sturdier than the VFW “Buddy Poppy”), and cups of water (the temperature under mostly sunny skies heading into the 80s.

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. This Week’s Book Review – Vanguard: The True Stories of the Reconnaissance and Intelligence Missions Behind D-Day

 

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.

Book Review

‘Vanguard’ examines the preparation into executing D-Day

By MARK LARDAS

Oct 12, 2019

Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. (Un)broken Movies

 

With the notable exception of Chappaquidick, the post-Vietnam movie industry, including the later original content cable television business, has relentlessly bent history and even powerful works of fiction, imposing narratives designed to immunize younger viewers against ever discovering inconvenient truths and other voices. I started mulling this over with Angelina Jolie’s shocking betrayal of a man she claimed to deeply respect, in her deeply biased big-screen rendition of Laura Hillenbrand’s profound Unbroken. I saw both Jolie’s Hollywood production and a small budget Christian production of the rest of the story. I’ve cogitated over this and found more and more productions attaching to the idea which formed: this is all quite deliberate propaganda.

Unbroken broken as told in two movies: