World War II

A.V.

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ALL news and events of the world war II here please.
 

A.V.

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causes of ww2

Effects of the Treaty of Versailles

Many of the seeds of World War II in Europe were sown by the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. In its final form, the treaty placed full blame for the war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, as well as exacted harsh financial reparations and led to territorial dismemberment. For the German people, who had believed that the armistice had been agreed to based on US President Woodrow Wilson's lenient Fourteen Points, the treaty caused resentment and a deep mistrust of their new government, the Weimar Republic. The need to pay war reparations, coupled with the instability of government, contributed to massive hyperinflation which crippled the German economy. This situation was made worse by the onset of the Great Depression.

In addition to the economic ramifications of the treaty, Germany was required to demilitarize the Rhineland and had severe limitations placed on the size of its military, including the abolishment of its air force. Territorially, Germany was stripped of its colonies and forfeited land for the formation the country of Poland. To ensure that Germany would not expand, the treaty forbade the annexation of Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

Rise of Fascism & the Nazi Party

In 1922, Benito Mussolini and the Fascist Party rose to power in Italy. Believing in a strong central government and strict control of industry and the people, Fascism was a reaction to the perceived failure of free market economics and a deep fear of communism. Highly militaristic, Fascism also was driven by a sense of belligerent nationalism that encouraged conflict as a means of social improvement. By 1935, Mussolini was able to make himself the dictator of Italy and transformed the country into a police state.

To the north in Germany, Fascism was embraced by the National Socialist German Workers Party, also known as the Nazis. Swiftly rising to power in the late 1920s, the Nazis and their charismatic leader, Adolf Hitler, followed the central tenets of Fascism while also advocating for the racial purity of the German people and additional German Lebensraum (living space). Playing on the economic distress in Weimar Germany and backed by their "Brown Shirts" militia, the Nazis became a political force. On January 30, 1933, Hitler was placed in position to take power when he was appointed Reich Chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg

The Nazis Assume Power

A month after Hitler assumed the Chancellorship, the Reichstag building burned. Blaming the fire on the Communist Party of Germany, Hitler used the incident as an excuse to ban those political parties that opposed Nazi policies. On March 23, 1933, the Nazis essentially took control of the government by passing the Enabling Acts. Meant to be an emergency measure, the acts gave the cabinet (and Hitler) the power to pass legislation without the approval of the Reichstag. Hitler next moved to consolidate his power and executed a purge of the party (The Night of the Long Knives) to eliminate those who could threaten his position. With his internal foes in check, Hitler began the persecution of those who were deemed racial enemies of the state. In September 1935, he passed the Nuremburg Laws which stripped Jews of their citizenship and forbade marriage or sexual relations between a Jew and an "Aryan." Three years later the first pogrom began (Night of Broken Glass) in which over one hundred Jews were killed and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps.

Germany Remilitarizes

On March 16, 1935, in clear violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler ordered the remilitarization of Germany, including the reactivation of the Luftwaffe (air force). As the German army grew through conscription, the other European powers voiced minimal protest as they were more concerned with enforcing the economic aspects of the treaty. In a move that tacitly endorsed Hitler's violation of the treaty, Great Britain signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement in 1935, which allowed Germany to build a fleet one third the size of the Royal Navy and ended British naval operations in the Baltic.

Two years after beginning the expansion of the military, Hitler further violated the treaty by ordering the reoccupation of the Rhineland by the German Army. Proceeding cautiously, Hitler issued orders that the German troops should withdrawal if the French intervened. Not wanting to become involved in another major war, Britain and France avoided intervening and sought a resolution, with little success, through the League of Nations. After the war several German officers indicated that if the reoccupation of the Rhineland had been opposed, it would have meant the end of Hitler's regime.

The Anschluss

Emboldened by Great Britain and France's reaction to the Rhineland, Hitler began to move forward with a plan to unite all German-speaking peoples under one "Greater German" regime. Again operating in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler made overtures regarding the annexation of Austria. While these were generally rebuffed by the government in Vienna, Hitler was able to orchestrate a coup by the Austrian Nazi Party on March 11, 1938, one day before a planned plebiscite on the issue. The next day, German troops crossed the border to enforce the Anschluss (annexation). A month later the Nazis held a plebiscite on the issue and received 99.73% of the vote. International reaction was again mild, with Great Britain and France issuing protests, but still showing that they were unwilling to take military action.
 

A.V.

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causes of ww2

The Munich Conference

With Austria in his grasp, Hitler turned towards the ethnically German Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia. Since its formation at the end of World War I, Czechoslovakia had been wary of possible German advances. To counter this, they had built an elaborate system of fortifications throughout the mountains of the Sudetenland to block any incursion and formed military alliances with France and the Soviet Union. In 1938, Hitler began supporting paramilitary activity and extremist violence in the Sudetenland. Following the Czechoslovakia's declaration of martial in the region, Germany immediately demanded that the land be turned over to them.

In response, Great Britain and France mobilized their armies for the first time since World War I. As Europe moved towards war, Mussolini suggested a conference to discuss the future of Czechoslovakia. This was agreed to and the meeting opened in September 1938, at Munich. In the negotiations, Great Britain and France, led by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and President Édouard Daladier respectively, followed a policy of appeasement and caved to Hitler's demands in order to avoid war. Signed on September 29, 1938, the Munich Agreement turned over the Sudetenland to Germany in exchange for Germany's promise to make no additional territorial demands.

The Czechs, who had not been invited to conference, were forced to accept the agreement and were warned that if they failed to comply, they would be responsible for any war that resulted. By signing the agreement, the French defaulted on their treaty obligations to Czechoslovakia. Returning to England, Chamberlain claimed to have achieved "peace for our time." The following March, German troops broke the agreement and seized the remainder of Czechoslovakia. Shortly thereafter, Germany entered into a military alliance with Mussolini's Italy.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

Angered by what he saw as the Western Powers colluding to give Czechoslovakia to Hitler, Josef Stalin worried that a similar thing could occur with the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1939, the Soviets began discussions with Nazi Germany regarding the creation of a non-aggression pact. The final document, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, was signed on August 23, and called for the sale of food and oil to Germany and mutual non-aggression. Also included in the pact were secret clauses dividing Eastern Europe into spheres of influence as well as plans for the partition of Poland.

The Invasion of Poland

Since World War I, tensions had existed between Germany and Poland regarding the free city of Danzig and the "Polish Corridor." The latter was a narrow strip of land reaching north to Danzig which provided Poland with access to the sea and separated the province of East Prussia from the rest of Germany. In an effort to resolve these issues and gain Lebensraum for the German people, Hitler began planning the invasion of Poland. Formed after World War I, Poland's army was relatively weak and ill-equipped compared to Germany. To aid in its defense, Poland had formed military alliances with Great Britain and France.

Massing their armies along the Polish border, the Germans staged a fake Polish attack on August 31, 1939. Using this as a pretext for war, German forces flooded across the border the next day. On September 3, Great Britain and France issued an ultimatum to Germany to end the fighting. When no reply was received, both nations declared war.

In Poland, German troops executed a blitzkrieg (lightning war) assault using combining armor and mechanized infantry. This was supported from above by the Luftwaffe, which had gained experience fighting with the fascist Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). The Poles attempted to counterattack but were defeated at the Battle of Bzura (Sept. 9-19). As the fighting was ending at Bzura, the Soviets, acting on the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, invaded from the east. Under assault from two directions, the Polish defenses crumbled with only isolated cities and areas offering prolonged resistance. By October 1, the country had been completely overrun with some Polish units escaping to Hungary and Romania. During the campaign, Great Britain and France, who were both slow to mobilize, provided little support to their ally.

With the conquest of Poland, the Germans implemented Operation Tannenberg which called for the arrest, detainment, and execution of 61,000 Polish activists, former officers, actors, and intelligentsia. By the end of September, special units known as Einsatzgruppen had killed over 20,000 Poles. In the east, the Soviets also committed numerous atrocities, including the murder of prisoners of war, as they advanced. The following year, the Soviets executed between 15,000-22,000 Polish POWs and citizens in the Katyn Forest on Stalin's orders.
 

A.V.

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The Phoney War

Following the invasion of Poland in the fall of 1939, World War II lapsed into a lull known as the "Phoney War." During this seven month interlude, the majority of fighting took place in secondary theaters as both sides sought to avoid a general confrontation on the Western Front and the possibility of World War I-style trench warfare. At sea, the British began a naval blockade of Germany and instituted a convoy system to protect against U-boat attacks. In the South Atlantic, ships of the Royal Navy engaged the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee at the Battle of the River Plate (December 13, 1939), damaging it and forcing its captain to scuttle the ship four days later.
 

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The Value of Norway

A neutral at the beginning of the war, Norway became one of the principal battlefields of the Phoney War. While both sides initially were inclined to honor Norwegian neutrality, Germany began to waver as it depended on shipments of Swedish iron ore that passed through the Norwegian port of Narvik. Realizing this, the British started to see Norway as a hole in the blockade of Germany. Allied operations were also influenced by the outbreak of the Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union. Seeking a way to aid the Finns, Britain and France sought permission for troops to cross Norway and Sweden en route to Finland. While a neutral in the Winter War, Germany feared that if Allied troops were permitted to pass through Norway and Sweden they would occupy Narvik and the iron ore fields. Unwilling to risk a possible German invasion, both Scandinavian nations denied the Allies request.
 

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Norway Invaded

In early 1940, both Britain and Germany began to develop plans to occupy Norway. The British sought to mine Norwegian coastal waters to force German merchant shipping out to sea where it could be attacked. They anticipated this would provoke a response from the Germans, at which point British troops would land in Norway. German planners called for a large-scale invasion with six separate landings. After some debate, the Germans also decided to invade Denmark in order to protect the southern flank of the Norway operation.

Commencing almost simultaneously in early April 1940, the British and German operations soon collided. On April 8, the first in a series of naval skirmishes began between the ships of the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine. The next day, the German landings began with support provided by paratroopers and the Luftwaffe. Meeting only light resistance, the Germans quickly took their objectives. To the south, German troops crossed the border and quickly subjugated Denmark. As German troops approached Oslo, King Haakon VII and the Norwegian government evacuated north before fleeing to Britain.

Over the next few days, naval engagements continued with the British winning a victory at the First Battle of Narvik. With Norwegian forces in retreat, the British began sending troops to assist in stopping the Germans. Landing in central Norway, the British troops aided in slowing the German advance but were too few to stop it completely and were evacuated back to England in late April and early May. The failure of the campaign led the collapse of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's government and he was replaced with Winston Churchill. To the north, British forces recaptured Narvik on May 28, but due to the events unfolding in the Low Countries and France they withdrew on June 8 after destroying the port facilities.
 

rock45

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Ww-ii

I'm not a big War World II buff by any means besides attacking Russia and opening yet another front Germany failed on two important areas. The first not invading Spain and closing the Med down to English shipping. England an Island nation the Med was one of the most important trade routes for England at the time. U-Boat bases could have been built in Spain like they were in France supported by air cover and England would have been hard press to get supplies through and feed their war machine.
2nd England's navy and her shipyards imagine if just 40% of the German air attacks focus on the UK's shipping assets it would have staved England's means to fight and build the weapons it needed. I would have focus on the war ships knocking out the Frigates, Destroyers, basically any escort war ship.
England's Air Force was important don't get me wrong and even pressing more attacks against air fields and air bases would have been more useful then attacking cities but the their Navy was their backbone. England's war efforts depended on what English shipping could bring in and Germany didn't take this away. They didn't take away what was guarding the shipping in the first place. Think of the hundreds of cargo ships and tankers etc that were sunk Germany should have targeted the war ships protecting the cargo ships first. Imagine if the U-Boat packs focus on the escorts in and around England itself the English navy would have never been able to replace the war ships, never mind the crews. The convoys would have had very little left to protect them is what I'm getting at.
It was the escorts getting better and the air coverage expanding that began to take its toll on the U-Boats and turn the tide around. I glad things turn out the way they did don't get me wrong.

Just my two cents
 
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excellent post Rock ,I have studied ww2 and i always felt hitler's move into russia has too hasty if he had focused on the western front ww2's outcome would have possibly been a lot different.
 

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Divers discover wreckage of Soviet WWII submarine in Baltic Sea

STOCKHOLM, June 9 (RIA Novosti) - A team of Swedish and Finnish divers have located the wreckage of a Soviet WWII S-type diesel submarine near the Aland islands in the Baltic Sea, a Swedish news agency said on Tuesday.
The S-2 submarine sank on January 2, 1940 in a minefield during the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland (November 1939-March 1940). The entire 50-member crew was lost.
"After searching through a section of water the wreck has been found in the Aland Sea near the [maritime] border between Sweden and Finland by a Swedish-Finnish dive team," the TT agency cited a team statement.
The team started the search for the sub more than a decade ago in April 1999.
Swedish authorities as well as the Russian embassy in Sweden have been informed about the discovery, the team said.
S-type medium submarines, unofficially dubbed Stalinets, were one of the most widely produced and deployed submarine class in the Soviet Navy during World War II.
Boats of this class were extremely successful and achieved more victories than any Soviet submarine. In all, they sank 82,770 gross registered tons of merchant shipping and seven warships, which accounts for about one-third of all tonnage sunk by Soviet submarines.

Divers discover wreckage of Soviet WWII submarine in Baltic Sea | Top Russian news and analysis online | 'RIA Novosti' newswire
 

Vinod2070

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i read the book "The rise and fall of the Third Reich" by William Shirer a while back. I think it is a very comprehensive history of Germany during the war period and the years leading to the war.
 

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Indian Dvisions in WWII

Iraq Mideast theater

Indian 2nd Infantry Division

The 2nd Infantry Division was a unit of the Indian Army created for deception purposes in order to control Line of Communications and Sub-area formations in Iraq during the Second World War.

It was created on 15 August 1942 from the HQ Iraq Area and converted to HQ Northern Iraq Area on 15 October 1944.

Orbat Not available

Burma Theater

Indian 3rd Infantry Division AkA:Chidits


Order of Battle of the Chindits an Allied special force which carried out two deep penetration raids behind Japanese line during the Burma Campaign in the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II


First Chindit Expedition 1943. Codenamed Operation Longcloth

Headquarters 77th Indian Infantry Brigade

Commander Brigadier Orde Wingate

Brigade Major Major R.B.G. Bromhead (succeeded by Major G.M. Anderson)

Staff Captain Captain H.J. Lord

Deception party

Officer Commanding (O.C.) Major Jeffries

No. 1 Group (Southern)

Officer Commanding (O.C.) Lt-Colonel Alexander (died during the operation)

1 Column (Major Dunlop)

2 Column (Major Burnett)

No. 2 Group (Northern)

O.C Lt-Colonel S.A. Cooke

3 Column (Major Michael Calvert)

4 Column (Major R.A. Conron)(replaced by Major R.B. Bromhead March 1, 1943)

5 Column (Major Bernard Fergusson)

7 Column (Major K. Gilkes)

8 Column (Major Walter Scott)

HQ Group (Burma Rifles)

O.C. Lt-Colonel L.G. Wheeler 2nd Burma Rifles (replaced by Captain P.C. Buchanan on the death of Lt-Colonel Wheeler)


Second Chindit Expedition 1944. Codenamed Operation Thursday

Headquarters 3rd Indian Infantry Division

Division Commander Major-General Orde.C. Wingate (succeeded by Major-General W.D.A. Lentaigne)
Deputy Commander Major-General G.W. Symes, (succeeded by Brigadier D. Tulloch)
Brigadier General Staff Brigadier D. Tulloch,( succeeded by Brigadier H.T. Alexander)
Locations of Headquarters

Rear HQ at Gwalior, Central India

Main HQ first at Imphal later at Sylhet, Assam

Launching HQ at Lalaghat

Tactical/Forward HQ, Shaduzup, Burma

Thunder 3rd West African Brigade

Officer Commanding (O.C.) Brigadier A.H. Gillmore, (succeeded by Brigadier A.H.G. Ricketts): 10 HQ column

6th Battalion Nigeria Regiment: 66 and 39 Columns

7th Battalion Nigeria Regiment: 29 and 35 Columns

12th Battalion Nigeria Regiment: 12 and 43 Columns

3rd West African Field Ambulance: Support

(From disbanded British 70th Infantry Division );

Javelin British 14th Infantry Brigade

O.C. Brigadier T. Brodie: 59 HQ column

2nd Battalion TheBlack Watch: 42 and 73 Columns - Lt.Col.G.C.Green

1st Battalion Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment: 16 and 61 Columns

2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment: 65 and 84 Columns

7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment: 47 and 74 Columns

54th Field Company Royal Engineers & Medical Detachment:support

Enterprise British 16th Infantry Brigade

O.C. Brigadier B.E. Fergusson: 99 HQ column

2nd Battalion The Queen's Royal Regiment (West Surrey); 21 and 22 Columns

2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment ; 17 and 71 Columns

51/69 Field Regiment Royal Artillery 51 and 69 Columns (infantry columns made up of R.A. personnel)

45th Reconnaissance Regiment ; 45 and 54 Columns (infantry columns made up recce units)

2nd Field Company Royal Engineers & Medical Detachment: support

Emphasis 77th Indian Infantry Brigade

O.C. Brigadier Mike Calvert: 25 HQ column

3rd Battalion 6th Gurkha Rifles: 36 and 63 Columns

1st Battalion The King's Regiment (Liverpool): 81 and 82 Columns

1st Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers: 20 and 50 Columns

1st Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment: 38 and 80 Columns

3rd Battalion 9th Gurkha Rifles: 57 and 93 Columns

142 Company, Hong Kong Volunteers & Medical and veterinary detachments: support

Profound 111th Indian Infantry Brigade

O.C. Brigadier W.D.A. Lentaigne, (succeeded first by Major John Masters and then by Brigadier Morris): 48 HQ Column

1st Battalion The Cameronians: 26 and 90 Columns

2nd Battalion The King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster): 41 and 46 Columns

3rd Battalion (part) 4th Gurkha Rifles: 30 Column

Mixed Field Company Royal Engineers/Royal Indian Engineers & Medical and veterinary detachments: support

Morris Force

O.C. Lt-Colonel (later promoted Brigadier) J.R. Morris

4th Battalion 9th Gurkha Rifles: 49 and 94 Columns

3rd Battalion (part) 4th Gurkha Rifles: 40 Column

Dah Force

O.C. Lieut-Colonel D.C. Herring

Bladet (Blain's Detachment)

O.C. Major Blain

Royal Artillery Supporting non-mobile units designed to defend Chindit Jungle Fortresses.

R, S and U Troops 160th Field Regiment Royal Artillery (All 25 pounders)

W,X,Y, and Z Troops 69th Light Anti Aircraft Regiment (40mm Bofors / 12.5 mm Hisoano guns)

Support Units

NO 1 Air Commando USAAF – strike and casualty evacuation (until 1/5/1944 only)

Eastern Air Command – supply

U. S.Army 900th Field Unit (engineers)

Divisional Support Troops

2nd Battalion Burma Rifles – one section assigned per column except for columns in the 3rd West African Brigade

145th Brigade Company R.A.S.C.

219th Field Park Company Royal Engineers

61st Air Supply Company R.A.S.C.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Galahad 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional) US Army

1st Battalion; Red and White Combat Teams

2nd Battalion; Blue and Green Combat Teams

3rd Battalion; Khaki Orange Combat Teams

Also known as Merrill's Marauders and after being trained were transferred to General Joseph Stilwell's Northern Combat Area Command and operated independently of the Chindits.

23rd British Infantry Brigade

O.C Brigadier Lance E.C.M. Perowne CBE: 32 HQ column

1st Battalion Essex Regiment:Columns 44, 56

2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding): Columns 33, 76

4th Battalion Border Regiment:Columns 34, 55

60th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery: Columns 60, 68 (fighting as infantry)

12th Field Company Royal Engineers & Medical Detachment: Support

This Brigade trained as a Chindit Brigade, but was diverted to the main front for use against the Japanese.

Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_of_Battle_of_the_Chindits"



List of Indian Divisions in World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

bengalraider

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The indische legion: The axis indian army

Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indische), or Legion Freies Indien, was formed 26 Aug 1942 from Indian volunteers fighting in the British 3rd (Indian) Motorised Brigade and other units captured in North Africa. It should also be noted that not all were volunteers, many were also pressured to join the unit.

The Indians were recruited with the help of Subhas Chandra Bose, ex-president of the Indian National Congress, who had escaped India despite British surveillance.



Apr 1943 it was transferred to Beverloo, Belgium, were it was attached to 16. Luftwaffe-Feld-Division. A large number of men of the 3rd company, 1st battalion, refused to follow orders and go to the Netherlands, this ended with 47 of them being court-martialled and sent back to the POW-camps.

Aug 1943 it was sent to Bordeaux, France, and was attached to 344. Infanterie-Division. When that division was sent to northern France, the Indians remained and was attached to 159. Infanterie-Division.



21 Jan 1943 it was made part of the Japanese sponsored Azad Hind Fauj (Indian National Army), an "army" that would grow to include 3 divisions with a total of 33.000 men. Bose had left Germany Feb 1943 on U-180 from Kiel and met up with the Japanese submarine I-29 near Madagascar, reaching Japan occupied Sumatra 6 May. He then travelled to Tokyo were he got involved with Japanese plans. He did of the wounds he suffered in a airplane crash after take-off from Taipei, Formosa (Taiwan), 18 Aug 1945.



The 9th company, the one most reliable one, was sent to Italy in the spring of 1944 where it saw action against the British 5th Corps and the Polish 2nd Corps before it was withdrawn from the front to be used in antipartisan operations. It surrendered to the Allied forces Apr 1945, still in Italy.



Following the allied landings in Normandy the activities of the partisans, Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur (FFI), began to increase and as the Allies advanced the Indians withdrew, loosing men both through combat and desertions.



It was transferred to the Waffen-SS in Aug 1944 and was redesignated Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS.



Italy also recruited Indians for their forces, they served in Battaglione Azad Hindostan of the Raggruppamento Centri Militari.


Area of operations
Germany (Aug 1942 - Apr 1943)
Holland (Apr 1943 - Sep 1943)
France (Sep 1943 - Aug 1944)


Order of battle

I. Bataillon

II. Bataillon

III. Bataillon

13. Infanteriegeschütz Kompanie

14. Panzerjäger Kompanie

15. Pionier Kompanie

Sonderkompanie



Flag of Legion Freies Indien



Illustration © Flags Of The World



Soldiers of Legion Freies Indien, note the sleeve badge with the indian colors, a tiger and the text "Freies Indien"


(Courtesy of Jörgen)



Soldier of Legion Freies Indien with an MG 34


(Courtesy of PJ)



Soldier of Legion Freies Indien


(Courtesy of PJ)



Legion Freies Indien stamp (1943)



(Courtesy of PJ Caliguire)



Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel visits the Indische Legion during an inspection of the Atlantikwall 10 February 1944


Source:Axis History Factbook: Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indische)
 

ShyAngel

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World War II? Oh gosh, its sad when the entire world was hungry and suffering!
Thank god, at that time the Tibetans and Tibet were happily sealed inside the great snow covered himalayas. Please may there be no World War III! That's all!

:)
 

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Sinking the IJN YAMATO

Yamato
Country Japan
Ship Class Yamato-class Battleship
Builder Kure Naval Yard
Laid Down 4 November 1937
Launched 8 August 1940
Commissioned 1 December 1941
Sunk 7 April 1945
Displacement 65027 tons standard; 72809 tons full
Length 863 feet
Beam 121 feet
Draft 34 feet
Machinery 12 Kanpon boilers, driving 4 steam turbines with 4 triple-bladed propellers
Bunkerage 6,300 tons
Power Output 150000 SHP
Speed 27 knots
Range 7,200nm at 16 knots
Crew 2750
Armament 9x46cm, 6x15.5cm, 24x12.7cm, 162x25mm anti-aircraft, 4x13mm anti-aircraft
Armor 650mm turrets, 410mm sides, 200mm deck
Aircraft 7
Aircraft Catapult 2

Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Yamato, along with her sister ship Musashi, were the largest battleships ever built in history. Her design plans were based upon Japan's belief that a powerful navy sporting big guns were the key to control the Pacific by intimidation. Based on this philosophy, naval designer Captain Kikuo Fujimoto gave the original 1934 design of the Yamato nine 18.1 inch guns, and made the hull versatile enough to be re-armed for larger guns later. Her massive guns dwarfed all other guns used in naval warfare, with each turret weighing as much as a typical American destroyer. Unlike the American battleships whose width were limited due to the Panama Canal restriction, the Yamato had the freedom to be equipped with some of the thickest armor on her two sides for unsurpassed protection. Her bow was also of a special design, allowing this heavy hulk of a ship to travel up little above 27 knots. When Naoyoshi Ishida, an officer who served aboard the Yamato, first saw her, he thought "How huge it is!" He recalled:

"When you walk inside, there are arrows telling you which direction is the front and which is the back—otherwise you can't tell. For a couple of days I didn't even know how to get back to my own quarters. Everyone was like that.... I knew it was a very capable battleship. The guns were enormous. Back then I really wanted to engage in battle with an American battleship in the Pacific."
Because of her enormous size, men who served aboard reported that there was no pitch or roll when sailing, even when standing at the top of the command tower. It was almost as if they were standing on firm ground, recalled Ensign Mitsuru Yoshida who served on the Yamato as a radar officer.

Her construction, started after a few iterations of design changes and refinements, was shielded in a veil of secrecy. With inadequate resources spent on military intelligence, the United States had no clue of her existence when she was commissioned in Dec 1941, a week after the start of the Pacific War. Yamato served as flagship of Combined Fleet commander Isoroku Yamamoto until his death in Apr 1943. Several reasons kept her unable to fire her 2,998lb shells on enemy ships; beyond being the flagship of Japan's naval commander, she was only too valuable to engage in battle. A ship bearing the mythical name of ancient Japan simply could not be risked. As a result, she remained near the naval base of Truk for the most of 1943 on defensive duty. During a patrol in Dec 1943, she was damaged by torpedo launched from USS Skate (SS-305), further reducing her roles on the frontlines. She finally saw action during later stages of the war, participating in actions in the Philippines Sea, then as the command ship of Admiral Takeo Kurita devastated a small American fleet off Samar (though Yamato did not play a significantly active role in the Battle off Samar).

Besides the usual explosive and armor-piercing shells, Yamato was equipped with a unique anti-aircraft shell for use with the 18.1 inch main guns. The sanshiki shells weighed just under 3,000 pounds, and were filled with incendiary tubes. These anti-aircraft shells were fired toward incoming aircrafts a la flak, and a timed fuse triggered an explosion in the path of the hostile aircrafts, filling the air space with burning steel shrapnel. In addition to these unique shells, Yamato was also surrounded by a wide array of traditional anti-aircraft weapons at the base of the superstructure.

While in home waters after the winter 1944-1945 refitting (more anti-aircraft weapons), she was spotted and attacked by U.S. Navy carrier planes in March 1945. She escaped with light damage, but her vulnerability against the swarming American aircrafts was now clear. With the war effort in its most desperate time, she was assigned a month later to become the ultimate suicidal special attack instrument in the Ten-Go (Ten'ichigo) Operation. The operation called for a suicide mission of ten ships to sail straight into the American fleet supporting the Okinawa landing. If she was not able to sail into the American fleet, she was to beach herself on Okinawa to serve as a mighty coastal fortress while the sailors disembark to become infantry. If that failed, she then was to draw as much fire from American aircraft as possible so that a concurrent suicide operation by Kamikaze aircraft (Operation Kikusui) would confront less resistance from the air.

At 1220 on 7 Apr 1945, while still some 270 miles north of Okinawa, after being tracked by American reconnaissance aircraft and submarines almost the entire way, Yamato was attacked by waves and waves of American carrier planes. She received serious damage from falling bombs within the first 15 minutes of the battle, then was struck by torpedoes on the port side. Her strategy was to contain the damage and flooding and wait for American aircraft to dissipate. But as more waves arrive to attack at the task force, that hope quickly proved unreachable.

After an agonizing two hours, the largest battleship in the world sank as the list reached nearly 90 degrees. She then exploded twice under water; the cause of the explosion was likely the shells from the primary and secondary magazines falling off their shelves and detonating their fuses against the overhead. Only 269 men survived the sinking super battleship.

After the war, Yamato became an object of intense fascination in Japan, as well as in foreign countries. She also remained a sensitive topic in Japan. While still a token of national pride, the sinking of Yamato also symbolized the sad end of the once invincible Imperial Japanese Navy. Yamato's remains were located and examined in 1985 and again examined, more precisely, in 1999. She lies in two main parts in some 1,000 feet of water. Her bow portion, severed from the rest of the ship in the vicinity of the second main battery turret, is upright, and the 2-meter wide chrysanthemum crest still glowing in a faint golden aura. The midships and stern section is upside down nearby, with two large holes in the bottom section of the ship, the result of powerful internal explosions.

Sources: Naval Historical Center, Requiem of the Battleship Yamato, Sinking the Supership.

Photographs


Battleship Yamato underway, circa late 1941

Musashi, Yamato, a cruiser, and Nagato at Brunei, Borneo, Oct 1944

Portrait of Yamato's officers immediately before Ten-Go Operation, 5 Apr 1945; note Rear Admiral Kosaku Ariga at front center

A mushroom cloud hanging above battleship Yamato's exploding hull, 7 Apr 1945

Battleship Yamato under aerial attack in the East China Sea, 7 Apr 1945

SOURCE:World War II Database: Your WW2 History Reference Destination
 

bengalraider

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The bismarck

Bismarck
Country Germany
Ship Class Bismarck-class Battleship
Builder Blohm & Voss, Hamburg, Germany
Laid Down 1 July 1936
Launched 14 February 1939
Commissioned 24 August 1940
Sunk 27 May 1941
Displacement 41700 tons standard; 50900 tons full
Length 824 feet
Beam 118 feet
Draft 33 feet
Machinery 12 Wagner high-pressure; 3 Blohm & Voss geared turbines, 3 three-blade propellers
Power Output 150170 SHP
Speed 30 knots
Range 8,525nm at 19 knots
Crew 2092
Armament 4x2x380mm L47 SK-C/34 guns, 12x152mm L55 SK-C/28 guns, 16x105mm L65 SK-C/37 / SK-C/33 guns, 16x37mm L83 SK-C/30 guns, 12x1x20mm L65 C/30 machine guns, 8x4x20mm L65 C/32 machine guns
Armor 145-320mm belt, 110-120mm deck, 220mm bulkheads, 130-360mm turrets, 342mm barbettes, 360mm conning tower

Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Bismarck was Germany's first "real" post-World War I battleship, with guns and protection of similar scale to those of the best foreign combat ships. Built to a relatively conservative design, she featured a main battery of eight 38 centimeter (15-inch) guns in four twin turrets, two forward and two aft. Her secondary battery of twelve 15 cm (5.9-inch) guns, mounted six on each side in twin turrets, was optimized for use against enemy surface ships, especially destroyers. Her anti-aircraft battery, including sixteen 10.5 cm (4.1-inch) guns in eight twin mounts and several 37mm and 20mm machine guns, reflected the prevailing pre-World War II underestimation of the threat from the air, a failing common to all the World's navies.

The two ships of this class, Bismarck and her "sister" Tirpitz, were quite fast, at just over thirty knots maximum speed. Their steam turbine powerplants, producing some 150,000 horsepower, consumed a great deal of fuel oil, limiting their oceanic "reach" to a degree that was especially critical to a nation with Germany's geography. Future German battleship designs, which World War II aborted, featured diesel engines, intended to produce far greater endurance on the high seas.

Bismarck was very heavily protected against the gunfire of other battleships. With a standard displacement of well over 41,000 tons (about 50,000 tons fully loaded), she was also quite a bit larger than her European and American contemporaries. As shown by the photographs below, originally collected by the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence, this ship's construction greatly interested foreign navies.

Built at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Bismarck's keel was laid at the beginning of July 1936. She was launched with considerable ceremony, including the attendance of Adolf Hitler, on 14 February 1939. Her outfitting, which included the addition of a new "clipper" bow (which the Germans called an "Atlantic" bow), lasted nearly two years. She was commissioned in August 1940, ran trials during the following months, and was not fully ready for service until late in 1940.

She was commissioned in August 1940 and spent the rest of that year running trials and continuing her outfitting. The first months of 1941 were largely devoted to training operations in the Baltic sea. Bismarck left the Baltic on 19 May 1941, en route to the Atlantic, accompanied by the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen. On the morning of 24 May, while west of Iceland, the German vessels encountered the British battlecruiser Hood and battleship Prince of Wales. In the ensuing Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood blew up and sank. The seriously damaged Prince of Wales was forced to break off contact. Bismarck also received shell hits that degraded her seakeeping and contaminated some of her fuel.

Later on 24 May, Prinz Eugen was detached, while Bismarck began a voyage toward France, where she could be repaired. She was intermittantly attacked by carrier planes and surface ships, ultimately sustaining a torpedo hit in the stern that rendered her unable to steer effectively. British battleships and heavy cruisers intercepted the crippled ship on the morning of 27 May. After less than two hours of battle, shells and torpedoes had reduced Bismarck to a wreck. She capsized and sank, with the loss of all but 110 of her crew of some 2300 men.

Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler's reaction to Bismarck's loss produced a very cautious approach to future German surface ship operations against Britain's vital Atlantic sea lanes. In June 1989, just over forty-eight years after she sank, the German battleship's battered hulk was located and photographed where she lies upright on a mountainside, nearly 16,000 feet below the ocean surface.

Source: Naval Historical Center
Photographs

Launching of the Bismarck, Hamburg, Germany, Feb 1939

Bismarck immediate after launch, Feb 1939

Bismarck fitting out at Hamburg, Germany, Dec 1939

Installing 15-inch gun turrets onto the Bismarck, Dec 1939

Bismarck at sea, seen from Prinz Eugen, May 1941

Bismarck firing on Prince of Wales, May 1941

Painting by Claus Bergen depicting the German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen and battleship Bismarck firing on British warships Hood and Prince of Wales.
 

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