Thursday, October 15, 2015

Finnish Bofors AA-Gun in Position

A Lance-Corporal from Finnish 43rd light anti-aircraft divison reloading 40mm Bofors AA-gun already in position near the township of Nokia/Finland, 25 April 1944, during Continuation War. Finland bought license for manufacturing 40-Bofors guns in 1937. In fact the Finns intended 40-mm Bofors as one of the main products of newly established VTT (= Valtion Tykkitehdas = State Artillery Factory) already before World War 2 broke out. Even the first order was sent to VTT already year 1938. However, as VTT's production failed to start as fast as had been earlier planned and as the international situation developed more serious the Finns decided to order guns from Sweden (Bofors) and Hungary (MAVAG) already before Winter War. First delivery of 9 guns came from Sweden and arrived in spring of 1939. From Hungary 42 guns were ordered, 24 of them arrived via Sweden during December of 1939, just barely getting past Germany before the Germans stopped weapon transports through their territory to Finland. The next shipment of 12 guns from Hungary was not so lucky - the Germans stopped it. After secret negotiations, the Germans released the 12-gun shipment and it arrived to Finland in January of 1940. The last 6 guns ordered from MAVAG never arrived. All in all the Finns managed to get 53 guns before starting of Winter War. During Winter War Sweden was the largest supplier of these guns and most of the guns it delivered were in fact loaned from Swedish Army. By 13th of March 1940 (the day Winter War ended) the amount of 40-mm Bofors guns in Finnish use had reached 100. Next large purchase happened when during Interim Peace Finland managed to buy 92 guns from Germany, these probably originated from Poland, Netherlands and Austria, they arrived in November of 1940. From these 92 guns coming from Germany 56 arrived with S/S Lutjehörn 9th of November 1940 and 36 with the same ship 20th of November 1940. Finnish license production did not produce its first guns until year 1941 and whole license production was only 77 guns. As usual Lokomo manufactured barrel blanks for these guns while Crichton-Vulcan manufactured much of the parts needed for their gun carriages. Finnish license manufacturer VTT (Valtion Tykkitehdas = State Artillery Factory) manufactured rest of the parts and built the guns. VTT delivered 12 guns in 1941, 45 guns in 1942, 14 guns in 1944 and 6 guns in 1945. The total number of 40-mm Bofors guns in Finnish use during World War 2 reached around 300 or so.


Source :
http://inktank.fi/these-24-amazing-colour-photos-of-finland-during-ww2-make-war-seem-incredibly-real/
http://www.jaegerplatoon.net/AA_GUNS2.htm
http://sa-kuva.fi/

SdKfz.251 of Afrikakorps Advances Past Fort Mechili

German Afrikakorps soldiers in an armored personnel carrier Sd.Kfz.251/1 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 251) Ausf.B advances past the fortified Fort Mechili in Cyrenaica/Libya, Western Desert, North Africa, 8 April 1941. On 31 March 1941, Rommel launched his first offensive into British defense line at El Agheila - Libya with only 8,000 men of 5. leichte-Division (division formed by parceling units from 3. Panzer-Division, thus did not possess full Panzer complement but was fully mechanized ). Panzer-Regiment 5 was its main panzer arm with Panzer III and Panzer IV tanks - enough power to deal with British Crusader tanks. Unbeknown to the Germans, British already withdrawn their main tank force - 7th Royal Tank Regiment - from Libya to augment British offensive against Italian forces in Somali in east Africa down by Indian Ocean. As main British forces retreated along coastal road to along Benghazi - Derna - Tobruk cities, Rommel pursuit followed. He also sent Panzer-Regiment 5 into southern flanking attack to capture Fort Mechili and cut-off British retreat at Derna. German forces would then regroup for final assault onto port city Tobruk where Axis could then land supplies immediately behind frontline, rather depend on arduous long-trek coastal route from Agheila-Tunisia ( of which vulnerable to Allied air attacks ). These open desert flanking maneuvers would be Rommel's hallmark (hence British named their nemesis the "Desert Fox"!). Major coup achieved when British garrison were encircled at Fort Mechili on April 6th by German southern flanking force. British attempted breakout on April 7th was utter disaster. Its 3rd Indian Motor Brigade did not wait for tank reinforcements and ran head-long into German anti-tank, Flak, and Panzer siege lines. British column systematically battered as enemy shells dropped among its vehicle line, majority of which scrambled back to Mechili. Upon Mechili surrender April 8th, Germans captured 2,000 men, virtually entire 3rd Indian Motor Brigade, along with British 2nd Armoured Division commander General Gambier-Parry and his HQ staff. Disgrace was such that on 10 May 1941, British decided not to reform the 2nd Armoured Division and disbanded it outright! As for General Gambier-Parry, after serving 2 years as POW in Italy, he was liberated by the Allies but quickly retired from military service in 1944 even before World War II ended.


Source :
http://deutsches-afrikakorps.blogspot.co.id/2010/12/life-in-afrika-korps.html
http://modelsuwemilitaria.blogspot.co.id/2013/01/steyrflakwagen-5-german-conquest-of.html

Messerschmitt Bf 110 undergoing Repairment in Greece

Two photographs of Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-3 L2+KR of 7.Staffel (Fern) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), taken in May 1941 following the entry of German forces into Greece, probably at the Athens-Kalamaki airport. The aircraft's tail section has sustained battle damage. The right rudder had been damaged previously, this time the Bf 110 was hit in the tailwheel and left rudder. The number of technicians examining the tailwheel suggests that the damage was something out of the ordinary. Note the Bf 110's gray camouflage scheme, the yellow elevators and the retouched finish on the vertical stabilizers. Beneath the fuselage is the "Gartenzaun" (Garden Fence) antenna of the FuG III - a U instrument-landing system - and the DF loop of the Peil G V.


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Walther von Reichenau in Russia

Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Reichenau (Oberbefehlshaber 6. Armee) with his staff officers in the Russian Front during Unternehmen Barbarossa, August 1941 (Wikipedia incorrectly identified the general as Friedrich Paulus, Reichenau's successor as commander of 6. Armee). Reichenau strongly opposed the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, he led his army into the heart of Russia during the summer of 1941. 6. Armee (Sixth Army) was a part of Heeresgruppe Süd (Army Group South), and captured Kiev, Belgorod, Kharkov and Kursk. In September 1941, Reichenau reportedly wrote to Adolf Hitler to suggest that Ukrainians and White Russians, who initially viewed the German army as liberators, should be recruited to fight against the Bolsheviks. Hitler rejected this idea, telling Reichenau to stop interfering in political matters. Later that month Reichenau wrote again to Hitler on this subject, warning him of the dangers of large-scale partisan warfare in the Soviet Union. His advice was ignored, but his persistence in challenging Hitler's opinion was noted. During its offensive into Russia, the German army was confronted with a number of superior tank designs. Reichenau inspected the Soviet tanks he came across, entering each tank and measuring its armour plate. According to general staff officer Paul Jordan, after examining a T-34, Reichenau told his officers "If the Russians ever produce it on an assembly line we will have lost the war." On 15 January 1942 he suffered a hemorrhagic stroke after a trail run in harsh cold weather, and it was decided to fly him from Poltava to a hospital in Leipzig, Germany. He is often said to have been killed in a plane crash in Russia, although Görlitz writes that the plane merely made an emergency landing in a field and that Reichenau actually died of a heart attack. His death coincided with a propaganda offensive conducted by the Polish underground, Operation Reichenau, the goal of which was to discredit Reichenau, in the eyes of the German leadership, as a man who had allegedly been plotting to overthrow the Nazi régime, thus sowing distrust between the Nazi political leadership and its military command and punishing one of the German generals responsible for war crimes in Poland. The coincidence of such propaganda with Reichenau's death became a fertile ground for conspiracy theories, which allege that Reichenau might actually have been killed by the Nazi secret services.

Reichenau supported the work of the SS Einsatzgruppen in exterminating the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories. On 19 December 1941, Hitler sacked Walther von Brauchitsch as Commander-in-Chief and tried to appoint Reichenau to the post. But again the senior Army leaders rejected Reichenau as being "too political", and Hitler appointed himself instead. 


Source :
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_169-0946,_Russland,_General_Friedrich_Paulus_mit_Offizieren.jpg

The British Cruiser Convoy on D-Day

The Allied invasion fleet crossing from England to Normandy on D-Day kept to twelve narrow lanes in order to avoid minefields. From the starboard bridge wing of HMS Belfast, flagship of Force E, a line of three Royal Navy cruisers can be seen in the morning gloom. The picture was taken by George Stevens. Construction of Belfast, the first Royal Navy ship to be named after the capital city of Northern Ireland, and one of ten Town-class cruisers, began in December 1936. She was launched on St Patrick's Day, 17 March 1938. Commissioned in early August 1939 shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, Belfast was initially part of the British naval blockade against Germany. In November 1939 Belfast struck a German mine and spent more than two years undergoing extensive repairs. Belfast returned to action in November 1942 with improved firepower, radar equipment and armour. Belfast saw action escorting Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union during 1943, and in December 1943 played an important role in the Battle of North Cape, assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst. In June 1944 Belfast took part in Operation Overlord supporting the Normandy landings. In June 1945 Belfast was redeployed to the Far East to join the British Pacific Fleet, arriving shortly before the end of the Second World War. Belfast saw further combat action in 1950–52 during the Korean War and underwent an extensive modernisation between 1956 and 1959. A number of further overseas commissions followed before Belfast entered reserve in 1963.


Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Belfast_%28C35%29

A Messerschmitt Bf 110 of Lehrgeschwader 2 in Bulgaria during Balkan Campaign

L2+SR, a Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-3 of 7.Staffel (Fern) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), photographed at Sofia-Vrazdebna at the beginning of April 1941 as German forces were preparing to invade Greece and Yugoslavia. We can see the entire cockpit area is covered with tarpaulin. The yellow yellow painted rudders are clearly visible. The aircraft letter "S" is in the Staffel color white. Also note the heavy mottling on the fuselage sides. At the beginning of November 1938 the Lehr-Verband / Aufklärungsgruppe Jüterborg (Training Unit / Reconnaissance Group Jüterborg) was reformed as the III.Gruppe (Aufklärungs) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2). Consisting of three Staffeln (7, 8, and 9. Staffel), the Gruppe was part of LG 2. The Geschwader's other two Gruppen were I.(Jagd)/LG 2 and II.(Schlacht)/LG 2, fighter and close-support unit respectively. 7.(F)/LG 2 saw action in Poland, flying the Dornier Do 17 P and M. Not until operations against England began was it reequipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-5. It was at this time that the Staffel emblem, a small "Teufelskopf" (Devil's Head), first appeared on the unit's aircraft. The Staffel was based at Grimbergen, Belgium, until 12 February 1941, when it was withdrawn from operations over England to prepare for the attack on Greece and Yugoslavia. On 24 March 1941, 7.(F)/LG 2 moved via Popest, Romania, to Krumovo in Bulgaria, and on 2 April to the Sofia-Vrazdebna airfield. There yellow identification markings were applied to the Staffel's Bf 110s, on the nose, elevators and rudders. The German forces attacked in 6 April 1941. After missions over Southern Yugoslavia and Greece, the Staffel supported the airborne invasion of Crete from Athens-Kalamaki. The Russian campaign saw the Staffel in action in the southern sector where, in the summer of 1941, it flew reconnaissance missions on behalf of Panzergruppe 1 with its few remaining Bf 110 E-3s and C-5s as well as several Bf 109 E-6s. In September 1941 the unit was briefly withdrawn from operations and sent to Breslau for a rest and refit. In December the Staffel returned to operations, flying from Mariupol on the Sea of Azov west of Rostov. In february it transferred to Stalino. In March 1942 the unit was renamed to 7.(H)/LG 2 and in May it was attached to Stab Nahaufklärungsgruppe 12 (NAGr 12). In November the Staffel was briefly combined with 3.(H)/31 to form NAGr Fleischmann (Tactical Reconnaissance Group Fleischmann). The Gruppe flew missions over Stalingrad from Golubinskaya (north of Kalach). On 11 December 1942 the airfield had to be abandoned in a hurry as Russian forces approached. Most of the unit's machines were lost, as only a few Bf 110s could be flown out. At the end of December, 7.(H)/LG 2 and 3.(H)/31 had just five machines between them! By January 1943 this number had been reduced to three. At the end of February 1943, 7.(H)/LG 2 disappeared from the Luftwafffe Order of Battle. Many of its ground personnel had been forced into the Stalingrad pocket when the Russians broke through, and on 3 February 1943 sixty men were reported missing there. There is no record of the disbandment of 7.(H)/LG 2, the unit probably just ceased to exist.


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Generalmajor Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski

Generalmajor Hermann von Oppeln-Bronikowski (2 January 1899 – 19 September 1966) was fought during World War I (as a cavalry officer) and World War II (as a panzer officer). At the 1936 Summer Olympics he won the Gold Medal in the team Dressage. In World War II, he acquired reputation as a bold tank commander, especially in the Eastern Front front when once he only got 39 tanks left (of 104 available at the start of the battle) but kept fighting until the front stabilized. From 6 December 1942 to 5 January 1943 his Kampfgruppe (Battle Group) destroyed no less than 451 Russian tanks, 209 guns and 752 heavy weapons. During the battle for Caen he managed to kept his position for 32 days, without losing even one metre of ground, but lost 50% of his tank forces! In the last months of the war, he fought fiercely for a narrow corridor to the fortress of Breslau. Then he freed the besieged 1200 soldiers of the Fort of Bautzen, and counter all enemy attacks until after arrived at Spremberg. He only surrendered to the American forces in 18 May 1945, a couple of days after the war ended in Europe. Months later they found out that he was the defender of Caen and was accused as a war criminal. Classified in the category of "completely innocent", he was released in 1947. In the post-war period he worked as a civilian advisor and helped setting up of the German Bundeswehr. He also worked for the Canadians as a riding instructor at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. He was the recipient of the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern (Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords), of which only 159 members of the Wehrmacht received it.

Source :
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermann_von_Oppeln-Bronikowski
http://www.historicalwarmilitariaforum.com/forum/17-photographic-images-albums/
http://ww2gravestone.com/people/oppeln-bronikowski-hermann-leopold-august-von/

Messerschmitt Bf 109 of Werner Schroer in the North African Coast

Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4/Trop "Schwarze 8" of Oberfeldwebel Werner Schroer (8.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27) above the North African coast of Ain el Gazala/Libya, April 1941. The aircraft is wearing  a short-lived leopard camo scheme. Werner Schroer was born on 12 December 1918 at Mülheim in Ruhr. His Luftwaffe career began in 1937 as a member of the ground staff. In May 1940 he completed his flying training. On 27 August 1940 he joined 2./JG 27 based on the Channel front. He flew his first combat missions during the Battle of Britain but did not claim any confirmed victories. In March 1941, I./JG 27 was deployed to North Africa in order to support the Afrika Korps under the command of Erwin Rommel. Schroer claimed his first victory, a RAF Hurricane, on 19 April 1941, however, his Bf 109 E (WNr 3790) was hit and he had to make a forced-landing near his airfield with 48 bullet holes in his aircraft. On 21 April, in an engagement with RAF Hurricanes, an aircraft collided with his Bf 109 E (WNr 4170) slightly injuring him and requiring him to make another forced-landing. By the end of 1941 his score stood at seven. In March 1942, he was appointed Adjutant of I./JG 27. He was appointed Staffelkapitän of 8./JG 27 on 22 June. In July he recorded 16 victories. On 9 September, he was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold. He shot down 13 enemy aircraft in September, including six on 15 September to record his 35th through 40th victories. In October, Schroer claimed 15 victories. Leutnant Schroer was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 21 October for 49 victories. On 4 November, Schroer, with Alfred Stückler (10 victories), shot down two four-engined B-24s. On 11 February 1943, Schroer reportedly shot down two RAF Beauforts, although he claimed them as B-26s. When Major Gustav Rödel (98 victories, including 13 four-engined bombers, RK-EL) was appointed Kommodore of JG 27, Hauptmann Schroer took his place as Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 27 on 22 April 1943. Operating over Sicily and southern Italy, between 29 April and 23 July, Schroer was to claim 22 Allied aircraft shot down, including 12 four-engined bombers. On 2 August, he became the 268th recipient of the Eichenlaub, awarded for his 84 victories. In August 1943, II./JG 27 was redeployed to Wiesbaden-Erbenheim in Germany for Reichsverteidigung duties. On 6 September, Schroer led the Gruppe on an interception of a formation of 262 B-17s. In all 45 American bombers were lost including four shot down by II./JG 27, three of which were claimed by Schroer as his victories 86 through 88. On 3 March 1944, Major Schroer scored his 99th victory and was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 54, relieving Major Rudolf Sinner (39 victories, DK) who had been badly wounded on 6 March attacking a formation of four-engined bombers. III./JG 54 was based at Lüneberg and flew the Bf 109 G-6. On 24 May, Schroer shot down a P-51 and two P-47s for his 100th to 102nd victories. On 21 July 1944, Schroer relinquished command of III./JG 54 to Hauptmann Robert “Bazi” Weiss (121 victories, RK-EL, killed in action 29 December 1944). Schroer was transferred to a fighter pilot school as an instructor. On 4 August, he had to make a forced-landing when his engine malfunctioned. From November 1944 to February 1945 Schroer was retained in a training role. On 14 February 1945, Schroer was appointed Kommodore of JG 3. With this unit he quickly claimed 12 Russian aircraft destroyed. On 19 April 1945 he became the 144th recipient of the Schwertern. Werner Schroer survived the war. He died on 10 February 1985 in Munich, aged 67. Werner Schroer was credited with 114 victories flying 197 missions. 102 of his victories were scored on the Western front, including 61 claimed over North Africa, and 26 four-engined bombers.


Source :
http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/bf-109-thread-2974.html
http://www.luftwaffe.cz/schroer.html

Invasion Armada on D-Day

"What Philip of Spain failed to do, what Napoleon tried and failed to do, what Hitler never had the courage to attempt, we are about to do." (Commander Rich). A panoramic view of the 5,339 vessels that were engaged in the largest amphibious operation ever undertaken in military history. In the background LSTs (Landing Ship Tank) can be seen moving towards Juno Beach with small LCTs (Landing Craft Tank) in the foreground. Both protected overhead by barrage balloons



Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens

Friday, October 9, 2015

German Bf 110 Fighter-Bomber in the Balkan Campaign

L2+SR, a Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-3 of 7.Staffel (Fern) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), photographed at Sofia-Vrazdebna at the beginning of April 1941 as German forces were preparing to invade Greece and Yugoslavia. Yellow identity markings have already been painted on the aircraft. Note that the Staffel's "Teufelskopf" (Devil's Head) emblem was spared when the nose was painted. The spinner tips are white, the Staffel color. The heating air inlet in the fuselage nose and two ETC 50 bomb racks under each wing are identifying features of E-series aircraft. Canvas covers have been placed over the engines and wheels. The aircraft is finished in the standard gray camouflage finish (RLM 74/75/76) with mottled fuselage sides


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

A Finnish Air Force Bristol Blenheim Bomber on snowy airfield

A Finnish Air Force Bristol Blenheim bomber of Nr.17 Squadron on snowy airfield in Luonetjärvi, Finland, 31 March 1944.  In 1936, the Finnish Air Force ordered 18 Blenheim Mk Is from Britain and two years later, they obtained a manufacturing license for the aircraft. Before any aircraft could be manufactured at the Valtion lentokonetehdas (State Airplane Factory) in Finland, the Winter War broke out, forcing the Finns to order more aircraft from the UK. A further 24 British-manufactured Blenheims were ordered during the Winter War. After the Winter War, 55 Blenheims were constructed in Finland, bringing the total number to 97 aircraft (75 Mk Is and 22 Mk IVs). The Finns also received 20 half-completed ex-Yugoslavian Mk IV Blenheims captured by Germany, together with manufacturing tools and production equipment, as well as a huge variety of spare parts. Yugoslavia had ceased production of the Mk I and commenced a production run of Mk IVs just prior to the April 1941 invasion. The Finnish Blenheims flew 423 missions during the Winter War, and close to 3,000 missions during the Continuation War and Lapland War. Blenheim machine-gunners also shot down eight Soviet aircraft. Thirty-seven Blenheims were lost in combat during the wars. After the war, Finland was prohibited from flying bomber aircraft by the Paris Peace Treaty, with Finland's Blenheims being placed into storage in 1948. However, in 1951, five Blenheims were re-activated for use as target tugs, with the last flight of a Finnish Blenheim taking place on 20 May 1958.


Source :
http://daywarphoto.blogspot.co.id/2014_04_01_archive.html
http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?107770-Vintage-pic-thread-55/page8

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Finnish Soldiers Taking a Break

Finnish soldiers taking a break besides a road during the attack phase of the Continuation war in 1941. The black trousers the soldier on right is wearing may be from British aid send to Finland during Winter war. The Continuation War refers to the hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War II, from 1941 to 1944. At the time of the war, the Finns adopted this name to clarify how they viewed it in relation to the preceding Winter War. The Soviet Union saw the war as part of its struggle against Nazi Germany and its allies, on the Eastern Front of World War II. The war was known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War. Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its overall war efforts on the Eastern Front, and it provided Finland with critical material support and military cooperation.


Source :
http://forums.gunboards.com/showthread.php?107770-Vintage-pic-thread-55/page8
https://sa-kuva.fi/webneologinfin.html

Messerschmitt Bf 110 in Germany after Balkan Campaign

In the summer of 1941, the Messerschmitt Bf 110s of II.Gruppe / Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76) "Haifischgruppe" (Shark Group), returned to the Reich after operations in the Balkans. The Gruppe landed at the Magdeburg-Ost airfield, where this wonderful photograph of M8+A?, a Bf 110 E, was taken. The color photo reveals the yellow identity markings worn by this aircraft. Similar markings were worn by all Bf 110 reconnnaissance and Zerstörer units during the Balkan campaign of April-May 1941. II./ZG 76 applied the yellow markings to the engine cowlings, the upper part of the fuselage nose, and the rudders (including the inner surfaces) of its aircraft. The spinners were black with a white segment and yellow nose ring. Also clearly visible is the Shark Mouth, which is outlined in red, not black as it often appears in color drawings. Note that the two ETC 50 bomb racks have been removed from beneath the wings. II./ZG 76 was renamed to III./NJG 3 (III.Gruppe / Nachtjagdgeschwader 3) at the beginning of November 1941.


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

Aftermath of the Battle in Radzikhov-Koloyov Area


By 27 June 1941, The German 6. Armee had reached the Radzikhov-Lopatin-Lezhniov-Snurdare line. Tanks and artillery were used by the defending Russian forces in an attempt to halt the attack. The pictures show shot-up tanks and the result of artillery in action at Radzikhov-Koloyov area


Source :
"The Onslaught; The German Drive to Stalingrad Documented in 150 Unpublished Colour Photographs" by Max Hastings

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

George Stevens with a Present from his Son

Christmas 1944, near Bastogne. George Stevens with a present from his son. He left his former job as a film director in Hollywood in 1942 to serve overseas in the American Army for three years in North Africa and Europe. General Dwight D. Eisenhower had been disappointed with the film record of the war so far, so Major - later Lieutenant-Colonel - Stevens was given orders to organize high-quality motion picture coverage of the forthcoming campaigns to free Europe from the Nazis. In 1943 he began assembling SPECOU, the Special Coverage Unit of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. It became known variously as 'the Stevens Unit' or 'the Hollywood Irregulars'. Its members included crack cameramen, sound men, assistant directors and writers from the film industry. SPECOU was attached directly to SHAEF, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. The unit had official orders that enabled Major Stevens to assign small camera teams to move from army to army covering the major events of the war. Novelist Irwin Shaw, playwright William Saroyan and future screenwriter Ivan Moffat were responsible for writing captions and descriptions for the 35mm black-and-white film that the unit shot across Europe. Army producers called for all official motion picture coverage to be photographed in 35mm black-and-white, presumably because this was the standard for newsreels shown in movie theatres around the world, and because 35mm color film existed only in the costly Technicolor process which called for three strips of film running simultaneously through a huge camera - not a likely device for a mobile army unit covering combat! That is why, today, when we envision the Second World War, we see a black-and-white war.


Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens

Monday, October 5, 2015

First Official Link-up Ceremony near the Elbe River

26 April 1945: Major General Emil F. Reinhardt (Commander of the US 69th Infantry Division of Courtney Hodges' First Army) and Major General Vladimir V. Rusakov (Commander of the Soviet 58th Guards Rifle Division of Aleksei Zhadov's Fifth Guard Army) lead the celebrations as the Western Allies and the Red Armies link on the River Elbe near the town of Torgau (Southwest of Berlin, Germany). This was an important propaganda event for both sides, Soviet and American. Every American unit along the Elbe-Mulde line was anxious to be the first to meet the Red Army. By the last week of April it was well known that the Soviets were close, and dozens of American patrols were probing beyond the east bank of the Mulde, hoping to meet them. Elements of the First Army’s V Corps made first contact. At 11:30 on 25 April a small patrol from the 69th Infantry Division met a lone Russian horseman in the village of Leckwitz. Several other patrols from the 69th had similar encounters later that day, and on 26 April the division commander met General Rusakov in the first official link-up ceremony. Photo by George Stevens


Source :
"Victory in Europe: D-Day to VE-Day in Full Color" by Max Hastings and George Stevens
http://9thinfantrydivision.net/battle-history/central-europe/

A Pair of Bf 109 in the Barren North African Desert

This photo, that was taken from a propaganda film from 1941, showing a pair of Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4/Trop fighters from 8.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 27 flying over the Cyrenaica/Libya in April 1941, shortly after the arrival of Afrikakorps in North Africa. If a pilot was forced down, he could die from the heat of the desert. Pilots carried extra water, food and survival items. JG 27 kept a number of Fieseler Storch aircraft on alert, to rescue downed pilots. The pilots wore light weight tropical clothing comfort being important, when coping with the daytime heat. He would be armed with a Luger, or Walther P-38 pistol. Apart from the tropical uniform, when flying is the standard weight flying suit, some pilots flew in khaki shorts and shirts, flying helmet with goggles and silk scarf to prevent neck chafing, or loose fitting. They also wore trousers that would be tucked into the flying boots, would carry a rubber bandolier of signal flares, and if it still had enough room, to carry a knife, extra ammo and maps. When flying near or overwater, the pilots wore standard lifejackets. The Germans camouflaged their aircraft to match the desert terrain, as the locations of Luftwaffe airfields was known to the enemy. Fuel, oil, lubricants were shipped from Germany and were not obtained locally except from captured British supplies. Fuel and other supplies, were stockpiled at airfields and hidden under camouflage or stored underground. Many of the personnel bunkers were built underground to keep away from the heat.


Source :
http://www.worldwarphotos.info/gallery/germany/aircrafts-2/messerschmitt_bf109/messerschmitt-bf-109e-7-trop-color-jg27-over-desert/
http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=10564

Wreckage of Bf 110 in France

The sad remains of a Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4, aircraft code 3C+DR (all in black), of 7.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (NJG 4). The photographs were taken in the summer of 1945 at Reims airfield in France. III./NJG 4 had began converting from the Bf 110 G-4 to the Junkers Ju 88 G-1 in the summer of 1944 and completed the process in October, therefore this must have been an aircraft that was taken out of service or used for some other purpose by the Gruppe. The Bf 110 was probably parked in some corner of the airfield and left to rot, as its seriously faded camouflage finish would suggest. Pieces of a Ju 88 are visible in the background. The remnants of a yellow fuselage band may just be seen in front of the unit code "3C", while a letter of the manufacturer's code is visible under the "3C". Also note the simplified white Balkenkreuz. In the other photograph we can see the remnants of the SN-2 radar on the fuselage nose. Camouflage: RLM 75 + 76.


Source :
 "Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

German Soldiers Milking a Cow

This picture was taken by Hugo Jaeger, one of Hitler's personal photographer, and showing German Heer (Army) soldiers milking a rather docile Friesian cow during a break in the drive through Netherlands, summer 1940. Apart from the ordinary water, Wehrmacht soldiers may also fill their canteens with milk (or coffee), and drink it when it's still fresh. Especially when the water may be flavoured. There's also 'Klim', a German canned milk (dry powder? condensed? This seems to be "milk" spelled backwards, or 'milch' close enough likewise). Some photos show German troops using it, and others show it used by Allied POWs in Luftwaffen Stalag. The need for fresh milk sometimes unbearable. Rumour has it that during the war, a U-boat put to shore in New Zealand with one aim - to milk a cow. Having snuck ashore, they successfully milked several cows before returning to their U-Boat, leaving confused farmers the next morning wondering why their cows didn't need milking!


Source :
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=52223&sid=95a344844c608d2c9f9bb27fa43bd45a
http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/portrait-of-two-elderly-jewish-men-in-the-kutno-ghetto-news-photo/50408855

Boeing B-29 Superfortress Flying toward Japan

Boeing B-29 Superfortress X-55 “Limber Richard” (factory number 44-70072) of the 99th Bombardment Squadron / 9th Bombardment Group flying toward Japan with other squadron bombers, 1945. The bombing missions against Japan could last as long as sixteen hours, that's a 3,500 mile or 5632.7km round trip! B-29s took off at dusk, made it to the target before dawn, and after dropping their bombs the return trip was made during the day. Flying at altitude with strong winds, flak, fighting off enemy fighters, the Japanese were able to get their fighters as high as 32,000ft. drop their bombs on the target and that was just getting there. The trip back "invited" more flak, fighters, battle damage wounded and other inflight problems. Did you know that the B-29 carried six tons of bombs and twenty tons of fuel? The B-29 also used about 500lbs or 226.8kg of fuel just to taxi before takeoff!


Source :
http://www.ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=23342

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Crash-Landing of Hungarian Messerschmitt Bf 109

Two photographs of V- + 08, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 of Hungarian 5/1. Staffel, after a training mission ended in a crash-landing, February 1943. It appears that the aircraft ground-looped, shearing off the undercarriage. The "08" of the aircraft code may be seen in the photo as well. The aircraft sustained considerable damage in the crash, losing its undercarriage, tail and one wingtip. In the second photograph, the wingtip - the undersurface of which was painted yellow - may be seen lying in the snow next to tail section, on which the Hungarian national colors may be seen. Note the gray fuselage behind the cockpit. V- + 08 was destroyed when Stary Oskol was evacuated on 18 March 1943; presumably it had not yet been repaired. This picture was made by Fähnrich (Officer Candidate) Gynes, one of the pilot in the Hungarian fighter-bomber squadron who was also an amateur photographer


Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003