Thursday, January 31, 2019

Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith VC

Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith VC, CM, OBC, CD (3 May 1914 – 3 August 2005) of Seaforth Highlanders of Canada was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the last living Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross. On the night of 21/22 October 1944 at the River Savio, in Northern Italy, Private Smith was in the spearhead of the attack which established a bridgehead over the river. With a PIAT anti-tank launcher he disabled a 44-ton Panther Mark V tank at a range of just 30 feet (10 metres), and while protecting a wounded comrade, he killed four panzergrenadiers and routed six others. When another tank was sent to take out his position, he used another PIAT to damage it enough to retreat. He then carried his wounded comrade, and joined a counter-attack to disperse the Germans still attacking his previous position. The squad destroyed three Panther Tanks, two self-propelled artillery pieces, a half-track, a scout car, and a few German soldiers. During his career, Smith was promoted to corporal nine times, but subsequently demoted back to private nine times prior to his actions at the River Savio. He later achieved the rank of sergeant. This picture was taken in 1945

Source :

General Bert Hoffmeister with his Sherman Tank

Major-General Bertram Meryl "Bert" Hoffmeister (Commander of the 5th Canadian Armored Division) in Italy, May 1944. Hoffmeister wears a distinctive British black beret of armored troops, along with the insignia for Generals. He wears a USA shirt with official shoulder straps, while on the shoulder pads he wears the sleeve with the Major-General stripes edged in red, the distinctive color of the Staff Corps. Collar badge is for General-officer and Field Marshalls. Patch with the purple color of the 5th Armored Division, next to the Canadian badge. Behind him is a M4 Sherman tank, nicknamed "Vancouver". USA-made shirts in the Canadian army and other armies in Italian front are in common use. Major-General Hoffmeister is widely considered to be the best of the Canadian general officers who served during the Second World War. His first medal ribbon is interesting, in that it signifies a tied – record three awards of the Distinguished Service Order for a Canadian soldier with General Jean Victor Allard.

Source :

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Refueling Petrol to Junkers Ju 52

German Luftwaffe pilot refueling a Junkers Ju 52 transport plane in Russia, January 1943. The aircraft has been camouflaged in white painting. Even the seemingly mundane tasks of an engine over-haul and refueling are fascinating to watch! The picture was first published in 'Signal' magazine, 3/1943 edition.

Source :

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Maneuvers of British Armored Division

Malton in Yorkshire, 29 September 1942. Maneuvers of the 42nd Armored Division. On the right is General Sir Bernard Paget (Commander of the Territorial Forces), who takes the top of the two pieces with his greenish color and brown pants of the Battledress. On the left is Sir Anthony Eden (Minister of Foreign Affairs), who takes the complete set of two pieces and has inserted the underside of the jacket inside the pants. British soldiers usually wear the two piece suit of work (Two piece denim overalls), as it serves as an instruction suit work, a combat uniform in summer, or can be worn over the Battledress in winter. The colors vary from a very light brown to a whitish greenish hue. The Denim Tank Suit itself is a whole plethora of color that varies from green to yellowish-green. This suit began to deliver from 1944 onwards, so what the officer wear in this picture is the two pieces, except the one on the right that carries the Battledress jacket. Denim Overalls is defined by Jean Bouchery in the book "The British Soldier" volume one.

Source :

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Panzer 38(t) Racing under the Trees

Panzer 38(t) under the trees in the Eastern Front during Unternehmen Barbarossa, 1941. The German tank commander Otto Carius, who was credited with over 150 'kills', described an action in a 38(t) in 8 July 1941: "It happened like greased lightning. A hit against our tank, a metallic crack, the scream of a comrade, and that was all there was! A large piece of armour plating had been penetrated next to the radio operator's seat. No one had to tell us to get out. Not until I had run my hand across my face while crawling in the ditch next to the road did I discover that they had also got me. Our radio operator had lost his left arm. We cursed the brittle and inelastic Czech steel that gave the Russian 47mm anti-tank gun so little trouble. The pieces of our own armour plating and assembly bolts caused considerably more damage than the shrapnel of the round itself".

Source :

A Motor Column Crossing a River on a Pontoon Bridge

France, 1940: The German convoy crossing a tributary of the Oise at Senlis on a pontoon bridge, in this case a Brücken-Gerät B, some 50m long and capable of supporting as much as 20 tons. While not evident here, anti-aircraft guns were normally emplaced to protect bridge sites. The Bruckengerat B could use two-piece metal pontoons (Halbpontons) or large inflatable boats.

Source :
Book "German Pionier 1939-45: Combat Engineer of the Wehrmacht" by Gordon L. Rottman

Friday, January 18, 2019

Friedrich August von der Heydte

Friedrich August von der Heydte (30 March 1907 - 7 July 1994) was born in Münich to a noble Freiherr, a title he inherited later in life. He joined the German Army after schooling, though he soon returned to school, attending Innsbruck University to study law; he earned his law degree in 1927. Further studies in Vienna (Austria) followed. He returned to Germany in the early 1930s and found himself disagreeing with Nazi philosophies. Nearly running across paths with Gestapo agents, he evaded arrest by rejoining the German Army in 1935. Between 1935 and 1937, he spent some time at The Hague, Netherlands, for further studying. During World War II, von der Heydte famously led a diversionary mission during the Ardennes Offensive. Immediately after the battle began, both real and dummy paratroopers were dropped to falsely enlarge the appearance of the assault and to confuse Allied defenders. The operation successfully forced the Americans put up roadblocks at every road junction and checked every passer by for identification, dramatically slowing the transportation system that was so critical for the Allied war effort: British General Bernard Montgomery was stopped and checked so many times that he later asked Eisenhower for an American identification card to speed up the process!

Source :

Thursday, January 17, 2019

British and American Officers in India 1945

Accra, India, 1945. To the right is a Lieutenant of the USAAF. He wears a U.S. barracks hat and khaki shorts for hot or tropical climate. The forest warrior (Bush Jacket) with the short sleeves - made by a local tailor - is of British origin. The captain on the left is a British officer. He wears a Khaki beret, that seems to have added an additional tassel with the grenade emblem of the Artillery corps. He also wears an Army Captain's gallons with red rim and tailor-made KD shirt with the short sleeves, the last one is in blue color that in theory correspond to the RAF (Royal Air Force). At the bottom he wears a KD sand pants and a regulation green tights.

Source :

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

American Soldier in India

India, 1944-45. An American soldier in a Willys MB jeep (with a civilian front tire). He wear a 1943 HBT pants OD shade 7 with US white military shirt and British forest hat. This hat is commonly associated with Australians, but is actually the ordinance hat for the British and Commonwealth forces in tropical countries (in addition to the South Africans that will also use it in their desert uniform). The New Zealanders do have a distinctive hat.

Source :

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gerhard Barkhorn and Karl-Heinz Plücker

Summer of 1943: Oberleutnant Gerhard Barkhorn (left) - initially commanding officer of 4.Staffel / II.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52), and subsequently of II. Gruppe itself - and Leutnant Karl-Heinz Plücker, photographed on the airfield at Kharkov-Roganj in the Eastern Front. Barkhorn was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 23 August 1942, plus Eichenlaub on 12 January 1943 and Schwerter on 2 March 1944. Although when this picture was taken Barkhorn had won Eichenlaub for 120 victories, he was wearing no decoration at the time.

Source :
Book "Luftwaffe at War: Fighters over Russia" by Manfred Griehl

General der Flakartillerie Friedrich Heilingbrunner

General der Flakartillerie Friedrich Heilingbrunner (5 October 1891 - 17 August 1977) as a Generalmajor in this picture. After graduating from Franz-Ludwig-Gymnasium in Bamberg, Heilingbrunner joined 2. Fußartillerie-Regiment of Bavarian Army as a Fahnenjunker on 18 July 1910, and completed the Kriegsschule München from October 1911 to the end of September 1912. With the promotion to Leutnant on 28 October 1912, Heilingbrunner was transferred to 3. Feldartillerie-Regiment "Prinz Leopold". Here he was initially served as a battery officer. With the outbreak of the First World War, Heilingbrunner posted as a platoon leader in the front. From October 1915 to May 1917, he also served as battery chief in the Ottoman Army on the Gallipoli Peninsula and in Macedonia. After the demobilization of his regiment in late March 1919, Heilingbrunner joined Freikorps Epp on 26 March 1919, where he remained until the end of September 1919. Subsequent to the Provisional Reichswehr, he served until the end of September 1920 as a battery officer in the Reichswehr-Artillerie-Regiment 21. Heilingbrunner held the same position from October 1920 to the end of September 1923 at the 7. (Bayerisches) Artillerie-Regiment, where he was appointed as a Battery Chief on 1 October 1923. After he served as a teacher at the Artillerieschule Jüterbog from October 1927 to the end of March 1932, he returned as a major in the staff of the 7. (Bayerisches) Artillerie-Regiment on 1 April 1932. On 1 October 1933 he was finally became commander of the Fahr-Abteilung Fürth (and after its renaming on 1 April 1935 to Flak-Abteilung Fürth). On the latter date Heilingbrunner also joined the newly established Luftwaffe. On 1 October 1935 he was appointed as a Höheren Kommandeur der Flakartillerie in Luftkreis V, whose post he held until the end of February 1938. After the dissolution of the office, Heilingbrunner became Kommandierender General und Befehlshaber of Luftgau XII in Wiesbaden on 1 March 1938. On 1 April 1944 he was transferred to the Führerreserve of the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, and dismissed from military service on 28 February 1945.

Source :
Collection Akira Takiguchi

Friday, January 11, 2019

Fw 190s of JG 54 on the Eastern Front

1943: Pilots sits in the cockpits of their Focke-Wulf Fw 190s belonging to I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54), ready to take-off. Many of the Focke-Wulf fighters transferred to I.Gruppe got a rather dark camouflage, and the yellow background to their fuselage Balkenkreuz insignia is characteristic of the Russian theatre.

Source :
Book "Luftwaffe at War: Fighters over Russia" by Manfred Griehl

Bf 109 of JG 52 awaits Further Action

At Kharkov-Roganj, a day-fighter of 1.Staffel / I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) awaits further action. This Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 "White 10" (s/n 19881) was flown by Leutnant Willmann in summer of 1943. There was little chance of escape if Soviet low-level attacks took place when the Gruppe's aircraft were caught isolated in the open like this!

Source :
Book "Luftwaffe at War: Fighters over Russia" by Manfred Griehl

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

General Harry Crerar Just Before Going to France in 1944

General Henry "Harry" Crerar (chief of the First Canadian Army) just before going to France in 1944. He wears an "Irving" Model 1940 flight jacket of the RAF. The visor cap with the red tape is prescribed for Colonels to Field Marshals. He wears a badge cap for Generals, otherwise his pants, gaiters and boots is typical Canadian or British. Such is the popularity of flight leather garments that it can be considered that any soldiers or officers of any nations, branches, Corps or Army will acquire them as soon as possible, with famous cases like those of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery or Harold Alexander, General George S. Patton, or SS officer Joachim "Jochen" Peiper. Those are a very few cases that can be cited.

Source :

U.S. MP in a French Ruined Building

Summer of 1944, Northwestern France. A lieutenant of the MP (Military Police) in the courtyard of a ruined building. He wears a black A-1 flight jacket of the USAAF. On the inside he used what technically would be called a "Faithful US Jacket, Army ETO", which is but one of the very first versions of what will be known as "Ike's Jacket" or the British Battledress version for the US Army that is mostly used as a walking uniform (here rarely used as a combat uniform). Another "first" of this jacket is that it has the pockets at an angle with flaps (this has been put inside the pocket) identical to those of the first version of the Parsons jacket. The color of the Ike's Jacket is the Olive Drab shade 33. What looks like a dustbin with fireplace on the right is actually a U.S. Army mobile kitchen. There also seems to be the letter that appears on his helmet. This picture was made by Frank Scherschel

Source :

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Christmas with the British Liberation Army in Holland 1944

Christmas with the British Liberation Army in Holland, November 1944. A unit postman from 4th Armoured Brigade with a sack of Christmas parcels decorated with holly near Weert, Limburg, Netherlands. The picture was taken by Captain E.G. Malindine from No. 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit.

Source :,_November_1944_TR2567.jpg

An Artillery NCO with Woman and Pet

A noncommissioned officer of a German Army Artillery regiment - specializing in Transmissions - posing with a woman (probably his spouse) and puppy, near Tempelhof, Berlin, summer of 1943. The strange thing is the color of his uniform, a cinnamon color, while if it were summer it should be white. This picture is a part of Thomas Gade photo collection.

Source :