Sunday, December 4, 2022

The carrier USS Franklin (CV-13) Prepares to Dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard

The carrier USS Franklin (CV-13) approaches Manhattan as it prepares to dock at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on April 28, 1945. The Franklin’s deck shows the melted and burned decking and aircraft parts resulting from a March 19, 1945, dive bomber attack while the carrier was involved in attacks on the Japanese home islands. Over 800 crewmembers lost their lives in the explosion and fires that resulted. When Japan surrendered on 15 August 1945, USS Franklin was still undergoing repairs. A few months later on Navy Day, 13 October 1945, she was opened up to the public and inspected by thousands of visitors. Her extensive repairs were finally completed on 15 June 1946, and two days later, she reported to the Atlantic Reserve Fleet for inactivation. On 17 February 1947, the carrier was placed out of commission at Bayonne, New Jersey.

Source :
National Archives and Records Administration, 80-G-K-4761
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

African American paratroopers Preparing to Jump from a C-47

During Operation Fire Fly in 1945, the African American paratroopers of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion made over 8,000 individual jumps as smokejumpers on wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Here they are preparing to jump from a Douglas C-47 on a wildfire in Wallowa Forest, Oregon. The 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, more commonly known as the "Triple Nickles," was the first all-Black paratrooper unit in U.S. history.  First organized in 1943 during World War II, the Triple Nickles trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, but were eventually transferred to Camp Mackall, North Carolina, to prepare for duty in Europe. At the time, the U.S. military was segregated and most Black soldiers were relegated to support roles, rarely trained as combat units let alone elite paratroopers.  For some in the unit, the prospect of fighting Hitler's army presented an exciting opportunity — a chance to prove that Black men were as brave and capable as their white counterparts. But they were never sent to fight the Germans. By 1945, the Axis armies were in retreat and a new threat was developing in the American West — Japanese balloon bombs.

Source :
National Archives and Records Administration, 342-C-K-3751
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Bio of Knight's Cross Holder Günter Goebel

Günter Goebel

Date of birth : 14 November 1917 at Hagen-Haspe, Westfalen (German Empire)
Date of death : 4 September 1993 at Hagen, Westfalen (Germany)

00.00.1938 Leutnant
01.06.1940 Oberleutnant
01.02.1942 Hauptmann
01.02.1943 Major
01.03.1945 Oberstleutnant

00.00.1936 Joined Infanterie-Regiment 18
00.00.1939 Adjutant III.Bataillon / Infanterie-Regiment 208
00.00.1942 Attended Generalstabsausbildung
00.00.1943 Attended Kriegsakademie Hirschberg in Silesia
01.04.1944 Posted in the Generalstab des Heeres
00.00.1944 Ib 61. Infanterie-Division
00.00.1944 Stellvertretender Quartiermeister XXXXIII. Armeekorps
00.00.1944 Ia L. Armeekorps
00.00.1944 Ia 218. Infanterie-Division
00.00.1945 Ia 215. Infanterie-Division
00.00.1945 Kommandeur Grenadier-Regiment 189
11.05.1945 Taken prisoner by the Russians
00.10.1955 Released from the POW camp

Awards and Decorations:
04.11.1939 Eisernes Kreuz II.Klasse
18.06.1940 Eisernes Kreuz I.Klasse
00.00.194_ Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen in Silber
18.10.1941 Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, as Oberleutnant and Adjutant Infanterie-Regiment 208 / 79.Infanterie-Division
06.11.1941 Ehrenblattspange des Heeres und Waffen-SS
00.00.1942 Medaille "Winterschlacht im Osten 1941/42" (Ostmedaille)
00.00.194_ Verwundetenabzeichen in Schwarz
00.00.194_ Goldenes HJ-Ehrenzeichen
18.01.1943 Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub #180, as Hauptmann and Führer Kampfgruppe Goebel / 79.Infanterie-Division
00.04.1944 Nahkampfspange in Silber

Günter Goebel (14 November 1917 - 4 September 1993) received the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 18 October 1941 as Adjutant Infanterie-Regiment 208 / 79.Infanterie-Division. On 14 September 1941 Oberleutnant Goebel made the independent decision to take command of a Radfahr-Bataillon that was temporary leaderless. By doing this, and continuing an attack with this unit immediately afterwards, it was possible to push the enemy back and win a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time. On the very next day Goebel launched another bold attack that stormed a Soviet airfield. In the process a number of aircraft were destroyed on the ground. Along with this success an enemy army-level depot was also captured undamaged. For the sum of his achievements during this time Goebel would receive the Ritterkreuz.

Goebel received the Eichenlaub #180 for his Ritterkreuz on 18 January 1943 as Hauptmann and Führer Kampfgruppe Goebbel / 79.Infanterie-Division. On 17 December 1942 Hauptmann Goebel commanded a Kampfgruppe in the area of the 384. Infanterie-Division, specifically near Nishnij-Tschirskaja (along the Chir river). Starting on this day Goebel would hold his assigned bridgehead for weeks, up until 1 January 1943. By this action he played a major role in holding the Soviets along the Chir river and preventing them from immediately advancing further towards the west and southwest. He would receive the Eichenlaub in recognition of this accomplishment.

Source :,_G%C3%BCnter

Thursday, December 1, 2022

An Inspector looks over a Mustang Mk I fighter

An inspector with North American Aviation in Inglewood, California, looks over a Mustang Mk I fighter destined for the British Royal Air Force in fall 1942. In March of 1941, the US Congress passed the Lend/Lease Act which permitted the "lending" of US built aircraft to nations that were "vital to the security of the United States". This allowed the US to place an order for 150 Mustangs to be sent to Brittan. This allocation was NA-91, RAF designation of Mustang Ia. The Mustang Ia was equipped with four Hispano 20mm cannons installed in the wings. The nose guns were deleted. Out of the 150 ordered, only 111 were serialed for the RAF and probably less than that actually received. After the attack of Pearl Harbor, the US Army held the remaining Lend/Lease order of NA-91s to Brittan. These, about 55, were designated P-51 and were fitted with four .50 cal guns instead of the cannons. But not all were configured with the Brownings. Cameras were added and a new designation of F-6A. The US Army actually called the NA-91s "Apache".

Source ;
Library of Congress, Office of War Information, 1a35319u
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Armorers load AT-6 Texan Aircraft with Ammunition

Armorers load U.S. North American AT-6 Texan advanced trainers with ammunition. Even in its primary role as a trainer, the Texan could be armed. There was provision for a cowl-mounted Browning .30 caliber machine gun for gunnery training, with some versions mounting an additional Browning in the starboard wing. Here armorers load the cowl guns in preparation for a training mission, the photograph providing an excellent view of engine and propeller details.

Source :
National Archives and Records Administration, 342-C-K-143
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

USMC Trucks in Agana City Guam

Guam Operation, 1944. U.S. Marine Corps trucks on a road into Agana City, July 1944. The town was heavily damaged during the bombardment. The Battle of Guam (21 July–10 August 1944) was the American recapture of the Japanese-held island of Guam, a U.S. territory in the Mariana Islands captured by the Japanese from the United States in the First Battle of Guam in 1941 during the Pacific campaign of World War II. The battle was a critical component of Operation Forager. The recapture of Guam and the broader Mariana and Palau Islands campaign resulted in the destruction of much of Japan's naval air power and allowed the United States to establish large airbases from which it could bomb the Japanese home islands with its new strategic bomber, the Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

Source :

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Rommel Portrait by Heinrich Hoffmann

Original color portraits of Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel (Oberbefehlshaber Panzerarmee "Afrika") which was taken by Hitler's personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann on 30 September 1942 when Rommel was presented his marschallstab (Marshal baton) by Hitler at Neue Reichskanzlei, Berlin. These would be 100% agfacolor color 35mm slide film taken by Hoffmann. Then the agfacolor film would have been converted to the standard color printing process of the time. A lot of the rich colours and debt from the agfacolor film would have been lost in the printing process. Much after 1943 most of these portraits were all photographed using color film.

Source :

Friday, November 25, 2022

Sherman Tanks during Maneuvers

M4A3 Sherman tanks moving through a wooded area during maneuvers. Because most served as training vehicles in the US during World War II, Ford M4A3s have survived in greater numbers than other 1942-43 production Shermans (about 80 units). The M4A3s in the photo above appear to be "as built," which was usually the case with Shermans in the US. The "padded" hull lifting rings combined with the vertical headlamp plug holders, suggest a production date between November 1942 and January 1943. There was a critical shortage of rubber at the time, and Ford was contracted to produce the particular type of "three bar cleat" steel tracks that can be seen on these tanks. The above Signal Corps photo is part of a color series unfortunately captioned "desert maneuvers, USA, 1944." The fall foliage seems inappropriate for the desert, as does the year. Tracing their movements, we think it is more likely that this series shows units of the 10th and 81st Tank Battalions, 5th Armored Division at Pine Camp, New York in the Fall of 1943.

Source :

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Bio of General der Artillerie Erich Marcks

Erich Marcks was born on June 6, 1891 in Berlin. He is the son of the historian Erich Marcks. In 1909 he studied philosophy in Freiburg. But after only three semesters, he began his career in the army in October 1910. Twenty years later, in the early 1930s, he became the communications officer of the Ministry of the Armed Forces before working directly for Chancellors Franz von Papen and Kurt von Schleicher.

Marcks fought in World War I. He completed General Staff Training and was transferred to the Imperial General Staff Corps in 1917. Marcks was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class and then 1st Class, and posted to the German Supreme Command. After the war, Marcks fought with the paramilitary Freikorps. He joined the Army of the German Republic (Reichsheer); between 1921 and 1933, he held several staff and command positions, and then served in the Ministry of Defense. On 1 April 1933, after Hitler came to power, Marcks was transferred to the army, serving as Chief of Staff of VIII Corps.

During the campaign of France in 1940, he worked on the staff of the 18th Army (it was during this period that Erich Marcks opposed the bombing of the city of Bruges and the destruction of the bridges of Paris, believing that even in time of war the historical monuments must be preserved) and then work on the invasion plans of the Soviet Union.

During Operation Barbarossa, he commanded the 101st Light Division and was severely injured in Ukraine on June 26, 1941, which cost him the amputation of one of his legs. In addition, two of his three sons are killed on the Russian front.

Before taking command of the 84th Army Corps in Normandy in 1944, he successively headed the 337th Infantry Division in Paris, the 66th Corps at Clermont-Ferrand and the 87th Corps at north of Brittany. Unlike most general officers, Erich Marcks believes in the possibility of landing in Normandy.

On June 6, 1944 he celebrated his fifty-third birthday, a date which also turns out to be D-Day for the Allied offensive in Normandy. After the start of the Overlord operation, he was one of the first German general officers to react without delay by launching a counter-attack on D-Day, but that breaks with the Americans.

During an inspection on the front June 12, 1944, an Allied air attack forced him to abandon his car near Hebecrevon (northwest of Saint-Lo). Nevertheless, he is seriously injured in the groin by a 20-mm shell that cuts off the femoral artery: transported by his driver in a ditch, he empties his blood and dies at 9:45.

In the film The Longest Day, Marcks is played by Richard Münch. In the TV Movie Rommel, he is played by Hans Kremer.

Decorations & Awards:
24.06.1944 Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (503,) as General der Artillerie and Kom.Gen. LXXXIV.Armee-Korps / 7.Armee / Heeresgruppe B (D) / OB West
26.06.1941 Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes: as Generalleutnant, Kdr. 101.leichten Infanterie-Division / LII.Armee-Korps / 17.Armee / Heeresgruppe Süd
29.09.1939 1939 Spange zum 1914 Eisernes Kreuz I. Klasse
21.09.1939 1939 Spange zum 1914 Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse
00.08.1915 1914 Eisernes Kreuz I. Klasse
25.09.1914 1914 Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse
00.00.191_ Hamburgisches Hanseatenkreuz
ca. 1941 Verwundetenabzeichen, 1939 in Gold
ca. 1918 Verwundetenabzeichen, 1918 in Schwarz
13.06.1944 Mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht
ca. 1934 Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer
00.00.193_ Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnungen


Source :

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Himmler Chats with Polizei Officer in Warsaw

This picture was taken by Hugo Jaeger on 5 October 1939, and it shows Heinrich Himmler (Reichsführer-SS und Chef der deutschen Polizei) chats with unknown Orpo (Ordnungspolizei) officer - possibly with the rank of Major - during the German victory parade at Warsaw, Poland. In the background is a column of Mercedes-Benz W31 type G4 cars. There seems to be a confusion which Polizeibataillonen were actually in Warsaw at that time. According to NARA T 312 R 39 (AOK 8), five of them - under command of Oberst Rietzler (or Ritzer) - were sent to Warsaw right after capitulation. Polish IPN report has these: Pol.Btl. 2 (Major Küster), 5 (Major Jenke), 6 (Major Wenzel) and 7 (Major Vollmar). Wolfgang Curilla's book also mentions: 3 (Major Höcke) and 4 (Major Kasten) as being moved to Warsaw right before a parade.. It's possible Pol.Btl. 6 had not arrived until mid-October, so it was not in Warsaw during the parade. The interesting thing about this photo is the mark left by Himmler's spectacles which he has obviously removed in favour of his pince nez for the parade. To leave a mark such as this, the spectacles must have been worn tight to his head. Did they give him a headache? He was known to suffer from headaches and stomach cramps. He put his headaches down to his poor eyesight and pouring over numerous files, plus sinus problems (maybe better fitting spectacles could have solved one of his problems?). Just by looking at other photos from that parade, there was on Orpo (Ordnungspolizei) unit facing main tribune on the other side of the street. So possibly Himmler was having a chat with Orpo commander, with his back to the street and main tribune on the other side. Those nice cars (with Hitler and others) were arriving from the city centre (in the opposite direction to later parade traffic). When parade started a military band arrived first and took stand in front of the Orpo unit, facing main tribune.

Source :

Visit of King Boris III of Bulgaria to Vinnitsa

Generalfeldmarschall Dr.Ing. Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen (left, Chef Luftflotte 4 und Oberbefehlshaber Südost) with King Boris III of Bulgaria (moustached). The picture was taken in August 1943 during the visit of King Boris to Führerhauptquartier "Werwolf" in Vinnitsa, Ukraine. The first meeting between Richthofen and Boris took place in early 1941 when Richthofen moved his units into Bulgaria via Romania. He found the country primitive, and resolved to improve the infrastructure, particularly communications, for the invasion of Yugoslavia. He intended to operate 120 aircraft from Bulgarian airfields and moved them into place on 1 March 1941. While preparations were taking place he indulged in hunting and horse riding expeditions as a guest of the Bulgarian Royal Family. With Boris III of Bulgaria, he discussed dive-bombing techniques and the Corps' new aircraft, such as the Junkers Ju 88.

Source :
"Generalfeldmarshall Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen" by The German Army Publishers

Monday, November 14, 2022

Bio of Top US Naval Ace David McCampbell

US Navy Capt. David McCampbell wasn't just the top naval ace of World War II — he's considered the service's all-time leader in aerial combat. His spirit and leadership are what made his air group one of the war's most decorated, and they earned him the Medal of Honor.

McCampbell was born Jan. 16, 1910, in Bessemer, Alabama, to parents Andrew and Elizabeth McCampbell. When he was about 12, the family moved him and his older sister, Frances, to West Palm Beach, Florida.

As a teen, McCampbell moved north to attend the Staunton Military Academy in Virginia. His graduation in 1928 earned him an Army commission, according to the Army University Press. Instead, he chose to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he played football and was on the swim team. He also joined Navy ROTC, which led to his appointment to the Naval Academy. While in Annapolis, McCampbell became an accomplished swimmer and diver, competing in and winning various NCAA regional championships.

McCampbell graduated in June of 1933, but since Great Depression-related economic issues had affected the number of commissions that were available, he immediately went into the Naval Reserve. He returned to Alabama to work in construction and at an aircraft assembly plant for a year before finally receiving orders in June 1934 to report for active duty.

The young ensign's first duty station was aboard the USS Portland. By May 1937, he'd worked his way up in the ranks and began flight school in Pensacola, Florida, earning his wings in April 1938. His first few years as an aviator were spent serving on the USS Ranger and the USS Wasp.

World War II began while McCampbell was on the Wasp. The aircraft carrier spent the first half of 1942 in the European theater before being transferred to the Pacific. On Sept. 15, 1942, the ship was sunk during the Guadalcanal campaign. McCampbell, surviving its demise, was promoted to lieutenant commander and brought back to the U.S.

By late 1943, McCampbell was in command of a fighter squadron attached to the USS Essex. He was promoted to commander in January 1944 and put in charge of the ship's Air Group 15 — one of the war's most decorated air groups.  It was in this position that McCampbell became one of World War II's great aces.

McCampbell took out his first Japanese aircraft on June 11, 1944. About a week later, during the First Battle of the Philippine Sea, he led several F6F Hellcat fighter aircraft against 80 Japanese carrier-based planes that were headed toward the U.S. fleet. McCampbell personally destroyed seven of those hostile aircraft — five bombers and two fighters — which helped his outnumbered men virtually annihilate the enemy. According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, McCampbell's team accounted for about 68 of the 600 Japanese downed aircraft.

On Oct. 24, 1944, during the infamous Battle of Leyte Gulf, McCampbell and a fellow pilot, Ensign Roy Rushing, took on 60 hostile Japanese aircraft that were approaching U.S. ships. Despite the overwhelming airpower against them, McCampbell shot down nine Japanese aircraft, setting a U.S. single mission aerial combat record. Rushing took out another six enemy warplanes. Their successes completely threw off the Japanese air group; the remaining aircraft abandoned their mission before any of them reached the U.S. fleet.

In a 1987 U.S. Naval Institute interview, McCampbell explained how he nearly didn't make it back to his ship after that engagement.

"When I got over the ship, I found they had a flight deck full of planes, and I knew that to launch all those planes would take a good 20 minutes, and I didn't have that much gas left," he said.

When the ship did make room for him to land, he said, "I ran out of gas on the deck. They had to push me out of the landing gear area. I found out from the mechanic that re-ammunitioned the guns that I had exactly six rounds left in the starboard outboard gun, and they were all jammed."

"But it worked out all right," he added nonchalantly.

McCampbell returned to the U.S. in December 1944. By then, he had become the Navy's all-time leading ace and top F6F Hellcat ace, having downed 34 Japanese aircraft during his months of aerial combat. His impressive tally made him the third-highest American scoring ace of World War II, behind only Army Maj. Richard Bong and Army Maj. Thomas B. McGuire, neither of whom survived the war.

For his bravery in the skies, McCampbell received the Medal of Honor on Jan. 10, 1945, from President Franklin D. Roosevelt during a ceremony at the White House.

After the war, McCampbell served in various positions, including as a senior naval aviation advisor to the Argentine Navy. After becoming a captain in July 1952, he also notably served as the captain of the aircraft carrier USS Bonhomme Richard and as a member of the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C. In the latter position, McCampbell helped draw up contingency invasion plans during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, according to a 1996 Palm Beach Post article.

McCampbell was married a few times and had three children, Frances, David and John. He finally retired from the Navy in 1964 after 31 years of service.

According to the Palm Beach Post, McCampbell "dabbled in real estate in the Bahamas" before setting back down near West Palm Beach, where he lived for the rest of his life.  

McCampbell died on June 30, 1996, at a veteran's home he'd been living at for about a year. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Source :

Air Defense Drill of PT Boat Crew

A U.S. PT boat crew runs through an air defense drill. During World War II, PT boats engaged enemy warships, transports, tankers, barges, and sampans. Some were converted into gunboats, which could be effective against enemy small craft, especially armored barges used by the Japanese for inter-island transport. Several saw service with the Philippine Navy, where they were named "Q-boats". Nicknamed "the mosquito fleet" and "devil boats" by the Japanese, the PT boat squadrons were hailed for their daring and earned a durable place in the public imagination that remains strong into the 21st century. Their role was replaced in the U.S. Navy by fast attack craft.

Source :
National Archives and Records Administration, 80-G-K-14517
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Future Medal of Honor Holder David McCampbell Waves his LSO paddles

Future Medal of Honor recipient David McCampbell waves his Landing Signal Officer (LSO) paddles while giving flight path guidance to an approaching aircraft on the USS Wasp (CV-7), probably in the North Atlantic during June 1942. The carrier was lost to a Japanese submarine on September 15, 1942. McCampbell became an “ace in a day” on June 19, 1944, during the “Marianas Turkey Shoot,” and then set a U.S. combat record on October 24, 1944, when he shot down nine Japanese aircraft in a single engagement, earning him the Medal of Honor.

Source :
National Archives and Records Administration, 80-G-K-687
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Wind Tunnel Testing of B-17

An Army Air Forces engineer examines a B-17 model undergoing wind tunnel testing. The wind tunnel staff is experienced in all forms of force, pressure, flight control, vibratory, and dynamic testing of powered and unpowered fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft and other test articles in and out of ground effect.

Source :
National Archives and Records Administration 342-C-K-4195
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Capt. Jack Westward instructs combat fliers

Captain Jack Westward of Lewiston, Idaho, instructs combat fliers on the fine points of B-17 formation flying at an Eighth Air Force base in England. The basic element of a typical formation was a squadron “box” of 9 or 12 aircraft; three squadron boxes staggered vertically and horizontally formed a group, and three groups in trail formed a combat wing. In the event, the need to keep such tight defensive formations over Europe compromised the accuracy of the Norden bombsight, since individual bomb runs were not possible without breaking the formation. Whole bomb formations had to drop their loads on the lead bombardier’s command, and the inevitable small differences in timing and heading led to dispersed bomb patterns.

Source :
National Archives and Records Administration 342-C-K-2268
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Friday, November 11, 2022

Afrikakorps Generals as a POW in England

Captured German Senior Officers From the African Campaign Arrive at a Prisoner of War Camp in Britain, 10 June 1943. German senior officers are received by the Camp Commandant Major Topham and representatives of the War Office. The German officers include: General der Panzertruppe Gustav von Vaerst (Oberbefehlshaber 5. Panzerarmee), Generalleutnant Karl Bülowius (General der Pioniere, in der Stab Heeresgruppe "Afrika"), Generalleutnant Willibald Borowietz (Kommandeur 15. Panzer-Division), Generalmajor der Luftwaffe Georg Neuffer (Kommandeur 20. Flak-Division), Generalmajor Fritz Krause (Kommandeur 334. Infanterie-Division), Generalmajor der Luftwaffe Dipl.Ing. Gerhard Bassenge (Kommandant Festung Tunis), and Oberst i.G. August-Viktor von Quast (Chef des Generalstabes 5. Panzerarmee).
Source :,_10_June_1943_TR980.jpg

Thursday, November 10, 2022

German Radio Operator in the Russian Winter

A pair of German artillery radio operators send coordinates on a portable transmitter in the Soviet Union, winter of 1942. The second man has a captured Russian Ushanka fur hat. The image was originally published as 'Das Heer im Grossdeutschen Freiheitskampf' (translated as 'The Army in the Greater German Freedom Struggle'), a collection of 50 plus images taken by the German Army's combat photography unit (Propagandakompanie) during the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The picture itself was taken by Kriegsberichter Trautvetter.

Source :

German Gebirgsjäger Climbing the Mountain

A Heeresbergführer (Army Mountain Leader) of German Gebirgsjäger displaying his climbing equipment (carabiner, pegs, climbing shoes, cords, and ropes). All the hardware needed for climbing and roping had to be carried with the soldier; it was issued as required, and then returned to stores. Several Italian-issue and many civilian items found their way into German use.

Source :
"German Mountain Troops" by Yves Beraud

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Postage stamps of the Third Reich

Dressed in winter gear, two German soldiers look through a pile of mail, Soviet Union, 1942. The image was originally published as 'Das Heer im Grossdeutschen Freiheitskampf' (translated as 'The Army in the Greater German Freedom Struggle'), a collection of 50 plus images taken by the German Army's combat photography unit (Propagandakompanie) during the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The picture itself was taken by Kriegsberichter Bergmann.

Letters and other forms of written communication have been transported within and between countries since medieval times, although a cheap, easily accessible postal service only became generally available to the British public with the appearance of the world's first adhesive postage stamp, the Penny Black, on 6 May 1840. This system was based on the sender pre-paying a flat rate for an item, a charge of one penny being made for the delivery of a letter weighing less than ½ ounce (14 grams) regardless of distance, with charges increasing for heavier items.

Other countries, including Germany, soon developed similar postal systems based upon adhesive, pre-paid stamps of a design unique to the area concerned, but it was not until Germany's partial unification in 1871 that the Deutsche Reichspost (German Imperial Mail or DRP) was established as a state monopoly, on 4 May 1871. It then became the official national postal authority for the German Empire and Alsace-Lorraine, being separated from Bismark's Reich Chancellery in 1876 as the Reichpostamt and operated as a separate agency.

Adolf Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933 and the establishment of the Third Reich saw the DRP retain its original form and purpose, with Reichspost Minister Paul Freiherr von Eltz-Rubenach kept in post until 1937, when Karl Wilhelm Ohnesorge was appointed Minister of the Reichspost. He held this post until the end of the war, having been the real power in the Ministry during the whole of Eltz-Rubenbach’s tenure under the Nazi regime.

 The Reich postal area was rapidly expanded during the period just before WWII, incorporating the Saar territory in 1935, and Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938.  Occupied Polish areas came under its jurisdiction in 1939, including the free port of Danzig which had previously issued its own stamps, although the Feldpost military postal organisation was the main postal authority in these occupied areas. The DRP finally ceased operations on 8 May 1945, the date of the German surrender, being replaced by two post-war organisations, West Germany’s Deutsche Bundespost (German Federal Post Office) and East Germany’s Deutsche Post.

Many early stamps issued by the Third Reich for general circulation typically showed the head of Adolf Hitler in either left or right profile, and in addition to these Hitler head stamps there were also issues of complete series of official stamps which bore only a swastika. Stamps were also issued to commemorate events such as the National Socialist’s 10 years in power or Hitler’s birthday and these usually included engravings appropriate to the event. After 1934, all Reich stamps show the value of the stamp in the top corner/corners and a subscript in Gothic script at the bottom of the stamp reading: ‘DEUTSCHES REICH’

After 1944, Deutsches Reich (German Empire) was replaced with Grossdeutsches Reich (Greater German Empire), as a subscript in Gothic script, reading:


As well as ordinary stamps Hitler’s postal service issued a considerable number of semi-postal stamps. These are stamps which include a surcharge and may be easily recognised because they are printed with the purchase price of the stamp, then an addition sign, followed by the surcharge: ‘12+8’ indicating a stamp for which 12 Pfennigs was charged for postage, with an additional surcharge of 8 Pfennigs going to the relevant government project for which the stamp was issued. These stamps were intended by most governments to serve as a contribution to various charitable institutions, but the surcharge from Nazi semi-postals was used to finance all manner of government projects, including the war.

The German government had operated a postal service of some sort specifically for its military personnel since the Seven Years War in 1756, but the system was based upon deliveries by civilian postal authorities and had no resources available to facilitate the delivery of letters and parcels to troops at the front. Even during WWI, when Britain’s GPO was delivering around 12 million letters each week to Allied soldiers, sailors and airmen, the German postal authorities responded to the 1915 pre-Christmas rush by telling soldiers at the front not to send Christmas cards, because the already overburdened postal service could not deliver them.

However, between 1937 and 1945 this system was vastly improved, the Wehrmacht operating a military postal service, the Feldpost (Army Postal Service), organised so that all branches of the German military (Luftwaffe, Kreigsmarine, Waffen SS, etc) were responsible for delivering their own mail, although Feldpost offices closest to the combat zone usually had a mobile facility which  processed mail for all the military branches. Charges for members of German military and paramilitary units (units composed of men not of German nationality serving with the Wehrmacht) were minimal, postcards and letters weighing less than 250gm (8oz) going free, while packages weighing between 250gm and 1kg (1,000gm/2.2lb) cost only 20 Reichspfennigs (about 5 old pence or 2p) to be delivered anywhere.

A semipostal from after 1944 commemorating the work of the German labour divisions, face value 12pf, surcharge 8pfComplications arose within this system as a result of the rapid movement of the German army through Europe in 1940 and, after a series of negotiations with the relevant governments, postal agreements were set up between Germany and the occupied countries providing for extended use of the Feldpost service. This was an important consideration for Hitler and his government cronies, as many of those occupied countries had significant numbers of volunteers in Wehrmacht units and Goebbels in particular must have quickly appreciated how the moral of these individuals was increased by access to a free post allowing them to write and receive letters from home. Even neutral countries which had volunteers serving with the Wehrmacht, such as Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey, were eventually included in these postal agreements, relatives receiving their letters from men serving with the German forces by the same Feldpost system as the average Berliner.

Stamps do not appear to have been generally issued for this service until 1942 and then only for parcels and airmail covers, ordinary letters being simply stamped with what was termed a Feldpost number (FPN), in a system similar to the modern postcode. Servicemen could also send items via the civilian postal system, in which case full postage was collected and stamps issued and cancelled upon dispatch.

Unit FPNs typically consisted of five digits indicating a location, preceded by a letter showing whether the recipient’s unit belonged to the Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine or some other service branch. There was also a letter following the digits which indicated whether the serviceman was serving in the headquarters company or as part of a line unit. This system was specifically developed to keep troop locations secret, relatives of service personnel receiving a messaging card (Benachrichtigungskarten) bearing the relevant FPN, with mail reaching the recipient in about two weeks. All correspondence from military personnel serving abroad was subject to censorship, although covers and postcards sent to addresses within Germany did not receive such scrutiny.

A Feldpost delivery on the Russian frontPerhaps needless to say, SS mail received special treatment. The SS-Feldpost mail was handled separately by the designated SS-units, the difference between ordinary Feldpost and SS-Feldpost mail being that an item for an SS soldier was required to bear the SS-Feldpost marking, SS unit seal and the sender's rank (SS-Mann), although these regulations do not appear to have been rigidly enforced. The SS also had mail surveillance centres, which used their own censorship markings. Initially the Feldpost was subject to the rules and regulations governing regular postal services and administered by the OKW (Wehrmacht High Command) but on 6 April 1944, all military mail, including its censorship, was removed from Wehrmacht control and came under the jurisdiction of the SS.

As well as their official stamps the Third Reich also produced several series of what are termed propaganda stamps and these include issues parodying the Royal family and the 1935 Silver Jubilee, which replaced the Silver Jubilee superscript with a picture of Stalin and the message ‘THIS WAR IS A JEWISH WAR’.

On the other side of the Channel, British MI6 produced a number of excellent forgeries of 3, 4, 6 and 8 Pfennig Reich stamps, while the OSS produced 6 and 12 Pfennig stamps, although their stamps were claimed to be inferior to MI6’s product. Both the SOE and OSS also produced propaganda stamps, in particular one with Himmler replacing Hitler, specifically intended to undermine the Fuhrer's confidence in his right hand man.

OSS stamp produced for Operation Cornflakes, showing Hitler as a Death's Head and with a subscript which translates as Ruined (or Lost) EmpireNot only did Allied intelligence forge genuine DRP stamps, they also set up an operation to fool the German postal service into delivering Allied propaganda. Designated Operation Cornflakes and run principally by the American OSS, the operation involved dropping subversive material in the form of letters enclosed in Reich-pattern mail bags from specially adapted planes on or near the site of a wrecked mail train. Letters were then re-collected and delivered in the normal way, OSS operatives having used captured German street directories to locate the addresses of real people within the Reich to whom this material was sent. From a collector's viewpoint this operation is of particular interest because the OSS produced a series of special stamps with unique engraving. One in particular shows Hitler’s face as a Death's Head in right profile with the usual subscript, ‘GROSSDEUTSCHES REICH’ replaced with the subscript ‘FUTSCHES REICH’, or ruined empire.

Although stamps, covers and postcards may not immediately seem something for the collector of militaria, many of these items have an intrinsic beauty of their own which can  prove very attractive. Also, they are relatively cheap so a small collection of items of intrinsic interest, say, stamps related to Stalingrad, need not break the bank and would add interest to an otherwise mundane collection.

Stamps issued by the Third Reich - Generally, the issues with Hitler's head and the official swastika stamps are fairly common and relatively inexpensive, 20 stamps of the Hitler head issue selling for as little as £6-£7, with the swastika stamps about the same price. Some semipostals and commemorative stamps are also relatively inexpensive, a set commemorating the 1936 winter Olympics being recently offered for only £5, although much depends upon condition and rarity.         

Propaganda stamps - Perhaps surprisingly, considering their interesting provenance, these stamps do not seem to fetch huge prices at auction, £5-£6 being the average internet price, depending upon condition and rarity.

Operation Cornflakes - Stamps from this operation are significantly more expensive than the general run of WWII stamps, £100-£200 being not unusual for the 12pf Death’s Head issue.

Feldpost covers and postcards - Normally Feldpost mail could not be dispatched nor received by civil post offices and envelopes (postal covers) or postcards delivered via the service are usually found stamped with a military Feldpost Cancellation and Official Military Unit Seal. Some covers and postcards from paramilitary units may be found with overprinted stamps, indicating that the item was dispatched from an occupied country before the German post office had begun issuing their own stamps, specifically printed for that area. These covers and postcards may also bear stamps from a censor, particularly after June 1944, when all postal items became the responsibility of the SS. Feldpost numbers were also sometimes reassigned to other units, particularly when a formation ceased to exist as a result of military action and consequently legitimate covers may be found which bear the same Feldpost number for two different units.

As usual, values depend upon rarity and provenance, but generally these are not expensive, good quality Bavarian covers starting at about £20.

Reichsparteitag Party Rally Propaganda postcard Postcards - These are really a collecting field in themselves but many of the examples produced by the Third Reich as propaganda tools are of extremely high quality and mint examples can fetch high prices, around £30-£40 being not unusual.

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Thursday, November 3, 2022

Gebirgsjäger on Ski

This young German Gebirgsjäger (mountain soldier) photographed during the winter of 1938/9 is wearing a typical uniform of the period: a Bergmütze (mountain cap) with the first version of national insignia (white on light grey); a Feldbluse M33 (jacket) with the bluish dark green Schulterklappen (shoulder straps) with a light green distinctive and the first version of white on a light grey national eagle; stone-grey trousers, or Skihose—the quality of the photograph, one of the first slides ever used in Germany, highlights the difference between the jacket and the trousers—with buttoned pocket flaps; and Wickelgamaschen (puttees) made of feldgrau cloth. The ash skis and duralumin sticks likely come from the resort where he is spending his leave.

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"German Mountain Troops" by Yves Beraud

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Luftwaffe Flight Cap

A Luftwaffe navigator checks his course while laying in the nose of his Heinkel He 111 medium bomber. He is wearing a fliegerkopfhaube (flight cap). During World War I, most pilots quickly realized the need for protective headgear due to the cold weather effects while in an open cockpit.  As no headgear was readily available, pilots were forced to utilize commercially produced leather motorcycle and automobile helmets.  During World War II, the German military produced approximately 10 variations of flight helmets for various operational conditions, as well as with or without radio communication equipment.  This specific helmet was designed with radio equipment for fighter and bomber pilots.  It was similar to the earlier model used in the early months of the Battle of Britain (LWpW100), however with updated features.

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Friday, October 28, 2022

Luftwaffe Ace Werner Machold and His Aircraft

Oberfeldwebel Werner Machold (Flugzeugführer in 7.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richthofen") stands by his Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7 "Weisse 1" fighter aircraft. The picture was taken in France, April 1941. At the beginning of World War II, Machold was serving with 1./JG 2. He was particularly successful over France in 1940 gaining at least 10 victories, including his first on 14 May. Oberfeldwebel Machold continued to score heavily during the Battle of Britain. He was the eighth German fighter pilot to reach 20 victories. On 5 September 1940, he was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes for 21 victories.On 7 September, Machold was transferred to 9./JG 2. He recorded his 24th through 26th victories on 30 September, shooting down three RAF fighters. Oberleutnant Machold was appointed Staffelkapitän of 7./JG 2 in spring 1941. On 9 June 1941, Oberleutnant Machold, flying his Bf 109 E-7/Z (W.Nr. 5983) “White 15”, force-landed near Swanage, Dorset after receiving damage from anti-aircraft fire from a Royal Navy destroyer during a low-level Jabo attack on a shipping convoy off Portland. He became a prisoner-of-war for the remainder of hostilities. Werner Machold amassed 32 victories in over 250 combat missions. All his victories were recorded over the Western front.

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Hitler in SA Rally in Dortmund

Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler addressing an SA (Sturmabteilung) rally in Dortmund, Germany, during “Aufmarsch der SA-Gruppe Westfalen” (also known as the “SA-Westfalentreffen”), 9 July 1933. From left to right: Gauleiter Josef Wagner (NSDAP-Gauleiter des Gaus Westfalen-Süd), SA-Gruppenführer Wilhelm Schepmann (Führer SA-Gruppe Westfalen), SA-Brigadeführer Georg von Walthausen (Gruppenstaffelführers der SA-Gruppe Nord-West), Hitler, Adolf Hühnlein (blocked by Hitler, NSKK-Korpsführer ), and SA-Obergruppenführer Viktor Lutze (Oberpräsident der Provinz Hannover). This picture was taken by Hugo Jaeger, and was first published in the book "Deutschland Erwacht – Werden, Kampf und Sieg der NSDAP".

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"Deutschland Erwacht", Bild Nr. 155, Album Nr. 8

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Idiot's Delight

Master Sergeant Penrose Bingham watches Sergeant Pilla (no first name given) paint another bomb on the side of a Boeing B-17F Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bomber, nicknamed 'Idiot's Delight' of the U.S. 8th Air Force, England, to commemorate the planes 50th successful mission, 1944. Idiots’ Delight (42-30301 XM * J) belonged to the 94th Bomb Group, 332nd Bomb Squadron and was the first in that group to survive 50 missions. She flew her first mission on July 14, 1943 to Le Bourget and her fiftieth mission on March 22, 1944 to Berlin. Camouflage is standard Olive Drab over Neutral Gray with Neutral Gray (instead of white) stars in the national insignia.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

German Reconnaissance Pilot

Luftwaffe Fernaufklärer (long-distance reconnaissance pilot) with his aircraft in 1940. He is wearing Fliegerkopfhaube (aviator head cover) and Fliegerschutzbrille (aviator goggles). Despite a considerable technological and numerical head start, Germany gradually neglected aerial reconnaissance, at least relative to Britain. The reason, grounded in history and geography, was that Germany had no strategic bombing doctrine and viewed air power as an auxiliary of land armies. Numerous Aufklärungs (up-clearing, i.e. reconnaissance) units were established for marine and ground support purposes, but while this was effective in the tactical sense, the intellectual investment in interpretation, analysis, and strategic estimation lagged. From the German perspective, this was defensible considering that about 90% of the action lay in large land-battles in the East, and an expensive long-range air capability would have been unlikely to effectively change the outcome.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2022

German Tanks Near Moscow

White winter camouflaged tanks of the 11. Panzer-Division in the village of Matronino near Volokolamsk. On the left, the first and third are Panzer III tanks, while between them and on the right is Panzer II tanks. The picture was taken by Kriegsberichter Artur Grimm in Moscow area, November 1941. From 31 October to 13–15 November 1941, the Wehrmacht high command stood down while preparing to launch a second offensive towards Moscow. Although Heeresgruppe Mitte (Army Group Centre) still possessed considerable nominal strength, its fighting capabilities had thoroughly diminished because of wear and fatigue. While the Germans were aware of the continuous influx of Soviet reinforcements from the east as well as the presence of large reserves, given the tremendous Soviet casualties, they did not expect the Soviets to be able to mount a determined defense.

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Monday, October 24, 2022

German 88mm Flak Gun during Barbarossa

Positioning of an 8.8 cm Flak gun of the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) at the Eastern Front during Unternehmen Barbarossa, summer 1941. Photographer: Artur Grimm. For the invasion of the Soviet Union, Germany deployed the 8.8 cm Flak in 51 mixed Anti-Aircraft battalions. They were mostly Luftwaffe-subordinated units attached to the Heer at corps or army level, with approximately one battalion per corps. The weapon saw continuous use on the eastern front. The appearance of the outstanding T-34 and the later KV tanks shocked the German panzer crews and anti-tank teams, who could only penetrate the Soviet tanks' armor at extremely close range on the order of 200 yards when using the standard 37 mm and 50 mm guns, while the Russian 76 mm gun was effective out to 1000 yards.

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Sunday, October 23, 2022

German Bf 110 and Italian Macchi C.200

German fighter-bomber Messerschmitt Bf 110 and an Italian Macchi C.200 Saetta flying over a (southern?) Italian city, somewhere in 1942. Photographer: Artur Grimm. At least three Bf.110 C-3 supplied by Luftwaffe to Italian Regia Aeronautica for night fighter units. After training and familiarization of Italian crews with the German twin engine in Germany, the planes was transferred in Italy in July and August 1942 and assigned to Nucleo Addestramento Intercettori, an unit for interceptor’s training operating inside of 235th Squadriglia transferred from Treviso to Lonate Pozzolo, near Varese, in Lombardy. Role of this unit was train the Italian pilots to new methods of night fighting against the Allied strategic bombers. In this color photo the commander of 235th Squadriglia, captain Aramis Ammannato, and his dog, standing in front of a Bf.110 of the unit at Lonate Pozzolo.

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