Category: The Second World War

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:50 am

“‘Knowledge is power,’ but to a degree only. Its possession per se will raise a man to mediocrity, but not to distinction.” – Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., “The Secret of Victory”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:09 am

“The quickest way to get to heaven is to advance across open ground swept by effective enemy anti-tank fire.” – Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., “Use of Armored Formations, Letter of Instruction No. 3, 20 May 1944 ”

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:51 am

“An important factor enabling the Soviets to seize the offensive and retain it is Lend-Lease. Lend-Lease food and transport particularly have been vital factors in Soviet success. Combat aircraft, upon which the Soviet Air Forces relied so greatly, have been furnished in relatively great numbers (11,300 combat planes received). Should there be a full stoppage it is extremely doubtful whether Russia could retain efficiently her all-out offensive capabilities. Even defensively the supply of Lend-Lease food and transport would play an extremely vital role. It amounts to about a million tons a year. If Russia were deprived of it, Germany could probably still defeat the U.S.S.R. Lend-Lease is our trump card in dealing with U.S.S.R. and its control is possibly the most effective means we have to keep the Soviets on the offensive in connection with the second front.” – General George C. Marshall, from a memorandum to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 31, 1944

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:23 am

“To establish a proper manpower balance for the United States in wartime was as difficult as it was important. The absolute ceiling on the number of men physically fit for active military service was estimated to be between fifteen and sixteen million. On the surface it was hard to understand, in the light of the available manpower pool, why there should be any U.S. manpower problem at all. Why, if Germany could maintain a military establishment of 9,835,000 or 10.9 percent of her population and Britain could support 3,885,000 or 8.2 percent of hers, did the United States manpower officials insist in late 1942 that 10,500,000 or only 7.8 percent would be the maximum force that the country could sustain without incurring serious dislocation to the American economy? The problem as well as the answer stemmed basically from the fact that the Allies had from the beginning accepted the proposition that the single greatest tangible asset the United States brought to the coalition in World War II was the productive capacity of its industry. From the very beginning, U.S. manpower calculations were closely correlated with the needs of war industry. The Army had therefore to compete for manpower not only with the needs of the other services but also with the claims of industry.” – Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare:1943-1944

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:53 am

“In recognition of the fact that wartime military planning was inextricably involved with foreign policy, the Army planners intensified their efforts from the spring of 1943 onward to improve liaison with the White House and State Department. By and large, the Army remained preoccupied both before and after the spring of 1943 with the more strictly military aspects of national policy. This reflected staff acceptance of the code, on which it had been working since before the war, that civilian authorities determine the ‘what’ of national policy and the military confine themselves to the ‘how.’ Yet it is also apparent that the fine line between foreign policy and military policy was becoming increasingly blurred as the war went on. The President felt compelled to take an active part in military affairs, and the Army staff found more and more that it could not keep foreign and political affairs out of its military calculations. It had become painfully clear to the staff since the summer of 1942 that political policy might not permit the armed forces to follow the quickest and most direct road to victory according to its lights.” – Maurice Matloff, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare:1943-1944

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:21 am

“They swarmed down upon us like locusts with a plentiful supply of planners and various other assistants with prepared plans to insure that they not only accomplished their purpose but did so in stride and with fair promise of continuing in their role of directing strategically the course of this war. I have the greatest admiration, . . . and if I were a Britisher I would feel very proud. However, as an American I wish that we might be more glib and better organized to cope with these super negotiators. From a worm’s eye viewpoint it was apparent that we were confronted by generations and generations of experience in committee work and in rationalizing points of view. They had us on the defensive practically all the time.” – General Albert C. Wedemeyer, January 22, 1943 (as quoted by Maurice Matloff in Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare:1943-1944)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:47 am

“It is only when all sides of an issue are forcefully presented and the various solutions thereof closely scrutinized that the final plan has any validity.” – Maj. Gen. Orlando Ward, U.S.A., The War Department: Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare, 1941-1942, United States Army in World War Two

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:35 am

“A brigadier general then in OPD [Operations Division of the General Staff, United States Army] told the author that, after some extracurricular scientific reflection in the early spring of 1945, he conceived the idea that the release of atomic energy for military purposes might be practical. He said he innocently aired the suggestion in the War Department that the Japanese might be working on such a weapon and wondered if the United States should not be doing something about it. He was considerably surprised at the intensive security check to which he was suddenly subjected. The fact that OPD officers in general had no idea of what was in the immediate future is indicated by their consternation when a project for construction of an artificial harbor for use in the March 1946 attack on Japan was approved with ‘priority above all military and naval programs except MANHATTAN project.’ OPD officers told the author that they could not guess nor discover what the mysterious MANHATTAN was and doubted that it could be more important than the harbor for 1946. One S&P [Strategy & Policy Group] officer said he received oral orders from General Hull [Director of Operations Division] to quit trying to find out anything about MANHATTAN.” – Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Operations Division, United States Army in World War Two (internal citations omitted)

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:42 am

“Security consciousness in OPD [Operations Division of the General Staff, United States Army] was so well established by the end of the war that the author and associate historians, though explicitly authorized by the Chief of Staff and the OPD chief to see all War Department files, had many administrative battles with the executive office and the record room before officers in charge became convinced that the chief of OPD had really meant that anyone, particularly a civilian, should see everything in Division files. While the historians found most of the staff members extremely co-operative, the policy of tight security was very strong.” – Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Operations Division, United States Army in World War Two

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 8:13 am

“The War Department, like every other installation in the zone of interior, found it harder and harder to maintain high standards for its enlisted detachment. Toward the close of 1943 OPD [Operations Division of the General Staff, United States Army] was authorized to overcome its difficulties in staffing its secretariat by using enlisted women (Wacs [Women’s Army Corps]) as well as enlisted men and civilians. By recruiting increasing numbers of enlisted women, the Division added to the strength of its clerical staff and in general maintained its exacting standards of competence. By V-J Day enlisted women made up nearly one-third of the strength of the total Division secretariat, nearly equaling each of the other two components.” – Ray S. Cline, Washington Command Post: The Operations Division, United States Army in World War Two

Cashing inCashing in

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:59 am

“Most of the Galician Jews, like Polish Jews residing in the General Government, died in the course of 1942 after spending months isolated from the rest of the population in ghettos created on Nazi orders. Acting on instructions of German police commanders, the Jewish and Ukrainian police rounded them up and shipped them to extermination camps. Motivated more often by greed than anti-Semitism, locals often tried to take advantage of the misfortunes of their Jewish neighbors, either denouncing them to the authorities or seizing their property. But the majority simply looked the other way.” – Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe

In the killing fieldsIn the killing fields

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:21 am

“The Holocaust was the single most horrific episode of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine, which had no shortage of horror. Most Ukrainian Jews who became victims never made it either to Auschwitz or to any other extermination camp. Heinrich Himmler’s Einsatzgruppen, with the help of local police formed by the German administration, gunned them down on the outskirts of the cities, towns, and villages in which they lived. The shooting began in the summer of 1941 in all territories taken by the Wehrmacht from the retreating Soviets. By January 1942, when high Nazi officials gathered in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to coordinated the implementation of the Final Solution—the eradication of European Jewry—Nazi death squads had killed close to 1 million Jewish men, women, and children. They did so in broad daylight, sometimes in plain sight and almost always within earshot of the local non-Jewish population. The Holocaust in Ukraine and the rest of the western Soviet Union not only destroyed the Jewish population and its communal life, as was the case in Europe generally, but also traumatized those who witnessed it.” – Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe

The gates of hellThe gates of hell

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:17 am

“Ukraine under German occupation became a large-scale model of a concentration camp. As in the camps, the line between resistance and collaboration, victimhood and criminal complicity with the regime became blurred but by no means indistinguishable. Everyone made a personal choice, and those who survived had to live with their decisions after the war, many in harmony, some in unending anguish.” – Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe

Yet prescientYet prescient

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:11 am

“In December 1940 [Hitler] signed a directive ordering preparations for war with the Soviet Union. The operation was code-named Barbarossa after the twelfth-century German king and Holy Roman emperor who had led the Third Crusade. He had drowned while trying to cross a river in heavy armor instead of taking the bridge used by his troops. It was certainly a bad omen.” – Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe

A fine-looking bunchA fine-looking bunch

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:59 am

“By early October 1939, the Polish army had ceased to exist . . . . The Red Army, which was no match for the Germans in mechanization, demonstrated its superiority to the Polish troops in the quality of its armaments, which included new tanks, aircraft, and modern guns—all products of Stalin’s industrialization effort. But to the surprise of many, the Soviet officers and soldiers were often badly dressed, poorly fed, and shocked by the relative abundance of food and goods in the Polish shops. The locals found Soviet officers ideologically indoctrinated, uncultured, and unsophisticated. For years, they would tell and retell stories about the wives of Red Army officers who allegedly attended theaters in nightgowns, believing them to be evening dresses.” – Serhii Plokhy, The Gates of Europe

The balance and the point of itThe balance and the point of it

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 8:20 am

“Every good quality has its bad side, and nothing good can come into the world without at once producing a corresponding evil. This painful fact renders illusory the feeling of elation that so often goes with consciousness of the present—the feeling that we are the culmination of the whole history of mankind, the fulfilment and end-product of countless generations. At best it should be a proud admission of our poverty: we are also the disappointment of the hopes and expectations of the ages. Think of nearly two thousand years of Christian Idealism followed, not by the return of the Messiah and the heavenly millennium, but by the World War among Christian nations with its barbed wire and poison gas. What a catastrophe in heaven and on earth!” – Carl Gustav Jung, “The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man” (trans. R.F.C. Hull)

The silence of the lambsThe silence of the lambs

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:35 am

“A number of gravestones lie fallen; the grass is rank. This is the burial-site of Russian infantry who died at the approaches to Weimar when the war was virtually over. No more, I reckon, than thirty or forty graves. A fair number are those of boy-soldiers, aged sixteen or seventeen, out of the Asian steppe, out of Kazakhstan and Turkmenia, done to death in a land and language of which they could have had no notion, by the insensate, robotic resistance and military skills of a moribund Reich. This unnoticed graveyard makes manifest the moronic waste and waste and waste of war, the appetite of war for children. Yet it expounds no less the mind-numbing affinities between war and high culture, between bestial violence and the noon places of human creativity. The bounds of Goethe’s garden are minutes away to one side. The alleys familiar to Liszt and to Berlioz skirt the rusted gate. There is rest here, but no peace.” – George Steiner, Errata: An Examined Life

Same as it ever isSame as it ever is

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:08 am

“Probably as good a date as any for the beginning of World War II is July 1937, when Chinese troops clashed with Japanese invaders near Beijing, close to the Chinese-Manchurian border. If nothing else, it surely ended any hope of the rise of a modern, semi-democratic China under Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist or Guomindang Party, the kind of China many Americans had hoped for, and dreamed of long after it became the most hopeless of causes. What then took place in China, under the dual force of the Japanese invasion and the constant undercurrent of the civil war, was as powerful and complete a transformation of a social, economic, and political order as the modern world had witnessed. It was a cataclysmic event, driven at first by forces from without, but in no way purely an external challenge. It was, at the same time, a challenge of one China, as yet unborn and potentially lethal in its norms and residual hatreds, to another China, at once weak, cruel, and barbaric in its own way: a challenge by one set of violent, autocratic men to another set of autocratic and ruthless men who had ruled so poorly and with such elemental brutality for too long. It was a system of oppression rather than authority that had been imposed with unparalleled harshness and greed upon ordinary Chinese. The few who benefitted were rich, powerful, and lived above the laws, which, in any case, were set by force of arms. The many who were poor existed that way in what seemed like hopeless perpetuity. Every unbearable aspect of their daily lives was marked by some kind on injustice, and the absence of elemental dignity. This China was probably dying even before the first Japanese troops marched into Manchuria.” – David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter

The incineration of the vanitiesThe incineration of the vanities

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:11 am

“In the wake of Japan’s surrender, Hirohito’s soldiers, sailors and airmen were shocked to find themselves objects of obloquy among their own people. Public animosity embraced the humblest as well as the loftiest warriors. After years of suffering, all the pent-up frustration and misery of the Japanese people was made manifest in the wake of defeat. Servicemen who had mindlessly accepted the code of bushido, and sometimes suffered terribly to fulfill its demands, now faced the contempt of their own nation. . . . This was an experience unknown among German veterans who had served in Hitler’s legions. Japan’s early post-war years were characterized by a collapse of hierarchies, a ruthless pursuit of self-interest reflected in looting, crime and wholesale prostitution, unknown at any other period of the nation’s history. Decadence, even depravity, flourished, as the defeated people astonished their conquerors by that fashion in which they abased themselves before all things American. Self-loathing seemed for a time to overtake Japan.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

A new white man’s burdenA new white man’s burden

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:25 am

“Nowhere was relief at the dropping of the bomb more intense and heartfelt than in prison camps throughout the Japanese empire. Yet even among those for whom Hiroshima promised deliverance, a few displayed more complex emotions. Lt. Stephen Abbott’s closest friend, Paul, a devout Christian, entered their bleak barrack room in Japan and said: ‘Stephen—a ghastly thing has happened.’ He described the destruction of Hiroshima, as reported on the radio, then knelt in prayer. Eighteen months later, Abbott wrote a letter for publication in The Times, citing his own status as a former POW, and arguing that a demonstration of the bomb would have sufficed: ‘The way it has been used has not only provided a significant chapter for future Japanese history books but has also convinced the people of Japan that the white man’s claim to the ethical and spiritual leadership of the world is without substance.’ ” – Max Hastings, Retribution

We can all have one of theseWe can all have one of these

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:16 am

“ ‘Little Boy,’ ‘an elongated trash can with fins’ . . . exploded 1,900 feet above Hiroshima’s Shima Hospital, 550 feet from its aiming point. . . . The 8,900-pound device created temperatures at ground level which reached 5,400 degrees and generated the explosive power of 12,500 tons of TNT. All but 6,000 of the city’s 76,000 buildings were destroyed by fire or blast. . . . The detonation of ‘Little Boy,’ the mushroom cloud which changed the world, created injuries never before seen on mortal creatures, and recorded with disbelief by survivors: the cavalry horse standing pink, stripped of its hide; people with clothing patterns imprinted upon their flesh; the line of schoolgirls with ribbons of skin dangling from their faces; doomed survivors, hideously burned, without hope of effective medical relief; the host of charred and shrivelled corpses. Hiroshima and its people had been almost obliterated, and even many of those who clung to life would not long do so.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

You have to have people killedYou have to have people killed

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:37 am

“Many people of later generations and all nationalities have viewed the dropping of atomic weapons on Japan as events which, in their unique horror, towered over the war as a dark mountain bestrides the plain. In one sense this perception is correct, because the initiation of the nuclear age provided mankind with unprecedented power to destroy itself. . . . To grasp the context in which the commitment to bomb Hiroshima was made, it seems necessary to acknowledge the cacophony amidst which all those involved, the political and military leaders of the U.S., were obliged to do their business. These were men in their fifties and sixties, weary after years of perpetual crisis such as world war imposes, bombarded daily with huge dilemmas. Europe was in ruins and chaos, the Western Allies striving to contend with Stalin’s ruthlessness and greed, Britain’s bankruptcy, the starvation of millions. . . . The U.S. found itself obliged to arbitrate upon the future of half the world, while being implored to save as much as possible of the other half from the Soviets, even as war with Japan continued and mankind recoiled in horror from newsreel films of Hitler’s death camps. . . . The bomb was only the foremost of many huge issues with which these mortal men, movingly conscious of their own limitations, strove to grapple. In the course of directing a struggle for national survival, all had been obliged to make decisions which had cost lives, millions of lives, of both Allied servicemen and enemy soldiers and civilians. Most would have said wryly that this is what they were paid for. The direction of war is never a task for the squeamish.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

The motivatorThe motivator

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:21 am

“On 24 April [1945] Truman received from [Secretary of War] Stimson a letter requesting a meeting to discuss ‘a highly secret matter.’ . . . The Manhattan Project represented the most stupendous scientific effort in history. In three years, at a cost of $2 billion [$26-and-a-third billion in 2015 dollars], the U.S.—with some perfunctorily acknowledged British aid—had advanced close to fulfilling a programme which much of the scientific world had thought unattainable, certainly within a time frame relative to this conflict. . . . Technological determinism is an outstanding feature of great wars. At a moment when armadas of Allied bombers had been destroying the cities of Germany and Japan for three years, killing civilians in hundreds of thousands, the notion of withholding a vastly more impressive means of fulfilling the same purpose scarcely occurred to those directing the Allied war effort. . . . As long as Hitler survived, the Manhattan team had striven unstintingly to build a bomb, haunted by fear that the Nazis might get there first.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

Divorced from reality, married to perditionDivorced from reality, married to perdition

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:10 am

“From the winter of 1944 onwards, a significant party in Tokyo was seeking a route by which to end the war, and to overcome the army’s resolve to fight to the last. Even the most dovish, however, wanted terms that were not remotely negotiable, including the preservation of Japanese hegemony in Korea and Manchuria, freedom from Allied military occupation, and the right for Japan to conduct any war crimes trials of its citizens. . . . The ‘peace party’ thought and spoke as if Japan could expect to be treated as an honourable member of the international community. There was no acknowledgement of the fact that, in Western eyes, the behaviour of the Japanese since Pearl Harbor, indeed since 1931, had placed their nation beyond the pale. Japan’s leaders wasted months asserting diplomatic positions founded upon the demands of their own self-esteem, together with supposed political justice. In reality, their only chance of modified terms derived from Allied fears that a host of men would have to die if an invasion of the homeland proved necessary. As blockade and bombardment, together with the prospects of atomic bombs and Russian entry into the Pacific theatre, progressively diminished the perceived American need to risk invasion, Japan held no cards at all.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

Once was enoughOnce was enough

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:16 am

“Some historians, armed with knowledge of subsequent events, argue that the capture of Okinawa was unnecessary. It did not bring Japan’s surrender a day closer. Yet to those directing the operation at the time, it was perceived as an indispensable preliminary to invasion of the Japanese home islands. [The Battle of] Okinawa exercised an important influence on the development of events thereafter, through its impact upon the civilian, military and naval leadership of the United States. To capture an outpost, American forces had been obliged to fight the most bitter campaign of the Pacific war. The prospect of invading Kyushu and Honshu in the face of Japanese forces many times greater than those on Okinawa, and presumably imbued with the same fighting spirit, filled those responsible with dismay. . . . [A]ny alternative which averted such necessity would be deemed welcome.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

Cool Hand Luke draws the aceCool Hand Luke draws the ace

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:04 am

“At 1005 on 11 May [1945], the first of two Zeroes plowed into the flight deck of [Admiral Marc] Mitscher’s flagship, Bunker Hill, starting devastating fires which raged through the ship. . . . In a succession of skillful manoeuvres, Captain George Seitz saved Bunker Hill from absolute destruction by swinging her broadside to the wind, to prevent smoke and flame from engulfing the hull. . . .  In engine and boiler rooms, miraculously undamaged, crews laboured to maintain power in temperatures of 130 degrees. The Bunker Hill attacks cost 396 men killed and 264 injured. One of them might have been the post-war movie star Paul Newman. He was ordered to the ship as radioman/gunner in an Avenger with a draft of replacements shortly before the attack, but by a fluke of war was held back because his pilot had an ear infection. The rest of his detail died.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

You don’t miss what you never hadYou don’t miss what you never had

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:23 am

“What enabled some men to survive the unspeakable experiences of captivity, while others perished? [Captain] Mel Rosen attributed 5 percent to self-discipline, 5 percent to optimism—‘If you didn’t think you were going to make it, you didn’t’—and 90 percent to ‘pure luck.’ Milton Young, a carpenter’s son from Rhode Island who spent an orphan childhood working on a chicken farm, believed that an uncommonly harsh upbringing helped him to survive Japanese captivity. He was even grateful not to have a home to think about: ‘I didn’t have much of a family, and that helped.’ ” – Max Hastings, Retribution

Not all badNot all bad

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 6:24 am

“An enormous amount has been written about Japanese cruelty to prisoners. It should be noticed, nonetheless, that conditions varied widely in different camps. For instance, 2,000 British POWs in Saigon lived not intolerably until late 1944, sometimes even able to slip under the wire to visit local shops and brothels. It seems important also to record instances in which POWs were shown kindness, even granted means to survive through Japanese compassion. A British bugler, Corporal Leader, found himself in a Singapore hospital in 1942. Back home in Norfolk he had been a Salvation Army bandsman. Now, he was amazed to be visited by a Japanese who announced that he too had been a ‘Sally Army’ member in Tokyo. He wanted to help the sick Briton. The Japanese contacted a local Malay Salvationist, who sent Leader letters, eggs, and biscuits.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

Very dry martinis, with a twistVery dry martinis, with a twist

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 7:25 am

“Western civilians who fell into the hands of the Japanese in China, the Philippines and South-East Asia were technically interned rather than imprisoned, often crowded into clusters of former colonial homes. In a few places, notably Shanghai, such communities came through the war worn, strained and wretched, yet almost all alive. In Shanghai’s Chapei camp, the Japanese left families intact. Inmates complained of confinement and lack of privacy, but none starved. It was noted ruefully that deprivation of alcohol improved the fitness of some adults.” – Max Hastings, Retribution

So that was ChristmasSo that was Christmas

Tetman Callis 0 Comments 5:23 am

“American prisoners in the Philippines suffered grievously from the fact that, after enduring the siege of Bataan, most were half-starved when they entered captivity. ‘The ones who wouldn’t eat died pretty early on,’ said Paul Reuter of the USAAF, a twenty-four-year-old miner’s son from Shamokin, Pennsylvania. ‘I buried people who looked much better than me. They just crawled under a building. I never did have any thoughts of not living. We were a bunch who’d been through the Depression. I never turned down anything that was edible—and I guess I just had the right genes.’ In Reuter’s camp, ‘anything that was edible’ meant whale blubber or soya meal, occasionally dried fish, ‘which we ate bones and all.’ Australian Snow Peat saw a maggot an inch long, and said, “Meat, you beauty!’ ‘One bloke sitting alongside me said, “Jeez, I can’t eat that.” I said, “Well, tip her in here, mate, it’s going to be my meal ticket home. You’ve got to eat it, you’ve got to give it a go. Think they’re currants in the Christmas pudding. Think they’re anything.” ‘ ” – Max Hastings, Retribution