Book Review: The Age of Total War: 1860-1945 by Jeremy Black

The notion that a book is “thought-provoking” is often thrown out there for works of non-fiction, and of those that are described as such that I have read most very seldom are.   This book is different, Dr. Black has written not so much a history as a treatise challenging historians, particularly military historians, to reexamine the history of conflict in the examined period with the idea of total war uppermost in their minds.   It seems a counter-intuitive thing to do at first, but he provides plenty of examples of why the wars under consideration were not total or were only partially total at best.   This includes World … More after the Jump…

S.L.A. Marshall, Men Against Fire, and Whether Men are Conditioned to Kill in Combat or Not.

I am currently reading The Roman Army at War 100 BC – AD 200 by Adrian Kieth Goldsworthy. In the final chapter he talks about the motivation of the Roman soldier to fight. What brings up this topic that starting on page 264 he references S.L.A. Marshall’s (hereafter SLAM) work Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command and repeats the claim that only 25% of men actively participate in combat, the rest being cowards in place at worst or half-hearted fighters at best.   Now, being a recently retired soldier who has seen combat, in Iraq I have several issues with the claim.   In fact, I completely dispute … More after the Jump…

Dazzle Camo

A Mrs. Nora Holloway from the Military Gear Blog (Opennes Note:  The blog links to an an online store so it could be subtle spam)sent me an email a few days asking me to share an article she wrote concerning the history and possible future use of Dazzle Camoflage on military ships and vehicles.   She posits that perhaps there may be a resurgence in the use of dazzle camo based on recent research showing it is marginally effective in low-tech environments.   Dazzle Camo was used extensivley on ships in WWII but for some reason I highly doubt that it will make a comeback. Painting and repainting military vehicles … More after the Jump…

D-day: The 67th Anniversary

None of us in America should forget D-day, today 67th anniversary of the opening of the Second Front against Hitler in WWII.  The national archives has an excellent page with a election of documents and photographs related to that day.  Her are some photos that will hopefully provoke some refection on the sacrifices of our grandfathers and what has been characterized as “The Greatest Generation.”  And a link to the text of an excellent speech by Ronald Reagan on the 40th Anniversary: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc Let us never forget our men and women in uniform.  

Book Review: The German Way of War by Robert M. Citino

This book is an interesting read to say the least, Dr. Citino makes the case that there is a specifically German “way of war”. That way, is what he calls operational maneuver. He traces the development of this “way of war” from the 17th century battles of the Frederick William I, the “Great Elector” of electoral Brandenburg and scion of the Hohenzollern Dynasty through to the end of World War II and the final defeat of Nazi Germany. I am not myself so convinced that the discussion should end there based on my experience talking to current German soldiers about war and battle during partnership exercises while I have been … More after the Jump…

Sixty-Sixth Anniversary of Hitler€™s Death

On this day 66 years ago, Hitler did the world a favor and took his own life.   Unfortunately, he should have done it in 1923 and saved the world upwards of 100,000,000 dead while he pursued his ambition of being a great war leader and genocide.   Less than two weeks after his death the leaders of his supposed 1,000 year Reich signed the Unconditional Surrender of Germany’s Armed Forces and ended World War II in Europe.   It would take another four months for the Allies to force Imperial Japan to do the same thing.  This is the BBC’s announcement of his death: Hitler_is_dead

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Book Review: Panzer Battles by F.W. von Mellenthin

This is one of the most influential memoirs written by a former German Officer. The cover of the copy I own highlights that it “was the book on General Schwarzkopf’s desk during the Gulf War.” I found it to be a well written book with some pretty good accounts of the battles von Mellenthin participated in as a staff officer as well as some battles he did not participate in. I would not go so far as to say that this book is a definitive account of German tank warfare in World War II but it comes very close. Mellenthin does an outstanding job of describing the operational and sometimes … More after the Jump…

Heroe’s Portraits: Captain Charles Upham.

Captain Charles Upham is one of the three men who were awarded the Victoria Cross twice.   Both his awards were won during World War II, the first in the Battle for Crete in 1941 and the second at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942.   He was captured in the action that earned him the second VC and spent the remainder of the war as POW in Colditz prison.   He retired to New Zealand after the war and bought a farm.   He died in 1994 at the age of 86 in a Christchurch, New Zealand.   His VC and Bar are on display at the Queen … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Soldat: Reflections of German Soldier, 1936-1949 by Sigfried Knappe

Book Review: Soldat: Reflections of  German Soldier, 1936-1949 by Sigfried Knappe and Ted Brusaw

I realized this morning that it has been a while since I posted a book review and I just finished re-reading this book yesterday and thought I would post a review of it.

This is a ghost-written account of Major Knappe’s time in the Wehrmacht between 1936 and his release from Russian captivity in 1949.   I first read this book in the mid-90s when it was first released.   At the time, I was very much into reading about World War II and thought that reading a book from the German perspective would be enlightening.   I was not disappointed with this book.

More after the Jump…Book Review: Soldat: Reflections of German Soldier, 1936-1949 by Sigfried Knappe

Battle Analysis: The German Invasion of Russia in 1941

The German invasion of European Russia was a huge mistake for several reasons, the biggest being that Germany had insufficient forces to win in the first year.   Another reason was the force disparity between the German and Russian armies there is also the almost total lack of realistic logistics planning on the part of the German High Command or OKH.   The German army did not have contingency plans for a winter campaign and were thus caught flat-footed when Russia failed to capitulate in 1941; this lack of planning was despite the recommendations of such officers as Guderian and Manstein.

More after the Jump…Battle Analysis: The German Invasion of Russia in 1941

WW II Tanks Panther-T-34 visual comparison

Was talking about WWII tanks at work today and while looking at pictures of the various tanks the visual similarities between the German Panther and Soviet T-34 Jumped out at me. The top photo is of a Panther and the bottom photo is a T-34.   I have always read that the Panther was developed specifically to counter the threat of the T-34 but it never hit me how alike they looked.   They have a similar turret, glacís plate, commanders cupola, even the tracks looks superficially similar at a glance.   It just started to make me wonder if the German designers of the Panther had a captured T-34 … More after the Jump…