Tag Archives: Military

A Piece of the Cold War in Austin

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When WWII ended in Europe in May of 1945, Easter Europe, including part of Germany, was occupied by Soviet forces. Germany was divided into four occupation zones at the Potsdam Conference in the late summer of 1945. Each zone was under the control of one of the Allied powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the Soviet Union. With Berlin being well within the Soviet zone, it too was divided into four sectors. 

The Soviet Union worked to create communist governments in those countries they had occupied. In their zone in Eastern Germany, they worked with German socialists to create the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In addition to the GDR, they set up similar governments in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Along with Albania, these countries and the Soviet Union formed the Warsaw Pact to oppose NATO. These two became the opposing sides during the Cold War. The other three Allies joined their western zones into the Federal Republic of Germany in 1949. 

The oppressive GDR drove many Germans to escape into the West. It is estimated that as many as 3.5 million East Germans (20% of the East German population) had fled to the west by 1961. The GDR began closing the border at midnight on August 31, 1961. The border was manned by troop, roads were torn up, and barbed wire was installed (156 km or 97 miles) around the three western sectors of Berlin. The first concrete segments of a wall were erected on August 17. In addition, chain link fences, minefields, and other obstacles were put in place along the border between East and West German. 

For the GDR the wall solved some economic problems that stemmed from two German currencies and an active Black Market for western goods. It also stopped the flow of people to the west, particularly many of the more educated East Germans. This enabled the GDR government to assert tighter control over its citizens. On the downside the wall became a public relations problem. It was a symbol of the Communist East and border guards shooting those trying to escape did little to enhance this point of view. It is thought that nearly 200 people were killed trying to escape over the wall. 

The final Berlin Wall was some 140 km (87 miles) in length. The initial wall was repeatedly improved over the years. The  “fourth generation” wall was the most sophisticated and was completed in 1980. This version of the wall was constructed of 45,000 reinforced concrete panels, each 3.6 m (12 ft) high and 1.2 m (3.9 ft) wide. In the fall of 1989 there was growing unrest in East Berlin. The GDR government finally announced on November 9, 1989, that they would begin allowing citizens to visit the West. Demolition of the Berlin Wall officially began on June 13, 1990, and it was completed in November of that year. Removal of the wall opened up Germany for reunification, which was completed on October 3, 1990. 

In the aftermath of WWII, six new National Guard divisions were created. One of those was the 49th Armored Division and it was assigned to the Texas National Guard. It officially came into being on February 27, 1947, and was nicknamed the “Lone Star Division”. The 49th initially was equipped with WWII vintage equipment, but over the years as the Regular Army received updated armor, the 49th was updated with newer “hand-me-down” equipment. In 1961 when East Germany began building the Berlin Wall the 49th was one of the National Guard Divisions President Kennedy ordered to be mobilized. 

The members of the 49th were called to active duty on October 15, 1961. It moved to Fort Polk, Louisiana to train in preparation for deployment to Germany. The unit spent nearly a year in preparation and was eventually designated as a division in the Strategic Army Corps (STRAC). STRAC was created as a flexible strike force capable of worldwide deployment on short notice. Fortunately, the tension created by the construction of the Berlin Wall had diminished by the late summer of 1962 and the 49th was demobilized in August of that year. 

When the Berlin Wall came down in 1990 a section of it was presented to the Texas National Guard in recognition for their readiness for deployment to Germany. The segment of the wall is on display in the Texas Military Forces Museum in Austin, TX. It can be found in the Cold War/War on Terror room in the West Gallery. The plaque reads:

Dedicated to the soldiers of the Texas Army National Guard whose service during the Cold War helped bring the Berlin Wall down

Book Review: “Britain 1940: The Decisive Year on the Home Front”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Britain 1940: The Decisive Year on the Home Front” was published in 2020 (July) and was written by Anton Rippon. Mr. Rippon has published several books. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book relates the experiences of those who lived in 1940 Britain.

It doesn’t look at the combat of the time but at the more everyday aspects of life. One chapter addressed the objections to conscription. Another with sporting events carried out in wartime. Other chapters dealt with women in the workforce, labor unrest, the Home Guard, and the internment of foreign nationals. A longer look was taken at the blitz and how that impacted the civilians. Opportunities appeared that let some shine as heroes. Others used air raids and the resulting destruction as an excuse for crime. 

I enjoyed the 7 hours I spent reading this 240-page history. This was a bit of a dry read as there were a lot of facts and numbers. There were many things though that I learned from the book. It does give a different view that is common to that first full year of the war. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 3.9 (Rounded up to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

The Long History of Texas Military Forces

Airtricin gore dth ithether ater tPrami & truringTexas has a long history of the military. Officially, Texas Military Forces came into being November 10, 1822. That is when the new country of Mexico authorized the organization of militia units in Texas after Mexico won its independence from Spain. 

The Mexican war for independence spanned a decade from September of 1810 until September 27, 1821. Subsequent to Mexico winning their bid to become an independent nation, Stephen F. Austin, was called to Mexico City. 

Stephen’s father, Moses Austin, had originally solicited and received an empresario grant from Spain to settle the area known as Texas. After Moses’ death in 1821, the empresario was officially passed on to his son Stephen by the new nation of Mexico. Before that transfer was granted, the Mexican government delegated Baron de Bastrop to integrate the Texas colony into the new Mexican nation. Earlier in 1820 de Bastrop had been appointed as commissioner of colonization for Stephen F. Austin’s colony. 

One of the tasks handed de Bastrop was the establishment of militia units and the selection of their commanding officers. The orders given to de Bastrop on November 10, 1822, was the foundation of Texas Military Forces. 

The image at the top of the article is a reproduction of those instructions given to de Bastrop. They are on display at the entrance to the 19th-century gallery of the Texas Military Forces Museum.


The Texas Military Forces Museum is open to the public Tues-Sun 10AM-4PM and located at Camp Mabry in Austin, Texas.

Book Review: “Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Secret Soldiers: How the U.S. Twenty-Third Special Troops Fooled the Nazis” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Paul B. Janeczko (https://www.paulbjaneczko.com). Mr. Janeczko has published 9 books. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The book tells the story of the Twenty-Third Headquarters Special Troop unit of the US Army in WWII. 

This group, also known as the Ghost Army, were used in Europe to deceive and mislead the German Army. This was an unusual collection of artists, actors and engineers who used sound, camouflage, radio traffic, and play acting to make the Germans see what wasn’t really there. 

Many in the US Army did not like the idea of using tricks to fool the Germans. However, after the British successfully used subterfuge on the Germans in North Africa and proponents of the idea, including US Navy Lieutenant Douglas Fairbanks Jr (the noted actor) were able to sell the idea to the upper echelons of the Army, the unit was approved. The unit was quickly pulled together, trained, and sailed for England in early 1944. 

The unit took part in more than 20 battlefield deceptions and the unit was kept secret for more than 40 years after WWII ended. The 23rd had three different methods of deception: visual, sonic and radio. Because of their need for the Germans to generally see and or hear them, they operated very close to the front lines and suffered a few casualties. 

I enjoyed the 5.5 hours I spent reading this 305-page history of the WWII era. I had listened a few months ago to a Missed in History Class podcast  episode about the Ghost Army. This book goes into much more detail about those in the unit and their operations. I like the selected cover art. I give this book a 4 out of 5. 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Mathematics Applied to the Battle of Britain

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I came across the article “Mathematicians put famous Battle of Britain ‘what if’ scenarios to the test” earlier today. That article references a paper in which mathematical researchers from the University of York report their findings. They used modern modeling techniques to do “what if” exploration of the Battle of Britain.

They used a   called “weighted bootstrapping” to explore other outcomes of the battle. Among the outcomes, the study suggests that an earlier start by the Germans and a focused targeting of airfields might have given the Germans a distinct  advantage.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “The True Story of the Great Escape: Stalag Luft III, March 1944”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The True Story of the Great Escape: Stalag Luft III, March 1944” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Jonathan F. Vance (http://www.jonathanvance.com/). Mr. Vance has published ten books. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The book tells the ‘true’ story of the “Great Escape”.

Contrary to the popular movie “The Great Escape” almost all of those involved in the actual escape were British or Commonwealth air crew. This book gives the background of each of the major figures that were involved in the escape. It also details the efforts to dig the tunnels used in the escape. Those that escaped are followed and their journey documented. 

I enjoyed the 13.5 hours I spent reading this 392-page history from WWII. I found this book interesting, but it was a bit dry. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “The Sky Above Us”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “The Sky Above” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Sarah Sundin (https://www.sarahsundin.com). Ms. Sundin has published a dozen Drama/Romance novels with the stories taking place during WWII. This is the second of her “Sunrise at Normandy” series. 

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The story is set primarily in England in 1944. The primary characters are Red Cross volunteer Violet Lindstrom and US Army fighter pilot Lt. Adler Paxton. 

Paxton has fled from home because of a dispute with his family. Eventually he enlists in the Army. Lindstrom wants to be a Missionary and serve in Africa like her aunt. She goes to England with the Red Cross expecting to help children, but is posted to a US Air base. Neither wants to find a relationship, but they are drawn together. 

Paxton flies many dangerous missions, engaging German aircraft and loosing close friends. Lindstrom is in charge of the Red Cross Aeroclub at the airfield where the 357th, Paxton’s unit, is based. She faces not only the ongoing relationship with Paxton, but the responsibility of running the Aeroclub.

I enjoyed the 7.5+ hours I spent reading this 383-page christian romance. This book is pretty far outside my normal reading scope. I added it to my reading list because I follow Ms. Sundin on Twitter. She  Tweets nearly daily about WWII and I wanted to give her novel a chance. It was well written with bits about WWII history injected here and there in the novel. I doubt I will read any further of her novels as Romance is not my genre, but if you do like romance, then I would certainly recommend her writing. I like the chosen cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

Further book reviews I have written can be accessed at https://johnpurvis.wordpress.com/blog/. 

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Book Review: “Atlantic Nightmare: The longest military campaign in World War II “

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Atlantic Nightmare: The longest military campaign in World War II ” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Richard Freeman. Mr. Freeman has published more than a dozen books. 

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘G’. The is the story of the battle for the Atlantic that was waged between the Allies and Axis powers during WWII.

This is a detailed look of the principal actions in the Atlantic. This does not talk much about specific people, but gives a high-level view of each battle. The time period stretches from the beginning of the war in September 1939 until the surrender in May of 1945. More than 2000 days. A lot of focus is placed on the German U-Boats and their role. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the 8.5+ hours I spent reading this 382-page WWII history. While many of the battles I had read about before, I think that this book gives a very good overview of the important sea battles of the European Theater. I like the selected cover art. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

“THIS IS THE ARMY” conclusion

And here is the second part of the good post by GP Cox.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest.

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

 

Pacific Paratrooper

After touring the English provinces, the company went to North Africa for two weeks and then sailed for Italy. This Is the Army was presented at the San Carlo Opera House in Naples in early April 1944. The group arrived in Rome by truck only six days after the Eternal City fell to the Allies. The musical was presented twice a day at the Royal Opera House in June.

Egypt was the next stop in early August, with This Is the Army being performed at the Cairo Opera House until the end of the month. September and October were spent in Iran. The company then traveled to the vast Pacific Theater, with New Guinea the first stop at the end of December 1944.

The company eventually landed at Guam in early August 1945, days before the first atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. A number of island-hopping stops followed, from…

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“THIS IS THE ARMY!” part one (1)

I thought that this story by GP Cox was worth reblogging. It gives a different look at the war years.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 340 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
  • The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

 

Pacific Paratrooper

“This Is The Army”

The most successful and popular patriotic show of World War II and one of the most unique productions in the history of entertainment was Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army, which originally began as a Broadway musical. General George C. Marshall gave Berlin permission to stage a morale-boosting revue early in 1942 to raise money for the military.

Rehearsals were held at Camp Upton, New York, beginning in the spring of 1942 in an old Civilian Conservation Corps barracks called T-11. At one end was a large recreation room with a stone fireplace, where Berlin placed his special piano.  It was next to a latrine, which had a hot water tank. Berlin liked to lean against the tank to warm his back.

Rehearsal

Berlin completed most of the score by the end of April. The show was then auditioned on Governor’s Island in New York…

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