No, that isn't my new car...¹
Yes, I am still coasting, as in not working on the book, I need a cuppla-three days or such to try and decide just where the lads are going next. Well, in truth, where their respective armies will send them next. The guys in the Big Red One and the British are fairly well accounted for as regards the "big picture."
I have more leeway with the Germans, I thought about having them rejoin their original parent unit, the 275. Infanterie-Division. That division was destroyed in the fighting in the Hürtgenwald and disbanded. It was then reformed in January of 1945 then sent to the Eastern Front where it was (surprise!) destroyed again. The survivors after the Hürtgenwald became part of the 344. Infanterie-Division, which was also sent to the east.
As I want to keep von Lüttwitz and Sauer in the west, I'll probably have them join one of the Volksgrenadier divisions. We shall see. Maybe another independent (ahistorical) Kampfgruppe? Maybe, but probably not, losing your whole Kampfgruppe doesn't really lend itself to a fellow getting another one, but those were desperate times.
I also have a bunch of reading to do. The Nuke and The WSO got me some books for Christmas and The Missus Herself authorized me to order some more in honor of our anniversary. Two authors were involved, Antony Beevor, whose book on Stalingrad I had already read, and Ian Toll, whose book Six Frigates I used to have on my Nook, before it died an untimely electronic death.
From Mr. Beevor - The one on the left I had, The Nuke gave me the one on the Ardennes (which I'm currently devouring), and the gift of a Barnes & Noble gift card from The WSO gave me the wherewithal to purchase the two on the right. Can't recommend Beevor enough.
From Mr. Toll - Yes, this is a small pic, but you get the idea, I'm getting these on Friday. (Hat tip to Dorothy - you know who you are - for recommending the first on the list below. There are some folks that if they recommend a book, I read it. Dorothy is one of those folks.)
Both men are excellent authors. You might note the number of books on the Pacific War, I also have Hornfischer's trilogy on the Navy in the Pacific in WWII. If that makes you think I might try my hand at a novel set in the Pacific Theater, well, you'd be correct.
So then, I'm off, to research, to read, and to ponder.
¹ This particular tank was pulled out of a river in Poland and rebuilt. It was featured in the 2nd episode in the 1st Season of the television series Tank Overhaul.
Thanks Sarge for the book postings, my bookshelves are already crying "No more!" That Pacific trilogy does look interesting. There's a title, "The Fleet at Flood Tide: America at Total War in the Pacific, 1944-1945". Like Hornfischer's style a lot, his "Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors" was very good.ReplyDelete
I read some excerpts of Toll's trilogy, liked it a lot. As I really enjoyed Six Frigates it was a safe bet tp order the trilogy.Delete
I loved "Six Frigates". If you read it in conjunction with "To the shores of Tripoli" to get the "land war" side of the Barbary Pirates war....great book ends.ReplyDelete
Ah yes, Lt. Presley O'Bannon, the Mameluke sword which Marine officers carry, so much history in that brief campaign. I may need to add that book to my list.Delete
Which goes well with Lt. Stephen Decatur and the firing of the Philadelphia.Delete
Back then Lieutenants were encouraged to be independent. How times change...
I've mostly gone to reference material, manuals for machines, and some older machinist handbooks. My fiction and even non fiction reading have dwindled to this blog!! Ha!ReplyDelete
Those welds on the tank remind me of bundled grass. Was that hardfacing? Or is that whole thing just a bunch of built up welds? That is a LOT of work...
That stuff on the outside of the tank is called Zimmerit. It went on as a paste then was hardened with blow torches. Used to keep magnetic mines from sticking to the tank, more of an Eastern Front thing than in the West. Chase the link for the technical details. (Short answer, not welds.)Delete
I would like to bring up a little discussion. I have heard from survivors of WW2 that while their rifles were better than the Germans in firepower. their ammunition was not. The Germans were using smokeless gunpowder, making it difficult to locate them in a daylight firefight. America, however, used ammunition that sent smoke "trails" that made it easy for the Germans to locate the machine guns, BARs, and dug in individuals.ReplyDelete
One guy, Eldon, was from the "brown-shoe Army", explained to me how they had to spread out when going thru the hedgerows of France. Because of the smoke their Garands made, they would spread out, so that each man had room to "shoot and roll". This tactic kept the enemy from zeroing in on your location, and gave the impression to the enemy that there were far more men then there actually were on the line.
So, in your research, ask veterans about the "smoke" their rifles made, and research if America switched to smokeless during the war. As I read how "Camel" fires his rifle, I would think that the smoke trail would give him away post haste.
I had uncles that fought in both theaters, Europe and Pacific. Pacific guys NEVER talked about the war, NEVER. Most in the ETO said little, just tidbits here and there.
As far as I know this is an old story which, to my knowledge, isn't completely accurate. I've heard this tale before, but seldom in a history book. The U.S. Army adopted the Model 1892 Krag-Jorgensen rifle in 1893, this rifle used smokeless powder. If anyone has more information on this please let me know.Delete
Dredging from my memory, there was a slight issue but that was more due to rate of fire than actual ammo. Both our stuff and their stuff smoked (as smokeless powder isn't, but in comparison to black powder is, and really should be called less-smoke powder.)Delete
The real issue is, by the time we got involved in the War, a lot of Germans had first-hand combat experience while our guys were, training aside, green and untested. So you get Germans who are very very experienced training their newbies in things like shoot-and-scoot (where you take a couple shots and then move before everyone else on the other side shoots at you) and in detection of where fire is coming from (and then directing overwhelming fire at said direction.)
We did learn, quickly, those that survived.
It didn't help that once we knocked the Germans on the defensive, we kept meeting them in prepared defenses. Which means very hard targets, even if they were yanking a bolt-action to reload. Simple rule is 2 attackers to 1 in the field, against defenses 4 attackers to 1. Add in the German's MG34s and MG42s and all the other captured machine guns (in fixed positions, usually) and the quaint German practice of learning where the best positions for the attackers are and preparing for it, and you get what seems like something must suck for the Americans, must be their equipment. So either the 'Less-Smoky Powder' or the Garand's 'Noisy Clip ejection' must be at fault.
Of course, neither were.
Now... Shoot a rifle from a dark wooded position right on the edge and sometimes the 'Less Smoky' smoke will show up. It's why real snipers don't shoot directly from windows, but from a position that puts the muzzle several feet still inside (if shooting from inside the building) to cover the smoke and muzzle blast (even better is hanging a sheet of thin or loose-weave cloth between you and the window.) And this is why Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't seen right away. He wasn't hanging out of the window like you see in all the movies about snipers. He was back inside set up shooting from the dark.
I suspect the "smoke trail problem" is vaguely related to the fact that the standard tracer ammunition at the time (Tracer, M1 with red tip for identification) ignited and left its smoke/light trail from time of firing, which indeed could make it easier to spot the origin of the fire, more so from the side than if being fired at directly.Delete
In daylight the smoke from tracers would be visible to the shooter to see the point of impact, or even to designate a target for others to engage. At night, the light from the burning tracer would be visible to serve the same purpose.
This led to development of the Tracer, M25 with orange tip for identification, which had a "dim igntion" for the first 150 yards or so, then burning brightly. Initially requested for aircraft use to avoid harming night vision when multiple machine guns fired bursts, the ground troops liked it as reducing the signature from their firing positions. Tests showed that an orange tracer provided better visibility, so the M25 used that (hence the orange tip for ID). The M25 was standardized in July 1945, but a fair amount was made and sent to the field in the second half of 1944, under a T10 designation for field tests.
As far as I know, there was zero problem with ball ammunition revealing the shooter's position.
Some of the story may be lingering retelling of the experiences of the Spanish American War where the Spanish had mostly M1893 7mm Mausers with smokeless powder, and the U.S. regulars had .30-40 Krags, also with smokeless, neither of which revealed positions. But, most U.S. volunteers had .45-70 trapdoor rifles mainly with black powder cartridges which produced huge clouds of white smoke, clearly revealing their positions.
Tracer fire did have a psychological effect to those under fire. Indeed, efforts were made to develop a "headlight tracer" for use against aircraft to make the pilots being shot at even more nervous, but the project was not successful.
That would be my guess.Delete
(Don McCollor)...Now if you want to be noticed, the brits came up with a 2-pounder (40 mm) starshell for smaller vessels. The gun would traverse with six shells in the air at once, each burning for five seconds at 400,000 candlepower. They also discovered it made a fearsome incendiary shell at close range...Delete
I can imagine!Delete
Between eye issues and hand issues, I have transitioned to reading books on my combonculator. I gets the book, and then drop it into a translator to change it into an .rtf so's I can manipulate the text. I separate the paragraphs so there's an easy transition, I change the font to a serif (one with the little feet and other edgy things that make it easier for my eyes to see them) and other things, like a new page for each chapter, and room for me to make comments or notes (and, ahem, change both font size and magnify the image... ) And fix spelling and grammar and punctuation mistakes, because apparently editors are more for messing up the book than for proof-reading these days.ReplyDelete
I know. It sucks. But when you live in an apartment and one room is already full, there's not a lot of room for more books. Sigh. There should be, in a fair and just world, but we live in a fallen world during fallen times, so, screw it, I read on the computer.
I shall look up said books for downloading.
As to the Panther, eh, piece of junk built by slave labor. Go with a Pershing, or even a Sherman Firefly (as we all know it is possible to quickly escape a burning Sherman...)
The Panther is often over-rated, but it was a pretty good AFV. More for the sloped armor, the optics, and that high velocity gun than anything else. Like most German things, too complicated and over-engineered.Delete
There is a book called "Gotterdammerung 1945 Germany's war in the East. by Russ Schneider. It filled in the details of the German struggle with the Soviets. I bought my copy to fill in my gaps in the Seelow Heights fighting and the battle leading up to Berlin.
My favorite on that topic is Cornelius Ryan's The Last Battle.Delete
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Oooh! A book set in the Pacific theater. Can't wait! I imagine it will be hard (if not next to impossible) to create a Japanese character with whom a reader can invest in.ReplyDelete
Hard yes, but impossible, I think it's doable. We'll see.Delete
Hey, I've also touched that tank. Brother lives like 10 minutes from there.ReplyDelete
One of the guys I worked with on the Iowa was on the Hoel, one of the ships sunk at the Battle Off Samar. The battle was the basis of Hornfischer's book The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, quite a good book, and the subject of a couple of made-for-TV documentaries.ReplyDelete
I'll look forward to your take on the Pacific War, Sarge!
I've read that, it's what got me started with Hornfischer.Delete
It's a good thing that's not your new car! Maybach's are EXPENSIVE to maintain.ReplyDelete
Not to mention the fuel costs!Delete
Take your time, Sarge; we'll be here.ReplyDelete
Hornfischer has done a magnificent job with the WWII USN. As for the Japanese side I think Bradley's "Letters From Iwo Jima" is one of the best. There was such hatred in that war that sympathetic portraits are rare. See Bradley's own intro when he piped up to his Dad (THE Doc Bradley) and the resulting exchange.
I've mentioned it elsewhere but one of the other really good recent books is Mrazek's "A Dawn Like Thunder" the single best account of Torpedo EIGHT from start to finish.
Good stuff, really liked Letters From Iwo Jima.Delete
That tank picture may be the coolest thing I have seen all day. (I have a strange fascination with them).ReplyDelete
When I have written it is never in the context of actual historical events. The characters do not have quite the freedom of action, because events preordained (in the sense we know them) constrain their actions. I should think that would make for them having difficult discussion with you on what to write.