World War II

The Second World War was fought between 1939 and 1945. With over 70 million people killed, it is the deadliest conflict of our history. Discuss WWII war crimes, facts and figures, generals, battles, etc. here.

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389 days ago

General Norton Schwartz of the Air Force claims that we can "probably" cut our huge nuclear reserve stockpiles. We currently have 2,150 deployed nuclear weapons.

Given that today is the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, it might be worthwhile to reflect on these questions today. The blast itself killed tens of thousands of civilians. It was an act that was strategically and militarily indefensible. The Japs had been the verge of surrender. Hiroshima and also Nagasaki themselves had no military significance whatsoever. The explosion itself, which marked the culmination of three centuries worth of developments in the field of physics, signaled that technological advances can be used as a tool of death and destruction. That's really what World War 2 showed us, that progress though technology can make man's destructive impulses that much more precise, methodical and widespread. Auschwitz and Hiroshima and Nagasaki taught us about industrial style killing which only magnified the scale of human barbarity. The utopianism of the fascists and communists glorified death and sought to build a perfect society through violence.

The Soviets got the message after the dropping of the bombs in Japan, and over the past 66 years, we have built over 70,000 nuclear weapons coming out to over $5 trillion in total cost. The Russians eventually developed similar capabilities. We had enough nukes to wipe out all of the Soviets principal cities and that many times over. Yet we continued to manufacture these weapons, without much question. The strategy of deterrence literally entailed holding a Damocles sword over all civilization. Their strategy potentially called for an act of mass genocide. We along with the Russians built more bombs that could wipe out hundreds of millions of people in one fell swoop.

Human motives are often irrational and self-destructive. Nothing much has really changed over thousands of year, in spite of the trappings of civilization. Given the enormous destructive capabilities of our weapons, the future viability of the human race will totally depend on our abilities to control the negative side of our nature. Pretending that these choices don't exist will lead to self-delusion. It should also be noted that political and social control tends to break down during periods of political and economic dislocation, similar to what we're experiencing now. That's when man's hostile side comes out the most.

We can either go for the alternative, which entails human exploitation, theft, destruction, humiliation, environmental degradation, or we can go for a more rational world, one that protects ecosystems, builds economies with reduced fraud, and one that actually learns how to distribute the resources of the nation rather than hoard it. That's the choice we have.

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540 days ago

One of the most successful pieces of government propaganda is the story that atomic bombs ended WW II in Asia and saved 250K-1M American lives that would have been lost during an invasion of the Japanese home islands. Well over 95% of Americans believe it.

The truth is:

Japan had already surrendered 19 days before the first bomb was dropped on 6 August 1945. Truman's handwritten diary entry for 18 July reads,

Discussed Manhattan (it is a success). Decided to tell Stalin about it. Stalin had told P.M. [Churchill] of telegram from Jap Emperor asking for peace. Stalin also read his answer to me. It was satisfactory. Believe Japs will fold up before Russia comes in. ence/truman-harry/corr_diary_truman.htm

Russia entered the war against Japan on 9 August, the same day we dropped the bomb on Nagasaki, when it defeated the Japanese army in Manchuria, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands, which are only 12 miles from Japan. The size of the Russian army on that operation was 1.7 million. If an invasion of Japan had taken place, Russia, not the US, would have done it.

The US had already destroyed all but four of Japan's approx. 60 cities with conventional fire bombs. Four were preserved to serve as targets for atomic bombs.

Our story about dropping warning leaflets was a pure lie. Leaflets were approved and printed after the bombings.

General Curtis LeMay, chief of the Air Forces, said in a press conference, "The war would have been over in two weeks without the Russians entering and without the atomic bomb. PRESS INQUIRY: You mean that, sir? Without the Russians and without the atomic bomb? LeMay: The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war at all." September 29, 1945.
The Decision To Use The Atomic Bomb, by Gar Alperowitz, Knopf, 1995, page 334.

We dropped the bombs, killing 200K civilians, to intimidate the Russians and frighten Americans during the Cold War everyone knew would follow WW II. It was no different in principle from flying planes into the World Trade Center, except we killed 67 times as many people.

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569 days ago

I don't think killing the same amount people at a slightly slower rate would have garnered enthusiastic Japaneses support either.

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569 days ago

I wasn't sure how to rate this with the stars... No, it cannot be justified! Returning evil for evil is never going to make the evil dissipate, it will only feed fuel to a fire that will never be satisfied.

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645 days ago

On all round performance the Churchill was the best Western Allied Tank available until the Pershing and the Comet came into service.

The Churchill had the highest rate of crew survivability of any Tank in WW2. Its KIA stats per regiment are remarkably low - in entire North West Europe Campaign the average KIA per regiment was only 1 man per week, which includes regiments that saw continuous fighting over a 100 day period - this permitted morale amungst Churchill crews to remain high while also improving the experiance of the crews themselves.

The Churchill's armament is generally rubbished as being too weak but this is a generalization and not accurate. Its 75mm gun was too weak to penetrait the frontal armour of German Panzers but easilly strong enough to penetrait the side or rear. Further some were re-armed with the 6pdrs to utilize the newer make of APDS shot and proved easilly capable of penetraiting even the thickest of German armour - in fact it was a Churchill Tank that knocked out the first Panthers and Tigers on the Western Front. The High Explosive rounds carried were also effective in both infantry support and in breaking through dug-in enemy positions.

The Churchill's Armour was its main attribute. It could stand up to heavy bombardment by enemy tanks and anti-tank guns and continue to advance. It was incredibly tough. It made it ideal as an infantry support vechile, an engineers vechicle or even for tank-on-tank battles.

The Churchill speed was rather low but it was easilly the most adaptive of Western Allied Tanks to changes in terrain. Its tracks which stretched out in front and behind of its body gave it greater ability to climb steep inclines or cross muddy landscapes. Additionally the Churchill was capable of travelling at considerable speed across relatively large distances - during the "Great Swan" in Europe after Normandy the Churchill covered more ground per day than either the Shermans or the Cromwells, which led to some units being reclassified "Armoured" instead of "Infantry Support" and further Churchill's fought under the Soviets at Kursk as part of 5th Guards Tank Army and covered 200km in one day then anothe 100km the next day.

The Churchill was unrivalled as an infantry support tank, extremely good at assaulting fixed positions, effective in tank battle and useful in exploitations. There were Tanks available to the Western Allies better suited for Tank Battles and exploitations than the Churchill was but no Tank available that was as good in all those categories as the Churchill.

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648 days ago

The Warspite was a journeyman, a work-horse of the Royal Navy and far and away the most battle proven ship in British service.

She was a Queen Elizabeth Class "super-Dreadnaught" and had been in service since 1915. She had two accident during her early service where she twice damaged herself by running aground in the River Forth and colliding with her sister ship Barham.

From May 31st to June 1st 1916 she was heavilly engaged in the biggest naval battle of the First World War at Jutland. There she was hit 15 times and almost sank, when her steering jammed while attempting to avoid another of her sister ships Valiant her captain maintained the forward momentum and she went in circles, becoming a tempting target for the German fleet, drawing their fire from the Warrior - which was badly damaged at the time - who's crew believe the action intential and admired the Warspite for it. With control of her steering restored after two full circles she found herself sailing towards the German fleet she found herself handicapped again as her rangefinders and transmission station weren't functioning and she could only fire with "A" turret under local control and all 12 shots fired falling short of their target. She suffered 14 killed and 16 wounded in the battle but although badly damaged she returned to home waters under her own power. A German U-Boat attempted to sink her with three torpedos, all missed and she attempted to ram the U-Boat before returning to Rosyth for repairs.

After her repairs were completed misfortune once more crossed her path when she collided with the Valiant - which led to her needed more repairs - and then in 1917 the collided with the HMS Destroyer. In here moorings at Scapa Flow she was rocked when HMS Vanguard exploded when an ammunition magazine detonated. In 1918 one of her boilers caught fire, necessitating further repairs.

During the between-war years she was part of the flotilla during the Royal review at Spithead, she was the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet, she had a tour of duty in the Atlantic and became a subject of newspaper reports about dissillutioned crews. She also underwent a £2 million refit in Portsmouth which improved her armor, lightened her, improved her propulsion system and feul consumption, and improved the range of her armament while also allowing her to fire larger shells, an aircraft hanger was fitted and her fire control system was modernized. With this accomplished she once more became the flagship of the Mediterranean fleet.

With the outbreak of the Second World War the Warspite was transfered back to the home fleet. There she supported the fleet in hunting German capital ships without any ship making contact. This changed at the battle of Narvik.

To support the action on the ground in the Norweagan Campaign the Warspite and sailed to Narvik with 9 destroyers. After the British had failed to defeat the Germans at Narvik in the first naval battle the Warspite and her support was ordered in to do the job. The Warspite struck the first blow when an aircraft lanuched from her hanger sunk a German U-Baot - the only occaison of the was that an aricraft launched from a battleship sunk a U-Boat - and in the battle to follow three Germans destroyers were sunk and five more scuttled, German shore batteries were badly damaged by the Warspite's guns while the worse the British suffered was damage to three destroyers. Warspite herself, during the battle, destroyed the Erich Koellner and badly damaged the Diether von Roeder - which was had to be scuttled by the Germans soon after - and the Erich Giese - which was then sunk by the other British destroyers present.

After Narvik the Warspite was utilized in the Norweagan Campaign to conduct bombardments of targets on the shoreline but once the Allies had failed, overall, with the campaign she was sent back to the Mediterranean once more. There she fought in several engagements and was credited with one of the longest range gunnery hits of a moving target in naval history at the battle of Calabria - a hit achieved at a range of 26,000 yards.

As ABC Cunningham's flagship in the Mediterranean she sallied forth against the Italian fleet at Cape Matapan and, in conjunction with the Valiant and Barham, destoryed the heavy crusiers Fiume and Zara in a devastating night bombardment. She then attacked Tripolli before being damaged by a German Air attack in the Battle of Crete.

She was repaired in Bremerton, US, and had her 15'' guns replaced before sailing off to the Indian Ocean. There she hunted Japanese naval groups which attempted to attack Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean without success and generally had an uneventful spell in the theatre.

She returned to the Medterranean again and took part in the invasion of Sicily, provided support for the landings at Salerno and lead the Italian Fleet to internment after Italy's surrender. She then returned to support the Allies at Salerno where her accurate fire cause havoc amungst the Germans before she was damaged by another German air attack and had to go to Malta for repairs, and eventually returning to Rosyth to complete the repairs.

Returning to service she supported the Allies Invasion of Normandy at Sword, Gold and Omaha beach and went on to support the actions at Brest, Le Harve and Walcharen with bombardments from sea.

She was the most decorated ship in British Naval History. She had battle honors for Jutland, the Atlantic, Narvik, Norway, Calabria, the Mediterranean, the Matla Convoys, Cape Matapan, Crete, Sicily, Salerno, the English Channel, Nomandy, Walcharen and Biscay. "The Grand Old Lady", as Admiral Cunningham called her, should have had a perminant home alongside the Victory and Warrior, a unique piece of British Naval History preserved for all future generations, but it was not to be.

After the Second World War she was decomissioned and sold for scrap despite called for her to be retained as a museaum ship alongside HMS Victory and the Warrior. Famously she refused to go to her doom quietly and broke off from her tugs to run aground then refused to refloat, yet the last act of defiance was in vain for it did nothing to stop her from being scrapped, it merely delayed the inevitable.

A great ship, an icon of the Royal Navy and a legend.

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650 days ago

Hodges was, at best, a steady hand but in truth he was nothing more than a Corps Commander who couldn't handle higher responsibilities. Hodges needed someone above him to give him directions and keep him steady, he never made one major decision which effected his army or the war by himself. The proof of Hodges inability to deal with things himself is his break down during the Ardennes Offensive when during the first three or four days where Bradley refused to exersize command and give him directions Hodges paniced, abandonned his HQ without informing his subordinates, failed to maintain any cohesion in his army - leaving individual divisions and brigades to conduct the fighting themselves with no higher plan or cooperation - and was found weeping in his HQ in despair. Eisenhower and Bradley both tried to raise Hodges profile after the war, to make the public remember him as the greatest of the American Army Commanders in Europe but even their efforts combined could not hide Hodges's failings.

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651 days ago

great general, a bit over rated, better as a small group commander.

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651 days ago

John Vereker - 6th Viscount Gort - was a man who posessed undeniable person courage - he was Victoria Cross winner after all - and had a kind of inspirational quality which drew men to him and strengthened their convictions to fight on in even seemingly impossible situations but he lacked the qualities needed to be a successful general. He had no logistical awareness, nor was he one of the great tactical or strategic minds of his generation - he wasn't even average in these categories - and he was completely negligent in preparing and training the BEF when he commanded it. All in all he was one of the worst Generals of the war but he was perfectly suited to the role as Governer of Malta where is inspirational personal qualities and courage kept the spirit of the islanders up in even the darkest of moments.

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651 days ago

The problem with the Hood was that she was outdated. She was a beautiful ship and sailed around the world as an ambassador of British Naval majesty but she was most style and little substance. It was known that here armour was weak, particularly on deck, and she was supposed to have a refit but it never happened. She was well over due for a complete refit and a lengthy overhaul but the outbreak of war meant that she couldn't be spared from service. She was deemed irreplacable to the surface fleet but that irreplacability lead to her ruin.

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