Παρασκευή, 22 Ιανουαρίου 2016

Missing both Legs, This RAF Fighter Ace Took out 22 Germans Planes, Then Escaped Multiple POW Camps

Missing both Legs, This RAF Fighter Ace Took out 22 Germans Planes, Then Escaped Multiple POW Camps

Life with amputated legs can prove difficult for even the most mundane of tasks require extra effort.  But trying taking on the German Luftwaffe and Prisoner of War camps without any legs and then we can talk about what exactly it takes to overcome adversity.
Sir Douglas Robert Bader was an RAF pilot who lost both legs in a 1931 flying accident where his wing touched the ground while conducting flying acrobatics.  One leg was amputated above the knee and the other below which one would have assumed would have ended his career as a pilot.
However, this pilot would overcome adversity and doubts about his capability on his way to downing 22 German aircraft as a pilot and as a German POW conduct so many escape attempts that the Germans threatened to take away his prosthetic legs.
Winning Over the Royal Air Force Brass
Sir Douglas Robert Bader was born in 1910 London and would prove early his life both an exceptional athletic ability combined with a tendency to bend the rules when necessary or just when he pleased.
He excelled at all sports to include Rugby growing up, and when he joined the RAF as an officer candidate in 1928, he was almost kicked out after too many late nights out.  He became a commissioned pilot in 1930 where he would frustrate the RAF brass by conducting various acrobatic moves at low altitudes in his bi-plane.
Foster Mounted Lewis Gun on an Avro504 Bi-Plane via commons.wikimedia.org
Foster Mounted Lewis Gun on an Avro504 Bi-Plane via commons.wikimedia.org
In what might prove to be a hard lesson to learn in peace time, one of Bader’s attempts at low altitude acrobatic moves during the Henderson Air Show resulted in the crash that would take both of his legs.  After a long recovery, he was fitted with prosthetics and then made his bid to return to the skies with the RAF.  Despite being able to demonstrate competency, he was denied an opportunity to return in 1932.
However, as the winds of war began to gather in Europe, the RAF was more open to Bader’s repeated requests but only offered him ground jobs.  But with a little help from high-ranking officials, he was finally given his opportunity to return to the skies, missing legs and all.
In late 1939, Bader would conduct flight tests on various plane models before being assigned to the No. 19 RAF Squadron where he would get a chance to fly the famed and beloved Spitfire.  He would conduct various training flights in the Spitfire between January and May of 1940 where he demonstrated an ability to excel at high-speed maneuvers.
Many thought it was his ability to withstand high G turns due to his missing legs.  When most pilots conducted such extreme turns, they might black out as the blood from the brain rushes to the extremities, primarily the legs.  But missing his, Bader could stay conscious longer and make sharper and faster turns than his opponents.

Time for Action
Not only would Bader’s missing legs prove an asset, but so would his fearless and audacious attitude in the face of danger.  Sure that philosophy might have taken his legs in 1931, but such an approach to life was often helpful in war.  He would first see action in June of 1940 as his squadron was tasked with providing air cover at Dunkirk to support the evacuation of British troops after the Germans began their blitz through France.
By the time the Battle for France was over, Bader had already established himself as a Fighter Ace and was well on his way to moving up throughout the ranks.
Douglas Bader sitting on his Hawker Hurricane via commons.wikimedia.org
Douglas Bader sitting on his Hawker Hurricane via commons.wikimedia.org
He was assigned to be the Squadron Leader for the No. 242 Squadron RAF, which flew the Hawker Hurricane and was comprised mostly of Canadians.  This squadron would play a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain as their Hurricanes took to the skies to defend Britain against the onslaught of the constant German bombing of both civilian and military targets.
In December of 1940, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions during the Battle of Britain. He would then be assigned as wing commander for squadrons tasked with taking the fight to the Germans.  Bader’s units would conduct bomber escorts over Western Europe in an attempt to draw out and kill the Luftwaffe.  Bader would continue to raise his kill count that now topped 20, and he gained attention as a national icon during the war.
The RAF brass considered pulling Bader from operational duty due to his status and insistence on inviting danger, but it doesn’t appear anyone wanted to have that conversation with the outspoken pilot.  Between March and August of 1941, Bader conducted 62 fighter missions over France with unparalleled success.  However, his streak of luck would come to an end on August 9th, 1941.
A POW Who Wouldn’t Stay Put
In August of 1941, Bader was conducting a mission over France when his plane was taken out.  Accounts conflict as to whether he collided with an enemy bomber was shot down by an enemy fighter, or even shot down by friendly fire.  However, Bader would find himself attempting to bail out when one of his prosthetic legs became trapped in the Spitfire.  Falling for some time, he eventually released the parachute where the force ripped the straps of the prosthetic leg off.
After landing with just one leg intact, Bader was captured by the Germans.  Perhaps due to his reputation, the Germans actually treated Bader with a certain amount of respect.  German flying ace General Adolph Galland actually notified the British command about Bader’s missing leg and arranged a lane of safe passage to parachute down a new leg for him.
On August 19th, 1941 the British parachuted down a new leg.
Picture of Colditz Catstle used as a German POW camp via commons.wikimedia.org
Picture of Colditz Castle used as a German POW camp via commons.wikimedia.org
With this new found mobility, Bader did all he could to make life hard on his German captors as he saw it his duty to continue the fight as a POW.  He escaped from the hospital by tying bedsheets together and making a rope down the side of the building.
Once in a POW camp, he made so many escape attempts that the Germans threatened to take away his legs.  He was finally sent to Colditz Castle, which was deemed to be escape proof in 1942.  There he remained until the allies liberated him on April 15th, 1945.
A fascinating war experience for a man who was defiant from beginning to end and did it all missing two legs.  In a final act of victory and defiance to adversity, Bader was given the honor of leading a victory flypast of 300 aircraft over London in June of 1945.
It is a story that warrants a unique place in the historical as well as for each of us to look down at our functional legs and ask what is holding us back from making our own chapter in history.

The Top 10 Misconceptions of the First World War

Many probably don’t realize that what they’ve learned about history, especially when it comes to WWI, is not necessarily true.  Here are the top 10 misconceptions about WWI:
The Schlieffen plan allowed Germany to invade Belgium and France
Von Schlieffen, who gave his name to the German invasion plans.
Although it is true that the Germans intended to use what was called the Schlieffen plan, in practice, the plan was changed by the strategy of Helmuth von Moltke.  Keeping the right flank strong was the focus of Schlieffen’s strategy, which would demolish the Allied forces in the north while luring the French into undefended German territory and directly into envelopment from the strong right flank.
Moltke, however, drew forces away from the right flank to reinforce German territory and defend it from an attack from the west, which divided forces into two weaker flanks instead of one strong one.

The Battle of Crete

Kreta, Landung von FallschirmjägernThe Battle of Crete (German: Luftlandeschlacht um Kreta; Greek: Μάχη της Κρήτης) was fought during World War II on the Greek island of Crete. It began on the morning of 20 May 1941, when Nazi Germany launched an airborne invasion of Crete under the code-name Unternehmen Merkur (Operation Mercury). Greek and Allied forces, along with Cretan civilians, defended the island.
After one day of fighting, the Germans had suffered very heavy casualties, the Allied troops were confident that they would prevail against the German invasion. The next day, through miscommunication and the failure of Allied commanders to grasp the situation, Maleme airfield in western Crete fell to the Germans, enabling them to fly in reinforcements and overwhelm the defenders. The battle lasted about 10 days.
The Battle of Crete was unprecedented in three respects: it was not only the first battle where the German paratroops (Fallschirmjäger) were used on a massive scale, but also the first mainly airborne invasion in military history;the first time the Allies made significant use of intelligence from the deciphered German Enigma code; and the first time invading German troops encountered mass resistance from a civilian population. Because of the heavy casualties suffered by the paratroopers, Adolf Hitler forbade further large-scale airborne operations. However, the Allies were impressed by the potential of paratroopers and started to build their own airborne formations.

HMS Rover: The unknown story of the submarine in Souda Bay, Crete, 1941

In this rare and previously unpublished photo, dated April 1941, HMS Rover is seen in Souda Bay, Crete
In this rare and previously unpublished photo, dated April 1941, HMS Rover is seen in Souda Bay, Crete
Few are aware of the fact that Souda Bay in Crete, a large naval base used by the British in early WW2, is in a way similar to Pearl Harbor, Scapa Flow, and Truk Lagoon.
Used as an allied naval base, Souda was the target of both Nazi German as well as Fascist Italy raids in the early part of WW2, which resulted in a large number of shipwrecks, axis aircraft shot down and extensive damage in the facilities around Souda.

Coco Chanel a.k.a. Agent F-7124 – Westminster: Nazi Spy

Untitled design (5) (1)Coco Chanel and General Walter Schellenberg, the chief of the Abwehr with whom she worked.
Coco Chanel is listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century. She is a fashion icon, of course, as was their likely intent, but she was also negatively influential as a Nazi sympathizer and spy for the Third Reich.
It is hard to determine with any absolute certainty all of the allegations against Chanel, as she herself spun many stories about her life.

German Maps Reveal Interesting Facts About Operation ‘Sealion’

A never before published set of German maps have revealed some interesting facts about the Nazi plans to cross the English Channel and invade Britain.

Battle for Stalingrad – Russian Archive Pictures You May Not Have Seen Before!

The Battle of Stalingrad lasted from 23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943 and was a the battle between the Soviet union and the Germans for control of the city of Stalingrad in the south-western Soviet Union.
Marked by constant close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians by air raids, it is often regarded as the single largest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. The heavy losses inflicted on the Wehrmacht make it arguably the most strategically decisive battle of the whole war. It was a turning point in the European theatre of World War II–the German forces never regained the initiative in the East and withdrew a vast military force from the West to replace their losses.

Elite Cavalry Units of the Ancient World

Prior to gunpowder and efficient pike squares, cavalry had a key impact on the battlefield. Cavalry was utilized differently based on their training, equipment, and commander’s choice; they could be recon units, mobile skirmishers, light attack units, hand to hand anti-cavalry focused or be massive wedges hoping to charge through and break formations.
Some ancient elite cavalry forces had certain advantages that allowed them to reign supreme on most battlefields. Of course, there are many skilled units left off this list, feel free to mention which cavalry you think is elite in the comments.

German Youth and Nazis: Supporters and Registers (Μικρή συλλογή άρθρων)

Α)League of German Girls, the Nazi Organisation To Teach Girls Their Duties As Bearers Of Aryan Heirs (Pictures)

BDM, GymnastikvorführungBDM Girls march by during a gymnastics exercise – 1941
The League of German Girls (German: Bund Deutscher Mädel, BDM) was the girls’ wing of the Nazi Party youth movement, the Hitler Youth. It was the only female youth organization in Nazi Germany.
Eventually, the League consisted of 3 sections. Young Girls for ages 10 to 14, the League Proper for girls aged 14 to 18 and the Faith and Beauty society for girls ages 17 to 21. The Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) had its origins as early as the 1920s, in the first Mädchenschaften or Mädchengruppen.

China Builds Second Aircraft Carrier

China’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that it is building a second aircraft carrier after rumors became widespread about the project.
The ship is being built at Dalian in north China, on the Liaodong Peninsula. The ministry said that once finished it will be able to hold the Chinese-made J-15 fighter jets.  He also stated that it’s being built using only domestic technology and manufacturing.
China keeps its military programs under top secret security, and there was no further information available about the carrier’s expected commissioning date.  It already has one aircraft carrier known as the ‘Liaoning’ which was finished and commissioned in 2012. That ship had been built using a hull bought from the Ukraine.

Today in Military History: January 22-23, 1879:Battle of Rorke's Drift; Outnumbered British Force Defends Supply Depot vs. 4000 Zulus (Μικρή συλογή άρθρων)

Battle of Rorke's Drift; Outnumbered British Force Defends Supply Depot vs. 4000 Zulus
"Defence of Rorke's Drift" by Alphonse-Marie-Adophe de Neuville (1880)
Currently at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
(Unless otherwise indicated, all illustrations are courtesy of Wikipedia)

Many students of military history have seen – or have at home – the 1964 film Zulu. It shows a heroic defense of a frontier outpost by a small band of British regulars against a numerically superior, determined native foe. The battle of Rorke's Drift has attained a certain cult status in military history circles.

"Ο Ρίχτερ αντιγράφει τα επιχειρήματα του διοικητή των ναζί το 1941"

Πολλοί εντός Ελλάδος έχουν σπεύσει να υπερασπιστούν τις απόψεις του ιστορικού Χανς Ρίχτερ,για την Μάχη της Κρήτης. Το βασικό επιχείρημα είναι ότι ο καθένας έχει δικαίωμα στην άποψη έκφρασης της ιστορικής αλήθειας. Ακόμη κι όταν αυτές οι απόψεις ταυτίζονται με τα επιχειρήματα του στρατιωτικού διοικητή Κρήτης των ναζί το 1941;

Ο  Χρήστος Τσαντής μ΄ ένα άρθρο του στα Χανιώτικα νέα θέτει αυτό το ζήτημα :

Ανασκαλεύοντας ιστορικά αρχεία βρίσκει κανείς ότι τα επιχειρήματα του κυρίου Ρίχτερ έχουν τη ρίζα τους στις πρώτες επίσημες τοποθετήσεις της ναζιστικής κατοχικής διοίκησης στο νησί. O Γερμανός ιστορικός μπορεί να μην έκανε τον κόπο να ρωτήσει για την πραγματική ιστορία του πίνακα του Βλαχάκη για τη Μάχη της Κρήτης, όμως φαίνεται πως δεν δυσκολεύτηκε να βρει και να επαναδιατυπώσει τις τοποθετήσεις του στρατηγού Αντρέ, του Στρατιωτικού Διοικητή της Festa Creta, του Φρουρίου Κρήτη.