World War II

The German Wehrmacht and U.S. Army Fought the Nazi SS Together at Itter Castle

The German Wehrmacht and U.S. Army Fought the Nazi SS Together at Itter Castle

On May 3, 1945, a Yugoslavian handyman walked out of Nazi Germany's Itter Prison on a 40-mile trek to Innsbruck (in what is today Austria). His mission was to find any American troops he could and get them back to the castle. Itter Castle was a prison for the Reich's most high-value prisoners, including the sister of Gen. Charles de Gaulle and former French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier.  The Imminent Threat to Itter Castle With the end of the war soon coming, the prisoners had taken control of Castle Itter but knew that Hitler's most fanatical troops, the Waffen-SS, were still fighting – and were still a threat. They were right to be concerned. The 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division was operating in the area, killing military-age males and executing anyone who surrendered to the Allies. They now had their sights set on taking Itter and killing everyone inside. A motley crew of American tankers, French prisoners, German soldiers, and a former SS commander would fight the SS...

read more
I Will Tell No War Stories by Howard Mansfield

I Will Tell No War Stories by Howard Mansfield

Howard Mansfield is an accomplished author and writer of a dozen books. However, his latest, "I Will Tell No War Stories: What Our Fathers Left Unsaid about World War II," is not his story. It belongs to Pincus Mansfield, his father, who lived the stories in the book during World War II. Howard knew his father had flown aboard a B-24 Liberator Bomber during the war, but like many of his generation, mum was the word when it came to talking about his wartime experiences.  "You're not getting any war stories from me," he'd say.  During a visit to England, his son got a taste of what World War II was like for the bomber crews who flew over Nazi-occupied Europe. He joined a British airplane enthusiasts' club for a screening of the 1941 Royal Air Force film "Target for Tonight." During the short film, he watched as bomber crews planned and executed a mission over the Rhine, and he saw just how dangerous his father's wartime profession really was. But he had never heard his father...

read more
American GIs Battle a German Sniper in Snowy WWII Thriller ‘Recon’

American GIs Battle a German Sniper in Snowy WWII Thriller ‘Recon’

"Recon," a good old-fashioned World War II movie, turns out to be one of the few films that are trying to make a big impact in theaters this fall.  The movie follows four American soldiers over the course of a day after they are sent on a possible suicide mission over a mountain. An old Italian partisan leads them, and no one can be sure of his loyalties. The men witnessed their Sergeant kill an Italian civilian just before this assignment, so no one really knows whether they are supposed to succeed or perish. The producers have released the movie's trailer, and we can get now getting a sense of what the movie's like. The Allied campaign to take Italy from the German forces was both brutal and tedious. Young American soldiers are ordered to climb a mountain and bring back intel to their Sergeant. On their journey, they encounter an Italian partisan who offers to serve as a guide. After the group locates the German tanks, they hightail it back down the slopes to deliver the news....

read more
Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

Famous Marine Corps Unit: The 2nd Marine Division (2nd MARDIV)

When activated at Marine Corps Base San Diego in Feb 1941 to succeed its forebear, the 2nd Marine Brigade (est. 1936), our 2nd Marine Division, "The Silent Second," consisted of the 2nd, 6th, and 8th Marine infantry regiments; 10th Marines, an artillery regiment; engineer, medical, service, and tank battalions; and transport, signal, chemical, and antiaircraft machine gun companies. The Journey Through the History of the 2nd Marine Division During WWII, the 2nd Marine Division (HQ) participated in the Pacific Theater of Operations, including combat and other action at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, Saipan, Peleliu, Tinian, Cape Gloucester, Okinawa and Nagasaki (less than a month after the atomic weapon detonation there). Also, in WWII, two Seabee battalions were posted to the 2nd MARDIV; the 18th Naval Construction Battalion (NCB) was assigned to the 18th Marines as the third Battalion of the regiment. The Division did not take part in a major action again...

read more
WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

WW2 – D-Day Landings: The 82nd and 101st Airborne

The amphibious landings of D-Day were hours away when the first combat missions by the US Army started in France. The Normandy invasion, also called Operation Overlord or D-Day, began with a large-scale parachute drop that included 13,100 Soldiers of the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions. During the night in the early hours of June 6th, 1944, the attack occurred and was the vanguard of the Allied operations in Normandy. What Was the Mission of the US 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions on D-Day? The troops were all part of the United States VII Corps assigned to capture Cherbourg, the coastal city in Normandy, and thus project power across the strategically essential Cotentin Peninsula. With Cherbourg secure, it could serve as a supply port for the Allied troops after the landing. They were also tasked with a specific mission: to block approaches into the vicinity of the amphibious landing at Utah Beach, to capture causeway exits off the beaches, and to establish...

read more
Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen

Dutch Girl by Robert Matzen

Twenty-five years after her passing, Audrey Hepburn remains the most beloved of all Hollywood stars, known as much for her role as UNICEF ambassador as for films like Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany's. Several biographies have chronicled her stardom, but none has covered her intense experiences through five years of Nazi occupation in the Netherlands. According to her son, Luca Dotti, "The war made my mother who she was."  Audrey Hepburn's war included participation in the Dutch Resistance, working as a doctor's assistant during the "Bridge Too Far" battle of Arnhem, the brutal execution of her uncle, and the ordeal of the Hunger Winter of 1944. She also had to contend with the fact that her father was a Nazi agent and her mother was pro-Nazi for the first two years of the occupation. But the war years also brought triumphs as Audrey became Arnhem's most famous young ballerina.  Audrey's own reminiscences, new interviews with people who knew her in the war, wartime...

read more
Russian Sniper Roza Shanina

Russian Sniper Roza Shanina

In the deep silence of the vast Russian pine forest, a small, lonesome figure was walking. It was just a few years before the outbreak of the Second World War. She had set out alone, without the permission of her parents, carrying only enough food to keep her on her feet for the long march. She was used to walking. Every day for years she had walked eight miles to and from her school in the little village closest to her home; she knew she could do it. Her self-belief and determined spirit drove her steadily on. She was fourteen years old. This was Roza Shanina. She walked one hundred and twenty miles all alone, at last reaching a train station. From the station, she took the train to the city of Arkhangelsk, where she enrolled in the city's college. She loved the city. The cinemas, the lights, the people and the bustle were worlds away from the isolation of her early years. She was friendly, quick, talkative, and highly intelligent, and so she made many friends. Often, she would...

read more
Did World War II Soldiers Mutiny after V-J Day?

Did World War II Soldiers Mutiny after V-J Day?

On May 8, 1945, the Allies accepted the formal surrender of Nazi Germany. The capitulation of the last Axis power in Europe marked the end of World War II there. The war in the Pacific, however, was still raging. American troops, along with the rest of the Allies, began to reorient their forces to concentrate on fighting the Japanese. But they didn't have to work for very long. Just a few months later, the Japanese Empire also surrendered. On August 15, 1945, the Japanese forces officially surrendered, and World War II was finally over (V-J Day). The Allies had won the war.  What Was before V-J Day? Over the course of four years, the United States had enlisted, trained, equipped, and shipped some 7.6 million men and women overseas. They had done their duty, and they were ready to go home - they wanted to make it home by Christmas.  Unfortunately, four months was not enough time to move millions of men from the four corners of the globe back to their stateside homes. Many...

read more
Eileen Nearne – British WWII Heroine

Eileen Nearne – British WWII Heroine

The "Croix de Guerre" or "Cross of War," is a French military decoration honoring people for their resistance against the Nazis in WWII. Furthermore, being appointed a "Member of the Order of the British Empire" by King George VI for services rendered in France during the enemy occupation was a high British honor. Any man who was awarded such honors must have been a remarkable one. Only, in this case, we are dealing with a woman and a brave and tenacious one at that. The Perilous Life of Eileen Nearne in WWII Eileen Nearne, the woman who received these accolades, lived a perilous life in WWII. To a large extent, her exploits mirrored those of Charlotte Gray in the 2001 movie bearing the same name. The film, based on the novel by Sebastian Faulks, features the adventures of female agents in German-occupied France. But why have most of us never heard of Eileen Nearne? Is it because her missions were so top-secret that information never leaked out? Or is it like many events during the...

read more
Col Edward McMahon, U.S. Marine Corps (1941-1966)

Col Edward McMahon, U.S. Marine Corps (1941-1966)

Ed McMahon, the iconic television personality and beloved sidekick to Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," was not only a legendary entertainer but also a dedicated patriot who served his country with honor and distinction. Let’s review the remarkable life and military service of Ed McMahon, a man whose laughter resonated across generations. Ed McMahon’s Early Life Born on March 6, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan, Edward Leo Peter McMahon Jr. grew up in a modest household during the Great Depression. His childhood revolved around traveling from town to town with his parents, as his father was a professional fundraiser for charity projects. At a young age, McMahon worked for three years as a carnival barker in Mexico, Maine, before serving as a fifteen-year-old bingo caller in the state. As a boy, he dreamed of becoming an entertainer and did impersonations of stars, using a flashlight as his microphone and his dog, Valiant Prince, as his audience. At 17, McMahon landed his first job as a...

read more
SSG Wilson Watson, U.S. Army (1942-1966)

SSG Wilson Watson, U.S. Army (1942-1966)

Within the ranks of the military, there exists a certain rivalry between those who serve on the front lines and those who serve in the rear with the gear. While all jobs contribute to putting Americans in the fight, the Marines have long prized their beloved infantry above all. In modern terms, it is referred to as the "grunt versus POG debate" with POG referring to "persons other than grunts." In Vietnam, one might have heard the term REMF. Whatever one might call those in the rear, it would serve students of history well to hold their tongue before calling men like Army mess hall cook Wilson Watson a POG or REMF. Little would they know that they would be speaking of a former Marine who fought the Japanese Army alone for 15 minutes on Iwo Jima before the rest of his platoon caught up. The cook serving up a healthy dose of S.O.S on a plate had previously served up violence on Iwo Jima that would lead to the deaths of 60 enemy soldiers. Yes, quite literally, the soldier cracking eggs...

read more
Witness to the Storm by Werner T. Angress

Witness to the Storm by Werner T. Angress

On June 6, 1944, Werner T. Angress parachuted down from a C-47 into German-occupied France with the 82nd Airborne Division. Nine days later, he was captured behind enemy lines and, concealing his identity as a German-born Jew, became a prisoner of war. Eventually, he was freed by US forces, rejoined the fight, crossed Europe as a battlefield interrogator, and participated in a concentration camp's liberation. Although he was an American soldier, less than ten years before, he had been an enthusiastically patriotic German-Jewish boy. Rejected and threatened by the Nazi regime, the Angress family fled to Amsterdam to escape persecution and death, and young Angress then found his way to the United States.  In Witness to the Storm, Angress weaves the spellbinding story of his life, including his escape from Germany, his new life in the United States, and his experiences in World War II. A testament to the power of perseverance and forgiveness, Witness to the Storm is the compelling...

read more