By David W. Tschanz
Fizzling fish, wrong tactics and incompetent commanders -- ingredients for disaster simmering below the waves aboard American submarines -- how many years did they add to World War II? A strong case has been made, by authors as varied as Jim Dunnigan, John Keegan and George Friedman, that the leading cause of the eventual defeat of the Japanese in World War II was the choke hold on its commercial shipping achieved by the Allies. Friedman, in his thought provoking if flawed The Coming War With Japan, argues that aerial strategic bombing had little effect on Japanese production capacity. But production capacity is useless without raw materials. US submarines, ranging on the north-south routes from the Indies and along the Japanese coast, systematically interdicted the flow of strategic materials.
Book Review: The CIA War in Kurdistan: The Untold Story of the Northern Front in the Iraq War
A Review by Brian Williams
Book Review: Lost Honour, Betrayed Loyalty: The Memoir of a Waffen-SS Soldier on the Eastern Front
A Review by Brian Williams
Book Review: Marching from Defeat: Surviving the Collapse of the German Army in the Soviet Union, 1944
A Review by Brian Williams
By Bruce Oliver Newsome, Ph.D.
Tiger 131 is the most famous tank in the world: the first of its type recovered to Britain; the most studied and photographed tank in Allied intelligence; and the only running Tiger in the world today. The British reports have always been puzzling: their numbering and dating suggest that some reports are missing or were never completed; some reports contradict others; some are not dated at all; beautiful drawings and paintings were created, but appear without captions. Now, after a survey of all surviving reports, from Britain to North America, their original condition can be revealed. The implications for Allied intelligence are not pretty. The Tiger was the product of a long program by that name, with several projects. In fact, the program produced two different models of tank named “Tiger.” The other type was a losing bid by Ferdinand Porsche: he produced at least one pilot tank and one full-production tank in the program, plus another 90 hulls that were converted into self-propelled guns. Both types were designated as Panzerkampfwagen VI, meaning “armoured fighting vehicle” or “tank,” sixth model.
By Rich Anderson
The US Army of World War II was created from a tiny antebellum army in the space of just three years. On 30 June 1939 the Regular Army numbered 187,893 officers and enlisted men, including Philippine Scouts, and including 22,387 in the Army Air Corps. On the same date the National Guard totaled 199,491 men. The major combat units included nine infantry divisions, two cavalry divisions, and a mechanized cavalry (armored) brigade in the Regular Army and eighteen infantry divisions in the National Guard. Modern equipment was for the most part nonexistent and training in the National Guard units varied from fair to poor. The outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 led to a gradual expansion of the Army. On 27 August 1940, Congress authorized the induction of the National Guard into Federal service. On 16 September 1940 Congress passed the first peacetime draft in United States history. However, the draftees were inducted for only one year. Fortunately, on 7 August 1941, by a margin of a single vote, Congress approved an indefinite extension of service for the Guard, draftees, and Reserve officers. Four months later to the day, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.
By Walter F. Giersbach
The war in Asia was far away when a family in Bly, Oregon, triggered a 15-kg anti-personnel bomb. Instantly killed on May 5, 1945, were Elsye Mitchell, a pregnant mother, and five teenaged children Elsye almost didn't want to go on the picnic that day, but she had baked a chocolate cake in anticipation of their outing. The 26-year-old was pregnant with her first child. On that morning she decided she felt decent enough to join her husband, Rev. Archie Mitchell, and a group of Sunday school children as they set out for nearby Gearhart Mountain in southern Oregon. While Archie parked their car, Elsye and the children stumbled upon a strange-looking object in the forest. The minister would later describe that moment to local newspapers: “I…hurriedly called a warning to them, but it was too late. Just then there was a big explosion. I ran up – and they were all lying there dead.” Lost in an instant were his wife and unborn child, alongside Eddie Engen, 13, Jay Gifford, 13, Sherman Shoemaker, 11, Dick Patzke, 14, and Joan “Sis” Patzke, 13. Against a scenic backdrop far removed from the war raging across the Pacific, Mitchell and five other children became the first — and only — civilians to die by enemy weapons on the United States mainland during World War II.. 
by Edward J. Langer
The battlecruiser was thought of as the ship that could do everything. Scout, do battle with cruisers and destroyers, protect shipping lanes and lines of communication and join the battle line and slug it out with enemy battlecruisers and battleships. Great Brittan and Germany adopted this theory, the United States Navy long debated it, but eventually gave in only to see them scraped or converted into aircraft carriers. But did the US Navy actually have a battlecruiser and not acknowledge it? Two classes of heavy cruisers come close to fulfilling the roles of the battlecruiser. This would include the USS Alaska class and the USS Des Moines class.
A Review by Ben Young
My curiosity was always up to learn of my maternal Uncle's WWII service in the US Navy...He was one of those veterans who, for reasons of his own, never spoke of his military experiences unless asked a direct question concerning his service...Therefore the only information immediately available to me was the sketchy memories of family members...During my work life, which included USAF service, employment with various companies and operating my own businesses, I could never seem to devote the time needed to fill in the blanks... Following retirement I was able to begin research starting with picking the brains of family members including my Mom (my uncle's older sister) and my cousins, all of whom provided much valuable information, including the saved letters my Uncle had written to my Mom from the Pacific Theater...
by Steven Christopher Ippolito, Ph.D.
Veteran Wall Street Journal reporter, Scott Miller, has written an interesting history of the World War II espionage activities of Allen Dulles (1893-1975), the future Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Dulles, the son of Presbyterian minister, was once described by British intelligence agent, Kenneth Strong, as the “'last great Romantic of Intelligence,' a man whose stock-in-trade consisted of secrets and mysteries” (Miller, 2017, p. xiv). Born into a patrician American family that boasted at least two Secretaries of State, it is, perhaps, no surprise that Dulles would later gravitate toward government work. President Benjamin Harrison appointed Dulles grandfather, John Watson Foster (1836-1917), a Civil War veteran of the Union Army, Secretary of State, where he served between 1892 and 1893; and Allen's brother, the well-known, John Foster Dulles would also serve as Secretary of State, under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, beginning in 1953, serving at a critical time during the Cold War era.
by John Harris
The spring of 1941 saw wartime Britain at its most vulnerable and desperate. Nightly bombing raids over the long cold winter of 1940 by the German Luftwaffe had sought to bring the Churchill led government to the negotiating table prior to the implementation of Hitler's Operation Barbarossa, originally timetabled for May 15th 1941. Contrary to the usual post war history, many in positions of influence in Britain also favoured a negotiated settlement. All they knew and saw was the nightly devastation from an enemy far superior to themselves in terms of current offensive power. They certainly didn't know of the potential respite from any future German invasion of Russia; indeed the two countries were still active partners in a mutually beneficial trade agreement; their so called Commercial agreement, originally signed in February 1940.
by Bill Wilson
For many in the Wehrmacht, the Red Army was for the entire war a poorly-understood force. German intelligence had some idea of how large the Red Army was at various points during the war, but German misconceptions about the Soviet forces have endured in the popular imagination, lending vague notions of "red hordes" and overwhelming numerical superiority. Even though the structure of these forces has been made available by Russian sources, it remains a little known topic of the Second World War. Significant among the obscuring factors is the sheer number of formations fielded by the Soviets. Even their largest field force, the fronts, would be difficult to list from memory.
By LtCol Richard Beil USMC(Ret.)
In any discussion about war, there is a vast gulf between the pacifist perspective that all war is wrong, and the realist perspective that all's fair in war, sometimes glibly expressed as just nuke ‘em and be done with it. In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us "blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt. 5:9). Elsewhere, in the Sermon on the Mount, he tells us "if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39). From such verses, some have concluded that Christianity is a pacifist religion and that violence is never permitted. But the same Jesus elsewhere acknowledges the legitimate use of force, telling the apostles, "let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one" (Luke 22:36).
By Bruce Malone
The United States Seventh Army's invasion of the southern coast of France on 15 August 1944 is one of the least celebrated Allied combat operations of the Second World War. In the end, Operation Dragoon (originally named Operation Anvil) proved to be one of the most important Allied campaigns, yet it remains one of the most controversial Allied strategic decisions. The American decision to launch Operation Dragoon against strenuous British objections changed the Anglo-American Allied relationship for the duration of the war, as the United States, long the leader in materiel production and numbers of soldiers, assumed the role of strategic senior partner.
By Del C. Kostka
Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto drew his hand across a map of the northern Pacific Ocean in a long, sweeping arc. From Attu Island on the far western edge of the Bearing Sea, the admiral traced his finger along the Aleutian archipelago to the island of Amaknak near the Alaskan mainland. There, in June of 1942, Yamamoto intended to strike the American forces at Dutch Harbor. As a strategist, Yamamoto had achieved near deity status among the Japanese Imperial High Command. His crushing attack on Pearl Harbor just six months prior was followed by quick and decisive victory in the Philippines, Malaya, and the East Indies. Now, with the southwest Pacific under firm Japanese control, Yamamoto looked to expand offensive operations to the north and central Pacific.
By Bryan J. Dickerson
From April to December of 1945, the Third U.S. Army conducted operations in and around the western region of Czechoslovakia. Altogether, three of its corps (XII, V and XXII) and nine infantry and four armored divisions and two cavalry groups participated in these operations. The Czechoslovak operations fell into three distinct phases: Border Operations, Liberation and Occupation. The Border Operations Phase occurred from 15 April until 5 May. During this time, the 90th and 97th Infantry Division and 2nd Cavalry Group screened the Czechoslovak border and conducted several limited offensive operations across the border to protect Third U.S. Army's left flank as Third Army drove south-eastward into rumored Alpine Festung (National Redoubt) area of southern Germany / western Austria.
By Bryan J. Dickerson
The catalyst for this paper was Jenna Carpenter Smith. On Veterans Day 2012, she contacted me seeking information about her late grandfather, Staff Sergeant Joseph Carpenter, who had served in the 2nd Cavalry Reconnaissance Group [Mechanized] in World War Two. Jenna had contacted me after reading about her grandfather in my article “The Liberation of Western Czechoslovakia 1945” which is also posted on Military History Online. I knew Joe Carpenter and his wife Ellin for several years before their deaths. Joe was one of the many World War Two veterans who have assisted me with my research on World War Two in Europe and the liberation of Czechoslovakia. That night, Jenna and I spoke by phone, during which time I shared my memories of her grandfather and grandmother. I explained to her the role that her grandfather and the 2nd Cavalry Group played in the European Campaign and share with her some of the stories that Joe had told me a number of years ago.
By Walter S. Zapotoczny
The Japanese strategy in the defense of Leyte was to entrap the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet by its naval forces from the north in the Sibuyan Sea, and with assault from the south from Surigao Strait. Admiral Halsey and the U.S. Navy's 3rd Fleet was to be lured northwards, away from the Leyte Strait by a decoy carrier force. The Japanese plan, named Sho-Go, called for the convergence of their two battleship forces from north and south on MacArthur's landing beach, catching the U.S. troops and invasion ships in a pincers movement. To execute this strategy, the Imperial Japanese Navy formed four task forces under the overall command of Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, who himself was to lead the decoy carrier force with two battleships, three light cruisers and nine destroyers.