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The WW2 Podcast

The WW2 Podcast is a history show looking at all aspects of the Second World War; military history, social history, the battles, the campaigns, tanks, guns and other equipment, the politics and those who ran the war. In each episode of the podcast, Angus interviews a WWII expert on a subject. No topics are out of bounds. Angus Wallace is a long-time military history podcaster, he holds a Master's degree in History, has lectured at university level and is just in the process of completing his PhD.
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The WW2 Podcast
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Now displaying: Page 1
May 15, 2024

On the morning of May 20, 1941, the Germans launched Operation Mercury. The invasion of Crete was the largest airborne operation yet attempted during the war, with thousands of Fallschirmjäger deployed.

Key to the operation's success would be the capture of the airfield at Maleme. Outnumbered and having suffered horrendous casualties, when the airborne troops secured Hill 107, overlooking the airfield, it opened the door for reinforcements and, ultimately, the Allied withdrawal from the island.

For this episode, I'm joined by Robert Kershaw, a now-regular show participant who was last with us to discuss Dunkirk. He has a new book available, The Hill: The Brutal Fight for Hill 107 in the Battle of Crete.

Patreon
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May 1, 2024

In this podcast episode, we will discuss the different approaches to command and control of the British Army and the German Army. From a management point of view, both organisations developed different doctrines to deal with the 'fog of war' or 'friction', which affected how commanders responded as a battle unfolded.

We'll do this by delving into the origins of each nation's different approaches to doctrine and training and, most importantly, how these strategies played out during the pivotal Battle for France in 1940.

Joining me today is Martin Samuels.

Martin is the author of Piercing the Fog of War: The Theory and Practice of Command in the British and German Armies, 1918-1940, which builds upon his early work Command or Control? Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies, 1888-1918.

Patreon
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Apr 22, 2024

In this podcast episode, I'm looking at the work of LCI's, Landing Craft Infantry. These are not the smaller Higgins Boats we see storming the Normandy beaches in Saving Private Ryan but large beaching craft intended to transport and deliver fighting troops, typically a company of infantry or marines, to a hostile shore once a beachhead was secured.

Joining me is Zach Morris.

In When the Beaches Trembled, Zach writes about his grandfather, Stephen Ganzberger, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served on LCI's during the war. Zach is also the former editor-in-chief of Elsie Item, the quarterly magazine newsletter of the USS Landing Craft Infantry National Association.

Apr 15, 2024

Operation Jubilee, the Dieppe Raid on the coast of France, was a disaster in 1942. However, it did highlight the need for more reconnaissance before any other amphibious operations were mounted.

In London, a small group of eccentric researchers, experimenting on themselves from inside pressure tanks in the middle of the London air raids, explored the deadly science needed to enable the critical reconnaissance vessels and underwater breathing apparatuses that would enable the Allies’ future amphibious landings, specifically D-Day.

Joining me today is Dr Rachel Lance.

Rachel is an Assistant Consulting Professor at Duke University, where she conducts research out of their Hyperbaric Medicine facility. She is also the author of Chamber Divers: The Untold Story of the D-Day Scientists Who Changed Special Operations Forever.

Patreon:
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Apr 1, 2024

The Indian Army was the largest volunteer army during the Second World War. Indian Army divisions fought in the Middle East, North Africa and Italy - and went to make up the overwhelming majority of the troops in South East Asia. Over two million personnel served in the Indian Army.

In this episode, I am joined by Dr Alan Jefferys to discuss how the Indian Army developed a more comprehensive training structure than any other Commonwealth country during WWII. This was achieved through both the dissemination of doctrine and the professionalism of a small cadre of Indian Army officers who brought about a military culture within the Indian Army - starting in the 1930s - that came to fruition during the Second World War.

Alan is the Head of Equipment and Uniform at the National Army Museum and the author of Approach to Battle: Training the Indian Army During the Second World War.

Patreon
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Mar 22, 2024

From late 1944, an ungainly piece of equipment was introduced into service in the British and Canadian armies. Referred to at the time as the ‘Valentine 17-pounder SP’, and later as the ‘Archer’, it was a tracked vehicle with an open compartment at the front and a large gun facing to the rear.

Joining me to tell the story of the Archer's development is loyal patron of the show, and author of ‘Self Propelled 17 Pounder - Archer’, Christopher Camfield.

Patreon
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Mar 15, 2024

While at We Have Ways Fest, I caught Paul Woodadge, the host of WW2TV, giving an excellent talk on D-Day tourism. I thought I would ask him on the show to discuss tourism, how it has changed and what to see.

Base in France, Paul has been a battlefield tour guide for over 20 years. More recently, he launched WW2TV and became a Second World War YouTube sensation.

You can find Paul at DDayHistorian.com and ww2tv.com.

Patreon
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Mar 1, 2024

In January 1945, Admiral Halsey, with the third Fleet, conducted a raid into the South China Sea. This was designated Operation Gratitude. The raid was to support the landings on Luzon, in the Philippines, with the aim of destroying the Japanese navy, supply convoys and any air assets in the area.

As part of this operation, Hong Kong would be attacked.

Steven Bailey joins me.

Steven is the author of Target Hong Kong, which looks at the raid from numerous angles, including an eyewitness account from a British prison officer held in a Japanese internment camp on the island.

 

Patreon
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Feb 23, 2024

Starting with small raids at the start of the war, the aerial offensive grew into a massive operation. Huge air armadas would eventually pulverise Germany, with the Mighty Eigth Airforce flying by day and the Lancasters of Bomber Command by night. This 24-hour campaign seriously damaged Germany’s ability to make war and killed hundreds of thousands.

Joining me is Jonathan Trigg, whose new book is The Air War Through German Eyes: How the Luftwaffe Lost the Skies over the Reich, which looks at the air war from the point of view of the Germans.

 

Patreon
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Feb 15, 2024

'In Arctic blizzards between January and March 1945, the Latvian 15th SS Division - a core of Russian Front veterans but most raw teenage conscripts from Nazi-occupied Latvia - tried to stop the Red Army sweeping across Pomerania, now Poland. One in three died: the majority never returned home.'

In this episode, I'm joined by Vincent Hunt, and we discuss the Latvians fighting with the Germans in the Latvian 15th SS Division.

Through interviews, diaries, and never-before-utilised sources, in his book The Road of Slaughter: The Latvian 15th SS Division in Pomerania, January-March 1945, Vince has built a compelling narrative of desperate fighting as the Latvians were withdrawn from defending their own country to Poland.

For listeners of the podcast, Helion has offered us a discount code for copies of the book purchased from their website helion.co.uk. The code is VHRS10.

Patreon
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Feb 1, 2024

This episode will look at Japanese propaganda during the imperial era. With the rise of mass production of newspapers and magazines amidst the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese population became instilled in nationalism and militarism. Despite the era of demilitarisation and democratisation after the First World War, the Japanese Empire, once again, became fixated on expansion. Harnessing film, radio and cultural institutions, the country was galvanised for total war.

Ray Matsumoto, author of Echoes of Empire: The Power of Japanese Propaganda, joined me.

Patreon
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Jan 15, 2024

The Green Howards landed in the first wave on D-Day. With them was Company Sergeant Major Stan Hollis, who had seen action in France in 1940, being evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk. He fought in North Africa and took part in the invasion of Sicily.

It is fair to say Hollis was a seasoned soldier. He is also the only recipient of the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 6th of June 1944.

I have made a field trip to the Green Howards Regimental Museum in Richmond, Yorkshire. In this episode, Steve Erskine joins me to discuss Hollis and the Green Howards on D-Day.

The museum is hosting a special 80th D-Day anniversary event on the 6th of June, 2024. This is a unique event to be held at the museum in Richmond. Those attending will have the chance to explore items from the museum collection relating to this crucial phase of the Second World War. Hear accounts of the day itself and understand more about the impact of the events of 6 June 1944. You can find out more on the museum website greenhowards.org.uk.

Patreon
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Jan 1, 2024

The war in Asia and the Pacific against Japan is often seen as an American affair. While the US did play a dominant role, the British and Commonwealth forces also made major contributions – on land, at sea and in the air – eventually involving over a million men and vast armadas of ships and aircraft.

Joining me to discuss Britain and the Commonwealth's war in the Far East is Brian Walter, author of  Forgotten War: The British Empire and Commonwealth’s Epic Struggle Against Imperial Japan.

Long-time listeners might recall I discussed the war in the Atlantic with Brian in episode 127, and we looked at the naval campaign in the Mediterranean in episode 173.

Patreon
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Dec 20, 2023

When President McKinley turned down Benjamin Oliver Davis for a place at West Point due to the colour of his skin, Davis joined the army as a private. Davis soon worked his way through the ranks to receive his second lieutenant commission in 1901. It would be over 30 years before another black officer would receive his commission, and that would be Benjamin Oliver Davis's son, Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr.

In theory, black troops would be barred from combat, but Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. would lead the first Black flying squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen, to success during WWII.

For this episode, I'm joined by Doug Melville, a direct relative of Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. and Sr.

When George Lucas's film 'Red Tails' (2012), celebrating the Tuskegee Airmen, was released, Doug was shocked when he realised that Ben Jr.’s name had been omitted and replaced by the fictional Colonel A. J. Bullard. And Ben’s father, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., America’s first Black general who helped integrate the military, was left out too. The film inspired him to rediscover his family’s story, which spans five generations, and write Invisible Generals: Rediscovering Family Legacy, and a Quest to Honor America's First Black Generals.

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Dec 15, 2023

The convoy HG-76 sailed from Gibraltar to Britain in December 1941. The Royal Navy commander in charge was 'Johnnie' Walker, an anti-submarine expert who had developed new, aggressive U-boat hunting tactics. Accompanying the escorts was HMS Audacity, the Royal Navy's first escort carrier - a new type of warship purpose-built to defend convoys from enemy aircraft and U-boats.

Aware of the departure of HG-76, a wolfpack of U-boats was sent against it, and the Luftwaffe was heavily committed to, in a rare example of German inter-service cooperation. German intelligence agents in Gibraltar and Spain also knew every detail of HG-76 before it sailed, seemingly stacking the odds in favour of the Kriegsmarine.

Joining me on this episode is Angus Konstam.

Angus is a naval historian and author of The Convoy: HG-76: Taking the Fight to Hitler's U-boats

For patrons of the podcast, Osprey Publishing has given us a discount code to be used on their website, ospreypublishing.com. 

If you are not a patron of the show, you can sign up at patreon.com/ww2podcast. Patrons can get advert-free listening and extra WWII chat.

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Dec 1, 2023

Hot on the heels of victory in Sicily, the Allies crossed into Southern Italy in September 1943. They expected to drive the Axis forces north and be in Rome by Christmas. Although Italy surrendered, the German forces resisted fiercely, and the swift, hoped-for victory descended into one of the most brutal battles of the war.

I am joined by James Holland, author of The Savage Storm: The Battle for Italy 1943 and co-host of the We Have Ways podcast.

Patreon
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Nov 21, 2023

From the middle of the 19th century, the railways had an integral role in warfare. Trains brought food, ammunition and essential supplies. They also transported troops into the combat zone, and then trains would be used to bring men home.

Hospital trains were not a new concept in WWII, but their development moved the carriages away from being ambulances for evacuating the wounded to mobile hospital units with operating theatres.

Joining me is Alexandra Kitty, author of A Different Track: Hospital Trains of the Second World War.

Patreon
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Nov 15, 2023

David Stirling is the name synonymous with the wartime SAS, but the real brains behind the operation was, in fact, Bill Stirling, David’s eldest brother.

Having originally joined the SOE in March 1940, Bill Stirling sailed for Cairo in 1941 and there had the idea for a small special forces unit to be led by his mercurial brother. But despite some success, David allowed the legendary 1SAS to drift under his leadership. Following his capture, Bill re-directed 2SAS, under his personal command, to the strategy he had originally envisaged: parachuting behind enemy lines to gather intelligence.

Joining me is Gavin Mortimer.

Gavin is the author of several books focusing on the SAS, including a biography of David Sterling. His latest book is 2SAS: Bill Stirling and the forgotten special forces unit of World War II.

Patreon
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Nov 1, 2023

If you cast your mind back to episode 187, I discussed the war in the North African desert in 1940-41 with Robert Forczyk. The war in the North African desert was pure mechanised warfare and, in many respects, the most technologically advanced theatre of World War II. It was also the only theatre where, for three years, British and Commonwealth, and later US, troops were in constant contact with Axis forces.

Robert’s follow-up book has just been released, 'Desert Armour: Tank Warfare in North Africa: Gazala to Tunisia, 1942-43’. In this episode of the show, Robert joins me once more. This time, we discuss the fighting in the desert in 1942 through to Mongomery’s victory at El Alamein.

Robert Forczyk has a PhD in International Relations and National Security from the University of Maryland. He retired as a lieutenant colonel from the US Army Reserves, having served 18 years as an armour officer and is the author of numerous books focusing on WWII.

Patreon
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Oct 15, 2023

Journalist Wallace Carroll had a career that spanned 45 years as a journalist. His first foreign posting, in 1929, was to London with the United Press newswire service. Throughout the 1930s, he covered the major events in Europe and witnessed the Spanish Civil War first-hand. Posted back to London, he dictated his early reports of the Blitz from his office rood top. Carroll had a knack for being in places at the right time.

His talents and connections got him noticed, and he finished the war working for the US government with the Office of War Information. Here, he was tasked with counteracting German propaganda and conducting 'physiological warfare'.

Joining me is Mary Llewellyn McNeil.

Mary has written the biography of Carroll, Century's Witness: The Extraordinary Life of Journalist Wallace Carroll.

Patreon
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Oct 1, 2023

As some of you may know, I am also a First World War historian, and the academic history of the war can be very different from the public perspective, which dwells on the first two years of the war. 

Forgetting the victories of 1917 and 1918 is not new; it is something the British army did during the inter-war period. Added to this corporate amnesia, there was very little discussion in Britain on who the army might be expected to fight. All this culminated in 1939 with a British army unprepared for war and the defeat in France in 1940.

Joining me once more is Robert Lyman, who, with Richard Dannatt, has written Victory to Defeat: The British Army 1939-40. The book is a compelling account of the mismanagement of the British army from the end of the First World War to the start of the next war.

Patreon
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Sep 25, 2023

We do not think of armour being widely used in the Pacific campaign, and compared to other theatres, that is a reasonable assumption. However, it was utilised by both the Japanese and Americans from the island campaigns, such as Tarawa and Guadalcanal, through to the Philippines.

Joining me today is Mike Guardia, who is the author of American Armor in the Pacific and The Combat Diaries: True Stories from the Frontlines of World War II.

 

Patreon
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Sep 15, 2023

In this episode, I’m joined by Patrick Eriksson. If you cast your memory back, Patrick has previously joined us to talk about the Luftwaffe and his Alarmstart trilogy of books (episodes 60, 85 and 104).

This time, he is back to discuss the opening few weeks of the Battle of Britain, covered in his book Tally-Ho: RAF Tactical Leadership in the Battle of Britain, July 1940.

Patreon
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Sep 1, 2023

From September 1941, the Germans surrounded Leningrad, laying siege to the city for 900 days. Over 2 million Russians were trapped, and thousands would die through starvation. As the winter closed in, Lake Ladoga froze, allowing trucks to cross the ice. Dubbed ‘Road of Life’, it would bring vital supplies and eventually evacuate over a million civilians from the besieged city. While all the time, the Russian army struggled to try and lift the siege.

I am happy to welcome back to the podcast Prit Buttar.

Pritt’s latest book is To Besiege a City: Leningrad 1941–42, and we will discuss the first year of the siege.

 

Patreon
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Aug 15, 2023

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, over 125,000 Japanese Americans living in the continental United States were incarcerated in prison camps. The majority of these were born in America and US citizens. This was authorised by an Executive Order from President Roosevelt.

The Japanese Americans complied and spent years in the camps. Even though incarcerated, they remained loyal Americans. When the call came for volunteers for the Army first the 100th Infantry Battalion was formed and then the 442 Regimental Combat Team - in which thousands of Japanese Americans volunteered to serve. These two units were awarded over 4,000 Purple Hearts, and 21 men received the Medal of Honor.

In post-war America, the narrative of the treatment of Japanese Americans shifted. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which officially apologised for the incarceration on behalf of the U.S. government.

Joining me today is Mitchell Maki.

Mitchell is the President and CEO of the Go For Broke National Education Center, a non-profit organisation dedicated to preserving the legacy and lessons of the Nisei World War II veterans. And he is the author of Achieving the Impossible Dream: How Japanese Americans Obtained Redress.

 

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