When France capitulated in 1940 and the Vichy government came to power many of the French colonial possessions remained loyal to the new regime. The same was true for the Island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean.
In this episode I’m joined by Russell Phillips.
Russell’s book A Strange Campaign narrates the story of the battle for Madagascar, where British troops would fight the French for possession of the island.
If you want to hear more from Russell, spool back through the WW2 Podcast feed to episode 27. We discussed Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and the destruction of the Czech village of Lidice as a reprisal by the Germans. Not only was the village physically destroyed all the visible remains were removed.
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Everyone remembers the role of Churchill and Roosevelt throughout the war, but there was a third man key to their relationship and of the three of them the only one to remain in power at the end of the war in August 1945.
Mackenzie King was the Prime Minister of Canada, the largest British Dominion and America's closest neighbour. By the start of the war, King knew both FDR and he’d been friends with Churchill since first meeting in 1905. He would serve as a lynchpin between the great powers, yet is now often overlooked.
Joining me is Neville Thompson.
Neville is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Western Ontario, where he taught modern British and European history. He is also the author of the wonderful book The Third Man: Churchill, Roosevelt, MacKenzie King, and the Untold Friendships That Won WWII which recounts the relationship between the three men based on King’s personal diaries.
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looking at the British Army in North Africa, its tactics and training in an effort to explain the difficulties the 8th Army had fighting the Afrika Korps.
Jame’s book was released last year but I’ve only recently managed to find the time to read his book 8th Army vs Rommel. And what a cracking book it is…
It's a simple question, how do you knock out a Panther tank? When the 'boffins' in Britain got hold of a Panther it's the question they were tasked with finding an answer for.
Using official reports and documents, Craig Moore has been through the archives piecing together all the faults that the British saw in the German Panther during WWII. In this episode, I discuss with him the chinks that were found in the amour of the German tank.
Craig is the author of How to Kill a Panther Tank and How to Kill a Tiger Tank.
'In the years after World War I, the defeated and much-reduced German Army developed new clothing and personal equipment that drew upon the lessons learned in the trenches. In place of the wide variety of uniforms and insignia that had been worn by the Imperial German Army, a standardized approach was followed, culminating in the uniform items introduced in the 1930s as the Nazi Party came to shape every aspect of German national life.
The outbreak of war in 1939 prompted further adaptations and simplifications of uniforms and insignia, while the increasing use of camouflaged items and the accelerated pace of weapons development led to the appearance of new clothing and personal equipment. Medals and awards increased in number as the war went on, with grades being added for existing awards and new decorations introduced to reflect battlefield feats.
Specialists such as mountain troops, tank crews and combat engineers were issued distinctive uniform items and kit, while the ever-expanding variety of fronts on which the German Army fought - from the North African desert to the Russian steppe - prompted the rapid development of clothing and equipment for different climates and conditions. In addition, severe shortages of raw materials and the demands of clothing and equipping an army that numbered in the millions forced the simplification of many items and the increasing use of substitute materials in their manufacture.'
Joining me is Dr Stephen Bull.
Stephen is the author of Ospreys publishings sumptuous German Army Uniforms of World War II.
Since the HBO WWII miniseries Band of Brothers aired in 2001, Major Dick Winters of the 101st Airborne has garnered international acclaim. His exploits hit key moments of the North Western European campaign in 1944-45 as Winter’s took part in D-Day, Operation Market Garden and Battle of the Bulge. A modest hero, he epitomizes the notion of dignified leadership.
Winters was a fairly prolific letter writer, one person he wrote to regularly was a young lady called DeEtta Almon. After the war they lost touch but upon the release of Stephen Ambrose book Band of Brothers, DeEtta contacted Winters and presented him with all the letters he had written to her during the war.
In this episode I’m joined by Erik Dorr and Jared Frederick.
Erik is the owner and curator of the Gettysburg Museum of History, which houses a Dick Winter Collection.
Jared Frederick is professional historian and lecturer, with Erik they have written Hang Tough a unique view of Dick Winters based round the letters to DeEtta Almon that are now housed at the Gettysburg Museum of History.
The common narrative of the war often completely overlooks Germany’s attempts to run spies in Britain. In actual fact, for more or less the whole of the war the German secret service, the Abwehr, were sending agents into Britain.
In this episode I’m joined by Bernard O’Connor, author of Operation Lena and Hitler's Plots to Blow up Britain to discuss German espionage activities.
At the start of 1944 the German army on the Eastern Front was reeling after suffering defeats at Stalingrad and Kursk. Hitler was keen to hold on to the territory occupied by the Germans, but all the while the Wehrmacht was forced to give up ground to the Red Army.
In this episode we’re going to be looking at the fighting throughout 1944 for Army Group South in the Ukraine and Romania.
I’m joined by Prit Buttar.
Prit is the author of a number of books recounting the fighting in Russia during both world wars, his latest is The Reckoning: The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944.
In previous episodes we’ve touched upon the Spanish civil war, when the war came to an end there was a large number of displaced Spanish living in France and to a less extent other Europe countries. With the second world war looming, the French began to recruit these displaced men into their armed forces.
When France fell in 1940 a sizeable number found themselves in Britain, where they were recruited in to the British Army. But they weren’t just in Britain, in North Africa and the Middle East spaniards signed up to fight with the British.
In this episode I’m joined by military historian and hispanist Sean Scullion to explore who these men were and their stories.
During the interwar years the US army had worked to develop a light weapons carrier, but by 1940 the ‘perfect’ vehicle had not been found. The war in Europe focused minds in the American army and in June it compiled a list of requirements for a revolutionary new truck to replace the mule as the Army's primary method of moving troops and small payloads.
In this episode we discuss how the American Bantam Car Company, Willys Overland-Motors and the Ford Motor Company stepped up to the challenge and developed a new vehicle which would eventually become the Jeep.
I’m Joined by Paul R. Bruno.
Paul has spent twenty years researching, writing and studying early Jeep history. His first book was Project Management in History: The First Jeep, this led him to his next book The Original Jeeps.
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Rome, the ‘Eternal City’, had a peculiar war. With Italy an axis nation it was a target for allied bombers but in the centre is the Vatican, home of the Pope. A neutral state within the capital of a belligerent nation. In deference to the Pope allied bombing operations were curtailed, perhaps more than they might otherwise have have been.
When the Italians secretly brokered an armistice with the allies in September 1943, Rome was occupied by the Germans. With the Germans in charge, Italian men would be deported as forced labour and the Jewish population of Rome rounded up to be sent to concentration camps.
At the same time the Vatican became a magnet for escaped Prisoners of War who would seek refuge inside the walls of the holy city.
I’m joined by Victor Failmezger.
Victor is a retired US Naval Officer who served in Rome as the Assistance Naval Attaché. He is also the author of Rome City in Terror: The Nazi Occupation 1943-44.