As many of you know I bang on about supporting me via Patreon at the start of each episode. These small donations pay for hosting, software and help me to find the time to dedicate to the show.
After two years of plugging away I’ve finally reached my first funding goal on Patreon, $250 per month! Now I've reached this goal I’m going to upgrade my hosting package allowing me to potentially post more and longer podcasts.
As a thank you to everyone for their support, and a very big thank you to all the Patrons who give a dollar or two each month, here is an extra podcast I recorded.
I’ve chatted with Craig Moore before. He runs the website tank-hunter.com and contributes to tank-encyclopedia.com… Craig recently took part in a dig to recover one of the very few British Covenanter tanks which has been buried in Surry in the UK!
"The Covenanter A13 Mark III Cruiser Mk V tank is regarded as one of the worst vehicles ever produced in Britain at a time when the country was desperate for tanks." more
In this episode we’re going to be discussing Bill Cheall.
Bill joined the Green Howard's in 1939, a regiment in the British army, and fought throughout the whole war. He was evacuated through Dunkirk, fought in the Desert, took part in the invasion of Sicily and in 1944 landed on Gold beach on D-Day…
Bill wrote his memoirs which have been edited by his son Paul and publish as “Fighting Through from Dunkirk to Hamburg: A Green Howard’s Wartime Memoir”.
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For more information and pictures of Bill Cheall you can visit fightingthrough.co.uk and you can find Paul's podcast at fightingthroughpodcast.co.uk.
The Green Howard's are of particular interest to me as they are my local regiment. I have two grandfathers who service in WW1 with them, and a great uncle who served in WW2. Uncle Jack. reputedly, like Bill was plucked from the beaches of Dunkirk, though he was later shipped to India and saw fighting in Burma.
In this episode we’re looking at three brothers all in the US Navy at the start of the war, and their remarkable story.
Today I’m joined by Sally Mott Freeman, her book “The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home” follows her father and his two brothers through the war.
Bill Mott would start the war in FDR’s Whitehouse Map room, his brother Benny would be on the Carrier USS Enterprise and Barton was a supply officer based in the Philippines…
Their experience brings out how difficult it must have been for families at war.
Last year I talked to Irish Historian Bernard Kelly about his book “Military Internees, Prisoners of War and the Irish State during the Second World War”, thats episode 23 for those who haven’t listened. We discussed how the Republic of Ireland walked the tightrope of neutrality and how it treated troops of belligerent nations who found themselves within its borders..
Chatting with Bernard after that recording I discovered his MA thesis looked at the Russia’s Winter War with Finland. Yet another interesting WW2 topic and that's what we’ll be discussing in this episode.
In November 1939 Russia attacked Finland, Britain and France were already at war with Germany and were not keen on declaring war on Russia in the defence of Finland. More importantly a total collapse of Finland might mean a Russian threaten Sweden and Norway?
Also throw into the mix that Swedish iron was vital to the German war effort it meant the Allies needed to do something, but what?
The role of the International Committee of the Red Cross during WWII is complicated. Closely bound to Switzerland the ICRC tried to remain neutral whilst at the same time operating with in the boundaries of the Geneva Conventions.
Criticised for its failure to speak out during the holocaust as the war came to a close it went into overdrive to remain relevant in a post war world.
I'm joined by Gerald Steinacher.
Gerald is Associate Professor of History and Hymen Rosenberg Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, his latest book is Humanitarians at War: The Red Cross in the Shadow of the Holocaust.
In January I had an email from Bob Drury, if that name sounds familiar it’s because I chatted to Bob in episode 30 talking about Old 666. He wondered what I had planned for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea.
As it happens I’d not actually thought about the Battle of the Coral Sea! Bob suggested that he and his writing partner of Lucky 666 Tom Calvin come on the podcast and have a chat.
The naval clash at in the Coral sea was pivotal in the war against Japan. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor nothing had stood in the way of the Japanese typhoon that had swept across the pacific. Fortress Singapore, the Dutch East Indies there was nothing seemingly the Royal Navy or Americans could do to stop them.
At the Coral Sea three Japanese Aircraft Carriers would face two US Carriers, this would be the first time a naval battle would take place without any belligerent ships seeing one another, it was a new war of carrier launched aircraft.
Was it a draw? Both sides withdrew. History shows us it would be a tactical victory for the Japanese and a strategic victory for the Americans. Perhaps more importantly it was the first time the Japanese were stopped.
We’re looking at amphibious operations during the war in this episode. Until I started researching I hadn’t realised how many there were. We’re all pretty familiar with the handful in the European Theatre but in the Pacific the list is long…
In this episode I’m talking to Mike Walling.
Mikes is the author of Bloodstained Sands, US amphibious operations in WWII, he is a veteran of the US navy coast guard and has spent the last forty years collecting stories from veterans.
I’ve been planning to look at some individual soldiers stories for some time, the first was going to be the story of a Green Howard who fought through from D-Day until the end of the war. As his story is similar to my great uncles everyone in my family was interested and the book has gone on it’s travels passed from my mother to my sister to my brother… As of typing I haven't got it back...
In the meantime when I was given the opportunity to talk to Frank Lavin about his father's war time experience I jumped at the chance.
Frank has gathered together and organised his father letters he posted home during the war. Carl Lavin was a high school senior in Canton, Ohio, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Canton, Ohio, native was eighteen when he enlisted, a decision that would take him with the US Army from training across the United States and Britain to combat with the 84th Infantry Division in the Battle of the Bulge and through to the occupation of Germany.
The book is Homefront to Battlefront: An Ohio Teenage in World War II there is a link on the website.
In this episode we’re looking at a topic we touched up on in way back in episode 06 when we looked at the OSS. We’re looking at the OSS station chief in Bern, Switzerland, Allen Dulles and his connections with the German resistance during the WWII.
Dulles incredibly was approached by a number of Germans unhappy with the Nazi regime who fed him information from 1943 onward.
I’m joined by Scott Miller.
Scott’s book Agent 110: An American Spymaster and the German Resistance in WWII, looks at Dulles operation in Switzerland and pieces together his connections with the German resistance.
Once the Allies had crossed the English Channel on D-Day the next large natural barrier would be the crossing of the Rhine into Germany.
Toward the end of 1944 the fighting had been hard, the Americans had slogged through the Hürtgen Forest, everyone had reeled against the German counter attack in the Ardennes. The Rhine is a perfect natural border, the crossing of which would be symbolically crossing the last line of defence in to Germany from the West.
The task was given to Montgomery's 21st Army. As ever Monty put together an enormous set piece battle (Plunder), he knew the war was close to the end, many of the Allied troops in his command had fought for years. He couldn’t afford for the crossing to fail.
4,000 guns opened up on the 23rd March, in the American sector they fired 65,000 shells in one hour! Varsity, the airborne arm of the operation was the largest airborne operation in history, with over 16,000 troops flown in.
To discuss this, and the crossings that beat Monty to it, I’m joined by Marc DeSantis. If that name sounds familiar that is because Marc is also regular guest on the Ancient Warfare Magazine Podcast. He is also a regular contributor to many history magazines on WWII topics.
In this episode we’ll looking at how Britain found the manpower to fight the war. By the end at least four and a half million had served from Britain, if we add to that figure Empire and Commonwealth forces we’re looking it perhaps upwards of ten million. Its an astounding figure….
I’m joined by Roger Broad.
Rogers New book Volunteers and Pressed Men looks at recruitment during both the First and second World War in both Britain and its Empire.
In this episode I’m talking to Edward Hooton and we’re looking at the air war over the Eastern Front, a topic I’m not familiar with. From my own point of view it's always been overshadowed by the ground war.
Edward has written a number of books on aviation history during WWII. His latest book “War over the Steppes: The air campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941-45” is a fascinating look at the air operations carried out by both the Russians and Germans during the war.
In this episode we’re looking at the plight of those Jews fleeing Poland who headed east into Russia after the German invasion of 1939. It’s a story I wasn’t at all familiar with.
I’m joined by Annette Libeskind Berkovits.
Annettes father Nachman fled the Polish City of Lodz, he had an incredible life… She tells his story in the most remarkable book I think I’ve read in a long time, “In the Unlikeliest of Places”
With the holiday season upon us I've a festive episode for you.
The US 28th Infantry Division landed in France in July of 1944. After fighting through the Bocage and taking part in the parade through Paris to mark its liberation they were sent to the Hürtgen Forest.
Badly shot up they we're withdrawn and sent to a small town in Luxembourg called Wiltz.
To tell the story of the American St Nick I'm joined by Peter Lion whose book "The American St Nick" tells the story.
We're looking at the Operation Sea Lion, the German invasion plan for Britain in the latest podcast.
I'm joined by Robert Forczyk.
Robert is a prolific author and military historian. His latest book “We march against England: Operation Sea Lion 1940/41” is a fresh look at the German plans to invade Britain and what they might have faced.
In this episode we’re looking at women in the secret services, SOE and OSS during WWII. Women played a crucial role a number operating in the field as agents. In occupied countries it was easier for them to blend in than young men of military age.
I’m joined by Greg Lewis.
In 1943 a lone B-17 Bomber set off on a solo reconnaissance mission, it was to be a 1200 mile round trip. Passing within range of Japanese airbases they were swarmed by Zero fighters...
It would be only plane of the war where two of the personal would win the Medal of Honor.
I'm joined by Bob Drury, co-author of Lucky 666: The Impossible Mission.
In this episode I’m talking to Nicholas O'Shaughnessy.
Nicholas is is currently Visiting Professor in the Centre for Strategic Communication at King's College London. His new book Selling Hitler examines the Nazi’s use of propaganda and argues Hitler was one of the few politicians who understood that persuasion was everything and was the central to creating an all encompassing strategy...
In this episode I'm joined by Matt Dearden and we're looking at the iconic WWII Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina flying boat.
We look at both the history of he plane, and how it flies!
Matt is a co-ownder of Miss Pick Up and a qualified pilot. You can find more information on the plane here.
I’d seen the 1975 film Operation Daybreak and was aware of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, but what I wasn't aware of was the utter destruction of the village of Lidice as an act of vengeance and how the Staffordshire miners helped with the rebuilding of the village after the war. That was until Russell Phillips shot me an email.
Russell's book is A Ray of Light: Reinhard Heydrich, Lidice and the North Staffordshire Miners. Its not a long read but is a book that everyone should read!
We’re in North Africa in this episode of the podcast.
The War in the desert was full of ups and downs for both Axis and Allies. In January 1941 Tobruk fell to the Allies. With the arrival of Rommel the Allies were forced back and Tobruk held out under siege for seven months, depriving the Axis of a vital supply port, before being relieved as the Allies once more swept forward. Only for it to fall in June 1942 to Rommel.
Though the British Army had expected to sacrifice Tobruk to the public at home it was a huge shock. The war had not been going well, not helped with entry of the Japanese and the fall of Singapore.
It was now Churchill wanted action, he wanted good news to report to Parliament, the British people and their new Allies the USA who had entered the war.
Operation Agreement was a daring raid on Tobruk in September 1942. Taking part were the Long Range Desert Group, the SAS, the Special Interrogation Group, the Royal Navy, the RAF… Everyone was in the act…
I’m joined by John Sadler.
Johns book “Operation Agreement: Jewish Commandos and the raid on Tobruk” tells the story of the operation.
In this episode I'm looking at Douglas MacArthur with Walter Borneman.
MacArthur is one of those personalities that war throws up which I find hard to pin down. They have a big personalities and seemingly a huge confidence within themselves that overrides everything else (another two examples for me would be Monty and Patton).
The media generated about them at the time seems to put them on a pedestal, its hard to see through that hype to figure out how good they actually were.
Since I started the podcast MacArthur was in my top ten of topics to cover, so I was thrilled to see a new book on him “MacArthur at War: WWII in the Pacific” by Walter Borneman. I highly recommend you give it a read, its a balance look which at times has you disbelieving he was allowed to continue in command, at other times you see his ability shine through. He undoubtedly was a very complex man.
I’ve a bit of a different episode for you.
In our look at the Stug I talked to Jon Phillips who was close to completing his two year restoration of his Stug III. The deadline for getting the engine in and running was the Yorkshire Wartime Experience where he’d committed to bringing the Stug along.
Knowing Jon was going to be there I took myself down to see how he’d got on.
After speaking to Jon I bumped into an old friend Paul Fricker. Paul re-enacts the Russian 13th Guards Rifle Division, Poltavaskaya.
On the Facebook page recently a question had been asked about what the blanket/canvas sausage you see Russian troops wearing draped over their shoulder was? So I took the opportunity to ask him.
Its a bit of a short episode as I messed up recording a piece of Russian transport, I will revisit that. But in the process I was introduced to a chap who owns a Russian T34, so expect an episode on that in the near future.
In this episode we’re looking at the peculiar situation the Republic of Ireland, Eire, found itself during the second world war.
Along with countries such as Sweden, Switzerland and Spain, Eire trod the difficult path of remaining neutral. With all that entailed one question that needed to be dealt with was what to do with those servicemen from the belligerent nations who found themselves in Ireland by way of crashed planes or naval personnel rescued from the sunk shipping.
I’m joined by Bernard Kelly. Bernard is a Irish historian whose book “Military Internees, Prisoners of War and the Irish State during the Second World War” looks at these issues.