A military history podcast that looks at all aspects of WWII. With WW2 slipping from living memory I aim to look at different historical aspects of the Second World War.
155 - Pearl Harbor
44:007th December 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States of America into the Second World War. On the morning of 7th December 1941, just before 8am the Japanese launched their attack on the US naval base of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Japanese planned the attack as a first strike to cripple the US fleet in the Pacific and prevent America from intervening in other Japanese Pacific Operations. From six Imperial Japanese Aircraft carriers, over 350 planes flew in two waves attacked the American base. Eight US Navy battleships would be damaged, four sunk, along with other cruisers and destroyers. Crucially, one element of the US Pacific fleet escaped the preemptive strike. The American Aircraft Carriers were all absent from Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. Roosevelt would proclaim the 7th December 1941 as a ‘date that would live in infamy’. Joining me to discuss the attack on Pearl Harbor is Mark Stille. Mark is a naval historian who is prolific in his studies on the naval war in the Pacific. He has written Tora! Tora! Tora!: Pearl Harbor 1941 for Osprey and has two new books out looking at the whole of the US Naval Campaign in the Pacific The United States Navy in WWII: From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa and Pacific Carrier War: Carrier Combat from Pearl Harbor to Okinawa. Patreon: patreon.com/ww2podcast
154 - Chemical Weapons
53:14In this episode we are discussing chemical weapons. It might seem like an odd topic, unlike the First World War which saw the deployment of gas, chemical weapons were not used on the battlefield of Europe in WWII. But there was a fear of them being used; everyone carried a gas mask and the belligerent nations had huge chemical weapons industries working throughout the war. I’m Joined by Brett Edwards. Brett is a senior lecture at Bath University, he is also the host of the poisons and pestilence podcast.
153 - Canadian Army Civil Affairs Units
54:15One lesson the allies learned from the fall of France in 1940 was that civilian populations needed managing, to keep them away from military operations. As the allied troops came-a-shore after D-Day in June 1944, with them would be Civil Affairs units. These units were to act as liaisons between the allied combat troops and the civilians they encountered. The remit for the Civil Affairs units was wide and extremely varied, from keeping roads clear of refugees to feeding and housing local populations that war had ravaged. Joining me today is David Borys. David is a Canadian academic whose book Civilians at the Sharp End looks at the experiences of the Civilian Affairs units attached to the Canadian First Army. David is also the host of the popular podcast Cool Canadian History, a bi-weekly podcast on everything and anything to do with Canadian History.
152 - U.S. Naval Gunfire Support in the Pacific
51:59Before the outbreak of war, the US Navy and the Marines had put considerable effort into developing a doctrine to support amphibious operations from ship to shore gunfire. When the marines landed on Tarawa in November 1943, it would be the first serious test of this doctrine. In this episode, I’m joined by Donald Mitchener to discuss the doctrine and how it developed from those initial assault landings on Tarawa through to the end of the war. Donald is a lecturer at the University of North Texas and author of U.S. Naval Gunfire Support in the Pacific War. Become a patron: patreon.com/ww2podcast
151 - Escape from Greece
45:46I’ve an incredible story for you in this episode of Shanghai born John Robin Greaves, ‘Jack’, who emigrated to Australia in 1939 and volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force to serve overseas. The army would send Jack to the Middle East then to Greece, where he would be captured Germans. Australian ABC journalist Stephen Hucheon has researched his uncle’s story and produced a fantastic article for ABC available on their website. You can find the full article here: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-07-11/the-anzacs-who-beat-the-odds-and-escaped-from-greece/100284226 This discussion is part of a project looking at Australian's in the Mediterranean during WWII. Find out more at historyguild.org. If you enjoyed the episode with Richard James, when we discussed The Australian's fight the French in Syria and the Lebanon, Richard has written an article on the topic for the history guild. You can find it here: https://historyguild.org/australias-war-with-france/ Find me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ww2podcast
150 - Eisenhower's Broad Front Strategy
37:41I recently read David Colley’s The Folly of Generals: How Eisenhower's Broad Front Strategy Lengthened World War II.David has analysed some of the missed opportunities the allies had in 1944-45 in Europe. He argues that had Eisenhower been more adept at taking advantage of several potential breakthroughs in the Siegfried Line in the autmun of 1944 the war in the European Theatre of Operations might have ended sooner. It was such a fascinating read, so I thought I’d get David onto the podcast to examine Eisenhower’s broad front policy. David P. Colley is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for many national publications, including Army, World War II, American Heritage, and The New York Times. Among his books on military history are The Road to Victory, which received the Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Book Award in 2000, Blood for Dignity, and Safely Rest. He has appeared on the History Channel and Eye on Books. Colley served in the ordnance branch of the U.S. Army.
149 - Australia's war with France
53:21Since starting the podcast, I’ve looked at the aspects of the war from the point of view of various countries. But, one glaring omission has been any Australian narrative of the war. The Australians fought across the world on the land, sea and in the air air; notably in the Pacific and the Middle East, which is what we’ll be discussing in this episode. With the fall of France, her overseas territories predominantly remained loyal to the French Vichy regime. This was true for Syria and Lebanon. To the south were the British in Egypt. With Rommel in the Western Desert and Germans fostering an uprising in Iraq, the British feared Germany might take control over of Syria and Lebanon. From there, the Nazis could supply the rebels in Iraq and threaten Egypt from two sides. Churchill ordered General Wavell to go on the offensive and take the French territories. The British didn’t envisage the French putting up much of a fight. The Australian 7th Division would make up the bulk of the allied attacking force. Joining me is Richard James. Richard is the author of Australia’s War with France: The Campaign in Syria and Lebanon 1941. I'd like to thank David Phillipson, president of the Australian-based History Guild, charity which promotes historical literacy for all. David reached out to suggest I have a chat with James. If you’re interested in finding out more about the History Guild, go to historyguild.org. Patreon: patreon.com/ww2podcast
148 - Luftwaffe Special Weapons
44:47As the course of the second world war turned against the Third Reich some radical proposals and inventive designs, were put forward by armaments manufacturers, scientists, technicians, aircrew and even private individuals to the German Air Ministry for consideration as weapons to be utilised by the Luftwaffe. Some proposals were destined never to leave the drawing board, while others not only underwent trials but were issued to operational units and used in action. In the episode I’m joined by Robert Forsyth. Robert is an aviation historian who some of you may recall I chatted to in episode 52, when we looked at Luftwaffe units working with the U-Boats. Robert has a sumptuous new book available from Osprey Luftwaffe Special Weapons 1942–45. Patron: patreon.com/ww2podcast
147 - Operation Barbarossa
1:00:54Buoyed by their victories over Poland and France, on the 22 June 1941 the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa, and over 3 millions men advanced over the border to attack Russia. The opening of the Eastern Front would be one of Hilter’s most momentous decisions of WWII. Having only signed a nonaggression pact with German in 1939, Stalin was taken by surprise. The opening weeks of the offensive were wildly successful for the Germans, but as the Panzer formations rapidly advanced the infantry struggled, on foot, to keep up. At Kiev, the Germans would take over half a million Russian soldiers prisoner. Barbarossa was a campaign where one Panzer Divisional commander queried if the Germans were ‘winning themselves to death’. Joining me for this episode is now regular of the podcast Jonathan Trigg. In episode 55 and 77 Jon and I looked at foreign recruits to the SS, in 102 we looked at D Day from the German perspective and in episode 115115 – To VE Day Through German Eyes we talked about the end of the war for Germany. Jonathan has been busy and has a new book available, Barbarossa Through German Eyes. Patreon: patreon.com/ww2podcast
146 - Stop Lines
46:49In Britain, after the fall of France, there was the fear that the Germans may attempt a channel crossing and invade in 1940. If the Wehrmacht got shore in the south of England, facing them would have been a series of ‘Stop Lines’. These were defensives which comprised a series of pillboxes and anti-tank obstacles. They hoped these static defences would hold up any German advance long enough for the British to bring forward a mobile reserve. During WWII this network of fortifications was spread across the country. Protecting Britain from an invasion in Devon and Cornwall was the Taunton Stop line in the South West of the country. To tell me all about Stop Lines is Andrew Powell-Thomas. Andrew is a military historian specialising in the military history of the West Country. He is also the author of The West Country’s Last Line of Defence: Taunton Stop Line. Patron: https://www.patreon.com/ww2podcast Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ww2podcast Website: https://ww2podcast.com