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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ron Walker

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Ron Walker last won the day on June 8

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  1. Ron Walker

    Hitlers underestimation of Russia.

    Comes back to the analysis shown in a (fictional) thought experiment puboished under the title "The Foresight War", in which - in both the UK AND in Germany one single individual travels back in time to the mid 1930's, and is given the chance thereby to change history.In the UK, the time traveller finds Henry Tizzard (later, Sir Henry Tizzard) as a man who can be reached, who has excellent military contacts who will listen to him,and an open mind. (Which is blown away by the time traveller's programable pocket calculator!) Tizzard's contacts form a committee to listen to the opinions and warnings of their "visitor from the future" a number of products go into production earlier than they did "the first time", some don't go into production at all, soe are heavily modified, The UK guarantees the security not of Poland, but rather of Norway.Meanwhile over in Germany, they're getting similarly good advice from their "visitor". But the rationale underlying Hitler's war aims remain unchanged. Hitler STILL wants to invade Russia, and STILL wants to exterminate the Jews, and mistreat everyone else, because his desired end position is German "ownership" of Eastern Europe AND Russia, with most of the original population "disposed of". In Germany, in the story, different products are brought into production earlier... but when oush comes to shove... The UK and its allies prevail, almost entirely because Germany's motivation is almost totally irrational.
  2. Ron Walker

    Ploesti Raid

    But, curiously, PRO-Axis guerillas DO seem to have been: The Brandenbergers https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandenburgers https://weaponsandwarfare.com/2016/06/05/the-brandenburgers/
  3. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    If we're still talking about Poland, then I'm sceptical: "only became an issue in the nineteenth century, and then only in certain circles"?! NO! Polish nationalism (again) towards the end of the EIGHTEENTH century, And continued at fever pitch the full length of the nineteenth century, revolution after revolt after uprising. Almost continual armed conflict. (Seriously - a new war of liberation about every ten years!) Poland was being kept out of existence by Austria, Prussia and Russia, managed to throw one or another out, but never managed to break free from them all, (and failed to find support from elsewhere.)
  4. Ron Walker

    Hitlers underestimation of Russia.

    I think you've seriously misunderstood the situation there: Yes, Frontline soldiers DID feel "betrayed".... but betrayed by the POLITICAL Leadership; the so-called "November Criminals". And they did so because their GENERALS told them that "defeat had been snatched from the jaws of victory" by gutless politicians. There had been minimal communication between the "home front" and the "Front line"; Front line troops were fed a continual diet of propaganda, claiming that thanks to the U-Boot campaign, Britain was on the verge of starvation.... that it was GERMANY that really was starving was kept secret from the troops (who got much better rations than civilians). Even front-line troops didn't get exactly generous supplies. - which partly led to military disaster during Germany's otherwise triumphant 1918 offensive. German troops came across Allied supply dumps, and became more interested in looting than in advancing. The army that they'd been told was STARVING turned out to be sitting on mountains of rations. Clearly, someone was NOT telling the truth. It's worth - to get a feel for "how things were" - getting hold of popular German play by Karl Zuckmeyer based on genuine events. It's called "The Captain of Koepenick" (Koepenick is a suburb of Berlin) and tells of how an elderly conman acquired a second hand officer's uniform, commandeered the unquestioning services of a platoon of infantry as they returned to barracks from a swimming lesson, marched them to the Koepenick town hall, and demanded that they hand over the contents of the city treasury. The point being, When it came out what had happened, the Kaiser was delighted to learn that his soldiers had obeyed their orders totally without question. Everyone got pardoned by the Kaiser. Remarkably Germanic! The play got a major revival in the 1970's, and remains popular. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Captain_of_Köpenick_(play)
  5. Ron Walker

    Average Germans knew Nazi atrocities

    Brings to mind, yet again, sitting on the sofa in a friend's house one Sunday afternoon, watching TV.The UK government was beginning to declassify under the "25 year rule" and some absolutely amazing stuff was coming out. There had ben some very minir leaks prior to the mass declassification - "Operation Mincemeat" was opened up very early (Apparently to counterbalance claims being made by a German of what an excellent job the Abwehr had been doing.) Much of this stuff being revealed was genuinely pretty BIG... But it really WAS the first time anybody had heard about it. To demonstrate just HOW well-kept the secrets bad been kept, BOTH of my freind's parents felt it was now OK to discuss what they'd done during the war. One had been a WREN at the GC&CS at Bletchley Park, the other had worked with DF Jones' "Beam Benders" - which blocked Germany's attempt to guide bombers onto target using radio "beams".Until THAT afternoon, neither spouse had revealed to the other "what they'd done in the war". During the preparations for D-Day, rehearsed on beaches in SW England, there were a number of "training accidents" of catastrophic proportions. Live firing exercises where it was somehow not explained to the American MPs that their job was to shoot OVER the heads of the GIs running up the beach, not AT them.The screwup over an exercise where everything got cancelled EXCEPT the Artillery support, and it was decided that - since the exercise had been cancelled leaving the beach clear, it would be a pity not to use it for a simpler exercise. (Mid exercise, an artillery barrage descended upon it.) The screwup where German S-boats were able to slip-in at night and sink a bunch of transport ships fully laden with soldiers (most of whom drowned) At the time these things happened, it was deemed wisest not to let people know. And nobody DID know, for decades thereafter. And that was rural Somerset, not Nazi Germany. Clearly, It IS possible to keep secrets. My wife's family came from Buckinghamshire, yet had absolutely no idea of what was going on at Bletchley, right on their doorstep.It might have been very quiet... but Bletchley Park had more dedicated security than Downing Street!
  6. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    Phillip, I don't think it IS disputed that the Poles indeed slaughtered about 5,000 "VolksDeutsch" four or five days after Germany had invaded, but THAT massacre took place near Warsaw, NOT in the far North, and may even have been provoked (Germany certainly had a well-organised terrorist organisation in existence at the time) The Poles admit that it happened. But the best way to tell a lie successfully is to mix it in with something that's true. GERMANY insisted that the Danzig massacre had taken place - but if you look for proof of it, all you'll find is Nazi records.(I cited them a few days back, and expressed my own disbelief as to their veracity.) I have personal friendships with Eastern Europeans that go back over fifty years, to a time when English-speaking Eastern Europeans were a rarity (I mention that to point up the difference between then and now. I travelled right across Russia a couple of years back, and to my amazement almost EVERYBODY spoke English.) Back in the 1970's, in private, Hungarians expressed their hatred for both Germany AND Russia. Poles likewise. I've had (close) French friends since the 1960's, and back then memories of WW2 still rankled with them. (German friends from about that time spoke of how German cars on holiday in France were at serious risk of being .vandalised.) Both Germany AND Russia were looked upon with betterness and distrust by the inhabitants of the neighbouring countries, who had EXPERIENCED WW2. But their numbers are growing smaller as each year passes. There's a widespread tendency to forget, when looking at historical issues that (almost universally) "Things were seen differently back then." Many European nations didn't even EXIST until the mid 1800's. Sweden is a mere fraction of the size it was back in the 1800's, and Poland is almost unique as vanishing and then coming back into existence again, usually as part of somewhere else. We Brits are probably the most confused about such things: We've been pretty much where we are now for over a thousand years, and tend to assume that as "normality" - which it's NOT.
  7. Ron Walker

    Average Germans knew Nazi atrocities

    Slightly tongue-in-cheek... I'm from Bristol (the "original" Bristol in SW England, from whence Sebastian Cabot sailed in 1497 and discovered (or maybe REdiscovered) North America.) The oldest document referring to Bristol is about a thousand years old, and about slavery. (Bristol later became "a world centre of the slave trade".) But THAT document doesn't talk about AFRICAN slaves, it was King Edward complaining about Bristolians raiding across the Bristol Channel into South Wales, and taking WELSH slaves, which they often sold-on to passing Vikings (who in turn sold them on to the Irish.) In the early days of Sugar plantations in the Caribbean, political prisoners were shipped over to the Caribbean colonies, and worked to death. Unaccustomed to the hot climate, they tended to die pretty quickly. Westcountrymen who'd risen up against the (unpopular!) King were made prisoners, and were in serious of danger of being shipped to Jamaica or the like. Then African slaves became available. Europeans didn't have to enslave them.. they came "ready enslaved". (Clearly slavery was an already exiting phenomenon!) My primary school was named after a philanthropist who donated his fortune to Bristolian good causes - a fortune that he'd made from the (African) slave trade. So deep is their shame from the implied association that the school's governors have recently opted to change the school's name. Why all the shame about African slavery...but so LITTLE fuss about the thousands of Brits who died as slaves? Thomas Arne got it wrong: "Britons never, never shall be slaves?"
  8. Common misapprehension. "Oversexed, Overpaid and over here" was an expression coined by the Australians long before GIs began to arrive in the UK in significant numbers. From memory, relationships between Australians and American forces fell to such low levels in the New Guinea campaign that they were actually exchanging gunfire. Johnny-come-lately Americans (mostly with zero experience of actual combat) were demanding a commanding role. McArthur in particular made seriously unfortunate comments about Australian troops fighting on the Kokoda trail. Getting TO the battlezone entailed a 24 climb - through torrential rain - up a 45 degree slope - the equivalent of running a couple of marathons. McArthur suggested that, on arrival, they "just weren't trying hard enough". (demonstrating thereby how far out of touch he was, rather than what a great commander.)
  9. Meaningless anyway. There were some areas of production where the USSR was simply so far behind as not to even be IN the race. Like the Radio gear which allowed T34 tanks to communicate with each other. (in 1940, they were communicating using flags and semaphore - NOT radio. A unit leader would have a radio set to communicate with HQ, and having received orders, he'd pop up out of his turret, and pass on the orders by waving the flags about. It's a good way to make it clear to the enemy which tank contains the commander, and it's a good way to get that commander's head shot off. The USA provided radios which were beyond Russia's own capability to manufacture in bulk. Also trucks AND Jeeps, promptly copied by the Russians themselves. Yes they got given some tired old gear by the Western Allies as well - but usually early models, and without manuals or documentation. The groundcrew of a Spitfire as almost as vital as the pilot, patching repairing and tuning their charge so that it emerges like new for each sortie. Russia's poor view of most of these (largely symbolic) hand-me-downs wasn't usually delight.
  10. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    Sorry for not being able to offer a citation, for this - it's the way my memory works: soaks up and retains information, but doesn't add a date-stamp! There was a British TV documentary presented by an historian whose thesis was that "to understand WW2, you MUST understand how Hitler's racial theories were substantially based on the British and their Empire, and he was frantic NOT to go to war with the people that he admired so greatly". The speaker even went as far as to suggest that the timing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pakt, and then Barbarossa was set to stop the British from allying themselves with Russia. Britain had a HUGE Empire - especially India - and controlled it not by force of arms, but by sheer willpower; (born of racial superiority!) exactly as he wanted Germany to be able to do.His desired endgame was two massive empires existing side by side: the British Empire and the German Empire. Complete rubbish of course; As a Brit, I'm quietly proud of coming from such a mixture of racial mongrels, that are anything BUT "pure Germanic", any more than Mussolini's Italians were descended from Romans: with the fall of the Roman Empire in abiut 550AD, it was almost as if someone had flicked the switch on a blender in Europe. Ferocious tribes poured in from the East, displacing those who were there already (in Central Europe) who migrated either Westwards or South to save their own skins. Modern day Romans are quite likely to be descended from ancient Hungarians!
  11. Ron Walker

    What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    German politics, under Hitler, was remarkably unstructured. Hitler appointed a number of lieutenants, gave them each a job to do, and just left it up to them as to HOW the task was achieved.What each could achieve was dependant on their influence to the Leader. Made clearest in my view by the opening reports at the "Wannsee conference", where Heydrich hijacked Germany's racial policy, and unified it. The various Gauleiters reported on how good a job they were doing at achieving the aim of making their region (or "Gau") "Jew Free". Some had simply declared that a bunch of Jews within their feifdom were OFFICIALLY no longer Jews. Others were killing Jews by a wide range of means. Everybody was "doing their own thing"... because, at the top, that's how NAZI society worked.Dog-eat-dog social Darwinism. And it's "no way to run a railroad." Germany doesn't get the "little carriers" that could have made a significant difference, because the guy with the idea just lacks the political clout to get things done. Britain and to a lesser extent the USA were run along COMMUNIST lines (as Churchill himself commented.) Central planning, central command of production and labour...In the UK government even intervened in furniture and clothing design, halted the inclusion of fragrance from soaps...The UK had what it termed "the Office of Bright ideas" - private citizens who thought they'd had a brilliant idea, could write in. share their idea with the government, who would give it serious consideration and rewarded ideas that really WERE good. Result, (because of central planning) there was streamlining of product development, and minimal duplication; towards the end of the war, when Germany really NEEDED proximity fuzes that worked, they had DOZENS of designs in development. The allies just had a few - that WORKED - because development resources weren't being spread so thin and squandered. Back in the 1970's I was puzzled by Margaret Thatcher's admiration for Churchill, coupled to a certainty that "Communism DOESN'T WORK". How the hell did she think Churchill won?
  12. Ron Walker

    What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    I finally found the book with the quotation that I'd been looking for. I read it aloud to my wife, who asked "who said that? Churchill?" An interesting (and amusingly wrong!) guess.... In other words, "Don't mix it with the Brits, because no matter what it takes nor how long it takes, they WILL seriously fuck you up" (The author, by the way was Adolf Hitler; the source "Mein Kampf".)
  13. Ron Walker

    What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    Germany also had a conceptual problem with "Who is i charge of an aircraft carrier?", which, given how their whole nation state was organised, should come as no surprise.Herman Goerring was in charge of the airforce, hence in charge of aeroplanes, AND he was Hitler's deputy therefore NOT someone you'd want to argue with. Gerrmany DID have a guy championing the idea of "small aircraft carriers", which in the latter half of the 20th century made a LOT of sense - probably more sense than the Bismark had. But he couldn't convince the navy to support him, nor could he convince Goerring. He did however get some support from the SS! I live in the Isle of Man - OUR "navy" had the world's first aircraft carrier! I'm joking, We don't have a navy, but DID have a fleet of ferry boats that were commandeered during both World Wars for Royal Navy use. They put a flight deck on one of them during WW1, and produced the first "Aircraft Carrier". In WW2 they were instrumental in evacuating Dunkirk, in fact one in 14 of the thousands rescued were carried on an Isle of man Steam Packet ferry. Half of "our fleet" didn't survive the exercise, and I live about 50 yards from the monument to Manx sailors who died during the evacuation."MS Mona's Queen" was sunk on her third trip back to Dunkirk; her anchor is now the centre of the monument. (The explosion separated it from the wreck, so that it was deemed legally NOT to be part of a war grave, and able to be recovered.)
  14. Ron Walker

    What was the worst mistake made by Germany in WWII?

    Churchill, having initially been returned from political exile to the post of "First Sea Lord", commissioned some pretty clever mines to be dumped into the Rhine; "Operation Royal Marine"; it was initially blocked by the French, but was one of the first procuts to be created by what came to be known as "Winston Churchill's Toybox". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Royal_Marine
  15. My Grandfather was a merchant seaman during WW2, and returned on leave to see his family in Bristol. He got there during an air raid, and (unbeknown to him) a previous raid had caused the nearest public bomb shelter to flood.(A bomb had broken the watermain) He walked down the (unexpectedly wet) steps down to the (empty) shelter, slipped, and landed at the bottom of the steps - with a broken ankle. Which probably saved his life: his ship's next convoy was PQ-13 to Murmansk. Not many ships survived the trip.