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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ron Walker

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Ron Walker last won the day on October 4

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  1. Ron Walker

    Average Germans knew Nazi atrocities

    At the end of WW2, as a result of agreements made earlier with Stalin, the western Allies were obligated to repatriate many thousands of people who had - either voluntarily or otherwise - moved from the Soviet zone of control into the zones of the UK, USA and France.In scenes reminiscent of what had happened only a short time earlier, involving Jews, Civilians were forced into cattle cars - at bayonet point - to be shipped off to "camps". It's perfectly legal to talk it, always has been. (with the obvious exception that Nikolai Tolstoy produced some wild and unsubstantiated accusations, and was sued) but in general, people just don't talk about it. There can have been little misunderstanding by the troops involved: some of the Russians being re-patriated committed suicide rather than return to the Motherland, and what they strongly suspected would be awaiting them there. How many British Tommies, or American GIs went home and told their families "I forced dozens of civilians into cattle trucks at gunpoint, and then watched them being shipped of to Russia?" I think the answer to that one would be "pretty much NONE." That's stuff that the NAZIS did. We were supposed to be the GOOD GUYS.
  2. Ron Walker

    Need help to Identify!

    Ribbed hilt (rather than the earlier etched diamond pattern), complete absence of a ricasso...(That's the bit on earlier models between the hilt and the cutting part of the blade where you rest the tip of your thumb, sometimes known as an "escutcheon") That makes it the final "Third Pattern" knife. Rogers of Sheffield continued (amongst several other cutlers) to produce these for the civilian market right up to the 1960's Some UK post-war special forces were issued with third pattern knives... some weren't. (The regimental Sergeant Major of the SAS comments in his autobiography, in response to Chris Ryan's "The one that got away" rubbishes his claim to have taken on a number of iraqi soldiers with just his fighting knife after shooting his pistol dry, because the SAS simply "didn't issue fighting knives ".) Is a fighting knife purchased privately, but carried into battle by a soldier a still a "fighting knife".?
  3. Ron Walker

    The Capitulation of France in WW2

    Can't quite agree with "no one was prepared for the new tactics and the speed of the German movements"... At the end of WW1, the British having stockpiled large supplies of tanks got ready to put them to use in 1919. Not randomly, but after first having given considerable thought about how to go about it. A Small group of British offices produced a strategy called (rather unoriginally) "Plan 1919". The three officers were Fuller, Liddell-Hart, and Trevelyan.They called their plan to the assault on German lines using massed tanks "expanding Torrents"... Germany realised that it was already beaten and threw-in the towel at the end of !918, so "Plan 1919" was never out into action. But it WAS talked about, and written about.It was the basis for "Blitzkrieg". A young French officer read what Liddell-Hart and Fuller had been writing, and was impressed; he penned his own volume titled "The Army of the Future". His name was Charles deGaulle - maybe you've heard of him?! DeGaulle's book was in turn read by a young German officer, named Guederian, and he also wrote a book basically repeating the same ideas, The book was called "Achtung, Panzer!" Hitler in turn was very impressed, and placed Guederian in charge of developing the armoured forces -and-strategies of the rapidly expanding Wehrmacht. So... by 1939 quite a LOT of people were familiar with idea originally promulgated by the British. Those people included quite a few French officers... but (alas) NOT their supreme command, whose response to the outbreak of war was to assume that - like WW1 - it would be a static war. The French command established an HQ in an impressive chateau... without the benefit of modern telephony, expecting to communicate with sub-commanders using despatch riders on motorcycles. (Rather reminiscent of Napoleonic times, or maybe the Crimean war, where "Gallopers" carried messages back and forth.) In 1940,The messengers proved totally incapable of transmitting information fast enough to be useful.The guys at the top of the French army (OLD men) were still fighting WW1. But a few (younger) officers reacted rather more appropriately. There was quite a successful counterattack against the invading Germans near Arras, Three names come up, associated with that fight) sadly, lacking sufficient resources to be effective other than short term. A British general named Montgomery, a French one named deGaulle, and a German named Rommel. So, not everyone was caught with their pants down.
  4. I'm going to make another nomination the Il-2 "Shturmovik". The most plentifully produced miitary aircraft of all time.Which might explain why it's also the most shot-down aircraft on history, although thanks to its plentiful armour, mainly shot down by German fighters rather than FLAK. The puzzle is that the Sturmovik's huge successes seem largely to have been propaganda inventions. Moscow claimed that an Ilushin squadron destroyed several hundred panzers...from a unit which had been reduced to a mere ninety tanks days before. When one side claims two hundred and seventy definite kills from attacking a unit already decimated down to under a hundred... someone clearly isn't telling the truth. MANY Shturmovik units made similarly inflated claims - that they'd destroyed HUNDREDS of German tanks in attacks on units already depleted down to a few dozen survivors. The plane was the victim of constant re-design - the powerplant was too weak (and got upgraded) The armour didn't reach the rear gunner (who resultingly got shot to pieces in air combat) and extending the armour backwards to fix the problem changed the plane's balance. The plane carried underwing rockets... but lacked the means to accurately aim them. About the only aspect of the plane that DID work effectively was the cannon. The Ilusihins would fly in formation, in a large "circle of death" (so able protect each other, using the forward-facing weapons) and they'd peel off in turns to attack ground targets, before returning to the circle. Which kind of reminds me of the Bolton-Paul Defiant: the first unit to be equipt with them developed much the same tactics for defence against enemy fighters. AIrcraft in the Western Front, like the Typhoon, the Bristol "Rockbeau", the Hurricane... were able to use underwing rockets to devastating effect. The Shturmovik really WASN'T a very good plane.
  5. To be fair, the plane's construction relied heavily on a kind of double-sided tape used to laminate sheets of plywood. The Allies bombed and totally destroyed the single factory which produced that adhesive material... what was used to replace it apparently didn't do a very good job. The plywood panels unilaterally de-laminated. Towards the end of WW2 German arms manufacture was plagued with a shortage of exotic materials for almost every kind of weapon, from Cannon shells to Jet aircraft.
  6. The rationale of the Defiant was that it could fly faster then the typical bomber of the time, and could fly alongside and rake the (UNescorted) bomber from end to end with fire from the bank of 4 machine guns.Note the difficulty with which the Luftwaffe had in providing escort fighters even in the South Eastern corner of the UK: bomber raids on the East and the North would - of necessity - have been unescorted. The Germans didn't have any fighters that could reach (for example) Manchester.They likewise found Bristol a stretch. During the Battle of France (which immediately preceded the Battle of Britain) Defiants did pretty well. NOT just (as often claimed) by being mistaken for Hurricanes by BF109's which tried to dive on them from behind - right into the turret's kill zone) The first squadron to be kitted out with Defiants had the time to explore the best way to use them. Briefly, they held the record as the single most effective squadron in the RAF, mainly by blasting Ju87 Stukas out of the sky. A second squadron was established, but at a time when the initial squadron didn't have the opportunity to pass-on their knowledge or experiences, and at a time when the RAF was DESPERATE for fighters. They were badly misused. During the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe attempted to attack using bombers from a Luftflotte stationed in Holland and attacking - unescorted - across the North Sea. Perfect targets for the Defiants, but instead attacked by Hurricanes and Spitfires, because the mis-used Defiants had already been withdrawn from the fight. Hard to nominate the plane that held the record (however briefly) as "the most successful shooter-down of bombers" in the RAF as "The WORST plane of WW2". It was a GOOD plane, put to the wrong use in a time of crisis.
  7. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    So folks, you heard it here FIRST. George Collins says that the Battle of Stalingrad NEVER HAPPENED! It's FAKE NEWS! Because in HIS opinion it would have been LOGISTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to maintain a Soviet army in the same place for five months, one week, and three days. I'm waiting to hear him telling us that WW1 never happened either Complete ARMIES pretty much holding static positions for up to four YEARS? Just NOT POSSIBLE.
  8. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    I'm aghast. We're talking about "WHAT WAS POSSIBLE in 1941" in a way that sounds like we're discussing some pre-industrial era. I was born and raised in Bristol (SW England) which for most of the first half of the last millennium was the second largest town in England (After London). So what? Well... in a pre-industrial era, with no refrigeration, and no railways, the maximum size of a town was determined by how much food could be brought in from the surrounding countryside before it was being brought in from so far away that it was rotting on arrival. Bristol (a successful port) was able to "cheat" by bringing food in by boat. Same deal (in those days) with armies. Large numbers of people gathered together in one place, behaving (from a logistics viewpoint) much like a town. Armies HAD to move - particularly the cavalry element - as they soaked up all the available food in the area. Armies would be brought together shortly before the battle started, and dispersed when it had finished.At least, that's the "logic of logistics" as they stood at (for example) Waterloo. But NOT as they stood in 1941, particularly in an authoritarian command economy like the USSR. If Stalin wanted a million men, or ten million encamped around a map co-ordinate in the Ukraine for a day, for a week, for a year...IT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED. Because in the USSR in 1941, the population were, quite justifiably, scared shitless of "being thought badly of" by the party apparatus, and winding.up either in a Gulag, or a shallow grave.
  9. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    It was YOU that wrote apparently because you thought "an overwhelming superiority in the number off assets" to be significant.(Why else would you have written it?!) I merely reminded you that in 1940 the French army similarly enjoyed an "overwhelming superiority" - which, as it turned out was NOT signigicant. It's not what you've got... it's what you DO with it.
  10. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    The above would sound a LOT more convincing (i.e. not just TRUE, but also IMPORTANT) If the French army's Chars d'assault hadn't also outnumbered the Wehrmacht both qualitatively AND quantitatively... yet still got their arses handed to them by the better organised, more mobile and more integrated German forces. On paper, there's no WAY that Germany should have been able to defeat France. From which we learn (if we're smart) that "On paper" isn't actually worth a hell of a lot. Having more - and better - gear is absolutely NO guarantee of victory.
  11. Ron Walker

    Why the Axis lost the war.

    The 1970's GRU defector to the UK, Vladimir Bogdanevitch Rezun (pen name "Victor Suvurov") was a prominent proponent of that theory:
  12. Ron Walker

    What was the best submachine gun of WWII?

    The Mk2 Sten was the "definitive" model, generally reliable (unless you stuff it full of rabbit food!) Kubis and Gabcic (the assassins sent to assassinate Heydrich in Prague) were given a Mk2, and transported it to the scene of their attempt disassembled into barrel unit, receiver, and stock, in a briefcase, hidden under a pile of grass (Czechs, for whom food was rationed, liked raising rabbits for food, so collecting fodder for them was common) The gun jammed at the crucial point. They test new designs for dirt, mud, grit, sand... but they don't test that guns work after being immersed in rabbit food! IS the M1A1 truly a "Thompson" at all? Its creator's design called for a delayed blowback weapon. The "delay" relied upon the reluctance of a small slab of phosphor bronze (called the "Blish piece") to slide against steel. The weapons originally supplied to the USMC, and those sold to the Brits, (and for that matter to Al Capone) were ALL M1928's, (WITH the Blish piece) and quite expensive to produce... when the war came they decided that it worked acceptably well without delaying blowback at all, and the Blish piece was dropped, as was the top- mounted cocking handle, AND the ability to take a drum magazine.SO no interchangability of parts between the two guns (aside from the stick magazine and the walnut stock!) My economics tutor was the adjutant to the 2nd Parachure regiment in 1944, and equipped with the M1928 (and an M1911 as a sidearm) he speaks highly of the 1928. (But his name was Thomson, so maybe he was biased?!) What do you get when you cross a Thompson with a Lee-Enflield SMLE? A Delisle Carbine. Probably my favourite weapon in the world. Came fitted with a Maxim suppressor as standard which reduced the sound to almost zero: more noise from the bullet hitting the target than from the gun itself. Good out to about 250 yards for the quiet removal of inconvenient sentries. Still not a fan of the MP40... the MP41 maybe,but that only got issued to the SS and supplied to some German allies. The 226 is a fine weapon, and I believe the one which actually WON the competition to replace the M1911, except the "Beretta" was a lot cheaper. First pistol I ever owned was an M1934. Beretta - iconic but under-powered. First chance I had to handle (and disassemble) a French example of the M92 led me to comment "This isn't a Beretta, it's a Walther P38(K)!!" There aren't many ways to delay blowback; Briwning's way is probably the best (which is why it's so widely copied!) But it's not the ONLY way to do it (look at the Luger, Mauser 1896, the Savage... and the Walther P38. Each demonstrates their own solution to the problem.) The transfer bar running OUTSIDE the receiver, the slide-mounted rotating safety. And delay caused by a swinging wedge below the barrel. It's the SAME gun. Walther used to make a pocket version of the P38 - the 38(k) - which featured an open-top receiver, with the fore-sight mounted on a "bridge" over the barrel. Bigger/smaller magazine capacity is the only major difference. I hear that the M92 is being phased out and replaced by... your SIG?!
  13. Comes down to whether you're a "Whig" or a "Tory" in your view of how history work Is it that "Great men" CREATE the waves which we call "history", or are they merely "surfers" who ride on an already existing wave and thereby become more visible, exaggerating their apparent importance? The methodology of Hitler's control over policy and the Nazi state is nebulous. Rather than giving directions, he rewards those who accurately anticipate his wishes. Approval by the leader was an asset beyond price: it made you untouchable, AND someone that others wanted to please. Aside from Mein Kampf, what evidence is there to support even the idea that Hitler KNEW that Jews were being exterminated? Some of the most detailed evidence relating to the Holocaust comes from the transcript of the Wannsee Conference, where Heydrich appeared to hijack Germany's racial policy and make official that "the final solution" was to be extermination rather than enforced deportation to Madagascar. The conference began with A series of very senior officials - Gauleiters - summing up the interpretation and implementation of racial policy in the region over which THEY exercised control. It rapidly becomes clear from the transcript that it was a complete shambles, each Gauleiter was "doing his own thing".On top of that, the SS were ALSO doing their own thing. I was fascinated by a book written by the prolific German Social historian Hans-Peter Bleuel, called "Hitler, Fuehrer and Volk" which attempted to explain WHY the Nazis seemed to have such appeal to the German people. How did they sell murderous racism to the best-educated nation in Europe? Bleuel suggests that they didn't. A big part of the appeal of Nazism was that it seemed NOT to be particularly organised. New ideas being "thrown against the wall to see which ones would stick". Constant surprises. Certainly not a top-down structured system. Examining Nazi economics shows a similar story. The allies were tightly organised, the Germans were anything but.
  14. Ron Walker

    What was the best submachine gun of WWII?

    Which of the many different models of Sten did you try? The Mk3 was truly crude and basic, but some of the later models - particularly the silenced version - were really rather better, and paradoxically usually claimed to have at their weakest feature the magazine, which was essentially the same as that used by the MP40 (Their magazines are interchangeable) Patchett's improved model incorporated a substantially redesigned (curved!) magazine. Likewise, WHICH Thompson? Joris carelessly failed to indicate whether the weapon he's inviting us to vote for is the "classic" M1928 famed as "the Gun which made the twenties roar"... or the substantially different gun which was the Thompson M1.Despite being universally (and erroneously!) called the "Schmeisser" by the Allies, Hugo Schmeisser didn't get his hands on the design or production of the MP40 until the war was nearly over, when he belatedly added a fire selector (Neither the MP38, MP40, nor MP38/40 had a "single fire" option) and returned to the wood-stock of the MP18, MP28 and so on (Designs in which he HAD played a part) For reasons unknown my local military museum has an MP41 on display. It's not just the mags which the Sten and MP40 have in common.... it's also the way that people who haven't been trained to use them HOLD them the wrong way - i.e. by the magazines. The movies have a LOT to answer for.
  15. Ron Walker

    Help with missile/rocket identification

    After further research, I'm now 100% SURE it's a Thunderbird. Here's a snapshot of a Thunderbird on Display at the Midland air museum (in England)