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Warfare History Network
Personal stories from the history of armed conflict.
Personal stories from the history of armed conflict.

Warfare History Network's posts

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Rare Photos from Hitler's Atlantic Wall

Today, there is little interest in preserving the remains of the Atlantic Wall. Seen as a historical eyesore and disgrace rather than an artifact, there has been relatively little effort to protect its 70-year-old bunkers from destruction, vandalism, and decay.

In his new collection, however, journalist and photographer Guiie Sandgaard Ferrer has sought to renew the public’s interest. With The Atlantic Wall: The Bunker Session, Ferrer captures these imposing structures in stunning new detail. We had the opportunity to ask him about his project and how it was first conceived.

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Civil War’s End: The Battle of Appomattox Court House

When Confederate General Robert E. Lee learned on the morning of April 9, 1865, that Union infantry was both in front and behind of his meager army of 12,500 effectives as it approached Appomattox Court House in central Virginia, he resigned himself to the sad task before him. He must ride to Union lines and request an interview with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

“There is nothing left me to do but go and see General Grant, and I would rather die a thousand deaths,” Lee told his staff...

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General Douglas Haig at the Battle of the Somme

A century after the bloody Battle of the Somme of 1916 left at least 1.2 million British, French, and German soldiers killed, wounded, or captured, General Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, remains one of the most controversial generals to emerge from World War I.

While Haig indeed planned and executed the primarily British thrusts against well entrenched German positions along the River Somme to relieve pressure on the French, who were heavily engaged with the Germans at Verdun, some believe his actions at the Somme were justified in light of the mission. Others believe that he displayed tremendous ineptitude with tragic results – the British Army sustained more than 60,000 casualties on the first day of the Somme offensive, making July 1, 1916, the bloodiest day in British military history.

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Attila the Hun & The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains

History is as solid as bricks. Things happened and they can’t be changed.

But they can be seen with a fresh eye, or they can be noted for effects not apparent at the time. This is the nature of attempting to identify “turning points in history,” postulating events that might easily have been otherwise, such hypotheticals then followed by wholly different sequences.

Thus the inclination to list “decisive battles” in history, the exercise of showing what would have developed had a struggle ended differently. No one has precisely the same list, but then that wouldn’t be much fun anyway...

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Operation Husky: The Allied Invasion of Sicily

The necessity for another front as a diversion to German operations in the Soviet Union was early recognized by both the Western Allies and the Russians. British and American activity in North Africa had been effective, but not to the extent of severely straining the Nazi forces. It was the Allied invasion of Sicily, with its threat to the Italian mainland, that forced Adolf Hitler to finally call off his Operation Citadel.

This island operation, codenamed “Operation Husky,” extended from the middle of July to August 17, 1943. The British and Americans heavily bombed enemy defenses, then 3,000 ships and landing craft ferried in 160,000 men with their 600 tanks, 14,000 vehicles, and 1,800 guns. The invasion was under the direction of Sir Bernard L. Montgomery and General George S. Patton. Cooperation between the Allied forces soon forced the Axis from the island, on which they suffered 178,000 killed, wounded, and captured.

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Swan Song for the CSS Shenandoah

The River Mersey was fog shrouded on the morning of November 6, 1865, and the city of Liverpool was scarcely visible from the deck of the CSS Shenandoah. Only the spire of St. Nicholas, the sailors’ church, could be glimpsed above the fog. After an epic around-the-world cruise of 58,000 miles, the Confederate commerce raider had finally come to anchor astern the HMS Donegal. Cornelius E. Hunt, one of Shenandoah’s young master’s mates, recalled that they were not sorry to be obscured from the shore by the fog, “for we did not care to have the gaping crowd on shore witness the humiliation that was soon to befall us.”

The ship’s war, like that of the nation she had served, was coming to an end—nearly half a year after the fighting already had ended on land...

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Survival: The Story of the USS Franklin

In March 1945, off the Japanese mainland, the Essex-class aircraft carrier was hit by two 550-pound bombs that struck her flight deck and penetrated into the hangar deck. Less than six months earlier, a kamikaze had hit her off Leyte in the Philippines, killing or wounding 120 members of her crew.

“I saw guys flying through the air [and] saw men running around on fire, just flaming torches,” a seaman on a nearby destroyer reported. Like most of the men who could see the Franklin, he though she was doomed.

But the Franklin would survive...

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Mark Twain Joins the Marion Rangers

Hitching a ride north on his friend Zeb Leavenworth’s riverboat Nebraska, Clemens was relaxing on the bridge of the boat when Union forces at Jefferson Barracks below St. Louis fired a warning shot across Nebraska’s bow, then followed with another blast that crashed into the pilothouse, splintering wood and glass about the cabin and sending the young men sprawling to the floor. “Good Lord Almighty!” shouted Leavenworth. “Sam, what do they mean by that?” “I guess they want us to wait a minute, Zeb,” Clemens responded—calmly and coolly, or so he claimed many years later.

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The Ruler’s Mistress: Eva Braun & Adolf Hitler At the Obersalzburg

Eva Braun was only 17 when she met Adolf Hilter in 1929, and 33 when she joined her husband of only a few hours on the sofa in a sitting room of the Führerbunker, deep beneath the war-torn streets of Berlin. On April 30, 1945, with the vengeful Soviet Red Army just a few blocks away, the two committed suicide, Hitler with a pistol shot to the temple, and Eva by biting down on a cyanide capsule.

The end came after well over a decade of association, and the true nature of the relationship between Hitler and Eva has been the topic of speculation and historical analysis for decades. Acknowledged in Hitler’s inner circle as the Führer’s mistress, Eva Braun was rarely seen in public in company with the Nazi leader, and the two appear together in only a handful of photographs taken before and during World War II.

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Hydrofoil boat technology was first tested during Operation Market Time in the Vietnam War. This technology, invented in the early 1900s, had never been applied to combat vessels until the U.S. Navy (USN) deployed two preliminary hydrofoil models during Vietnam. The success of the newly developed hydrofoils USS Tucumcari and USS Flagstaff elongated USN investments in hydrofoil technology.

Having heavily researched hydrofoil technology since the late 1950s, the Navy produced two propulsion platforms by the beginning of the Vietnam War. Either propellers or water jets were attached to hydrofoil struts, which lifted the ship’s hull out of the water to decrease drag, therefore increasing speed and maneuverability in all weather conditions. This technology would prove invaluable in future missions.
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