Saturday, August 17, 2019

Battle of Fontenoy (Summary)

The Battle of Fontenoy was a military engagement that took place during the War of Austrain Succession. It was fought between the French Army, under the command of Marshal Saxe, and a coalition of 50,000 British, Dutch and Austrian forces, led by the Duke of Cumberland. It took place on May 11, 1745, near the city of Tournai, Belgium.

The Battle of Fontenoy began when the British commander attempted to relieve Tournai, which was being besieged by the French. Although the British troops captured the heights on which the French were posted, the Prince of Waldeck, who commanded the Dutch, failed to support the Duke, and the French, which had been reinforced, retook trenches. As a result, the British were beaten back. Afterwards, Tournai fell in French hands.

The casualty figures were high for both sides: the French amounting to at least 7,000 killed and wounded; the Allies are estimated as 10,000 to 12,000. Louis XV lavished well-deserved gifts on Saxe, including the royal Château de Chambord, for Saxe had been present where needed, in spite of his debilitating illness, to deal with every crisis of the battle from rallying troops, to directing and leading reserves, encouraging the king and counseling with his officers. This French victory was followed by a rapid advance against the less organized and outnumbered Allied army: Ghent, Oudenarde, Bruges, Dendermonde soon fell to French forces.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Napoleon Bonaparte (Summary)

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was a French General and Emperor of France. He was one of the greatest military strategist and commander in history. He is also France's greatest hero, who saved the French First Republic that had arisen from French Revolution by defeating the Austrian forces. Under his command, the French Army's cavalry returned as an important formation as the 18th century operational mobility underwent significant change. Napoleon was regarded as a genius in the operational art of war.

Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Ajaccio, Corsica, on August 15, 1769, to Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Ramolino. He was the second of eight children. When he was ten years old, Napoleon left the island of Corsica for the mainland France to study French at a religious school in Autun. Then, he started his military education at Brienne military academy and later in 1784 at the Military School (Ecole Militaire) in Paris. Napoleon was a withdrawn and aloof student who spoke French with a strong Corsican accent. He was proficient at mathematics, science, history, and geography. In September 1785, he graduated and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in La Fere artillery regiment.

When the French Revolution broke out, he spent the first years in Corsica and supported the revolutionary Jacobin faction, being raised to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and command over a battalion of volunteers. He led a riot against a royalist French army in Corsica, convincing military authorities in Paris to promote him to captain in July 1792. Because of his military skills, Napoleon was rapidly promoted to higher ranks. In 1796, he was made commander of the French army in Italy, where he forced Austria and its allies to make peace. In 1798, Napoleon conquered Ottoman-ruled Egypt in an attempt to strike at British trade routes with India. He was stranded when his fleet was destroyed by the British at the Battle of the Nile. By this time, France faced a new coalition composed of Britain, Austria, and Russia.

A political crisis in Paris forced Napoleon to return to France where he overthrew the Directory in a coup d'etat in November 1799 and became First Consul. In 1800, he defeated the Austrians at Marengo and negotiated a general European peace which established French power on the continent. In 1802, he was made consul for life and two years later, he was crowned Emperor of France. He oversaw the centralization of government, the creation of the Bank of France, the reinstatement of Roman Catholicism as the state religion and law reform with the Code Napoleon.

In 1803, Britain resumed war with France, later joined by Russia and Austria. Britain inflicted a naval defeat on the French at Trafalgar (1805) so Napoleon abandoned plans to invade England and turned on the Austro-Russian forces, defeating them at Austerlitz later the same year. He gained much new territory, including annexation of Prussian lands which ostensibly gave him control of Europe. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, Holland and Westphalia created, and over the next five years, Napoleon's relatives and loyalists were installed as leaders in Holland, Westphalia, Italy, Naples, Spain and Sweden. In 1810, he had his childless marriage to Josephine de Beauharnais annulled and married the daughter of the Austrian emperor in the hope of having an heir. A son, Napoleon, was born a year later.

The Peninsular War agains the Spanish people began in 1808 when his army invaded Spain and Portugal. Costly French defeats over the next five years drained French military resources there. Also Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 resulted in a disastrous retreat, as he was defeated at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813 by the coalition armies of four nations. Thus, the tide of war started to turn against him, in favor of the allies and in March 1814, Paris fell. As a result, Napoleon was forced to abdicate as an emperor and to go into exile on the Mediterranean island of Elba. However, in March 1815 he escaped and the French forces sent to take him prisoner joined him instead, marched on the French capital.

After organizing his army, he left Paris to confront the British Army, under the Duke of Wellington, and the Prussians on the plains of Waterloo. On June 18, 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte was thoroughly defeated at the Battle of Waterloo, ending his one hundred-day second reign. He was imprisoned on the remote Atlantic island of Saint Helena, where he died of stomach cancer, or perhaps of slow arsenic poisoning over a period of time, on May 5, 1821.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Battle of Kursk (Operation Citadel)

The Battle of Kursk was a World War II military clash between the Wehrmacht and Soviet forces. It was intensely fought on the Eastern Front, in the area near the city of Kursk, in southwestern Russia, from July 4 to July 20, 1943. It is deemed as the biggest tank battle in military history. The military operation which sparked this battle was Unternehmen Zitadelle, or Operation Citadel; it was a major German offensive launched on July 4,1943, to eliminate the Soviet-held Kursk salient in the eastern front line.

The Battle of Kursk was the last strategic offensive that the German Army mounted in the east for the rest of the war. The result was a strategic victory for the Soviet forces. Since the Germans could not reduce the salient, Hitler called off Operation Citadel, even though the Wehrmacht was gaining terrain and had done a lot of damage to the Red Army armored units.

Rationale for Launching Operation Citadel

After the German counter offensive mounted by Erich von Manstein and the victory over the Soviets in the Third Battle of Kharkov between February and March 1943, the front line ran from Leningrad in the north to Rostov in the south, leaving a 120-mile wide and 90-mile deep Soviet-held bulge in the middle. This salient jutted out in the lines between German forward positions near Orel in the north, and Kharkov in the south. Thus, the Germans hoped to shorten their lines by eliminating the Kursk bulge. The German Generals envisioned pincers breaking through its northern and southern flanks to achieve a big encirclement of Soviet forces.

German Forces

To launch Operation Citadel, Germany had built up a massive concentration of men and tanks in the region; around 700,000 soldiers, 10,000 artillery pieces, 2,700 tanks and 2,000 aircraft. About one 3rd of all Germany's military strength was concentrated in the area as elite Luftwaffe units were also deployed there. However, the Germans were heavily outnumbered by the Red Army in a ratio of 5 to 1. The German forces consisted of the 2nd Panzer Army, the 9th Army, the 2nd Army of Army Group North, under the command of Gunther von Kluge; and 4th Panzer Army, Army Group Kempf, and Army Group Reserve of Army Group South, under the command of Erich von Manstein. The German forces included 17 Panzer and Panzergrenadiere divisions, among them were the elite Wehrmacht Grossdeutschland Division, the 1rst SS PzGrenDiv Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS PzGrenDiv Das Reich, and 3rd SS PzGrenDiv Totenkopf grouped into the II SS Panzer Corps.

Soviet Forces

The Soviet forces were composed of the Western Front (50th Army, 11th Guards Army, 1rst Air Army), the Bryansk Front (3rd Army, 61rst Army, 63rd Army, 15th Air Army), the Central Front (13th Army, 48th Army, 60th Army, 65th Army, 70th Army, 2nd Tank Army, 16th Air Army), Voronezh Front (6th Army, 7th Army, 38th Army, 40th Amry, 69th Army, 1rst Tank Army, 2nd Air Army), Steppe Front (5th Guards Army, 5th Guards Tank Army, 5th Air Army). All these Bolshevik military units put together had at their disposal 20,000 artillery pieces, 3,700 tanks, 2,500 aircraft. They were under the overall command of Soviet General Georgy Zhukov.

Summary of the Battle of Kursk

The Germans launched Operation Citadel at 04:30 hours of the morning of July 4, 1943, with an artillery barrage in the northern sector. The tank and infantry attack began at 05:30 hours when air cover had arrived. With heavy tanks as spearhead, the Germans pierced in the Russian lines, gaining a 7-mile deep piece of land during the first 24 hours of fighting, wreaking havoc on the Bolshevik forces. Nevertheless, penetration depth tended to drop as the attack proceeded due to the ability of dug-in Red Army units to delay the Germans, allowing their own reserves to be brought up into threatened sectors.

In the south, the II SS Panzer Corps launched an attack on two Red Army rifle regiments. The armored spearhead of Hoth's 4th Panzer Army forced its way forward, and by July 6, had pushed more than 10 miles past the lines. The threat of a German breakthrough in the south had to be reckoned with. However, the attacking German units had been squeezed into ever-narrowing fronts by the defenders. Elite Red Army Guards Airborne units were holding firm on the flanks of the very narrow German penetration. The Germans could not squeeze many units into this narrow front, nor did they have the military capacity to widen the penetration. Thus, as the attackers moved forward, they continually lost strength due to the need to hold their own flanks.

As the days went by, the Germans struggled to encircle and destroy more than seven Soviet armies. If the Wehrmacht had won the Battle of Kursk, the Soviets would have been forced to delay their operations, which in turn might have given the Wehrmacht desperately needed breathing room on the Eastern Front. Nevertheless, after the first week of ferocious battle, the German forces soon became deadlocked in a war of attrition that it could not win.

As the Western Allies had mounted an amphibious invasion of Sicily on July 10, Hitler summoned von Kluge and von Manstein to his Wolf's Lair headquarters in East Prussia and told them that he had the intention of temporarily calling off Operation Citadel. Erich Von Manstein tried to convince him to continue with the military operations, arguing that Citadel was on the brink of victory. Hitler's decision to cancel the operation at the height of the Battle of Kursk were strongly criticized by German generals in their memoirs, and also by some historians. For example, it was pointed out that the SS Panzer Korps would have taken three months to be transferred to Sicily, and thus could not possibly have affected the outcome there, while its contribution to the Kursk operation was vital.

For more details of Operation Citadel be referred to: Wikipedia

Battle of Kursk footage

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Germany in the Cold War (Summary)

Invaded by the Allied armies at the end of World War II, Germany began the postwar period divided into four occupation zones: American, British, French, and Soviet. The sector occupied by the three western Allied countries would become the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), a democratic country with a free market society; while the portion occupied by the Red Army would become the German Democratic Republic (East Germany), a non-democratic country whose economy was run by the State, which did not allow private property and free individual enterprise.

Four years after World War II, right after the Berlin Airlift and the approval of its new Constitution (the Basic Law) in May 1949, West Germany held its first democratic elections, in which Konrad Adenauer, from the Christian Democratic Union Party (CDU), was elected chancellor. During his government (1949-1963), and boosted by an American, financial aid package, called the Marshall Plan, Germany would undergo a period of great economic growth and technological development, despite the fact of having been literally razed by Allied carpet bombing during World War II. In 1955, as the Cold War Iron Curtain had been dropped by the Soviet Union across Europe from north to south, West Germany became a NATO member, the military organization of western free democratic countries.

In December 1989, the Berlin Wall, which divided the former capital of Germany, was partially torn down as the Berliners from East Germany were allowed for the first time to freely travel in and out of West Germany. In August 1990, with the collapse of Communism and the former Soviet Union, East Germany joined West Germany to become one nation again.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Fourth Estate. Media-induced Prejudices

In the following 11-point article, I expose the media-induced prejudices that are in most people's mind and the danger that they represent as causative of present and future political and social events.

1- Did you know that Charles Manson, criminal and founder of a cult, once said, during an interview in jail, while being tried, that if at daybreak someone starts stating a fallacy repeatedly, persevering in asserting it over and over again during the day, without giving in one inch, when the sun has set, such lie will have become a truth? The dogmatic truth; the psychological truth; and the sheep will live and die by such truth. The nine hundred and eighty people who committed suicide in Guyana in 1978 by order of their religious leader, Jim Jones, is a big example. At the beginning of the sixties, the Chinese thought that they were catching up with the western world in industrial and technological capacity as many of their peasants left their rice paddies and wheat fields to cast steel in their home back yards just because Mao Tse-tung's State propaganda apparatus unrelentingly told them so in his misconceived Great Leap Forward government policy. But the chimera took its toll; it was a leap down into the abyss of starvation as millions of Chinese died during the 1960's famines.

2- Did you know that the press sometimes is called the fourth estate for its capacity to form opinions, that is to say, it has the power to shape patterns of thinking, feeling and reacting before certain circumstances, events and famous people, setting up prejudices in the people's minds? [from Latin pre: before; judiciare: judge] psychological verdict without due reflective and analytical process, which can only be done through experience and knowledge of the facts and evidence; piles of evidence lie in history which contradict these prejudices.

3- Did you know that the abuse of this power to form opinions, distorting facts, portraying the wrong political tableau and an illusory view of reality can have ominous consequences for a country and perhaps a civilization? Have you ever wondered about the ideological tendencies and business interests of most of the newspapers and tv channels in United States, Latin America, and European countries? They are either socialists or anarchists, or mercenary of the word or just one hundred percent anti-Americans.

4- Did you know that billions of dollars coming from the Middle East is perhaps being channeled through some media sources to subvert the way people have traditionally seen things, undermining the fabric of the western culture, seeping slowly and subtly through television, newspapers, movies industry (Hollywood), forging facts about the war against terror, and even about history, here and there buying a few journalists, and space in cable cultural channels, through third parties?

5- Did you know that globalization started in ancient times when the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Greeks made a free trade zone of the Mediterranean, then the Romans imposed an only currency; the Ceasar's.

6- Did you know that the pyramids of Cheops, Chephren, and Myserinus, which took more than 100 years to build each one of them and that cost thousands of slaves’s lives, were not for the living, but for the dead and their belongings, and did not have any practical use? For centuries they had been stacking up stones into the desert clear blue sky, but one day the Hittites, who did not pile up stones for the dead, sprang up and invaded Egypt just because they had iron swords which were wielded by their warriors who were alive. Piling up stones for a corps was an awry State policy in ancient Egypt, and a strategy of survival that failed, just as communism would in the late 20th century.

7- Did you know that the Romans built bridges and roads for trading and securing their borders, aqueducts for carrying water supply and irrigating their farm fields; public baths and sewer systems for public hygiene; theaters and amphitheaters for the entertainmaint of the Roman citizen; steel gladii, jabalines, and war machines for the efectivity of their legions? The Roman built for the living, for the citizens of Rome. Rome as well as Greece, which built and created for the living, not for the dead, left behind a legacy for the Western World, for mankind. By the way, legacy, aqueduct, create, effectivity, public, citizen, entertainment, as well as street, cement, column, concrete, future, republican, honor, liberty, peace, and hundreds of other words derive from Latin, the language of Rome.

8- Did you know that today's Egyptians not even speak the language of their ancient ancestors? Whereas Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian are Latin languages. Today's Egyptians speak Arabic, because they were invaded and subjugated in 642 AD by an Islamic army from the Arabic peninsula as part of the jihad against the infidels (Christians, Jews, and polytheists). The Muslim invasion of the territories of what is today Syria, Lebanon Israel, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, more than half of Spain and southern France took place between the 7th and 8th centuries, that is to say, three centuries earlier than the first Christian crusades. So, it was the Islamic invasions and their atrocities that were being committed against the Latin and Greek speaking Christians of the Middle East that provoked the crusades and NOT the other way around as some Hollywood writers and directors try to wrongly convince us.

9- The Roman civilization survived for more than a thousand years because the Romans used reason, not ideology and emotion, and fought for their survival. Their actions were not inhibited by ideological reflections about the human rights of those who wanted to destroy them. The Visigoths in Spain and the Franks in France, under Charles Martel, also fought for their survival. Thanks God that the New York Times, Hollywood, the Democratic Party and the liberal labors and French socialists did not exist in those days. Homo sapiens evolved fighting for survival in a rough environment; the only and first vestiges found by anthropologists, and which confirm his ancient presence, are not collections of poetry, but spearheads, arrowheads, axes, stone war hammer, etc, which they used in the fighting for survival.

10- Did you know that when you see the sun come up and then climb up in the heavens, and finally set at twilight, in fact, it does not come up, nor does it go up, nor does it set; it is the Earth that spins around its axis. Galileo Galilei was prosecuted by a biased Catholic church for saying the contrary to the seeming, to what is apparent. As this article and my site might be censored by a pro-Democrat, socialist-oriented Google.

11- Did you know that during the Mesozoic era, about 150 million years ago, the Earth average global temperature and the sea levels were much higher than today's, as there were regions near the Arctic and Antarctic with tropical and subtropical weather, making it possible for the existence of big lizards, and that during the Cenozoic there were four glacial and interglacial periods? Who caused those green house effects if man had not come into existence yet? Rain forests are being depleted in developing and underdeveloped countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Paraguay, Mexico, Argentina, China, India, Nigeria, etc, mostly by local lumber companies which are allowed by their local, lax governments and their loophole-ridden laws. And the emission of lead-containing carbon monoxide through fossil fuel combustion and acid-containing industrial gas is three times higher in those developing countries than it is in the United States and European nations. It was an American government between 1901 and 1908 – Theodore Roosevelt's administration, Republican - which pioneered the preservation of forests as he set aside 148 million acres of fiscal land as timber reserves, setting up the National Conservation Commission and supporting the drive for the establishment of national parks.

by Carl Blitz

German Troops Deployment for Operation Barbarossa

To attack and conquer Russia, Adolf Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941. It was one of the biggest military operations in World War II. In order to carry it out successfully and fast, the German High Command organized the offensive around three Army Groups; AG North, AG Center, and AG South. Each one of them included both armored units and mechanized infantry divisions. They quickly assailed the different enemy targets in unison with the Luftwaffe's fighter and dive-bomber wings, in a new kind of warfare known as Blitzkrieg or Lightning War. When the attack on the Soviet Union began, the German and Axis forces totaled 166 divisions and more than 4 millions and 200 thousand men.

Army Group North

Assigned with the mission to attack Leningrad (St Petersburg), AG North was composed of the 16th Army, under Ernst Busch, the 18th Army, commanded by Georg von Kuchler, and 4th Panzer Group, under Erich Hoepner; this armored unit would spearhead the attack. AGN was under the overall command of Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb. Each one of the two Armies was made up of twenty divisions, both regular and mechanized, while the Panzer Group was formed by three armored and three motorized divisions. Air support would be provided by Air Fleet 1, which was led by Alfred Keller.

Army Group Center

Its main target was Moscow, sweeping across central Russia as they moved eastward in a lightning war. Led by Fedor von Bock, AG Center was made up of the 4th Army, under Gunther von Kluge, the 9th Army, under Adolf Strauss, the 2nd Panzer Group, commanded by Heinz Guderian (the creator of the Lightning War concept), and 3rd Panzer Group, led by Hermann Hoth. The Guderian's Panzer Group would lead the attack towards Moscow. All these ground forces would be supported by Air Fleet 2, directed by Albert Kesselring.

Army Group South

Heading eastwards towards Ukraine, AG South was made up of the 6th Army (Walther von Reichenau), the 11th Army (Eugen Ritter von Schobert), 17th Army (Carl Heinrich von Stulpnagel), and the 1st Panzer Group (Ewald von Kleist). These forces were reinforced by two Romanian Armies and received air support from Air Fleet 4. The AG South was under the command of Gerd von Rundstedt.

Map of German Army Groups positions and the lines of attack

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Best antitank gun of WW2. Pak 43 (88mm)

The 8.8 cm Pak 43 (Panzerabwehrkanone 43) was the most powerful anti-tank gun of WW2. It utilized a hydro-pneumatic recoil system and fired 10.4-kg, high-explosive shells. Every Wehrmacht mechanized infantry unit was equipped with this lethal tank killer during this armed conflict. Manufactured by Krupp, it was in service from 1943 until the end of the war and was fielded on all three Fronts of the European theater of operation. The 8.8 cm Pak 43 was an effective and powerful anti-tank gun capable of destroying and putting out of action any Soviet and Allied tank and armored vehicle at 4,000 meters away.

Although the main version was set on an effective, 4-wheeled, cruciform mount, a simplified variant was mounted on a two-weeled split-trail carriage, being hauled to the battlefield by trucks or tracked military vehicles. With a 6.61m-long rifled barrel, it had an effective range of 4,000 m, being able to punch holes in a 140mm-thick steel plate, with a 30º inclination, located at 2,000 m away. This tank-buster gun was also mounted on the chassis of tank destroyers, such the Nashorn, Elefant, and Jagdpanther, as well as in the Tiger II tank's turret.

Specifications

Type: anti-tank gun
Caliber: 88mm
Barrel length: 6.61 m
Weight: 4.4 tons
Breech type: horizontal sliding block
Elevation: -5º to +38º
Rate of fire: 15 rpm
Muzzle velocity: 1,130 m/s - 1,000 m/s
Shell: 7.3 kg Panzergranate 40/43 armor-piercing round or 10.2 kg PzGr 39 APR


Down below, pic of Pak 43 8.8 cm gun deployed on the Eastern Front


8.8 cm (88mm) Pak 43 in Action (footage)