Posts Tagged ‘Military History’

Let’s not forget. This was huge! And as the Armorer states, it never happened again…

VJ Day, 1945

By The Armorer o

I would say it’s too bad that we’ve not been able to celebrate the end of a war like this film clip shows people doing so in Honolulu on VJ Day, 1945… But since then, the end of the wars have not been clear victories and at least one was a clear loss, not even Desert Storm, in the end. Nor have the aims been as black-and-white. Of course, balanced against that is that in order to achieve that sense of clear victory, we had to pound two nations flat in ways we don’t do any more, either, which isn’t a bad thing, in terms of piling up the bodies and destroying our communal heritages.

via Argghhh! The Home Of Two Of Jonah’s Military Guys.. – VJ Day, 1945.

Today brings us the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle raid over Tokyo in 1942. Our first strike against the Japanese homeland in World War II.

Doolittle Raid on Japan, 18 April 1942

The April 1942 air attack on Japan, launched from the aircraft carrier Hornet and led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, was the most daring operation yet undertaken by the United States in the young Pacific War. Though conceived as a diversion that would also boost American and allied morale, the raid generated strategic benefits that far outweighed its limited goals.

The raid had its roots in a chance observation that it was possible to launch Army twin-engined bombers from an aircraft carrier, making feasible an early air attack on Japan. Appraised of the idea in January 1942, U.S. Fleet commander Admiral Ernest J. King and Air Forces leader General Henry H. Arnold greeted it with enthusiasm. Arnold assigned the technically-astute Doolittle to organize and lead a suitable air group. The modern, but relatively well-tested B-25B “Mitchell” medium bomber was selected as the delivery vehicle and tests showed that it could fly off a carrier with a useful bomb load and enough fuel to hit Japan and continue on to airfields in China.

Gathering volunteer air crews for an unspecified, but admittedly dangerous mission, Doolittle embarked on a vigourous program of special training for his men and modifications to their planes. The new carrier Hornet was sent to the Pacific to undertake the Navy’s part of the mission. So secret was the operation that her Commanding Officer, Captain Marc A. Mitscher, had no idea of his ship’s upcoming employment until shortly before sixteen B-25s were loaded on her flight deck. On 2 April 1942 Hornet put to sea and headed west across the vast Pacific.

Joined in mid-ocean on 13 April by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey‘s flagship Enterprise, which would provide air cover during the approach, Hornet steamed toward a planned 18 April afternoon launching point some 400 miles from Japan. However, before dawn on 18 April, enemy picket boats were encountered much further east than expected. These were evaded or sunk, but got off radio warnings, forcing the planes to take off around 8 AM, while still more than 600 miles out.

Most of the sixteen B-25s, each with a five-man crew, attacked the Tokyo area, with a few hitting Nagoya. Damage to the intended military targets was modest, and none of the planes reached the Chinese airfields (though all but a few of their crewmen survived). However, the Japanese high command was deeply embarrassed. Three of the eight American airmen they had captured were executed. Spurred by Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, they also resolved to eliminate the risk of any more such raids by the early destruction of America’s aircraft carriers, a decision that led them to disaster at the Battle of Midway a month and a half later.

Here are a few videos:

Today in history. Another Democrat fail. But I digress.

Today is the anniversary of the fiasco fondly known as the Bay of Pigs.

On April 17, 1961, 1400 Cuban exiles launched what became a botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba.

In 1959, Fidel Castro came to power in an armed revolt that overthrew Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. The U.S. government distrusted Castro and was wary of his relationship with Nikita Khrushchev, the leader of the Soviet Union.

Before his inauguration, John F. Kennedy was briefed on a plan by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) developed during the Eisenhower administration to train Cuban exiles for an invasion of their homeland. The plan anticipated that the Cuban people and elements of the Cuban military would support the invasion. The ultimate goal was the overthrow of Castro and the establishment of a non-communist government friendly to the United States.

Read more from the Kennedy Library.

George Washington. ‘Nuff said.

George Washington named Britain’s greatest ever foe

George Washington has been named as the greatest foe ever faced by the British.

The American was voted the winner in a contest run by the National Army Museum to identify the country’s most outstanding military opponent.

He was one of a shortlist of five leaders who topped a public poll and on Saturday was selected as the ultimate winner by an audience of around 70 guests at a special event at the museum, in Chelsea, west London.

In second place was Michael Collins, the Irish leader, ahead of Napoleon Bonaparte, Erwin Rommel and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

At the event, each contender had their case made by a historian giving a 40 minute presentation. The audience, who had paid to attend the day, then voted in a secret ballot after all five presentations had been made.

Dr Stephen Brumwell, who had championed Washington, said: “As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent.”

via George Washington named Britain’s greatest ever foe – Telegraph.

And for your enjoyment, a great speech. I learned this speech in 5th, or 6th grade. Not sure if they still teach it, or not. Kind of have my doubts.

Couple things of note for today.

The Marines’ iconic photo was taken today on Iwo Jima in 1945.

More on Iwo Jima.

Also today, Col. William B. Travis, commander of the Alamo, rejects a Mexican ultimatum to abandon the fort by firing a cannonball in the general direction of the enemy army, thus opening a 13-day siege.

Here’s a good sight to read up on that battle:

The Alamo

Originally named Misión San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo served as home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years. Construction began on the present site in 1724. In 1793, Spanish officials secularized San Antonio’s five missions and distributed their lands to the remaining Indian residents. These men and women continued to farm the fields, once the mission’s but now their own, and participated in the growing community of San Antonio.

In the early 1800s, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission. The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo (the Spanish word for “cottonwood”) in honor of their hometown Alamo de Parras, Coahuila. The post’s commander established the first recorded hospital in Texas in the Long Barrack. The Alamo was home to both Revolutionaries and Royalists during Mexico’s ten-year struggle for independence. The military — Spanish, Rebel, and then Mexican — continued to occupy the Alamo until the Texas Revolution.

San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution. In December 1835, Ben Milam led Texian and Tejano volunteers against Mexican troops quartered in the city. After five days of house-to-house fighting, they forced General Martín Perfecto de Cós and his soldiers to surrender. The victorious volunteers then occupied the Alamo — already fortified prior to the battle by Cós’ men — and strengthened its defenses.

On February 23, 1836, the arrival of General Antonio López de Santa Anna’s army outside San Antonio nearly caught them by surprise. Undaunted, the Texians and Tejanos prepared to defend the Alamo together. The defenders held out for 13 days against Santa Anna’s army. William B. Travis, the commander of the Alamo sent forth couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas. On the eighth day of the siege, a band of 32 volunteers from Gonzales arrived, bringing the number of defenders to nearly two hundred. Legend holds that with the possibility of additional help fading, Colonel Travis drew a line on the ground and asked any man willing to stay and fight to step over — all except one did. As the defenders saw it, the Alamo was the key to the defense of Texas, and they were ready to give their lives rather than surrender their position to General Santa Anna. Among the Alamo’s garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and David Crockett, famed frontiersman and former congressman from Tennessee.

The final assault came before daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836, as columns of Mexican soldiers emerged from the predawn darkness and headed for the Alamo’s walls. Cannon and small arms fire from inside the Alamo beat back several attacks. Regrouping, the Mexicans scaled the walls and rushed into the compound. Once inside, they turned a captured cannon on the Long Barrack and church, blasting open the barricaded doors. The desperate struggle continued until the defenders were overwhelmed. By sunrise, the battle had ended and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.

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Today, the longest battle in World War I would commence.
The battle of Verdun…

The Battle of Verdun 1916 – the greatest battle ever

The Battle of Verdun is considered the greatest and lengthiest in world history. Never before or since has there been such a lengthy battle, involving so many men, situated on such a tiny piece of land.

The battle, which lasted from 21 February 1916 until 19 December 1916 caused over an estimated 700,000 casualties (dead, wounded and missing). The battlefield was not even a square ten kilometres. From a strategic point of view there can be no justification for these atrocious losses. The battle degenerated into a matter of prestige of two nations literally for the sake of fighting……

The attack started on 21 February on the right bank of the Meuse with the heaviest bombing that had ever taken place in a war. It lasted over 9 hours and was the most horrible that man had ever seen.

In the following days the Germans did not progress as much as they had expected, but on 25 February the unbelievable happened: the Germans occupied the most important fortress on the defence line. This fort Douaumont had been considered impregnable. Verdun lay within reach.

Plenty more here to explore on this great battle.