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The WW2 Podcast Profile

The WW2 Podcast

English, War/Conflict, 1 seasons, 220 episodes, 13 hours 53 minutes
A military history podcast that looks at all aspects of WWII. With WW2 slipping from living memory I aim to look at different historical aspects of the Second World War.
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217 - How the Luftwaffe Lost the skies over Germany

Starting with small raids at the start of the war, the aerial offensive grew into a massive operation. Huge air armadas would eventually pulverise Germany, with the Mighty Eigth Airforce flying by day and the Lancasters of Bomber Command by night. This 24-hour campaign seriously damaged Germany’s ability to make war and killed hundreds of thousands. Joining me is Jonathan Trigg, whose new book is The Air War Through German Eyes: How the Luftwaffe Lost the Skies over the Reich, which looks at the air war from the point of view of the Germans.</a
23/02/202454 minutes 19 seconds
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216 - The Latvian Legion

'In Arctic blizzards between January and March 1945, the Latvian 15th SS Division - a core of Russian Front veterans but most raw teenage conscripts from Nazi-occupied Latvia - tried to stop the Red Army sweeping across Pomerania, now Poland. One in three died: the majority never returned home.' In this episode, I'm joined by Vincent Hunt, and we discuss the Latvians fighting with the Germans in the Latvian 15th SS Division. Through interviews, diaries, and never-before-utilised sources, in his book The Road of Slaughter: The Latvian 15th SS Division in Pomerania, January-March 1945, Vince has built a compelling narrative of desperate fighting as the Latvians were withdrawn from defending their own country to Poland. For listeners of the pod
15/02/202443 minutes 46 seconds
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215 - The Power of Japanese Propaganda

This episode will look at Japanese propaganda during the imperial era. With the rise of mass production of newspapers and magazines amidst the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese population became instilled in nationalism and militarism. Despite the era of demilitarisation and democratisation after the First World War, the Japanese Empire, once again, became fixated on expansion. Harnessing film, radio and cultural institutions, the country was galvanised for total war. Ray Matsumoto, author of Echoes of Empire: The Power of Japanese Propaganda, joined me. <a href="" target="_blank" rel=
01/02/202441 minutes 22 seconds
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214 - Stan Hollis VC and the Green Howards on D-Day

The Green Howards landed in the first wave on D-Day. With them was Company Sergeant Major Stan Hollis, who had seen action in France in 1940, being evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk. He fought in North Africa and took part in the invasion of Sicily. It is fair to say Hollis was a seasoned soldier. He is also the only recipient of the Victoria Cross for his actions on the 6th of June 1944. I have made a field trip to the Green Howards Regimental Museum in Richmond, Yorkshire. In this episode, Steve Erskine joins me to discuss Hollis and the Green Howards on D-Day. The museum is hosting a special 80th D-Day anniversary event on the 6th of June, 2023. This is a unique event to be held at the museum in Richmond. Those attending will have the chance to explore items from the museum collection relating to this crucial phase of the Second World War. Hear accounts of the day itself and understand more abou
15/01/202449 minutes 42 seconds
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213 - The British Empire and Commonwealth’s War Against Imperial Japan

The war in Asia and the Pacific against Japan is often seen as an American affair. While the US did play a dominant role, the British and Commonwealth forces also made major contributions – on land, at sea and in the air – eventually involving over a million men and vast armadas of ships and aircraft. Joining me to discuss Britain and the Commonwealth's war in the Far East is Brian Walter, author of  Forgotten War: The British Empire and Commonwealth’s Epic Struggle Against Imperial Japan. Long-time listeners might recall I discussed the war in the Atlantic with Brian in episode 127, and we looked at the naval campaign in the Mediterranean in <a href= "ht
01/01/202456 minutes 37 seconds
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212 - Invisible Generals

When President McKinley turned down Benjamin Oliver Davis for a place at West Point due to the colour of his skin, Davis joined the army as a private. Davis soon worked his way through the ranks to receive his second lieutenant commission in 1901. It would be over 30 years before another black officer would receive his commission, and that would be Benjamin Oliver Davis's son, Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. In theory, black troops would be barred from combat, but Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. would lead the first Black flying squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen, to success during WWII. For this episode, I'm joined by Doug Melville, a direct relative of Benjamin Oliver Davis Jr. and Sr. When George Lucas's film 'Red Tails' (2012), celebrating the Tuskegee Airmen, was released, Doug was shocked when he realised that Ben Jr.’s name had been omitted and replaced by the fictional Colonel A. J. Bullard. And Ben’s father, Benjamin O. Davis Sr., America’s first Black general who helpe
20/12/202350 minutes 55 seconds
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211 - HG-76: Taking the Fight to Hitler's U-boats

The convoy HG-76 sailed from Gibraltar to Britain in December 1941. The Royal Navy commander in charge was 'Johnnie' Walker, an anti-submarine expert who had developed new, aggressive U-boat hunting tactics. Accompanying the escorts was HMS Audacity, the Royal Navy's first escort carrier - a new type of warship purpose-built to defend convoys from enemy aircraft and U-boats. Aware of the departure of HG-76, a wolfpack of U-boats was sent against it, and the Luftwaffe was heavily committed to, in a rare example of German inter-service cooperation. German intelligence agents in Gibraltar and Spain also knew every detail of HG-76 before it sailed, seemingly stacking the odds in favour of the Kriegsmarine. Joining me on this episode is Angus Konstam. Angus is a naval historian and author of <a href= "
15/12/202355 minutes 4 seconds
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210 - The Battle for Italy, 1943

Hot on the heels of victory in Sicily, the Allies crossed into Southern Italy in September 1943. They expected to drive the Axis forces north and be in Rome by Christmas. Although Italy surrendered, the German forces resisted fiercely, and the swift, hoped-for victory descended into one of the most brutal battles of the war. I am joined by James Holland, author of The Savage Storm: The Battle for Italy 1943 and co-host of the We Have Ways podcast. <img src= "//
01/12/202347 minutes 6 seconds
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209 - Hospital Trains of WWII

From the middle of the 19th century, the railways had an integral role in warfare. Trains brought food, ammunition and essential supplies. They also transported troops into the combat zone, and then trains would be used to bring men home. Hospital trains were not a new concept in WWII, but their development moved the carriages away from being ambulances for evacuating the wounded to mobile hospital units with operating theatres. Joining me is Alexandra Kitty, author of A Different Track: Hospital Trains of the Second World War. <img src
21/11/202336 minutes 45 seconds
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208 - 2SAS and Bill Sterling

David Stirling is the name synonymous with the wartime SAS, but the real brains behind the operation was, in fact, Bill Stirling, David’s eldest brother. Having originally joined the SOE in March 1940, Bill Stirling sailed for Cairo in 1941 and there had the idea for a small special forces unit to be led by his mercurial brother. But despite some success, David allowed the legendary 1SAS to drift under his leadership. Following his capture, Bill re-directed 2SAS, under his personal command, to the strategy he had originally envisaged: parachuting behind enemy lines to gather intelligence. Joining me is Gavin Mortimer. Gavin is the author of several books focusing on the SAS, including a biography of David Sterling. His latest book is 2SAS: Bill Stirling and th
15/11/202347 minutes 27 seconds
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207 - Tank Warfare in North Africa, 1942-43

If you cast your mind back to episode 187, I discussed the war in the North African desert in 1940-41 with Robert Forczyk. The war in the North African desert was pure mechanised warfare and, in many respects, the most technologically advanced theatre of World War II. It was also the only theatre where, for three years, British and Commonwealth, and later US, troops were in constant contact with Axis forces. Robert’s follow-up book has just been released, 'Desert Armour: Tank Warfare in North Africa: Gazala to Tunisia, 1942-43’. In this episode of the show, Robert joins me once more. This time, we discuss the fighting in the desert in 1942 through to Mongomery’s victory at El Alamein. Robert Forczyk has a PhD in International Relations and National Security
01/11/20231 hour 6 minutes 13 seconds
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206 - The Extraordinary Life of Journalist Wallace Carroll

Journalist Wallace Carroll had a career that spanned 45 years as a journalist. His first foreign posting, in 1929, was to London with the United Press newswire service. Throughout the 1930s, he covered the major events in Europe and witnessed the Spanish Civil War first-hand. Posted back to London, he dictated his early reports of the Blitz from his office rood top. Carroll had a knack for being in places at the right time. His talents and connections got him noticed, and he finished the war working for the US government with the Office of War Information. Here, he was tasked with counteracting German propaganda and conducting 'physiological warfare'. Joining me is Mary Llewellyn McNeil. Mary has written the biography of Carroll, Century's Witness: The Extrao
15/10/20231 hour 1 minute 3 seconds
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205 - Victory to Defeat: The British Army 1939-40

As some of you may know, I am also a First World War historian, and the academic history of the war can be very different from the public perspective, which dwells on the first two years of the war.  Forgetting the victories of 1917 and 1918 is not new; it is something the British army did during the inter-war period. Added to this corporate amnesia, there was very little discussion in Britain on who the army might be expected to fight. All this culminated in 1939 with a British army unprepared for war and the defeat in France in 1940. Joining me once more is Robert Lyman, who, with Richard Dannatt, has written Victory to Defeat: The British Army 1939-40. The book is a compelling account of the mismanagement of the British army from the end of the First Wor
01/10/202356 minutes 31 seconds
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204 - Armour in the Pacific

We do not think of armour being widely used in the Pacific campaign, and compared to other theatres, that is a reasonable assumption. However, it was utilised by both the Japanese and Americans from the island campaigns, such as Tarawa and Guadalcanal, through to the Philippines. Joining me today is Mike Guardia, who is the author of American Armor in the Pacific and The Combat Diaries: True Stories from the Frontlines of World War II.   Patreon<a href= "" target="_blank" rel= "noope
25/09/202345 minutes 40 seconds
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203 - The Battle of Britain, July 1940

In this episode, I’m joined by Patrick Eriksson. If you cast your memory back, Patrick has previously joined us to talk about the Luftwaffe and his Alarmstart trilogy of books (episodes 60, 85 and 104). This time, he is back to discuss the opening few weeks of the Battle of Britain, covered in his book Tally-Ho: RAF Tactical Leadership in the Battle of Britain, July 1940. Patreon<a href= "" target="_blank" rel= "noopener"
15/09/202350 minutes 3 seconds
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202 - Leningrad, 1941-42

From September 1941, the Germans surrounded Leningrad, laying siege to the city for 900 days. Over 2 million Russians were trapped, and thousands would die through starvation. As the winter closed in, Lake Ladoga froze, allowing trucks to cross the ice. Dubbed ‘Road of Life’, it would bring vital supplies and eventually evacuate over a million civilians from the besieged city. While all the time, the Russian army struggled to try and lift the siege. I am happy to welcome back to the podcast Prit Buttar. Pritt’s latest book is To Besiege a City: Leningrad 1941–42, and we will discuss the first year of the siege.</
01/09/202357 minutes 53 seconds
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201 - Japanese Americans in WWII

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, over 125,000 Japanese Americans living in the continental United States were incarcerated in prison camps. The majority of these were born in America and US citizens. This was authorised by an Executive Order from President Roosevelt. The Japanese Americans complied and spent years in the camps. Even though incarcerated, they remained loyal Americans. When the call came for volunteers for the Army first the 100th Infantry Battalion was formed and then the 442 Regimental Combat Team - in which thousands of Japanese Americans volunteered to serve. These two units were awarded over 4,000 Purple Hearts, and 21 men received the Medal of Honor. In post-war America, the narrative of the treatment of Japanese Americans shifted. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act, which officially apologised for the incarceration on behalf of the U.S. government. Joining me today is Mitchell Maki. Mitchell is the Presid
15/08/20231 hour 9 minutes 22 seconds
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200 - The Life of Mrs George S Patton

Few wives of prominent men are more than a footnote in many histories, but they were often central to their husbands' lives. The classic well-known example is the relationship between the wartime British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine (see episode 116). For months I've been sitting on Stefanie van Steelandt's biography of Mrs Patton, Lady of the Army: The Life of Mrs George S Patton. Following my look at George Patton in the last episode, I thought it was the opportune time to look at his wife Beatrice. <a href="https
10/08/20231 hour 1 minute 41 seconds
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199 - Patton, August - December 1944

If you cast your memory back to episode 157, Kevin Hymel joined me. We discussed General Patton from the campaigns in Mediteranean in 1942 to just before his activation as commander of third army in 1944. Kevin is back. This time we will discuss Patton’s arrival in France through to the Battle of the Bulge. Kevin has worked as a historian for the US Army and is currently doing work for the Arlington National Cemetery. He is also a tour guide for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. He is the author of Patton’s Photographs: War as He Saw It, and his second book in what is to be a trilogy, is <a href= "
01/08/202347 minutes 11 seconds
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198 - Kesselring

In episode 144, I chatted to Andrew Sangster about Alanbrooke. Earlier this year, I noticed Andrew had a new book, Flawed Commanders and Strategy in the Battle for Italy, 1943-45. With his co-author Pier Paolo Battistelli, the book looks at Montgomery, Mark Clark, Patton, Harold Alexander, Albert Kesselring and the fighting in Sicily and Italy. There is too much to cover in a single episode of the podcast, but I’ve asked Andrew back to discuss the fighting in the Mediterranean from the perspective of Kesselring. Andrew Sangster has six degrees, in Law, Theology and four in history including his doctorate. An ordained priest, he has trespassed away from the Church to teaching and the study of history. He has taught in grammar schools and at Eton College, was a head
15/07/202337 minutes 47 seconds
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197 - Kohima

Fought between 8 March and 18 July 1944, the battles of Imphal and Kohima were the turning point of one of the most gruelling campaigns of the Second World War (1939-45). The decisive Japanese defeat in north-east India became the springboard for the Fourteenth Army’s subsequent re-conquest of Burma. Joining me for this episode is Robert Lyman, author of the excellent A War of Empires; Japan, India, Burma and Britain 1941-45. The book covers the defeat of the British and Indian armies in 1941-42, the change of commanders, the restructuring, training of the army and new tactics, and the extraordinary victories culminating in Mandalay in May 1945 and the collapse of all Japanese forces in Burma. But that is a big topic to cover. So I thought we would f
01/07/20231 hour 11 minutes 58 seconds
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196 - Winthrop Bell: Cracking the Code

In public life, Canadian Dr Winthrop Bell was a Harvard philosophy professor and wealthy businessman. As MI6 secret agent A12, he evaded gunfire and shook off pursuers to break open the emerging Nazi conspiracy in 1919 Berlin. His reports provided the first warnings of right-wing conspiracies in the German establishment, eventually leading to Hitler and the National Socialists. In the 1930s, after reading Hitler's speeches and books, Bell was warning of the Holocaust. But his warnings fell on deaf ears until the outbreak of war. For this episode, I am joined by Jason Bell. Jason is a professor of philosophy at the University of New Brunswick. He has served as a Fulbright Professor in Germany and was the first scholar granted exclusive access to Winthrop Bell’s classified espionage papers. Jason is also the author of Cracking the <a href= "
15/06/202357 minutes 59 seconds
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195 - Their Finest Hour Project

With the Second World War slipping from living memory, the University of Oxford has launched Their Finest Hour. The project aims to empower local communities to digitally preserve these stories and objects before they are lost to posterity.  For this episode, I am joined by Dr Joseph Quinn to explain how the project works and how you can get involved.  
07/06/202352 minutes 7 seconds
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194 - The Battle of Leyte Gulf

The battle of Leyte Gulf was the largest naval battle of WWII, it consisted of four separate actions near the Philippines between the US Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Japanese plan was to disrupt the American landings on the island of Leyte. In one respect, the plan was a success, the Japanese did draw off Admiral Halsey’s 3rd Fleet. But ultimately, it was a disaster for the Japanese Imperial Navy, which suffered one of the most decisive defeats of the war. Joining me is Mark Stille. Mark was last with us discussing Pearl Harbor in episode 155. He has a new book published by Osprey titled - Leyte Gulf: A New History of the World's Largest Sea Battle. Patreon<
01/06/20231 hour 5 minutes 23 seconds
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193 - London Underground

As attacks on London by the Luftwaffe became a reality in the summer of 1940, Londoners needed somewhere to shelter from the air raids. And so during the Blitz and through to the end of the war, deep-level Tube stations of London underground were utilised, sheltering thousands every night. But the role of the underground is much more complicated, in 1939, the station platforms were never expected to see civilians sleeping there, but rather they were to be kept clear for emergency transportation use. In this episode I am joined by Niall Devitt. Niall is the author of Underground Railway: A New History, which is due to be published by Pen & Sword. <img src= "//" alt=""
15/05/202359 minutes 49 seconds
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192 - 'The Angels', The 11th Airborne Division

When we think of airborne operations in WWII, the historiography is dominated by operations in the European Theatre. Parachute drops on Sicily, the Normandy coast for D-Day and into the Netherlands for Market Garden.  But, in the Pacific, Joseph Swing's 11th Airborne Division - nicknamed the Angels - were making combat drops. They fought in some of the war’s most dramatic campaigns, from bloody skirmishes in Leyte’s unforgiving rainforests to the ferocious battles on Luzon, including the hellish urban combat of Manila.    Joining me is James Fenelon. Long-time listeners might remember I chatted with James about the US 17th Airborne Division during Operation Varsity, the crossing of the Rhine. This time we are discussing James' new book <a href= "
01/05/202346 minutes 32 seconds
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191 - US Glider Pilots of World War II

The US glider pilots in WWII were all volunteers. Playing a pivotal role in delivering thousands of troops, including logistical support, these pilots landed their gliders ahead of the ground forces in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Yet, 80 years later, their story is virtually unknown. For this episode, I am joined by  Scott McGaugh. Scott is the author of The Brotherhood of the Flying Coffin: The Glider Pilots of World War II. If this has piqued your interest in Glider pilots, in episode 13, I discuss the experiences of British glider pilots with Matt Yates. Patreon<a href= "
15/04/202340 minutes 21 seconds
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190 - Mussolini's Last 10 Days

In April 1945, with the Allies closing in, the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, with his German bodyguards, decided to flee Milan. The convoy was later joined by a Luftwaffe column retreating toward Germany, making a powerful force. In this episode, we're going to be looking at Mussolini's last days and the race between the OSS, the SOE and the Italian partisans to kill or capture him. I am joined by Malcolm Tudor. Malcolm is an Anglo-Italian author specialising in Italy during WWII. He was last with us in episode 86, discussing the SAS in Italy. His new book is Mussolini, The Last 10 Days, A New Investigation.   Patreon<a href= "htt
01/04/202352 minutes 22 seconds
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189 - The Stalingrad Airlift

Stalingrad ranks as one of the most infamous, savage and emotive battles of the 20th century. To supply the trapped and exhausted German Sixth Army, the Luftwaffe mounted an airlift in the winter of 1942/43. The weather conditions faced by the flying crews, mechanics, and soldiers on the ground were appalling, but against all odds, and a resurgent and active Soviet air force, the transports maintained a determined presence over the ravaged city on the Volga, even when the last airfields in the Stalingrad pocket had been lost. I'm joined by Robert Forsyth, whose new book is To Save An Army: The Stalingrad Airlift. Robert has been with us before discussing Luftwaffe special weapons<
15/03/202357 minutes 49 seconds
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188 - Company of Heroes

Following episode 187, when I talk to Forczyk about the war in North Africa, I thought it might be interesting to see how that fighting is interpreted and simulated as a computer game. And look at the choices game designers make when juggling authenticity and entertainment. I’m joined by David Milne from Relic Entertainment. David is one of the senior designers who worked on Company of Heroes 3, a computer game which focuses on WWII in North Africa and Italy.  
07/03/202335 minutes 22 seconds
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187 - Desert Armour: Tank Warfare in North Africa

The war in the North African desert was pure mechanized warfare and, in many respects, the most technologically advanced theatre of World War II. It was also the only theatre where for three years, British and Commonwealth, and later US, troops were in constant contact with Axis forces. In this episode, we are going to be discussing North Africa in the early period of WWII, from 1940 to the end of 1941. I'm joined by, now regular of the podcast Robert Forczyk, whose new book is Desert Armour: Tank Warfare in North Africa: Beda Fomm to Operation Crusader, 1940–41.
01/03/20231 hour 12 minutes 58 seconds
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186 - Our Man in Tokyo

In 1932 career diplomat Joseph Grew was posted to Japan as the American Ambassador. At the time, Japan was in crisis. Naval officers had assassinated the prime minister, and conspiracies flourished. The military had a stranglehold on the government. War with Russia loomed. Not only was the country in turmoil, but its relationship with America was also rapidly deteriorating. For the next decade, Grew attempted to warn American leaders about the risks of Japan’s raging nationalism and rising militarism while also trying to stabilize Tokyo’s increasingly erratic and volatile foreign policy.  From domestic terrorism by Japanese extremists to the global rise of Hitler and the fateful attack on Pearl Harbor, the events that unfolded during Grew’s tenure proved to be pivotal for Japan and for the world in the run-up to WWII. To discuss Joesph Grew and Japanese American relations running up to the war, I’m joined by Steve Kemper. Steve is the author of <a href= "htt
15/02/202343 minutes 7 seconds
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185 - Adrian Carton de Wiart

In this episode, I discuss one of the most remarkable soldiers of the British Army, Adrian Carton de Wiart. Belgium by birth, he would fight in the Boer War, lose an eye in the Somaliland Campaign, win a VC and lose a hand in First World War, command the British troops during the Norwegian Campaign of 1940, spend time as a POW for the Italians (where he escaped) and finish the war a Winston Churchill’s personal representative to Chiang Kai-Shek. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography described him thus: "With his black eyepatch and empty sleeve, Carton de Wiart looked like an elegant pirate, and became a figure of legend." I am joined by Alan Ogden, author of The Life and Times of Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart: Soldier and Diplom
01/02/202348 minutes 12 seconds
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184 - My Road to Mandalay

Don Townsend joined the British army as a private in 1940 and saw service in Egypt, then India and Burma. After five years of active service he left the army as a Major. I'm joined by Don's son, David has compiled his father’s wartime letters home to his family and future wife into the book My Road to Mandalay.
15/01/20231 hour 26 seconds
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183 - The Waffen-SS

The Waffen-SS was one of the most formidable German military formations of the Second World War. Feared for its tenacity and ruthlessness in battle, notorious for the atrocities it committed. As a distinct fighting force derived from the Nazi Party's SS organization, it stood apart from the other units of the German army. Its origins, structure and operational role during the war are often misunderstood, and the controversy still surrounding its conduct makes it difficult today to get an accurate picture of its actions and its impact on the fighting. To discuss the SS, I’m joined once more by Anthony Tucker-Jones, whose book Hitler's Armed SS: The Waffen-SS at War, 1939-1945 was released last year.   Patreon<a href= "htt
01/01/202348 minutes 26 seconds
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182 - The British Parachute Regiment

The Parachute Regiment was formed in June 1940 and eventually raised 17 battalions. It would see service in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Arnhem and would cross the Rhine as part of the largest airborne assault ever undertaken. To discuss the formation of the regiment and its history through WWII, I’m joined by historian and broadcaster Mark Urban, who has written an authorised history of the regiment called Red Devils: The Trailblazers of the Parachute Regiment in World War Two. <img src= "//
15/12/202259 minutes 37 seconds
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181 - Britain's Coast at War

During WWII, the whole of Britain’s coastline was involved in the struggle against the Nazis. In 1940-41 invasion was the main threat. Many towns and cities around the coast, such as Plymouth, Portsmouth, Hull and Great Yarmouth, were the targets of devastating air raids. The East Coast was pivotal to North Sea operations against enemy mining and E-boat operations, and the Western ports, particularly Liverpool, were crucial to the vital Atlantic convoys and the defeat of the U-boat threat. In this episode, I’m joined once more by the cultural and social historian Neil R Storey to discuss Britain’s Coast at War, which is also the title of his book Britain's Coast at War: Invasion Threat, Coastal Forces, Bombardment and Training for D-Day.   Pa
01/12/202258 minutes 56 seconds
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180 - US Navy Demolition Divers

In this episode, we’re going to be looking at US Navy combat divers. The Combat Demolition Unit would land on D-Day with the first wave of troops. It was their job to clear coastal defences that might get in the way of landing craft.  In the Pacific, Underwater Demolition Teams were carrying out similar tasks on islands such as Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  I’m joined by Andrew Dubbins. Andrew managed to track down one of the surviving divers who landed on Omaha beach, then was shipped to the Pacific to land on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. His book is Into Enemy Waters: A World War II Story of the Demolition Divers Who Became the Navy SEALS.   Patreon<a href= "https://www.patr
15/11/202243 minutes 28 seconds
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179 - Bitter Peleliu

In late 1944, as a precursor to the invasion of the Philippines, U.S. military analysts decided to seize the small island of Peleliu to ensure that the Japanese airfield could not threaten the invasion forces.  It was estimated that the island would fall in a week or so. In fact, the fighting on Peleliu would go on for 74 days. The US would pay a heavy price for capturing the island with a higher casualty rate than the fighting on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In this episode, I'm joined by Pacific War historian Joseph Wheelan, author of Bitter Peleliu: The Forgotten Struggle on the Pacific War's Worst Battlefield. <a
01/11/202236 minutes 21 seconds
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178 - Battles of Rzhev Salient

After the failure to take Moscow in the autumn of 1941, the Germans were left with a large salient bulging into the Russian lines, extending to the town of Rzhev. The battles around Rzhev were some of the bloodiest battles of the war for the Russians. Though millions of men would fight and die in the vast tract of forests and swamps, the Rzhev Salient does not have the name recognition of Leningrad or Moscow. I’m Joined by Prit Buttar, author of Meat Grinder: The Battles for the Rzhev Salient, 1942–43. Prit was last with us discussing the defeat of Army Group South in 1944 in episode 136. Patreon<a href
15/10/20221 hour 1 minute 40 seconds
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177 - Japan's Pacific War

I seem to have had a good run of episodes this year looking at operations from the German perspective. In this episode, we are off to the Pacific to look at the Japanese perspective of the war. I'm joined by Peter Williams. Peter lived in Japan for four years. Whilst he was there, he interviewed Japanese veterans of the Second World War. His book 'Japan's Pacific War' collects together over 40 interviews with veterans who predominantly fought against the Australians. <img src= "//
01/10/202242 minutes
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176 - Colditz

At the outbreak of WWII, the ancient gothic castle of Colditz was converted into a prisoner-of-war camp. Its location on a rocky spur overlooking a river made it the ideal location for a high-security prison, or so the Germans thought. Sent to Colditz were some of the most difficult allied prisoners-of-war. Made famous after the second world war in memoirs, films and TV, Colditz was known for its multiple escape attempts, some of great derring-do, others were feats of ingenuity and engineering. In this episode, I'm joined by Ben Macintyre. Ben is the bestselling author of books including Agent Sonya, SAS: Rogue Heroes, The Spy and the Traitor, Agent Zigzag, Operation Mincemeat and A Spy Among Friends. Ben's new book <a href= "
15/09/202254 minutes 41 seconds
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175 - Dünkirchen, 1940

The evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk in 1940 is one of the iconic moments of the Second World War. The miracle of the 'little ships' plucking soldiers off the beaches is regularly played out in the popular media, including the 1958 and 2017 films 'Dunkirk'. But, this is very much the British narrative. What if we turn the tables to look at the fighting from the German perspective? Joining me once more is Robert Kershaw. Robert was last with us to discuss D-Day and the landings at Omaha beach (in episode 92). He has a new book, 'Dünkirchen 1940: The German View of Dunkirk'. Patreon<a href= "" target="_blank" rel= "
09/09/202238 minutes 38 seconds
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174 - The Pacific, August 1945

In this episode, we are looking at the closing weeks of the war in 1945. August would see the Russians enter the war with Japan, the atomic bombs dropped, and an attempted coup in Japan. The culmination of which would be the final declaration of surrender by Japan’s Emporer Hirohito on the 15th of August, followed a couple of weeks later by the formal ceremony on the USS Missouri presided over by General MacArthur. I am joined by Barrett Tillman. Barrett specializes in naval and aviation topics and has a prestigious back catalogue. His latest book is When the Shooting Stopped: August 1945. Patreonpatreo
01/09/202242 minutes 6 seconds
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173 - The Maritime Struggle in the Mediterranean and Middle East

In this episode of the podcast, we shine a light on the naval conflict in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.  This proved to be a prolonged conflict, waged at differing times against the combined forces of Italy, Germany and Vichy France over a wide area stretching from the coastal waters of Southern Europe in the north to Madagascar in the south and Africa's Atlantic coast in the west to the Persian Gulf in the east.  Utilizing a variety of weapons, including surface warships, submarines, and aircraft along with sizable merchant fleets, the British and their subsequent American partners would maintain vital seaborne lines of communication, conducting numerous amphibious landings, interdicting Axis supply activities, eventually eliminating all semblances of Axis maritime power within the theatre. I’m joined once more by Brian Walter. If you recall, Brian joined me in <a href= "
15/08/202256 minutes 21 seconds
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172 - The Battle of Stalingrad

The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using Friedrich Paulus's 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intense bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The battle quickly degenerated into house-to-house fighting, as both sides fought for the city on the Volga.  By mid-November, the Germans were on the brink of victory as the Soviet defenders clung to a final few slivers of land along the west bank of the river. Then, on 19 November, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, targeting the weaker Romanian armies protecting the 6th Army's flank and the Germans in Stalingrad were surrounded and cut off.  Hitler was determined to hold the city insisting that Paulus hold out and the 6th Army would be supplied by air. With the airlift a disaster, in February 1943, without food or ammunition, some 91,000 starving Germans surrendered.  In this episode of the podcast, I'm joined once more by Jonathan Trigg
01/08/20221 hour 7 minutes 44 seconds
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171 - Tom, Dick and Harry

I've been trying to slip in an extra episode of the podcast for a while but never seem to manage it! I hope you find this interesting. Running at the Alexandra Palace Theatre this summer is Tom, Dick and Harry, a play telling the story of the great escape. I thought it might be interesting to talk about how you take a story so familiar to many of us - growing up watching endless re-runs of the film - and change that into a stage play. How do you deal with the fantastic, which is true, but on top of that, you need to deal with the legend, which might have little relation to what actually happened? I’m joined by Theresa Heskins. Theresa is the artistic Director of New Vic of the Theatre and also the Writer and Director of Tom, Dick and Harry. You can find details of the play here: <a href= "" target=
19/07/202232 minutes 10 seconds
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170 - The German Battle of the Bulge

In December 1944 the Germans launched the battle of the Bulge, their last major offensive in the west. Commencing in the depths of winter, with the hope that the weather would neutralise allied air superiority, three German armies attacked through the Ardennes.  We have looked at part of the Ardennes offensive before but from the American perspective. In this episode, I’m joined by Anthony Tucker-Jones and we are going to reverse the tables and look at the operation from the German point of view. Anthony has joined us before in episode 156 when we discussed Winston Churchill. This time we are looking at his book Hitler's Winter: The German
15/07/202257 minutes 51 seconds
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169 - The U-Boat War

The usual historical narrative of the U-boats during WWII usually revolves around the 'Battle of the Atlantic', and the struggle over the convoys bringing vital supplies to Britain.  But the story of the U-boat war is much more complex, they went into action on the first day of hostilities with Britain and France and operated in nearly every theatre of operation in which the Wehrmacht served, and within all but the Southern Ocean.  To discuss the global U-boat war I am joined by Lawrence Paterson, author of The U-Boat War: A Global History 1939–45. Patreon:
01/07/20221 hour 5 seconds
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168 - Operation Foxley

Operation Foxley was the name of the secret plan supported by Winston Churchill to assassinate Hitler in 1944-45. Different methods of assassination were considered, such as a sharp shooter or poisoning, through to a more elaborate plan that included hypnotism. I'm joined by Eric Lee. Eric has been with us before, in episode 130, to discuss the Georgian uprising against the Germans on the Dutch island of Texel at the end of the war. His new book is Britain's Plot to Kill Hitler: The True Story of Operation Foxley and SOE. Patreon:<a href= "" target="_blank" rel= "noo
15/06/202239 minutes 53 seconds
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167 - John Basilone

In episode 158, I talked to Henry Sledge about his father's experiences with the US Marines in the Pacific, which led me to rewatch the 2010 TV miniseries The Pacific. The show revolves around three lead characters, Eugene Sledge, Robert Leckie and John Basilone. Basilone received the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle for Henderson Field in the Guadalcanal Campaign and would go on to be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. In this episode, I am joined by Dave Holland. Dave is a former marine and battlefield tour guide on Guadalcanal. On his youtube channel, Guadalcanal - Walking a Battlefield, Dave takes the viewer to Guadalcanal and explains the battlefields and shows you what exists today from WWII.
01/06/20221 hour 16 minutes 28 seconds
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166 - Rodolfo Graziani

Rodolfo Graziani, Marshal of Italy, Viceroy of Ethiopia and one of Mussolini's most valued generals remains to this day a divisive figure in his homeland. Revered by some Italians as a patriot and vilified by others as a murderer. From the allied perspective, he was the Italian general whose troops surrendered en masse to the British during operation Compass, which almost knocked the Italians out of North Africa in 1941. But what is the true story of Rodolfo Graziani? Today I am joined by James Cetrullo. For the first time, James has translated from Italian the biography Rodolfo Graziani: Story of an Italian General written by Alessandro Cova. Patreon:<a href= "" target="_blank" rel=
15/05/20221 hour 8 minutes 48 seconds
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165 - P-51 Mustang

In 1940 the British Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation (NAA) to build under license Curtis P-40 fighters. NAA suggested that rather than produce an old design they proposed a new design, this would become the P-51 Mustang. When fitted with the Roll-Royce Merlin engine, the Mustang would be one of the most important fighters of the war. With its ability to carry tremendous amounts of fuel, the plane was able to fly deep into Europe providing fighter escort for the bomber groups. Over the skies of Germany, it proved more than a match for what the Luftwaffe could throw at them. Joining me is Chris Bucholtz. Chris is an aviation historian with a prolific body of work. He previously joined me in episode 110 to discuss the P-47 Thunderbolt. His new book published by Osprey is <a href= "
01/05/202241 minutes 32 seconds
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164 - Marshall and Stimson

On September 1, 1939, the day World War II broke out in Europe, Gen. George Marshall was sworn in as chief of staff of the U.S. Army. Ten months later, Roosevelt appointed Henry Stimson secretary of war. For the next five years, from adjoining offices in the Pentagon, Marshall and Stimson headed the army machine that ground down the Axis.  In this episode, we’re going to be discussing the relationship between the two men as they negotiated the war. Joining me is Edward Farley Aldrich author of The Partnership: George Marshall, Henry Stimson, and the Extraordinary Collaboration That Won World War II. Patreon:
15/04/202255 minutes 1 second
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163 - British Wartime Industry

The expansion of British industry to cater for war production began to be put in place in the 1930s. But still with the outbreak of war Britain needed to stretch every sinew to harness, coordinate and maximise its resources. Firstly to defend itself and then to help liberate Axis-occupied countries. In this episode, I'm joined by Neil Storey. Neil is an award-winning social historian and lecturer specialising in the impact of war on twentieth-century society. His new book is Wartime Industry. Patreon:
01/04/202251 minutes 39 seconds
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162 - Tobruk

Tobruk was one of the greatest Allied victories – and one of the worst Allied defeats – of the Second World War. Almost from the start of producing the podcast I’ve wanted to do an episode looking at Tobruk. I think it probably first gets a mention in episode 11 when we looked at Richard O’Connor, since then the town has come up in numerous episodes. I'm joined by David Mitchellhill Green David is the author of Tobruk: Rommel and the Battles Leading to his greatest victory. It is a fascinating read which places Tobruk in a wider history to help explain why it was strategically important. Patreon:
15/03/202251 minutes 31 seconds
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161 - Marine Aces of the South Pacific

We are back in the Pacific, this time looking at the air war primarily over Guadalcanal. US Marine aviators landed on the island shortly after the Marine ground forces. As Japanese troops held out on Guadalcanal, the skies over the island were heavily contested. In this episode, we are focusing on the top-scoring marine pilots over Guadalcanal.   Joining me is aviation historian Bill Yenne.</spa
01/03/202247 minutes 31 seconds
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160 - African American Medal of Honor Recipients

At the end WWII 473 men had been honoured by the United States for their bravery and sacrifice by receiving the Medal of Honor. The Medal was awarded to men of all ranks - from Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright at the top all the way down to 18-year-old Private Joseph Merrell. Although 1 million African Americans served in the military during the war, not one was awarded the Medal of Honor, this being despite some extraordinary acts of valour. In 1993 a US Army commission reviewed cases from recipients of America’s second-highest medal, the Distinguished Service Cross, and determined that a number of these men had been denied the Army’s highest award simply due to racial discrimination. In this episode, I’m joined by Robert Child author of Immortal Valor: The Black Medal of Honor Winners of World War II.
15/02/202256 minutes 42 seconds
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159 - The Aztec Eagles

When we think of the allied war effort it is all too easy to overlook some of the junior partners. In this episode, we are going to be looking at Mexico’s commitment to the Second World War. The Mexican Expeditionary Airforce would serve in the Philippines as the 201st Fighter Squadron known as the ‘Aztec Eagles’. I’m Joined by Walter Zapotoczny whose new book is The Aztec Eagles: The Forgotten Allies of the Second World War. Patreon:
01/02/202234 minutes 44 seconds
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158 - With the Old Breed: EB Sledge

In September 1944 a young Marine name Eugene Sledge landed on the Pacific Island of Peleliu. As a mortarman, stretcher-bearer and rifleman Sledge would fight his way across Peleliu then the Japanese island of Okinawa, arguably two of the fiercest and filthiest battles of the Pacific campaign. After the war, Eugene Sledge became a professor at Montevallo University and turned his diary notes from the war into a memoir of his experiences titled With the Old Breed. The book relates the dehumanising brutality displayed by both sides and the animal hatred that each soldier had for his enemy. Sledge writes of the conditions on the islands that meant the Marines often could not wash, stay dry, dig latrines, or even find time to eat. Suffering from constant fear, fatigue, an
15/01/20221 hour 19 minutes 37 seconds
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157 - General Patton

George S Patton Junior starred as an Olympic athlete in the 1912 Stockholm games. In 1916 under John J. Pershing Patton joined the Mexican Expedition against the paramilitary forces of Mexican revolutionary Francisco "Pancho" Villa. When the US entered the First World War Patton joined the new Tank Corps and commanded the U.S. tank school in France. Leading tanks into combat he would be wounded near the end of the war. But Patton is best remembered for his exploits on the battlefields of WWII, and this is what what we are looking at in this episode, from Morocco, through Sicily to D-Day.  Joining me is Kevin Hymel. Kevin has worked as a historian for the US army and is currently doing work for the Arlington National Cemetery. He is also a tour guide for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. He is the author of <a href= "
01/01/202253 minutes 47 seconds
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156 - Churchill, Master and Commander

From his earliest days, Winston Churchill was a risk-taker. As a young Lieutenant in the army he charged with the cavalry at the battle of Omdurman, he saw action on the North-West Frontier and took a trip to Cuba to observe the war there. As a journalist, he covered the Boer War putting himself in harm’s way on numerous occasions.  Aged 25 he entered the house of commons and held many of the great offices of state including First Lord of the Admiralty at the outbreak of the First World War, then minister of munitions and at the close of the war Minister for War and Air.  I’m joined by Anthony Tucker-Jones. Anthony is a British former defence intelligence officer and a widely published military expert. His new book Churchi
15/12/20211 hour 27 minutes 50 seconds
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155 - Pearl Harbor

7th December 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States of America into the Second World War. On the morning of 7th December 1941, just before 8am the Japanese launched their attack on the US naval base of Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Japanese planned the attack as a first strike to cripple the US fleet in the Pacific and prevent America from intervening in other Japanese Pacific Operations. From six Imperial Japanese Aircraft carriers, over 350 planes flew in two waves attacked the American base. Eight US Navy battleships would be damaged, four sunk, along with other cruisers and destroyers. Crucially, one element of the US Pacific fleet escaped the preemptive strike. The American Aircraft Carriers were all absent from Pearl Harbor on the day of the attack. Roosevelt would proclaim the 7th December 1941 as a ‘date that would live in infamy’. Joining me to discuss the attack on Pearl Harbor is Mar
01/12/202145 minutes 14 seconds
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154 - Chemical Weapons

In this episode we are discussing chemical weapons. It might seem like an odd topic, unlike the First World War which saw the deployment of gas, chemical weapons were not used on the battlefield of Europe in WWII. But there was a fear of them being used; everyone carried a gas mask and the belligerent nations had huge chemical weapons industries working throughout the war. I’m Joined by Brett Edwards.  Brett is a senior lecture at Bath University, he is also the host of the poisons and pestilence podcast.
15/11/202154 minutes 28 seconds
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153 - Canadian Army Civil Affairs Units

One lesson the allies learned from the fall of France in 1940 was that civilian populations needed managing, to keep them away from military operations. As the allied troops came-a-shore after D-Day in June 1944, with them would be Civil Affairs units. These units were to act as liaisons between the allied combat troops and the civilians they encountered. The remit for the Civil Affairs units was wide and extremely varied, from keeping roads clear of refugees to feeding and housing local populations that war had ravaged. Joining me today is David Borys.  David is a Canadian academic whose book Civilians at the Sharp End looks at the experiences of the Civilian Affairs units attached to the Canadian First Army. David is also the host of the popular podcast Cool Canadian History, a bi-weekly podcast on everything and anything to do with C
01/11/202155 minutes 8 seconds
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152 - U.S. Naval Gunfire Support in the Pacific

Before the outbreak of war, the US Navy and the Marines had put considerable effort into developing a doctrine to support amphibious operations from ship to shore gunfire. When the marines landed on Tarawa in November 1943, it would be the first serious test of this doctrine. In this episode, I’m joined by Donald Mitchener to discuss the doctrine and how it developed from those initial assault landings on Tarawa through to the end of the war. Donald is a lecturer at the University of North Texas and author of ​​U.S. Naval Gunfire Support in the Pacific War. Become a patron:
15/10/202152 minutes 52 seconds
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151 - Escape from Greece

I’ve an incredible story for you in this episode of Shanghai born John Robin Greaves, ‘Jack’, who emigrated to Australia in 1939 and volunteered for the Australian Imperial Force to serve overseas. The army would send Jack to the Middle East then to Greece, where he would be captured Germans. Australian ABC journalist Stephen Hucheon has researched his uncle’s story and produced a fantastic article for ABC available on their website. You can find the full article here: This discussion is part of a project looking at Australian's in the Mediterranean during WWII. Find out more at <a href= "
01/10/202146 minutes 59 seconds
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150 - Eisenhower's Broad Front Strategy

I recently read David Colley’s The Folly of Generals: How Eisenhower's Broad Front Strategy Lengthened World War II.David has analysed some of the missed opportunities the allies had in 1944-45 in Europe. He argues that had Eisenhower been more adept at taking advantage of several potential breakthroughs in the Siegfried Line in the autmun of 1944 the war in the European Theatre of Operations might have ended sooner.  It was such a fascinating read, so I thought I’d get David onto the podcast to examine Eisenhower’s broad front policy. David P. Colley is an award-winning journalist and author who has written for many national publications, including Army, World War II, American Heritage, and The New York Times. Among his books on military history are The
15/09/202138 minutes 31 seconds
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149 - Australia's war with France

Since starting the podcast, I’ve looked at the aspects of the war from the point of view of various countries. But, one glaring omission has been any Australian narrative of the war. The Australians fought across the world on the land, sea and in the air air; notably in the Pacific and the Middle East, which is what we’ll be discussing in this episode. With the fall of France, her overseas territories predominantly remained loyal to the French Vichy regime. This was true for Syria and Lebanon. To the south were the British in Egypt. With Rommel in the Western Desert and Germans fostering an uprising in Iraq, the British feared Germany might take control over of Syria and Lebanon. From there, the Nazis could supply the rebels in Iraq and threaten Egypt from two sides. Churchill ordered General Wavell to go on the offensive and take the French territories. The British didn’t envisage the French putting up much of a fight. The Australian 7th Division would m
01/09/202154 minutes 35 seconds
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148 - Luftwaffe Special Weapons

As the course of the second world war turned against the Third Reich some radical proposals and inventive designs, were put forward by armaments manufacturers, scientists, technicians, aircrew and even private individuals to the German Air Ministry for consideration as weapons to be utilised by the Luftwaffe. Some proposals were destined never to leave the drawing board, while others not only underwent trials but were issued to operational units and used in action. In the episode I’m joined by Robert Forsyth. Robert is an aviation historian who some of you may recall I chatted to in episode 52, when we looked at Luftwaffe units working with the U-Boats. Robert has a sumptuous new book available from Osprey Luftwaffe Special Weapons 1942–45. Patron: <a href
15/08/202145 minutes 59 seconds
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147 - Operation Barbarossa

Buoyed by their victories over Poland and France, on the 22 June 1941 the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa, and over 3 millions men advanced over the border to attack Russia. The opening of the Eastern Front would be one of Hilter’s most momentous decisions of WWII. Having only signed a nonaggression pact with German in 1939, Stalin was taken by surprise. The opening weeks of the offensive were wildly successful for the Germans, but as the Panzer formations rapidly advanced the infantry struggled, on foot, to keep up. At Kiev, the Germans would take over half a million Russian soldiers prisoner. Barbarossa was a campaign where one Panzer Divisional commander queried if the Germans were ‘winning themselves to death’. Joining me for this episode is now regular of the podcast Jonathan Trigg. In episode 55 and 77 Jon and I looked a
01/08/20211 hour 54 seconds
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146 - Stop Lines

In Britain, after the fall of France, there was the fear that the Germans may attempt a channel crossing and invade in 1940. If the Wehrmacht got shore in the south of England, facing them would have been a series of ‘Stop Lines’. These were defensives which comprised a series of pillboxes and anti-tank obstacles. They hoped these static defences would hold up any German advance long enough for the British to bring forward a mobile reserve. During WWII this network of fortifications was spread across the country. Protecting Britain from an invasion in Devon and Cornwall was the Taunton Stop line in the South West of the country. To tell me all about Stop Lines is Andrew Powell-Thomas. Andrew is a military historian specialising in the military history of the West Country. He is also the author of The West Country’s Last Line of Defence: Taunt
15/07/202146 minutes 49 seconds
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145 - Bomb Aimers

On the heavy bombers the role of the crew members was symbiotic. The pilot needed the flight engineer to fly; the navigator got the plane to the target, and it was the bomb aimer that delivered the ordinance.   Wartime films give the impression of the bomb aimer's job being simply to look through the bombsight and press the button to release the bombs at the right time. In actual fact, their job is much more sophisticated. They aided the navigator, took readings to be dialled into their computer connected bomb sight, and often they might also be expected to man a machine gun in the plane's nose. In this episode I’m joined by Colin Pateman. If you recall in episode 76 I talked to Colin about Flight Engineers. Well, he’s been busy since then and has just completed a new book Aiming for Accuracy which focuses on bomb aime
01/07/202154 minutes 31 seconds
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144 - Alan Brooke: Churchill's Right-Hand Critic

Alan Brooke would take over as the British Chief of the Imperial General Staff in December 1941. For the rest of the war Brooke would organise and coordinate the British military effort, in such a role acted as Winston Churchill’s senior military advisor. Brooke’s relationship with Churchill could be tempestuous. Brooke was not a ‘yes man’ and would stand up to Churchill. The two might argue, but Churchill never fired him and appreciated his candour. History now often overlooks the contribution Brooke made to the war, in favour of commanders who were happy to seize the limelight. He is very much the forgotten Field Marshal. Joining me is Andrew Sangster. Andrew is the author of Alan Brooke: Churchill's Right-Hand Critic: A Reappraisal of Lord Alanbrooke. This is a new appraisal and biography of Brooke. This episode is brought to you by <
15/06/202152 minutes 35 seconds
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143 - The Battle for Madagascar

When France capitulated in 1940 and the Vichy government came to power many of the French colonial possessions remained loyal to the new regime. The same was true for the Island of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. In this episode I’m joined by Russell Phillips. Russell’s book A Strange Campaign narrates the story of the battle for Madagascar, where British troops would fight the French for possession of the island. If you want to hear more from Russell, spool back through the WW2 Podcast feed to episode 27. We discussed Operation Anthropoid, the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich and the destruction of the Czech village of Lidice as a reprisal by the Germans. Not only was the village physically destroyed all the visible remains were removed. To find the pod
01/06/202132 minutes 42 seconds
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142 - Mackenzie King

Everyone remembers the role of Churchill and Roosevelt throughout the war, but there was a third man key to their relationship and of the three of them the only one to remain in power at the end of the war in August 1945. Mackenzie King was the Prime Minister of Canada, the largest British Dominion and America's closest neighbour. By the start of the war, King knew both FDR and he’d been friends with Churchill since first meeting in 1905. He would serve as a lynchpin between the great powers, yet is now often overlooked. Joining me is Neville Thompson. Neville is a professor emeritus of history at the University of Western Ontario, where he taught modern British and European history. He is also the author of the wonderful book The Third Man: Churchill, Roosevelt, MacKenzie King, and the Untold Friendships That Won WWII which recounts the relationship between the three men based on King’s person
15/05/202153 minutes 48 seconds
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141 - Eighth Army versus Rommel

looking at the British Army in North Africa, its tactics and training in an effort to explain the difficulties the 8th Army had fighting the Afrika Korps. Jame’s book was released last year but I’ve only recently managed to find the time to read his book 8th Army vs Rommel. And what a cracking book it is… 
01/05/202145 minutes 33 seconds
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140 - How to kill a Panther tank

It's a simple question, how do you knock out a Panther tank? When the 'boffins' in Britain got hold of a Panther it's the question they were tasked with finding an answer for. Using official reports and documents, Craig Moore has been through the archives piecing together all the faults that the British saw in the German Panther during WWII. In this episode, I discuss with him the chinks that were found in the amour of the German tank. Craig is the author of How to Kill a Panther Tank and How to Kill a Tiger Tank.
15/04/202136 minutes 9 seconds
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139 - German Uniforms of WWII

'In the years after World War I, the defeated and much-reduced German Army developed new clothing and personal equipment that drew upon the lessons learned in the trenches. In place of the wide variety of uniforms and insignia that had been worn by the Imperial German Army, a standardized approach was followed, culminating in the uniform items introduced in the 1930s as the Nazi Party came to shape every aspect of German national life. The outbreak of war in 1939 prompted further adaptations and simplifications of uniforms and insignia, while the increasing use of camouflaged items and the accelerated pace of weapons development led to the appearance of new clothing and personal equipment. Medals and awards increased in number as the war went on, with grades being added for existing awards and new decorations introduced to reflect battlefield feats. Specialists such as mountain troops, tank crews and combat engineers were issued distinctive unifor
01/04/202150 minutes 33 seconds
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138 - Hang Tough: Major Dick Winters

Since the HBO WWII miniseries Band of Brothers aired in 2001, Major Dick Winters of the 101st Airborne has garnered international acclaim. His exploits hit key moments of the North Western European campaign in 1944-45 as Winter’s took part in D-Day, Operation Market Garden and Battle of the Bulge. A modest hero, he epitomizes the notion of dignified leadership. Winters was a fairly prolific letter writer, one person he wrote to regularly was a young lady called DeEtta Almon. After the war they lost touch but upon the release of Stephen Ambrose book Band of Brothers, DeEtta contacted Winters and presented him with all the letters he had written to her during the war. In this episode I’m joined by Erik Dorr and Jared Frederick.   Erik is the owner and curator of the Gettysburg Museum of History, which houses a Dick Winter Collection.  <a href="http://historymatters
15/03/20211 hour 1 minute 19 seconds
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137 - Operation Lena and Hitler's Plots to Blow up Britain

The common narrative of the war often completely overlooks Germany’s attempts to run spies in Britain. In actual fact, for more or less the whole of the war the German secret service, the Abwehr, were sending agents into Britain. In this episode I’m joined by Bernard O’Connor, author of Operation Lena and Hitler's Plots to Blow up Britain to discuss German espionage activities.
01/03/202137 minutes 42 seconds
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136 - The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944

At the start of 1944 the German army on the Eastern Front was reeling after suffering defeats at Stalingrad and Kursk. Hitler was keen to hold on to the territory occupied by the Germans, but all the while the Wehrmacht was forced to give up ground to the Red Army. In this episode we’re going to be looking at the fighting throughout 1944 for Army Group South in the Ukraine and Romania. I’m joined by Prit Buttar. Prit is the author of a number of books recounting the fighting in Russia during both world wars, his latest is The Reckoning: The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944.
15/02/202150 minutes 37 seconds
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135 - Spaniards in the British Army

In previous episodes we’ve touched upon the Spanish civil war, when the war came to an end there was a large number of displaced Spanish living in France and to a less extent other Europe countries. With the second world war looming, the French began to recruit these displaced men into their armed forces. When France fell in 1940 a sizeable number found themselves in Britain, where they were recruited in to the British Army. But they weren’t just in Britain, in North Africa and the Middle East spaniards signed up to fight with the British. In this episode I’m joined by military historian and hispanist Sean Scullion to explore who these men were and their stories.
01/02/20211 hour 20 minutes 44 seconds
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134 - The Original Jeeps

During the interwar years the US army had worked to develop a light weapons carrier, but by 1940 the ‘perfect’ vehicle had not been found. The war in Europe focused minds in the American army and in June it compiled a list of requirements for a revolutionary new truck to replace the mule as the Army's primary method of moving troops and small payloads. In this episode we discuss how the American Bantam Car Company, Willys Overland-Motors and the Ford Motor Company stepped up to the challenge and developed a new vehicle which would eventually become the Jeep. I’m Joined by Paul R. Bruno. Paul has spent twenty years researching, writing and studying early Jeep history. His first book was Project Management in History: The First Jeep, this led him to his next book The Original Jeeps. Like the podcast? Why not become a patron? <a href="https://ww
15/01/202139 minutes 47 seconds
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133 - Rome

Rome, the ‘Eternal City’, had a peculiar war. With Italy an axis nation it was a target for allied bombers but in the centre is the Vatican, home of the Pope. A neutral state within the capital of a belligerent nation. In deference to the Pope allied bombing operations were curtailed, perhaps more than they might otherwise have have been. When the Italians secretly brokered an armistice with the allies in September 1943, Rome was occupied by the Germans. With the Germans in charge, Italian men would be deported as forced labour and the Jewish population of Rome rounded up to be sent to concentration camps. At the same time the Vatican became a magnet for escaped Prisoners of War who would seek refuge inside the walls of the holy city. I’m joined by Victor Failmezger. Victor is a retired US Naval Officer who served in Rome as the Assistance Naval Attaché. He is also the author of Rome City in Terror: The Nazi Occupation 1943-44. <a href="ht
01/01/202156 minutes 26 seconds
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132 - The 746th Far East Air Force Band

Richard Burt was part of the the 746th Far East Air Force Band, based in the Philippines. At the end of WWII just before the band were split up, using a single microphone they recorded a final performance to magnetic wire. Richard Burt he brought these recordings home and had them transferred to 78rpm discs. Burt squirrelled away these discs and were largely forgotten until they were rediscovered after he passed away. In this episode I’m talking to Jason Burt about his grandfather Richard Burt. Jason has made these recordings available, you can find them on Spotify and for sale with original home footage of the band at </a
20/12/202029 minutes 35 seconds
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131 - Economists at War

Any long protracted conflict is reliant upon the resources that can be brought bear, in which case war is not just about military success. In this episode of the WW2 podcast we’ll be looking at economics and the economists who shaped the second world war and the post war world. This story goes beyond simply looking at treasury departments of the belligerent nations, the OSS had a department focusing on the economies of other countries, looking for weaknesses and economists used. Others used their mathematical brilliance in the development of the nuclear bomb. I'm joined by Alan Bollard, author of Economists at War: How a Handful of Economists Helped Win and Lose the World Wars Alan is a Professor of Economics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.  He formerly managed the APEC - Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation - the largest regional economic integration organisation in the world, and was previously the New Zealand Reserve Bank Governor, Se
15/12/202053 minutes 12 seconds
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130 - The Texel Uprising: Night of Bayonets

In previous episodes 77 and 55 we looked at foreign troops serving in the German army during WWII, in this episode we’re going to be discussing the Georgians who came over from the Russian army to fight with the Wehrmacht. A large number of these men would eventually be posted to the Dutch island of Texel to man the Atlantic war. When the war in Europe ended on the 7th May 1945 the fighting on Texel would continue... I’m joined by Eric Lee. Eric is the author of Night of the Bayonets: The Texel Uprising and Hitler’s Revenge, April-May 1945.
01/12/202047 minutes 46 seconds
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129 - The Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign, November 1942–March 1943

In episode 64 I discussed the start of the Guadalcanal-Solomons campaign with Jeffery Cox. We left that discussion of the campaign unfinished, the Americans were in control of the airfield on Guadalcanal but the Marines had no way secured the island. The US navy had suffered a number of serious losses, including the carrier Hornet and the carrier Enterprise had been seriously damaged forcing her to withdraw for repairs. Jeff has now finished his second book in the series Blazing Star, Setting Sun, so I’ve got him back to talk about the end of the campaign on Guadalcanal.
15/11/20201 hour 20 minutes 3 seconds
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128 - The Doolittle Raiders and their Fight for Justice

The skill and bravery of the Doolittle raiders during WWII, who bombed Tokyo in 1942 captured the American public’s imagination, but not all the crews returned. Eight US flyers became Japanese prisoners of war who were tortured, put on trial for war crimes and found guilty… Not all of these men would make it home. In this episode we’re not going to be talking directly about the Doolittle raid but rather focus on the post war, war crimes trial of a number of the Japanese officers who were connected with the treatment of the Doolittle flyers that became Prisoners of War. Joining me is Michel Paradis, author of Last Mission to Tokyo. Michel is a specialist in International Law and Human Rights and has worked for over a decade with the US Department of Defence. He is also a lecturer at Columbia Law School. <img src= "https://as
01/11/202055 minutes
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127 - The Longest Campaign

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said there was only one campaign of the Second World War that gave him sleepless nights, that was the Battle of the Atlantic. The Battle began on 3 September 1939 and lasted 2074 days until 8 May 1945, when Germany surrendered. With over 70,000 allied seamen killed, lost on 3,500 merchant vessels and 175 warships. This was the longest continuous campaign of the war. Matched against them was the Kreigsmarine. While German surface ships would sally out, this campaign is known for the u-boats that would prey upon allied convoys. Joining me today is Brian Walter, a retired army officer, recipient of the Excellence in Military History Award from the US Army Center for Military History and the Association of the United States Army. Brian is the Author of The Longest Campaign: Britain’s Maritime Struggle in the Atlantic and Northwest Europe, 1939-45. <p
15/10/202052 minutes 52 seconds
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126 - The River Battles: Canada's Final Campaign in Italy

After D-Day, the spotlight on the allied fighting was focused on North West Europe, yet the fighting in Italy carried on often overlooked. In this episode we’re going to be looking at the Canadians battling across what should have been good tank country at the end of 1944.  I’m joined by Canadian military historian Mark Zuehlke, author of ‘The River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War II Italy’. If you want more of Mark and I chatting we discussed the Dieppe Raid, way back in episode 5!
01/10/202049 minutes 51 seconds
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125 - Mechanisation of British Cavalry Units and Tank Doctrine

In episode 107, I talked to Ian Mitchell about the Battle of the Peaks and Longstop Hill in North Africa. Ian subsequently emailed me suggesting I talk to Sam Wallace, a post graduate researcher at Leeds University, who was working on some interesting stuff; Sam's PhD is titled The Allied Sandbox: The Tunisian Campaign and the Development of Allied Warfighting Methods, 1942-43. After chatting with Sam, we decided to look at his MA thesis which is titled Arme Blanche to Armoured Warfare: The Process of Mechanisation within the British Cavalry and the Construction of British Tank Doct
15/09/20201 hour 34 seconds
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124 - Kais: Downed airmen in New Guinea

In 1944, Ira Barnet took off from an airfield in New Guinea. Flying a B-25 Mitchell, from the 48th Tactical Fight Squadron, Ira and the crew were on a regular mission to harry any Japanese shipping they came across. Attacking a barge the Japanese managed to get some luck shots on Ira’s plane. Attempting to nurse the Mitchell back to base it became obvious the plane wasn't going to make it. Ira was forced to make an emergency landing in a jungle swamp, miles behind enemy lines. In this episode we’re looking at the ordeal the crew went through and the rescue mission that was launched in an attempt to bring the boys back home. I’m joined by Bas Krueger.  Bas is an aviation historian and author of Kais, which recounts the story and Bas’s own attempts to locate the B-25 over 70 years later... Like the podcast? Why not become a Pat
01/09/202035 minutes 1 second
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123 - Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay

Bertram Ramsey was the mastermind behind the evacuation of the BEF from France in those crucial weeks at the end of May and the start of June in 1940. It was his planning, determination and leadership which helped evacuate around 338,000 men from Dunkirk. But for this Royal Navy Officer, still officially retired, it was just one landmark operation he was involved with. Ramsey would go on to plan and take part in the invasion of North Africa, Sicily and Normandy; for Overlord he would be in overall command of the naval component of the D-Day landings, Neptune. But, Admiral Bertram Ramsay is not now a household name, overshadowed by some of his contemporaries. Hopefully in this episode we’ll try and put the record straight. I’m joined by Brian Izzard. Brian’s book Mastermind of Dunkirk and D-Day: The Vision of Admiral Bertram Ramsay is the first
15/08/202042 minutes 55 seconds
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122 - Fallout: The Hiroshima Cover-up

On 6th August 1945, Colonel Paul Tibbets, flying the ‘Enola Gay’ a B-29 Superfortress named after Tibbets’s mother, dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. The bomb, ‘little-boy’, devastated the city; exploding with the energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT. The explosion instantly killed thousands of people and in the next few months tens of thousands more would die from the effects of burns, radiation sickness, and other injuries, compounded by illness and malnutrition. On the 9th August Nagasaki would be the next city to be hit by an atomic bomb. The effects of the atomic bombs shocked even the US military. Even before the Japanese surrender, the US government and military had begun a secret propaganda and information suppression campaign to hide the devastating nature of these experimental weapons. For nearly a year the cover-up worked—until New Yorker journal
01/08/202047 minutes 55 seconds
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121 - To Defeat The Few: The Luftwaffe's Battle of Britain

After the fall of France, Germany turned its attention to Britain. The Battle of Britain is the story of the hard pressed RAF struggling against an enemy, which up to that point hadn’t been stopped. Immortalised on celluloid in the 1969 film, with a star studded cast, Guy Hamilton’s Battle of Britain is very much an anglo centric view and even nearly 30 years after the war the narrative leans heavily on the wartime propaganda. The story of the Battle of Britain is much more complicated, that is not taking anything away from those men Churchill referred to as ‘the ‘few’, in fact in many instances it makes their story more remarkable. This may well be a topic we come back to from time to time, but to start us off we’re going to look at those crucial summer months in 1940 from the German perspective, asking how did they view it and what was their experience? Joining me today is Douglas Dildy and Paul Crickmore authors of <a href= "
15/07/202059 minutes 14 seconds
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120 - The People's Army in the Spanish Civil War

The Spanish civil war has been highlighted as an important prelude to WWII with Germany, Italy and Russia providing men and materiel for the Republican and Nationalist forces. Augmenting this were other foreign fighters forming the international Brigades. In this episode we’ll explore this conflict to see how much influence it had on the Second World War. I’m joined by Alex Clifford, author of The People’s Army In the Spanish Civil War and co-host of the podcast History's Most, a podcast that delves into interesting, under-reported and controversial topics in history. In each episode they take a 'most' or 'worst' in history and investigate it, from History's Most Guilty man, to most Unlikely victory to worst democracy. From Erich Ludendorff to the First Crusade... You should be able to find it on your podcast softwa
01/07/202048 minutes 33 seconds
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119 - The British Army and the Anti-Locust Campaign

As you know I like to seek out lesser known topics of the Second World War. In this episode we’ll be looking at the British army’s Middle-East Anti-locust Unit (MEALU). Due to locust threatening local food crops in the middle east, and to prevent valuable shipping space being used to import food the unit was created, and tasked with waging war on locust. Joining me is Athol Yates. Athol is Assistant Professor at Institute for International and Civil Security, at the Khalifa University in the United Arab Emirates. He has recently published the paper The British Military and the Anti-Locust Campaign across the Arab Peninsula including the Emirates, 1942-45 
15/06/202036 minutes 51 seconds
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118 - The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park

In this episode we’re looking at the British decryption efforts centred around Bletchley Park. I’m sure to some extent you’re all aware of the German cypher machine Enigma which proved so challenging to crack, but how much more do you know of British Government Code and Cypher School, which was housed at Bletchley Park during World War II. Joining me is Dermot Turing, if the name sounds familiar he is the nephew of the now well known Alan Turing whose name is now synonymous with the cracking of the enigma code. Dermot has served as a trustee of Bletchley Park and the Turing Trust, he is author of a number of books looking at Alan Turing and codebreaking, his latest being The Codebreakers of Bletchley Park. <a href="h
01/06/202056 minutes 3 seconds
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117 - Information Hunters

The old adage is ‘information is power’, and in this episode we’re going to be looking at the US operations to initially obtain information that was in the public domain. Post D-Day the mission changed to both seizing books, documents and papers as the Allies advanced; then after the close of hostilities in May 1945 the operations morphed once more to collecting, seizing and sorting books. The men tasked with this job were an unlikely band of librarians, archivists, and scholars. It’s a particularly less well known corner of the war that historian Kathy Peiss throws the spotlight on in her book Information Hunters: When Librarians, Soldiers, and Spies Banded Together in World War II Europe. Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research has examined the history of working women; working-class and interracial sexu
15/05/202031 minutes 45 seconds
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116 - Clementine Churchill

Clementine Churchill supported her husband Winston through the ups and downs of his long career. She was his most trusted confidant, counsellor and companion. Indeed it could be arguable that without his wife Clementine, Winston might never have become Prime Minister. By his own admission, the Second World War would have been ‘impossible without her’. I'm joined by Marie Benedict. Marie is the author of Lady Clementine: A Novel.
10/05/202037 minutes 13 seconds
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115 - To VE Day Through German Eyes

80 years ago this month (thats May 2020, if you're reading this from the future) the Germans finally surrendered to the Allies. While there were a number different surrender ceremonies the 8 May 1945 was declared by the Western Allies to be Victory in Europe Day, VE Day (the Russians celebrate it on the 9th May). In this episode we take a look at the closing period of the war, from September 1944 though to VE Day from the perspective of the Germans. Regular listeners will recall last year I talked to Jonathan Trigg about D-Day and the Normandy Campaign from the German side of the lines. Well we’re going to pick up the story and discuss from September to the end of the war in May 1945, which co-incidently is the the topic of his latest book To VE-Day Through German Eyes: The Final Defeat of Nazi Germany. <img
01/05/20201 hour 3 seconds
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114 - Airborne Chaplains in the Second World War

In this episode we’re exploring the work of army Chaplains assigned to British Airborne units during the war. These men landed with the troops by parachute or glider, often behind enemy lines sharing the dangers and challenges of front line operations through North Africa, Sicily, Italy, D-Day and Arnhem to the crossing of the Rhine. I’m joined by Linda Parker. Linda has written a number of books exploring the work of British Army Chaplains, her latest is Nearer my God to Thee: Airborne Chaplains in the Second World War.  
15/04/202040 minutes 6 seconds
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113 - Sighted Sub, Sank Same

We've neglected the Battle of the Atlantic, so in this episode of the podcast we look at the how the US Navy tackled the U-Boat threat during WWII. To start with, flying long missions with just a pair of binoculars to spy an enemy sub, by the 1944 new technology was being applied to track, trace and destroy U-Boats. Joining me is Alan Cary. Alan is a historian specializing in military aviation and has written Sighted Sub, Sank Same: The United States Navy Air Campaign against the U-Boat.  
01/04/202033 minutes 40 seconds
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112 - Four Hours of Fury: Operation Varsity

On the 24th of March 1945, 75 years ago this year, the largest ever airborne operation swung into action. Operation Varsity involved over 16,000 paratroopers and thousands of planes, the objective was to secure the west bank of the Rhine and the bridges over the Issel. Behind them was the Monty’s 21st Army Group which was crossing the Rhine as part of Operation Plunder. A successful crossing of the Rhine would allow the allies access to the North German Plain and ultimately to advance upon Berlin. Joining me today is James Fenelon. James served in the US Airborne before turning his hand to writing, he is the author of Four Hours of Fury which looks at Varsity. It’s a good read and does an excellent job of getting across the confusion of the situation for those men, once they hit the ground on that day in 1945.
15/03/202051 minutes 3 seconds
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111 - An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge

"Richard Sorge was a man with two homelands. Born of a German father and a Russian mother in Baku in 1895, he moved in a world of shifting alliances and infinite possibility. A member of the angry and deluded generation who found new, radical faiths after their experiences on the battlefields of the First World War, Sorge became a fanatical communist - and the Soviet Union's most formidable spy." Joining me to discuss Sorge is Owen Matthews. Owen is the former Moscow and Istanbul Bureau Chief for Newsweek Magazine and has just has just released a biography of Richard Sorge, An Impeccable Spy: Richard Sorge, Stalin’s Master Agent. It’s a cracking read! I thoroughly enjoyed it…  
01/03/202047 minutes 53 seconds
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110 - The P-47 Thunderbolt and 362nd Fighter Group

In this episode we’re going to be looking at the P-47 Thunderbolt and the US 362nd Fighter Group. The P-47 was a fighter bomber and very much suited to a ground attack role, with it's eight .50 cal machine guns and it could carry a bomb load of 2,500lbs or rockets. On top of that, it could take a lot of punishment. I’m joined by Chris Bucholtz. Chris is an aviation historian with a number of books under his belt including Thunderbolts Triumphant: The 362nd Fighter Group vs Germany's Wehrmacht.  
15/02/202038 minutes 49 seconds
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109 - The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

At the end of last year aviation historian Mathew Chapman sent me over his MA thesis, which is titled The Evolution of Professional Aviation Culture in Canada, 1939-45. In it he outlines the development of the British Commonwealth Air Training program in Canada, but the thesis goes on to discuss how veteran WWII pilots would dominate post war commercial airlines. If you were an air passenger in the 50’s, 60’s, 70s, and into the 1980s, there was a good chance your pilot was a WWII veteran. Take Concorde, the most famous passenger plane. The first man to fly it, Brian Trubshaw, he was in Bomber Command and flew Lancasters and transports during the war. If that is not interesting enough, the retirement of these veteran pilots led to a re-evaluation of the relationships between aircrew, the effects of which (as my wife pointed out) were so fundamental they have been introduced into the health service here in the UK. <a href="" tar
01/02/202042 minutes 37 seconds
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108 - The Battle for Hong Kong, 1941

We’re all familiar with the events on that day of ‘infamy’, the 7th December 1941. The Japanese launch their typhoon in the pacific with the attack on Pearl Harbour. Hours later they would invade Malaya; an operation that would outflank the British 'fortress’ singapore. Japanese units would land on the Philippines and the conquest of the Dutch-East Indies (modern day indonesia) would begin. Less well known is the Japanese attack on the British territory of Hong Kong The island had been ceded to the British in 1841, it served as a valuable harbour for ships trading with the Chinese port of Canton (now Guangzhou). Since then the colony had grown to include the Kowloon peninsula and the New Territories on the mainland, giving Hong Kong a land border with China. We’ve looked at various early attacks made by the Japanese in December 1941, but I’ve often wondered what happened to Hong Kong? Well to answer that I’m joined by Phillip Cracknell. Phillip is a battlefield tour gu
15/01/202055 minutes 57 seconds
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107 - The Battle of the Peaks and Long Stop Hill

We’re in North Africa for this episode of the podcast. In late 1942 the Allies landed in Morocco and Algeria, this was operation Torch. With them landed elements of what would become First Army, comprising of British, French and American troops. It was commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Kenneth Anderson a dour capable, scotsman.  First Army would be tasked with moving east pushing the Germans back into Tunisia, with the goal of capturing Tunis. After a 500 mile advance, the allies reached what would become known as Long Stop Hill with its surrounding peaks, a natural upland barrier.  To guide us through the battle I’m joined by WWII historian Ian Mitchell. Ian has been piecing together the battle over the last nine years, and layed it all out in his book Th
01/01/202057 minutes 36 seconds
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106 - Operation Swallow

In this episode we’re starting with the US 110th Infantry regiment in the Ardennes and following a small number of GI’s who became POW and sent back to Germany, to ultimately work as slave labour on ‘operation swallow’. Joining me once more is military historian Mark Felton. Mark is having a busy year, if you recall we chatted to him recently about the Bridge Busters, a raid on the Dortmund-Ems canal in episode 96. In episode 73 we discussed US troops undertaking Operation Cowboy as a rescue mission to save the world famous ‘spanish riding school’, and one of my favourite <a href= "
15/12/201944 minutes 24 seconds
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105 - Case White: The Invasion of Poland, 1939

2019 marked the 80th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Germany and then a few weeks later, Russia. It was the event that forced Britain and France to finally declare war on Germany. In a five week campaign the Wehrmacht fought one of the largest armies in Europe to a point where it collapsed. But the Poles were not necessarily the backward force commiting cavalry to attack tanks as often the narrative of the campaign suggests. In 1939 the Polish army could put more tanks in the field than the US military, she was exporting arms, including the Bofors gun favoured by the British. Joining me is Robert Forczyk. I’ve talked to Robert before when we looked at Operation Sea Lion in episode 32, and Case Red: The collapse of France in <a href= "" target="_blank" r
01/12/201951 minutes 34 seconds
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104 - Alarmstart: The Luftwaffe in the Mediterranean

If you cast your mind back to February 2018 I discussed the experience of German fighter pilots experience in Western Europe with Patrick Eriksson, that’s episode 60. Later that same year, Patrick followed up with a second book Alarmstart East, focusing on the luftwaffe fighting over Russia (episode 85). Patrick has now finished his trilogy of Luftwaffe books with Alarmstart South and the final defeat, closing with the German experience flying in and around the Mediterean; so North Africa, Sicily, Malta etc and through to the end of the war. So I asked Patrick back for a chat… <img src= "" alt=""
15/11/201949 minutes 16 seconds
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103 'Chink' Eric Dorman-Smith

If you’ve ever read about the British experience in the Deserts of North Africa during WWII, one name usually gets a mention somewhere in the narrative, that of Eric Dorman-Smith, often refered to as ‘chink’. He can be a divisive character, sometimes portrayed as a far thinking military genius whose ideas were ignored or misunderstood. To others he represents what was problematic with both the senior British commanders Wavell and Auchinleck, whose fortunes rose and fell; he was symptomatic of retreat, reorganisation, confusion and poor leadership. The curious thing about Dorman-Smith is so little is directly written about him, he is a footnote in the books of other desert leaders and often only gets a brief mention in histories of the North Africa Campaign. So hopefully in this episode we’ll shed some light on ‘chink’. Joining me today is James Colvin.  James is currently working on a history
01/11/20191 hour 2 minutes 18 seconds
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102 - D-Day Through German Eyes

June 2019 marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we had a month of D-Day podcasts looking at the operation from the British, Canadian and American perspectives. The narrative of that day is the difficulty of the operation, doubts if the landings would succeed, but what if we turn the tables? How was it for the Germans? To answer that question I'm joined by WW2 podcast stalwart Jonathan Trigg. Jonathan has joined us in the past to discuss his work researching foreign recruits to the SS, you can find those in episodes 55 and 77. Earlier this year, he had a new book released titled D-Day Through German Eyes: How the Wehrmacht Lost France. With D-Day fresh in our minds I thought we best get him back to have a chat about t
15/10/20191 hour 3 minutes 37 seconds
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101 - Operation CHASTISE: The Dambusters

On the night of May 16th, 1943, 19 Lancaster bombers took off from England heading toward the German industrial heartland of the Ruhr. They carried a new bomb, designed to skip across water avoiding any torpedo nets before hitting the target and sinking into the depths; then exploding.. The bomb was codenamed ‘upkeep’, we know it today as the ‘bouncing bomb’ designed by Barnes Wallis. Those Lancaster's of 617 squadron, commanded 24 year old Guy Gibsonwould become known as the ‘Dam Busters’, the operation was CHASTISE. The mission would be a success, as in two of the targeted dams were hit and breached causing millions of tons of water to surge down into the Ruhr region, flooding mines, destroying factories and homes. The crews that surv
01/10/201944 minutes 11 seconds
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100 - Left For Dead At Nijmegen

On the 17th September 1944 Gene Metcalfe, of the 82 Airbourne, parachuted in to Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. Approaching the bridge they were to capture Gene is injured in a firefight and left for dead. He would spend the rest of the war as a POW. I talk to Gene about his wartime experiences in the Airbourne, as a POW and what happened once he was liberated. Left for Dead in Nijmegen, by Marcus Nannini, is the story of Gene's war, it is a fantastic read and well worth picking up a copy.
15/09/201941 minutes 27 seconds
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99 - George Mergenthaler - MERG

One thing I’ve learned from producing these podcasts is the research never ends, it only leads to new avenues of interest branching off from the original topic. And this is the case for Peter Lion. If you recall in episode 33, Peter told us how elements of the US 28nd infantry division, stationed in the Luxembourg town of Wiltz put on a christmas party for the local children, and this included GI Richard Brookins dressing as St Nicholas and arriving by jeep to hand out gifts. In researching that Peter bumped into the story of George Mergenthaler, heir to the Mergenhaler Linotype Company. I’ve been trying to pin down a guest for an ‘extra’ episode for quite a while, so when Peter proposed we discuss his book MERGit I jumped at the chance.  For Patrons of the podcast I make available parts of the interviews that are off topic or
10/09/201949 minutes 13 seconds
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98 - Operation Market Garden

September 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, the allied attempt to create a sixty mile corridor, and secure a crossing over the Rhine. The plan was to use the newly formed First Allied Airborne Army to seize and hold nine key bridges until relieved by the British Army’s XXX Corp. The Airborne component was known as Market, and the ground attack was Garden. Joining me to talk about the background to airborne operations and Market Garden is Dr William Buckingham. William is the author or Arnhem: The Complete Story of Operation Market Garden 17-25 September 1944.  
01/09/201959 minutes 29 seconds
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97 - Japanese POW: Ray Fitchett

Last year I got an email from Cole Gill, his grandfather had made a number of tape recordings recounting his experiences during the war serving on the Royal Navy ship HMS Exeter, then as a POW at the Fukuoka camp,where he witnessed the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Who wouldn’t be interested in that story?  Cole sent them over and after listening to them they’ve been languishing in my virtual bottom draw on my computer, awaiting for me to have some inspiration. Well I’ve got them out, dusted them down and what I have for you is the story of Raymond Fitchett. It’s a big thank you to Cole Gill for sharing these recordings.
15/08/201939 minutes 18 seconds
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96 - Bridge Busters: The Dortmund-Ems Canal Raid

In this episode we’re looking at an RAF raid in 1940 against the Dortmund-Ems canal. The canal was a vital trade route with huge amounts of supplies and raw materials passing along it daily. With the fall of France and the build up to Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain, interrupting the traffic on the canal would aid in upsetting the German timetable. But to undertake the task a level of accuracy was needed from the RAF which was hitherto unheard of… It was very much a proto-dambusters raid. Joining me to discuss the raid is Dr Mark Felton, author of The Bridge Busters. We’ve spoken to Mark before, we looked Operation Cowboy, where some elements of the Whermacht joined with the Americans to save the world famous Lipizaner horses at the close of WWII. In episode 49, we discu
01/08/201941 minutes 31 seconds
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95 - Jimmy Stewart

For a long time I’ve been fascinated by movie stars who chose to join the military and saw combat in World War Two. And one star in particular has always interested me, ‘Jimmy Stewart’.  A big star in the 1930’s, in 1940 he would win the Oscar for best man in The Philadelphia Story’ and was nominated for one for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, yet when war came he was insistent on not avoiding it and joined the United States Army Airforce flying combat missions over Europe. Joining me to discuss Jimmy Stewart’s military career is Robert Matzen, author of Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight For Europe.  
15/07/201939 minutes 29 seconds
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94 - 1941

The usual narrative for WWII is that turning points of the war are in 1942 with the battles of Midway, El Alamein and Stalingrad. While these are unquestionably major victories that signalled the ‘end of the beginning’, as Churchill would put it. Friend of the podcast Andrew Nagorski has suggested that actually 1941 was the pivotal year of the war. Andrew contends that the decisions made in 1941, by the major nations, would make an allied victory not just possible but inevitable. It’s a compelling idea. As we’ve had Andrew on the podcast previously (in episode 18, when discussed Nazi war crimes), I thought it would be good to get him back for a catch up and to outline his thesis laid out in his new book ‘1941: The Year Germany Lost The War’.   <img src= "https://a
01/07/201947 minutes 18 seconds
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93 - D-Day: The British Beach Landings

In the last episode we looked at the American experience of D-Day at Omaha beach, this time it’s the turn of the British and Canadians at Sword, Juno and Gold on the 6th June 1944. In this episode we’re going to concentrate on the British and Canadian landings on D-Day. I’m joined by John Sadler. Now we’ve talked to John before in episode 26, when we looked at Operation Agreement, a combined operations raid in the deserts of North Africa that included  the Long Range Desert Group, the SAS and the Royal Navy. John is also a battlefield guide of the D-Day Beaches and surrounding areas and has a book out called D-Day: The British Landings.
15/06/201940 minutes 47 seconds
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92 - D-Day: Omaha

‘Before the war, Normandy’s Plage d’Or coast was best known for its sleepy villages and holiday destinations. Early in 1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel took one look at the gentle, sloping sands and announced ‘They will come here!’ He was referring to Omaha Beach ‒ the primary American D-Day landing site. The beach was subsequently transformed into three miles of lethal, bunker-protected arcs of fire, with chalets converted into concrete strongpoints, fringed by layers of barbed wire and mines. The Germans called it ‘the Devil's Garden’.’ In this episode I’m joined by Robert Kershaw military historian, battlefield guide and author of Fury of Battle: A D-Day landing as it happened. We discuss the American landings on D-Day at Omaha beach.
01/06/201943 minutes 6 seconds
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91 - USS Arizona: Brothers Down

In this episode I’m joined by Walter Borneman, if you cast your mind back I talked to him in episode 25 about General Macarthur. That was nearly three years ago! How time flies! Since then Walter has been busy researching the history of the sinkingof the USS Arizona during the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 194 and the fate of the crew, including a remarkable 23 sets of siblings. He has a new WWII book out called Brothers Down, so I thought we’d get him back to discuss it.
15/05/201956 minutes 50 seconds
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90 - Storm On Our Shores

On the 6th of June 1942 Japanese troops invaded the island of Attu which is part of Alaska, it was the first time since 1812 that continental America had been invaded. In this episode we’re looking at the US attack to recapture the island, the fighting was bitter in a very hostile environment, and the discovery of a diary of a Japanese army surgeon who had been trained before the war in the USA. I’m joined by Mark Obmascik, author of The Storm on our Shoreswhich traces the story of the fighting on Attu, Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi and an American GI called Dick Laird.
01/05/201947 minutes 10 seconds
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89 - Cork Wars

A few months ago I got email from David Taylor asking if I’d ever considered looking at the cork industry in WWII? I'm sure like you, it had never crossed my mind. The more I looked into it the more I got enthused by the story of cork, it was a wonder product during the early 20th century, used in all manner of things - almost anything that needed a seal such as a gasket used cork, so it was crucial to the auto industry, aviation and munitions. The American government defined it a strategic industry along with coal and steel! What makes the story more intriguing is the majority of it came from neutral Portugal and Spain… I hope I’ve laid out my case on why it is such a fascinating story. I’m joined by David Taylor, who is the author of ‘Cork Wars’ which tells the stories of some of those involved in the cork business during WWII and Crown Cork and Seal one of the largest companies producing cork products during the war.
15/04/201932 minutes 14 seconds
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88 - Division Leclerc

In this episode we’re going to be looking at the Free French and the Division Leclerc, commanded by Philippe de Hauteclocque. Raised in the French Colonies of Africa, they fought with distinction in the deserts of Libya and with the British 8th Army. They also took part in the fighting in North West Europe after D-Day, being one of the units that liberated Paris in 1944. This is not just a story of a unit, but is very much the story of the growth of the Free French. For this episode I’m joined by M.P. Robinson. Robinson is author of a number of book, the latest published by Osprey being‘Division Leclerc: The Leclerc Column and Free French 2nd Armoured Division, 1940-46’
01/04/201955 minutes 55 seconds
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87 - Hitler's Death

We’ve all see the film Downfallabout the Führerbunker in Berlin, in the closing days of the war. And we all know the story of how Adolf Hitler, with his new wife Eva Braun, committed suicide and the body was destroyed. Well, how much of that story do we actually know? Since the end of the war a series of newspaper reports, books and more recently the TV series Hunting Hitler have all put forward the idea that Hitler escaped at the end of the war and the official history, for want for a better phrase is not the whole truth… In this episode I’m joined by Luke Daly-Groves. Luke is a postgraduate researcher at Leeds University and author of the new book Hitler’s Death, in which he revisits the original post war investigations by the allied powers and using all the data now available assesses how accurate they were. In doing s
15/03/201941 minutes 15 seconds
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86 - The SAS in Italy, 1943-45

The SAS made their name in the North African desert, but less well known is after that they continued to fight in the mediterranean theatre. They carried out raiding missions in advance of the invasion of Sicily, Operation Husky, and then operating behind enemy lines during the Italian Campaign. For this episode I’m joined by Malcolm Tudor. Malcolm's father actually fought in Italy during WWII,  his Italian mother’s family worked with the partisans and aided escaped allied POW’s. Malcolm is also the author of SAS In Italy, 1943-1945
01/03/201954 minutes 54 seconds
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85 - Alarmstart East

"There are no more than a handful of Second World War Luftwaffe members alive today. Patrick Eriksson had the foresight to record these experiences first-hand before it was too late. Some witnesses ended up as senior fighter controllers. The recollections and views of the veterans are put within the context of the German aerial war history. By no means all the witnesses were from the ranks of the so-called ‘aces’." Last year I discussed the experiences of German Luftwaffe pilots fighting in the West, against the Allies, I was joined by Patrick Eriksson. Patrick has completed the second book in his trilogy looking at the Luftwaffe - Alarmstart East- this time tracking the pilots on the Eastern Front from 1941 though to the end of the war in 1945.
15/02/201949 minutes 1 second
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84 - Shot Down

In this episode we’re going to be looking at the story of Howard Snyder, a B-17 ‘Flying Fortress’ pilot, flying with the US 8th air force from Britain. Through letters Howard wrote to his family, and exhaustive research, his son Steve Snyder has pieced together the remarkable story of his father, and what happened after he was shot down in Belgium. You can find more about Steve Snyder and his father, Howard, at  
01/02/201947 minutes 4 seconds
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83 - Operation Crossbow

In 1943 allied surveillance picked up the construction of  V1 and V2 rocket sites in France. Without quite knowing the extent of the threat allied planners decided to embark upon a pre-emptive campaign to deny the Germans the use of these sites, the code name was Operation Crossbow. It would be an Anglo-American Operation with ran up until the end of WWII, in 1945. I’m joined by Steven Zaloga. Steven is a prolific military historian and analyst, he has also written a book on Crossbow published by Osprey, Operation Crossbow 1944; Hunting Hitlers V-Weapons.
15/01/201936 minutes 48 seconds
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82 US Navy vs IJN Fleet Submarine, 1941-42

In this episode we’re going to be looking a Japanese submarine operations in the Pacific in the early part of the war. While I’m sure we’re all familiar with the Imperial Japanese surface fleets actions during 1941-42, especially if you’ve listened to my discussions with Jeff Cox in episode #14 and #63, but there seems to be very little mention of submarines. Which is interesting because if we look at the Battle for the North Atlantic it was all about the German U-Boats. Joining me today is Mark Stille. Mark is a retired US Navy commander, alumni of the US Naval War College and author of numerous Osprey titles, mainly focusing on the war in the Pacific - his latest being USN Fleet Destroyer vs IJN Fleet Submarine.
01/01/201941 minutes 45 seconds
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81 - Britain's Blockade of Europe & the response of the ICRC

At the outbreak of WWII Britain put into motion the strategy of using the Royal Navy to blockade Germany, depriving her of essential goods. When Europe fell the blockade was widened to include all of Europe. This provided a dilemma for the British, the Ministry of Economic Warfare was in favour of depriving all occupied countries of goods, for the Foreign Office depriving occupied countries would mean negatively affecting countries that were allied with Britain. In Greece this would lead to famine, and a relief operation organised by the International Red Cross. I’m joined by Dr James Crossland of Liverpool John Moores University. James specialises in the history of international humanitarian law and the development of the Red Cross.
15/12/201847 minutes 26 seconds
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80 - The Italian Army In North Africa

Long standing listeners will have heard me chat to Walter Zapotoczny before, in episode 57 we looked at Ardennes offensive, and in episode 63 we looked at German penal battalions. Patrons of the podcast might recall on both occasions after I’d finished recording we got to talking about the Italians in North Africa. Well, Walter’s book on the topic was released a couple of months ago ‘The Italian Army In North Africa: A Poor Fighting Force or Doomed by Circumstance’ Hopefully we can answer the question a poor fighting force or doomed by circumstance in this podcast.
01/12/201828 minutes 41 seconds
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Last Man Standing: Geoffrey Rothwell

“'Stay low, stay on track, and stay alive' was the motto of the RAF's most secret Station, Tempsford. That's exactly what Geoffrey Rothwell did ‒ DFC & Bar, 1939-45 Star, Aircrew Europe Star with France/Germany Clasp, Defence Medal, Victory Medal, Order of Leopold II & Palme, Croix de Guerre 1940 & Palme, Bomber Command Medal, POW medal, La Légion d’honneur ‒ from Bomber Command via SOE to Stalag and back.” In episode 53 I talked to Gabrielle McDonald-Rothwell about the SOE agent Diana Rowden. After we had stopped recording Gabrielle told me about her husband Geoffrey Rothwell, was the last surviving pilot for SOE during the war. At the time she was in the process of checking through a biography of Geoff’s experiences. Sadly since then Geoff has passed away, but Gabrielle has managed to complete the book recounting his life and wartime experiences and its been released, the title is ‘<a
26/11/20181 hour 10 minutes 25 seconds
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79 - The Forgotten Dead: Exercise Tiger

‘On a dark night in 1944, a beautiful stretch of the Devon coast became the scene of desperate horror. Tales began to leak out of night-time explosions and seaborne activity. This was practice for Exercise Tiger, the main rehearsal for the Utah Beach landings…’ This is very much an episode in two halves, I start by looking at the disastrous Exercise Tigerwhich took place in April 1944, at Lyme Bay and Slapton Sands in Devon. Then move on to talk about a Sherman tank! I’m joined by Dean Small. Dean’s father Ken did much to rediscover those event in April 1944, and create a memorial to those who lost their lives. He wrote the book The Forgotten Dead: The true story of Exercise Tiger, the disastrous rehearsal for D-Day You can find out more about the exercise on Dean's website Exercise Tige
15/11/201850 minutes 45 seconds
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78 - Bones of My Grandfather

US Marine, Lt Alexander Bonnymanlanded on Tarawa in December 1942. He was mortally wounded leading an assault on a Japanese bunker, which was key to defense of the island, and act for which he would posthumously receive the Medal of Honor. In this episode of the podcast I talk to his grandson, Clay Bonnyman Evansabout the events surrounding his death and about how his grandfather's remains, along with hundreds of others who had been hastily buried, were lost after the war.
01/11/20181 hour 1 minute 54 seconds
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Hitler's Vikings

At the beginning of WWII Germany invaded and occupied Denmark and Norway, but left neutral Sweden alone. Less than a year later citizens from all three of those Scandinavian nations were volunteering to join the Waffen-SS. By the end of the war in 1945 the number of Scandinavians who had fought in the Waffen-SS had reached the thousands. Casualties were high, but there were survivors and they returned home, often to face retribution and condemnation. In episode 55, I discussed the Flemish Waffen SS, with Jonathan Trigg. Since then he’s been busy tracking down the few surviving veterans of the SS who were from Scandinavia, for his new book Voices of the Scandinavian Waffen SS: The Final Testament of Hitler's Vikings. Being a fellow Yorkshireman, with a new book, on a very interesting topic, I thought it rude not to ask him back!
15/10/20181 hour 2 minutes 46 seconds
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76 - RAF Flight Engineers

Way back in episode four of the podcast, I talked to Andrew Panton about the Lancaster Bomber; Andrew is the pilot of Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ here in the UK. Whilst chatting the role of flight engineer came up, I had no clue what they actually did, I wasn’t aware they worked in tandem with the pilot to fly the plane. Ever since I’ve been on the lookout for someone to talk to about the role, if you do a search on Amazon you’ll discover how overlooked the Flight Engineer has been in the historiography. Earlier this year Colin Pateman released his latest book ‘Fuel, Fire and Fear: RAF Flight Engineers at War’, clearly he is the man to speak!
01/10/201846 minutes 45 seconds
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75 - The Rise of Hitler and National Socialism

September 2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the Munich agreement, where the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, flew to Germany to meet Hitler; in an attempt to avert war. He famously returned with an agreement which he believed would deliver ‘peace in our time’. It got me thinking about Hitler's rise to power, in 1933 he joined the government one of only three Nazi’s in it. Five years later he was dominating European foreign policy, as he pushes forward with his agenda. In this episode I thought we’d look at Hitler’s rise to power, from the end of the First World War, through to him joining in the government in 1933. Joining me today is Professor Matthew Stibbe, from Sheffield University.  He has delivered an excellent chapter in the new Oxford Illustrated History of the Third Reichlooking at the ris
15/09/20181 hour 4 minutes 7 seconds
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74 - The M3 'Grant' Tank

The American built M3 tank was one of the first tanks purchased and supplied in large numbers to the British army in WWII, where it was known as the 'Grant' or the 'Lee'. It's the first American built tank I became aware of as a child, when I saw 'Monty's' at the Imperial War Museum. In this episode I'm joined by prolific tank writer and former employee of Bovington Tank museum, David Fletcher. With Steven Zaloga, David is the author of British Battle Tanks: American-Made World War II Tanks.
01/09/201833 minutes 1 second
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73 - Ghost Riders: Operation Cowboy

Last year I talked to Mark Felton about the escape attempts of British VIP prisoners, held by the Italians. That was episode 49 Castle of Eagles, the book is possibly my favourite read of last year. Well Mark is back, with another cracking story he’s managed to turn up in the archives, that of Operation Cowboy; the book is Ghost Riders. It recounts the activities of an American unit which raced into Czechoslovakia to accept the surrender of a group of Germans, in doing so they manage to rescue a number of Allied POW’s, with the help of German POW’s they fight off a concerted attack by a SS Unit and then evacuate the mares of the famous Viennese, ‘spanish riding school’.
15/08/201842 minutes 48 seconds
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72 - Mediterranean Strategy

Back in episode 7, I talked to Alexander Fitzgerald-Black about his MA thesis which focused on the allied air campaign in support of Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. Which if you’re interested has now been released as a book ‘Eagles over Husky: The Allied Aire Forces In The Sicilian Campaign, 14 May to 17 August 1943’. Alex and I have kept in touch and always said we should do another episode together discussing the Mediterranean campaign. I was struggling to pin down a topic, when Alex suggested I read Douglas Porch’s book ‘The Path To Victory: The Mediterranean Theater in WWII’, which focuses on the Mediterranean theatre as a whole. It was a light bulb moment for me, so we’ve decided to have a look at the Mediterranean Str
01/08/20181 hour 21 seconds
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USS Indianapolis

In this episode we’re looking at the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. Returning from delivering the atomic bomb to Tinian, in preparation for it to be dropped, the Indianapolis was hit twice by torpedoes from a Japanese submarine. She sank in less than a quarter of an hour. 800-900 men went in the shark infested waters, and no one in the US Navy was aware of the unfolding tragedy. The men floated in small groups for five nights and four days before they were finally spotted by the passing US plane. And that is just half the story. I’m joined by Sara Vladic. Sara is the director of the documentary USS Indianapolis: The Legacy, she’s also so-written a book looking at the events surrounding the sinking, the book is titled Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man. It is quite a story!
15/07/201846 minutes 52 seconds
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70 - Aerial Warfare

In the last episode we looked at the development of the world’s navies during the interwar period. To compliment that I thought we’d do something similar with aerial warfare. It is easy to forget in 1939 aviation was still very much in its infancy, and especially aerial warfare. Theorist such as Giulio Douhethad highlighted the importance of controlling airspace, Douhet also advocated that idea that a nation could bomb its way to victory. Other countries such as Germany envisaged the plane in tactical roles, supporting the army. So at the outbreak of WWII each air force was prepared to a fight a war, just not necessarily the war their enemy was expecting to fight. Joining me today is Frank Ledwidge. Frank is a senior fellow in Air Power and International Security, at the Royal Air Force College - Cranwell. Not only does he teach this stuff, he’s written a book on the subject <a href= "http://ww2podcast.c
01/07/201851 minutes 3 seconds
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69 Interwar International Naval Policy

Today what I thought we’d investigate the interwar naval treaties which aimed to prevent conflict, but at the same time, what they did was help shape the navies of the world, in the run up to WWII. In this episode I’m talking to Craig Symonds. Craig is the Enest J King Distinguished Professor of Maritime History a the US Naval War College and Professor Emeritus at the US Naval College.  
15/06/201837 minutes 16 seconds
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68 Go Betweens for Hitler

Hitler when he came to power, had few international connections, and he distrusted elements of his civil service. What he needed was people he could trust, who were connected to the highest echelons of power throughout Europe. These emissaries would be used to sound out opinion, and smooth over incidents when they happened. And that is what we’re looking at in this episode, those ‘back channels’, the aristocratic go betweens that Hitler employed. Joining me is Karina Urbach. Karina is currently working at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, her book Go 'Betweens for Hitler'was published in 2015.
01/06/201835 minutes 17 seconds
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67 - Luftwaffe Night Fighter ‘Ace’, Wolfgang Thimmig

Joining me today is Max Thimmig, Max’s grandfather was the German WWII night fighter ace, Wolfgang Thimmig. Wolfgang joined the German Army, the Reichswehr, in 1934, and was one of the early pilots in Hitler’s newly created Luftwaffe, in 1935. Incredibly Wolfgang flew with the Luftwaffe throughout the second world war, from Poland right to the end in 1945. Max's book is Nattens jägare: Ett tyskt nattjaktess under andra världskriget.
15/05/201843 minutes 51 seconds
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66 - Northrop P-61 Black Widow

The P-61 was built in response to the Blitz on Great Britain, in 1940. The RAF were in need of a night fighter and they confirmed with their US counterparts on the specifications. The result was a twin tail plane with a crew of three, it was specifically designed to house a radar to zero the aircraft in, at night on their target. Only four now survive. Joining me is Russell Strine from the Mid Atlantic Air Museum, who are currently restoring one, the intention is to get it in the air once more. It’s thanks to Alex Lowmaster for this episode, he tipped me off to a museum local to him, in Pennsylvania, that were restoring a P-61 Black Widow night fighter.
01/05/201846 minutes 18 seconds
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65 Lt Col William Edwin Dyess

This episode, is released just after the 75th anniversary of the escape of ten American prisoners of war, and two Filipino convicts, from the Davao Penal Colony. The following year when the story broke, the US War Department would call it the ‘greatest story of the war’. The man made famous at the time for escaping, and recounting the story, was Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess. A fighter pilot who not only fought in the air, but during the defence of Bataan led and amphibious assault as an infantryman. Joining me to tell us the story of ‘Ed Dyess’ is John Lukacs, who is fighting to get Dyess awarded the Medal of Honor; and keeping his memory alive with the website If you remember back in episode 45, I discussed the Barton Brothers with Sally Mott Freeman, Dyess’s story intersects with that as Barton was at the Davao Penal Co
15/04/20181 hour 7 minutes 6 seconds
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64 - The Early Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign 1942

One of my first guests was Jeffrey Cox, we discussed in length the Java Sea campaign in episode 14. Jeff has been busy for the last couple of years writing his follow up book Morning Star, Midnight Sun – The Early Guadalcanal-Solomons Campaign of World War Two. So I asked Jeff back to discuss the campaign. Jeff and I talked for nearly three hours, so whilst the podcast is trimmed to keep us on message if you want some more why not become a patron and have another 30min of us talking what he's unto next and torpedos!
01/04/20181 hour 18 minutes 19 seconds
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Strafbattalion: Hitler's Penal Battalions

In episode 57 I talked to Walter Zapotoczny about Ardennes Offensive, chatting with him it told me had had a new book out in 2018 looking at German Penal Battalions. That sounded like a topic right up my street so I got him back to talk with us. When war broke out in 1939, Hitler created `Strafbattalion' (Penal Battalion) units to deal with incarcerated members of the Wehrmacht as well as `subversives'. His order stated that any first-time convicted soldier could return to his unit after he had served a portion of his sentence in `a special probation corps before the enemy'.
15/03/201838 minutes 26 seconds
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Betrayed: The Buchenwald Airmen

In this episode we’re going to be discussing the plight of 168 Allied Airmen who found themselves imprisoned in Buchenwald concentration camp. It’s something that even to this day governments seem unwilling to admit to. “As we got close to the camp and saw what was inside... a terrible, terrible fear and horror entered our hearts. We thought, what is this? Where are we going? Why are we here? And as you got closer to the camp and started to enter [it] and saw these human skeletons walking around; old men, young men, boys, just skin and bone, we thought, what are we getting into?” — Canadian airman Ed Carter-Edward's recollection of his arrival at Buchenwald. Joining me is Frederic Martini, his father was shot down over France in 1944 and was one of the Buchenwald airmen. His written about his father’s experiences, the book is Betrayed.
01/03/20181 hour 13 minutes 17 seconds
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61 - RAF Liberators Over Burma

If Slim’s 14th army was the ‘Forgotten Army’ the RAF bombing campaign in the Far East is even more forgotten! In this episode I'm talking to Matt Poole. Matt's mother is from Liverpool, her first husband was in the RAF serving in Burma when he was shot down over Rangoon. In trying to find out what happened that night Matt was introduced to Bill Kirkness who served in the same squadron. Bill had written a memoir of his wartime experience, though he's sadly now passed away Matt has edited the manuscript into RAF Liberators over Burma: Flying with 159 Squadron. We discuss Bill Kirkness's war, the RAF in Burma and Matt's journey of piercing the story together
15/02/201851 minutes 42 seconds
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60 Alarmstart: German Fighter Pilots in Europe

When I plan the podcast episodes I don’t usually sit down and look at the subject and how it relates to those episodes around it, hence we’ve often found ourselves in the pacific in quick succession. In this instance it seems serendipitous that we’re going from looking at the fall of France, in the last episode, to looking at the experiences of German fighter pilots in Europe. The two topics compliment one another rather well. Joining me is Patrick Eriksson. Patrick is the author of Alarmstart: The German Fighter Pilot’s Experience in the Second World War. Since the 1970’s Patrick has been an associate member of the German Air Force Veterans Association interviewing and corresponding with former members of the Luftwaffe.
01/02/201849 minutes 42 seconds
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59 - Case Red: The Collapse of France

In this episode I’m looking at ‘Case Red’ the German attack on France post Dunkirk. Often when we talk about the Battle of France the history seems to stop at Dunkirk, in actual fact the fight carried on for a few more weeks. There was still British 100,000+ troops in France, Churchill was keen to keep the French fighting… Joining in me is Robert Forczyk, if you recall last year we discussed Operation Sealion with Bob. He’s been beavering away and has a new book out, ‘Case Red: The collapse of France’. Its a real eye opener…
15/01/201856 minutes 17 seconds
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58 Lost Warriors: Seagrim and Pagani of Burma

In this episode we’ll be looking at two British soldiers in occupied Burma. Major Hugh Seagrim operated for two years behind the Japanese lines, organising Karen resistance before he was eventually forced to surrender. Seagrim crosses paths with Roy Pagani, trying to make his way back to British army in India, after escaping as a POW working on the Burma railway. Pagani is a remarkable man he had already escaped from Dunkirk in 1940, and Singapore when it fell in 1942. Joining me today is Phillip Davis. Phillip is the author of Lost Warriors, Seagrim and Pagani of Burma The last great untold story of WWII.
01/01/20181 hour 1 minute 32 seconds
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57 - The 110th Holds In The Ardennes, 1944

This episode is being released on the 15th of December, the eve of the Battle of the Bulge. It was the 16th of December 1944 that Hitler launched Operation Watch on the Rhine, the last great offensive in the West. Joining me today is Walter Zapotoczny, author of The 110th Hold In The Ardennes: The Blunting of Hitler’s Last Gamble and the Invasion of the Reich.The 110th Infantry Regiment were part of the 28th Division which bore the brunt of the German offensive in the first few days. The Battle of the Bulge has always held a fascination for me, I’ve very clear memories of cold wintery afternoons watching the
15/12/201734 minutes 7 seconds
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56 - Haile Selassie’s Mongrel Foreign Legion.

In the classic narrative, the second world war starts with the invasion of Poland in 1939, though for the Chinese it started with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. I notice wikipedia solves the start date by stating ‘relate conflicts started earlier’, and that is what we’ll be looking at today the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and those foreigners who volunteered to fight for Haile Selassie. I’m joined by Christopher Othen Christopher is the author of the Lost Lions of Judah: Haile Selassie’s Mongrel Foreign Legion.
01/12/201752 minutes
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Darkest Hour

I’ve been promising you an extra episode since September...  Well it never came off, I was all prepared to discuss the end of the war in the Pacific but I struggled to pin down the guest so I gave up! But good things come to those that wait! I was asked if I might be interested in having a chat with the writer of the new WW2 film Darkest Hour, Anthony McCarten. How could I say no? If you would like some background listening I looked at Churchill during this period in episode 8, Churchill's decision to fight in 1940.
22/11/201723 minutes 42 seconds
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55 - The Flemish Waffen SS

Within a year of Belgium falling to the Germans in 1940, Belgian citizens were volunteering to join the Waffen SS to fight communism on the newly formed Eastern Front. Thousands volunteered, and the suffered heavy casualties.  I’m joined by Jonathan Trigg author of Voices of the Flemish Waffen SS. He has been gathering the stories of these men and women. What remarkable stories they are, I devoured the book in just two evenings…
15/11/201758 minutes 20 seconds
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54 - The Bataan Death March

We’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Pacific this year, I didn’t intend to but as its a theatre of the war I’m not very familiar with I’ve been happy to be pulled down that route.  One topic we’ve skirted round in a number of episodes is the Bataan Death March, its been a topic I’ve been keen to look at as we’ve mentioned it a few times. Plus it’s seems like an obvious gap in my knowledge I needed to fill. I’m joined by Jay Wertz. Jay has authored a number of books in the War Stories: World War II Firsthand series, for these he collected eyewitness accounts. He is also the author and historical consultant for World War II Comix. These are not the jingoistic “Commando” comics I grew up with in the 1970 & 80s  (is there a world wide equivalent?), Word War II Comix tells the story of th
01/11/201744 minutes 57 seconds
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53 - Her Finest Hour: Diana Rowden, SOE Agent

Last year I talked to Greg Lewis about the female agents in the British Special Operations Executive, SOE, who Churchill had tasked with “setting Europe ablaze”. In this episode we’ll be looking specifically at Diana Rowden who was flown into France in 1943. Diana spent her early years in the South of France before being sent to Public School in England. At the outbreak of war Diana was living in Paris with her mother. When Paris fell they fled south, but once her mother was safely on a boat back to England, Diana decided to remain in France. For over a year she moved through France avoiding being picked up by the Germans, when it got to "hot" she fled back to Britain. When she finally became know to SOE she was an obvious fit for an agent to be sent to France. It was a huge risk and only a matter of time before
15/10/20171 hour 12 minutes 9 seconds
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52 Shadow Over the Atlantic

Between 1943-45 Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5 “Atlantik” would fly missions of up to 18 hours at a time over the Atlantic. They acted as the eyes for the U-Boats. Equipped with big, four-engined Junkers Ju 290s fitted out with advanced search radar and other maritime 'ELINT' (electronic intelligence) devices, Fernaufklärungsgruppe (FAGr) 5 'Atlantik' undertook a distant, isolated campaign far out into the Atlantic and thousands of miles away from its home base in western France. I'm joined by Robert Forsyth author of Shadow over the Atlantic: The Luftwaffe and the U-boats: 1943–45. Robert is an author, editor and publisher, specialising in military aviation and military history. Born in Berkshire, England, he is the author of several books on the aircraft and units of the Luftwaffe, an interest he has
01/10/201745 minutes 16 seconds
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51 The German Airborne Threat to Britain & the Psychological Impact

I was reading the British Journal for Military History and an article caught my eye titled The Psychological Impact of Airborne Warfare & the British Response to the Airborne Threat by Dr Tim Jenkins. In 1940 the Germans achieved stunning successes with the use of airborne troops, the Fallschirmjäger.  The first recorded attack by parachutists was in Denmark against the fortress at  Masnedø. The reputed impregnable fortress at Eben Emael in Belgium would surrender to just 78 German airborne troops who had landed on top in Gliders. Traditionally Britain was safe beyond the English Channel, protected by the Royal Navy, this new threat from the air caught the public imagination. There was a clamour in the pr
15/09/201747 minutes 59 seconds
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50 - Operation Tonga

In this episode I’m looking at Operation Tonga, the British airborne element that led the way during the D-Day landings in 1944. I’m joined by Stephen Wright. Stephen is keenly interested in the operation, an operation his uncle was killed taking part in. For the last twenty years he’s been researching the airborne, and particularly the use of Gliders during the closing years of the war. His book, co-authored with Bill Shannon, Operation Tonga brings to the reader first hand accounts of that night. Stephen is also involved with a new feature film True Valour, you can follow its progress here on Facebook and for more information the website is
01/09/201748 minutes 51 seconds
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49 - Castle of Eagles

In this episode we’re looking at high ranking British POWs held by the Italians and their attempts at escape. The middle east was considered an Italian theatre, rather than prisoners be shipped to Germany high ranking officers such as Generals Richard O’Connor, Phillip Neame, Adrian Carton de Wiart or Air Marshal Owen Boyd were placed into Italian custody as POWs. Neither rank or age deterred their determination to escape   It’s arguably a story to rival that of the Great Escape or Colditz.   Joining me is Dr Mark Felton. Mark is the author of numerous military history books one of which is Castle of Eagles: Escape from
15/08/20171 hour 5 minutes 34 seconds
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48 - Fallen Giants: The Russian T-35 Tank

In this episode I’m looking at the giant soviet T-35 tank with Francis Pulham. As you will discover the T-35 was a peculiar vehicle with five turrets, very few were ever produced and almost all were knocked out very early in the war. Francis is the author of Fallen Giants, The Combat Debut of the T-35a tank. "The T-35 was a Soviet multi-turreted heavy tank of the interwar period and early Second World War that saw limited production and service with the Red Army. It was the only five-turreted heavy tank in the world to reach production, but proved to be slow and mechanically unreliable. Most of the T-35 tanks still operational at the time of Operation Barbarossa were lost due to mechanical failure rather than enemy action. Outwardly, it was large; but internally, the spaces were cramped with the fighting compartments separated from each other. Some of the turrets obscured the entrance
01/08/201742 minutes 2 seconds
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47 - Flying to Victory: The Western Desert Campaign 1940-41

In this episode we’re in the Western Desert in 1940-41 looking at the air campaign fought by Raymond Collishaw and his RAF crews. Collishaw was a WW1 fighter ace. When the war broke out in 1939 now Air Commodore Collishaw he commanded an RAF Group in Egypt. The fighting in the western desert in 1940 and early 41 is often overlooked yet with his army counterpart, Richard O’Connor they scored some stunning successes. Collishaws ideas on tactical air support would become the blue print for allied air operations later in the war. Joining me is Mike Bechthold. Mike is the author of Flying to Victory: Raymond Collishaw and the Western Desert Campaign 1940-41.  
15/07/201747 minutes 28 seconds
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The Covenanter Tank

As many of you know I bang on about supporting me via Patreon at the start of each episode. These small donations pay for hosting, software and help me to find the time to dedicate to the show. After two years of plugging away I’ve finally reached my first funding goal on Patreon, $250 per month! Now I've reached this goal I’m going to upgrade my hosting package allowing me to potentially post more and longer podcasts. As a thank you to everyone for their support, and a very big thank you to all the Patrons who give a dollar or two each month, here is an extra podcast I recorded. I’ve chatted with Craig Moore before. He runs the website and contributes to… Craig recently took part in a dig to recover one of the very few British Covenanter tanks which has been buried in Surry in the UK! <
06/07/201743 minutes 47 seconds
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46 - Fighting Through From Dunkirk to Hamburg

In this episode we’re going to be discussing Bill Cheall. Bill joined the Green Howard's in 1939, a regiment in the British army, and fought throughout the whole war. He was evacuated through Dunkirk, fought in the Desert, took part in the invasion of Sicily and in 1944 landed on Gold beach on D-Day… Bill wrote his memoirs which have been edited by his son Paul and publish as “Fighting Through from Dunkirk to  Hamburg: A Green Howard’s Wartime Memoir”. [asa2 tplid="14" align="center" associate_id_set="WW2"]B00BM4SLO0[/asa2] For more information and pictures of Bill Cheall you can visit and you can find Paul's podcast at The Green Howard's are of particular interest to me as they are my local regiment. I have two grandfathe
01/07/201752 minutes 45 seconds
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45 - The Jersey Brothers

In this episode we’re looking at three brothers all in the US Navy at the start of the war, and their remarkable story. Today I’m joined by Sally Mott Freeman, her book “The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home” follows her father and his two brothers through the war. Bill Mott would start the war in FDR’s Whitehouse Map room, his brother Benny would be on the Carrier USS Enterprise and Barton was a supply officer based in the Philippines… Their experience brings out how difficult it must have been for families at war.
15/06/201744 minutes 57 seconds
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44 - The Winter War: The British Reaction to the Invasion of Finland

Last year I talked to Irish Historian Bernard Kelly about his book “Military Internees, Prisoners of War and the Irish State during the Second World War”, thats episode 23 for those who haven’t listened. We discussed how the Republic of Ireland walked the tightrope of neutrality and how it treated troops of belligerent nations who found themselves within its borders.. Chatting with Bernard after that recording I discovered his MA thesis looked at the Russia’s Winter War with Finland. Yet another interesting WW2 topic and that's what we’ll be discussing in this episode. In November 1939 Russia attacked Finland, Britain and France were already at war with Germany and were not keen on declaring war on Russia
01/06/201741 minutes 27 seconds
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43 - The Red Cross: Humanitarians at War

The role of the International Committee of the Red Cross during WWII is complicated. Closely bound to Switzerland the ICRC tried to remain neutral whilst at the same time operating with in the boundaries of the Geneva Conventions. Criticised for its failure to speak out during the holocaust as the war came to a close it went into overdrive to remain relevant in a post war world. I'm joined by Gerald Steinacher. Gerald is Associate Professor of History and Hymen Rosenberg Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, his latest book is Humanitarians at War: The Red Cross in the Shadow of the Holocaust.
15/05/201757 minutes 42 seconds
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42 - The Battle of the Coral Sea

In January I had an email from Bob Drury, if that name sounds familiar it’s because I chatted to Bob in episode 30 talking about Old 666. He wondered what I had planned for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. As it happens I’d not actually thought about the Battle of the Coral Sea! Bob suggested that he and his writing partner of Lucky 666 Tom Calvin come on the podcast and have a chat. The naval clash at in the Coral sea was pivotal in the war against Japan. Since the attack on Pearl Harbor nothing had stood in the way of the Japanese typhoon that had swept across the pacific. Fortress Singapore, the Dutch East Indies there was noth
01/05/201744 minutes 18 seconds
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41 - Amphibious Operations in WWII

We’re looking at amphibious operations during the war in this episode. Until I started researching I hadn’t realised how many there were. We’re all pretty familiar with the handful in the European Theatre but in the Pacific the list is long…  In this episode I’m talking to Mike Walling. Mikes is the author of Bloodstained Sands, US amphibious operations in WWII, he is a veteran of the US navy coast guard and has spent the last forty years collecting stories from veterans.
15/04/201739 minutes 27 seconds
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40 - Homefront to Battlefront

I’ve been planning to look at some individual soldiers stories for some time, the first was going to be the story of a Green Howard who fought through from D-Day until the end of the war. As his story is similar to my great uncles everyone in my family was interested and the book has gone on it’s travels passed from my mother to my sister to my brother…  As of typing I haven't got it back... In the meantime when I was given the opportunity to talk to Frank Lavin about his father's war time experience I jumped at the chance. Frank has gathered together and organised his father letters he posted home during the war. Carl Lavin was a high school senior in Canton, Ohio, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. The Canton, Ohio, native was eighteen when he enlisted, a decision that would take him with the US Army from training across the United States and Britain to combat w
01/04/201758 minutes 55 seconds
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39 - Allen Dulles and the German Resistance

In this episode we’re looking at a topic we touched up on in way back in episode 06 when we looked at the OSS.  We’re looking at the OSS station chief in Bern, Switzerland, Allen Dulles and his connections with the German resistance during the WWII. Dulles incredibly was approached by a number of Germans unhappy with the Nazi regime who fed him information from 1943 onward. I’m joined by Scott Miller. Scott’s book Agent 110: An American Spymaster and the German Resistance in WWII, looks at Dulles operation in Switzerland and pieces together his connections with the German resi
15/03/201754 minutes 33 seconds
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38 - The Race for the Rhine

Once the Allies had crossed the English Channel on D-Day the next large natural barrier would be the crossing of the Rhine into Germany. Toward the end of 1944 the fighting had been hard, the Americans had slogged through the Hürtgen Forest, everyone had reeled against the German counter attack in the Ardennes. The Rhine is a perfect natural border, the crossing of which would be symbolically crossing the last line of defence in to Germany from the West. The task was given to Montgomery's 21st Army. As ever Monty put together an enormous set piece battle (Plunder), he knew the war was close to the end, many of the Allied troops in his command had fought for years. He couldn’t afford for the crossing to fail. 4,000 guns opened up on the 23rd March, in the American sector they fired 65,000 shells in one hour! <span style= "font-weight:
01/03/201748 minutes 57 seconds
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37 - 82nd Airborne at Operation Husky

In 1943 the Allies made their first mass use of Airborne troops in support of the landings on Sicily. By this time the Germans had already ruled out any further mass use of the airborne Fallschirmjäger after Crete, though a huge success the price paid was costly.   I’m joined by Lieutenant Colonel Joe Buccino of the 82nd Airborne, to discuss how those initial landings went.   Joe is a currently serving officer and can be heard on the excellent All American Legacy Podcast.  
15/02/201751 minutes 2 seconds
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36 - Volunteers and Pressed Men

In this episode we’ll looking at how Britain found the manpower to fight the war. By the end at least four and a half million had served from Britain, if we add to that figure Empire and Commonwealth forces we’re looking it perhaps upwards of ten million. Its an astounding figure…. I’m joined by Roger Broad. Rogers New book Volunteers and Pressed Men looks at recruitment during both the First and second World War in both Britain and its Empire.
01/02/201738 minutes 55 seconds
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35 - Air Campaigns on the Eastern Front

In this episode I’m talking to Edward Hooton and we’re looking at the air war over the Eastern Front, a topic I’m not familiar with. From my own point of view it's always been overshadowed by the ground war. Edward has written a number of books on aviation history during WWII. His latest book “War over the Steppes: The air campaigns on the Eastern Front 1941-45” is a fascinating look at the air operations carried out by both the Russians and Germans during the war.
15/01/201746 minutes 47 seconds
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34 - Surviving the Nazis, Gulags and Soviet Communism

In this episode we’re looking at the plight of those Jews fleeing Poland who headed east into Russia after the German invasion of 1939. It’s a story I wasn’t at all familiar with. I’m joined by Annette Libeskind Berkovits. Annettes father Nachman fled the Polish City of Lodz, he had an incredible life… She tells his story in the most remarkable book I think I’ve read in a long time, “In the Unlikeliest of Places”
01/01/201756 minutes 52 seconds
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33 - The American St Nick

With the holiday season upon us I've a festive episode for you.  The US 28th Infantry Division landed in France in July of 1944. After fighting through the Bocage and taking part in the parade through Paris to mark its liberation they were sent to the Hürtgen Forest. Badly shot up they we're withdrawn and sent to a small town in Luxembourg called Wiltz. To tell the story of the American St Nick I'm joined by Peter Lion whose book "The American St Nick" tells the story.
15/12/201639 minutes 29 seconds
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32 - Operation Sea Lion - The invasion of Britain

We're looking at the Operation Sea Lion, the German invasion plan for Britain in the latest podcast. I'm joined by Robert Forczyk.  Robert is a prolific author and military historian. His latest book “We march against England: Operation Sea Lion 1940/41” is a fresh look at the German plans to invade Britain and what they might have faced.
01/12/20161 hour 42 seconds
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31 - Shadow Warriors: Daring Missions of WWII by Women of the OSS and SOE

In this episode we’re looking at women in the secret services, SOE and OSS during WWII. Women played a crucial role a number operating in the field as agents. In occupied countries it was easier for them to blend in than young men of military age. I’m joined by Greg Lewis. With Gordon Thomas he is the author of  Shadow Warriors: Daring Missions of World War II by Women of the OSS and SOE.   Don't forget you can support the show on patreon.
15/11/201651 minutes 21 seconds
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30 - Lucky 666: The Impossible Mission

In 1943 a lone B-17 Bomber set off on a solo reconnaissance mission, it was to be a 1200 mile round trip. Passing within range of Japanese airbases they were swarmed by Zero fighters... It would be only plane of the war where two of the personal would win the Medal of Honor. I'm joined by Bob Drury, co-author of Lucky 666: The Impossible Mission.
01/11/201645 minutes 7 seconds
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29 - Selling Hitler

In this episode I’m talking to Nicholas O'Shaughnessy. Nicholas is is currently Visiting Professor in the Centre for Strategic Communication at King's College London. His new book Selling Hitler examines the Nazi’s use of propaganda and argues Hitler was one of the few politicians who understood that persuasion was everything and was the central to creating an all encompassing strategy...
15/10/201652 minutes 23 seconds
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28 - Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina

In this episode I'm joined by Matt Dearden and we're looking at the iconic WWII Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina flying boat. We look at both the history of he plane, and how it flies! Matt is a co-ownder of Miss Pick Up and a qualified pilot. You can find more information on the plane here.
01/10/201638 minutes 33 seconds
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27 - Anthropoid: Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich

I’d seen the 1975 film Operation Daybreak and was aware of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, but what I wasn't aware of was the utter destruction of the village of Lidice as an act of vengeance and how the Staffordshire miners helped with the rebuilding of the village after the war. That was until Russell Phillips shot me an email. Russell's book is A Ray of Light: Reinhard Heydrich, Lidice and the North Staffordshire Miners. Its not a long read but is a book that everyone should read!
15/09/201647 minutes 7 seconds
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26 - Operation Agreement

We’re in North Africa in this episode of the podcast. The War in the desert was full of ups and downs for both Axis and Allies. In January 1941 Tobruk fell to the Allies. With the arrival of Rommel the Allies were forced back and Tobruk held out under siege for seven months, depriving the Axis of a vital supply port, before being relieved as the Allies once more swept forward. Only for it to fall in June 1942 to Rommel. Though the British Army had expected to sacrifice Tobruk to the public at home it was a huge shock. The war had not been going well, not helped with entry of the Japanese and the fall of Singapore. It was now Churchill wanted action, he wanted good news to report to Parliament, the British people and their new Allies the USA who had entered the war. Operation Agreement was a daring raid
01/09/201637 minutes 28 seconds
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25 - MacArthur

In this episode I'm looking at Douglas MacArthur with Walter Borneman. MacArthur is one of those personalities that war throws up which I find hard to pin down. They have a big personalities and seemingly a huge confidence within themselves that overrides everything else (another two examples for me would be Monty and Patton). The media generated about them at the time seems to put them on a pedestal, its hard to see through that hype to figure out how good they actually were. Since I started the podcast MacArthur was in my top ten of topics to cover, so I was thrilled to see a new book on him “MacArthur at War: WWII in the Pacific” by Walter Borneman. I highly recommend you give it a read, its a balance look which at times has you disbelieving he was allowed to continue in command, at other times you see his ability shine through. He undoubtedly was a very complex man. 
15/08/201659 minutes 23 seconds
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24 - Stug Revisited and the Plasch Palatka

I’ve a bit of a different episode for you. In our look at the Stug I talked to Jon Phillips who was close to completing his two year restoration of his Stug III. The deadline for getting the engine in and running was the Yorkshire Wartime Experience where he’d committed to bringing the Stug along. Knowing Jon was going to be there I took myself down to see how he’d got on. After speaking to Jon I bumped into an old friend Paul Fricker. Paul re-enacts the Russian 13th Guards Rifle Division, Poltavaskaya.  On the Facebook page recently a question had been asked about what the blanket/canvas sausage you see Russian troops wearing draped over their shoulder was? So I took the opportunity to ask him. Its a bit of a short episode as I messed up recording a piece
01/08/201613 minutes 29 seconds
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23 - Military Internees and the Irish Free State

In this episode we’re looking at the peculiar situation the Republic of Ireland, Eire, found itself during the second world war. Along with countries such as Sweden, Switzerland and Spain, Eire trod the difficult path of remaining neutral. With all that entailed one question that needed to be dealt with was what to do with those servicemen from the belligerent nations who found themselves in Ireland by way of crashed planes or naval personnel rescued from the sunk shipping. I’m joined by Bernard Kelly. Bernard is a Irish historian whose book “Military Internees, Prisoners of War and the Irish State during the Second World War<span style= "fo
15/07/201643 minutes 8 seconds
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22 - 1941: Fighting the Shadow War

In december last year we looked at how Churchill in 1940 kept Britain in the war. In this episode we’re crossing the pond to look at Roosevelt and America in 1940/41. At the outbreak of war in Europe the majority of the American people did not want to commit troops to another European war. When much of continental Europe fell under Nazi tyranny and Britain looked over the white cliffs at Dover to see the German Army looking back and the Battle of Britain started in earnest, American public opinion started to waver allowing FDR to push through measures in support of the British and Allied war effort. I’m joined by Marc Wortman, he is the author of 1941: Fighting the shadow war. Which the Wall Street Journal described as “Engrossing… [1941 is] an absorbing world-wide epic
01/07/201659 minutes 29 seconds
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21 - WWII Tank Hunting

Have you ever wondered where to find surviving WWII tanks? Craig Moore's is a invaluable resource in tracking them down. What could be better than a summer holiday roaming Europe ticking tanks off your tank-spotter list!  Craig also writes for
15/06/201641 minutes 47 seconds
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20 - The Castaway’s War

In this episode we’re in the Pacific in 1943 looking at the exploits of Lieutenant Hugh Miller. After his ship the USS Strong is sunk he washes up on a Pacific island terribly injured. It’s is a remarkable story of survival, and a one man war against the Japanese after being sunk  I’m joined by Stephen Harding. Stephen is long time journalist specialising in military affairs, he’s written a number of books including the New York Times bestseller “The Last Battle”... His latest book is “The Castaway’s War" tells the story of Hugh Miller and the subsequent events of him after the sinking of the USS Strong.
01/06/201633 minutes 21 seconds
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19 - The Winter Fortress

In this episode we’re looking at the attempts to disrupt and destroy Germany's access to heavy water, which was essential for their atomic research. If that sounds familiar that could be because you’ve seen the film “The Heroes of Telemark” or watched one of the many documentaries on the operations against the Norsk Hydro plant at Vemork. I talk to Neal Bascomb, his new book “Winter Fortress” is painstaking researched, with access to the diaries of some of the men involved. It sheds light on a remarkable series of operations in Norway where the weather was as big a threat as the Nazi's
15/05/201647 minutes 20 seconds
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18 - The Nazi Hunters

In this episode we’re look at Nazi war criminals and those that tracked them down. I’m joined by Andrew Nagorski. Andrew is an award winning journalist who for three decades served as a foreign correspondent, and editor for Newsweek.  He has written a number of books focusing on the Second World War and his latest is The Nazi Hunters (if you're in the UK the title is In Pursuit). As the war closed many lower ranking Nazi’s escaped capture, scattering across the world, blending in with the millions of displaced people. In the following decades a small band of individuals would devote themselves to tracking down and highlighting these former Nazi’s. The search would see Adolf Eichmann being discovered in Argentina and snatched by Mossad, though to uncovering former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim’s attempt to cover up his wartime history.
01/05/20161 hour 1 minute 2 seconds
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17 - Shooting Up: Drug use in WWII

It’s a little known fact that during the second world war drugs were issued to those men on active service on a monumental scale, hundreds of millions of pills were produced. The drug of choice was amphetamines, stimulants used to help push troops beyond there not made endurance and keeping pilots alert on long missions. In this episode of the show I’m talking to Lukasz Kamienski. Lukasz is Associate Professor at the Faculty of International and Political Studies, at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland His new book “shooting up” investigates the long history of intoxicants and drug use within the military.
15/04/201644 minutes 35 seconds
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16 - The De Havilland Mosquito

In today’s episode we’re looking at the De Havilland Mosquito. It was fast, extremely versatile and made from wood, affectionately referred to as the “Mossie”. Over 7,000 were built, yet only two remain flying today. I’m joined by John Lilly, Ross Sharp and Nick Horrox. They are from the People’s Mosquito, a project aiming to get another "Mossie" flying. John is the Chairman and Managing Director, Ross is Director of Engineering and Nick is communications.
01/04/201656 minutes 1 second
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15 - The British Resistance: Auxiliary Units

By the end of June 1940 the Battle of France was over, the British Army had been plucked from the Beaches of Dunkirk, but much of its heavy equipment had been abandoned in France. It looked like Britain would be the next target for the Nazi war machine… Having witnessed the debacle in France a betting man might have put his money on the Germans when it came to invading England. On the 14th of May 1940 Anthony Eden had called on men between 17 and 65 in Britain who were not in military service but wished to defend their country to enrol in the Local Defence Volunteers. By July over 1.5million Britons has volunteered… Another group was also created, a clandestine army that in the event of invasion would be called upon. Britain would be the first nation to have a pre-planed resistance network, the went under the unassuming name of Auxiliary, or Aux Units. I’m joined by Tom Sykes from the ColesHill Auxiliary Research T
15/03/201638 minutes 51 seconds
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14 - The Java Sea Campaign

In this episode we’re looking at the Java Sea Campaign, with Jeffrey Cox. Jeff’s book Rising Sun, Falling Skies: The disastrous Java Sea Campaign of World War II from Osprey publishing, examines the events following Pearl Harbor. In their own lighting offensive the Japanese attacked Singapore, the Philippines and the Dutch East Indies. The Allies reeled against the well planned assaults, struggling to hit back with any useful resistance in the first major sea battles of the war in the Pacific.
01/03/20161 hour 7 minutes 19 seconds
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13 - Gliders

In this episode I’m looking at the use of Gliders during the war and I’m joined by Matt Yates. Matt is a member of Chalk a living history group in the north of England who specialise in the British Glider Regiment and its activities from 1942 to 1945.
15/02/201648 minutes 43 seconds
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12 - Assault Gun: The German StuG

The StuG started development before the war and was in full production by 1940. Designated an Assault Gun it was designed round a Panzer III chassis but no turret, this gave it an extremely low profile. It's role was to support infantry as they followed close behind the panzer assaults. But the Assault gun soon proved to be very versatile, in Russia they were often called upon to provide an anti-tank role. The StuG would be produced throughout the war. The bombing of the factory in 1943 forced a change in design to a Panzer IV Chassis as production was moved to a different facility. To deal with the better armour that the Germans were now facing it was found the StuG with its larger crew compartment could accommodate the 75mm Pak40 allowing it to pack enough punch to knock out the new Soviet T34s. The StuG became the most produced armoured fighting vehicle of the war! In this episode I’m talking to John Phillips and we’re t
01/02/201624 minutes 32 seconds
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11 - The Forgotten Victor: Richard O'Connor

At a time when Britain stood alone there was one shining light in North Africa. Richard O'Conner's Operation Compass was on the cusp of capturing the whole of North Africa, before his troops were diverted to Greece. His stunning victories in 1940/41 are now rarely remembered. Mark Buehner and I discuss O'Conner's career.
15/01/20161 hour 2 minutes 12 seconds
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10 - Parcels From Home: Red Cross Parcels During WWII

Parcels delivered by the International Red Cross proved to be a lifeline for many Prisoners of War. These were guaranteed by the Geneva Convention of 1929 providing PoWs with tobacco, food and some hygiene products. For many they supplemented the meagre rations provided by their captors. Remarkably these parcels were shipped all round the world, they crossed war zones and a complex operation that ensured they got through. In this episode I'm joined by Mark Webster. Mark has written two books on the subject from the perspective of New Zealand, a country who had 1 in 200 of its population held as PoWs. As a result New Zealand would pack, by hand one parcel for every 1.7 of its population and ship them halfway round the world mainly to European camps. Parcels From Home and Parcels From Home: Trainspotter Edition by Mark Webster and Paul Luker are available from the Apple iBook Store.
01/01/201642 minutes 59 seconds
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09 - Angels of the Underground: Resistance in the Philippines

In this episode I'm joined by Professor Theresa Kaminski. We look at the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and the extraordinary stories of those women who escaped internment and help American POWs and those interned. Theresa’s speciality is American women’s history at the University of Wisconsin. Her new book Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II tells the story of four American women who avoided being captured by the Japanese in Manila and were part of a little-known resistance movement.
15/12/201546 minutes 46 seconds
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08 - Churchill and Britain's Decision To Fight in 1940

By the end of 1940 Britain defiantly stood alone against Nazi tyranny. Appeasement of the late 1930s was a reaction against the slaughter of the First World War, even after the fall of France some in power advocated a peace with Germany. In this episode of the podcast I talk to John Kelly. We discuss why Britain chose to fight with the odds stacked against her following the fiasco in Norway, the fall of Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. We examine how the public mood changed and Churchill's rise to Prime Minister. John is the author of "Never Surrender'.
01/12/201529 minutes 57 seconds
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07 - Eagles over Husky: The Role of the Airforce during the invasion of Sicily

The invasion of Sicily would be the largest Allied amphibious landing at that time undertaken. After just 38 days of bitter fighting the Allies conquered the Island, but thousands of Germans had escaped capture, evacuated over the Straits of Messina. The Allied Air force had a crucial role to play, but it wasn’t just over Sicily they operated in support of the operation… In this episode I'm joined by Alexander Fitzgerald-Black. Alex gained his MA at the University of New Brunswick. His thesis “Eagles over Husky: The Allied Air Forces and the Sicilian Campaign” investigates the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943.
01/11/201557 minutes 11 seconds
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06 - The OSS - America's WW2 Intelligence Service

In this episode I talk to Douglas Waller about the Office of Strategic Services, the OSS. The US entered the Second World War with no foreign intelligence service. Roosevelt selected William Donovan, WW1 Medal of Honor recipient, to create an agency based on the British MI6 and SOE. A task he did with gusto. Douglas is a veteran journalist and has work for Time Magazine and Newsweek. For twenty years as
01/10/201542 minutes 59 seconds
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05 - The Dieppe Raid

  In this episode I talk to Canadian historian Mark Zuehlke, and we look at Operation Jubilee, the Raid on Dieppe.   In August of 1942 a force of 6,000, predominantly Canadians, including the Calgary Tank Regiment, mounted a raid on the French p
01/09/201548 minutes 51 seconds
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04 - The Lancaster Bomber

In this episode I talk to Andrew Panton of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage centre. Andrew is lucky enough to be one of the pilots for their Lancaster Bomber “Just Jane”. <p style= "color: #333333; font-family: Ge
01/08/201528 minutes 31 seconds
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03 - Omar Bradley

Omar Bradley commanded more Americans in combat than any other General before or since, at its peak his 12th Army Group numbered 1.7 million men! In the pantheon of World War II leaders he is over shadowed by bigger characters such as Patton or MacArthur. Yet in 1943 Patton was his commander, but by 1944 he commanded Patton. The war reported Ernie Pyle dubbed him the "GI's General" and wrote: "If I could pick any two men in the world for my father except my own dad, I
01/07/201540 minutes 17 seconds
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02 - The USS Neosho: The Ship That Wouldn't Die

The USS Neosho was a fleet oiler during WW2. She was delivering fuel at Pearl Harbour when it was attacked in December 1941. Laiden with fuel, if hit she would have caused and an enormous explosion.  The quick thinking Captain saved her on that day. Dispatched with Task Force 17 to the Coral Sea, she was the only big oil tanker serving the fleet until the battle began, when she was ordered to leave the fleet for her own safety. I'm joined by Don Keith to discuss the USS Neosho. <p s
01/06/201542 minutes 5 seconds
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01 - The German Halftrack - SdKfz 251

In this first episode of the WW2 podcast Angus talks to Paul Hilditch, of the Northern WW2 Association, about the iconic German halftrack, the Sd.Kfz 251.