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Tag: WW2 (page 1 of 2)

Spanish Bombs on the Costa Brava…

The second round of updates provided by Carlos Pérez is going online today: An essay on the history of the Spanish Air Force in World War Two, and the resulting suggestion for a Grand Europa OB for the Spanish Air Forces.

On a random side note, how do you call a linklist that exclusively links to online versions of books? Its a form we’ve used a lot on this website, and both “linklist” as well as “bibliograpy” seems insufficient. A linklist or bookmarks refers to websites, whereas a bibliography is a list of books. These lists are a mixture of the two, pointing the reader to digitalized verions of paper books available online. Confusing.

 

The Official History of the US Military in World War II

The number of studies and books published by the US military on the Second World War alone fills a small library. Official histories do not only exist for the Army and the Navy, then the two arms of the US military, but also for the nascent forces of the Air Force and the Marines, and of course for countless other organisations like the Corps of Engineers or the Coast Guard. For brevitys sake, we will limit this bibliography to the classic trio of Army, Navy and Air Force. For further research have a look at hyperwar, the not always up-to-date, but always useful collection of links about military history.

The US Army in World War II

Better known as “The Green Books,” The U.S. Army in World War II consists of 79 volumes plus a reader’s guide. Unlike the official histories of some countries, these volumes were often written by professional historians, such as Robert R. Palmer, Forrest Pogue, or Bell I. Wiley, rather than staff officers.

As with official histories, every campaign is covered in great detail, often starting with descriptions from the front lines rather than with strategic plannings and the big picture. But the really valuable volumes are the ones dealing with what usually only gets experts exited.  That is to say, the volumes on to/e, logistics, medical service, and more.  The detail in these is often extraordinary, as  they delve into matters that, although largely invisible in most histories, were essential to shaping an army that could fight and win.

The US Army in WW 2 – Reader’s Guide

The War Department

Chief of Staff- Prewar Plans and Preparations, Mark Skinner Watson
Washington Command Post – The Operations Division. Ray S. Cline
Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare – 1941-1942, Maurice Matloff and Edwin M. Snell
Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare – 1943-1944. Maurice Matloff
Global Logistics and Strategy 1940 – 1943, Richard M. Leighton
Global Logistics and Strategy 1943 – 1945, Robert W. Coakley and Richard M. Leighton
The Army and Economic Mobilization
, R. Elberton Smith
The Army and Industrial Manpower, Byron Fairchild and Jonathan Grossman

The Army Ground Forces

The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, Ken Roberts Greenfield, Robert R. Palmer and Bell I. Wiley
The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops, Robert R. Palmer, Bell I. Wiley and William R. Keast

The Army Service Forces

The Organization and Role of the Army Service Forces, John D. Millett

The Western Hemisphere

The Framework of Hemisphere Defense, Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild
Guarding the United States and Its Outposts. Stetson Conn. Rose C. Engelman and Byron Fairchild

The War in the Pacific

Strategy and Command- The First Two Years, Louis Morton
The Fall of the Philippines, Louis Morton
Guadalcanal- The First Offensive, John Miller, jr.
Cartwheel – The Reduction of Rabaul, John Miller, jr.
Seizure of the Gilberts and Marshalls, Philip A. Crowl and Edmund G. Love
Campaign in the Marianas, Philip A. Crowl
The Approach to the Philippines, Robert Ross Smith
Leyte: The Return to the Phillippines, M. Hamlin Cannon
Triumph in the Philippines, Robert Ross Smith
Okinawa: The Last Battle, Roy E. Appleman, James M. Burns, Russell A. Gugeler, John Stevens

The Mediterranean Theater of Operations

Sicily and the Surrender of Italy, LTC Albert N. Garland and Howard McGaw Smyth. Assisted by Martin Blumenson
Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West, George F. Howe
Salerno to Cassino, Martin Blumenson
Cassino to the Alps, Ernest F. Fisher, Jr.

The European Theater of Operations

The Supreme Command, Forest C. Pogue
Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol I, May 1941 – September 1941, Roland G. Ruppenthal
Logistical Support of the Armies, Vol. 2, Roland G. Ruppenthal
Cross Channel Attack, Gordon A. Harrison
Breakout and Pursuit, Martin Blumenson
The Lorraine Campaign, Hugh M. Cole
The Siegfried Line Campaign, Charles B. MacDonald
The Ardennes – Battle of the Bulge, Hugh M. Cole
The Last Offensive, Charles B. MacDonald
Riviera to the Rhine, Jeffrey J. Clarke, Robert Ross Smith

The Middle East Theater

The China-Burma-India Theater

Special Studies

Pictorial Record

The US Navy in World War II

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Morison, already convinced of the value of personal involvement as a result of sailing experience while writing his biography of Christopher Columbus, wrote to President Roosevelt suggesting the preparation of an official history of the Navy in the war, and volunteering for the task. Both President Roosevelt and the Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox agreed, and in May 1942 Morison was commissioned as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Naval Reserve, and assigned a staff of assistants, with permission to go anywhere and to see all official records. Morison’s reputation as a knowledgeable sailor (based on his analysis in the biography of Christopher Columbus) preceded him, and he was welcomed on a number of ships, eleven of them in all by the end of the war.

The result was a normal historical work, not a prescribed official history. Limitations of the History of U.S. Naval Operations are mostly due to its shortened period of publication. Some material, especially related to codebreaking, was still classified, and later in-depth research into particular occurrences in the war did clarify points that had been passed over rather lightly. Some rewriting was incorporated in the later printings of this series. This History of U.S. Naval Operations also intentionally avoided a certain amount of analysis, for instance deferring to other works for the causes of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor. The intended audience for the work, to quote from the preface, was “the general reader rather than the professional sailor.”

The books can be downloaded free of charge for 14 days at archive.org.

Vol. I: The Battle of the Atlantic, September 1939–May 1943
Vol. II: Operations in North African Waters, October 1942–June 1943
Vol. III: The Rising Sun in the Pacific, 1931–April 1942
Vol. IV: Coral Sea, Midway and Submarine Actions, May–August, 1942
Vol. V: The Struggle for Guadalcanal, August 1942–February 1943
Vol. VI: Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, 22 July 1942–1 May 1944
Vol. VII: Aleutians, Gilberts and Marshalls, June 1942–April 1944
Vol. VIII: New Guinea and the Marianas, 1944
Vol. IX: Sicily, Salerno and Anzio, 1943–1944
Vol. X: The Battle of the Atlantic Won, May 1943–May 1945
Vol. XI: The Invasion of France and Germany, 1944–1945
Vol. XII: Leyte, June 1944–January 1945
Vol. XIII: The Liberation of the Philippines, 1944–1945
Vol. XIV: Victory in the Pacific
Vol. XV: Supplement and General Index

The US Airforce in World War II

The US Airforce became an independent combat arm in 1947. Prior to 1947, the responsibility for military aviation was divided between the Army (for land-based operations) and the Navy, and Marine Corps, for sea-based operations from aircraft carrier and amphibious aircraft.

In March 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget ordering each war agency to prepare “an accurate and objective account”of that agency’s war experience. Soon after, the Army Air Forces began hiring professional historians so that its history could be recorded. An Historical Division was established in Headquarters Army Air Forces under Air Intelligence, in September 1942, and the modern Air Force historical program began. With the end of the war, Headquarters approved a plan for writing and publishing a seven-volume history. In December 1945, Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker, Deputy Commander of Army Air Forces, asked the Chancellor of the University of Chicago to assume the responsibility for the publication of the history. Lieutenant Colonel Wesley Frank Craven of New York University and Major James Lea Cate of the University of Chicago, both of whom had been assigned to the historical program, were selected to be editors of the volumes. Between 1948 and 1958 seven were published.

Volume One: Plans and Early Operations January 1939 to August 1942
Volume Two: Europe: Torch to Pointblank August 1942 to December 1943
Volume Three: Europe: Argument to V-E Day January 1944 to May 1945
Volume Four: The Pacific: Guadalcanal to Saipan August 1942 to July 1944
Volume Five: The Pacific: Matterhorn to Nagasaki June 1944 to August 1945
Volume Six: Men and Planes
Volume Seven: Services Around the World

Further Reading:

United States Army Air Force (“Craven and Cate”)
http://www.afhso.af.mil/booksandpublications/conflictindex.asp

United States Marine Corps

http://www.usmcu.edu/content/publications-0

(scroll down to bottom of page)

The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War

This fifty volume series covers all areas of New Zealand’s involvement in the Second World War, from detailed accounts of particular battalions, to the political and economic background and consequences, to full accounts of particular episodes and campaigns. This series was first published as part of the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War, produced under the auspices of the War History Branch of the Department of Internal Affairs.

Unit Histories

Campaign Histories

Air Force and Navy

Medical Service

Misc

The Official Australian History of the Second World War

Not to be outdone by the detailed and sprawling history of New Zealands involvement in the Second World War, the Australian military undertook one of the longest and largest historical endeavours the nation has ever seen. The enterprise began in January 1943 with the appointment of Gavin Long as General Editor. The 22 volumes, written by 14 authors, were published by the Australian War Memorial over a 25-year period between 1952 and 1977.

Series 1 – Army

Series 2 – Navy

Series 3 – Air

Series 4 – Civil

Series 5 – Medical

War over Holland

How to organize armies for war is still one of the topics that fascinate me the most – probably one of the reasons why I am still loyal to the precisely researched OBs of the “Europa series”. Some time ago during reasearch I stumbled upon a now defunct blog that listed in detail all units involved in the German invasion of the Netherlands, partially down to company level. I was very exited about that find, even if, as so often, the page lacked detailed source information on individual entries. A quick email exchange with the author of the blog revealed that the site was only a preparation for a historical project on the invasion of Holland in 1940. This page is now online, and I can only recommend reading to everyone interested in the german occupation of the Netherlands in 1940. P>

“War over Holland” focuses heavily on the military events in the operational sense and disregards the misery the invasion and subsequent years brought over the Dutch. One may lament this, but it should be noted that the consequences for civilian population, and especially for the dutch Jews, have been well documented and described in other publications. Putting the focus on operational military history thus does not automatically constitute an omission. The authors intention is not to give a complete picture, but to describe the military events without which none of the subsequent times of terror and miseary can be understood. The website narrates the five days of desperate struggle Holland put up against an overwhelming superior foe, and even the most inconsequential firefights are recorded with a well founded knowledge of the source material. On the forth day, most organized resistance collapsed, leaven only capitulation and flight to exile for a few. P>

So for those the article by Alan Tibetts on landing operation in the Netherlands is not enough, you will find “War over Holland” provides an excellent analysis of the military action in unparalelled detail and depth. The only nitpicks are regular error messages the server produces currently, and which require several loading attempts for pages, plus the lack of footnotes, complicating any fact-checking from the sources. P>

Date: August 13th, 2012

URL: http://www.waroverholland.nl/

Battalion Organisation during the Second World War

“Bayonetstrength 150” is the most knowledgeable website on bataillon sized units in second world war that we know of. Its name aptly describes focus and content: its all about organisation, training, equipment, and action of bataillion-sized units on the various battlefields of World War II. Its author, Gary Kennedy, not only manages to describe the theoretical structures of these fundamental buidling blocks of armies, but also captures the reality of their emplyoment and the subsequent changes that attrition and battle wear forced on them.

Based on a prolific bibliography on the subject Kennedy manages to describe the close interaction between organisation, equipment, and training in a way that makes it accessible even for laymen.

The page is spartan and in simple HTML, the only compromise to usability is the color coding of various sections. A host of index-pages and introductions lead to some redundancy, but ensure the reader never feels lost. A must-read for anyone interested in the topic of tactical combat in World War II.

Date: April 18th, 2012

URL: http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/index.htm

Update, Sep 11th, 2017: Bayonettstrength has been offline since this summer. While the Owner of the website has publicly stated that he wants to re-up the site in the future, currently it remains offline. If you need any information previously available at bayonettstrength150, you can find an offline copy in the ubiquous web archive at

https://web.archive.org/web/20160425143250/http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/General/site_map.htm,

or you can contact me, since I do have an offline copy.

Selected Bibliography

Boyd, Alexander. The Soviet Air Force since 1918. New York: Stein and Day, 1977.

Erickson, John. “Alexander Alexandrovich Novikov.” In Stalin’s Generals, ed. Harold, Shukman, 155-174.   New York: Grove Press, 1993.

Hardesty, Von.  Red Phoenix, the Rise of Soviet Air Power, 1941-1945.  Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982.

Kozhevnikov, M. N.  The
Command and Staff of the Soviet Army Air Force in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945.
Moscow: Nauka, 1977, Soviet Military Thought, no. 17. Translated by United States Air Force. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, n.d.

Miller, Russell.  The Soviet Air Force at War.  The Epic of Flight. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life
Books, 1983.

Victory and Disgrace

Marshal Novikov participated in many further operations, but continued to operate in much the same capacity, that of Stavka air representative, often commanding and coordinating air resources for multiple fronts.  A list of his battles includes the Kuban, Kursk, and Kiev (1943); Korsun, Ternopol, the relief of Leningrad, the Karelian campaign, and operation ‘Bagration’ (1944); the Vistula-Oder operation, Konigsberg, Berlin and the campaign against Japan (1945).  This constant presence of Novikov was recognized with another promotion, to Chief Air Marshal, on 21 February 1944.[23]  Among his many honors, Alexander Alexandrovich Novikov was twice named a Hero of the Soviet Union.[24]

After the war Marshal Novikov began working to bring his air force into the jet age.  Sadly, before the first Yak-9 was flight-tested he was arrested on the order of Stalin.  This occurred on 23 February 1946, and Novikov was far from the only senior military officer caught in Stalin’s ‘purge of the victors’. Stripped of title, rank and decorations, he was left to the tender mercies of Lavrentii Beria’s prisons for almost six years.[25]  Novikov was released in May 1953, two months after Stalin’s death.  By June, with rank and decorations restored, he was again in a place of honor as Commander of Long-Range Aviation and Air Force Deputy Commander-in-Chief.  Novikov also found a new wife, Tamara Potapovna Fomina, an aeronautical engineer and graduate of the Military Academy.[26]  Soon however, manned bombers gave way to missiles, and Novikov was likewise retired due to his health.  He was given the position head of the Higher Civil Aviation School in Leningrad, which he held from 1956 to 1967.[27]

On 3 February 1976 Air Chief Marshal Alexander Novikov passed from this earth. Yet how much do we know of his personality?  The fact that at least one child was with him in Leningrad in 1941 indicates that he did discharge some family responsibilities. Anecdotes contained in the referenced sources indicate he was a drinking man.  First the reprimand as a tippler, then a note that he gave American Lieutenant-General Ira Eaker advice that an apple eaten before vodka toasts would absorb the alcohol,[28] and finally a quote of Krushchev “He drank more than was probably good for him.”[29] Yet Krushchev, who knew him from Stalingrad, also said, “He was a dedicated, honest and honorable man”,[30] and in that time, under those pressures, a great many men drank more than they should.  That this twice Hero of the Soviet Union was betrayed by Stalin, a man he had served for so many years, is not an indictment.  He was certainly a hard worker, and could not have risen to such a high military position or survived the war if he had not been an extremely competent leader.  The reforms he instituted in tactics and organizational structures greatly aided the Red Air Force in coming to grips with Germany’s Luftwaffe, and his personal direction of many key aerial campaigns in the greatest war of the air age marks him as one of history’s preeminent air commanders.


Footnotes

[23] Kozhevnikov, 234; Erickson, 168-9.

[24] Kozhevnikov, 180, 208

[25] Erickson, 173-4; Hardesty, 213; Boyd, 216-7.

[26] Erickson, 174.

[27] Erickson, 174; Hardesty, 213.

[28] Miller, 156.

[29] Miller, 110.

[30] Ibid.

During the Great Patriotic War

From the very beginning of the war with Germany Major-General Novikov skillfully used the forces available to him.  As early as 25 June 1941 Novikov launched offensive raids against German and Finish airfields.[9]  Although Novikov’s airmen flew 16,567 sorties in 22 days[10], nothing seemed to slow the Axis advance.  As German and Finnish forces closed in on Leningrad our air commander found himself with fewer and fewer operational aircraft.  Zhukov arrived on 10 September, and by the time he left in early October the city was surrounded.  But the city was held; though hundreds of thousands would die during the siege.  Novikov’s own young son was flown out over the ‘air bridge’.[11]

On 3 February 1942 Novikov met with Stalin and was given the job of Air Force First Deputy Commander.  He was immediately sent to Western Front to plan and coordinate air operations for Zhukov.[12]  Further assignments to key operations quickly followed.  In these operations Novikov stressed the importance of one central authority over air assets, so that they could be massed and coordinated.  Previously, Soviet aircraft had often been dispersed and lacked meaningful coordination.

Alexander Novikov was named Commander of the Soviet Army Air Force on 11 April 1942 and concurrently promoted to Lieutenant-General. With the new commander came a new senior staff.[13]  The structure and tactics of the air force were also changed by what were known as the “Novikov Reforms”.  Certain ideas were copied from the Germans while others were of Soviet origin.  A new long-range aviation organization (ADD) was created.  The Air Army replaced frontal aviation.  Except for some liaison and reconnaissance aircraft, army level commanders lost their aviation assets.  Reserve formations were organized into Air Corps of two or more Air Divisions, with a strength of 120-270 aircraft.  Several Air Corps would be given to an Air Army for critical operations, then moved to another sector on an as needed basis.[14]  Further reform measures covered rear services, lower level organizational structures, training, and other areas.

The new Air Armies and reserve Air Corps gave the Soviet Air Force (VVS) a strategic mobility, which it had lacked. This new ability was demonstrated in the Stalingrad campaign.  During the Axis advance to Stalingrad and stubborn defense the VVS didn’t seriously challenge the Luftwaffe. This allowed the Soviets to conserve strength, adapt to the new organizational structure, and gain experience with the large numbers of new aircraft coming into inventory.[15]  Once the Soviets decided to go over to the offensive this quickly changed.

General Novikov continued to be a key player in the Soviet command team, and he was sent as a Stavka (Headquarters, Supreme High Command) representative to various parts of the front.  General Novikov arrived at Stalingrad in November 1942, once again at the request of Zhukov, who said, “We work well together.”[16]  Novikov concentrated 1,414 aircraft in three Air Armies to support operation ‘Uranus’.[17]  The expansible nature of the new Air Armies is demonstrated by the inclusion of four Air Corps from Stavka Reserve.[18]  When the attack began poor weather limited the Luftwaffe to 150 sorties over four days. In contrast the VVS flew 1,000 sorties, mostly ground support.[19]

Much of the massed Soviet air power was sent against 6th Army and the German ‘air bridge’.  Several hundred obsolete Soviet planes were used as night harassment bombers.  Novikov concentrated his own efforts on organizing a blockade based on hitting the German airfields within and without the pocket, strong antiaircraft defenses along likely routes, and interceptors directed by ground stations.[20]  The combination of poor weather and a more effective Red Air Force did not stop the Luftwaffe, but they inflicted heavy losses and kept the rate of supply well below the required level.  During the period 19 November 1942 through 2 February 1943 the Soviets flew 35,920 sorties.[21]  For his exploits General Novikov was named the Soviet Union’s first ever Air Marshal on 17 March 1943.[22]


Footnotes

[9] Kozhevnikov, 41; Erickson, 161.

[10] Kozhevnikov, 44

[11] Erickson, 162.

[12] Erickson, 162; Kozhevnikov, 68.

[13] Kozhevnikov, 234; Alexander Boyd, The Soviet Air Force since 1918, (New York: Stein and Day, 1977), 140; Erickson, 163; Von Hardesty, Red Phoenix, the Rise of Soviet Air Power, 1941-1945, (Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1982), 83-85.

[14] Boyd, 141; Hardesty, 87; Kozhevnikov, 72-74.

[15] Hardesty, 91-2; Boyd, 159; Russell Miller, The Soviet Air Force at War, The Epic of Flight, (Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1983), 117.

[16] Erickson, 165.

[17] Erickson, 165; Kozhevnikov, 95; Hardesty, 105.

[18] Kozhevnikov, 95.

[19] Miller, 123.

[20] Hardesty, 124; Kozhevnikov, 97-98.

[21] Kozhevnikov, 100.

[22] Kozhevnikov, 234; Erickson, 166.

The Wings of Revolution: Youth and Civil War

Born into a peasant home in November 1900, Alexander Novikov was noted as a diligent student.  Rather than work the fields, he became a teacher, and it appears he was quite satisfied with that profession.  It wasn’t until 1917 that the war caught up with his family.  His father had been a NCO in the Tsar’s army and was called to serve in the Red Army.  Two years later Alexander found himself called to duty, with the 27th PriVolga Regiment.  Evidently he drew the attention of his superiors, for in 1920 he has selected to attend a course for junior infantry commanders at Nizhni Novgorod.  On 24 May 1920 he was admitted into the Communist Party.[1]

Novikov’s Civil War service took him first to the northern front, and then to Petrograd, where he arrive just days after the Kronshtadt mutiny.  Novikov was soon attached to Tukhachevsky’s 7th Army staff, and saw the tiny Red Air Force in action against the mutineers. After the campaign was resolved young Novikov was posted back with the infantry.[2]  An instructor from his infantry leaders’ course had become Chief of Staff of the Independent Caucasus Army and got Novikov posted to the south. Once there, this benefactor convinced Novikov to apply for further schools.  He was accepted at the Higher Rifle School for Commanders where he won a drawing for a fifteen-minute flight. Novikov was immediately smitten with a strong desire to fly, but could not gain the permission of his superiors to become an aviator.[3]

After the war ended Novikov was assigned command positions at the company and battalion level. By 1925 Alexander had a wife Militsa and son Lev, and in 1927 he entered the Frunze Academy which he graduated in 1930 near the top of his class. He was then posted to Smolensk as head of reconnaissance with 11th Rifle Corps. Though thousands of heretofore ground officers were being transferred into the Air Force during the thirties, Novikov’s vision had not considered good enough for an aviator.  It took arm twisting by his Military District commander, but Novikov was reassigned as chief of staff of the 450th Aviation Brigade.  Initially assigned as a non-flyer, by 1933 he passed his pilot’s examination.[4]

In 1935 Alexander Novikov accepted a demotion to command a bomber squadron. This personal triumph was mixed with tragedy due to the death of his wife.  Left with three young children and now a squadron to command, Novikov had many responsibilities.[5] Promoted to Colonel in 1936, Novikov was caught up in the purges of 1937, relieved of command, and issued a reprimand. Luck had it that Colonel Novikov was found “neither a tippler nor an associate of women of dubious virtue”[6] and the reprimand was withdrawn.[7]

A former brigade commander was named air commander for the Leningrad Military District and asked for Novikov as Chief of Staff.  Holding this post during the Finish war, Novikov came in for some criticism when the ill-trained Soviet Air Force failed to live up to expectations.  Most of the blame fell on his commander and one time benefactor, Ptukhin, who was transferred to Kiev. Surprisingly, Stalin appointed Novikov as air commander for the district effective July 1940.[8]


Footnotes

[1] John Erickson, “Alexander Alexandrovich Novikov,” In Stalin’s Generals, ed. Harold Shukman, 155-174, (New York: Grove Press, 1993), 155-156.

[2] Erickson, 156.

[3] Erickson, 155, 157.

[4] Erickson, 157-8; M. N. Kozhevnikov, The Command and Staff of the Soviet Army Air Force in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945. Moscow: Nauka, 1977, Soviet Military Thought, no. 17. Translated by United States Air Force. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, n.d.), 68.

[5] Erickson, 158.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Erickson, 160; Kozhevnikov, 68.

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