about the universe forum commander Shop Now Commanders Circle
Product List FAQs home Links Contact Us

Tuesday, July 01, 2014


Steve Cole ponders more things most people did not know about World War II.

1. Hans Kramer was a German four-star general and holder of the Knight's Cross who had been captured in Tunisia. He was in bad health, and the Allies arranged to send him home to Germany in spring 1944 (by way of the neutral Swedes) as a humanitarian gesture. (Such things have happened in history.) On the way to the Swedish boat, he was given a tour of the camps full of troops in southern England ready for D-Day. (He was told he was in eastern England and that the troops were ready to invade the Pas de Calais.) It was even arranged for him to meet General Patton (head of the fictitious First US Army Group) where he was entertained in a fictitious HQ festooned with maps of the Pas de Calais. On arriving home, he was debriefed and happily reported everything that the "careless Americans" had let him see.

2. The Allies tried hard to convince the Germans that the D-Day landings in France were to be part of three simultaneous invasions, including Norway and Greece. The fictitious 15th US Army and 4th British Army were set up in Scotland to be the army group aimed for Norway. Radio traffic, double agents, and recon planes allowed to slip through the British air defenses all confirmed that the troops were not only poised for the invasion but learning how to ski. US and British officers who had been told the invasion of Norway was a real thing were sent to Sweden to negotiate the use of Swedish territory for the invasion force to sweep southward into Denmark. The Germans believed it and kept 372,000 badly needed troops sitting around in Norway doing nothing until the war ended.

3. The original Allied deception plan called for another phony invasion, that being in southern France. An actor dressed up like General Montgomery was sent to Gibraltar to arrange to use the Spanish port of Barcelona as the base of operations for the invasion. The fascist Spanish quickly told the Germans, who were concerned over the supposed invasion until the actor got roaring drunk in public. (The Germans knew that Montgomery never drank alcohol.) Realizing they were being tricked, the Germans stripped southern France of troops, leaving only four divisions to oppose what was a real invasion, just two months later than D-Day. So while the deception failed to lure German troops to southern France, that turned out to be a good thing.

4. The Germans created the first experimental night-fighting tank battalions (understrength), consisting of Panthers with infrared gunsights and halftracks (with their own infrared driving equipment) carrying soldiers armed with SG44 assault rifles (with infrared gunsights called Vampir). One such battalion (part of the scratchbuilt Panzer Division Clausewitz) destroyed a US anti-tank battery and a British Comet tank company during night attacks in the spring of 1944. The other one, in Panzer Division Muncheburg, destroyed a Russian tank brigade on the Oder River.

5. In the dark days of 1942, Eisenhower (in charge of the war plans division covering the Pacific) sent $10 million to Australia for use in hiring smugglers to slip supplies to MacArthur's 70,000 trapped and starving troops in Bataan. The smugglers (paid in advance) took the supplies to neutral port, sold them, and pocketed the money.

6. MacArthur estimated that there would be one million US soldiers killed or wounded during the invasion of Japan. The Japanese people were expected to fight to the death, all those millions of them. (This was one reason for the atomic bombing of two cities. The Japanese did not know we were then out of bombs and would need months to produce more.) Another aspect of the invasion is that there were 410,000 allied prisoners of war (two thirds of them American, the rest British, Dutch, or Australian) in camps in Japan itself and we already knew that the camp commanders had been ordered to execute every prisoner on the day of the invasion.