Just a flesh wound

Two soldiers and a an NCO posing next to a sign saying “Leichtkranken-Lazarett“, Eastern Front, winter of 1941-42. A Leichtkranken-[Kriegs]lazarett was a hospital behind the frontlines, where lightly wounded or those with a light illness were treated. They were expected to return to their units as soon as possible. For more serious cases, there were the Kriegslazarett, and also the hospitals back home. There was a total of 68 field hospital batallions, each fielding two field hospitals for severe cases and two field hospitals for lightly wounded, with a capacity of 1,000 patients for each Kriegslazarett.

In the case of a field hospital for lightly wounded, the staff consisted of 34 men: a chief physician, 2 ward doctors, 2 assistant doctors, a pharmacist with one assistant, a Sergeant major, 4 station supervisors (1 also serving as disinfector and bath overseer), a maintenance technician, 2 clerks, 2 medical corporals for the X-ray machines, 3 paramedic NCOs (1 for surgeon service, 1 for X-ray service, 1 barber), 2 more clerks, a cobbler, a carpenter, a bricklayer, a blacksmith, an MC driver, 4 truck drivers, and 2 cooks.

The field hospitals had much to do, but every time there was a major offensive or battle, their capacity was strained to the limit. Many hundreds of thousands of patients passed through them during the war, and countless soldiers had them to thank for their survival.

And now a reminder of…

The Grand World War 2 in Photos Contest!

This is my 200th post, and it’s time to celebrate with something special! Why not a little contest? As you might have noticed, I like to make puns and references to movies, books, and songs, and a number of the headlines in my posts are just that. So the challenge is the following: find as many of those puns and references you can. The three best contestants will win genuine German photos from WW2.

The rules:

  1. The contest ends on 31 December 2017, 24:00 CET.
  2. To enter, the contestant has to register as a follower of this blog. A contestant cannot enter more than once. Failing to register as a follower or trying to enter more than once are grounds for disqualification.
  3. The contestant who can identify the greatest number of sources for my puns and references will win. Two more contestants will win the 2nd and 3rd prizes.
  4. Points are scored by properly identifying the source or inspiration for a blog post headline. This could be a book, movie, TV series, song, or game. There are about 40 such headlines, counting from the beginning to 2 December, 2017. Any post made during the time for the contest (3 – 31 December, 2017) aren’t part of it and doesn’t count towards that total. Each correct answer scores one point.
  5. A post headline were the source is identified in the post doesn’t count. (Example: “Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major”, as the song is clearly mentioned in that post.)
  6. Write down the headline of the post and what you believe is the inspiration or source for the pun or reference. (Example: If there’s a blog post about field bakeries in WW2 named “The Baked and the Bread”, the answer should include that headline and the source, which is the novel “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer.)
  7. Make a single list of your answers and send it to bjorn.hellqvist[at]comhem.se before the contest ends. Once the answers have been submitted, you can’t make additions to the list.

The 1st prize is 30 photos, the 2nd prize is 20 photos, and the 3rd prize is 10 photos, worth about 5 USD/Euro per 10 photos (sorry, no photos of tanks or other cool stuff). If two or more contestants get the same score, they’ll receive an equal number of photos. Two 1st prize winners get 25 photos each, the 3rd winner gets 10, or in the case of two 2nd prize winners, the 1st prize is 30 photos and the two 2nd prizes 15 photos each. If all three get the same score, they’ll win 20 photos each. In case there are more than three contestants with the same scores, those who sent in their answers first will win.

Good luck!

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Joining the fray

By their looks, the soldiers in the photo are probably reservists, born 1897-1900, and called up in August, 1939. The photo could be from the winter of 1939-40, during the lull in the hostilities known as “the Phoney War”. Some of the men could be WW1 veterans if they turned 20 years old before that war ended. They were probably conscripted before the limitations of the Treaty of Versailles went into effect, but it’s possible that some of them are Zwölfenders, soldiers who had signed on for 12 years in the 100,000-man Reichswehr. On average, slightly less than 5 % of those year classes died in the war, indicating that most of them served in second line units or as occupation troops.

And now…

The Grand World War 2 in Photos Contest!

This is my 200th post, and it’s time to celebrate with something special! Why not a little contest? As you might have noticed, I like to make puns and references to movies, books, and songs, and a number of the headlines in my posts are just that. So the challenge is the following: find as many of those puns and references you can. The three best contestants will win genuine German photos from WW2.

The rules:

  1. The contest ends on 31 December 2017, 24:00 CET.
  2. To enter, the contestant has to register as a follower of this blog. A contestant cannot enter more than once. Failing to register as a follower or trying to enter more than once are grounds for disqualification.
  3. The contestant who can identify the greatest number of sources for my puns and references will win. Two more contestants will win the 2nd and 3rd prizes.
  4. Points are scored by properly identifying the source or inspiration for a blog post headline. This could be a book, movie, TV series, song, or game. There are about 40 such headlines, counting from the beginning to 2 December, 2017. Any post made during the time for the contest (3 – 31 December, 2017) aren’t part of it and doesn’t count towards that total. Each correct answer scores one point.
  5. A post headline were the source is identified in the post doesn’t count. (Example: “Kiss Me Goodnight Sergeant Major”, as the song is clearly mentioned in that post.)
  6. Write down the headline of the post and what you believe is the inspiration or source for the pun or reference. (Example: If there’s a blog post about field bakeries in WW2 named “The Baked and the Bread”, the answer should include that headline and the source, which is the novel “The Naked and the Dead” by Norman Mailer.)
  7. Make a single list of your answers and send it to bjorn.hellqvist[at]comhem.se before the contest ends. Once the answers have been submitted, you can’t make additions to the list.

The 1st prize is 30 photos, the 2nd prize is 20 photos, and the 3rd prize is 10 photos, worth about 5 USD/Euro per 10 photos (sorry, no photos of tanks or other cool stuff). If two or more contestants get the same score, they’ll receive an equal number of photos. Two 1st prize winners get 25 photos each, the 3rd winner gets 10, or in the case of two 2nd prize winners, the 1st prize is 30 photos and the two 2nd prizes 15 photos each. If all three get the same score, they’ll win 20 photos each. In case there are more than three contestants with the same scores, those who sent in their answers first will win.

Good luck!

Please recycle

An Unteroffizier watching a train shipping airplane wreckage to the smelters as his train passes by. The star on the wing next to his head has a star, indicating that the scrap metal is the remains of destroyed Soviet airplanes. Germany was in constant need of metal for its arms production, and the many thousands of Red Army Air Force planes that had been wrecked on the ground or shot down were a valuable source of steel, aluminium and other metals. Perhaps the metal from SB 2M wreck in the previous post was recycled and used for German airplanes.

The battlefields across the globe were littered with wrecked tanks, trucks, airplanes and other war materiel, the cleanup after the war taking many years. Most were recovered as scrap metal and melted, but now, over 70 years later, wrecks of tanks and planes are recovered from bogs, lakes, seas and rivers, and carefully restored back to their original state, to be displayed in museums or even put back in running or flying condition. Right after the war, few thought of preserving those war machines, and in some cases there’s only a single plane or tank preserved of a production run in the thousands.

The Jagdpanther in the clip below was restored from two shot-up wrecks recovered from firing grounds, additional parts sourced from over a dozen collectors around the world. It is one of three Jagdpanthers in running condition, with a further seven kept in museums, out of a total production run of 415 tanks.

 

Gone to ground

A German cavalry unit has come across the wreck of a Soviet Tupolev SB 2M light bomber, its landing gear and engines ripped off in the crash landing. The location is somewhere in the Soviet Union, most likely during the first weeks of Operation Barbarossa. The Red Army Air Force suffered heavy losses, and it took the Soviets a couple of years before they had wrested air superiority from the Germans.

The Tupolev ANT-40, also known by its service name Tupolev SB (Russian: Skorostnoi Bombardirovschik – high speed bomber), was a twin-engined three-seat light bomber, first flown in 1934. More than 6,600 were built in different versions between 1936 and 1941. The rapid development of fighter planes made the design, which was considered successful in the mid-30s, in need of replacement by the early 1940’s. Still, 94 % of the Soviet bomber force was made up from SB 2Ms by the time of the German invasion in June, 1941, some 1,500-2,000 deployed near the border, where they fell victim to German attacks on airfields. Those that survived the initial onslaught were poorly used, and within a few days, losses forced most of the remaining SBs to switch to night attacks.

SBs continued to be used, in the defense of Leningrad and Moscow, mainly at night by attacking German artillery. By December 1941 almost all of the SBs had either been replaced by more modern bombers like Pe-2s or lost, although it remained in large-scale use until March 1942 in the North against Finland. The Finns used captured SBs against their previous owners. SBs continued in use for non-combat roles such as supply dropping, glider towing and training, and continued in use in the Far East until 1945.

Three friends of mine

Berck-sur-Mer, France, summer of 1940. Three combat engineers from the 10. Panzer-Division take a look at a defused British Mk XIV (or possibly the upgrade, Mk XVII) naval mine, the contact horns removed and the 145 kg TNT charge lying next to it.

Mine warfare was very much a thing during WW2, all nations with coasts using naval mines both to protect their territory, to disrupt enemy shipping (as part of a blockade), and to sink enemy warships and merchant ships. There were several types of mines, the most common being the contact mine like the one above. That type was moored and submerged just under the surface, a mechanism adjusting the length of the mooring wire as the tide rose and fell. The mine had a number of horns, and when one of those was struck by a ship, the main charge exploded, the resulting damage crippling or sinking the ship. Other types of mines reacted to the magnetic field of a ship, or the sound of its propellers. Naval mines were the cause of loss of ships and lives long after the war, as unswept mines continued to be a danger to shipping.

Berck-sur-Mer was a small fishing town in the Pas-de-Calais region which had become a resort in the mid-19th century, when a hosptial for the treatment of tuberculosis was built there, the sea air thought to be beneficial for the patients. The town was damaged in 1944, as Allied air raids in preparation of D-Day hit German coastal installations, mainly as a diversion in order to draw German attention from the landing beaches in Normandy. The town recovered, and is now a holiday resort.

General Respect

General der Infanterie Viktor von Schwedeler, commander of the IV. Armeekorps, honoring Prussian soldiers killed in the Battle of Waterloo (1815) at the monument at La Belle Alliance, Belgium, June 1940. The photo was taken by an officer in Infanterie-Regiment 503, 290. Infanterie-Division.

He was born in St. Goarshausen in western Germany on 18 January 1885, and became a career officer from his teenage years, serving in various general staffs during WW1. He remained a staff officer during the lean years before the Nazi acquisition of power, and headed the Army Personnel Office 1933-38, eventually becoming a full general in 1938. Schwedeler was made commanding general of the IV. Army Corps following the Blomberg-Fritsch Affair of 1938, and remained with it during the campaigns in Poland, France, and the Soviet Union (Army Group South). He received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 29 June 1940.

He was transferred to the Führerreserve in October 1942. On 1 March 1943 he was appointed commanding general of the 4th Military District in Dresden, a position he held until 31 January 1945. Nevertheless, he was still responsible for the measures after the bombing of Dresden on 13 February and 15 February 1945. He held no command during the last months of the war, and died in Freiburg on 30 October 1954.

 

I don’t know about you, but to me he sounds to have been a bit boring. Certainly not like the stereotypical German generals of American and British movies, like in this sketch by British comedians Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones:

 

Killing field

At first glance, it seems like this PzKpfw IV Ausf D has just taken up positions at the edge of the field outside Monceaux in Aisne, France, May 1940. It might belong to the 6. Panzer-Division. Then one can spot the tell-tale signs of a tank that has been knocked out. The rubber on the road wheels has been completely burned off, there’s debris on the engine covers, and the wooden cleaning rods for the gun barrel have burned, too. The gunner’s hatch on the left side of the turret is open, which might indicate that he escaped, but the other hatches are closed, which could mean that at least four of the crew were killed. The tank probably fell victim to an anti-tank gun or another tank. This is one of the 97 PzKpfw IVs lost in the Campaign. It was probably salvaged and repaired, seeing action in the Soviet Union a year later, manned by a new crew.