Culture & Literature
World War II

World War II March - April 2016

World War II magazine covers every aspect of history's greatest modern conflict with vivid, revealing, and evocative writing from top historians and journalists. Each issue provides a lively mix of stories about soldiers, leaders, tactics, weapons, and little-known incidents of the war, including riveting firsthand battle accounts and reviews of books, movies, and video games. And the most authoritative magazine on the war features a striking design that highlights rare, archival photographs and detailed battle maps to convey the drama and excitement of the most famous battles and campaigns.

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6 Issues

in this issue

2 min.

Jessica Wambach Brown (“Time Travel”), a former newspaper reporter and graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism, earned her master’s degree in diplomacy and military studies from Hawaii Pacific University while working for the U.S. Pacific Command’s Center for Excellence in Disaster Management & Humanitarian Assistance. For this issue, she trekked east across the Cascades from her Carnation, Washington, hometown to explore the wartime atomic history of the state’s windblown southeastern desert. Jonathan Dimbleby (“Gloves Off”) is a British writer, broadcaster, and filmmaker. His books include Russia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and its People and the highly acclaimed Destiny in the Desert: The Road to El Alamein. His article is excerpted from his new book, The Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the…

4 min.

A Farragut “Boot” Recalls the Wet Old Days When I saw the article about Farragut Naval Training Station (“At Sea in the Deep Woods,” November/December 2015) it reminded me of my boot camp days. When I was in boot camp we waited over an hour for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the cold rain. Our pea coats would be saturated wet and we had to turn our caps inside out to keep the rain off our heads. Many a recruit got sick with cat fever or pneumonia as they waited. “So a recruit gets sick or even dies. There’s always another one to take his place.” This is the typical attitude of our admirals. The hospital in my camp was loaded with sick “boots” for many different reasons. I was one of…

11 min.
wwii today

Belated Honors for Wartime Weathermen When the U.S. Coast Guard vessel USCGC Muskeget vanished 400 miles off Newfoundland on September 9, 1942, the weather ship went down with 121 aboard, and no explanation for its disappearance. The service awarded the ship’s 117 uniformed crewmen posthumous Purple Hearts. But, although civilians serving “under competent military authority” during the war were eligible to receive the Purple Heart, no honors went to the four civilian meteorologists aboard. “Blame it on the fog of war,” Captain Jeremy Adams of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently told National Public Radio. The meteorologists, all from the U.S. Weather Bureau, had volunteered to sail on the Muskeget to obtain crucial weather data convoys needed to make the treacherous North Atlantic crossing to supply Britain. The U.S. government corrected…

7 min.
forged in flame

Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams was born in 1923 outside Fairmont, West Virginia. The youngest of 11 children, six of whom died in the 1918 influenza epidemic, he served on Iwo Jima in February and March 1945 with the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines, Third Marine Division. In that battle, among the war’s fiercest engagements, 27 Americans received the Medal of Honor for valor; Woody is the last of those heroes still living. The U.S. Navy plans to name a warship after him. He lives in Ona, West Virginia. You started out fighting for your life. I only weighed three pounds. They weren’t sure I was going to make it, but after three days the doctor came from town and said I would. Before the war, you had a brush with the army. In 1940 I…

4 min.
from the foot locker

1 My grandfather, Eugene Hatherill, served in the 84th Infantry Division. This disconcerting souvenir was a doorstop in my grandparents’ house; now it sits on my basement workbench. I’ve always wondered about its origins, function, and the intricate mechanism at the nose. —Brent Hatherill, Bethesda, Maryland This is a shell and fuze for a French 75mm Model 1897 gun, the first modern artillery piece. This gun had a hydro-pneumatic recoil system to keep it stable. A skilled crew with a French 75 could fire 30 aimed shells per minute at a range of five miles, with sustained fire of 15 rounds per minute. The Saint Chamond Arsenal made the fuze, designed as both a time fuze and a percussion fuze; using a special tool, crews could set it to explode after…

3 min.
double jeopardy

SOMETIMES WORLD War II is so big it’s tough to wrap your head around it. Battles that in another conflict would form the martial centerpiece often find little place in memory, and sometimes we forget them altogether. World War II claims more memorable great battles than any war in history, but just as many of its fights are forgotten. Nowhere is this more true than on the Eastern Front, that massive collision of Germany and the Soviet Union. Even on its own, this was one of history’s great conflicts. The opposing forces’ size, the ferocity, the battlefield’s sprawl, the toll, you name it: the Eastern Front was the Big One. How big? Consider the following scene: the German Sixth Army is in deep trouble. Months of constant, grinding combat have sapped this…