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Culture & Literature
History of War

History of War No. 68

From the conquering legions of Ancient Rome to the thunderous tank battles of World War II and beyond, History of War takes you deeper inside the minds of history’s fighting men, further under the bonnets of some of the world’s most devastating war machines, and higher above the battlefield to see the broad sweep of conflict as it happened.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
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13 Issues

In this issue

1 min.

TOM GARNER Tom was privileged to speak with two veterans of the Normandy campaign this month: George Batts, who landed on Gold Beach, and Cedric Wasser, who landed on Sword. Starting on page 26, they share their incredible stories. JAMES HOLLAND This year the renowned historian and broadcaster has published two new books on the 1944 invasion: Big Week and Normandy ’44. Starting on page 40 he describes how the Allies’ air campaign was critical to their success on 6 June. CHRISTIAN JENNINGS Christian is a former foreign correspondent and author of several history titles, including his most recent, The Third Reich Is Listening. On page 62 he explores how German intelligence operations tried to decode the plans for D-Day. FOR MORE FROM THE HISTORY OF WAR TEAM VISIT: WWW.HISTORYANSWERS.CO.UK…

1 min.

For this special issue, marking the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, I felt it only proper to begin with the words of none other than the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower, which were issued to over 175,000 troops on the eve of the invasion. By the time a successful foothold had been established in Normandy, several thousand of these men were dead, wounded or missing in action. As the numbers of surviving veterans sadly continue to dwindle, this poignant milestone provides another chance, if one were needed, to reaffirm, “We will remember them.”…

1 min.
war in focus

A READY SWORD Taken: 6 June, 1944 At around 8.45am, heavily laden Royal Marines of 41 Commando arrive on Sword beach, the eastern-most of the Allied landing zones on D-Day. The British at Sword beach were joined by 176 Free French commandos led by Philippe Kieffer. They were the only French forces to take part on 6 June, and Kieffer was later among the Free French forces to liberate Paris. THE LONGEST WAIT Taken: 1 June, 1944 American troops are transported to a ship off the coast of southern England, where they will wait for five days until Operation Neptune begins. Allied troops were kept aboard ships in often cramped conditions, waiting for their orders to begin the invasion. Such was the secrecy of the operation, that many soldiers did not learn of their destination…

6 min.
d-day: the airborne invasion

April 1944 EXERCISE MUSH “Mush” is an enormous British airborne training exercise, which is spread over three days across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Wiltshire. The vast majority of the paratroopers are unaware that this is the preparation for Operation Overlord. 12.20am, 6 June 1944 1. OPERATION TONGA “Tonga” is the codename for the airborne operation undertaken by the British 6th Airborne Division. Paratroopers land on the eastern flank of the invasion area near Caen. Objectives include the capture of two bridges as well as destroying the Merville Gun Battery. 12.20am, 6 June 1944 2. MISSION ALBANY Albany is a night combat assault by US 101st Airborne Division. It sees 6,928 paratroopers jump from 443 C-47 Skytrain aircraft over 39 square kilometres of the southeast corner of the Contentin Peninsula. The operation occurs hours ahead of the beach landings but…

6 min.
allied airborne heroes

SIR RICHARD GALE THE “BLUFF” BUT SUCCESSFUL COMMANDER OF 6TH AIRBORNE DIVISION 1896-1982 MAJOR GENERAL UNITED KINGDOM Gale joined the British Army at the outbreak of WWI and was commissioned as an officer in 1915. He saw heavy action the Western Front in machine gun companies during the battles of the Somme and Passchendaele and was awarded the Military Cross in early 1918. Gale remained in the army throughout the interwar period but, despite his heroic war record, he was only a major by December 1938. Nevertheless, Gale was known as a “strong personality and leader with plenty of ambition” and he was promoted at the direction of Winston Churchill to command 1st Parachute Brigade in 1941. Although he was physically unsuited to parachuting, Gale was popular with his men and British airborne services…

4 min.
pegasus bridge

The British 6th Airborne Division had the job of securing and holding the British left flank. To accomplish this, they were to be dropped by parachute and glider to the northeast of Caen. Their target was the wooded ridge in the Bois de Bavent area, the German battery at Merville and several local bridges. The River Orne and Caen Canal run parallel from Caen to the coast. Between the villages of Bénouville and Ranville the coastal road was carried over the waterways by two bridges. Glider assault “POSSESSION OF THE BRIDGES WAS CRUCIAL BECAUSE IT WOULD PERMIT MONTGOMERY TO BREAKOUT EASTWARD AND STOP ROMMEL BRINGING UP REINFORCEMENTS” Possession of the bridges was crucial because it would permit Montgomery to breakout eastward and stop Rommel bringing up reinforcements. The planners decided the best way…