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Archive for June, 2008

World War II History for June 30

30 Jun

Today in WW II History

World War II History for June 30

1934 - Adolf Hitler purged the Nazi Party by destroying the SA and bringing to power the SS in the “Night of the Long Knives.”

1943 - General Douglas MacArthur launched Operation Cartwheel. The purpose of the operation, which took nine months to complete, was to destroy the barrier formation that Japan had created in the Bismark Archipelago.

It was a multi-pronged assault on Rabaul and several islands in the Solomon Sea in the South Pacific. The joint effort takes nine months to complete but succeeds in recapturing more Japanese-controlled territory, further eroding their supremacy in the East.

The purpose of Cartwheel was to destroy the barrier formation Japan had created in the Bismark Archipelago, a collection of islands east of New Guinea in the Solomon Sea. The Japanese considered this area vital to the protection of their conquests in the Dutch East Indies and the Philippines. For the Allies, Rabaul, in New Britain, was the key to winning control of this theater of operations, as it served as the Japanese naval headquarters and main base.

On June 30, General MacArthur, strategic commander of the area, launched a simultaneous attack, on New Guinea and on New Georgia, as a setup and staging maneuver for the ultimate assault, that on Rabaul. The landing on New Georgia, led by Admiral William Halsey, proved particularly difficult, given the large Japanese garrison stationed there and the harsh climate and topography. Substantial reinforcements were needed before the region could be controlled, in August.

One consequence of Cartwheel was a lesson in future strategy. By establishing a “step-by-step” approach to invasion, the Allies unwittingly gave the Japanese time to regroup and establish their next line of defense. The Allies then decided that a new strategy was to be deployed, that of leaving certain islands, or parts thereof, to “wither on the vine,” rather than waste valuable time and manpower in fighting it out for marginal gains. A leapfrogging strategy was then employed by MacArthur, whereby he left in place smaller Japanese strongholds in order to concentrate on “bigger fish.”

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Battle Stations – Messerschmitt 262

30 Jun

History Channel International TV Listings
Programming Schedule

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 7-8pm — Battle Stations – Messerschmitt 262: Race for the Jet.

By mid-1944, the World War II Allied forces were regularly flying raids of 1,000 bombers over Germany escorted by US Mustangs and Lightnings. But in July 1944, a new German fighter appeared on the scene, flying at over 100 mph and capable of destroying a B-17 in a single pass. It was the jet-powered Messerschmitt 262. Using detailed color reenactments and interviews, we take the viewer inside the cockpits of the German pilots who flew this wonder weapon and the US fighters who learned how to defeat it.

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Please Note: All air times are Eastern and subject to change. Check your local listings for broadcast dates and times.

Browse the complete schedule:
http://www.historychannel.com/global/listings/listings.jsp?NetwCode=HCI

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PBS Special – War of the World

27 Jun

The War of the World

The War of the World, a 3-part series based on historian Niall Ferguson’s best-selling book of the same name, challenges the notion that World War II was a triumph of good (us) over evil (them).

The first part of the series gives an excellent work up to the 20th century in conflict. Spanning Asia and then through Europe it portrays the human cost in the struggle for power and control. Of all three parts that I previewed the first gave the best historical viewpoint without much bias. It was a very educational and insightful piece.

As the program moves into the second and then into the third series the author and host Niall Ferguson builds the focus of the series into his viewpoint of “seeing the 20th century through new eyes.” While the series is in the end aimed toward a particular viewpoint there are a lot of historical and factual perspectives that aren’t always highlighted in traditional history, such as the suffering and persecution of the common people throughout the various nations.

Stephen Segaller, Executive Producer of THE WAR OF THE WORLD and Vice President, National Production for Thirteen, says, “The series challenges our assumptions about a century’s worth of brutal conflict. In light of the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and eastward shift of global power toward China, Ferguson makes a case for looking deeply into the past to achieve insight into the future. By looking beyond individual wars or regions, he enables us to see the larger, and more powerful historical trends of our volatile age.”

The series considers the unparalleled stretch of violence as a single, unrelenting “war of the world” that began with Japan’s invasion of Russia in 1904 and continued through the Korean War all the way to an ongoing “Third World’s War.”

Episode one, The Clash of Empires, posits that economic volatility, ethnic conflict and empires in crisis combined to spawn the 20th century’s bloodiest conflicts, leading to the rise of the brutal regimes of Germany, Japan and Russia, the “age of genocide” and a preoccupation with racial purity.

Episode two, A Tainted Victory, cites the horrors of World War II to show how, in order to win, the Allies acted with the same savagery as their enemies, thus attaining a “tainted victory.”

Episode three, The Icebox, describes the Cold War as a continuation of the “war of the world” in which millions died in proxy wars conducted by the two superpowers. The end of the Cold War led to great new dangers and challenges, and presaged the rise of East.

War of the World airs on consecutive Mondays — June 30, July 7, July 14 — at 10 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).

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World War II History for June 27

27 Jun

Today in WW II History

World War II History for June 27

1940 - The Germans set up two-way radio communication in their newly occupied French territory using Enigma. Enigma was a sophisticated encoding machine used to transmit information.

The Germans set up radio stations in Brest and the port town of Cherbourg. Signals would be transmitted to German bombers so as to direct them to targets in Britain. The Enigma coding machine, invented in 1919 by Hugo Koch, a Dutchman, looked like a typewriter and was originally employed for business purposes. The German army adapted the machine for wartime use and considered its encoding system unbreakable. They were wrong. The Brits had broken the code as early as the German invasion of Poland and had intercepted virtually every message sent through the system. Britain nicknamed the intercepted messages Ultra.

1942 - The FBI announced the capture of eight Nazi saboteurs who had been put ashore from a submarine on New York’s Long Island.

1944 - During World War II, American forces completed their capture of the French port of Cherbourg from the German army.

On this day in 1944, the Allies capture the fortified town and port of Cherbourg, in northwest France, freeing it from German occupation. Hitler had for all intents and purposes anticipated his own defeat when, in contrast with the analysis of his advisers, he accurately predicted that the D-Day invasion would be focused on Normandy. He knew the Allies needed to take a large port-and Cherbourg fit the bill. (The Brits had actually handpicked Cherbourg as the target for a “Cross-Channel” landing back in 1942.) Once the Allies actually landed on Normandy beaches June 6, the fall of Cherbourg was only a matter of time.

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Video: Saving Lives in World War II

27 Jun

Saving Lives in World War II

This is a moving interview of Sgt. Judson M. Hemperly, medic during World War II.

He recalls an experience saving a pregnant civilian woman with a severely injured arm. They gave her morphine for the pain but could not stop the bleeding arm, which had all but one ligament severed. He amputated it with his scissors and they stopped the bleeding with sulfa drugs and wrapped it up in snow and a blanket.

They took the woman in a stretcher to a nearby hospital where he found a doctor who spoke English and explained the situation. The doctor said that he had saved the womans life by stopping the bleeding and would have done the same thing.

He wanted to go into WWII to save lives and he “wouldn’t trade his experience for a million dollars.”

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World War II History for June 26

26 Jun

Today in WW II History

World War II History for June 26

1940 - During World War II, Turkey declared its neutrality.

1944 - The New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees played against each other in a six inning contest in a war bonds fund-raiser. Over 50,000 people watched the game. The final score was Dodgers 5, Yankees 1 and the Giants 0.

1945 - The U.N. Charter was signed by 50 nations in San Francisco, CA.

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Video: Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero

26 Jun

Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero

The pre-series A6M2 Zero became known in 1940-41, when the fighter destroyed 266 confirmed aircraft in China. At the time of Pearl Harbor, there were 420 Zeros active in the Pacific. The carrier-borne Model 21 was the type encountered by the Americans, often much further from its carriers than expected, with a mission range of over 1600 statute miles (2,600 km). The Zero fighters were superior in many aspects of performance to all Allied fighters in the Pacific in 1941 and quickly gained a great reputation. However, the Zero failed to achieve complete air superiority due to the development of suitable tactics and new aircraft by the Allies. During World War II, the Zero destroyed at least 1,550 American aircraft. The Japanese ace Saburo Sakai described how the resilience of early Allied aircraft was a factor in preventing the Zeros from total domination:

“ I had full confidence in my ability to destroy the Grumman and decided to finish off the enemy fighter with only my 7.7mm machine guns. I turned the 20mm. cannon switch to the ‘off’ position, and closed in. For some strange reason, even after I had poured about five or six hundred rounds of ammunition directly into the Grumman, the airplane did not fall, but kept on flying. I thought this very odd—it had never happened before—and closed the distance between the two airplanes until I could almost reach out and touch the Grumman. To my surprise, the Grumman’s rudder and tail were torn to shreds, looking like an old torn piece of rag. With his plane in such condition, no wonder the pilot was unable to continue fighting! A Zero which had taken that many bullets would have been a ball of fire by now.”

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National Archives Audio Archives Series on CD

26 Jun

Press Release
June 19, 2008

National Archives Launches “Audio Archives” Series on CD

Washington, DC…In partnership with Topics Entertainment, the National Archives announces the release of four boxed sets of CDs featuring some of the most memorable, and historically significant archival recordings of the 20th century selected from its vast audio holdings. Containing four CDs each, they reproduce—uncut and unedited—speeches and remarks by U.S. Presidents, inventors, scientists, civic leaders, and explorers, as well as thrilling first-person accounts of dramatic events and periods of the past 85 years.

CD: Events That Changed the World

Events That Changed the World brings to life some of the greatest discoveries, as well as the most horrific tragedies, that took place during the last century, from the harnessing of electricity and the space race to eyewitness accounts of the Titanic and Hindenburg disasters.

CD: Presidential Moments

Through famed “fireside chats,” inspirational speeches, and intimate conversations in the Oval Office, Presidential Moments presents the leaders of our country, from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan, in uncensored recordings of their most triumphant moments and turbulent times.

CD: War and Conflict

War and Conflict contains some of the most exceptional and touching sound recordings from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm, including Presidential addresses to the nation and combat actuality recordings direct from the battlefield.

CD: Civil Rights

In an intensely emotional collection, Civil Rights brilliantly captures through speeches, interviews, and firsthand accounts the hardships that so many have faced and the heroic battles that were fought to guarantee equal treatment of every American regardless of race.

Each collection in the “Audio Archives” series sells for the suggested retail price of $19.95 and is available at Borders, Barnes & Noble, BJ’s Wholesale Club and other major retailers nationwide, as well as at selected National Archives museum shops.

About the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (www.archives.gov), an independent Federal agency, is the nation’s record keeper. Founded in 1934, its mission is unique —to serve American democracy by safeguarding and preserving the records of our Government, ensuring that the people can discover, use, and learn from this documentary heritage. We ensure continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of their government. We support democracy, promote civic education, and facilitate historical understanding of our national experience. The National Archives meets a wide range of information needs, among them helping people to trace their families’ history, making it possible for veterans to prove their entitlement to medical and other benefits, and preserving original White House records. The National Archives carries out its mission through a nationwide network of archives, records centers, and Presidential Libraries.

About TOPICS Entertainment

Founded in 1990, TOPICS Entertainment is the largest, privately owned multimedia publishing company in the United States. TOPICS offers more than 300 consumer language‑learning, education, and entertainment multimedia products, and is the exclusive software publisher/distributor for National Geographic, Rand McNally, World Book, Kaplan, Scholastic, and several others. An active supporter of the environment and education, TOPICS donates 5 percent of pre‑tax profits to a variety of conservation and environmental education organizations. Visit the Topics Entertainment web site (www.topics‑ent.com).

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27 Year Veteran Navy Pilot – Jack Riley

26 Jun

Jack Riley
June 26, 2008 – Pike Press

Jack Riley, 84, of Champaign died Monday, June 16, 2008, at Windsor of Savoy retirement facility.

Mr. Riley was a Navy pilot for 27 years and served in both World War II and the Korean War. During his military service, Mr. Riley was awarded the Air Medal with Gold Star, Navy Commendation Medal, Victory Medal WW II, Navy Occupation Service Medal – Pacific, China Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, UN Service Medal and Meritorious Service Medal. He also received a B.S. and M.A. from USC, M.A. from University of Michigan, and PhD from University of Illinois. He later worked for the University of Illinois for 16 years. He was an active member of St. Matthews Church.

Mr. Riley was born Dec. 28, 1923, in Woodstock to Matthew and Lena Rossman Riley. He married Marjorie Webel July 21, 1945 in Woodstock. She survives.

Survivors also include two sons, John Patrick of Naperville and Kerry Mark of Champaign; one daughter, Colleen Riley O’Kane of St. Louis, Mo.; and two grandchildren, John Patrick Riley Jr. (JP) and Dylan James Riley. He was preceded in death by two brothers, Raymond and Harold; and a sister, Helen.

Funeral services were at 10 a.m. Friday, June 20, at St. Matthew Catholic Church, 1303 Lincolnshire Dr., Champaign. Fr. Mark Merdian officiated. Graveside military rites were conducted by a U.S. Navy Burial Honor Detail. Condolences may be sent to the family online at www.airsman-hires.com.

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World War II History for June 25

25 Jun

Today in WW II History

World War II History for June 25

1941 - Finland declared war on the Soviet Union.

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