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War Stories: World War II

War Stories published under this topic are as follows:

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World War II The first reaction to the new base at Folkingham was “It's immense”! On this base we had three concrete runways, each 6,000 feet, ample taxiways, a revetment for parking each aircraft, and four hangers. There were innumerable Nissen huts to house us, an Officers Club, an EM Club in the making, a consolidated officers' mess, and a consolidated enlisted men's, mess. We were the first tenants, and parts were still under construction.
Note: by Col. Joseph Harkiewicz  26442 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Berlin, or Big "B", as we called it, was a target that no one wanted to go to and a target that everyone wanted to go to. It seemed that everyone wanted to participate in a raid on Berlin because bombing big "B" was really striking at the heart of Nazi power and it was, in a way, retribution for the bombing of London, Rotterdam and other major cities.
Note: by A. Willard Reese, 1st Lt, 751st Sqdn, 457th Bmb Grp, 8th AF  9091 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II The [heavy cruiser USS] Indianapolis [CA-35] had come to the Navy Yard, Mare Island [in San Francisco Bay] in early May 1945, to get heavy underwater damage repaired from a Kamikaze [Japanese suicide aircraft] hit that she took in [the Battle of] Okinawa on 30 March [1945]. We had more time there than anticipated and knew that we were due back in the forward area at the earliest practicable date.
Note: Recollections of Captain Charles B. McVay, III, USN, Commanding Officer of USS Indianapolis (CA-35).  7404 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II The Laffey was built in Bath, Maine and was commissioned in Boston, Massachusetts, at the Navy Yard on February 8th, 1944. After a brief shakedown period, the ship participated in the Normandy Invasion in June 1944, after which she took part in the Cherbourg bombardment on June 25th, 1944 and suffered an eight-inch hit which fortunately did not explode.
Note: by Commander Frederick Julian Becton, USN, Commanding Officer of the destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724).  7313 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II More lives were lost in one exercise practicing for D-Day than during the invasion of Utah Beach on 6 June 1944. That rehearsal was called "Exercise Tiger." Planning for the greatest amphibious operation in history required many such exercises, each designed to test the readiness of plans for the invasion of Normandy and the efficiency of the troops. Duck, Fox, Muskrat, Beaver, and Trousers preceded Tiger, and Fabius followed. Each was larger than the last, and the later ones used live ammunition.
Note: by LT Eugene E. Eckstam, MC, USNR,a medical officer on USS LST-507  11054 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II The Naval Combat Demolition Units were charged with the responsibility of clearing sixteen 50- yard gaps on the beaches assigned to that force. They worked in conjunction with the Army engineers who were charged with the responsibility of clearing the shoreward obstacles.
Note: by Lieutenant Commander Joseph H. Gibbons, USNR, CO of U.S. Navy Combat Demolitions Units in Force "O"  9406 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II The Naval Combat Demolition Units were charged with the responsibility of clearing sixteen 50 yard gaps on the beaches assigned to that force. They worked in conjunction with the Army engineers who were charged with the responsibility of clearing the shoreward obstacles.
Note: by Lieutenant Commander Joseph H. Gibbons, Commanding Officer of U.S. Navy Combat Demolitions Units in Force 'O'.  8436 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Our class went on draft leave at Christmas 1939, then to Pompey barracks, HMS Victory in Queen Street. We messed in the barracks but slept at Aggie Weston's in Commercial Rd. Aggies was two buildings separated by a side street but joined on the second or third floor by an enclosed bridge. We used to cross that bridge to our individual cabins. A petty officer and leading seaman were in charge of us.
Note: by Bert Ward  10304 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II On 16 February I was in a six-plane flight of Mark 5 Spitfires that encountered about twelve ME 109s in the region between Orvieto and Perugia, about sixty-five miles north of Rome. Our six-plane flight was in line-astern formation, with the planes about fifty feet apart and stepped to the right and down, slightly, so the pilots can easily see the planes ahead of them. I was leading the last two-plane element of the flight, and Bob Confer, a veteran of the North African Campaign was my wingman.
Note: by Robert C. Curtis, 2nd Sq., 52nd Fighter Group  8989 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Shortly after joining up we saw this notice on the notice-board looking for volunteers for a "suicide mission." Some brilliant officer had come up with the idea that he would like to form a unit that would go behind the enemy lines at night and blow up the German's tanks while they slept. Imagine that!
Note: by Ronald Arthur Tee, 56th Reconnaissance Regiment, 78th "Battleaxe" Division of the British 1st. Army, 1941-1946.
  6269 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II I landed about twenty-five feet from a road and before I could get my rifle assembled, I heard a motorcycle approaching. I remained still as I did not have time to assemble my rifle, and watched two German soldiers pass by. After they passed and I had my rifle together I found other paratroopers and our equipment bundle and set off for the bridge over the Merderet River.
Note: by Marcus Heim  9262 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II When I got to the hangar, navigators were working around a large table with their topographical maps and plotting charts. Navigators made their own calculations, and then compared results with others. When we had finished we went to the locker room. Dressing up was a long process for the gunners. It was a cold ride in the turrets and gunners wore as much clothing as they could from woollen underwear to electrically heated suits.
Note: by Jerrold Morris, 419 Squadron, RCAF  7065 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II Our gun batteries were equipped with M7 track vehicles in the States, long before we deployed overseas! The M105 howitzers were mounted on the M7 with very minor modifications, and very little addtional training was needed, other than the driver and assitant driver, for this new and unique addition to the 29th. All of the other crew responsiblities remained essentially the same as if it were a trail drawn howitzer.
Note: by Irving Smolens, B Bty, 29th Field Artillery  9816 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II On June 15th 1944 the 2nd Armored Amphibian Bn invaded the Island of Saipan. The 2nd Armored was the first amtrac to be fitted with a open turret and a 75 mm canon, and was to be used as an assualt weapon to get heavy fire power to the beach before the infantry landed. We left the LST's with 72 Armored Amtracs, and only 23 made it all the way to the beach. The Japanese had zeroed in on exact places on the reef, and as the armored tanks got to that spot, they opened fire with heavy artillery and heavy mortars.
Note: by Bill Hoover  7485 Reads  Printer-friendly page



World War II This is a talk on an action which took place in the North Atlantic on Easter Sunday. I'll give you some background before I go into that part of the story. I will give you a general idea of what we were doing. We were Task Group 21.12 operating as a so-called killer group. Our mission was to sink submarines and we attempted to stay at sea in the areas where the submarines were concentrating.
Note: Recollections of Lieutenant Commander Dudley S. Knox, USNR, on destroyer escort USS Chatelain (DE-149). These actions occured the 9th and 10th of April 1944.   11845 Reads  Printer-friendly page

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This Day in History
1863: Confederates under General James Longstreet fail to defeat a Union force under General Ambrose Burnside near Knoxville, Tennessee.

1940: Great Britain launched its first of many air raids on Hamburg, Germany. The attack was ordered in reaction to Germanys leveling of Coventry just two days before. By the end of the war, the total death toll from British air attacks on Hamburg neared 50,000.