Wednesday, November 25, 2015

WW2 | Mark II Halifax Bomber

A Mark II Series 1 Halifax bomber operating out of the 10th
Squadron in Melbourne, Yorks., UK.
My mother's brother Willem van Stockum died during the week of D-day, June 1944,  in a crash of a Handley-Page Halifax Mark II bomber. 

He was one of seven crew members on the plane, and it was one of two planes that crashed the same night.

Uncle Willem knew the plane well because he had been a flight instructor for this plane for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) before he became a pilot.

Naturally I have been curious about the   plane he flew in and how it fared during the war:
  • Was this a good plane? Where did it rank in the hierarchy of the air? 
  • How many sorties were made in this plane?
  • What was the experience of 10th RAF Squadron, flying out of Melbourne, Yorkshire?
  • What was the experience of all of the RAF Halifaxes during June 1944?
I have some answers to these questions. Some of these answers come from my own counting and are therefore new.

The Halifax Bomber

The Lancaster bomber had a somewhat better reputation, but in June 1944 the Halifax was second only to it. It was a plane of preference. That is, the Mark II version did. The Mark I version had a dangerous tendency to go into an uncontrollable tailspin occasionally under extreme conditions. The tail was improved and the Mark II shook this problem.

The Bomber Command Museum of Canada, provides excellent data on Halifax Sorties and Losses in WWII (1941-1945). It reports that of those who flew for the bomber command at the beginning of WWII, only 10 percent survived. Willem van Stockum, as a mathematician and a flight instructor, would have been intimately familiar with these numbers, as is pointed out in Robert Wack's Time Bomber. Here is what the Museum says about the Halifax  bomber crews:

Of every 100 airmen who joined Bomber Command, 45 were killed, 6 were seriously wounded, 8 became Prisoners of War, and only 41 escaped unscathed (at least physically). Of the 120,000 who served, 55,573 were killed, including more than 10,000 Canadians. 

Of those flying at the beginning of the war, only ten percent survived. It is a loss rate comparable only to the worst slaughter of the First World War trenches. Only the Nazi U-Boat force suffered a higher casualty rate. 

On a single night (the night that Willem van Stockum was downed, June 10, 1944), Bomber Command suffered more losses than did Fighter Command during the entire Battle of Britain. 

The loss rate varied greatly as the war progressed and was considerably lower as the end of the war approached in late 1944 and early 1945. For most of the war, the majority of those who entered Bomber Command did not survive. During the RCAF's Halifax operations between March 1943 and February 1944, the average loss rate was 6 percent, producing a mere 16 percent survival rate for a tour of 30 operations.
Yet despite the chilling odds, the flow of volunteers never faltered. The price was known to be enormous, but it was a price which continued to be paid with unquestioning courage. If today it represents a debt which can never be repaid, it is at least a debt which must never be forgotten.
Canadian pilot and author Murray Peden said:
The crews faced formidable odds, odds seldom appreciated outside the Command. At times in the great offensives of 1943 and 1944 the short-term statistics foretold that fewer  than 25 out of each 100 crews would survive their first tour of 30 operations. [...] Yet the crews buckled on their chutes and set out with unshakeable resolution night after night. They fell prey to the hazards of icing, lightning, storm and structural failure, and they perished amidst the bursting shells of the flak batteries. But by far the greater number died in desperately unequal combat under the overwhelming firepower of the tenacious German night fighter defenders. [Emphasis added.]
More Data on Sorties

Dates are based on what the date was at 12:01 a.m. So the night of June 1-2 would be recorded as June 2.

Data on Halifax Bomber Losses, June 1944

Night and Losses
June 2 - 1 down
3 - 15 down out of 105 out (Trappes); none were lost on 119 sorties to coastal batteries
6 - 2 down out of 412 attacking Normandy batteries
7 - 1 down out of 418 attacking French roads and rail
8 - 11 down out of 195 attacking French roads and rail (as Willem predicted, the Germans got wise and were more prepared the next night)
10 - 2 down out of 175 attacking French airfields (the two were shot down over Laval in Mayenne). 
Total of 32 down in ten days. For the whole month of June it would be 105 planes down.
105 lost in 5095 sorties was a 2.06 percent loss rate
Since each plane had a crew of 7, that meant 735 dead 

Loss Rates for Halifax vs. Other Planes

Lancaster losses can be found here, Halifax losses can be found here. The record of losses for both planes was tragic, but the Halifax seems to have done slightly better than the Lancaster. 
For example, in June 1944 the loss rates were:
Mossie (Mosquito) - 7 lost in 1487 sorties for a 0.47% loss rate
Lancaster - 182 lost in 8614 sorties for a 2.11 percent loss rate
Halifax - 105 lost in 5095 sorties for a 2.06 percent loss rate

Since the Lancaster was considered a superior plane, it may have taken more risks...

It would be interesting to have the numbers for the U.S. B-25. We do have:
American heavy bomber, ETO - 520 lost in 28,925 sorties for a loss rate 1.8 percent (ref AAFSD) 

Friday, November 20, 2015

TERROR | Global Index, 2015

Terrorism fatalities rose 80 percent in 2014.
The Institute for Economics and Peace reports that deaths from terrorism increased 80 percent in 2014, to the highest level ever, with 32,658 people killed, compared with 18,111 in 2013.

Boko Haram and ISIL/ISIS/Daesh were jointly responsible for 51 percent of all claimed global fatalities in 2014.

Iraq continues to be the country most affected by terrorism, with 9,929 terrorist fatalities – the most  ever recorded in a single country.

Five countries account for 78 percent of all deaths from terrorism and 57 percent of all attacks:
  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq 
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Syria

Sunday, November 8, 2015

VETS UNITE | Gettysburg Reunion, 1938

The Gettysburg 1938 Reunion and Dedication of the Eternal Light Memorial.
For Veterans Day, I am reading about the 1938 Gettysburg reunion and commemoration by veterans of both sides of the Civil War, 75 years later.

The event attracted nearly 1,850 veterans of the Civil War, three-fourths of them from the Union side. Of them, 25 were veterans of the battle – their average age was 94.

The event brought some 400,000   onlookers. FDR came and spoke to them on July 3, dedicating the Eternal Light Memorial.

Gray and Blue Reconciled Veterans.
Initially there was opposition ton the reunion from both sides. For example, questions about whether the Confederate veterans could bring their flags were asked by both sides. Veterans in the south did not see the point of going back to Gettysburg to be subjected to the condescension of "damn Yankees". On the northern side, the veterans did not want to have to look again at the symbols of the confederacy.

There were different feelings about Gettysburg
  • Pride in having fought there,  a defining moment of soldiers' lives.
  • Victory barely won and lost.
  • Horror at the loss.
  • Loyalty, disloyalty, sacrifice, freedom.
  • When together as Union (Army of the Potomac) veterans, they celebrated the end of slavery..
Gettysburg was the geographic center of the memory of the war. The 1938ncommemoration was a big success because it was 
  • A Reunion.
  • Memory of Reconstruction, coming back to a different society.
  • Reconciliation - among people who spent four years trying to kill one another.
In 1869 Gettysburg was dedicated as a soldiers' cemetery.  Initially, it was a cemetery for Union soldiers. But a Union general, George G. Meade, spoke on this occasion and acknowledged that Confederate soldiers should be left to their Maker to be judged – they should be remembered here as well as Union soldiers. By 1895 the Gettysburg monument covered 500 acres and some Confederate soldiers were reburied there.

Here is a well-presented history of the Gettysburg memorial:

Friday, November 6, 2015

ART BIZ | "Hope", Museum of Visionary Art - Yanni Posnakoff

Yanni Posnakoff, "Everything Is Possible."
I'm in Baltimore and today visited the "Hope" show at the Museum of Visionary Art. Much of the art is "folk" or self-taught or "naive". It has a curious appeal when combined with the theme of hope.

For example, there is a film show in which a 22-year-old man tries for the third time to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. The speaker, a former police officer, was trying to talk the would-be suicide out of what he was trying to do. (He notes that dying this way is grisly and, contrary to the belief of some, often gruesomely painful.)

The young man asked the police officer - "Have you every heard of Pandora's Box?" The officer replied yes, the box was given by Zeus to Pandora (from a story in Hesiod) with the instruction that it was full of evils and she should never, ever to open it. Pandora couldn't resist opening it and all the evils flew out, leaving only Hope.

Yanni Posnakoff, "Even Toy Soldiers Must Be
 Abolished. We Must Disarm the Nursery."n.d.,
Watercolor, ink and acrylic on paper. Courtesy
Philip Binioris.
Then the young man said: "What if the box is empty, and there is no hope left?"

Then he jumped to his death.

Some of the art in the show is about people who have suffered intensely but have translated their suffering into a determination to hope and to work toward a goal that will help others to hope.

Yanni Posnakoff is one of these artists.

Another story of hope - Sadako Sasaki.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

UN MEETUP | Aerospace Conversion, 1992

Conference on Conversion of the Aerospace Complex,
Moscow, November 1992.
I was employed by the City of New York as Chief Economist in the NY City Comptroller's Office.

However, I was permitted at the time of my hiring the month before - because it had been a prior arrangement - to attend a conference on Aerospace Complex Conversion in Moscow in November 1992.

We went on a tour of the ancient Russian
Orthodox capital of Zagorsk.
Having slogged through two years' worth of Russian-language courses at Harvard and about to settle down to focus on a single American city, it was important for me to take advantage of the opportunity to put my Russian to some use.

The theme of the conference was "Swords to Ploughshares".  I am posting these photos from the conference as memorabilia of a time when the "Peace Dividend" was on everyone's mind.

Some defense enterprises were opened
to westerners for the first time in 1990.
A quick summary of what happened to much of the aerospace research labs is that they ran out of money and they closed down. The plans for an orderly reuse of these facilities came to nothing. What was largely missing from the situation was the cadre of entrepreneurs who are called "developers" in New York City.

L to R: John Tepper Marlin, Mrs. Franklin and Lewis
R. Franklin of TRW Space & Defense.
The following year, I went to Kharkiv to offer advice under USIA auspices to officials there on what to do with their obsolete airfields and tank factories. I told them they were in a good position to turn their airfields and tank factories to peaceful use by becoming a distribution center for high-value goods like pharmaceuticals or books.

The local Chamber of Commerce - which met at the Army Club -  asked me what the next step was and I said: "Bring in a developer." The generals who were running the conversion effort in Kharkiv asked me: "Chto eto, devyeloper?" They just didn't have any idea what sort of person would do that kind of abstract work, thinking up uses of land without direction from a higher authority.

Jurgen Brauer.
I found out that Kharkiv did what I had suggested, and the publisher Bertelsmann made Kharkiv a center of its Eastern European distribution network. It was a success story.

The U.N. conference attempted to bring together people who might have ideas for using the space and military research centers with the officials in Moscow who were trying reuse them.

My Russian language skills were put to the test. That is me
on the Far Right.
What was already happening is that detailed plans for conversion - with orderly transfer of equipment and personnel - were being replaced with death by financial starvation. With no money coming in, payrolls were not met. The employees went home with equipment in lieu of payment. Eventually the research facilities were stripped of equipment and people. They started their own independent research centers and figured out who might buy from them.

The conversion happened as soon as the money stopped. Instead of a marching band proceeding in an orderly way to a new formation, a gun went off (no money) and everyone scrambled.
L to R: Academician V. Avduesky, Jurgen Brauer.

The difference between a marching band and the conversion that happened is that a marching band is told where to go next. In the case of the Russian defense workers, they had to figure out for themselves what to do next.

The U.N. conference was the last one of several that took place during the exciting years 1990-1992, when the Soviet Union imploded and the peace dividend seemed to promise a new era of prosperity for all except the military establishment. Some of the people at the U.N. conference had attended one sponsored by the Council on Economic Priorities two years earlier, in Moscow and Leningrad.
Greg Bischak, at the end of
conference, going home.

Russian Othodox guide tells us about Zagorsk.
Lew Franklin was one of the people who attended both events. Academician V. Avduesky was another; he was the chairman of the Soviet Conversion Committee and prepared a paper for the 1990 event.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

UN OPENS | My Dad Joins ICAO (Comment)

The two-month, April 25-June 26 Conference in San Fran-
cisco. My Dad was sent by FDR's Budget Bureau, but it
became Truman's when FDR died on April 12.
October 24–This day in 1945, the United Nations Charter came into effect.

It had been adopted and signed four months earlier, on June 26, 1945.

The U.N. was intended to be an improved version of League of Nations. The principles of the U.N. Charter originated in the San Francisco Conference, presided over by the Yalta powers - the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union.

It was attended by a huge international assembly -3,500 representatives of 50 nations, including nine continental European states, 21 North, Central, and South American republics, seven Middle Eastern states, five British Commonwealth nations, two Soviet republics in addition to the USSR, two East Asian nations, and three African states.

The conferees were determined to create a better organization than the League of Nations. The goal was create something to
save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,…to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights,…to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.
A feeling for the meeting is given by the BBC World Service,  which interviews Steve Schlesinger and others on the founding of the U.N. Negotiating and maintaining the peace was the practical responsibility of the new U.N. Security Council, composed of the United States, Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, and China. Each would have veto power over the other.

One of the specialized agencies of the U.N. was the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO (properly pronounced ee-KAY-oh, says my brother Randal). My Dad, E. R. Marlin, became Director of Technical Assistance and by the mid-1960s of the 1,700 employees of ICAO, about 1,500 worked for the bureau that he headed.

Service cover sent by the UN Technical Assistance Board to E. R. Marlin,
Director, ICAO Technical Assistance Bureau. Postmark dated May 11, 1954.
ICAO’s Technical Co-operation Bureau was created to provide in-depth technological assistance to States with their aviation projects.

It supports ICAO’s Strategic Objectives - Aviation Safety, Air Navigation Capacity and Efficiency, Security and Facilitation, Environmental Protection, Sustainable and Economic Development of Air Transport.

It also contributes to the global and uniform implementation the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

The ICAO Technical Co-operation Program has been in operation since 1951. It has made valuable contributions to international civil aviation safety and growth and remains a permanent priority activity of ICAO.

Since its establishment in 1952, the Technical Assistance Bureau has implemented civil aviation projects with an accumulated value in excess of $2 billion. With an average annual progra size of more than $120 million, it is involved in approximately 250 projects each year with individual project budgets ranging from less than $20 ,000 to more than $120 million. To date, TCB has provided assistance to more than 115 countries, deploying annually approximately 1200 international and national experts.

E. R. ("Spike") Marlin was a Member of the Secretariat at the Conference on International Civil Aviation held in Chicago in 1944. He was one of the first Members of the PICAO Secretariat, and served with the Organization for 17 years. The first years of this period saw Marlin successively as Administrative Officer, Liaison Officer and External Relations Officer for ICAO. When the Expanded Program of Technical Assistance of the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies began, Marlin was assigned to direct ICAO's participation; he became the first Director of the Technical Assistance Bureau when this Office was created in November 1952.

Comment by Randal Marlin, My Brother (October 24, 2015)

The location of ICAO in Montreal was Dad's idea. I asked him once about this and he stated clearly stated this was so. He was internationalist in spirit [he wrote a League of Nations column for the Irish Times] and wanted the organization to work in at least a bilingual region. Dad understood the historical arrival of decolonization and wanted to prepare for it by training aviation personnel in less developed areas so that they would operate safe airports and aircraft. This was quite against the spirit of American exceptionalism and world domination that we find today among neoconservatives.

In Canada, we just had an election whereby a neoconservative government was replaced by a Liberal one. Most people are probably not aware that Canada was in danger of losing the headquarters of ICAO to some other country as a result of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's unwavering and uncritical support of the Israeli government of Netanyahu, despite its actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Arab and Muslim nations were looking for some way of showing their displeasure with Canada's policy and this was one possibility that was suggested.

Monday, October 12, 2015

US NAVY | Oct. 13–Navy's 240th Birthday

Proudly 240 Years Old Today.
This day in 1775, the Continental Congress created the American Navy.

The Navy did not come out of thin air:
  • American naval prowess was built on the large number of sailors, captains and shipbuilders who made their living from trade and passenger travel in the colonial era. 
  • On June 12, 1775 Rhode Island's assembly commissioned a navy, which fought back against British ships.
  • Massachusetts and Connecticut also had their own navies and in due course eight other colonies had their own navies during the Revolutionary War, notably Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina. 
The establishment of a national navy was a contentious issue in the Second Continental Congress.

Supporters argued that a navy would protect shipping, defend the coast, and make it more likely that other countries would come to the aid of the colonies.

But others considered it foolhardy to challenge Britain's Royal Navy, then the world's preeminent naval power.

However, after the Battle of Lexington in April, the British Government sent a fleet to suppress the rebel colonies. Something had to be done. While debate over a Navy dragged on, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army (founded June 10, 1775),  General George Washington, decided he couldn't wait and he commissioned seven ocean-going cruisers, starting with the schooner USS Hannah, to interdict British supply ships, and reported captures of British ships to the Congress.

Washington said: "[W]ithout a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."

On October 13,  the Continental Congress decided to establish the Continental Navy, and this is the Navy-recognized birthday of the service, predating the Stars and Stripes flag, which was established the following year.

On December 22, Esek Hopkins was appointed as the first commander in chief of the Continental Navy, with four captains reporting to him - Nicholas Biddle, John Burrows Hopkins, Dudley Saltonstall, and Abraham Whipple.

The Continental fleet then consisted of eight ships - the 24-gun frigates Alfred and Columbus, the 14-gun brigs Andrew Doria and Cabot, and three schooners, the Hornet, the Wasp and the Fly.

Thirteen lieutenants were commissioned - five first lieutenants, including future American hero John Paul Jones, five second lieutenants and three third lieutenants.

Esek Hopkins was called "Admiral" Hopkins and was sent to find out whether it would be feasible to attack the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay. He decided it would not be feasible and instead attacked the British port of Nassau in the Bahamas. For this he was relieved of his command upon return.

The Continental Navy achieved mixed results. It successfully preyed upon British merchant shipping and won some encounters with British war ships. But it lost 24 of its vessels to the Royal Navy and at one point was down to two vessels in active service.

After the Revolutionary War, the Navy was disbanded for nearly a decade, leaving merchant ships open to pirate attacks. In 1790-97, only the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service (USRCS) had a fleet. This fleet evolved into the U.S. Coast Guard.

Not until the Naval Act of 1794 did Congress establish a permanent standing navy. The Naval Act ordered the construction and manning of six frigates. Three were in service by 1797 - the USS Constellation, USS Constitution and USS United States - and the U.S. Navy Department as we know it today was in place by April 1798.

The original stars and stripes
(The Constellation got its name from the stars in the canton of the Stars and Stripes, the flag that was adopted in 1776. After the Battle of Lexington in April, the Founding Fathers were determined to drop the Union Jack in the Grand Union Flag used in 1775. George Washington in 1776 presented to Congress a flag that replaced the Union Jack with 13 white stars on a dark blue field, which he referred to as representing "a new constellation". The U.S. military in due course flew the stars and stripes. The "star-spangled banner" that flew over at Fort McHenry in 1814 had 15 stars and 15 stripes.)

Thomas Jefferson (President, 1801-1809) did not favor a strong navy, arguing that small gunboats in the major harbors were all that the nation needed to defend itself. But the gunboats showed themselves to be inadequate when the United States was in conflict first with France and then again with Britain.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

US NAVY | Oct. 10, Naval Academy Founded, 1845–170 Years Old

This day in 1845 was established the U.S. Naval Academy (also known as USNA, Annapolis, or simply Navy), a four-year coeducational federal service academy located in Annapolis, Md.

Created by Navy Secretary George Bancroft, it is the second-oldest of the five U.S. service academies, after West Point. It educates officers for commissioning primarily into the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

The U.S. Navy was born during the American Revolution when the need for a naval force to match the Royal Navy became clear. But during the period immediately following the Revolution, the Continental Navy was demobilized in 1785 by an economy-minded Congress.

However, a subsequent mutiny in the Navy showed how a lack of discipline had developed, and was evidence of the need for a naval academy. During the 1838-45 period the program was located at the Philadelphia Naval Asylum.

The Academy started with 50 students and seven professors, moving from Philadelphia in 1845 to Annapolis. Today it spreads out over 338 acres on the former grounds of Fort Severn, where the Severn River flows into Chesapeake Bay, 26 miles southeast of Baltimore. The campus is a National Historic Landmark and home to many historic sites, buildings, and monuments.

Related Posts: West Point Betrayed

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

WW2 | Willem van Stockum Bench at Trinity College, Dublin

Visiting Randal's office at Trinity College,
Dublin, Feb. 12, 1994. The view is of
O'Connell Street. Photo by R Marlin.
My brother Randal most of his life has been a philosophy professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.

In 1993-1994 he took a sabbatical year and used it to bring his family to Dublin. He had an appointment at Trinity College, Dublin with a fine view of O'Connell Street.

I visited in February 1994, during the 50th anniversary year of the D-Day assault on Normandy. I got to see the memorial that my parents chose to honor my uncle Willem van Stockum after the war. He was shot down on June 10, 1944 while on a mission for the RAF.

A memorial was erected in France last year, on the 70th anniversary, to each of the two crews that were downed that night.

Randal on the Memorial Bench. Photo by JT Marlin.
The Irish memorial is simply a bench with the inscription: "To the Memory of Willem van Stockum / 30 November 1910-10 June 1944 by His Sister."

Spike Marlin and Willem van Stockum were roommates at Trinity. When Spike learned that Willem had a sister, he decided then and there that he was interested in marrying her, so fond he was of her brother Willem.

My Dad died in December 1994. Mom lived another 12 years.

My turn on the Bench. Photo by R Marlin.
Another member of the group was David Grene, a classicist who went on to be a co-founder of  the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought. He died after my father and before my mother, in 2002.

When my Dad died we made a gift to Trinity College, Dublin of another bench, named for my father, and we had the one for Willem renovated. They were placed on opposite sides of the entrance to the Book of Kells.

Friday, June 12, 2015

CIVIL WAR | June 12–Jeb Stuart's Cavalry Circles the Union Army

Jeb Stuart
This day in 1862 Confederate General James Ewell Brown ("Jeb") Stuart and 1,200 troops began a four-day ride from Richmond around the Army of the Potomac. Robert E. Lee sent him to scout out Union positions. Stuart's posse rode around the entire Yankee army of 105,000 troops, collecting prisoners and information.

General George McClellan had spent the entire spring of 1862 preparing his huge Union army for a campaign against Richmond, inching forward toward the Confederate capital.

On May 31, after Joseph Johnston was wounded, Confederate General Robert E. Lee assumed command of the Army of Northern Virginia. He dispatched Stuart, his cavalry leader, to investigate the position of McClellan’s right flank.

Stuart discovered that McClellan had no topological protection from his posse, so he risked court-martial by exceeding his orders and continuing to ride around the rest of the Union army.

His troops took prisoners and harassed Federal supply lines. They rode altogether 100 miles, pursued by Union cavalry that were commanded by Stuart’s father-in-law, Philip St. George Cooke.

The Southern horses outran their Yankee chasers, and Stuart assumed the status of a legend for his bravery and calculated risk-taking when he got back to Richmond on June 15. The information Stuart obtained helped Lee drive McClellan back from his slow attack on Richmond.

The Stuart Tank

The World War II Stuart tank, the American-made middle-sized and fast tank, was wryly named by the British after Jeb Stuart. The Stuart tank came in three editions - M2, M3 and M5. The Stuart M4 was skipped to avoid confusion with the Sherman (named after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman) M4 tank.

Both the Sherman and the Stuart were produced by ACF, which at one time was so big that it was part of the Dow-Jone Industrial Average. The Sherman was produced by the American Locomotive Company, a division of ACF. The Stuart was produced mostly in Berwick, Pa. during World War II.
  • The Stuart was the first U.S. tank designed to operate independently, with a top speed of 35 mph. Previously, tanks were designed to support infantry troops, and had a maximum speed of 10 mph. The German Panzer [Panther] III and IV tanks had a top speed of 26 mph.
  • The M2A4 was the first U.S. tank built on an assembly line and the Berwick plant was the only one in the USA with its own ballistics testing range. It was also the first tank included in the Lend-Lease program.
  • The Stuart tank was used by all of the Allied armies in all the major war theaters - Europe, North Africa, Asia and Pacific Ocean (including Alaska and Antarctica).
From 1940 through April 17, 1944, ACF produced 15,225 Stuart Light Tanks for the U.S. Army, the Marines, and the lend-Lease program for the Allies.  Of these, 1,496 tanks were produced in St. Charles, Mo. The rest were produced in Berwick. The model numbers and quantities produced (all in Berwick except where indicated) were:

1940-41: 365 M2A4 tanks
1941-43: 4,526 M3 tanks in Berwick, 1,285 in St. Charles
1942-43: 4,410 M3A1 tanks in Berwick, 211 in St. Charles
1942-43: 3,427 M3A3 tanks
1943-44: 1,000 M5A1 tanks

Field Marshal Montgomery praised the tank in its use in North Africa. The Stuart was noted for its great reliability, which was essential in the desert. The weaknesses of the Stuart were its limited range, its small gun (half the diameter of the 75 mm. guns on the Sherman M4 and Panzer III and IV) and the limited protection of its armor plate. It was most useful as a reconnaissance vehicle and as troop support. It was weakest in tank-to-tank confrontations with larger-gunned and better-protected tanks.

Brigadier G. M. Ross at the British Army Staff in Detroit wrote to ACF Berwick to pass along praise from military staff in Burma:
[T]he first tank to cross the Irrawaddy west of Mandalay was "The Curse of Scotland". This gallant old Stuart was the only one belonging to the 7th Armored Brigade, which got back across the Chindwin during the retreat from Burma in 1942. ... It is now the CO's Command Tank and has participated in the advance from Imphal. ... Recent advances have enabled us to regain a number of M3A1s ... lost during the retreat. These tanks have been in Japanese hands for more than 2.5 years and exposed to three monsoons and two winter periods. ... [A]lthough there was a certain amount of rust and peeling of paint, there were no signs of exceptional deterioration.
Berwick is seeking the funds to bring a Stuart tank back to the town.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

BLOG VIEWS | 20K Views, Top Ten Posts

Thank you for reading and commenting. We just went past 20,000 page views.

These are the top ten posts, based on page views, since this blog was started in mid-2013:

7. Hiding Jews in Holland from the Nazis - Bob Boi... Dec 2, 2014 (Chapter 7 of a forthcoming book I am writing on the Dutch Resistance)

CHAMPS Closes Down Dec 10, 2014, 54 comments

D-Day Week 2014, 70th Anniversary Memorial for Dow... May 30, 2014

11. After the War - The Boissevain Family, Mengelb... Nov 2, 2014 (Chapter 11 of the book)

NAPOLEON | June 18–Waterloo, 1815

The Battle of Waterloo ended Napoleon's 100 days' comeback on his return from exile in March 1815.

Waterloo was the final end of his rule as Emperor of France.

Now in Belgium, Waterloo was then within the United Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Napoleon was defeated by an English army under the command of the Duke of Wellington supported by a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard von Blücher.

Napoleon had returned to power in March 1815. Many states joined together as the Seventh Coalition to resist his return.

Two large forces under Wellington and Blücher assembled near the north-eastern border of France. Napoleon chose to attack in the hope of destroying them before they could join in a coordinated invasion of France with other allies.

Waterloo was the decisive engagement. It was Napoleon's last. According to Wellington, the battle was "the nearest-run thing you ever saw".

Two days before the battle, Blücher's Prussian army had been defeated by the French at Ligny. Upon learning that the Prussian army had regrouped and was able to march to his support, Wellington held his line against repeated attacks by the French.

In the evening of that Sunday, June 18,  the Prussians arrived in force and broke through Napoleon's right flank. At that moment, Wellington's army counter-attacked and sent Napoleon's army into a confused retreat.

Poet laureate Robert Southey said that Waterloo was “the greatest deliverance that civilized society has experienced” since Charles Martel repelled an Islamic conquest of Europe in 732.

The New York Times today noted that Belgium has minted a new coin in remembrance of Waterloo's 200th anniversary, and noted the pleasure of the Belgians in remembering the date and figuring a way to get around the EU rules against competitive coinage (it did so by coining an unusual denomination). The Times added:
In Britain,  the new €2.50 coin aroused similar adulation. “Well done Belgium beat the French at their own game of finding ways around EU rules, the English should take note!!” Michael Dunn, from Stratford-upon-Avon, wrote on Twitter. Others were less impressed. On Facebook, Manuel Di Pietrantonio suggested that the value of the dispute was about €2.50.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

WW2 | D-Day + 71–Normandy Landing)

D-Day Assault Plan.
June 6, 2015 is the 71st Anniversary of D-Day.

The few surviving veterans from World War II are fading away with an attrition rate of about 30 percent per year. I have interviewed one survivor at length.

My wife Alice and I went to France last June to pay our respects to those who died. We were in Normandy and Mayenne (south of Normandy).

My uncle Willem van Stockum is buried in Laval, Mayenne, along with his six crew-mates on a Halifax bomber flying out of an RAF base (Squadron 10) in Melbourne, Yorks., UK. The place was shot down after its mission was completed on June 10, 1944. Another seven in crew from another Halifax on the same mission are buried next to them. A book (Time Bomber, adult or YA) about him and his mission was written by Dr. Robert Wack and has a five-star review on Amazon with seven reviewers.

In preparation for our visit last year (about which I have written hereherehere3 here4 and here5), I assembled data on D-Day and World War II in Europe. My main source was a new book targeted at young people by Rick Atkinson, D-Day: The Invasion of Normandy, 1944, published by Henry Holt. It is meant to be used in schools and is adapted from Atkinson's #1 best-selling book The Guns at Last Light. It is on Goodreads' list of the 167 best books for kids about World War II here.

The listing I found gives Atkinson's book an average rating of 4. One librarian objected to the poor quality of the photos and their somewhat haphazard placement. Also, the book is definitely for the older YA market because the language does not make much allowance for expected vocabulary in the elementary school grades.

Deaths from WWII
  • Atkinson - Total 72 million people, or 28,000 people every day of the 2,174-day war (This is also the top Wikipedia figure.) Soviet dead 26 million - military 10.7 million, civilian 15 million. U.S. dead 419,000 - military 417,000 (out of 16 million who served), civilian 2,000 UK dead 451,000 - military 384,000 (out of 6 million who served), civilian 67,000 Canadian dead 23,000, all military (out of 1.1 million who served). German dead 8.8 million - military 5.5 million, civilian 3.3 million. European Jews killed in Holocaust - 6 million. Number of American soldiers buried in Europe (25,000 U.S. pilots killed behind enemy lines) 14,000.
  • UK Source ( Total dead 50-70 million. Soviet dead 26.6 million, of which 8.7 million soldiers died in World War 2. British 700,000 military and 60,000 civilian deaths. Poland’s dead were between 5.6 and 5.8 million. USA military dead: 416,800. German total 7.4 million, of which military dead and missing are 5.3 million.
  • History Channel Total dead 35-60 million. (That's a big range from the lowest estimate, especially when Atkinson and Wikipedia go up to 72 million.)
Military Force in WWII
  • D-Day Armada Allied Troops landed - 156,000 Vehicles landed - 30,000 Planes - 11,000 Ships and landing craft - 5,000 Parachutists - 13,000
  • Most Effective Bombers Used in Europe Britain Avro Lancaster, DeHavilland Mosquito (wooden, to avoid radar). USA B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress. Germany Heinkel III, Junkers 87 Stuka, Junkers Ju-88.
  • Most Effective Tanks Used in Europe USA M4 Sherman Soviet T-34 German Panther (partly copied from Soviets), PzKfw Mk. IV Panzer, Tiger I/II.
U.S. Veterans in WWII

U.S. armed forces personnel who served in WWII between December 1, 1941 and December 31, 1946: 16.1 million.

The National World War II Memorial was dedicated on May 29 in Washington, D.C. Located between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, it is the first national memorial dedicated to the men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces during World War II, including those who died in combat and the Americans who supported the war effort on the home front.

33 months The average length of active-duty by U.S. military personnel during WWII. 

73% The proportion of U.S. military personnel who served abroad during WWII. 

292,000 The number of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines killed in battle in WWII. 

114,000 The number of other deaths sustained by U.S. forces during WWII. 

671,000 The number of U.S. troops wounded during WWII.

5.7 million The number of World War II veterans counted in Census 2000. The census identified the period of service for World War II veterans as September 1940 to July 1947.

475,000 The estimated number of WWII veterans living in California in 2002, the most in any state. Other states with high numbers of WWII vets included Florida (439,000), New York (284,000), Pennsylvania (280,000), Texas (267,000) and Ohio (208,000). See Table 529 at 

5.4 percent - The proportion of WWII veterans among the Clearwater, Fla., civilian population age 18 and over in 2000. Other large places (100,000 or more population) with high concentrations of WWII vets were: Cape Coral, Fla. (5.1 percent), Oceanside, Calif. (4.3 percent); and Scottsdale, Ariz.; Pueblo, Colo., Metairie, La., St. Petersburg, Fla.; Santa Rosa, Calif.; Mesa, Ariz.; and Independence, Mo. (all around 4 percent).

210,000 - Estimated number of women in 2002 who were WWII veterans. These women comprised 4.4 percent of WWII vets. See Table 530.

22% The proportion of all veterans in April 2000 who were WWII veterans.

Source: Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/001747.html

Sunday, May 31, 2015

WW2 | Bletchley Park's U.S. (AT&T) Component

Photo of Tom Cillins w Bletchley Park Cap on
The late Sgt. Tom Collins, aka "Sam Scram", who was 
the only person to accompany the Dragon 1 computer 
to Bletchley Park in 1944-45. Photo by JT Marlin, 2010.
At the BookExpo America in New York City this week I picked up a book by William Bynum called A Little History of Science (Yale University Press, 2012).  It has nearly two pages on the use of computers in World War II, notably at Bletchley Park in England.

I have been comparing these pages with what I remember of The Imitation Game and two YouTube videos I just watched on how the German Enigma and Lorenz computers worked and how their codes were broken.

The Enigma worked on a 25-letter alphabet, whereas the Lorenz cryptography machine worked with the 32-character Baudot code. Hitler deliberately used the different Lorenz encryption for his top command.

The Bletchley group first cracked the Enigma code on July 9, 1941. But the sheer volume of messages required them to be constantly seeking more mechanicals ways of processing the coded messages that they received.

The report presented in A Little History of Science is consistent with the YouTube stories in giving virtually all the credit to the Bombe and Colossus machines - the Mark I and finally the Mark II, of which there were ten at Bletchley by 1944.

These machines worked through the Tunny machine (see p. 609 of the book to which a link is shown) to decrypt German messages.

The second YouTube video cited above ("How their codes were broken") references Bell Labs, which until the 1940s was in New York City; it later moved to New Jersey. Bell Labs was at the ] time a division of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T), half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary. Researchers working at Bell Labs are credited with the development of radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser, information theory, the UNIX operating system, and several popular programming languages - C, S and C++. Eight Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work at Bell Labs.

The late Tom Collins (nicknamed "Sam Scram" at Bletchey after a popular radio character) of Springs, N.Y., worked for Western Electric, and personally accompanied the Dragon 1 cryptography machine to Bletchley during World War II.  I am wondering where the Dragon 1 and Dragon 2 (both of which he worked on) fit into Bletchley's history. Was the Dragon 1 generated by Bell Labs and then transferred to Chicago for operation? Just wondering.

Here are the top six links I got typing Tom's name and "Bletchley" into a Google search:

  • 1. Sgt. Tom Collins at Bletchley - Warriors-Families Jun 9, 2013 
  • 2. T Collins Bletchley Park - BOISSEVAIN NEWS USA Sgt. Collins brought the Dragon 1 
    Cryptography Machine to Bletchley Park The Newmanry was a section at Bletchley Park... Middlesbrough; Tom Collins; Barbara Cooper, Ealing;...
  • 4. Breaking Teleprinter Ciphers at Bletchley Park: An edition ...
    Colin Burke, Pam Camp, Ray Chase, Tom Collins, David DeGeorge, Gina Douglas and John Parmenter, Ralph Erskine, Frederika and Stephen Freer, David ...
  • 5. 'Taps' In A Small Town - Forbes 
    Forbes. Jun 1, 2006 - Tom Collins, 84, marches in his old soldier suit. ... but during the war, he was one of the few Yanks at Bletchley Park, where the British code ...
  • 6. Codebreakers: The Inside Story of Bletchley Park
    F. H. Hinsley, ‎Alan Stripp - 2001 - ‎History. 'Sam Scram', see Collins...
  • Friday, May 29, 2015

    WW2 | Spies–Choices

    This book about World War II offers the reader choices - a
    clever way to involve readers in history.
    The last three days I have been at BookExpo America - the largest annual book convention in the USA - and I picked up a book called World War II Spies by Michael Burgan, published by You Choose Books, part of Capstone Press.

    The You Choose books are an ingenious way of teaching history. The choices help the reader understand that history is not something that had to happen the way it did. History happened because people made choices that affected the outcomes.

    The Spies book had special meaning for me because my father worked for the American spy service, the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.) during World War II - first in Dublin and then in London.

    The book starts with a well-written summary of how Hitler came to power and began by sending troops into countries where many Germans lived. Italy invaded North Africa and Japan invaded China. They formed what was called the Axis.

    Then in 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and F.D.R. and the Congress declared war on the Axis. You, the reader, are recruited for spying work, and you are asked to make choices. It's the same approach to teaching history that is used within the Verzetsmuseum, the Resistance Museum in Amsterdam ("Your country has been occupied. Do you (1) collaborate and get favors from the occupiers, or (2) just behave as if nothing has happened, or do you (3) join the Resistance at great peril?")

    The first three options are:
    • You are in Denmark and you want to help fight the Nazis.
    • You are a German and you want to join the Abwehr, the German spying service.
    • You are an American and want to join the O.S.S.
    Spoiler to follow: 

    The outcomes of the different paths are sometimes successes where you the reader survive.

    But sometimes they end in the death of the reader. Shot by the Nazis or dead when a parachute doesn't open. But you know as you die you did something to fight evil.

    The endings depend on the choices, as in real life.

    At each ending, the reader is sent to the concluding section which tells how the war concluded. The idea that one could have affected the outcome of the war is not in this book. That would be Science Fiction, where alternative futures are offered by someone coming back from the future. That is the theme of, for example, Time Bomber by Robert Wack.

    This book is well written and designed, and is extremely instructive. I recommend it.

    I have also read another book in this series, World War II Pilots.