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Thread: Against all Odds: The British Empire in World War Two

  1. #5821
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    That's something to be considered really...
    British royal family ancestry; served with the RN; kept his Spanish citizenship...

    I bet the Brits would support him as King.
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  2. #5822
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    Agreed, though I do have to consult with my unofficial Spain advisor on this first.
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  3. #5823
    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    Agreed, though I do have to consult with my unofficial Spain advisor on this first.
    Wel, Iknow that it's not me, but IIRC, at this point Prince Juan isn't that widely known, and in OTL he made some things during the Civil War, like trying to enlist in Nationalist Spain Navy, and some declarations during the last year of the Civil War and the first years of the regime, supporting Franco (well, the last is something that he had in common with Winston:P).

  4. #5824
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    It will be considered. In fact I started working on it (as I found this idea to be better what I have in mind.)
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  5. #5825
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    Chapter 329



    In the histories of the 6th Airborne Division Operation Husky is almost always portrayed as a colossal blunder. While this is most certainly true from the standpoint of the Parachute Corps if one considers the more than 50% losses the 6th alone suffered over the course of the only six days it was in the field but overall Husky was only a partial failure. It must also be stressed that even with the total chaos in the air the distance was minor, so interception was considered to be a minimal risk at best. Husky East failed completely as the crossing forces died in murderous artillery fire that bedevilled the best intentions of the Allied gunners, even horrendous losses from counter-battery fire could not deter the Russian gunners.

    Husky East died in the ceaseless fire of Russian Artillery, though it is telling that one Divisional and two Regimental commanders were relieved in the aftermath or transferred to non-combat postings.

    In the following years Field Marshal Alexander and General Gale (forced to remain behind because of an ordinary slipped disk though it was not diagnosed as such) were repeatedly criticised for feeding the rest of the 6th Airborne into the grinder but on that day and in these units reputations would be made and broken alike. Over half a dozen future Field-Rank Officers and two Victoria Cross winners to be served in the pocket, while two more VCs would be won on that day, one of which posthumously so. It cost the life of Brigader Henley (killed a mere ten minutes after taking command) and left Colonel Howard in command of not one but two brigades.


    The battle for the pocket also marked the first (and so far only) Victoria Cross for a member of Air Transport Command also another one would be won by the forces battling their way across the Danube.


    It was however the 6th Airborne that decided the fate of Husky West. The fact that the two understrength Brigades tied down the entirety of the Großdeutschland Division gave the 1st Armoured and the 51st Highland enough leverage to force a crossing albeit at the price of horrendous losses for both themselves and the Royal Engineers detachments trying to build the pontoon bridges (in fact the above VC would be earned by a Lieutenant of 32 Engineer Regiment who defied enemy fire for five hours to construct and maintain the pontoon bridges. As a first it was also stressed in the citation that the VC was also meant to honour the men in his unit.

    It was around the time that the Black Watch and the tanks and Assault Guns of 1 RTR began to move into the town that the Paras had been supposed to secure for them General Hörnlein, short his Panzer Regiment (detached to fight the breakout of 1 RTR and elements of the Black Watch) sent an emissary to 'emplore the Paras to surrender.' What prompted this was unknown until the interrogation of his Chief of Staff after the war. As it turned out he feared being caught by the forces in his back, to be ground up by an armoured hammer on a Para Anvil. He mistakenly believed that the Paras were unaware of how Husky was developing when this demand was made. How the General could come to the conclusion that the Division was out of contact could never be accurately

    The emissary was met at the farmhouse by Colonels Howard and McAuliffe.

    Excerpt from “With the 6th Airborne in Europe”, Redford Press, 1978





    “If you ask me Colonel, this is a goddamn waste of time.” McAuliffe said as he watched the car with the two German Officers inside and a white rag tied to the antennae approach them, expertly swerving around shell craters and wrecked half-tracks. McAuliffe half hoped they would blow themselves up on some unexploded piece of ordnance but no such luck.

    “Fear not my dear Anthony. I have no intention of spending the rest of the war enjoying their hospitality.” Howard replied and leaned a bit more on the improvised crutch. Like McAuliffe he was unarmed and had replaced his helmet with the maroon beret. Their uniforms were dirty, both were bleeding from minor wounds but their posture was as erect as possible, every inch the recruitment-poster-perfect picture of the British Paratroop Officer.


    The car stopped and one of the Officers got out. He raised his hands and approached the two British. By the state of his uniform and the bandage across one hand he had seen some action today so at the very least he wasn't some arrogant staff Officer who turned out to be speaking passable but horribly accented English.

    “Colonel, in the name of General Hörnlein we acknowledge that you and your men have fought well.” he said, “though I have been ordered bring you an offer for honourable surrender in the name of humanity.”

    Howard nodded and made a show of thinking about the offer.


    “I am truly sorry, Lieutenant.” he said after a while, “but our facilities are severely limited and we cannot in good conscience take on that many prisoners so your offer to surrender to us is respectfully declined.” With that the two British Officers turned on their heels to hide their broad grins and marched (or in Howard's case hobbled) back to the forward trenches and foxholes of their men, leaving a dumbstruck German Officer behind.

    “John, you do realize that they will throw everything and the kitchen sink at us, right?”

    “I do, I do. When they do that however they will find that we are a tougher nut to crack than they think.” Howard replied. When he saw that McAuliffe was about to object he held up his hand to stop him.

    “I know our men are tired and we are running low on PIAT rounds. Still, they know the Donkey Wallopers are coming for us and the Crabs seem to be active too.”

    He pointed upwards and McAuliffe, who had been too absorbed in his own part of the war to notice saw that the sky was alive with aircraft and even as he watched something in the distance was bombed by what had to be a massive number of Hurribombers.

    “Of course, Sir.” he said, turning on the official mode again as some of their men were within earshot.


    In the dugout CP Howard had assembled his Officers around a map.

    “Gentlemen, when we lost the transmitter this morning forward elements of the Black Watch and 1 RTR were here, about two and a half miles away. However we still have our short-range sets and now they are close enough for us to get in contact with them that way.”

    “Took em long enough.” someone said and because it was true.

    IT had taken them that long to fight through to the pocket and if the current rate of advance was maintained the Paras would not be there for much longer. Howard knew that he was lucky if they could hold for another day against this sort of opposition.


    “We did notice that pressure has de-creased and it's probably because they had to divert men, in fact we had no major combat operations for most of the day.”

    He sighed.

    “If they had attacked they would probably have overrun us without much effort.”



    Losses were extremely high and even with the infusion of men and supplies from the other Brigade they were close to the breaking point. In fact, Howard thought, they were probably beyond the breaking point but as Paras kept going. At least the sounds of battle were louder than an hour ago, so there was help coming.


    In the forward observer post two privates were crouching behind a Bren that was pointed down the path towards where the Germans had to be. The sound of battle was close and everywhere but for the moment the Germans were not probing the perimeter here. The three dead Germans were a sign of their accuracy but they were running low on ammunition.

    One of them was heating the last of his C-Rations and kept one eye on the road. The other Para suddenly perked up.


    “What is it, mate?”

    “SSH! I thought I heard bagpipes.”

    The other private listened and couldn't hear anything but distant gunfire. He swallowed something that was supposed to be cheese and then listened again. Still nothing.

    “You're off the bleedin' rocker mate. Not even the Gerries are that cruel.” He was from Kent after all.

    But now he heard something too. After the last artillery shell exploding dangerously close he heard it. A faint whailing noise in the distance that as it got closer turned into some sort of melody.

    His complaints turned into yells of relief and his friend joined in even as the piper followed by decidedly non-para Riflemen in loose order. It was 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment).


    As the troopers marched past to the cheers of the dirty, grimy, unwashed and dead tired Paras the second private stood up and watched the procession of Highlanders march past them.

    “As they say, it takes an Irishman to play the pipes.”

    “What the blazes are you talking about?”


    +-+-+-+-

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    Last edited by trekaddict; 17-11-2011 at 06:14.
    "That's right, Adolf. The British are coming." - The Eleventh Doctor
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  6. #5826
    Trekaddict

    Well, as you say it wasn't a total disaster. Losses were heavy but they have a bridgehead across the Danube. The next question is can they hold it?

    Two classics, with the rejection of the surrender suggestion and the Kentish soldier's mention of the Scottish regiments history of war crimes.

    Steve

  7. #5827
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    Nice reference to "A bridge too far". It seems that the brits are still a bit uneasy about para operations whith rivers...
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  8. #5828
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    I appear to have missed a few updates, but I'll confine myself to just the last one;

    Bagpipes! I wonder how many men who had fervently been wishing for the relief column changed their mind when that unholy wail started up. I'd certainly agree with the Irish pipe playing being superior though, at least that way their is the Irish Sea between me and the noise!
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  9. #5829
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    stevep Indeed. It's only one crossing, making it easier for the Axis to contest but already too strong to destroy easily.

    "The Longest Day" and "The Bridge too far" are two of my favourites, so I had to include them and will endeavour to do so in the future. In fact every time Howard or that other Para Officer in his Regiment appear it's a reference. (After all, in the film Todd can at one point be seen talking to a Para who is none other than...himself!)


    Kurt_Steiner Husky has created the same ghosts Market Garden (the OTL version that is) did.


    El Pip I must say I quite like the pipes if done properly. Having lived with god-awful 6th-rate pop music watching the broadcast of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is always nice. As for Irish pipe playing, I know a Scot who says that Connery should be stripped of his Scottishness for uttering the line...
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  10. #5830
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    El Pip I must say I quite like the pipes if done properly. Having lived with god-awful 6th-rate pop music watching the broadcast of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is always nice. As for Irish pipe playing, I know a Scot who says that Connery should be stripped of his Scottishness for uttering the line...
    In my neck of the woods, I hear the pipes whenever our local Regiment is participating in a parade, and they always play well. I like the pipes, from what I've heard.

    One of my dad's friends is a huge Scottish man. He plays in a band with my dad. No pipes, though - bass guitar in the band, didgeridoo to show off :P
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  11. #5831
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    As for Irish pipe playing, I know a Scot who says that Connery should be stripped of his Scottishness for uttering the line...
    Bugger that. Connery should be stripped of his skin for that god awful atrocity of a movie.

  12. #5832
    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Larkin View Post
    Bugger that. Connery should be stripped of his skin for that god awful atrocity of a movie.
    Belay that! "The Untouchables" was a mess but it wasn't Connery's fault!
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  13. #5833
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Agent Larkin View Post
    Bugger that. Connery should be stripped of his skin for that god awful atrocity of a movie.
    Surely you cannot be talking about the original non-colorized version of "The Longest Day"? That film is a classic!

    Then again, he did the-film-that-mustn't-be-named which, although it had Edward Fox in it is so bad that I like to think that Connery stopped doing that sort of stuff with Diamonds are forever.

    EDIT: A Bridge too Far isn't my favourite, but it is nowhere near bad enough to require physical violence. That is reserved for the likes of High-School Musical and anything with Tom Cruise in it.
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  14. #5834
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    Quote Originally Posted by KiMaSa View Post
    Belay that! "The Untouchables" was a mess but it wasn't Connery's fault!
    Granted. Just like League of Extraordinary Gentlemen wasn't his fault but still. I have great hatred for the man for Darragh O'Gill and the little folk that is just balanced out by the Bond movies. IT's a very precariously balanced scale.

  15. #5835
    British Unionist trekaddict's Avatar
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    Let's get not too OT, but suffice it to say my admiration for him greatly diminished when I found out about his support for the SNP and his tax-dodging ways. Still my favourite Bond and a terrific actor.


    Back to topic now.
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  16. #5836
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    Chapter 330



    The sirens wailed all over the Japanese Air/Naval base that lay near the city of Bengkulu on the southern coast of Sumatra. Not that the airbase had much to destroy nor that there were any ships of significance left. The Island was cut off from supply for months now and the Japanese had run out of almost everything.

    Unfortunately for the two Canadian Aircraft Carriers small arms and AA-ammunition was not among those things. The natives might be starving, the men might be starving but they would fight. Still, pounding the base served a purpose for it softened up the defences of eastern Sumatra further in preparation for the impending invasion by three Allied Divisions in two weeks time. The Japanese had been cut off from supplies for the most part for months now. In the east the Allies enjoyed total control of sea and air, cruising to and fro at will between Java and Singapore in spite of the best efforts of the increasingly embattled Japanese Squadrons on Borneo, in the west British light Naval Forces out of Singapore and Rangoon made running supplies from occupied Malaya to Sumatra very hazardous at best.

    Battlegroup Able-Seven would be cruising back and forth off the southern coast for as long as stores and ammunition lasted, hopefully until after the Army was landed. It would be only Dutch Divisions, not so much for political reasons (though that was a factor) but more because the Australians massed their troops to attack Borneo a week later and the British theirs for the assault on Malaya the same day.

    It was hoped that the Allies would be able to evict the Japanese from the Dutch East Indies or at least contain them this summer before the next rainy season so that there could be a three-pronged attack on Japanese-occupied South-East Asia, British and Commonwealth Forces through Burma and Malaya with French, Canadian and British Marines into French Indochina.

    But to facilitate this Sumatra at the very least needed to be taken and it was because of this that the British Pacific Fleet was raiding the coastal areas with the RIAF and RAF Lancaster Squadrons bombing the rest of it.


    Canadian Barracuda taking off from HMCS Bonaventure


    For Bonaventure this was a babtism of fire that exposed the ship and the men to less risk than a full fleet battle and Rear Admiral Shepard was glad for he knew that it would take months to rebuild the Canadian training system that had been savaged to get the Carrier out here this fast. No replacements for a while.

    He was standing on the Battlebridge watching the main plot when the telephone rang.

    On the other end Captain Adrian Jackson, Commanding Officer of Vimy Ridge and Shepard's Flag Captain.

    “Sir, Athabaskan reports ten plus bogeys coming in from 345.”

    Jackson had beat the air plotters aboard Vimy Ridge by scant seconds.

    “Sir, the SAPs are moving and I have launched the Alert aircraft.”

    “Keep me posted, Captain.”

    “Aye aye, Sir.”


    The Carrier turned into the wind and overhead the eight Seafires of No.101 Squadron on five-minute alert were launched to join their compatriots. Shepard didn't have to see Bonaventure to know she was acting similarly. All the ships of the group were at Action Stations since this morning so if these contacts really did want to attack them they would find the Canadian ships prepared.

    It were indeed Japanese aircraft. The last operational Japanese fighters and bombers on the Island, with just enough fuel to make a one-way trip to the Canadian Battlegroup one way or another.

    The tactics of the so-called Divine Wind had not yet been formalized into the Special Attack Squadrons that would start to plague Allied shipping eventually but their mission was the same. It had taken almost two weeks to scrape together enough fuel to do this much and the pilots had been made aware that they would enter the afterlife as Warriors worthy of the Emperor. Coming at them were twenty Seafires, the eight alert fighters from each of the two Carriers.




    The Japanese group consisted of four Zeroes and six Nells. They were loaded down with bombs that compensated for the missing fuel and they raced in at high altitude.

    They did have altitude on the Canadians but the Seafires had the speed advantage and the advantage of being directed by several ship-mounted RDF sets. Athabaskan was merely the closest so for the moment she had the best intercept vector.

    The Seafires tore into the Japanese formation, shooting down all but two of the fighters and two of the bombers. The remaining Japanese split apart and each raced for Able-Seven at best speed.

    Five Japanese aircraft remained but the two fighters managed to slip through the furball as the Fighter Pilots concentrated on the easier targets of the bombers.

    The two Zeroes were only re-acquired when they were almost atop the formation. They expertly dodged the anti-aircraft fire and all three homed in on Bonaventure. The Seafires impotently watched as they stayed out of the AA-fire.

    When they realized that something was wrong they followed in anyway but it was far too late.

    The first plane slammed into the forward flight deck and spattered burning fuel everywhere, leading to minor damage to the forward elevator. The second one clipped the fuselage and swept a damaged Barracuda along with it's crew and maintenance personnel from the deck before crashing into the sea without exploding. The third and last plane slammed into the centre of the flight deck that, while luckily empty, was still engulfed in a major fire.



    HMCS Bonaventure afire.[1]


    What saved the Carrier from significant damage was her flight deck. While not as heavily armoured as the one on HMS Ark Royal or other earlier British Carriers the Implacables still had several inches of battlesteel deck armour so that her Captain never even had to consider his ship in serious danger. There was some cratering in the flight deck and of course a great deal of wreckage, but HMCS Bonaventure would be able to operate aircraft again within three hours where any American Carrier might have been in serious peril of sinking.[2]

    For the loss of sixteen crewmembers of Bonaventure and another twelve pilots and aircrew through the attacks of the last few days the Battlegroup had annihilated what remained of Japanese airpower on Sumatra (albeit accidentally), destroyed a considerable part of the dwindling supplies in Eastern Sumatra where the Dutch would land soon and had proven to the world that the Royal Canadian Navy could operate on it's own.

    But the mission was not over as the group would cruise up and down Sumatra for another three weeks and during that time Japanese Soldiers would learn to fear the Coastal roads as the planes with the blue-on-blue Maple Leaf seemed to be everywhere.


    Canadian Barracudas on the prowl


    Able-Seven wasn't the only Carrier Battle Group in action. Illustrious and Formidable, Melbourne and Implacable were also conducting operations against Sumatra, two Squadrons of Mosquitoes and one of Beaufighters was operating from Singapore while the rest of the British Pacific Fleet, the Netherlands East Indies Navy and the Marine National Far East Squadron, supported by the Air Forces softened up Japanese Defences elsewhere along the coast of Sumatra. The landing sites had been selected long before the offensive on Java had started but efforts to throw the enemy off the scent by feinting at fake landing places was by now standard procedure for the Allied powers.

    Japanese intelligence didn't so much take the bait as totally ignore anything what was going on in Sumatra. Tokyo was concentrating on the mainland and their increasingly successful Submarine campaign against American bases in the central Pacific. It was there that the Japanese Navy sought redemption for the massive loss of face after the destruction of the Yamato at the hand of British Carrier Aircraft.

    The Japanese had enjoyed an intelligence coup in this area as well. In January 1943 an American troop ship had become separated from the rest of a supply convoy towards Midway and the ship had been torpedoed by RO-64 two days later. No survivours had been rescued but the Japanese had captured several documents that had corroborated Intelligence gathered by the Signals Department and through the interrogation of captured enemy soldiers.

    American Naval Forces were strong, but the fleet train and their escort forces weren't. One of the reasons they had been moving so slowly in 1942 and 1943 had been their inability to deploy major naval forces at long distances for long times.

    Now the Japanese 6th Fleet stood poised to hinder the American advance across the Pacific even more.


    +-+-+-+-+-

    Comments, questions, rotten tomatoes?

    Up next: What has Igor Sikorsky been up to? And why is the British Army suddenly interested in him?


    [1] Yes I know it's HMS Victorious and that she's an Illustrious. Problem is, there aren't many pictures of later British CVs on fire.

    [2] Alas, as per HMS Formidable, Bonaventure suffers structural damage that would make rebuilding her after the war (angled deck etc) uneconomical even for the British. But fear not, for as long as there is Canada, there will be Canadian Carriers.
    Last edited by trekaddict; 17-11-2011 at 06:14.
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  17. #5837
    Captain ViperhawkZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trekaddict View Post
    But fear not, for as long as there is Canada, there will be Canadian Carriers.
    *Hallelujah Chorus*

    There is a benevolent god, and his name is Trekaddict!
    “Whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst.”
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  18. #5838
    Pantomacatalasecesionanis ta

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    Apparently the Yanks are not so terrible as they used to be in OTL.
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  19. #5839
    so what are the Japanese focusing so much on keeping back Russia and the Americans that they have diverted so many resources away from the British that they are now able to make so many gains

  20. #5840
    Lord of Slower-than-real-time El Pip's Avatar
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    While on the subject of carriers, will there be anything quite as long lived and tough as the Colossus class? I confess to a great admiration for a 'disposal' design supposed to last three years that manages sixty years.

    Plus by the looks of the last part of that update the Yanks could be in need of some quick to build carriers very shortly!
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