Archive for January, 2008

25
Jan
08

Cassino 1944 – Breaking The Gustav Line

The final defeat and capitulation of Axis forces in North Africa in May 1943, whilst a significant military success, left the Allies with the problem of where to strike next. The most obvious move was to follow the retreating enemy across the Mediterranean Sea and open a front in Sicily and Italy, taking the fight into the Fascist alliance’s own backyard. This strategy had much to commend it and was the preferred choice of Britain’s Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. He felt that such an attack would lead rapidly to the collapse of Mussolini’s fascist regime in Italy. It would also draw in and tie down German forces that could otherwise be committed elsewhere, in particular against the Russians. The Americans thought differently. They were suspicious of Churchill’s motives in the Mediterranean and were against any operations that might distract from or weaken the cross-Channel invasion planned for the spring of 1944. Churchill fell that the Allies could not just sit and wait for the invasion of France to take place, they had to maintain the pressure on the Axis forces. An invasion of Italy would at least give the British and Americans a lodgement on the mainland of Europe that, if successful, could provide a route into the occupied territories. It was finally agreed, therefore, that an attack would be launched against Sicily in July, followed by the invasion of Italy immediately after the island had been captured.
Download (rapidshare.com)
Advertisements
25
Jan
08

Cannae 216 BC – Hannibal Smashes Rome’s Army

It has been the verdict of most historians, whether ancient or modern, that the immediate cause of the Second Punic War was Hannibal’s capture of the Spanish city of Saguntum in 219 BC;. While marking the formal outbreak of hostilities between Rome and Carthage, however, it was in reality the climax of a series of developments, following the First Punic War, that made conflict between these two powers certain. The notion of an embittered and economically revived Carthage living in peace alongside a dynamic and expansionist Roman state was unlikely, when it was only a matter of time before they clashed in the one area where their interests were bound to coincide — in Spain. While there is much to suggest that neither Carthage nor Rome deliberately engineered this new war, the fall of Saguntum nevertheless precipitated the inevitable conflict that would decide the great question that lay unresolved at the heart of their mutual antagonism: which of them would control the western Mediterranean?
Download (rapidshare.com)
25
Jan
08

Caen 1944 – Montgomery’s Break-out Attempt

On 7 April 1944, General Bernard Montgomery, Commander 21st Army Group, briefed all the senior commanders involved in the forthcoming landings in France on the final shape of the invasion plan. Operation Overlord, as the invasion was called, proposed that two Allied armies be landed on the coast of Normandy between the mouth of the River Orne and the base of the Cotenun Peninsula to establish a lodgement from which future operations inland would develop. Montgomery went on to explain how the build-up of troops and equipment would progress and how the growing forces would be used, outlining proposals for the expansion of the beachhead and the preparations required to resist the Inevitable German counterattacks. One of the keys to the success of his plans, he told them, was the early capture of the city of Caen and its vital road and rail communications. Caen is situated astride the River Orne 12 kilometres (7.46 miles) inland from the coast and is linked to the sea by the river and a ship canal. In 1944 it was the regional capital of Calvados, surrounded bv rich undulating farmland. It also had a large industrial area on the outskirts of the city on the eastern side of the Orne that was dominated by the giant steelworks at Colombelles. Radiating from Caen was a network of road and rail lines leading west towards the Cotenun peninsula and Brittany, east towards Le Havre and the River Seine and inland to the interior of France. This nexus of road and rail links was vital to Allied plans for the drive inland from the beaches.
Download (rapidshare.com)
25
Jan
08

Buccaneers

BEFORE THE ERA known as the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ in the early-18th century, the waters of the Caribbean played host to a far more ambitious collection of pirates. The Spanish regarded the area as their own exclusive preserve, but other European settlers gained footholds in the region known as the ‘Spanish Main’. From the 1630s, many of these French, English and Dutch ‘interlopers’ look to piracy, attacking Spanish passing shipping using small boats. In 1655 the English captured the island of Jamaica, providing a sale harbour for these buccaneers. The scale of the attacks intensified to encompass raids on small Spanish settlements, until by the late 1060s lull-blown amphibious operations were being launched against Spanish strongholds in the New World. Buccaneer commanders such as Henry Morgan plundered their way through the Spanish Main, and by the time the buccaneering era drew to a close in 1697. the Spanish American colonies had been devastated, and Spain reduced to the status of a near-penniless minor power.
Download (rapidshare.com)
25
Jan
08

Balaclava 1854 – The Charge of the Light Brigade

There were long-standing reasons for the war in which Raglan’s army had become involved. Britain feared that Russia would overrun the declining Turkish Empire, which sprawled both sides of the Bosphorus Straits into Asia Minor and southeastern Europe. Since the eighteenth century, successive tsars had expanded south into the Ukraine and Crimea, and further east into the Caucasus. They threatened to crush Turkey in a powerful vice. However, the Caucasus region, hilly and sparsely populated, presented formidable military problems. The Balkans, in south-eastern Europe below the River Danube where it flows into the Black Sea, were a different proposition. The nationalities there were not Slavonic but were mostly Christian. Russia felt a particular affinity to them. Establishing a religious protectorship over Turkey’s fourteen million Balkan subjects thus became a major aim of the Tsar. That this would allow a degree of political influence in Turkey was an undeniable bonus, for Russia harboured one burning ambition -control of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, thus allowing passage of warships from Sevastopol (her main Black Sea base) into the Mediterranean. To achieve this, the Tsar must dominate Turkey and, ideally, gain ascendancy in Constantinople.
Download (rapidshare.com)
25
Jan
08

Auldearn 1645 – The Marquis Of Montrose’s Scottish Campaign

Scotland in the 17th century was an independent country whose king quite fortuitously happened to be King of England as well. From choice Charles I based himself in his richer southern kingdom and took little interest in Scots affairs until his belated coronation in 1633. A slow but steady slide into disaster followed. Two generations before, Scotland had firmly embraced the Protestant Reformation and in particular the teachings of John Calvin, but now the King, having remembered the existence of his northern kingdom, decided to remodel the Scots Kirk on Episcopalian or High Anglican lines. Quite literally smelling as it did of Popish incense this proposal was unpopular enough in itself. but worse was to come. In order in finance both the ecclesiastical reforms, and in particular the hierarchy of bishops that was to replace the democratic Presbyterian system, Charles also proposed to re-possess the former landholdings of the Catholic church. As in England, at the Reformation these vast lands had originally fallen to the Crown and then been sold on to the great benefit of the Exchequer. Now they were to revert to the Crown and although compensation was promised, the state was all but bankrupt and this was widely regarded as unlikely to materialise.
Download (rapidshare.com)
25
Jan
08

Arnhem 1944 – Operation ‘Market Garden’

The Battle of Arnhem, known by its Allied codename of Operation ‘Market-Garden’, was the largest airborne battle in history, and the only attempt in the Second World War by the Allies to use airborne troops in a strategic role in Europe. It was a battle of Army Groups numbering hundreds of thousands of men 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Sir Bernard .Montgomery against Army Group B under General feldmarschall Walther Model – but repeatedly its outcome hinged on the actions of small forces and individual battalions at crucial points. Rather than a set-piece battle with a tidy beginning and end, it began on 17 September 1944 from a confused and daily changing pattern of events, and ended ten days later as the only major defeat of Montgomery’s career, and the only Allied defeat in the campaign in North-West Europe. The direct origin of the Battle of Arnhem was actually Montgomery’s greatest victory, the Battle of Normandy (described in Normandy 1944: Allied Landings and Breakout, Campaigns Series 1). The destruction of the original Army Group B (Seventi Army and Fifth Panzer Army) in the Falaise Pocket in August 1944 at the end of the battle was a disaster for Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich.
Download (rapidshare.com)