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Invasion of Sicily
Allied Invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major campaign of World War II, in which the Allies took the island of Sicily from the Axis powers of Italy and Nazi Germany. It began with a large amphibious and airborne operation, followed by a six-week land campaign, and initiated the Italian Campaign.
Husky began on the night of 9–10 July 1943, and ended on 17 August. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners; the Allies drove Axis air, land and naval forces from the island and the Mediterranean sea lanes were opened for Allied merchant ships for the first time since 1941. The Italian leader, Benito Mussolini, was toppled from power in Italy and the way was opened for the Allied invasion of Italy. The German leader, Adolf Hitler, canceled a major offensive at Kursk after only a week, in part to divert forces to Italy, resulting in a reduction of German strength on the Eastern Front. The collapse of Italy necessitated German troops replacing the Italians in Italy and to a lesser extent the Balkans, resulting in one-fifth of the entire German army being diverted from the east to southern Europe, a proportion that would remain until near the end of the war.
Occupation of Denmark
During most of World War II, Denmark was first a protectorate, then an occupied territory under Germany. On 9 April 1940, Germany invaded Denmark in Operation Weserübung and established a de facto protectorate over the country. On 29 August 1943, Germany placed Denmark under direct military occupation, which lasted until the Allied victory on 5 May 1945. Contrary to the situation in other countries under German occupation, most Danish institutions continued to function relatively normally until 1945. Both the Danish government and king remained in the country in an uneasy relationship between a democratic and a totalitarian system until the Danish government stepped down in a protest against the German demands to institute the death penalty for sabotage.
Just over 3,000 Danes died as a direct result of the occupation. (A further 4,000 Danish volunteers died fighting in the German army on the Eastern Front while 1,072 merchant sailors died in Allied service). Overall this represents a very low mortality rate when compared to other occupied countries and most belligerent countries.
An effective resistance movement developed by the end of the war, and most Danish Jews were rescued in 1943 when German authorities ordered their internment as part of the Holocaust.
In 2003, in a speech for the 60th anniversary of the end of the 1940–43 collaborationist government, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that Denmark’s cooperation with Nazis was “morally unjustifiable”, which was the first public condemnation of the World War II era Danish leadership by a Danish leader.
Operation Bodenplatte (Baseplate), launched on 1 January 1945, was an attempt by the Luftwaffe to cripple Allied air forces in the Low Countries during the Second World War. The goal of Bodenplatte was to gain air superiority during the stagnant stage of the Battle of the Bulge so that the German Army and Waffen-SS forces could resume their advance. The operation was planned for 16 December 1944, but was delayed repeatedly due to bad weather until New Year’s Day, the first day that happened to be suitable.
Secrecy for the operation was so tight that not all German ground and naval forces had been informed of the operation and some units suffered casualties from friendly fire. British signals intelligence (Ultra) recorded the movement and buildup of German air forces in the region, but did not realise that an operation was imminent.
The operation achieved some surprise and tactical success, but was ultimately a failure. A great many Allied aircraft were destroyed on the ground but replaced within a week. Allied aircrew casualties were quite small, since the majority of Allied losses were empty planes sitting on the ground. The Germans, however, lost many pilots that they could not readily replace.
Post-battle analysis suggests only 11 of the Luftwaffe’s 34 air combat Gruppen made attacks on time and with surprise.The operation failed to achieve air superiority, even temporarily, while the German ground forces continued to be exposed to Allied air attack. Bodenplatte was the last large-scale strategic offensive operation mounted by the Luftwaffe during the war.
Operation Donnerkeil – Betrieb Donnerkeil
Betrieb Donnerkeil (Operation Thunderbolt) was the codename for a German military operation of the Second World War. Donnerkeil was designed as an air superiority operation to support the Kriegsmarine’s (German Navy) Operation Cerberus, also known as the Channel Dash.
In 1941, Kriegsmarine surface vessels had carried out commerce raiding sorties in support of the German U-Boats in the Battle of the Atlantic. In January 1941, Operation Berlin was launched followed by Operation Rheinübung in May 1941. The dominance of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet prevented the German units returning to ports in the Baltic sea or Germany. The surviving ships, the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen, docked in the port of Brest, France. Throughout 1941 RAF Bomber Command attacked the ships in dock. The proximity of the ports to Royal Air Force (RAF) airfields allowed a large number of sorties to be flown against the targets in quick succession. The Oberkommando der Marine (Naval High Command), and Adolf Hitler desired to move the ships out of range from potential air raids.
In December 1941, the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (High Command of the Air Force) was ordered to formulate an air superiority plan for the protection of three German capital ships to escape from France to Germany through the English Channel. General der Jagdflieger Adolf Galland prepared the aerial assets for the operation. Both Cerberus and its supporting operation, Donnerkeil, were launched on 11 February 1942. During the first phase of the operation the Germans achieved surprise. The German ships reached Germany on 13 February 1942, just two days after the start of Cerberus and Donnerkeil.
During the Channel Dash the Luftwaffe succeeded in defeating air attacks on the German ships during the operation, thus allowing them to reach German waters. In the air battles that took place over the Channel the British suffered heavy losses for a non-existent return. German losses were modest, and the operation achieved its objective.
Operation Doppelkopf – Betrieb Doppelkopf
Operation Doppelkopf and the following Operation Cäsar were German counter-offensives on the Eastern Front in the late summer of 1944 in the aftermath of the major Soviet advance in Operation Bagration with the aim of restoring a coherent front between Army Group North and Army Group Centre. The operation’s codename was a reference to the German card game Doppelkopf.
Operation Dragoon – Invasion of Southern France
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on 15 August 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the United States Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up primarily of the French First Army. The landing caused the German Army Group G to abandon southern France and to retreat under constant Allied attacks to the Vosges Mountains. Despite being a large and complex military operation with a well-executed amphibious and airborne component, Operation Dragoon is not well known as it was overshadowed by the larger Operation Overlord, the invasion of Normandy (D-Day) two months earlier.
The objective of Operation Lila was to capture intact the units of the French fleet at Toulon, and was carried out by the 7th Panzer Division, augmented with units from other divisions. Four combat groups including two armoured groups and a motorcycle battalion from 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich were entrusted with the mission. To prevent the French naval units scuttling themselves, Marinedetachment Gumprich was assigned to one of the groups.
Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time.
Field Marshal Montgomery’s goal was to force an entry into Germany over the Lower Rhine. He wanted to circumvent the northern end of the Siegfried Line and this required the operation to seize the bridges across the Maas (Meuse River) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine) as well as several smaller canals and tributaries. Crossing the Lower Rhine would allow the Allies to encircle Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr from the north. It made large-scale use of airborne forces, whose tactical objectives were to secure the bridges and allow a rapid advance by armored units into Northern Germany.
Several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured at the beginning of the operation but Gen. Horrocks’ XXX Corps ground force advance was delayed by the demolition of a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, an extremely overstretched supply line at Son, and failure to capture the main road bridge over the river Waal before 20 September. At Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division encountered far stronger resistance than anticipated. In the ensuing battle, only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge and after the ground forces failed to relieve them, they were overrun on 21 September. The rest of the division, trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, had to be evacuated on 25 September. The Allies had failed to cross the Rhine in sufficient force and the river remained a barrier to their advance until offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945. The failure of Market Garden ended Allied expectations of finishing the war by Christmas 1944.
Operation RHEINÜBUNG – BETRIEB RHEINÜBUNG – Go to this Link
Operation Spring was an offensive operation conducted by II Canadian Corps during the Normandy campaign. The plan was intended to create pressure on the German forces operating on the British and Canadian front simultaneously to American offensive operations in their sector known as Operation Cobra, an attempt to break out from the Normandy lodgement. Specifically, Operation Spring was intended to capture Verrières Ridge and the towns on the south slope of the ridge. However, strong German defenses on the ridge, as well as strict adherence to a defensive doctrine of counterattacks, stalled the offensive on the first day, inflicting heavy casualties on the attacking forces, while preventing a breakout in the Anglo-Canadian sector.
The Prague uprising (Czech: Pražské povstání) was an attempt by the Czech resistance to liberate the city of Prague from German occupation during World War II. Events began on May 5, 1945, in the last moments of the war in Europe. The uprising went on until May 8, 1945, ending in a German victory and ceasefire. One day after the Germans conquered Prague, they surrendered on the arrival of the Red Army.
Siege of Breslau
The Battle of Breslau, also known as the Siege of Breslau, was a three-month-long siege of the city of Breslau in Lower Silesia, Germany (now Wrocław, Poland), lasting to the end of World War II in Europe. From 13 February 1945 to 6 May 1945, German troops in Breslau were besieged by the Soviet forces which encircled the city as part of the Lower Silesian Offensive Operation. The German garrison’s surrender on 6 May was followed by the surrender of all German forces two days after the battle.
Siege of Malta
The Siege of Malta was a military campaign in the Mediterranean Theatre of the Second World War. From 1940–42, the fight for the control of the strategically important island of Malta pitted the air forces and navies of Italy and Germany against the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.
The opening of a new front in North Africa in mid-1940 increased Malta’s already considerable value. British air and sea forces based on the island could attack Axis ships transporting vital supplies and reinforcements from Europe. General Erwin Rommel, in de facto field command of Axis forces in North Africa, recognized its importance quickly. In May 1941, he warned that “Without Malta the Axis will end by losing control of North Africa”.
The Axis resolved to bomb or starve Malta into submission, by attacking its ports, towns, cities, and Allied shipping supplying the island. Malta was one of the most intensively bombed areas during the war. The Luftwaffe and the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) flew a total of 3,000 bombing raids over a period of two years in an effort to destroy RAF defenses and the ports. Success would have made possible a combined German—Italian amphibious landing (Operation Herkules) supported by German airborne forces (Fallschirmjäger). It was never carried out. In the event, Allied convoys were able to supply and reinforce Malta, while the RAF defended its airspace, though at great cost in material and lives.
By November 1942, the Axis had lost the Second Battle of El Alamein and the Allies had landed forces in Vichy French Morocco and Algeria under Operation Torch. The Axis diverted their forces to the Battle of Tunisia, and attacks on Malta were rapidly reduced. The siege effectively ended in November 1942.
In December 1942, air and sea forces operating from Malta went over to the offensive. By May 1943, they had sunk 230 Axis ships in 164 days, the highest Allied sinking rate of the war. The Allied victory played a major role in the eventual Allied success in North Africa.
Siege of Sevastopol 1941–42
The Siege of Sevastopol also known as the Defence of Sevastopol took place on the Eastern Front of the Second World War. The campaign was fought by the Axis powers of Germany, Romania, and Italy against the Soviet Union for control of Sevastopol, a port in the Crimea on the Black Sea. On 22 June 1941 the Axis invaded the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa. Axis land forces reached the Crimea in the autumn of 1941 and overran most of the area. The only objective not in Axis hands was Sevastopol. Several attempts were made to secure the city in October and November 1941. A major attack was planned for late November, but heavy rains delayed the Axis attack until 17 December 1941. Under the command of Erich von Manstein, Axis forces were unable to capture Sevastopol during this first operation. Soviet forces launched an amphibious landing on the Crimean peninsula at Kerch in December 1941 to relieve the siege and force the Axis to divert forces to defend their gains. The operation saved Sevastopol for the time being, but the bridgehead in the eastern Crimea was eliminated in May 1942.
After the failure of their first assault on Sevastopol, the Axis opted to conduct siege warfare until the middle of 1942, at which point they attacked the encircled Soviet forces by land, sea, and air. On 2 June 1942, the Axis began this operation, codenamed Störfang (Sturgeon Catch). The Soviet Red Army and Black Sea Fleet held out for weeks under intense Axis bombardment. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) played a vital part in the siege. The Luftwaffe made up for a shortage of Axis artillery, providing highly effective aerial bombardment in support of the ground forces. Finally, on 4 July 1942, the remaining Soviet forces surrendered and the Axis seized the port. Both sides had suffered considerable losses during the siege and attack.
With the Soviet forces neutralised, the Axis refocused their attention on the major summer campaign of that year, Operation Blue and their advance to the Caucasus oil fields.
The Tunisia Campaign (also known as the Battle of Tunisia) was a series of battles that took place in Tunisia during the North African Campaign of the Second World War, between Axis and Allied forces. The Allies consisted of British Imperial Forces, including Polish and Greek contingents, with American and French corps. The battle opened with initial success by the German and Italian forces, but the massive supply and numerical superiority of the Allies led to the Axis’s complete defeat. Over 230,000 German and Italian troops were taken as prisoners of war, including most of the Afrika Korps.