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Rare Unseen Images From WW2: Part 4

Both the sides; German and Russian, used equipment captured from each other. Here a German soldier is seen riding a Russian T-60 tank

Captured British soldiers at Arnhem. 1944

The Battle of Arnhem was a famous Second World War military engagement fought in and around the Dutch towns of Arnhem, Oosterbeek, Wolfheze, Driel and the surrounding countryside from 17-26 September 1944.

After sweeping through France and Belgium in the summer of 1944, the Allies were poised to enter the Netherlands. Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery favored a single thrust north over the branches of the Lower Rhine river, allowing the British 2nd Army to bypass the German Siegfried Line and attack the Ruhr. To this end, the Allies launched Operation Market Garden on 17 September. Paratroopers were dropped in the Netherlands to secure key bridges and towns along the Allied axis of advance. Farthest north, the British 1st Airborne Division, supported by men of the Glider Pilot Regiment and the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, landed at Arnhem to secure bridges across the Nederrijn. Initially expecting a walkover, British Corps planned to reach the British airborne forces within two to three days.

The British forces landed some distance from their objectives and were quickly hampered by unexpected resistance — especially from elements of the 9th SS and 10th SS Panzerdivisions. Only a small force was able to reach the Arnhem road bridge while the main body of the division was halted on the outskirts of the city. Meanwhile, XXX Corps was unable to advance north as quickly as anticipated and failed to relieve the airborne troops according to schedule. After four days, the small British force at the bridge was overwhelmed and the rest of the division became trapped in a small pocket north of the river — where they could not be sufficiently reinforced by the Poles or XXX Corps when they arrived on the southern bank, nor by the RAF's resupply flights. After nine days of fighting, the shattered remains of the airborne forces were withdrawn in Operation Berlin.

With no secure bridges over the Nederrijn, the Allies were unable to advance further and the front line stabilized south of Arnhem. The 1st Airborne Division had lost nearly ¾ of its strength and did not see combat again.






Rommel gives the Knight's Cross to Corporal Gunther Halma in North Africa, July 1942. This photograph of Gunther Halm was taken in North Africa at the ceremony when he received his Knight's Cross from the hands of Rommel himself (his main memory of the occasion was his embarrassment when a fly kept trying to land on his face). A brand new Iron Cross First Class, awarded at the same time, is pinned to his left breast pocket. The 19-year-old Halm was one of the two youngest soldiers ever to win the Knight's Cross.


Gunter Halm was born on 27 August 1922 at Elze, Lower Saxony, as the son of an official of the German railways. He was conscripted into the Army in 1941; and by summer 1942, at the age of just 19 years, he was serving as a gunlayer in the anti-tank platoon of the HQ Company of Panzergrenadier Regiment 104, part of 21.Panzer Division, with Rommel's Afrikakorps.

In July 1942 the Axis forces in North Africa reached the high water mark of their advance towards the Suez Canal, being checked at the British defensive line created south of El Alamein, Egypt, by General Auchinleck in the so-called 'First Battle of Alamein'. On the night of 21/22July, Auchinleck unleashed his 13 Corps in Operation 'Splendour' against German positions on Ruweisat Ridge, where elements of 21.Pz Div came under heavy attack. pzGren Regt 104's platoon of two 7.62cm PaK 36(r) anti-tank guns, commanded by Leutnant Skubovius, was in a defensive position covering a 300-metre-long wadi (dried watercourse) a few kilometres from the regiment's tactical HQ; No.1 gun was commanded by UnteroffizierJ abeck, with Gefreiter Halm as his gunlayer.

After prolonged British shelling during the morning of the 22nd, dust and smoke blinded the gun crews to the approach of the British 23rd Armoured Brigade, and they only spotted the Valentine tanks of 40th Royal Tank Regt when they were little more than 100 metres away. Halm and his comrades reacted to their commander's orders instantly, and a furious duel broke out. Serving their guns at frantic speed and under continuous fire, Halm's crew knocked out nine enemy tanks and disabled a further six within just a few minutes. Several 2-pdr shells struck their gun position, damaging the shield and wounding the crew, particularly the loader, and one passed right between Halm's legs without touching him. The Valentines were forced to withdraw, but continued to fire, and a shell eventually finally destroyed the sights of Halm's gun before Luftwaffe dive-bombers and PzKw IV tanks of 21.Pz Div arrived in support. 23rd Armd Bde was effectively wiped out, losing about 93 of its 104 tanks.

Normally only those who already wore both the Second and First Classes of the Iron Cross could be considered for the higher grades. However, such was his colonel's delight at the calm performance under fire of this very young private soldier that, on 29 July 1942, Gunther Halm became the youngest serviceman yet to receive the coveted Knight's Cross, being decorated simultaneously with both grades of the Iron Cross. The awards were presented personally by Generalfeldmarschall Rommel.

Promoted corporal, Halm continued to serve in North Africa until evacuated after contracting an illness. On his recovery he was posted to 104.Inf Div, and was later commissioned as Leutnant. He later rejoined 21.Pz Div and saw fierce action in Normandy following the Allied landings in June 1944. On 24 August 1944 Leutnant Halm was captured by US troops during the fighting in the Falaise Pocket. He was eventually released from captivity in 1946; in the years following the war he lived in Brunswick, where he married and had four daughters. He worked in a number of fields, including a successful coal merchant's business and local government, and with the German war graves organization. In 1995 he was decorated with the Bundesverdienstkreuz of the Federal German Republic for his service to the community.

Japanese paratroopers getting ready for action

Soldiers from Spain in Leningrad. 1942/43. From the Blue Division

Although the Spanish State remained non-belligerent throughout World War II, it was ideologically aligned with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. There was also a "debt" for the help that these regimes had given to the military uprising. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, Franco, pressured by the Germans, offered Spanish manpower to help in civilian warwork and military volunteers to fight against the Soviets.
This was accepted by Hitler and, within two weeks, there were more than enough volunteers to form a division — the Blue Division or División Azul under Agustín Muñoz Grandes — including an air force squadron — the Blue Squadron. The Blue Division trained in Germany and served, with distinction, in the Siege of Leningrad, notably at the Battle of Krasny Bor, where General Infantes with 6,000 men threw back some 30,000 Soviet troops. In October 1943, under severe Allied diplomatic pressure, the Blue Division was ordered home leaving a token force until March 1944. In all, about 45,000 Spanish served on the Eastern Front, mostly committed volunteers, and 4,500 died. Joseph Stalin's desire for revenge against Franco was frustrated at the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, when his attempt to make an Allied invasion of Spain the conference's first order of business was rejected by Harry Truman and Winston Churchill. War weary and unwilling to continue the conflict, Truman and Churchill persuaded Stalin to instead settle for a full trade embargo against Spain.

 Australian troops land in Borneo in 1945


The Borneo campaign of 1945 was one of the most complex operations involving Australian land, air and sea forces in the war. It was also the last Australian campaign to be planned and undertaken.

Borneo had been captured by the Japanese in early 1942. Most of the island was part of the Netherlands East Indies (modern Indonesia) but the north and north-west was British territory. During 1942 and 1943, many prisoners of war, including Australians, were sent to various locations on the island. In 1944, Australian special forces troops of the Services Reconnaissance Department – commonly known as ‘Z’ Force – were sent to the island to encourage Dyak villagers to engage the Japanese in guerrilla warfare. This was highly successful, with about 2000 Japanese killed.

The decision by the Allies to invade Borneo in 1945 was for the most part political. It had only marginal strategic value. General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief of Allied forces in the South-West Pacific Area, planned the operation partly to alleviate concerns of the Australian government that its forces were being relegated to operational backwaters, as New Guinea had become. MacArthur had largely left Australian forces out of the most significant operation of this stage of the war – the liberation of the Philippines – with only some warships and a few air force units taking part. The invasion of Borneo was intended to make Australian forces more visible again in pressing home the war against Japan.

General MacArthur selected Borneo partly on the basis that bases on the island could be used to support an invasion of Java. The recapture of Java from the Japanese would formally restore control of the Netherlands East Indies to the Dutch. The Allies would also be able to capture the many oilfields in Borneo; however, this would have little effect on the war because American air and naval blockades of Japan had virtually cut off Borneo from Japan. No oil was reaching Japan from Borneo.
Source: ww2australia

 Australians in Borneo

 Japanese soldiers are offered some tea by a Chinese woman. Befriending the conquerors.

 Japanese soldiers grab some sleep in China as a statue of Confucius looks on

The Japanese army marches in China

VIDEO: Japan invades China

A Soviet soldier surrenders to the Germans in Russia. Early days of Barbarossa

German soldiers during the Ardennes Offensive in December 1944

Rocket launchers fire in Poland September 1944. The Warsaw Uprising of September 1944 is being suppressed.


 Warsaw Uprising being suppressed

The Germans ruthlessly suppress the Warsaw Uprising. September 1944

A German soldier accepts a refreshing cup of tea from Polish women. September 1939

This black American soldier seems very cheerful

American soldiers at Bastogne

 Japanese soldiers are jubilant after a victory

 American soldiers at Iwo Jima


The grim Battle Of Tarawa. 1943.

The Battle of Tarawa was a battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II, largely fought from November 20 to November 23, 1943. It was the first American offensive in the critical central Pacific region.

It was also the first time in the war that the United States faced serious Japanese opposition to an amphibious landing. Previous landings met little or no initial resistance. The 4,500 Japanese defenders were well-supplied and well-prepared, and they fought almost to the last man, exacting a heavy toll on the United States Marine Corps. The US had suffered similar casualties in other campaigns, notably Guadalcanal, but never in such a short period of time. Nearly 6,000 Japanese and Americans died on the tiny island in 76 hours of fighting.

Dead bodies of American soldiers strewn on the beach of Tarawa

American casualties on the beach were so severe that over a hundred corpses were never repatriated. Staff Sgt Norman T. Hatch, a combat cameraman who filmed the bodies on the beach, produced images that were so disturbing that he had to obtain permission from President Franklin Roosevelt before they could be shown to the public. The footage was included in the 1944 short documentary With the Marines at Tarawa, and was the only film to contain gruesome scenes of American dead up to that date.


 Berlin. 1945. After Germany lost WW2. German woman and an old man stumble past a Russian Katyusha rocket launcher. One can feel the despair of the German people.

Triumphant Soviet soldiers outside the Reichstag on May 9, 1945

German paratroopers in Crete. May-June 1941


German paratroopers in action in Crete. 1941

 German paratroopers landing on Crete

The training of the paratrooper

German paratroopers with a Marder (German tank destroyer) on the streets of Crete

The Germans in action in Crete

 The British too landed paratroopers into Crete to counter the German invasion
 The commanders of the British paratroopers

British paratroopers tense before action in Crete

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1 Comment:

Jim said...

De last 3 photo's of British airbornes has nothing to do with Crete. At that period of time British airborne forces did not even excist. The first photo with the Horsa glider was made in 1942 on a excercise. The 2nd with the officer (Brigadier James Hill)is were he is talking to some Canadian parachute officers (1943 I believe).
The last one is made on 17 september 1944(Operation Market-Garden) These are members of the 1st parachute Battallion, shortly after their landing, taking cover in a bombcrater in a small village called Wolfheze.

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This short but important battle played a key role in the decision to use atomic bombs when attacking Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The battle showed just how far Japanese troops would go to defend their country.

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Points to Ponder: Why Is China Unstable?

The aim of individuals in any society is money and power. Societies that give equal chance to all its members to get them will be the most stable. That is why democracies are more stable than other systems of governance.

China after Deng's reform gave the chance to get rich but power is in the hands of an elite; the Communist Party of China. Membership to the party is at the whims of the local party bosses. This leaves out many people who crave political power dissatisfied and disgruntled. There in lies the roots of instability. The Party suppressed these demands once at Tiananmen in 1989. But force is hardly the way to deal with things like these.

READ MORE: Tiananmen Square Massacre