Archive for July, 2012

The book I read to research this post was Arnheim The Battle for Survival by John Nichol et al which is an excellent book which I bought from Kindle. In 1944 the allied forces wanted to end the Second World War for once and for all. Had it worked the war would have been over by christmas. Anyway they tried to invade an area in the Holland, Belgium area and most of the fighting centred around Arnheim. So many troops had to be landed many were parachuted in. Many landed in plywood gliders and these were often shot to pieces and the men felt like sitting ducks. Many of the soldiers who parachuted landed in wells or got tangled up in trees. At any rate it was a bit of a disaster although the soldiers who fought in it fought valiantly. At the end of this battle 6,500 men from the allied forces surrendered but by then they were heroes. When D day did finally arrive they had learnt many lessons from this battle. One pilot dropped his bombs and a bullet came through the bomb bay and struck a fuel tank. The plane caught fire and the pilot flew the plane while most of his crew bailed out before it exploded. Many people who fought in it said you had to be there to believe it such was the ferocity of the conflict. Many dutch people died of starvation and after D day they weren’t liberated until the war was near enough over. Had they liberated Holland sooner many of them people could have been saved. Apparently a lot of the paratroopers used came from polish regiments. When Stalin invaded Poland which he divided with Hitler, he shipped many poles out to Siberia. They were basically worked and starved to death although many hadn’t commited any crimes. Anyway when Germany invaded Russia Stalin gave the Poles amnesty if they would fight the Nazis. He then didn’t trust them to fight alongside the Russians so he made a deal that they would fight with the British. Many fought in Iran.

The book I read to research this post was Aussie Soldier Prisoner of War by Craig Smith et al which is an excellent book which I think I downloaded for free from Kindle. Although Australia was involved in Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan no POW’s were taken by the enemy. Most of their soldiers who were captured were during World War 2. Many of these were when many of the asian countries capitulated in the wake of the japanese onslaught. The japanese were particularly cruel & apparently there’s evidence they intended for their POW’s to be worked to death and leave no survivors. Often they confiscated the prisoners red cross parcels or withheld their rations when they were distributed. The germans and italians treated tended to follow the geneva convention. The germans though would be much crueller to people like russian POW’s. It has to be said the allies sometimes committed war crimes although the perpetrators tended to get away with it. If you have seen the film Breaker Morant it’s about some australian soldiers who were ordered to shoot their POW’s and followed it only to be tried and executed for war crimes. A lot of australians were captured at Crete in World War 2 which along with the war in Russia was key in slowing the advance of the axis powers at a crucial time. If the germans had seized the russian oilfields advanced into India and linked up with proIraq forces the outcome could have been different. When the big push for Berlin happened it’s worth noting many germans were massacred. The japanese often forced women prisoners into the sex trade.

The book I read to research this post was Down Under by Bill Bryson which is an excellent book which I bought from a carboot sale. This book is a kind of general history of Australia. Apparently the ruling australian prime minister in 1967 went in a lagoon and disappeared without a trace. If it had been the US president for example it would have made the front page around the world. As it is hardly any newspapers outside australia reported it. Probably partly due to australia’s remoteness also don’t forget it’s got a small population & has a relatively stable government & economy so tends to get ignored by the worlds press. At the Sydney Olympics Australia came 4th in its medal tally in a very diverse range of sports which is fantastic for a country with 19 million. China’s population increases by a larger amount than that every year. Even though baseball isn’t an established sport in Australia there are even some australian professional players in america. Apparently in a given period the New York Times ran as many stories on Belarus as it did on Australia. It was only discovered around 300 years ago. At one stage someone set sail from South America to try and discover a great southern landmass and by chance sailed through the Torres Straits which separate Australia from Papua New Guinea and no idea how close they came to discovering Australia. Tasmania was discovered before Oz by a ship from the Dutch East India Company and called Van Dieman’s Land after the captain’s boss. In Fiji and New Zealand there were cannibals who would try and eat anyone unfortunate enough to land there. A lot of people thought there was a great southern continental landmass that would rival eurasia and when Australia had been explored were rather disappointed.