bridgehead

9

floating conveyors LVT-4, damaged in the landing in GUAM.

Floating conveyor LVT-4, near the city of agate, the coast of GUAM today

Floating conveyor LVT-4, near the city of agate, the coast of GUAM today

Marines under fire on beach of Saipan. In the background is the amphibious tank LVT(A)-4 is trying to help the Marines support fire.

Floating conveyor LVT-2 transporting cargo on the seized bridgehead on the shores of Saipan, 15 June 1944. Behind him padded floating tank LVT(A)-1.

Sunken floating tank LVT(A)-4 just off the coast of Saipan. Today.

Sunken floating tank LVT(A)-4 just off the coast of Saipan. Today.

Sunken floating tank LVT(A)-4 just off the coast of Saipan. Today.

Amphibious tanks LVT(A)-4 from the bottom of Maalaea Bay, Hawaii, USA, 2011.

Die Drosselgasse in Rüdesheim am Rhein in Hessen, Central Germany. You will find pubs and wine bars here, very romantic place. :)

It’s a winemaking town in the Rhine Gorge and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area was settled first by the Celts, then after the turn of the Christian Era by Ubii; later by Mattiaci. In the 1st century, the Romans pushed forth to the Taunus. In Bingen they built a castrum; on the other side, near what is now Rüdesheim, lay a bridgehead on the way to the Limes. The Romans were followed by the Alamanni, and with the Migration Period (Völkerwanderung) came the Franks. Archaeological finds of glass from this time suggest that there was already winegrowing happening then. The town had its first documentary mention in 1074.

Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.
—  Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1973
7

Hans-Ulrich Rudel flying the anti-tank/ground-attack prototype of the Stuka, the Ju-87D-3, which used two 37mm  Bordkanone BK 3,7 autocannons as her main armament, leaving the dive bombing ability behind.

The footage comes during use by the Panzerjagdkommando Weiss, an experimental unit tasked with testing the aircraft at the battle of the Kuban Bridgehead, in February 1943 at the Black Sea.

The aircraft was found highly successful, so production was authorized in the form of the Ju 87G, which, alongside Rudel’s experience, would shape the development of the American A-10 Thunderbolt II after the war.

Sturmgeschütz StuG III Ausf.G (Sd.Kfz. 142/1- 7.5cm StuK L/48) captured during January-February 1945 in the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ by the US 104th Infantry Division. #StuG
This final production model was equipped with a Saukopf cast mantlet and an extra concrete layer, also on this vehicle can be seen an MP.44 assault rifle.
The 104th actively defended its sector near Duren and Merken from 15 December 1944 to 22 February 1945. Then it moved across the Roer taking Huchem-Stammeln, Birkesdorf, and North Duren. On 5 March, after heavy fighting, it entered Koln. After defending the west bank of the Rhine, the Division crossed the river at Honnef, 22 March 1945, and attacked to the east of the Remagen bridgehead. After a period of mopping up and consolidation, it participated in the trap of enemy troops in the Ruhr pocket. The 104th repulsed heavy attacks near Medebach and captured Paderborn, 1 April 1945. After regrouping, it advanced to the east and crossed the Weser River on the 8th, blocking enemy exits from the Harz Mountains. The Division then crossed the Saale River and took Halle in a bitter 5-day struggle, 15 to 19 April. The sector to the Mulde River was cleared by the 21st, and after vigorous patrolling, the Division contacted the Red Army at Pretzsch, 26 April. The 104th left for home and inactivation 27 June. (history.army.mil)
Colourised by Allan White from Australia)

Modest Italian Gains on the Isonzo

May 14 1917, Plava–After over two days of bombardment along the entire length of the Isonzo front, the Italians attacked at noon on May 14.  The main tactical objective of the offensive was to capture the Tre Santi, the “Three Saints”: Mt. Santo, Mt. San Gabriele, and Mt. San Daniele, that dominated the Italian positions in Gorizia from the northeast.  This would also require the Italians to break out of the bridgehead at Plava and push onto the Bainsizza plateau.  The forces further south, around the Karst plateau, would at this stage of the battle only perform diversionary attacks.

The infantry attacked at noon.  One of the first objectives was Hill 383 near Plava, which the Italians had been fighting over since the first month of the war. The Hungarian defenders were able to beat back the first two waves of Italian infantry with their machine guns and rifles, but, pounded by artillery, outnumbered by infantry fifteen-to-one, and out of ammunition, they were eventually overwhelmed after three hours of fighting, though they had inflicted 50% casualties on the first two waves.

Further south, the Italians even took one of the Tre Santi, Mt. Santo, on the first attack.  Scaling the 2250′ mountain carefully, hiding in the underbrush, they were able to surprise the defenders–who were understandably not in peak fighting condition after a barrage that had literally blown some of them off of the mountain.  However, the mountain was retaken by an Austrian counterattack after nightfall, which equally surprised the new Italian defenders–much to the consternation of the generals and politicians behind the lines.

Despite this setback, and additional failures in the attack on Mt. San Gabriele, the Italians had still scored a major success, by their own standards.  Although advancing no more than 500 yards anywhere, they had taken Hill 383, had secured the bridgehead around Plava, and were preparing for a push onto the Bainsizza plateau.  

Today in 1916: Patton Kills Pancho Villa’s Second-in-Command
Today in 1915: Exposé on Shell Shortage Appears in The Times of London

Sources include: John R. Schindler, Isonzo.

Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either — but right through every human heart — and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an unuprooted small corner of evil.
—  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

history meme - (1/10) moments

The Battle of Dybbøl (18 April 1864) was the key battle of the Second Schleswig War. In January 1864, Prussian and Austrian troops invaded Southern Jutland in Denmark following the annexation of the Duchy of Schleswig in November 1863. The Prussian army was remarkably better equipped than the defending Danish army but the Danes relied heavily on the fortification Dannevirke for their strength in battle. However, due to the thread of being outflanked the Danish army had to withdraw from the traditional fortified defence line of Dannevirke and under the cover of darkness, they marched to the ill-prepared Dybbøl Trenches.

On the morning of 18 April 1864, the Prussians moved into their positions at 2:00 am. At 10:00 am, the Prussian artillery bombardment of the trenches stopped and the Prussians charged through shelling from the Rolf Krake and thirteen minutes after the charge, the Prussian infantry had seized control of the first line of defence of the redoubts.The 8th brigade halted the Prussian advance with a counterattack but eventually a Prussian attack threw them back and the Prussians reached Dybbøl Mill. During this attack, the 8th brigade lost half their men. At 1:00 pm, the final resistance collapsed at the bridgehead in front of Sønderborg.

During the Battle of Dybbøl about 3600 Danes and 1200 Prussians were either killed, wounded or disappeared. Every year on 18 April a national memorial is held in Dybbøl (+more).

2

German heavy tank T-VIB “Tiger II” No. 502, taken on 13 August 1944 during the fighting in Sandomierz bridgehead.
On the barrel of the cannon in memory of the commander of the 2nd tank battalion of the 53rd guards tank brigade major A. G. Korobova, inscription “Glory Korobova”.
Tank No. 502 was discovered standing in the yard of a house on the outskirts of the village Ogledow (Poland). The reason the crew threw a technically perfect fighting machine remains unclear. Most likely, because the village Ogledow was taken by a rapid roll our tanks, the king tiger has just fled, leaving all the technical documentation within the machine. In the tank were full ammo and an adequate supply of fuel. Found in the technical documentation revealed that the tank was only 444 km When trying to start the engine, he wound up “with a half-turn”.
Tank No. 502 was considered a commander, as had additional means of communication.

9

Plate01: In December 1944, the US 7th Armored Group assigned to the 30th Infantry Division the task of using a new, untested, weapon system-the T-34 - in support of an upcoming infantry assault. Plans called for the 29th Infantry Division to establish a bridgehead over the Roer River in the vicinity of Julich, Germany. The 30th ID was to cross the river behind the 29th and launch an attack to the south-east. The zone of the 30th ID included Staatsforst Hambach, deemed to be an outstanding obstacle with the enemy dug in on the north and west side of the woods. It was planned, therefore, to saturate these woods with rocket fire just prior to launching the attack.
The T-34, nicknamed the ‘Calliope’ was a 60 tube rocket launcher firing a 38.5 pound High Explosive rocket out to 2,900 yards and was designed to fit on the turret of the M4 Sherman. Twenty-two launchers were to be mounted on tanks of the 743rd Tank Battalion. In addition, the 3508th Ordnance Medium Auto Maintenance Company was designated to design, construct and install a suitable mount for the T-34 in five captured German halftracks. Here, a m.S.P.W tactical number '405’, is being stripped of all interior fittings prior to mounting the launcher.
Plate02: Work began on 4 December 1944 and was completed by 9 December. The top carriage of a 7.5cm PaK 40 stood in for the tank support mechanism to elevate the launcher. No traverse was possible. Here troops remove part of the barrel and accompanying bits that will not be needed.
Plate03: Work continues on the Sd.Kfz.251/21. The bottom of the 7.5cm PaK carriage was shorn of all parts that protruded to insure a smooth surface, and then it was welded directly to sections of railroad track, 51" long, crosswise in the crew compartment. A slit of two feet wide in the armor was made in one side, and a three foot wide opening was made on the other. The gun barrel had about 3 feet cut off the end, pointed over the right side of the halftrack through the two foot slit. Two pieces of heavy 12" I-beam, approximately 23" long, provided a support to which the launcher trunnions were welded and the equilibrator springs anchored. The driver’s compartment was completely enclosed by boiler plate in the rear and an entrance hatch was provided (the hinges from the engine hatches were removed to expedite the conversion. the floor plated were also removed, exposing the vehicles gas tanks and batteries to sparks from the welders. None of the vehicles were runners.
Plate04: Although the T-34 was a rather massive affair, each rocket had an effect equal to a 105mm HE shell, just about every component was fragile: the fiber rocket tubes were easily damaged. The tubes, although not the rockets, were materially affected by the weather, and the clamp ring adjustment, too affected the diameter of the tube. Tubes flaked due to rocket blast. Small fitting worked loose or were easily damaged and electrical connections had to be constantly inspected and repaired. Rocket holding latches were weak (some rockets actually fell out during firing), and contact arms were unsatisfactory. Ripple fire caused the mount to 'lash’.
Plate05: The Donor vehicles came from Pz.Brig.108’s Pz.Gren.Btl.2108, which was destroyed in the heavy fighting at Bardenberg in October,1944. Here we have an ex-Sd.Kfz.251/3 with tactical number 2311 and the name 'Heinrich Hötger’ painted on the armor. Heinrich Hötger was a Grenadier, born in 10.01.26, who died 21.09.44, the day Pz.Brig.108 and Panzer-Lehr-Division attacked the American bridgehead east of Wallendorf in the Eifel. They pushed back the US 5th Armored Division and retook Kruchten and Hommerdingen. Hötger’ is buried at the cemetery at Neuerburg.
Plate06: Sd.Kfz.251/3 'Heinrich Hötger’, after test firing the T-34.
After firing, the launcher was examined and found to have 28 of 60 electrical connections in need of repair. These included twelve broken contact wires, six contact arms out of their hinges, three contact fingers broken, three bent contact arms and six contact springs disconnected. Two tubes required replacing. These factors indicated it was best when employing the launcher to plan to fire one salvo and then withdraw to the rear area for repairs.
Plate07: Five mittler-Schützenpanzerwagen have been identified:
Sd.Kfz.251/3 Tactical# 2311 with 'Heinrich Hötger’ on the side armor and 'Shark’ insignia on the front and rear armor. License# WH 1713787 (seen above)
Sd.Kfz.251/21 vehicle had its armor removed while undergoing extensive modification. Travel lock for 'Drilling’ still in place.
Sd.Kfz.251/?: Tactical#405, License# 1749412. Penetration hole in the left side armor.
Sd.Kfz.251/?: License# 1787961. Two penetration holes in the right side engine armor and one in the nose armor. This can be seen HERE.
Sd.Kfz.251/?: Tactical# –32 (armor partially cut away), 'Shark’ insignia on the rear armor.
Plate08: On December, test firing was conducted in the vicinity of Norweiden (more likely Broichweiden), Germany. The Launcher was loaded in Kolonie Kellersberg and towed by an M3A3 Stuart light tank, using a tow bar to the range, a distance of 8.5 miles. The halftracks were later repaired so they would run.
It took 20 minutes to dig for the track, survey the position, and lay the launcher. The halftracks had to be jockeyed to line up with the aiming stakes, as there was no traverse mechanism. The Commander used the M1 quadrant  to check elevation while the driver elevated for depressed the launcher at his command.
Plate09: The vehicle rocked excessively and the left track settled during firing, but all round hit the target area. The projectile could be heard from the time it left the launcher until it hit making a low, moaning sound. The flash was clearly visible from the target area. On 17 December, the 30th was rushed to the Malemedy-Stavelot sector of Belgium: The Battle of the Bulge was on!

7,5 cm Feldkanone 248 (i) (L/32)

Early October 1943. Following the success of Allied Operation Devon which aimed to size Termoli harbour, Fallschirmjägern, probably part of 1. Fallschirmjäger-Division, are using a former Italian howitzer Cannone da 75/32 modello 37 against allied bridgehead.

So then I lay in hiding
Till my stepmother came riding.

By the bridgehead I lay watching
Till I saw her horse approaching.
And as she passed I caught her
And down from her horse I brought her.

Through blood, screams and nightly gloom
I tore the child from her womb
And when i had drunk my brother’s blood,
I became a knight, gallant and good.

- A rough translation of a swedish medieval song about a man being transformed into a wolf by his stepmother, and taking cruel vengeance on her.

2

Where Gurkhas Dare — Lalbahadur Thalpa and the assault on Rass-ez-Zouai 

In April of 1943 the British Army planned a quick and decisive advance into German held Tunisia during the final phases of the North Africa Campaign.  The plan was to assault a heavily defended position called Rass-ez-Zouai, a fortified German outpost located at the top of a very steep cliff.  The assault on Rass-el-Zouai would be especially challenging, as there was only one narrow pathway leading up to the cliff, which was guarded by machine gun nests, infantry trenches, guard towers, anti-tank guns, and mortar pits.  The British would have to take the outpost quickly, or else the Germans could reinforce the position, halting the advance.

The challenge of taking Rass-ez-Zouai was left to Lalbahadur Thapa, second in command of a company from the 3rd Gurkha rifles of the Indian Army.  The Gurkha’s, a people who live in the Himalayan regions around Nepal and India, are especially noted for being brave and tough soldiers.  For centuries the Gurkha’s upheld a warrior tradition, successfully defending their small realm from those who dared mess with them.  By the 19th century, after suffering terrible casualties trying to invade Gurkha lands, the British hired them as mercenaries. Since then the Gurkha’s have served with the British Indian Army, even taking part in modern day conflicts such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the night of April 5th Thapa commanded a company of Gurkha’s on an attack on Rass-ez-Zouai.  Rather than outright assaulting the outpost, the Gurkhas conducted a silent attack, using stealth and guile to achieve their objectives.  With the darkness of the night as their ally they crept up on each guard post, machine gun pit, and infantry trench.  They were armed with bayonets and kukuri’s, large curved blade knives which were the traditional weapons of the Gurkha.  Without being seen or heard they rushed each each enemy position, silently killing the German soldiers with their knives without being discovered.  In this manner, the Gurkhas made their way up the cliff, taking out all the German guards, machine gunners, and soldiers that fortified the narrow pathway.  Incredibly the Gurkhas made their way to the top of the cliff without alerting the German garrison of their attack.

Once in position at the top of the cliff they organized their final assault on the fortified outpost. Under heavy machine gun fire, mortar fire, and grenade attacks they charged the outpost, engaging the Germans in close combat with kukri’s and pistols.  The attack was so swift and terrifying that it took only a moment for the Gurkhas to massacre the entire German garrison.  The taking of the outpost formed a bridgehead into enemy lines, from which the entire division proceeded.  Within a month and a half, the German Army was forced to retreat from North Africa.

For his leadership of the Gurkha company, Lalbahadur Thalpa was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry offered by the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. He later served honorably through the Italian Campaign, even taking part in the Battle of Monte Casino.  He achieved the rank of Subedar-Major (Sergeant Major), the highest non-commissioned rank in the Indian Army.  He passed away in 1968 at his home in Nepal.  His Victoria Cross is currently on display in the Gurkha Museum in England.