The three major Axis powers — Germany, Japan, and Italy — committed a host of catastrophic errors during the war. But some of these miscalculations were considerably worse than others. Here are the most significant blunders made by the Axis during WWII.
Above: German soldiers fighting in Russia.
Late last year we told you about the 8 worst mistakes made by the Allies during the war. Time now to turn our attention to the most serious mistakes made by Axis planners. The list, which is ordered (somewhat) chronologically, addresses planning and strategic errors rather than operational ones.
by By Senior Master Sgt. Elizabeth Gilbert and Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain
136th Airlift Wing Public Affairs/Texas Military Forces Public Affairs
10/17/2013 - NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas (Sept. 19, 2013) — A World War II veteran was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross during a ceremony here at the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard, Sept. 19, 2013.
Thomas P. Faulkner of Dallas was presented the award for his actions while serving as a first lieutenant and bomber pilot with the U.S. Army Air Forces’ 15th Air Force, in Italy. Faulkner, 88, earned the award when he was 19, but he was never presented the medal or told of his receiving the award.
“The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) was authorized by an Act of Congress, July 2, 1926, and amended by Executive Order 778-6, on Jan. 8, 1938,” said Lt. Col. James Castleman, the wing’s executive officer. “It was first awarded to Capt. Charles A. Lindbergh, U.S. Army (Air) Corps Reserve, for his solo flight of 3,600 miles across the Atlantic in 1927.”
Additionally, the DFC is awarded to service members who distinguish themselves in combat for “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight,” Castleman said.
I’ve always been interested in history, including WW2 which is one of the reasons I’ve been so upset with TV stations like the “History Channel” as of late, for not living up to their name along with most of what we call “educational TV” today. On the bright side, you can still find plenty of educational things dealing with actual science or actual history here on the internet, so long as you know where to look. earlier today I came across this Gem on Io9. It deals with an important historical subject, that I haven’t discussed that often, mainly, what were the biggest mistakes, the allies made, that could have cost us the war.
Hindsight is 20/20, especially when it comes to second guessing the harrowing decisions that have to be made during wartime. But sometimes we have to be critical, if we hope to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. With that in mind, here are the most egregious blunders made by the Western Allies during the Second World War.
Above photo: Alfred Palmer/OWI/LOC
A few caveats before we get started. I’m not going to include the blunders made by the Western Powers leading up to the war, nor am I going to include the mistakes made by the Russians (who were technically part of the grand alliance). Those both deserve lists of their own.
Also, I don’t mean to pick on the Allies, here. Axis forces were equally blunderous — if not more so — than their enemies, especially after Hitler took command of the German army in December 1941. But as already noted, it’s still worthwhile to be critical of the victorious forces.
Finally, I made an effort to choose mistakes which spanned the entire war and all the war theatres. I also felt it important to draw-out both “high level” mistakes and those with more immediate, but brutal, impacts. Given the complexity of war, I’m not going to pretend for a moment that my list is definitive or complete; You, the reader, are more than welcome to be critical in the comments and add your own.
Here’s the list, ordered chronologically:
Scott Lively, the sick man who was recently sued for his role in promoting the persecution of LGBT Ugandans, and expects us to believe that the Nazis promoted homosexuality and that gays helped mastermind the Holocaust now claims that violence against gay people in Russia is a conspiracy by gay people in Russia.
While Russia is experiencing an increase in violence directed at gay people and enacting new laws criminalizing pro-gay speech, US Religious Right activists Scott Lively and Linda Harvey are simply denying the prevalence of anti-gay violence. In fact, Lively is blaming other gay people for the uptick in hates crimes.
On her Saturday “Mission America” radio show, Harvey said that anti-gay violence in Russia has nothing to do with the country’s anti-gay laws, while Lively explained that actually the only violence occurring is “gay-on-gay crime.”
“Russia does have nationalists, these are Nazis, the same as I wrote in the book ‘The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality and the Nazi Party,’ that’s the same thing,” Lively said. “The guys that are beating up gays in Russia—and it’s not any more prevalent than it ever has been really and it isn’t all that prevalent at all—but the ones that are doing it are butch homosexuals who are beating up effeminate homosexuals, the same thing that happened in Germany; this is gay-on-gay crime, at least that is what it appears to be.”
Lively believes that gay people controlled Nazi Germany and launched the Holocaust in order to take revenge on Jews for viewing homosexuality as a sin.
And to the surprise of just about no Little Green Football’s regular,
Much like in “The Pink Swastika,” Lively offers no credible evidence to back up his claims that gays in Russia are facing violence from other gay people…other than his belief that anyone who is a Nazi must be gay.
U.S. military leaders are among thousands who have joined in a tribute to World War II’s Doolittle Raiders, the World War II airmen whose daring bombing attack on Japan helped boost American morale.
A flyover by five B-25 bombers helped cap a Saturday memorial service in which a wreath was placed at the Doolittle Raider monument outside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton in southwest Ohio.
Three of the four surviving Raiders plan a final ceremonial toast to fallen comrades Saturday evening. The fourth couldn’t travel because of health issues.
Commander James “Jimmy” Doolittle commanded the daring mission credited with throwing the Japanese off balance after a string of military successes.
The surrender of the Empire of Japan on September 2, 1945, brought the hostilities of World War II to a close. By the end of July 1945, the Imperial Japanese Navy was incapable of conducting operations and an Allied invasion of Japan was imminent. While publicly stating their intent to fight on to the bitter end, Japan’s leaders, (the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War, also known as the “Big Six”), were privately making entreaties to the neutral Soviet Union to mediate peace on terms favorable to the Japanese. Meanwhile, the Soviets were preparing to attack the Japanese, in fulfillment of their promises to the United States and the United Kingdom made at the Tehran and Yalta Conferences.
On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. Late in the evening of August 8, 1945, in accordance with the Yalta agreements, but in violation of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, and soon after midnight on August 9, 1945, the Soviet Union invaded the Imperial Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo. Later that same day, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb, this time on the city of Nagasaki. The combined shock of these events caused Emperor Hirohito to intervene and order the Big Six to accept the terms for ending the war that the Allies had set down in the Potsdam Declaration. After several more days of behind-the-scenes negotiations and a failed coup d’état, Emperor Hirohito gave a recorded radio address across the Empire on August 15. In the radio address, called the Gyokuon-hōsō (“Jewel Voice Broadcast”), he announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies.
On August 28, the occupation of Japan by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers began. The surrender ceremony was held on September 2, aboard the United States Navy battleship USS Missouri (BB-63), at which officials from the Japanese government signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, thereby ending the hostilities in World War II. Allied civilians and military personnel alike celebrated V-J Day, the end of the war; however, some isolated soldiers and personnel from Imperial Japan’s far-flung forces throughout Asia and the Pacific islands refused to surrender for months and years afterwards, some even refusing into the 1970s. The role of the atomic bombings in Japan’s surrender, and the ethics of the two attacks, is still debated. The state of war between Japan and the Allies formally ended when the Treaty of San Francisco came into force on April 28, 1952. Four more years passed before Japan and the Soviet Union signed the Soviet-Japanese Joint Declaration of 1956, which formally brought an end to their state of war.
More: Surrender of Japan
WWII in Color: Rare Photos From 1942 Show Flying Fortress Bombers and Their Heroic Crews in the Mighty 8th Command
Millions of poignant black-and-white photos have come out of the World War Two era, but it is not often that scenes from the deadliest conflict in human history can be seen in living color.
In 1942, LIFE Magazine sent Margaret Bourke-White, one of its four original staff photographers and the first female photojournalist accredited to cover WWII, to take pictures of the VIII Bomber Command, commonly known as the Eighth Air Force or The Mighty 8th.
The photographs, executed in brilliant hues that make them look almost like oil paintings, put on full display the massive American B-24s and B-17s - or Flying Fortresses - that rained terror on Nazi-control cities often in tandem with the Royal Air Force.
In the early stages of the war, the Eighth Air Force and the bombers under its command were praised for the ‘fantastic accuracy’ of the attacks.
But as the conflict dragged on, the Flying Fortresses and their crews would face heavy loses, the most dramatic of which came in October 1943 when 60 bombers were destroyed and 600 pilots perished in a single raid in Germany.
Some of Bourke-White’s pictures show everyday scenes from the base in England, like the portrait of an American pilot with a pink toy bunny - likely a good luck charm from a child - tucked in his waistband.
A moving reflection from the youngest survivor of Schindler’s List, Leon Leyson, who recently passed away at the age of 83. The speech took place on May of 2008 at UCSD.
Holocaust survivor Leon Leyson reflects on his incredible luck that put him on the infamous “Schindler’s List,” sparing him from a disastrous fate in Nazi Germany.
Leon Leyson dies at 83; youngest survivor on Schindler’s List
Leyson was one of the 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by German industrialist Oskar Schindler. He taught school in Huntington Park for 39 years and shared his survival story with others.
By Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times
January 13, 2013, 8:29 p.m.
Among the 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by German industrialist Oskar Schindler was an emaciated 13-year-old boy named Leon Leyson, who had to stand on a box to reach the machinery in the Krakow factory where Schindler sheltered him and his family.
Leon Leyson (Bill Aron/LATimes)
The boy Schindler called “Little Leyson” survived the Holocaust to start life over in Los Angeles. He taught high school in Huntington Park for 39 years, rarely mentioning to anyone the pain and perils he experienced during the war that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews.
Then came the celebrated 1993 movie “Schindler’s List,” which ignited public interest in the stories of Holocaust survivors. Coaxed into breaking five decades of near-silence on the subject, Leyson — the youngest member of the group rescued by Schindler — embarked on a public speaking career that took him across the United States and Canada to share his story about coming of age during the Nazis’ brutal reign.
RIP, Pablo Gutierrez
SILVER CITY, N.M. — Pablo Gutierrez, a lifelong Grant County resident who survived the infamous Bataan Death March during World War II and was among the last surviving members of his New Mexico National Guard unit who made it through the war, has died.
Gutierrez was 93 and died at the Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City on Dec. 17 after developing respiratory complications and pneumonia, daughter Rosemary Gutierrez said Sunday.
Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., issued a statement calling Gutierrez a true American hero and real family man.
“I am grateful for his service to our country, and for the mark he left on his community.” Pearce said. “The Gutierrez family is in my prayers.”
Born Jan. 25, 1919, in Santa Rita, Gutierrez was in a New Mexico National Guard unit sent to the Philippines in 1941. A Guard history says only half the 1,800 men survived the 1942 battle against the invading Japanese, the Death March after the American surrender and 40 months of captivity. The Death March was a forced six-day march by Japanese captors of 12,000 Americans and more than 66,000 Filipino prisoners across the Bataan peninsula. Thousands died in the march. Some were killed by captors impatient with their progress while others died from a lack of food, water and medical treatment.
Among his military decorations was the Purple Heart.
Gutierrez would not talk about his war experiences, his daughter said, although he regularly attended a Memorial Day service at the Fort Bayard National Cemetery, where he’ll be buried Friday. A small group of Grant County survivors attended the events, although all but Gutierrez had died in recent years. He was hospitalized during this year’s event, but insisted on attending, so doctors arranged for an ambulance to take him.
“He didn’t really like to talk about everything that he went through,” his daughter said. “There’s other people out there that would tell all the stories, but he was a real quiet man about the torture he went through on the Death March.
Much more at link. The FM-2 was a General Motors built version of the Grumman F-4F Wildcat. Replaced by the F-6F Hellcat as a first line fighter in 1943, Wildcats continued to be built for training and second line duties almost to the end of the war.
Salvagers recovered a World War II-era fighter plane that crashed during takeoff nearly 70 years ago from Lake Michigan last week. Pulled from its watery grave on December 7, 2012—71 years after Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor—the plane will eventually be restored at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.
The FM-2 Wildcat fighter plane, recovered from approximately 200 feet (61 meters) of water, crashed into the lake on December 28, 1944. The plane’s engine had died during an attempted takeoff from the U.S.S. Sable, one of two U.S. aircraft carriers used for pilot training on Lake Michigan in the 1940s.
“They were small, sidewheel steamer aircraft carriers and smaller than a normal aircraft carrier,” explained Taras Lyssenko, who co-owns A&T Recovery, a Chicago-based company that led the salvage project.
Between 1942 and 1945, 17,000 pilots were trained to fly and fight on Lake Michigan, and the small, tubby FM-2 Wildcat was one of the primary training aircraft used.