|The 39th bound volume of After the Battle (issues 153-156) again presents a wide range of stories from around the world.
From the desert war comes the account of the ill-fated raid on Rommel’s headquarters in North Africa, carried out by a band of British commandos led by Lieutenant-Colonel Geoffrey Keyes in November 1941. The raid misfired and Keyes was fatally wounded in the action, being awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. Jean Paul Pallud travelled to Libya to trace the commandos’ route.
Two of the stories unfold in Athens in wartime Greece. George Pararas-Carayannis recounts how on a dark night in May 1941 two young students climbed the Acropolis and took down the hated Swastika flag from the flagpole there — an act of defiance that became legendary with all Greeks. In a main feature, Karel Margry describes the bitter battle for Athens in December 1944, fought between British troops and Communist insurgents planning to take over the country. The British had arrived as liberators and were astounded to find themselves an involuntary party in a ruthless civil war.
Chris Ransted tells the story of Heligoland, the German fortress island in the North Sea that played a vital role in two world wars. A main base for the German Navy and a gun-studded bastion guarding the approaches to the main German ports, the island was twice demilitarised by the British, first after 1918 and then again after 1945. Determined to neutralise the fortress once and for all, the British blew up the island in a massive demolition, code-named Operation ‘Big Bang’, in April 1947 — still the greatest man-made non-nuclear explosion to date.
Also from Germany come two combat stories. One describes the first-ever encounter between the American Pershing tank — newly developed and rushed to the European Theatre — and the German Tiger during a night battle in the village of Elsdorf near Cologne in late February 1945.
The other German story deals with the battle for the city of Frankfurt in March 1945. After a short but intense two-day fight, involving the gaining of a vital foothold across the Main river and much street fighting, the US 6th Armored and 5th Infantry Division captured the city from a determined foe.
The war movie Is Paris Burning?, released in 1966, epically recreated the liberation of the French capital in August 1944. A star-studded blockbuster movie, showing both the general uprising organised by the French resistance and the timely arrival in the city of the relieving French and American troops, it was filmed in Paris on the actual locations of 1944. Karel Margry recounts the movie’s production history.
David Mitchelhill-Green describes the wartime career of Lyndon B. Johnson, the later US President, and how a single and aborted combat mission aboard a B-25 bomber to New Guinea gained Johnson a Silver Star, a decoration that in later life became highly controversial.
Other stories include the German bombing of Dublin in neutral Ireland in May 1941, a tragic error that resulted in horrendous casualties; the crash of a B-17 Flying Fortress at Bakers Creek in Australia — the country’s worst-ever air disaster to this day; a fresh exploration of Hitler’s ‘Wolfsschanze’ headquarters in the Rastenburg Forest in former Eastern Prussia, now Poland; and the wartime career of American movie actor James Arness.
|This product was added to our catalog on Monday 31 October, 2011.