Primum non Nocere-First do no harm.

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First do no harm is  a misquoted line from the Hippocratic oath, but it has been adopted as part of it.The actual translation is “I will utterly reject harm and mischief” however the message is the same.

A great number of Physicians of the Nazi regime did not adhere to the oath. They took the opportunity to do a lot of harm in order to conduct their own experiments.

But some Nazi Doctors did stick to the oath with the aim to heal rather then to harm, and even defy the Nazi regime’s regulations.

US Army Pvt. Bob Levine arrived in England a few days before the Allied forces were to land on Normandy.

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He actively took part in the D-Day invasion and his 81-mm mortar crew was right behind the 90th Infantry when the actual invasion took place. The Allied forces met with fierce German opposition, and the intense fighting lasted weeks. In one such encounter, Levine was hit by a grenade that landed very close to him; his right leg was severely damaged in the explosion. He was captured by German forces, along with many other US soldiers. On his way to the POW camp, they were hit by a mortar shell fired by the US Army, which landed very close to POW killing scores of soldiers. Although Bob survived the explosion, his leg took more blows and he became even weaker and lost more blood.

Next thing Levine remembers was a Nazi doctor’s face, inspecting his wounds and reading his dog tag.

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Levine said that when this doctor read his dog tag and uttered the words ‘Was ist H?’ he knew then that he would definitely be executed. At that time, every American soldier had a religious designation marked on the dog tag, C for Catholic, P for Protestant and H for Hebrew. He was badly wounded, and was at the mercy of a Nazi doctor, in Nazi-controlled territory, and on top of all that, he was Jewish, Levine called this a recipe for disaster.

The Nazi doctor who treated Levine was Dr Edgar Woll.

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When Levine woke up after some time of unconsciousness, he found out that his leg had been amputated, and that the Nazi doctor was gone. His dog tag was missing and there was a note tucked into his pocket. The doctor had written a note on back of a Nazi propaganda card bearing quotes of the Fuehrer. Levine could not understand it, as it was written in German.

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The soldier couldn’t understand a word, but he clung to the card for months, hanging onto it while still a POW, after he was rescued by Allied troops and on the ship taking him back to the United States

Once translated, Levine found the note explained exactly why the doctor opted for amputation and detailed his post-surgical treatment:

“Crushed right foot. Fracture of lower leg. Foreign body in upper right leg’s tissue. Opening of the ankle joint. Amputation at place of fracture. Bandage with sulfa. Vaccinated against gas gangrene.”

After this, Levine was transferred to a POW camp, where he stayed until US soldiers liberated them and he was sent home.

The Nazi doctor had definitely saved his life, by performing an amputation, and most importantly removing his dog tag with its mention of ‘H’. The missing dog tags likely spared Levine from Berga, a notorious camp for Jewish POWs where 350 American soldiers were worked to the bone — or the grave.

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Levine went back to Normandy in 1981, where he wanted to meet the Nazi doctor but found out that he had died in 1954. A local historian tracked down Dr Woll’s family, who were happy to see Levine and his wife. They had an evening of drinks and toasts together. Levine mentioned to Edgar’s family how grateful he was for what he had done for Levine, to which one of Edgar’s family member said that if it hadn’t been for Levine, they would still be saying ‘Heil Hitler

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The Ghost Army- Special FX in WWII.

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I know what you are thinking “We are still a month away from Halloween and he is already starting telling ghost stories”

Well yes and no, you see the Ghost Army wasn’t an army of real ghosts however it did scare many German units, without firing one shot.

During World War II, Americans of many different backgrounds and professions were drafted into the armed forces. One unit in particular, the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops of the U.S. Army, had an odd membership. This group was made up mostly of artists, architects, designers, sound engineers, and other creative types — all of whom had an IQ of at least 119. And while other units were given standard issue weapons and benefited from the employ of tanks and artillery, the 23rd was given a much different order.

The 23rd, known colloquially as the “Ghost Army,” would set up faux, inflatable battalions near German encampments (but away from the actual Allied forces) to try to throw off the enemy. These actors-as-soldiers would don different uniforms and insignias, with the hope of catching the eye of German intelligence — who, in turn, would report back (incorrect) estimates of manpower and location of Allied troops.

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Shortly after the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, two Frenchmen on bicycles managed to cross the perimeter of the United States Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops and what they saw astounded them. Four American soldiers had picked up a 40-ton Sherman tank and were turning it in place. Soldier Arthur Shilstone says, “They looked at me, and they were looking for answers, and I finally said: ‘The Americans are very strong.
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Patriotic pride aside, the men of the 23rd were not equipped with super-human strength. They did, however, have inflatable tanks.

Shilstone was one of 1,100 soldiers who formed the unit, also known as the Ghost Army.

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Inspiration for the unit came from the British units who had honed the deception technique for the battle of El Alamein in late 1942, as Operation Bertram.

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The unit had its beginnings at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, and was fully formed at Pine Camp, New York (now Fort Drum), before sailing for the United Kingdom in early May 1944. In Britain they were based near Stratford upon Avon, and troops participated in Operation Fortitude, the British-designed and led D-Day deception of a landing force designated for the Pas-de-Calais.

he 3132 Signal Service Company Special handled sonic deception. The unit coalesced under the direction of Colonel Hilton Railey.

Aided by engineers from Bell Labs, a team went to Fort Knox to record sounds of armored and infantry units onto a series of sound effects records that they brought to Europe. For each deception, sounds could be “mixed” to match the scenario they wanted the enemy to believe. This program was recorded on state-of-the-art wire recorders (the predecessor to the tape recorder), and then played back with powerful amplifiers and speakers mounted on halftracks.

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The sounds they played could be heard 15 miles (24 km) away.

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Their efforts were reportedly successful. For example, the 23rd set up a fake “mulberry harbor” — an artificial military harbor used to offload cargo and troops onto beaches, such as at Normandy a few weeks after D-Day — diverting German attention away from the true landing locations. But the biggest success? The Washington Post noted that at times, the Ghost Army convinced German adversaries that they numbered as many as 30,000 troops, even convincing some units to surrender out of fear of being greatly outmatched.

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Posing as the 30th and 79th divisions, 1,100 men had to pretend to be more than 30,000.
Mixing real tanks alongside the inflatable ones, the troops appeared to be assembling a massive attack. Their fake observation planes were so convincing, American pilots tried to land in the field next to them.

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When the offensive finally made its move across the Rhine, with General Dwight Eisenhower and Prime Minister Winston Churchill watching, they were met with little German resistance. The riverbanks were left for the taking and the Ghost Army earned a commendation for its success.

Because the men had to keep their true purpose a secret, they regularly pretended to be other units. They’d mark their trucks with chalk or sew fake badges to throw off potential spies in the cities where they spent time off duty.

Set apart from other troops by their secret mission, the artists also brought an unusual perspective to war. Upon finding a bombed-out church in Trévières, several of them stopped to sketch the structure. When they stopped in Paris and Luxembourg, the men recorded everything from the beguiling women biking by to the scenic rooflines and street scenes.

Arthur Shilstone sketch of his unit digging in after their arrival in Normandy.

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A sketch by Ghost Army artist Richard Morton

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Visiting a Paris brothel was quite an eye-opener for Victor Dowd. “The ladies would come downstairs in their scanty costumes. I’m no Toulouse-Lautrec, but it was a great opportunity for me to draw. A woman named Doris sat on my table, she had a glass of wine in one hand,  a cigarette in the other, high heels and practically no clothes on. She was trying to entice me to go upstairs. I wouldn’t have had to pay anything if I gave her the drawing. But I wasn’t particularly anxious to go upstairs with Doris, and I decided to keep the drawing.”

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The U.S. Army may have used the tactic in other wars, as well, as the Ghost Army’s mission in World War II was kept classified until 1996 — and even today, many details are still kept secret.

These were just some men of the Ghost Army.

Irving McKane Nussbaum “Mickey”

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M. Sgt. Forrest Lewis joined the Army in 1942 and was originally assigned to maintain barrage balloons around the Bremerton, WA. naval shipyards.  After the defeat of the Japanese at Midway he was reassigned.  He volunteered to join the 23rd HQ Co. Special Troops at Camp Forest, TN like many of the others.  He traveled with them to England and land in France on June 23, 1944 with the bulk of the unit.  He served in Brittany, Northern France, Luxembourg and Germany as did most of the troops in the unit.  He was not an artist nor electronic technician but served with Headquarters Company within the unit.

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Sergeants James Taylor and Forrest Lewis.

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The “Diggers”

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Anthony Young

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The caring side of WWII- A glimmer of Hope

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It wasn’t only doom and gloom during WWII. Occasionally there were moments of hope and care. Amidst the darkest and horrific era of human history, humanity shone through.

I will leave the pictures do the talking, most of these were taken around D-Day.

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There is always time for a drink.

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And chocolate

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New hope and new life

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Time for a sing song and entertainment.

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Picnic

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Actors dressed as cowboys as part of the Canadian Army Invasion Revue in Banville on July 30, 1944. (Photo: Conseil Régional de Basse-Normandie / National Archives of Canada)

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Pfc Joseph E. Day (of Belloire, Ohio) holds a puppy named “Invasion” in a German helmet. Photo taken on July 14, 1944.

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Gratitude

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Paule M. Truffert among civilians in Cherbourg. According to LIFE, she was the only girl in town who spoke English.

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A woman stretches to give a bottle of water to a member of the 4th US Armored Division as they cross Le Repas

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Members of the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, Sergeant T.F Mc Feat and Private J. Viner, administer plasma to a victim.

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Theodore Roosevelt Jr.-the forgotten Roosevelt.

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The Roosevelt name must be one of the best known names in US and world history, for it was the name of not 1 but 2 legendary presidents.

A lesser known but not a lesser heroic man was Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), known as Theodore Jr., an American government, business, and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt.

 

Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion in 1919 following his valiant service in the United States Army during World War I. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–33), Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, Vice-President at Doubleday Books. Returning to the Army in 1940, he led the first wave of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in 1944, earning the Medal of Honor for his command. He died in France 36 days later, holding the rank of Brigadier General.

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Five months before the allied landings in Normandy, Roosevelt was assigned to the U.S 4th Infantry Division (Ivy Division), and was stationed in England. Roosevelt had requested to lead the attack on Utah Beach with the first wave of soldiers; however, this request was repeatedly denied by Major General Barton. Barton eventually agreed, albeit reluctantly, and Barton made it very clear that he did not expect Roosevelt to live through the initial landings on Utah Beach.

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As a result of this agreement from Barton, Roosevelt would be the only General to land with the first wave of troops on any of the allied beaches on D-Day.

At the time of the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, Roosevelt was a frail man, not in the best of health; needing the aid of a walking stick. His health had suffered as a result of the first World War. Despite his poor health, he proved to be a fine leader and as depicted in the film the longest day, he would famously state: “We’ll start the war from right here!”. He made this famous quote after discovering that the allied landings on Utah Beach were approximately 2 km off course.

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His decision to start the battle regardless of this error, worked in favour of the allies. As many of the German’s stationed in this area were redeployed to deal with the allied paratroopers dropping over Sainte Marie Du Mont, resistance from this part of the Atlantic Wall coastal defences was considerably weaker than expected.

Later in the day, once the beach head at Utah Beach was secured, General Barton came ashore and to his great surprise, Roosevelt was waiting to meet him. Barton never expected to see him alive and both men were filled with great emotion.

On July 12th 1944, after being involved in fierce fighting, Roosevelt died from a heart attack. He was buried at the Omaha Beach American Cemetery in Colleville Sur Mer, Normandy. He was buried next to his brother, Quentin Roosevelt, who was killed in the first World War.

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Theodore Roosevelt Jr. is buried in Plot: Plot D, Row 28, Grave 45.

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For his bravery, Theordore Roosevelt Jr was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Dear Sir, I salute you.

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D-DAY

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Codenamed Operation Overlord, the battle began on June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when some 156,000 American, British and Canadian forces landed on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region. The invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and required extensive planning.

Rather then having an extensive text on the day I am opting to post pictures of D-Day and the days after, for there is nothing I can write which hasn’t been written before.

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Royal Marine Commandos attached to 3rd Infantry Division move inland from Sword Beach, 6 June 1944.

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Members of the French Resistance and the U.S. 82nd Airborne division discuss the situation during the Battle of Normandy in 1944.

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Large landing craft convoy crosses the English Channel on 6 June 1944

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Troops of the US 7th Corps wading ashore on Utah Beach.

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U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander, talks with men of the 101st Airborne Division at the Royal Air Force base in Greenham Common, England on June 6, 1944, before they joined the D-Day invasion.

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Gliders are delivered to the Cotentin Peninsula by Douglas C-47 Skytrains. 6 June 1944.

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An abandoned Waco CG-4 glider is examined by German troops

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Carrying their equipment, U.S. assault troops move onto Utah Beach. Landing craft can be seen in the background.

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U.S. assault troops in an LCVP landing craft approach Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944.

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Personnel of Royal Canadian Navy Beach Commando “W” land on Mike Beach sector of Juno Beach, 6 June 1944

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British troops take cover after landing on Sword Beach.

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Crossed rifles on the sand are a comrade’s tribute to this American soldier who sprang ashore from a landing barge and died at the barricades of Western Europe. Picture taken a few days after D-Day, on Omaha Beach.

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The Bény-sur-Mer Canadian War Cemetery, September 2006. The cemetery contains predominantly Canadian soldiers killed during the Battle of Normandy. The cemetery contains 4 British soldiers and one French national who was killed fighting alongside Canadian troops. The British soldiers have markers very similar to the Canadian markers, but with different insignia in place of the maple leaf. The grave containing the French national is marked with a cross, which is visible on the lower left of the photo in the 4th row from the bottom.

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Operation Tonga

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Operation Tonga was the codename given to the airborne operation undertaken by the British 6th Airborne Division between 5 June and 7 June 1944 as a part of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings during the Second World War.

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The paratroopers and glider-borne airborne troops of the division, commanded by Major-General Richard Nelson Gale, landed on the eastern flank of the invasion area, near to the city of Caen, tasked with a number of objectives.

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The division was to capture two strategically important bridges over the Caen Canal and Orne River which were to be used by Allied ground forces to advance once the seaborne landings had taken place, destroy several other bridges to deny their use to the Germans and secure several important villages.

 

The division was also assigned the task of assaulting and destroying the Merville Gun Battery, an artillery battery that Allied intelligence believed housed a number of heavy artillery pieces, which could bombard Sword Beach and possibly inflict heavy casualties on the Allied troops landing on it. Having achieved these objectives, the division was then to create and secure a bridgehead focused around the captured bridges until they linked up with advancing Allied ground forces.

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The division suffered from a combination of bad weather and poor pilot navigation which caused many of the airborne troops to be dropped inaccurately throughout the divisional operational area, causing a number of casualties and making conducting operations much more difficult. In particular, the 9th Parachute Battalion, which was assigned the task of destroying the Merville artillery battery, was only able to gather up a fraction of its strength before it had to attack the battery, with the result that the depleted force suffered a number of casualties.

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However, the battery was successfully assaulted and the guns inside it disabled, and the division’s other objectives were also achieved despite the problems encountered. A small force of glider-borne troops of The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire light Infantry secured the two bridges over the Caen Canal and River Orne, the other bridges were destroyed, and a number of towns were occupied.

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A bridgehead was formed by the division, and it successfully repulsed a number of German counter-attacks until Allied ground forces from the invasion beaches reached its positions. The actions of the division severely limited the ability of the German defenders to communicate and organise themselves, ensuring that the seaborne troops could not be attacked during the first few hours after landing when they were most vulnerable.

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Operation Tonga began at 22:56 on the night of 5 June, when six Handley Page Halifax heavy bombers took off from Tarrant Rushton airfield towing six Horsa gliders carrying the coup-de-main force consisting of D Company, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire

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Light Infantry reinforced with two extra platoons from B Company and a party of sappers, who were tasked with capturing the bridges over the Caen Canal and the River Orne. A few minutes later, between 23:00 and 23:20, six Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle transports took off carrying pathfinders of the 22nd Independent Parachute Company, who were to mark the three drop-zones to be used by the airborne troops of the division.Another sixteen Albemarles followed the transports carrying the pathfinders, these transporting elements of the 9th Parachute Battalion, 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and 3rd Parachute Brigade Headquarters. After this small group, the remainder of the transports carrying 6th Airborne Division began to take off thirty minutes after the pathfinders, this ‘lift’ being divided into three groups. The first consisted of 239 Douglas Dakota and Short Stirling transports and seventeen Horsa gliders carrying the bulk of the 3rd and 5th Parachute Brigades and their heavy equipment. These forces were due to land in their respective drop-zones at 00:50.[27] The second part of the lift was destined to land at 03:20 and consisted of sixty-five Horsa and four Hamilcar gliders transporting 6th Airborne Division headquarters and an anti-tank battery. The final part of the lift was formed of three Horsa gliders carrying sappers and men from the 9th Parachute Battalion, who were to land atop Merville Battery at 04:30.A second ‘lift’ of 220 Horsa and Hamilcar gliders carrying the 6th Air-landing Brigade and other units were to land at another drop-zone at 21:00.

Below some further pictures of Operation Tonga

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Chanson d’automne- a coded message

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Chanson d’automne” (“Autumn Song”) is a poem by Paul Verlaine, one of the best known in the French language. It is included in Verlaine’s first collection, Poèmes saturniens, published in 1866 (see 1866 in poetry). The poem forms part of the “Paysages tristes” (“Sad landscapes”) section of the collection.

 

In World War II lines from the poem were used to send messages to the French Resistance about the timing of the forthcoming Invasion of Normandy.

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In preparation for Operation Overlord, the BBC had signaled to the French Resistance that the opening lines of the 1866 Verlaine poem “Chanson d’Automne” were to indicate the start of D-Day operations. The first three lines of the poem, “Les sanglots longs / des violons / de l’automne” (“Long sobs of autumn violins”), meant that Operation Overlord was to start within two weeks.

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These lines were broadcast on 1 June 1944. The next set of lines, “Blessent mon coeur / d’une langueur / monotone” (“wound my heart with a monotonous languor”), meant that it would start within 48 hours and that the resistance should begin sabotage operations especially on the French railroad system; these lines were broadcast on 5 June at 23:15.

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D-Day: Operation Overlord

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So much has already been written and said about Operation Overlord, more commonly known as D-Day. that I couldn’t possibly add any value to the documentation of that day on the 6th of June 1944.

All I can say is that I am thankful to those who gave their lives for my freedom.The same freedom that is now so often squandered and taken for granted that I sometimes feel ashamed and embarrassed.

All that I will do is post images of that day and I am hoping no one will ever forget the sacrifices made that day and the many days after.

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The Media:

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The German spin on things.

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First meeting of Josef Stalin (USSR), Franklin D.Roosevelt (USA) and Winston Churchill (Britain) meeting in Tehran, Iran in 1943.

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The sacrfices

 

Thank you boys. Tonight I will be drinking on you.

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