The Early Years of WW II
In 1940, The Wave of the Future, A Confession of Faith, by Anne M. Lindberg, wife of aviator Charles Lindberg, made it to Readers Digest, outlining Hitler as the wave of the future. But, their way was not to be.
In 1940, the people of the United States were not at war. In 1940, there was Dunkirk.
In Spring of 1940, Germany had over 100 divisions, with about 2690 tanks. The British side had 384 light tanks, plus 100 heavier ones. They had the Maginot Line. The Belgium and Dutch sported 26 divisions plus reserves. The upshot was the German High Command had a better air force, better communication and better tactics, and they closed in on some 400,000 who were trapped. Many died and many Allied tanks were anniliated by the time of Dunkirk.
Winston Churchill did an inspiring radio speech, wars are not won by evacuation, the actual 12 min radio speech. There have been depictions of Winston Churchill as Prime Minister, various depictions set against the backdrop of WW II: Wensley Pithey (Ike: The War Years 1978); Brendan Gleeson (INTO THE STORM 2009); the 2017 production with Brian Cox (Churchill) and the latest Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour 2017 (2018 Academy Award winner). While some 75 years have elapsed, the release of Dunkirk is quite a movie and we strongly suggest to see it, especially if you can see it in 70mm IMAX. It won an Academy Award. CBS did a marvelous mini-clip. Good old AL Roker chats about the movie on NBC's TODAY and the Dunkirk spirit. Enjoy Behind the scenes. with IMAX.
On May 10, the big German offensive, to recap, was launched and the entire phony war was over. A Blitzkrieg, Lightning War, hurtled itself against Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, and France.
In effect there were three German Armies that raced through Europe: Army Group A ran through the Ardennes Forest, with 45 divisions; Army Group B with multi-prong spearheading units thrust through the Low Countries; and Army Group C kept those ally forces on the Maginot Line in check.
By May 20, the Germans had amassed a striking force which consisted of ten panzer armored divisions, seventy motorized divisions, a hundred and forty infantry divisions plus the world’s best air force, a highly disciplined Luftwaffe force of 3,226 aircraft.
Among the Allies, morale was extremely low. What was once thought, that the allied generals had time to marshal resources, was now an extinguished idea. As a matter of record since their first staff meeting was held, when both the English and French could not understand each other because they did not bring their interpreters, somewhere since then, the European Allies believed they were ready. Before June, neither Italy or Japan—both aggressive partners of the future Tri-Axis—were at war against any European nation, but by June 11 Italy had joined the fray.
By May 21, 1940, the British forces were trapped and surrounded at the port of Dunkirk. The miracle job (Operation Dynamo) to evacuate thousands of troops at Dunkirk began. The evacuation went on for ten days and nights. Scores of ships of every description from mighty warships draped in battleship grey to pleasure yachts, sail boats and tiny fishing boats performed a heroic evacuation. Some 1,350 ships were utilized in the evacuation.
Dunkirk is part of vol 1 A Toast For You and Me, an informative 192-page book.
Vol. 1: 1930s, 1940, 1941
Vol. 2: 1942 [see the era]
Commemorative Edtion: 1944 [see the era]
Fortunately, for the world, the essence of liberty never met defeat during World War II.
Before America's entrance into WW II, what happened? This is told vigorously in volume 1. Yet, now would be a good time to tell you a couple of nice things about life in 1941.
The advent of war, before Dec 7th, was more than patriotism and propaganda. It meant survival. Not that it meant we were being attacked already, but that unless something was done to check Hitler, it could mean we were next.
The human miracle of the story is told in an epic movie released by Chris Nolan appropriately titled Dunkirk. It is quite educational. The PDF files listed here are sample pages from vol. 1, offered for you. Listen to one of the veterans who was there.
Dunkirk became a thrilling legend of the world war. It paid off for 338,226 troops we’re evacuated to fight another day; some 220,000 British soldiers and about 117,000 Belgium and French troops. The scenes of a beaten allied army and air force in color were not released during the war; over 80,000 dead bodies were buried near Dunkirk.
Elsewhere on land, the screaming Stukas kept on annihilating the remaining allies. Unprotected, French aircraft factories and airfields were destroyed by June third.
On June Fourth, Dunkirk!
Up north near Norway’s coast just three days after Dunkirk, German battle cruisers sank two British destroyers, plus another British aircraft carrier, the Glorious; all three reported losses of some 1,500 men.
An ocean liner was bombed by German dive bombers off Saint Nazaire, France. The liner Lancastria was evacuating over 5,300 allied troops. Because the evacuation was without air cover, the large vessel was sunk, taking another 3,000 down with her. When you read about the description of Sicily, that whole invasion operation cost the U.S. some 2,000 men. You can imagine losing 3000 in 1 single day in just 1 ship in 1940.
News such as the Lancastria were hush hush, and even though there are many WW II books in this big world of ours, few tell you the real ship sinkings of each year like A Toast For You and Me. There were many, many losses at sea during the early stages of WW II. Keep this in mind: A good historian should use both actual key descriptions and eyewitnesses and the latest facts. During the actual war, with the exception of Dunkirk, most losses inflicted on the ally troops were rarely released in complete form to a world press transfixed on Europe. In every volume A Toast For You and Me our author embarks on telling you history as if you were there with the addition of the real facts.
On June 10, 1940 Italy hoping to get a piece of the cake, declared war on France. However, it was a move that was not as dumb as it suggests though the declaration of war was belated, Mussolini had a reason: to stall for time. His purchasing agents in the U.S. had purchased 250,000 tons of scrap iron and steel. And, they needed time to get it out of American hands. The figure of 250 thousand tons of scrap iron was more than double the normal yearly import.
By the time the U.S. government was able to clamp down on the shipments, close to 200,000 tons had been shipped. Next, came the Battle of Britain. Hitler struck with all his fury the British defensive lines, but the people were the main part of the chain of defensiveness and they never broke. This entire story is part of the wonderful book A Toast For You and Me, America’s Participation, Sacrifice and Victory, vol 1.
All the art work and lithographs in each volume, with the exception of the computer generated flags and some maps, are authentic from the 1940s. A variety of sources have been consulted in the preparation of this historical interpretation.
Vol 1 goes up to Dec. 1941. Primarily it is the era of Neutrality for the United States. Herewith, is a chronologic timeline of 1941 that may surprise you. The following dates register this period of American Neutrality, a period that actually covers 1939-1941 in the book but the above link specifically conveys 1941. It is available.
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