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22 May 1943

22 May 1943



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22 May 1943

May

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War at Sea

German submarine U-569 sunk in the North Atlantic

Diplomacy

Soviet Union announces the dissolution of the Comintern



Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 02:33

Then I suspect it is more or less correct. Other figures fir 1 July 1942 are:

2,734,000 - AL1574-55 and 65 Handakten OrgAbt. The figure is described as preliminary.
2,847,000 - Müller-Hillebrand (also in RW6/518 "Menschenverluste im Kriege“, WVW 2836/43, 12.5.43).
2,730,000 - MI14/650-3117 "Abschrift. Kräfteverhältnis.“ 25.9.43 states that this includes “aller Kräfte in den rückwärtigen Heeresgebieten und in den Gebieten der Reichskommisariate (in den Kommisariaten sind 99,500 Mann”.
2,635,000, with 212,000 men in the Ostgebiete - RH2/429, "Überschlägige Kräfteberechnung für das Jahr 1943 und ihre Auswirkung auf die Kampfkraft der Ostfront", 8.8.42 quoted in Zetterling/Franksson, "Kursk 1943“, p.2.

Infanterie: 81., 82., 83., 88., 205., 208., 211., 212., 215., 216., 218., 223., 225., 227., 246., 250., 305., 323., 328., 329., 331., 336., 339., 340., 342., 370., 371., 376., 377., 383., 384., 385., 387., 389., 707.

Infanterie (mot.): Grossdeutschland (expanded from the Regiment already deployed)

Almost all of these units were fresh formations that had not yet seen combat. I don't know their exact establishment strength, but I see no reason to believe they arrived in the East understrength. Hence my manpower estimate of 15,000 - 17,000 men per division, admittedly based on the average Infanterie establishment for the first half of the war.

Infanterie: 5., 8., 15., 17., 23., 28., 106., 162., 167., 239.

Jäger: 99. leichte Infanterie

Infanterie (mot.): SS "Das Reich"

Note that 5., 8., 28. Infanterie, as well as 99. leichte Infanterie and 1. Kavallerie, had returned in the East by the time of Blau - the Infantry Divisions as Jäger (or leichte Infanterie as they were first called), the 99. leichte Infanterie as the 7. Gebirgs, and the cavalry division as the 24. Panzer.

The 239. Infanterie was not, in point of fact, a departure. It was dissolved and its residual strength was absorbed by the 294. Infanterie, which stayed on the Ostfront. From a manpower outflow standpoint, thus, it is more accurate to speak of a net loss of 15 divisions.

There are some other confusions. or perhaps I am missing what you are getting at?

5. Inf-Div, 5. leichte Inf-Div, and 5. Jäg-Div are all one and the same. It was withdrawn from the Ostfront 5 November 1941 and rebuilt in France before returning in February 1942. 8. and 28. Jäg-Div are similar.

99. leichte Inf-Div was organized 16 November 1940 and committed to the Ostfront in June 1941, then was withdrawn to Germany 22 October 1941 for reorganization as 7. Geb-Jäg-Div.

1. Kav-Div was withdrawn and returned as 24. Pz-Div.

And so on. Am I missing something? It looks like double-counting? Or I am misunderstanding what you are getting at.

Another way to determine strength in 1942 would be to look at individual Armies Iststärke. The book Enduring the Whirlwind (p228) gives the following data for July 1st:

2. Armee: 280,482
4. Panzerarmee: 85,643
6. Armee: 317,896
1. Panzerarmee: 226,688
17. Armee: 135,504
11. Armee: 164,648

For a total of 1,210,861 men. We could complete the picture with data for the Armies deployed in Heeresgruppen Nord and Mitte on or around the same date, if anyone has it.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 20 Dec 2020, 04:09

Then I suspect it is more or less correct. Other figures fir 1 July 1942 are:

2,734,000 - AL1574-55 and 65 Handakten OrgAbt. The figure is described as preliminary.
2,847,000 - Müller-Hillebrand (also in RW6/518 "Menschenverluste im Kriege“, WVW 2836/43, 12.5.43).
2,730,000 - MI14/650-3117 "Abschrift. Kräfteverhältnis.“ 25.9.43 states that this includes “aller Kräfte in den rückwärtigen Heeresgebieten und in den Gebieten der Reichskommisariate (in den Kommisariaten sind 99,500 Mann”.
2,635,000, with 212,000 men in the Ostgebiete - RH2/429, "Überschlägige Kräfteberechnung für das Jahr 1943 und ihre Auswirkung auf die Kampfkraft der Ostfront", 8.8.42 quoted in Zetterling/Franksson, "Kursk 1943“, p.2.

All these datapoints are virtually the same, to the thousand/hundred man.

1) 2,734,000 - 99,500 = 2,634,500
2) 2,847,000 - 212,000 = 2,635,000
3) 2,730,000 - 99,500 = 2,630,500
4) 2,635,000 + 212,000 = 2,847,000

It suggests that they are all based on the same initial report. Given that your first source mentions how the figure of 2,734,000 men is preliminary, I wonder if the additional 212,000 men corresponds to units arrived in June, and not yet calculated in the Heeresgebieten.

In any event, I see three important questions:

1) What units are included in the 212,000-strong "Ostgebiete" area?
2) What units are included in the 99,500-strong Reichskommissariate area?
3) Is there overlap between the Ostgebiete and the Reichskommissariate figures?

Historically speaking, Ostgebiete refers to Eastern German territories lost after the war. Is this what is meant here, or does it refer to a different administrative category specific to the war era?

As for the divisions mentioned, I'd be greatly interested if anyone had data on their individual strength returns.

Note that 5., 8., 28. Infanterie, as well as 99. leichte Infanterie and 1. Kavallerie, had returned in the East by the time of Blau - the Infantry Divisions as Jäger (or leichte Infanterie as they were first called), the 99. leichte Infanterie as the 7. Gebirgs, and the cavalry division as the 24. Panzer.

There are some other confusions. or perhaps I am missing what you are getting at?

5. Inf-Div, 5. leichte Inf-Div, and 5. Jäg-Div are all one and the same. It was withdrawn from the Ostfront 5 November 1941 and rebuilt in France before returning in February 1942. 8. and 28. Jäg-Div are similar.

99. leichte Inf-Div was organized 16 November 1940 and committed to the Ostfront in June 1941, then was withdrawn to Germany 22 October 1941 for reorganization as 7. Geb-Jäg-Div.

1. Kav-Div was withdrawn and returned as 24. Pz-Div.

And so on. Am I missing something? It looks like double-counting? Or I am misunderstanding what you are getting at.

I count a unit leaving the Eastern Front as 1 departure, and its return as 1 arrival. Given how the units in question took on replacements in the West during their refreshment, I feel like the proper way to account for the manpower outflow/inflow would be to count the number of men at the moment of departure (outflow) and to count the number of men of the refreshed formation on its return (inflow).

That would be very appreciated. Thank you!

Another way to determine strength in 1942 would be to look at individual Armies Iststärke. The book Enduring the Whirlwind (p228) gives the following data for July 1st:

The figures in the book are Iststärke for German Heer/Waffen-SS ground forces only. Could that, and the fact that the second set of figures is Verpflegungsstärke, account for the difference? I believe it makes sense for Verpflegungsstärke to be somewhat higher than Iststärke.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 05:07

In any event, I see three important questions:

1) What units are included in the 212,000-strong "Ostgebiete" area?
2) What units are included in the 99,500-strong Reichskommissariate area?
3) Is there overlap between the Ostgebiete and the Reichskommissariate figures?

Historically speaking, Ostgebiete refers to Eastern German territories lost after the war. Is this what is meant here, or does it refer to a different administrative category specific to the war era?

The figures in the book are Iststärke for German Heer/Waffen-SS ground forces only. Could that, and the fact that the second set of figures is Verpflegungsstärke, account for the difference? I believe it makes sense for Verpflegungsstärke to be somewhat higher than Iststärke.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 06:41

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 20 Dec 2020, 07:13

Interesting. This would militate against the theory that it consists of units about to be recategorized as belonging to the Heeresgebieten, although it would be useful to have an idea of what they are exactly. Apart from the "Das Reich" division which was in late June - early July departing the East, I am unaware of any division-sized units that were present anywhere between occupied Poland and the front - and 212,000 men is a large number. Maybe field army supply elements?

In any event, a total German strength of 2,635,000 Heer and 70,000 Waffen-SS still doesn't mesh well with known casualties and reinforcements, and if taken at face value cannot account for the significant jump in strength in the autumn (+187,881 men). The latter strength data fits much better with latter known strength fluctuation, and is better corroborated than the oft-quoted 1 July figure.

Maybe another approach is in order. Do you have data on total Field Army strength on 1.7.1942, either across the different theaters or as an overall number?

P.S.: As an aside, the German strength reporting system for the Ostfront appears to have been quite a mess before 1943.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 07:39

In any event, a total German strength of 2,635,000 Heer and 70,000 Waffen-SS still doesn't mesh well with known casualties and reinforcements, and if taken at face value cannot account for the significant jump in strength in the autumn (+187,881 men). The latter strength data fits much better with latter known strength fluctuation, and is better corroborated than the oft-quoted 1 July figure.

Maybe another approach is in order. Do you have data on total Field Army strength on 1.7.1942, either across the different theaters or as an overall number?

Norway 166,000
West and Germany 520,000
Italy and Africa 55,000
Balkans 80,000
Finland 150,000
Eastern Front 2,635,000
Ostgebiete 212,000
Sonstige 130,000
Total 3,950,000

Here is the 30 June 1942 strengths (probably Ist) by army from a series of reports on sickness (RW6-552-50, RW6-535., RW6-552, RW6/573):

AOK 2 175,209
AOK 4 159,166
AOK 6 320,929
AOK 9 266,867
AOK 11 166,010 - that is a better match for your earlier figure
AOK 16 185,829
AOK 17 167,521
AOK 18 323,212
PzAOK 1 170,515
PzAOK 2 200,709
PzAOK 3 129,037
PzAOK 4 141,013
LIX AK ?
Ostheer 2,450,929

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 20 Dec 2020, 09:44

Interesting. You mentioned previously a planning document that projected a total of 210,000 men in the Ostgebiete by May 1943. Do you have any data from 1943, so that we could compare actual strength there between 1942 to 1943?

Maybe another approach is in order. Do you have data on total Field Army strength on 1.7.1942, either across the different theaters or as an overall number?

This strength listing would indicate that the 99,500 men in the Reichskommissariate are included in the 212,000-man figure for the Ostgebiete. Is the original document clear that this includes the entirety of the active army?

Here is the 30 June 1942 strengths (probably Ist) by army from a series of reports on sickness (RW6-552-50, RW6-535., RW6-552, RW6/573):

AOK 2 175,209
AOK 4 159,166
AOK 6 320,929
AOK 9 266,867
AOK 11 166,010 - that is a better match for your earlier figure
AOK 16 185,829
AOK 17 167,521
AOK 18 323,212
PzAOK 1 170,515
PzAOK 2 200,709
PzAOK 3 129,037
PzAOK 4 141,013
LIX AK ?
Ostheer 2,450,929

Question: Is the total figure of 2,450,929 in the original? Summing up the different armies, I get a total of 2,406,017.

If one adds LIX. A.K. and Gruppe Wietersheim/XIV. Panzerkorps (the latter under direct HGS command on 30.6.1942), we must add the manpower of roughly 9 additional divisions to the above total. There are also the 11 Sicherungsdivisionen directly under Heeresgruppe command. Adding miscellaneous Heeresgruppe/Korps rear and supply units, this would match with the oft-cited figure of 2,635,000 Heer + 70,000 Waffen-SS personnel.

Do you have similar data for the months immediately afterward, i.e. 31.7, 31.8, 30.9, 31.10, etc.?

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 22 Dec 2020, 09:13

Question: Is the total figure of 2,450,929 in the original? Summing up the different armies, I get a total of 2,406,017.

If one adds LIX. A.K. and Gruppe Wietersheim/XIV. Panzerkorps (the latter under direct HGS command on 30.6.1942), we must add the manpower of roughly 9 additional divisions to the above total. There are also the 11 Sicherungsdivisionen directly under Heeresgruppe command. Adding miscellaneous Heeresgruppe/Korps rear and supply units, this would match with the oft-cited figure of 2,635,000 Heer + 70,000 Waffen-SS personnel.

That is possible, except that XIV. Panzerkorps was not under Heeresgruppe Süd, it was at the disposal of Ob. Süd, in Italy so was not included in those figures in any way shape or form. At most, you are looking at two divisions plus in LIX. Armeekorps.

201. Sicherungs-Division was at the disposal of 3. Panzerarmee
203. rückw. Heeresgebiet Mitte.
207. rückw. Heeresgebiet Nord.
213. rückw. Heeresgebiet Süd.
221. rückw. Heeresgebiet Mitte.
281. rückw. Heeresgebiet Nord.
285. rückw. Heeresgebiet Nord.
286. rückw. Heeresgebiet Mitte.
444. was a Stab only by this time, at the disposal of HG Süd.
454. rückw. Heeresgebiet Süd.

It is likely that except for 201., which was likely counted with 3. Panzerarmee, the rest made up a large part of the count for the "Ostgebiete".

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 05 Jan 2021, 04:36

I believe you're thinking of 1943?

In June 1942 XIV. PzK formed Gruppe von Wietersheim, which, like LIX. AK was separate from individual armies. On June 27th it had 73., 125. and 298. Infanterie, as well as 13. Panzer, LSSAH and Wiking.

LIX. AK had 83., 205. and 330. Infanterie on the same date.

There were also a few divisions not assigned to any particular army. I'm unsure if my list is complete, but I count at least 323., 340. and 371. Infanterie with Heeresgruppe Süd. IIRC 12. Panzer was also undergoing R&R in Estonia, although nominally I believe it was still under control of 18. Armee, albeit not in its area of operation.

Do you know if the figures you provided per army include W-SS? I know the document titled Iststärke von Verbänden nach dem Stande vom 1.10.1943, which you mentioned previously, does not. I would tend to assume the former document doesn't either.

To give an idea of where I come from on this, I first note that there is very consistent data for Ostheer strength in 1943 - 1944. Namely, the document Entwicklung der Iststärke des Ostheeres (thereafter referred to as just Entwicklung), dated July 9th, 1944, shows Heer/Luftwaffe field divisions/Waffen-SS force development over the preceding year.

07.1943: 3,138,000
08.1943: 2,985,000
09.1943: 2,676,000
10.1943: 2,568,000
11.1943: 2,641,000
12.1943: 2,619,000
01.1944: 2,528,000
02.1944: 2,366,000
03.1944: 2,391,000
04.1944: 2,340,000
05.1944: 2,444,000
06.1944: 2,620,000
07.1944: 2,235,000

Entwicklung doesn't outright states what it's counting, but a further document, dated July 24th, 1944, shows a total of 2,635,000 men (Heer+SS, without Hiwis) on 1.6.1944 for the 4 Heeresgruppen deployed in the East, without 20th Gebirgsarmee. This is virtually the same as the figure of 2,620,000 cited above, and thus, presumably, Entwicklung is tracking force development across the different Heeresgruppen over the period it covers.

Another document, dated 18.9.1943, tracks force development in 1942-3. It seems to generally include more than just the forces in the Heeresgruppen. For instance, it gives a total of 3,207,830 men for 1.7.1943, rather than 3,138,000. Then again, it appears to be less internally consistent than Entwicklung. For instance, it gives a figure of 2,681,092 men for 1.9.1943, which virtually matches Entwicklung's figure of 2,676,000 for the same date. So, presumably for that date it's only counting the forces in the Heeresgruppen.

Regarding the question at hand in this thread, the latter document shows a big jump from 2,804,448 men on 1.7.1942 to 2,992,329 on 1.10.1942. I can only explain it by assuming that the data for those two dates is counting different things.

My best guess is that the figure of 2,635,000 men on 1.7.1942 is only counting forces in the Armeegebieten, whereas the figures shown in Entwicklung are tracking force development in the wider Heeresgebieten. Thus, to adjust the figures to make them comparable, we would have to do the following: 2,635,000 + 212,000 (rear) - 99,500 (Kommissariate) = 2,747,500 + 70,000 W-SS = 2,817,500.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Jan 2021, 05:28

To give an idea of where I come from on this, I first note that there is very consistent data for Ostheer strength in 1943 - 1944. Namely, the document Entwicklung der Iststärke des Ostheeres (thereafter referred to as just Entwicklung), dated July 9th, 1944, shows Heer/Luftwaffe field divisions/Waffen-SS force development over the preceding year.

07.1943: 3,138,000
08.1943: 2,985,000
09.1943: 2,676,000
10.1943: 2,568,000
11.1943: 2,641,000
12.1943: 2,619,000
01.1944: 2,528,000
02.1944: 2,366,000
03.1944: 2,391,000
04.1944: 2,340,000
05.1944: 2,444,000
06.1944: 2,620,000
07.1944: 2,235,000

Entwicklung doesn't outright states what it's counting, but a further document, dated July 24th, 1944, shows a total of 2,635,000 men (Heer+SS, without Hiwis) on 1.6.1944 for the 4 Heeresgruppen deployed in the East, without 20th Gebirgsarmee. This is virtually the same as the figure of 2,620,000 cited above, and thus, presumably, Entwicklung is tracking force development across the different Heeresgruppen over the period it covers.

Another document, dated 18.9.1943, tracks force development in 1942-3. It seems to generally include more than just the forces in the Heeresgruppen. For instance, it gives a total of 3,207,830 men for 1.7.1943, rather than 3,138,000. Then again, it appears to be less internally consistent than Entwicklung. For instance, it gives a figure of 2,681,092 men for 1.9.1943, which virtually matches Entwicklung's figure of 2,676,000 for the same date. So, presumably for that date it's only counting the forces in the Heeresgruppen.

Regarding the question at hand in this thread, the latter document shows a big jump from 2,804,448 men on 1.7.1942 to 2,992,329 on 1.10.1942. I can only explain it by assuming that the data for those two dates is counting different things.

My best guess is that the figure of 2,635,000 men on 1.7.1942 is only counting forces in the Armeegebieten, whereas the figures shown in Entwicklung are tracking force development in the wider Heeresgebieten. Thus, to adjust the figures to make them comparable, we would have to do the following: 2,635,000 + 212,000 (rear) - 99,500 (Kommissariate) = 2,747,500 + 70,000 W-SS = 2,817,500.


22 May 1943 - History

CAMPAIGN SUMMARIES OF WORLD WAR 2

BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC - BATTLES and WARSHIP LOSSES

Part 2 of 2 - 1943-1945

HMS Lotus (CyberHeritage , click to enlarge ), "Flower" class corvette. Made famous in the book "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Montserrat and the highly-recommended film starring Jack Hawkins, their role in the Battle of the Atlantic was legendary. "They rolled on wet grass", "Can see down your funnel. Your boiler was alight . " They sank U-boats and were sunk themselves in innumerable convoy battles.

Each Summary is complete in its own right. The same information may therefore be found in a number of related summaries

(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)

1943

JANUARY 1943

Axis Loss Summary - 4 U-boats including 1 by RAF in North Atlantic 2 by US aircraft off Brazil 1 by unknown causes

FEBRUARY 1943

4th-7th - attacked on Slow Halifax/UK Convoy SC118 - SC11 8, escorted by the British B2 group was heavily attacked in mid-Atlantic. A total of 20 U-boats sank 13 of the 63 merchantmen. However, on the 4th "U-187" was d etected by HF/DF, hunted down and sunk by destroyers "Beverley" and "Vimy". Three days later, Free French corvette "Lobelia" sank "U-609" and a RAF B-17 Flying Fortress accounted for "U-624".

17th - Slow UK/North America convoy ONS165 and the escorting British B6 group were attacked east of Newfoundland. "U-201" was sunk by destroyer "Fame" and "U-69" by "Viscount". Only two merchantmen were lost.

22nd - U-boats attacked ON166 and its American A3 group in mid-Atlantic and sank 14 ships in the course of four days. In exchange "U-606" was d epth-charged to the surface by Polish destroyer "Burza" and Canadian corvette "Chilliwack" and finished off by ramming by US Coast Guard cutter "Campbell".

22nd - Mines laid by "U-118" in the Strait of Gibraltar sank three merchantmen and on the 22nd Canadian corvette "WEYBURN" as she escorted North Africa/UK convoy MKS8.

23rd - UK/Caribbean tanker convoy UC1 lost badly to U-boats, but southwest of Madeira, "U-522" was sent to the bottom by cutter "Totland".

Axis Loss Summary - 15 U-boats including 5 by RAF in North Atlantic and off Portugal and Gibraltar 2 by RAF and US aircraft on Bay of Biscay patrols 1 by US Navy in North Atlantic.

MARCH 1943

4th - In operations against the US/Gibraltar routes, "U-87" was su nk off Portugal by Canadian destroyer "St Croix" and corvette "Shediac" .

11th - North American/UK convoy HX228 (60 ships), escorted by the British B3 group, lost a total of four ships. Destroyer "Harvester" rammed "U-444" but was disabled and the U-boat had to be finished off by French corvette "Aconit". "HARVESTER", now stationary, was sunk by "U-432" which was in turn brought to the surface in mid-Atlantic by "Aconit's" depth charges and finally destroyed by gunfire and ramming.

Axis Loss Summary - 12 U-boats including 4 by the RAF in North Atlantic 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrols 1 by US aircraft off Barbados 2 by US forces off the Azores and Canary Islands 1 by unknown causes

APRIL 1943

2nd - "U-124" on passage to the Freetown area encountered UK/West Africa convoy OS45 to the west of Portugal. Two merchant ships were sunk, but she was attacked by sloop "Black Swan" and corvette "Stonecrop" of the 37th EG and sunk in turn.

6th - In attacks on Halifax/UK convoy HX231 southwest of Iceland, two U-boats were lost - "U-635" to frigate "Tay" of the British B7 group and "U-632" to a RAF Liberator. Six of the convoy's merchantmen were lost to the 15-boat pack. (Note: the identity of these two U-boats is sometimes reversed.)

7th - Submarine "Tuna" on Norwegian Arctic patrol sank "U-644" northwest of Narvik.

11th - Destroyer "BEVERLEY" of the British B6 group escorting convoy ON176 was sunk south of Greenland by "U-188".

18th - "U-123" on patrol south of Freetown torpedoed and sank "P-615" (ex-Turkish) on passage to the South Atlantic Command to provide anti-submarine training.

23rd-25th - Battle of Slow UK/North America Convoy ONS4 - ON S4 (these convoys were renumbered starting in March) was escorted by the British B2 group (Cdr Macintyre) and reinforced by the 5th Escort Group with escort carrier "Biter". On the 23rd "U-191" was det ected to the south of Greenland by HF/DF and sunk by destroyer "Hesperus" using the Hedgehog forward-throwing A/S mortar. Two days later on the 25th a Swordfish of 811 Squadron from "Biter" found "U-203" and destroyer "Pathfinder" finished her off.

Axis Loss Summary - 14 German and 1 Italian U-boats including 3 by the RAF in the North Atlantic and off the Canaries 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrol 1 by RAF-laid mine in the Bay of Biscay 1 by RAAF north of the Faeroes 3 to US forces in the North and South Atlantic, including the one Italian

MAY 1943

Without the heavy losses of ONS5, loss rate was 1 percent

Without the U-boats sunk in attacked on OSN5, 16 U-boats were lost in exchange for 6 merchantmen

Axis Loss Summary - 37 German and 1 Italian U-boats. In addition to those lost in or around the convoy battles: 3 by RAF in North Atlantic 6 by RAF and RAAF Bay of Biscay patrols 4 by US forces in the North Atlantic, off Florida and Brazil 2 by collision in the North Atlantic

1st - After supporting convoys ONS8 and HX240, Capt Walker's 2nd EG located "U-202" south of Greenland. She was sunk by sloop "Starling".

above - HMS Mermaid, 'Black Swan-type escort sloop that included such well-known, hard-worked and successful ships as Capt Walker's "Starling", "Wren", "Woodpecker", "Kite" and "Wild Goose" of the 2nd Escort Group.

Bay of Biscay Patrols - Aircraft of Coastal Command continued covering U-boat exit routes from western France and were joined by surface escort groups covered by cruisers. At the same time U-boats were fitted with heavy AA armament to enable them to fight their way out on the surface in groups. U-boat sinkings went down as Allied aircraft losses mounted, but four U-boats were destroyed: 1st - "U-418" to a rocket-firing RAF Beaufighter. 14th - "U-564" to a RAF Whitley. 24th - The 2nd EG (Capt Walker) accompanied by cruiser "Scylla" accounted for two submarines northwest of Cape Ortegal, NW Spain. Tanker "U-119" was brou ght to the surface and rammed by "Starling". With her Asdic out of action from the ramming, "Starling" left the sinking of "U-449" to "Wren", "Woodpecker", "Kite" and "Wild Goose".

Northern Transit Area - In the waters through which Norwegian-based U-boats had to sail for their patrol areas, two submarines were sunk: 4th - "U-308" north of the Faeroe Islands by s ubmarine "Truculent" on anti-U-boat patrol between Norway and Iceland. 11th - "U-417" by a RAF Fortress in the same northern transit area.

14th - In the North Atlantic "U-334" and other U-boats simulated the radio transmissions of large wolf packs. She was located and sunk by frigate "Jed" and sloop "Pelican" of the 1st EG.

Axis Loss Summary - 16 German and 1 Italian U-boats including 4 by US and RAF aircraft off Iceland and the Strait of Gibraltar, and the Italian boat in the North Atlantic 3 by the US Navy (one off the east coast of America and two to escort carrier "Bogue" off the Azores) 1 by French aircraft off Dakar.

15th - "U-135" attacked U K/West Africa convoy OS51 off the Canary Islands, and was depth-charged by the escort including sloop "Rochester" and corvette "Balsam". She was sunk when corvette "Mignonette" rammed.

24th - After six months effort the bombing campaign against U-boat bases claimed its first success on the 24th when "U-622" was badly damaged in a USAAF raid on Trondheim, Norway and paid off.

30th - The Bay of Biscay offensive by the RAF and Australian, Canadian and American aircraft reached a peak and 10 U-boats were sunk and many others damaged in July. On the 30th, two 'milchcows', "U-461" and "U-462" escorted by "U-504", were located to the northwest of Cape Ortegal, Spain. In a running battle "U-461" was fin ally sunk by Sunderland U/461 of RAF No 461 Squadron. "U-462" also went down in the fighting. Capt Walker's 2nd EG was called to the scene and accounted for "U-504" with "Kite", "Woodpecker", "Wren" and "Wild Goose".

Axis Loss Summary - 34 U-boats including 3 by RAF and US aircraft off Portugal 7 by US escort carrier groups south and west of the Azores (6 of these by aircraft from "Core", "Santee" or "Bogue") 9 by US aircraft in the Caribbean and off Brazil.

Early August - "U-647" on passage out may have been lost on the Iceland/Faeroes mine barrage around the 3rd of the month. If so she was the only casualty of this vast minefield throughout the war. RCAF aircraft sank "U-489" in the same area.

11th - "U-468" was sun k off Dakar, West Africa by a RAF Liberator of No 200 Squadron. The final attacked was carried out with the aircraft in flames and just before she crashed. The Liberator's commanding officer, Plt Off Lloyd Trigg RNZAF, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, solely on the evidence of the U-boat's survivors.

25th - "U-523" attacked UK/Gibraltar convoy OG92 to the far west of Cape Finisterre, Spain and was sunk by destroyer "Wanderer" and corvette "Wallflower".

27th - Bay of Biscay air patrols sank five U-boats in August and continued to co-operate with surface ships. On the 27th, German Do217 aircraft launched some of the first Hs293 glider bombs against ships of the 1st Escort Group. To the south of Cape Finisterre, sloop "EGRET" was hit and blown up, and Canadian destroyer "Athabaskan" damaged.

30th - In attacks on Sierra Leone/UK convoy SL135 northeast of the Azores, "U-634" was sunk by sloop "Stork" and corvette "Stonecrop".

Axis Loss Summary - 20 U-boats including 6 by aircraft of US escort carriers Card and Core off the Azores and in mid-Atlantic 2 by US aircraft in the Caribbean area 1 by RAF and French aircraft off Dakar 1 by US forces in the South Atlantic

19th-22nd - Assault on the Escorts: Convoys ONS18 and ON202 - T he German wolf-packs returned to the North Atlantic armed with Gnat acoustic torpedoes designed to home in on and disable the escorts so the U-boats could reach the merchantmen. Adm Doenitz established a patrol line of 19 U-boats southwest of Iceland ready for UK-out convoys ONS18 (27 ships escorted by the British B3 group) and ON202 (42 ships and Canadian C2 group), which set out separately. First blood went to the RCAF on the 19th when "U-347" was sent to the bottom. Over the next three days six merchant ships were lost and the escorts suffered badly in the Gnat attacks. Two more U-boats were also sunk: 19th - Destroyer "Escapade" of B3 was badly damaged by a premature explosion of her Hedgehog. 20th - British frigate "Lagan" of C2 was damaged by "U-270" or "U-260", but shortly after "U-338" was sun k by a VLR aircraft of RAF No 120 Squadron using the Allies' own acoustic torpedo - 'Fido'. "LAGAN" was to wed home as a constructive total loss.

The two convoys joined up southeast of Greenland and the escort was reinforced by the Canadian 9th EG. 20th - Canadian destroyer "ST CROIX" (ex-US) of the 9th EG was lost to an attack by "U-305" and British corvette "POLYANTHUS" of C2 was hit by a Gnat, probably from "U-952" or possibly "U-641". 22nd - Destroyer "Keppel" of B3 sank "U-229", by which time the convoys were south of Cape Farewell, Greenland. By now frigate "ITCHEN" of the 9th EG had on board most of the survivors of "St Croix" and "Polyanthus". Around midnight she was hit, in all likelihood by "U-666" and went down taking all but three men of the three ships' companies with her. (Note: "U-952" or "U-260" might also have been responsible for "ltchen's" loss.) Fortunately the Allies had anticipated the introduction of acoustic torpedoes and soon put into service 'Foxer' noisemakers, towed astern to attract the Gnat away from the vessel. The U-boats did not repeat their successes.

Axis Loss Summary - 6 U-boats including 1 each by RAF and RCAF Bay of Biscay patrols, and 1 by US aircraft off Brazil

8th - In attacks on Halifax/UK convoy SC143, "U-610" or "U-378" sank Polish destroyer "ORKAN" (ex-"Myrmidon") with an acoustic torpedo. Later in the day RAF and RCAF air escorts sank "U-419", "U-643" and "U-610".

16th-17th - Attacks on Convoys ON206 and ONS20 - S ix U-boats were lost in exchange for a single merchantman in attacks on UK-out convoys ON206 (B6 group) and ONS20 (4th Escort Group). The 4th EG was composed mainly of the new US lease-lend 'Captain' class frigates. The B7 group commanded by Cdr Gretton first of all reinforced ON206. On the 16th, southeast of Greenland, RAF Liberators accounted for "U-470", "U-844" and "U-964". Next day on the 17th it was "U-540's" turn. Shortly after, as B7 transferred to ONS20, corvette "Sunflower" sank "U-631" with her Hedgehog. Still on the 17th, frigate "Byard" with the 4th EG escorting ONS20 sank "U-841". Cdr Gretton then took B7 to support nearby ON207.

23rd-29th - Attacks on Convoys ON207 and ON208 - So uth of Iceland, B7 reinforced ON207's already formidable escort consisting of the Canadian C1 group and Capt Walker's 2nd EG. On the 23rd a RAF Liberator of No 224 Squadron and B7 destroyers "Duncan" and "Vidette" shared in the sinking of "U-274". Three days later the RCAF got "U-420". Then on the 29th, by now with ON208, B7 ships "Duncan", "Vidette" and Sunflower" sank "U-282". In less then two weeks in attacks on just four convoys, nine U-boats had been sunk by the highly efficient inter-service air and sea escorts.

31st - Northeast of the Azores, destroyer "Whitehall" and corvette "Geranium" of the British B1 group escorting North and West Africa/UK convoys MKS28 and SL138 detected "U-306" by HF/DF and sent her to the bottom.

Axis Loss Summary - 23 U-boats including 4 by RAF and US aircraft in North Atlantic and off Portugal 6 by US escort carriers "Card", "Core" and "Block Island" off the Azores and in mid-Atlantic.

6th - Capt Walker's Escort Group with escort carrier "Tracker" patrolled east of Newfoundland in support of convoy HX264. "U-226" was sighted by "Tracker's" aircraft and destroyed by sloops "Starling", "Kite" and "Woodcock". Shortly after, "Starling", this time with "Wild Goose", accounted for "U-842".

19th-25th - Attacks on the UK/ North and West Africa Convoy Routes - Co mbined UK-bound convoys MKS30 and SL139 were escorted by the 40th Escort Group and joined in turn by the 7th, 5th and 4th EG's to the far west and northwest of Portugal. One merchantman was lost to air attack, but three U-boats went down in the fighting: 19th - "U-211" to a RAF Wellington. 20th - Frigate "Nene" and Canadian corvettes "Calgary" and "Snowberry" of the 5th EG sank "U-536". 21st - Frigate "Foley" and sloop "Crane" of the 40th EG accounted for "U-538". Northwest of Cape Finisterre, Hs293 glider bombs sank the one merchant ship lost. The surviving U-boats were next deployed against other convoys in the area. As the U-boats approached southbound convoys KMS30/0S59 they ran into the 4th EG, which had also been diverted: 23rd - Frigates "Bazely", "Blackwood" and "Drury" sank "U-648". 25th - Two days later "Bazely" and "Blackwood" sank "U-600". Later, in the same area around the Azores, a RAF Wellington accounted for "U-542", and aircraft from US escort carrier "Bogue" the "U-86".

Axis Loss Summary - 16 U-boats including 2 by RAF and US Bay of Biscay air patrols 2 by RAF in North Atlantic and off the Azores 3 by US forces in mid-Atlantic and off Ascension in the South Atlantic.

24th - Destroyer "HURRICANE" of the 1st EG with UK/African convoys OS62 and KMS36 was torpedoed by "U-305" or "U-415" northeast of the Azores. She was scuttled next day.

Axis Loss Summary - 5 U-boats including 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrol 3 by US Navy in Azores and Madeira areas 1 scuttled after storm damage in mid-Atlantic.

7th - U-boats concentrated against UK/West and North African convoys, mainly to the west and southwest of Ireland, and eight were lost from all causes, but first the Royal Navy suffered a loss. As the 5th Escort Group swept to the west of Cape Finisterre, frigate "TWEED" was torp edoed and sunk by "U-305". Intense A/S activity further north saw "U-305" lost well before the month was out. 8th - "U-757" to frigate "Bayntun" and Canadian corvette "Camrose" of the 4th and 5th EGs escorting OS64/KM538. 13th - Northeast of the Azores "U-231" was lost t o a RAF Leigh light Wellington. 15th - Off the Azores "U-377" was sunk by one of her own torpedoed. 17th - Back to the waters west of Ireland, and "U-305" was now sunk by destroyer "Wanderer" returning from a search for blockade runners. 19th - "U-641" attacked OS65 and KMS39 and went down to corvette "Violet" of the British B3 group. 28th - Operations against OS66/KMS40 led to the loss of "U-271" to a US Navy Liberator and "U-571" to a RAAF Sunderland flying boat - one of the famous "flying porcupines". West of Ireland "U-972" suffered the same "own-torpedo" fate as "U-377" two weeks earlier.

Capt Walker's 2nd Escort Group - Capt Walker with sloops "Starling", "Kite", "Magpie", "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" accompanied by escort carriers "Activity" and "Nairana" arrived in the waters to the southwest of Ireland. Over the next three weeks the five sloops shared in the sinking of six U-boats operating against the convoys passing through the area. They started on the 31st when "Starling", "Magpie" and "Wild Goose" depth charged "U-592" to destruction.

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 2 by RAF and RAAF Bay of Biscay patrols 1 by RAF-laid mine in Bay of Biscay 1 by US escort carrier Guadalcanal off the Azores

Capt Walker's 2nd Escort Group continued - U -boat concentrations again suffered badly to the west and southwest of Ireland, and 10 boats were lost, all to the Royal Navy in exchange for a sloop and one straggler. Capt Walker's 2nd EG accounted for five, which added to the one on 31st January gave a record for U-boat sinkings in one patrol only equalled by the US destroyer escort "England" in the South West Pacific in May 1944: 8th - In support of convoys SL147/MKS38, Capt Walker in "Starling" together with "Kite", "Magpie", "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" shared in the sinking of "U-762". 9th - "Starling", "Kite", "Magpie", "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" now shared in the sinking of "U-734" and "U-238". 11th - Back to the southwest of Ireland, "Wild Goose" and "Woodpecker" hunted down "U-424" and destroy her with depth charges. 19th - The 2nd EG now supporting ON224 was attacked by "U-264". Brought to the surface by "Starling" and "Woodpecker", she was scuttled, the first of the schnorkel-equipped boats to be lost. 19th - As Capt Walker's Group looked for its seventh victim "WOODPECKER" lost he r stern to an acoustic torpedo from "U-764". Towed slowly home, she sank on the 27th off the Scilly Islands.

Other supporting Escort Groups also had their successes in the month: 10th - West of Ireland, "U-666" was s unk by Swordfish of 842 Squadron from escort carrier "Fencer" in support of trans-Atlantic convoy ON223. 18th - Frigate "Spey" of the 10th EG with ONS29 sank "U-406". 19th - As the 10th EG transferred to convoy ON224 (2nd EG was also in support), "Spey" claimed another success with the sinking of "U-386". 24th - West of Ireland, "U-257" was sun k by Canadian frigate "Waskesiu" of the 6th EG with Halifax/UK convoy SC153. 25th - Further south "U-91" was l ost to frigates "Affleck", "Gore" and "Gould" of the 1st EG carrying out an A/S patrol in support of the convoys in the vicinity.

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 2 by RAF to the west of Scotland 1 by US Navy aircraft off Ascension Island

1st - The 1st Escort Group, last recorded five days earlier sinking "U-91" was now to the far southwest of Ireland, north of the Azores. Frigates "Affleck", "Gould", "Garlies" and "Gore" had already hunted a contact for 30hr when the second two ships had to leave for Gibraltar. Late on the 1st the tables were turned when "GOULD" was h it and sunk by a Gnat acoustic torpedo. That just left "Affleck" which located "U-358" and sent her to the bottom with depth charges and gunfire. At 38hr this was probably the longest continuous U-boat hunt of the war.

6th - In another long hunt lasting 30hr, the Canadian C2 group escorting Halifax/UK convoy HX280 sank "U-744" in mid-Atlantic. Canadian destroyers "Chaudiere" and "Gatineau", frigate "St Catherines", corvettes "Chilliwack" and "Fennel" and British destroyer "lcarus" were joined by corvette "Kenilworth Castle" before the action was over.

9th - Corvette "ASPHODEL" escorting West and North Africa/UK convoys SL150/MKS41 was torpedoed and sunk by "U-575" to the west of the Bay of Biscay. The U-boat was lost four days later.

10th - In an attack on Halifax/UK convoy SC154, "U-845" was sunk in mid-Atlantic by Canadian C1 group including destroyer "St Laurent", frigates "Owen Sound", "Swansea" and British destroyer "Forester".

13th - RAF Wellingtons flying from the Azores attacked "U-575" well to the north. She was finally sent to the bottom by the aircraft and ships of the US escort carrier "Bogue" task group and Canadian frigate "Prince Rupert" from nearby convoy ON227.

15th - In mid-Atlantic, Swordfish of 825 Squadron from escort carrier "Vindex" working with 2nd EG's "Starling" and "Wild Goose" sank "U-653" - Capt Walker's 13th kill.

25th -'Tsetse' Mosquitos of RAF Coastal Command armed with new 6pdr guns had their first success. On Bay of Biscay patrol one of them sank "U-976".

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 1 by RCAF off Ireland 4 by the aircraft and ships of USS Block Island off the Azores and Cape Verde Islands 1 by unknown causes in the North Atlantic 1 by SAAF off South Africa

6th - "U-302" sank tw o ships from Halifax/UK convoy SC156 to the northwest of the Azores before being destroyed by frigate "Swale" of the British B5 group.

8th - To the northwest of Cape Finisterre, sloops "Crane" and "Cygnet" of the 7th EG accounted for "U-962".

14th - North of the Azores "U-448" attacked escort carrier "Biter" but was detected by Canadian frigate "Swansea" of the 9th EG and sunk by her and sloop "Pelican" of the 7th.

19th - Norwegian submarine "Ula" working with the Home Fleet flotillas and on patrol off Stavanger, SW Norway sank "U-974".

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats including 2 by RAF in North Atlantic 1 by RAF Bay of Biscay patrol 6 by US Navy forces off America, Madeira, Cap Verde Islands and in North Atlantic.

5th/6th - The 2nd and 5th EGs in the North Atlantic detected U-boats by HF/DF after the torpedoing of a US destroyer. "U-473" was found by 2nd EG (Capt Walker) and sunk on the 5th by "Starling", "Wren" and "Wild Goose". Next day it was the 5th EG's turn (Cdr Macintyre). Aircraft of 825 Squadron from escort carrier "Vindex" located "U-765" and frigates "Aylmer", "Bickerton" and "Bligh" shared in her destruction.

6th - The US escort carrier "Block Island" group was again on patrol in the Atlantic off the Canaries and being directed to U-boats by the work of 'Ultra' and the Admiralty Tracking Room. On the 6th her aircraft and accompanying destroyer escorts sank "U-66". Then at the end of the month, the carrier was sunk.

7th - Canadian frigate "VALLEYFIELD", with a Canadian group escorting UK/North America convoy ONM234, was sunk off Cape Race, Newfoundland by "U-548".

16th-27th - RAF Coastal Command and one of its Norwegian squadrons were particularly successful against the U-boats passing through the Northern Transit Area off south and west Norway. In the space of 12 days, "U-240", "U-241", "U-476", "U-675", "U-990" and "U-292" were s unk.

29th - USS BLOCK ISLAND was to rpedoed and sunk by "U-549" in the Canaries area, but her task group soon avenged the loss of their leader.

Axis Loss Summary - 11 U-boats including 1 by RCAF Bay of Biscay patrol

4th - Off West Africa, "U-505" was capt ured by the USS Guadalcanal and her task group. Later in the month, tanker "U-490" was sun k in mid-Atlantic by the ships and aircraft of the "Croatan" group and "U-360" in the South Atlantic by aircraft from "Solomons".

15th - Submarine "Satyr" on Arctic patrol torpedoed and sank "U-987" to the west of Narvik.

26th - Destroyer "Bulldog" on patrol off the northwest coast of Ireland sank "U-719".

U-boats passing through the Bay of Biscay were the target for aircraft covering the Normandy invasion, and also continued to suffer badly at the hands of the aircraft of the Northern Transit Area patrol. Throughout the month, eight were s unk and one severely damaged by RAF, RCAF and Norwegian aircraft.

Axis Loss Summary - 13 U-boats excluding those sunk in Bay of Biscay as part of the Normandy Invasion defences

Axis Loss Summary - 7 U-boats including 4 by RAF Coastal Command in the Northern Transit Area 1 each by task groups of US escort carriers "Wake Island", "Croatan" and "Card" off the Canaries, Madeira and Nova Scotia respectively

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat by aircraft of escort carrier "Bogue" off Newfoundland

U-boat Inshore Campaign - With the start of the British Isles Inshore Campaign, U-boats sunk off Norway and in the Western Approaches as well as the Bay of Biscay are no longer included in the Battle of the Atlantic, but in the European theatre. The same applies to Royal Navy and German surface warships lost. See Western Europe - Normandy to Berlin

Axis Loss Summary - 5 U-boats including 1 cause unknown and 1 mined off Iceland 1 by RAF off the Azores 1 by US Navy off Cape Verde Islands 1 by US aircraft in South Atlantic

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat in the North Atlantic due to schnorkel defect.

27th - "U-877" encountered Halifax/UK convoy HX327 to the northwest of the Azores and was sunk by Canadian corvette "St Thomas" of the C3 group.

Axis Loss Summary - 1 German U-boat

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat by USN in mid-Atlantic

22nd - In operations against convoys south of Portugal, "U-300", one of a small number of U-boats scattered across the North Atlantic was sunk by escorting minesweepers "Recruit" and "Pincher".

Axis Loss Summary - 2 U-boats including 1 by US and French escorts off Morocco

Axis Loss Summary - 1 U-boat by USN off Nova Scotia

Axis Loss Summary - 7 U-boats by USN off east coast of USA, off the Azores and in mid-Atlantic

6th - "U-881" was sunk by the US Navy south of Newfoundland. On the same day, "U-853" torpedoed fr eighter "Black Point" off New York, and was then hunted down and sunk by US destroyer escort "Atherton" and frigate "Moberley".


156 Squadron bombing mission to Duisburg, 21-22 May 1944

Egremont War Memorial, Cumbria, Sunday 14 August 2005, 60th Anniversary of the end of WW2. Poppy wreaths were laid at the memorial that day. During WW2 “Egremont’s most famous airman” was Squadron Leader Jack Blair DFC DFM, killed on a mission to Duisburg, May 1944. [Photograph: Joseph Ritson]

This article has been submitted by Joseph Ritson, a volunteer story-gatherer for the BBC “People’s War” website on behalf of the BBC Radio Cumbria CSV Action Desk. It provides additional information contained in a previous article about Squadron Leader Jack Blair DFC DFM and his fellow crewmen of 156 Squadron lost on a mission in May 1944 (Article Reference ID A5541716). The author fully understands the terms of the “People’s War” website.

Squadron Leader Blair came from Egremont in my home county of Cumberland (now Cumbria). While researching another story about WW2 I came across a 1944 newspaper article reporting the death of Jack Blair and describing him as 'Egremont's most famous airman'. As explained in the previous article I have written about Jack Blair, his name is missing from the list of World War Two casualties on the Egremont War Memorial.

As I could not find anyone in West Cumbria who knew much about Jack Blair or the mission in which he lost his life, I contacted Ross McNeil, a WW2 Site Helper with the BBC "People's War" website. Ross has conducted a lot of research into aircraft and personnel losses in World War Two and has kindly provided some additional details.

Jack Blair in the RAF during WW2

According to an article in 'The Whitehaven News' dated Thursday 29 June 1944, Jack Blair volunteered to serve with the RAF at the outbreak of war in 1939. Jack Blair's original Service Number was 984600. Although I have not been able to trace a lot about the early part of his RAF service, by October 1941 Jack Blair had attained the rank of Sergeant and he was serving with 103 Squadron. It was while serving with 103 Squadron that Jack gained his Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), with details appearing in the London Gazette in October 1941.

On 27 August 1942 984600 Flight Sergeant John Edward Blair was made an Emergency Pilot Officer (Gazetted in London Gazette, Issue 35868, page 2, 15 January 1943). As he was now commissioned, Jack Blair was given a new Service Number: 136172. By November 1943, Jack Blair was an Acting Flight Lieutenant serving with 97 Squadron and had gained the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) to go with his DFM (Gazetted in London Gazette Supplement, Issue 36245, page 4, 9 November 1943).

At some stage, Jack Blair was given the rank of Squadron Leader and had transferred to 156 Squadron. According to the WW2 RAF researcher Ross McNeil, it was rare for a Gunner to achieve the rank of Squadron Leader:

" Commissioned gunners were rare and were usually only longevity on the part of the individual airman. A Squadron Leader Air Gunner is a very rare beast".

Also, according to Ross, the Gunnery Leader on an operation would usually be found in the aircraft of the Commanding Officer. Hence, by the time he took what turned out to be his final flight on 21 - 22 May 1944, Squadron Leader Blair was most likely on the C.O.'s aircraft.

Almost all of this section is based on information provided by Ross McNeil (with permission). On the night of 21 - 22 May 1944, 510 Lancaster Bombers and 22 Mosquito aircraft of 1,3,5 and 8 Groups carried out the first large raid on Duisburg in Germany. This was the first time for a year Duisburg had been the target. A total 29 Lancaster Bombers were lost, equating to 5.5% of the force.

When the aircraft reached Duisburg they found it covered by cloud. However, using accurate Oboe sky-marking the raid destroyed 350 buildings, seriously damaged another 665 and there were 124 casualties. A lot of the damage was in the southern part of the city.

One of the aircraft lost during the mission to Duisburg was that of Squadron Leader Jack Blair DFC DFM: a Lancaster III, designation ND 559 GT-J. This aircraft took off from Upwood at 22:44 hrs. The other members of the crew were: Flight Sergeant W J Ward, Flight Sergeant R. Keating, Sergeant J. T. E. McCaffery, Flight Sergeant E. E. E. Roberts, Sergeant S. G. Smith and Flight Sergeant R. G. Watts.

According to Ross, this aircraft exploded following a night fighter attack, killing all but one of those on board. The debris fell near Molensgraaf in the Netherlands, which is 14 kilometres North East of Dordrecht. For further details about the casualties of this crew, refer to the previous article I have written (A5541716) referred to above. They are buried in Molensgraaf Protestant Churchyard.

Somehow, Flight Sergeant Ward, whose Service Number was 1576902, survived the explosion. He was thrown clear of the aircraft, landed with the aid of his parachute and although badly wounded managed to survive. The badly wounded Flight Sergeant Ward was handed over to the Germans by the Dutch and became PoW No.134 in Camp L7.

On the same night of 21 - 22 May 1944, some 70 Lancasters and 37 Halifaxes were tasked with mine-laying. In addition, there were a further 33 Mosquitoes on minor operations to Hanover and Courtrai, 9 Radio Counter Measure sorties, 28 Serrate and 7 Intruder Patrols. That made a total effort for Bomber Command for the night of 716 sorties, with 32 aircraft and 224 airmen lost. This loss represented 4.5% of the total effort.

I would like to thank Ross McNeil for assisting with the additional information for this article. It is due to that I learnt what a lucky chap Flight Sergeant Ward was in escaping the fate of his fellow crewmen on the mission to Duisburg.

Unfortunately, at the time of writing this article (October 2005) I have been unable to trace anyone in West Cumbria who knew Jack Blair or his family. During the war, Jack Blair was a well known and highly decorated war hero. Jack and his fellow comrades of Bomber Command are worthy of remembrance.

I will end this article with the motto of RAF Bomber Command:
“Strike hard, strike sure”.

Additional Information (posted 6 December 2005)

Since initially posting the above article, I have obtained additional information about Jack Blair and how he is honoured in Egremont. Below are all the linked stories on the "People's War" website that I have written about Jack Blair.

Related “People’s War” articles about Squadron Leader Jack Blair:

1. “Egremont’s most famous airman”: Squadron Leader Jack Blair DFC, DFM
(Article Reference: A5541716, posted 5 September 2005)

2. Egremont Royal British Legion honours the town’s ‘most famous airman’
(Article Reference: A7584023, posted 6 December 2005)

3. DFM and DFC Citations for Squadron Leader Jack Blair from Egremont, Cumbria
(Article Reference: A7584096, posted 6 December 20005)

4. Squadron Leader Jack Blair: his family’s story
(Article Reference: A7584212, posted 6 December 2005)

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World History Module 22

4. Minister of Propaganda, committed suicide before the war ended.

2. The Nazis wanted to forbid Jews from immigrating to other countries.

3. Jews and non-Jews were not allowed to be married in Germany after 1935.

4. Jews were forced to leave their homes and move into crowded Jewish areas of the city.

5. Blaming the Jews for a country's misfortunes was a new idea brought about by the Nazis.

2. The Allied troops had to fight their way onto a 60-mile beach.

3. The Nazis pushed into the Allied lines with great force.

4. It occurred on the beaches of Normandy, France.

5. It opened the way for the Allies to march triumphantly into Paris.

6. It occurred in the Ardennes, a region of rough terrain and forests.

2. The Soviet army was much larger and much better trained than the Nazi army.

3. Part of Hitler's plan to invade the Soviet Union included building bases in the Balkans.

4. After one million people died of starvation, Leningrad finally surrendered to the Nazis.

5. The Nazi soldiers were wearing only lightweight summer uniforms during the winter of 1941.

6. Hitler did not want to repeat Napoleon's mistakes, so he refused to allow his troops to retreat.


22 May 1943 - History

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Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 02:33

Then I suspect it is more or less correct. Other figures fir 1 July 1942 are:

2,734,000 - AL1574-55 and 65 Handakten OrgAbt. The figure is described as preliminary.
2,847,000 - Müller-Hillebrand (also in RW6/518 "Menschenverluste im Kriege“, WVW 2836/43, 12.5.43).
2,730,000 - MI14/650-3117 "Abschrift. Kräfteverhältnis.“ 25.9.43 states that this includes “aller Kräfte in den rückwärtigen Heeresgebieten und in den Gebieten der Reichskommisariate (in den Kommisariaten sind 99,500 Mann”.
2,635,000, with 212,000 men in the Ostgebiete - RH2/429, "Überschlägige Kräfteberechnung für das Jahr 1943 und ihre Auswirkung auf die Kampfkraft der Ostfront", 8.8.42 quoted in Zetterling/Franksson, "Kursk 1943“, p.2.

Infanterie: 81., 82., 83., 88., 205., 208., 211., 212., 215., 216., 218., 223., 225., 227., 246., 250., 305., 323., 328., 329., 331., 336., 339., 340., 342., 370., 371., 376., 377., 383., 384., 385., 387., 389., 707.

Infanterie (mot.): Grossdeutschland (expanded from the Regiment already deployed)

Almost all of these units were fresh formations that had not yet seen combat. I don't know their exact establishment strength, but I see no reason to believe they arrived in the East understrength. Hence my manpower estimate of 15,000 - 17,000 men per division, admittedly based on the average Infanterie establishment for the first half of the war.

Infanterie: 5., 8., 15., 17., 23., 28., 106., 162., 167., 239.

Jäger: 99. leichte Infanterie

Infanterie (mot.): SS "Das Reich"

Note that 5., 8., 28. Infanterie, as well as 99. leichte Infanterie and 1. Kavallerie, had returned in the East by the time of Blau - the Infantry Divisions as Jäger (or leichte Infanterie as they were first called), the 99. leichte Infanterie as the 7. Gebirgs, and the cavalry division as the 24. Panzer.

The 239. Infanterie was not, in point of fact, a departure. It was dissolved and its residual strength was absorbed by the 294. Infanterie, which stayed on the Ostfront. From a manpower outflow standpoint, thus, it is more accurate to speak of a net loss of 15 divisions.

There are some other confusions. or perhaps I am missing what you are getting at?

5. Inf-Div, 5. leichte Inf-Div, and 5. Jäg-Div are all one and the same. It was withdrawn from the Ostfront 5 November 1941 and rebuilt in France before returning in February 1942. 8. and 28. Jäg-Div are similar.

99. leichte Inf-Div was organized 16 November 1940 and committed to the Ostfront in June 1941, then was withdrawn to Germany 22 October 1941 for reorganization as 7. Geb-Jäg-Div.

1. Kav-Div was withdrawn and returned as 24. Pz-Div.

And so on. Am I missing something? It looks like double-counting? Or I am misunderstanding what you are getting at.

Another way to determine strength in 1942 would be to look at individual Armies Iststärke. The book Enduring the Whirlwind (p228) gives the following data for July 1st:

2. Armee: 280,482
4. Panzerarmee: 85,643
6. Armee: 317,896
1. Panzerarmee: 226,688
17. Armee: 135,504
11. Armee: 164,648

For a total of 1,210,861 men. We could complete the picture with data for the Armies deployed in Heeresgruppen Nord and Mitte on or around the same date, if anyone has it.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 20 Dec 2020, 04:09

Then I suspect it is more or less correct. Other figures fir 1 July 1942 are:

2,734,000 - AL1574-55 and 65 Handakten OrgAbt. The figure is described as preliminary.
2,847,000 - Müller-Hillebrand (also in RW6/518 "Menschenverluste im Kriege“, WVW 2836/43, 12.5.43).
2,730,000 - MI14/650-3117 "Abschrift. Kräfteverhältnis.“ 25.9.43 states that this includes “aller Kräfte in den rückwärtigen Heeresgebieten und in den Gebieten der Reichskommisariate (in den Kommisariaten sind 99,500 Mann”.
2,635,000, with 212,000 men in the Ostgebiete - RH2/429, "Überschlägige Kräfteberechnung für das Jahr 1943 und ihre Auswirkung auf die Kampfkraft der Ostfront", 8.8.42 quoted in Zetterling/Franksson, "Kursk 1943“, p.2.

All these datapoints are virtually the same, to the thousand/hundred man.

1) 2,734,000 - 99,500 = 2,634,500
2) 2,847,000 - 212,000 = 2,635,000
3) 2,730,000 - 99,500 = 2,630,500
4) 2,635,000 + 212,000 = 2,847,000

It suggests that they are all based on the same initial report. Given that your first source mentions how the figure of 2,734,000 men is preliminary, I wonder if the additional 212,000 men corresponds to units arrived in June, and not yet calculated in the Heeresgebieten.

In any event, I see three important questions:

1) What units are included in the 212,000-strong "Ostgebiete" area?
2) What units are included in the 99,500-strong Reichskommissariate area?
3) Is there overlap between the Ostgebiete and the Reichskommissariate figures?

Historically speaking, Ostgebiete refers to Eastern German territories lost after the war. Is this what is meant here, or does it refer to a different administrative category specific to the war era?

As for the divisions mentioned, I'd be greatly interested if anyone had data on their individual strength returns.

Note that 5., 8., 28. Infanterie, as well as 99. leichte Infanterie and 1. Kavallerie, had returned in the East by the time of Blau - the Infantry Divisions as Jäger (or leichte Infanterie as they were first called), the 99. leichte Infanterie as the 7. Gebirgs, and the cavalry division as the 24. Panzer.

There are some other confusions. or perhaps I am missing what you are getting at?

5. Inf-Div, 5. leichte Inf-Div, and 5. Jäg-Div are all one and the same. It was withdrawn from the Ostfront 5 November 1941 and rebuilt in France before returning in February 1942. 8. and 28. Jäg-Div are similar.

99. leichte Inf-Div was organized 16 November 1940 and committed to the Ostfront in June 1941, then was withdrawn to Germany 22 October 1941 for reorganization as 7. Geb-Jäg-Div.

1. Kav-Div was withdrawn and returned as 24. Pz-Div.

And so on. Am I missing something? It looks like double-counting? Or I am misunderstanding what you are getting at.

I count a unit leaving the Eastern Front as 1 departure, and its return as 1 arrival. Given how the units in question took on replacements in the West during their refreshment, I feel like the proper way to account for the manpower outflow/inflow would be to count the number of men at the moment of departure (outflow) and to count the number of men of the refreshed formation on its return (inflow).

That would be very appreciated. Thank you!

Another way to determine strength in 1942 would be to look at individual Armies Iststärke. The book Enduring the Whirlwind (p228) gives the following data for July 1st:

The figures in the book are Iststärke for German Heer/Waffen-SS ground forces only. Could that, and the fact that the second set of figures is Verpflegungsstärke, account for the difference? I believe it makes sense for Verpflegungsstärke to be somewhat higher than Iststärke.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 05:07

In any event, I see three important questions:

1) What units are included in the 212,000-strong "Ostgebiete" area?
2) What units are included in the 99,500-strong Reichskommissariate area?
3) Is there overlap between the Ostgebiete and the Reichskommissariate figures?

Historically speaking, Ostgebiete refers to Eastern German territories lost after the war. Is this what is meant here, or does it refer to a different administrative category specific to the war era?

The figures in the book are Iststärke for German Heer/Waffen-SS ground forces only. Could that, and the fact that the second set of figures is Verpflegungsstärke, account for the difference? I believe it makes sense for Verpflegungsstärke to be somewhat higher than Iststärke.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 06:41

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 20 Dec 2020, 07:13

Interesting. This would militate against the theory that it consists of units about to be recategorized as belonging to the Heeresgebieten, although it would be useful to have an idea of what they are exactly. Apart from the "Das Reich" division which was in late June - early July departing the East, I am unaware of any division-sized units that were present anywhere between occupied Poland and the front - and 212,000 men is a large number. Maybe field army supply elements?

In any event, a total German strength of 2,635,000 Heer and 70,000 Waffen-SS still doesn't mesh well with known casualties and reinforcements, and if taken at face value cannot account for the significant jump in strength in the autumn (+187,881 men). The latter strength data fits much better with latter known strength fluctuation, and is better corroborated than the oft-quoted 1 July figure.

Maybe another approach is in order. Do you have data on total Field Army strength on 1.7.1942, either across the different theaters or as an overall number?

P.S.: As an aside, the German strength reporting system for the Ostfront appears to have been quite a mess before 1943.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 20 Dec 2020, 07:39

In any event, a total German strength of 2,635,000 Heer and 70,000 Waffen-SS still doesn't mesh well with known casualties and reinforcements, and if taken at face value cannot account for the significant jump in strength in the autumn (+187,881 men). The latter strength data fits much better with latter known strength fluctuation, and is better corroborated than the oft-quoted 1 July figure.

Maybe another approach is in order. Do you have data on total Field Army strength on 1.7.1942, either across the different theaters or as an overall number?

Norway 166,000
West and Germany 520,000
Italy and Africa 55,000
Balkans 80,000
Finland 150,000
Eastern Front 2,635,000
Ostgebiete 212,000
Sonstige 130,000
Total 3,950,000

Here is the 30 June 1942 strengths (probably Ist) by army from a series of reports on sickness (RW6-552-50, RW6-535., RW6-552, RW6/573):

AOK 2 175,209
AOK 4 159,166
AOK 6 320,929
AOK 9 266,867
AOK 11 166,010 - that is a better match for your earlier figure
AOK 16 185,829
AOK 17 167,521
AOK 18 323,212
PzAOK 1 170,515
PzAOK 2 200,709
PzAOK 3 129,037
PzAOK 4 141,013
LIX AK ?
Ostheer 2,450,929

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 20 Dec 2020, 09:44

Interesting. You mentioned previously a planning document that projected a total of 210,000 men in the Ostgebiete by May 1943. Do you have any data from 1943, so that we could compare actual strength there between 1942 to 1943?

Maybe another approach is in order. Do you have data on total Field Army strength on 1.7.1942, either across the different theaters or as an overall number?

This strength listing would indicate that the 99,500 men in the Reichskommissariate are included in the 212,000-man figure for the Ostgebiete. Is the original document clear that this includes the entirety of the active army?

Here is the 30 June 1942 strengths (probably Ist) by army from a series of reports on sickness (RW6-552-50, RW6-535., RW6-552, RW6/573):

AOK 2 175,209
AOK 4 159,166
AOK 6 320,929
AOK 9 266,867
AOK 11 166,010 - that is a better match for your earlier figure
AOK 16 185,829
AOK 17 167,521
AOK 18 323,212
PzAOK 1 170,515
PzAOK 2 200,709
PzAOK 3 129,037
PzAOK 4 141,013
LIX AK ?
Ostheer 2,450,929

Question: Is the total figure of 2,450,929 in the original? Summing up the different armies, I get a total of 2,406,017.

If one adds LIX. A.K. and Gruppe Wietersheim/XIV. Panzerkorps (the latter under direct HGS command on 30.6.1942), we must add the manpower of roughly 9 additional divisions to the above total. There are also the 11 Sicherungsdivisionen directly under Heeresgruppe command. Adding miscellaneous Heeresgruppe/Korps rear and supply units, this would match with the oft-cited figure of 2,635,000 Heer + 70,000 Waffen-SS personnel.

Do you have similar data for the months immediately afterward, i.e. 31.7, 31.8, 30.9, 31.10, etc.?

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 22 Dec 2020, 09:13

Question: Is the total figure of 2,450,929 in the original? Summing up the different armies, I get a total of 2,406,017.

If one adds LIX. A.K. and Gruppe Wietersheim/XIV. Panzerkorps (the latter under direct HGS command on 30.6.1942), we must add the manpower of roughly 9 additional divisions to the above total. There are also the 11 Sicherungsdivisionen directly under Heeresgruppe command. Adding miscellaneous Heeresgruppe/Korps rear and supply units, this would match with the oft-cited figure of 2,635,000 Heer + 70,000 Waffen-SS personnel.

That is possible, except that XIV. Panzerkorps was not under Heeresgruppe Süd, it was at the disposal of Ob. Süd, in Italy so was not included in those figures in any way shape or form. At most, you are looking at two divisions plus in LIX. Armeekorps.

201. Sicherungs-Division was at the disposal of 3. Panzerarmee
203. rückw. Heeresgebiet Mitte.
207. rückw. Heeresgebiet Nord.
213. rückw. Heeresgebiet Süd.
221. rückw. Heeresgebiet Mitte.
281. rückw. Heeresgebiet Nord.
285. rückw. Heeresgebiet Nord.
286. rückw. Heeresgebiet Mitte.
444. was a Stab only by this time, at the disposal of HG Süd.
454. rückw. Heeresgebiet Süd.

It is likely that except for 201., which was likely counted with 3. Panzerarmee, the rest made up a large part of the count for the "Ostgebiete".

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by KDF33 » 05 Jan 2021, 04:36

I believe you're thinking of 1943?

In June 1942 XIV. PzK formed Gruppe von Wietersheim, which, like LIX. AK was separate from individual armies. On June 27th it had 73., 125. and 298. Infanterie, as well as 13. Panzer, LSSAH and Wiking.

LIX. AK had 83., 205. and 330. Infanterie on the same date.

There were also a few divisions not assigned to any particular army. I'm unsure if my list is complete, but I count at least 323., 340. and 371. Infanterie with Heeresgruppe Süd. IIRC 12. Panzer was also undergoing R&R in Estonia, although nominally I believe it was still under control of 18. Armee, albeit not in its area of operation.

Do you know if the figures you provided per army include W-SS? I know the document titled Iststärke von Verbänden nach dem Stande vom 1.10.1943, which you mentioned previously, does not. I would tend to assume the former document doesn't either.

To give an idea of where I come from on this, I first note that there is very consistent data for Ostheer strength in 1943 - 1944. Namely, the document Entwicklung der Iststärke des Ostheeres (thereafter referred to as just Entwicklung), dated July 9th, 1944, shows Heer/Luftwaffe field divisions/Waffen-SS force development over the preceding year.

07.1943: 3,138,000
08.1943: 2,985,000
09.1943: 2,676,000
10.1943: 2,568,000
11.1943: 2,641,000
12.1943: 2,619,000
01.1944: 2,528,000
02.1944: 2,366,000
03.1944: 2,391,000
04.1944: 2,340,000
05.1944: 2,444,000
06.1944: 2,620,000
07.1944: 2,235,000

Entwicklung doesn't outright states what it's counting, but a further document, dated July 24th, 1944, shows a total of 2,635,000 men (Heer+SS, without Hiwis) on 1.6.1944 for the 4 Heeresgruppen deployed in the East, without 20th Gebirgsarmee. This is virtually the same as the figure of 2,620,000 cited above, and thus, presumably, Entwicklung is tracking force development across the different Heeresgruppen over the period it covers.

Another document, dated 18.9.1943, tracks force development in 1942-3. It seems to generally include more than just the forces in the Heeresgruppen. For instance, it gives a total of 3,207,830 men for 1.7.1943, rather than 3,138,000. Then again, it appears to be less internally consistent than Entwicklung. For instance, it gives a figure of 2,681,092 men for 1.9.1943, which virtually matches Entwicklung's figure of 2,676,000 for the same date. So, presumably for that date it's only counting the forces in the Heeresgruppen.

Regarding the question at hand in this thread, the latter document shows a big jump from 2,804,448 men on 1.7.1942 to 2,992,329 on 1.10.1942. I can only explain it by assuming that the data for those two dates is counting different things.

My best guess is that the figure of 2,635,000 men on 1.7.1942 is only counting forces in the Armeegebieten, whereas the figures shown in Entwicklung are tracking force development in the wider Heeresgebieten. Thus, to adjust the figures to make them comparable, we would have to do the following: 2,635,000 + 212,000 (rear) - 99,500 (Kommissariate) = 2,747,500 + 70,000 W-SS = 2,817,500.

Re: The State of the Ostheer - May 1942

Post by Richard Anderson » 05 Jan 2021, 05:28

To give an idea of where I come from on this, I first note that there is very consistent data for Ostheer strength in 1943 - 1944. Namely, the document Entwicklung der Iststärke des Ostheeres (thereafter referred to as just Entwicklung), dated July 9th, 1944, shows Heer/Luftwaffe field divisions/Waffen-SS force development over the preceding year.

07.1943: 3,138,000
08.1943: 2,985,000
09.1943: 2,676,000
10.1943: 2,568,000
11.1943: 2,641,000
12.1943: 2,619,000
01.1944: 2,528,000
02.1944: 2,366,000
03.1944: 2,391,000
04.1944: 2,340,000
05.1944: 2,444,000
06.1944: 2,620,000
07.1944: 2,235,000

Entwicklung doesn't outright states what it's counting, but a further document, dated July 24th, 1944, shows a total of 2,635,000 men (Heer+SS, without Hiwis) on 1.6.1944 for the 4 Heeresgruppen deployed in the East, without 20th Gebirgsarmee. This is virtually the same as the figure of 2,620,000 cited above, and thus, presumably, Entwicklung is tracking force development across the different Heeresgruppen over the period it covers.

Another document, dated 18.9.1943, tracks force development in 1942-3. It seems to generally include more than just the forces in the Heeresgruppen. For instance, it gives a total of 3,207,830 men for 1.7.1943, rather than 3,138,000. Then again, it appears to be less internally consistent than Entwicklung. For instance, it gives a figure of 2,681,092 men for 1.9.1943, which virtually matches Entwicklung's figure of 2,676,000 for the same date. So, presumably for that date it's only counting the forces in the Heeresgruppen.

Regarding the question at hand in this thread, the latter document shows a big jump from 2,804,448 men on 1.7.1942 to 2,992,329 on 1.10.1942. I can only explain it by assuming that the data for those two dates is counting different things.

My best guess is that the figure of 2,635,000 men on 1.7.1942 is only counting forces in the Armeegebieten, whereas the figures shown in Entwicklung are tracking force development in the wider Heeresgebieten. Thus, to adjust the figures to make them comparable, we would have to do the following: 2,635,000 + 212,000 (rear) - 99,500 (Kommissariate) = 2,747,500 + 70,000 W-SS = 2,817,500.


22 May 1943 - History

    The Forgotten People - a speech by Robert Menzies on 22 May, 1942.

Quite recently, a bishop wrote a letter to a great daily newspaper. His theme was the importance of doing justice to the workers. His belief, apparently, was that the workers are those who work with their hands. He sought to divide the people of Australia into classes. He was obviously suffering from what has for years seemed to me to be our greatest political disease - the disease of thinking that the community is divided into the relatively rich and the relatively idle, and the laborious poor, and that every social and political controversy can be resolved into the question: What side are you on?

Now, the last thing that I would want to do is to commence or take part in a false war of this kind. In a country like Australia the class war must always be a false war. But if we are to talk of classes, then the time has come to say something of the forgotten class - the middle class - those people who are constantly in danger of being ground between the upper and the nether millstones of the false war the middle class who, properly regarded represent the backbone of this country.

We do not have classes here as in England, and therefore the terms do not mean the same so I must define what I mean when I use the expression "middle class."

Let me first define it by exclusion. I exclude at one end of the scale the rich and powerful: those who control great funds and enterprises, and are as a rule able to protect themselves - though it must be said that in a political sense they have as a rule shown neither comprehension nor competence. But I exclude them because, in most material difficulties, the rich can look after themselves.

I exclude at the other end of the scale the mass of unskilled people, almost invariably well-organised, and with their wages and conditions safeguarded by popular law. What I am excluding them from is my definition of the middle class. We cannot exclude them from problems of social progress, for one of the prime objects of modern social and political policy is to give them a proper measure of security, and provide the conditions which will enable them to acquire skill and knowledge and individuality.

These exclusions being made, I include the intervening range - the kind of people I myself represent in Parliament - salary-earners, shopkeepers, skilled artisans, professional men and women, farmers and so on. These are, in the political and economic sense, the middle class. They are for the most part unorganised and unself-conscious. They are envied by those whose benefits are largely obtained by taxing them. They are not rich enough to have individual power. They are taken for granted by each political party in turn. They are not sufficiently lacking in individualism to be organised for what in these days we call "pressure politics." And yet, as I have said, they are the backbone of the nation.

The communist has always hated what he calls the "bourgeoisie", because he sees clearly the existence of one has kept British countries from revolution, while the substantial absence of one in feudal France at the end of the eighteenth century and in Tsarist Russia at the end of the last war made revolution easy and indeed inevitable. You may say to me, "Why bring this matter up at this stage when we are fighting a war, the result of which we are all equally concerned?" My answer is that I am bringing it up because under the pressure of war we may, if we are not careful - if we are not as thoughtful as the times will permit us to be - inflict a fatal injury upon our own backbone.

In point of political, industrial and social theory and practice, there are great delays in time of war. But there are also great accelerations. We must watch each, remembering always that whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not, the foundations of whatever new order is to come after the war are inevitably being laid down now. We cannot go wrong right up to the peace treaty and expect suddenly thereafter to go right.

Now, what is the value of this middle class, so defined and described?

First, it has a "stake in the country". It has responsibility for homes - homes material, homes human, and homes spiritual.

I do not believe that the real life of this nation is to be found either in great luxury hotels and the petty gossip of so-called fashionable suburbs, or in the officialdom of the organised masses. It is to be found in the homes of people who are nameless and unadvertised, and who, whatever their individual religious conviction or dogma, see in their children their greatest contribution to the immortality of their race. The home is the foundation of sanity and sobriety it is the indispensable condition of continuity its health determines the health of society as a whole.

I have mentioned homes material, homes human and homes spiritual. Let me take them in order. What do I mean by "homes material"?

The material home represents the concrete expression of the habits of frugality and saving "for a home of our own." Your advanced socialist may rave against private property even while he acquires it but one of the best instincts in us is that which induces us to have one little piece of earth with a house and a garden which is ours to which we can withdraw, in which we can be among our friends, into which no stranger may come against our will. If you consider it, you will see that if, as in the old saying, "the Englishman's home is his castle", it is this very fact that leads on to the conclusion that he who seeks to violate that law by violating the soil of England must be repelled and defeated.

National patriotism, in other words, inevitably springs from the instinct to defend and preserve our own homes.

Then we have homes human. A great house, full of loneliness, is not a home. "Stone walls do not a prison make", nor do they make a house. They may equally make a stable or a piggery. Brick walls, dormer windows and central heating need not make more than a hotel. My home is where my wife and children are. The instinct to be with them is the great instinct of civilised man the instinct to give them a chance in life - to make them not leaners but lifters - is a noble instinct. If Scotland has made a great contribution to the theory and practice of education, it is because of the tradition of Scottish homes. The Scottish ploughman, walking behind his team, cons ways and means of making his son a farmer, and so he sends him to the village school. The Scottish farmer ponders upon the future of his son, and sees it most assured not by the inheritance of money but by the acquisition of that knowledge which will give him power and so the sons of many Scottish farmers find their way to Edinburgh and a university degree.

The great question is, "How can I my son to help society?" Not, as we have so frequently thought, "How can I qualify society to help my son?" If human homes are to fulfil their destiny, then we must have frugality and saving for education and progress.

And finally, we have homes spiritual. This is a notion which finds its simplest and most moving expression in "The Cotter's Saturday Night" of Burns. Human nature is at its greatest when it combines dependence upon God with independence of man. We offer no affront - on the contrary we have nothing but the warmest human compassion - toward those whom fate has compelled to live upon the bounty of the State, when we say that the greatest element in a strong people is a fierce independence of spirit. This is the only real freedom, and it has as its corollary a brave acceptance of unclouded individual responsibility. The moment a man seeks moral and intellectual refuge in the emotions of a crowd, he ceases to be a human being and becomes a cipher. The home spiritual so understood is not produced by lassitude or by dependence it is produced by self-sacrifice, by frugality and saving.

In a war, as indeed at most times, we become the ready victims of phrases. We speak glibly of of many things without pausing to consider what they signify. We speak of "financial power", forgetting that the financial power of 1942 is based upon the savings of generations which have preceded it. We speak of "morale" as if it were a quality induced from without - created by others for our benefit - when in truth there can be no national morale which is not based upon the individual courage of men and women. We speak of "man power" as if it were a mere matter of arithmetic: as if it were made up of a multiplication of men and muscles without spirit.

Second, the middle class, more than any other, provides the intelligent ambition which is the motive power of human progress. The idea entertained by many people that, in a well-constituted world, we shall all live on the State is the quintessence of madness, for what is the State but us? We collectively must provide what we individually receive.

The great vice of democracy - a vice which is exacting a bitter retribution from it at this moment - is that for a generation we have been busy getting ourselves on to the list of beneficiaries and removing ourselves from the list of contributors, as if somewhere there was somebody else's wealth and somebody else's effort on which we could thrive.

To discourage ambition, to envy success, to have achieved superiority, to distrust independent thought, to sneer at and impute false motives to public service - these are the maladies of modern democracy, and of Australian democracy in particular. Yet ambition, effort, thinking, and readiness to serve are not only the design and objectives of self-government but are the essential conditions of its success. If this is not so, then we had better put back the clock, and search for a benevolent autocracy once more.

Where do we find these great elements most commonly? Among the defensive and comfortable rich, among the unthinking and unskilled mass, or among what I have called the "middle class"?

Third, the middle class provides more than any other other the intellectual life which marks us off from the beast the life which finds room for literature, for the arts, for science, for medicine and the law.

Consider the case of literature and art. Could these survive as a department of State? Are we to publish our poets according to their political colour? Is the State to decree surrealism because surrealism gets a heavy vote in a key electorate? The truth is that no great book was ever written and no great picture ever painted by the clock or according to civil service rules. These are the things done by man, not men. You cannot regiment them. They require opportunity, and sometimes leisure. The artist, if he is to live, must have a buyer the writer an audience. He find them among frugal people to whom the margin above bare living means a chance to reach out a little towards that heaven which is just beyond our grasp. It has always seemed to me, for example, that an artist is better helped by the man who sacrifices something to buy a picture he loves than by a rich patron who follows the fashion.

Fourth, this middle class maintains and fills the higher schools and universities, and so feeds the lamp of learning.

What are schools for? To train people for examinations, to enable people to comply with the law, or to produce developed men and women?

Are the universities mere technical schools, or have they as one of their functions the preservation of pure learning, bringing in its train not merely riches for the imagination but a comparative sense for the mind, and leading to what we need so badly - the recognition of values which are other than pecuniary?

One of the great blots on our modern living is the cult of false values, a repeated application of the test of money, notoriety, applause. A world in which a comedian or a beautiful half-wit on the screen can be paid fabulous sums, whilst scientific researchers and discoverers can suffer neglect and starvation, is a world which needs to have its sense of values violently set right.

Now, have we realised and recognised these things, or is most of our policy designed to discourage or penalise thrift, to encourage dependence on the State, to bring about a dull equality on a fantastic idea that all men are equal in mind and needs and deserts: to level down by taking the mountains out of the landscape, to weigh men according to their political organisations and power - as votes and not as human beings? These are formidable questions, and we cannot escape from answering them if there is really to be a new order for the world. I have been actively engaged in politics for fourteen years in the State of Victoria and in the Commonwealth of Australia. In that period I cannot readily recall many occasions upon which any policy was pursued which was designed to help the thrifty, to encourage independence, to recognise the divine and valuable variations of men's minds. On the contrary, there have been many instances in which the votes of the thriftless have been used to defeat the thrifty. On occasions of emergency, as in the depression and during the present war, we have hastened to make it clear that the provision made by man for his own retirement and old age is not half as sacrosanct as the provision the State would have made for him if he had never saved at all.

We have talked of income from savings as if it possessed a somewhat discreditable character. We have taxed it more and more heavily. We have spoken slightingly of the earning of interest at the very moment when we have advocated new pensions and social schemes. I have myself heard a minister of power and influence declare that no deprivation is suffered by a man if he still has the means to fill his stomach, clothe his body and keep a roof over his head. And yet the truth is, as I have endeavoured to show, that frugal people who strive for and obtain the margin above these materially necessary things are the whole foundation of a really active and developing national life.

The case for the middle class is the case for a dynamic democracy as against the stagnant one. Stagnant waters are level, and in them the scum rises. Active waters are never level: they toss and tumble and have crests and troughs but the scientists tell us that they purify themselves in a few hundred yards.

That we are all, as human souls, of like value cannot be denied. That each of us should have his chance is and must be the great objective of political and social policy. But to say that the industrious and intelligent son of self-sacrificing and saving and forward-looking parents has the same social deserts and even material needs as the dull offspring of stupid and improvident parents is absurd.

If the motto is to be "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you will die, and if it chances you don't die, the State will look after you but if you don't eat, drink and be merry and save, we shall take your savings from you", then the whole business of life would become foundationless.

Are you looking forward to a breed of men after the war who will have become boneless wonders? Leaners grow flabby lifters grow muscles. Men without ambition readily become slaves. Indeed, there is much more in slavery in Australia than most people imagine. How many hundreds of thousands of us are slaves to greed, to fear, to newspapers, to public opinion - represented by the accumulated views of our neighbours! Landless men smell the vapours of the street corner. Landed men smell the brown earth, and plant their feet upon it and know that it is good. To all of this many of my friends will retort, "Ah that's all very well, but when this war is over the levellers will have won the day." My answer is that, on the contrary, men will come out of this war as gloriously unequal in many things as when they entered it. Much wealth will have been destroyed inherited riches will be suspect a fellowship of suffering, if we really experience it, will have opened many hearts and perhaps closed many mouths. Many great edifices will have fallen, and we shall be able to study foundations as never before, because war will have exposed them.

But I do not believe that we shall come out into the overlordship of an all-powerful State on whose benevolence we shall live, spineless and effortless - a State which will dole out bread and ideas with neatly regulated accuracy where we shall all have our dividend without subscribing our capital where the Government, that almost deity, will nurse us and rear us and maintain us and pension us and bury us where we shall all be civil servants, and all presumably, since we are equal, heads of departments.

If the new world is to be a world of men, we must be not pallid and bloodless ghosts, but a community of people whose motto shall be, "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield." Individual enterprise must drive us forward. That does not mean we are to return to the old and selfish notions of laissez-faire. The functions of the State will be much more than merely keeping the ring within which the competitors will fight. Our social and industrial laws will be increased. There will be more law, not less more control, not less.


Why May 22nd Matters In Rock History

It’s May 22nd and here are some reasons why this day matters in rock history:

In 1966, a 16-year-old Bruce Springsteen began his songwriting career in the back of a 1961 Mercury on the way to a recording studio when he and singer George Theiss co-wrote “That’s What You Get” and “Baby I” for their band, The Castiles.

In 1971, The Rolling StonesSticky Fingers hit number one on the album chart.

In 1980, U2 kicked off their 23 date 11 O’Clock Tick Tock Tour in London.

In 1976, Wings started a five-week run at number one on the singles chart with “Silly Love Songs.”

In 2003, Coldplay won the Songwriters of the Year honors at the 48th annual Ivor Novello Awards, which celebrate composers.

And in 2009, White Stripes drummer Meg White married Jackson Smith at the Nashville home of Meg’s ex-husband and bandmate, Jack White.


Bypaths of Kansas History - May 1943

The Kansas Daily Commonwealth, Topeka, April 2, 1873.
A lively race took place on the 28th inst. between a soldier on horseback from Fort Harker and the express train on the K. P. [now the Union Pacific] railroad. The horse gained about twenty-five yards in a half mile. It was better time than was ever made in Kansas. Half a mile made in fifty seconds by a plug.

From the Junction City Union, June 10, 1876.

A joke is told of a conductor on one of the K. P. freight trains. It appears that when his train reached Solomon City he got off, but remained too long, and the engineer left him. When the train arrived at Abilene a cloud of dust appeared moving rapidly over the prairie, and pretty soon in came the conductor behind a splendid span of horses. He had actually made better time than the train.

TROUBLES OF THE DRUMMER IN DODGE CITY

From the Dodge City Times, March 24, 1877.

J. B. McManahan, a St. Joe cigar runner, was here this week, and while his cigars were Spread out for the "boys" to inspect, Several boxes vanished. J. B. M.'s suspicions were excited against Luke McGlue, and, taking Constable McGoodwin, he went through every saloon and business house in the city. Everybody was Smoking and praising the cigars Luke McGlue had given them, but Luke could not be found.

SAILING VIA THE UNION PACIFIC

From The Clay County Dispatch, Clay Center, November 29, 1877.

A wind-power hand car, says the Junction City Union, Sixteen feet in length, is now sailing on the Kansas Pacific. The sail is fifteen feet high, twelve feet wide at the bottom, ten at the top. It is controlled precisely as the sail of a sail boat, and by its means the car is always easily propelled except when the wind is "dead ahead." With a good wind a speed of twenty-five miles an hour can be easily attained.

Kansas History: A Journal of the Central Plains

The latest in scholarship on Kansas history, published quarterly since 1978 by the Kansas Historical Foundation.


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