12/22/14

Tiger Shock

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Counter Attack at Villers Bocage by David Pentland. (C)

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Wittmann at Villers Bocage, Normandy, 0900 hrs, June 13th 1944 by David Pentland. (PC)

While the Germans vainly planned to deliver a multidivision counterattack, the British were hatching plans of their own. Montgomery planned a double encirclement of Caen with the 51st Highland Division and 4th Armoured Brigade executing a short hook east of the city via the Orne bridgehead and the 30 Corps to the west continuing its attack down the Seulles River Valley to capture Villers- Bocage. Corps elements were then to turn east to link up with the 1st British Airborne Division, to be dropped around Noyers and Evercy. RAF objections scratched the parachute operation, however, and the 21st Panzer and Panzer Lehr Divisions both counterattacked to stall, respectively, the east and west British pincer movements. The discovery of a gap in the German front on the Aure River three miles west of Tilly-sur-Seulles, however, offered the possibility of a wider flanking movement on Villers-Bocage.

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12/22/14

Tank Action at Chongju

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M4A3E8 (76W) HVSS, Co.C, 89th Tank Battalion, Han River, Korea 1951

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Following the capture of Pyongyang, the enemy’s capital city, in October 1950, the left-flank unit of Eighth Army hurried north to fulfill the long-range mission of reaching the Yalu River and the end of the war. This force was built around the British 27 Commonwealth Brigade which, at the time, consisted of a battalion from the Royal Australian Regiment, a battalion from the Argyle and Sutherland Regiment, and a battalion from the Middlesex Regiment. Since these infantry battalions were without supporting arms or services of their own, Eighth Army attached to the brigade U. S. artillery units, engineers, and the 89th Medium Tank Battalion. This combined force, commanded by Brig. B. A. Coad of the British Army, was under the operational control of the 1st Cavalry Division, but worked as a separate task force at a considerable distance from, and without physical contact with, that division or other friendly units.

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12/22/14

The Russian Imperial Navy – Catherine the Great to Alexander I

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Under the Empress Catherine the Great, the Russian Navy again resumed the full and personal attention of the sovereign. A new ship-building programme resulted in a tremendous expansion in the navy, and a mercantile marine was established but both of these developments once more revealed the Russian paucity in manpower and expertise. Foreigners again filled these depleted ranks with Catherine recruiting almost exclusively from the English and the Scots, while Russian officers saw service in the Royal Navy. In 1769 a Russian fleet sailed from the Baltic under Count Orlov to wage war on the Turkish squadrons in the Eastern Mediterranean and thereby draw the enemy away from the Black Sea. Although this was the first time that the Russians were to transfer seapower from one region to another, it was not the last, for it has become a major feature of Russian maritime strategy and reflects the often desperate predicament which the obstacle of geography presents to a country of this size.’

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12/22/14

RAF’s First Cold War Casualty

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On March 12, 1953 the Cold War suddenly turned very hot for the RAF. For it was on this day that Soviet fighters finally brought down a British aircraft, in an uneven contest between an ageing Avro Lincoln and a MiG-15 jet.

The first months of 1953 were a particularly tense time in the history of the undeclared conflict between the Soviet Union and the West. The nuclear arms race was at its most intense, the Korean War was still raging and the death of Stalin in early March had plunged the Kremlin into a leadership crisis. Meanwhile, the air forces of the West, primarily – but not exclusively – the USAF and RAF, were regularly conducting clandestine spy flights over Soviet territory, photographing sensitive military installations, testing response times of scrambled Soviet fighters and gathering electronic intelligence (ELINT), such as recording Russian radar emissions.

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12/22/14

English Piracy After the Armada I

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THE LAST FIGHT OF THE REVENGE, 1591

In the summer of 1591, the Revenge, commanded by Sir Richard Grenville, took part in an English expedition to the Azores. Lord Howard’s fleet was surprised by a much larger Spanish force, and while most of the English ships managed to escape, the Revenge was unable to follow them to safety. Grenville’s ship was overhauled, and soon the Revenge was surrounded by Spanish galleons, pouring shot into her at close range. The fight lasted for around 16 hours, the English crew repulsing numerous boarding attempts, while their ship lay battered and helpless. Wit the Revenge unable to fight back, and with most of his men killed or wounded, the dying Grenville finally surrendered his ship.

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