Modern Russia-Towards a New Cold War?

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Stretching from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, the Russian Federation (as Russia is now officially known) is the world’s largest country. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Russia, with a population of 143 million, is also a giant both militarily and politically: it has around 7,500 nuclear warheads (and is said to have had the world’s largest stock of biological and chemical weapons during the Soviet era); it is a permanent member of the UN Security Council; and it vies with the United States as the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas. In short, Russia is a power to be reckoned with, and has been for centuries, from the empire created by Peter the Great in the 18th century to the Soviet bloc ruled over by Joseph Stalin and his successors in the 20th century.

That power is also characterised by a capacity for endurance: in the second world war (which the Soviet Union entered in 1941 and termed the Great Patriotic War) the Soviet Union was instrumental in the defeat of Hitler’s Germany, and was willing to accept a military and civilian death toll estimated by some historians at around 25 million.

Yet for the rest of the 20th century Russia’s leaders were reluctant to wage war directly. In the Korean war of 1950–53, for example, the Soviet Union provided weapons and aid to its Chinese and North Korean allies, but did not commit troops. The basic reason was the balance of terror that existed in the wonderfully named cold war between the Soviet Union, intent on spreading communism around the world, and the United States, intent on spreading capitalism. Since both were superpowers with thousands of nuclear-armed missiles, both were conscious that any conflict leading to one or the other pressing the nuclear button would mean mutually assured destruction – a prospect that seemed horribly possible in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, until President John Kennedy convinced Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw Soviet missiles from the island. The existence of what Churchill termed the iron curtain, dividing the communist Soviet bloc from the West, meant that Russian troops could invade Hungary in 1956 to put down the uprising against Soviet control and could invade Czechoslovakia in 1968 to quell the reform movement – on both occasions without any reaction by NATO.

The consequence of this superpower rivalry of the 20th century was a plethora of wars, rebellions and coups by proxy, be they in Latin America, Africa, Asia or the Middle East. But there is one exception, on the Russian side at least, to this conflict by proxy: the December 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, intended to preserve communist rule against the increasing threat of the mujahideen insurgents (a mujahid is someone performing jihad, which means struggle but which is often – and not always accurately – translated as holy war).

The rationale for the Soviet intervention was the Brezhnev doctrine, a decision by the then leader that once a country had joined the socialist camp it could never leave it (the Soviet Union had supplied arms to Afghanistan since 1955 and the country had turned to communism in 1978). The occupation was a decade-long disaster – Russia’s Vietnam, as the headline writers like to say. Apart from the toll of death and destruction wreaked on Afghans, 13,310 Soviet troops were killed, 35,478 were wounded and 311 were reported missing by the time Mikhail Gorbachev ordered the withdrawal of troops in February 1989.

In retrospect, the Afghanistan war, coupled with Ronald Reagan’s determination to surpass Russia in defence spending and capability, was clearly a factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yet it has also been a factor in the Islamist extremism that threatens both Russia and the West today: the victorious mujahideen had been supported with weapons and money by several outside powers, notably the United States and Saudi Arabia, and among their recruits were many foreign Muslims, the most famous of them being a certain Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda.

In the 21st century, Russia’s reaction to the demise of the Soviet Union has become markedly forthright under Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer who assumed power in Russia in 1999 after the chaotic era of Boris Yeltsin (the successor to Mikhail Gorbachev and the first president of the Russian Federation). Putin was Russia’s president until 2008, when he was constitutionally obliged to step down after two successive terms in office. But he remained the real power in the land as prime minister to President Dmitry Medvedev until 2012 – at which date he was again elected president.

Throughout his tenure in the Kremlin, Putin’s ambition has been to restore Russia’s status in the world, famously telling the Russian nation in 2005 (in the official translation):

Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and co-patriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.

What that meant in 2008 was an invasion of Georgia in support of the separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, both of which had favoured closer links with Russia. In 2014 it meant the threat of military force to help local pro-Russian forces accomplish the annexation of Crimea – a majority of whose population are ethnically Russian – from Ukraine. In the same year pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine could rely on the political – and potentially military – backing of Russia in their effort to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

Western governments professed outrage at the plight of Ukraine and the loss of Crimea, not least because in 1994 in the Budapest memorandum the US, the UK and Russia agreed to be joint guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Yet the situation is more complex than the headlines criticising Russian aggression presume. Crimea, for example, became part of the Russian empire in 1783 and remained part of Russia until Nikita Khrushchev (hoping to consolidate his power at a time of Communist Party infighting) donated it to Ukraine in 1954. Crimea also contains the port of Sevastopol, a base for Russia’s Black Sea navy giving it access to the Mediterranean. It is also clear that most Crimeans did want to join “mother Russia”, given that in a referendum held in March 2014 and denounced as illegal and one-sided by the Ukraine government some 97% of the vote was for Crimea to become part of Russia.

It may well be true, also, that a majority of the population in the eastern part of Ukraine wish their region to be part of Russia, especially after the Ukrainian parliament in February 2014 voted to annul a law that has allowed 13 of Ukraine’s 27 regions to use Russian as a second official language (the parliament’s decision was not signed into law). Putin, with Russian troops poised to cross the border if needed by the pro-Russian rebels, argues that the West is backing a regime in Ukraine that came to power illegally after demonstrations in Kiev forced President Viktor Yanukovych in early 2014 to flee into exile. The background to this crisis was a competition for influence between the West, in the shape of the EU, and Russia. Ukraine had been about to sign an association agreement with the EU, but Yanukovych abruptly rejected the EU proposal in favour of a loan from – and closer links with – Russia.

That competition has its roots in the decision during the Clinton presidency in the United States to offer NATO membership – or the prospect of membership – to former members of the Warsaw Pact (the mutual defence pact between the Soviet Union and its satellite states). That membership was eagerly embraced by Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia (as it then was), Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. When other states in the former sphere of influence of the Soviet Union were invited to join NATO’s Partnership for Peace, Russia saw this as an attempt to spread Western power at its expense – hence its invasion of Georgia when an invitation for Georgia to join NATO itself seemed on the cards.

The consequence now is the threat of a renewed cold war, and the possibility – if only by accident – that it might become hot. In 2014 the Baltic states in particular, because of their large Russian minorities, feared Putin’s intentions and clung to the hope that NATO’s mutual defence pact (an attack on one is an attack on all) would not have to be put to the test. So, too, did Poland, with its shared border with Russia and its memories of Soviet rule. Evidence of the changing temperature was the exchange of sanctions between the West and Russia, with the US and the EU imposing financial constraints and travel bans on Russian individuals and with Russia banning food imports from the EU, the US and some other Western countries. Pessimists recalled that the first world war, 100 years earlier, had been the improbable consequence of the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.

In purely military terms Russia is no match for NATO, or for the US, NATO’s leading force. With 766,000 active military personnel, Russia’s armed forces are only half the size of the US’s and a fifth of the NATO total of 3.37 million. But such numbers would hardly be relevant if NATO’s political will to combat Russia were lacking. Certainly, there was no appetite in the West to intervene in the Georgian conflict on Georgia’s behalf. And certainly, Putin is keen to reinforce and even increase Russia’s military power, hence not just the determination to keep the Sevastopol base in Crimea and the naval facilities at Tartus in Syria (where Russia opposed the West’s desire for regime change) but also a desire, outlined by Russia’s defence minister in early 2014, to establish bases in a number of foreign countries which are not former Soviet republics, from Vietnam and Cuba to the Seychelles and Nicaragua. As Putin is well aware, in Soviet times Russia had a large naval base in Vietnam and a radar facility in Cuba, but both were closed down for financial reasons.

Yet for all Russia’s concern with the West, its most immediate problems are nearer home, with the growth of separatism and Islamic extremism in the North Caucasus region, home to nominally autonomous and predominantly Muslim Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia. The break-up of the Soviet Union encouraged separatists to seize their opportunity. In 1991 Chechnya declared itself the independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Three chaotic years in Russia later, President Yeltsin sent in Russian troops to reclaim Chechnya; but after 18 months of savage fighting, with the Chechen capital, Grozny, heavily bombarded, the Russian forces withdrew, accepting Chechnya’s de facto independence.

Succeeding Yeltsin in power, Putin had other ideas, launching a second Chechen war in 1999 after Shamil Basayev, a Chechen Islamist opposed to Chechnya’s secular leadership, led his International Islamic Brigade in an invasion of neighbouring Dagestan – the start of what Putin feared could become a regional Islamist revolt. By April 2000 Russia declared a military victory, but combating the continuing insurgency would tie down Russian troops and their Chechen allies for another nine years. Moreover, quelling the twin forces of separatism and Islamism had come at a heavy price. By one account Russia lost more tanks in the first Chechen war than in the battle for Berlin in 1945, and in 2003 the UN described Grozny as the most destroyed city on earth. As to the loss of life, one Chechen official in 2005 said the total number of dead – be they Russian Federation troops, Chechen rebels or civilians – had reached up to 160,000.

A decade after the first Chechen war, despite the enormous loss of life, and despite installing in Grozny a pro-Russian prime minister (first, an ex-separatist, Akhmad Kadyrov, and then, after his assassination, his son Ramzan), Russia can still not regard the North Caucasus region with complacency. Chechnya and its neighbours are poor and corrupt, which means they are fertile ground for Islamist extremism, with an increasing number of the region’s Muslims turning from more moderate Sufism to Salafism, an austere brand of fundamentalist Islam. In 2007, for example, Dokka Umarov, the former president of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, announced the establishment of the Caucasus Emirate, with a goal of expelling Russia from the region and creating an Islamic emirate.

Umarov (who is believed to have died, perhaps by poison or perhaps in combat, in 2013) was an advocate of terrorism as a means of putting pressure on Russia. So too was Basayev. Between 1991 and his death in 2006, Basayev was responsible for hijacking an airline, taking a whole hospital hostage and launching suicide bombers in Moscow itself. Perhaps the most notorious of his operations was the seizure by Ingush and Chechen militants of a school at Beslan in North Ossetia in 2004. When the siege, with around 1,200 held hostage, ended three days later, some 334 people were dead, including 186 children. Umarov’s operations included the derailing of an express train in 2009, claiming 28 lives; two suicide attacks in the Moscow subway in 2009, with 40 deaths; and a suicide-bomb attack on Moscow’s Domodedovo airport in 2011 that killed 35.

Will the threat of Islamist violence recede? Perhaps marginally (there were no terrorist incidents to upset the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi), but surely not entirely. Despite brutal counter-terrorism tactics by the state, Russia still recorded 661 terrorist offences in 2013, of which it classified 31 as fully fledged terrorist attacks. Moreover, one feature of Chechen separatism was the number of Chechen fighters who had returned from fighting in Afghanistan, forging links with the Taliban and with the beginnings of al-Qaeda. With the Arab world in turmoil, up to 1,500 jihadists with Russian passports were said to be fighting in Syria and Iraq in early 2015 – and doubtless some will return and attempt to create havoc.

Modern Democratic Republic of Congo

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Despite their nation’s vast natural resources, from diamonds, gold and rare minerals to coffee and oil, the majority of the 77 million people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) exist in poverty, their lives all too often cut short by disease or war. In 2013 the UN Development Programme ranked the DRC at the bottom of its Human Development Index; in 2014 it was beaten to that dubious distinction only by Niger. In decades of conflict, beginning in the late 1990s and involving outside forces from Rwanda and Uganda to Burundi and Angola, more than 5 million people have died – the worst death toll in conflict since the second world war.

Gaining its independence from Belgium in 1960, the Republic of Congo – as it was then termed – was immersed in conflict almost from the start, with the mineral-rich south-eastern province of Katanga, under the leadership of Moise Tshombe, seeking to secede. Early in 1961 Katangan troops, helped by Belgian forces and with CIA encouragement, kidnapped and later killed the founder of the Mouvement National Congolais, Patrice Lumumba, who had earlier been removed as the country’s first prime minister by President Joseph Kasavubu.

The Katangan war ended in 1963 with an accord in which Kasavubu appointed Tshombe as his prime minister. However, their rule was short-lived: in 1965 they were ousted by the chief of the army, Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, backed by the US and Belgium. Mobutu then began a dictatorial reign of three decades marked by staggering corruption and an extraordinary personality cult. In 1971, for example, he renamed both the country, as Zaire, and himself as Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (the warrior who knows no defeat because of his endurance and inflexible will and is all powerful, leaving fire in his wake as he goes from conquest to conquest).

The country now known as Zaire was hardly immune from strife. In 1977 and 1978 attacks by Katangan rebels based in Angola were repulsed by troops from France, Belgium and Morocco. In 1991 riots by unpaid soldiers in the capital, Kinshasa (Leopoldville before Mobutu’s renaming exercise), helped persuade Mobutu to form a coalition government with the opposition – though an equally persuasive factor was the need to appease the US now that, with the end of the cold war, his professed anti-communism was no longer such a valuable political asset.

The demise of the Mobutu regime came as a consequence of the civil war in neighbouring Rwanda and the victory there of a Tutsiled government. The defeated Hutus had sought refuge in eastern Zaire, and in 1996 Mobutu ordered Tutsi residents to leave. This then provoked Tutsi rebels (the Banyamulenge), aided by troops from Rwanda and Uganda, to seize the eastern part of the country in the first Congo war. With Mobutu abroad for medical treatment, the rebels went on to occupy Kinshasa in 1997, appoint Laurent-Désiré Kabila, from the Luba tribe (the country’s largest), as president and rename the country as the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sadly, this did not mean stability. Kabila’s decision to expel the Rwandan and Ugandan forces led, within a year, to the second Congo war, involving directly or indirectly some nine African nations and at least 20 armed groups. In 1999 a ceasefire agreement was signed in the Zambian capital of Lusaka by six combatant nations (the DRC, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Uganda), but in practice, and despite the presence of a 5,500-strong UN monitoring force, the fighting continued. In 2001 Kabila was assassinated by a bodyguard, perhaps at the behest of Rwanda, and was succeeded by his son, Joseph, who agreed to a peace accord signed in Pretoria in 2002 by all the warring parties, followed by a transitional government of national unity in July 2003 and elections in 2006.

Despite the elections, characterised by violence but with Joseph Kabila emerging as victor, coup attempts continued, as did conflict in the east, with government forces clashing with Rwandan Hutus, who ironically had once been their allies. In 2009, after yet more turmoil in the eastern part of the country, the government signed a peace deal with the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP, its French abbreviation), a mostly Tutsi rebel group. However, attempts to integrate CNDP troops into the government’s forces failed, provoking CNDP defectors in 2012 to set up the M23 armed movement, named after an abortive March 23rd 2009 peace accord.

The M23 movement signed a peace agreement with the government in December 2013, but it is hard to see this as a precursor to genuine stability in the DRC – despite the efforts of some 22,000 peacekeepers from more than 50 countries in a UN mission set up after the 1999 Lusaka accord. Meanwhile, there are community-based militias known as Mai-Mai; armed groups led by local warlords; and the Lord’s Resistance Army (in flight from neighbouring Uganda): all continue to terrorise the population, burning villages, raping women and forcibly recruiting children as soldiers.

There have been a few examples of the perpetrators being held to account. In the first Congo war Thomas Lubanga was a commander of the pro-Uganda Congolese Rally for Democracy–Liberation (RCD–ML, its French abbreviation). He then founded the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and led its military wing, the Patriotic Force for the Liberation of the Congo (FPLC). But in 2006 he became the first person to be hauled off to the ICC in The Hague for war crimes (he was found guilty in 2012).

Another to appear in The Hague is Bosco Ntanganda, a Rwandan-born Tutsi who in 2009 was a general in President Kabila’s Congolese army, even though the ICC had already indicted him in 2006 on charges of conscripting child soldiers during his previous stints as a rebel commander. Ntanganda, nicknamed “the Terminator”, defected with 600 soldiers from the government’s side in 2012 and formed the M23 group; but it was a dispute with another M23 commander, Sultani Makenga, that led to his appearance in The Hague. Apparently fearing for his life, Ntanganda sought refuge in the US embassy in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, from where he was whisked away to face the court.

Whatever the occasional success of the ICC or of the UN peacekeepers, the underlying truth is that the DRC is close to being a failed state, prone to constant conflict, especially in the five eastern provinces of Orientale, North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema and Katanga. Insurgents from neighbouring countries, such as Uganda’s Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Rwanda’s Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and Burundi’s Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL), use the DRC territory as a haven and prey on the local population. At the same time Rwanda aids Congolese Tutsi groups rebelling against Kinshasa and confronting the DRC army. Most depressing of all, perhaps, is the simple fact that so many warlords – Ntanganda was a good example – profit so handsomely from illegal logging, “conflict diamonds” and other aspects of the war economy. As Peace Direct, a non-governmental organisation, has pointed out, peace agreements in the DRC have often been flawed, allowing rebel commanders to join the national army and yet keep their illegal moneymaking networks intact.

Libya 2011–Onward

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Pink   Under the control of the Tobruk-led Government and Libyan National Army
Green   Under the control of the New General National Congress and Allies
Gray   Controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Light Gray   Controlled by the Mujahedeen Councils of Derna, Benghazi and Adjabiya
Blue   Controlled by local forces in Misrata district
Yellow   Under the control of Tuareg forces

In October 2011, after an increasingly eccentric and dictatorial rule lasting 42 years, Muammar al-Qaddafi, leader of the grandiosely named Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, was captured and killed by exultant Libyan rebels. In the ensuing years, the State of Libya – as the country is now simply named – has endured a continuing civil war and disintegrated into a failed state divided by regional and tribal loyalties: elections in 2014 led to two rival parliaments and two rival governments, with neither able to control well-armed militias, both secular and Islamist.

None of this conforms to the optimists’ forecast that the Arab spring that blossomed in Tunisia in December 2010 would lead to a stable, pluralistic democracy in neighbouring Libya. The effort to remove Qaddafi began with an uprising in February 2011 in Benghazi, the main city in the eastern region of Cyrenaica, and within days the unrest had spread west to Tripolitania and the capital, Tripoli. However, in early March the regime’s armed forces – roughly 76,000 at their height – struck back, threatening a humanitarian disaster for the rebels and the population of Benghazi. That prospect led to a UN Security Council resolution on March 17th by a vote of 10–0 (Russia, China and Germany were among five abstentions) to authorise a no-fly zone and aerial strikes to protect civilians. This was followed two days later by an air campaign and naval blockade, initially featuring France, the UK and the US (where one official declared it was “leading from behind”). Soon, though, outside powers were acting under a NATO umbrella and expanding into a coalition with almost a score of nations, including Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Qaddafi enlisted Tuareg tribesmen from Mali and several hundred mercenaries from Europe and South Africa, and also pressed migrant workers from sub-Saharan Africa into his forces, but to no avail. By July 2011 the International Contact Group on Libya, representing governments from both the West and the Arab world, had recognised the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate government of Libya. By August Qaddafi had fled Tripoli, and by September the African Union, which had originally opposed regime change, also recognised the NTC. On October 20th 2011 Qaddafi was dragged out of a drainage pipe near the coastal town of Sirte and summarily shot (according to some rumours by a French spy who had infiltrated the rebel side and wanted to stop any subsequent revelations of Qaddafi’s dealings with the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy). The following month, Qaddafi’s favourite son and presumed heir, Saif al-Islam, was captured, marking the complete demise of the Qaddafi clan.

Yet with clashes breaking out in Benghazi in January 2012 between rival groups of the former rebels, the NTC quickly proved inadequate to the challenge of stabilising post-Qaddafi Libya. One reason is the enduring imprint of the Qaddafi years. The “Brother Colonel” seized power at the age of just 27 on September 1st 1969 in a bloodless coup against King Idris, leader of the important Senussi tribe and monarch since Libya (a former Italian colony) attained its independence in 1951.

At first the Qaddafi regime was popular: Italian properties were nationalised and the UK was ordered to evacuate its military base in Tobruk and the US its Wheelus airbase in Tripoli. The growing oil revenues from a vast country with a small population (today numbering around 6.2 million, almost all of them Sunni Muslims) were distributed to allow housing, health and education for all.

In retrospect one mistake was Qaddafi’s version of popular democracy, explained in his 1975 Green Book (an obvious allusion to Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book). This “third universal theory” of political and social organisation, first outlined by Qaddafi in 1973, involved the creation of around 2,000 people’s committees, whose decisions would be passed upwards to a General People’s Congress. In practice, this local democracy was strictly controlled by the establishment in 1977 of revolutionary committees. In other words, within less than a decade revolutionary Libya had become more or less a dictatorship, with the population monitored by an extraordinary number of secret police. In such conditions, dissent was bound to build under the surface – not least because, much to the chagrin of a potentially prosperous middle class, Libyans were forbidden to own more than one house in the Jamahiriya, a neologism coined by Qaddafi to mean state of the masses (the usual jumhuriyya means simply republic).

A second mistake was Qaddafi’s foreign-policy adventurism. This included abortive efforts in the early 1970s to create an Arab federation with Egypt and Syria; the military occupation of part of Chad in 1973; an impractical Arab Maghreb Union with Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria and Tunisia in 1989; and, with his pan-Arabism having failed, an attempt at the end of the 20th century to make Libya the leader of pan-Africanism (Libya was a founder in 2001 of the African Union). Meanwhile, Libya had become an enthusiastic supporter, often with both money and arms, of dissident movements around the world, from the IRA in the UK’s Northern Ireland to Muslim separatists in the Philippines and Thailand.

The result was that by the 1980s Qaddafi had become an international pariah. In the view of the US president, Ronald Reagan, in 1986, the Libyan leader was “the mad dog of the Middle East” seeking “world revolution, Moslem fundamentalist revolution, which is targeted on many of his own Arab compatriots” (though, in fact, Qaddafi was never a religious zealot and opposed Islamic extremism). The tensions with the US were reflected in 1981 by the shooting down by American fighter jets of two Libyan aircraft over the Gulf of Sirte, which Libya claimed as its territorial waters, and by the bombing – allegedly by Libyan agents – of a Berlin discotheque in 1986 frequented by American servicemen. The discotheque bombing precipitated US air strikes on Libyan military targets in Tripoli and Benghazi, and also on Qaddafi’s own home. The bombardment killed 101 people, including an adopted daughter of Qaddafi (in the wake of the bombing, Qaddafi decided to add the prefix “Great” to the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya).

Relations with the UK were equally sour. In 1984 the UK cut diplomatic ties with Libya after a shot fired from the Libyan embassy in London during an anti-Qaddafi demonstration killed a young policewoman, Yvonne Fletcher. Then in December 1988 a Pan Am flight en route from Germany to the United States was blown up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. The UK and the US blamed Libya for the 270 deaths (though a credible alternative theory blames Iran, seeking to retaliate for the US shooting down of an Iranian airliner in July 1988).

The Lockerbie disaster led to economic sanctions by the UN to force Libya to hand two suspects to a Netherlands court for trial under Scottish law. Libya complied in 1999, leading to the suspension of the sanctions, the restoration of diplomatic ties with the UK and the beginning of Qaddafi’s rehabilitation. By 2003 Libya had agreed to accept responsibility and pay $2.7 billion in compensation for the Lockerbie bombing, and in January 2004 Libya also agreed compensation for the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over the Sahara. Most important, to regain international respectability, was Qaddafi’s decision in December 2003 to stop Libya’s production, real or planned, of chemical and biological weapons and abandon its quest for nuclear weapons. The welcome back into the international fold was sealed in March 2004 with a visit to Libya and a public hug for Qaddafi by the British prime minister, Tony Blair.

The Qaddafi era lasted for four decades because the regime – helped by ample oil revenues – was able to suppress Libya’s underlying regional and tribal identities. The country has more than 130 tribes, representing the indigenous Berbers, the Arabs who arrived by conquest in the 7th century and black Africans in the south. Of the 30 or so important tribes, Qaddafi himself was from the relatively less powerful Qaddafda tribe; Abdul-Salam Jalloud, his second-in-command for two decades, was from the much more powerful Magarha tribe, which joined the Warfalla, the country’s largest tribe, in a failed uprising against the regime in 1993. Once the Arab spring reached Libya, with popular protests first in Benghazi, tribal differences – often sparked by arguments over the regime’s power of patronage to allocate jobs and military positions – were bound to assert themselves.

In a country awash with arms wielded by hundreds of militia groups, the result has been continuing internecine chaos. In August 2012 the NTC handed power to the newly elected General National Congress, charged with drawing up a new constitution and preparing for the 2014 elections for a Council of Deputies. But almost immediately the country was scarred by sectarianism, with Islamist groups destroying Sufi shrines. Then, in September 2012, Islamist militants – apparently from Ansar al-Sharia (Supporters of Islamic Law), a Salafist group linked with al-Qaeda – attacked the US consulate in Benghazi, killing the ambassador and three other Americans. Political turmoil was such that in 2014 Abdullah al-Thani, serving briefly as prime minister, toyed with the idea of inviting the monarchy back. When secular and liberal parties did well in the 2014 elections, Islamists in the General National Congress refused to recognise the Council of Deputies and instead announced the New General National Congress, establishing its headquarters in Tripoli and forcing the new parliament and government (which retained their international recognition) to take refuge in the eastern city of Tobruk.

Will the chaos eventually give way to stability and unity? In the summer of 2015 the country was being fought over by four main groups. In Tobruk, the Council of Deputies, internationally accepted as the legitimate government, had the support of the Libyan Army (now renamed the Libyan National Army) under the secular General Khalifa Haftar, who had taken part in the coup that brought Qaddafi to power but had later conspired against him (and had been given asylum in the United States). In Tripoli, the New General National Congress is an Islamist coalition, ranging from the moderate Muslim Brotherhood (backed by Qatar and Turkey) to the extremist Libya Dawn (Fajr Libya), an umbrella organisation for many more extreme groups (Libya Dawn denounces terrorism but maintains links with Ansar al-Sharia). Benghazi is the stronghold of Ansar al-Sharia, as part of the Shura Council of Benghazi Revolutionaries. The port of Derna, near Benghazi, was captured in late 2014 by militants who declared their allegiance to the Islamic State and its self-proclaimed caliph (and founder of ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In February 2015 this “Islamic State in Libya” beheaded 20 Coptic Christians from Egypt, provoking an immediate strike on Derna by Egypt’s air force.

But these groups only have partial sway. Virtually every town has its militia, operating sometimes independently and sometimes under the umbrella of coalitions such as Libya Dawn. The prize for all is to profit from Libya’s oil exports, which have plummeted from the Qaddafi-era level of 1.6 million barrels a day. Conceivably the Libyan National Army, with support from Egypt, will be able to dominate Cyrenaica and then move west along the coast. But the odds are long. Meanwhile, there are much shorter odds on the ability of Islamic State militants to create havoc, not just in Libya but – as was shown by the murderous attacks on foreign tourists at a Tunis museum in March 2015 and on a Tunisian beach in June 2015 – beyond its borders.

Liberator B-24

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Liberator B-24: U.S. heavy bomber during World War II; manufactured in greater numbers than any U.S. warplane.

During late 1938, the U.S. Army Air Corps saw a need for additional heavy bombardment aircraft and approached Consolidated Aircraft to supplement B-17 Flying Fortress production by Boeing, Douglas, and Vega. When Consolidated president Reuben Fleet was approached, he stated that his company could build a better airplane. Consolidated began design of its Model 32 in January 1939.

By coincidence, Reuben Fleet had been approached by David R. Davis in 1937 to discuss wing-design theory. Not an aerodynamicist, Fleet insisted on having his chief engineer, Isaac Machlin “Mac” Laddon, and aerodynamicist George S. Schairer listen to the proposal. Extensive testing of the design in Cal Tech’s Guggenheim wind tunnel proved Davis’s concept to be far better than expected. The result was a high aspect- ratio wing that offered excellent long-range cruise characteristics. This wing that was applied to the design of the Model 32, which became the B-24 Liberator.

The B-24 was powered by four Pratt and Whitney R-1820 engines. It had an 8,800-pound bombload, a service ceiling of 28,000 feet, a cruising speed of 215 mph, and a range of 2,100 miles. Manned by a crew of 10, the B-24H thru B-24J models mounted 10 .50-caliber machine guns for defensive armament.

The B-24 was a stablemate of the B-17 in the European theater during World War II; however, its vulnerability to battle damage and dissimilar performance compared to the B-17 led Brigadier General Curtis E. LeMay, then commander of the 3d Air Division, to remove the Liberators completely in favor of B-17s. The result was that the 1st and 3d ADs were equipped with B-17s and the 2d AD with only B-24s.

The first raid on the Ploesti oil fields was flown by 13 B-24s from the Halverson Provisional Group on the night of 11/12 June 1942, marking the first Allied heavy bombardment mission against Fortress Europe. On 1 August 1943, the famed Ploesti raid was flown under Operation TIDAL WAVE with a force of 177 B-24s from five bomb groups (three of which were loaned from the Eighth Air Force in Europe).

In the Mediterranean theater of operations, B-24s far outnumbered B-17s. Of the 21 heavy bombardment groups in the Mediterranean late in the war, 15 were equipped with B-24s. The airplanes performed well on the long-range missions deep into Germany and Austria. B-24s did far better in the Pacific theater. The missions were long, over water, with no mountainous obstacles as were encountered in the European and Mediterranean theaters, and enemy resistance was not as intense.

B-24s were also modified for specialized roles as Ferrets, photoreconnaissance platforms, fuel tankers, clandestine operations, and radio/radar jamming.

The B-24 was built in greater numbers than any other U.S. combat aircraft. A total of 19,257 B-24s,RAF Liberators, C-87 transports, and Navy PB4Y-2 Privateers were built at two Consolidated plants as well as Douglas (Tulsa), North American (Fort Worth), and Ford (Detroit). Ford produced 6,792 complete aircraft and another 1,893 knockdown kits that were shipped by road to other plants for assembly and completion.

Jagdgeschwader 27 ‘Afrika’ Part I

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Eduard Neumann (right) with Adolf Galland in North Africa, 22 September 1942. A veteran of the Spanish Campaign, Edward Neumann, at the start of the war, was leading 4./JG26 in France, later promoted Adjutant of I./JG27. He took part in the Balkan Campaign before moving in 1941 to North Africa, where I./JG27 was the only German fighter unit for the first nine months. In 1942 he became Kommodore of JG27, a position which he held throughout the remainder of the Desert Campaign. He was credited with moulding the careers of many outstanding pilots, the best known being the young Hauptmann Marseille. Following the defeat of Rommel’s Afrika Korps at El Alamein JG27 covered their retreat back to Tunisia. When his wing left the desert, ‘Edu’ Neumann was transferred to the Staff of General of the Fighter Arm, where he remained until 1944. Promoted to Oberst in the autumn of that year, he took over as Fighter Commander of Northern Italy. Edu Neumann ended the war as one of the Luftwaffe’s most highly respected Commanders. Died 9th August 2004.

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Eduard Neumann in Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 “Trop”

A JG 27 Stab was first raised in 1939 and used to form that of JG 77, a new Stab/JG 27 being stood up at Krefeld on 1 October 1939 when I.Gruppe also formed with the standard three Staffeln. Oberst Max Ibel was Kommandeur of the Stab, whilst I.Gruppe was led by Hptm Adolf Galland. A II.Gruppe Stab was organised in January 1940, although the component 4., 5. and 6.Staffeln did not adopt the Geschwader’s numerical designation until July of that year. The ‘Sitzkrieg’ war period was marked by training and patrols along the Franco-German border until 10 May 1940 when Germany invaded France and the Low Countries. I.Gruppe was then under the command of Major Eduard Neumann, and whilst flying support missions for Operation Weserubung, scored its first victory during this initial week of fighting – tasked with helping subdue the Belgian Air Force, the Gruppe’s Heino Becher destroyed a solitary Gladiator near Tirlemont in this brief operation. Covering the 6th Army’s drive using airfields at Munchen-Gladbach and Gymnich, near Cologne, I./JG 27 had I./JG l and I./JG 21 under its operational control throughout this lightning campaign. These units had a memorable 12 May, flying 340 sorties and destroying 28 enemy aircraft for the loss of four Bf 109Es.

Having fought in the Battle of France, JG 27 suffered substantial losses, along with other units of the Jagdwaffe, whilst trying to subdue RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain. For a combined victory total of 146, the Geschwader lost 56 pilots killed or missing, including the Kommandeur of III. Gruppe, Hptm Joachim Schlichting, who was seriously injured after being shot down by Spitfires on 6 September.

One small compensation was that by the end of 1940, JG 27’s surviving pilots had acquired considerable experience of British tactics. While the assault on England had been a sobering, tough, lesson in flawed strategy, Jagdwaffe fighter tactics had often proved basically superior to those of the RAF. Such knowledge was to stand the ‘old heads’ in good stead when Gruppe transferred to North Africa in April 1941.

On 14 April 1941 the first German single-engined fighter unit arrived in North Africa when a Staffel of I./JG 27 flew into EI Gazala airfield to the west of Tobruk. As will be remembered, the unit had previously operated for a short time against Malta in March and then in the Balkans early in April. By tHe-18th of the month, the Gruppe had been brought up to full strength of three Staffeln, each of which used Gambut airfield at various times. The unit’s Kommandeur, Hptm. Eduard ‘Edu’ Neumann, brought with him a circus caravan which had been captured in France and which he now used as his headquarters. This became a familiar sight on North African airfields and soon became known as Neumann’s ‘Bunte Buhne’ (Chequered Stage). The Staffelkapitane of I./JG 27 were Oblt. Karl-Heinz Redlich (1. StaffeD, Hptm. Erich Gerlitz (2. StaffeD and Oblt. Gerhard Homuth (3. Staffel, while other famous pilots included Oblt. Ludwig Franzisket (14 victories), Lt. Willi Kothmann (7), Of hr. Hans-Joachim Marseille (7) and Ofvv. Hermann Forster (6).

I./JG 27 flew its first operational sortie in North Africa on the morning of 19 April 1941 when it clashed with Hurricanes and claimed to have shot down four, two by Oblt. Redlich. During the afternoon, Lt. Werner Schroer was shot down by P/O Spence of 274Sqn., but he crash-landed and was unhurt. Two days later, Uffz. Hans Sippel was killed and Schroer shot down a second time, possibly again by P/0 Spence. Although he managed to crash-land once more, this time he was wounded.

The final big air battle over Tobruk came on 23 April and resulted in severe RAF losses. Six Hurricanes and two Blenheims were claimed destroyed by the pilots of I./JG 27 with the only German pilot killed being Fw. Werner Lange. Of hr. Marseille had a lucky escape when he was shot up and crashed behind Axis lines. RAF losses on the 23 April were such that most of its remaining Hurricanes withdrew from the fortress to Sidi Haneish two days later. On the 30th, Rommel launched another attack on Tobruk, the RAF flying many ground-strafing missions in its defence. Next day seven Hurricanes from 274Sqn. attacked two Schwarme of Bf-109s from 3./JG 27 led by Marseille and Homuth. Such was the superiority of the German fighters that six Hurricanes were claimed shot down for the loss of two Bf-109s, one of them piloted by Gefr. Hermann Kohne who was injured.

Following this action, both sides began to regroup, British forces launching their first offensive against the Afrika Korps on 15 May. During the day British armour reached a point 20 miles south-west of Bardia, but a counter attack by the 5. Light and 15. Panzer divisions quickly regained all ground lost by the Germans with the exception of the Halfaya Pass. Sporadic air operations continued, I./JG 27 being mainly concerned with protecting Afrika Korps troops from RAF ground-attack missions. For example, on 21 May, I./JG 27 intercepted Blenheims of 14Sqn. attacking the Capuzzo-Tobruk road and shot down five of the bombers. The only German fighter pilot to be lost during this period was Lt. Erich Schroder of 2./JG 27 who was taken prisoner after crashing into the sea north of Bardia following an anti-shipping strike.

On 15 June 1941 the British launched a major offensive in North Africa known as ‘Battleaxe’. The aim was to relieve Tobruk but the offensive quickly ended in failure. Of the three columns sent forward, the advance on the Halfaya Pass by Matilda tanks was beaten back by German 88 mm guns and the one on the Hafid Ridge ground to a halt because of the unreliability of the British light cruiser tanks, so that only a third attack at Capuzzo achieved some success. After ‘Battleaxe’ the ground situation in the Western Desert remained quiet for five months. The investment of Tobruk continued and each side maintained a wary eye on the other and settled into a daily routine.

At this time, the Bf-109 fighter force in North Africa, still comprising the three Staffel of I./JG 27 under Major Eduard Neumann, was joined by 7./JG 26 which flew from Molaoi to Libya on this day. Neumann was to say of his visitors: The 7./JG 26 played a “guest role” in Cyrenaica for a short period in mid-1941. At that time my I./JG 27 was the only German fighter unit in North Africa. Its Kapitan, Oblt. Muncheberg, was allowed to plan and carry out his Staffel’s missions without hindrance from me. I believe I am right in saying that the Staffel did not enjoy a lot of success in Africa, since the British advance was halted very quickly. But Muncheberg was an energetic leader; he was one of the great leaders of the Luftwaffe.’

The first operation flown by the combined units was on 15 June when they engaged Hurricanes of 73 and 274Sqns. near Sidi Barrani and shot down five, one of them claimed by Fw. Karl-Heinz Ehlen of 7./JG 26. Two Bf-109s from I./JG 27 were lost, the pilot of one, Uffz. Heinz Greuel of the-1. Staffel, being killed. Two days later, Lt. Heinz Schmidt of 3./JG 27 claimed four Hurricanes, Marseille two more and Fw. Karl Mentnich a seventh. Oblt. Klaus Mietusch from 7./JG 26 also destroyed a Hurricane while Ofw. Hermann Forster of 3./JG 27 claimed a ‘Brewster’, in fact probably one of the newly-arrived Tomahawks. On the 18 June, the first casualty reported by the 3./JG 27 occurred when a Bf-109E-7 crashed near Gambut and was 40% damaged but I./JG 27 claimed three Tomahawks of 250Sqn. Two days later Oblt. Muncheberg claimed his first victory in the theatre, a Hurricane east of Buq Buq.

On 23 June, I./JG 27 was reported as having 35 Bf-109E-4 Traps of which 26 were serviceable. All six Bf-109E-7s from 7./JG 26 were available but they were operating without tropical equipment. Successes for the German fighter units continued, but on 28 June, Lt. Heinz Schmidt of 3./JG 27 was killed in combat. On the last day of the month, Tomahawks of 250 Sqn. intercepted a formation of Ju-87s escorted by 12 Italian G.50s, ten Bf-109s from I./JG 27 and five Bf-110s from III./ZG26. Two G.50s, two Ju-87s and two Bf-110s were shot down, but Oblt. Ludwig Franzisket of I./JG 27 destroyed one of the RAF fighters and another was lost to the same unit. In a later action that day Bf-109s from 7./JG 26 clashed with Hurricanes of 1 (SAAF)Sqn. and Uffz. Georg Mondry claimed the destruction of one, the pilot of which was killed. A Bf-109 was claimed damaged by the South African unit.

Previously, on 14 June, Oblt. Gerhard Homuth, Staffelkapitan of 3./JG 27, had become the first pilot in North Africa to be awarded the Ritterkreuz. At this time he had 22 aerial victories. On 1 July, 7./JG 26 reported a strength of 14 Bf-109s of which eight were serviceable. Eight days later Oblt. Karl-Wolfgang Redlich, Staffelkapitan of I./JG 27 was awarded the Ritterkreuz after claiming 21 victories.

On 15 July, a major operation took place when Hurricanes of 73 and 229Sqns. attacked a formation of II./St.G2’s Ju-87s escorted by Bf-109s of 7./JG 26 and Bf-110s of III./ZG26. In the ensuing action the RAF pilots claimed six Ju-87s (three crews being killed) and a Bf-110. South-west of Ras Asaz, Oblt. Muncheberg shot down one of the Hurricanes which was chasing Ofw. Heller’s Bf-110. Two days later a Bf-109E-7 from 7./JG 26 was destroyed in a crash-landing at Derna, the cause listed as a maintenance failure. On 20 July Oblt. Ludwig Franzisket of I./JG 27 became the third Bf-109 pilot to be awarded the Ritterkreuz in North Africa with 22 victory claims. Nine days later the destruction of five Tomahawks was claimed by 7./JG 26, the RAF losing one pilot killed, one taken prisoner and three more aircraft severely damaged.

As operations by the Bf-109 units in Africa continued into August, 7./JG 26 reported on the fourth that it had only four aircraft operational from a strength of eleven. The main problem was that the DB601N engines which powered most of this Staffel’s Messerschmitt’s proved unsuitable and very susceptible to damage in tropical conditions, The fine desert sand found its way into everything and the heat was so intense – daytime temperatures were often in the region of 500C (1200F) – that engines run-up for too long on the ground would often boil and petrol vaporise. It was therefore decided that aircraft powered by these engines should no longer be sent to the North African theatre.

On 21 August, three Maryland bombers from 12 and 24 (SAAF) Sqns. were shot down by Bf-109s from I./JG 27 and two by 7./JG 26, the former Gruppe also claiming three Hurricanes and two Tomahawks. This was the last known mission flown by 7./JG 26 in North Africa and when it returned to France at the end of the month, it had scored at least eight victories in North Africa, five of them by Muncheberg.

Jagdgeschwader 27 ‘Afrika’ Part II

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Employing tactics reminiscent of the advance over the same ground a year before, the attack began on 21 January with Italian divisions being sent north to Benghazi while Rommel led the Afrika Korps inland. At first, this succeeded in forcing the British to retreat to a line running from Gazala southwards to the desert fort of Bir Hacheim, but by early February Rommel had reached the limit of his strength and as each side dug in, so began another period of stalemate which was to last until May. Meanwhile, on 25 January, II./JG 27 was involved in a major action when it intercepted a formation of RAF Blenheims escorted by Kittyhawks of 112Sqn. north-east of Antelat. Four Kittyhawks were claimed destroyed, two by Ofw. Otto Schulz and one each by Uffz. Alfred Schulze and Ogfr. Otto Monska.

There was little aerial activity during the first week of February due to four days of heavy rain during which the Luftwaffe reported that its aircraft were unable to take off because they were up to their axles in wet sand. Operations resumed on 8 February with Marseille of 3./JG 27 claiming four RAF fighters, Ofw. Otto Schulz of II./JG 27 claiming two and one each claimed by Oblt. Homuth, Oblt. Keller and Lt. Friedrich Korner, all from I. Gruppe. With this operation, Marseille became the highest scoring fighter pilot in the theatre with 40 victories, one more than Homuth. A week later, Ofw. Schulz took off alone and claimed the destruction of five Kittyhawks from 94 and 112Sqns. In fact, four RAF aircraft were lost as the fifth succeeded in limping home.

A less successful Luftwaffe pilot at this time was Lt. Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt of 2./JG 27. On 21 February, after some soldiers had photographed him before take-off – always considered a bad omen – he was caught by a Kittyhawk of 112Sqn. and shot down. As he struggled to crash-land his Bf-109in no-man’s-land he heard his Kapitan, Homuth, exclaim over the radio: “Who is the damned idiot being shot down?” Stahlschmidt was rescued by an Axis patrol and taken back to Martuba, but six days later he was attacking a group of trucks near Bir el Gobi in company with his wingman, Fw. Gerhard Keppler, when his engine cut and he rammed one of the vehicles. After being dragged from the cockpit of his Messerschmitt by Polish troops, he was beaten with rifle butts, kicked, and his decorations were ripped off. He was then taken to an interrogation camp but managed to escape, eventually being rescued by German troops on 1 March.

The next day, four Bf-109s from I./JG 27 attacked 11 Hurricanes from 274Sqn. and shot down three, two by Homuth and one by Lt. Karl Kugelbauer. A total of 57 victories were claimed by JG27 in February with operations slightly reducing in March when both sides engaged mainly in fighter sweeps or fighter-bomber sorties. During this month, JG27 claimed a total of 35 victories and 43 in April. By May a period of relative calm on the ground was ending with both sides readying themselves for a big offensive, the only question being who would be the first to attack? At this time, the Luftwaffe day fighter force comprised I., II., III. and 10.(Jabo)/JG27 with 101 Bf-109Fs all based at Martuba, south-east of Derna, and 7./ZG26 with 12 Bf-110s at Derna. These were bolstered by the arrival of 30 more Bf-109s from III./JG 53, 15 Bf-110s from 8./ZG26 and 40 Ju-87 dive bombers from II. and III./St.G3.

On the British side, the first 8-24 Liberator bombers arrived in the desert at this time and also, at last, the first Spitfires. As previously mentioned, substantial numbers of Spitfires had been sent to defend Malta but, otherwise, while air commanders in the Mediterranean were crying out for them, the largest number of Spitfires was retained in Great Britain. When examined retrospectively, this policy is open to question as, in 1942, the key actions in the air war were being fought over Malta and the Western Desert. No comparable air actions were being fought in the West, yet a large force of Spitfires was nevertheless kept in Great Britain at a time when they were urgently required in other theatres of war, particularly the Mediterranean. It would appear that this degree of over-insurance was insisted upon by the Air Officer C-in-C Fighter Command in order that he might retain a force adequate in strength to meet all possible eventualities.

Rommel’s plan was to use his infantry to mount a frontal assault on the Gazala line while his armour drove around its southern edge, attempting to capture the old Italian desert fort at Bir Hacheim which, manned by Free French soldiers, marked the southernmost part of the British defences.

Rommel struck on 26 May, his first attack taking him up to the British lines but soft sand and minefields bogged down his two Italian armoured divisions. Next day, the British Eighth Army, the armoured components of which now included the American Grant tank with its 75 mm gun, halted the German Panzers. A savage tank battle now developed, concentrated around an area situated between Bir Hacheim and the coast known to the British as ‘Knightsbridge ‘.

On 28 May, Eighth Army requested that British fighters be ordered to cease virtually all their air superiority patrols and concentrate on ground strafing. During these intensive operations, eight British fighters were claimed by JG27, one by Fw. Gunther Steinhausen of I./JG 27, two by Oblt. Otto Schulz of II./JG 27, one each by Oblt. Ferdinand Vagi, Lt. Hans Doye, Ofw. Alfred Schulze and Obgefr. Heinrich Vanderweert of II./JG 27, and one by Uffz. Viktor Gruber of 7./JG 27. Early in the morning of the 29th, a large air battle developed between 13 Bf-109s from II./JG 27 and III./JG 53 and Hurricanes of 80Sqn. and Kittyhawks of 2(SAAF)Sqn., five Commonwealth pilots being lost. Shortly afterwards six Bf-109s from III./JG 27 escorting Ju-87s over Ancoma clashed with Kittyhawks from 450Sqn. (RAAF). Two Ju-87s and a Bf-109 (piloted by Lt. Erik von Fritsch) were shot down but Hptm. Ernst Maak, Lt. Stahlschmidt and Lt. Korner, all from 2./JG 27, each shot down a Kittyhawk.

Next day saw even more intensive combat, major strikes being carried out by Boston bombers and fighter-bombers against ‘Knightsbridge’, during which four Bf-109s from I./JG 27 clashed with Kittyhawks of 250Sqn., Oblt. Marseille shooting down one early in the morning. Soon afterwards, III./JG 53 escorted six Bf-110s on a reconnaissance sortie but Oblt. Wilfried Pufahl was shot down by mistake by a Ju-88. Four Bf-109s from I./JG 27 then attacked nine bombers escorted by 15 fighters. Fw. Gerhard Keppler shot down one of the latter but Uffz. Zimmermann was forced to crash-land north of Tmimi. During the afternoon, Messerschmitt’s from Stab I./JG 27 and 4./JG 53 clashed with more RAF Bostons with fighter escort, the German pilots claiming five P-40s, two by Fw. Emil Kaiser. Just after 16.00 hrs Oblt. Vagi of 4./JG 27 shot down a Hurricane and two more P-40s and Ofw. Karl-Heinz Bendert destroyed yet another P-40. About an hour later, three more RAF fighters were claimed by 2./JG 27 followed by a P-40 shot down during the evening by Oblt. Otto Schulz of II./JG 27.

The last day of May was marked by heavy sandstorms, although these did little to curtail operations, and very early in the morning an offensive sweep by Hurricanes and Tomahawks met Ju-87s escorted by 4./JG 27. Four P-40s were destroyed, two by Oblt. Vagl. Around 07.30 hours I./JG 27 and 8./JG 53 escorting Ju-87s clashed with 4(SAAF)Sqn. and claimed the destruction of no less than eight P-40s. During the early evening Oblt. Otto Schulz of Stab II./JG 27 bounced a mixed Tomahawk and Kittyhawk formation and shot down two (the latter his 50th victory). The final action of the day involved Stab III./JG 53 which claimed three Kittyhawks from 260Sqn. although only one was confirmed. During the day the Luftwaffe lost Oblt. Emmerich Fluder who failed to return, Fw. Fritz Gromotka who was reported missing and Ofw. Erich Krenzke taken prisoner.

By the end of the month, the situation on the ground was beginning to turn in the favour of the Axis forces. The one problem was that Bir Hacheim had failed to be taken by the Italians and supplies had run so low that Rommel himself went through the British minefields to guide a convoy carrying fuel, water and ammunition. If the Eighth Army could have found the means and the will at this time to exert maximum pressure against an Afrika Korps starved of supplies, the Axis forces might have been brought to their knees. Sadly for the British, however, they frittered away their armoured strength in a number of poorly coordinated attacks against the Afrika Korps in the north, and the Axis at last began to get the upper hand in the battle for ‘Knightsbridge’. After an epic stand of nine days when they were under almost constant attack from the Luftwaffe, the remaining Free French at last surrendered Sir Hacheim on 10 June 1942.

The air support requested by Panzer Army HQ for its last attack on Hacheim at 19.00 hrs was completed with a high degree of success by a force of 39 Ju-87s. Bombs were dropped on the chief centre of enemy resistance, namely artillery positions located 2 km north of Hacheim. I respectfully request that […] special commendations be included in an order of the day for both St.G3 and JG27, whose outstanding performance as a fighter escort enabled the dive bombers to accomplish their mission without a single loss. Furthermore, I should like to suggest that – if Hacheim ever surrenders – special official mention be made of the role played by the Luftwaffe. […]

Signed, Waldau.

Supplement to the day’s teletype message from Fliegerfuhrer Afrika to Kesselring, 9 June 1942

I am taking this opportunity to express my special appreciation and my deep gratitude for the performance of St.G3 and JG27 during the operations at Hacheim. The missions flown by these two units reveal an exemplary spirit of co-operation and selflessness on the part of all participants. Our attacks must succeed in defeating the British attacks in North Africa. This is our goal; all our thoughts and all our efforts must be directed to its attainment.

Signed, Kesselring,

Commander in Chief, South.

Message from Kesselring to Fliegerfuhrer Afrika, 10 June 1942, in response to message above.

Three days later, the German 90 Light Division captured El Adem and the following day the Eighth Army began a general retreat from Gazala. Some units returned to the Tobruk perimeter while others escaped into the desert further south and made for the Egyptian frontier. Rommel wished to swing the Afrika Korps round in a great encircling manoeuvre to trap the fleeing Eighth Army, but his troops had reached the limits of their physical reserves. Later, at EI Alamein, New Zealand soldiers recovered the diaries of German soldiers who had fought through the Gazala battles. The entries showed the men had fought for days on end with only brief spells of sleep, one such dairy stating simply: ‘No sleep again’.

This period was marked by intense aerial battles in which British fighters inflicted heavy losses on the German Ju-87 dive-bombers. In turn, the British fighters suffered very badly from the Bf-109units, the experienced German pilots often awaiting an opportunity to sweep down and clear them from the skies. On 17 June, for example, Marseille claimed the destruction of five RAF fighters, bringing his total of victories to 101, but on the same day Oblt. Otto Schulz from II./JG 27 was shot down by a Kittyhawk near Sidi Rezegh after scoring his 51st victory. He was the first great desert ace to die.

By 18 June, Tobruk itself was besieged again, with Rommel launching an attack on the mainly South African garrison two days later. The assault was preceded by a massive air attack by Gefechtsverband Sigel (an ad hoc unit combining two Ju-87 Gruppen plus III./ZG 26 and 2.(H)/14) to soften up the defences, and then the German and Italian artillery opened up on the port. This time, in contrast to 1941, Rommel knew just what lay ahead of him and the pioneers bridged the first anti-tank ditches for the waiting tanks and lorry-borne infantry which stormed ahead and into the fortress. The plan worked and, late on 21 June, an elated Rommel accepted the surrender of the garrison commander, General Klopper.

Dear Kesselring,

The Luftwaffe units under your command have played a vital role in our glorious victory at Tobruk. During the past weeks they have fought the enemy with devastating success on land, at sea and in the air and have thereby provided most valuable support for Rommel’s Panzer Army in its heroic battle. I take this opportunity to express to you, and to your men, my gratitude and my sincere congratulations for the part played by the Luftwaffe in a decisive success in the Mediterranean and at Tobruk.

Signed, Goring,

Reichsmarschall of Greater Germany and C-in-C of the German Luftwaffe.

Message from Goring to Kesselring dated 22 June 1942

Contrary to an earlier commitment to stop at Tobruk until Malta had been taken, Rommel now issued an order to prepare Panzerarmee Afrika to move off in pursuit of the disorganised columns of British survivors from the Gazala battles straggling into Egypt. Fearing he might never again have such an opportunity, and confident that Hitler would authorise his actions, Rommel decided to follow the Eighth Army and destroy it as soon as possible.

On 22 June, I. and III./JG 27 and II./JG 53 moved to airfields around Gambut and four days later a record number of sorties were flown by both sides. A total of 28 British aircraft were claimed by the four Luftwaffe fighter Gruppen, 13 by I./JG 27, eight each by II./JG 27, five by III./JG 27 and two by III./JG 53. Prominent among the successful pilots were Lt. Friedrich Korner with five, Lt. Stahlschmidt with four, and Lt. Werner Schroer with three victories.

Two problems now began to make themselves felt with both the German ground and air forces. The first was a serious lack of fuel so serious that on 27 June III./JG 53 was able to fly only one mission of four Bf-109s and the tanks of the Afrika Korps were also beginning to run out as they re-crossed the Egyptian border. The other problem was that while the Axis Forces had been behind the Gazala line, Luftwaffe units in Africa had been able to support German forces in North Africa and at the same time attack Malta and the convoys attempting to supply the island. Now, the rapid German advance had placed the convoys beyond their range and, at the same time, the strong Luftwaffe presence in Sicily was being withdrawn to support the drive to the Caucasus already under way in Russia. Again it was proved that the Italian Air Force and Navy were not strong enough to repeat the performance of the Luftwaffe the previous Spring which had neutralised Malta as a base for attacks against Axis convoys.

 

Voltigeurs

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After 1804, every French infantry battalion was authorized to establish a voltigeur company. These companies included the smallest and most agile men in the battalion and were expected to form the unit’s skirmish screen. They were marked by the green and yellow plumes and cording on the shako and similarly coloured epaulettes. voltigeur: from the French for “vaulter,” a light infantryman usually serving in the light company of a line regiment, usually deployed in extended order to form a skirmisher screen ahead of infantry or cavalry. As expert marksmen, voltigeurs carried .69 calibre carbines and any other weapons of choice.

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DEPLOYEZ EN TIRAILLEUR! The French Army did not have a specific regulation for skirmishing, so individual regiments developed their own techniques, based on common experience of the Revolutionary Wars. Here a voltigeur company (1) has been sent several hundred paces forward to screen the battalion’s front. Before instructing his men to deployez en tirailleur, the captain designates the size of the intervals between each file. As the first two ranks advance at the pas de course, fanning out into open order, the third rank halts and is formed into two ranks by the sergent-major (2). Standing with the reserve, the captain (3) orders the halt. These orders were transmitted by drum or voltigeur horns. The captain could then order his men to fire in position or fire and advance by ranks. Each rank would advance a preset number of paces before firing; while they reloaded, the second rank advanced at the run. The reserve would keep pace, sending forward reinforcements as required. The lieutenant (4) and sous-lieutenant (5) would take position at the rear and centre of their sections. The sergents’ (6) positions were not fixed, so they could go where necessary. Skirmishers fought in pairs, either with their file partner or with the man to their right, ensuring that one of them remained loaded at all times. Although alignments had to be maintained, skirmishers would take advantage of any cover they found. The biggest threat to skirmishers was from cavalry, which could ride down a skirmish line rapidly. If the ralliement sounded, the skirmishers would run to the reserve and reform. If there was no time, they formed rally clumps around their section commanders, or took cover as best they could.

On 20 September 1804, Napoleon initiated a change in the battalion organization. The number of companies was decreased from nine to eight, and one company was also designated as a ‘light’ company of voltigeurs. For many units, this seems to have been a mere formality, as they had already designated one of their companies to serve as skirmishers on a regular basis.

Finally, there would be one more internal organizational change in 1808, when regiments were, in theory, to maintain their strength at four field battalions and one depot battalion. In each battalion, the number of companies would be reduced still further to six: four companies of fusiliers and chasseurs, depending on the type of regiment, one of grenadiers, or carabiniers, and one of voltigeurs. Depot battalions had no elite companies. Interestingly, this reflects a steady increase in the proportion of elite troops within the battalion – 11 per cent in the nine-company battalion, 25 per cent in the eightcompany battalion, and 33 per cent in the six-company battalion.

Austria – Second Quarter of the 18th century

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Austria, Grenadier zu Pferde (Horse Grenadiers) 1730 by Rudolf von Ottenfeld.

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Coalitions in Europe between 1725 and 1730. Signatories of the Treaty of Vienna (April 30, 1725) in blue and signatories of the Treaty of Hanover (September 3, 1725) in red. Prussia, in brown, first joined the Hanoverian Alliance, but later changed sides after the Treaty of Berlin on December 23, 1728.

European and imperial politics polarized as Britain and France announced their rival Alliance of Hanover 3 July 1725, recruiting Prussia, Denmark, Sweden and the Dutch Republic by 1727. Britain sought additional bilateral defence pacts to secure Hanover in case of war, while Charles tried to widen his own network. Britain beat him to Hessen-Kassel, offering not only larger subsidies but political support for Hessian acquisition of the fortress of Rheinfels, currently held by a Habsburg client. Most princes, however, preferred a closer understanding with the emperor, especially as the Spanish silver guaranteed the necessary minimum subsidy to make any agreement viable. All four Wittelsbach electors, along with Mainz, Bamberg, Würzburg and Wolfenbüttel signed defence pacts with Austria in the course of 1726. A particular coup was Prussia’s defection from the Anglo-French combination by the Treaty of Wusterhausen, 12 October 1726, confirmed by that of Berlin, 23 December 1728.

Princes who held out for too much found themselves spurned by both sides, particularly as Austrian ministers knew they could count on the strong residual loyalty of most rulers should war actually break out. This was the case in Württemberg, where Duke Eberhard Ludwig never seriously wavered from the Habsburg camp despite periodic negotiations with France and Charles’s refusal to grant an electoral title. Even Landgrave Carl considered himself a loyal vassal, although he had agreed to defend Hanover. The case of Saxony was more problematic given Augustus’s dual role as elector and king, but his demands were so unrealistic they found no response from either side: he wanted Bohemia and Silesia as a land bridge between his two states and dreamed of becoming the next emperor. However, the fact that such a comparatively powerful prince as Augustus could not hope to hold a viable middle position between the rival alliances indicated how the German territories were being marginalized by great power politics.

Even Austria was ill-prepared for this potentially lethal game. The nominal size of the Habsburg army was raised from 122,945 (1722) to 190,257 (1727), but it is unlikely there were more than 125,000 effectives. In comparison, the French army stood at 229,458 in 1727. Spanish subsidies proved irregular, held up by an English naval blockade, so that only 2.5 million fl. reached Austria by 1729. Subsidy arrears to the Wittelsbach electors alone stood at 4.17 million, and although these were eventually paid, all four drifted back to France by 1729, where they found a better financial deal but still no concrete political gains.

Although Austria was strengthened by a treaty with Russia in 1726, it could do little to help Spain, which returned to its Anglo-French alliance at Seville on 9 November 1729. An ultimatum was issued, demanding Charles admit Spanish garrisons into Parma and Piacenza for Don Carlos by 9 May 1730. Despite the mounting tension, the real threat of war was receding due to rifts in Anglo-French relations since 1727. Colonial and commercial rivalry contributed to this as did the conflicting policy of both partners towards the Reich. France’s success in detaching the Wittelsbachs from Austria raised fears that it was returning to its traditional policy of building up a German alliance network. The British government edged closer to Austria, restoring good relations by 1731, when Charles conceded its demands to admit Don Carlos to Parma and Piacenza and dropped his support for the Ostende Company. Though an Austro-Hanoverian alliance was struck on 16 March 1731, a full return to the “Old System” was not possible due to Dutch hesitancy and French care not to let the break with Britain go too far.

Nonetheless, the improved international situation restored stability to the Habsburg’s southern buffer zone and enabled Charles to resume a higher profile in imperial Italy by intervening in Corsica. A full-scale rebellion had broken out on the island in 1729 and the Corsicans’ Genoese masters appealed to the emperor as overlord to assist in restoring order. Charles welcomed the chance to enhance his influence in the region, especially as it provided a pretext to increase his Italian garrisons to pre-empt possible Spanish attack. Moreover, the Genoese appeal in April 1731 coincided with extraordinarily favourable circumstances. The emperor was on good terms with Piedmont- Sardinia, a limited defence pact had just been struck with both maritime powers and good relations had been temporarily restored with Spain. Four thousand men were despatched from the Milanese garrison in July to suppress the rebellion. The Genoese, who were paying the expenses, wished to keep the expeditionary force as small as possible, but Prince Eugene urged reinforcements to avoid a defeat. Although numbers had risen to 12,000 by 1732, the local commander saw the impossibility of winning a guerrilla war. Experience in Hungary had taught the Habsburgs the futility of undiluted repression and the necessity of negotiation. The rebels offered sovereignty of their island to the emperor, or, if he refused, Prince Eugene, but the government preferred a less ambitious solution. The Genoese were forced to accept a compromise, decided at Corte on 13 May 1732, promising an amnesty and reforms under imperial guarantee.

It seemed the ideal settlement for Charles, reaffirming his prestige as impartial arbiter, but in reality it masked acute underlying weakness. Austrian intervention had depended on circumstances beyond its control, and once these disappeared Charles was powerless to prevent the Genoese returning to their former mismanagement of the island. It was significant that when a fresh rebellion broke out in 1734, its leader, Giacinto Paoli, turned to Spain rather than Austria for help. Nonetheless, it was another German who would be king, Baron Theodor von Neuhoff, who was chosen as monarch in March 1736. His reign lasted only until October, when he left to find further assistance and promptly landed in a Dutch debtors’ prison. Unable to intervene because of the Polish and Turkish Wars of 1733-9, Charles remained only a nominal partner in an unusual Franco-Austrian expedition to crush the rebellion in February 1738. Anxious lest the French remain in permanent occupation, Genoa pressed Charles to send his contingent, but nothing was done before the outbreak of renewed European war in 1740 compelled Louis XV to recall his troops.

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Poland, where Augustus was frequently ill after 1722, raising the question of his succession. Austria and Russia were not well disposed towards backing another Wettin candidate, despite Crown Prince Friedrich August being Charles’ brother-in-law. Russia in particular cast about for an alternative to assist its Polish policy, initially lighting on Prussia, its only loyal German ally at the end of the Great Northern War. Treaties were struck in 1720 and 1726, securing Prussian support to keep Poland weak and prevent the succession of a monarch not of Russia’s choosing. The Austro-Russian alliance of 1726 upgraded Russia’s German partner to none other than the emperor himself, forcing Prussia into second place. Although the three did agree to co-operate in the Alliance of the Three Black Eagles of December 1732, it was Austria and, increasingly, Russia that called the tune. Frederick William I was forced to concede Russia a free hand in the future of Courland in return for retaining some influence in Poland after 1733. The most decisive agreement, however, was the Löwenwolde Convention of 19 March 1733, whereby Austria and Russia agreed to back the Wettin candidate for want of a better alternative following Augustus’s death on 1 February.

Charles increasingly lost control over events as Russia and France moved towards war. Empress Anna and her ministers were keen to settle matters in Poland quickly to be free to turn to more ambitious projects in the Balkans, forcing Charles to commit himself or lose their support altogether. Though Cardinal Fleury wanted to avoid an open breach, Louis XV pushed the candidacy of Stanislaw Leszczynski, partly from personal sympathy for a man who had become his father-in-law in 1725, and partly for want of a better candidate. Leszczynski, who had spent the intervening 20 years in French exile, had become something of a Polish national hero, helped by a series of bungled Saxon assassination attempts and by the fact that his countrymen had had time to forget his failings.

The War of the Polish Succession, 1733-5

The resultant conflict proved a severe test for Charles’s defence strategy, as it involved three interrelated struggles in the sensitive buffer zones of Poland, Italy and the Rhineland. Although the situation had been stabilized by 1735, the Habsburg monarchy was seriously weakened by a conflict the political importance of which far exceeded the level of actual fighting.

If Augustus had embarked on his royal adventure from a poor position, that of his son was weaker still. The Saxon army totalled only 19,800 men in June 1733, and even with 4,000 extra conscripts was completely incapable of enforcing Wettin rule alone. Field Marshal Lacy and 30,000 Russians crossed the Polish frontier on 11 August, their operations subsequently held up not by Polish resistance but Empress Anna’s doubts as to whether she was backing the right candidate. France declared its support for Leszczynski on 4 September, and he was elected by the majority of Polish nobles eight days later. Louis XV declared war on Austria and Saxony on 10 October, spreading the war in support of his father-in-law three days later with simultaneous attacks on Kehl and Lorraine. However, a minority of nobles had already chosen the Saxon elector’s Augusts II, as their King Augustus III on 5 October, and with Russian assistance Leszczynski’s rule was restricted to the area around Danzig. France was unwilling to assist directly beyond sending 2,500 troops, who had already surrendered to the Russians on 23 June 1734. Fleury was only interested in securing Poland as a French Barriere de l’est provided it could be done without diverting resources from more important objectives. The fall of Danzig to a Russo-Saxon force on 9 September ended Leszczynski’s second brief period as king and he temporarily found refuge in Königsberg, as Prussia had little desire to help its Saxon rivals.

By this time the war had also spread to Italy, as France, allied to Sardinia and Spain since 1733, sent 38,000 troops to attack Milan in late October. Joined by 25,000 Sardinians, and eventually 24,000 Spanish, these proved more than enough to drive the 18,000 Austrians out of Milan. The situation stabilized with the arrival of Austrian reinforcements from spring 1734, fighting the allies to a standstill in Parma and Mantua. However, Charles’s troops were unable to prevent the Spanish moving south past Rome with papal permission to attack Naples in May 1734. Held by only 21,000 men, this was quickly overrun, followed by Sicily soon thereafter. The situation would probably have been even worse but for the conflicting aims of Austria’s enemies. Sardinia and Spain both claimed Milan and nearly came to blows over Mantua. France was concerned to limit Spanish resurgence in Italy, while Sardinia wanted to retain at least a token Austrian presence there.

Charles’s inability to defend Habsburg Italy was due in part to the need to divert forces to hold the Rhine, vital to sustain his prestige as emperor. All elements of the formal and informal defence structure were activated to assist the limited Austrian forces. The Association mobilized, agreeing a triple quota on 9 November 1733, followed by the declaration of a full Reichskrieg by the Reichstag on 9 April 1734 and the extension of the mobilization throughout the Reich. Meanwhile contingents had started to arrive in response to Charles’s network of bilateral treaties, which were extended by supplementary military conventions and fresh agreements. Charles carefully targeted princes with influence within the Kreis structure to ensure his bilateral arrangements complicated the Association’s mobilization. The Franconian executive prince, the influential imperial vice chancellor, Friedrich Carl von Schönborn, agreed extra Bamberg and Würzburg auxiliaries in addition to promoting Kreis mobilization. Swabian co-operation was consolidated by a treaty with Carl Alexander, the new Catholic duke of Württemberg, who was already well integrated into the Habsburg patronage network. Hessen-Kassel was also persuaded to rejoin the Upper Rhenish Kreis military structure in addition to providing auxiliaries, while the agreements with Hanover and Wolfenbüttel also ensured they fielded their contingents to the Reichsarmee. Significantly, Prussian aid was secured without conceding Frederick William’s demands for Jülich-Berg, and, to reduce the king’s bargaining power, Charles rejected his offer of 40,000 men, accepting only the 10,000 he was obliged to provide under the Treaty of Berlin. The other rulers also received little material reward for their efforts and were obliged to reaffirm their support for the Pragmatic Sanction and often provide additional recruits directly to the Austrian army.

Charles’s defence of the Rhine was affected by international developments. His relative success in securing German support was due in part to the absence of foreign competition. Unlike previous wars against France, Britain and the Dutch remained neutral because Fleury wisely refrained from attacking the Austrian Netherlands, negotiating a treaty to this effect with the Dutch Republic in 1733.

Though German auxiliaries were not drawn to Flanders by Anglo-Dutch subsidies, this also meant there was no extra money for help in Italy. Charles could not hope to match the sums formerly paid by the maritime powers, but without additional money the princes could not mobilize more troops. As it was, many preferred to retain their remaining units for home defence, such as Ernst Ludwig, who refused to release his guard dragoon regiment on the grounds it was needed for his own outposts. Shortage of funds compelled Charles to accept cash in lieu of troops from the weaker Westphalians and Lower Saxons, further reducing the effective strength of the Kreis contingents

Though the paper strength of the Austrian army was raised from 141,713 (1732) to 205,643 (1735), no more than 157,000 were actually present, making German help crucial. Moreover, the absence of a Netherlands front enabled the French to concentrate up to 100,000 of their 280,585 troops in the Rhineland, in addition to sizeable numbers in Italy.

These were more than sufficient to achieve Fleury’s limited objectives of weakening Habsburg Italy and annexing Lorraine. The latter was quickly overrun after 13 September 1733, reducing the remaining French operations in the Rhineland to pressurizing Charles into negotiating. Since France could not strike at Austria, it was compelled to attack German targets, but had to limit these to symbolic objectives, such as capturing the Reichsfeste for fear of antagonizing the princes and provoking Anglo-Dutch intervention. There was no repeat of the savage devastation that characterized Louis XIV’s policy, and once Kehl fell on 28 October 1733, French forces withdrew over the Rhine. However, this failed to deter German mobilization, forcing the French to launch an attack down the Moselle valley, taking Trarbach and Trier in April 1734. A second force then broke the Ettlingen defensive lines in May, forcing the newly-assembled Reichsarmee under Prince Eugene to retire on Heilbronn and clearing the way for the siege of Philippsburg, which fell on 19 July. Thereafter, France remained on the defensive, refraining from provocative attacks deeper into the Reich.

The question of Russian intervention hung over these operations from the outset, as Charles called on Anna to honour her obligations under the 1726 treaty and send the promised 30,000 men. Anna refused until her ministers had manoeuvred Charles into agreeing to back an offensive war against the Turks, which the Russians started in 1735. Even then, she unilaterally reduced the assistance to 13,000 and directed it to the Rhine rather than Italy, where Habsburg strategists originally wanted it. France and Bavaria quickly exploited the Russians’ westward advance from Poland for propaganda purposes, raising the image of barbarous Moscovites as henchmen of imperial absolutism and referring directly to their earlier disorderly conduct in Mecklenburg. In fact the Russians were on their best behaviour, since Anna and her advisers used the expedition to boost their international prestige. Trained and disciplined largely along German lines, the Russians made an impressive appearance as they arrived in Swabia that August. Apart from language problems and cattle plague spread by transport oxen, the Germans had no difficulty coping with their new guests.

The Russians’ arrival raised hopes in Vienna of turning the tide of war, and some planned to use the Bavarians’ opposition to their transit as an excuse to invade the electorate and disarm its army. However, Prince Eugene continued to regard the situation as hopeless, arguing that it was impossible to take Bavaria without a long and costly campaign. Even with the Russians on the Rhine he felt unable to take the offensive, claiming Anna’s assistance came at too high a price and peace was a better option.

As it was, the Russian advance did alarm the French, who opened negotiations with Charles in June 1735 when it became obvious that diplomatic efforts in St Petersburg had failed to deter Anna from intervening. Peace preliminaries were signed in Vienna with British mediation on 3 October. France compelled Leszczynski to abdicate in favour of Augustus III and accept Metz, Toul, Verdun and the duchy of Bar as compensation. Lorraine would also be transferred to the ex-king once its current duke could have Tuscany after the death of the last Medici, which occurred in 1737. This paved the way for full French annexation of Lorraine along with Leszczynski’s other territory upon his own death in 1766, completing Fleury’s programme and ending Lorraine’s association with Germany until Bismarck’s Second Reich in 1871.