Sunday, October 18, 2015
These photographs show a heavy artillery unit from the SS-Verfügungstruppe carrying out manoeuvres somewhere on the French coast in October 1940. After running home the round, SS-VT gunners anticipating the moment of firing. Members of the gun crew stand ready to react against the explosion of the gun being fired with fingers pressed into ears and mouths half open, a practice which helped to reduce the force of the shock on their ear drums of the gun crew.
This photograph show a heavy artillery unit from the SS-Verfügungstruppe carrying out manoeuvres somewhere on the French coast in October 1940. "Good German joke - ja!" More for the cameraman than for the benefit of anyone else, one of the SS-VT gunners chalks up an anti-British drawing on the side of a shell. The umbrella and top hat is a dig at Sir Neville Chamberlain, the former British Prime Minister.
This photograph show a heavy artillery unit from the SS-Verfügungstruppe carrying out manoeuvres somewhere on the French coast in October 1940. One of the SS-VT gunner setting the fuse of a shell
This photograph show a heavy artillery unit from the SS-Verfügungstruppe carrying out manoeuvres somewhere on the French coast in October 1940. The vehicle is a Hanomag half track which was designed to tow a heavy artillery piece, such as an 88mm, whilst at the same time carrying the gun crew (seated) and stowed ammunition.
In these five photographs, Flemish volunteers undergo instruction in the use of the German Mauser Kar98k rifle under the watchful eye of junior SS officers and NCO. Political indoctrination, physical fitness, drill on the parade ground, sports and field exercises, skill with weapons and a smart turn out were all part of the daily routine inculcated into an SS recruit, aimed at producing as an end result an efficient, smart and fully trained soldier. Weapon training was an essential aspect of a recruit's life. The handling, stripping, cleaning, re-assembling and actual firing of all personal weapons played an important part in his daily routine.
Walter Oesau, Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1), with his Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 'Grüne 13' (Werknummer 1230). He reached his 100th victory on 26 October 1941
A Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-5 'Grüne 13' (Werknummer 1230) flown by Walter Oesau, shown here at Beaumont le Roger, France, around 1943. The rudder shows five aircraft silhouettes - this marking is either showing his 100+ victories, or five out of his fourteen downed bombers.
Oberst Walter "Gulle" Oesau, Geschwaderkommodore for Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1) and for whom it was named after his death on 11 May 1944. Oesau scored 127 victories in over 300 combat missions. 9 victories were scored during the Spanish Civil War, 74 were scored on the Western front including 14 four-engined bombers (one B-17 as engültige Vernichtung) and 44 over the Eastern front
Friday, October 16, 2015
Oberleutnant Erich Hartmann in his Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 "Gelbe 1". With this aircraft he made his 300th victory on 25 August 1944. Also seen is his trusted mechanic and best friend, Heinz 'Bimmel' Mertens
Oberleutnant Erich Hartmann, the world's most successful fighter pilot with a tally of 352 victories. He is seen here with his mechanic, Heinz 'Bimmel' Mertens, and his Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6
Lookouts aboard the long-range U-178 under Korvettenkapitän Wilhelm Dommes, shortly after having left the Gironde Estuary in France to follow a small convoy through the coastal minefield. The head lens of the attack periscope is visible on the right and the raised rod aerial on the left. In later years, these aerials could be operated electrically from the inside the boat, but initially they were hand-cranked from the top of the conning tower and would not run down on their own without breaking the mechanism's sprockets. As a result, early boats were 'unfit for diving' as long as the aerial was raised. The grid by the base of the aerial was the top of a ventilation shaft leading down to the engine room. Usually there were four lookouts and a watch officer on duty on the conning tower.
Although this shows the small conning tower of a Type II coastal boat, it does drive home the lookouts' vulnerability, especially during hard weather when water constantly washed over the top of the tower. Larger boats had more space, but the towers weren't very much higher. The lapel-less collar of the person leaning on the hatch cover indicates that he is an engineer. The pressure-resistant hatch leading into the U-boat was almost a meter below his feet, and this raised grating merely prevented men falling down the opening in the upper deck. At sea, only the conning tower hatch would have been used, but in port it was more convenient to use the lower entrances. Trees in the background and the presence of a civilian suggests that this is close to harbour.
U-415 was commissioned by Kapitänleutnant Kurt Neide and commanded by him until the end of June 1943. This was when the anti-aircraft guns were strengthened and Oberleutnant zur See Herbert Warner, author of the book 'Iron Coffins', took over. This picture shows how the 20mm anti-aircraft guns were aimed and shot. Although these guns were ineffective against large, fast-flying and armoured aircraft, their operation was relatively easy, but the gunners were not provided with protection against bullets from the aircraft.
U-31, a Type VIIA, with the 88mm quick-firing deck gun in action. Cartridges were stored in a magazine beneath the radio room. They had to be passed up by a chain of men through several very small hatches and along a complicated route. Shells were stored either in waxed cardboard tubes or sealed individually inside pressure and water-resistant containers, almost as if each shell was places inside a tin. These metal containers were so well made that shells found in wrecks more than fifty years after the war were still in perfect condition! Although this picture is not terribly clear, the optical aiming devices can be seen on both sides of the weapon.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
A large, long-distance boat of Type IXD2, probably U-178 or U-181, coming into port with the attack periscope raised to act as a flagpole for a mass of success pennants. The unusual patterns on the side of the hull are shadows from the reception party on the pier.
Two Gebirgsjäger soldiers pause during training activities in an Austrian town, probably in the summer of 1939. The road signs point to two different Austrian towns. In the extensive Alpine regions of Austria these troops would have trained in all sorts of conditions in order to allow each soldier to become self sufficient where they would be absolutely adapted for mountain warfare
A Gebirgsjäger company stands in formation, somewhere in Bavaria during the summer of 1939. The troops wear the typical standard service uniform of that associated with the mountain soldier. They wear the M36 uniform and special field grey heavyweight trousers of a full design to allow other clothing to be worn under them. They wear the mountain field cap or Bergmütze. On the right sleeve is the famous embroidered Gebirgstruppen badge displaying the Edelweiss flower. They wear the mountain boots with short puttees which can be seen bound around the ankles to keep foreign matter out. The majority of them carry their M35 steel helmet with its chin strap hung over the cartridge pouches. For their main armament they carry the Mauser 7.9mm Kar98k carbine, the standard issue Wehrmacht's shoulder weapon.
Another photograph of the Gebirgsjäger onboard the same train being transported eastwards, probably to join the build-up forces preparing to attack Poland during the summer of 1939. The German Army had entrusted the XVIII. Gebirgskorps in the high mountains which formed the border between Poland and Slovakia
Gebirgstruppen are seen onboard a train being transported from their home station eastwards during the summer of 1939. They can be seen holding bottles of beer. The white painted slogan written across the passenger car reads: "You will see us again at home. Heil Jäger!" Such slogans as this were common in the Gebirgsjäger to demonstrate their morale.
A group of Gebirgsjäger pose for the camera at a kilometre post, probably in Austria, in the summer of 1939. Since Anschluss with Austria, a large influx of troops had joined the Gebirgsjäger where it had enlarged to two new divisions
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Flemish SS volunteers take a break during a field exercise. Their rifles are clearly shown stacked in groups of three or four in the traditional manner that kept them neatly in one position and allowed for their rapid recovery whilst at the same time keeping the important working parts of the weapon off the ground and away from dirt and damp
Recruits, either Germans, racial Germanic types or of Nordic stock, entering the Waffen-SS underwent a very rigorous training programme designed by the SS authorities to produce very efficient fighting material. This photograph show SS instructors look on as a team of recruits manhandle a heavy, wheeled artillery gun on their training ground, 6 March 1941
Recruits, either Germans, racial Germanic types or of Nordic stock, entering the Waffen-SS underwent a very rigorous training programme designed by the SS authorities to produce very efficient fighting material. This photograph show Flemish volunteers undergoing field training as a two-man machine gun crew. Taking whatever cover a shallow depression affords them, the crew set up their MG as stealthily as possible. The gunner pulls the MG into its firing position whilst the No.2, who has already opened the lid of the ammunition container, starts to observe his front through his binoculars. It was the task of No.2 to observe, usually through field glasses, the target ahead and to direct the fire of the MG onto the enemy.
Recruits, either Germans, racial Germanic types or of Nordic stock, entering the Waffen-SS underwent a very rigorous training programme designed by the SS authorities to produce very efficient fighting material. This photograph show Flemish volunteers undergoing field training as a two-man machine gun crew. They are spring up from their prone positions and start to cover the open ground as quickly as possible. At this moment they are most exposed to enemy counter fire.
Recruits, either Germans, racial Germanic types or of Nordic stock, entering the Waffen-SS underwent a very rigorous training programme designed by the SS authorities to produce very efficient fighting material. This photograph show Flemish volunteers undergoing field training as a two-man machine gun crew. Here, the No.2, armed with a Luger pistol, awaits the moment to dash forward to his next position. The Maschinengewehr 40 (MG 40) was carried by the gunner, the No.1, whilst spare ammunition, contained in its carrying case, and an extra machine gun barrel, carried in a special metal container, were both carried by the No.2
- "Aircraft Of The Luftwaffe Fighter Aces: A Chronicle In Photographs" by Bernd Barbas
- "Hitler's Mountain Troops 1939-1945, the Gebirgsjäger" by Ian Baxter
- "Waffen-SS" by Brian L. Davis
- "Wolfpacks At War: The U-Boat Experience In WWII" by Jak Mallmann Showell
- "Jet & Prop Fotoarchiv" Band 9
Two photographs which show members of the original SS-Verfügungstruppe on military manoeuvres in Germany before the war. All wear the earth-grey clothing with the black 1918 pattern steel helmets.