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Subject: Postcards From The Edge 8. Total War rss

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Simon Nicholls
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As the name suggests, everyone gets busy.

3. Total War
May / August 1942

US troops land in Casablanca! General Eisenhower sent to Europe! US Atlantic Fleet docks in Belfast!
Washington Post, 2nd May 1942

I have instructed our ambassador in Washington to protest to the President in the strongest possible terms, in relation to this unwarranted interference in a purely European dispute.
Ribbentrop, extract of memo to Johanns 4th May 1942

It seems that the Americans, like the British and French before them, will insist on throwing themselves into our path to glory. Our intelligence from Washington is that more troop convoys are expected to sail any day now. As soon as they have sufficient forces in Europe I expect them to declare war on us. They hide like cowards under the flag of neutrality - but that shall not save them.
Johanns Diary, 6th May 1942

Prepare all available Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe units to intercept US troop convoys in Biscay. Release of all available oil reserves to support operation has been approved.
Extract from Fuhrer Directive No 9, 7th May 1942

Germany declares war on US, cites intolerable provocation.
Stockholm Daily News Headline, 10th May 1942

Once more the Americans, seduced by the myths of US superiority issuing from Hollywood, have dared to challenge the might of the German people. Let them throw themselves against the unbreakable walls of Festung Europa - when we are ready, once the Bolsheviks have been crushed, we shall turn our attention to them.
Riechsminister Gregboells, Radio speech 12th May 1942

Fritz Hits Nix, Pits
Variety, 14th May 1942

Have been unable to make contact with US Troopships. Will continue search.
Admiral Becker, commander Kriegsmarine Task Force
Signal to Kriegsmarine operations, 16th May 1942

We were lucky - we weren’t ready for combat, we were expecting another quiet cruise to Morocco. But maybe it was time we had a little bit of luck.
President Simonson, Diary entry for 17th May 1942

More bad news. In spite of overwhelming odds, our initial attacks on the flanks of the Moscow front have failed. Although reports have reached us that lead elements of Army Group South have reached the Urals, unless Moscow can be taken before winter the Russians may be able to stabilise their position.
Johanns, Diary entry 24th May 1942

“Italy cannot cower behind Germany’s skirts. Laurencini is as guilty as Johanns for this war and he must pay his share of the bill….”
Excerpt from Simonson’s speech declaring war on Italy, 27th May 1942

Operation Torch complete success. Landings South of Lisbon made without opposition.
General Eisenhower, Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Forces Europe, 29th May 1942

We are attempting to contain the bridgehead but have few troops at our disposal. Situation is potentially critical.
Telegram from Franco to Laurencini, 2nd June 1942

Our troops at Suez have completed the elimination of the trapped British Garrison. I will be shipping them back to re-enforce your borders immediately. I have also requested assistance from our German allies, please arrange suitable accomodation for their liaison staff on arrival.
Telegram, Laurencini to Franco, 3rd June 1942

“At least it’s bloody warmer here”
Field Marshal Kessellring, on arrival in Madrid 7th June 1942

We could hear the sound of Nazi artillery from Red Square - but Walin remained closetted with his personal assistant, Janna. When he did appear, all he did was rant about the enemy in Turkmenistan, demanding their immediate destruction. And then, at the start of June, we heard that the 6th Siberian rifle regiment had finally tracked down and eliminated that bunch of camel riding bandits. Considering our situation, we had no cause to celebrate, yet when we heard the news the entire General Staff went down into the bunker and got completely ratted.
General Andypov, STAVKA, excerpt from memoirs

Imperial forces advance to outskirts of Bombay and Calcutta. Victory is imminent.
Tokyo Times, 29th May 1942

Serious reverses suffered in Northern China, armed Communist militia have broken through our lines and are advancing towards Peking. We are in danger of being outflanked to the North.
General Terauchi, report to Army High Command 5th June 1942

We were overconfident. We had convinced ourselves that the US fleet did not constitute a threat to our supply lines. Our education was painful and expensive, all our convoys to the Java sea were sunk over a four week period in late June. The effect on our economy could have been crippling, fortunately the tankers recently freed up from the Northern Pacific had not been reassigned and were available.
Lojo, Memoirs

We had been ordered to move from Baku, North into the mountains and hold there. I’m told that our intelligence knew Manstein was near Astrakhan, almost 400 kms North of our positions, and thought there was no real threat. Maybe that was why our senior officers were so lax during the move North - stores were delayed in transit, we had no proper supplies to build fortifications, everything was very relaxed. And then, one morning in late June I was inspecting the guard and saw movement in the valley to the North. I couldn’t believe it - the Germans had somehow appeared where they had no right to be. We put up what fight we could but, in spite of our positions in the mountains, we were scattered.
Captain Dovstvesesky, 23rd Rifle Regiment, interviewed in 1951

The first reports came in from Baku after midnight. Walin had gone to bed, but we had no choice but to wake him. There were no troops between the German armour and Baku, our garrison in Tiflis was already weak, and finally our intelligence reports from Ankara indicated that the Turks were taking an increasingly pro-Axis stance. Walin took some time to take it all in. The radio to London was still working at the time, and eventually he decided to consult Nichills. Some good that did!
Colonel Popov, STAVKA, diary entry for 27th June 1942

It rained and rained. I’d never seen weather so bad in July, and for the first two weeks of the month I thought we would be saved by it. Then the rain stopped, the sun came out, the mud dried and the Panzers started moving again.
Unknown Moscow civilian, letter dated 23rd July 1942

Another Russian Corps eliminated. Baku screened, advance continuing on Tiflis. The Russians are throwing lightly armed garrison troops at us in desperation - I almost feel sorry for them.
Manstein, entry in Army Group South Daily Orders 6th July 1942

We have just heard from Moscow that both flanks of the Russian Moscow front have been eliminated in co-ordinated German assaults. The end for Moscow must now be near. The only thing I can think to do is order more reinforcements to Portugal, maybe it will distract Johanns from his prey for long enough.
Nichill, diary 14th July 1942

Most secret: Walin and STAVKA command evacuated from Moscow today. No mention is to appear in press, rumour mongers to be suppressed with maximum ruthlessness.
NKVD special order 1296, 16th July 1942

There was very nearly a mutiny - we still remembered the near fiasco at Lyon and now that idiot Franco wanted to do it again. We had a few second line garrison troops, some highly dubious Spanish allies and a bare core of crack veterans like ourselves from the French and Suez campaign. However, we knew that more reinforcements were coming into Cartegena all the time, and the Germans were said to be moving up to our North with a full Panzer Corps, so in the end discipline held and we went in.
Generalissimo Paulo Maldini, 3rd Infantry Corps
Discussing the destruction of Eisenhower’s Headquarters in Portugal, interview 1950

Bloody Pasta Eaters!
Eisenhower, reputed first words on being picked up from beach

The loss of part of our beachhead was a setback, but not too serious. The Italians had left themselves out of position, we could reinforce again, and we also had the Porto raid ready to go. At that point, everything looked well. And then we heard about Moscow and realised we didn’t have much time left to consolidate our gains ….
Field Marshal Montgomery, memoirs

Thank you again for making my leave so memorable. I have just arrived back here at and I must say that I have never seen so much in one place. It makes the siege of Leningrad looks like a kids party! It really looks like someone is taking this very seriously indeed.
Letter home from Hauptman F Nietche, 6th Panzer Army, somewhere near Moscow 1st August 1942

In a daring long range operation, US Paratroops from the 101st airborne seized Porto early this morning. This completely outflanks German and Italian positions in Portugal, and should lead to a swift liberation of Lisbon.
War Office Press Release, 3rd August 1942

One thousand aircraft, four hundred artillery pieces, three quarters of a million men and enough stockpiled ammunition to last army group centre for four months. We were absolutely positive that this attack was going to succeed. We would crush Moscow.
Rundstedt, Memoirs

Moscow falls in three days! More shells fired in one day than in entire battle of the Somme! Bolshevism is dead!
Der Speil, headlines 5th August 1942

We had boarded the train expecting to be back in Berlin within the week, being feted as the conquerers of Moscow and enjoying some well deserved leave. The news that we were being redirected to Spain was a shock to some. Myself, I didn’t mind. After the previous winter, it would be nice to be somewhere warmer for a change.
Private Lothar Matthaus, 4th SS Panzer Regiment, interview 1954

Intelligence reports at least four new German formations have arrived in Spain. All are eastern front veterans, freed up after the destruction of Moscow. However, it will take some weeks for them to re-organise and refit. We recommend an immediate expansion and reinforcement of both beachheads before these new units can be brought to bear.
M Megg, newly promoted Intelligence Co-ordinator, Western Europe
20th August 1942

“Mayday, mayday. This is convoy PQ-18. We are being engaged by surface vessels, escorts absent. Position 400 miles South of Cape Farvel, need immediate ….” (Message breaks off)
Radio message received in Reykjavik, 23rd August, 1942

Complete disaster! Our attempt to get some badly needed supplies to the Soviets has backfired. Over four hundred thousand tons of shipping sunk, damaged or cowering in port.
Nichills, diary entry for 24th August 1942

I expected the PM to go ballistic again. But he seemed strangely subdued, as if the constant reverses are finally sapping his will. I came into the War Office ante room unexpectedly yesterday and found him with what appeared to be a bottle of Brandy in his hands. He hid it quickly but I am starting to suspect the worst.
ODNAF Vaughan, Diary entry 26th August 1942

Once again we have proven the worth of our brave soldiers. Like the Spartans at Thermoplyae, the martyrs of the 16th Motorised Division will be long remembered. Just one Italian Division to hold the massed forces of the British and the Americans.
Laurencini, speech to crowds in Rome, 28th August 1942

Today Tiflis fell. The oil fields are open to us, and I have received word from our ambassador in Ankara that the Turks are ready to join with us to finish off the corpse of the Russian bear.
Johanns, diary 27th August 1942

The Ottoman empire shall rise again. We have today joined the crusade against Bolshevism and declared war on the corrupt Soviet Union. Boutros Boutros Ghali, Prime Minister of Turkey, 29th August 1942

Bombay has fallen. Forces advancing up the Abu Road towards Delhi.
IJA Report, 27th August 1942

The evidence suggests that it was the triple blows of the loss of Bombay, the entry of Turkey as an Axis ally and the destruction of the Atlantic convoys that precipitated Nichills’ breakdown. Although the symptoms would not become plain for several months, the damage was done there and then.
Extract from ‘Nichills - From Bulldog to Boozer’ by J Diamond

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