WWII

American soldiers splash ashore at Anzio, Italy, during an end run expected to compromise the German defenses of the Gustav Line. The landings failed to achieve the desired results and remain controversial to this day.

WWII

Prudence or Paralysis?

By Steve Ossad

Hitler called it an “abscess.” British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the chief sponsor and loudest cheerleader for the endeavor, grudgingly proclaimed it “a disaster.” Read more

WWII

Cape Matapan Triumph

By David H. Lippman

It was called “rodding,” and it was a complex manual procedure used by British cryptographers at Hut Eight in the Government Code and Cipher School at Bletchley Park to decipher Italian Naval Enigma coded messages. Read more

Australians expand and improve the Italian defenses at Tobruk in February 1941 in anticipation of an attack by Axis forces in a painting by Australian war artist Ivor Hele. Two months later, Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps began probing the Allied defenses at the key Libyan port.

WWII

Rommel Repulsed

By Robert Heege

It was the first week of April 1941, and Lt. Gen. Richard O’Connor could scarcely believe what was happening as his driver suddenly cocked the wheel and swerved hard left, flooring the gas pedal in a futile attempt to outrun the multiple bursts of machine-gun fire erupting all around them, lighting up the Saharan night as bullets chased after his wheels. Read more

Maltese civilians inspect the ruins of the opera house in Valletta after heavy Axis aerial blitz, April 7, 1942. The British called Malta “the most-bombed island in the world.”

WWII

Linchpin of the Mediterranean

By Mark Simmons

It was the humid season on Malta that September of 1943. The hot Sirocco winds from North Africa blow from August to October across the cool sea, raising humidity. Read more

WWII

Turning Point In The Pacific

By Michael E. Haskew

Despite more than a decade of triumphs in Asia and the Pacific, by the spring of 1942 the Japanese military establishment was in a somber mood. Read more

WWII

The MG-42 Light Machine Gun

By Arnold Blumberg

Whether fighting in the mountains of the Italian peninsula, assaulting Nazi defensive positions along the vast Russo-German Eastern Front, or clashing with German Army opponents from Normandy to the Elbe River, from 1942 to 1945, Allied soldiers in World War II faced a determined enemy armed with the most effective machine gun produced during that struggle: the Maschinengewehr 42, or the MG 42 for short. Read more

An American soldier cautiously approaches two burning vehicles that had been destroyed by a German ambush. As a scout, Private Sevel never wore equipment or heavy clothing in order to stay mobile on the battlefield.

WWII

A Scout in Patton’s Third Army

By Kevin M. Hymel

The Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter plane dove out of the sky with machine guns firing. The pilot’s target—a pontoon bridge being stretched across Germany’s Werra River by American engineers. Read more

The German flagship SMS Cöln takes fire from Commodore William Goodenough’s cruisers. Having suffered severe damage, her crew decided to scuttle her in the hope that they would be picked up by ships in close proximity. Sadly, all but one man perished at sea.

WWII

Race to Victory

By John Protasio

Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt of the Royal Navy was in a grave predicament on August 28, 1914. His force was near the German base at Heligoland Bight. Read more

Soldiers man a quad .50 anti-aircraft gun on the Place de la Concorde. Behind them stands the Hôtel de Crillon on the left, the Obelisk of Luxor in the center, and the Church of Madeline, to the immediate right of the Obelisk, and the French Naval Ministry on the far right. Belgian gates—German anti-tank obstacles—surround the gun nest.

WWII

Americans in Paris

By Kevin M. Hymel

Almost every soldier on western European battlefront wanted to get to Paris. Once it was liberated on August 25, 1944, it became a mecca for Allied soldiers on leave who filled the streets, bars, and historic buildings, enjoying a brief respite from the war. Read more

Under a smoke-blackened sky, U.S. Marines, in their distinctive P42 camouflage uniforms, wade across the shallow lagoon toward the blazing Tarawa beachhead in the Gilbert Islands (now Kiribati), November 20, 1943. The draft of the Higgins boats proved too great for the shallow water that covered the barrier reef encircling the lagoon, forcing many Marines to struggle ashore through heavy enemy fire. Painting by artist and U.S.M.C. Sergeant Tom Lovell.

WWII

Terrible Toll at Tarawa

By Michael E. Haskew

Seventeen months after the juggernaut of Japanese conquest in the Pacific had come to an abrupt end with the Battle of Midway, American strategists were ready to launch their long-awaited offensive in the Central Pacific. Read more

WWII

The Battle of Ortona: Italy’s Stalingrad

By Mike Phifer

“Where the hell have you been?”

Major Bert Kennedy, acting commander of Canada’s Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment of the 1st Canadian Infantry Brigade, asked Lieutenant Farley Mowat of the intelligence section. Read more

The Soviet Union’s two primary antitank rifles saw wide use in World War II despite the limitations of their small calibers.

WWII

Russian Antitank Rifles

By Christopher Miskimon

The German panzers approached the Russian artillery  column as it moved to a new position. As the troops trudged toward their new firing point, six panzers appeared, rampaging into the Russian rear area, no doubt searching for vulnerable targets to destroy. Read more

The men of Company C of the 62nd Armored Infantry Battalion stationed in the village of Bannstein fought desperately to buy time for Maj. Gen. Edward Brooks’s VI Corps when attacked by lead elements of the 361st Volksgrenadier Division in the opening hours of Operation Nordwind

WWII

Overrun in Alsace

By Allyn Vannoy

Like something out of a dream, a soldier walked into the command post. He unspooled a line of wire, hooked a field phone to it, checked the line, and handed the receiver to the officer in charge, Captain Howard Trammell, saying, “Someone wants to talk to you.” Read more

WWII

Achtung! Panzers in Normandy

By Michael E. Haskew

The ongoing debate between German Field Marshals Erwin Rommel and Gerd von Rundstedt over how best to use the German Army’s elite panzer divisions against the coming Allied invasion ultimately reached no clear conclusion. Read more