An Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs on their way to strike targets in North Vietnam. Refueling operations in the Vietnam War peaked during Operation Rolling Thunder.

European Theater

European Theater

Looking for the Luftwaffe

By Joseph Frantiska, Jr.

Chain Home, or ‘CH’ was the codename given to the system of early warning radar stations located along the Europe facing coasts of the United Kingdom (UK) before and during World War II to locate and follow aircraft. Read more

The Third Reich kept up a steady barrage of music of one style or another, from the constant thump of marching boots and military bands, to street recitals, to radio broadcasts of German classical music, to light romantic fare—all part of the “emotion over intellect” campaign that Nazi Party ideology promoted. A constant soundtrack engulfed citizens and soldiers with a litany of songs that also served to promote morale and military aggressiveness and whose lyrics sought to drum in Nazi political and racist propaganda.

European Theater

Off Duty, German Style

By G. Paul Garson

War has been described as long periods of extreme boredom punctuated by brief moments of extreme terror. Read more

Members of the U.S. 1st Infantry Division march ashore at Gela, Sicily, while an LST burns off shore on the first day of Operation Husky in this 1943 painting by Navy war artist Mitchell Jamieson. Soldiers injured during the fighting can be seen being evacuated to hospital ships. Sicily became the stepping stone for the invasion of the Italian mainland.

European Theater

Sicilian Slugfest

By Flint Whitlock

The island of Sicily, lying in the Mediterranean Sea between Tunisia and the toe of the Italian peninsula, is no stranger to war and conquest. Read more

European Theater

Bloody Aachen

By Richard Rule

By the time of the waning of the summer of 1944 in western Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s victorious Allied armies had forged a battle line from the Dutch province of Maastricht in the north to Belfort near the Swiss border in the south. Read more

Paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division march into Bastogne, Belgium, on December 19, 1944. Combat veteran Private Brad Freeman, a mortarman with the division’s East Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, passed through the town, thinking to himself, “Here we go again.”

European Theater

Easy Company Mortarman in Bastogne

By Kevin Hymel

When word reached 21-year-old Private Bradford “Brad” Freeman in Mourmelon-le-Grand, France, that the entire 101st Airborne Division was being put on 24-hour alert for movement to the front, he was neither surprised nor shocked. Read more

Weary GIs move inland after landing in Sicily in July 1943 in this contemporary painting, Red Beach at Gela, 1700, by Mitchell Jamieson.

European Theater

The Big Red One in World War II

By Steven Weingartner

The outbreak of World War II on September 1, 1939, found the United States in an isolationist mood that precluded, for the time being, any direct involvement in the conflict. Read more

Using black ink and crayon, Eigener drew German tanks advancing across a stark landscape during a Wehrmacht advance. He titled this sketch “Panzer Angriff,” or “Tank Attack.”

European Theater

German Soldier’s Sketchbook

By Flint Whitlock

It’s called Mein Skizzenbuch (My Sketchbook)—a 72-page booklet of pencil drawings and watercolors by noted German war artist Ernst Eigener, a soldier with Propaganda Co. Read more

Erwin Wickert (center), with, from left, Shinzaku Hogen, a future Japanese ambassador to Vienna, according to Wickert, and Adam Vollhard, who wrote for the German News Agency in Tokyo.

European Theater

Decades of Diplomacy

By Sherri Kimmel

I am riding a borrowed bike along the Rhine, passing the Schaum-Hof, where last night I dined on a deck overlooking the river with a stately Dutch lady friend of a friend. Read more

Searchlights stab into the darkness as Royal Navy warships illuminate Italian cruisers during the Battle of Cape Matapan. Prince Philip served aboard the battleship HMS Valiant during the decisive naval victory over Mussolini’s fleet.

European Theater

Prince Philip’s War

By Michael E. Haskew

The son of Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark and Princess Alice of Battenberg, Prince Philip was the last of five children and a great-great grandchild of Queen Victoria. Read more

European Theater

Axis Collapse in Normandy

By Robert L. Durham

German panzergrenadiers surrounded Hill 314 just east of Mortain in Normandy on August 7, 1944, trapping several companies of the 2nd Battalion of the U.S. Read more

A single German soldier stands guard over several American prisoners, captured in the confusion on D-Day. At least some of these prisoners were airborne, and Charlie Lefchik shared a similar journey to a prisoner of war camp.

European Theater

Riding the German Rail

By Richard A. Beranty

The large number of Allied prisoners being funneled south to Rennes, France, following the D-Day invasion swelled the German transit camp to capacity so the decision was made to transport the men to permanent locations inside Germany. Read more

An abandoned German weapons carrier lies smashed along a roadside as soldiers of the British Eighth Army search for German snipers in Acquino on May 27, 1944.

European Theater

Eternal City Liberated

By Michael E. Haskew

Italy was unforgiving. German resistance to Allied operations had been brutal since the Salerno landings in the autumn of 1943, and by the following spring frustration had mounted upon frustration. Read more

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.

European Theater

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

European Theater

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

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.

European Theater

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

European Theater

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

Adolf Hitler gives a stiff Nazi salute to seven men killed in an assassination attempt in Munich during the 1939 anniversary observances of the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.

European Theater

A Sting In Venlo

By David H. Lippman

Sir Alexander Cadogan did not believe it.

He had been given a report from Admiral Sir Archibald “Quex” Sinclair, head of MI6, on October 6, 1939, that German generals were reaching out to the British Embassy in The Hague in neutral Holland, to orchestrate a coup against Adolf Hitler that would replace the Nazi regime with a military junta, which would then make peace. Read more

An American soldier gently removes the detonator from an S-mine, which was capable of severely injuring any man unfortunate enough to step on it. The Germans defending Mount Porchia planted thousands of land mines to impede Allied progress.

European Theater

“I’m Going Up That Mountain!”

By Patrick J. Chaisson

Red-hot grenade fragments sliced through First Lieutenant Bill Munson’s left arm and shoulder, causing him to fall backwards onto the lip of a German machine gun nest. Read more

European Theater

American Airborne In Operation Torch

By Michael E. Haskew

Only two years after the U.S. Army officially sanctioned the formation of an airborne arm, American paratroopers were committed to a vast offensive against Axis forces on the coast of French North Africa. Read more