Category: Military History

History is Complicated – SOE in Burma

Reading time: 7 minutes
It was estimated by Force 136 that they recruited around 20,000 indigenous personnel for operations in Burma. A few hundred of them are on my Men of SOE Burma page, compiled by going through several files of training cards. While the research for that page has provided excellent insight into a cross section of the many Burmese peoples who served with SOE, most of the 20,000 will remain unaccounted for because there is no record of them. Sadly, this means that their service will never be recognised outside of their own families.

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Australians in the Mediterranean during WW2 eBook

Thousands of Australian soldiers saw combat in a series of battles in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Their service is less well known as it has tended to be overshadowed by the later battles in New Guinea and the Pacific. History Guild has created and published this eBook which tells the stories of the determination, resilience, bravery and sacrifice of the Australians who served in the Mediterranean theatre of the Second World War. It is available as a free download below.

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X Troop – The Secret Jewish Commandos of WWII

Reading time: 8 minutes
When we hear ‘Jewish’ and ‘World War II’ in the same sentence, our minds often lead directly to the Holocaust. The extent of Jewish resistance to the brutal treatment on their own was limited due to the extent of their persecution by Nazi or Nazi aligned governments. These governments generally had the broad support of the populace, making it hard for small groups of Jews within these societies to fight back. One exception to this were the Jews of Poland, the X Troop commandos were another.

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39th Militia Battalion and the Kokoda Track – Part 2

Reading time: 10 minutes
After the retreat from Kokoda, the battered survivors of B Company, 39th Battalion regrouped at the small village of Deniki. Major Allan Cameron, a 30th Brigade staff officer, arrived shortly after at Deniki on 4th August.  Disgusted by the apparently ‘unsoldierly’ appearance of B Company, he jumped to the conclusion that these men must have run away from the fighting and had abandoned Kokoda for no reason. He sent them further back to Isurava in disgrace, depriving the remainder of the 39th of the only troops with battle experience. This wouldn’t be the last time that a textbook tactical withdrawal would be mistaken for cowardice. Cameron then decided that Kokoda must be recaptured.

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The Battle of Crete, WW2 – Video

The Battle of Crete saw around 40,000 Allied troops, including over 6,500 Australians, defending against a German airborne invasion. The Allies fought valiantly, but were eventually overcome by the German paratroopers. However, they inflicted such severe casualties on the Germans that they never again used their airborne forces on a large scale.

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Ruin Ridge – Podcast

During the 1st Battle of El Alamein the 9th Australian Division was tasked with the capture of Ruin Ridge. Despite heavy fighting during the opening stages they achieved some of their objectives, but their successes obliged General Rommel to divert large numbers of troops to contain the Australian advance. The fighting then became desperate, leading to heavy casualties and the near decimation of one battalion.

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Cretan Resistance During WW2

Reading time: 8 minutes
One of the more impressive feats of arms during the second World War was the way in which the people of Crete fought a guerrilla campaign against the German occupation force. With help from the allies, the Cretans — men, women and even children — fought a brutal and bloody campaign against the invader. In this article, we look at what happened through the eyes of some of the people who participated, Cretan, British and Australian.

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Twelve days at Anzac: the evacuation

Over one hundred years ago, one of the most remarkable operations in military history occurred at the Dardanelles with the evacuation in December 1915 of 83,000 Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian troops from the Gallipoli Peninsula without a single loss of life. It will, as, one contemporary German correspondent reporting from the Turkish lines exclaimed, ‘stand before the eyes of all strategists as a hitherto unattained masterpiece’.

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