100 Years on, a New German Putsch?

Reading time: 9 minutes
On December 7, 2022, German federal police arrested 25 people who were allegedly plotting to violently overthrow the German government. This planned coup resurrected the spectre of a failed coup attempt 100 years before, when Adolf Hitler and his then still nascent Nazi party tried something similar. But is there a link between this modern coup and the one of 1923? Does the history of these events rhyme?

Read More

From the bookshelf: ‘The Scrap Iron Flotilla’

Reading time: 4 minutes
Mike Carlton has emerged as a gifted historian of Australia’s outstanding naval contributions in two world wars. He polishes this reputation in his new book, The Scrap Iron Flotilla: five valiant destroyers and the Australian war in the Mediterranean. Carlton has always been persuasive in print. His earlier books, Cruiser on the wartime record of HMAS Perth, and First victory 1914, detailing HMAS Sydney’s destruction of the German raider Emden, suggested both the enthusiasm for and appreciation of Australian naval history which the author has in abundance.

Read More

The Battle of the Beachheads – Podcast – Part 3 Added

By late 1942, the Allies had pushed the Japanese forces back along the Kokoda Track and were now down on the coastal plains of northern New Guinea. The Japanese may have been retreating, but they intended to hold the vital beachheads from Gona down through Sanananda to Buna. The fight to take the beachheads would be bloody and brutal, but first the Australians and their American comrades had to get there.

Read More

Battle of Stonne, France 1940

Reading time: 5 minutes
The battle for France in 1940 is often portrayed as a rout: the German Wehrmacht simply trounced the French forces within a few weeks, crushing them with military might and tactical ingenuity. However, a few episodes debunk this image and the Battle of Stonne, where a small town in the Ardennes changed hands 17 times in three days, is one of the most prominent.

Read More

The Scrap Iron Captain: Hector Waller DSO and Bar – Podcast

While serving within the Royal Australian Navy as a Signals Officer, Captain Hector MacDonald Laws Waller served with distinction aboard several warships of the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Navy during both the First World War and the Second World War. Having graduated from the fledgling Royal Australian Naval College during the First World War, his posting would be to the Royal Navy Battleship HMS Agincourt, and would predominately perform escort duties for the duration of the war.

Read More

Japan’s Pacific War – Podcast

This podcast episode was commissioned by History Guild as part of our support of THE BLOODY BEACHHEADS: THE BATTLES OF GONA, BUNA AND SANANANDA – ONE DAY CONFERENCE. Angus Wallace, creator of the fantastic WW2 Podcast is joined by Peter Williams, author of Japan’s Pacific War: Personal Accounts of the Emperor’s Warriors.

Read More

The Australians who Captured Rommel’s Intelligence Unit, Company 621

Reading time: 5 minutes
Though the North African campaigns of World War 2 have a reputation for mainly being fought by tanks, both sides relied as much on spying as they did on cold, hard steel. When the 9th Australian Division captured the German signals intelligence unit, company 621, right before the first battle of El Alamein, they dealt Field Marshal Erwin Rommel a fatal blow.

Read More

Vital Hasson, the Jew who worked for the Nazis, hunted down refugees and tore apart families in WWII Greece

Reading time: 7 minutes
I learned a lesson when conducting research for my book, “Family Papers: a Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century.” I had discovered the story of a young Jewish man forgotten to history until now, a story that taught me that neither cultural affiliation nor family history is a reliable predictor of future behaviour. In short, identity is not destiny, and all of us can fall prey to the tides of history.

Read More

The Scrap Iron Flotilla – Speaker: Mike Carlton via Zoom

Live Presentation via Zoom August 17 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm AEST (UTC+10)
When war broke out in the Northern Hemisphere in 1939, the British called upon their Australian allies for support. The Australian government responded by sending five navy destroyers – HMAS Stuart, Vendetta, Vampire, Voyager and Waterhen.

Read More

Blimp Vs U-Boat, WW2 – Video

In July 1943 one of the most remarkable duels of the battle of the Atlantic took place between US Navy Airship K-74 and U-134 off the coast of Florida. Thanks to declassified documents and eye witness accounts we are able to relive this truly one of a kind engagement.

Read More

Women in the Second World War: The sinking of SS Khedive Ismail

Reading time: 7 minutes
On the afternoon of 12 February 1944, travelling in a convoy from Mombasa to Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka), troopship SS Khedive Ismail was struck by two Japanese torpedoes just south-west of the Maldives. Hit directly in the vicinity of its engine and boiler rooms, the ship sank within just two minutes of the attack. Of the 1,506 passengers and crew on board, mostly military personnel, there were little more than 200 survivors.

Read More

Finding ‘Forgotten’ Allies

Reading time: 8 minutes
Although it is difficult to calculate exactly how many Burmese personnel were recruited by SOE for operations within the country, we do know that it was in excess of 20,000.  Those personnel represented at least fourteen different ethnic communities, from the majority Burman (Bamar) and well known Shan, Karen, Kachin, Chin, and Arakanese (Rakhine) peoples, to the less heard about Palaung, Kuki, and Lahu.  Also included were nationalities who had large populations in Burma, such as the Gurkhas, Indians, and Chinese.  Add to this the Anglo-Burman, Indo-Burman and other mixed ethnicity personnel, for example Shan-Kadu, and it is clear that there was a huge contribution made to Force 136 operations by non-Caucasian peoples.  As my research for the Men of SOE Burma page has revealed, finding out about Asian Special Forces personnel in Second World War Burma has many obstacles.  

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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.

Read More