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The current time is: 11/19/2018 7:25:37 PM
 (1939-1945) WWII Battles
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kaii
Tallinn, Estonia
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2431

El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/27/2018 3:17:04 PM
Last tuesday I took part in a commemoration ceremony for the start of the Battle of El Alamein in 1943. Quite normal, one might think, but the unusual aspect this time was that I was with the Italian airborne battalion that is in Norway for Trident Juncture 2018.

I was a litte suprised that the Italians would commemorate the battle, but was reminded that as many as 25.000 Italian soldiers were killed, captured or wounded during the battle.

I suppose being used to beig among British, American or other ww2 allied soldiers, I haven't really paid much attention to the fact that these battles also mean something to forces from the countries that lost them. The Italians are proud of their efforts at El Alamein, where they feel they fought way above their weight class at the time.

Interesting and sobering experience.

In general I have been very impressed about how professional the Italian unit here has been so far.

K
---------------
I’m not worried about the Third World War. That’s the Third World’s problem.

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
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Posts: 4184

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/27/2018 10:22:31 PM
Hi Kai,

It is surprising but when you think about Anzac Forces being honored for Gallipoli, & Japanese Forces families travel the Pacific to honor their forces even in defeat, I'm sure there are quite a few more such situations!?

Still an honor for you!
Regards,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

George
Centre Hastings, ON, Canada
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Posts: 8158

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/28/2018 6:58:39 AM
I think that countries, and especially individuals, remember their fallen whether in defeat or victory.

And if their soldiers gave their all under impossible conditions, then they deserve to be honoured as much as soldiers who participated in victory. In Canada's case, we must never forget the sacrifices at places like Hong Kong or Dieppe and for Newfoundlanders, the slaughter at Beaumont-Hamel during WW1.

I am sure that every country that has sent men and women to war can make a list of defeats and feel that they must honour those who died for causes that the country had deemed worthy of the effort.

Cheers,

George


Phil andrade
London, UK
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Posts: 3368

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/28/2018 8:25:17 AM
The Italians gave a good account of themselves at El Alamein.

They were abandoned by their German allies, but nonetheless held their ground for much of the battle, inflicting significant losses on the attacking British and Dominion infantry and armour.

The Folgore Division was especially highly regarded.

Maybe the Brescia Division, too. The other one that comes to mind is the Ariete Division.

These were three units that the Italians have every reason to commemorate with pride.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

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Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/28/2018 8:30:22 AM
 Decima MAS [Tenth Flotilla frogmen] as well, although they were not at El Alamein.

Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/28/2018 2:40:30 PM

Quote:
 Decima MAS [Tenth Flotilla frogmen] as well, although they were not at El Alamein.

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson



Yes ! Churchill was impressed by their exploits, and complained that the Royal Navy had failed to emulate their example.

If the image of Italian arms was sullied by defeat and humiliation, the reputation of the individual Italian fighting man was enhanced by the prowess of their frogmen.

I remember as a small child being enthralled by a film called SILENT ENEMY, which featured the heroism of Britain’s answer to the Decima MAS, in the person of “ Buster “ Crabb.

This rather unusual war film depicted desperate underwater hand to hand combat between the Italian and British frogmen - led by Crabb - as the latter tried to disengage the limpet mines that had been attached to the hulls of British ships.

The film was released sixty years ago, but I still remember it with some clarity.

Buster Crabb’s fate is still controversial.

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/28/2018 3:56:55 PM
Reverting to E Alamein, my curiosity was aroused by a film I happened to encounter on YouTube.

It’s an Italian war story, and it’s called EL ALAMEIN: A LINHA DA FOGO.

This depicts the fate of those Italian soldiers who were left to face an overwhelming onslaught : they were a forlorn band of brothers.

It’s dated 2002, so presumably it was made to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary.

A kind of All Quiet on the Western Front, Italian style.

Compared with the likes of Saving Private Ryan, it’s rather a low key and amateurish affair, but it has its own poignant impact and a heartfelt sincerity.

Very pertinent to Kai’s opening comments, I reckon.

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

redcoat
Stockport, UK
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Posts: 314

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/28/2018 7:46:32 PM

Quote:
Last tuesday I took part in a commemoration ceremony for the start of the Battle of El Alamein in 1943. --kaii
The Second Battle Of El Alamein started on the 23 October 1942


The same area was the site of two earlier battles, The First Battle Of El Alamein was from 1–27 July 1942, and the battle of Alam El Halfa from 30 August-5 September 1942.

phil andrade
London, UK
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Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 4:41:19 AM
The Alam Halfa fighting is deemed a success for the 8th Army, setting the scene for Monty's huge set piece battle of late October and early November, 1942.

There were setbacks, though.

The New Zealanders, widely acknowledged as the elite of the 8th Army, were repulsed in a night attack on the Italians.

The Italians killed or captured many of the Kiwis, taking their commander, Brigadier Clifton, prisoner. He was mortified to be captured by the derided Italians.

Rommel wrote about the Italian soldiers :

The Italian was willing, unselfish and a good comrade, and, considering the conditions under which he served, had always given far better then the average. There is no doubt that the achievement of every Italian unit, especially of the motorised forces, far surpassed anything that the Italian Army had done for a hundred years. Many Italian generals and officers won our admiration as both men and soldiers.



The Cause of the Italian defeat had its roots in the whole Italian military and state system, in their poor armament and in the general lack of interest in the war shown by many of the leading Italians, both officers and statesmen.


This is from THE ROMMEL PAPERS, page 261.


Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

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Posts: 4775

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 5:46:11 AM
 And what became of Brigadier Clifton? [I have a fondness for "what became of them?" questions]


Quote:
Given command of the 6th Infantry Brigade in February 1942, he was captured during the fighting around El Alamein in September 1942.

As a prisoner of war, Clifton made a total of nine escape attempts including from camps in Italy and Germany. His last escape attempt saw him reach American lines in March 1945 and his exploits as a prisoner of war were recognised with a further bar to his DSO. After the war he served on the staff of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, commanded a training school, and was posted to the War Office in London. His final appointment before retiring from the New Zealand Military Forces in 1953 was as commander of the Northern Military District. He became a sheep farmer in later life and spent his final years as a city councillor in Taupo. He died in 1970 at the age of 71. --Wikipedia



George Herbert Clifton

Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

kaii
Tallinn, Estonia
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E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2431

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 6:37:59 AM

Quote:

Quote:
Last tuesday I took part in a commemoration ceremony for the start of the Battle of El Alamein in 1943. --kaii
The Second Battle Of El Alamein started on the 23 October 1942


The same area was the site of two earlier battles, The First Battle Of El Alamein was from 1–27 July 1942, and the battle of Alam El Halfa from 30 August-5 September 1942.

--redcoat


1942 of course. My bad.
---------------
I’m not worried about the Third World War. That’s the Third World’s problem.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 4775

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 6:54:09 AM
 Oh you never know, Kai. There may have been some impressive brawls among Allied troops in El Alamein in 1943!

Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

kaii
Tallinn, Estonia
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 2431

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 8:10:59 AM

Quote:
 Oh you never know, Kai. There may have been some impressive brawls among Allied troops in El Alamein in 1943!

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


he he, not sure whether the Italians would commemorate that, but then again, we all admire a good old fashioned bar fight.

K
---------------
I’m not worried about the Third World War. That’s the Third World’s problem.

Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 3368

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 8:49:22 AM

Quote:
 And what became of Brigadier Clifton? [I have a fondness for "what became of them?" questions]


Quote:
Given command of the 6th Infantry Brigade in February 1942, he was captured during the fighting around El Alamein in September 1942.

As a prisoner of war, Clifton made a total of nine escape attempts including from camps in Italy and Germany. His last escape attempt saw him reach American lines in March 1945 and his exploits as a prisoner of war were recognised with a further bar to his DSO. After the war he served on the staff of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan, commanded a training school, and was posted to the War Office in London. His final appointment before retiring from the New Zealand Military Forces in 1953 was as commander of the Northern Military District. He became a sheep farmer in later life and spent his final years as a city councillor in Taupo. He died in 1970 at the age of 71. --Wikipedia



George Herbert Clifton

Cheers,

BW
--BWilson


They were very brutal soldiers .....so said Bayerlin, Rommel’s staff officer, as he spoke admiringly of the prowess of New Zealand troops in North Africa. This was televised more than forty years ago on that superb TV series WORLD AT WAR.

The Guy above, Herbert Clifton, was the Brigadier in command of the NZ brigade when it was captured by the Italians in early September, 1942.

Rommel entertained him to dinner in his tent, and took the chance to remonstrate about the way the Kiwis had been killing Axis wounded and prisoners. There is hard evidence that the NZ troops had practiced this on a large scale in WW1, and the tradition was clearly flourishing.

Clifton explained that this was obviously attributable to the behaviour of the Maori Battalion .

Give me the Maori Battalion and I will conquer the World ! . Those words have been attributed to Rommel , but were probably uttered by Westphal, the German paratroop commander at Monte Casino.

Curiosity led me to check the CWGC database for the Alam Halfa fighting at the end of August and the first few days of September 1942, and New Zealand is well represented. A significant number were indeed from the 28th ( Maori) Battalion, mainly on 4 September .

I was taken back at the record of this Maori unit : about 3,600 served in WW2, and of these 649 were killed in action or died from wounds, and more than 1,700 wounded. This is a casualty rate redolent of infantry experience of WW1.

I googled the Maori Song of Sorrow, performed at dawn on ANZAC day. A moving moment.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan, MI, USA
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 4184

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 9:41:53 AM
Hi phil,

Thanks certainly facts I wasn't aware of!?

Cheers,
MD
---------------
"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 4775

Re: El Alamein commemorations
Posted on: 10/29/2018 12:50:09 PM
 And Westphal?
 † 2 July 1982 in Celle.


Quote:
He was 80 years old. Born in Leipzig, he began his military career in the Royal Prussian Army at the age of 16. He was chief of general staff under Field Marshals Erich von Manstein, Erwin Rommel, Albert Kesselring and Karl von Runstedt, before promotion to cavalry general in 1945 at age 43. Released in 1948 from postwar imprisonment, he pursued a successful career in the steel industry. [He retired in 1972.] --NY Times Obit


 As an aside, I despise the "biographies" given for German military personnel in the English language Wikipedia. They focus exclusively on what these men did while in uniform. The absurdity of that approach is clear in Westphal's case; apparently he did something for 37 years after the war ended.

Cheers,

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

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