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The Wipers Times was the Private Eye of the Ypres Salient during WW1. Edited, while under bombardment, by a battalion commander in the Sherwood Foresters, written by soldiers actually in the trenches and distributed by ration-wagon and ammunition-mule. The paper bears vivid witness to the shocking realities of trench warfare. Yet for all the occasional horror of its content, The Wipers Times was a gentle, humour-filled and satirical paper which, once its codes are cracked and its riddles solved, tells an interested reader much about the characters and personalities of the men in the British Army. The Mud, the Gas, the Shells; the Fear, the Courage, the Humour and the Bitterness; much is revealed about these and many other things in this remarkable book.
Lt Colonel E.W. Hermon died in a hail of bullets on the 9th April 1917, the first day of the Battle of Arras, leading his men of the 24th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers into the attack. Like hundreds of thousands of others in the Great War, he gave his life for his King and country. He was shot through the heart, one bullet slicing through the papers in his top pocket, including the four-leaf clover his wife had given him for good luck. His final words to his Adjutant were 'Go on!' before he sank to his knees and died almost instantaneously. He was carried from the battlefield by his faithful soldier servant, Buxton, and now lies buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Roclincourt, three miles from Arras. This could have been the end of the story but he left a testament of his life and ideals in a unique and hitherto unknown and unpublished collection of long and detailed letters he wrote to his darling wife and his children, 'the Chugs'. Now, nearly a century after his death, he speaks to us of a past, less cynical life, where selflessness, honor, duty and courage were admired above all else. His own courage was officially recognized as he was mentioned in dispatches three times and posthumously awarded the D.S.O. The letters have been transcribed and edited by Hermon's granddaughter Anne Nason with the guidance and historical advice of James Holland, the distinguished historian and writer. Peter Caddick-Adams, who works alongside Richard Holmes at Cranfield University, believes the letters to be unique in their candour and context since Hermon was Battalion Commander and thus his letters were not censored.
When they met at a motorcycle club in 1912, Elsie Knocker was a thirty year-old motorcycling divorcee dressed in bottle-green Dunhill leathers, and Mairi Chisholm was a brilliant eighteen-year old mechanic, living at home borrowing tools from her brother. Little did they know, theirs was to become one of the most extraordinary stories of the First World War. In 1914, they roared off to London 'to do their bit', and within a month they were in the thick of things in Belgium driving ambulances to distant military hospitals. Frustrated by the number of men dying of shock in the back of their vehicles, they set up their own first-aid post on the front line in the village of Pervyse, near Ypres, risking their lives working under sniper fire and heavy bombardment for months at a time. As news of their courage and expertise spread, the 'Angels of Pervyse' became celebrities, visited by journalists and photographers as well as royals and VIPs. Glamorous and influential, they were having the time of their lives, and for four years, Elsie and Mairi and stayed in Pervyse until they were nearly killed by arsenic gas in the spring of 1918. But returning home and adjusting to peacetime life was to prove even more challenging than the war itself.
The effects of World War I gave rise to the Russian Revolution. In February and March 1917, a popular revolution forced the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II and the rise of a provisional government. This government, which kept Russia in the war, was itself overthrown by radical socialists just eight months later.
Effects of war
By the end of 1916, two years of total war had placed enormous strain on all combatant nations. None felt this more severely than Russia, which had entered the war confident but in a precarious political, economic and social state.
The Russian economy had made great industrial advances in the two decades prior to 1914 – but it was still under-developed and ill-equipped to supply a prolonged war.
Russia’s government was still dominated by the tsarist autocracy, which claimed political authority that was divine rather than popular.
The Russian people were already fractious, dissatisfied and eager for change. The Russian empire rested on what historian Orlando Figes called ‘unstable pillars’, and they were unable to sustain its involvement in one of the most intense wars in history.
At the epicentre of this turmoil was Nicholas II, Tsar of all the Russias. Most historians agree that Nicholas was not equipped for governing Russia through difficult times. He was the son of an overbearing autocrat and the grandson of a reformer – but was himself incapable of being either.
Nicholas was determined to cling to autocratic power but he was blind to the problems this created and the threats it posed to his throne. The Tsar professed to love the Russian people but he turned the other way when hungry workers were shot in St Petersburg (1905) or striking miners were machine-gunned in Siberia (1912).
The 1905 Revolution
Nicholas’ throne had already been challenged by a premature Russian revolution, a decade before the outbreak of World War I. A disastrous defeat in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5), coupled with a flagging economy, poor living conditions and the shooting of protestors in St Petersburg, led to a spontaneous but intense challenge to the tsarist rule.
The Tsar responded as he normally did and blamed Russia’s troubles on anarchists, universities and on Jews. Ultimately, however, he was forced to relent, agreeing to authorise a written constitution and allow the formation of an elected legislature (the Duma).
Nicholas failed to honour these promises, however, simply using them to buy time. The constitution was passed but it changed little. The Duma was elected but it was given little power. The Tsar, it seemed, was determined to continue his autocratic rule as before.
A war between cousins
The rapid descent into war in 1914 had caught the Tsar unaware. Nicholas knew the German Kaiser was ambitious and prone to rash decisions – but he did not think Wilhelm so treacherous that he would declare war on the empire of his own cousin.
Nicholas made the first of several blunders in July 1914 when he cousin, Grand Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich, as commander-in-chief of the army. Nikolaevich had military training as a cavalry officer but had never commanded an army in battle. He now found himself in charge of one of the world’s largest armies in the largest war in history.
The Prussian campaign
In August 1914, Nikolaevich and his generals – aware that most German forces would be occupied with the Schlieffen Plan in the west – planned an invasion of East Prussia.
It was a bold campaign that might have succeeded if not for poor planning and leadership. The two Russian field commanders, Alexander Samsonov and Pavel von Rennenkampf, were competent officers but were both over-confident and vainglorious. They were also bitter rivals who could barely stand the sight of one another.
Their inept decision-making and constant squabbling contributed to a disastrous Russian defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg in late August 1914. Unable to face reporting the loss of 150,000 troops to the tsar, Samsonov took his own life.
Nicholas takes charge
In September 1915, after a year of fighting and several costly defeats, the exasperated Nicholas II decided to personally take command of the army. Against the advice of his ministers, he dismissed Nikolaevich and proceeded to the frontline.
The decision proved telling for two reasons. Nicholas’ distance from the Eastern Front in 1914 and early 1915 had buffered him from criticism. Instead, his generals had footed the blame for military disasters. Now, the tsar would be responsible for every defeat, shattering the divine infallibility that many superstitious Russians believed he had.
Secondly, Nicholas left the reins of domestic government with his wife rather than his prime minister. Tsarina Alexandra was utterly devoted to her husband but was even more politically naive than he. Worse, she was of German birth and now had de facto political power during a bitter war with Germany.
Rasputin the ‘mad monk’
There was also another sinister figure lingering on the periphery in 1916. Grigori Rasputin was a Siberian itinerant who had trekked his way to Saint Petersburg several years before. Once in the capital, he began to attract attention as an occultist, a fortune-teller and a faith-healer.
Despite his appalling manners and personal hygiene, the mysterious Rasputin found his way into the parlours – and in many cases, the bedrooms – of Saint Petersburg’s aristocratic and bourgeois ladies. He eventually received an invitation to the Winter Palace, where the deeply religious tsarina sought divine assistance for her young son Alexei, who was cursed with the genetic blood disorder haemophilia.
Rasputin’s ministrations comforted the boy – and his mother – and the Siberian mystic became a regular in the royal court. He prayed with the Romanovs and treated Alexei during the day, then at night crawled the seedier parts of the city, boozing and cavorting with gipsy prostitutes.
Rasputin came to exert some political sway over Alexandra, passing on ‘divine advice’ about ministerial appointments, domestic policy, even military matters. Though his influence has probably been overstated, Rasputin’s baleful presence revealed the anachronistic and corruptible nature of tsarism.
The road to revolution
In December 1916, a group of aristocrats attempted to ‘save’ the monarchy from Rasputin by murdering him. They succeeded in disposing of him but it proved too little, too late. The way to a Russian revolution had been cleared.
By February 1917, the situation in Russia’s cities had become critical. Shortages of food and fuel were dire: the capital city, since re-named Petrograd, needed 60 railway cars of food a day but often received barely one-third this amount. Inflation had been so severe through 1916 that the rouble had just a quarter of its pre-war buying power.
In February, when a women’s day march through Petrograd merged with angry bread queues, the unrest spilt over into revolution. Soldiers ordered to fire on the crowd refused and shot their officers instead. The tsarina’s response was dismissive, writing off the unrest as a “hooligan movement”.
Things eventually became so dire that the tsar set out to return from the front. He was halted along the way by striking railway workers. While waiting on train sidings in Pskov, Nicholas II was met by his generals and members of the Duma. All but one demanded he sign an instrument of abdication, which Nicholas eventually did.
With the swish of a pen in a stranded railway cart, the Russian Revolution had brought more than 300 years of Romanov rule to an inglorious end.
The Provisional Government
In different times, the departure of tsarism might have paved the way for a brighter future for Russia – but the war continued and so too did the problems it created.
The Provisional Government that replaced the tsarist regime introduced some liberal reforms, like freedoms of assembly and the press, and amnesties for political prisoners. Facing international pressure, however, it refused to end Russian involvement in the war.
The defeats, military follies, casualty lists and food shortages continued, and after six months the Provisional Government’s popularity had slumped.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks
In October 1917, a new political force, the socialist Bolshevik Party, emerged to seize control of the nation in October 1917. Led by Vladimir Ulyanov, or Lenin, the Bolsheviks promised ‘peace, bread and land’ – promises that resonated with Russian workers, soldiers and sailors.
Once in power, the Bolsheviks commenced peace negotiations with Germany. In March 1918, they signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, formally ending Russia’s involvement in the war. It was a costly peace: Russia had to surrender large amounts of territory, people and fertile farmland.
World War I had incited the Russian Revolution, killed off one of Europe’s oldest monarchies and delivered a new political phenomenon: socialist dictatorship. This would itself come to deliver its share of death, deprivation and human suffering.
“The declaration of war did bring a powerful if brief burst of patriotic support for the tsarist government. [But] within six months, the human and economic costs of the war badly eroded whatever political capital the tsar’s government had gained by declaring war… Among the civilian population it was the peasantry who felt the pains of the war most sharply. Army mobilisations dragged away nearly a third of all the men in the villages – about one million men per month were conscripted in 1914-15. Conscription brought tragedy for hundreds of thousands of families, altered life in the villages [and] created a shortage of labour that hampered Russia’s already inefficient agrarian system.”
Michael Hickey, historian
1. At the start of the war, Russia was a vast empire with a large army – but was politically and industrially backward.
2. Its leader, Tsar Nicholas II, adhered to principles of autocracy but was not competent to govern autocratically.
3. Russia’s disastrous 1914 campaigns saw Nicholas take personal command of the army, a politically dangerous step.
4. The tsar and his wife were also discredited by their involvement with the meddling faith healer Grigori Rasputin.
5. By the start of 1917, Russia’s domestic economy had collapsed and both food and fuel were critically scarce in Russian cities. This triggered the February Revolution, an uprising that led to the abdication of the tsar and, by the end of 1917, the rise of a socialist government in Russia.
1914-1918: The History of the First World War
I have had an interest in the First World War for many years and have read a variety of books, attended academic discussions, spoken to veterans and visited the battlefields and cemeteries.
This then has provided me with an strong appreciation that the war wasn&apost just the simple view of: a royal gets shot major European powers declare war trenches are dug and men are thrown over the top in massed waves every day machine guns, barbed wire and gas and tanks kill the men it rains a lot and every I have had an interest in the First World War for many years and have read a variety of books, attended academic discussions, spoken to veterans and visited the battlefields and cemeteries.
This then has provided me with an strong appreciation that the war wasn't just the simple view of: a royal gets shot major European powers declare war trenches are dug and men are thrown over the top in massed waves every day machine guns, barbed wire and gas and tanks kill the men it rains a lot and everyone dies in the mud and thousands have no known grave and on 11th November it all ends where it started in France and Belgium.
What this account does so very well is to provide the context of the war in the geopolitics of the day and how the various countries went headlong into the Great War (as it was known at the time).
Mr Stevenson ably sets the scene of the summer of 1914 and as we progress through the book he delves into the aims, plans (military and strategic), concerns and personalities of the major nations and their allies.
We are dealt great yet readable detail of munitions, formations, troops and numbers, morale and technologies as the great armies mobilise, deploy and confront each other. He then extends this to the home fronts including some fascinating writing on people engagement and government, military and civil pressure to fight and continue fighting even when peace overtures are made at various times by various parties. His treatment of what was happening and why in the financial markets, trading arrangements between powers, the diplomacy and industry and food stocks and supply is complex but so impressive in its reach and linkages to the story of the fighting on the fronts.
And fronts it is too, as although he is clear the Western (and the Italian) Front is the main theatre he does not skimp on the clashes and influence and outcomes that involve Turkey, the minor central powers and the stages for those fights: Mesopotamia, Sinai and Palestine, Salonika, the Balkans, Africa, Macedonia, Romania, and of course Gallipoli.
Of the Eastern Front I have not read a better overview that so comprehensively discusses not just the fighting but all the other aspects I mention above. The revolution in Russia is so well described and multi-layered that I read it twice, and his understanding and positioning of the treaties and the continuing tensions were a treasure.
The ending of the war - notably not detached but so well linked from the years of 1915-17 that were dominated by solid trench lines and the exhaustion of all parties as 1917 moved towards 1918 - includes again the mix of military, political, financial and social with personalities aplenty.
The USA's entry in 1917 is well covered including the impacts and influences on views and strategy. The fall of Austria-Hungary and its relationship with Germany is also explored throughout the book, and then its affect on the war as the old Hapsburg empire collapsed is so very well done. These chapters also cover the German operations in March and April 1918, that saw many serious political and military allied figures seriously consider peace terms, and the eventual turn to Allied gains with some of the finest all-arms military operations ever conducted (The British 100 days campaign to war's end).
The rapidity of the Axis decline from near victory just 8 months previous took almost all by surprise many on both sides were actively planning campaigns of offense or defence for 1919, and in some case into 1920.
Where Mr Stevenson's book then progresses is of course the treaty of Versailles and the negotiations that led to the treaty conditions. But he does not stop there as he explores the interwar years and the eventual commencement of another, and greater, world conflict just 21 years later.
His final chapter then reviews the war and its passing into history and its treatment in arts, media and society and the act of remembrance itself.
This is a very considerable book being highly detailed and so broad in scope. But do not be put off even if it takes you 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years you will be rewarded.
Balanced and thoughtful,suggestive and critical it is the finest single volume history of the First World War I have had the pleasure to read. . more
Have just finished this thoroughly exhaustive, gargantuan volume on the history of WWI. Firstly, this book clocks in at 600 pages but, with a font size at at least half of most standard books, you could easily double that number. and then some. Half way through reading, I lost the will to live, and only finished out of my sheer stubborness at giving up. Don&apost get me wrong, this is a great book, but it is aimed more at those who want to know every last detail on the subject, right down to the c Have just finished this thoroughly exhaustive, gargantuan volume on the history of WWI. Firstly, this book clocks in at 600 pages but, with a font size at at least half of most standard books, you could easily double that number. and then some. Half way through reading, I lost the will to live, and only finished out of my sheer stubborness at giving up. Don't get me wrong, this is a great book, but it is aimed more at those who want to know every last detail on the subject, right down to the consistancy of the mud that covered no-man's land, which almost qualifies this as a textbook. And I f**king hated school!
I have read similar books on WWII, which is of major interest to me, and thought that, seeing as the Second has its roots in First, decided to learn more about it. It is well written, well put together, and deservedly earns its title as '1914-1918: The History Of The First World War'.
For those interested in knowing all there is to know on the subject, I would imagine that this is the definitive work. For those, like me, who possess a mild interest in the subject, something a little on the lighter side is more the go! . more
After almost 7 months, I have finally finished reading what has proved to be a fascinating and excellent book. I was close to giving up on this book, because it is very dense reading however it was a gift from my 11 year old daughter (responding to my comment last year that I would love to learn about World War I) and I was determined to stick with it. I am glad I did.
This book is a comprehensive and detailed look at World War I, providing a thorough history of almost every aspect of it. It is After almost 7 months, I have finally finished reading what has proved to be a fascinating and excellent book. I was close to giving up on this book, because it is very dense reading however it was a gift from my 11 year old daughter (responding to my comment last year that I would love to learn about World War I) and I was determined to stick with it. I am glad I did.
This book is a comprehensive and detailed look at World War I, providing a thorough history of almost every aspect of it. It is very well written and provides great insight and analysis into the causes of the war, its strategy, chances to stop it or escalate it, the unstable peace that followed, and its aftermath. In every aspect, it is scholarly, interesting and informative.
My only criticism, which is really more of a critique of the reader (me!) than of the book, is that I would not recommend this book to someone as their introduction to World War I. Unfortunately for the rest of my reading list, it was an introduction for me consequently, I ended up not reading other books, as I slowly and meticulously waded through the intense depths of this book. Had I had a greater prior understanding of the war, its main actors and the key places, I am sure that it would not have taken me so long to read it and I would have found the book even more enriching than I did.
If you enjoy deep histories of major events that have shaped the modern world, I highly recommend this book to you. . more
A thorough history of the First World War, which, unusually for books of this type, finishes the narrative with the start of the Second World War.
The book’s scope is impressive, and it covers a huge amount of time while at the same time giving the right amount of coverage to all of the relevant issues. He highlights how fragile the peace in Europe was at the the turn of the century, but disputes the common view that the war began by accident like other recent studies, Stevenson argues that all A thorough history of the First World War, which, unusually for books of this type, finishes the narrative with the start of the Second World War.
The book’s scope is impressive, and it covers a huge amount of time while at the same time giving the right amount of coverage to all of the relevant issues. He highlights how fragile the peace in Europe was at the the turn of the century, but disputes the common view that the war began by accident like other recent studies, Stevenson argues that all sides were willing to risk a continental war rather than back down when pressured by their foes. He describes the failures of German foreign policy and seems to pin most of the blame on Germany and Austria-Hungary, while not absolving any of the other powers.
Stevenson also details all of the political, diplomatic, and technological factors that contributed to the prolonging of the war, which Stevenson calls a “drama without a script.” Most of Stevenson’s narrative is fact-driven, and his analysis is somewhat wanting at times. Stevenson’s writing is rather plain, even monotonous. While he never fails to highlight all of the important parts, his tone can be a bit of demand on the reader’s attention, and a few parts of it are just plain boring.
A dense and exhaustive but rewarding history of the conflict. . more
perhaps because David Stevenson is a professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) or possibly because WWI has receded into history sufficiently to be about groups rather than personalities, 1914-1918 succeeds in being simultaneously a gripping work of historical evocation and a dry statistical analysis. escaping the flaws of assuming "Great Man Theory," wherein the adherent states &apospersonage Z ordered D and thus D occured," Stevenson accurately shows how vast apersonal statistical forces cr perhaps because David Stevenson is a professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) or possibly because WWI has receded into history sufficiently to be about groups rather than personalities, 1914-1918 succeeds in being simultaneously a gripping work of historical evocation and a dry statistical analysis. escaping the flaws of assuming "Great Man Theory," wherein the adherent states 'personage Z ordered D and thus D occured," Stevenson accurately shows how vast apersonal statistical forces created inevitable, and horrifying outcomes. in battles where some 150000 individuals died in a matter of hours, the context of later wars such as Vietnam, wherein all of 60000 died on the Western side, become clear. WWI was gigantic. it was huge. it shook the world.
after reading the book, (as an American), I was chastised to understand how much greater the 19th century European powers were compared to our relatively pioneer / unsophisticated culture. obviously, it is difficult to assert that America is "superior" to Britain, France, and Germany, yet each of these three major European countries acceded to a violent conflict in which lives were thrown away all for principle. of all the reasons to fight and kill, to do so just because "we can" seems the height of absurdity. so are 1910/1920s era surrealists accurate because of the war, in spite of it, or contributory / oblique to it? how much longer can I maintain this dry academic style of review before devolving into my typical and personal absurdism?
after reading this account of the horrific meat-grinder that chewed up human lives at a rate of at times 3000/hour for weeks on end, (one 9/11, in other words, every hour for a month), the hollow absurdity of the post-ww2 universe becomes clear. there is no reason not to do hard drugs or to move into a bordello or to live out in wilderness for the rest of your days. any of these outcomes is superior to the trench warfare on the western front where human flesh stacked up ten or twenty meteres high and had to be cleared so that the machine guns could repeat their efforts.
who is a hero? what is war? what is the point of the American Republican Party or the Liberal Democratic sentiments of the post-world order? these are all hollow absurdities. i know where my next meal is coming from. i know what milky white morphine is like. that is all there is. i have no need for heroes.
i read this book to remind myself of days and ways. every hour, however agonizing, however drugged up, i am still in advance of the end and collapse of high western civilization. if you are a hero and you love war, then good onto you. i wish you well. the barking machine guns of the MG14, the Maxim Gun, these ended high western civilization. if you love war, you are not a true westerner. all true westerners understand that it is over. no more heroes. no more heroics. more drugs. more whores. i needed to pass out my days with tears flowing because 150,000 dead in one 24-hour cycle was more that i could ever endure. the stench of rotting human flesh rising up to the gods was never enough to satisfy the appetites of the darkest apersonal forces guiding the world in which we live. your repeated chatter about gods or marx could never salve anything. everything ended in 1914 are we are soon (hands trembling) going to enter the 100 year cycle again.
i'm barely keeping it together. i don't understand this jungle.
i can't understood heroes. why do you encourage violence? why do you call for ever greater firepower and more fighting? get out of here, man. you are a fraud. go grab those politicians and bankers who are calling for escalating war and tell them to stand down. who are those brokers of non-sense and civilizing missions? who are you man? i just need to hand over the keys to the war-lovers. i have nothing left. totally drained. you love war, go to the front.
Britain’s War Machine: Weapons, Resources and Experts in the Second World War
David Edgerton has written what could prove to be one of the most influential books on the history of the Second World War. In a majestic study, Edgerton has successfully shown us that we still have a lot to learn about the conflict. He claims that many of the well-established ideas about Britain’s capability of waging war, and the perceptions we have of those in government during the conflict could now be open to reinterpretation and reassessment. He does this with painstaking accuracy and insightful enquiry, producing a truly gripping study of the conflict, the planning behind the military efforts, and how Britain sought to use the knowledge of the leading experts from all fields to secure victory.
When embarking on this research, Edgerton inevitably took on many challenges. Scholars of this conflict know only too well that the historiography of this period is large, and already contains numerous deeply insightful analyses of the war and its impact on society. Therefore, when Edgerton asks whether another book on this subject is really necessary, one could be forgiven for believing that the academic reasoning for another study of the conflict would be difficult to establish. However, Edgerton has successfully shown that many questions remain unanswered about the Second World War, which suggests that the conflict will remain an area of significant further enquiry for some considerable time. In so doing, he has successfully debunked some of the hitherto well-established assumptions about the war. His main focus is to challenge the previously assumed hostility of the British government towards engaging experts to assist with the prosecution of the war effort, and the supposed technological inferiority of the British Armed Forces when compared with the Germany and America. His powerful presentation of a new and provocative interpretation of the war has also served to highlight the omissions from the historiography. In so doing, Edgerton has also produced a work that will facilitate further debate on the major events and perceptions of the war.
Britain’s military capabilities during the Second World War have been criticised by many contemporary commentators and historians. However, Edgerton proves that in fact, Britain’s military capability and strength far surpassed any of its allies and enemies. He depicts Britain as a country possessing military strength and mastery in abundance – a supremely confident country which at no point was concerned by the imminent threat of the Germans. This clearly challenges the commonly accepted notion that the German war machine was technically superior to the British. Indeed, Edgerton’s argument points more to the perception that the German failure in the war was largely attributable to their military and tactical incompetence. Moreover, most works have hitherto highlighted the paramount importance of the British Royal Air Force, claiming that it was decisive in the ultimate victory over the Germans. The image of Britain’s organising capability is often juxtaposed with that of the Germans – the British often being portrayed as valiant fighters with inferior technology, with the Germans having greater technological, organisational and military prowess. However, this dominant image has now been effectively and persuasively challenged. Edgerton shows that Britain was a wealthy, confident nation who believed that victory against the Germans was assured. Drawing on contemporary archival material, he shows the confidence of senior politicians and the military from 1939–41. They frequently expressed the belief that victory for Britain would be assured. Central to this argument was Britain’s wealth – a factor that politicians believed would be the key to ensure victory, especially since Britain would have a larger military budget than the Germans with which to fight.
One of the main arguments in this book is the importance of modernisation to the British idea of war. Edgerton successfully portrays Britain as a modern nation, where the ideas and wisdom of scientists are accepted by the government in order to perfect Britain’s war machine. He shows that although there was some scepticism associated with specialised scientific advice for the prosecution of the war effort, Churchill, despite his original hostility to scientists, wanted those with the best expertise to assist with all aspects of British military planning and design. This is a clear response to those in the historiography who have claimed that Britain was experiencing a period of decline in terms of technological innovation. Moreover, Edgerton shows that Britain was in fact an influential country in terms of innovation – an image that has hitherto been overshadowed by the portrayal of Germany as the country of precision engineering, which has often been cited as the major threat to Britain.
To substantiate many of the bold claims made in this work, Edgerton has carried out a comprehensive social, political, economic and military analysis of the Second World War. He has linked Britain’s military success to its economic prowess, proving that Britain’s smaller population placed it, in real terms, as a significantly stronger economy than Germany. Although Germany possessed a strong industrial base, it could not afford the same level of economic well-being for its people as Britain, whose population was half that of its wartime enemy. This, coupled with an insatiable self-confidence helped Britain to believe that victory was assured. With Britain producing more aircraft than Germany in 1940, and possessing a belief in the superiority of British science and technology, Edgerton claims that the British Empire was the most modern in the world. This is an interesting view, especially since many works have hitherto argued that Britain was in fact the opposite, and have even suggested that the decline of the British Empire began in the post-First World War period, and moreover that Britain was not well-placed to fight another global conflict. Indeed, one well-established argument in the historiography, especially in works criticising Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement, is that this policy’s major advantage was to delay the war for one year – an important move, since Britain was not ready for another global conflict. However, Edgerton’s re-examination of the issue, and his adept use of primary sources has demonstrated that this could now be open to reassessment. Indeed, at the end of chapter two, Edgerton claims that Churchill’s prophecy that Britain was not prepared for war was incorrect. He shows that Britain was rearming on an unprecedented scale after 1935, and that it was also the largest exporter of arms in the world. This suggests that Britain, contrary to the well-established wisdom, was prepared for war and had greater military might than has previously been credited.
Chapter three deeply explores the idea that the Second World War was a technological war in which machines were the key to ultimate victory. The essential contribution of British engineers to develop sufficiently advanced technology to compete with the growing threat of the Germans is explored in detail. Quoting evidence from the wartime journal, The Engineer, Edgerton substantiates his argument of the centrality of engineers to the war effort by showing that the Second World War was an ‘engineers war against a machine’ (p. 59). Challenging the conventional wisdom that Churchill was anti-technology and opposed to experts, Edgerton emphasises the point that one of his first moves when he became Prime Minister was to create the Ministry of Aircraft Production under Lord Beaverbrook to facilitate the additional production of aircraft for the war effort. Here, considerable money and resources would be dedicated to ensure that aircraft could be developed rapidly to compete with German bombers, although as Edgerton later argues, the success and importance of the bomber, and the wisdom that the bomber ‘will always get through’ has been overstated by historians.
Exploring the issue of aircraft production in more detail, Edgerton shows that the desire of the British government to improve the quality of its defences rested on the assumption that increased expenditure would improve the quality of services provided to the government. However, he proves that this was a misconception, and indeed much of the military spending in 1940–1 was wasted, since what was produced was of poor quality, and in practice, the ability of the pre-arranged defences to fulfil their obligations was a failure. Citing the blitz as an example, Edgerton suggests that despite the extensive planning and money spent on air defences, the policy was an overall failure, especially since so many lives were lost, so many British cities were destroyed, and over 30 per cent of London was flattened in the bombings.
This work contributes to the arguments previously articulated by historians that the war brought Britain and the USA closer together. In exploring the influence of the USA on the war effort after the attack on Pearl Harbour, Edgerton states that it was only after the attack, and the desire of the Americans to join the war effort to assist the Allies that the USA became the strongest military country in the world. However, Edgerton claims that it was British money, through its growing trade relationship with the USA that helped to make the latter the ‘arsenal of democracy’ (p. 79). It was then that the USA became more important as a supplier of weapons, and through collaborative projects with Britain, it sought to develop ships to take the war effort to the seas. However, this was a big challenge, especially in view of the excellent U-Boats in the German Army that proved so strong and so successful. Nevertheless, Edgerton highlights the dangers of assuming that the relationship between the USA and Britain was harmonious when discussing wartime strategies. Challenging previous arguments about harmonious Anglo-American relations in wartime, Edgerton points to significant tension between Britain and the USA in terms of sharing sensitive information about bomb development. Before 1943, Britain had the largest atomic bomb project, but after this date the USA took over as the largest producer of bombs. Consequently, tensions developed over the sharing of information pertaining to bomb development. While this was never enough to break the Anglo-American ties, it certainly contributed to tensions between Britain and the USA at a time when cooperation in the prosecution of the war effort was essential.
Edgerton’s main focus in this work is the willingness and readiness of the British government to accept the influence of science and technology in its military planning. He shows that the process by which the role of experts was accepted and encouraged was largely an evolutionary one, characterised by reluctance but motivated by necessity, especially in view of humiliating defeats for the British army in the early stages of the war. Churchill, as the chief architect for the war, needed to take full responsibility for the humiliating defeats that befell the army at the start of the war, and was advised, in view of these defeats, to contemplate the inclusion of experts in British wartime planning. Edgerton shows that whilst Churchill’s hostility to this at the beginning was clear, his respect for these experts, especially when Britain was making clear gains as a result of their advice, made the inclusion of these experts in the prosecution of the war effort a necessity. Churchill was keen to avoid the massive casualties of the First World War, and was now slowly beginning to realise the benefits of using science and technology, and was persuaded by colleagues that this could help to avert the massive bloodshed and deaths caused by the previous conflict. Nevertheless, whilst technology was accepted as a necessity to help Britain in the war effort, this does not mean that all ideas were accepted wholeheartedly by all sections of the government. Edgerton cites some examples of bizarre ideas suggested to protect government officials, such as the flying armoured car designed for Leo Amery. The contempt shown by the Ministry of Supply for this idea, and many other ideas that did not reach the development phase shows that while the necessity to include experts in science and technology was accepted by the government, the willingness to develop their ideas depended on cooperation from several government sections that was far from assured.
Inevitably, bringing together several experts to assist with the war would create tensions within the government. This work clearly highlights the divergent opinions within the wartime coalition vis-à-vis the development of technology and the use of experts. Moreover, Edgerton shows that the experts themselves failed to agree on several key issues, which merely delayed the decision-making process and increased tensions between the government and the experts. Additionally, this work sheds new light on the relationship between several key players in the coalition, and why the nature of British politics changed. For example, the relationship between Churchill and Aneurin Bevan worsened, with Bevan claiming that the wrong weapons were being made, and frequently criticising Churchill’s leadership (p. 127). Furthermore, Edgerton claims that the majority of the opposition to Churchill’s ideas and decisions came from people who had a technical or scientific background. The publication of the journal Endeavour gave a voice to scientists that they previously did not have, and put their ideas into the public domain. The importance of scientists to winning the war was very clear at this stage, and explains why Churchill worked to ensure that they would remain as key advisors to the government on wartime issues.
This book provides a useful compliment to the social history analyses that have already been published on the period, and provides further insights into the social conditions facing Britain during this time. For example, it expands on earlier research conducted on wartime rationing to show that although food in Britain was rationed, it was in fact in plentiful supply. Whilst luxury items may have been more difficult to find, there was always sufficient bulk foods such as bread, potatoes and vegetables to make sure that the people did not go hungry. This therefore challenges the image of privation previously presented in the historiography. Edgerton shows that Britain did discriminate in favour of the armed service and industrial workers in terms of food supply, but this only accounted for 20 per cent of the population, and despite this there was still enough food supply for the remainder. This was coupled with the growth in dairy farming, and also the desire of the government to encourage individuals to open their own allotments and grow their own vegetables. As a result of German attacks against ships bringing foods to Britain, food imports of necessity fell, but home production increased, typified by the ‘dig for victory’ campaign.
Edgerton highlights the importance of women to the war effort, showing that a vast number of women were involved at this time with the development of technology. There were indeed more women employed in this area than men. This builds on earlier work by Penny Summerfield showing the growing importance of women in the Second World War.(1) Edgerton’s findings are contextualised within the wider study of military planning. Large factories for building aeroplanes were established across the country, and they were staffed by women. Furthermore, the increased role of women workers is highlighted by the Ministry of Information who, in its short movies, show women working in the factories. This was an essential propaganda tool, and further demonstrates the vital position of women workers in the war effort.
The advantages of this book are too numerous to mention, and I believe that it will become the required reading for all students wishing to study the Second World War, and the strategies behind the conflict from a British perspective. Edgerton engages with some incredibly complex themes, and makes them very easy to understand by writing about them in an accessible way. The book’s appeal will extend beyond an academic audience and it should become very popular with general readers. The findings break new theoretical ground, and effectively demonstrate the significance of the conflict, providing a clear argument and reasoning to show how Britain prepared, fought and won the war. As a scholar of the Second World War, I only regret that this work had not been published when I was conducting my PhD research, since it would have been immensely helpful. Nevertheless, this is a book that many will be able to benefit from in the future. It is thoroughly engaging and enjoyable to read, one that the author should be immensely proud of.
Records available only at The National Archives in Kew
To access these records you will either need to visit us to see the documents for free at our building in Kew or, where you can identify a specific document reference , order a copy ( £ ) to be sent to you.
Pension case files, 1914–1920
Search our catalogue (below) for pension case files in record series PIN 26. Only a 2% sample of these records survive.
British military medical sheets and cards 1914-1920
These are selected records drawn from series MH 106, itself a representative, rather than a complete, selection of various kinds of medical records from various theatres of the First World War.
Search MH 106 in our catalogue by name, service number or unit for a sample of British servicemen’s medical sheets and medical cards. The detailed catalogue descriptions may mean that consultation of the original records is unnecessary.
The hospital admission and discharge records from this series are available to view online (see section above) but are not searchable by name in our own catalogue.
Unit war diaries from Russia, British colonies and other theatres of operations, 1914–1922
Search by unit name and number for document references to unit war diaries in series WO 95 using the series search. Use this search tool if you are looking for the war diaries of units that served in Russia, British colonies and theatres of operations other than the Western Front, Mesopotamia and Gallipoli – for these latter three see the advice on online diaries in the previous section.
For more detailed advice see our guide to British Army operations in the First World War.
Review: Volume 41 - First World War - History
Born in the heat of battle, the Go Anywhere. Do Anything.® Jeep® Brand 4x4 emerged a hero to thousands of Allied soldiers around the world. The equally heroic civilian Jeep vehicles of the 1940s firmly established the Jeep Brand as the undisputed leader in 4x4 technology.
A HERITAGE OF HEROES
The iconic Jeep® Brand is recognized the world over—forever tied to freedom, capability and adventure. Every Jeep Brand vehicle has a unique story to tell, with a rich heritage that links back to the original Willys MB. Our story is your story. Jeep vehicle owners have long known that Go Anywhere. Do Anything. ® is a way of life—not just a campaign slogan. Explore our legendary lineup, then create your own timeless story in a Jeep Brand 4x4.
THE BIRTH OF AN ICON
JEEP® JEEPSTER (VJ)
1940 WILLYS QUAD
THE FIRST JEEP® BRAND 4x4
In June 1940, with World War II on the horizon, the U.S. Army solicited bids from 135 automakers for a 1/4 ton "light reconnaissance vehicle" tailored to Army specifications. Only three companies responded — Bantam, Willys, and Ford — but, within a year's time they collectively produced the template for the vehicle known worldwide as the "jeep".
Willys-Overland delivered the prototype "Quad" (named for the 4x4 system it featured), to the U.S. Army on Armistice Day (Veteran's Day), November of 1940. The design was completed in a remarkable 75 days.
Only two prototypes were made.
1941 WILLYS MA
THE LEND-LEASE JEEP® BRAND 4x4
The Willys MA featured a gearshift on the steering column, low side body cutouts, two circular instrument clusters on the dashboard, and a hand brake on the left side. Willys struggled to reduce the weight to the new Army specification of 2,160 pounds. Nuts and bolts were shortened along with lighter panels in order to produce a lighter version of the Quad. Items removed in order for the MA to reach that goal were reinstalled on the next-generation MB resulting in a final weight of approximately just 400 pounds above the specifications.
After arduous testing, Willys-Overland was awarded the contract in July of 1941 calling for the production of 16,000 revised MB models at a unit price of $738.74. Most of the MA's were sent to the United States Allies in Russia and England under the Lend-Lease program. Today, the MA is the rarest of all pre-production Willys, with only about thirty models known to exist.
Improvements to the Willys MA over the Quad included: a handbrake single piece wheels rounded door cutouts two circular-mounted instrument clusters and a steering column-mounted gear shift.
1941-1945 WILLYS MB
FORGED IN BATTLE
It's the stuff of legend the U.S. Army requested a vehicle—and drove off in a hero. The Willys MB, its spirit forged by the fire of combat and honed in the heat of battle, seared its way into the hearts of warriors fighting for freedom. Fierce emotional bonds often developed between a soldier and his "jeep" 4x4. The faithful MB earned a place in every GI's heart, in every area of combat, in every conceivable role.
The tough, simple, Jeep® Brand 4x4 became the GI's best friend—second only to his rifle. One MB was even awarded a Purple Heart and sent home. General George C. Marshall, US Army Chief of Staff during World War II, and later U.S. Secretary of State, described the Jeep® Brand 4x4 as "America's greatest contribution to modern warfare". Scripps Howard WWII Reporter Ernie Pyle once said, "It did everything. It went everywhere. Was a faithful as a dog, as strong as a mule, and as agile as a goat. It constantly carried twice what it was designed for and still kept going."
The MB started a revolution in the use of small military motor vehicles in the U.S. Army. Horses along with motorcycles, solo and side car, were rendered obsolete almost immediately. The all-purpose MB was amazingly versatile. They could be fitted with .30 or .50 caliber machine guns for combat. They were also widely modified for long-range desert patrol, snow plowing, telephone cable laying, saw milling, as fire-fighting pumpers, field ambulances, tractors and, with suitable wheels, would even run on railway tracks.
MBs could be loaded into transport aircraft for rapid deployment and were also small enough to fit into the large gliders used in the D-day invasion of Europe. Over the course of the war, customized field kits were developed for winter and desert conditions, deep-water fording and other combat needs.
Although the Willys MB was not the first four-wheel-drive vehicle, the Go Anywhere. Do Anything.® Jeep® Brand vehicle influenced every 4x4 built in its wake. The New York Museum of Modern Art includes a military Jeep Brand 4x4 in its display of eight automobiles and regarded it as “one of the very few genuine expressions of machine art.”
1945-1949 JEEP® CJ-2A
THE FIRST CIVILIAN JEEP® BRAND VEHICLE (CJ)
The mighty Willys MB emerged out of the cauldron of war ready for peace time service. The legendary G.I. workhorse of World War II was converted by Willys-Overland into a CJ with the aim of putting farm workhorses out to pasture.
According to Willys-Overland, there were 5.5 million farmers in the U.S., and of these, more than 4 million had neither a truck nor a tractor. The rugged and versatile CJ-2A was marketed by Willys-Overland as "The All-Around Farm Work-Horse". It could do the job of two heavy draft horses, operating at a speed of four miles per hour, 10 hours a day, without overheating the engine. The CJ-2A "Universal" was to serve agriculture and industry all over the world in a thousand different ways.
Willys-Overland also advertised the CJ-2A as "A Powerhouse on Wheels", pitching it as a work vehicle and mobile power to the masses. A variety of farm implements and industrial tools were devised for use in conjunction with an onboard power take-off unit. A belt-driven governor was controlled from the instrument panel, allowing regulation of engine speeds from 1,000 to 2,600 rpm. Sales were brisk despite the glut of MBs on the war surplus market.
Cash awards were offered by Popular Science magazine for "Ideas on Peacetime Jobs for Jeeps". The contest stimulated America’s ingenuity and innovative nature. Soon, Jeep® Brand vehicles were used as the platform for hundreds of applications. Of particular note: from 1949-1964, either a complete Jeep Brand vehicle or chassis was used on all Zamboni® ice resurfacing machines. In 1949, the Model A took 10 minutes to do a job that used to take over an hour-and-a-half.
A much-modified version of the MB, the 1945 CJ-2A (MSRP: $1,090) had "Willys" embossed on the hood sides and windshield frame. It was offered to the public with better shock absorbers, springs and more comfortable seats for added comfort, revised transmission and transfer case gear ratios allowing low-speed hauling and highway speeds as high as 60 mph, beefier clutch, better cooling, a tailgate, side-mounted spare tire, larger 7-inch headlights, an external fuel cap, a reinforced frame for greater rigidity, and an automatic windshield wiper on the driver's side.
1946-1965 WILLYS WAGON
AMERICA’S FIRST ALL-STEEL STATION WAGON
America's first all-steel station wagon debuted in July 1946 as the model 463 Jeep® Station Wagon and featured a three-tone paintwork that simulated the "woodie" look. The no-maintenance all-steel utility vehicle was not prone to weathering, peeling or squeaks like the old style "woodies". The Wagon's fold-down tailgate hatch was ahead of its time and can be credited with the origin of the "tailgate party".
Review: Volume 41 - First World War - History
Chevrolet Anderson, IN 1945 Open House Chevrolet World War Two Truck Database
Chevrolet Division of General Motors in World War Two
This page updated 11-20-2020.
It is somewhat of a challenge to fully represent Chevrolet's contribution to the American Defense during World War Two. In spite of being the largest of GM's car divisions, information and production statistics are meager if not non existent. Chevrolet did not do a very good job providing wartime production numbers and plant locations for historical purposes. What is provided below is the best I have been able to obtain with the limited information available.
The Chevrolet Aviation Plant No.2 in Tonawanda, NY won the Army-Navy "E" Award five times.
The Chevrolet Aviation Plant No.1 in Buffalo, NY won the Army-Navy "E" Award five times.
The Chevrolet Motor and Axle Plant in Tonawanda, NY won the Army-Navy "E" Award five times.
The Chevrolet Motor Plant in Bay City, MI won the Army-Navy "E" Award two times.
The Chevrolet Motor Commercial Body Plant in Indianapolis, IN won the Army-Navy "E" Award three times.
The Chevrolet Gear and Axle Plant in Detroit, MI won the Army-Navy "E" Award four times.
Chevrolet World War Two Production Statistics: (439,893) Chevrolet and GMC trucks (See below for the details.), (2,583) Passenger Sedans, (3,844) Staghound Medium Armored Cars, (60,766) R-2800 and R-1830 Pratt & Whitney Radial Aircraft Engines (17 Chevrolet Plants involved with final assembly at Tonawanda, NY., 75mm armor piercing and high explosive projectiles, 3 Inch armor piercing and high explosive projectiles, (2,000) 90mm Anti-aircraft gun tubes, breech ring and block, and recoil rails, 200 million pounds of aluminum forgings included forged aircraft propeller blades from four plants, making it the second largest producer of aluminum forgings in the world, 5.7 million pounds of magnesium castings, and two billion pounds of grey iron castings and aluminum castings.
A total of (281,570) Chevrolet name plated trucks consisting of:
(55,579) 1/2 ton 4x2 trucks
(128) 3/4 ton 4x2 trucks
(52,568) 1-1/2 4x2 trucks
(173,295) 1-1/2 4x4 trucks
(See my Chevrolet WWII Truck Database for more details.)
(158,323) Chevrolet built GMC named plated trucks consisting of:
(151,575) CCKW 6x6 2-1/2 ton trucks. This was 30% of all of the CCKWs built. (149,135) were built at the Chevrolet St. Louis, MO plant and (2,650) in the Baltimore, MD assembly plant. At the end of the war, all CCKW production had shifted to St. Louis. In 1944 and 1945, the daily run rate for CCKWs was larger at St. Louis than at the GMC plant in Pontiac, MI. Therefore, while all of the nameplates on the CCKWs are GMC, if the truck was built in 1944 or 1945, there is a greater than 50% chance that it is the Chevrolet-built version. All CCKWs built in St. Louis, with the exception of the last (1,000) units, had Chevrolet axles on them.
Chevrolet built both the CCKW-352 and 353 the former being the 145 inch short wheelbase version with a nine foot bed, and the latter being the 164 inch long wheelbase type with a twelve foot bed. Both types came with or without a front mounted winch.
(6,748) of the GMC-designed 6x6 Amphibious Trucks (DUKW) were assembled by Chevrolet in its St. Louis, MO plant. This was 32% of the total of (21,147) built. GMC supplied the sheet metal "boat" section pre-assembled from its plant in Pontiac, MI. GMC sub-contracted the work to Chevrolet and all DUKWs built carried a GMC ID tag, even though the final assembly was carried out by Chevrolet. Therefore, it is impossible to determine whether a DUKW was built by GMC or Chevrolet, just as with the CCKW.
Chevrolet components on GMC Trucks: Chevrolet supplied the original closed passenger cabs, the open soft top cabs, many of the axles which were similar to the ones used on its 1-1/2 ton truck, and the engine cowlings for not only the CCKW, but other GMC 2-1/2 trucks. St. Louis also helped build 37,803 cargo dump trucks, of which the last forty units built were cargo dump trucks. Chevrolet also built (3,330) cabs and chassis only for F3 750 gallon fuel tankers and L1 660 gallon lubricant tankers for the Army Air Corps.
For British: (3,844) Staghound Medium Armored Cars. Of that, (2,844) were T17E1 with 37mm cannon and (1,000) were T17E2 with twin .50 machine gun anti-aircraft units.
During World War Two Chevrolet had ten assembly plants building the 1-1/2 ton trucks. Each one had a code which was the first number in the serial number.
|Chevrolet Vehicle Assembly Plants|
|3||St. Louis, MO|
|5||Kansas City, KS|
|20||Van Nuys, CA|
This Chevrolet truck was photographed at the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. Photo courtesy of Pierre-Olivier Buan.
Photo courtesy of Pierre-Olivier Buan.
This Chevrolet cargo truck was on display at the 2019 MVPA Convention in York, PA. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
A 1941 Chevrolet 4x4,1-1/2 ton cargo truck with a winch as seen at the 2013 Houston Airshow. Author's photo.
Referencing the tables on the Chevrolet WWII vehicle production page, it can be determined this is a type ZM truck and that 6,770 were built in 1941. Author's photo.
This 1943 GMC CCKW-353 2-1/2 ton truck with winch was in the same display at Houston. It may very well may have come off the Chevrolet St. Louis production line. During 1943 GMC built 78,432 CCKWs and Chevrolet built 51,715. Note the similarity in the engine cowling and grill with the previous Chevrolet truck. They look very similar as they came off of the same Chevrolet presses in Flint, MI. Chevrolet also supplied many of the axles for the GMC, which were similar to those on its own 1-1/2 ton series.
In 1943 Chevrolet St. Louis started building the open cab versions of the CCKW like this. Prior to that time, it was building the closed cab, like the one below. Author's photo added 12-24-2014.
The original CCKWs came with the closed cab, which the Chevrolet Division supplied for all of the CCKWs built by both itself and GMC in Pontiac, MI. Chevrolet produced 40,070 of the closed cab type CCKWs, like this CCKW-353 with no winch, seen at the 2014 Columbus, IN Airport Appreciation Day. Author's photo added 12-24-2014.
This 1944 F-3 Army Air Corps 750 gallon Aviation Fuel servicing truck built on a CCKW-353 chassis and cab was at the 2014 MPVA National Convention. Chevrolet St. Louis provided all of the 3,330 cabs and chassis for these type vehicles. Author's photo added 12-24-2014.
Over 70 years after being built in 1942, this Chevrolet 1-1/2 ton dump truck is still used occasionally for odd jobs by owner Rob Ellert . Note that this model has the front winch. Photo courtesy of Rob Ellert. Photo added 2-14-2015.
This nice looking example of the NL series dump truck was one of 5,098 built by Chevrolet in 1942 for the military. After being built for the Army, it eventually was obtained by the Navy. Photo courtesy of Rob Ellert. Photo added 2-14-2015.
This Chevrolet dump truck was built between 1942 and 1944. Author's photo added 6-14-2017.
Author's photo added 6-14-2017.
Author's photo added 6-14-2017.
This Chevy dump truck was on display at the 2019 Findlay, OH Military Show. Author's photo added 6-20-2019.
Author's photo added 6-20-2019.
Author's photo added 6-20-2019.
Author's photo added 6-20-2019.
This Chevrolet dump truck was on display at the 2019 MVPA Convention in York, PA. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
This 1942 Chevrolet 1/2ton pickup truck shows the styling of this type vehicle by Chevy at the time. The truck is rare due to production of civilian vehicles being stopped in early 1942. This vehicle was on display at the National Automotive and Truck Museum (Natmus) in Auburn, IN. Author's photo.
This 1946 Chevrolet half ton, also at Natmus, shows the same basic styling as the prewar model. Author's photo.
This is an example of one of the (7,857) Chevrolet-built 1-1/2 ton 4x4 bomb service trucks for the military during World War Two. This was on display at the National Automotive and Truck Museum in Auburn, IN. Author's photo.
Note that there are three seats for crew members to ride in on the passenger side of the vehicle. Author's photo.
The first number 9 in the serial number designates the Chevrolet Norwood, OH plant. "NQ" designates it as a bomb service truck. Author's photo.
The next set of period photos shows Chevrolet 1-1/2 ton trucks being used to train Army Air Force aircraft turret gunners, allowing the trainees to shoot at targets while moving on the bed of the vehicles. This is a little known but important use for Chevrolet trucks during World War Two.
The Army Air Force designated the turret mounted truck as an E-5. The air gunnery ranges were located at Buckingham Army Air Field, FL, Harlingen Army Air Field, TX, Las Vegas Army Air Field, NV, Lowry Bombing and Gunnery Range, CO, Matagorda Island Bombing and Gunnery Range, TX, Tonopah Bombing and Gunnery Range, NV, Tyndall Army Air Field, FL and Williams Army Air Field, AZ. Photo added 2-12-2015.
This photo of the E-5 gun trainer was taken at Buckingham Army Air Field, located east of Fort Meyers, FL. Photo added 2-12-2015.
Photo added 2-12-2015.
This is another example of the Chevrolet 1&1/2 ton 4x4 trucks built for the military during the Second World War. This one is a telephone pole setter, formerly at the National Military History Center in Auburn, IN. Author's photo.
Chevrolet built (1,719) of these during WWII. Author's photo.
This 1943 Chevrolet 1-1/2 ton fire truck was on display at the annual MVPA Convention at Louisville, KY in June of 2014. Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
This Chevrolet built 1-1/2 ton 4x4 crash truck actually served at George Army Air Field in Lawrenceville, IL during WWII. The truck belongs to the Indiana Military Museum in nearby Vincennes, IN eleven miles away from the old air field. Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Through the end of 1942 Chevrolet provided (306) of these crash trucks for the Army Air Corps. Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
This 1942 Chevrolet crash truck was photographed at the 2017 MVPA national convention in Cleveland, OH. It is Serial Number N90212859. Author's photo added 12-25-2019.
Author's photo added 12-25-2019.
Author's photo added 12-25-2019.
This is one of two Chevrolet World War Two crash trucks on display at the Sam Werner Museum. The second one is parked directly behind this one. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
This is the second Chevrolet crash truck at the Sam Werner Museum. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
This photo of a derelict Chevy 1-1/2 ton truck was taken at the Fort Economy Museum in Hallsville, OH. Author's photo added 9-2-2014.
Amphibious Trucks (DUKW): The Chevrolet St. Louis plant built (6,748) GMC name plated DUKWs.
This DUKW was on display at the National Military History Center in Auburn, IN. It is no longer there. Author's photo.
In this World War Two photo, the DUKW shows its versatility in a river crossing.
This DUKW is on display at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, IN. Author's photo.
Aircraft Engines: 56,484 R-1830 and 4,282 R-2800 Pratt & Whitney Radial Aircraft Engines. Seventeen Chevrolet plants provided components that went into the final assembly at Tonawanda, NY.
R-1830 - Chevrolet Tonawanda built the first of 56,484 R-1830s on 3-20-1942 and continued to produce the engine until 3-31-1945. During these three years Tonawanda turned out an average of 1,569 engines per month. Chevrolet-built R-1830s that were used in the B-24, C-82, PBY, and A-28.
Buick also built the R-1830 during World War Two. It produced 74,198 in a government owned plant in Melrose Park, IL, west of Chicago. Chevrolet and Buick combined to provide 130,682 R-1830s, which was 75% of the 173,618 built during the war. General Motors was the largest producer of the R-1830 during World War Two.
This is a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine, as seen at the National Museum of World War Two in New Orleans, LA. Chevrolet Tonawanda built this type of aircraft engine. Author's photo.
This R-1830 display at the Tri-State Warbird Museum Batavia, OH shows the complexity of the engine. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
Chevrolet Tonawanda, NY built Pratt & Whitney engines went into the Douglas C-47, the workhorse transport aircraft for the United States during WWII. Author's photo.
Chevrolet-built R-1830s were used in the B-24. The C-82 was the cargo version of the B-24. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
This is a USAAF OA-10, which was its designation for a PBY. Tonawanda was only proving engines for the USAAF, so it was probably this version of the aircraft in which the engines were used. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
R-2800 - Chevrolet built the first of 4,282 R-2800 aircraft engines on 7-29-1944. It maintained a production run of 356 per month until the war ended a year later. These were used on the P-47, P-61, A-26, C-46, and C-82. The first engine was built in only five months and nineteen days from start to final testing and acceptance. This was extremely fast for such a complex engine.
|Chevrolet-Built Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Engines|
|R-2800 Model||Number of Engines Built||Aircraft Type|
|R-2800-83||855||A-26D which was cancelled due to end of war, Vought AU-1 developed during Korean Conflict|
|R-2800-85||62||C-82A Some were built during World War Two|
This R-2800 is on display at the EAA Museum in Oshkosh, WI. While the R-1830 had a single row of nine cylinders, the R-2800 had two rows of nine cylinders. The accessory section of the R-2800 was a whole section of the engine in itself which the R-1830 didn't have. The R-2800 was an order of magnitude more complex to build than the R-1830. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
Looking at the other side of the display and the interior of the engine, its complexity is obvious. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
The R-2800 was the most powerful radial engine the U.S. military used in World War Two. The R-2800 was used in both the Navy's premier World War Two fighters, the F6F and F4U. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
This Chevrolet-built Pratt and Whitney R-2800 engine is on display at the National Museum of WWII Aviation in Colorado Springs, CO. Author's photo added 10-7-2017.
The engine is part of a larger display showing how the Republic P-47 super turbocharger system worked. Author's photo added 10-7-2017.
Here is the Chevrolet bowtie on the engine nose housing. Author's photo added 10-7-2017.
This P-47 is located at the Peterson Air and Space Museum at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, CO. It has a Chevrolet Tonawanda, NY built R-2800 engine in it. Author's photo added 10-7-2017.
Author's photo added 10-7-2017.
This engine still has the data plate on it. Author's photo added 10-7-2017.
The C-46. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
The P-61C featured the higher performance R-2800 that Chevrolet was assigned to build. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
The A-26. Author's photo added 11-20-2020.
This is part of the Chevrolet Tonawanda, NY Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial aircraft engine production line. Seventeen Plants in the Chevrolet Division were involved in the making of these aircraft engines. The Chevrolet Tonawanda plant is still in production today. It is right along the Niagara River south of The Falls and north of Buffalo.
This photo of a T17E1 "Staghound" armored car, as it appeared in the GM 1944 annual report. According to the annual report, the Staghound was a closely guarded secret for three years. There was also a T17E2 which replaced the 37mm cannon shown here with two .50 caliber M2 machine guns in a Frazier-Nash turret as an anti-aircraft mount.
This Chevrolet ad makes it known that its Staghound was a secret weapon. Not only was its production a secret but due to the fact that it was not used by US forces during the Second World War, it has been overlooked and somewhat of a secret ever since. Staghounds were used by British Commonwealth nations, especially the Canadians, during World War Two, while Polish forces in Italy were the biggest user of it.
|Chevrolet Staghound and Boarhound World War Two Production|
|T17E1 Staghound||T17E2 Staghound||Comments|
|1942||157||Production of the T17E2 started in October.|
|Totals||2,844||1,000||Chevrolet produced a total of 3,844 of the T17armored cars between October, 1942 and April, 1944 when production of all types ceased.|
This Chevrolet built-Staghound armored car has a fresh coat of paint. It is temporarily stored outdoors while awaiting placement into a new inside display area as part of the U.S. Army Armor and Cavalry Collection, Fort Benning, GA. Author's photo added 9-21-2018.
Author's photo added 9-21-2018.
Author's photo added 9-21-2018.
Author's photo added 9-21-2018.
Author's photo added 9-21-2018.
This Chevrolet-built T17E1 Staghound is on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, ONT. Author's photo added 9-13-2016.
Author's photo added 9-13-2016.
Author's photo added 9-13-2016.
What a cool photo! Nine of the ten persons working on the first two Staghounds in this photo are women as the armored cars are being prepared for shipment overseas. Photo courtesy of the Military History Institute in Carlisle, PA.
Here a Staghound hull is being welded up.
This Fox Armored Car seen at 2009 Windsor, Ontario Airshow was designated as a GM MK.1, but Chevrolet was the Division that designed the chassis. Final assembly was done by GM of Canada. Author's photo.
Chevrolet began development on the M38 armored car in 1944 as a replacement for the M8 Greyhound. Production on the new armored car did not get started until March 1945. Only five pilot models were built due to the ending of the war in Europe. The M38 was powered by a Cadillac V-8 engine mated to a Detroit Transmission Hydra-Matic transmission. Photo added 1-8-2020.
90mm Anti-Aircraft Gun Components :
Chevrolet built 2,000 gun tubes, breech ring and block assemblies, and recoil rails for 90mm anti-aircraft guns like this one seen at the Indiana Military Museum in Vincennes, IN. Author's photo.
On the Job - Chevrolet Volume Production for the Nation's Needs
This publication gives an excellent overview of what Chevrolet did by those who worked there during the Second World War. This was dated September 11, 1944.
What Were the Main Causes of World War I?
There were four main causes of World War I: militarism, alliances, imperialism and nationalism. The first world war was a direct result of these four main causes, but it was triggered by the assassination of the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife.
The assassination took place on June 28, 1914 and the first world war began immediately after in August 1914. Gavrilo Princip was the assassinator and was a Bosnian revolutionary.
Militarism was a cause of the war because the war was an "arms race" with Britain, France and Germany competing to build larger armies and navies. In fact, between 1870 and 1914, all of the major powers, besides the United States and Great Britain, more than doubled their army's sizes.
Alliances was a cause of the war because it forced many countries to enter into the conflict even though they were not affected originally. As each country's alliances became involved and then those alliance's alliances became involved, the war grew to encompass the entire world.
Imperialism is the gathering of colonies and in the 1890s, many countries that had not had many colonies decided that they wanted to have more colonies. This led to a global competition for land.
Nationalism is having pride in one's country and believing that one's country is better than other countries. This nationalist pride helped to fuel the war.
Review: Volume 41 - First World War - History
The German Army Marches Through Brussels, 1914
"This was a machine, endless, tireless, with the delicate organization of a watch and the brute power of a steam roller."
The Beginning of Air Warfare, 1914
"Have you got a revolver, old boy? My ammunition's all gone." The beginning of air-to-air combat.
Christmas in the Trenches, 1914
"We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man's-land." A spontaneous truce takes over the front lines during the first Christmas of World War I on the Western Front.
Battle At Gallipoli, 1915
". . . Had a good supper and nearly finished our water. The last meal poor Jack ever had." The futile attempt to open a new front and relieve the stalemate in France.
The Birth of the Fighter Plane, 1915
"I thought of what a deadly accurate stream of lead I could send into the plane." The Dutch inventor of the modern fighter plane takes it on its first trial run in combat.
The Sinking of the Lusitania, 1915
"Many people must have lost their heads. " View the destruction of the Lusitania through the periscope of the submarine that sank her.
The Battle of Jutland, 1916
". then came the big explosion." On board the battle cruiser Queen Mary as she is sunk during World War I's largest naval battle.
A Death at the Battle of the Somme, 1916
He was young, an American, and a poet and he joined the French Foreign Legion to defend the country he loved.
In the American Ambulance Field Service, 1916
"Just overhead as the car passes comes a blasting, shattering crash which is like sudden death." Ride with the volunteer crew of an American ambulance as it heads for the French front lines before America's entrance into WWI.
The Battlefield Debut of the Tank, 1916
". lumbering slowly towards us came three huge mechanical monsters such as we had never seen before."
U-boat Attack, 1916
"I saw that the bubble-track of the torpedo had been discovered on the bridge of the steamer." Aboard a German submarine as it attacks and sinks a cargo vessel in World War I.
"He sank to the ground, clutching at his throat, and after a few spasmodic twistings, went West." In the trenches as the Germans launch the newest innovation in weapons of mass destruction - gas
Death of a Zeppelin, 1916
"I saw high in the sky a concentrated blaze of searchlights, and in its centre a ruddy glow which rapidly spread into the outline of a blazing airship." The terror of the night skies is shot down over London.
The "Red Baron" Scores Two Victories, 1917
"He paid for his stupidity with his life." Manfred von Richthofen, World War I's highest scoring air ace, describes a day in combat.
America Declares War on Germany, 1917
"What else can I do?" The dilemma over how to maintain a balance between individual liberty and national security in a time of war is nothing new in American history. President Wilson faced the same problem as he prepared to ask Congress to declare war with Germany.
"When the torpedo struck, there was no mistaking it for anything else." A passenger describes the attack and sinking of his ship by a German submarine.
The Execution of Mata Hari, 1917
"Must I wear that?" she asked as the blindfold was shown to her. World War One's most famous spy meets her end.
Death Of An Air Ace, 1918
Major Raoul Lufbery, one of America's greatest aces, meets a fiery death in air combat.
The Beginning of the End of World War I, 1918
"These thirteen Americans performed a feat never to be forgotten." Four years of stagnation on the Western Front ends as the Germans gamble on a massive offensive on the Western Front and American doughboys enter the fray.
Lawrence of Arabia, 1918
Attack on a Turkish column - "Take no prisoners!"
Armistice - The End of World War I, 1918
". at the front there was no celebration." At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month the guns fell silent and the Great War came to an end.
Signing the Treaty of Versailles, 1919
"Through the few open windows comes the sound of distant crowds cheering hoarsely." The curtain falls on the "War to End all Wars."
The Unknown Soldier Comes Home, 1921
[Sergeant Younger] "circled the caskets three times, then silently placed the flowers on the third casket from the left." America's Unknown Soldier is selected in France.
Understanding the depth of the 2020 global recession in 5 charts
The global economy has experienced 14 global recessions since 1870: in 1876, 1885, 1893, 1908, 1914, 1917-21, 1930-32, 1938, 1945-46, 1975, 1982, 1991, 2009, and 2020. The COVID-19 recession will be the deepest since 1945-46, and more than twice as deep as the recession associated with the 2007-09 global financial crisis.
Global per capita GDP growth
Note: For multi-year episodes, the cumulative contraction is shown. Data for 2020 are forecasts.
Chrt 2. Highest synchronization of national recessions since 1870
In 2020, the highest share of economies will experience contractions in annual per capita gross domestic product (GDP) since 1870. The share will be more than 90% higher than the proportion at the height of the Great Depression of 1930-32.
Economies with contractions in per capita GDP
Note: The proportion of economies with an annual contraction in per capita GDP. Shaded areas refer to global recessions. Data for 2020-21 are forecasts.
Chart 3. Sharpest contraction in multiple measures of activity
In 2020, many indicators of global activity are expected to register the sharpest contractions in six decades. A large swath of services has seen a near sudden stop, reflecting both regulated and voluntary reductions in human interactions that could threaten infection. Partly owing to an unprecedented weakening in services-related activities, global trade and oil consumption will see record drops this year, and the global rate of unemployment will likely climb to its highest level since 1965.
Retail sales volume during global recessions
Note: Year “t” denotes the year of global recessions (shaded in light gray). The darker shaded area refers to the range of the three global recessions with available data. For 2020, data are based on a year-on-year percent change in the first quarter.
Chart 4. Sharpest decline in oil demand
Oil consumption typically fell during global recessions. The previous largest decline in oil consumption occurred in 1980-82, when consumption fell by a cumulative 9% from its peak in 1979. The outbreak of COVID-19 and the wide-ranging measures needed to slow its advance have precipitated an unprecedented collapse in oil demand. They also resulted in a surge in oil inventories, and, in March, the steepest one-month decline in oil prices on record.
Oil consumption during global recessions
Note: Year “t” denotes the year of global recessions (shaded in light gray). The darker shaded area refers to the range of the three global recessions with available data.
Chart 5. Declines in per capita output in all EMDE regions
Although the magnitude will vary across EMDE regions, current projections indicate that five out of six are projected to fall into outright recession. The majority of EMDE regions will experience the lowest growth in at least 60 years, and all of them will see declines in regional per capita output for the first time during a global recession since 1960.
Per capita GDP growth in 2020, by region
Note: Data are forecasts.
The COVID-19 global recession is unique in many respects. It will be the most severe since World War II and is expected to trigger per capita GDP contractions in the largest share of economies since 1870. It is also associated with unprecedented weakening in multiple indicators of global activity, such as services and oil demand, as well as declines in per capita income in all EMDE regions.