1939: Countdown to War by Richard Overy

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By Richard Overy

A prime historian re-creates the ultimate hours of peace in Europe.

On August 24, 1939, the realm held its collective breath as Hitler and Stalin signed the now notorious nonaggression pact, signaling an coming near near invasion of Poland and bold Western Europe to respond.

during this dramatic account of the ultimate days prior to the outbreak of global conflict II, award-winning historian Richard Overy vividly chronicles the unraveling of peace, hour via grim hour, as politicians and traditional electorate brace themselves for a battle that can spell the top of eu civilization. not anything was once completely predictable or inevitable. The West was hoping that Hitler may see experience in the event that they stood company. Hitler used to be confident the West may backtrack. Moments of uncertainty alternated with these of disagreement; mystery intelligence used to be utilized by either side to help their hopes. the only consistent characteristic used to be the choice of Poland, a rustic created basically in 1919, to guard its newfound independence opposed to a significantly more suitable enemy. 1939 records a defining second within the violent historical past of the 20 th century.

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Extra resources for 1939: Countdown to War

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Hank Bellmon’s M4A3 tank Calcutta of C Company provides a good example of many of the 4th Tank Battalion modifications to improve tankinfantry cooperation. A field telephone is mounted in a sack attached to the left rear spare track rack, and a target clock painted nearby on the wading trunk to remind the Marine riflemen how to call out direction of targets. An old M3 light tank fuel tank has been converted into a water tank to provide the accompanying riflemen with drinking water, complete with piping and spigot.

This provides a good illustration of the improvements added to the 5th Tank Battalion tanks prior to the Iwo Jima landings including the distinctive penny nails around the turret hatches and the wooden side armor on both the hull and over the suspension. (NARA) The 5th Tank Battalion was used in the initial assault on Mount Surabachi while the 4th Tank Battalion took part in initial attacks towards the critical airfields. On D+5, an effort was made to group all three Marine tank battalions to seize Airfield #2, but the attack was frustrated by an especially heavy concentration of mines and antitank guns and the objective was not taken until D+7.

Some idea of the ferocity of the fighting can be appreciated by the scale of tank casualties. The 1st Tank Battalion started the campaign with 47 M4A2 tanks on May 1. During the course of the fighting, operational strength plummeted from 47 tanks on May 1 to 28 tanks on June 22. The heaviest casualties were during the fighting for Kunishi Ridge in mid-June, with the heaviest single day’s casualties being 21 tanks. In total, tanks suffered combat damage sufficient to take the tank off the line 163 times, or, in other words, each tank was knocked out an average of four times.

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