Only one SS soldier
believed that what Mengele and Auschwitz represented was inhumane. That was Hans Wilhelm Münch, the only physician
whose commitment to the Hippocratic Oath proved stronger
than the Reichswehreid [German Army Oath] and his commitment to the SS. In terms of this Oath, obedience to the
Führer, the supreme commander, was unconditional, yet Münch survived.
Main picture: Hans Wilhelm Münch
The most widely used
photographs of German troops during WW2 reflect a martial disposition from the
menacing Tiger tank to steely eyed troops firing MG42 machine guns. None of the
photographs used below would ever appear in official histories of the war.
Even though they might reflect the humanity of the ordinary German soldier, this blog does not in any way endorse the behaviour of the Nazi regime or the German military forces.
Main picture: German soldier sharing water with a baby
Despite opposition from his family, Arthur John Montgomery enlisted as a Cavalryman on the 4th May 1897 in London. Travelling to Newbridge, Ireland, he then underwent his training. After completion of his course and promotion to a Corporal, he was posted to Aldershot in England. Rumours of an impending war in South Africa were confirmed on the 11th October 1899 when war was declared.
As a member of the 10th Hussars, AJ Montgomery – “Monto” to his friends – was shipped to the Cape. On November 4th, the vessel embarked 455 men of the 63rd Field Battery, No.9 Company of R.A.M. Corps, “A” Squadron of 10th Hussars, and one troop of “B” Squadron, plus 6 field guns, 334 horses and 22 vehicles, stores and ammunition, and sailed for South Africa in the early morning of November 6 under command of captain Frederick Crosby. On the early morning of the 3rd December 1899, the SS Ismore struck a rock off Columbine Point 13 miles from the Dassen Island.
This is the personal story of AJ’s experiences on that fateful voyage from embarking on the SS Ismore on the 4th November 1899 until he is once again on terra firma on the 3rd December 1899. The narrative has been edited for readability and grammar, but it still remains largely the voice of the survivor narrating his concerns and fears during his eventual voyage.
Main picture: Painting of AJ Montgomery of the 10th Hussars
All ex South African soldiers have stories about pranks; some benign and others extremely dangerous and irresponsible.
This blog will cover two such incidents; one that happened to our platoon while on the border at Mpacha and the other taken off Redditt.
Main picture: Eland 90 Armoured Car
One forever associates sights, smells and sounds with where one grows up. Sometimes they are pleasant and sometimes not so, but they all define our childhoods and underpin our lives in subconscious ways. The sound of the surf is one of my most pleasant memories as much as I’ll never forget the rotten sulphuric smell of the aptly named Smelly Creek at the shunting yards in Deal Party. But a distinctive sound that I oddly found soothing and comforting, probably because of its familiarity, was the otherwise harsh sound of Harvards flying lazily overhead, particularly on beautiful summer days. Being a boy and a WWII buff, that sound would always bring out the Biggles in me and get my pulse racing.
Main picture: The iconic North American AT-6 Harvard (Texan to Americans) resplendent in SAAF colours
In all respects, WW2 was a war of superlatives. From the number of people killed to the quantum of destruction of civilian property, it easily outranks all previous wars combined. Of all other wars, it was truly waged on an industrial scale.
This blog presents those statistics that will amaze, astonish and often make one reflect on why in the mid 20th century, man’s primal instinct was still to murder, annihilate and plunder.
Main picture: Only 20% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war
The horrors of WW1 are unspeakable. Knowing that their chances of survival were minuscule once “going over the top”, unhinged many a Tommy. Even those who were terror stricken, had to face another enemy apart from their warped minds, a tribunal for desertion or failing to obey an order if they failed to display an appropriate martial ardour.
Such were the terrors of an inhumane war. To commemorate this suffering, Martin Galbavy has created a “tin” statue as a tribute to the soldier’s bravery, their torment & the suppression of their demons.
On first hearing about my German father-in-law’s ill-treatment in an American POW Camp in France during 1944 & 1945, I was extremely sceptical. Not only that but I was totally dismissive of his claims, never deigning to hear him out.
Then in 1989, I came across a book by James Bacque entitled “Other Losses” in which he exposes the extent of American disregard for the lives of German POWs and the blatant deception practiced by them in an effort to hide these resultant deaths.
Main picture: The Rheinwiesenlager provided no protection from the elements together with meagre rations. This was a recipe for disaster on a large scale
Victory in Europe Day, generally known as VE Day, was the public holiday celebrated on 8 May 1945 to mark the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces.
The war might have been over, the rebuilding of shattered lives, buildings and infrastructure could only now commence. Finally, it was a time of retribution for the vile deeds of the Axis countries both in Europe and in the East.
This blog is a pictorial representation of the issues that had to be addressed in this brave new world.
Main picture: A Japanese man amid the scorched wreckage and rubble that was once his home in Yokohama, Japan