Memories From Normandy
June, 6th, 1944 changed the course of a war and of our history. It was on D-Day that the allied troops invaded Normandy for a series of episodes that shaped the world with memories of sadness, braveness, courage and brotherhood. Almost 70 years later, the place still breathes commotion, for the thousands of the daily visitors or for those many veterans who return, usually to say a last goodbye to forests, beaches, borders and foxholes they once called home.
“We went to Kineshma, that’s in Ivanovo region, to visit his parents. I went as a heroine and I never expected someone to welcome me, a front-line girl, like that. We’ve gone through so much, we’ve saved lives, lifes of mothers, wives. And then… I heard accusations, I was bad-mouthed. Before that I’ve only ever been “dear sister”… We had tea and my husband’s mother took him aside and started crying: “Who did you marry? A front-line girl… You have two younger sisters. Who’s going to marry them now?” When I think back to that moment I feel tears welling up. Imagine: I had a record, I loved it a lot. There was a song, it said: you have the right to wear the best shoes. That was about a front-line girl. I had it playing, and [his?] elder sister came up and broke it apart, saying: you have no rights. They destroyed all my photos from the war… We, front-line girls, went through so much during hte war… and then we had another war. Another terrible war. The men left us, they didn’t cover our backs. Not like at the front.” from С.Алексеевич “У войны не женское лицо”
In Soviet Union women participating in WWII were erased from history, remaining as the occasional anecdote of a female sniper or simply as medical staff or, at best, radio specialists. The word “front-line girl” (frontovichka) became a terrible insult, synonimous to “whore”. Hundreds thousand of girls who went to war to protect their homeland with their very lives, who came back injured or disabled, with medals for valor, had to hide it to protect themselves from public scorn.
This has always happened in history: Women do something important. Then they get shamed for it (so nobody will talk about it) and it gets erased from history.
And then certain men will say: “Women suck, they’ve never done anything important.”
Look into history and learn that women have played a far greater role then douches (present and past) wanted you to know.
Hey Will (and Jack) I got you something.
So this is important. Let me tell you a story.
All the time I spend debating about women in combat, I’ve picked up on a trend that disturbs me. Supporting or attacking, people are quick to draw on biology, psychology, law, but very rarely - almost never - do I hear about the history of women in combat, and the evidence their service lends to this debate.
Hundreds of thousands of women faced combat in WW2, and on both sides, and on all fronts, and it is a history that has been almost completely erased from contemporary awareness. I have been given arguments about how women can not psychologically handle combat. And about how women in mixed-gender combat units will automatically disrupt group cohesion - the brotherhood, if you will. Both of these assertions are erasure.
Women have not lived in a protective bubble untouched by combat for all of history. Women have been killed, wounded, and captured in combat, and tortured after. We are not living a world where these are hypothetical situations women have yet to prove they can handle. Unfortunately, they have, they can, in the future, they probably will, again and again. Soviet women served as partisans, snipers, tank drivers, fighter pilots, bombers. And more.
Both British and American women served in mixed-gender AA units. I could drag you through several examples of British women performing exemplarilyy despite being wounded, or seeing their comrades die. The Luftwaffe did not discriminate. Between the British and the Americans, it was determined that mixed gender units actually performed much better than all male units, because of teamwork. Because women are better and certain tasks, men are better at certain tasks, and at other tasks they are comparably efficient, and in a team, hopefully, in combat, you let the best do what they are best at. For the most part, they were proud to serve together.
German propaganda never commented on the British AA units, but they thoroughly smeared the Soviet fighting woman - flitenweiber. People often argue with me that women are a threat to group cohesion because men naturally give women preferential treatment. Which certainly explains why men are more likely to survive shipwrecks. And history shows us that Germans soldiers had no chivalrous compunction when it came to shooting captured Soviet women who were armed.
We’re fed a history of war that almost exclusively features white male figures, most of whom fit into this destructive constructed myth of the soldier that is somehow both chivalrous and charmingly womanizing and who’s sense of brotherhood is unshakably dependent on the band being all man. There is no history of woman at war, none. I hear a lot about how women have no upper body strength, I hear nothing about the Front-Line Female Comrade.
This really really really bugs me. I just hurt for these women.
On Sep 13, 1944, a princess from India lay dead at Dachau concentration camp. She had been tortured by the Nazis, then shot in the head. Her name was Noor Inayat Khan. The Germans knew her only as Nora Baker, a British spy who had gone into occupied France using the code name Madeline. She carried her transmitter from safe house to safe house with the Gestapo trailing her, providing communications for her Resistance unit.
Oh my God, yes. Let’s talk about Noor Inayat Khan.
- Wireless operators in France had a life expectancy of six weeks. Noor was actively transmitting for over three times as long.
- While she was in France, every other wireless operator in her network was slowly picked off until she was the last radio link between London and Paris. It was “the most dangerous and important post in France”.
- She was offered a way back to Britain and refused.
- In fact, in her transmissions to London, she once said that she was having the time of her life, and thanked them for giving her the opportunity to do this.
- She was captured by the Gestapo, but never gave up: she made three attempt escapes. One involved asking to take a bath, insisting on being allowed to close the door to preserve her modesty, and then clambering onto the roof of the Gestapo HQ in Paris.
- Her last word before being shot was, “Liberté!”
The term BAMF was coined for such persons.
ETA: reblogging this detailed rebuttal from an ex-RAF man, for much wider attention; because when Peter gets this exercised about something, it’s important. (NB: this is also the only SF writer I know who has actual training as a fighter/bomber pilot. Ask him what he really thinks about the management of fighters in Star Wars, sometime. Then stand back. :) )
Ever wonder the proper method to attack a tight formation of enemy planes by yourself?
GAAAH No No NO NO NO!
This early-war nonsense is what killed so many fine young pilots over France in 1940. These bloody diagrams were based on assuming that OURPLANE worked just like THEiRPLANE.
Most important in dating this image: Jerry did not fly in tight three-plane Vee (vic) formation, but in wide pairs-of-pairs (the FINGER-FOUR that everybody uses nowadays. look it up in Google) each watching the other’s back. The RAF oh-so-neat close vic meant you were so busy watching your close-formation wingman to avoid collision, you missed THEIRPLANE sliding under your tail until you were hit with…
The guns you didn’t expect. RAF assumed (1939/40, date of this drawing) that Messerschmitt Bf109s had 7.92mm wing machineguns, as in Spain three years before.
They had been replaced by 20mm cannon. For extra fun,. RAF planes had no back armour until 1940, so even machineguns were bad. Cannon-shells were small high velocity handgrenades, so since your reserve fuel tank was behind the instrument panel, right in front of your face, if a cannon-shell made it blow, you were toast. Though since it might have just passed though you and blown behind your sternum, you might be toast tartare. If you were lucky. Otherwise, broiling from 20,000 feet to impact is a lengthy, painful way to go.)
RAF assumed that because their planes used carburettors in the (excellent) Merlin engines, Jerry used carburettors in their Daimler-Benz 601 engines.
Jerry was using fuel injection. Result in the above diagram, Hurricane “dives under them”, its engine stutters because negative G flicks the fuel to the top of the carburettor chamber and the engine hiccups, it loses a few MPH and by the time you reach the dot on the line of “swoops upward…” a couple of Bf 109s have half-rolled, dived under and are hacking it apart with those cannon. (Remember where the reserve tank lives? Pack sunscreen.)
THIS DIAGRAM IS HOW TO KILL YOUR HERO.
What you do head-on is this - target one or two of the first rank of enemy aircraft (closing speed 400-600 MPH, so you’ll need balls of steel). When their wingtips fill the sight reticule and your eight guns, zeroed to about 200 yards, are putting every round into the space of a penny, hit them with everything for about a second. If you have time, pick another EA and do it again. Engine is good, guns are good, but try to mince the pilot because he’s the computer for flight control and gunnery.
Now half-roll, pull the stick tight into your gut, establish an accelerating 45-degree dive so they can’t catch you without lots of effort, and RUN AWAY. You aren’t a hero, you’re a survivor who will do this trick again tomorrow. Or this afternoon…
You’ve nailed one or two, and all right they aren’t bombers who can hurt your folk on the ground, they’re fighters -but you may just have made it easier for whoever’s going after the bombers to get through a reduced fighter screen and chop a bomber, or make one jettison its bombload on a meadow not a school, or just decide Too Many, Not Today.)
Brigadier General A. C. McAuliffe.
This guy. In WW2, his soldiers fought against Germans in their offensive attack, The Battle of the Bulge. When the commanding German officer demanded surrender, General McAuliffe (baddassly) said “Nuts.”
Young Oak Kim: soldier, store owner, badass. He was the only Korean-American serving in the 442nd, a segregated Japanese-American regiment serving in World War II. When superiors offered to transfer him he said, “There is no Japanese nor Korean here. We’re all Americans and we’re fighting for the same cause.”
He taught his platoon aggressive small unit tactics and was called Samurai Kim. He took another guy with him and they crawled all night into enemy territory to capture German soldiers and gain intel. When his group got captured, he said “YOLO” and escaped with a medic. He reenlisted after WWII and was the first Asian American ever to command a regular combat battalion in war. He has a school named after him.
He has like, a billion medals.