Strong Men Armed - The United States Marines Against Japan - Robert Leckie

Written by on June 30, 2011, 5:58 am

A detailed account of the extraordinary conflict that made its way across the vast ocean from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. This is not a personal history (despite it's author being a marine veteran), instead it reveals the scale and significance of the sacrifices made during that long Pacific war.

Probably the most striking insight of the book is the deliberate description of every instance of soldiers who had thrown themselves on live grenades to save their comrades. Their frequency is difficult to comprehend:

Among the Americans serving on Iwo island, uncommon valor was a common virtue.

Admiral Chester Nimitz

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World War Two Daily for Android is coming.

Written by on May 23, 2011, 8:38 am

After a great deal of complaining about the technical issues with MapView on Android, I have actually worked my way through the problems and am now pretty close to a viable version of World War Two Daily on Android.

It's looking a bit ugly at the moment, but here is a screenshot of the app with todays data:

Because American Civil War Daily, World War One Daily and Patrick O'Brian Quotes are all built on the same engine, this means that those apps will be available on Android soon as well.

Next step, prettify!

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WW2 Daily on the iPhone and Android

Written by on October 6, 2009, 12:41 pm

WW2 Daily answers two fundamental questions:

  • What happened today in World War Two?
  • Where did it happen? Show me a map!

New in 1.5 - iOS 4.0 & new artwork.

A lite version version is available free, which only supports today's date and shows 5 daily cards.

Flip through daily cards showing important events leading up to and during the most deadly and perhaps most significant conflict in human history.

Each card shows the date, a succinct description and a zoomable map for the event. You can flip the card over to read the Wikipedia article describing the event.

You can sort your deck of events using two mechanisms:

  • Sort by day and month for a this day in history view.
  • Select a start date and then sort by day, month and year for a true chronological sequence of events from that date onwards.

The data for WW2 Daily comes from the World War Two Timeline Project. This is a community contributed project to collect time and place data for the war. You can come to the site to browse the timeline or even log in and contribute new data.

The Timeline Project currently indexes almost 800 hundred data points with new entries being added daily. If a significant event isn't in the database yet, it soon will be.

Iconoclast : Ted Jotikasthira!

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Written by on August 8, 2009, 12:16 pm

The other crews in C company made jokes about Lieutenant Jordan's tank, it was lucky they said, or haunted, depending on who you asked. The boys in Jordan's crew knew better, they didn't talk about it, but they had all had glimpses of the thing that kept them safe. A flash of brilliant blue scales twisting behind the ammo store. A blinking green eye deep in the breach when they cleaned the barrel. Something lived in the battered old Sherman, something that hid in the dark places and came out to play when bullets ricocheted and shells roared. The old man knew what it was and Teddy the loader said he heard him talking to it sometimes. They sure as hell never asked him about it.

Lieutenant William Jordan had commanded C company since Sicily, and before that, had fought in Tunisia. He had been one of the few to come out of that goddamn mess at Kasserine unscathed. Nobody in the regiment, and probably nobody in the whole 3rd army, knew more about tanks and the bloody business of fighting in them. He was a detached man, not blustering like some of the officers in the CCA, but not kindly either. Some of the men said he had a thousand yard stare, like he had seen too much and lost his marbles. Anyone in first platoon would throw down with a man for talking about the Lieutenant like that. He might not be much of a conversationalist, but if the tank wasn't lucky, then he sure as hell was.

Tonight the Lieutenant was sitting on the warm engine cover of his Sherman, reading a dog-eared romance book by the light of a kerosene lamp and occasionally taking a swig from a blackened hip flask. There was a dusting of snow on the ground and the tank tracks left an icy brown furrow into the field where it was sitting.

The boys had been given an evening pass and were in the village. He had finished the report the captain had been harrying him for and, until the other officers got back from regiment, had an hour or two to take his leisure.

He saw the blue flash of movement at his elbow, but chose to ignore it. He didn't feel like playing the creature's games tonight, he was tired and felt a surge of jealous indignation that this brief period of relaxation would be so interrupted. The creature insisted, as he knew it would, as it always did. He didn't hear a voice and barely saw the creature itself, but it always managed convey it's meaning directly to the core of Jordan's consciousness. Something was happening over the eastern horizon, something was coming.

Everything that had happened in the last few months told Jordan that the creature was wrong this time. The Germans had kept up a dogged, tenacious and bloody defence since the Normandy landings, but they had suffered so many reversals and had been constantly pushed back all along the line from the channel coast to Switzerland. They had even bigger problems in the east, the Russians now taking full and horrific revenge for the atrocities of Barbarossa. Surely the last German offensives were behind them. This must be a feint, a local counter-attack to shore up their lines, it couldn't be a major offensive.

Jordan sighed, he hoped the boys had found what they were looking for in the village tonight, because they wouldn't get another chance for R&R for who knows how long. How the hell was he going to explain this to the captain. The company, the division, probably the whole damn third army would have to move quickly for this thing, if what the creature had murmured was right, and Jordan knew it was. It always was.

Mercifully, he was spared the frustration of trying to explain to the captain that he had a "hunch" that a massive armored spearhead was about to punch through the Ardennes forest right between the American and British lines. Captain Forester met him on the road, flying back from regiment with news of the attack already in hand.

"Will ! Get the boys back in formation and fueling those tanks. Looks like the Krauts have got some fight left after all. Report to the company CP when things are moving and I'll tell you the rest."

With that, he slammed his hand into the door of the jeep and careened down the road, tires sending up plumes of muddy ice. Peering after him for a moment, Jordan shook his head, stomped on the gas of his own jeep, speeding off in the opposite direction. He would pick up his boys first, he might need their help persuading some of the other C company men that leave was canceled.

I would like to finish this story some day ...

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Timeline Project Trilogy

Written by on July 24, 2009, 9:42 pm

I have set up the third and final (for a while at least) of the sites devoted to geographical and chronological mapping of historical conflicts. Not that I need an additional time sink but the compulsion to add an American Civil War Project was irresistible.

That fact that I now have a Trilogy of sites is purely coincidental. My nauseatingly sycophantic obsession with StackOverflow can only go so far ... hmmm

Anyway, I have three projects ready for user contribution. Although I quite enjoy doing the research and populating data points myself, I do occasionally, quietly hope that some generous denizen of the Internetz will log in and contribute their valuable time to one of my three digital offspring:

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