Monday, 20 October 2014

Canal Time

No wargaming in the last week, we spent it on holiday on a narrowboat, life in the fast lane (3 mph). I was trying to think of any canal-based war incidents. There are a good few where the canal was a water obstacle, the early days of WW1, and the later parts of WW2 in Europe, right up to the final days in Berlin. The RAF spent a lot of effort trying to close canals like the Dortmund-Ems, but I could not identify any incidents where units rode narrowboats into battle - rather slow going.

Lots of time to read, and I took the opportunity to read Antony Beevor's Berlin, about the final assault in 1945. I read Stalingrad earlier in the year and this is the companion volume, really - Stalingrad was the turning point and Berlin was the final climax. I confess that my view of the narrative of the war is from the western allies. I was aware of the general flow from Barbarossa to Moscow, Stalingrad and Kursk, and then that the Soviets rolled back westwards to the end. But I had not appreciated the difference in the fighting on the Eastern Front, the sheer ferocity and hatred on both sides. The Soviets were intent on revenge and raped and slaughtered their way to the heart of Germany. I also hadn't appreciated how intent Stalin was on ensuring that the Russians took Berlin, and how the Americans in particular were naive enough to let them. The other thing I wasn't really aware of was the way in which the Germans desperately wanted to surrender to the west rather than the Soviets, even to the extent of fighting their way out of encirclement in order to reach the Americans to surrender.

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