Proud “T-Bolt” Son
I am the proud son of a World War II veteran who fought with 83d “Thunderbolt” Infantry Division, C Company, 308th Engineers, from October 22, 1942, to December 9, 1945. I was wondering if you have ever run a story about the Thunderbolt Division?
I enjoy your magazine when I can get it. Keep up the good work.
MICHAEL J. PIKE
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, ARK.
ACG’s July 2011 Battle Studies article, “American Lions” by Robert J. Dalessandro and Rebecca S. Dalessandro, covered 83d Infantry Division’s 332d Regiment that fought in Italy during World War I. However, our magazine has never featured a piece on the Thunderbolt Division’s World War II combat, in which the unit fought from Normandy to the Elbe River from June 1944 to May 1945.
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D-Day Helmet Nets?
On the cover photo of the July 2014 “D-Day” issue, the troops from U.S. 1st Infantry Division are seen with nets over their helmets. What purpose did the nets serve, and why does one soldier not have a net on his helmet?
Those are called “camouflage nets.” Soldiers inserted items such as grass, twigs, foliage or strips of fabric into the netting to create a camouflage effect that allowed men in tactical field positions to “blend in” with their surroundings and conceal the U.S. helmet’s distinctive outline from enemy observation. A possible reason why one helmet lacks a net is that the wearer may be a landing craft crewman and not a soldier.
Normandy’s Forgotten Casualties
Thank you for publishing Carlo D’Este’s excellent July 2014 Special Feature article commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I was very moved by his tribute to those who sacrificed so much to ensure that the Normandy invasion succeeded.
D’Este rightfully acknowledges the contribution to Allied success made by French Resistance fighters, but I think we must also not forget the thousands of ordinary French civilians who unfortunately lost their lives as a result of the fighting. Estimates vary, but approximately 25,000-40,000 French civilian men, women and children died – about 11,000-19,000 in the months of pre-D-Day bombings and 14,000-20,000 during the invasion and succeeding combat.
Thank you for reminding readers that French civilians also paid a high price for the Allied victory that liberated their country from four years of Nazi occupation.
Zulu War Napoleon?
I enjoyed Richard Armstrong’s July 2014 What Next, General? interactive article on the 1879 Zulu War. Heavily outnumbered Western soldiers being surrounded and defeated by thousands of indigenous warriors at the Battle of Isandlwana always reminds me of Custer’s Last Stand!
I seem to recall reading something years ago that said a descendant of Napoleon was killed in the Zulu War while serving with the British army. Is that story true?
On June 1, 1879, Zulu warriors ambushed and killed the 23-year-old Prince Imperial of France, Napoleon Eugene Louis Jean Joseph Bonaparte, who was the son of deposed French Emperor Napoleon III and the grandnephew of Napoleon I. He was a graduate of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and a British army lieutenant who was serving on Lord Chelmsford’s staff. The prince was leading a small reconnaissance patrol in advance of the British force conducting the second invasion of Zululand, which eventually defeated the Zulus at the July 4, 1879, Battle of Ulundi.
The left side of the cover photo of the May 2014 issue shows North Vietnamese soldiers during Operation Lam Song 719 in 1971. However, I have seen this same photo in an article with a caption claiming they are Viet Minh attacking French positions in the 1954 Battle of Dien Bien Phu during the First Indochina War. Does your cover photo have these Vietnamese soldiers in the wrong war?
No, the weapons and the uniforms of the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) soldiers in the cover photo postdate the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and the First Indochina War. Both are correct, however, for NVA soldiers fighting in 1971 during Operation Lam Son 719.
Originally published in the November 2014 issue of Armchair General.