Fuze Fans

I must note an inaccurate spelling in the article “Bombs Away” (January/February) when describing German bomb fuzes. The author uses a spelling of “fuse,” which is incorrect. A fuse is a cord of readily combustible materials that is lighted at one end to carry a flame along its length to detonate an explosive at the other end (“He lit the firecracker fuse”). A “fuze” is a mechanical or electrical mechanism used to detonate an explosive charge or device (“The bomb contained a nose fuze”). Other than the spelling, I loved the article.

Lt. Gary Vargo

U.S. Navy Explosive

Ordnance Disposal (Ret.)

Excellent clarification; in this case the author used British records, which use “fuse” for both detonators.

Thank you for the “Bombs Away” article, one of the few I’ve ever seen on the topic of unexploded ordnance disposal in England. In 1979, Thames Television released Danger—UXB, an excellent 13-episode series on the topic; it was eventually shown here in the states on public broadcasting. Well acted, technically accurate, and currently available on DVD. I highly recommend it.

Bill Bruckner

Milwaukee, Wisc.

Political Bomb

Regarding “Did the Bomb Ultimately Save Lives?” (“Weapons Manual, January/February”): In addition to saving lives on both sides, an important aspect of the decision to drop the bomb was the strategic position involving the Soviet Union. Since the USSR had troops engaged in the Pacific Theater and Korea was still fully occupied by the Japanese, part of Truman’s decision was to demonstrate the weapon that the United States had. Although FDR had sought the involvement of the Soviets as part of the defeat of the Axis powers, a new postwar geography was emerging and possession of the bomb was the ultimate trump card.

Stefan Battin

Tacoma, Wash.

Photo Flub

Your “Time Travel” article on Paris in the January/February issue included the famous photo of the 28th Infantry Division marching down the Champs- Élysées. The date was incorrectly given as September 1944.

The liberation of Paris created political turmoil in the French capital. French leader Charles de Gaulle asked the Supreme Allied Commander, U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, for a show of force. General Eisenhower responded by marching the massed battalions of General Norman Cota’s 28th Infantry Division through Paris and down the Champs-Élysées. The date was August 29, not September.

William Weidner

Grand Junction, Colo.

Occasionally photo archives have the date a photo was released by censors on file as the date it was taken. We regret the error, and have submitted a correction to the archive.

Stalin Demystified

I was intrigued by “Stalin the Puppet- master” by Laurence Rees (love his books) in the January/February issue. When I started to read the article I thought it would contain the usual interpretations of Stalin that I’ve heard over and over before. Mr. Rees went a step further. He found out what makes Stalin tick! Stalin knew what he wanted and focused on it, knowing the long-term effect it would have on the Soviet Union. It sounds like FDR and Churchill were more focused on the “here and now,” and would give Stalin anything to expedite the postwar healing. They underestimated him and it was a costly mistake, as history reveals.

Kathleen L. Browning

Colorado Springs, Colo.

It would be wrong to say that deep down Churchill and Roosevelt trusted Stalin. But they were in a situation where they could not defeat Hitler on their own without help from Stalin’s army. The human cost would have been unbearable politically to them. Stalin on the other hand had no such problems; he was accountable to himself only. Particularly at that stage of war, they were also looking to the Soviet Union for help in defeating Japan.

Notwithstanding the claims of those on the extreme right, that they gave too many concessions, Churchill and Roosevelt played their card well. They should be credited with saving Greece, Italy, and Czechoslovakia from communism.


Via WorldWarII.com

Clark’s Cruel Agenda

I enjoyed Duane Schultz’s article “Rage Over The Rapido” (January/February), concerning Mark Clark’s ill-advised attack designed to divert German attention from the landing at Anzio.

Schultz might also have mentioned the greater tragedy that occurred after Clark’s mindless butchery of Texas troops on the Rapido river. His thirst for glory as a would-be conqueror of Rome led him to directly disobey orders from his superior, British General Harold Alexander, with horrific results.

When the Germans finally retreated from the Gustav Line and a gap opened up in their positions, instead of turning the flank and enveloping the Nazi forces as ordered, Clark chose instead to dash for Rome, allowing the German army to withdraw to the Gothic Line and prolong the war in Italy for months.

Thus Clark condemned to death tens of thousands of Allied soldiers (plus Italian civilians caught in the middle), who now had to slog up the spine of Italy to the Austrian border, just so he could imagine himself in the company of Caesar.

Mike Gordeuk

Garwood, N.J.

Saving Singapore

Mark Grimsley’s opinion piece, “What if Singapore Had Not Fallen?” in the January/February issue was enjoyable. However, I disagree with his conclusion that Singapore was not worth fighting for.

First, Allied possession of Singapore would not just be a drain on Allied resources needed elsewhere. It would also have required a corresponding drain on Japanese resources that General Percival’s surrender allowed them to utilize elsewhere.

Second, the British probably would have defeated the Japanese, thus depriving the enemy of thousands of troops that were later used to fight and kill Allied troops while, at the same time, keeping the captured British troops “in the game.” More importantly, a show of courage and determination by Percival may have shortened the war in the Pacific. Percival’s sur render to inferior numbers and an undersupplied enemy taught the Japanese contempt for the Allies, leading to the abuse of the captured Brits and the notion that the Allies did not have the stomach for a prolonged fight.

Lastly, I know hindsight is 20/20, but in light of the brutality exhibited by the Japanese in China, it was unrealistic to expect decent treatment of their prisoners. I am sure every one of the Brits surrendered by Percival would rather have died in a fight than be systematically tortured and abused to death.

P. J. Moore

Georgetown, Ind.


Originally published in the June 2011 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here