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Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
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Saturday, March 26, 2016

Not His Type

Not His Type

“Remember Fenwick, this report goes to the White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I don’t want any typographical errors, UNDERSTAND!”
“Of course Sargent, when have I ever let you down, Sir.”
“Stop calling me Sir FENWICK or I’ll bust you so fast it will make your head swim. Stop talking and even listening and get back to typing..NOW!”
“sir” under his breath.

All righty then, what magnum opus have we got here from the spooks. Scary guys, luckily I’m just a clerk typist and will stay under their radar unless I screw up too badly and then all they’ll do is take away my typewriter and put a gun in my hand.

Let’s see, all caps, double space for starters, three carbons and we’re off…let’s see if I can read his notes. Who would have thought that he could take short hand?”

I. Pyrenees: The line is steady state. The 70% reduction of the fuel supplies caused by the attack of SAC has caused the Red Army to dig in. They are conserving fuel and massive transfers of tanks and trucks have been observed. See attached.
a. The air war over the Pyrenees Line continues to be a stalemate. The VVS has ceased its air assault over the British Isles and has transferred a number of squadrons to this front thus keeping pressure on our forces.
b. Neither side seems to be able to make any real advances although the Soviet forces are within 15 miles from breaking out of the mountainous terrain that has kept them in check up till now. It is estimated that a full breakout would have occurred within 2 weeks if the offensive had not stopped due to lack of fuel.
c. The line is currently being held by a combination of NATO Divisions with most countries represented.
d. British forces - 18 divisions
e. Spanish forces - 15 divisions
f. French forces - 2 divisions
g. US forces - 2 divisions
h. German expatriate forces - 1 division
i. Combined Italian, Greek and a combination of Balkan expatriate forces - 1 division
j. Currently only the US, GB, French and German forces are able to mount
k. Any kind of offensive action but no plans have been offered to start a general advance against the dug in forces of the Soviet Union.

II. British Empire
a. The VVS has stopped offensive action over the British Isles
b. The Red Air Force continues to defend vigorously the airspace over Germany and France
c. This front appears to have been put on reserve status as well by the Stavka.
d. The RAF is slowly gaining strength and the ability to once again defend itself with the influx of USAAF late war model fighters and 6 squadrons of P80 Shooting Stars. It has been decided to use USAAF equipment in the short term rather than concentrate on re-tooling their industrial base to once again produce war material and supplies.
e. India is in full, yet peaceful revolt.
f. Transjordan gains independence in exchange for military bases
g. Java is in violent revolt.
h. Hong Kong remains stable
i. Palestine is in revolt
j. Nigeria, Gambia and the Gold Coast have re-written their constitutions and are heading towards independence
k. Food is being rationed but plentiful
i. More of a financial measure than shortages
l. A bill to loan them 1.5 billion dollars is being held up in the Senate

III. Scandinavia
a. Norway, Sweden and Finland are being controlled from the cities by puppet governments propped up by Soviet troops. The smaller cities and villages are virtually free of communist influence. An uneasy truce is in place after a large number of assassinations and retaliations. A number of hangings and atrocities by both sides have brought an uneasy truce as the long winter starts.
b. Denmark is under very tight Soviet control. The area controlling access to the Baltic is being heavily fortified on both the Swedish and Denmark coasts.
c. Reports indicate that the Baltic itself is rather uncontrolled with relative freedom of movement being allowed between all ports.

IV. Germany
a. Very little is known of conditions in Germany. A puppet government has been created and appears to be in total control with behind the scenes support of the Red Army and NKGD.

V. France
a. The French Communist Party is in full control and is comprise of former resistance fighters. The majorities of the Soviet forces are in well defended bases and rarely venture out in the countryside.
b. At the moment there is no organized resistance to the puppet French communist government.

VI. The Low Countries
a. All countries are tightly controlled by the NKGD and Soviet forces along the coastlines. 
b. A number of attacks by resistance groups have been violently crushed and retaliations have been rampant. 
c. Soviet troops and security forces are numerous throughout the area and patrol with regularity.
d. Our Intelligence Agents sent into the area have been unsuccessful to say the least with 75% going silent within weeks. Highly place moles are suspected in the collective NATO structures.

VII. Turkey
a. Turkey has unofficially joined NATO and has allowed 12 large air bases to be developed.
b. Their armed forces are in fair condition and are in the process of expanding and strengthening their defensive positions along the Dardanelles and Bosporus on their western front. 
c. Of major concern is the lack of depth of these defenses. In addition the Turkish government started major construction on these defensive works in critical areas as late as September 13th.
d. The far northeast border is very porous and defended lightly. 10 divisions from their border with Syria being transferred less than a week ago to this front. Total forces reported on the border are 17 divisions.
e. Supplies to Turkey have been hampered by a large increase in submarine activity in the area of Tobruk and Sicily. A delay of 30 days has been experienced due to the rerouting of a large number of convoys to the Suez Canal. Much of the supplies were destined for Turkey but were diverted to SAC instead.
f. The airbases in the Adana area are ready to receive the units of the 15th Air Force. The advanced teams are in position and hard at work finalizing the facilities.
g. General LeRoche conducted a 1 month tour of Turkish territory and estimated that if attacked in force, the eastern border would hold for 20 days while the Northeast border with the USSR would be breached in 3 days. He strongly recommended that this border be strengthened immediately with NATO troops if necessary. The Turkish government is expected to respond to his report next week and will hopefully acquiesce to additional NATO troops being deployed in their territory.

VIII. Japan
a. Defense forces continue to be trained
b. 75% of the forces on mainland China, Korea, Burma, Malaya, Bruni, Dutch East Indies, British East Indies, North Borneo and Guam have been transported back to Japan proper and integrated into the defense forces.

IX. Manchuria
a. Soviet occupied
X. China
a. Full-fledged civil war with fluid and chaotic conditions.
b. Numerous Japanese units caught in the fighting after fleeing the Soviet forces in Manchuria.

a. Estimated at full war footing
b. 70% of oil production non-functional
c. Estimated 5% increase per month despite current bombing campaign
d. 185 divisions currently in the field
i. 50 in Western Europe
ii. 30 on the Pyrenees Line
iii. 2 in Italy
iv. 2 in Greece
v. 10 spread out internally in Eastern Europe
vi. 10 on the eastern border of Turkey with 30 more enroute
vii. 35 on the Northeastern border of Turkey
viii. 15 in Scandinavia
ix. 10 internal Russia and Ukraine
x. 21 in Manchuria
e. VVS units
i. See Attached

XII. Yugoslavia
a. 7 division in Greece
b. 8 divisions in Italy
c. 4 internal

XIII. Eastern European nations
a. 35 divisions internally

XIV. United States
a. See attachment

Damn it I’ll be typing all day. Where the hell is the attach shit...Oh crap you’re kidding. Holy shit this is ridiculous. There must be 30 pages of double column figures. Oh man...

Actually the typist underestimated the number of pages. It was more than 120 pages all together and he was soon joined by others.


The Fifteenth Rises Again

In May 1946 the 15th Air Force had basically ceased to exist. It’s once proud fleet of B-17 and B-24 bombers were being scrapped at a record pace. Dumped unceremoniously into ravines, oceans and even mines, these products of Detroit and Ford’s Forest Run Factory had both caused the death of many and at the same time saved others with their powerful engines, well thought out designs and 50 caliber machine guns. The bombs they dropped had brought Fascism to its knees where it was finished off by the armies put on shore or attacking from the East.

The newest among them that were still flying were being brought to their new bases in Turkey. The B-24M was the latest and greatest of this workhorse bomber. Over a thousand had been flown from the factory straight to scrap heaps in 1945. The other 1,500 were only available by clerical error. All should have been scrapped by May, 1946 but the lucky 1500 escaped destruction and were instead parked wing to wing awaiting their fate when the Soviets struck. This lucky 1500 would form the bulk of the 15th or the next 2 months.

Although the B-17 Fighting Fortress took the limelight away from the B-24 Liberator it was the most abundantly produced heavy bomber and American plane of World War II. The Willow Run factory outside of Detroit was producing 650 a month at peak but now was producing 150. It far outstripped the more glamourous in bombs dropped, enemy fighters shot down and missions flown. Much like the P-38 Lightning being overshadowed by the less versatile P-51, the B-24 deserves higher praise than it garners.

The 8th Air Force took over 8 months to become operational but the newly reconstituted 15th would be operating in 6 from bases near Adana Turkey. The Turks had been developing the site since June and it was near a number of ports on the Mediterranean where supplies could be shipped to easily until the bottleneck caused by the Seehunds off the coast of Tobruk appeared. 10 Freighters went down in the first week before the alarm was raised. The supply route had to be changed to the Suez until an answer for the Seehunds could be found. With LeMay screaming for supplies the 15th was put on the back burner for a good 3 weeks. The first 1000 plane raid was scheduled for November 3rd, 1946.

It was anticipated that the losses would be high and in the 15% range but it would free up SAC from its missions and give LeMay time to restock his squadrons. No one expected the 15th to do any better or even any worse than SAC. The 15th welcomed many of the former bomber crews that were rejected by SAC for security reasons. Now that the cat was out of the bag every veteran was fair game and Twinning had many of the best working for him. Men that had been saddled with questionable relatives or had made some bad political decisions in the past were now working for him and were eager to prove their patriotism.

A couple of squadrons were working on special formations and maneuvers designed to evade the Stalin’s Fire missile. The bomber crews had notice with growing envy how easily the fighter pilots avoided both the X-4 air to air missile as well as the Wasserfal surface to air version. They were fairly easy to out maneuver for the fighters who did not have to fly in rigid formation.
The concept was to maneuver in formation on a squad level to spoof the missiles and then to quickly link up with the other squadrons before the Red fighter pilots attacked. LeMay had virtually forbid SAC from such experiments but Twinning encouraged them if only to keep the moral of the bomber crews high enough to function. SAC was on the verge of becoming non- operational and all knew it but LeMay.

LeMay was a brilliant strategic thinker with amazing insights on the tactical level as well. An example was his stripping of the B-29 of all defensive guns and armor once it became apparent that the Japanese could not defend themselves with fighter planes and the jet stream caused the B-29 to drop incendiaries at low altitudes. The increase in ordnance was a determining factor in creating the firestorms that killed hundreds of thousands.

In hindsight it did little to win the war but it was a novel solution to a problem that won LeMay the praise he deserved. LeMay was not one to learn from his mistakes however and he relied on “his gut” for far too many decisions of late. This had led to the losses that could not be sustained, yet did have the effect the NATO planners wanted. The Soviet Army was going to invade Turkey and that was the real reason for the sacrifices being made by SAC and soon the 15th. Twinning and LeMay were not told this in so many words and if they were successful in their missions then possibly the next phase of the war would be unnecessary but few who knew the true odds were optimistic.

The greatest killer of bombers was still the conventional single seat fighter plane second only to the 90 mm proximity fuse anti-aircraft gun. The Yaks, Lags and MiGs shot down the bulk of the B-29s once their formations were broken apart by the missile volleys and marauding jets. The Soviet jets were kept pretty busy by the P-80 Shooting Stars of the USAAF so it was up to the swarms of Yak 3, 9, La 7 to bore in. Both the Soviets and NATO leaders knew the current missile systems were a temporary advantage for the defense. You would need more than a 10% hit rate to have a lasting effect on a strategic level so the race was on for the next technological leap forward for either the defense or the offence in the war over the skies of Eurasia.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Home Again

General Ivan Bagramyan was home. He sat down to his first trout dinner in a decade. Nothing...nothing beats a freshly caught trout from a mountain lake fried in butter...nothing. Trout can only live in the cleanest and coldest water available. They are like the canaries in the coal mines. If the trout can no longer survive then the water is dying. These waters were filled with trout, wonderful trout, mouthwatering trout.

The first mouthful did not want to leave his mouth. His mouth was so enamored by the taste and texture that it resisted swallowing and wanted to continue sucking the wonderful juices out of the fish.
“You have outdone yourself Alexi. This fish is magnificent. It brings back so many memories of my grandfather and fishing the waters The Seas of Armenia. This fish puts the Rainbow Trout of Kamchatka that Khrushchev brags about, to shame. Just wonderful Alexi...just wonderful.”
“Thank you comrade.”

The trout had come from Lake Sevan and probably was destined to have been eaten by the Fisherman but the soldiers had gotten there first. Unlike many of their other compatriots these group of soldiers had been ordered to catch the trout using fishing line and fly. Many of the other troops were dining on fish that had been blown out of the water using grenades. The general’s chef knew his commander would have none of that kind of fish and a full third of the lake had been designated off limits to the more destructive methods being used.

Ivan Bagramyan was from a village named Chardakhlu and it was less than 100 km from Sevan Lake. Until his teenage years he roamed these very hills and lakes. He was bombarded from an early age by tales of the Turks invading and massacring his people, the Armenians. Story after story of the Turk’s atrocities were common bed and fireside fare.

His village is now known as a home of many heroes of the Great Patriotic War. Of the able bodied Armenians of the village, 1250 went to the front. Half of them were awarded with orders and medals, two gained the title of Marshal of the Soviet Union (himself and Hamazasp Babadzhanian), 12 became generals, and seven Hero of the Soviet Union. an amazing legacy for such a small, isolated area.

Bagramyan carried the tales of Turkish and Ottoman atrocities with him as he fought with various military units during the First World War, facing the blood curdling cry of the southern invader too many times to count. He fought the Turk hand to hand when he was young now he would command the Front that would stab at the heart of the former Ottoman empire and then on to the Levant and Persia. It was expected that the Turkish army would concentrate and provide the most resistance on its western border, while his forces cut through sparse opposition and swiftly moved onto the prize of the oil in fields in Iraq and the all-important Suez Canal. Zukov would be in control of the entire offensive with Konev having the honor of assaulting Constantinople and the more Westernized part of Turkey while he did the real damage coming in from the back door.

Konev was to be given airborne troops and the marines. He was to take the Bosporus from land, air and sea. He was given all the toys while Bagramyan was given all the power and maneuver units. He was to hit fast and hard and to keep on moving. He was to have the bulk of the remaining offensive fuel supplies that were to be used for the invasion of Korea and the consolidation of Manchuria. He would have plenty of fuel and supplies to make it to the Suez and Kuwait and then defend both of up to 3 months. The Stavka’s plan became very undefined at that point with a lot of contingencies and if that’s.
His duty was to follow orders and hope for the best and he was one of the best at this as well as proposing alternatives. He had a habit of planning and then convincing his superiors and even Stalin to modify the grandiose plans he was to carry out. His brilliant variation of the original plan for Operation Bagration had won the battle for central Belarus. His detour through the dreaded Pripet Marsh area had caught the Germans completely by surprise and paved the way for the huge advances that were to follow. His many variations to the grandiose plans of the Stavka were legendary even in the West. If anyone could improvise it was Bagramyan. His many improvisations had saved tens of thousands of Soviet lives and cost the tens of thousands of Germans theirs.

The second mouthful of trout was just as good as the first and Marshal Bagramyan relished the thought of finally bringing the overwhelming power of the Red Army crashing down on Armenia’s most deadly and implacable enemy, an enemy who tried to exterminate the Armenian people. A crime so heinous that the term genocide was coined to describe the systematic death by forced deportation and starvation of 1.5 Armenians in 1915.

Yet Bagramyan was not bent on revenge. He was focused on the mission and its twin objectives the closure of the Suez canal by any means and the occupation of the oil fields of Iraq and Kuwait. A secondary consequence of his maneuvers would be the capture and destruction of the strategic bomber bases being used by the Amerikosi to attack the homeland. This too would be an inevitable result of his twin thrusts.

He was not a vindictive barbarian and would attempt to keep his forces from harming the buildings that three major religions of the world revered. Their continued existence under communist rule would just strengthen the idea of the inevitability of a workers paradise that transcend the superstitions that religions have used to rule the sheep of the world. A benevolent re-education would be an interesting experiment and if that failed then other means could be used.
Many of the units under his command were not Armenian by design. This operation would require the utmost of professionalism and could not be threatened by emotional displays of revenge no matter how justified. The destruction of Ottoman Empire once and for all would be revenge enough for his generation.

He had 2 months to prepare for a winter offensive in a mild climate. He was grateful it wasn’t Korea on the winter. He had heard stories about that area. He was from a cold place and was used to winter. From all indications this would be a very bad one in the north but not so in the south,. Cold would not stop him only mud and this area of the world did not receive much rain at any time, much less the winter. It was usually cold and dry, perfect weather to invade a country with minimal losses. It will certainly beat winter in the Pyrenees Mountains.

Sometimes it’s Good to be Small

The Captain of the Seehund 293 couldn’t believe his luck he was sure the corvette spotted him and was headed right for him. The dive controls had stuck as usual and he was sure that they were going to catch him too shallow. He even heard the small conning tower hit something large and metallic as they crashed dived and then after just one attack the corvette had turned and moved off. How can you be spotted, have trouble with your dive gear, hit a large object with a corvette coming straight at you and live to tell the tale?

Such is the art of war, he thought. The people of his village had always told him he was lucky and maybe they were correct. Only time would tell.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

So Close

1946 Istanbul

Quickness is the essence of war

“Bridge this is the lookout on the top port station. Periscope sighted 278 degrees. I believe it’s a midget sir.”
Clancy, the Number One stares at the speaker for a second then notifies the Captain. “Periscope sighted sir at 278 degrees.”
“Hard a port Number One, come to course 270. We don’t want to miss anything. “Prepare the hedgehogs.”
“Hedgehogs ready Sir”
“Fire when in range remember they are not very fast and can’t dive deep so don’t over shoot please.”
“Yes Sir”

The British Naval Corvette the HMS Portchester Castle came about hard, fighting the laws of physics all the way. The veteran of two U-boat kills she was a rarity in the Royal Navy of 1946. She was still in active service when the war started, having being kept active during the intervening months that most Royal Navy ships were put in storage or sold to central and south American countries to raise cash. If any ship was made to deal with the challenge facing the Islands of Crete and Sicily it was her and her kind. They were made for the Mediterranean it turns out and thrived there. Just big enough to give some creature comfort to the crew yet not too large for the kinds of tasks they were to encounter among the islands of Greece and Crete.

The Soviets investment in the mini submarine had started to pan out in this area. The Seehunds had found their killing grounds and were having quite a time. The Little Ones were threatening to cut off both Sicily and Crete from being used as bases for both naval and air operations. Some of the Seehund captains were becoming aces sinking ships on almost every sortie. This was not only happening in these areas but SAC and the newly moved 15th Air Force were being forced to get their supplies via the Suez canal, a trip more than twice as far as using a route from the US through the Mediterranean to their bases. It was still not much of a problem but it did bring supplies down to dangerously low levels at just the time that LeMay needed them the most and delayed their arrival by a month.

It was a month that cost LeMay a number of opportunities to extract better results in his bombing campaign. A month that grounded 10% of his forces due to lack of supplies. A month that he did not get to bomb the enemy.

Being on a Seehund crew suddenly became a thing to strive for. Short duration voyages with large rewards for success, being glamorized by the Soviet press. The Captains and crewmates were becoming the newest heroes of the Soviet Union. A giant leap up from their status as virtual prisoners just months ago. Now they were having an impact like never before and they were much happier plying the Ionian and Aegean seas compared to the English Channel. Better weather and much better food. But the best part was they had targets. They had prey. They had opportunities to make their families and commanders proud.

No longer were malcontents and criminals forced to man the Seehunds. Now commissar's sons and party official offspring were clamoring to get into the Little Ones. The successful crews were being lionized by the party elite and in Pravda. Stalin himself was pinning medals on their chests and more important their families now got enough to eat ahead of the others who were starving.
What was once seen as a punishment now was seen as a reward.

If you came back with only tales and periscope pictures of single kills the trip was seen as a failure in some quarters. A double kill was becoming common place. Vasili Arkhipov had become a national hero for sinking 6 freighters off of Sicily in only 8 voyages. Sicily had a full American Division on its surface and those 6 freighters and their supplies were sorely needed. In addition he had hit an American cruiser as well and all was caught on film after he had sunk his 4th freighter in three voyages.

A public that was ready for a hero welcomed Arkhipov back to Moscow with open arms and he was given command of a larger ship in the Black Sea. The Soviets needed heroes after the terrible news of the four atomic bombs and what they had done to nearby cities where they had devastated the oil industry. Yes heroes were needed not so much for moral purposes but to take their minds off of the famine that was starting to drain their energy. The supplies looted from the West had done wonders for the last three months but the reality of not seeing home grown food at your neighborhood market was unnerving to many. Concern actually grows when your markets are full of hard to get luxury items and not the food you are used to. It means that your country can’t feed itself; it means death to those who the government wants to kill.

The government propaganda campaign had made the crews of the Little Ones the heroes of the hour. Many a boy, man and even women wanted to climb into these small killers and have a go at the Amerikosi ships. They wanted the enemy soldiers on Crete and Sicily to taste the pangs of hunger they were experiencing. They wanted the chance to strike directly at the enemy for what they had done to Baku, Tbilisi, Rostov and Ploesti. The Soviet government had done a very good job of convincing the people of the USSR that the capitalists would stop at nothing in their effort to destroy their homeland and them.

The proof was there for all to see in the picture of Jill Nelson. Her almost picture perfect body being covered by fallout and then being rolled over to display the hideous wounds she had suffered due to the nuclear explosion in Baku. The picture had even made Look magazine, despite the American government’s strong objections. America’s love affair with the Atomic Bomb was fast fading as more and more pictures of white people being horribly killed made the news cycle, people who looked just like them, people who could be their brothers, sisters, moms and dads.

Any opportunity that the general public had to strike back the warmongering capitalist pigs was coveted by all. There were now over 70 mini subs in the area surrounding Crete and Sicily. So many that two had actually rammed into each other and one was sunk with the other having to surface and then scuttled by its crew who were rescued by an American destroyer.

They were having an effect way beyond their actual prowess. Shipping companies and merchant marines wary of this newest menace and wear of war turned and ran at any report or false sighting. The US and Royal Navy was at wits end trying everything in its arsenal to stem the panic among the merchant marine. These brave men died by the tens of thousands to keep Britain from being strangled by the Kriegsmarine and to supply the armies that landed on D- Day.

This mission was different. They were supplying long range bombers who had just dropped the most destructive weapon mankind had ever devised on what many saw as innocent men, women and children. Enough didn’t think this was a mission worth their lives after surviving multiple sinkings and seeing their fellow sailors boiled to death or watch them drown behind watertight bulkhead doors. This was not the moral crusade that they felt the last war when the enemy was a heartless monster.

Many did not know the evils of Stalinism. During the last war these people were our allies. Old Joe was a benevolent figure who was our staunchest friend in the war to defeat the world’s greatest evil. Most did not know that Stalin was just as evil as Hitler. Many did not know the atrocities the Red Army had committed in Germany. Some did and chalked it up to well-deserved revenge. Many a fist fight had erupted on many a ship over the true reason the Soviets attacked and the US deciding within weeks to try and blow Leningrad off the map killing the very same people who never gave up and held the Nazi monsters at bay for years until rescued by Uncle Joe, starving in their determination to never give up. These people had been lionized and held up as true heroes of World War Two and here the same US Air Force that tried to vaporize them now wanted the sailors to give their lives so they could do the same to the people of Stalingrad, Moscow, Kursk and even Warsaw.

The American press and government had not made the case as yet, that Stalin was as monstrous as Hitler. The outright communists and deluded left leaning, continued to defend the idea of communism not knowing that Stalinism had taken its place. They continued to whisper in the ears of their neighbors about the evils of capitalism and many of the evils were there for all to see, while the obvious evils of Stalinism were hidden from the American and British public by the massive propaganda machine of the Soviet Empire.

At the end of September the United States Strategic Bombing Survey had been released and propaganda masters of the Soviet Union and the various communist parties and sympathizers made a point of continuously pointing out the negative aspects of a strategic bombing campaign and its large failures. This campaign focused in the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of children and women to no effect other than to make their men fight and die harder to revenge their deaths and of particular focus was the role of one General Curtis LeMay.

The fact that LeMay had just dropped 4 atomic bombs on or near four large cities filled with innocents, did not go unnoticed or unpublicized, by the communist controlled press in occupied France, Greece, Italy and even in Turkey and Spain not to mention the heavily worker controlled docks in the US and GB.

To say the least the merchant marine was being played like a violin by Dmitri Shepilov, the head of Propaganda and Agitation Department of the Communist Party Central Committee. He had almost as much power over the Soviet people as Stalin himself through his control of the printed and spoken word, which meant his life was in danger. His products permeated the docks and union halls in all of the major ports of the world.

By the end of the World War Two the truth about the true losses the Merchant Marine suffered, came to light. It was aided by information leaked by communist sympathizers nad even the New York Time did a multiple day series of articles on the hidden secrets and startling statistics of the staggering losses that had occurred without recognition.

The fact was that the merchant marines in World WW II suffering a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. services. These casualties were kept secret during the War to keep information about their success from the enemy and to attract and keep mariners at sea.

Newspapers carried essentially the same story each week: "Two medium-sized Allied ships sunk in the Atlantic." In reality, the average for 1942 was 33 Allied ships sunk each week.

This had long been known amongst the sailors and their families. The fact that it was kept such a deep secret and was still not known by many outside of the union halls and dockyards was a great source of resentment.

All of these factors combined to magnify the nuisance of the Seehund into the scourge of the Mediterranean in the eyes of the merchant marine services. The fact that the Little Ones were very good at eluding the best that the US and Royal Navies could bring to bear did nothing to increase the urgency the sailors felt for the strategic bombers and flyboys on Crete, Rhodes, and in Turkey. It even extended to the forces on Sicily. Just as the US government played down by 15 to one the losses to the Merchant Marine in 1942, the rumor mill made the Seehund ten times more destructive than it was in reality and ten times more likely to turn a freighter around before it delivered its cargo on just the sight of a strange current or flash of sunlight hitting at the wrong angle.

The HMS Portchester Castle completed its turn and was churning towards the lookouts coordinates. Just after the Captain ordered the firing of the hedgehogs and before the explosions started, the source of all the excitement was spotted floating just below the surface with an occasional wave breaking on top of it. It was a half-filled drop tank tank off one of the jet fighters that the sailors saw often as bits of shining metal, in a clear blue sky, followed by long thin wisps of vapor and often chasing the big bombers.

“Order General Quarter’s number one. Give an extra to Jenkins for having a sharp eye as well. Even though it was not a sub it was a good call.”

“Yes Sir.

SAC and the 15th

Oct. 22nd, 1946

It was a beautiful day outside. The sun was shining yet wasn’t too hot. The birds were coming down from Europe and settling in by the thousands on the Nile Delta. There was not a cloud in the sky and most people were enjoying the cool temperatures mitigated by the warm sunlight. A young couple strolled by and things were very pleasant outside of SAC HQ.

Inside it was a completely different atmosphere, palpably different. General Nathan A. Twining was standing toe to toe with General Curtis LeMay and neither was backing down. Twining was named the 15th Air Force commander once again and was overseeing a buildup of bombers that would equal the force he commanded in World War Two.

The 15th always got short shrift to the 8th and always had a chip on its shoulder and now SAC was trying to knock that chip off. Here we have two Generals about to embark on a massive bombing campaign only rivaled by the last months of the last war and they were acting like a couple of feuding chimpanzees. If anyone is unsure of evolution all you had to do to convince them was to have them watch these two generals and their childish pissing match to see the similarity to animals in the wild. From the baring of teeth the exaggerated poses to the guttural sounds sometimes emanating from their guts neither was giving an inch as both believed down to their last breath that they were the only thing standing between the American public and Stalin himself.

For LeMay it was the last gasp of a dying cause. SAC was losing. It was losing 9-10% of its bomber force every raid. The feeling of doom among the bomber crews was palpable. The inevitability of death permeated the squadrons. The combination of ground to air missiles, air to air missiles, proximity fused 90mm flak rounds and 20mm cannon shells from fighter planes was proving too much for even the best. The math was inescapable and the logic of the situation too stark.

The damage on the ground mirrored closely the raids on many of the large fuel productions facilities of the Germans and the losses to the bomber forces mirrored the Schweinfurt raids.

The losses in bombers of the Schweinfurt raids had caused a three month pause in the bombing campaign against the Third Reich and now those same statistics were about to defeat SAC and LeMay. Even if you could replace the Super Fortresses that were shot down the odds were clear to the bomber crews. Most could not survive 25 missions. The odds were that you would be shot down within the first 10 missions. The math was once again inescapable.

At the height of its war time production America was producing less than 60 of the most complicated machine ever conceived. 60 B-29 Superfortresses a month represented the apex of American manufacturing when at full capacity. Eventually that could be achieved again. But not in time to save SAC who was losing over 30 a raid at this point despite gaining access to every Superfortress in the US arsenal. SAC was down to 402 effective bombers.

LeMay needed the bombers of the 15th Air Force. He needed the venerable B17s and B-24s that gutted the soft underbelly of Hitler’s war machine. He needed General Twinning and his bomber crews. The Joint Chiefs had predicted this outcome. They had a plan B for just this contingency and plan B needed to sacrifice SAC in order to succeed. Stalin had to be goaded into overreaching. He needed to be drawn further and further away from his source of supply. He needed to be taunted into doing something stupid and that meant sacrificing SAC and some of the 15th Air Force as well.

LeMay knew that if he failed at plan A that he was expected to carry out Plan B. Plan B made SAC a diversion. It made the whole concept of the manned strategic bomber a diversion. If the time came, he was to be ordered to sell Plan B to Novikov, the VVS, to the STAVKA and to Stalin himself. Instead of the major reason for defeating an enemy he was to become a diversion a ruse or a lure.

It was becoming more apparent that Zhukov was within weeks of invading Turkey. His goal was to expand the borders of the Soviet Empire and to eliminate the bases that the bombers and more importantly their shorter ranged fighter escorts were using to attack the motherland. His mandate was to close off the Mediterranean Sea as an invasion route and to also prevent its shores from being used as possible air bases.

He had the forces to accomplish these goals but did he have enough fuel? The distance needed to be covered was about the same as from Moscow to Berlin. The resistance was expected to be much less than what was encountered in Poland and Germany. In the minds of the STAVKA it was well worth the risk and that was exactly what the leaders of NATO were counting on.

LeMay would have none of this plan. He wanted to integrate and use up the 15th while he continued to do the heavy lifting on the oil production plants. He was gaining a good 3% reduction with every raid, including the repairs the Soviets had been able accomplish between raids. So far 12 raids had been launched in 3 weeks. The fuel production facilities across the southern USSR and Ploesti were down an accumulated, additional 10% from where they were. The trouble with percentages is that it takes a long time to reach zero. What the JCS were looking at was actual capacity and each raid was accomplishing less and less reduction in capacity. It was the law of diminishing returns. It was true that less and less bombers were being lost per raid but less and less damage was being dealt as well.

Despite replacements of 120 bombers LeMay was down to 402 effective machines and crews from his high of 647. The fighters had held their own at a steady 700. By all accounts the VVS should have been down to zero fighters by now, according to the air crew’s reported kills. Yet they still were able to put up a stiff resistance to every raid and to defend their airfields from the attempts of the USAAF’s P-80s to attack them.

The Red Air Force seemed to be able to replace both its pilots and planes unlike the Germans and Japanese. The training program of the VVS was modeled on the one used by the RAF and USAAF and their factories were on full war footing. The missiles required minimal training to setup and launch and were cost effective compared to a B-29 bomber even at a rate of ten destroyed for every one bomber shot down. The X4 air to air missiles also had a hit rate of 10% and were even more cost effective is the firing aircraft escaped the wrath of the Shooting Stars. In this battle the Soviets were free to concentrate on primarily fighters and by using a combination of the very inexpensive Stalin’s Dart (He 162) as primary interceptors and the older La 7, Yak 3 and 9s to bring down the cripples the VVS was shooting down 30 bombers per raid at an estimated cost of 100 missiles and 30 of their own planes, planes that cost 10% of one B- 29.

The older B-17s and B-24s would probably fare the same as the B-29 in the short run. They would be escorted by the P-51 in huge numbers but would be more vulnerable to the late war Soviet fighters and should fare the same as the Superfortresses against the missile onslaught. A similar 10% loss per raid would also cripple the 15th Air Force in a 3 month window as well but by then it was hoped that the ruse had worked and the bait had been taken.

Only LeMay and Twinning knew of the possible ultimate fate of their respective forces. Only they knew that their brave men were possibly being used as a decoy to draw old Joe out of his homeland and into the far more vulnerable areas he would have to traverse in order to reach the airbases in both Turkey and Egypt. This of course was also a major contribution to each man’s posturing on this fine morning.

The results were inevitable for LeMay. He would eventually have to acquiesce to the orders of the Joint Chiefs and in particular General Doolittle who had formulated this planned movement of the reconstituted 15th in the first place. The 8th would still run its operations in France and Spain and eventually from Britain once again. The re-commissioned B-17s and 24s would be divided up and parceled out to each. The hidden agenda was what was bothering all. Most but LeMay knew that the era of the manned bomber dropping conventional bombs on the enemy’s cities was over once the guided missile became a reality. Yes you could sneak in a fast bomber, or bombers using a variety of methods, but large formations of heavy bombers fighting their way towards helpless cities and towns were quickly being regulated to the history books.

The Book

The monastery was empty and had been for a long time. It gave him an odd feeling being there and left as soon as he was sure nothing of value or of potential threat was present. Yet he feel the possibility of a threat but is was only a feeling. It was probably only tied to these ancient walls and as soon as he left it would not bother him again. As he was checking out one of the towers he glimpsed a pile of wood that could be a crude hut about three kilometers away.

Normally he would have Yevgeni take a squad and explore the area but he decided he was going himself. He really didn’t want to stay near these buildings any longer than was necessary. He got back in the command car and headed towards where he spotted the pile of wood. He could not see it until he almost ran it over. It was very well hidden in a small crevasse. He sent in a private while he walked the area. When the private came out and stated that there was nothing of value in the hut he entered and lit his cigarette lighter to guide the way.

In the flickering light he saw possibly the most wretched hovel, he had ever seen. He was from Kursk and had seen many bombed out buildings that looked better than this space. Pieces of fish bones, fish skin drying by a fire pit, fish heads being mangled into some kind of tool and then there was the indoor toilet that was swarming with maggots and those were the things worth remembering.

As he turned to go the light from the lighter caught a glimmer of cloth or fabric. Normally he would not have looked closer given the circumstances and condition of the surroundings. But that is exactly why he did become curious. What was a relatively clean piece of cloth doing in here? On his way to ascertain what was there in that hiding place he kicked over a container of rotting fish bones and almost fell on top of the pooling slime.

Once he righted himself he carefully retrieved the wrapped bundle and quickly exited the hut. When he got outside he did not take the time to closely examine the package less the private see what he had and just put it in the inside pocket of his great coat and motioned the Private to get in and drive.[1]

[1] Leonardo Da Vinci was well familiar with Armenian art and architecture, but must have certainly gotten his idea of “The Last Supper” (painted in 1495-1498) from an illuminated Armenian Bible manuscript (dated 1038, of Vanian school). This Armenian manuscript is the first and probably the only painting that shows among the disciples a woman, Mary Magdalene, lovingly leaning her head on the shoulder of Jesus!
Da Vinci may certainly have been influenced by this idea of Jesus at the table scene showing a feminine looking disciple sitting on his left.