May 2007 Mailbag
Mailbagâ€™s now on the Web, too!
So many letters, so little room! We receive many more letters to ACG than we can possibly publish in the magazine â€“ so, beginning with the May 2007 issue, weâ€™ll be publishing more letters to ACG here on our website.
Issue 20 Mailbag Web Submissions:
Dear Armchair General,
I enjoyed your list on top 10 Pacific war books (September, 2006). One that I think should be on it or highly recommended would be "Pacific Alamo the battle for Wake Island" by John Wukovits. It’s the story of a hand full of military (mainly Marines) personnel and civilian construction workers who gave the Japanese their first taste of defeat, plus the book goes into the lives of the men as POW’s. I hope you take a look at this book and let your readers know about this almost forgotten piece of Pacific war history. Thank you.
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Ed. Thanks, Michael, for passing along your recommendation for this outstanding history of one of the Pacific warâ€™s most inspiring fight against the odds.
Iâ€™m a new subscriber, anxiously awaiting my first issue. I was wondering if there was anything in the works on a scenario for fighting a modern war with North Korea? What options the U.S. and Allies might have, what forces would be used etc. It would be timely and very relevant to todayâ€™s issues.
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Ed. Tim, you must be psychic! Our next series of exciting, interactive ICS stories concerns just that â€“ a hypothetical war in the near future between the US, its Allies and North Korea. ICS author, Col., ret. John Antal, draws upon his extensive experience serving in Korea and commanding US tactical units to present a chillingly authentic look at what MIGHT happen in such a conflict. As a bonus, weâ€™re including a companion article, â€œHow the North Korean Army Fightsâ€ by Col. Antal to accompany his first installment.
The name of the priest saying mass on Mt. Suribachi (Armchair General November 2006, page 85) is Father Charles Suver, a Jesuit and Marine Corps Chaplain. On the way to the Iwo Jima beach Father overheard an officer boast the he would â€œput a flag on top of that mountain.â€ To which Father replied â€œâ€¦ you put a flag up there, and I will say mass under it!â€
Some days later a Marine rushed into the mess tent where father was reading his Breviary and told him to look up at the mountain. When father saw the flag he grabbed his gear, climbed the mountain and said mass. (Later that day there was the second more famous flag raising.)
The essentials of this tory wer confirmed to me by Father Raymond Talbott, a Jesuit Army Chaplain in Europe. The episode was also mentioned in Father Suverâ€™s obituary.
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Ed. Thank you very much for passing along the moving story about Father Charles Sauver on Iwo Jima. Father Sauver is certainly an inspiration to all and was undoubtedly a comfort to the Marines who endured the hell of Iwo Jima. We greatly appreciate your sharing his story with us.
Dear Armchair General,
I love Armchair General! Like most of your readers, I am most interested in WW II. As every good student of WW II knows, by far the most â€œactionâ€ occurred with the fighting between the Nazis and the USSR.
Please could you create an "Eastern Front" issue? It would sell like hotcakes! There are endless possibilities for it. Both â€œregularâ€ and interactive articles. I’m sure it would also increase your advertising revenue as well as your subscriptions.
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Ed.Thanks very much for your email to Armchair General and for your kind comments on our magazine. We always appreciate hearing from our readers and thank you for taking the time to let us know your thoughts on the magazine.
World War II’s Eastern Front remains a popular subject amongst those interested in articles on the Second World War — by far the most popular era of military history for our readers, as indicated in reader polls we’ve conducted on our website. In this regard, we have often featured articles on the Eastern Front. For example, our Battlefield Leader article in the September 2005 issue was on Marshal Zhukov and the What Next General article in that issue placed readers in Zhukov’s boots as he fought the Japanese at the battle of Khalkin Gol in the Soviet Far East. Other examples include our What Next General article on Vatutin at Kursk, Commander Dossier article on Marshal Rokossovsky (along with a companion Weapon Files article on Russia’s T-34 tank), a You Command on the Battle of Mtsensk in 1941 and numerous others.
ACG does not publish "theme" issues, as most of our readers prefer a mix of eras in each issue — however, as a reader of ACG you’ll note that World War II continues to be the most popular era and, therefore, makes up a large proportion of our articles.
You will certainly appreciate our March 2007 issue as it contains Eastern Front articles: Witness to War is on a female Soviet sniper at Stalingrad in 1942 (with our photographer, Seimon Pugh-Jones’ wonderful combat recreation photographs!) and the issue’s Combat! article is about a German infantry unit fighting Soviet partisans. The May 2007 contains a special History in Depth article titled "Shattering the Wehrmacht Myth: How the Red Army Really Beat Hitler" by historian Jon Jordan.
We’ll continue to feature Eastern Front articles in ACG and hope you enjoy them.
Dear Armchair General,
My name is Nick. I’m 15 years old and I live in Canada. I love your magazine, the articles, the games, everything, really. I haven’t subscribed yet but I get Armchair General from the shelves.
I love Science Fiction too, especially Star Trek and the newer Battlestar Galactica.
I wrote to ask to do a review on the new Star Trek game Star Trek: Legacy. It is a strategy-combat game spanning the whole of the Star Trek universe. I just want to see what you think of it.
I hope to subscribe before the holiday offer is over.
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Ed. Thanks very much for your email and thanks for your kind remarks about Armchair General magazine. We are very happy to receive comments from readers like you. Hope you took advantage of the Holiday special subscription rate.
Our video and wargame reviews are done by well-known game designer, Mark Walker (Game Buzz and Video Game Review) and Jeffrey Paulding (War Game Review). We let them select the games they will review in each issue, as it lets them try to get the latest, best games to review in the magazine. I do not know if there are plans to review the Star Trek game or not. If you would like to try your hand at reviewing the game yourself, our Webmaster, Brian King, may be interested in running it on our website.
Dear Armchair General,
In your Nov ’06 issue, your article concerning the attack by Commander Nishino Kozo on the Elwood Oil Fields (Historyâ€™s Mysteries â€œJapan Attacks California!â€) has some additional interesting twists.
Check out "And Now You Know the Rest of the Story" by Paul Harvey. I’ve sent an e:mail requesting a copy of the program – of particular interest is that the Commander had visited the same location some years earlier and was avenging a lost of face that he suffered at the earlier visit. www.paulharvey.com
You did a program concerning Commander Nishino Kozo, Japanese Navy, 1942, and how he came to attack the oil fields in California, to include his earlier visit to the same location and his loss of face and subsequent desire to avenge himself.
Is it possible to obtain a copy of that program?
Siloam Springs, AR
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Ed. Thanks very much for your email to Armchair General concerning our recent article, "When Japan Attacked California." The information about Cmdr. Kozo visiting California prior to his later shelling of the area is very interesting.
I am ‘cc-ing’ a copy of your email to the article’s author, Dr. Martin Morgan at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.
This is Lt. Vincent Caliguire, whom you featured in the September 2006 issue of Armchair General. I just want to thank you and especially Eric, the publisher, for writing such nice things about me, my guys and Babydoll (our tank).
Everyone in our company made it back safe from Ramadi, Iraqi in June. It’s gratifying to know we have the support of citizens like yourselves. I will keep reading armchair to keep my strategic wits about, because a reservist must always be ready. Keep up the good work and a sincere thanks to you all.
Lt. Vincent Caliguire
P.S. Babydoll is retired now after recovering from some IEDS but she will be ok!
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Ed. Lt. Caliguire, itâ€™s we who thank YOU and your crew for your great service. We are all grateful that you made it back safely from your tour â€“ and that Babydoll survived her wounds!
Second guessing Custer has been a popular exercise ever since the Little Bighorn battle ended but I believe your recent "generous" examination is flawed.
You blame Custer’s not knowing the size of the Indian village on Gen. George Crook’s failure to forward such information. The truth is, Crook had no idea of the rapidly escalating size. You conveniently overlook the fact that Custer had been repeatedly and specifically warned of the unprecedented size of the encampment yet he chose to airily dismiss the advice of his own scouts. A more prudent general would have evaluated what he was hearing but headstrong Custer was never prudent.
As to subdividing his force into three "maneuver" battalions, you argue it was a common army tactic. However, what was not "common" was Custer’s lack of any overall, unified control of the three groups. If he had a plan he never shared it with his commanders. He sent Captain Benteen off on a wild, uncoordinated ride away from the attack. He ordered a charge by Major Reno’s companies straight into the village but failed utterly to support him. Custer’s strange, wandering move north cannot be excused You claim it was part of Custer’s "attack" plan. Riding away from Reno hardly qualifies as part of an attack.
When he finally tumbled that he was in over his head, he sent his famous message to Benteen to "Come quick. Bring pacs". Although Benteen’s follow-up action is debatable, he (Benteen) was obviously right in claiming that he could not both "come quick" AND bring the slow ammunition pacs. The truth is Custer unleashed Reno’s attack without even knowing where Benteen was or when he might be able to join up.
Custer’s arrogance, his fatal lack of a coherent plan and his refusal to listen to the advice of his trusted scouts led to his destruction To argue that he behaved in accordance with normal military tactics and only did what any other commander would have done is both simplistic and wrong.
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Ed. Thanks for sending your comments on our Command Decision article, â€œSecond-Guessing Custer.â€ After traveling Custerâ€™s exact route that fateful day more than a dozen times as part of the US Army Command and General Staff Collegeâ€™s staff ride â€“ including trips to the Crowâ€™s Nest to try to replicate what Custer and his scouts might actually have seen â€“ and during which students get the chance to thoroughly study, examine and â€œsecond guessâ€ the 7thâ€™s commander â€œon the groundâ€ where the regiment rode and fought (and within the context of what Custer likely knew), I observed many young Army majors having their preconceived notions of both Custer and the battle shattered. The article represents a general consensus of their opinions gleaned from these staff rides regarding the â€œCuster decisions.â€
Regarding your January 2007 article "How they Fought, Marquis vs. a Tiger Tank", you show a Waffen-SS Tiger II in Normandy on July 14, 1944. Great set of pictures, but I hate to tell you that there were no SS Tiger IIs in Normandy at that time.
Wittmann’s old unit sSSPzAbt 101 was reequipped with Tiger IIs in September 1944 and renamed sSSPzAbt 501 and took part in the Ardennes offensive. The sSSPzAbt 102 was also reequipped about that time with Tiger IIs and renamed sSSPzAbt 502, and died in the ashes of Berlin. In October 1944 the sSSPzAbt 103 was reequipped with Tiger IIs and renumbered sSSPzAbt 503, and met their end East Prussia in May 1945. The Tiger battalions received 37 Tiger IIs.
For a good reference, I recommend Will Fey’s excellent "Armor Battles of the Waffen-SS" and "Weapons of the Waffen-SS" by Bruce Quarrie.
Steven J. Jennings
P.S. Please feel free to send any questions about the Waffen-SS my way.
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Ed. Thanks very much for sharing your â€œTiger Tankâ€ expertise with our readers. I imagine the American and British troops fighting in Normandy in June-August 1944 were glad they werenâ€™t facing Tiger IIâ€™s!