Archive for March 7th, 2009

07
Mar
09

Eagle Sitting on its Nest

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07
Mar
09

Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet

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The Luftwaffe tried many experimental designs throughout World War II.  The Me-163 rocket plane, with a top speed of around six hundred miles an hour, was one such plane.  To make it lightweight, the landing gear would be jettisoned on take-off and the plane would land on a wooden ski.  Powered by a rocket engine with limited fuel capacity it had a very limited flight duration and would glide in for an unpowered landing.  The plane’s purpose was to streak into American bomber formations, do as much damage as possible and then return to base.  Dangerous to fly and dangerous to fuel, it suffered more casualties from accidents than it did from combat.

07
Mar
09

On This Day, March 7: The Rhineland

March 7, 1936

Hitler reoccupies the Rhineland

Nazi leader Adolf Hitler violates the Treaty of Versailles and the Locarno Pact by sending German military forces into the Rhineland, a demilitarized zone along the Rhine River in western Germany.

The Treaty of Versailles, signed in July 1919–eight months after the guns fell silent in World War I–called for stiff war reparation payments and other punishing peace terms for defeated Germany. Having been forced to sign the treaty, the German delegation to the peace conference indicated its attitude by breaking the ceremonial pen. As dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, Germany’s military forces were reduced to insignificance and the Rhineland was to be demilitarized.

In 1925, at the conclusion of a European peace conference held in Switzerland, the Locarno Pact was signed, reaffirming the national boundaries decided by the Treaty of Versailles and approving the German entry into the League of Nations. The so-called “spirit of Locarno” symbolized hopes for an era of European peace and goodwill, and by 1930 German Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann had negotiated the removal of the last Allied troops in the demilitarized Rhineland.

However, just four years later, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party seized full power in Germany, promising vengeance against the Allied nations that had forced the Treaty of Versailles on the German people. In 1935, Hitler unilaterally canceled the military clauses of the treaty and in March 1936 denounced the Locarno Pact and began remilitarizing of the Rhineland. Two years later, Nazi Germany burst out of its territories, absorbing Austria and portions of Czechoslovakia. In 1939, Hitler invaded Poland, leading to the outbreak of World War II in Europe.

“Hitler reoccupies the Rhineland.” 2009. The History Channel website. 7 Mar 2009, 05:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4815.

On This Day

0322 BC – Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, died.

1774 – The British closed the port of Boston to all commerce.

1848 – In Hawaii, the Great Mahele was signed.

1850 – U.S. Senator Daniel Webster endorsed the Compromise of 1850 as a method of preserving the Union.

1876 – Alexander Graham Bell received a patent (U.S. Patent No. 174,465) for his telephone.

1906 – Finland granted women the right to vote.

1918 – Finland signed an alliance treaty with Germany.

1925 – The Soviet Red Army occupied Outer Mongolia.

1945 – During World War II, U.S. forces crossed the Rhine River at Remagen, Germany.

1954 – Russia appeared for the first time in ice-hockey competition. Russia defeated Canada 7-2 to win the world ice-hockey title in Stockholm, Sweden.

1965 – State troopers and a sheriff’s posse broke up a march by civil rights demonstrators in Selma, AL.

1971 – A thousand U.S. planes bombed Cambodia and Laos.

1989 – Poland accused the Soviet Union of a World War II massacre in Katyn.

1994 – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parodies that poke fun at an original work can be considered “fair use” that does not require permission from the copyright holder.

March 7, 1941

British forces arrive in Greece

On this day, a British expeditionary force from North Africa lands in Greece.

In October 1940, Mussolini’s army, already occupying Albania, invaded Greece in what proved to be a disastrous military campaign for the Duce’s forces. Mussolini surprised everyone with this move against Greece, but he was not to be upstaged by recent Nazi conquests. According to Hitler, who was stunned by a move that he knew would be a strategic blunder, Mussolini should have concentrated on North Africa by continuing the advance into Egypt. The Italians paid for Mussolini’s hubris, as the Greeks succeeded in pushing the Italian invaders back into Albania after just one week, and the Axis power spent the next three months fighting for its life in a series of defensive battles.

Mussolini’s precipitate maneuver frustrated Hitler because it opened an opportunity for the British to enter Greece and establish an airbase in Athens, putting the Brits within striking distance of valuable oil reserves in Romania, which Hitler relied upon for his war machine. It also meant that Hitler would have to divert forces from North Africa, a high strategic priority, to bail Mussolini out of Greece-and postpone Hitler’s planned invasion of the Soviet Union.

The Brits indeed saw an opening in Greece, and on March 7, 1941, Prime Minister Winston Churchill diverted troops from Egypt and sent 58,000 British and Aussie troops to occupy the Olympus-Vermion line. But the Brits would be blown out of the Pelopponesus Peninsula when Hitler’s forces invaded on the ground and from the air in April. Thousands of British and Australian forces were captured there and on Crete, where German paratroopers landed in May.

“British forces arrive in Greece.” 2009. The History Channel website. 7 Mar 2009, 05:20 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=6734.




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