from the Introduction to A Woman in Berlin

The lack of electricity and gas has reduced modern conveniences like lights and stores and hot water boilers to useless objects. “We’re marching backwards in time,” she writes, “cave dwellers.”

Introduction by Antony Beevor to A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City

Groesbeek: Wednesday, 20 September 1944

Groesbeekers greatly admired the relaxed way American paratroopers set off to fight, a gun in one hand and an apple in the other.

Arnhem, the Battle for the Bridges, 1944, p. 223

Making great progress, dear blog readers. Perhaps she will even get through Arnhem today!

Stay tuned.

Cameo: War

Self is just a little over halfway through Antony Beevor’s Arnhem: The Battle for the Bulges, 1944 (p. 214 of 380 pp) She’s enjoying the book, but is distressed that she can’t just hurry it along. Beevor displays tremendous control over his material: his pace is pretty relentless. For the last who knows how many chapters, it’s been one engrossing detail after another. Here are some things self knows for sure, just as a detached observer:

  • Never try a tank attack when there is only road to the objective and the tanks have to go in a long, long, looooong line (which can be severed at any point)
  • It is better not to attack over flat terrain (like Belgium and the Netherlands)
  • It is better not to conduct retreats or river crossings in broad daylight, also while under aggressive enemy fire.

Chapter 17: Crossing the Waal, Wednesday 20 September

At one point Tyler saw a grey horse towing an anti-tank gun on its own toward the railway bridge. The crew must have been killed. He gave the order to fire at it. And one of the tank gunners, a former groom who loved horses, managed to hit the weapon with a solid, armour-piercing round, destroying it utterly without harming the grey. The range was almost a kilometre. The horse walked on ‘as unconcerned as if he had been out making the morning milk deliveries.’

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

Bicycles, the Netherlands

Arnhem, the Battle for the Bridges, by Antony Beevor, p. 10

There had been 4 million bicycles in the Netherlands at the beginning of the war, half as many as the total population. The Wehrmacht had commandeered 50,000 at the beginning of July 1942, and now thousands more were headed for Germany, most of them loaded with soldiers’ equipment and booty as they pushed them along the roads. With no rubber for tyres, pedaling them on wooden wheels was heavy work. But their loss hit hard.

 

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