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War & Weather History

Weather played a huge part in the Second World War.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.

Few know about Nazi weather station code named Kurt in Martin Bay, northern Labrador
When you think of Northern Labrador, the images that come to mind for most people are of snow and ice covered rugged mountains, or Caribou or perhaps Polar Bears. Few people would equate this place with WWII Nazis. And yet in 1943 a U-Boat installed a German weather station code named `Kurt` in Martin Bay, northern Labrador. On September 18, 1943, U-537, commanded by Peter Schrewe, left Germany carrying a Wetter-Funkgerät Land weather station or WFL, codenamed `Kurt`. Also on board were meteorologist Dr. Kurt Sommermeyer, and his assistant, Walter Hildebrant. Nearly a month later on October 22 the U-boat glided into Martin Bay, Labrador. Shortly after arriving some of the crew and Dr. Sommermeyer were assembling the station 1/4 mile inland.
(heritagedaily.com)

D-Day Weather Map Is Most Important in History
The forecast for northwest France on June 6, 1944 stands as history`s most important weather forecast. Conditions at Omaha Beach and the other landing zones within 50 miles of Normandy had to be just right so as to allow troops to parachute to their landing zones, as well as maneuver their way onshore via amphibious vehicles. With so many military assets being deployed — more than 5,000 ships, 13,000 aircraft and 160,000 Allied troops — the weather forecast, at a time when modern meteorology was still in its infancy, was crucial to the success of the mission.
(mashable.com)

Massive World War II bombing raids altered English weather
Allied bombing raids during WWII turned the English sky white with contrails, providing a case study for scientists studying how the weather is affected by these long, feathery lines of condensation that form behind aircraft. Contrails form when the hot, moist plume of engine exhaust mixes with cold air. Liquid droplets form and then freeze, forming a straight, white line. Contrails, which can last days, have complex effects on the Earth`s surface temperature: They can reflect sunlight, causing cooling, or they can trap long-wave radiation, and preventing it from escaping to space.
(livescience.com)

Rasputitsa: Photos of German WWII tanks and vehicles sunk in the mud - Axis History forum thread
The term `rasputitsa` means the period (in the spring and in the fall) when unpaved roads become difficult or impossible to travel on in some parts of the Eastern Europe. The Wehrmacht, used to the great road networks of Germany and France, was completely unaware about the endless mud which stopped the tanks, trucks, motorcycles and other military vehicles on the spot, making any large scale operations impossible. This Axis History Forum -thread features dozes and dozes of WWII photographs about the topic.
(forum.axishistory.com)

In 1944 Mount Vesuvius erupted - Forcing the USS Philadelphia to retreat
In 1944, Mount Vesuvius erupted for 5 days. So frightening was the volcano known for its burial of Pompeii that the USS Philadelphia retreated for the only time during its 8 years in service. But, that was a ship at sea and it was able to flee easily. Forces on the ground weren`t so fortunate. By March 23, most of the 340th Bombardment Groups B-25 Mitchells were covered in hot ash that burned the control surfaces and melted or glazed the plexiglass, 78-88 planes were lost.
(symonsez)

D-Day revisited: don’t blame the weather man
The history of D-Day is being rewritten following an analysis of the weather reconnaissance flights which played a key role in World War 2. The activities of the scientists and pilots involved remain a largely forgotten element of the war. But a new study of the Luftwaffe’s weather units (the Wekusta) by a meteorologist and a German aeronautical expert sheds new light on aspects of the history of the war. "We can show conclusively that the Wekusta did their job. They kept their leaders abreast of weather conditions and the likelihood of the landings taking place. It was the military who did not act on the information."
(innovations-report.com)

Winning World War II - Soldiers stationed in Greenland   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Steve George loaned his collection of artifacts collected from Greenland during WWII to the Williston Public Library. The World War II veteran served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a radio operator. He was on Cruncher Island, a very tiny piece of rock that served as a home for the 16 men stationed there. "When people ask me what I did in the war and I tell them I worked in Greenland, they say, ‘You didn`t see any action.‘ I saw plenty of action with the weather. The action there was survival." The soldiers stationed in Greenland helped win the victory in Europe by predicting weather from their studies in the Arctic.
(willistonpioneer)

Not all the ships that sunk in World War II were hit by enemy fire   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Not all the ships that sunk in Second World War were hit by enemy fire. Mitchell George Siefe, serving about a Landing Ship Tank in Hawaii, recalled three that were sunk by a typhoon. The big wind struck while ships of the 7th fleet were assembling in a huge armada in the South Pacific preparing for the invasion of Japan. "The storm was so severe three destroyers were sunk and most people on my ship were sick afterward." He and two other crewmen were the only ones who were able to go down to breakfast the next morning. Mitchell saw the devastation of war, as well as that of Mother Nature.
(lompocrecord)

Secret Nazi Weather Station in Newfoundland
The U-537 made the only armed German landing on North American soil in WWII. U-537 left Kiel, Germany on September 18, 1943. The boat went on patrol in the western North Atlantic under Kptlt. Peter Schrewe. Its task was to set up an automatic weather station on the coast of Labrador. The station was a secret known only by a handful German seamen and scientists. The story became known in the late 1970s, when an retired engineer found photographs of one weather station and a U-boat that did not fit in with the installations he had previously been able to identify.
(uboat-net)

Black Sunday - The greatest non-combat aviation loss in WWII   (Article no longer available from the original source)
On April 16, 1944, Capt. Thomas Paschal and his B-24J crew vanished in the clouds. Paschal`s Liberator and more than 300 other planes were returning from a bombing run over Dutch New Guinea during WWII when they ran into what one pilot called the "worst storm I ever saw." The bad weather gave the American planes a tougher fight than they had gotten from the Japanese, claiming 54 crew members and 37 aircraft. It was the Army Air Forces` greatest non-combat aviation loss in WWII. Thirty fighter and bomber crew members are still missing.
(greenbaypressgazette)

General Mud and General Winter - Warfare in Eastern Front
Torrential rains turned the roads into quagmires, slowing the advance on Moscow. General Mud had slowed Napoleon in 1812, and it slowed the German advance in 1941. Army Group Center advanced on Tikhvin and took the town on Nov 8, but again mud bogged down the attack, and the Russians attacked on three sides. Stalin was still in a panic when German units advanced on Moscow’s outskirts in November. But General Winter froze the Germans’ equipment in the mud. The Germans’ supply issues were becoming critical, the length of their supply lines meant that winter uniforms had to sacrificed for food, ammunition and fuel on the trains and supply wagons.
(ww2 database)

Diary of a 10th Armored Division veteran
"What was it like in combat?" The three "Fs" come to mind: Fatigue, frustration and fear! Fatigue from lack of sleep because it was almost impossible to find a comfortable place to sleep. Add to this the enemy harassment and fire, every half hour all night long. Only 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night drained one’s stamina. For me, it caused headaches. Frustration: Everything you do is stymied by mud, snow, fog, wind, rain, freezing cold or intense heat. Fear: We all agonized over the possibility of death. Men had legs and arms blown off, received wounds and lost their sight or hearing. Those killed instantly were the "lucky" ones. Fear shadowed us constantly.
(fdu)

Bad weather could have scuppered D-Day
The success of D-Day is now a fact. Little thought is wasted on the possibility of its failure. Yet D-Day might have failed. On the morning of June 6 Eisenhower wrote a note, to be issued if things turned out wrong: "Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops." The most important factor was the weather. The landing plan required a day of calm sea for the troops to get ashore, followed by several days of moderate weather for the build-up. Part of the great armada set out on the night of June 4, timed to arrive on June 5, only to be recalled because the weather was forecast to worsen.
(telegraph)

Fighting the Russians in Winter - Key problems   (Article no longer available from the original source)
This Leavenworth Paper contains case studies about winter warfare: Mobility and logistical support are restricted. Roads and runways can only be kept open by plowing or compacting the snow. Cross-country transport - if possible at all - requires wide-tracked vehicles or sleds. Infantrymen moving through deep snow rapidly become exhausted. Without special lubricants firearms and motors may freeze up and become inoperative at subzero temperatures. Frostbite casualties may exceed battle losses unless troops wear proper clothing. Speedy removal of the wounded from the battlefield to shelter is essential to prevent even minor wounds from resulting in death from exposure.
(cgsc)

Women`s Airforce Service Pilots with the US Air Weather Service
Women`s roles in the military may not have started at Offutt, but the Air Force Weather Agency was here when women stepped forward to serve their country. The Air Weather Service was one of the first military agencies to use military women as pilots during WW II. In early 1943, the first enlisted Women`s Army Corps women were assigned to stateside weather units and qualified as observers through on-the-job training. One class of women observers went through the forecasting school at Chanute Field, Ill. Five graduated in September 1944.
(findarticles)