05/20 – Operation Mercury

Two German paratroopers surveying a distant fire in Crete. Although these men are heavily armed with rifles and submachine guns, many airborne troops struggled to find weapons once on the ground. (Imgur) On this day in 1941, the German invasion of Crete began. Home to the ancient Minoans - Europe's first advanced civilization - the…

04/08 – The Siege of Leningrad

Russian schoolgirls keep an eye out for German bomber aircraft during the Siege of Leningrad. Over the course of the encirclement, the line between civilian and soldier became increasingly blurred. (Wikimedia Commons) On this day in 1942, a rail line was opened by the Soviet Red Army into the besieged Russian city of Leningrad, enabling…

03/17 – The Battle of Nanchang

IJA troops move up alongside their Type-89 medium tanks during the initial offensive on Nanchang. (Pinterest) On this day in 1939, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) launched a massive assault on Nanchang, the capital of China's Jiangxi province. Facing them were soldiers of the Chinese National Revolutionary Army, a worn down but well-armed force on…

03/12 – The Moscow Peace Treaty

Finnish soldiers ambushing Red Army troops during the Winter War. (Pinterest) On this day in 1940, the Moscow Peace Treaty was signed in Russia. The agreement marked the end of the Winter War, a 105-day conflict between Finland and the USSR. Intent on acquiring portions of Eastern Finnish territory for themselves, the Soviets had invaded…

03/09 – The Fall of the Dutch East Indies

An IJA "banzai" charge on Manado, Indonesia, sometime in 1942. (Reddit) On this day in 1942, Dutch troops on Indonesia - then known as the Dutch East Indies - surrendered to Japanese forces. Beginning one day after the assault on Pearl Harbour in December of the following year, the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) launched a…

03/08 – International Womens Day & The February Revolution

Soldiers and women who formed in Petrograd during the uprising. (Daily Mail) On this day in 1917 (or February 23rd according to the Old Calendar), riots broke out in Petrograd, then-capital of Russia. As WWI wore on in the East, a series of spectacular military failures weakened Russian morale, damaged the economy and increased frustration…

03/07 – The Disappearance of U-47

An artistic depiction of a U-boat surfacing after knocking out an Allied merchant vessel. (Fine Art America) On this day in 1941, German U-boat (submarine) U-47 disappeared off the west coast of Ireland. Captained by "U-Ace" G√ľnther Prien, the submarine was one of the most infamous of its kind. During his short career, Prien and…

03/04 – Operation Claymore

The "Lofoten Islands" map in Battlefield V, a rendering of the infamous Allied operation that took place in 1941. (Video Games Chronicle) On this day in 1941, a contingent of 550 Allied commandos landed on the Lofoten Islands on Norway's icy northern coast. Their mission - codenamed Operation Claymore - was to destroy Nazi German…

European Urban Centres from West to East, 1940-44

This article is a revised version of an essay submitted for academic credit at the University of Toronto. Belgian displaced-persons (or "DPs") after their escape from urban combat in 1945. (Time) Throughout history, military forces have usually avoided fighting in built-up areas for a variety of reasons. Street battles are difficult to control, harder to…