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This exciting fictionalised retelling of the invasion of Crete is written by an author with extensive experience in army intelligence. It’s the follow up to Devils With Wings, and continues the wartime adventures of Fallschirmjager paratrooper Paul Brand and his Feldwebel Max Grun. On a high after their successful subjugation of Fort Eben Emael, Paul Brand, now in command of his own company, and Feldwebel Max Grun, are parachuted into Greece to help capture the bridge spanning the Corinth Canal. Tough times are ahead when the German High Command decide to invade the Island of Crete. This will be the first ever airborne invasion in military history. The Fallschirmjager, supported by the famous Gebirgsjager mountain troops, are up against 40,000 allied soldiers – who will fight to the bitter end to protect Crete. Operating behind enemy lines, Paul Brand and Max Grun will face challenges that not only tests their fortitude but strains the close bond between them. Silk Drop is a thrilling sequel to Devils With Wings and is based on a factual episode.

Grüne Teufel – Green Devils

The battle of Crete, Operation Mercury, began on the morning of the 20th May, 1941. Greek and Allied forces defended the Island.

The Fallschirmjager, German Paratroopers, were used on a huge scale, the first ever mainly airborne invasion in history.

Up to 15,000 elite, Fallschirmjager initiated the attack by glider and parachute, later supported by up to 15,000 Gebirgsjager, Mountain Troops. Nearly five hundred transport aircraft were used, the famous Junkers JU 52, Tante Ju, Aunty June,  to the paratroopers.

Although a success, taking Crete in only 10 days, it was a Pyrrhic victory. Up to 7,000 were killed or wounded and over 350 aircraft were destroyed. They were never again used in large scale airborne operations, but as elite troops, they fought in every theatre of the war, by the River Neva near Leningrad, Monte Casino, Italy, Battle of the Bulge, Normandy and Africa.

A Video Clip of the Fallschirmjager

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During 2010, I worked and lived in Poland. I took this as an opportunity to visit some of the great towns and cities of Poland, Including Wroclaw, Warsaw and Krakow. Krakow has to have been the most interesting. Not only is it a beautiful place, with a tremendous backdrop of mountains to the southwest.

But unfortunately there is a darker side to that area; 50 kilometres away is the home of the infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz.

It is not my intention to write the history of this notorious site, that has already been done, and by much better writers than me. I would just like to share some of my photography with you.

I am sure, had I visited the two sites in the middle of summer, with greenery, flowers and birds singing, the impact may have been different. But with snow on the ground and it being bitter cold, it was much easier to picture in your mind the atrocious conditions experienced by the people incarcerated there.

Auschwitz-Camp I

Gate into the main Auschwitz camp.  Hoess’s infamous ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign, ‘Work will set you free.”

In his autobiography, Hoess points out that the expression meant  ‘work liberates one in a spiritual sense’, not that you will be free. To the Jews, it was later known as the ‘Death Factory”.

Auschwitz main camp, Camp I, the fences say it all.

Some of the main brick built camp buildings, an ex Polish Army Barracks.

Security was paramount.

The roof of the gas chamber at Auschwitz main camp, the crematoria chimney in the background.

Auschwitz-Birkenau, the first view of this bleak concentration camp, Camp II.

Looking into the camp through the barbed wire perimeter fence.

The Iconic picture of the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The view the guards would have had of the camp from the control tower at the top of the archway entrance.

The view the camp prisoners would have got of the entrance to Auschwitz-Birkenau, as they were ordered off the cattle trucks to a fate they probably didn’t anticipate.

The long railway sidings where the dogs would have been barking, whistles blowing, guards screaming, families separated and children crying.

The reality of it all.

The site of some of the ruins of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

They had latrines, but not quite what we may be used to.

A view of the bunk beds, although I don’t think it depicts the true horror that was experienced within.

A more realistic view.

As indicated at the beginning, my intention was just to share a few photographs with you and not do a write up on the background to the camp and the atrocities linked to it. It was a fascinating, yet horrific, time in our Worlds history and I sometimes wonder if all the lessons from it have been learnt.

HB

A military thriller based around the adventures of two young Fallschirmjager paratroopers during the early part of World War II. It is a fictionalised adventure based on the famous assault on the impregnable Belgian Fortress, Eben Emael.

Fallschirmjager Harvey Black 055

Tall, gangly Paul Brand is supported by his junior sergeant, Unterfeldwebel Max Grun, as he experiences his first action as a platoon commander in Poland, September 1939. The mutual respect between the two comrades grows as they experience the sights and smells of battle at close quarters.  Following their success in Poland, Paul, Max and the platoon are sent to a clandestine camp in the foothills of the Harz Mountains to train for a secret mission. Confined to camp for six months they undergo intensive training for their next mission – the subjugation of the Eben Emael Fortress.

Two German secret weapons will assist them to complete their task; the first is the glider, used for the first time to deposit troops directly onto a target, and the second secret weapon is a new Hollow Charge Weapon, capable of blasting through steel or concrete. On completion of their training, nine gliders containing seventy two Fallschirmjager land on top of the fortress, before the troops move in to the depths of the tunnels to finish the job. Over one thousand Belgian troops fail to stop them.

Effects of a Hohlladung, shaped charge, on an armoured turret.

DFS-230 Glider

This exciting fictionalised retelling of the assault on Eben Emael is written by an author with experience in army intelligence.

Video Clip- Assualt on Eben Emael.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_xsfQPQicQ&context=C4ee50f8ADvjVQa1PpcFN4SRfRBFPjuFRtYcx2OZf4CM9-Mi_XGZQ=

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On 10 May 1940, 80 paratroopers of the German 7th Flieger, later known as the 1st Fallschirmjager Division, landed on top of the supposedly impregnable Fortress, Eben Emael. They used two German secret weapons to achieve their aim, the DFS 230 Glider and Hollow Charged weapons. Using the gliders to silently land in the early hours of the morning and using a new type of explosive to smash through the concrete bunkers and punch through the armoured turrets, they destroyed much of the fort’s defensive armament in a matter of minutes.

DFS 230 Glider

Although paratroopers were only able to penetrate a small part of the myriad of underground passageways linking the fort’s armament, the garrison was unable to dislodge them from the surface. The fortress surrendered one day later, when the German 151st Infantry Regiment reinforced the German paratroopers.

At the time of the assault, of the one thousand two hundred Belgian troops available to man the fort’s defences, only between six and seven hundred were at the fort during the attack, with over two hundred soldiers some six kilometres away.

The devastating effect of a hollow charge explosive, Hohlladung, on an armoured turret.

In preparation for the attack, the German paratroopers had been secreted at an undisclosed camp in the foothills of the Harz Mountains, where they trained for up to six months for the task. They were not even told of the identity of their target until days before, training using mock ups marked out on the ground.

An impressive Casemate containing three 75mm guns.

The capture of Eben-Emael involved the first utilisation of gliders for the initial attack and the first use of hollow charge weapons, opening the gateway for the later invasion of France and the defeat of the allies.

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DWW 100dpi

Devils with Wings – The Green Devils

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