WWII sites

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sidevalve
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WWII sites

#1 Post by sidevalve » Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:43 am

I'm sure many of us have, in our travels, sought out sites made famous (or infamous) during WWII or previous conflicts..
I went to the Menin Gate once. It was erected in memory for those 54,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed during the Ypres salient and who have no known grave. The names of all were incised into the walls - and It was sobering to see that I could find my own name there - as well as that of my father and my brother. Very moving.
Visiting Rotterdam, the extent of the German bombing of the city centre was clearly delineated..
What sites have you visited that caused you to have an involuntary shiver?

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Re: WWII sites

#2 Post by G-CPTN » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:05 am

Dresden - 1990 - Frauenkirche still in ruins.

In addition, as a youngster, I visited West Germany in the late 1950s on school trips, and was initially surprised that cities were 'new' and wondered why - before the reason dawned.

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Re: WWII sites

#3 Post by Rwy in Sight » Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:50 am

I visited few years ago the British Was cemetery at Leros island. Very emotional it was.

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Re: WWII sites

#4 Post by Pontius Navigator » Mon Feb 24, 2020 9:46 am

Kranji cemetery in Singapore. It seemed to have more impact being arrayed on undulating ground.

A strange story:

On of my mother in law's relative was buried at heilly station cemetery mericourt-l'abbe. Travelling not far away she asked if we could have a look.
Now instead of going to the entrance we parked at the side and entered from the opposite side of the cemetery. We set off toward the entrance picking about the fifth lane at random. About 8 graves in there was his grave marker with three soldiers interrred.

What was the chance of going straight to his grave?

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Re: WWII sites

#5 Post by sidevalve » Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:59 am

G-CPTN wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 7:05 am
In addition, as a youngster, I visited West Germany in the late 1950s on school trips, and was initially surprised that cities were 'new' and wondered why - before the reason dawned.
I once visited Flensburg and it was odd to be in a German town that hadn't been flattened during the war. Great pity that the old Germany had to be levelled but that's another story.

Sedan was another place where I felt I was in a place where history had been made.

The clearing at Compiègne - where the two Armistices had been signed 22 years apart - arguably the two most significant events of the twentieth century in terms of the aftermaths in both cases. There was a definite sense that an event of some magnitude had taken place here. The first Armistice in 1918 marked the end of hostilities at the end of the Great War. The second in 1940 was signed at the moment when Hitler was at the absolute zenith of his power. There is a small museum that houses a replica of the original Wagon Lits carriage where the two armistices had been signed in addition to a multitude of other artefacts.

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Re: WWII sites

#6 Post by llondel » Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:11 pm

I went to Colditz some years back. Fascinating place, looked very familiar given the film and TV series I used to watch as a child. They tell the story of Pat Reid visiting, he got to go to parts that weren't open to the rest of us and on coming across a particular door, took a key out of his pocket and tried it in the lock, which duly opened. Seems they never figured out his escape route and that lock never got changed.

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Re: WWII sites

#7 Post by larsssnowpharter » Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:49 pm

I've made a point of paying my respects at the nearest War Graves Commission site to me on Remembrance Day. This has seen me in graveyards (always immaculately kept with one exception) such as Skopje, Manila, Bari and Turin to name a few.

It was in Turin where I saw a grave belong to a Wg Cdr with a string of gongs and bars to them who had died in the last days of the war on a supposed milk run.

The graveyard that was in bad shape was outside Baghdad. It had been extensively damaged and vandalized during the first Gulf War. Bastards!

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Re: WWII sites

#8 Post by Pontius Navigator » Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:56 pm

Stayed at an 'old' hotel in Geikenkirchen. It was really typical of an old pub. We happened to see the barman go down to the cellar, new concrete blocks and new bricks.

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Re: WWII sites

#9 Post by AtomKraft » Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:59 am

I paid a visit to Nuremberg in 2019 and visited the site where those huge Nazi rallies were held.
Adjacent to the site there's an unfinished Coliseum type building that the Nazis were constructing.

There was a fair on the site of the rallies, and a centre for those interested in studying Nazism had been built into the coliseum.

There is a certain vibe about the place, but mostly it seemed quite innocuous.

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Re: WWII sites

#10 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:45 am

Been invited to share flying a light aircraft to visit the all the dams bombed by the Dam Busters this summer.
I see a bad moon rising...

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Re: WWII sites

#11 Post by sidevalve » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:30 pm

At night I hope!

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Re: WWII sites

#12 Post by llondel » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:53 pm

Flying at 60ft?

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Re: WWII sites

#13 Post by Rwy in Sight » Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:27 pm

TheGreenGoblin wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 9:45 am
Been invited to share flying a light aircraft to visit the all the dams bombed by the Dam Busters this summer.
It goes without saying that a feeling of envy is overcoming me... You are very lucky Sir enjoy the ride and please write about your experience.

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Re: WWII sites

#14 Post by tango15 » Wed Mar 04, 2020 10:44 am

llondel wrote:
Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:11 pm
I went to Colditz some years back. Fascinating place, looked very familiar given the film and TV series I used to watch as a child. They tell the story of Pat Reid visiting, he got to go to parts that weren't open to the rest of us and on coming across a particular door, took a key out of his pocket and tried it in the lock, which duly opened. Seems they never figured out his escape route and that lock never got changed.
In the 1970s, at a time when I was not working in aviation, I was required to attend the Leipzig Trade Fair in what was then East Germany. Little of the city had been restored since WWII and it was a rather boring place, anyway, even with the fair taking place, so one day I decided I would head to Colditz! I bought a train ticket without any problem and headed off. I had no idea what to expect.
Upon reaching the forbidding portals, I rang a bell. A slit near to the door opened and a female voice shouted "JA?"
I asked in my best German if it was possible to see any part of the castle.
The door then opened, revealing an elderly lady wearing a clinical white coat. She explained that it was impossible to go inside because it was now a hospital.
"Ein Krankenhaus?" I asked incredulously.
"Ja, für die krank im Kopf", she replied, pointing to her temple, and explained that this was why she could not allow me inside.
Blimey, so the place had been turned into a lunatic asylum! She then asked me how far I had come and suggested that I go into the nearby square, where there was a very pleasant pub. I did this and soon found myself being treated as some sort of visiting celebrity, with the pub apparently never having had a British visitor since WWII. The owner of the pub swore blind that some of the officers incarcerated in the castle would be marched to the pub under guard sometimes for a couple of pints, though I never recall this being mentioned elsewhere. The beer was excellent. The brewery was just across the cobbled square and it was a very pleasant spot.
I remember standing on the platform at Colditz station, waiting for the train to take me back to Leipzig and realising just how forbidding the building looks. The railway station has long gone, apparently and since the reunification, the place appears to have changed quite a bit.
I haven't been back since, but I'm aware that parts of it have now been opened as a museum. It's on my 'to do' list!

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Re: WWII sites

#15 Post by limeygal » Tue Sep 21, 2021 10:42 am

Visited Kanachanaburi cemetery in the late 1970s. It contains the graves of those who died building the Burma railroad. Very moving. Beautifully kept up and a really peaceful place. Also visited the real bridge over the River Kwai. The one in the film was built by consulting engineers, Husband and Co. They were in Sri Lanka building a school. The filmmakers asked them to build the wooden bridge for the film and they had one shot at it to blow it up for the film. Today it would be all CGI. I used to work for the company when they had their offices in St. Ermins Hotel in London. There was a picture of the bridge in the reception area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanchanaburi_War_Cemetery

(On a lighter note-Museum close-by run by Buddhist monks explaining the conditions in the camp. Door was propped open with an unexploded shell. The monks had put a notice next to it asking visitors "not to explode it." Elf and safety would have a fit.)

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Re: WWII sites

#16 Post by Undried Plum » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:20 pm

When my Tesla was quite new I took her for a blast on the Autobahns. 156mph with four wheels on the ground was exhilarating and legal!

Colditz was my first objective. It had been largely converted into a museum. It was amazing to tread in the footsteps of those guys. So much of it was exactly as I had expected, having seen the telly series and several documentaries and read all the books. My only surprise was that the exercise courtyard has a slope which wasn't shown in the reconstruction they used in making the telly series.

My second objective was to try to find a tree. It's a true survivor, that thing, and I wanted to pay my respects to it before the authorities are eventually successful in killing it.

Before 1936 the villagers of Berchtesgaden were allowed to visit Herr Schickelgruber at the Berghof to wish him a happy birthday. They had to wait patiently at the end of the wee lane that leads up to the base of those famous stone (actually, they're brick) steps which you'll have seen in newsreel footage of dignitaries such as Neville Chamberlain visiting the Corporal. Martin Bormann took pity on them and ordered a Linden (Lime) tree to be transplanted from the main drag in Munich. It's on the right at the corner as you look up the wee lane which goes on up to Hotel zum Turken.

In May 1945 the RAF carpet bombed the whole of Obersalzberg, killing almost all the trees. A couple of years later the Berghof was systematically obliterated and removed. That tree was repeatedly cut down, but still it produces prolific stems which flourish in the summer heat.

I found it quite touching that a natural living thing can overcome the very worst malice that mankind is capable of.


Two other forest-based sites in the vicinity were also worth a visit.

One is the stone basement foundations of the wee cottage where Schicklegruber spent several months in contemplation of his dreams of establishing a Third Reich. It's odd that such a lovely environment could inspire and nurture such profoundly evil thoughts while he completed his damned book.


The other is the Muzlammerkopf lookout point and the adjacent site of the now obliterated tea house which was a daily ritual for him to visit. Operation Foxley never happened, but this is where he would have met his end if he hadn't been such an arsehole that the British High Command reckoned he was an asset to the Allies if left alive. It's remarkable how the lookout point and its bench seat is so very exactly as it was in the 1930s.

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Re: WWII sites

#17 Post by Undried Plum » Tue Sep 21, 2021 2:25 pm

Wrt to the above clip of the tea house location, here's a documentary about Op Foxley. The level of detail in the Int briefing is remarkable.


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Re: WWII sites

#18 Post by G-CPTN » Tue Sep 21, 2021 3:02 pm

Some years ago I carried out vehicle brake tests on a commercial vehicle (medium range truck) using the hills of the Obersalzberg region
around Berchtesgaden. We were testing disk brakes for use on trucks (a pioneering application back then!).
I recall regularly climbing above the snow line (and the cloudbase) and views looking down on aircraft landing at Salzburg airport when the clouds parted.

I also remember being overtaken by the local service bus when we were trying a fast descent!

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