Japanese Marines in WW2

The Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF) were the Japanese marines used during World War II by the Imperial Japanese Navy. Created in 1928 as standing naval regiments, the SNLF received its baptism of fire in 1932, in the Battle of Shanghai, at the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War. The Japanese marines were highly-trained in jungle warfare and coastal defense as they were also intensely-indoctrinated in the idea that their main duty was to die for their emperor if necessary. During World War II, they participated in the invasion and conquest of the Philippines, the Solomon, Gilberts, and Mariana Islands, as well as New Guinea and Malay. A SNLF’s soldier was the toughest Japanese warrior the Allied troops had to confront in the Pacific Theater during the Island-Hopping Campaign. Organized around 23 regiments, they constituted a force of approximately 250,000 men. Some units were also trained as air-borne troops.

Weapons used by the Japanese Marines

Tanks: Type 89 medium tank, Type 95 light tank; Type 2, Type 3, and Type 5 amphibious tanks; Type 92 heavy armored car.

Machine guns: Type 92 (7.7-mm), Type 3 (6.5-mm), Hotchkiss (13.2-mm).

Submachine guns: Type 100 (8-mm).

Rifles: Arisaka (6.5-mm, bolt-action).

Other weapons: knee mortar (50-mm), flamethrowers, grenade launchers, Nambu pistols.

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Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces in Action (video)

7th Panzer Division

The 7th Panzer Division, known in German as the “Gespensterdivision” (Phantom Division), was a special armored army unit of the Wehrmacht. It was created in late 1939, after the German Polish Campaign, with elements of the Panzer Corps that had successfully participated in the invasion of Poland. On February 15, 1940, Adolf Hitler named Erwin Rommel commander of the 7th Panzer Division. From May 10 to June 20, 1940, it would take part in the Battle of France. It was during this military campaign that this unit became known as the Phantom Division since it advanced so rapidly, tearing out gaps in the French defensive lines as it went, that the German High Command lost contact with its commander and almost nobody knew exactly where the 7th Panzer Division tanks were.

In August 1943, right after the Battle of Kursk, the Gespensterdivision would be redeployed on the Eastern Front, under the command of Hasso von Manteuffel. It ferociously fought against Soviet forces in the Ukraine, taking part in the Fourth Battle of Kharkov as its tanks would attempt to stop the Soviet offensive under Zhukov in Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev. Although the 7th Panzer Division was forced to retreat from Kharkov, as it was overwhelmed in number, it did succeed in bringing the Russian Army to a halt for a while. In January 1944, Manteuffel would be replaced by General Adelbert Schulz as commander of the Phantom Division, which would continue to take part in the fierce fighting on the Eastern Front. The Division’s last commander was Colonel Hans Christern, from March 26, 1945, to May 8, 1945.

7th Panzer Division’s Weapons

During the Battle of France, this unit was equipped with Panzer I, II, III tanks, Marder II and III tank-destroyers, and Schützenpanzerwagen SdKfz 250 and 251, and other halftracks. When the Division was transferred to the Eastern Front, in 1943, it was issued with Panzer IV and the new Panzer V (Panther) tanks. The latter was armed with the powerful 7.5-cm KwK 42 L/70 tank gun. Hetzer and Jagdpanzer IV tank-destroyers were also issued to this unit in late 1943. In 1944, the 7th Panzer Division would be augmented with Tiger I tanks.

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WWII US Marines

During World War II, the US Marines fought in the Pacific Theater of Operations against Japanese troops, taking part in the island-hopping campaign that began in August 1942, with the American invasion of Guadalcanal, and finished in June 1945, with the victory over the Japanese troops on Okinawa. Thus, in almost all the military engagements in the Pacific, the brave Marines were the invading and attacking force, with the grim task of having to flush out and annihilate fanatical Japanese soldiers stubbornly ingrained in bunkers, pillboxes, and hill caves. For this job, they not only had be highly trained, but tenacious and resolute human fighting machines.

They put their lives on the line for their country as they landed under heavy artillery and machien gun fire. They were pinned down on sandy and volcanic ash beaches, but they were never thrown back into the sea. Their fighting tour of the Pacific included the following island groups: the Solomons (Guadalcanal), Gilberts (Tarawa), Marshalls (Kwajalein and Eniwetok), Marianas (Saipan, Guam, and Tinian), Palaus (Peleliu and Angaur), Volcanic Islands (Iwo Jima), and Ryukyu (Okinawa). Six United States Marine divisions, each composed of approximately 14,000 men, participated in the Pacific theater campaign. However, no US Marine units were deployed in Europe and did not fight against German forces.

List of US Marine Units that Fought in WWII

– 1rst Marine Division (Battles of Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, and Okinawa)

– 2nd Marine Division (Battles of Tulagi, Tarawa, Saipan, and Tinian)

– 3rd Marine Division (Battles of Guam and Iwo Jima)

– 4th Marine Division (Battles of Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian, and Iwo Jima)

– 5th Marine Division (Battle of Iwo Jima)

– 6th Marine Division (Battles of Saipan and Okinawa)

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The bloodiest battle the US Marines ever fought (video)

Medieval Knights

The armored knights were the elite fighting men of medieval Europe. With their horses, armor, lances, and swords, they were both costly warriors and a figure with high cultural and social prestige. Although warfare rarely lived up to the ideal of mounted nobles clashing in chivalrous combat, knights were highly skilled soldiers who adapted well to the constantly evolving challenges of the medieval battlefield. In the 12th century, knights of the Christian kingdoms in Palestine formed military monastic orders such as the Knights Templar. Obeying austere religious rules, these fighting monks became elite forces dedicated to the struggle against the invading Islam. Named after the Temple in Jerusalem where they had their headquarters, the Templars accumulated wealth that attracted the envy of kings. The order was condemned for alleged heresy and suppressed in 1312.

Medieval society expected any young male of social standing to seek glory in war. Training was taken very seriously. Boys served first as pages and then as squires in the household of a knight who ensured their education in horsemanship and the use of the sword and lance. After graduation to knighthood, training continued through tournaments that honed fighting skills, and through more or less constant warfare. If there was no fighting to be had close to home, knights would seek it out, traveling to the edges of the Christian world to fight the “infidels.” The classic form of knightly combat was the charge with couched lance on horseback. But knights were also effective on foot, wielding swords, maces, or battle-axes. The code of chivalry to which knights subscribed expressed a Christian ethic of warfare, but in practice the plundering, skirmishing, and sieges of medieval warfare left little place for idealism. In the relatively rare pitched battles, knights were sometimes routed by disciplined foot soldiers or bowmen, but they remained a dominant force into the 16th century. Fought in August 1346, the Battle of Crécy was one of the encounters that questioned knights’ dominance on the battlefield. Although French and English knights did engage with lance and sword, the flower of French chivalry was mown down by Welsh longbow men.

Landsknecht

The garishly dressed, swaggering mercenary bands known as the Landsknecht were founded in 1486 by the German Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I, who wanted his own infantry force to match the Swiss pikemen who had been victorious at the battles of Murten and Nancy in 1476–77. Officially, the Landsknecht were bound to serve the emperor, but the lure of pay and plunder soon led many of them to seek alternative employers. Feared and admired, they were a ubiquitous presence on European battlefields in the first half of the 16th century. Together with the Spanish Tercio, these German fighters were the fiercest warriors in Europe.

The core of the Landsknecht battlefield formation was a phalanx of pikemen, supported by skirmishers armed with crossbows and harquebuses and, in the van, the regiment’s best soldiers armed with two-handed swords. On the battlefield, the Landsknecht were disciplined and courageous but, when their wages were not paid, they gained a reputation for mutiny and plundering. Individual mercenary captains were contracted to recruit, train, and organize regiments about 4,000 strong. The majority of recruits came from German-speaking areas, although some hailed from as far afield as Scotland. They were tempted by pay of four guilders a month, a good income for the time, but they had to supply their own equipment. Only the better off could afford full armor or an harquebus. The weapon of the majority was the pike, 15 or 20 ft (5 or 6 m) long, and costing around one guilder.

In 1525, at the Battle of Pavia, during the Italian Wars, the Landsknecht Black Band, employed by French King Francis I, fought to the last man, being defeated by the Spanish Tercio Infantry of Charles V (I of Spain), while the rest of the French forces fled the field. However, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, hired their services after this war, and, in 1527, during a conflict between the Emperor and the Pope, the Landsknecht and Spanish forces occupied and looted Rome, wreaking havoc as they went. The occupation lasted nine months, with the mercenaries refusing to leave until they had been paid.

Roman Legionary

The Roman legionary was a professional soldier engaged for 20 years active service plus five years lighter duties as a veteran. Legionaries were recruited from Roman citizens, mostly volunteers from the poorer classes. They were organized into centuries of 100 men, led by a centurion. Six centuries made a cohort and ten cohorts a legion. The system encouraged group loyalty at every level. Rigorous training and daily drill made the Roman legionary a disciplined, hardened fighting man. He was trained to march 20 miles (322 km) in eight hours and to fight with absolute ruthlessness. Drawn up for battle, legionaries waited until the enemy was almost upon them before throwing their pilum (spear), then attacking with the gladius (short sword). Punishments for lapses of discipline were brutal—a man who slept on guard was clubbed to death by his colleagues. On retirement, the legionary received a plot of land or a lump-sum payment in recognition of his service.

The roman army of the 1st century AD held together an empire stretching from Britain to North Africa, and from Spain to the Middle East. The majority of the soldiers of the Roman legions were armored infantry. Stationed in fortresses, forts, and camps around the empire, the legionaries acted as police, administrators, construction workers, and engineers, and carried out duties that ranged from patrols to full-scale wars. Roman legionaries could be classified as combat engineers, for construction work was as much a part of their duties as fighting. Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches across 73 miles (118 km) of northern England, was built by legionaries in the early 2nd century. Marking the northern limit of the Empire, the wall and its forts were manned by the legions for over 250 years.

When the Roman Empire was at its height, legionaries wore simple bronze helmets and segmented armor (lorica segmentata). Under the armor, they had a belted tunic and, on their feet, sturdy metal-studded sandals. The ability of the Roman state to equip all its soldiers with armor and helmets contrasted with the Empire’s "barbarian" enemies. As weapons, the legionary carried the gladius and the pilum and were protected by a rectangular infantry shield called scutum.