The 44th bound volume of After the Battle (issues 173-176) again features a wide mix of stories from around the globe.
From the Mediterranean Theatre come two fascinating battle stories. Jeff Plowman tells the story of the handful of Matilda tanks that were deployed in the defence of Crete against the German airborne invasion of May 1941. By following the fate of each of the nine tanks, he gives a new perspective to this well-known battle. Then Jean Paul Pallud puts the spotlight on another Mediterranean island, describing a farlesser- known battleground. The Isle of Elba has the rare distinction of having been invaded and captured twice in the space of nine months - first by German airborne troops in September 1943 and then by a full-fledged French amphibious invasion force in June 1944.
From occupied France comes the story of the heroic but futile uprising by French resistance forces assembled on the mountain plateau of the Vercors in south-eastern France in the summer of 1944. Seven weeks into the rebellion, the Germans intervened and launched the largest anti-partisan operation ever conducted in Western Europe, attacking with airborne and mountain troops to destroy the insurgency.
From the Western front come two combat stories. Jim Sudmeier and Jerome Leclerc reconstruct how the Third Army headquarters of General George S. Patton, then set up in the French city of Nancy, became the target of heavy German railway guns in October 1944, one of the rounds coming dangerously close to hitting the private residence of the Army Commander himself. Then Karel Margry describes the military operations that led to the capture of the German city of Trier by the US 10th Armored Division in March 1945. This was only made possible because Patton, after having wrangled the 10th Armored from SHAEF reserve, disobeyed strict orders not to use it beyond the Saar river, let alone to have it advance on Trier.
The Pacific theatre features in two main stories. Phil Bradley recounts the little-known battle for Salamaua, a port town on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea. For nine months in 1943, Australian and American forces were locked in bitter jungle battle with the Japanese for possession of this strategically placed settlement. Then from the 1945 battle of Iwo Jima comes the startling story of how - over 70 years after Joe Rosenthal took the famous photo of the six Marines raising the Stars and Stripes over Mount Suribachi - the identities of the men in the picture needed to be revised: one man was not in the image at all; another marine was in fact in a different position in the line-up, and in his place stood a hitherto completely-unknown Marine. The photo material was there to give irrefutable proof.
Smaller stories include a detailed description of the World War II harbour defences of the New Zealand port of Wellington; the tale of Irena Sendler, a Polish nurse who was instrumental in smuggling out an unbelievable 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto, rescuing them from certain death; the story of how the graves of two US servicemen, both killed in action in Czechoslovakia, were accidentally mixed up, causing one man to become listed as MIA and the other to be buried under the wrong name; a crime story detailing the murder of a German soldier by a group of diehard-Nazi fellow-prisoners in the POW camp at Comrie in Scotland in late 1944, which led to the hanging of six culprits, the largest mass execution in British history since 1883; the account of a grim mass murder of Soviet POWs by the Gestapo in the city of Hannover in the final days of the war; and the story of the dissolution of the Luftwaffe after the end of hostilities.