Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Andrei The WW2 Historical perspective challenge

So - World War 2 was a while ago now. For my kids the Battles of El Alamein and Kursk might just as well be the Battle of Thermopylae. So it goes, things get forgotten as newer events take priority - my youngest studied the 1981 Springbok tour last year - like that's important when compared to El Alamein in Kiwi national consciousness. Kiwis fought and died at El Alamein - what's a minor civil disorder compared with that?

Got me thinking though - El Alamein is more on Kiwi's radar than Kursk despite Kursk being fought on a scale that dwarfed El Alamein. At Kursk German casualties alone well outnumbered the total number of men the Germans had on the field at El Alamein. They may have exceeded 500,000 according to some sources. Kursk was a super battle fought on a super scale.

But since there were probably no New Zealanders on the field at Kursk and a great many at El Alamein it is only natural as well as right and proper that the latter battle has a higher profile here

This quiz is about people who were major players in those years and events that were highly significant to the eventual outcome - but depending on where you come from they may be people and events you never even heard of. Some will be easy enough but not most.

Are you willing to take the challenge and learn something about perspective along the way. Who can get the highest score? Will it be that which has been covered in Hollywood movies that will predominate in what you know?

Question 1: Can you name these allied commanders above? Four points, one for each name.

Question 2: Where was the Battle of Kasserine Pass fought? Name two notable features about it? Four points, two for the country in which it was fought, or one if only the theatre is answered.

Question 3: Where was the Battle of Khalkhin Gol fought and when? Who were the combatants? Extra point for explaining the significance of this battle to the Second World War. Six points.

Question 4: Can you name the two American Generals to the left, both of whom held the exalted rank of five star general though one of them not until after the war. A point for each

Question 5: Which Nation's troops fought the German Army during the Battle of the Scheldt? Who was their commander? Two points.

Question 6: Where is Lake Ladoga and what significancant role did it play during the years 1941-1944? Two points

4 comment(s):

Anonymous said...

1)Mongomery, Eisenhower, Zhukov, De Gaul
2)Tunisia, the first time US and German forces met but blank on notable feature #2.
3)Educated guesswork because I can see the point you're making: Russia v Japan which would make the location Mongolia and the significance that it was the first time Japan's advance was halted?
4)Douglas MacArthur and Omar Bradley
5)I know that's the river through Antwerp but blank on the answers you want.
6)Finland - it was a supply route in to Leningrad during the siege

As a reference point, I'm a pom, not a Kiwi and I've seen "The World at War" half a dozen times.

Grant Michael McKenna said...

1] Field Marshal Sir Bernard Law Montgomery, Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight David Eisenhower and General Charles de Gaulle seen in Berlin in May of 1945.
2] Tunisia; first major engagement between US and German forces. US doctrine regarding air and artillery support was completely revised, Time on Target barrages began being developed, changes were made to their unit organisation- although they stuck with Tank Destroyers, regrettably. Divisional tactics were redeveloped as well; the US Army switched to the British system of a division working as a unit [and avoided the British problem of regiments not being trained together].
3] The Russian Eastern Front- where the Soviet satellite Mongolia and the Empire of Japan's Manchukuo clashed [with their allies]. Where Zhukov made his name, and the Japanese learnt nothing.
4] Generals of the Army Douglas MacArthur and Omar Bradley; I see that Bradley has the five stars, so I guess that this is in 1950, or early 1951.
5] The massive battle to free northern Belgium and the southern Netherlands from the Nazis, led by the Canadians, in end 1944.
Kiwiana link: the Germans smashed everything as they retreated, vandalising people's homes and their crockery, resulting in a practice in immediate post-war Netherlands of taking crockery to dinner parties. Immigrants to NZ in the post-war period were often confused by the 'bring a plate' request common in NZ...
6] Was part of Finland, taken by Russia and kept during the Continuation War. The Finns that were there were forced to leave.

Anonymous said...

1. Bernard Montgomery, Russian general?, Eisenhower and De Gaul.

Blanks for the rest.

Psycho Milt said...

Didn't have any problem with 1,2,4 and 6 but knew Khalkhin Gol only as "Soviet Union vs Japs in Mongolia around 1939" so didn't make the connection, and wasn't familiar with the Scheldt.

People in western countries generally know next to nothing of the major theatre of WW2, ie Axis vs Soviet Union. As you say, it's unsurprising that NZers focus on the bits we actually fought in, but duplicated across the other western allies it leads to a weirdly distorted view of the war, which was apparently mainly fought in the Mediterranean and western Europe, with some sideshows off in the east.

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