Cleaning up after WWII

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, I receive from time to time suggestions for topics. These are wide-ranging but two in particular seem very popular: WWII weapons in the Vietnam War, which has been touched on several times; and a general question of how the world “cleaned up” WWII battlefields after the war. For the latter, I was surprised at how very little is written about it so perhaps this will be of interest.

One of the reasons WWII battlefields did not remain littered with vehicles for long was that, with the lone exception of the USA, all of the major warring powers made some official level of combat usage of captured enemy arms during WWII. The most formal was Germany’s Beutewaffe (literally, ‘booty’ or ‘loot’ weapon) effort, which encompassed everything from handguns to fighter aircraft with an official code in the Waffenamt system; for example FK-288(r) (the Soviet ZiS-3 anti-tank gun), SIGew-251(a) (the American M1 Garand rifle), and Sd.Kfz 735(i) (the Italian Fiat M13/40 tank). Captured gear was assembled at points called Sammelstelle and then shipped back from the front lines for disposition.

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Panzers in the Golan Heights

The last appearance by WWII German tanks on the world’s battlefields came in 1967, when Syria’s panzer force faced off against modern Israeli armor. Quite improbably, Syria had assembled it’s collection of ex-Wehrmacht vehicles from a half-dozen sources over a decade and a half timeframe.

Panzer4captured2

(Syrian army Panzer IV tank)

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Happy Independence Day

For my readers in the USA, I would like to extend wishes for a Happy Independence Day, 4 July 2016, as we celebrate 240 years of our nation.

Untitled

(A nest of US Navy amphibious ships serving the occupation force at the former Imperial Japanese Navy base at Yokosuka on 4 July 1946, the first post-WWII Independence Day celebration. Most of these ships were soon scrapped but LSM-159 and LSM-439 were later transferred to the nationalist Chinese navy.)

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all readers of wwiiafterwwii.

zelima

(The stores ship USS Zelima (AF-49) supplying food to the destroyers USS Sproston (DD-577) and USS Nicholas (DD-449) after WWII.)

USS Zelima had been launched as a merchant ship during WWII but completed as a stores ship, commissioning 16 July 1945. After WWII, USS Zelima participated in the Korean War and then the Vietnam War, including the 1969 Tet Offensive. USS Zelima decommissioned in 1969 and was mothballed at the Suisun Bay, CA reserve fleet anchorage. The WWII veteran was never recalled to duty and was sold to Levin Metals in November 1981.

USS Sproston commissioned on 19 May 1943 and fought in WWII. After the war, the destroyer continued in service and was finally decommissioned on 30 September 1968. The WWII veteran was sold as scrap in December 1971 and towed to Taiwan for dismantling in 1972.

USS Nicholas commissioned on 4 June 1942 and fought in WWII including the 1943 Solomon Islands campaign, where the destroyer won a Presidential Unit Citation. In 1944 USS Nicholas sank the Japanese submarine IJN I-38 which itself was carrying Kaiten suicide-attack manned torpedoes. After WWII, USS Nicholas fought in the Korean War where the destroyer earned a South Korean Presidential Citation; making the ship decorated by heads-of-state of two nations. USS Nicholas received a FRAM II upgrade and fought in the Vietnam War, and finally served in NASA Apollo spacecraft recovery missions. The WWII veteran USS Nicholas finally decommissioned 30 January 1970 and was scrapped in Portland, OR later that year.

Below is USS Zelima‘s Christmas 1953 menu.

Zelimachristmas

Happy Independence Day

For my readers in the USA, I would like to extend wishes for a Happy Independence Day, 4 July 2015, as we celebrate 239 years of our nation.

(The WWII-veteran battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) on Independence Day, 4 July 1963, in mothballs at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, WA. Her WWII and Korean War experiences are already past, with combat in Desert Storm decades in the future. The domes, which US Navy sailors called “igloos” or “cocoons”, were plastic structures developed in the late 1940s to preserve secondary guns aboard mothballed WWII warships. The radars have been removed ashore for storage and the bridge windows boarded up.)

july4th

World War II after World War II

There are obviously many websites on WWII weapons, and many on post-war weapons, but I have always been fascinated with WWII weapons being used after the war.

Comments, additions, and corrections are always welcome. All images are believed to be public domain; if not please let me know and I will give due copyright credit.