Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Smith & 26th Panzers
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Smith & 26th Panzers

HERO: PRIVATE ERNEST ALVIA (SMOKEY) SMITH Having crossed Italy’s Savio River on the night of Oct. 21-22, 1944, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada’s ‘C’ Company and newly formed tank-hunting platoon cut the Cesena–Ravenna road alongside a badly damaged church. The force numbered just 50 men. Twenty were tank hunters, heavily armed with four PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank) launchers. Among these men was 30-year-old Private Ernest Alvia (Smokey) Smith. His nickname harkened back to school sprinting races where he always “smoked” the competition. Just as the ambush was set, a 26th Panzer Division armoured column approached. The Germans retreating from Cesena expected a clear run. Instead, the lead command car was shot up and the column’s officer killed. That left three Panther t...
Heroes and Villains
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains

HERO: MALALA YOUSAFZAI On Oct. 9, 2012, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai was returning from school when a man jumped onto the van’s tailboard and shouted, “Who is Malala?” One of three bullets fired struck Yousafzai in the left side of the head, rendering her unconscious. The shooting was the culmination of Yousafzai’s refusal to be silenced by Taliban oppression. Four years earlier, Yousafzai had given her first speech protesting forced school closures, entitled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” It was a courageous but dangerous defiance of the Taliban, the Sunni Islamic political movement and military organization which had overrun Pakistan’s Swat Valley in July 2007. Led by Mullah Fazlullah, 4,500 militants had captured key villages, killed local leaders ...
Eisenhower & Rommel
Heroes And Villains

Eisenhower & Rommel

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER In the end, everything depended on the weather. On the evening of June 3, 1944—with 150,000 men, nearly 12,000 aircraft and almost 7,000 sea vessels awaiting his command—Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower had to measure the reliability of his chief meteorologist. The Normandy invasion was to have launched on June 5, but now Group Captain J.M. Stagg predicted that a storm would create seas too rough for launching landing craft and thick clouds would prevent the preparatory air bombardment. Reluctantly, Eisenhower decided on a day’s postponement. The following evening, a Sunday, Eisenhower, his senior commanders, and Stagg’s weather team gathered again at 9:30 in the conference room of Southwick House in Plymouth on England’s southern coast. S...
Heroes and Villains: Doherty and Booth
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Doherty and Booth

Born to Irish immigrants in Wickham, Canada East, on Sept. 26, 1838, Edward P. Doherty moved to New York City in 1860. When the American Civil War erupted the following April, he immediately enlisted in the Union Army as a private. Captured at the First Battle of Bull Run, Doherty managed a daring escape and by war’s end he was a first lieutenant with the 16th New York Cavalry, a unit charged with defending Washington. Ten days after President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on Good Friday, April 14, 1865—acting on information that assassin John Wilkes Booth and accomplice David E. Herold were somewhere between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers—Doherty was sent to apprehend them. With 25 soldiers under his command and accompanied by two detectives, Doherty had little success until a f...
Heroes and Villains: Garbo & Arabel
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains: Garbo & Arabel

Juan Pujol became the most successful double agent of the Second World War, playing a critical role in D-Day’s success AGENT GARBO The brutality of the Spanish Civil War led poultry farmer and reluctant Spanish soldier Juan Pujol to despise totalitarian regimes. With the success achieved by Nazi Germany at the outset of the Second World War, Pujol wrote: “I wanted to start a personal war with Hitler. And I wanted to fight with my imagination.” Pujol resolved to serve England as a spy. British agents in Madrid, however, rebuffed all his approaches. Exasperated, to get things rolling, Pujol finally volunteered to spy on England for the Germans. Having effectively established himself as an independent double agent, Pujol set up in Lisbon and began showering the Germans with informatio...
Heroes and Villains | Foch & Erzberger
Heroes And Villains

Heroes and Villains | Foch & Erzberger

MARSHAL FERDINAND FOCH In the chill dawn of Nov. 8, 1918, Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces Marshal Ferdinand Foch waited in rail carriage #2419 for the arrival of a German delegation. Having been given command of all Allied forces on March 26, Foch had fought the German army to the brink of collapse in less than eight months. Now, on a remote railway siding in Forêt de Compiègne near Rethondes, France, he sought to end history’s most destructive war. Foch had chosen the meeting site—a siding built to accommodate a giant French railway gun—to prevent word of a possible armistice leaking out until he was ready to have it officially announced. Soon a second train halted on a parallel siding and a six-man German delegation led by Matthias Erzberger descended. Foch remained in his c...
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