Note this official Christmas card of Kaiser Wilhelm II sent to Hugh, 5th Earl of Lonsdale in 1910. The card features a portrait of the Kaiser with his first grandson Wilhelm, eldest son of the Kaiser’s heir, Crown Prince Wilhelm. The card bears the Kaiser’s handwritten greetings in English.
Although the Kaiser fled his country for exile in Holland in November 1918 and never returned to Germany, a number of his sons and grandsons remained in the Vaterland, often falling back on the “family business” of becoming Army officers.
While the Crown Prince had nominally led an Army Group in the Great War (and was held by the French as a war criminal because of it in 1945), he was blackballed and kept under close Gestapo surveillance after 1933, lest he would go on to inspire monarchists.
Ironically, the Crown Prince’s brother, Prince August Wilhelm, was allowed to serve in the SA, reaching the rank of SA-Obergruppenführer. Another brother, Prince Oskar, who had been wounded twice in the great war, was allowed to join the Wehrmacht as a “Generalmajor zur Verfügung” (Major general, unassigned). Prince Louis Ferdinand, an aviation buff, flew in the recently-restored Luftwaffe.
Further, two of the Crown Prince’s sons, Prince Hubertus– who joined the Wehrmacht in 1934 and served as an officer in the 8th Infantry Regiment– and Prince Wilhelm, the young boy seen with his grandfather at the top, saw line service in WWII. Tragically, their first cousin, Prince Oskar’s son, Prince Oskar Wilhelm Karl Hans Kuno, was killed as a lieutenant in the opening act of the conflict on 5 September 1939 at Widawka in Poland, aged 24.
Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, the former Kaiser’s favorite grandson and the former Crown Prince’s no. 1 son, died of wounds in a field hospital in Nivelles on 26 May 1940, aged 33. At the time, he was an Oberleutnant der Reserve in Kleffel’s 1. Infanterie-Division, serving as a company commander in the elite 1st Regiment.
The high profile of his death, and that of Prince Oskar Wilhelm’s death in Poland the previous September, led Hitler to issue the so-called Prinzenerlass, or “princes’ decree” which removed all of the remaining Hohenzollerns from the German military.
Nonetheless, they would not be the last of their line to die for Germany.
In 1977, Prince Louis Ferdinand Oskar Christian of Prussia, grandson of the Crown Prince and great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II, was killed while on maneuvers with the Bundeswehr, which he had joined in 1967 as a reserve officer. He was 33.
It’s a small plot of land that’s never left unguarded. The Sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are a small and exclusive group. They stand their post 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather. Hear the Sentinel’s Creed and you’ll know why. DOD video edited by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jared Bunn
The Royal Armouries this week posted a great 6-minute short film. Shot from the first-person perspective, the viewer bumps into a shotgun-equipped Local Defense Volunteer– soon to be a Home Guardsman– in late 1940.
It is pretty informative, and entertaining.
If you like the above, the National Army Museum has also been doing a similar program as part of the 75th VE Day Festival.
Check out this detail of the 1940s Tommy’s marching kit.
“THE WATCH ON THE RHINE” Occupation Duty, 1919.
Official caption: Sentry posed upon a rock at the river’s edge resting on his rifle and looking off across the water. In the background arm stacked arms of Infantry Organization and few men warming themselves about an open fire. Chief figure is Pvt. Chas. H. Purviance of 310th Radio Field Signal Battalion. Men in the background are members of 301st Engineers, Co. D. Moselle Valley, Germany, 18 January 1919.
Note the stacked M1917 Enfields complete with rarely-seen canvas breech covers. Pvt. Purviance is well kitted out with leather gloves, a wool greatcoat, M1917 Brodie helmet, and a 10-pouch belt that is apparently well-stuffed with .30-06 stripper clips at the ready.
For reference, the 301st was part of the 76th (Liberty Bell) Division, which arrived to France late in the Great War and was largely broken up and used as replacement troops for depleted units.
As a tie-in with the 50-year long West Papuan rebellion post today, the below image is of rag-tag Bougainville Revolutionary Army insurgents using some heavy hardware against local Papua New Guinea Defence Force units in 1995 during that country’s decade-long civil war.
Those with a sharp eye will notice the ordnance is a Japanese Type 96 AAA/AT 25mm cannon, a variant of the Hotchkiss 25mm GP gun that hasn’t had any spare parts or ammunition manufactured since 1945.
Leftover from WWII, the gun was reportedly scrounged from the remains of an old Japanese position and returned to working condition, fed with ammo that was in some cases dug from the jungles and beaches of yesteryear. While antiquated and no doubt cranky, it was still heavier than what the PNGDF had in terms of armored vehicles to oppose it, which amounted to some French AMX-10P APCs and French VABs.
Here we see a .32 ACP Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless self-loading pistol carried by General (later Field Marshal) Sir Gerald Templer, KG, GCB, CB, GCMG, KBE, DSO. The S/N (377681) dates to 1921 production.
Dubbed “The Smiling Tiger,” Sir Gerald commanded infantry and armored divisions, as well as the German Directorate of the Special Operations Executive, during the WWII and later went on to lead British forces during the Malayan Emergency, one of the few successful counter-insurgency operations undertaken by the Western powers during the Cold War.
He was also something of a gun buff.
The signed 1954 card in the pistol’s case reads:
“The .32 Colt revolver and ammunition, in this case, was one of about 20 purchased by me when I was GSO I (1(b)) at GHQ, BEF. It was necessary for some of my officers to/ have a small automatic in their pockets on a good many occasions. I carried this one throughout the War, and when I was High Commissioner and Director of Operations in Malaya it never left my side. It was under my pillow every night whilst I was in country, ready and cocked.”
Sir Gerald died in 1979, aged 81.