The 'Big Ben' Rocket Campaign

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23 June 2021
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PRISONER OF WAR ESCAPERS: how the Germans viewed the efforts of British escapers from a German POW camp.

AN IRON ROOF
German Flak defences of the Reich proved formidable for the combined forces of RAF and USAAF aircraft and crews, upon whom the gunners exacted a terrible toll. Marc Garlasco tells how the Flakartillerie fought with determination until the final moments of the war.

SEETHING CAULDRON
With the capitulation of Germany in 1918, the nation descended into a spiral of armed revolution and mayhem, seeing violent scenes in Berlin during what were the momentous and tumultuous events of 1919. The bloody saga of this ‘war after war’ is chronicled by Dr Immanuel Voigt.

SWISS SHADOWPLAY
When one of the Luftwaffe’s night fighters with the very latest secret equipment on board made a forced landing in neutral Switzerland, it precipitated a race between the Germans to retrieve their secrets and the Swiss to steal them. Robin Schäfer describes how both sides double-crossed the other!

BAKER’S BOY
In defending the Reich against night attacks, the Luftwaffe’s Nachtjäger fighter force achieved considerable success and saw the meteoric rise of numerous ‘ace’ crews. It also saw grievous combat and accident losses. Andy Saunders looks at the short career of just one ‘unknown’ night fighter crewman. 

CARRY ON ESCAPING
Stories of Allied POWs escaping from prison camps are legendary and a familiar genre of many post-war books that covered dramatic and famous escapes. Robin Schäfer delves into German archives to view escape attempts from the captor’s perspective. 

‘THE SPOOK OF ST TROND’
The most successful of all the Luftwaffe night fighter ‘aces’ was Heinz Wolfgang-Schnaufer. He survived the war with an astonishing 121 victories but died following a road traffic accident in France during 1950. Dr Graham Goodlad charts the career of the leading Nachtjagd ‘experte’. 

FROM THE ARCHIVES: PERCEPTIONS FROM THE BATTLEFIELD
In a new occasional series, we look at German military history through official archives. In this issue, we focus on how the German soldier saw his British and French adversaries. That perception and assessment will come as a surprise to many, but it was a view seemingly shared by a Canadian general who was captured in 1916.

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EYE-WITNESS: FALLEN EAGLES
In another new occasional series, we look at events behind eye-witness accounts from the battlefield. In this issue, a witness describes the downing of a Heinkel 111 bomber over Britain which resulted in the deaths of two high-ranking Luftwaffe officers. 

UNLOCKING HISTORY: BATTLE OF BRITAIN SOUVENIRS
Cockpit instruments taken as war souvenirs by British servicemen from two Luftwaffe aircraft shot down in 1940 unexpectedly and accidentally revealed their own intriguing histories. The clues are unravelled and interpreted by Andy Saunders.

DESIGN AND MANUFACTURE: THE IRON CROSS
In the first of a new series on the design and manufacture of German military equipment and weapons, James Dempster describes the complexities behind the design and manufacture of the Iron Cross of 1939.

‘BIG BEN 973’
Exclusively for Iron Cross magazine, brothers Sean and Colin Welch outline their forensic archaeology at the impact crater of a V2 rocket aimed at London in March 1945. What they discovered revealed much about the building of the V2, the effect of such detonations and the outcome of the V2 missile campaign.

PHOTOS FROM THE FRONT
Our featured image from colourisation artist Richard Molloy in this issue depicts a captured RAF Hawker Hurricane in Luftwaffe markings.

WAR POSTER
Our featured war poster fits with our Flak and defence of the Reich theme and depicts a German Luftshutz air raid precautions poster aimed at recruiting Hitler Youth boys into the service.

ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND AWARDS: STATE AWARDS
The system of making awards to recognise bravery or service to members of the German armed forces during the First World War was an utterly bewildering one encompassing different states and principalities and with myriad and conflicting criterion attached to the ‘qualification’ for a massive array of the available medals and decorations. Often, the awards were flamboyant and colourful and how or why specific presentations were made is little understood. For the first time, David Danner unlocks the mysteries hidden behind what were complicated systems to honour soldiers of the different German states for their heroic deeds or valuable service. 

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