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The History of WWII Podcast - by Ray Harris Jr

The History of WWII Podcast - by Ray Harris Jr

A biweekly podcast covering the last great war. Join Ray Harris Jr as he explores World War Two in intimate detail.


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Episode 418-The Show Must Go On

As the escorting destroyers fill up with rescued crewmen, now it?s the Ohio?s turn as her engines give up the ghost. But the men in this story are determined to get her to Malta, by hook or by crook. For her fuel is the difference to whether Malta endures or surrenders to the not so tender mercies of the Axis Powers. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 417-Interview w/ Craig Nelson about his book V is For Victory

Craig Nelson's book V is For Victory has it all: FDR's early days of combatting the Great Depression, restoring faith in the country and gearing up for a war that many hoped would never come. But it was FDR putting the country on the right path that got the US ready to aid the Allies and eventually enter the war. And win it. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 416-The Terrifying Had Become Commonplace

When the sun rose on August 13th, the Axis forces in the Mediterranean knew they had one last day to stop Operation Pedestal. As such, the Axis air formations came in hot and heavy, with their normal level of accuracy. This wasn?t over yet and more ships would be lost. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 415-Ships That Sink In The Night

Within a four hour period of darkness, Pedestal will lose many ships. By morning, 7 of the 14 merchants were gone. Still if the rest can get through, then Pedestal would be considered a success. And yet, the rising sun brings whole scores of Luftwaffe planes, vying to finish off Churchill?s last hope of resupplying Malta. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 414-In the Lap of the Gods

As August 13th turns into the 14th, more ships of Pedestal are lost. Some fought bravely during their last moments, other?s not. But Adm. Syfret?s orders are that all ships are to try. And Commander Gibbs of the destroyer HMS Pathfinder and his crew enter into the history books as the ablest crew ever to sail a ship. Still, when the sun rises on August 14th, there are fewer ships to protect and fewer to protect them. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 413-I Was Always Grateful to Mussolini

The ships of Pedestal have entered The Narrows. Waiting for them are Italian E-boats that rule the night. But Keith Park, Malta?s Air Arm commander, has an ace up his sleeve. Well, at least a great poker face. Meanwhile Kesselring and the Italians argue from sun rise, past sun set on whether Adm. Da Zara?s attack fleet should have air cover. What?s the worst the planes on Malta could do to them? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 412-Courage and Cowardice

Churchill visits Stalin for the first time, only to give him bad news. There will be no Second Front in 1942. Then, back to Pedestal as the merchant ships have been scattered. The destroyers will try to round them up, but some captains don?t want to finish the trip. And the tanker Ohio is still limping towards Malta, but now she?s on her own. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 411-The Deadly Game of Dodge Bomb

As Pedestal nears the Narrows, more escorts and merchant ships are lost to Axis planes and submarines. The convoy had been laid on heavily, to make up for any anticipated losses, but the losses about to take place would strain the very reason for London even trying. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 410-Four Torpedoes Can Make All the Difference

As Force Z leaves Force X and Pedestal to their fate, Italian subs and torpedo boats line up in the narrow Sicilian Narrows to finish off the merchantmen. Adm. Burrough is confident that he can get through, until a lone but lucky Italian sub launches 4 torpedoes that changes the odds. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 409-Will This Day Never End?

It?s still August 12, 1942 and after two large attacks, the Axis now launch their main attack, that afternoon. There were to be Axis dive bombers, torpedo bombers, high level bombers, submarines and torpedo boats. A potpourri of death for the Pedestal Convoy. Yet the Allied carriers did sterling work that day. But one of them will pay the price. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 408-Operation Pedestal-One Hell of an Afternoon

The early afternoon of August 12th would be hell for the defenders of Pedestal. Several air attacks take place, in between U-boat attacks. And the Italians have their own technologically advanced surprise for the ships of Pedestal. But can they pull it off? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 407-Interview w/ Chloe Melas about Frank Murphy's book: Luck of the Draw

Chloe Melas, granddaughter of the author, comes on to discuss the book, Luck of the Draw. Frank Murphy, a navigator was shot down and became POW for 18 months. His camp was liberated by Gen. Patton. Frank Murphy will be one of the characters in Tom Hank's new series, Masters of the Air. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 406-Operation Pedestal: One Hell of a Morning

It?s August 12, 1942 and it?s a beautiful day. Which makes Axis reconnaissance flights ideal. Soon, Rome knows all it needs to and its various ships, subs and planes are sent out, all to converge on the convoy. Pedestal will need a miracle just to make it to noon. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 405-Operation Pedestal: Slow Gets You Killed

HMS Furious having delivered its Spitfires to Malta, turns around with its escort. But they are not out of danger yet. Meanwhile, as the ships of Pedestal get closer to Malta, the Allies launch several distractions. Some are a waste of time, but one gives the British an edge that a certain Italian admiral would come to loath. But surviving a war or not truly is, the luck of the draw. Check out and use promo code History, for $10 off your first purchase. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 404-Operation Pedestal: First Blood

Churchill pushes to have the largest convoy thus far, sent to Malta. Yet the Germans and Italians are ready. Before the Merchantmen and the tanker Ohio can reach Malta, they will have to survive both enemy's air forces and U-boats, not to mention Italy's cruiser squadrons. Not everyone is expected to make it through. Then again, that was expected as well. It's crunch time for Malta. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Introducing Grey History Podcasts: The French Revolution

Join me in listening to the first episode of William Clark's exploration of The French Revolution, from the Grey History Podcast. Clark goes deep and explores the grey areas around all history and certainly of Revolutionary France. The following is the episode that got the whole thing going. Prepare to binge! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 403-Rommel is Stopped in His Tracks

Rommel gathers his panzers in the south for another attack. But he has gone to the well, one time too many. Monty predicts this and plans his own cauldron trap. The question is, can the Afrika Korps be tricked into taking the bait? And for the first time, the U.S. Army Air Force helps take on The Desert Fox. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 402-Monty Sets the Stage for Rommel

Monty comes to grips with the type of fighter Rommel is and plans accordingly. More men are brought forward and a trap is set for the Axis forces. Meanwhile, Churchill brings the Allies closer together with a visit to Stalin in Moscow. The bad news is there will be no cross channel attack in 1942. The good news is that the Americans will soon land in North Africa. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 401-Interview w/ Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch: The Nazi Conspiracy & Churchill Gives British 8th Army to Monty

First, Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch come to discuss The Nazi Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. For the second episode: Auchinleck is out, Monty and Harold Alexander are in. They all know that Rommel is going to attack and soon, so Monty gets to work, ordering forward more men and telling 8th Army: We are here to win, not try. Thus all trucks on standby for a retreat, will be sent away. Meanwhile, Keith Park takes over air operations on Malta and decides, now is the time to go back on the offensive. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 400-The Second Battle of Ruweisat Ridge

Though both sides are depleted, Churchill wants Auchinleck to attack again, so he does. As not much has changed, the result is another loss of men, material and fuel, with nothing to show for it. Meanwhile, Rommel is asking for more of everything as he is so close to Cairo and finally taking North Africa for the Axis. But soon, there will be another actor on the stage as the Americans make plans to land on the African continent. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 399-The First Battle of Ruweisat Ridge

With the First Battle of El Alamein over, the two generals settle for smaller battles while their reinforcements arrive. C in C, ME Auchinleck will take a page from Rommel?s book, by forcing The Desert Fox to react to him. But then Rommel shows why he?s worth studying, by turning the tables on Ruweisat Ridge. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 398-First Battle of El Alamein

With the First Battle of El Alamein, Rommel?s building desperation clashes with Auchinleck?s determination to finally make a stand. But it?s the mistakes made by Afrika Korps that will determine the success or failure of The Desert Fox?s latest attack. Not that Rommel is ready to concede any territory he has conquered. Meanwhile, Churchill is getting more frustrated with Auchinleck. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 397-Interview w/ Iain MacGregor: The Lighthouse of Stalingrad & Prelude to The 1st Battle of El Alamein

Another 2 Episode Special! First, my interview with Iain MacGregor about his book, The Lighthouse at Stalingrad: The Hidden Truth at the Heart of the Greatest Battle of WWII. An excellent single source of the battle. Then, Prelude to the 1st Battle of El Alamein. With the coming battle at El Alamein, C in C Auchinleck knows he has to win, because Alexandria is only 70 miles or 112 kms away. If Egypt falls, then the entire Middle East is at risk. And though the Allied dispositions and forts are far from perfect, the BBC lends a hand by declaring El Alamein a fortified defensive line of the first order, which gives Rommel pause. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 396-The Battle of Mersa Matruh

As Tobruk has fallen, the next defensive line is set up at Mersa Matruh, but C in C, ME Auchinleck has little faith in Gen. Ritchie?s latest plan. Thus Auchinleck takes over the battle himself, but is frustrated by bad communications and Gen. Gott?s misreading of the situation. Please see previous episode cover for additional map. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 395-The Gazala Gallop

With Tobruk lost, 8th British Army falls back to the Egyptian border. But C in C Claude Auchinleck is still not convinced that they are safe from Rommel, so agrees to another pull back to Mersa Matruh. Gen. Ritchie sets up his defenses, but Auchinleck has another line established even further back at El Alamein. Meanwhile, Rommel?s men travel 100 miles in 24 hours and soon the two sides are face to face once again. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 394-Warrior Next Door Podcast Interview & Tobruk Has Fallen

First, Ryan Fairfield and Tony Lupo, the hosts of The Warrior Next Door Podcast return to share more clips of WWII Veterans and their experiences. The Second Episode: Now that the Battle of Gazala is over and the bulk of the 8th British Army was back along with Egyptian border, Rommel is ready to go after Tobruk. And his speed will amaze and overawe the defenders. Meanwhile, Gen. Ritchie and C in C Auchinleck think they have weeks to prepare their counter attack. But in the end, PM Churchill will receive the soul crushing news that Tobruk has fallen. The mighty British Empire was being chipped away by her enemies. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 393-Interview w/ James Shone: The Host of the Taiwan Through Time Podcast & Operation Harpoon

Two Episode Special! James Shone comes on to share what Taiwan, then Formosa was going through during, but also, before the war. Then, as Rommel prepares to surround Tobruk, Churchill and the War Cabinet decide to once again, try to get supplies to Malta. What follows is more disaster and death. The dark year that is 1942 continues. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 392: Interview w/ Dr. Paul Gill Jr. about his father?s book: Armageddon in the Arctic Ocean. 2nd Ep: Tobruk is Surrounded

First, Dr. Paul Gill Jr. comes on to talk about his dad?s book about his life and war time adventures, Armageddon in The Arctic Ocean: Up the Hawse Pipe from Galley Boy to Third Mate on a Legendary Liberty Ship in the Biggest Convoy Battle of WWII and then the North Africa campaign continues with Tobruk is Surrounded.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 391-Two Episode Special! Interview w/ Taylor Downing about his book 1942: Winston Churchill and Britain's Darkest Hour and The British 8th Army is Outfoxed

First, historian Taylor Downing comes on to talk about his new book, 1942: Winston Churchill and Britain?s Darkest Hour and then we pick up with Rommel and Ritchie battling it out in North Africa. The Desert Fox will push his men to the breaking point, but the Axis Forces will win the Battle of Gazala. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 390-The Battle of Knightsbridge Box

With the Battle of Bir Hakeem over Rommel is ready to drive on Tobruk, but first he has to get passed the Knightsbridge Box, where the 2nd and 4th Armored Brigades are waiting. What follows is mistakes by both sides, but Rommel reacts more quickly because he is with his men. Meanwhile, 8th Army Commander Ritchie is far away and has no idea what?s going on. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 389-Interview w/ Saul David about his book Devil Dogs

Historian Saul David talks about his latest book, Devil Dogs: From Guadalcanal to the Shores of Japan. King Company of the legendary 1st Marine Division will take part in 4 major battles in the Pacific; Guadalcanal, New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa. But first comes the Canal. The Marines were only meant to establish a beach head and pave the way for others to fight. Instead, they will be on Guadalcanal for 4 long months with never enough food, support or men. Still, they have a job to do, hold at all costs. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Bad Women: The Blackout Ripper Stalks London?s War-Torn Streets

Here?s a preview of Bad Women: The Blackout Ripper. Over a single week in February 1942, a depraved serial killer stalked London?s dark and WWII bomb-ravaged streets, hunting for victims in the city?s bars and clubs. Using new research from police files, court transcripts and exhaustive genealogical studies, season 2 of Hallie Rubenhold?s Bad Women reconstructs the lives of the women The Blackout Ripper brutally attacked and murdered. These were women who were dismissed as asking for trouble for choosing to lead independent lives. Bad Women: The Blackout Ripper examines what placed these women at the margins of society and why the war years were perilous for so many women. Listen to Bad Women at Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 388-The Battle of Bir Hakeem: The Redemption of French Honor

Now that the Battle of the Cauldron was over, Rommel could come for the Free French at Bir Hakeem, to his SW. With this outpost removed, Africa Corps would be free to drive to the NE and take Tobruk. But the Desert Air Force would strive mightily to save the French, now dubbed, The Fighting French. And those men, a mixed bag of nationalities would show the Nazis and the world, the heart of a warrior. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 387-The Battle of the Cauldron

Rommel anticipates British 8th Army?s attack and prepares. The attack, Operation Aberdeen is launched, but will come to a sad end. This allows Rommel to commence his own attack, scattering thousands of Allies troops before him. The Battle of the Cauldron was supposed to be the beginning of end of The Desert Fox. Instead, it will be the beginning of the end of Gen. Neil Ritchie.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 386-Damien Lewis talks about his book, Agent Josephine: American Beauty, French Hero, British Spy

Writer Damien Lewis returns to discuss his latest book about the beautiful Josephine Baker. She has found everything she wanted in France, but soon the country is over run by Nazis. Now she will be enlisted to spy for the Allies so France can, one day, return to its position as one of Europe's most powerful countries. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 385-The Cauldron

Rommel?s lunge at Tobruk causes his panzers to get trapped. So the Desert Fox changes his plans and 8th Army Commander Ritchie gives Rommel days of freedom, while the Commonwealth troops set up to push on to Libya. Rommel uses this time to attack the isolated 150th Brigade Group over and over.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 384-The English GI: A Yorkshire Schoolboy's Adventures in the US and Europe

This graphic novel by Jonathan Sandler covers the story of a young Jewish British citizen on vacation in NY when Pearl Harbor is attacked. Soon he is swept up in the US Army fighting for Uncle Sam, while his family back in Leeds worries over his safety. The story is taken from the main character?s real wartime experiences and unofficial memoir.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 383-Rommel Comes For Tobruk

The day of battle is here. Both sides have made flawed plans. The question is who can adapt faster. Still, the first phase of the Battle of Gazala goes to The Desert Fox. But there is always the question of fuel. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 382-Dale Jenkins Covers The Battles of Coral Sea and Midway

Retired Naval Officer Dale A. Jenkins, who served in the Pacific has a book coming out in December: Diplomats and Admirals. Today he sets up and examines the two battles, Coral Sea and Midway, then how their outcomes affected the rest of the Pacific War. His website is Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 381-The Battle at Gazala: The Waiting is All

As The Allies and Axis prepare for a battle at Gazala, Rommel and Gen. Ritchie both feel confident that their plan is best. Yet both sides have weaknesses: Rommel doesn?t know where all the Allied formations are and the British led forces think they have it easier in only defending their positions. Both sides will make mistakes, but who will exploit them better? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 380-The British 8th Army vs The Desert Fox

Rommel is able to take Cyrenaica back from the British 8th Army, but between his fuel issues and C in C, ME Auchinleck?s personnel changes, the two sides will stare at each other for a while. But the combat will return as North Africa?s fate will determine the future of the Middle East and the Suez Canal. It?s all or nothing, but having to deal with the Japanese Empire, now in the war, is stretching the Allies to the breaking point. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 379: Rommel Strikes Back

With the failure of Gen. Auchinleck's Operation Crusader, at the end of 1941, Rommel resupplies and heads out again, before the British can start Operation Acrobat, the drive on Tripoli. As it was a year ago, the Allies are stretched far too thin and the men are under trained and under staffed. Rommel hopes to take Cyrenaica, then Tobruk, all in preparation for a much larger offensive that will finally end the war in North Africa, Egypt and possibly, the Middle East. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 378: West Africa and Charles De Gaulle

Before moving on to Operation Pedestal and then the Eastern Front, Gen. Charles De Gaulle?s moves in West Africa have to be covered. He seeks to rebuild the French Empire by grabbing African lands that went with the Vichy Government after France fell to German forces. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 377-Iceland: A Peaceful Invasion

In this one off episode, Iceland and Greenland?s participation in the war is covered. Denmark leads these two islands to the north, but when Nazi Germany occupies Denmark, the islands are on their own. Churchill, as the First Lord of the Admiralty decides that these two islands must come under British control. But it will take American and Canadian help to pull it off, for once Hitler finds out about any talks, Berlin will react as they did in Norway, with their own invasion force. At the end is a recording of FDR and listen how he leads the American people into believing, it's only a matter of time before the US has to fight, because the Nazis are set on world domination. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 376-The Falcon of Malta

In the mold of Adrian Warburton, one George Beurling comes to Malta in July. Like Warby, George or Screwball as he is called, does not care for much for anything really, only flying and fighting. And in a short time, he will cause hell for the Axis pilots. However, Kesselring has ordered Fliegerkorps II to be given more pilots. The overwhelming air attacks on Malta are gearing up again. But this time, it will be Vice Air Marshall Keith Park leading the defense of Malta. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 375-Starvation and Betrayal

Lord Gort will have his own Quisling to deal with as a Malta youth comes ashore to spy for Mussolini. Meanwhile, another convoy is attempted, but it too will fail. Gort has no choice but to reduce rations further. His biggest fear is if the Maltese people want to give up or will his soldiers give up the fight before a massive supply convoy can finally make it through. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 374-Churchill: Malta's Patron Saint

As Field Marshall Kesselring loses some of his planes to other theaters, Malta, thanks to Churchill, gets a large influx of Spitfires. The defenders may be able to retake control of their skies, but this does nothing to bring in food, fuel and ammunition. The people of Malta are suffering and the military?s ability to project power is still weak. A convoy is desperately needed, but nothing is expected for months. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 373-Malta: A Thunderstorm of Steel

As April 1942 comes to an end, a spot of hope is dashed as the Axis continue their daily bombing of Malta. The ships and subs have been driven away, the island?s air force is weak. The only thing holding the invaders back is Malta?s AA gun crews and they are running out of ammunition. Gen. Kesselring?s plan of breaking Malta is working. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 372-Malta Loses A Hero

As Field Marshall Albert Kesselring ramps up his attacks on Malta, Adm. Andrew Cunningham and others will leave the theatre as they are beyond exhausted. Still, the fight goes on. And those still defending the island are about to experience hell on earth, for months. Kickstarter for Don't Shoot the Messenger- Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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Episode 371-Interview w/ Thomas McKenna about his book Moro Warrior

MORO WARRIOR tells the remarkable true story of the Philippine Muslim (Moro) resistance fighters of World War II?the most successful and least-known guerrillas of the Pacific Theater. It is the story of Mohammad Adil, a sword-wielding warrior chieftain commissioned as a junior officer in Douglas MacArthur?s guerrilla army while still a teenager. Confident in his secret protective powers learned from a Sufi master, Adil roamed the highland rainforests with a price on his head, attacking Japanese outposts, surviving ambushes, and gaining a reputation as a man who could not be killed. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
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