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Your choice of a WW2 combat theater



  • If you were forced to go into an active combat theater in WW2, which would it be? And which theater would you avoid?



  • The Home Front, avoid the rest  😛


  • 2018 2017 2016

    If I took my heritage into account the Eastern Front would be most appropriate.

    But that would be too brutal, I’d take my chances in North or East Africa.


  • 2019 2018 2017

    The 2nd French Armored Division. We’d liberate Paris and all the grateful mademoiselles would see me as a hero. And I’d be led by a general who could rightfully say: “It is I, Leclerc!” - though the comic effect would elude me at the time.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    Italy for the food and climate.
    Would have said Normandy as the countryside so resembles southern England and I love cider, calva, galettes and pancakes. Then remembered the French live there!


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @wittmann:

    Italy for the food and climate.

    Unfortunately, during the Second World War neither of those things were as delightful as they are in Italy today.  As the Allies fought their way through Italy in 1943 and 1944, the local population was suffering from serious food shortages; rather than being in a position to greet the Allies with generous plates of fine Italian cuisine, they were sometimes prepared to go to considerable lengths to get their hands on the famously unappetizing army rations on which the Allied troops were sustaining themselves.  If you watch the Robert Mitchum movie The Story of G.I. Joe, you’ll see what I mean; as I recall, it illustrates – to the extent that 1945 movie proprieties allowed – that GIs sometimes provided food and soap and other essential to hungry Italians, especially if the Italians in question were female, young and reasonably good-looking.  As for the weather, the same movie deliberately features long, long, long sequences in which the troops sit dejectedly for weeks on the outskirts of Monte Cassino, ankle-deep in mud and soaked in incessant rain.  Not fun at all.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ABWorsham:

    If you were forced to go into an active combat theater in WW2, which would it be? And which theater would you avoid?

    Very interesting question.  The “which theater would you avoid?” part is a bit easier to answer than the first part because, while all theatres were bad, some were worse.  I would very much want to avoid fighting in the jungle, so that would rule out the China-Burma-India theatre and the land-based component of the Southwest Pacific theatre (the naval component would be more acceptable, since I’d be fighting aboard a ship).  I’d also want to avoid the Russian front: extremely brutal winters, and extraordinarily savage and merciless fighting by both sides.  I guess my preference would be for a theatre and a terrain and a climate similar to what I’m used to, so I’d pick Continental Western Europe from D-Day onward.  But my overall preference would be to serve at sea rather than on land; if that were the case, I’d pick the Central Pacific (a theatre with a very heavy naval component, and with generally better weather than the North Atlantic).


  • Moderator

    Poland, it didn’t last very long



  • I would try to avoid the Gona-Buna area of New Guinea, that battle was fought in the worst hell hole of infective disease. The casualties from malaria, jungle rot, and typhus outnumbered battle casualties 8 to 1. U.S and Australian forces had to knockout coconut pillboxs and gravel filled barrel reinforced trenches with air power and heavy artillery.

    I would pick the Western Front 1944.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    European Theatre obviously.

    Probably Battle of Berlin on the Reich side.


  • Customizer

    Best: USN Shore Patrol in So Cal or Florida. Staff Desk Jockey stateside.

    Worst: Any U-boat patrol even in the “Happy Time”.

    Thee Worst: USMC PTO. Tied with either side in the ETO eastern front.

    Honorable Mention for Worst: North Africa.

    Exciting but Terrifying: B-17 crew member in ETO or B-29 crew member in PTO.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 '13 Moderator

    More fun: An ME163, RjPeters.
    You go up and you come down 20 mins later! Would not get eye strain trying to spot German interceptors and bored escorting bombers at 300mph for hours.

    Being in a Sub would have driven me mad too.


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @rjpeters70:

    B-29s were pretty safe, due to their altitude and the destruction of Japanese air power by the time they flew.  My understanding, at least, may be wrong.

    The relative lack of Japanese air opposition certainly helped.  The high altitude probably also helped to some degree at the time when the Americans were bombing Japan by day, but they eventually switched to low-altitude fire-bombing at night.  I don’t have detailed information on B-29 casualty rates over Japan, but my impression is that although those missions were probably safer than the B-17 missions over Germany, B-29s still managed to suffer significant battle damage.  As I recall, one of the American motivations for capturing Iwo Jima was to provide an emergency landing facility for damaged B-29s returning from Japan, and my understanding is that the Iwo Jima runways saved a considerable number of these very expensive airplanes which would not have been able to make it back to their base in the Marianas.  So evidently the Japanese did have the ability to hit at least some B-29s, either by fighter attack or with flak from anti-aircraft guns.



  • The Japanese used phosphorus bombs against heavy bombers with mixed results. The Japanese also used fighters to ram heavy bombers.


  • 2018 2017 2016

    I´ll go with Normandy '44, Africa E-'42 ,Caucasus '42 and France '40.

    To Avoid Battle of Sevastopol '44, Stalingrad '42,'43, Kurland '44,'45.

    Normandy - Panzer Lehr
    Africa - DAK 21. PD
    Caucasus (Kuban-Brückenkopf) - 1st Panzerarmee
    France - 7th PD

    As Ally:
    Normandy - 82nd or 101 U.S. Airborne
    Ardennes - 101

    To Avoid:

    Pacific, Stalingrad and anything with Snow!(Except Ardennes 8-))



  • USN in the Pacific. I’d serve aboard a ship (preferably one that doesn’t get hit by a kamikaze).



  • @DarthShizNit:

    The Home Front, avoid the rest�  😛

    If you are a Russian with that view Uncle Joe may send you to the Siberia for “reeducation”.  😢



  • @ABWorsham:

    @DarthShizNit:

    The Home Front, avoid the rest� � 😛

    If you are a Russian with that view Uncle Joe may send you to the Siberia for “reeducation”. � 😢

    Good thing I’m a god fearing American  :lol:


  • 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    @ABWorsham:

    @DarthShizNit:

    The Home Front, avoid the rest

    If you are a Russian with that view Uncle Joe may send you to the Siberia for “reeducation”.

    Stalin might not have had to do so.  For the Russians, being on the home front wasn’t much better than being on the front lines.  There’s a chapter in Richard Overy’s book Why The Allies Won which discusses the harsh regimentation to which Soviet factory workers were subjected during WWII, including one scene that describes a shift change in which lines of (female, if I recall correctly) workers are being marched into their workplace – an unheated factory in the middle of winter – under the watchful eyes of an escort of armed guards.  Home front workers were for most practical purposes regarded as being soldiers at war, and they could be shot for desertion if they failed to show up for work (or even, I think, if they failed to meet their production quotas).



  • @DarthShizNit:

    @ABWorsham:

    @DarthShizNit:

    The Home Front, avoid the rest� �� 😛

    If you are a Russian with that view Uncle Joe may send you to the Siberia for “reeducation”. �� 😢

    Good thing I’m a god fearing American  :lol:

    You’re awesome brother.



  • USN fleet aviator in the Pacific.  Something about flying off and back onto carriers has always fascinated me.  Besides, it beats slogging it out on islands like my USMC relatives did.



  • From what I have read the entire past time for Germans/Finnish and Russians on the Northern Eastern front was wood cutting. Spring and Summer was spent on patrols and splitting firewood for the long upcoming winter.



  • Least desirable

    I think being a Russian infantryman fighting in the winter war would have been just terrible conditions.

    Followed closely by being a marine left to fend for myself on Guadalcanal for several months.
    (Or pelelieu for that matter)
    Honorable mention would be a german infantryman in dec of 41 outside Moscow…not only are you miserable, but you can actually see the kremlin…and that’s the closest you’ll ever get.

    Most “desirable”

    Being a TD crewman under Creighton Abrams

    Or being a grunt with either the US 1st or 3rd infantry divisions since I’ve actually served in combat with those units already. Good, solid regular grunt infantry divisions. Nothing fancy, just guts and a lot of combat experience.

    Honorable mention would be a Brit fighter pilot during the Battle of Britain.



  • It seems clear to me that the choice of theatre depends on what one would hope to accomplish.

    If I were seeking glory (assuming I would survive the conflict), as a citizen of the USA I would select Normandy, or maybe Bastogne.

    If I were seeking to help enact victory (assuming my presence could somehow do this such), probably I would choose one of the turning points of the war.  The naval battle of Midway or Guadalcanal would be tempting…but I under this assumption I would choose the battle of Wake Island because it was possible for a US victory.  Had this happened, a naval turning point 6 months earlier than the battle of Midway, I presume the Pacific war could have ended 6 month sooner…though of course the necessary surrender of Japan might still have required the A-bomb.

    If I were seeking to survive the war, I would definitely want something like the US coast guard defending the Panama canal.  Nice and quiet with no casualties.



  • @221B:

    It seems clear to me that the choice of theatre depends on what one would hope to accomplish.

    If I were seeking glory (assuming I would survive the conflict), as a citizen of the USA I would select Normandy, or maybe Bastogne.

    If I were seeking to help enact victory (assuming my presence could somehow do this such), probably I would choose one of the turning points of the war.  The naval battle of Midway or Guadalcanal would be tempting…but I under this assumption I would choose the battle of Wake Island because it was possible for a US victory.  Had this happened, a naval turning point 6 months earlier than the battle of Midway, I presume the Pacific war could have ended 6 month sooner…though of course the necessary surrender of Japan might still have required the A-bomb.

    If I were seeking to survive the war, I would definitely want something like the US coast guard defending the Panama canal.  Nice and quiet with no casualties.

    You should be careful about using the word glory and war in the same sentence. They don’t belong together. There is nothing glorious about combat in the least. Just pain, misery, death, and loss…even to the “winner” if there is such a thing.


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