World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

Blitzkrieg
From Wikipedia
Blitzkrieg (German, "lightning war")  is an anglicised word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken, proceeding without regard to its flank. Through constant motion, the blitzkrieg attempts to keep its enemy off-balance, making it difficult to respond effectively at any given point before the front has already moved on.

During the interwar period, aircraft and tank technologies matured and were combined with systematic application of the German tactics of infiltration and bypassing of enemy strong points. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Western journalists adopted the term blitzkrieg to describe this form of armoured warfare. Blitzkrieg operations were very effective during the campaigns of 1939–1941. These operations were dependent on surprise penetrations (e.g. the penetration of the Ardennes forest region), general enemy unpreparedness and an inability to react swiftly enough to the attacker's offensive operations. During the Battle of France, the French, who made attempts to re-form defensive lines along rivers, were constantly frustrated when German forces arrived there first and pressed on.

Academics since the 1970s have questioned the existence of blitzkrieg as a coherent military doctrine or strategy. Many academic historians hold the idea that the German armed forces adopted "blitzkrieg" as an offensive doctrine to be a myth. Others continue to use the word to describe the style of breakthrough warfare practised by the Axis powers of this period, even if it were not a formal doctrine. The concepts of Blitzkrieg form the basis of present-day armoured warfare.

The "Stuka" dive-bomber was used extensively in Blitzkrieg operations
The classic interpretation of blitzkrieg is that of German tactical and operational methodology in the first half of the Second World War that was often hailed as a new method of warfare. The word, meaning "lightning war", in its strategic means is associated with a series of quick and decisive short battles to deliver a knockout blow to an enemy state before it could fully mobilize. The tactical meaning of blitzkrieg involves a coordinated military effort by tanks, mobilized infantry, artillery and aircraft, to create an overwhelming local superiority in combat power, to overwhelm an enemy and break through its lines.

Blitzkrieg as used by Germany had considerable psychological, or as some writers call, "terror" elements, such as the noise-making sirens on the Junkers Ju 87 dive-bombers to affect the morale of enemy forces. The devices were largely removed when the enemy became used to the noise, after the Battle of France in 1940, bombs sometimes having whistles attached instead. It is also common for writers to include psychological tactics behind the line, using Fifth columnists to spread rumours and untruths among the civil population in the theatre of operations.
British armoured car and motorcycle at the Battle of Megiddo (1918), allowing for rapid mobile warfare.

Roots of German military methods

During the First World War, on the Western front, the two sides had been locked in a trench war, where kill zones by overlapping fire of machine guns and barbed wire prevented either side from breaking through. The British introduced the tank as invulnerable to machine gun fire, and able to cross trenches and breach barbed wire, to lead men across the battlefield. The British had been able to penetrate German lines this way, but not enough tanks were made before the war ended. The Germans had therefore first-hand experience of the potential of tanks to change the battlefield. Where the allied armies were slow to deploy and study the tank in the inter-war years, the German army was very eager to study and master this new technology.