Who was David Niven?

Introduction James David Graham Niven (01 March 1910 to 29 July 1983) was an English actor, memoirist and novelist. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Major Pollock in Separate Tables (1958). Other noted roles included Squadron Leader Peter Carter in A Matter of Life and Death, Phileas Fogg in… Read More


What were Barrier Troops?

Introduction Barrier troops, blocking units, or anti-retreat forces were military units that were located in the rear or on the front line (behind the main forces) to maintain military discipline, prevent the flight of servicemen from the battlefield, capture spies, saboteurs and deserters, and return troops who fled from the battlefield or lagged behind their… Read More

What was the 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS?

Introduction The 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (German: 36. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS) – also known as the Dirlewanger Brigade, the SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger (1944), or Black Hunters – was a unit of the Waffen-SS during World War II. The unit, named after its commander Oskar Dirlewanger, consisted of convicted criminals who were not expected… Read More

What was a Strafbataillon?

Introduction Strafbataillon (English: “penal battalion”) is the generic term for penal units that were created from prisoners during the Second World War in all branches of the Wehrmacht. Soldiers, criminals and civilians sentenced to those units were generally poorly armed and required to undertake dangerous high-casualty missions. The Strafbataillon were operated and administered by the… Read More

What was Order No. 227?

Introduction Order No. 227 (Russian: Приказ № 227}, romanised: Prikaz No. 227) was an order issued on 28 July 1942 by Joseph Stalin, who was acting as the People’s Commissar of Defence. Refer to World War II, Shtrabats, Barrier Troops, and Strafbataillon. It is known for its line “Not a step back!” (Ни шагу назад!,… Read More

What were Shtrafbats?

Introduction Shtrafbats (Russian: штрафбат, штрафной батальон) were Soviet penal battalions that fought on the Eastern Front in World War II (refer to Barrier Troops). The shtrafbats were greatly increased in number by Joseph Stalin in July 1942 via Order No. 227 (Директива Ставки ВГК №227). Order No. 227 was a desperate effort to re-instil discipline… Read More

Who was R.J. Mitchell?

Introduction Reginald Joseph Mitchell CBE, FRAeS, (20 May 1895 to 11 June 1937) was a British aircraft designer who worked for the Southampton aviation company Supermarine from 1920 to 1936. He is best remembered for designing racing seaplanes such as the Supermarine S.6B, and the Supermarine Spitfire. Born in Butt Lane, Staffordshire, Mitchell attended Hanley… Read More