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Henry F. Hollis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Henry French Hollis
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
In office
March 13, 1913 – March 3, 1919
Preceded byHenry E. Burnham
Succeeded byHenry W. Keyes
Personal details
Born(1869-08-30)August 30, 1869
Concord, New Hampshire
DiedJuly 7, 1949(1949-07-07) (aged 79)
Paris, France
Political partyDemocratic
Alma materHarvard University

Henry French Hollis (August 30, 1869 – July 7, 1949) was a United States Senator from New Hampshire, and regent of the Smithsonian Institution.

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  • ✪ The Allies Strike Back, 1941-1943: The War in the West, Vol. II
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  • ✪ 2013 Secretarial Honor Awards Ceremony


>> David Ferriero: Good afternoon. I'm David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States and it's a pleasure to welcome you here to the William G. McGowan Theater here at the National Archives. A special welcome to those of you joining us via our YouTube station and our friends at C SPAN broadcasting today. Before we hear from James Holland about his book, "The Allies Strike Back." I want to let you know of two other programs coming up here. Tuesday. October 17 at 7:00, a discussion about the recent television documentary the Vietnam War. Cokie Roberts will moderate a discussion with directors Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Our exhibit Remembering Vietnam opens November 10. In the Lawrence F.O'Brien gallery. And on Wednesday October 18th at noon, author Liza Mundy will be here to talk about her new book, Code Girls, Untold story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II. Mundy used National Archives records to uncover the story of young American women who cracked key access codes helping secure Allied victory and revolutionizing the field of cryptanalysis. Consult our monthly calendar at You'll find information about other National Archives programs and activities there. Another way to get more involved with the National Archives is to become a member of the foundation for the National Archives. The foundation supports all of our education and outreach activities and there are applications for membership in the lobby. 75 years ago Europe was engulfed in a war that that had already lasted three years. The Allies pushed back against the Axis but there was yet no end in sight of conflict. James Holland tells the story of those crucial years, In his new book, "The Allies Strike Back, 1941-1943: The War in the West, Vol. II." Follows “The Rise of Germany” published in 2015. He combed newly available archives, has read letters and diaries and conducted extensive interviews in the course of his research for this book including here at the National Archives. The World War II related holdings here are immense American military and civilian agencies involved directly or indirectly in World War II, created tens of thousands of cubic feet held by the National Archives. Thousands of photographs and motion pictures and sound recordings, civilian and military, bring us face to face with the many facets of the war and its aftermath. Maps and plans give scope and movement of the war. In our research rooms and online researchers examine operational records, personnel records and even captured German records to uncover stories of the war of people who fought, died and survived. During the 75th anniversary of World War II, the National Archives staff is ready to help those searching for evidence of what happened in the past James Holland is a historian, writer and broadcaster and has written numerous works of historical fiction. His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the Sunday Telegraph, the Times, Daily Mail and BBC History Magazine. He's written and presented the BBC documentaries "Battle of Britain" and "Dam Busters" among others. A fellow of the Royal Historical Society he advised the British government on history curriculum and has his own collection at the Imperial War Museum. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome James Holland. [Applause] >> James Holland: Thank you very much for coming. It's wonderful to be back here in this fabulous institution right at the heart of your nation's capital. So thank you. I'm going to start with this image here. I want you to try and hold on to it if you can. You're looking at a row of American Sherman tanks plus a whole lot of landing craft and landing ships. This is just before the invasion of Sicily. Operation Husky in July 1943. It shows the sort of level of military might already building by that stage. On the face it's quite an unremarkable picture. And it's kind of very much the kind of image that we have of the western Allies in World War II. One of enormous fire power, enormous material weight. And yet the road to that situation, to that point in July 1943 is a really, really extraordinary one. So let's just park that there for the moment and I'll come back at the end of my talk. But I'm also very, very interested when it comes to World War II about our assumptions. There was a huge about of assumptions when it comes to the Second World War. There's a well worn narrative and one that's pretty well entrenched. One of those is regarding the combatants themselves. For a lot of people when we're thinking of Nazi mean bad ass Nazis this is the kind of image we're thinking about. This, of course, is Yoakum Piper, the bad guy from the Battle of the Bulge and he's every person's image of the ultimate Nazi Waffen SS Panzer commander with his cleft chin. Ferociously good looking, but mean as well. Skull and crossbones on his cap at a jaunty angle and lots of black leather, to ram home the sinisterness of his appearance. Then we look at a G.I., and I love this picture because you can see that's from life magazine, August 14, 1944. So that was probably taken in July of ‘44, during the Normandy campaign. He's fit and strong and kind of doing his bit for Uncle Sam. He's got two days of stubble. When you look at just about every single Hollywood war movie that's ever been made, that's the inspiration isn't it? You can just see it. Band of brother, bridge too far, whatever it might be. Saving Private Ryan, that's the look. Then you think of Russian war heroes and you think of lethal, icy, beautiful Russian female snipers. And then you think of British war heroes and you think of Stanley Hollis with his predictably bad teeth because he's British. And then you think of this general. And then stuffy old fashioned England stuck in the past. Clinging to an empire that's long since outlived its usefulness. When we think of the Germans, this is what we think about. Those early years of the war, the German army is the best in the world, best trained, best motivated, groovy motor bikes with side cars, its got panzers. Of course it's got screaming Stuka dive bombers with their banshee wail. And even got the best small arms it's got brilliant span dials as they were known. MG 44, and MG 42, and of course Tiger tanks. We're thinking of tanks in the Second World War, big mean massive gun, lots of armor. Really scary if you come up against them. And of course, no accident that the Tiger tank is a star, albeit much the bad guy, in the Fury film. its really interesting because as a WWII historian I'm thrilled when new WWII films come out or TV series, and I was thrilled to see that there is going to be a follow-up to the Pacific , Band of Brothers about the Mighty 8th Air Force for example. I was thrilled to see Dunkirk come out and when Fury came out. I had to review this film. So I was very pumped for it. I was excited about it, not least because the director had been going on about how authentic it was and the attention to detail. Went in there with high expectations and literally the first thing I see is this quote on the side of the picture here. In World War II, American tanks are out gunned and out armored by more advanced German tanks. You just can't say that. [Laughter] Sort of what basis is that statement being made? Not an accurate one. Forgotten that more Pershings were being built than Tiger tanks. Even the tank in Fury has 76mm high velocity gun on par with the 18-millimeter gun of the Tiger tank. And there are very, very good reasons why Sherman tanks weren't as heavily armored as a Tiger tank. It's not a question about one being better or not. That is just absolute nonsense. The idea that the incredibly war material-rich American armies that were going into Germany in the end of the war in 1945 were somehow being out performed and outgunned by the Germans which were a wreck of an army by April 1945. It's absolutely nonsense. Common than Tiger tanks were were tugs like this, which is a self-propelled gun because they didn't have enough ball bearings to make rotational turrets. Does anyone know at all how many Tiger tanks were built in the war? 1,347. 492 King Tiger tanks. And then how many Sherman. That was around 49,000 and 74,000 Sherman hulls. And here is -- apologies, a British crew in this one. We in the British army liked our Sherman tanks and for me the Sherman tanks is the best tank of World War II. If you lined up a Tiger tank against a Sherman on a foot pitch, the Tiger is going to win because it's got a bigger gun and more armor. There's lots about the Sherman tanks, which worked very much in its favor. It's very simple to maintain. If you look at the bottom and look at the tracks, you can see the suspension bogeys, arms coming down on the wheels. They are on the outside, which means if anything goes wrong you can repair it easily. The transmission in a Sherman tank is four forward one back and manual. Tiger tank transmission is a six speed hydraulically powered pre-selected gear box. It's incredibly complicated. What happens when you put an 18 year old raw recruit into one of those tanks? They quickly break the gear box and then your Tiger is no good to anybody despite its powerful gun. There are all sorts of things you need to factor in.. When the Sherman came into being in 1942, the Allies were on the front foot advances. When you're advancing you're having to go across rivers and ditches and all sorts of things that the retreating enemy have blown up in their wake. How do you get across that river with the broken bridge destroyed by the retreating Germans? You put a Bailey bridge. And that's the most common one to put across? The class 40. Why is it called that? Because it can take 40 tons. No point in having anything bigger like a Pershing at this stage because it's not going to get across the river and across your bridge. Certainly not very easy. The Sherman tank is 30 tons and even with extra bits of wood, ammunition and five men and a few chickens and others bits and pieces you're taking along for the ride, it is still less than 40 tons. So it's incredibly versatile, easy to maintain, very reliable. And there are lots and lots of them. And that is very important in a long drawn out attritional war. What it leads me to point out is that war is understood to be fought on three levels. There is a strategic level. That is the higher range. This is the goals of the war leaders, of Churchill, Roosevelt and Hitler and his senior commanders. Then the tactical level. This is the cold face of war. This is your tank crew, your PFC shorts in his fox hole somewhere near Normandy. This is chaplain P51 mustang. It's the attritional fighting bit. That's the tactical level. The third is the operational level. This is the glue. It is making sure they have enough Hershey bars and camel cigarettes, but it's a whole of other things. This is the bit that has been left out of the narrative of World War II in the last 50 or 60 years. You read your big new history book, there's lots about Montgomery and Patten hating each other guts. Wonderful eyes in on headquarters of the high command. Lots about being if a tank or fox hole or whatever it might be. But there is scant regard to the operational level. The supply of war. How people get rations and how you maintain someone in war. It's amazing how often you can talk to a tank crew, be them American or British, and they're telling you, you listen to a veteran, and he's telling me and there was an ATA, we came around a corner and he got out. Next day we were in action. Your tank was knocking out? You were driving it the next day? Yeah, we just got another one. I am a "Battle of Britain" pilot, where they came from I have no idea, but every morning we have the full complement of Spitfires. Didn't matter how many were shot down, they appeared like magic. That's the forgotten bit, and it's very crucial when understanding what's going on with Germany. A map of Germany from 1936-1939, and what it shows is Germany's position in the absolute heart of Europe. But look at the coastline. Because look at the north there. You can see what a mess and complicated it is in the Baltic. It's a whole series of narrow passages and challenges between islands. Then a bit west of Denmark in the North Sea. And that's it. The problem is just as the case today, so was the case in the 1930s and ‘40s, that the vast majority of the world's resources and supplies were transported around the world by ship. Germany just doesn't have that luxury. It's got a little, very small merchant fleet, and yes those are coming back from northern Sweden, for example, delivering iron ore and a few other supplies. But for the most part dependent on supplies coming from Europe and elsewhere. That made life difficult, but that was something Germany always understood. They are resource poor, and they have to fight their war in another way. The other problem is that Germany is very short, particularly of fuel, which is a problem in a modern world and modern mid-twentieth century world where fuel and oil are crucial to your efficiency and modernity. And also particularly in food. So if I told you, for example, that this is a picture of peasants in 1931, I suspect most of you would have no cause to doubt that what I'm telling you is true. In fact this is a bunch of German farmers in 1938 and this is indicative of German agriculture. It's not a place of large Ferguson tractors and things. Germany is very, very under mechanized, one of the least automotive societies in Europe in ‘39. When we talk about the Nazis that started the war, we always talk about the Nazi war machine. What you have to understand is the war machine is something like a spear. So the thing called the shiny point of the spear, that's the mechanized motorized arm. That's your Panzers and BMW and motor bikes. The rest of it, the bulk is a long wooden shaft going from A to B, the traditional way on its own two feet or with horse and cart. The cause of this shortage of resources, Germany has always fought wars quickly. This is how you fight a war if you're German. What you have is you've mastered the operational command. This is called the Vaguen's [ph.] Creek and you hit your enemy hard at the point of impact and then you annihilate your enemy before they have a chance to recover their balance and can fight back, and you win quickly. So you go to Poland and it's over in two weeks and the Low Countries in France in 1940, and it's done in six weeks. That's the kind of fighting Germany does. Problems arise when you don't have that complete victory in that period. Unfortunately for Germany in 1940, they don't defeat Britain. But the army is intact. The army in 1940, Britain was incredibly small. They have to rebuild from scratch pretty much. The army of course for the United States in 1940 is also small and they have to rebuild from scratch. But there are many other assets for Britain, her island status, her empire, the dominions, had world's largest Navy and merchant Navy, lots of able scientists. Britain is far from being defeated in 1940, and that's problem for Germany because it means the war is going to go on. What's happened by 1941, and when we look at World War II, we're guilty of being land centric. You have to get boots on the ground to regain possession of land, but World War II is fought on the land in the air, and on sea. And it's really important to see these in its entirety, and one of the things I've been trying to do with this new series, ambitious though, it is. I'll admit I've bitten off more than I can chew sometimes. What has to be borne in mind is that it's not just about gaining territory on land. You have to -- you can't see the World War II in terms of ink spots. No good deciphering the Battle of the Atlantic as the Battle of the Atlantic. You need to see all sides. When we look at early years up to May 1941, we're seeing one-way traffic because we're focusing on the land campaigns. You're looking at a Europe dominated by the Nazis and pro-Nazi forces. By May 1941, Germany has started to use up all the benefits of occupying those territories. Yes, it is true that in Norway they have lots of bases out to the oceans. And ditto in France. But surface ships still can't get out into those oceans, and merchant ships can't because of the royal navy and the economic blockade which is being enacted at that point. What the Germans have done is gone into France and Low Countries and other places and they've been like kids in a sweet shop and the cupboard is bare by 1941. By the end of 1940 it has just 8% of the vehicles it started with at the beginning of 1940. 92% of its vehicles are gone, nicked by the Germans. They have stolen their gold and done the same in the Balkans and doing the same in Greece which is why still ramifications of that rumble to this day. German interference and preeminence in central Europe. And they're running out of resources because they don't have many themselves. They can't get them from around the world in the same way Britain or America can if wants to. There's no other choice at this point but to go into the Soviet Union. One of the areas they really fallen short on is in the naval Battle of the Atlantic. What they haven't done is built enough U boats. They can get through an economic blockade. Shipping blockade. Surface ships can't really because even if you venture into the world's oceans and you manage to get out into the Atlantic, you still got to come back again, because you've got no oversea basis from which to refuel and resupply and all the rest. So you have to go back again. So you're courting with danger every time you get out of port. Not so with the U boated. The trouble is in 1939 there's only 3,000 men in the U boat arm. That's just not enough. And U boats operate on a kind of theory of thirds. You have a third out on sea in action stations, a third going back and forth because it takes time to move around in a U boat and another third working up training and the rest. If you have an army of 40 U boats you can't have many in the Atlantic at one time. When convoys are starting across the Atlantic and not well protected because most of the Royal Navy is on anti-invasion watch in the southeast of England. That's the time for rich pickings. And they do in merchant ships coming across the Atlantic, but at no time more than 14 U boats operating in the Atlantic at one time. That's not enough. The Atlantic is huge. In January 1941, no more than 6. That's not going to do it! Meanwhile Britain has been really focusing on the Battle of the Atlantic because it knows that this is where the war is going to be won or lost. For the moment they're not defeated in May and June 1940. The moment that Dunkirk evacuation is successful. They know that really those supply lines from all around the world, which ultimately come through the Atlantic, that is going to be crucial in the years to follow. Once you've sorted out that, your lifeline, then you can build your army and think about how to take the attack back to Germany. But you have to secure your own base first and your own supplies. That's where the focus is. And out of this comes unbelievable developments in technology. You can forget that picture of cartoon Dwight with his monocle and patch and sort of twitchy mustache. That's old hat Britain. But Britain is a modern technologically driven warfare state. It's not an old fashioned Victorian stuck in the empire past kind of fuddy-duddies. Out of this cavity magnetron. That allows you to reduce the side of a radar so you can put it on ship or an aircraft. And the Germans not only never invent it themselves, they never realize the British and hand in hand, the Americans have got at any point during the war. In March, April, May 1941, some of the finest most experienced U boat ace commanders are killed or captured. Got new technology coming in all the time. New advances in high frequency direction finding and in air power, which is closing the ring a bit at this stage in the Atlantic forcing U boats into the central Atlantic which takes longer and less efficient. Then enigma codes are captured along with a codebook. Air power is starting to reduce the effectiveness of U boats because every time -- they move from A to B on the surface and only submerge for a small part. Air power is reducing that ability. The moment they get under water they get slower. Germany has neglected that and we in history have neglected that. 1941 is seen as a dark year for the western Allies. The loss of Crete, setbacks in North Africa and so on. But in actual fact, in that most important bit, Britain has gotten to the point where they're not going to lose the Battle of the Atlantic. May 1941 a line crossed at which point Germany can note longer win the battle. I can't see any comeback from that. Long dark roads, days lies ahead. There's a slaughter of the Americas in early part of 1942 for example. Does that mean do those slaughters, the second happy time as U boats call it, does that mean the Allies are going to lose the Battle of the Atlantic. No I don't think so. I think Germany has missed the boat already bigtime. So it comes that by the summer of 1941, really Nazi Germany is going to continue with the war. No other choice but to go into the Soviet Union. It's a catastrophic decision but there's no alternative, because nowhere else can they get the supplies and resources they need. Particularly oil and food. But also all sorts of other things. Books, copper, what it might be. Man power. These are rich lands. You don't have shipping, this is the only alternative. The Germans recognize they have to annihilate the Red Army and that means completely defeat it to a point where they have total victory in the Soviet Union within 500 miles. If they exceed that what they will exceed is the culmination point, which is the moment at which you can no longer operate in the way you want to operate, because the distances, the lines of supply are so great, it is hampering your ability to maneuver and do what you want with speed. The German way of war, this is all about speed. It's about speed and maneuver and outgunning your enemy at the crucial point and knocking him off balance. I still think 500 miles is a long way. When you get into the Soviet Union proper, you have a different railway loading gauge. It's slightly wider. As the Russians retreat, they destroy their locomotives or move them east as they retreat. So the Germans have to depend on their own railway system which means they have to narrow the tracks as they move forward. The other thing is in France is it is their infrastructure that enables them to maneuver so quickly. What happens is they move into a gas station and go fill her up. You can't do that in the Soviet Union because there's isn't any. It's just vast tracks of nothingness. The other thing of course, about the invasion of Soviet Union, yes, it is practical and it is necessity that is making them do that. But because they're Nazis, there is an ideological factor to this as well. And they had millions of Ukrainians, keen to some over on the side of the Nazi and support what Germany is doing, because a lot of them were no friend of Stalin at all. There's been a huge famine in Ukraine in the 1930s which killed 2.5 million-10 million worst case scenario. So lot of people and a lot of the people survived blamed Stalin for that. But because they're Nazis they go in and burn villages and what could potentially have been a source of manpower and support, quickly turns against them. It's true a lot of Ukrainians ended up fighting, but an awful lot were turned off by the brutality with which the Germans advanced through. Germans were taught that Slavs are inferior beings. This is ideology, this is racial supremacy that we're talking about here so they just treating them accordingly. The trouble is already you're starting to get a spiral of violence. If you don't have that total victory, annihilate your enemy, at some point they're going to fight back. When they do, you're going to reap what you sow. So a cycle is starting. And they do, they just capture one army after another and they envelop it and all the rest of it, but they're still coming. Doesn't seem to be any letup and also what do you do with these German prisoners. How do you feed them? The soviet prisoners, I mean. One of the problems is Germany is short of food. There's rationing in the summer of 1939 before there's even a war. And if you're ideologically thinking that the Russian is inferior or a pole for example is inferior to a German civilian, you can't give them more food than a German civilian at home. So they will start to starve and die, and if you manage to keep them alive and keep them back in your factories because you're bleeding yourself dry already and man power and you're having to exit from the factories and you have to replace the workers with someone else. The obvious answer is to play them with these prisoners of war and Jews and the rest of it. But the trouble is you're treating them terribly and that means their man hours are right down whereas in Britain, there's rationing, but the main part of that is to make sure that there's enough to go around so that everybody is properly well-fed and has a nice balanced diet. That means their working hours don't drop off, that you don't have people falling out for sick pay, which means your productivity goes up. The opposite is true in Nazi Germany and that's starting to happen in the summer of 1941. This is a private soldier's album, not something you see in the propaganda. That makes my head hurt. Just think all that track has to be narrowed, every bit of that that's going across. And this is the reality of the Germans. This is not about Panzers and half bikes. This is the reality of moving troops and supplies to and from the front. As they get further into the Soviet Union, inevitably that drive is starting to slow down. The thing is Soviet Union has moved quickly, trashed its own factories and moved the machine tools you need in a factory. These are the tools that enable you to make your engines and tanks and the rest of it. They have moved them east already to new factories being developed in the Urals. Those are 600 miles further east from Moscow. Even if you get there, there's no reason the Soviet Union will roll over and collapse. Might, but probably not. So you're getting into some really big distances. And the moment the Germans are not as mobile and not as fast and they can't act and do their kettleslacks [ph.] quickly, then they're not as special after all. And of course what happens is Hitler starts to meddle and make bad decisions. So there's lots of different decisions coming out in the second half of July and then in August, still the Germans grinding on, but no sign of the Red Army rolling over. Yet more men keep appearing. Some 80 divisions formed between the start of the operation in June 1941 and the end of September. 80 divisions. That's more than almost America has in the entire war. Just in that period. And these are now divisions. So this is a bit -- what happens is suddenly it's not summer and the rain started and it's all muddy. And the snow comes and look at that. The wheels are literally falling off the Nazi drive. And then I think goodness, doesn't that look miserable? And again you can see this is not a real Nazi photograph. This is adjust from a private collection, because what are we looking at the there's no Panzers there and no half trikes and motor bikes there. People miserable. And the thing grinds to a halt. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brings America into the war. That week between the 4th and 11th of December has to be one of the most momentous weeks in world history ever. It's interesting that just before that at the end of November, frits Todd has conversation with the fury. He had been in the front. He was the elements minister and just realized what a nightmare it was and they hadn't enough spare parts. They went in with 2,000 different types of motorized vehicles, most of which are captured. Having captured Bedford from the British in Dunkirk in 1940 or Persia. That's great until you need a new part and haven't got it. Where do you get them because there aren't any. And the logistics. Having all those different parts anyway, and getting them vast distances to the Soviet Union. You can see the whole thing is absolutely just sort of grinding to a standstill. He says we've already reached the point where we can no longer win the war, and Hitler turns to him, what do you think we should do? Todd goes sue for peace. And Hitler doesn't of course. Because he's Hitler. And so they keep going. And it is really interesting to bear this in mind. You think about let's take an arbitrary day such as 16 June 1941. On that day Germany has just won enemy. Grit Britain, plus her dominions, Canada and empire. Australia, New Zealand, India, volunteer army of 2 million. So a huge amount of assets but only one enemy on paper. Fast forward to the 16th of December, and this is the day that Hitler sacks von Brauchitsch as the commander in chief. Never more than one stripe on his arm. Read lot of history, but then servile. And I don't think I could command armies in battle. And of course a catastrophic decision as well. Think about the 16th of December and he's got a raid against him now. He's got Great Britain plus Canada, Australia, South Africa, India, et cetera, et cetera, and the United States of America and the U.S.S.R., all of whom have access to vast amounts of manpower. But also 90% of the world's shipping and world's resources when it boils down do it. Do you think Germany is going to win? Traditionally it has been seen star ling grad that was February 1943, the key turning point. July 1943, the big turning point. I think you should look at the end of November 1941, that's the point where Barbarossa has failed and I can't how there's know comeback, especially when you start looking at America's entry into the war. Talking of which, here we are in the nation's capital and there's the president FDR, who I've got to say I just think was an amazing man. The western Allies were fortunate to have two men of vision. Men who could see the big picture. Churchill and FDR has that. It is remarkable when you think of America in 1939, the start of the war, and then think about may, June, 1940, those crisis months where mighty France is failing, where the British army is also being defeated. Holland and Belgium are crumbling as well. This is where he has what has got to be the biggest political fault in history. November 1932, an isolationist ticket, America is inward looking. There was a theory very down on big business. Fat cats, the capitalists. Boo, hiss, they're out. So much so that there are witch hunts against certain companies. DuPont stops making tea. By 1939, there's no one in the country manufacturing explosives anymore. [T.N.T.] because it's seen as such a bad thing. You have a situation where most Americans think if you have a large armed forces you use them. If you don't, you have very small ones you tend to not use them. There is some logic to that, and I think history suggests that theory is correct. Roosevelt recognizes in that period between September 1939 and the summer of June 1940, is that the Atlantic is not the great barrier that protects America. That America needs to put in place means of defending herself, because great, more sophisticated submarines might arrive, great air fleets might arrive. Technology is advancing, and yet there's an election in November of 1940 and he recognizes he's the only man best qualified to lead America through these next tumultuous months and years and in my humble opinion, I think he's absolutely right. He's got to be very careful. He's a Democrat. He starts getting in these big businessmen like Billy Knudsen, the CEO of General Motors. People like that Donald Nelson. The head of U.S. Steel. Edward Stetnon [ph.]. Everything being painted as bad and wrong and villainous in the late 1920s and ‘30s. Starts bringing them just as an advisory role. But he's really picking their brains. Bill Knudsen says this can't happen overnight. America is 19th in the world in terms of size of army. And the eve of war, they have just 74 fighter planes. We're talking about tiny. And suddenly here's the president going we need 50,000 aircraft a year. This is going a -- a vertical increase. You can't just click your fingers and turn it around. And what Bill Knudson says you have to let big business work, but let big business do most of the work. Because they have the know-how, the infrastructure. It's going to take 18 months because it takes 6 months to build the machine tools. That's the most crucial bit and then another six months to train up the manpower. And then another six months before anything meaningful is coming off the conveyer belts. And it is amazing how 18 months from that conversation, where are we, December 1941, and suddenly America is in the war. It appears that America has emerged, fully formed. But the road has been incredibly rocky. One step forward, two steps back. Twists and turns. It's the most amazing ride. I don't have time to go into it, but trust me. This is the operational level I've been talking about at the beginning of the talk. It is a sensational story and shouldn't be kept separate from a whole understanding of World War II and what is going on. But look at what can help once you start to harness that and harness it in the right way. Once you get past those problems of arguments in Washington's press and the corridors of power here in this city. What you've got is amazing people like Charles Sorenson, the number 2 guy in the Ford Motor Company. Goes to California and sees them making these B-24 bombers but realizes there's too many parts, too slow, too small in scale. Think big! The bigger you get the individual parts reduced by a third. And by September 1942, Willow Run is in operation. 18 months before that. That had been nothing. That had been kind of desolate and now it's the world's largest factory. A mile long. It's just unbelievable and then I love this picture. Henry Kaiser. I'm sure you know who he is. This great businessman symbol of the emerging power and technological know-how of a manufacturing know-how of the United States in the 1930s. Henry Kaiser looks like a boiled egg, I love the photo because you can see the glint in his eye. He has so much energy and fervor. His company, he doesn't know about engineering but knows how to get people together. He's a can-do kind of guy and he makes the Hoover Dam and lots of roads and he's gone into partnership with the Todd shipyard in Oregon. And the British follow up with 10,000 merchant ships at the beginning of the war. They realize they need more. They need more for these vast supplies that are coming across the Atlantic. So Phil Thomson as a young 30-year-old ship designer from the northeast of England and with great foresight the British admiralty sent him to America to get the Americans to build more ships for the British, merchant ships. And Thompson has designed the first ship that's come out, called the empire liberty and the design is very simple. Limit numbers of parts. All those principles of mass production that the Americans love. He goes with the blueprints and tries to get the American shipyards to make them for the British. But they're busy with the contracts. He gets in touch with Kaiser. And find some places. That's the next thing is where to do it and one of them is an area of Richmond, California north of San Francisco bay, and another one is Portland Maine, and at the time they're mud flats. He says it's going to take six months before we can clear these out and start laying down our actual shipyards. But then we'll get cracking. In actual fact, the first liberty ships are being laid down within four months of Richmond, California and five months of Portland Maine. This is just unbelievable. 1941 is the year of the third highest number of labor strikes in the U.S. history. And yet there are no strikes on Henry Kaiser's watch. And here is a liberty ship being manufactured. The idea is it's a bit like a prefab house. This is lots of parts and you stick them together. The difference between British and American way is British still rivet stuff and Americans weld it. And the whole point about this ship, the design of the liberty ship when Thompson first designed it is it would be made in about 220 days. That is super-fast, but very quickly, at Kaiser's various shipyards, they get that down to about 175, and then get it to 150 and then to 100, and then to 75, and then to 50 and then 20 days. And then in September 1942, they build a liberty ship in 10 days. And then at 3:27 p.m. in the afternoon of November 12, 1942, after four days, 15 hours, and 26 minutes, the Robert E. Perry is launched. That is unbelievable. You build a ship in less than five days. Obviously that was a big stunt and corners were cut but it got in the water. Point was already by that stage, several months earlier, America and Britain was reducing way more merchant ships that were being sunk by U boats. So that battle is gone. I said it was kind of they got to a point where they could win in May 1941. By summer of 1942, even after the slaughter of Americans, just not a chance. So then coming to 1942 and what are the Germanys going to do? They recovered from the winter, the bit where they've been frozen and their tanks and nothing worked. Now we're back to the old campaign season. And the factories are starting to kick in more. More supplies coming from America and from Britain. Still very scary times if you're the soviet leadership. One of the reasons for that is there's still this sort of propulsion of military might that Germans have. A kind of aura about them, which hasn't been entirely dented by the catastrophes for them over the winter in the Soviet Union. These are still armed forces to be feared, and still have lots of very good kits. Those machine guns are powerful and they have good tanks and lots of highly experienced commanders. The men are very disciplined. This is an army for all its failings and problems that is still to be treated with a huge amount of respect. The plan for the Germans, the main summer offensive for 1942 is to go to the oil fields. Because they're short of food and oil. The interesting thing about this is what are they going to do when they get there? Interestingly, this distance from the top left-hand corner of the map to the bottom right-hand side corner. Baku is the third highest oil producer in the world in the 1940's after the United States. That is more than 500 miles. So already they're kind of starting to break their rules just by trying to get to the Caucasus. Even if they get those oil wells and even if the retreating Red Army haven't destroyed them, what are they going to do once they actually get to the oil wells? How do they transport the oil, and I remind you what I said earlier, oil moves around in the world in the ‘40s as today, by ship, by and large. There are just not pipelines neatly going to Berlin. So the railway, but you have to narrow your railway gauge and then find the capacity and there isn't any because it's already fit to bursting. Not least because it's taken up transporting Jews. The whole thing is utterly bonkers. What would have happened if they had gotten to this El Dorado, even if the Red Army hadn't destroyed it, they wouldn't have much use of it themselves. And so the whole point of this, this incredibly long, overreaching, ambitious drive in the summer of 1942, which is incidentally, launched a week later than it had the year before, with fewer tanks and units, than the previous summer. Do you think they're going to win? The answer of course is very unlikely, particularly since the Soviet Union, the Red Army, has started to regain balance. Those factories are starting to pump out a lot of kits, and better commanders are starting to emerge. These sort of people are starting to emerge. And they're learning the lessons that they were taught so harshly the previous summer. So here it is and this is the image you always have of the Nazi, lots of tanks. That's a French one in the center-middle there captured. But just look at that distance. This underlines the vast expanse. No metal, no asphalt in sight. This is just too big an ask for the Nazis, at particularly a time where they're overstretched, and they're overstretched because of failings of their Italian partner, because of Hitler’s paranoia. In the narrative of the Second World War we Brits are accused of putting too much emphasis on Mediterranean. The one person who is really obsessed with the Mediterranean is Hitler and they go into Yugoslavia and Greece and Crete before the invasion of the Soviet Union. They lose their best trained troop. They lose transport planes and boy they will need those in the Soviet Union, and for what? To help out their Italian partner who has completely caulked it up. Rommel attacked 26 May 1942 against the British. The British at this point are not short of bad kit, not short of badly trained men. They're perfectly competent. People pointed the finger at poor British tanks. That's not the issue. The issue here is the generalship, which is really poor. They have got themselves into a pickle. There is general Ritchie in the middle scratching his head. He might be because he's messed up the whole thing. Held out with meager forces for nine months, everything that the Axis forces could throw at it. Instead of reinforcing that what they do is build a line with an end, 30 miles south, 20 miles to the west of Tobruk. It gets outflanked and still managed to have trapped Rommel and its forces, but they don't. Because of in fighting from most of the senior commanders, they all retreat back. Fortunately for the army at the time, the Alamein line is the only part of the desert which has a flank. It doesn't have a flank, because they've got the -- there was a limit to how long the line could be. The lines of supply are shorter. Conversely the Axis lines, the closer you get to Alamein, the longer they're getting. Fortunately, saved by the REF at this point. On the left you have air vice marshal Arthur Cunningham. And on the right you have air chief market, commander in chief of the ERF in the Middle East. And you get American units coming in as well. They are both brilliant men. They have been working out for a long time about new doctrine. Britain has emerged with separate commands in the REF. Bomber, coastal, fighter command. That's because it represents its kind of island status. In the Battle of France in 1940, they realize there is no doctrine for this. They sort of worked it out by 1942. This is beginning of close air support. They got lots of young good top highly motivated squadron commanders. People like Billy Drake who commanded this one here. I was lucky enough to meet him. A remarkable man. He said we were really tough. I was 24, but you know he said I was much older than my years. And I really knew what I was about. I was tough. If someone was not up to it, I would sack him out of the squadron. These were highly motivated well trained but brilliantly led men. Cunningham, these were top guys. And out of this came the tactical Air Force with the North Africa tactical Air Force. Number to Cunningham had been instrumental in developing the AWPD1, the army war department plans for air power. And was a close student of Cunningham and helped lay out postwar support for the U.S. military. This is sort of learnt in this time in North Africa. What happens is we have bombers doing lots of carpet bombing. And the Axis forces have no answer to this. Rommel tries to attack at the end throughout July, fails and has one last push at the end of the August of 1942. Again fails. By this time Britain has new leadership in Montgomery, and Alexander, the commander in chief in the Middle East. And then comes the Battle of El Alamein. Germany and Britain are thinking about their armor and equipment and what they need. When the British are procuring new tanks and a Sherman is one of the new products, what they ask for is reliability, number one, ease and maintenance and gun and armor come down the line. What comes from the Germans is big gun, big armor. Let's not worry too much about maintenance and reliability. So you have the Tiger tank and the panther. Think about the wheel systems. It's so complicated and that's before you start thinking about transmissions and engines and the rest. So it is true they're big. Only about 6,000 made in the entire war, and 1,347 Tiger tanks like that one. So not many compared to the 49,000 German tanks. Montgomery on the 23rd of October and a couple weeks later it is the turn of a joint Anglo U.S. army first army landing in northwest Africa. The idea is this is a way you can engage Axis forces on the land as promised to the Soviet Union earlier in the year. Start working out how you do joint planning. And this is an amazing example of how successful it is. It sets a benchmark for further brilliant cooperation between both warring nations, America and Britain. But also when we talk about combined planning, we're talking about joint service planning and joint national planning as well. Responsibility for the planning for operation torch is mark Clark. An American general and he brilliantly does it too. When it comes to it in the second week of November of 1942, you have three different invasion forces. Two coming from 1,000 miles and one coming from 3,000 miles and they arrive about the same time where they're supposed to be. You can learn important lessons about planning, and this is something the Allies are nailing. It is ironic the Allies are called Allies when they're not Allies, they're coalition partners. That underlines the spirit of cooperation. Historians have really tried to underline the huge tensions between senior commanders in America and Britain and all the rest of it, and those differences. What is remarkable about the coalition between Britain and America is how well they get on. Of course there are flashes of anger and there are frustrations and arguments on either side. You're talking about men's live. This is huge responsibility. Of course they're not going to agree on everything. The supreme administrator. He is the -- such a fine appointment. And such a fine commander as well. I don't have praises too high for Eisenhower and ditto for people like Montgomery and Marshall and all the rest of them. And here is the invasion fleet coming. And of course Germans have a huge setback. The following winter they have been diverted on their push to the Caucases in summer of 1942. By going to Stalingrad. That becomes a battle of pride but no strategic importance at all to the Germans. They all surrender. It's a huge psychological blow. Though the American troops are pretty green, and though they get a bloody nose when there are counterattacks in February 1943. They learned their lessons quickly. Buckie Walters is an example, a staff sergeant in the 34th Red division. National Guard division, mostly from the Midwest, though he was from New Jersey. When he arrived in Algeria, he had never seen a tank let alone training. When he went into action in central, southern part of Tunisia in February 1943, they were running away. He admits they were hopeless. General Alexander set up some battle schools where they have live ammunition and all arms training. Back into the line in April 1943, and capture against stiff German opposition. They counterattack and hold on to it. When they win in Tunisia in May of 1943, it is the 34th Red Bulls leading the victory parade. The speed of Americans assimilating information and learn. And the first commander of the U.S. 2 corps, the American part of first army. Proves themselves to be massively short of what is needed. And new people are brought in. Americans and the British are never shy. It is not true the only ruthless people are the Germans around here. Increased air power. The development of the tactical Air Force. New doctrine coming into play. These are signs of the growing weighted and authority and power of the allied forces in the west. It's spit fires and P40s coming in and the rest of it. At the end of it, when the German Axis forces finally surrender 13 May 1943, in terms of materials the losses are bigger than Stalingrad. Some 250,000 prisoners are taken, plus a huge amount of material in terms of tanks, guns, particularly aircraft. This is one of the last rows of the outside of the right. In January 43, one of the key decisions made not only going into Sicily trying to knock them out of the war. But also to try and round up and completely finish off the Battle of the Atlantic. The importance about the Battle of the Atlantic is not that the outcome is in doubt. But it is to make sure we have secured the Atlantic so we can plan properly. You can only plan when you know 95% of your shipping going to make it to port. So let's finish there. That's the absolute priority and Britain and America and burgeoning Navy of Canada are starting to make inroads of new technology. This is the more sophisticated mean of depth charging, more effective one. The air ring around the Atlantic, the air gap has been narrowed to almost 0 by this point. And the U boats have no nowhere to go and you have a situation, this beautiful photograph of convoys are gone from 80% of all convoys getting across the Atlantic unscathed to 95%. That means you can start planning for invasion of Normandy the following year in 1944, because you know what you're going to get. That's absolutely vital. At the same time, spring of 1943, the strategic air offensive against Germany really start to take root. Arthur Harris, RF bomber command, that starts at the beginning of March with the attack on the industrial heartland of Germany and it will get heavier and heavier. It's the U.S. Eighth Air Force is building up as well. Finished off its bits being distracted with North Africa and starting to build up in serious numbers. That noose around Nazi Germany is starting to tighten. So I finish with the first picture I showed you. And I just want you to kind of reevaluate this picture now and just look at that row of Sherman tanks and look at the mass of ships already here in North Africa in the summer of 43. If you think the summer of 1940 was sort of ground zero for both Britain's military, certainly in terms of the army, but particularly the United States, look where they have gone in three years. Three years is absolutely nothing. It is absolutely remarkable and the truth is from here on in the Germans and Italians have no answer to this. It's not a spoiler alert I don't think to tell you eventually the Allies did prevail. [Laughter] But the path was long and rocky and bloody and bitter, and that is of course for me to be writing about in the final volume. But I leave you here in the cusp of Operation Husky in the summer of 1943. Thank you very much. [Applause] I'm sorry about the lack of questions. Big subject. But on the other hand. I'm happy to loiter afterwards. If anyone has anything they want to ask me, then I'm very, very happy to answer. [Event concluded at 1:07 p.m.]


He attended the public schools and studied under private tutors. He engaged in civil engineering for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in 1886 and 1887, and graduated from Harvard University in 1892. He studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1893 and commenced practice in Concord.

Hollis was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1900 to the Fifty-seventh Congress and an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Governor of New Hampshire in 1902 and 1904. He was elected to the U.S. Senate for the term beginning March 4, 1913, and served from March 13, 1913, until March 3, 1919; he declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1918. While in the Senate he was chairman of the Committee on Enrolled Bills (Sixty-third through Sixty-fifth Congresses).

From 1914 to 1919, Hollis was a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and in 1918 was United States representative to the Interallied War Finance Council. He was a member of the United States Liquidation Commission for France and England in 1919 and commenced the practice of international law that year. He was appointed to the International Bank of Bulgaria in 1922.

Hollis was interred in Blossom Hill Cemetery, Concord.


  • United States Congress. "Henry F. Hollis (id: H000727)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  • "Henry F. Hollis". Find a Grave. Retrieved September 14, 2010.

External links

U.S. Senate
Preceded by
Henry E. Burnham
 U.S. Senator (Class 2) from New Hampshire
Served alongside: Jacob H. Gallinger, George H. Moses
Succeeded by
Henry W. Keyes
This page was last edited on 22 September 2019, at 13:15
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