THE ODER BRIDGEHEADS 1945 — The Oder bridgeheads lay just 60 kilometers from Berlin and in late January 1945, with the Wehrmacht retreating back into Germany before the Soviet onslaught, the German high command ordered that bridgeheads be maintained on the eastern bank of the Oder river. The Germans fought tenaciously, against the Red Army forces and held out for nearly two months at one of the locations. Tomasz Zgoda tells us the full story. Operation ‘Flagpole’ — Jean Paul Pallud explains how on October 22, 1942 — on the eve of Operation ‘Torch’, the Anglo-American invasion of French North Africa — a secret meeting took place in French Algeria between a party of five high-ranking American officers led by Major General Mark W. Clark, which had been covertly put ashore by submarine that night, and a party of pro-Allied officers of the French Vichy army led by Général Charles Mast. The aim of the clandestine conference was to co-ordinate French and American plans so that the landings would not be opposed by Vichy-French armed forces. Pinguin in Australian Waters — In October-November 1940, the German auxiliary cruiser and armed merchant raider Pinguin, in conjunction with the Norwegian tanker Storstad, which she had captured and converted into an auxiliary minelayer named Passat, laid a total of 230 sea mines in seven minefields off the southern and eastern coast of Australia. These mines led to several ‘firsts’: the first Allied vessel to be lost in Australian waters during the war; the first US merchant ship to go down; the first US merchant navy casualty; and the first ship to be lost by the Royal Australian Navy. Many of the mines were subsequently hauled in or washed ashore on Australia’s beaches, one accidental explosion then leading to the war’s first victims of enemy action on Australian soil. David Mitchelhill-Green tells the story.