The Irony of War

Home Up Surcouf

 The Irony of War

I got this (The part in black)  in an e-mail from someone, ( See the original e-mail here I have been trying to verify it on the net… I enlisted the assistance of Jerry Miles from Sacramento… we use the same search engines but sometimes he asks better questions than I do… I have verified almost all of the items and have received some interesting additions..., any one who wants' to contribute please drop me a line at

1.      The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940), the highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen.  Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.  So much for the allies.


Dirty Little Secrets of World War II: Military Information No One Told You... By James F Dunningan (Page 128)

The first American serviceman killed in WWII was Captain Robert M. Losey. Air Attache at the American Embasy in a Russian Air Raid on April 21, 1940...

The first German serviceman was Lieutenant von Schmeling, a military advisor to the Nationalist Chinese. he was killed in combat with the Japanese while commanding an infantry Battalion of the 88th Division of Shanghai, late summer of 1937

(See New Data below)…In 1948, the post was renamed to honor the commander of the Army Ground Forces during World War II, Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, who was killed at Normandy by friendly fire July 25, 1944. He was the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. armed forces to die in that manner. At the time of his death, his headquarters was on Fort McNair. McNair was promoted to full general posthumously.

New data!!! thanks to:

Gid L. White
Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired)

Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. (July 18, 1886 - June 18, 1945) was an American general during World War II. He served in the Pacific Theater of Operations and commanded the defenses of Alaska early in the war. After that assignment, he was promoted to command Tenth Army, the ground formation to command the assault on Okinawa. He was killed during the closing days of the Battle of Okinawa by ricocheting artillery fire. Buckner remains the highest ranking American to have been killed during the Second World War, outranking the previously-killed Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, who was killed by friendly fire in France on July 25, 1944, and who had been the highest ranking American killed at the time of his death. Buckner was posthumously appointed to general on July 19, 1954 by special Act of Congress (Public Law 83-508).

Buckner was raised in the rural hills of western Kentucky near Munfordville, and attended Virginia Military Institute and won an appointment to West Point (class of 1908) from President Theodore Roosevelt. He served two tours of duty in the Philippines, allowing him to pursue his love of hunting and fishing. During World War I, he served as a temporary major, drilling discipline into budding aviators.

Between the wars, Buckner returned to West Point as an instructor (1919-1923) and again as instructor and Commandant of Cadets (1932-1936). Though recognized as tough and fair, his insistence on developing cadets past conventional limits caused one parent to quip, "Buckner forgets that cadets are born, not quarried." He was also an instructor at the General Service Schools at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and was executive officer at the Army War College in Washington.

Prior to Pearl Harbor, Buckner was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned to fortify and protect Alaska as commander of the Army's Alaska Defense Command. Though comparatively quiet, there was some action with the attack on Dutch Harbor on the island of Unalaska, Japanese seizure of the islands Kiska and Attu (June 1942), Battle of Attu (Operation Landcrab, May 1943), and "invasion" of Kiska (August, 1943).

In August, 1943, Buckner was sent to Hawaii to organize the Tenth Army, and prepare for the Battle of Okinawa, the largest sea-land-air battle in history, which also turned out to be slow and bloody.

Earlier in the war, when Buckner had commanded troops in Alaska, his prejudices had been exposed. A Southerner and avowed racist, when told he would be commanding black troops, he vehemently opposed it. He said that he feared they would cross breed with Alaska Natives and produce "the ugliest race the world has ever seen."

His father was Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr., who famously surrendered to then brigadier-general Ulysses S. Grant at Fort Donelson.

Named in honor of Buckner:

bulletFort Buckner, an Army sub-post of the Marine Corps' Camp Foster on Okinawa. The post is home to the 58th Signal Battalion and includes a small memorial to its namesake.
bulletWest Point's Camp Buckner, where yearlings (incoming sophomores) go through Cadet Field Training (CFT), and get their first taste of the Army outside of the classroom.
bulletBuckner Gymnasium at Fort Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, a post which the general established during the war.


2.      The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN.  He was wounded in combat and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age.  (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress)

We wrote of Calvin Graham, who served with heroism at age 12 during the Battle of Guadalcanal, and on whose life the TV movie, "Too Young the Hero", was based. We published letters from all branches of the service and the Department of Veterans Affairs on their policy for underage veterans, personnel, and retirees. Periodically, a roster of active members is published


3.      At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced "sink us"),



the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th.  Infantry division was the Swastika,

Also true

  and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika.  All three were soon changed for PR purposes.

  I can find several references to this bit of trivia but nothing definitive.. suspect it is true

  Jerry Miles found this:

Battleship USS Washington BB56

in the WWII + 55 section by David H. Lippman.  He says in part in his notes of 7 November, 1942

Adolph Hitler leaves his headquarters at Rastenberg in East Prussia by his special train, Amerika, to head for Munich, at 1:40 p.m. In two days, he must give his annual speech at the BurgerBraukeller honoring the 1923 Munich Putsch. While Hitler's train rumbles along, the Germans continue to ignore the situation. The Kriegsmarine's war diary comments on the mass of data, "These contradictory reports cannot give definite indications of the enemy operational goal or goals." Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr, takes off with his espionage chief, Colonel Hans Piekenbrock, for a conference in Copenhagen.

referencing 1937 said "<!--StartFragment-->A week later, on October 20, he left in his command train, Amerika, to
meet Petan and Franco. The meeting with Franco took place on October 23
at Hendaye on the Franco-Spanish frontier."

 There were many other sites.  Mark it true.

  4.      More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%.

  This is probably true there was no separate Air Force, it was the Army Air Corps… 19,733 of the 669,100 Marines died in battle as opposed to 234,874 of the 11,260,000 Army soldiers. The second part is probably true too… I have heard that statistic before. “World Almanac”

   Also from Jerry:

One third of the total B-17 production of 12,731 went down during the war, and the Eighth and Fifteenth Air Forces' personnel losses totaled almost one hundred thousand men.


 and that beats the Hell out of the Marines total numbers.   If the average loss was one out of ten and you had 25-30 missions to do.....well you can do the math.

  5.  Not that bombers were helpless.  A B-17 carried 4 tons of bombs and 1.5 tons of machine gun ammo.  The US 8th Air Force shot down 6,098 fighter planes, 1 for every 12,700 shots fired.

 Added by Jerry 2/4/2002

The First The first B-17 'Flying Fortress' to be shot down in WW11 was AN 525 D-Dog based at Kinloss, Scotland. Delivered to No. 90 Squadron of  the RAF and flown by a British crew, D-Dog was shot down on Sept.8, 1941 by Lt.Alfred Jakobi's Bf109 of 13/JG77 based at Stavanger-Sola near Oslo. The B-17, piloted by F/O D. Romans, crashed in the mountains at Bygland killing all seven crew members. In spite of its huge publicity the B-17 was no match for German fighters and drastic changes in armaments and other equipment were undertaken before the B-17 became the true backbone of USAF units stationed in Britain.

6.  Germany's power grid was much more vulnerable than realized.  One estimate is that if just 1% of the bombs dropped on German industry had instead been dropped on power plants German industry would have collapsed.

  Interesting oversight, this is obviously just conjecture but I suspect it is probably true... at least there is no way to disprove it…

  7.      Generally speaking there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot.  You were either an ace or a target.  For instance Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes.  He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

  True: Quite a guy too…

 Added by Jerry 1/4/2002

On November 21, 1941 one of Germany's leading air aces, Oberst Werner Moelders, 1913-1941, was killed when the plane, an HE-111 bomber, in which he was a passenger, hit a factory chimney in fog and rain near Breslau while on his way to the state funeral of General Ernst Udet (1896-1941) Chief Air Inspector General of the Luftwaffe, who committed suicide on November 17,1941. Moelders, who had achieved 115 kills, was replaced by the fighter ace, Adolf Galland.

8.  It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming.  This was a mistake.  The tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing.

Worse yet the tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction.  Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo.  This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy.

Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

  Anyone have any idea what the policy on tracers is now… we still used tracers in 1965…

  9.  When allied armies reached the Rhine the first thing men did was pee in it.  This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen.  Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

I can’t substantiate this one at all… but Jerry Did… I think… Jerry can be sort of devious… from Jerry:

Number nine:

we crossed the Rhine when Patton needed to urinate

But Patton won battles. Lots of battles, in Africa, Sicily, France and Germany.

When he crossed the Rhine on a footbridge into Germany, he paused long enough to urinate in the river

I don't know about the lowest private but old Blood and guts did!


10.  German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn't worth the effort.

Messerschmitt Me-264 (Amerika Bomber)


Messerschmitt Me-264 was a ultra long range bomber. It was designed to reach Amerika and release its load and safely return to Germany. The first prototype flew for the first time in 1942 but it was soon destroyed by Allied bombers.


Messerschmitt Me-264 photos


Just got this 10/20/2002:



11.  A number of air crewman died of farts. (ascending to 20,000 ft.  in an un-pressurized aircraft causes intestinal gas to expand 300%).

 Probably Not But it’s possible to be very embarrassed


Just  (3/6/2007) got this from Igor[ka], an actual poster from WWII awesome!


The text in Russian reads:


"Ramming - the weapon of the heroes!"


"Glorious Stalin Falkons - the menace of the fascist carrion crows."

The Russians destroyed over 500 German aircraft by ramming them in mid-air (they also sometimes cleared mine fields by marching over them).

I got an e-mail  from Igor Korenev on 2-13-2007:

Information for the "The Irony of War" page.

Hello! I would like to give you some info for the page "The Irony of War" about the item 12 "The Russians destroyed over 500 German aircraft by ramming them in mid-air (they also sometimes cleared mine fields by marching over them)".

I do not know where number 500 comes from. But there were numerous cases when pilots flew on purpose into the enemy aircrafts. The main reason was that the munitions run out and it was the only way to punish the enemy. The targets were normally bombers of course. Not always the attack was successful. Let alone that it was extremely dangerous!

Here is the list of more than 180 pilots that committed ramming attack in the air: The first night ram attack was made by Erimeev on 29-Jul-1941 rammed Ju-88 with his Mig-3.

The most famous person was Leitenant Victor Talalihin who conducted a night ram attack on He-111 on 07-Aug-1941. He was KIA on 27-Oct-1941. Note that this guy survived to fight again... amazing

Best regards



Those are just short facts about the pilots.

Here is an example:

Gomolko Boris Mifodievich, Senior sergant, 520 IAP (fighter squadron). Born 1922 in town Bogoduhov of Harkov region, Member of VLKSM.

08-Sept-1942 near Stalingrad in his first combat mission downed 2 bombers, one of which with battering attack. Landed with [parachute]. Awarded an order of Lenin.

I will try to ask for more info on the forum WW2inColor ( ) that I normally go to.




"It takes a brave man not to be a hero in the Red Army" - Joseph Stalin

 13.  The US Army had more ships than the US Navy.

 Yup… they sure did… troop transports

 14.  The German Air Force had 22 infantry divisions, 2 armor divisions and 11 paratroop divisions.  None of them were capable of airborne operations.  The German Army had paratroops that WERE capable of airborne operations.  Go figure.

This statement seems to be somewhat misleading in 1935–1945 the Germans had one force called the Wehrmacht ("Defence Forces") consisting of the Heer (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy), and Luftwaffe (Air Force);

 15.  When the US Army landed in North Africa, among the equipment brought ashore was 3 complete Coca-Cola bottling plants.

 Absolutely true… Eisenhower actually ordered 10 of them  (The link that I had here has been moved to a French site)

 16.  Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans.  They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for The German Army until the US Army captured them.

Absolutely true, they were members of "Volunteers" in the Ost Battalion

17.  A malfunctioning toilet sank German submarine U-120.

I don’t think so… unless that’s how they scuttled it…

What I did find is, that there were two U-120's the first one's fate was on 22 Nov, 1918 it was Surrendered to Italy. Broken up at La Spezia in April 1919.. in WW1, {The Great War]

The other was a training ship, never went to war, it was scuttled 2 May, 1945 at Bremerhaven. Raised in 1950 and broken up. It is possible that they scuttled the ship by doing something to the toilet... But It is doubtful.

(Update 9/4/2006: the U-boat was actually the U-1206 that was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet or rather a misused toilet... there were four killed and 44 survivors, enough survivors to suggest that this is a true statement.

Thanks to "Michael from Poland"

Here is what he found on U1206:






Laid down 12 Jun, 1943 F. Schichau, Danzig
Commissioned 16 Mar, 1944 Oblt. Günther Fritze
16 Mar, 1944 - Jul, 1944   Oblt. Günther Fritze
Jul, 1944 - 14 Apr, 1945   Kptlt. Karl-Adolf Schlitt
Career 1 patrol 16 Mar, 1944 - 31 Jan, 1945  8. Flottille (training)
1 Feb, 1945 - 14 Apr, 1945  
11. Flottille (front boat)
Successes No ships sunk or damaged
Fate Sank on 14 April, 1945 in the North Sea near Peterhead, Scotland, in position 57.21N, 01.39W, in a diving accident. 4 dead and 46 survivors.


In the mid 70's, while survey work was being undertaken for the BP Forties Field oil pipeline to Cruden Bay, the remains of
U-1206 were found in approx. 70m depth at 57.24N, 01.36W. This location was later confirmed with GPS as N57d24.160' W001d36.930.


Men lost from U-boats

Unlike many other U-boats, which during their service lost men due to accidents and various other causes, U-1206 did not suffer any casualties (we know of) until the time of her loss.


One of the old 'mysteries' of submarine life in World War Two, was that of the usually simple task of flushing the toilet - known as the 'heads' since the days of sail. Even the RN Submarine Museum makes a special exhibition of the evolution of flushing which, if incorrectly done, was called 'Getting Your Own Back'! In Richard Compton-Hall's book, 'The Underwater War', he reports that a U-boat, the U-1206 was actually lost as a result of the captain himself (ironically, one Kptlt Schlitt) making an error in the drill which resulted in a flood of seawater penetrating the battery compartment below and generating chlorine gas: the U1206 was depth-charged by an aircraft when it broke surface to ventilate, and the boat had to be abandoned. One of the best descriptions I've found comes from a fictional book, 'Send Down a Dove', by Charles MacHardy (1968), quite well known to more recent submariners. I'll paraphrase here:

Compressed air was used to blow the waste matter from the heads overboard. Not a great deal of pressure was required, 20-30 lb. per sq. in. was all that was needed. But first the ambient sea-pressure had to be overcome. At periscope depth (approx. 30 feet) the pressure of the surrounding water was in the region of 15lb psi. Thus a total pressure of 35-45lb was required to operate the system and successfully discharge the waste. For this purpose a reservoir bottle was fitted to the bulkhead and was connected up to the main, compressed-air line; an arterial complex which ran the length of the boat. When the bottle was charged to the required pressure from the main line, the inlet valve would be shut. The system would then operate independently from the reservoir. Flushing was achieved by means of a lever at the side of the pan.

Three things were important in the operation: Firstly, the pressure in the reservoir had to be sufficient to overcome sea pressure. Secondly, when blowing the tank it was paramount to ensure the discharge-to-sea valve was fully open. Thirdly, the manipulation of the lever which controlled the blowing system and the operation of a non-return flap had to be carried out in a strict sequence of movements. Failure to do this could result in the contents of the pan being blown back in the face of the operator. At pressures ranging from 30 to 100 lb. psi, (depending on the boat's depth) this was not only embarrassing but painful. The air reservoir, of much weaker construction than the main HP air bottles, had a relief valve in case too much air pressure was let in.

Submariners, like all navy personnel, enjoy an occasional song. One of the many songs heard in British submarines in the 20th Century (though not in WW2, as 'Tide', I am assured, was not introduced until after the war) was 'Nobody Washes in a Submarine', to a rather obscure tune (with acknowledgements to the late Cyril Tawney):

If you join submarines and you've got any pride, You won't use Persil and you won't use Tide.
If you go in the washroom all the boys declare: 'You'd better not take any soap in there.'

For I don't give a damn wherever you've been, nobody washes in a submarine.

The navy think we're a crabby clan. We haven't had a wash since the trip began.
We've been at sea for three weeks or more, and now we're covered in s*** ga9        

 18.  The Graf Spee never sank.  The scuttling attempt failed and the ship was bought as scrap by the British.  On board was Germany's newest radar system.

 Not entirely true, it was scuttled and the radar was salvaged but it really did sink, it only had one mast showing, it is being salvaged now as it has been a navigation hazard for over 60 years…

 19. One of Japan's methods of destroying tanks was to bury a very large artillery shell with only the nose exposed.  When a tank came near enough a soldier would whack the shell with a hammer.  "Lack of weapons is no excuse for defeat." - LtGen.  Mutaguchi

 The quote is probably true… General Mutaguchi was quite a guy: (This takes a while to load)

See this also: The Japanese had suicide Planes, manned torpedo's called Katins, Suicide submarines, suicide swimmers, suicide human mines and suicide speedboats.

 20.  Following a massive naval bombardment 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska.  21 troops were killed in the fire fight.  It would have been worse if there had been Japanese on the island.

 Not exactly the whole story… if you have the time this is worth reading… we lost a lot of guys in the Aleutians… almost as many as Iwo Jima… I thought I was at least aware of all the significant battles of WW II but I didn’t know this story…

21.  The MISS ME was an unarmed Piper Cub.  While spotting for the US artillery her pilot saw a similar German plane doing the same thing.  He dove on the German plane and he and his co-pilot fired their pistols damaging the German plane enough that it had to make a forced landing.

Whereupon they landed and took the Germans prisoner. 

I don't know where they put them since the MISS ME only had 2 seats.

22.  Most members of the Waffen SS were not German.

 I can find a lot on the Waffen SS but nothing about what their predominate nationality was.

added by Jerry 1/4/2002

Some 8,000 Frenchmen donned the Wehrmacht uniform and formed the Charlemagne Division of the Waffen SS.  They fought so well on the Eastern Front that many were awarded the Iron Cross for their bravery. After the war, when the survivors of the Charlemagne Division returned to their homeland, they were treated in a most brutal and inhumane fashion when the French Resistance extracted their revenge on all collaborators   Treason?.

When the SS announced on March 3, 1943 that an SS Division was to be formed in Latvia to fight the Russians, around 32,000 Latvians volunteered. They formed the 'Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (No.1) During the winter offensive they fought bravely against the Soviets. Pulled out of the battle zone to avoid encirclement, they were sent back into Prussia. Gradually pushed westward by the advancing Red Army they eventually surrendered to the British.

Not so lucky was the 2nd 'Waffen Grenadier Division der SS' formed soon after the first.  It failed to escape to the west and was overtaken by the Red Army. As Latvia was annexed by the USSR, they were classed as Soviet citizens and therefore guilty of treason and being guilty of treason, they were all executed.

 23.  The only nation that Germany declared war on was the USA.

 Yup… on December 11, 1941… Italy and Japan declared war on several countries but Germany only declared war on the USA … ""  Germany declared War on everyone but the USA in The Great War

Added by Jerry 1/4/2002

Declaration of WarOn December 11, 1941, the US Senate declared war on Germany and Italy. With only one short speech, the Senate voted 88-to-0 for war against Germany, 90-to-0 for war with Italy. There was one abstention, Republican Pacifist Jeannette Rankin called out 'Present'- a refusal to vote.  The House of Representatives voted war with Germany, 393-to-0. After the vote was taken the chamber was filled with the noise of stamping feet from the galleries as the public stomped out. It seems that the war with Italy vote (399-to-0) wasn't worth waiting around for.

24.  During the Japanese attack on Hong Kong British officers objected to Canadian infantrymen taking up positions in the officer's mess.  No enlisted men allowed you know.

 This is unfortunately true… you can even buy a documentary also

25.  Nuclear physicist Niels Bohr was rescued in the nick of time from German occupied Denmark.  While Danish resistance fighters provided covering fire he ran out the back door of his home stopping momentarily to grab a beer bottle full of precious "Heavy Water".  He finally reached England still clutching the bottle.  Which contained beer. 

I can’t find this specific anecdote anywhere… Bohr and his son Aage left Sweden traveling in the empty bomb rack of a British military plane. Bohr was very influential in limiting the proliferation of Atomic Energy…

26. On July 9th, 1941, the German mine ships Tannenberg, Preussen and Hansestadt Danzig, returning home from a mine laying tour, ran into a Swedish (neutral) mine barrier and all three sunk. The mine barrier had been laid out under German recommendations...

See this link if you understand German:

Minen+Schiffe  (If you go to this page and plug the header into Google, Google will give you the option of translating it, it is ungrammatical but you will get the gist)

Regards, Holger Bergmann

27. This is also from Holger Bergmann:

... I needed a statistic about how many ships in WWII torpedoed themselves ("biggest" example I know is British cruiser Trinidad), because some malfunctioning torpedoes tended to run in a circle... .


20th March-3rd April - PQ13 and its escort, including cruiser "Trinidad" and destroyers "Eclipse" and "Fury", are scattered by severe gales and heavily attacked. On the 29th three German destroyers encounter the escort north of Murmansk. "Z-26" is sunk, but in the action "Trinidad" is hit and disabled by one of her own torpedoes. As the cruiser limps towards Kola Inlet an attack by "U-585" fails and she is sunk by "Fury". Five of the 19 ships with PQ13 are lost - two to submarines, two to aircraft, and one by the destroyers. "Trinidad" reaches Russia.

April 14th/15th 1942 - Cruiser "Trinidad" was damaged escorting PQ13 in March, and patched up at Murmansk ready for the homeward journey. Escort is now provided by four destroyers and cover by more cruisers, but on the 14th she is heavily attacked from the air and hit by a Ju88 bomber. Fires get out of control and "TRINIDAD" is scuttled next day in the cold waters north of Norway's North Cape.

28. 57 American Subs were lost in WWII, one, S26 SS 131 was rammed by an Escort Ship, The USS TANG SS306 and the USS TULLIBEE SS 284 were sunk by their own torpedoes, they were electric motor driven torpedo's with magnetic triggering mechanisms.

Here is an interesting bit of insight on torpedoes see pages 7 - 9 specifically... the whole dissertation is interesting though.

One, Dorado SS248, by American Aircraft, and one, Seawolf SS 197 was sunk by American Destroyers Searches on these ships will give you more information

29. French Submarine Surcouf, (from Holger Bergmann) The Surcouf has several sites of it's own, it is an amazing story so I am plagiarizing some of the information from some of the sites here. (a link to a page on my site from the Surcouf Site on MSN here, Sites on MSN tend to disappear unexpectedly)

At the beginning of the war Surcouf (This is an internet website link, well worth reading, especially if you were curious why the English and the French don't care for one another) was the largest Submarine in the world. She had a revolving turret with 8 inch guns. She even carried an airplane. Surcouf, though damaged, bravely escaped the German Advance in 1940. It then seemed to become a renegade even after transferring to the Free French. and was probably sunk by American planes, three other French subs were mistaken for Germans and sunk by American planes (French subs CENTAURE, CONQUERANT and PERLE).

“Operation Catapult”
(July 3, 1940) ,

After the Nazis overran France, the British could not allow Germany to incorporate the French ships into its navy. Though the British had fought beside the French just a few weeks before, Churchill decided to launch an operation to eliminate the naval threat. “Operation Catapult” was aimed, ideally, at seizing the French ships. This was done in several cases, mainly where the French ships were in British ports. The main exception was at the French naval base at Mers-el-Kebir near Oran in Algeria, which had the largest number of ships in one place. When the French refused to accept any of the choices they were offered to ensure the Germans couldn’t get the ships, the British attacked, sinking the battleship Bretagne and heavily damaging the battleship Provence and the battlecruiser Dunkerque. More than 1,000 French sailors were killed and hundreds wounded. Some 59 other French warships that had sought refuge at Plymouth and Portsmouth were seized by the Royal Navy. Afterward, Churchill was unrepentant, believing that at a crucial moment when British security was at stake, the French chose to side with their conquerors rather than their allies.

The information below is from an article on the Surcouf Website above and some other sites.

August 1940 (The information below is from the author of the Surcouf Site By Gary LeDrew)
Surcouf was refitted and put on convoy patrol. Some of her ex officers were killed when the Germans sunk a British Hospital ship that was repatriating French personnel. The French blamed the British for this tragedy and so even more acrimony was added to their relations.


Surcouf was not trusted and there were even rumors that the submarine was sinking our own ships. A British officer and 2 sailors were put on board for 'liason' purposes.
There are rumours that Surcouf had a great deal of the gold from the French Treasury in her large compartment.
It is also alleged that Surcouf was found and boarded in Long Island Sound in the sixties by Jacque Cousteau and hushed up.

December 1940
Surcouf was sent to Canada on a "goodwill tour" with the Free French Admiral Muselier in charge. There were rumors that the free French were going to 'liberate St Pierre and Miquelon (See an excellent article by Emile Henri Muselier here)  and another good one by Brother J.B, Darcy  here

Surcouf goes to Quebec City and the Admiral goes to Ottawa to confer with the Canadian government. Meanwhile in the city the Captain is confronted by a famous New York Times Reporter Ira Wolfert that Surcouf is leading a free French task force to take St.Pierre and Miquelon.
The Captain has the reporter kidnapped and hides him in the trunk of a car and smuggles him aboard Surcouf.
December 20th. Surcouf returns to Halifax and attends a Navy Party. they inform their hosts that they are leaving the next day on maneuvers
Dec 25 1940 Surcouf and 2 Free French Corvettes take St. Pierre in 15 minutes.
The Americans (Roosevelt) are furious and demand that the Free French return the island to Vichy. DeGaulle of course refuses.
Jan 1st 1941 (speculation)
The Americans send a destroyer to St. Pierre and are fired upon by the Surcouf. As many as 2 American sailors were killed and the incident was hushed up.

January 1941
It is decided that Surcouf should be sent to the pacific theater. She goes to Bermuda for repairs.
there are rumors that Surcouf is going to make a 'break' for Martinique and back under Vichy control
February 18 1942
Officially? The Surcouf was accidentally sunk by the American Freighter 'Thompson Lykes'near the Panama canal.
February 18 1942
It is alleged that the Surcouf was sunk by the American submarines Marlin and Mackerel in Long Island Sound. There is a report that Surcouf was tailed by the 2 subs from Bermuda and probably circled back to St. Pierre.
could have been by mistake! by Gary LeDrew

30.  Kaiten ("Turning of the Heavens") were suicide submarines of the Japanese Navy, approximately 100 of them were used. The most famous use was the sinking of the USS Underhill


31. German SS Officers were formed into insurgent groups called the Werewolf's to attack the Allies after the war.

Not true. (Oops, maybe not, see below) No soldiers were killed in Germany by any organized group after the surrender. (In spite of what Condoleezza Rice says. )

(The link I had here is no good) Let's use this one...

11/6/2006 This e-mail came in from Gid L. White... He refutes my research... he seems to have done a lot more of it than I did...

That the Werewolfs existed is not in dispute, I think it would be hard to say, with authority, that the Werewolf's managed to organize and mount any kind of an insurgency  ... several soldiers & Civilians were killed for varying reasons but it looks like many of the deaths were very suspicious, and certainly nothing like what we are seeing in Iraq.

This was corrected in Item #1...

McNair was, at one point, the highest-ranking American casualty (not sure if that covers ALL Allied or not), but later that dubious honor went, I believe, to General Simon Bolivar Buckner.

The Werewolves, though -- I believe your source is quite wrong on that.  My major historical interest is WW2 intelligence and special ops, primarily the OSS, but I wind up reading every other WW2 source I can get my hands on just because there are always some tangential references that are useful. 

Since I spent 20-some years in the Army, primarily in the spook business, most any intel or commando operation piques my interest, and I've read any number of pieces of the Werewolves over the years, some good, some not so good.  The best information seems to be that the Werewolves accounted for about 46 US casualties between June and December 1945  and six in 1942 -- this, at least, is what the Army officially attributes to ''enemy action'' during that period.  Some of these may have been killed by disgruntled individual soldiers not connected to the Werewolves, but it's probably hard to separate random killings from planned assassinations when the fog of war is still thick.  My guess is that for most of these killings the assassin was either killed shortly afterward by other soldiers, or escaped outright, though I haven't pursued the research.  There were at least three American civilians assassinated in '46 also, but I don't know any details there either. 

To most sources the Werewolves are just an afterthought rather than a research pursuit, but the Pentagon numbers seem plausible based on what is known of the group.  There's no question they butchered ''collaborators'' on many occasions, both before the armistice and after.  Himmler made sure they were trained and supplied, and had combat-experienced leaders, and the weapons and supply caches were considerable, though most were overrun by Allied forces.  The supplying of forged documents and safe houses for the Hitler Jugend and ex-combat Werewolves indicates a rather sophisticated setup, and I'd be personally rather amazed if they hadn't accounted for at least a few dozen casualties before the Allies got a handle on the Occupation and made it pretty hot for them to operate.

We'll never know how many Werewolf kills occurred in the closing weeks of the war since they would undoubtedly have been just attributed to the generic ''enemy action'' unless the killer were caught red-handed with forged documents.  Probably less than one percent of any combat kill can be attributed to ANY individual on the other side; the bullet just comes at you. Maybe someone else kills the guy later, maybe not.... who knows?

According to most sources, the Werewolves and their largely Waffen-SS leaders just kind of melted away.  I don't know if any were caught, or prosecuted, though surely some source has that information, perhaps even in the War Crimes Tribunal files.  My personal feeling,  after having only read some dozens of scattered references, is that the group gradually changed their mission from one of stay-behind havoc to one of helping the ex-Nazis escape toward Spain, Italy or South America.  Odessa was also an SS creation, and I believe it just absorbed the Werewolves.  But at this point I'm also sure that no one will ever know for sure.

My other personal gut feeling is that if Allied soldiers actually caught a Werewolf, or any other commando=-type assassin, he'd likely have just been executed on the spot and no one would have bothered to report it.  That happened to a far, far greater extent than anyone cares to examine closely.  Probably because in 99% of the cases, killing the bastards outright was the right thing to do, Geneva Convention be damned.

Again, many thanks for the helpful information.  Several friends sent me similar ''lists,'' and wanted me to comment on the truthfulness of the claims, and this has been very useful.  A work in progress, of course, but a great start.

Best regards,
Gid L. White
Master Sergeant, US Army (Retired)

32.Snipers in history (The most interesting to me is highlighted in red below)

bulletEven before firearms were available, there have been soldiers, such as archers, specially trained as elite marksmen.

The first modern snipers were elite riflemen trained to shoot knights for France's Louis XIV. Their gun weighed more than twenty pounds (9 kg), and shot a 1 oz (28 g) lead ball fast enough to kill through plate armor. Some authorities claim that they, alone, made heavy cavalry (knights)
bulletTimothy Murphy was a rifleman in Daniel Morgan's Virginia riflemen in 1777. He shot and killed General Simon Fraser of the British army.
Murphy was said to have taken the shot at roughly 500 yards (460 m), astounding at the time. He was using the renowned Kentucky rifle. The death of General Fraser caused the British advance to falter and the rebels to win the battle.
bullet During the pivotal Battle of Trafalgar, on October 21, 1805, as the British flagship HMS Victory locked masts with the French Redoubtable, a sniper's bullet struck Admiral Horatio Nelson in the spine. Nelson was carried below decks and died as the battle that would make him a legend was ending in favour of the British.
bulletIn the Napoleonic Wars, the British copied colonial weapons and tactics in a limited number of rifle companies. They dressed (unsportingly) in green to avoid visibility, and were instructed to shoot enemy officers. Rifleman Thomas Plunkett of the 1st Battalion, 95th Rifles is remembered for shooting General Colbert at a range of between 200 and 600 metres during the Peninsula war. He used a Baker rifle.
bullet Colonel Hiram Berdan was the commanding officer of the 1st and 2nd US Sharpshooters. Although snipers were held with low regard by both sides during the Civil War, under his tutelage, skilled Union marksmen were trained and equipped with the .52 caliber Sharps Rifle. It has been claimed that Berdan's units were responsible for killing more enemy than any other unit in the Union Army.
bulletOn May 9, 1864 during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, Sgt. Grace of the 4th Georgia Infantry, sniped Major General John Sedgwick at the then incredible distance of 800 yards (730 m), with a British Whiteworth target rifle. The death of Sedgwick, a corps commander, caused administrative delays in the Union's attack, leading to Confederate victory. Before Sedgwick was shot, he was advised by his men to take cover, and his last words were "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance". The popular story that he said "They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist—" happens to be an urban legend – he finished his sentence and was shot a few minutes later.
bulletDecember 17, 1906 – April 1, 2002) of Finland is regarded as the most effective sniper in the history of warfare. Using a relatively primitive Mosin-Nagant Model 28, He sniped 542 Soviet Union soldiers in Winter War from November 30, 1939 to March 6, 1940, when he was seriously wounded.
bullet Suko Kolkka was also a Finnish sniper during the Winter War, who sniped approximately 400 Russians, as well as another 200 with a submachinegun. Due to the superb quality of Finnish snipers, the Russians lost men at a rate of 40:1. At the end of the Winter War a Soviet General is said to have bitterly quipped, "We gained 57,000 km&sup2 [22,000 square miles] of territory. Just enough to bury our dead."
bulletVasily Zaitsev was a Russian sniper who rose to prominence during the Battle of Stalingrad, credited with sniping 242 German soldiers. He became a folk hero for killing the German master sniper instructor Major Thorvald, in an extended sniper-countersniper duel. However, there are debates as to whether Thorvald actually existed, or was the invention of Soviet propaganda writers. Zaitsev was the main subject in the movie Enemy at the Gates, a fictionalized account of sniper-warfare in the Battle of Stalingrad.
bullet Mila Mikhailovna Pavichenko was a female Russian sniper with 309 confirmed kills during World War II.
bulletGunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock of the United States Marine Corps sniped 93 North Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam war. He is the subject of two biographies, Marine Sniper and Silent Warrior.
bulletDelta Force snipers Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart were both killed in action during the Battle of Mogadishu. It is estimated that together they sniped over 100 Somalis. Both men received the Congressional Medal of Honor, posthumously, for their actions

33. One of the most harrowing crocodile attacks happened at Ramree Island during World War II.  British troops had encircled about a thousand Japanese soldiers who tried to escape at night through a mangrove swamp on the island that faced the Burma coast.  Between British gunfire and saltwater crocodiles, only about twenty Japanese survived.  Estimate that 900 died.

I found a description of the battle but I can't copy it. the actual incident is described starting at about paragraph 30 it's a description of the British capture of Ramree Island... Crocodiles are mentioned but also snakes, insects, no water, no food, black mud and high water.

  From Jerry 1/4/2002

34. During test dives Thursday, the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory's Pisces submarines found the remains of the Imperial Japanese Navy's I-401 submarine, a gigantic underwater aircraft carrier built to bomb the Panama Canal.  (From Pete Rodgers)

35. Living torpedoes (Polish: Zywe torpedy; also Stracency - “Desperates”)

Living torpedoes was a social and military phenomenon which began in the Second Polish Republic in mid-1939, when the threat from Nazi Germany became real. The idea for creating the human torpedo unit was very similar to the famous Japanese kamikaze pilots- males and females willing to sacrifice their lives to defend their homeland. It is a matter of debate among military historians whether there were any real plans for the creation of such suicidal units, or whether it was purely a matter of propaganda.

It all started on May 5, 1939, when Adolf Hitler officially demanded the Free City of Gdansk and the Polish Corridor. A day after Hitler’s speech, the Polish daily Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny from Kraków published a letter written by a man from Warsaw named Wladyslaw Bozyczko and also signed by his relatives - brothers Edward and Leon Lutostanski. Bozyczko together with the Lutostanski brothers appealed to the Poles, asking them to sacrifice their lives. Also, as early as spring 1937 a man from Katowice, Stanislaw Chojecki, had written a letter to Edward Rydz-Smigly, offering a similar ultimate sacrifice.

The appeal quickly spread all over the country, trumpeted by other newspapers and radio. Copies of several papers which published it have been preserved to this day; in some of them there are names and photographs of some of those who applied. The search for volunteers turned into a popular patriotic movement which lasted until the first day of World War II - September 1, 1939, the day the German invasion of Poland began. It is now difficult to estimate how many people volunteered; most probably there were as many as 4700 men and some
150 women (3000 names are documented, as the Polish Navy issued special IDs for volunteers, signed by Commodore Eugeniusz Poplawski). The first people took their oaths on June 29,

It is not exactly known what the Polish Army was going to use these people for. Presumably, they were supposed to man underwater human torpedoes, aimed at the destruction of German warships. Most probably, the Polish Army did not have the necessary equipment, but reportedly in the summer of 1939 in Gdynia, 83 selected volunteers were shown a special short movie about torpedoes manned by humans. An officer of the Navy who was present stated that Poland had 16 such torpedoes; they were 8 meters long and weighed 420 kilograms. However, none of the volunteers ever saw these torpedoes. Some other volunteers were trained as glider pilots and parachute jumpers.

Also, at that time the Polish Navy created a Bureau of Living Torpedoes, which suggests that the idea was treated seriously. According to one of the volunteers, Marian Kaminski from Poznan, who saw the movie, Navy officers told him to return to Gdynia on October 12, 1939, for a two-month training course. The course never started - as Germany attacked Poland on September 1, 1939 - but some of the volunteers had by then been drafted into another special ops unit for sabotage and operations behind enemy lines.

This is just interesting.

German/Americans.  The US Government viewed persons of 'enemy ancestry' as potentially dangerous. This included American born and naturalized citizens and those with permanent residence. The latter had come to the US seeking freedom and opportunity. They simply could not fathom the governments behaviour when their civil liberties were completely ignored, their families torn apart and sent to different internment camps, their assets frozen for the duration. American civilians held prisoner in Germany were exchanged for German-American internees. On arrival in Germany some men were arrested by the Gestapo as spies and put in camps, leaving their families destitute again. In January, 1945, the liner SS Gripsholm carried 1,000 exchangees to Germany. The last German/American was released from Ellis Island in August, 1948. Upon release, all internees were sworn to secrecy and threatened with deportation if ever they spoke of their ordeal. Many returned to their former homes only to find the houses vandalized, the contents stolen or damaged. Confronted with feelings of anger, confusion, resentment, bitterness, guilt and shame, they desperately tried to mend their broken lives. Personal justice was denied to these German/Americans while the government acknowledged mistreatment of Japanese internees and granted them financial compensation.

Japanese/Americans. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 16,849 Japanese-Americans were detained in ten specially built War Relocation Authority Camps in the USA. Most of these camps were located in California. Opened in March, 1942, all were closed by 1946. During their internment, 5,918 babies were born. A total of 2,355 internees joined the armed forces and around 150 were killed in combat.  One Japanese-American, Private First Class Sadao Munemori, earned the nation's highest award for bravery, the Medal of Honor. After the war, 4,724 US citizens of Japanese ancestry renounced their American citizenship and returned to Japan. There were no renunciants among the German or Italian/Americans. The US Government later agreed that the nation had acted hastily in its treatment of aliens and that the vast majority of them were loyal to America. Deaths from natural causes in the camps accounted for another 1,862. During the war, a total of 51,156 Italian nationals were also interned in the USA.

I got this from Bruce Bendinger:

It is a website dedicated ti the Czech Legion, an incredible story full of incredible stories. read about Ataman Semonov, a Cossack butcher hired by the Japanese to kill Russians...

Got some more to check out:

While the Hiroshima atomic bomb was being built in New Mexico all applicants for menial jobs at the plant did not get a job if they could read. This was because the US authorities didn't want staff reading secret papers.

When the battleship USS Arizona was destroyed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor 23 sets of brothers were killed. (Close)

(From the National Geographic and the official Arizona Website.)

The U.S.S. Arizona carried 36 sets of brothers (33 pairs and three sets of three) and one father-son pair. When she was bombed on December 7, 1941, 24 of those sets and the father-son pair died. Less than a month later five Sullivan brothers—George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert—from Waterloo, Iowa, joined the Navy hoping to serve together. A friend of theirs had been killed on the Arizona, and they wanted to fight. The Sullivan's were assigned to the U.S.S. Juneau, which was sunk by a Japanese submarine on November 13, 1942, during the Battle of Guadalcanal. All five Sullivan brothers were killed.

At that time the Navy and other military branches began to consider separating brothers in combat. In July 1942 the Navy forbade commanding officers from forwarding requests from brothers to serve on the same ship or station. Mandatory separation of brothers already serving together was considered, but no action was taken. On October 26, 1944, the War Department announced a new policy to remove surviving sons from the hazards of combat. If a family had lost two or more sons in the armed forces and had only one surviving son, either the family or the son could apply for him to be removed from hazardous duties. This policy is still in effect today, but Navy family members can serve together on the same ship.

—Marisa Larson

Mohamed Ali, who once ruled Egypt, had two infantry regiments in his army that consisted solely of one eyed soldiers.

Mohamed Ali ruled Egypt twice, he had a huge Army but he got his soldiers by conscription The peasantry objected to these conscriptions and many ran away from their villages to avoid being taken, sometimes fleeing as far away as Syria. A number of them maimed themselves so as to be unsuitable for combat: common ways of self-maiming were blinding an eye with rat poison and cutting off a finger of the right hand, which usually worked the firing mechanism of a rifle.

To conserve metal during World War II the movie Oscars were made out of wood. (Nope)

bulletFrom 1942 until the end of World War II, Oscars were made out of plaster to conserve metal. After the war, the winners received "real" replacement statues.
bulletThe only Oscar statuette ever made of wood was presented to Edgar Bergen in 1938 for his "outstanding comic creation," his ventriloquist dummy Charlie McCarthy.

When World War II began the neutral Republic of Ireland banned all war footage from their newsreels.

I can find nothing to support this statement or anything to refute it... but the fact that there is nothing to support it tends to make me think it is not true.

During World War II the Germans considered the classic film "Casablanca" starring Humphrey Bogart, to be a propaganda film and refused it's showing in German cinemas. Even after the war the film was censored in Germany in which all references to Nazis had been removed.

Again, I can find a ton of trivia about Casablanca but nothing to support this statement.

During the American Civil War all officers of the Confederate army were given copies of Victor Hugo's book "Les Miserables" to be carried at all times.

Probably not, there is no record of this happening but the book was published in 1862 and very popular (A best seller) it is over a 1000 pages and I doubt that it was issued to anyone.

During World War II the very first bomb dropped on Berlin, Germany, killed the only elephant in Berlin Zoo.

nope: The Berlin zoo had several elephants but only one survives, the others died of starvation and neglect.

When the Persians invaded Egypt and were besieging a fort they threw dozens of cats over the walls because the Egyptians would rather surrender than risk injury to a cat.

Possibly true: "Herodotus also recorded that the Persians used the Egyptian´s love of cats against them. Apparently, the Persians captured a large number of cats and let them loose on the battlefield outside Pelusium. When the Egyptians saw the terrified cats running around the battlefield, they surrendered rather than risk harm to their beloved friends.   


During World War I parrots were kept in the Eiffel Tower to warn of approaching aircraft. They could detect planes long before they came into the range of human lookouts.


During the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 beef became so scarce that the people in Paris turned to eating horsemeat instead. They still do to this day.

nope: France dates its taste for horse meat to the Battle of Eylau in 1807, when the surgeon-in-chief of Napoleon's Grand Army, Baron Dominique-Jean Larrey, advised the starving troops to eat the flesh of horses that had died on the battlefield. The cavalry used breastplates as cooking pans and gunpowder as seasoning, and thus founded a tradition, according to French folklore.
[citation needed] Horse meat gained widespread acceptance in French cuisine during the later years of the Second French Empire. The high cost of living in Paris prevented many working- class citizens from buying meat such as pork or beef, so in 1866 the first butcher's shop specialising in horse meat opened in eastern Paris, providing quality meat at lower prices. During the Siege of 1870-71, horse meat was eaten by anyone who could afford it, partly because of a shortage of fresh meat in the blockaded city, and also because horses were eating grain which was needed by the human populace. Many Parisians gained a taste for horse meat during the siege, and after the war ended, horse meat remained popular.

During the English Civil War 300 tons of Cheshire Cheese was sent to the Royalist troops in Scotland.

True: The oldest cheese in England is Chester, or Cheshire. It existed in pre-Roman times, and Roman soldiers carried wedges of it in their back-packs. The unusual taste comes from cows feeding on salty pastures. At the time of Cromwell's civil war, 300 tons of Cheshire was ordered in one year alone to feed the troops on the battle-fields.

During World War II coconut milk was used as blood plasma.

Nope, As for the fact in the fact in the OR, if someone needed red blood cells (for oxygen carrying capacity and intravascular volume), coconut water would do nothing. If one needed simply volume, such as in a case where saline would be used in an ER, then maybe. However, in a addition to pH, the fluid would need to be the correct osmolarity or you could kill the person. And in anycase, you would not be substituting for "blood plasma," you would be substituting for saline fluid. If they needed "plasma" which has clotting factors, etc, I do not know but doubt that coconut water would help.

In any case, if a person needs rapid rehydration (I'm assuming via IV since it is being touted as a blood replacement) due to say, hemmorhage on a desert island, a coconut could not possibly provide enough liquid for a normal sized adult. You would probably need several. as it has some protein as well. I should have said that it could be used as volume expander (an example of a non-blood product is Hetastarch) or albumin substitute, but not blood substitute.

During the 19th century soldiers who had died in battle had their teeth pulled out to be used as dentures by other people.

True: When the Napoleonic Wars began, dental demand found a sure supply, but beyond the sudden abundance, those teeth which could be plundered from battlefields were the most highly prized of all. Why?

An army marches on its stomach – Napoleon Bonaparte

Which is no use at all if the army in question can't chew. Of the 50,000 men who fell at the Battle of Waterloo, most were young and healthy and their teeth were of a generally good standard, much better than the teeth employed in the majority of dentures. Having been plundered from the battlefield, most of these teeth made their way back to Britain, the country best placed to afford the new top-quality dentures which would incorporate them. These then became known as 'Waterloo Teeth' and were often worn with a great deal of pride, a 'must-have' accessory for fashion-conscious yet toothless members of the more affluent classes of the time. Worn as something like trophies by elderly dandies, the nationality of the teeth in question was actually far from certain in any particular case and the gullible patriot was as likely to be sporting a countryman's molars as those of the vanquished foe.

The name 'Waterloo Teeth' quickly established itself as applying to any set of dentures made from young and healthy teeth taken from a Napoleonic battlefield and continued as a term on into the 19th Century, becoming less and less historically accurate as time went on. Indeed, while wholly artificial teeth began to take over from the 1840s onwards, so bringing an end to this rather ghoulish episode in dental history, as late as the 1860s, human teeth obtained from the battlefields of the American Civil War were being shipped to Europe for sale.

Just before the start of World War II most condoms worn were made in Germany. When war broke out most soldiers making love before leaving for the front were wearing German condoms.


During World War II Marmite was prescribed as a cure for tropical diseases like burning feet and Beriberi.

True, First, Marmite (pronounced [ˈmɑː(r)maɪt]) is the name given to two similar food spreads, a British version produced in the United Kingdom and South Africa and the other in New Zealand. Marmite is made from yeast extract, a by-product of beer brewing, and is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The British version of the product is a sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty and savoury with umami qualities, somewhat comparable to soy sauce. This distinctive taste is reflected in the British company's marketing slogan: "Love it or hate it." It is similar to the Australian Vegemite and Swiss Cenovis.

Beriberi is a thymine deficiency, (Vitamin B1)

After the First World War ended it was found that the Armistice was typed back to front. The French clerk who was taking the dictation accidentally put the carbon papers in the wrong way round.

During the 19th century the Royal Navy estimated that insanity in its service was seven times the normal. This was thought to be because sailors and marines who had got drunk were constantly banging their heads in the confined spaces between decks.


During World War II a German U-boat was actually sunk by a truck. After the U-boat had torpedoed a convoy of cargo ships in the Atlantic ocean, it rose to the surface to see the results when one of the ships suddenly exploded sending it's cargo of trucks flying into the air, one of which landed on the submarine breaking it's back and sinking it.

True(ish) From Der Krieg Zur See: Der Handelskrieg mit U-Booten ed. Arno Spindler (German official history):

The Loss of U 28, Kapitänleutnant Georg Schmidt, on 2.9.1917

On 19.8.[19]17 U 28 left Emden for the war on shipping in the Arctic Sea. Officially confirmed newspaper reports state that, on 2.9.17 at 1155 a.m., 85 miles NbE1/2E from North Cape, in position 72°34N, 27°56E, the U-Boat attacked the armed English steamer Olive Branch, 4649 t., carrying munitions from England for Archangel. Since the steamer was not sunk by a torpedo hit, U 28 came to close range to finish her with gunfire. The second shell hit the cargo of munitions, which detonated with an enormous explosion, whereby the U-Boat was so badly damaged that it sank. Some men of the crew of U 28 were seen swimming, but were not picked up by the Olive Branch's lifeboats. No survivors.

The First World War German submarine U 28 was sunk in remarkable circumstances. One account, in Under the Black Ensignby R.S. Gwatkin-Williams (London: Hutchinson, 1926), says that when the cargo of ammunition carried by the British ship Olive Branchwas touched off by one of U 28's shells in a close range surface bombardment, a truck carried as deck cargo was blown into the air, only to land (from a great height) on the U-Boat, sinking it.

Although this version first appears in print several years after the event, it is feasible that the blast of the explosion, followed by the resultant tidal wave could have laid the submarine over far enough to swamp her open hatches.

A heavy lorry crashing down on deck would have contributed to the damage, though probably not sufficiently to be fatal to a strongly built vessel like a submarine.


During World War II the military production of the Ford Motor Company exceeded that of the whole of Italy.

By the end of the American Civil War between a third and a half of all money in circulation in the US was counterfeit.

When Lawrence of Arabia led the British in battle with the Turks in Syria during World War I, he used a fleet of Rolls Royces to transport his men.

The US Interstate Highway System requires that one mile motorway in every five has to be straight so that these sections can be used as airstrips in times of war.

In France, in 1914, during World War I, French General Gallieni used a fleet of taxis, the drivers still wearing their caps, to transport his troops from Paris to the Battle of the Marne.

During the first World War it took about 1 tonne of poison gas to kill a single infantryman.

During the first Gulf war in the 1990's the allied forces lost just 4 tanks out of the 3,360 that were deployed.
The Iraqi's however lost 4,000 tanks out of 4,230 they used.

In England, during World War II, Lord Woolton, the Minister Of Food, actually considered a plan by Government scientists to feed the population with black pudding made from surplus human blood bank donations.
This idea was rejected.

In 1940, during the German invasion of Russia, for every 100 Russian males aged 18, 99 would have been killed over the next five years.

Of the 2,332 allied pilots that flew for their country during the Battle of Britain, only 17 of them accounted for ten percent of all German losses!

During the English Civil War, Sir Arthur Aston, a Royalist commander, was beaten death with his own wooden leg by Oliver Cromwell's soldiers!

During the 19th century Turkey suffered 13 military defeats and only won one campaign.

During the second world war over 56,000 carrier pigeons were sent into action with some of them actually receiving medals of bravery.

Kleenex tissues were actually developed for use as gasmask filters during the first world war.

US General George Custer always slept with his dog on his bed.

Since Bolivia became an independent country in 1825 there have been more than 180 revolutions.

The very last sea battle using oar powered ships was at Lepanto in 1571.

Nope: The Battle of Lepanto, in 1571, proved one of the largest naval battles in which the galley played the principal part. Galleys continued in mainstream use until the introduction of the broadside sailing ship into the Mediterranean in the 17th Century and then continued to function in minor and auxiliary roles until the advent of steam propulsion.

The military tank got it's name when they were first shipped to France during World War I.
For security reasons they were packed into huge wooden crates which were supposed to contain water tanks and the name stuck.

Sorta: There are at least three possible explanations of the origin of the name "tank". One is it first arose in British factories making the hulls of the first battle tanks: the workmen were given the impression they were constructing tracked water containers or tanks for the British Army, hence keeping the production of a fighting vehicle secret. Another is the term was first used in a secret report on the new motorized weapon presented to Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, by British Army Lt.-Col. Ernest Swinton. From this report, three possible terms emerged: "cistern", "motor-war car", and "tank". Apparently "tank" was chosen due to its linguistic simplicity.[2] But perhaps the most compelling story comes from Winston Churchill's authoritative biography. To disguise the device, drawings were marked "water carriers for Russia." When it was pointed out that this might be shortened to "WCs for Russia," the drawings were changed to "water tanks for Russia." Eventually the weapon was just called a tank.

The very last Roman soldier left Great Britain in 407 AD.

In France during World War II a French Resistance fighter shot and killed two German Nazi officers.
When the war was over he was reunited with his family and it was then that he found out that one of the officers had been his mother's lover and was in fact his father.
Also both officers were brothers which made the second officer his uncle!

During the Vietnam War more than 58,000 American soldiers were killed in action.
It has been estimated that nearly twice that many have committed suicide since their return.

A British soldier once walked non-stop for 6 days, 10 hours and 22 minutes without a break.

During the first world war ordinary yeast was used in the manufacture of high explosives.




The Day Japan Bombed Oregon

By: Norm Goyer

September 9, 1942, the I-25 class Japanese submarine was cruising in an easterly direction raising its periscope occasionally as it neared the United States Coastline. Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor less than a year before and the Captain of the attack submarine knew that Americans were watching their coast line for ships and aircraft that might attack our country. Dawn was approaching; the first rays of the sun were flickering off the periscopes' lens. Their mission; attack the west coast with incendiary bombs in hopes of starting a devastating forest fire. If this test run were successful, Japan had hopes of using their huge submarine fleet to attack the eastern end of the Panama Canal to slow down shipping from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Japanese Navy had a large number of  I-400 submarines under construction. Each capable of carrying three aircraft. Pilot Chief Warrant Officer Nobuo Fujita and his crewman Petty Officer Shoji Okuda were making last minute checks of their charts making sure they matched those of the submarine’s navigator.

The only plane ever to drop a bomb on the
United States during WWII was this submarine based Glen.

September 9, 1942: Nebraska forestry student Keith V. Johnson was on duty atop a forest fire lookout tower between Gold’s Beach and Brookings Oregon. Keith had memorized the silhouettes of Japanese long distance bombers and those of our own aircraft. He felt confident that he could spot and identify, friend or foe, almost immediately. It was cold on the coast this September morning, and quiet. The residents of the area were still in bed or preparing to head for work. Lumber was a large part of the industry in Brookings, just a few miles north of the California Oregon state lines.

The aircraft carried two incendiary 168 pound bombs and a crew of two.

Aboard the submarine the Captain’s voice boomed over the PA system, “Prepare to surface, aircrew report to your stations, wait for the open hatch signal”. During training runs several subs were lost when hangar doors were opened too soon and sea water rushed into the hangars and sank the boat with all hands lost. You could hear the change of sound as the bow of the I-25 broke from the depths, nosed over for its run on the surface. A loud bell signaled the “All Clear.” The crew assigned to the single engine Yokosuki E14Ys float equipped observation and light attack aircraft sprang into action. They rolled the plane out its hangar built next to the conning tower. The wings and tail were unfolded, and several 176 pound incendiary bombs were attached to the hard points under the wings. This was a small two passenger float plane with a nine cylinder 340 hp radial engine. It was full daylight when the Captain ordered the aircraft to be placed on the catapult. Warrant Officer Fujita started the engine, let it warm up, checked the magnetos and oil pressure. There was a slight breeze blowing and the seas were calm. A perfect day to attack the United States of America . When the gauges were in the green the pilot signaled and the catapult launched the aircraft. After a short climb to altitude the pilot turned on a heading for the Oregon coast.

The “Glen” was launched via catapult from a I-25 class Japanese submarine.

Johnson was sweeping the horizon but could see nothing, he went back to his duties as a forestry agent which was searching for any signs of a forest fire. The morning moved on. Every few minutes he would scan low, medium and high but nothing caught his eye.
The small Japanese float plane had climbed to several thousand feet of altitude for better visibility and to get above the coastal fog. The pilot had calculated land fall in a few minutes and right on schedule he could see the breakers flashing white as they hit the
Oregon shores.

Johnson was about to put his binoculars down when something flashed in the sun just above the fog bank. It was unusual because in the past all air traffic had been flying up and down, parallel to the coast, not aiming into the coast.

The pilot of the aircraft checked his course and alerted his observer to be on the lookout for a fire tower which was on the edge of the wooded area where they were supposed to drop their bombs. These airplanes carried very little fuel and all flights were in and out without any loitering. The plane reached the shore line and the pilot made a course correction 20 degrees to the north. The huge trees were easy to spot and certainly easy to hit with the bombs. The fog was very wispy by this time.

Warrant Officer Fujita is shown with his 
Yokosuka E14Y (Glen) float plane prior to his flight.

Johnson watched in awe as the small floatplane with a red meat ball on the wings flew overhead, the plane was not a bomber and there was no way that it could have flown across the Pacific, Johnson could not understand what was happening. He locked onto the plane and followed it as it headed inland.

The pilot activated the release locks so that when he could pickled the bombs they would release. His instructions were simple, fly at 500 feet, drop the bombs into the trees and circle once to see if they had started any fires and then head back to the submarine.

Johnson could see the two bombs under the wing of the plane and knew that they would be dropped. He grabbed his communications radio and called the Forest Fire Headquarters informing them of what he was watching unfold.

The bombs tumbled from the small seaplane and impacted the forest, the pilot circled once and spotted fire around the impact point. He executed an 180 degree turn and headed back to the submarine. There was no air activity, the skies were clear. The small float plane lined up with the surfaced submarine and landed gently on the ocean, then taxied to the sub. A long boom swung out from the stern. His crewman caught the cable and hooked it into the pickup attached to the roll over cage between the cockpits. The plane was swung onto the deck, The plane’s crew folded the wings and tail, pushed it into its hangar and secured the water tight doors. The I-25 submerged and headed back to Japan .

This event ,which caused no damage, marked the only time during World War II that an enemy plane had dropped bombs on the United States mainland. What the Japanese didn’t count on was coastal fog, mist and heavy doses of rain that made the forests so wet they simply would not catch fire.

This Memorial Plaque is located in Brookings , Oregon at the site of the 1942 bombing

Fifty years later the Japanese pilot, who survived the war, would return to Oregon to help dedicate a historical plaque at the exact spot where his two bombs had impacted. The elderly pilot then donated his ceremonial sword as a gesture of peace and closure of the bombing of Oregon in 1942.


He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

(Albert Einstein)

Either man is obsolete or war is. War is the ultimate tool of politics. Political leaders look out only for their own side. Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election. They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.

R. Buckminster Fuller