Tag Archives: WWII

June 6, 1944

6 Jun

The Normandy Landings were the first operations of the Allied Powers’ invasion of Normandy, also known as Operation Neptune and Operation Overlord, during World War II. D-Day for the operation, postponed 24 hours, became June 6, 1944, H-Hour was 6:30 am.

 

Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!

You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have
striven these many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The
hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on
other Fronts, you will bring about the destruction of the German war
machine, the elimination of Nazi tyranny over the oppressed peoples of
Europe, and security for ourselves in a free world.

Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well
equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.

But this is the year 1944! Much has happened since the Nazi triumphs of
1940-41. The United Nations have inflicted upon the Germans great defeats,
in open battle, man-to-man. Our air offensive has seriously reduced their
strength in the air and their capacity to wage war on the ground. Our Home
Fronts have given us an overwhelming superiority in weapons and munitions
of war, and placed at our disposal great reserves of trained fighting men.
The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to
Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage and devotion to duty and skill in
battle. We will accept nothing less than full Victory!

Good luck! And let us beseech the blessing of Almighty God upon this great
and noble undertaking.

SIGNED: Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

 

And now, the best speech ever written. Period.

 

General George S Patton on June 5, 1944

 

 

Be seated.

Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of bullshit.

Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle.

You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else.

Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight.

When you, here, everyone of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards.

Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.

You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he’s not, he’s a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are.

The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared.

Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some, it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood. Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base. Americans pride themselves on being He Men and they ARE He Men.

Remember that the enemy is just as frightened as you are, and probably more so. They are not supermen.

All through your Army careers, you men have bitched about what you call ‘chicken shit drilling’. That, like everything else in this Army, has a definite purpose. That purpose is alertness. Alertness must be bred into every soldier. I don’t give a fuck for a man who’s not always on his toes. You men are veterans or you wouldn’t be here. You are ready for what’s to come. A man must be alert at all times if he expects to stay alive. If you’re not alert, sometime, a German son-of-an-asshole-bitch is going to sneak up behind you and beat you to death with a sockful of shit!

There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily, all because one man went to sleep on the job. But they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before they did.

An Army is a team. It lives, sleeps, eats, and fights as a team. This individual heroic stuff is pure horse shit. The bilious bastards who write that kind of stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know any more about real fighting under fire than they know about fucking! We have the finest food, the finest equipment, the best spirit, and the best men in the world. Why, by God, I actually pity those poor sons-of-bitches we’re going up against. By God, I do.

My men don’t surrender, and I don’t want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he has been hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight back That’s not just bull shit either. The kind of man that I want in my command is just like the lieutenant in Libya, who, with a Luger against his chest, jerked off his helmet, swept the gun aside with one hand, and busted the hell out of the Kraut with his helmet. Then he jumped on the gun and went out and killed another German before they knew what the hell was coming off. And, all of that time, this man had a bullet through a lung. There was a real man!

All of the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters, either. Every single man in this Army plays a vital role. Don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant. Every man has a job to do and he must do it. Every man is a vital link in the great chain.

What if every truck driver suddenly decided that he didn’t like the whine of those shells overhead, turned yellow, and jumped headlong into a ditch? The cowardly bastard could say, ‘Hell, they won’t miss me, just one man in thousands.’ But, what if every man thought that way? Where in the hell would we be now? What would our country, our loved ones, our homes, even the world, be like?

No, Goddamnit, Americans don’t think like that. Every man does his job. Every man serves the whole. Every department, every unit, is important in the vast scheme of this war.

The ordnance men are needed to supply the guns and machinery of war to keep us rolling. The Quartermaster is needed to bring up food and clothes because where we are going there isn’t a hell of a lot to steal. Every last man on K.P. has a job to do, even the one who heats our water to keep us from getting the ‘G.I. Shits’.

Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him. We don’t want yellow cowards in this Army. They should be killed off like rats. If not, they will go home after this war and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the Goddamned cowards and we will have a nation of brave men.

One of the bravest men that I ever saw was a fellow on top of a telegraph pole in the midst of a furious fire fight in Tunisia. I stopped and asked what the hell he was doing up there at a time like that. He answered, ‘Fixing the wire, Sir.’ I asked, ‘Isn’t that a little unhealthy right about now?’ He answered, ‘Yes Sir, but the Goddamned wire has to be fixed.’ I asked, ‘Don’t those planes strafing the road bother you?’ And he answered, ‘No, Sir, but you sure as hell do!’ Now, there was a real man. A real soldier. There was a man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty might appear at the time, no matter how great the odds.

And you should have seen those trucks on the rode to Tunisia. Those drivers were magnificent. All day and all night they rolled over those son-of-a-bitching roads, never stopping, never faltering from their course, with shells bursting all around them all of the time. We got through on good old American guts. Many of those men drove for over forty consecutive hours. These men weren’t combat men, but they were soldiers with a job to do. They did it, and in one hell of a way they did it. They were part of a team. Without team effort, without them, the fight would have been lost. All of the links in the chain pulled together and the chain became unbreakable.

Don’t forget, you men don’t know that I’m here. No mention of that fact is to be made in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell happened to me. I’m not supposed to be commanding this Army. I’m not even supposed to be here in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the Goddamned Germans. Some day I want to see them raise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl, ‘Jesus Christ, it’s the Goddamned Third Army again and that son-of-a-fucking-bitch Patton’. We want to get the hell over there.’ The quicker we clean up this Goddamned mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the purple pissing Japs and clean out their nest, too. Before the Goddamned Marines get all of the credit.

Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake!

When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hell with that idea. The hell with taking it. My men don’t dig foxholes. I don’t want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don’t give the enemy time to dig one either. We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we’ve got more guts than they have; or ever will have.

We’re not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we’re going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun cock suckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You’ve got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt off your face and realize that instead of dirt it’s the blood and guts of what once was your best friend beside you, you’ll know what to do!

I don’t want to get any messages saying, ‘I am holding my position.’ We are not holding a Goddamned thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything, except the enemy’s balls. We are going to twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all of the time. Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. We are going to go through him like crap through a goose; like shit through a tin horn!

From time to time there will be some complaints that we are pushing our people too hard. I don’t give a good Goddamn about such complaints. I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder WE push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that.

There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that twenty years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you WON’T have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well, your Granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.’ No, Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, ‘Son, your Granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a Son-of-a-Goddamned-Bitch named Georgie Patton!'”

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Dissolve My Nobel Prize! Fast! (A True Story)

19 Oct

http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2011/10/03/140815154/dissolve-my-nobel-prize-fast-a-true-story?f=5500502&ft=1

 

Dissolve My Nobel Prize! Fast! (A True Story)

by

 

 

It’s 1940. The Nazis have taken Copenhagen. They are literally marching through the streets, and physicist Niels Bohr has just hours, maybe minutes, to make two Nobel Prize medals disappear.

These medals are made of 23-karat gold. They are heavy to handle, and being shiny and inscribed, they are noticeable. The Nazis have declared no gold shall leave Germany, but two Nobel laureates, one of Jewish descent, the other an opponent of the National Socialists, have quietly sent their medals to Bohr’s Institute of Theoretical Physics, for protection. Their act is probably a capital offense — if the Gestapo can find the evidence.

 

Inconveniently, that evidence was now sitting in Bohr’s building, clearly inscribed “Von Laue” (for Max von Laue, winner of the 1914 Prize for Physics) and “Franck” (for James Franck, the physics winner in 1925) — like two death warrants. Bohr’s institute had attracted and protected Jewish scientists for years. The Nazis knew that, and Niels Bohr knew (now that Denmark was suddenly part of the Reich) that he was a target. He had no idea what to do.

How To Get Rid of A Nobel Prize Medal

On the day the Nazis came to Copenhagen, a Hungarian chemist named Georgy de Hevesy (he would one day win a Nobel of his own) was working in Bohr’s lab. He wrote later, “I suggested that we should bury the medal(s),” but Bohr thought no, the Germans would dig up the grounds, the garden, search everywhere in the building. Too dangerous.

So Hevesy’s thoughts turned to chemistry. Maybe he could make the medals disappear. He took the first one, he says, and “I decided to dissolve it. While the invading forces marched in the streets of Copenhagen, I was busy dissolving Laue’s and also James Franck’s medals.”

This was not an obvious solution, since gold is a very stable element, doesn’t tarnish, doesn’t mix, and doesn’t dissolve in anything — except for one particular chemical emulsifier, called “aqua regia,” a mixture of three parts hydrochloric acid and one part nitric acid.

As you can see in this video from the University of Nottingham, dissolving gold is a slow business. The narrator (who looks like he was cast by Mel Brooks, but is presumably, the real deal) explains that nitric acid loosens the gold atoms, after which hydrochloric acid moves in, using its chloride ions to surround and transform the gold. While the video shows the reaction in sped-up form, remember, in 1940, they weren’t dissolving little bits of gold. Hevesy’s beaker contained two hulking gold medals …

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwnKU89CCdI

 

It must have been an excruciating afternoon. De Hevesy, in his autobiography, says because gold is “exceedingly unreactive and difficult to dissolve,” it was slow going, but as the minutes ticked down, both medals were reduced to a colorless solution that turned faintly peach and then bright orange. By the time the Nazis arrived, both awards had liquefied inside a flask that was then stashed on a high laboratory shelf. Then, says science writer (and Radiolab contributor) Sam Kean, in his book The Disappearing Spoon:

…When the Nazis ransacked Bohr’s institute, they scoured the building for loot or evidence of wrongdoing but left the beaker of orange aqua regia untouched. Hevesy was forced to flee to Stockholm in 1943, but when he returned to his battered laboratory after V-E Day, he found the innocuous beaker undisturbed on a shelf.

Georgy de Hevesy

 

Back in Denmark, de Hevesy did a remarkable thing. He reversed the chemistry, precipitated out the gold and then, around January, 1950, sent the raw metal back to the Swedish Academy in Stockholm. The Nobel Foundation then recast the prizes using the original gold and re-presented them to Mr. Laue and Mr. Franck in 1952. Professor Frank, we know, got his re-coined medal at a ceremony at the University of Chicago, on January 31, 1952.

Niels Bohr also had a Nobel medal, but he’d put his up for auction on March 12, 1940, to raise money for Finnish Relief. The winning bid was anonymous, but later, Mr. Anonymous gave Bohr’s medal to the Danish Historical Museum of Fredrikborg, where it can be seen today.

Three winners, three medals — each of them sold or dissolved, then replaced. In wartime, it seems, Nobel medals get around

 

 

My flight on a B-17G (Nine-0-Nine)

21 Sep

From 3-15-2008

I don’t think words can do it justice.

It was just one of those “moments” that make you stop and really think about what’s going on. I’m geeky about nostalgia and stuff… I felt like I was going back in time.

We got our pre-flight briefing, then the flight engineer asked for two volunteers. Of course my hand shoots up. He says, “Ok you’re in first. All the way up front to the flight deck. Your seat is going to be directly behind the pilots.” I sat behind the pilot and right under the top turret.

Sitting there on the floor of a B-17 listening to the pilots run through their preflight checklist. Feeling the Wright Cyclones start up, 1200 hp at a time. Hearing the roar of 4800 hp when the throttles were ramped up for take off. The sounds, smells, sights, feels… man, it was a great experience.

I took a ton of pictures at first then decided to just soak it up. For some reason everyone else was hanging out in the rear fuselage at the waist gun positions To get to the nose you have to crawl under the flight deck. Maybe people just didnt want to squeeze through there? One guy asked his wife if she wanted to go down there and she said, “Why, what’s in there?”
Pffft. The best damn view on this bitch, that’s what!

I sat with the flight engineer up front for a good 10 minutes just taking it all in. Flying low over Dallas in the nose bubble of a B-17G… yeah, I won’t be forgetting that anytime soon.

I got to the airport around 745 am. Here’s the B-24, B-17 and B-25. The P-51 was not scheduled to arrive until 1040am.

That little spot on the floor next to the flag was mine

The instant the plane lifted off we were free to unbuckle and move around (except the tail and ball turret).

Views from the top turret:

Back

Forward

Views from the nose:

Cockpit view in a nice bank:

The 1,200 hp Wright R-1820-97 Cyclone engines in action

WWII pics – Spitfire uses wingtip to topple V-1 ‘Buzzbomb’

8 Aug

The MK XIV was also one of the few aircraft able to catch and destroy the V1 flying bomb. The Spitfires could sometimes “tip-up” the wing of a V1 by flying alongside and putting their wing under that of the flying-bomb, causing it to tumble out of control

For the lazy:
The V-1 was a pulse-jet powered guided missile developed by the Germans. After losing the Battle of Britain it was realized that the best way to attack British cities by air was to lob stuff like this at them.

At its peak, over a hundred V-1s a day were fired at southeast England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. This caused the remaining V-1s to be re-targeted on the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last site was overrun on 29 March 1945. In total, the V-1 attacks caused 22,892 casualties (almost entirely civilians).

Shakespeare once said, “I love the P-51.” True story.

29 Apr

Designed and built in just 117 days

Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns and 10 5-in. rockets or 2,000 lbs. of bombs
Engine: Packard-built Rolls-Royce Merlin V-1650 of 1,695 hp
Maximum speed: 437 mph
Cruising speed: 275 mph
Range: 1,000 miles
Ceiling: 41,900 ft.
Span: 37 ft.
Length: 32 ft. 3 in.
Height: 13 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 12,100 lbs. maximum

How about some flybys?

http://www.aviationspectator.com/resources/aircraft-profiles/north-american-p-51-mustang-aircraft-profile

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