Friday, August 16, 2013

Old WWII Facts

You might enjoy this from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret, a real history buff. 

1. The first German serviceman killed in WW II 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.

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

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

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

5. 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.

6. It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming.  This was a big mistake.  Tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing.  Worse yet tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction.  But the 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.

7. 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).

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

9. German submarine U-1206 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.

10. 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 they were captured by the US Army.

11. Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands where 21 troops were killed in the assault.  It could have been worse if there had actually been any Japanese on the island.

12. The last marine killed in WW2 was killed by a can of spam.  He was on the ground as a POW in Japan when rescue flights dropping food and supplies came over.  One of the packages came apart in the air and a stray can of spam hit him and killed him.

So… have any of you heard of other strange but true stuff like this?  Let me know.


lotta joy said...

Until I got to the can of Spam story, I was caught up in the Tracer debacle. Some animals eat their young, but we just send them into war. horrifying fact.

David said...

Minor correction - the sub with the malfunctioning toilet was actually U-1206, not U-120.

If you haven't read it already, look up the book "Dirty Little Secrets of World War II" on Amazon. Lots of trivia and stories like the ones you just shared. Unless, of course, that's where you got them from...

Coffeypot said...

Yes, LJ. The young are sacrificed for our freedom and security. Besides, us old men know better and would tell an officer to go fuck himself if they gave out some stupid order.

David, thank you. I will look it up and add it to my library. I got these from an email/Navy shipmate.

Old NFO said...

David is correct, 1206... And truth IS often stranger than fiction!

Coffeypot said...

Thanks, Old NFO. I've already sent 'No-Neck' Guido over to break the legs of the fucker who sent me the email and left off the '6'. Teach him!!!

Coffeypot said...

I'll make the correction, now.

Vapid Vixen said...

My boyfriend is sitting beside me trying to read his National Geographic. I keep interrupting him to tell him one of these facts...and then another...and another.
This was REALLY crazy interesting.

Ed Bonderenka said...

I've watched "The Longest Day" a zillion times and never saw any Koreans....

Coffeypot said...

VV, you have a boyfriend who reads National Geographic when there are war stories to be read? Time for a trade-in?

Ed B. that is because they had them disguised as Chinese.

Janie Junebug said...

I remember seeing a made-for-TV movie about Calvin Graham a number of years ago. That kid went through hell (if the movie told his story accurately). Strange but true? Pretty much everything I know is strange but true. Truth is always stranger than fiction.

Janie, who is back among the living

Vanessa Mercado said...

great post! following you now! I hope to see you in my blog sometimes. thanks!
Kisses from VV!!