Interesting Facts and Stories

Louis

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Matt Louis Urban (August 25, 1919 – March 4, 1995) was a United States Army infantry officer who served with distinction in the Mediterranean and European Theater of Operations in WW2. He scouted, led charges upfront, and performed heroically in combat on several occasions despite being wounded.
Urban was called the Ghost by his German foes because he kept coming back to fight despite his wounds.
He was awarded over a dozen combat decorations by the Army, including seven Purple Hearts.
In 1980, he was awarded and presented the Medal of Honor and four other combat decorations belatedly for repeated acts of heroism in combat in France and Belgium in 1944. The Guinness Book of World Records in 1989, considered Urban to be the United States Army’s most combat decorated soldier of WW2.
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In Section 7a of the "Prominent Military Figures" portion of Arlington National Cemetery's webpage, there is the statement, "Lt. Col. Matt Urban - World War II infantry officer who earned the distinction as the most decorated soldier in WW II".
 

Louis

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Anti German hysteria in the United States during the WW1

During WW One, german americans were sometimes accused of being too sympathetic to the German Empire. Former president Theodore Roosevelt denounced "hyphenated Americanism," insisting that dual loyalties were impossible in wartime.

Anti-German fervor during World War I resulted in the renaming of German (or German-sounding) food. Sauerkraut became liberty cabbage, frankfurters became hot dogs, and salisbury steak turned into meat loaf. German-named streets were renamed. The town of Berlin, Michigan was changed to Marne, Michigan (honoring those who fought in the Battle of Marne).

Congress passed a bill that required all German-language newspapers published in the United States to print an English translation of any comment respecting the government of the United States, or of any nation with which Germany is at war, its policies, international relations, the state or conduct of the war, or any matter relating thereto.

Thousands were forced to buy war bonds to show their loyalty. The Red Cross barred individuals with German last names from joining in fear of sabotage. One person was killed by a mob; in Collinsville, Illinois, German-born Robert Prager was dragged from jail as a suspected spy and lynched. A Minnesota minister was tarred and feathered when he was overheard praying in German with a dying woman . In Cincinnati, the public library was asked to withdraw all German books from its shelves.

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In Iowa, in the 1918 Babel Proclamation, the governor prohibited all foreign languages in schools and public places. Nebraska banned instruction in any language except English, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the ban illegal in 1923 (Meyer v. Nebraska). The response of German Americans to these tactics was often to "Americanize" names (e.g. Schmidt to Smith, Müller to Miller) and limit the use of the German language in public places, especially churches.

Civilian Internees
In anticipation of support for Germany among U.S. immigrants, President Wilson issued two sets of regulations in 1917, imposing restrictions on German-born residents. Some 250,000 people were required to register at their local post office, to carry their registration card at all times, and to report any change of address or employment. The Justice Department attempted to prepare a list of all German aliens, counting approximately 480,000, more than 4,000 of whom were imprisoned in 1917-18. The allegations included spying for Germany or endorsing the German war effort. Some remained in custody until as late as March and April 1920.

Source: Boundless. “The Anti-German Crusade.” Boundless U.S. History. Boundless, 21 Jul. 2015.
 

Louis

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In late 1982, Samantha Smith, a young girl of fifth-grader at Manchester Elementary School in Manchester, Maine, wrote a plaintive letter to Soviet leader Andropov.

She said
Dear Mr. Andropov,
My name is Samantha Smith. I am ten years old. Congratulations on your new job. I have been worrying about Russia and the United States getting into a nuclear war. Are you going to vote to have a war or not? If you aren't please tell me how you are going to help to not have a war. This question you do not have to answer, but I would like to know why you want to conquer the world or at least our country. God made the world for us to live together in peace and not to fight.
Sincerely,
Samantha Smith


Her letter was published in the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Samantha was happy to discover that her letter had been published; however, she had not received a reply. She then sent a letter to the Soviet Union's Ambassador to the United States asking if Mr. Andropov intended to respond. On April 26, 1983, she received a response from Andropov:

Dear Samantha,
I received your letter, which is like many others that have reached me recently from your country and from other countries around the world.
It seems to me – I can tell by your letter – that you are a courageous and honest girl, resembling Becky, the friend of Tom Sawyer in the famous book of your compatriot Mark Twain. This book is well known and loved in our country by all boys and girls.
You write that you are anxious about whether there will be a nuclear war between our two countries. And you ask are we doing anything so that war will not break out.
Your question is the most important of those that every thinking man can pose. I will reply to you seriously and honestly.
Yes, Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are trying to do everything so that there will not be war on Earth. This is what every Soviet man wants. This is what the great founder of our state, Vladimir Lenin, taught us.
Soviet people well know what a terrible thing war is. Forty-two years ago, Nazi Germany, which strove for supremacy over the whole world, attacked our country, burned and destroyed many thousands of our towns and villages, killed millions of Soviet men, women and children.
In that war, which ended with our victory, we were in alliance with the United States: together we fought for the liberation of many people from the Nazi invaders. I hope that you know about this from your history lessons in school. And today we want very much to live in peace, to trade and cooperate with all our neighbors on this earth — with those far away and those near by. And certainly with such a great country as the United States of America.
In America and in our country there are nuclear weapons — terrible weapons that can kill millions of people in an instant. But we do not want them to be ever used. That's precisely why the Soviet Union solemnly declared throughout the entire world that never — never — will it use nuclear weapons first against any country. In general we propose to discontinue further production of them and to proceed to the abolition of all the stockpiles on Earth.
It seems to me that this is a sufficient answer to your second question: 'Why do you want to wage war against the whole world or at least the United States?' We want nothing of the kind. No one in our country–neither workers, peasants, writers nor doctors, neither grown-ups nor children, nor members of the government–want either a big or 'little' war.
We want peace — there is something that we are occupied with: growing wheat, building and inventing, writing books and flying into space. We want peace for ourselves and for all peoples of the planet. For our children and for you, Samantha.
I invite you, if your parents will let you, to come to our country, the best time being this summer. You will find out about our country, meet with your contemporaries, visit an international children's camp – Artek – on the sea. And see for yourself: in the Soviet Union, everyone is for peace and friendship among peoples.
Thank you for your letter. I wish you all the best in your young life.
Y. Andropov


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Samantha Smith holds a letter she received from Soviet Premiere Yuri Andropov in 1983, after she wrote to him about world peace.

In July, accompanied by her parents, Smith embarked on a two-week trip. She was a hit in the Soviet Union, and although she did not get to meet with Andropov, she traveled widely and spoke to numerous groups and people. In the United States, some people branded her as a patsy for the communists and claimed that Soviet propagandists were merely using her for their own purposes, but Samantha’s enthusiasm and contagious optimism charmed most Americans and millions of other people around the world. During the next two years, Smith became an unofficial U.S. goodwill ambassador, speaking to groups throughout the United States and in foreign nations such as Japan.

On August 25, 1985, while traveling with her father, their small plane crashed and both were killed.

Much speculation regarding the cause of the accident circulated afterwards. Accusations of foul play circulated widely in the Soviet Union.-

Samantha Smith was mourned by about 1,000 people at her funeral in Augusta, Maine, and was eulogized in Moscow as a champion of peace.
 

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Dirk J. Vlug, born in 1916, served as a US Private First Class in the 126th Infantry Division based in the Philippines. On December 15, 1944, Dirk’s unit and the roadblock they were protecting came under attack from a Japanese force. Leaving his covered position in a charge, with a rocket launcher and five rounds of ammunition, Vlug came under fire from machine guns. Despite this, he loaded the rocket launcher single-handedly, Vlug destroyed an enemy tank. He then killed the gunner of a second tank with his pistol and finished off the second tank with another rocket. Seeing three more tanks moving up the road, Vlug flanked the first and eliminated it. He pressed forward to destroy his fourth tank for the day. With the last round, he sent the final tank down a steep embankment. In all, he destroyed five tanks by himself.

One man. Five tanks. Six rockets. For his incredible efficiency and absolute fearlessness Vlug was awarded the United States Congressional Medal of Honor.

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Vlug died at age 79 and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
 

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The dutch warship Abraham Crijnssen, was disguised as a tropical island to escape detection by the Japanese bombers.

The ship was based at Surabaya in the Netherlands East Indies when Japan invaded in 1941. Following the Allied defeats at the Battles of the Java Sea and Sunda Strait in late March 1942, all Allied ships were ordered to withdraw to Australia.
Abraham Crijnssen was meant to sail with three other warships, but found herself proceeding alone.

To escape detection by Japanese aircraft (which the minesweeper did not have the armament to defend effectively against), the ship was heavily camouflaged with jungle foliage, giving the impression of a small island. Personnel cut down trees and branches from nearby islands, and arranged the cuttings to form a jungle canopy covering as much of the ship as possible. Any hull still exposed was painted to resemble rocks and cliffs. To further the illusion, the ship would remain close to shore, anchored and immobile, during daylight, and only sailing at night.

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She headed for Fremantle, Western Australia, where she arrived on 20 March 1942; Abraham Crijnssen was the last vessel to successfully escape Java, and the only ship of her class in the region to survive.-
 

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Hubert Rochereau was a second lieutenant for the French army during World War I, who died on April 26, 1918, a day after being wounded during fighting for the village of Loker in Flanders.- His parents had no idea where he was buried until 1922 when his body was discovered in a British cemetery and repatriated to the graveyard at Bélâbre.

The grief-stricken Rochereau, a distinguished military family whose forefathers were believed to go back to the French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte, left his room untouched since the day the soldier left for war, then bricked up the entrance to the room.

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In 1935, Hubert Rochereau’s parents bequeathed their substantial mansion house in Bélâbre to a military friend, General Eugène Bridoux, on the express condition that their late son’s room would remain untouched and unchanged for 500 years.

Seven years later, Bridoux became secretary of state in the Vichy regime and was responsible for organising the deportation of Jewish families to the Nazi concentration camps. During the Allied liberation of France, he escaped to Germany before being captured and returned to France where he again escaped and fled to Franco’s Spain where he remained until his death in 1955.

Bridoux was condemned to death by the French authorities in absentia and his house in Bélâbre confiscated as the property of a collaborator. Laroche said it was rented to a family of solicitors until it was reclaimed in the 1950s by Bridoux’s granddaughter, whose husband, Daniel Fabre, still lives in the house.

from:
theguardian
huffingtonpost
borneobulletin
 

Louis

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So, what happened to the room?
No idea mate, this is the last thing on the web about it, one year ago:

Mr Fabre has preserved the bedroom in its original state and said he hopes any new owner will do the same.
The bedroom has since remained untouched but there are fears that a future owner could clear it out as the 500 year clause in the original 1936 sale document has no basis under French law.
Mr Fabre told the Nouvelle Republique newspaper: 'This clause had no legal basis, but we believe the room should be left unchanged.
'If we sell, we will be looking for a new owner that respects Hubert Rochereau's memory and keeps this extraordinary museum piece intact.'
Now the Mayor of Belabre Laurent Laroche is appealing for benefactors to help preserve the unique historical site by transforming it into a museum.
He said: 'They knew about the room at the end of the corridor but had never seen it because it was bricked up. So they broke down the wall and made this strange discovery.
'It would be a great shame for it to disappear. As someone who loves history, I feel it's also important not to forget the sacrifice made by men like Rochereau.'


from: daily, dec 2014
 

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In 1898, 14 years before the Titanic sank, Morgan Robertson (American author of short stories and novels, 1861 – 1915) was a well-known American wrote a book about a ship called the \"Titan\" that crashed into an iceberg and sank. The book is Futility or The Wreck of the Titan. In addition to having the same outcome (crashing into an iceberg and sinking, the fictional \"Titan\" and the real-life \"Titanic\" had other bizarre similarities. They were both over 800 feet long. They both were known as \"unsinkable\". They both sunk in the North Atlantic. They both didn\'t have enough lifeboats. They both had 3000 passengers. There\'s some big differences too. Most importantly, more people survived from the real Titanic than from the Titan.
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Twenty-three sets of brothers died aboard USS Arizona.
There were 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers assigned to USS Arizona on December 7, 1941. Of these 77 men, 62 were killed, and 23 sets of brothers died. Only one full set of brothers, Kenneth and Russell Warriner, survived the attack; Kenneth was away at flight school in San Diego on that day and Russell was badly wounded but recovered. Both members of the ship’s only father-and-son pair, Thomas Augusta Free and his son William Thomas Free, were killed in action.
 

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Pearl Harbour from above

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The above photograph taken from a Japanese aircraft of Pearl Harbor at the beginning of the attack had long history. A young American sailor found a creased and crumpled version of it (which I could only scanned below) on the wall of a photo-engraving shop at the Imperial Navy Base in Yokohama, Japan in 1945. He took the photo of the badly-damaged photograph, and brought it back to the U.S.

He published it in many newspapers and magazines as a war souvenir. After Life magazine popularized the image in its bicentennial issue in 1975, Time magazine delved into its archives and pulled out an unwrinkled, perfect print (above), which presumably arrived to its headquarters through a neutral embassy sometime in 1942. Although both Time and Life published it in April and July 1942 respectively, by then the U.S. was already in a full-scale war in Europe, and the photo was buried in the deluge of war news. Only with the coming of the crumpled version–taken from the wing of a Japanese aircraft arriving over Honolulu–was the interest rekindled.

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In the photo, the explosion in the center is a torpedo strike on the USS West Virginia.

From: iconicphotos.wordpress.com
 

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The Swiss Mini Gun, produced in Switzerland by SwissMiniGun, is considered the world's smallest working revolver. The revolver measures merely 5.5 cm long, 3.5 cm tall and 1 cm wide, weighing only 19.8g. Ammunition is 2.34mm rimfire, also produced by SwissMiniGun. There is a key ring holster that comes with the gun when it is bought and can be clipped to a belt loop.
Swiss Mini Gun is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world's smallest working revolver. This is a double-action revolver and has all the same features as are found on a real size gun. The manufacture of this exceptionally miniature revolver has only been made possible by exploiting the expertise and technologies of the Swiss Watch and Jewellery Industry.
The MfS/HVA (east german secret police) had such weapons as well - maybe even much more tiny. I know of a pistol what only had one shot what was about 2 cm (two fingernails wide) long if I estimate right and its "bullet" only 2 mm in diameter. The east german pendant/counterpart to the swiss revolver looks similar. It was made to get hidden under the beret/cap or in similar hiding-places. One could hold in one fist without a part looking out. The bullet of the key-ring-gun (the 2cm version) fired a bullet what was made of metal, poison and duff.

Greetings :)
 

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On Oct, 28, 1939, the RAF had the distinction of having the first pilot to down an enemy aircraft over the British Isles during the war. The bomber crash-landed near the village of Humbie, which sits 15-miles south of Edinburgh, later dubbed the "Humbie Heinkel".

The historic black-and-white photograph shows crowds gathered to see the crumpled Luftwaffe Heinkel He 111 wreckage.
 

Louis

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The last major eruption of Vesuvius happened on 1944, in the midst of WWII. At the time of the eruption, the USAAF 340th Bombardment Group was based at Pompeii Airfield near Terzigno - Italy, just a few kilometers from the eastern base of the mountain.