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Interesting Facts and Stories

Louis

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In Dec 1944, Lt. Hajime Fujii (born on Aug 30, 1915) applied for a kamikaze pilot in the Imperial Army of Japan. He was rejected for being the father of two children.

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On Dec 14, 1944, his wife Fumiko left the house with her two young daughters, went to the Arakawa River near the Kumagaya Aviation School, and jumped into the ice water with her daughters to allow her husband to fulfill his mission.

Later, Fujii found Fukuko's last letter, which included the following words: "Since he would probably be concerned about us and could not freely perform his duties because we are here, we advance before you and wait for him. Please fight without reservation "

Five months later (may 28, 1945), Fujii ended his life by crashing on USS Drexler near Okinawa.
 

Gnarly

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Additional to the above:


On February 8, 1945, Fujii became the commander of the 45th Shinbu Squadron – which he named Kaishin (cheerful spirit). Just before dawn on May 28, the nine planes headed to Okinawa, each carrying a pilot and gunner. To their delight, they came upon the USS Drexler and USS Lowry.

Two slammed into the Drexler, sinking her within minutes and taking out 158 of its crew. Fuji was in one of them. He was reunited with his family.

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Drexler departed Ulithi 27 March 1945 bound for Okinawa and dangerous duty on a radar picket station. On 28 May at 07:00, two kamikazes attacked Drexler and Lowry. The first was downed by the combined fire of the two destroyers and planes from the combat air patrol. The second tried to crash onto Lowry but missed, hitting Drexler instead and cutting off all power and starting large gasoline fires. Despite the heavy damage, she kept firing, aiding in shooting down two planes which attacked immediately after the crash. At 07:03 she was hit by another aircraft, a twin-engined "Frances" P1Y1 bomber, and the "impact rolled her on to her beam ends, causing her to sink in less than 50 seconds"[2] at 27°6′N 127°38′ECoordinates:
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27°6′N 127°38′E. Because of the speed with which she sank, casualties were heavy: 158 dead and 52 wounded. The captain was one of the wounded. Few of the survivors are still alive. They honor their comrades every year at the annual Drexler Survivors reunion.
 

Louis

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Count Francesco Baracca (9 May 1888 - 19 June 1918) was Italy's top fighter ace of World War I. He was credited with 34 aerial victories.
After the war, in 1923 the mother of Francesco Baracca offered Enzo Ferrari to use the emblem of the rampant horse in his team. It is not clear if Ferrari changed the color to black in mourning for the Italian pilots killed in the war (assuming it was red), although it is clear that it changed the direction in which the tail points, and also that it added the background yellow in tribute to his hometown, Modena.
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Concord

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Interesting story @Louis, I'm going to keep my eye on this thread.

I did a quick search on the internet, and Italy was part of the Allied forces in WW1, which I didn't know.

Baracca was apparently shot down by ground fire (a surprising number of pilots and aces were) in 1918.
He crash landed his burning plane and was found with a gunshot wound to his forehead and his pistol nearby, causing speculation that he killed himself.

The plane in the background appears to be a SPAD S.XIII, a late war French fighter with twin machine guns (early war biplanes only had one MG).


P.S. No parachutes for the pilots in those days! :oops:
 

Louis

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A baby’s ashes rest on board USS Utah.

Beneath the waters of Pearl Harbor, 58 sailors, who died when the USS Utah was sunk on Dec. 7, 1941, silently guard the remains of a shipmate: the ashes of a baby girl.
Chief Yeoman Albert Thomas Dewitt Wagner (1896/1975) had been waiting for a chaplain to be assigned to the Utah, hoping for a proper burial ceremony at sea for his daughter when the Utah went out on maneuvers. An urn carrying her ashes was in his locker in the Utah's chief's quarters.
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But the surprise attack changed everything. Wagner was among those who survived the bombs that day, but he was not able to rescue his baby's ashes.
Your girls, Lynne Wagner and Mary Dianne Wagner were born prematurely on Aug. 29, 1937, but Nancy lived only two days.
 

Louis

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Right after the Battle of Midway, Admiral Chester Nimitz flew from Hawaii to San Francisco in a seaplane to give an after-action report. On landing, the seaplane hit a log, flipping over and cracking in two. The co-pilot was killed, and another severely injured.

Wrapped in a blanket by a corpsman, Nimitz stayed on the sinking wing out of concern for the other passengers. The rescuers tried to gently direct him to the crash boat, but he evaded all attempts to steer him to safety.

Finally, an eighteen year-old seaman snapped at the old man who was getting in the way: “Commander, if you would only get out of the way, maybe we could get something done around here.” Nimitz saw that he was correct, and went to the boat.

On the little boat, Nimitz stood up to better view the wreck, and was promptly yelled at by the coxswain to sit down. When he sat down, the blanket slipped, and the coxswain realized he’d just yelled at a four-star admiral. Nimitz stopped him as he tried to apologize.

“Stick to your guns, Sailor. You were quite right.”

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From: nimitznews.wordpress.com
 

Concord

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Those two groups are represented in Total War Medieval 2, a game I still occasionally play.
Granada would have been right in the thick of it.

I saw a documentary on the Moors, years ago.
I was astonished at what their civilization achieved. Things like:
  • HUGE scientific progress in Astronomy, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Geography and Philosophy.
  • The creation of the Scientific Method; proof by repeatable experimentation.
  • Designed the numbering system that we still use today (replaced Roman numerals).
  • Huge leaps in architecture and construction methods.
  • Huge leaps in medical science (including surgery and surgical instruments).
  • Universal education, and 17 universities!
  • Cordova was the most modern city in Europe; paved roads, sidewalks and...streetlamps! All hundreds of years before Paris or London had any of these.
  • Designed the earliest versions of musical instruments, such as the guitar.
  • Introduced paper to Europe, and the compass (from China).
  • Invention of the Astrolabe, for measuring the position of the stars and planets.
All this, while most of the world was busy crushing skulls or dying of diseases. Short lifespans.
Just amazing. Universal education probably helped this Arabian renaissance.
 

Concord

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Just one additional note regarding the Reconquista.
In the game Total War Medieval 2 (which goes from 1080 to 1530; which covers more than half of the Reconquista time period from 711 to 1492), one of the most interesting Spanish cavalry units is the Jinete.

Light horsemen armed with sword, shield, and javelins or short spears. They were developed to counter the massed light cavalry of the Moors.
They became one of the most numerous of the Spanish mounted troops (Castilian armies mustered between 11-13,000) and were used all the way into the sixteenth century.

They were used as skirmishers, harassing the enemy into giving ground or breaking formation.
Once the enemy was tired or in disorder, they would charge.
In the game, I found them very useful because of their speed and quick manoeuvring (to keep clear of enemy units - even enemy cavalry!).

The term jinete refers to those who show great skill in horsemanship.
From my quick research, I wonder if the Conquistadors from Spain and Portugal (who also used jinetes) spread the concept to the Americas during the 1500's.
There are many similar horsemen legends all across the Americas.

A Gaucho (a nomadic horseman adept at cattle mustering) is a national symbol in Argentina and Uruguay and in the culture of Paraguay, Brazil and Chile.
In Chile, a Huaso wears a poncho and wide hat, while Mexico has the Vaquero. The Vaquero lead to the North American Cowboy!
I'm going to mentally draw a straight line through the centuries, and claim that the North American cowboy draws its roots from the jinetes. :giggle:

jinete.jpg
 
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chiquichops

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It's certain that the Iberian cavalry had a great impact in the Americas, there being no cavalry there at all until the arrival of Europeans. I'm not sure what type of cavalry was employed by the late 15th century but it'd be interesting to read up on. Was the role of the jinete still key or had cavalry become much heavier by then? I'll take a look.
 

chiquichops

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It seems the jinetes were around until the early 16th century and were based on the Moorish style of combat: skirmish, fast manoeuvres, feint attacks and false retreats. Later that century, pike and shot had taken over the battlefield.
Arab horses are still popular here in Andalusia because they can deal with the heat. I ride one in fact.
I think the horses of the conquistadores we're a sturdier Hispano-arab cross. A good fast tough horse.
 

Louis

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The Faux Berlin Wall

A faux “Berlin Wall” was put up constructed by the Spokane (Washington state) Advertising and Sales Association on May 1962.
The association wanted to build a symbolic Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie across Main Avenue. National Guardsmen would be stationed at the checkpoint, but traffic would be allowed to flow freely. The City Council gave the OK.

A chest-high barricade of concrete blocks was set up Wednesday, May 9, and stayed up until Friday, May 11. Replica signs read “Achtung! You are leaving the Western Zone.” National Guard soldiers staffed the checkpoint and handed out cards explaining the project to drivers who passed through. Finally on Friday evening, Guardsmen used a tank to ram the stacked blocks.

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Motorists on Main Avenue between Wall and Post streets in Spokane had to go through this mock checkpoint between May 9 and May 11, 1962.
National Guardsmen at the wall handed out cards explaining the project.

Extract From spokesman.com
 

Louis

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The only person to down Japanese aircraft with a M1911 pistol.

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US Colonel Owen John Baggett (1920/2006) was co-pilot on a B-24 assigned to 10th Air Force, 7th Bombardment Group 9th Bombardment Squadron. On March 31, 1943 he took part in a six plane mission against the Pyinmana Railroad Yards in Madalay. Before reaching the target, the formation was attacked by a greatly superior number of Japanese fighters. During the intense air battle that followed the plane was fatally damaged and crashed. Five members of the crew were killed, either in the plane or by being strafed by enemy fighters as they descended in their parachutes.

Bagget, on parachute, was grazed on the arm by one of the Japanese bullets, and decided to play dead in the hopes he'd be left alone long enough to make it to the ground. One Zero fighter pilot opened his canopy and flew in to take a closer look at Baggett. As he approached within feet of the chute, Bagget raised his .45 pistol and fired four shots at the cockpit. The plane stalled and spun in. Baggett and three others made it to the ground alive and became prisoners of war. It was revealed by Japanese soldiers that they had found the crashed wreckage of the fighter plane, along with the dead pilot, with a wound to the head.

Captured, Baggett spent over two years at the Changi prison camp in Rangoon Burma to the end of war.

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from findagrave
 

steve

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Henry Hook..........we all know him through the highly acclaimed 1964 film Zulu.......

Found this which has some insight into the man himself......


Steve
 

steve

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Following on from our recent break in Devon, I was interested to discover that the hotel in which we stayed has some military connections, as it was originally built in 1852 by Colonel Robert Smith as his family home, before being converted into a hotel...... some history on the man himself....


Clearly a very intelligent man and also an accomplished artist.

A plaque on the hotel wall.....

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Steve
 
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