Bill Hillman's Monthly Military Tribute

December 2021 Edition


    •    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).
    •     80% of Soviet males born in 1923 didn’t survive World War 2
    •     The highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.
    •     Between 1939 and 1945 the Allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs, An average of about 27,700 tons of bombs each month.
    •     12,000 heavy bombers were shot down in World War 2
    •     2/3 of Allied bomber crews were lost for each plane destroyed
    •     3 or 4 ground men were wounded for each killed
    •     6 bomber crewmen were killed for each one wounded
    •     Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe
    •     There were 433 Medals of Honor awarded during World War 2, 219 of them were given after the receipiant’s death
    •     From 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 in Europe the Allies had 200,000 dead and 550,000 wounded
    •     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).
    •     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, and Hitler’s private train was named “Amerika”. All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
    •     Germany lost 110 Division Commanders in combat
    •     40,000 men served on U-Boats during World War 2; 30,000 never returned
    •     More US servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 missions, your chance of being killed was 71%. 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.
    •     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.
    •     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.
    •     It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th found with a tracer round to aid in aiming. That 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. That 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.
    •     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).
    •     German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasn’t worth the effort.
    •     A number of air crewmen died of farts. (ascending to 20,000 ft. in an un-pressurized aircraft causes intestinal gas to expand 300%!)
    •     Germany lost 40-45% of their aircraft during World War 2 to accidents
    •     The Russians destroyed over 500 German aircraft by ramming them in midair (they also sometimes cleared minefields by marching over them). “It takes a brave man not to be a hero in the Red Army”. – Joseph Stalin
    •     The average German officer slot had to be refilled 9.2 times
    •     The US Army had more ships that the US Navy.
    •     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 who WERE capable of airborne operations.
    •     When the US Army landed in North Africa, among the equipment brought ashore were 3 complete Coca Cola bottling plants.
    •     84 German Generals were executed by Hitler
    •     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 capture by the US Army.
    •     The Graf Spee never sank, The scuttling attempt failed and the ship was bought by the British. On board was Germany’s newest radar system.
    •     One of Japan’s methods of destroying tanks was to bury a very large artillery shell with on ly the nose exposed. When a tank came near the enough a soldier would whack the shell with a hammer. “Lack of weapons is no excuse for defeat.” – Lt. Gen. Mataguchi
    •     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.
    •     The MISS ME was an unarmed Piper Cub. While spotting for 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. It is unknown where they put them since the MISS ME only had two seats.
    •     Most members of the Waffen SS were not German.
    •     Air attacks caused 1/3 of German Generals’ deaths
    •     By D-Day, the Germans had 1.5 million railway workers operating 988,000 freight cars and used 29,000 per day
    •     The only nation that Germany declared war on was the USA.
    •     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!
    •     By D-Day, 35% of all German soldiers had been wounded at least once, 11% twice, 6% three times, 2% four times and 2% more than 4 times
    •     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. Perhaps some German drank the heavy water…
    •     Germany lost 136 Generals, which averages out to be 1 dead General every 2 weeks

    Colourized Air Force Photos
    from the Colourizing History FB site

    Pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit of their Nº.149 RAF Squadron Vickers Wellington bomber, probably at RAF Mildenhall in 1941.
    The pilot is David Donaldson, who was promoted to Wing Commander in 1943 at the age of 28. (IWM)

    (Photograph by Cecil Beaton) IWM D4736
    RAF Vickers Wellington bomber, rear gunner in position.

    Flying Officer J B Burnside, the flight engineer on board
    an Avro Lancaster B Mark III of No. 619 Squadron RAF based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire,
    checks settings on the control panel from his seat in the cockpit. February 1944 (IWM CH 12289)

    (photo by Lt. Wayne Miller of the U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit)
    US Navy pilots, (in front) Lieutenant (jg) Henry H. Dearing of Cleveland, Ohio,
    Ensign Charles W. Miller of Houston, Texas and Lieutenant (jg) Bus Alder of San Mateo, California
    walking toward their Grumman F6F-3 'Hellcats' aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) 1943.11.05
    These men provided fighter coverage for Avenger torpedo bombers and Dauntless dive bombers.
    On Nov 5, 1943, in response to reports of Japanese cruisers concentrating at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea,
    the Saratoga aircraft penetrated the heavily defended port and disabled most of the Japanese cruisers,
    ending the surface threat to Bougainville. Saratoga herself escaped unscathed.

    US. Ensign Ardon R. Ives escaping from his burning Grumman F6F-5 'Hellcat' of VF-9 fighter carrier group.
    His fighter burst into flames when it hit a barrier and other planes while landing on the USS Lexington (CV-16) on the 25th February 1945.
    Ardon Ives was KIA in a dogfight with Japanese fighters just a few months later on the 22nd May 1945, aged 23.
    He is buried in his home town of Rockford, Kent County, Michigan.

    Flying Officer R W Stewart, a wireless operator on board an Avro Lancaster B Mark I
    of No. 57 Squadron RAF based at Scampton, Lincolnshire,
    speaking to the pilot from his position in front of the Marconi TR 1154/55 transmitter/receiver set.
    1942-43 (IWM CH8790)

    Featured on the front cover of the 'Picture Post' magazine 16th September 1944.
    Maureen Dunlop (aged 24), an Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) pilot, in front of a Fairey Barracuda dive bomber.
    Born in Argentina of Australian/English parents, she joined the ATA in 1942, trained to fly 38 types of aircraft,
    her 800 hours subsequently logged included time in Spitfires, Mustangs, Typhoons, and bomber types including the Wellington.
    She later stated that her favourite type to fly was the de Havilland Mosquito.
    Initially attached to No.6 Ferry Pool at RAF Ratcliffe near Leicester, she then moved to the all-female Ferry Pool at Hamble, Southampton,
    which exclusively delivered Spitfires from Supermarine's new factory at RAF Southampton.
    She was forced into occasional emergency landings, once after the cockpit canopy of her Spitfire blew off after take off
    and another occasion put down in a field after the engine of her Fairchild Argus failed in the air.
    One in 10 women pilots died flying for the ATA.
    Maureen died on the 29th May 2012 aged 91.

    Admiral Somerville visited HMS Ark Royal to congratulate the officers and ship's company
    after the successful engagement with the BISMARCK, October 1941.
    Officers and ratings who were decorated for the part they played in the sinking of the BISMARCK (on 24th May 1941),
    in front of a Fairey ('Stringbag') Swordfish aircraft.
    Left to right: Lieutenant P D Gick, RN, awarded DSC; Lieutenant Commander Eugene Esmonde, RN, awarded DSO;
    Sub Lieutenant V K Norfolk, RN, awarded DSC; A/PO Air L D Sayer awarded DSM;
    A/Ldg Air A L Johnson, awarded DSM. all from 825 Squadron, HMS Victorious.
    Some nine months later on 12th February 1942, Esmonde and Johnson would both die
    attempting to stop the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen from making the 'Channel Dash'.
    Norfolk was KIA over Cherbourg 17/9/42. Both Gick and Sayer survived the war.

    Supermarine Spitfire Mk VB (R6923, QJ-S) of Nº92 (East India) Squadron RAF based at Biggin Hill, Kent, UK.
    Flown here by Fl.Off. Alan Wright on 19th May 1941.
    On the afternoon of the 21st June '41 it was flown by Sgt. G.W.Aston on a bomber escort run over France
    and shot down a Bf 109 before it too got hit and had to ditch in the sea.
    Sgt. Aston survived and returned for duty that same evening.

    Fl.Lt. Dudley S.G. Honor, Nº 274 Squadron RAF poses by a Hawker Hurricane of the squadron
    at Gerawala, Egypt, on rejoining his unit following his rescue.
    On the afternoon of 25th May 1941, his Mk.I Hurricane (W9266) and that of Fl.Lt Hugh Down were attacking the aerodrome at Maleme, Crete.
    Down's plane was hit but Honor shot down an Italian SM79 and a German JU52 before being attacked by a Bf 110 and then a Bf 109.
    His plane crashed into the sea, sinking some forty feet, but because he was wearing a German self inflatable life jacket, he was able to reach the surface.
    After a four hour swim he managed to drag himself onto the rocks.
    He was found by Cretan peasants and a party of Greek soldiers and after six days in hiding
    was rescued by a passing RAF Sunderland that saw him signalling from his pocket torch.
    The Sunderland pilot said it was a million to one chance that he was spotted,
    they were looking for Major General Weston and his staff, with Honor giving directions down the coast,
    they located the General at Sfakia on about the 31st May.
    Group Captain Honor died on December 26th 2007. © IWM (CM 941)
    (The Hurricane is showing a Yellow lightning flash of the 247 Squadron and the front underside of the nose
    and leading edges sport an Italian camouflage, supposed to confuse Italian ground AA gun crews in North Africa.)

    Pilots of No. 19 Squadron RAF relax between sorties outside their crew room at Manor Farm, Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire.
    They are (left to right), Pilot Officer W Cunningham, Sub-Lieutenant A G Blake of the Fleet Air Arm (nicknamed "The Admiral")
    and Flying Officer F N Brinsden (New Zealander), with a Cocker Spaniel. September 1940.
    In that month Blake was credited with six and a half kills;
    5 Bf 109s, 2 of which were destroyed on one sortie on 17th September and 2 on 27th September.
    He also downed a He111, shared a second and was credited with a possible Bf110.
    Sadly, he was to become No 19 Squadron’s last casualty of the battle.
    He was shot down and killed whilst flying Spitfire Mk IIa P7423 QV-Y in the early evening of 29th October 1940 over Chelmsford, Essex.
    He was just 23 years old.
    © IWM (CH 1459)

    Brandon's Military Museum
    Volume 3, Issue 5 :: Fall/Winter 2014
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