Pearl Harbor: 16 Days To Die – Three Sailors trapped in the USS West Virginia

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H/T War History OnLine.

I can not imagine the horror of being trapped like that and slowly dying as your oxygen ran out.

The sunken battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) at Pearl Harbor after her fires were out, possibly on 8 December 1941. USS Tennessee (BB-43) is inboard. A Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane (marked "4-O-3") is upside down on West Virginia's main deck. A second OS2U is partially burned out atop the Turret No. 3 catapult. Note the CXAM radar antenna atop West Virginia´s foremast.

The sunken battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48) at Pearl Harbor after her fires were out, possibly on 8 December 1941. USS Tennessee (BB-43) is inboard. A Vought OS2U Kingfisher floatplane (marked “4-O-3”) is upside down on West Virginia’s main deck. A second OS2U is partially burned out atop the Turret No. 3 catapult.


In the aftermath of the attacks on Pearl Harbour during World War Two stories emerged of sailors who were trapped in the sunken battleships, some even survived for weeks.

Those who were trapped underwater banged continuously on the side of the ship so that anyone would hear them and come to their rescue. When the noises were first heard many thought it was just loose wreckage or part of the clean-up operation for the destroyed harbour.

However the day after the attack, crewmen realised that there was an eerie banging noise coming from the foward hull of the USS West Virginia, which had sunk in the harbour.

It didn’t take long for the crew and Marines based at the harbour to realise that there was nothing they could do. They could not get to these trapped sailors in time. Months later rescue and salvage men who raised the USS West Virginia found the bodies of three men who had found an airlock in a storeroom but had eventually run out of air.

They were Ronald Endicott, 18, Clifford Olds, 20, and Louis Costin, 21. Within the storeroom was a calendar and they had crossed off every day that they had been alive – 16 days had been crossed off using a red pencil. The men would have been below deck when the attack happened, so it is unlikely that they knew what was happening.

Those who survived the attack and were crew on the USS West Virginia have remembered the story and retold it quietly as a story of bravery and determination of the young soldiers.

In truth, the US Navy had never told their families how long the three men had survived for, instead telling them that they had been killed in the attack on the harbour. Their brothers and sisters eventually discovered the truth but were so saddened that they did not speak of it.

One of Clifford’s friends and comrades Jack Miller often returned to the harbour and would pray for his friend at the site of the sunken wreck. He says that just the night before the attack they had been drinking beer together, and he had wanted to rescue him desperately in the days after the attack.

However there was no way of any rescue crews getting to them since if they cut a hole in the ship, it would flood it, and if they tried to use a blowtorch it could explode since there was too much oil and gasoline in the water.

Survivors say that no one wanted to go on guard duty anywhere near the USS West Virginia since they would hear the banging of trapped survivors all night long, but with nothing that could be done.


The Cutting Edge Heinkel He162 Salamander – Another fascinating German Jet Fighter Concept

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H/T War History OnLine.

The outcome of World War II could have been very different had the Germans be able to introduce the jet fighter earlier in the war.


During WWII Nazi Germany led the world in jet technology. Late in the war, the Germans tried to use their advantage to turn the tide of the conflict in their favor. They launched the Heinkel He162 Salamander – a jet fighter.

It was a desperate attempt to win by rushing innovative technology into combat. For all its importance as one of the first jet aircraft, the Salamander was too little, too late.

Commissioning the Future

The official order for a jet fighter was issued on September 8, 1944. German scientists and engineers had spent years researching jet technology which had been successfully used to attack Britain with V1 and V2 rockets. Trials of jetpacks had also taken place. However, it was the first time the military would be putting the technology into action as part of a plane rather than a missile.

First Flight

After the release of the order for a jet fighter, the Nazi war machine rushed to build one. The Heinkel He162 first flew on December 6, 1944, only 38 days after the factory producing it had received the detailed plans.

German He-162 Volksjäger on public display after the war in Hyde Park, London, England, United Kingdom, 14 September 1945.

The Name of the Program

The name Salamander referred to the whole program to put a jet fighter into the skies. It became associated with the Heinkel He162 as the product of that program.

Designed to Intercept

When the Salamander was commissioned, Germany was in retreat. The Salamander’s main purpose as a fighter was not to take the fight to the enemy but to shoot down Allied bombers pounding Germany.

Wood and Metal Body

The Salamander was made from a mixture of wood and metal. The fuselage was a streamlined design manufactured from a light metal alloy with a plywood nose. The wing, built in a single piece, was made of wood and tipped with metal.

A Modern Cockpit

The cockpit of the Salamander foresaw the design they would follow for jet fighters. It had a rounded, upward hinging canopy and an ejector seat, a new technology developed during the war.

The Hinterbrühl underground production line for the He 162A was captured in April 1945. Photo: Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-2737 / CC-BY-SA 3.0.

No Concern for Maintenance

Maintenance and repair were given little consideration in the design of the Salamander. It was assumed others from the massive assembly lines would replace any jets that became dangerous or unusable.

Engine Position

To save time on design and production, the engine was mounted on top of the plane. It avoided the need to develop the rest of the aircraft around the engine, with its exhaust and intake pipes. However, it caused problems for pilots. The plane was relatively aerodynamic, but it was unstable and therefore difficult to fly and fight with.


The Salamander was equipped with two 20mm cannons. There had been a shift during the war toward cannon in place of machine-guns on fighters, as the explosive shells of cannon could penetrate tougher fuselages and destroy self-sealing fuel tanks.


The maximum speed of the Salamander was 522 miles per hour. For comparison, the Focke-Wulf Fw190, a favorite of German pilots, had a top speed of 426mph, while the Gloster Meteor, the only Allied jet fighter to see action in the war, could reach up to 410mph.

He 162 120230 during post-war trials, USA.

Reaching Heights

The Salamander could fly to 39,500 feet. To reach that altitude, it climbed at up to 4,200 feet per minute.

Adhesive Problems

The adhesive used in the first few Salamanders caused problems. It contained an acid that slowly destroyed the wood it was meant to hold together. As a result, one of the undercarriage doors dropped off during the first flight, and four days later the wing fell apart during a test flight.

Mass Production Measures

Plans were made to mass produce the Salamander. A network of sub-contractors was set up, including furniture makers and woodworkers who had the skills to make the wooden components. Hundreds of factories and thousands of workers prepared for the project.

In the end, reality struck. The German government had aimed to produce 4,000 Salamanders a month, but only 200 were completed. 800 more were part-way through the production process by the time the Allies captured their underground factories.

Young Pilots

Trained and experienced pilots were in increasingly short supply. To make up the shortfall, potential pilots for the Salamander were recruited from the Hitler Youth. They were given flight training in gliders. It was expected they would finish their training by flying the Salamander in conflict.

It was a deeply flawed plan. The unwieldy and fast-moving Salamander provided a challenge for the most experienced fighter pilots. For youths with hardly any training, getting into the cockpit of the hastily designed aircraft was a recipe for disaster.

A captured German Heinkel He 162A-2 on display in Trafalgar Square, London, UK, on 8 May 1945.

Going to Combat Groups

While the Hitler Youth were trained to become pilots, the first completed Salamanders were sent to existing fighter squadrons.

In February 1945, 1/JG1 gave up their Focke-Wulf Fw190s to start flying Salamanders. Many of the pilots were unhappy about it. The Fw190 was one of the best fighter planes of the war. The Salamander was an unwieldy novelty that had barely been properly tested, let alone engaged in combat.

On May 4, a group of three squadrons of jet fighters was created at Leck in Schleswig-Holstein. By then the Nazi empire was nearly at an end. Four days later, the airfield was captured by the Allies.

Evaluation by the RAF

Following the war, the Royal Air Force took 11 Salamanders to Britain to study them. The British had developed their own jet aircraft, but it gave them an opportunity to investigate all options to produce a better jet fighter.

Francis Crosby (2010), The Complete Guide to Fighters & Bombers of the World

Charles Rogers: Medal of Honor Recipient – Far too wounded to lead the counterattack again, Rogers continued to inspire and encourage his men in defense of the base

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H/T  War History OnLine.

R.I.P.Major General Charles Calvin Rogers September 6,1929-September 21,1990.


In warfare, it is often the lower ranking enlisted men or junior officers that find themselves in a position to be awarded the nation’s highest military honor. Higher ranking commanders tend to stay well away from the front line, and it is usually the NCOs or junior officers leading a charge. However, when the highest ranking African-American Officer earned his Medal of Honor, he was right in the mix beside the men he led.

Ready to Fight

Charles Rogers was born on September 6, 1929, in Claremont, West Virginia. Staying local, he attended West Virginia State College where he enrolled in the Army ROTC program. Serving in a variety of capacities throughout his career, Rogers proved himself a reliable, capable, and effective combat leader. By 1968, he was a Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery Regiment with the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam.

On November 1, 1968, 1st Battalion was manning a fire support base near the Cambodian border when North Vietnamese troops attacked it. A fire support base is a temporary military camp providing artillery support to infantry operating outside the permanent camp. It was typical for the bases to be subjected to frequent harassment by the enemy ranging from snipers to the occasional mortar.

More feared by the US troops was a full assault by the North Vietnamese or Viet Cong human waves. With reckless disregard for their lives, they threw themselves at the American defenses willing to endure enormous casualties for the opportunity to overrun a position.

At dawn, the calm and quiet of the fire support base was broken by a most unwelcome surprise. A shower of mortars, rockets, and rocket propelled grenades descended upon the base. It was immediately evident from the heavy concentration of shells that it was not a case of harassment fire. The North Vietnamese had something major planned for the base, and their first assault was determined to achieve it. Vietnamese Sappers breached the defensive perimeter deploying Bangalore torpedos – tubes with an explosive charge placed in them.

Charles Rogers as a brigadier general.

Commanding From the Front

Without hesitation, Lieutenant Colonel Rogers jumped into the action. Many of his artillery crew had been dazed in the initial attack. With complete disregard for his safety and through a hailstorm of fire and shrapnel, he rallied them to man their howitzers but was knocked to the ground and wounded by an exploding round. Rebounding to his feet and ignoring his injuries, Rogers directed gunfire upon the incoming enemy. With his men back in action, something had to be done about the enemy soldiers that had penetrated the base.

Personally rallying a small group of troops, Rogers led a counterattack against the enemy forces that had breached the perimeter of the US encampment. Despite being again wounded, he and his men were able to successfully repel the enemy from their position. Refusing medical treatment, Rogers knew the attack was far from over. Reorganizing and reinforcing their defenses, he inspired his men.

The Viet Cong launched a second human wave attack against another sector of the US base. Rogers repeated his example of inexplicable gallantry. Again directing fire on the incoming enemy, he could be seen leading the defense as he moved from position to position encouraging his men. Rallying his forces at every turn they could not help but be inspired by his example. Again he led a counterattack on the enemy forces and again they were repulsed. However, the numerically superior enemy was not yet finished.

Marines complete construction of M101 howitzer positions at a mountain-top fire support base, 1968.

One Final Stand

They launched a third human wave attack on the fire support base, and US casualties were starting to mount up. Rogers realized a howitzer was inoperable due to a lack of manpower, so he jumped into the position. Working with the surviving members of the crew, Rogers enabled them to return the howitzer to action and rain fire upon their attackers. At that point, Rogers was severely wounded by fragments from a heavy mortar round which exploded on the edge of his gun position.

Far too wounded to lead the counterattack again, Rogers continued to inspire and encourage his men in defense of the base. When the battle was over the Americans were still in control of the fire support base, and Rogers was nominated for a Medal of Honor. He went on to serve a full and distinguished career in the United States Army eventually rising to the rank of Major General.

After his distinguished military career, Rogers lived out his dream career as a minister. Not forgetting the men with whom he had for so long served, Rogers chose to minister to US troops stationed in Germany. Unfortunately, he died from cancer at the age of 61.

Rogers awards included the Medal of Honor; Legion of Merit; Distinguished Flying Cross; four Bronze Stars with a “V” and a Purple Heart. His entire career was in keeping with the finest of military traditions exemplified by his actions near the Cambodian border.



Deborah Samson: Female Soldier of the Revolutionary War

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H/T War History OnLine.

Women fighting in the early wars in America are stories that need to be told.


Over the course of history, women have dressed as men to fight for their country. In the United States, it was primarily thought of as occurring in the Civil War. However, some women did it during the American Revolutionary War as well.

One of the most well known was Deborah Samson. She was one of the very few who were documented at the time. She was able to serve for more than a year until she was wounded and honorably discharged in New York. Until then, she was known as Robert Shirtliff from Massachusetts.

Before Military Life

Before Deborah took to her military life, she did live in Massachusetts. She had several siblings and, although poor, they were the direct descendants of William Bradford, who was the first governor of Plymouth. Unfortunately, Deborah’s father abandoned the family. As her mother was unable to support her children, they were sent to live with friends and relatives, a common practice in 18th-century New England.

Deborah went to live with a member of the church who was a widow. When she died, Deborah became an indentured servant for eight years. She was well-treated but not educated. However, she learned from school books belonging to her master’s sons and became a school teacher and a weaver, as well as a tavern worker.

An engraving of Deborah Samson made for a book about her life written by one of her close friends;

Joining the Continental Army

It was easy for Deborah to join the army, thanks to her looks. She was described as not necessarily pretty and was extremely tall. She was a little on the chubby side, and her chest was slight.

In 1782 she enrolled in the Army in Massachusetts. She obtained a signing bonus, but then did not show up at her unit. A neighbor had recognized Deborah when she signed her enlistment papers. Her deception uncovered, she repaid her bonus. She was shunned by her church until she formally asked for forgiveness for her actions.

However, it did not keep Deborah from trying again. A few months later, she signed up under a new name, Robert Shirtliff, and joined the Light Infantry Company of the 4th Massachusetts Regiment. They were no average troops, though, providing flank coverage for advancing regiments. They were made up of men who were taller and stronger than other forces which enabled Deborah to blend in. In fact, if she had joined a more average company, she may have been more easily recognized.

Deborah saw combat several times. She was wounded when two musket balls hit her in the leg. She begged to be allowed to die in the field, but her fellow soldiers took her to a hospital. She received minor treatment but ran away before she could be treated thoroughly. Instead, she tried to remove the musket balls herself, rather than risk discovery. She did it with a penknife and needle, successfully removing one. However, the second was in too deep and remained lodged in her thigh, where it caused her trouble for the rest of her life. She rejoined her group and, after nearly a year of service, she received a promotion.

When the war was over, her company did not officially break up. She continued with them and went on several missions, notably to Philadelphia to put down a group of former continental soldiers who were angry over not receiving their pay. While there, she became ill and was taken to hospital again. The doctor caring for her discovered her secret. He took her to his home, where his female relatives cared for her.

After healing, she received an honorable discharge, and enough money to travel back to Massachusetts.

After the War

Two years after being discharged, Deborah married a farmer and had three children. The family lived in poverty. In 1792, she petitioned the government for pay which the army had withheld from her because she was a woman. The legislature granted her request.

In 1802, she began giving lectures about her experience in the war, and her performance included an impressive military drill.

A late-age Paul Revere, one of Deborah’s best friends;

Over the course of her life, she became friends with Paul Revere. He helped her gain a little recognition for her army service and tried to use his influence to get Deborah a pension. He also occasionally lent her money as needed. Revere’s efforts worked, and in 1805 Deborah received a pension of $4 per month. In 1816, following another petition, Congress awarded her $76.80 a year, and she was finally able to repay her loans.

Deborah died in 1827 from Yellow Fever.

Some Of The Worst Japanese Massacres of WW2

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H/T War History OnLine.

I have a hard time wrapping my mind around why the Japanese were not held as accountable for war crimes as the Germans were.

Why was the Rape of Nanking left off of this list?

The Japanese Army during World War II committed many crimes against humanity that were ordered by the government and high command. In the Japanese equivalent of the Nurnberg Trials, held in Tokyo in 1946, many of the high-ranking officers and government officials were found guilty of genocide and war crimes and executed.

Today, in a controversial act, as many as 14 of them still hold a place in the National Shrine, which celebrates the heroes of the Japanese people.

Some of the most infamous atrocities include the 1937-1938 Nanking massacre, which claimed the lives of more than 300,000 Chinese civilians, and the notorious Unit 731 Experimental facility in which many hideous experiments were conducted on Chinese, South East Asian, Russian and Allied prisoners with an overall death toll of 250,000 men, women and children.

During the course of WWII, and especially before the inevitable defeat, the monstrosities became more frequent and violent. Below are the atrocities with the most victims.

10. Parit Sulong Massacre

In January 1942, in the midst of the Allied Malayan campaign the Battle of Muar was raging. Members of the Australian 8th Division and the 45th Indian Infantry Brigade were outnumbered and began to withdraw. Near the bridge at Parit Sulong, they were surrounded by the Japanese, who had superiority both in numbers and in supplies.

After two days of fierce fighting, they ran out of ammunition and food. Able-bodied soldiers were ordered to disperse into the jungle, and head for the Allied lines. About 150 Australians and Indians were too seriously injured to move, and their only option was to surrender and take their chance. Some accounts estimate that as many as 300 Allied troops were taken prisoner at Parit Sulong.

Various testimonies confirm that the Imperial Guards mistreated the wounded prisoners by beating them with rifle butts and tying them up with wire, placing them on the bridge and executing only one of them so he could serve as ballast for the rest to drown. The bodies of the executed men were poured with petrol and set alight.

9. Shinyo Maru incident


Shinyo Maru incident occurred on September 7, 1944, and it involved the SS Shinyo Maru, a transport ship carrying around 750 POWs to Manila. These transport ships were often called “Hell Ships” due to their extremely hard living conditions and the cruelty of the crew.

The ship and its escort had been met by an American submarine, USS Paddle, which engaged in a torpedo attack, unaware of the POWs aboard. Two torpedoes out of four fired managed to hit Shinyo Maru, and the ship started sinking.

The Japanese commander responsible for this transport mission was informed of a possible submarine presence and ordered the immediate execution of all prisoners aboard the moment the ship was fired on.

Some prisoners managed to escape the ship but were later gunned down by a Japanese rescue mission that came for the surviving sailors. Out of 750 Allied POWs, 668 were executed, and only 82 managed to escape.

8. Sandakan POW camp

The Sandakan Death March refers to a series of forced marches that occurred in 1945, in which the remnants of the Sandakan POW camp on the island of Borneo were forced to march until they died. Sandakan POW camp was built in 1942 for the Austrailian and British captives.

The POWs were first engaged in forced labour, building an airstrip next to the camp, during which they were beaten, poorly fed and received medical attention next to none.

battle of muar

What followed was the true horror of their imprisonment. The strategy of the Death March was to torture the prisoners by constantly moving them on foot, with the intention of brutalizing, demoralizing and finally killing them through a lengthy process of the march.

In three consecutive death marches which were imposed on the Sandakan POWS in 1945, the Japanese managed to cause the deaths of 2,345 Allied prisoners who had fallen to dehydration, disease and exhaustion. The ones who would lag behind the column were either executed or left for dead.

7. Jesselton revolt 


Jesselton revolt was a multiethnic uprising on the occupied island of Borneo in October of 1943. The revolt was led by a guerrilla force mainly consisted of indigenous Suluk people and ethnic Chinese. The rebels were mainly armed with spears and Indonesian swords called parang, with little or no firearms.

The Japanese Imperial Guards managed to crush the insurrection, after which they launched a genocide campaign against the Suluk population, as a punishment for participating in the uprising.

The infamous Kempeitai, whose methods of torture and interrogation were very similar to the German Gestapo, conducted the systematic Massacre of the Suluks while pursuing the remnants of the Chinese guerrillas.

They bayoneted and beheaded the Suluks and burned their villages to the point that the indigenous people were almost completely wiped out. Around 3,000-4,000 of Suluks were exterminated.

“The Tokyo war crimes trial” index described Japanese atrocities as “an apparently systematic attempt to exterminate the Suluk race between February and June 1944”.

6. Bataan Death March

"This picture, captured from the Japanese, shows American prisoners using improvised litters to carry those of their comrades who, from the lack of food or water on the march from Bataan, fell along the road." Philippines, May 1942. 208-AA-288BB-2. (ww2_131.jpg) "At the time of its release, this photo was identified as dead and wounded being carried by fellow prisoners during the Bataan Death March in April 1942 ... Subsequent information from military archivists, the National Archives and Records Administration, and surviving prisoners, strongly suggests that this photo may actually depict a burial detail at Camp O'Donnell.

Another Death March, similar to the Sandakan one, happened in the Philippines in 1942. Some 20,000 Philippine soldiers joined with about 1600 American POWs died during the 66-mile march from Mariveles to Camp O’Donell at the city of Capas.

Soldiers were forced to walk under extremely bad conditions with little food and drinking water. In some cases they were transported by cattle trains, cramped in boxcars on extremely high temperatures. Many died of exhaustion, heat, dysentery, starvation and dehydration.

The ones that didn’t succumb to disease, hunger or fatigue, were either bayoneted by the Japanese soldiers or were used as practice for the officers who wanted to improve their katana skills. Trucks drove over the ones that fell behind and cleanup crews would put to death those too weak to continue.


 5. Sook Ching Massacre 


“Purge through cleansing” – Sook Ching, was a Japanese military operation directed towards the “hostile elements” in Singapore after the fall of the city to Japanese rule. The massacre lasted from 18 February to 4 March 1942 and claimed the lives of as many as 30,000 to 100,000 people.

The exact number is murky due to insufficient evidence, but all sides agree that the purge happened and that it was extremely bloody. The operation was led by the Japanese secret police, Kempeitai. The secret police used a web of informants who would often sell information, accusing innocent people for their own gain.

Those who survived the inspection walked with “examined” stamped on their faces, arms or clothing.

4. Changjiao Massаcre

japanese soldier

During WWII, the Japanese Imperial Army imposed a scorched earth strategy on China. It was called “The Three Alls Policy” – “kill all, burn all, loot all”. In just four days (9-12 March 1943), the  Changjiao Massacre claimed the lives of 30,000 people and was infamous for it’s Army approved mass rape campaign which affected thousands of women.

It was conducted under the command of Field Marshall Shunroku Hata, who was at the time the head of the China Expeditionary Force.

The testimony of a Japanese Kempeitai officer, Uno Shintaro, who participated in the massacre, gives us a truly chilling feel:

“I personally severed more than forty heads. Today, I no longer remember each of them well. It might sound extreme, but I can almost say that if more than two weeks went by without my taking a head, I didn’t feel right. Physically, I needed to be refreshed.”


3. Manilla Massacre

In the Battle of Manila from February to March 1945, the United States Army and the Philippine Commonwealth Army advanced into the city to drive out the Japanese.

During lulls in the battle for control of the city, the Japanese under the command of General Yamashita took out their anger and frustration on the civilians, demonstrating the true madness of war and defeat. Mutilations, rapes and massacres occurred in schools, hospitals and convents. A local hotel was used as a “rape center”.

These women, many of them 12 to 14 years old, were then taken to the hotel, where they were raped. The estimated total number of civilian casualties was over 100,000, and the city was left utterly destroyed.

2. Burma Railway construction

Forced labour was a common practice during WWII, whether it was in Europe or in Asia. During the construction of the Burma Railway, which was a vital Japanese supply route at the time, 80,000-100,000 of the local Malayan population and more than 13,000 of Allied POWs  (British, Dutch, Australian and American) lost their lives in a year-long period from 1943 to 1944.

The workers were molested, malnourished, refused medical care and executed in the most brutal ways.

In popular culture this event was immortalised by Pierre Boulle in his 1952 book (and later a film) “The Bridge on the River Kwai”, but it sparked controversy depicting the working camps in a very unrealistic way and therefore, diminishing the suffering of the victims and the survivors.


1. Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign

In 1942 the American Air Force was planning to construct clandestine airstrips on Chinese territory that wasn’t under full control of Japan. These airstrips were to serve as a landing pad for US bombers after bombing missions on Japanese mainland conducted from the USS Hornet aircraft carrier during the Doolittle raid.

Because the raid had to be launched earlier than planned, and because the Japanese Army was already in the process of locating and destroying the Chinese airbases, most of the aircraft ran out of fuel and crash-landed in the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangxi.

Surviving airmen parachuted and hid among the Chinese civilians who provided them shelter. Out of 64 that managed to bail out, eight were captured and executed almost immediately by the Japanese. In the search for the remaining US airmen, the Japanese conducted a thorough search, executing, pillaging and burning entire villages as an act of retribution for aiding the Americans.

The result was a devastating trail of 250,000 dead Chinese civilians. The Commander-in-Chief at the time was Field Marshall Shunroku Hata, the man behind the Changjiao Massacre.

After the war, in 1948, he was sentenced to life in prison but was paroled only six years later, in 1954. Until his death in 1962, he was a respected public figure and a head of the charitable organisation “Kaikosha”, established to aid the Japanese war veterans.


Robert Cole, Hero of The Carentan Bayonet Charge, Tragically Killed Two Weeks Before Being Awarded The Medal of Honor

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H/T War History OnLine.

R.I.P.Lt.Colonel Robert G.Cole March 19, 1915-September 18, 1945.

Operation Market Garden would claim countless American lives in September of 1944, one of whom was a man set to receive the Medal of Honor just two weeks later.

In the largest airborne assault ever seen, tens of thousands of American paratroopers descended from the skies over the Netherlands to secure vital bridges ahead of rapidly advancing ground forces. For Lieut. Col. Robert Cole and many other men of the 101stAirborne Division, this was not their first jump into combat.

Already hardened veterans from the D-Day invasion, Lieut. Col. Cole led his men into the face of a surprisingly resilient and prepared German defense in the Netherlands. But Cole had been here before. Just months earlier outside of Carentan France, he led his battalion on a ferocious bayonet charge into the German-occupied hedgerows that would earn him the Medal of Honor.

As is often the case in war, Lieut. Col. Cole would never live to receive it as he fell in the fields of the Netherlands where he remains to this day.

Always Leading from the Front

Robert Cole was born in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio Texas in 1915. His father was a Col. and Army doctor who laid a foundation of military service for his son. Cole joined the Army in 1934 but was honorably discharged in 1935 after he received a successful appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.

After graduating with the class of 1939, he was commissioned a second lieutenant to the 15th Infantry at Fort Lewis Washington. However, Cole was destined to enter the battlefield not from the ground, but from above.

In 1941, he was transferred to the 501st Parachute Infantry Battalion and earned his jump wings at Fort Benning Georgia. As the American military was fully embracing the potential of airborne assault, the parachute ranks were rapidly expanding. As a result, when the battalions were expanded into regiments Cole would quickly find himself a Lieut. Col. by early 1944 and in command of the Third Battalion of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment.

In 1943, the hundred and first Airborne Division made its way to England in preparation for the European invasion.

American paratroopers just before taking off for D-Day
American paratroopers just before taking off for D-Day

In the early hours of June 6, 1944, Lieut. Col. Cole’s battalion descended over Normandy. Gathering what men he could find after the chaos of the jump, he secured his objective behind Utah Beach and was there to greet the 4th Infantry Division as they pushed past the beachhead.

During the ensuing days, the allies were in a fight to take Carentan. By June 10, Lieut. Col. Cole and 400 other paratroopers were advancing towards the target city along a very dangerous and exposed causeway surrounded by marshes and the infamous hedgerows of France.

It was here just outside of Carentan that Lieut. Col. Cole would lead a rare bayonet charge and secure his place in military history.

Hand to Hand Combat

During the advance on the city, Cole’s Battalion was riddled with continuous artillery, machine gun, and mortar fire. The Germans had set up obstacles that made a bottleneck out of any attempt to press forward. As a result, Cole set up defensive positions for the night where they continued to suffer from heavy enemy fire.

By morning, approximately 250 of his original 400 men were left in fighting condition. Realizing the situation was becoming grim, Cole ordered smoke thrown towards the heavily defended hedgerows and personally led a bayonet charge towards the German lines with a pistol in one hand and bayonet in the other.

The Road to Carentan via
The Road to Carentan

While the charge initially began as just Cole and a small portion of his unit, the rest of the Battalion took notice at what was happening. Feeling inspired by their commander’s leadership, the battalion picked up and thrust themselves into the German-occupied hedgerows.

The fighting was at close quarters and hand-to-hand, but the men of Lieut. Col. Cole’s battalion overpowered the German defenders and made them pay a high price as they fled from the assault. Approximately half of the men who took part in this dangerous charge became casualties, but it was credited as a key moment in breaking through the German defenses and pushing on towards Carentan.

For his leadership and conspicuous gallantry, Lieut. Col. Cole was recommended for the Medal of Honor. However, there was still a lot of war to be fought and Lieut. Col. Cole pressed on with his battalion in the ensuing campaigns to take Germany.

After Normandy, the 101st returned to England to replenish their forces with replacements and prepare for the next jump. It just so happens that for Lieut. Col. Cole’s battalion that would be Operation Market Garden and the largest airborne assault ever seen.

At the Front Till the End

After descending upon the Netherlands, the paratroopers found themselves in a pitched battle with the Germans as they attempted to secure the key bridges necessary for the rapidly advancing armor behind them. Cole’s battalion was tasked was seizing the bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal in Best.

Under heavy artillery fire, his battalion was pinned down and seeking Allied air support to direct fire on the German positions. However, during the chaos of the battle, the Allied planes were actually firing at Lieut. Col. Cole’s men.

Furious, he ordered his men to place airplane recognition panels in front of their lines to redirect the American airpower. When this wasn’t happening fast enough, Lieut. Col. Cole ran out himself in front of the lines to place the panels. The American airplanes recognized the signal and directed their fire back upon the Germans.

While looking up into the skies for the planes, Lieut. Col. Cole was struck by a single sniper bullet to the head which killed him instantly on September 18, 1944.

Lt. Colonel Cole’s grave in the Netherlands. By Wammes Waggel – CC BY-SA 3.0

Lieut. Col. Cole was buried at Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten the Netherlands. Two weeks after his death, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bayonet charge near Carentan.

Cole’s widow and two-year-old son were present while his Medal of Honor was posthumously given to his mother at Fort Sam Houston Texas. Lieut. Col. Cole always saw it his duty to be at the front where his men were doing the fighting.

While his conspicuous gallantry might have cost him his life in combat, he inspired his men with such leadership and laid a foundation for the elite class of men that can call themselves airborne.


We Didn’t Know That Dr. Ruth, The Famous Sex Therapist Was, Once A Sniper In The Israeli Army Copy

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H/T War History OnLine.

When I heard this several years ago I thought Damn I could have never imagined Dr.Ruth as a sniper.

From time to time, life will feed you one of those amazing facts which will rock your worldview and change the entire way in which you look at a person. Much of the world will know Dr. Ruth as the short little old lady who talks pretty explicitly about sex. Many were captivated by her wisdom while others were just dumbfounded at what looked like their grandmother talking a whole lot about sex.

Whatever you may have thought about Dr. Ruth, it is likely you never sat back and wondered if she was an Israeli trained sniper who fought for the creation of the Jewish State. Just don’t say that within a 1,000 yards of her because I hate to rock your worldview, but that is exactly who she is. Dr. Ruth, sex therapist extraordinaire and Israeli Sniper.

An Unbelievable Life

Born Karola Ruth Siegal, a younghad the horrible misfortune of watching her father taken away by the Nazis in 1930’s Germany.  While that would not be an uncommon experience for young Jewish children of that era, Ruth was fortunate to be sent to a Swiss boarding school in 1939 by her mother and grandmother.  Ruth would never see a member of her family again.

As the war raged around her in Europe, Ruth was to be raised in this boarding school from the age of 11 on.  While she remained in contact with her family through letters, those ceased in 1941 as her parents became another tragic casualty of the Holocaust.  She never knew for certain what happened to her parents, but as the world become shockingly aware of the Nazi atrocities, it became quite apparent they did not survive Hitler’s Germany.

Prisoners in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen

Meanwhile, at the boarding school, Ruth was beginning to show her zeal for independence much to the annoyance of school leadership.  An avid reader, it was reported that from an early age that she was unafraid and unashamed to tackle taboo conversations.

When the war ended, Ruth found herself a 17-year-old Jewish girl with no family in the middle of war-torn Europe.  As a result, she immigrated to Palestine as did many Holocaust survivors and their families.  And as tragic as her childhood had been, her story was about to take a fascinating turn.

The State of Israel

Shortly after arriving in Palestine, Dr. Ruth became captivated by the idea of establishing a Jewish homeland and joined the Haganah, which was an underground militant organization fighting for the establishment of a Jewish State.  Ruth would not chalk this up to spectacular bravery as she reports everyone was part of one organization or another attempting to establish a homeland.  The Haganah was a fierce fighting group that would later go on to become the core of the Israeli Defense Force.

While training, it was determined that due to Ruth’s short 4’7” stature that she would make an excellent sniper as he would be hard to see.  And while that might seem like an absurd reasoning, it turns out that young Dr. Ruth was an amazing shot.  By her own admission, she was surprised at just how excellent a marksman she was and she couldn’t attribute any reason why that was so.

However, the Haganah handed her a sniper rifle and trained her to throw grenades.  So keep that in mind next time you watch this grandmother dishing out sex advice and know that this lady could kill you in multiple ways.

By Avishai Teicher – CC BY-SA 2.5

As fascinating as that might be, Dr. Ruth’s military career was cut short on her 20th birthday when a bomb exploded at the barracks in which she was staying.  Fortunate to survive, the bomb blast did blow off part of her foot leading to months of painful recovery before she was able to walk again.

And while Dr. Ruth admits she never had to utilize her sniping ability in combat, she played her role in the establishment of the Jewish State long before she would establish her preeminence as America’s sex therapist.

The Future

A fascinating life that would begin in one of the most horrific of world events.  From this point forward, Dr. Ruth would go on to become the lovable, short, quirky sex therapist the world has come to know.  After being injured in the barracks bombing, Ruth would recover and eventually wound up marrying an Israeli soldier before moving to Paris to study psychology.

She eventually moved to America and after a couple of marriages settled down with Manfred Westheimer whom she would remain married until his death in 1997.

By David Shankbone – CC BY-SA 3.0

Dr. Ruth attributes her audacity and boldness to her experience growing up in Nazi Germany.  She stated, “I am what you call bold because the one thing that I’ve learned coming out of Nazi Germany, is that I have to stand up and be counted for what I believe. And that is how people are listening to me, because they know it is not a put-on.”

Her experience with the Haganah gives a fascinating glimpse into the historical creation of the Jewish State and how most Jews, included a short 4’7” orphan from Europe, would play some role.

Her story is one of pain and perseverance that ought to inspire all to press forward despite the odds.  It also warns you all not to judge a book by their cover. Because the same lady would wasn’t afraid to throw grenades at the enemy or operate a sniper rifle just might be that little old lady giving you sex advice.


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