17 May 1943

17 May 1943

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17 May 1943

War in the Air

Eighth Air Force Heavy Bomber Mission No. 58: 159 aircraft sent to attack Lorient port area and U-boat base, 39 to attack Bordeaux U-boat base. Seven aircraft lost.

Lancasters bombers destroy the Mohne and Eder dams in the famous dambusters raid


Japanese troops on Attu (Aleutians) retreat

War at Sea

German submarine U-646 sunk with all hands south east of Iceland

German submarine U-657 sunk with all hands off Cape Farewell

German submarine U-128 sunk off Pernambuco

95th Bomb Group

Staff Sergeant Donald W. Crossley, a tail gunner of the 95th Bomb Group in position inside a B-17 Flying Fortress. Image stamped on reverse: 'Associated Press.' [stamp] Handwritten caption on reverse: '21/9/43.' A printed caption was previously attached to the reverse of print, this has been lost, however considering the publication date, press agency and subject matter this was likely to have read: 'AWARDS TO THE HIGH-SCORING GUNNER. The Distinguished Flying Cross and an oak leaf cluster- the equivalent of two D.F.C's- have been award simultaneously to S/Sgt Donald W. Crossley, 25, of Wellsburg, W.VA., U.S. 8th Air Force tail gunner. Crossley, the highest scoring aerial gunner in the ETO, has shot down 12 German planes in 23 heavy bomber missions. The possessor of the Air Medal and the Oak Leaf Clusters, Crossley added a second cluster to his new DFC within a few days when his twelfth "kill" was confirmed. With shooting as a hobby in his off time from his pre-war job with the Follansbee Steel Company in Follansbee W. Va. '

An airman of the 95th Bomb Group with a B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-102447) nicknamed "El's Belles". First handwritten caption on reverse: 'F/L on last of 365's bases in Belgium other side "Angels Sister" [name struck-out and annotated 'No'] 365 FG C Johnson/icm/75' Second handwritten caption on reverse: 'BG-A 95 BG.'

Four airmen of the 95th Bomb Group. Handwritten caption on reverse: 'L to R: W. Isaacs (B) D.Merton(CP) J.Bader (N) R. Bender(P). 95BG en route to Africa'

Staff Sergeant Hillabrant, a tail gunner of the 95th Bomb Group, with his aircraft, a B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-29704) nicknamed "The Spook". Handwritten caption on reverse: 'The Spook, John Hillabrant (RG) Africa 4/43.'

A Bomber crew of the 95th Bomb Group with their aircraft a B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-29704) nicknamed "The Spook". Handwritten caption on reverse: 'Standing L to R W. Clarke, J. Hillabrant, L Glick, E. Bennett. Bottom: D. Morton, J. Van Arscall, J.Bader.'

Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Griffin "Griff" Mumford of the 95th Bomb Group with a jeep. Mumford has signed and dedicated the image to Freeman: 'To Roger Freeman, one of my favourite authors. Griff Mumford, Colonel USAF, 95th Bomb Group, 8th Air Force.'

A B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-37894) nicknamed "Pegasus IV" of the 95th Bomb Group flies above the clouds. Image stamped on reverse: 'U.S. Air Force Photo 1361st Photographic Squadron Aerospace Audio-visual Services ( MAC)'[stamp] Printed caption on reverse: 'A-26344 - FORT FORTIFIED: During a recent raid over Bremen, Germany by the 8th AAF, a closeup of the new chin-turrent Flying Fortress was picked out of a formation for study. Making the Fort a more deadly weapon of air offense, the softening up process continues unabated striking at Industrial nerve centres of Germany. 95th Bomb Group. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO'

A B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-30178) nicknamed "Darlin' Dolly" of the 95th Bomb Group releases bombs over Emden. Printed caption on reverse: '25623 USAF - Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress drops salvo of bombs over Emden, Germany October 2. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO.'

A B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 42-30182) nicknamed "Blondie II" of the 95th Bomb Group.

The WLB: Labor Leaders Must Get Off the Board!

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 20, 17 May 1943, p.ل.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Philip Murray and William Green are threatening to withdraw the labor members from the War Labor Board. They say that since the President’s “hold the line” order, the WLB no longer has any authority to remedy “inequities” and all that the board can do now is apply the fifteen per cent Little Steel formula. So what’s the use?

For Murray and Green this threat to withdraw from the WLB is merely a face-saving maneuver forced on them by the anger of the rank and file of organized labor which is sick to death of the pussy-footing of their officials, and is inspired by the miners’ stiff fight for a wage increase.

Up to now, Murray and Green have been ardent supporters of the WLB – in spite of the fact that since its inception the WLB has been the bargain basement for selling out labor. All this time the leaders of the CIO and AFL have been behind the counter with the bosses and the so-called representatives of the “public.”

Carried to Its Logical Conclusion

George E. Sokolsky, National Association of Manufacturers’ stooge, who writes for the New York Sun, has made the admission that “IF THE WLB IS CARRIED TO ITS LOGICAL CONCLUSION, THEN THE LABOR UNION BECOMES MERELY A SOCIAL ORGANIZATION FOR KEEPING LABOR IN LINE UNDER GOVERNMENT SUPERVISION.”

Get the full flavor of that sentence, you workers who have fought and bled to build your unions to protect your interests. The WLB is making of your unions – with the knowledge, consent and cooperation of many labor officials – a convenient vehicle for keeping you “IN LINE.’ And that is exactly where you’ve been kept – ABOVE ALL, BY THE LITTLE STEEL FORMULA, WHICH KEEPS WAGES DOWN – WHILE PRICES AND PROFITS HIT THE SKY!

But not even this unjust formula is applied universally. There is one of many instances in the case of the 1,750 employees of Lever Brothers. They were refused an increase in wages, even though they are getting less than the fifteen per cent permitted by the Little Steel formula. Why? Because – on the theory that two wrongs make a right – an increase for these 1,750 workers would mean increases also for the workers in the Cambridge and Edgewater plants of the same company – where the wages are also less than allowed by the aforesaid formula.

Let us look at some other outstanding decisions of the WLB.

There was the case of the General Cable Co. employees, who were denied a raise on the shocking theory that WAGES AS LOW AS SIXTY CENTS AN HOUR ARE NOT SUB-STANDARD!

Again, when the Textile Workers Union demanded that the wage differential between mills in the North and in the South be eliminated, the demand was refused by the WLB on the ground that “A DIFFERENTIAL IS NOT UNUSUAL.” Applying this principle, one may say that lynching is right because it too is “NOT UNUSUAL.” Though the labor members on the WLB wrote their own opinion in this, case, they CONCURRED with the majority!

The shipyard workers of the Bethlehem Steel Co. – one of the first-rank war profiteers – asked for two weeks’ vacation with pay for employees of one or more years’ standing because they thought the gruelling, tortuous labor of the yards entitled them to rest after one year. The WLB decided that ONE week for workers of THREE OR MORE YEARS’ standing is good enough. All the workers have to do is pray that they live that long.

There is the unforgettable case of the 32,000 New York transit workers, over which the WLB – by unanimous vote – refused to take jurisdiction, thus denying these workers even the dubious privilege of all other workers in the country to have their grievances buried in the files of the WLB. It might be said that in this case the WLB established its own precedent for being by-passed – as was done then by Mayor La Guardia, and as is now being done by John L. Lewis in the miners’ case. There are the many instances of WLB voting down wage increases where the bosses themselves – because of the labor market – were willing to grant increases.

A Graveyard for Grievances

And, of course, the method most often used to keep the workers “IN LINE” is simply to bury their petitions, demands and grievances. OF 2,119 CASES BROUGHT BEFORE THE BOARD IN TEN MONTHS OF 1942, ONLY 396 – OR LESS THAN ONE-SIXTH OF THE TOTAL – WERE SETTLED.

Today there are more than 10,000 pending cases. The President’s “hold the line” order has merely deepened the graves in which the WLB buries workers’ grievances. One can go on and on giving instances of how the WLB has employed labor leaders to convert the unions into bodies for keeping the workers “IN LINE.” But” no purpose will be served in multiplying the evidence.

To save the face of the WLB and of his faithful servitors in the CIO and AFL, Roosevelt may loosen the straight-jacket of his “hold the line” order – and allow the WLB to act on certain “inequities.” BUT WILL THAT BE A REASON FOR THE PAID OFFICIALS OF ORGANIZED LABOR TO STAY ON THE BOARD?


Fascism and Nazism demolish the unions outright. Capitalist “democracies” seek to accomplish the same purpose through no-strike pledges, War Labor Boards and other devices for pulling the teeth and softening the muscles of the unions. The workers of several unions have already raised the cry for their leaders to get off the WLB. This cry must become an earth-shaking shout from the throat of all organized labor before the “LOGICAL CONCLUSION” Mr. Sokolsky speaks of becomes a reality – and the unions cease to function as such!


Before the Second World War, the British Air Ministry had identified the industrialised Ruhr Valley, and especially its dams, as important strategic targets. [1] In addition to providing hydroelectric power and pure water for steel-making, they supplied drinking water and water for the canal transport system. Calculations indicated that attacks with large bombs could be effective but required a degree of accuracy which RAF Bomber Command had been unable to attain when attacking a well defended target. A one-off surprise attack might succeed but the RAF lacked a weapon suitable for the task. [2]

The mission grew out of a concept for a bomb designed by Barnes Wallis, assistant chief designer at Vickers. [2] Wallis had worked on the Vickers Wellesley and Vickers Wellington bombers and while working on the Vickers Windsor, he had also begun work, with Admiralty support, on an anti-shipping bomb, although dam destruction was soon considered.

At first, Wallis wanted to drop a 10-long-ton (22,000 lb 10,000 kg) bomb from an altitude of about 40,000 ft (12,000 m), part of the earthquake bomb concept. No bomber aircraft was capable of flying at such an altitude or of carrying such a heavy bomb, and Wallis proposed the six-engined Victory Bomber for this purpose but this was rejected. [3] Wallis realized that a much smaller explosive charge would suffice if it exploded against the dam wall under the water, [4] but German reservoir dams were protected by heavy torpedo nets to prevent delivery of an explosive warhead through water.

Wallis then devised a 9,000 lb (4,100 kg) bomb (more accurately, a mine) in the shape of a cylinder, equivalent to a very large depth charge armed with a hydrostatic fuse, but designed to be given backward spin of 500 rpm. Dropped at 60 ft (18 m) and 240 mph (390 km/h) from the release point, the mine would skip across the surface of the water before hitting the dam wall as its forward speed ceased. Initially the backspin was intended to increase the range of the mine [5] but it was later realized that it would cause the mine, after submerging, to run down the side of the dam towards its base, thus maximising the explosive effect against the dam. [6] This weapon was code-named Upkeep. [7]

Testing of the concept included blowing up a scale model dam at the Building Research Establishment, Watford, in May 1942 and then the breaching of the disused Nant-y-Gro dam in Wales in July. A subsequent test suggested that a charge of 7,500 pounds (3,400 kg) exploded 30 feet (9.1 m) below water level would breach a full-size dam crucially this weight would be within the carrying capacity of an Avro Lancaster. [8]

The first air drop trials were at Chesil Beach in December 1942 these used a spinning 4 ft 6in sphere dropped from a modified Vickers Wellington, serial 'BJ895/G' the same aircraft was used until April 1943 when the first modified Lancasters became available. The tests continued at Chesil Beach and Reculver, often unsuccessfully, using revised designs of the mine and variations of speed and height.

Avro Chief Designer Roy Chadwick adapted the Lancaster to carry the mine. To reduce weight, much of the internal armour was removed, as was the mid-upper (dorsal) gun turret. The dimensions of the mine and its unusual shape meant that the bomb-bay doors had to be removed and the mine hung partly below the fuselage. It was mounted on two crutches and before dropping it was spun up to speed by an auxiliary motor. Chadwick also worked out the design and installation of controls and gear for the carriage and release of the mine in conjunction with Barnes Wallis. The Avro Lancaster Mk IIIs so modified were known as Lancaster B Mark III Special (Type 464 Provisioning). [9] [10]

In February 1943, Air Vice-Marshal Francis Linnell at the Ministry of Aircraft Production thought the work was diverting Wallis from the development of the Windsor. Pressure from Linnell via the chairman of Vickers, Sir Charles Worthington Craven, caused Wallis to offer to resign. [11] Sir Arthur Harris, head of Bomber Command, after a briefing by Linnell also opposed the allocation of his bombers. Wallis had written to an influential intelligence officer, Group Captain Frederick Winterbotham, who ensured that the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Charles Portal, heard of the project. Portal saw the film of the Chesil Beach trials and was convinced. [12] On 26 February 1943, Portal over-ruled Harris and ordered that thirty Lancasters were to be allocated to the mission and the target date was set for May, when water levels would be at their highest and breaches in the dams would cause the most damage. [13] With eight weeks to go, the larger Upkeep mine that was needed for the mission and the modifications to the Lancasters had yet to be designed.

Assignment Edit

The operation was given to No. 5 Group RAF, which formed a new squadron to undertake the dams mission. It was initially called Squadron X, as the speed of its formation outstripped the RAF process for naming squadrons. Led by 24-year-old Wing Commander Guy Gibson, a veteran of more than 170 bombing and night-fighter missions, twenty-one bomber crews were selected from 5 Group squadrons. The crews included RAF personnel of several nationalities, members of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF). The squadron was based at RAF Scampton, about 5 mi (8 km) north of Lincoln.

The targets selected were the Möhne Dam and the Sorpe Dam, upstream from the Ruhr industrial area, with the Eder Dam on the Eder River, which feeds into the Weser, as a secondary target. The loss of hydroelectric power was important but the loss of water to industry, cities and canals would have greater effect and there was potential for devastating flooding if the dams broke.

Preparations Edit

Bombing from an altitude of 60 ft (18 m), at an air speed of 240 mph (390 km/h) and at set distance from the target called for expert crews. Intensive night-time and low-altitude flight training began. There were also technical problems to solve, the first one being to determine when the aircraft was at optimum distance from its target. Both the Möhne and Eder Dams had towers at each end. A special targeting device with two prongs, making the same angle as the two towers at the correct distance from the dam, showed when to release the bomb. (The BBC documentary Dambusters Declassified (2010) stated that the pronged device was not used, owing to problems related to vibration, and that other methods were employed, including a length of string tied in a loop and pulled back centrally to a fixed point in the manner of a catapult.)

The second problem was determining the aircraft's altitude, as the barometric altimeters then in use lacked sufficient accuracy. Two spotlights were mounted, one under the aircraft's nose and the other under the fuselage, so that at the correct height their light beams would converge on the surface of the water. The crews practised at the Eyebrook Reservoir, near Uppingham, Rutland Abberton Reservoir near Colchester Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire and Fleet Lagoon on Chesil Beach. Wallis's bomb itself was first tested at the Elan Valley Reservoirs.

The squadron took delivery of the bombs on 13 May, after the final tests on 29 April. At 1800 on 15 May, at a meeting in Whitworth's house, Gibson and Wallis briefed four key officers: the squadron's two flight commanders, Squadron Leader Henry Maudslay and Sqn Ldr H. M. "Dinghy" Young Gibson's deputy for the Möhne attack, Flt Lt John V. Hopgood and the squadron bombing leader, Flight Lieutenant Bob Hay. The rest of the crews were told at a series of briefings the following day, which began with a briefing of pilots, navigators and bomb-aimers at about midday.

Organisation Edit

The squadron was divided into three formations.

Formation No. 1 was composed of nine aircraft in three groups (listed by pilot): Gibson, Hopgood and Flt Lt H. B. "Micky" Martin (an Australian serving in the RAF) Young, Flt Lt David Maltby and Flt Lt Dave Shannon (RAAF) and Maudslay, Flt Lt Bill Astell and Pilot Officer Les Knight (RAAF). Its mission was to attack the Möhne any aircraft with bombs remaining would then attack the Eder.

Formation No. 2, numbering five aircraft, piloted by Flt Lt Joe McCarthy (an American serving in the RCAF), P/O Vernon Byers (RCAF), Flt Lt Norman Barlow (RAAF), P/O Geoff Rice [14] and Flt Lt Les Munro (RNZAF), was to attack the Sorpe.

Formation No. 3 was a mobile reserve consisting of aircraft piloted by Flight Sergeant Cyril Anderson, Flt Sgt Bill Townsend, Flt Sgt Ken Brown (RCAF), P/O Warner Ottley and P/O Lewis Burpee (RCAF), taking off two hours later on 17 May, either to bomb the main dams or to attack three smaller secondary target dams: the Lister, the Ennepe and the Diemel.

Two crews were unable to make the mission owing to illness.

The Operations Room for the mission was at 5 Group Headquarters in St Vincents Hall, Grantham, Lincolnshire. The mission codes (transmitted in morse) were: Goner, meaning "bomb dropped" Nigger, meaning that the Möhne was breached and Dinghy, meaning that the Eder was breached. Nigger was the name of Gibson's dog, a black labrador retriever that had been run over and killed on the morning of the attack. [15] Dinghy was Young's nickname, a reference to the fact that he had twice survived crash landings at sea where he and his crew were rescued from the aircraft's inflatable rubber dinghy.

Outbound Edit

The aircraft used two routes, carefully avoiding known concentrations of flak, and were timed to cross the enemy coast simultaneously. The first aircraft, those of Formation No. 2 and heading for the longer, northern route, took off at 21:28 on 16 May. [16] McCarthy's bomber developed a coolant leak and he took off in the reserve aircraft 34 minutes late. [17]

Formation No. 1 took off in groups of three at 10-minute intervals beginning at 21:39. [16] The reserve formation did not begin taking off until 00:09 on 17 May. [16]

Formation No. 1 entered continental Europe between Walcheren and Schouwen, flew over the Netherlands, skirted the airbases at Gilze-Rijen and Eindhoven, curved around the Ruhr defences, and turned north to avoid Hamm before turning south to head for the Möhne River. Formation No. 2 flew further north, cutting over Vlieland and crossing the IJsselmeer before joining the first route near Wesel and then flying south beyond the Möhne to the Sorpe River. [18]

The bombers flew low, at about 100 ft (30 m) altitude, to avoid radar detection. Flight Sergeant George Chalmers, radio operator on "O for Orange", looked out through the astrodome and was astonished to see that his pilot was flying towards the target along a forest's firebreak, below treetop level. [19]

First casualties Edit

The first casualties were suffered soon after reaching the Dutch coast. Formation No. 2 did not fare well: Munro's aircraft lost its radio to flak and turned back over the IJsselmeer, while Rice [14] flew too low and struck the sea, losing his bomb in the water he recovered and returned to base. After the completion of the raid Gibson sympathised with Rice, telling him how he had also nearly lost his bomb to the sea.

Barlow and Byers crossed the coast around the island of Texel. Byers was shot down by flak shortly afterwards, crashing into the Waddenzee. Barlow's aircraft hit electricity pylons and crashed 5 km east of Rees, near Haldern. The bomb was thrown clear of the crash and was examined intact by Heinz Schweizer. [20] Only the delayed bomber piloted by McCarthy survived to cross the Netherlands. Formation No. 1 lost Astell's bomber near the German hamlet of Marbeck when his Lancaster hit high voltage electrical cables and crashed into a field. [16]

Attack on the Möhne Dam Edit

Formation No. 1 arrived over the Möhne lake and Gibson's aircraft (G for George) made the first run, followed by Hopgood (M for Mother). Hopgood's aircraft was hit by flak as it made its low-level run and was caught in the blast of its own bomb, crashing shortly afterwards when a wing disintegrated. Three crew members successfully abandoned the aircraft, but only two survived. Subsequently, Gibson flew his aircraft across the dam to draw the flak away from Martin's run. Martin (P for Popsie) bombed third his aircraft was damaged, but made a successful attack. Next, Young (A for Apple) made a successful run, and after him Maltby (J for Johnny), when finally the dam was breached. Gibson, with Young accompanying, led Shannon, Maudslay and Knight to the Eder. [16]

Attack on the Eder Dam Edit

The Eder Valley was covered by heavy fog, but the dam was not defended with anti-aircraft positions as the difficult topography of the surrounding hills was thought to make an attack virtually impossible. With approach so difficult the first aircraft, Shannon's, made six runs before taking a break. Maudslay (Z for Zebra) then attempted a run but the bomb struck the top of the dam and the aircraft was severely damaged in the blast. Shannon made another run and successfully dropped his bomb. The final bomb of the formation, from Knight's aircraft (N for Nut), breached the dam. [21]

Attacks on the Sorpe and Ennepe Dams Edit

The Sorpe dam was the one least likely to be breached. It was a huge earthen dam, unlike the two concrete-and-steel gravity dams that were attacked successfully. Due to various problems, only two Lancasters reached the Sorpe Dam: Joe McCarthy (in T for Tommy, a delayed aircraft from the second wave) and later Brown (F for Freddie) from the third formation. This attack differed from the previous ones in two ways: the 'Upkeep' bomb was not spun, and due to the topography of the valley the approach was made along the length of the dam, not at right angles over the reservoir.

McCarthy's plane was on its own when it arrived over the Sorpe Dam at 00:15 hours, and realised the approach was even more difficult than expected: the flight path led over a church steeple in the village of Langscheid, located on the hillcrest overlooking the dam. With only seconds to go before the bomber had to pull up, to avoid hitting the hillside at the other end of the dam, the bomb aimer George Johnson had no time to correct the bomb's height and heading.

McCarthy made nine attempted bombing runs before Johnson was satisfied. The 'Upkeep' bomb was dropped on the tenth run. The bomb exploded but when he turned his Lancaster to assess the damage, it turned out that only a section of the crest of the dam had been blown off the main body of the dam remained.

Three of the reserve aircraft had been directed to the Sorpe Dam. Burpee (S for Sugar) never arrived, and it was later determined that the plane had been shot down while skirting the Gilze-Rijen airfield. Brown (F for Freddie) reached the Sorpe Dam: in the increasingly dense fog, after 7 runs, Brown conferred with his bomb aimer and dropped incendiary devices on either side of the valley, which ignited a fire which subsequently lifted the fog enough to drop a direct hit on the eighth run. The bomb cracked but failed to breach the dam. Anderson (Y for York) never arrived having been delayed by damage to his rear turret and dense fog which made his attempts to find the target impossible. The remaining two bombers were then sent to secondary targets, with Ottley (C for Charlie) being shot down en route to the Lister Dam. Townsend (O for Orange) eventually dropped his bomb at the Ennepe Dam without harming it. [16]

Possible attack on Bever Dam Edit

There is some evidence that Townsend might have attacked the Bever Dam [de] by mistake rather than the Ennepe Dam. [22] The War Diary of the German Naval Staff reported that the Bever Dam was attacked at nearly the same time that the Sorpe Dam was. In addition, the Wupperverband authority responsible for the Bever Dam is said to have recovered the remains of a "mine" and Paul Keiser, a 19-year-old soldier on leave at his home close to the Bever Dam, reported a bomber making several approaches to the dam and then dropping a bomb that caused a large explosion and a great pillar of flame.

In the book The Dambusters' Raid, author John Sweetman suggests Townsend's report of the moon's reflecting on the mist and water is consistent with an attack that was heading to the Bever Dam rather than to the Ennepe Dam, given the moon's azimuth and altitude during the bombing attacks. Sweetman also points out that the Ennepe-Wasserverband authority was adamant that only a single bomb was dropped near the Ennepe Dam during the entire war, and that this bomb fell into the woods by the side of the dam, not in the water, as in Townsend's report. Finally, members of Townsend's crew independently reported seeing a manor house and attacking an earthen dam, which is consistent with the Bever Dam rather than the Ennepe Dam. The main evidence supporting the hypothesis of an attack of the Ennepe Dam is Townsend's post-flight report that he attacked the Ennepe Dam on a heading of 355 degrees magnetic. Assuming that the heading was incorrect, all other evidence points toward an attack on the Bever Dam. [22]

Townsend reported difficulty in finding his dam, and in his post-raid report he complained that the map of the Ennepe Dam was incorrect. The Bever Dam is only about 5 mi (8 km) southwest of the Ennepe Dam. With the early-morning fog that filled the valleys, it would be understandable for him to have mistaken the two reservoirs.

Return flight Edit

On the way back, flying again at treetop level, two more Lancasters were lost. The damaged aircraft of Maudslay was struck by flak near Netterden, and Young's (A for Apple) was hit by flak north of IJmuiden and crashed into the North Sea just off the coast of the Netherlands. [16] On the return flight over the Dutch coast, some German flak aimed at the aircraft was aimed so low that shells were seen to bounce off the sea. [23]

Eleven bombers began landing at Scampton at 03:11 hours, with Gibson returning at 04:15. The last of the survivors, Townsend's bomber, landed at 06:15. [16] It was the last to land because one of its engines had been shut down after passing the Dutch coast. Air Chief Marshal Harris was among those who came out to greet the last crew to land. [24]

Aircraft call sign Commander Target Attacked target? Hit target? Breached target? Returned? Notes
First Wave
G George Gibson Möhne Dam Yes No N/A Yes Raid leader. Mine exploded short of dam. Used aircraft to draw anti-aircraft fire away from other crews.
M Mother Hopgood Yes No N/A No Hit by anti-aircraft fire outbound. Mine bounced over dam. Shot down over the target while attacking. (P/O Fraser and P/O Burcher survived)
P Peter (Popsie) Martin Yes No N/A Yes Mine missed the target.
A Apple Young Yes Yes Yes No Mine hit dam and caused small breach. On the homeward flight Lancaster AJ-A was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed along the shoreline 2 km south of the Dutch coastal resort of Castricum aan Zee. All seven crew members lost their lives and are buried at the Bergen General Cemetery.
J Johnny Maltby Yes Yes Yes Yes Mine hit dam and caused a large breach.
L Leather Shannon Eder Dam Yes Yes No Yes Mine hit target—no effect.
Z Zebra Maudslay Yes No N/A No Mine overshot target and damaged the bomber, which was shot down over Germany while trying to return.
N Nancy (Nan) Knight Yes Yes Yes Yes Mine hit the dam and caused a large breach.
B Baker Astell N/A No N/A N/A No Crashed after hitting large-scale power lines outbound.
Second Wave
T Tommy McCarthy Sorpe Dam Yes Yes No Yes Mine hit the target – no apparent effect.
E Easy Barlow N/A No N/A N/A No Crashed after hitting power lines outbound.
K King Byers No N/A N/A No Shot down over the Dutch coast outbound.
H Harry Rice No N/A N/A Yes Lost the mine after clipping the sea outbound. Returned without attacking a target.
W Willie Munro No N/A N/A Yes Damaged by anti-aircraft fire over the Dutch coast. Returned without attacking a target.
Third Wave
Y York Anderson Sorpe Dam No N/A N/A Yes Could not find the target due to mist. Landed at Scampton with an armed mine.
F Freddy Brown Sorpe Dam Yes Yes No Yes Mine hit the target – no apparent effect.
O Orange Townsend Ennepe or Bever Dam Yes Yes No Yes Mine hit the target – no apparent effect.
S Sugar Burpee N/A No N/A N/A No Shot down over the Netherlands outbound.
C Charlie Ottley No N/A N/A No Shot down over Germany outbound. Frederick Tees was the sole survivor
Totals 19 aircraft 4 dams 11 of 19 7 of 11 3 of 7 11 of 19 2 hit power lines outbound 3 shot down outbound 3 returned without attacking

11 attacked 1 shot down over target 2 shot down homebound 8 attacked target and returned.

Bomber Command wanted a bomb damage assessment as soon as possible and the CO of 542 Squadron was informed of the estimated time of the attacks. A photo-reconnaissance Spitfire, piloted by Flying Officer Frank 'Jerry' Fray, took off from RAF Benson at 07:30 hours and arrived over the Ruhr River some hours after first light. [25] Photos were taken of the breached dams and the huge floods. [26] The pilot later described the experience:

When I was about 150 miles [240 km] from the Möhne Dam, I could see the industrial haze over the Ruhr area and what appeared to be a cloud to the east. On flying closer, I saw that what had seemed to be cloud was the sun shining on the floodwaters. I looked down into the deep valley which had seemed so peaceful three days before but now it was a wide torrent. The whole valley of the river was inundated with only patches of high ground and the tops of trees and church steeples showing above the flood. I was overcome by the immensity of it.

Three aircrew from Hopgood's aircraft parachuted but one later died from wounds and the others were captured. A crewman in Ottley's aircraft survived its crash. In total, therefore, 53 of the 133 aircrew who participated in the attack were killed, a casualty rate of almost 40 percent. Thirteen of those killed were members of the RCAF and two belonged to the RAAF. [27]

Of the survivors, 34 were decorated at Buckingham Palace on 22 June, with Gibson awarded the Victoria Cross. There were five Distinguished Service Orders, 10 Distinguished Flying Crosses and four bars, two Conspicuous Gallantry Medals, eleven Distinguished Flying Medals and one bar. [28]

Initial German casualty estimates from the floods were 1,294 killed, including 749 French, Belgian, Dutch and Ukrainian prisoners of war and labourers. [29] [30] Later estimates put the death toll in the Möhne Valley at about 1,600, including people who drowned in the flood wave downstream from the dam. After a public relations tour of North America, and time spent working in the Air Ministry in London writing the book published as Enemy Coast Ahead, Gibson returned to operations and was killed on a Mosquito operation in 1944.

Following the Dams Raid, 617 Squadron was kept together as a specialist unit. A motto, Après moi le déluge ("After me the flood") and a squadron badge were chosen. According to Brickhill there was some controversy over the motto, with the original version Après nous le déluge ("After us the flood") being rejected by the Heralds as having inappropriate provenance (having been coined, reportedly, by Madame de Pompadour) and après moi le déluge having been said by Louis XV in an "irresponsible" context. The motto having been chosen by King George VI, the latter was finally deemed acceptable. [31] The squadron went on to drop the Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs and attacked the German battleship Tirpitz, using an advanced bomb sight, which enabled the bombing of small targets with far greater accuracy than conventional bomb aiming techniques.

In 1977, Article 56 of the Protocol I amendment to the Geneva Conventions, outlawed attacks on dams "if such attack may cause the release of dangerous forces from the works or installations and consequent severe losses among the civilian population". There is however an exception if "it is used for other than its normal function and in regular, significant and direct support of military operations and if such attack is the only feasible way to terminate such support". [32]

Tactical view Edit

The two direct mine hits on the Möhnesee dam resulted in a breach around 250 feet (76 m) wide and 292 feet (89 m) deep. The destroyed dam poured around 330 million tons of water into the western Ruhr region. A torrent of water around 33 feet (10 m) high and travelling at around 15 miles per hour (24 km/h) swept through the valleys of the Möhne and Ruhr rivers. A few mines were flooded 11 small factories and 92 houses were destroyed and 114 factories and 971 houses were damaged. The floods washed away about 25 roads, railways and bridges as the flood waters spread for around 50 miles (80 km) from the source. Estimates show that before 15 May 1943 steel production on the Ruhr was 1 million tonnes [ citation needed ] [ clarification needed ] this dropped to a quarter of that level after the raid.

The Eder drains towards the east into the Fulda which runs into the Weser to the North Sea. The main purpose of the Edersee was then, as it is now, to act as a reservoir to keep the Weser and the Mittellandkanal navigable during the summer months. The wave from the breach was not strong enough to result in significant damage by the time it hit Kassel, approximately 22 miles (35 km) downstream.

The greatest impact on the Ruhr armaments production was the loss of hydroelectric power. Two power stations (producing 5,100 kilowatts) associated with the dam were destroyed and seven others were damaged. This resulted in a loss of electrical power in the factories and many households in the region for two weeks. In May 1943 coal production dropped by 400,000 tons which German sources attribute to the effects of the raid. [33]

According to an article by German historian Ralf Blank [de] , [34] at least 1,650 people were killed: around 70 of these were in the Eder Valley, and at least 1,579 bodies were found along the Möhne and Ruhr rivers, with hundreds missing. Of the bodies found downriver of the Möhne Dam, 1,026 were foreign prisoners of war and forced labourers in different camps, mainly from the Soviet Union. Worst hit was the city of Neheim (now part of Neheim-Hüsten) at the confluence of the Möhne and Ruhr rivers, where over 800 people perished, among them at least 493 female forced labourers from the Soviet Union. Some non-German sources cite an earlier total of 749 for all foreigners in all camps in the Möhne and Ruhr valleys as the casualty count at a camp just below the Eder Dam. [30] ) One source states that the raid was no more than a minor inconvenience to the Ruhr's industrial output, although that is contradicted by others. [35] The bombing boosted British morale. [36]

In his book Inside the Third Reich, Albert Speer acknowledged the attempt: "That night, employing just a few bombers, the British came close to a success which would have been greater than anything they had achieved hitherto with a commitment of thousands of bombers." [37] He also expressed puzzlement at the raids: the disruption of temporarily having to shift 7,000 construction workers to the Möhne and Eder repairs was offset by the failure of the Allies to follow up with additional (conventional) raids during the dams' reconstruction, and that represented a major lost opportunity. [38] Barnes Wallis was also of this view he revealed his deep frustration that Bomber Command never sent a high-level bombing force to hit the Mohne dam while repairs were being carried out. He argued that extreme precision would have been unnecessary and that even a few hits by conventional HE bombs would have prevented the rapid repair of the dam which was undertaken by the Germans. [39]

Strategic view Edit

The Dams Raid was, like many British air raids, undertaken with a view to the need to keep drawing German defensive effort back into Germany and away from actual and potential theatres of ground war, a policy which culminated in the Berlin raids of the winter of 1943–1944. In May 1943 this meant keeping the Luftwaffe aircraft and anti-aircraft defences away from the Soviet Union in early 1944, it meant clearing the way for the aerial side of the forthcoming Operation Overlord. The considerable amount of labour and strategic resources committed to repairing the dams, factories, mines and railways could not be used in other ways, on the construction of the Atlantic Wall, for example. The pictures of the broken dams proved to be a propaganda and morale boost to the Allies, especially to the British, still suffering from the German bombing of the Baedeker Blitz that had peaked roughly a year earlier. [25]

Even within Germany, as evidenced by Gauleiters' reports to Berlin at the time, the German population regarded the raids as a legitimate attack on military targets and thought they were "an extraordinary success on the part of the English" [sic]. They were not regarded as a pure terror attack by the Germans, even in the Ruhr region, and in response the German authorities released relatively accurate (not exaggerated) estimates of the dead. [40]

An effect of the dam raids was that Barnes Wallis's ideas on earthquake bombing, which had previously been rejected, came to be accepted by 'Bomber' Harris. Prior to this raid, bombing had used the tactic of area bombardment with many light bombs, in the hope that one would hit the target. Work on the earthquake bombs resulted in the Tallboy and Grand Slam weapons, which caused damage to German infrastructure in the later stages of the war. They rendered the V-2 rocket launch complex at Calais unusable, buried the V-3 guns, and destroyed bridges and other fortified installations, such as the Grand Slam attack on the railway viaduct at Bielefeld. Most notable successes were the partial collapse of 20-foot-thick (6 m) reinforced concrete roofs of U-boat pens at Brest, and the sinking of the battleship Tirpitz.

It Is Labor’s Duty to Give the Miners 100% Support!

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 20, 17 May 1943, pp.ف &ل.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The present strike of the miners is the high point of a half century of almost continuous fighting by these workers to improve their working conditions, gain a decent standard of living and protection from injury and violent death by cave-in and explosion. To gain what little they have the coal diggers have been forced to go on strike almost every year since 1899.

All of these strikes were, like the present stoppage, concerned with wages and working conditions. They cover the administrations of eight Presidents from McKinley to the present Roosevelt. These mine strikes took place in peacetime and in wartime. In 1917󈝾, over 100,000 miners were on strike. In 1919, over 450,000 miners struck for a 60 per cent increase in pay. They got 27 per cent. In 1935, over 400,000 participated in a strike, and the captive mine strike of 1942 called out 325,000.

The government, in 1919, was able to obtain an injunction making it mandatory that the strike stop. This was the first year that John L. Lewis was president of the UMWA, and William Green was secretary-treasurer. When the officers failed to call off the strike according to the injunction, they were cited for contempt. Before being brought to trial, however, the union officials submitted, Lewis taking the position: “We are Americans. We cannot fight our government.”

What Victory Will Mean

It is interesting that, through all these years, the bosses have never been able to break this union not even with the aid of court injunctions, threatened prosecution, clubbing and murder by the coal and iron police, and assaults from the National Guard and the Regular Army. Through all this persecution, the privation of long and bitter strikes, the enmity of government officials and labor-hating judges, the miners’ union stands today, stronger than ever, the rock of the American labor movement, the vanguard of the trade union movement in battling for the economic demands of labor in the United States.

Despite this, despite their long past of victories and hard-won struggles, the mine workers face the gravest danger now of their whole militant career. They can suffer a major defeat. And a defeat now for the miners means a set-back for the whole labor movement in the United States. No worker, no member of any union, Should disregard this warning. If the miners win, it will be a victory for every worker, for every union.

The struggle being waged by the miners’ is a struggle against the Little Steel formula, against Roosevelt’s “hold the line” decree and against substitution of government boards for the employer in collective bargaining procedure.

If the miners win, the Little Steel formula will be broken, the “hold the line” decree will have to be modified, the WLB will be reduced to a decorative committee with no real authority – and, above all, the ranks of labor will have received a lesson in the way a union should go about gaining its objectives.

The bosses and their stooges in Congress and on the daily papers understand this. They are united as one man against any concessions being made to the mine workers. They know, and say, that if the miners get a wage increase, demands will come in from other unions which will have to be granted. These increases will cut into profits and reduce the amount available for dividends, big salaries, commissions to war contract brokers, anti-labor propaganda, lobbying in Washington and bribes.

The Mongrel Press

The entire boss capitalist press is calling for the suppression of the miners and a denial of their demands. This is to be expected, and as it should be. There is no reason to expect the capitalist press to defend the interests of coal miners or of any other workers. Hence the attitude of the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Scripps-Howard papers should surprise no one.

Perhaps the miners expected better treatment from that part of the capitalist press that poses as liberal and friendly to labor. For example, that journalistic mongrel known as >PM has always posed as a friend of labor. The Sunday, May 2, edition of PM carried the following head on the front page around a cartoon of Lewis: “Don’t Let This Man Run (and Ruin) the U.S.A.” The second page featured a signed editorial by James Wechsler, ex-Stalinist stooge and PM’s labor reporter.

Here are a few of the gems that Wechsler hands out: “The coal miners must learn . that their best hope for a decent and fair solution of their troubles lies in Franklin D. Roosevelt, not in John L. Lewis. The stand of this newspaper is plain. We are against John L. Lewis and the strike which he – without daring to issue a strike call – has encouraged and blessed. We believe that the President of the United States must be supported in any moves he makes to insure the uninterrupted production of coal. When this strike ends – no matter how terrible the circumstances – we shall fight, in spite of John L. Lewis, for a full airing and a fair settlement of the miners’ grievances. And we shall also fight to put John L. Lewis out of the business of labor-leading.”

We don’t quote this because we fear the influence of PM on the miners. We know better than that. We quote it to show where the so-called liberal press stands to demonstrate that PM is no different from the New York Times, the Scripps-Howard papers or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. All of these papers are willing for the miners grievances to be “aired” and “settled fairly.” But the miners don’t want air!

David Lawrence, in one of his Today in Washington columns, seems to think that the miners are fortunate in having Lewis as their leader. Lawrence says: “Lewis has again out-maneuvered the Administration and . he has emerged as the most aggressive champion of organized labor that the country has today.”

Despite the fact that Lawrence writes from the position of an anti-Administration commentator, and is certainly no friend of labor, what he says here is simple fact, clear to all except such weasel-word “liberals” as PM and its Wechsler.

The last comment we wish to make about the Wechsler-PM editorial is the threat to run Lewis out of the labor movement. We are glad that Wechsler added this. It makes the editorial funny. Just think, PM, with no influence at all anywhere, and Wechsler will fight to get a new leader for the miners. PM really hasn’t influence enough to drive a two-bit Willie Bioff from the labor movement.

The New Republic, one of the “liberal” weeklies, also commented on the strike. This journal very generously admits that the miners have grievances and that “in many respects they have behaved better than their employers.” But “President Roosevelt’s answer to Lewis’ challenge was the only possible one.” Evidently the New Republic is of the opinion that it was not possible for the miners to get an increase in pay and thus end the strike by that procedure.

This “liberal” weekly thinks that the “no-trespass” slogan of the, miners has a “ridiculous” sound, but it gives the miners “a feeling of standing on respectable ground.” The New Republic goes on: “and though soldiers may not be able to force men to work, they certainly could prevent pickets from keeping away from work any who wished to obey the President of the United States instead of the president of the United Mine Workers.”

That is, the New Republic is saying here that the Army might not be able to break the strike by forcing loyal union miners to work, but the Army could break the strike by covering the scabs who attempted to get through the picket lines and into the mines.

These are samples from the “liberal” press. They will come to the aid of the mine workers AFTER the war is over! In the meantime, these workers can remain hungry, and the coal operators can work full blast at increasing their profits, dividends and salaries.

The Labor Misleaders

Did the mine workers fare any better at the hands of the leaders of labor? They certainly have the right to expect different treatment from those who lead labor. But did they get it? They did not!

Emil Rieve, president of the Textile Workers Union, CIO, and a member of the CIO Executive Council, speaking at the opening of the convention of that organization in New York on May 10, had this to say in connection with the no-strike pledge given by the labor bureaucrats to Roosevelt: “Nothing has happened which should cause labor to deviate from that pledge one iota. No matter how great the grievances of the miners, and that they are great I would be the first to acknowledge no matter how much the coal operators had sought to take advantage of the situation in their hope of destroying the solidarity of the miners, there is no justification for the complete stoppage of production.”

Here is speaking the complete stooge and traitor. No matter what happens, no matter what attacks they suffer, the workers must go right on producing. No matter if they are hungry no matter if the cost of living and taxes keep going up no matter if the coal operators did get a government subsidy and permission to boost the price of coal – what does it all matter? The miners and other workers, according to Rieve, must grin and bear it.

At the recent conference of the AUW in Detroit, while the rank and file delegates were applauding and cheering the miners, the leaders were trying to explain what a fearful man Lewis is. Walter Reuther held that the UAW should back the economic demands of the miners, but “we ought not to support their strike or Lewis’ leadership.” Reuther said that Lewis is only interested in fighting the President, and is using the miners in his personal quarrel with Roosevelt.

Richard Frankensteen, who acted as strike-breaker during the North American Aviation strike, is, of course, against the miners’ strike. Frankensteen is “for the demands of the United Mine Workers, but I’m against their strike 100 per cent and without reservations.”

Despite the tirades of Reuther and Frankensteen, the delegates gave the loudest ovatioA to a delegate who said that labor should not straddle on the mine strike by “supporting the UMWA in their wage demands and not John Lewis.” Another delegate said: “Lewis and the mine workers are fighting today the fight that you and I and the entire CIO should be making.”

All of these situations demonstrate just how the matter stands. The miners should know who their friends are and from whom they can expect support. That they cannot get support from the capitalist press is clear. They understand this full well. But it is also true that they cannot get support from the so-called liberal press these puppets who talk about fighting for the miners after the strike is over, or after the war is over. The leaders of the AFL and the CIO cannot be depended on. They too are against the strike they stick to the no-strike pledge they, gave to Roosevelt without consulting their membership. And the worst, of course, have been the Stalinists and their slander sheet, the Daily Worker, who have waged an all-out fight against the miners. But we’ll return to these RATS some other time.

For or Against Lewis?

It is clear now, however, that the miners have powerful support. This support comes from the millions of organized and unorganized workers in the United States. These workers know what is at stake they know that the miners are right and they know that the UMWA is doing what every international, union should be doing today.

The delegate to the UAW conference hit the nail on the head when he said that workers should not listen to talk about supporting the miners while being against Lewis. This is the rankest sort of nonsense. Even the reactionary David Lawrence recognizes this when he says: “If, when it is all over, the miners get more pay – and it appears they will somehow – you can chalk up another sensational victory for John L. Lewis, Who serves his union well for that $25,000-a-year salary which he earns many times over.”

In this particular struggle, to talk about being for the “economic demands” of the miners, but against the strike and against Lewis, is outright betrayal on the part of labor’s leaders. Any talk of this kind coming from the rank and file is plain stupidity. We can criticize Lewis we have criticized Lewis and we will criticize Lewis. But our general criticisms of Lewis have nothing to do with the present situation. In this situation, we judge Lewis according to how he lives up to his responsibilities as a union leader, according to how he leads the miners in their fight. Lewis is the leader of a union that is waging a battle for all labor – and waging it properly.

The test of a labor leader is very simple. Does he recognize the existence of these conditions and does he attempt to do something effective to improve conditions.

The miners and other workers attempted to improve their conditions by negotiations and got nowhere. They got nowhere with the employers and they got nowhere with the government. The strike was forced on the miners by the employers and the government. Every other union was faced with the same situation: strike or go hungry.

There was no other alternative but to strike. The miners and other workers have no other weapon. The daily press knows this. That’s why it can only lie and distort the facts. Roosevelt knows this. That’s why he tried to be alternately friendly and tough. The AFL and CIO leaders also know the truth, but they are cowards floating between the pressure of Roosevelt and the upsurge of their own membership.

Can’t Compromise Here

To be “against Lewis” in this fight is to be against the miners and against the interests of the entire labor movement.

The issue is NOT Lewis it is the MINERS, the miners’ UNION, and the miners’ DEMANDS.

There can be no compromise here, no fence-sitting and no straddling. No worker, and especially no miner, should have any doubts about this. If the miners waver for one second they are lost. If they do not get and hold the complete support of all the ranks of labor, their struggle will be immeasurably weakened. This means that weaker unions, less militant unions and those not so well led as the UMWA, regardless of their size, will have no chance whatsoever to improve their wage position.

The bosses want to break the miners because they are the strongest and most militant link in the labor chain. They have called to their aid, THEIR Congress, THEIR government, THEIR press, THEIR pulpit, THEIR radio and THEIR lieutenants in the labor movement. These are all against the miners and their strike.

But over against these stand the solid and disciplined ranks of the UMWA and the support of millions of workers who wish that they had a union like the miners: unafraid, unbowed and determined. This is something in fact, it can be decisive and with this the miners can win.

92nd Bomb Group Fame's Favoured Few

A B-17 Flying Fortress (serial number 41-9089) nicknamed "Johnny Reb" of the 92nd Bomb Group, formerly of the 97th Bomb Group takes off. Image stamped on reverse: 'New York Times Photo.' [stamp], 'Air (Boeing) FLY.' [annotation] and '219847.'[Censor no.] A printed caption was previously attached to the reverse, however this has been lost. Handwritten caption on reverse: '4/9/42, marsh ground. Johnny Reb.' Info from Roger Freeman's "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", photo caption on page 14 : "Johnny Reb, the Fortress in which 8AF sustained its first heavy bomber combat fatality on 21 August, lifts off from Bovingdon on a trainig flight, 4 September. The co-pilot has braked the main wheels which are just starting to retract. Along with the other B-17E models of the 97BG this aircraft was transferred to the Combat Crew replacement centre in late August."

Personnel of the 92nd Bomb Group ride bicycles past B-17 Flying Fortresses: B-17F (PY-T, serial number 42-3165) and B-17F (UX-H, serial number 42-5745) nicknamed "The Fuhrer the Better", at Alconbury.

Ground crew of the 92nd Bomb Group wait with an ambulance as a B-17 Flying Fortress (UX-D, serial number 42-5734) nicknamed "Seymour Angel" lands at Alconbury. Printed caption on reverse: 'BRITISH OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH DISTRIBUTED BY THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION CROWN COPYRIGHT RESERVED. BRITISH EQUIPMENT AT AMERICAN AIR-FIELD. Members of the U.S. Army Air Force stationed in Great Britain are in a good position to appreciate the British end of Lend-Lease arrangements. A visit to an American bomber station "somewhere in England" shows some of the many varieties of equipment with which Britain supplies her American Ally. No.7. British made cash tenders and ambulances wait, ready for an emergency, at the strategic corners of the field, as the B-17 Fortresses land after a mission over the Rhur. The engines of the trucks are kept running, the men stand alert at their posts read to move into instant action should a plane, damaged by enermy action, foul its landing. On the back of the crash tender is an asbestos suit. Its wearer can work in fire for several minutes - vital ones, should a plane catch fire and its crew be trapped. In the background a B-17 has landed. Already the sergeant on the telephone is watching the next plane land. No.D.15116. For other prints in this series see miniature and feature set file. USA(BRI)CCC.FIR.' Handwritten caption on reverse: '1/ British Equipment at American Airfield. 2/ Reverse lease-lend 3/ Cash tenders.'

Ground crew of the 92nd Bomb Group load bombs onto a B-17 Flying Fortress at Bovingdon. Image stamped on reverse: 'Planet News Passed by Censor.'[stamp]. 'Return to P.I.D' [stamp].'Copyright B.L.Davis'[stamp]. Printed caption on reverse: 'NOT TO BE PUBLISHED BEFORE THE DAILY NEWSPAPERS ON TUESDAY - 20th October 1942. AMERICAN FORTRESS BOMBERS IN BRITAIN PREPARE FOR NEXT MOVE. These pictures of American Fortress bombers were taken at the operational station of the United States Army Air Forces operating in Britain. The bombers have carried out many successful raids on enemy territory, but have so far operated by daylight only. They are now busy at their base somewhere in England, getting ready for their next surprise attack. PHOTO SHOWS:- Men of the ground staff of the United States Army Air Force, busy at bombing-up the 'planes just before a take-off at the operational 'drome somewhere in England. AND 19th October, 1942. PN-s CENSOR NO:227604/5/6/7/8.'

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 92nd Bomb Group fly in formation en route to Cologne. A B-17 Flying Fortress (UX-X, serial number 42-30649) nicknamed "Rose Olive" is visible on the left. First handwritten caption on reverse: '1/12/43 Cologne.' Second handwritten caption on reverse: '92BG 11/43.'

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 92nd Bomb Group fly in formation over countryside. The aircraft, from left to right, are B-17G (NV-P, serial number 44-8354), B-17G (NV-U, serial number 42-97288) nicknamed "Flag Ship" and an unknown B-17G (NV-E) from the 325th Bomb Squadron. Image stamped on reverse: 'The R.L. Cavanagh Photo Collection' [stamp]. Handwritten caption on reverse: '48354, Little Runt. PFF.' [Caption refers to another B-17 nicknamed"Little Runt" either B-17G (NV-P, serial number 42-97515) or B-17(serial number 44-8358)]. Handwritten on reverse: 'J Diamond Collect/AF Museum'

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 92nd Bomb Group fly in formation en route to Cologne. A B-17 Flying Fortress (JW-N, serial number 42-30580) nicknamed "Equipoise" is visible in the centre of the image. Handwritten caption on reverse: '26,500 ft Cologne 1/12/43.'

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 92nd Bomb Group drop bombs over the target.

B-17 Flying Fortresses of the 92nd Bomb Group fly in formation during a training exercise. Aircraft are, from left to right: B-17E (serial number 41-9022) nicknamed "Alabama Exterminator", B-17E (serial number 41-9023) nicknamed "Yankee Doodle", B-17E (UX-?, serial number 41-9017) nicknamed "Heidi Ho", B-17E (UX-V, serial number 41-9013), B-17E (UX-S, serial number 41-9154) nicknamed "The Bat out of Hell", B-17E (serial number 41-9132). Printed caption on reverse: 'B-26340 AC - Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortresses" of the 8th Air Force, England on way to bomb targets in Germany. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO.' Handwritten caption on reverse: '92BG B17es used for training at Bovingdon Oct 1942.'

The 92nd Group sometime after arrivial in the UK converted to the role of in-theater combat crew indocrination and training. For this role, the Group traded its B-17F complement and obtained the B-17E, mostly from the 97th BG which was departing for Africa.

Circa May, 1943 the Group made preparations for its return to the combat bombardment role and was re-equipped with F series B-17 and modified YB-40 escort Flying Fortress. YB-40s were B-17s modified to fly as a heavily armed escort for other bombers. These conducted escort missions between May and July, 1943. The escort bombers composed the Group's 327th Bomb Squadron. It was the only Eighth Air Force squadron to fly YB-40s in combat.

Between May 1943 and February 1944, the Group, nicknamed 'Fame's Favoured Few', mainly flew missions attacking strategic targets across occupied Europe culminating in the missions of Big Week, 20-25 February 1944.

The Group's missions continued to support POINTBLANK objectives through the invasion and in flew missions in support of gound objectives. The missions transitioned to transportation and oil objectives until April, 1945.

The Group flew 308 missions using 8,633 sorties and dropped 20,829 tons of bombs. The Group lost 154 aircraft MIA.

First 8th AF Bomb Group to make a non-stop Atlantic flight to the United Kingdom
327th Bomb Squadron was the only unit equipped with the YB-40 for combat
Flew the secret Disney rocket-bomb (TV guided) experimental mission early in 1945
Acted as VIII Bomber Command's Combat Crew Replacement Center Aug-42 to May 43
Led the last 8th AF mission of the war.

US Air Force Combat Units of World War II Description

Constituted as 92d Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Mar 1942. Trained with B-17’s and performed antisubmarine duty. Moved to England, Jul-Aug 1942, and assigned to Eighth AF. Flew a few combat missions in Sep and Oct 1942, then trained replacement crews. Began bombardment of strategic objectives in May 1943 and engaged primarily in such operations throughout the war. Targets from May 1943 to Feb 1944 included shipyards at Kiel, ball-bearing plants at Schweinfurt, submarine installations at Wilhelmshaven, a tire plant at Hannover, airfields near Paris, an aircraft factory at Nantes, and a magnesium mine and reducing plant in Norway. Flight Officer John C Morgan, co-pilot, received the Medal of Honor for action aboard a B-17 during a mission over Europe, [26] Jul 1943: when the aircraft was attacked by enemy fighters, the pilot suffered a brain injury which left him in a crazed condition for two hours Morgan flew in formation with one hand at the controls and the other holding off the struggling pilot who was attempting to fly the plane finally another crew member was able to relieve the situation and the B-17 made a safe landing at its base. Although handicapped by weather conditions, enemy fire, and insufficient fighter protection, the group bombed aircraft factories in central Germany on 11 Jan 1944 and received a DUC for the mission. Took part in the intensive campaign of heavy bombers against the German aircraft industry during Big Week, 20-25 Feb 194.4. After that, attacked V-weapon sites in France airfields in France, Germany, and the Low Countries and industrial targets in France, Germany, and Belgium, making concentrated strikes on oil and transportation facilities after Oct 1944. In addition to strategic missions, performed some interdictory and support operations. Assisted the Normandy invasion in Jun 1944 by hitting gun emplacements, junctions, and marshalling yards in the beachhead area. Supported ground forces at St Lo during the breakthrough in Jul 1944. Bombed gun positions and bridges to aid the airborne assault on Holland in Sep 1944. Participated in the Battle of the Bulge, Dec 194-Jan 1945, by attacking bridges and marshalling yards in and near the battle area. Bombed airfields near the landing zone to cover the airborne assault across the Rhine in Mar 1945. Moved to France in Jun 1945 and transported troops from Marseilles to Casablanca for return to the US. Inactivated in France on 28 Feb 1946.

Baskin Lawrence

Military | Brigadier General | Pilot | 482nd Bomb Group
In 1934 joined Army Air Corp in pilot training. Joined 91st BG in September 1942. On March 4, 1943, taxying accident at Bassingbourne in Boston III AL441 on return from a photographic flight with Mr. LH Cave Chinn as a passenger. Chinn was a British.

James Sutton

Military | Colonel | Commanding Officer Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
CO of the 92nd BG from 27 March 1942 to 01 May 1943 .

James Wilson

Military | Lieutenant General | Pilot | 306th Bomb Group The Reich Wreckers
He was CO of the 423rd BS from 01 March 1942 to 19 February 1943. Also, was GP Operations Officer 19 February 1943 to 22 June 1943. Flew 17 missions from 09 Oct 1942 to 26 June 1943. He was wounded and returned to the US. October 1943 he became.

William Reid

Military | Major General | Commanding Officer | 91st Bomb Group The Ragged Irregulars
Commanding Officer 91BG from 1-May-43 to 23-May-43 re-assigned as Commanding Officer 92BG 23-May-43 to 27-Sep-44. WIA 26-Aug-44.

UPI Almanac for Thursday, May 17, 2018

Today is Thursday, May 17, the 137th day of 2018 with 228 to follow.

The moon is waxing. Morning stars are Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus. Evening stars are Jupiter, Saturn and Venus.

Those born on this date are under the sign of Taurus. They include English physician Edward Jenner, developer of the smallpox vaccine, in 1749 Schuyler Wheeler, inventor of the electric fan, in 1860 baseball Hall of Fame member James "Cool Papa" Bell in 1903 actor Maureen O'Sullivan in 1911 actor Dennis Hopper in 1936 musician Taj Mahal in 1942 (age 76) actor/director Bill Paxton in 1955 actor/comedian Bob Saget in 1956 (age 62) boxer Sugar Ray Leonard in 1956 (age 62) sports broadcaster Jim Nantz in 1959 (age 59) Irish New Age singer Enya, born Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin, in 1961 (age 57) Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson in 1962 (age 56) singer-songwriter Trent Reznor in 1965 (age 53) actor Hill Harper in 1966 (age 53) singer Jordan Knight in 1970 (age 49) actor Sasha Alexander in 1973 (age 45) singer/TV personality Kandi Burruss in 1976 (age 42) NFL quarterback Matt Ryan in 1985 (age 33) dancer Derek Hough in 1985 (age 34) actor Nikki Reed in 1988 (age 30) actor/model Karrueche Tran in 1988 (age 30) Canadian Olympic gold medal ice dancer Tessa Virtue in 1989 (age 29) actor Ross Butler in 1990 (age 28).

In 1792, 24 brokers met in New York City and formed the New York Stock Exchange.

In 1875, Aristides was the winner of the first Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

In 1943, the Memphis Belle became one of the first B-17 to complete 25 missions in World War II, securing the plane and crew's reputations as rockstars. The plane was the subject of a documentary at the time and a film about the crew was made in 1990 starring Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz and Harry Connick Jr. Ten days after the 25th mission, the pilot, Capt. Robert K. Morgan and co-pilot, Capt. James Verinis, met the king and queen of England, to whom Morgan explained the origin of the plane's name.

In 1954, in a major civil rights victory, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

In 1973, the U.S. Senate Watergate Committee opened hearings into a break-in at Democratic National headquarters in Washington.

In 1987, two Iraqi Exocet missiles hit the frigate USS Stark in the Persian Gulf, killing 37 seamen. Iraq apologized for mistaking the ship's identity and the Stark's top officers were reprimanded and retired.

In 1989, 1 million people demonstrated for democratic reforms in Beijing. The number of students fasting to support the drive reached 3,000.

In 1999, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost his bid for re-election when voters chose Ehud Barak, head of the center-left Israel One coalition, to succeed him.

In 2000, prosecutors in Birmingham, Ala., charged two longtime suspects in the deaths of four girls in a church bombing in 1963 that became a watershed event in the civil rights movement. The suspects were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In 2005, Los Angeles voters elected Antonio Villaraigosa as the city's first Hispanic mayor since 1872.

In 2007, the United States' "minority" citizenship topped the 100 million mark, about one-third of the total U.S. population, the U.S. Census Bureau said. Hispanics made up the largest group, ahead of African-Americans, 44.3 million to 40.2 million.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the sentencing of a juvenile to life in prison for a non-homicide case, calling the practice unconstitutional, and cruel and unusual punishment.

In 2011, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he and his wife of 25 years, Maria Shriver, had separated after she learned he had a child years earlier with a household employee. Shriver filed for divorce in July 2011.

In 2012, President Barack Obama said Myanmar was making progress "in the path to Democracy" and announced his nomination of Derek Mitchell as the first U.S. ambassador to the Southeast Asian country.

In 2013, Jorge Videla, former president of Argentina (1976-81), died in prison at age 87.

A thought for the day: "Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumblebee, the small child and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams." -- Atlanta hostage heroine Ashley Smith


Dalrymple’s attack happened in his mother-in-law’s home. During the shootings, his wife Eunice (25) grabbed one of her daughters and tried to run out of the house. Both were shot in the back. The Nashville Tennessean (Nashville TN Nov 9, 1943) reported testimony of a witness to the murders who stated Dalrymple “stooped down, picked up the child and said, ‘Jimmy, I’ve shot your mother,’ as he shot the boy. Jimmy had his arms around his daddy’s neck and was crying.”

6-year-old Jean managed to flee but Dalrymple pursued her in a car, quickly catching up to her. According to The Troy Record (Troy NY May 19, 1943), Dalrymple held Jean in his arms as he shot her to death, the bullet passing through her body and wounding his own arm. Dalrymple then attempted suicide by shooting himself near his heart, though he survived.

Dalrymple attempted a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but the tactic failed. He was sentenced to life in prison in November of 1943 and died in 1978. No motive for the murders was reported.

The victims were:
Eunice, 25
Gaynell, 8
Jean, 6
Mary Lou, 5
Jimmy, 3
An unnamed infant girl, 1 month
(Note: newspapers seemed to disagree on the exact age of all victims)

Today in Horror History

June 20, 1856
Dudley, England
The chain of a skip snaps, dropping eight workers aged 13 to 20 to their deaths

The miners were ascending from a pit of the Old Park colliery when the incident occurred. Near the top of the mining shaft, a link from the chain hoisting the skip (a container used to move miners, equipment, and materials to and from the surface) snapped and silently dropped the miners 22 fathoms (140 feet or 40 meters). The trajectory of the falling miners and skip was apparently perpendicular to the shaft itself as those at the bottom did not hear it strike the shaft walls and were unaware of the danger until the skip and bodies of the workers struck the ground in a “shapeless mass.”

Five of the miners were killed instantly or near instantly while the other 3 all died within 2 hours of the incident. Each of the workers were “frightfully mutilated” and nearly unrecognizable to friends and family. The dead workers were: John Crewe (18), Stephen Crewe (20), William Crewe (13), Henry Fletcher (14), Henry Glaze (13), Jesse Hawthorn (18), J. Jones (20), and Joseph Plant (15). Two of the three Crewe victims were brothers while the third was a cousin.

During an inquest to determine if the incident was accidental or the product of neglect, the mining company demonstrated the chain had been manufactured two years prior, had broken once since its installation but had been “efficiently repaired,” and was examined weekly. The inspector — a former blacksmith who had 22 years of experience with inspecting mining equipment — testified he regularly examined the chain link by link and did not see a fault in the structural integrity of the metal. A miner also testified he had sent one ton of stone up the shaft earlier on the day of the incident and stated the chain did not appear to be weak or damaged.

The jury discussed the case for 2 hours before finding the incident had been accidental, but criticized the pit manager during the reading of the verdict. “The jury cannot separate without expressing their regret at the palpable negligence of the pit manager in not thoroughly examining the chain. They also condemn the use of round chains used for lowering and raising men in pits.” Following the incident, the mining company discontinued the use of chains with rounded links in favor of flat links.

“Mining Disasters in Great Britain - 1850.” The Coalmining History Resource Centre. Accessed: June 20, 2021. http://www.cmhrc.co.uk/site/disasters/disasters_list_1850.html
Winstanley, Ian. “Old Park Colliery Shaft Accident — Dudley —1856.” Northern Mine Research Society. Accessed: June 20, 2021. https://www.nmrs.org.uk/mines-map/accidents-disasters/staffordshire/old-park-colliery-shaft-accident-dudley-1856/
“How Miners’ Lives Are Trifled With.” Reynold’s Newspaper [London, England]. June 29, 1856 (image source, via Newspapers.com)
“Fatal Colliery Accident in South Staffordshire.” The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent. June 28, 1856
“Shocking Colliery Accident Near Dudley.” The Manchester Guardian. June 21, 1856

Today in Horror History

June 19, 1892*
Necochea, Argentina
Francesca Rojas’ two children are murdered in their home

* Note: Some details of this story vary between sources, including the date of the incident. While some sources (History, Forensic Science Review, and the New York Daily News) cite June 19, others list either June 29 or June 30. For the purpose of this article, I have used June 19.

In June of 1892, neighbors were alerted to an attack in the Rojas home. Francesca Rojas’ two children, ages 4 and 6, were dead while Francesca had a neck wound. (Two additional details which are inconsistent among accounts — the children are sometimes described as Francesca’s two sons or her son and daughter, and the manner of their death is reported as either knife wounds to their necks or repeated blows to their heads with a blunt object.)

Rojas claimed a man named Velasquez (his given name is yet another discrepancy among sources, but all agree on his surname) had attacked her and her children. Velasquez had become infatuated with Rojas but she did not reciprocate his feelings. When she began to date another man, Rojas alleged, Velasquez sought revenge.

Velasquez was found and questioned by authorities. He admitted his feelings for Rojas as well as the rejection he felt at her refusal to date him, but denied killing her children. The local police allegedly used several tactics to persuade Velasquez to confess to the murders, including restraining him and forcing him to spend the night at the crime scene with the bodies of the children still in the room with him, torturing him for 24 hours, and disguising an officer as a ghost to “haunt” Velasquez’s cell during the night. None of the tactics prevailed and Velasquez continued to profess his innocence.

The Necochea chief of police contacted the regional police headquarters, and Juan Vucetich was sent to assist in the investigation. Vucetich had been interested in the study of a relatively new form of identification — fingerprints — which he had been collecting from arrested suspects for some time before the murders of the Rojas children. Vucetich sent an investigator to examine the crime scene thoroughly in hopes of finding possible prints left behind by the perpetrator. Investigator Alvarez noticed a brown smudge on a bedroom door and, using a magnifying glass, found the impression of a finger with an intact print in dried blood. The section of the door was removed to match against the fingerprints of suspects at a later time.

During this time, rumors in the area began to circulate concerning Rojas’ suitor, who apparently was not fond of children. He was questioned by police but released when his alibi was verified. Rojas was questioned as well, and her fingerprints were taken and compared to the print left on the door. She was confronted with the matched samples and immediately confessed to killing her children because she believed them to be a hindrance to her romantic life.

Rojas was convicted of the murders of her children and sentenced to life in prison. The case is widely regarded to be the first conviction made thanks to fingerprint evidence.

“Juan Vucetich and the origins of forensic fingerprinting.” U.S. National Library of Medicine. Accessed: June 19, 2021. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/visibleproofs/galleries/cases/vucetich.html
“A bloody fingerprint elicits a mother’s evil tale in Argentina.” History. Accessed: June 19, 2021. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/a-bloody-fingerprint-elicits-a-mothers-evil-tale-in-argentina
Teitelbaum, Jeff. “The First Criminal Conviction Based on Fingerprint Evidence: Argentina, 1892.” Forensic Science Review. Volume 30, Issue 1. 2018. Archived: https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA526068266&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=10427201&p=AONE&sw=w
“El felicidio de Francisca Rojas que dio inicio a la dactiloscopia.” El Patagónico. October 30, 2016. Accessed: June 19, 2021. https://www.elpatagonico.com/el-felicidio-francisca-rojas-que-dio-inicio-la-dactiloscopia-n1517918 (Spanishl image source)
Fingerprint Sourcebook. National Institute of Justice, 2011. Digitized: https://www.ojp.gov/pdffiles1/nij/225321.pdf
Krajick, David. “The Telltale Thumb.” Daily News [New York, New York]. July 13, 2003

"The local police allegedly used several tactics to persuade Velasquez to confess to the murders, including restraining him and forcing him to spend the night at the crime scene with the bodies of the children still in the room with him, torturing him for 24 hours, and disguising an officer as a ghost to “haunt” Velasquez’s cell during the night."

Today in Horror History

June 18, 1985
Orlando, Florida
Regina Mae Armstrong (6) is abducted her skull will be identified years later

Armstrong was playing outside with her 9-year-old sister and their babysitter’s younger brother when the children were approached by a man. The children later described the man as being in his 40s, bushy-haired, with missing teeth and a split lip. The man had a heavy smell clinging to him. “He smelled oily,” Armstrong’s sister recalled decades later, “like he worked for a mechanic or on cars. He didn’t seem like a normal guy.”

The man left briefly but returned 30 minutes later, paid two of the children $2 each to watch a door to a home where he claimed he and his wife lived, and led Armstrong away from her babysitter’s home.

Armstrong’s sister quickly realized she was not returning and attempted to tell their babysitter of the issue. The babysitter reportedly ignored the sister’s pleas and locked the door. “I was so scared,” the sister remembered as an adult. “I didn’t know what to do or who to call. I was just shaken. I didn’t know if I was going to be in trouble or what was going to happen.”

The girls’ mother returned to the babysitter’s about two hours later, and the police were notified of Armstrong’s abduction. An extensive search was launched which included bloodhounds and helicopters, with about 275 law enforcement personnel and volunteers from the Navy canvassing 18 square miles (47 sq. km).

As the search continued, a sketch artist created a rendition of the suspect based on the witnesses’ accounts, which was broadcasted on the news in hopes someone would recognize the man. He was recognized — by a 9-year-old girl in Cocoa Beach, Florida, roughly 60 miles (95 km) away from Orlando. Three days before Armstrong’s abduction, the girl woke to find a strange man taking her 7-year-old sister from their bedroom through a window. The girl screamed which startled the man and alerted the girls’ parents. The man left the younger sister on the lawn, physically unharmed.

As the weeks drew on, nationwide attention was brought to Armstrong’s case. John Walsh — victim rights advocate and future-host of America’s Most Wanted — appeared on the Today show to speak of the dangers of child abduction and to display Armstrong’s picture next to the sketch of her abductor. Despite the widespread awareness, Armstrong’s case stalled.

In 1987, a skull and sundress were found by a construction worker in Oviedo, Florida, about 15 miles (24 km) away from where Armstrong was abducted. According to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab analyst, he immediately suspected the skull belonged to the still-missing Regina Mae Armstrong. He spoke with a detective and the chief of police, who assured him they would contact Orlando Police with the discovery. The same day, Diane Chase — an archeologist, anthropologist, and assistant professor — was conducting a practical exercise with her students at the police department. The skull was taken from a paper bag and Chase immediately identified the skull as belonging to a child between 5 and 7 years old, was most likely a girl, and had been dead for less than 3 years. The students and Chase also immediately suspected the skull belonged to Armstrong and notified the department of their suspicions. The lead was not followed, however.

The Oviedo chief of police was soon dismissed with accusations of incompetence, and replaced with a former Orlando officer who saw the sundress in evidence and connected the case to Armstrong. She was officially identified in July of 1988. State Attorney Norm Wolfinger publicly condemned the ineptitude of the former chief of police. “It’s inexcusable,” Wolfinger decried. “Absolutely inexcusable that you could talk about it one day and just let it evaporate. You’re supposed to build your case, not find evidence and just let it go.”

While Armstrong’s body has been recovered, her case remains unsolved. “The key to solving this case is finding somebody who knows something,” Detective Michael Moreschi told reporters in 2010. “Either that, or [DNA] technology will finally have caught up with crime.”

Those with any information on the case are encouraged to contact Crimeline at 1-800-423-TIPS (8477).

Fact File : First Quebec Conference

Location: Quebec, Canada
Players: Churchill, Roosevelt, and US and British diplomatic and military advisers.
Outcome: Plans were made for a US landing in Italy the plan for the Allied landings in France was approved and the UK and USA agreed there would be no nuclear attacks without mutual consent.

US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet the press©

The Americans still took the approach that they needed to square up to the British at these summit meetings. Their hope for the conference, codenamed Quadrant, was to 'win the match'. They were not prepared this time to be diverted by events in the Mediterranean the Americans wanted an invasion of France.

However, Allied forces had invaded Sicily the previous month, and during the conference news of Italy's impending surrender on the island arrived - and with it the very real possibility of establishing an Allied front in northern Italy, close to Germany.

In the end, Eisenhower authorised a landing on an Italian shore with the purpose of diverting the Germans from the landings in France - an operation that had now been codenamed Operation Overlord.

The Quebec Conference also endorsed the COSSAC's outline plan for the Normandy landings. The title of COSSAC (Chief of Staff to the Supreme Allied Commander) was held by General Frederick Morgan, but the acronym was also used as a name for the organisation he headed.

Churchill had succeeded time and again in putting back the date for a landing in France. The Quebec Conference was the final time, however, that he would propose a diversionary attack away from the Second Front in France.

The conference also established a new theatre of war in South East Asia, with Lord Mountbatten as commander, and reached an agreement to dissuade Spain from supplying tungsten to Germany and to withdraw one of its divisions from the German-Soviet war.

The UK and USA also agreed that neither would use a nuclear weapon - now in rapid development - or communicate nuclear intelligence to a third party without mutual consent.

One of the stranger events at the Quebec Conference was the discussion of a plan to build an aircraft carrier out of ice. The mastermind behind this plan was a scientist called Geoffrey Pyke, who developed a substance he called Pykrete, made of frozen seawater and sawdust. A prototype was demonstrated at the Quebec Conference and the project had many high-powered supporters - but the plan was abandoned in favour of the artificial harbours that were constructed for the Normandy landings.

The fact files in this timeline were commissioned by the BBC in June 2003 and September 2005. Find out more about the authors who wrote them.

May 17, 1947 Final Voyage of the USS Oklahoma

Frantic around the clock rescue efforts began almost immediately, to get at 461 sailors and Marines trapped within the hull of the Oklahoma.

It was literally “out of the blue”, when the first wave of enemy aircraft arrived at 7:48 local time, December 7, 1941. 353 Imperial Japanese warplanes approached in two waves out of the southeast, fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes, across Hickam Field and over the waters of Pearl Harbor. Tied in place and immobile, the eight vessels moored at “Battleship Row” were easy targets.

In the center of the Japanese flight path, sailors and Marines aboard the USS Oklahoma fought back furiously. She didn’t have a chance. Holes as wide as 40′ were torn into the hull in the first ten minutes of the fight. Eight torpedoes smashed into her port side, each striking higher on the hull as the Battleship began to roll.

HT John F DeVirgilio for this graphic

Bilge inspection plates had been removed for a scheduled inspection the following day, making counter-flooding to prevent capsize, impossible. Oklahoma rolled over and died as the ninth torpedo slammed home. Hundreds scrambled out across the rolling hull, jumped overboard into the oil covered, flaming waters of the harbor, or crawled out over mooring lines in the attempt to reach USS Maryland in the next berth.

The damage was catastrophic. Once the pride of the Pacific fleet, all eight battleships were damaged, four of them sunk. Nine cruisers, destroyers and other ships were damaged, and another two sunk. 347 aircraft were damaged, most caught while still on the ground. 159 of those, were destroyed altogether. 2,403 were dead or destined to die from the attack, another 1,178 wounded.

Nine Japanese torpedoes struck Oklahoma’s port side, in the first ten minutes.

Frantic around the clock rescue efforts began almost immediately, to get at 461 sailors and Marines trapped within the hull of the Oklahoma. Tapping could be heard as holes were drilled to get to those trapped inside. 32 of them were delivered from certain death. 14 Marines and 415 sailors aboard Oklahoma lost their lives immediately, or in the days and weeks to come. Bulkhead markings would later reveal that, at least some of the doomed would live for another seventeen days in the black, upside-down hulk of that ship. The last such mark was drawn by the last survivor on Christmas Eve.

Of the sixteen ships lost or damaged, thirteen would be repaired and returned to service. USS Arizona remains on the bottom, a monument to the event and to the 1,102-honored dead who remain entombed within her hull. The USS Utah defied salvage efforts. She too is a War Grave, 64 honored dead remaining within her hull, lying at the bottom not far from the Arizona. Repairs were prioritized and USS Oklahoma was beyond repair. She, and her dead, would have to wait.

The extraordinarily difficult salvage would not begin until March, 1943. 21 giant A-frames were fixed to the hull, 3″ cables connecting compound pulleys to 21 electric motors, each capable of pulling 429 tons. Two pull configurations were used over 74 days, first the configuration shown (above right), then direct connections once the hull had achieved 70°. In May the decks once again saw the light of day.

Fully righted, the ship was 10′ below water. Massive temporary wood and concrete structures called “cofferdams” closed the gaping wounds left by torpedoes, so the hull could be pumped out and re-floated. A problem even larger than those torpedo holes were the gaps between hull plates, caused by the initial capsize and righting operations. Divers stuffed kapok in the gaps as water was pumped out.

Individual divers spent 2-3 years on the Oklahoma salvage job. Underwater arc welding and hydraulic jet techniques were developed during this period, which remain in use to this day. 1,848 dives were performed for a total of 10,279 man hours under pressure. For all that, no military and only one civilian diver lost his life, when his air hose was severed.

Oklahoma prepared for drydock

Salvage workers entered the pressurized hull through airlocks wearing masks and protective suits. Bodies were in advanced stages of decomposition by this time and the oil and chemical-soaked interior was toxic to life. Most victims would never be identified.

Twenty 10,000 gallon per minute pumps operated for 11 hours straight, re-floating the battleship on November 3, 1943.

Oklahoma entered dry dock the following month, a total loss to the American war effort. She was stripped of guns and superstructure, sold for scrap on December 5, 1946 to the Moore Drydock Company of Oakland, California.

The battered hulk left Pearl Harbor for the last time in May 1947, headed for a scrapyard in San Francisco bay. She would never make it. Taken under tow by the ocean-going tugs Hercules and Monarch, the three vessels entered a storm 540 miles east of Hawaii. On May 17, disaster struck. Piercing the darkness, Hercules’ spotlight revealed that the former battleship was listing heavily. Naval base at Pearl Harbor instructed them to turn around, when these two giant tugs suddenly found themselves slowing to a stop. Despite her massive engines, Hercules was being dragged astern with no warning, hurtling past Monarch, herself swamped at the stern and being dragged backward at 17mph.

Fortunately for both tugs, skippers Kelly Sprague of Hercules and George Anderson of Monarch had both loosened the cable drums connecting 1,400-foot tow lines to Oklahoma. Monarch’s line played out and detached, but Hercules’ line didn’t do so until the last possible moment. With tow line straight down and sinking fast, Hercules finally detached directly over Oklahoma’s final resting place, the 409-ton tug bobbing to the surface like the float on a child’s fishing line.

Ordered in March 1911 and launched three years later, the 583’ Nevada-class battleship USS Oklahoma was designed to fight at the most extreme ranges expected by gunnery experts. Commanded by Charles B. McVay, Jr., father of the ill-fated skipper of the USS Indianapolis Charles Butler McVay III, Oklahoma’s role in WW1 was limited, due to the unavailability of oil in major theaters of operation. Notable among her exploits of the Great War, were the memorable fist fights that crew members got into with Sinn Féin members in Berehaven, and casualties sustained during the 1918-19 flu pandemic.

She was up-armored in a 1927 – 󈧡 refit, where additional anti-torpedo armor bulges were added, briefly making her the widest battleship in the United States fleet. Oklahoma was dispatched to Europe in 1936, to evacuate American civilians during the Spanish civil war. The only US warship ever named after the 46 th state was destroyed in an enemy sneak attack, before she knew her nation was at war. The final resting place of the USS Oklahoma, (BB-37), is unknown.

Watch the video: 1943. Серия 1 2013 @ Русские сериалы


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