The entertaining Norma Jean-Marilyn Monroe & the troops.

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In February 1954, actress Marilyn Monroe traveled to Korea to entertain the American troops. She performed a quickly thrown-together show titled Anything Goes to audiences which totaled over 100,000 troops over 4 days. Then tour was also a chance for the film star to overcome a degree of stage fright. She remarked that the Korea trip “was the best thing that ever happened to me. I never felt like a star before in my heart. It was so wonderful to look down and see a fellow smiling at me”.

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In one show where the start was delayed the troops got frustrated and threatened to riot so the opening acts had to be cancelled to get her onto the stage sooner. The crowd adored her and they truly enjoyed her visit.

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She looked amazing on her baggy army uniform. Ted Sherman, who served in the Navy during World War II and Korea, recalled: “I was with a group of Navy guys who happened to be at Daegu Air Force Base when we heard Marilyn would entertain there that night. We convinced our transport pilot to find something wrong with our R4D transport, so we could delay the return flight to our ship in Tokyo Bay for that one night. It was a great evening for all the homesick guys who were dazzled by the movie star’s performance. The sight and sounds of Marilyn singing ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ is a memory I still cherish”.

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Monroe flew to Korea during her honeymoon in Japan with husband Joe DiMaggio.

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The baseball star was said to be annoyed by the fact that more fans turned out to see Marilyn in Japan than to see him and he refused to join her in Korea. Even at this early stage in their marriage the cracks were starting to show and they divorced later that year.

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Stratford Martyrs

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The Stratford Martyrs were a group of 11 men and two women who were burned at the stake together for their Protestant beliefs, at Stratford-le-Bow or Stratford near London in England on 27 June 1556, during the Marian persecutions.

Protestants were executed under heresy laws during persecutions against Protestant religious reformers for their religious denomination during the reigns of Henry VIII (1509–1547) and Mary I of England (1553–1558}

A detailed description of the event is in John Foxe’s book, The Acts and Monuments.Foxe lists those executed.

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The 16 accused had been brought to Newgate in London from various parts of Essex and Hertfordshire. There, beginning on 6 June 1556, at an ecclesiastical tribunal under the direction of Thomas Darbyshire, the chancellor of Edmund Bonner the Bishop of London, they were charged with nine counts of heresy, to which they all either assented or remained silent. All of them were condemned to death and later published a letter detailing their beliefs in rebuttal of a sermon that had been preached against them by John Feckenham, the Dean of St Paul’s. On the 27 June 1556, the remaining 13 were brought from London to Stratford, where the party was divided into two and held “in several chambers”. Here, the sheriff unsuccessfully attempted to persuade each group to recant, by telling them falsely that the other group had already done so.

The executions were said to have been attended by a crowd of 20,000. The exact place of the execution is unknown; the most likely site is thought to have been Fair Field in Bow (then known as Stratford-le-Bow), north of the present day Bow Church DLR station.An alternative suggested location is Stratford Green, much of which is now occupied by the University of East London Stratford Campus; however, this theory seems to date only from the erection of a monument to the martyrs in the nearby churchyard of the Parish Church of St John the Evangelist in 1879.

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According to Foxe, “eleven men were tied to three stakes, and the two women loose in the midst without any stake; and so they were all burnt in one fire”

In 1879 a large monument was erected in St John’s churchyard in Stratford Broadway, to commemorate the 13 and others who were executed or tortured in Stratford during the persecutions. The memorial is Grade II listed on the National Heritage List for England.

 

The heart broken widow bride

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Marine Sergeant Lena Basilone was the wife of Medal of Honor winner John Basilone,one of the famous Marines every Marine Corps recruit learns about at boot camp. He is often discussed in Marine Corps history classes but no one ever mentions that his wife was a Marine too.

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John Basilone (November 4, 1916 – February 19, 1945) was a United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who was killed in action during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for heroism above and beyond the call of duty during the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Navy Cross posthumously for extraordinary heroism during the Battle of Iwo Jima. He was the only enlisted Marine to receive both of these decorations in World War II.

On Iwo Jima’s D-Day – February 19, 1945 – Basilone was a machine-gun section leader who came ashore on Red Beach 2.  He was part of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 27th Marine Regiment, 5th Marine Division.

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Facing unbelievable firing power, from Japanese defenders, Gunnery Sgt. Basilone and his Marines made progress toward their objective – an airfield on the island.  Urging his men to keep moving forward (lest they die), Basilone displayed the same type of heroic behavior which earned him the Medal of Honor at Guadalcanal.

Then … he was hit and killed.

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Lena never remarried and she lived in California until her death in 1999. One of her few, if not only, public appearances after John’s death was about nine months after he died. She was the official sponsor of the destroyer named after him, the USS Basilone, and she participated in its christening ceremony:.

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Above is the obituary of Lena Basilone.  It tells us that she never remarried, after the Iwo Jima death of her husband, John Basilone.  Lena was 86 years old when she died on the 11th of June, 1999.

Before her death, the federal government had offered Lena a burial spot in Arlington Cemetery, not far from the location where her husband is interred.  Lena turned down the offer, reportedly saying that “she didn’t want to cause trouble for everyone.”

Instead, she is interred at Riverside National Cemetery, Plot 50 0 5557 in Riverside, California.

Here is the text of the article:

(Originally Printed) WEDNESDAY. JUNE 16, 1999
Ex-Marine Lena Basilone dies

Obituary:  Services Wednesday for longtime Lakewood resident.  Lena Basilone, former Marine, tireless volunteer and wife of America’s first Word War II Medal of Honor recipient, died Friday. She was 86.

Lena Mae Riggi was born March 7, 1916 in Portland, Ore. to Italian Sicilian immigrants. After leaving Oregon, she attended business school. When WWII broke out, she found herself enlisted in the Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton. “She served as a field cook (on the base), and her title was Sergeant,” said Barbara Garner, longtime friend and roommate.  “Her attitude was ‘I can do anything they (men) can do.’ ”

It was during this time that she caught the eye of a decorated Marine, a man who was the United States’ first WWII war hero. His name was John Basilone. John had been stationed in the Pacific theater of the war. After defending a narrow pass and annihilating an entire enemy regiment on the island of Guadalcanal in 1942, John was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The medal is the United States’ top honor for war-time duties.

John returned home to ticker-tape parades and instant nationwide fanfare. He went across the country, mingled with the president, met movie stars and helped raise $1.4 million in War Bonds. He was even offered a commission and a position in Washington. However, John was not complacent hanging around desks and smiling for the cameras and his reaction to the Washington job was:

“I ain’t no officer, I ain’t no museum piece and I belong back with my outfit.”

So back into action he went.

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But before he left, a romance blossomed between him and Lena. “They met at Camp Pendleton. He was very charming, good-looking, yet tough. He was a man of honor and quite a hero. All the ladies thought he was a very good man,” said Barbara. On July 7, 1944 the couple wed.

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After a short, happy time together, John headed back to the war-torn South Pacific. It was there that John died, in an exchange of heavy gunfire on the island of Iwo Jima. The date was February 19, 1945. “Lena was notified of Johnny’s death on March 7, 1945. It was her (32nd) birthday,” said Barbara.

For his selfless dedication to his country, John was awarded the Purple Heart and Nary Cross posthumously.

In 1949, Lena christened a Navy destroyer ship, named the USS Basilone. Years later, the city of Raritan, N J. erected a statue in his honor.

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Lena never remarried and was content with her life. She once told Barbara: “Once you have the best, you can’t settle for less.” She purchased a home in Lakewood and stayed there for over 50 years until her death.

“Lena had a large network of friends, she was active in many organizations and she was a terrific cook,” said Barbara, “She enjoyed inviting a large group over and cooking them a special meal (for Thanksgiving and other holidays).”

Lena stayed active by working at an electrical company, volunteering at the Long Beach Veterans Hospital, the American Veterans Auxiliary and the Women’s Marine Association. She also was a faithful member of the Liberty Baptist Church of Long Beach.

“She was a very determined lady, loved by many … when she saw a need, she would go about filling it,” said Barbara.

One important event that Lena never lived to see was the dedication of a 17-mile stretch of the San Diego (5) Freeway near Camp Pendleton, to be named ‘Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Memorial Freeway.’ The official word that the resolution passed came Monday, just three days after her death.

“The (newer generation of) Marines don’t know who he was,” said Frank Turiace, former U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and decorated Korean War veteran, wanted to change that,” With the help of state Sen. Bill Murrow, Turiace set out on a mission to make sure that John is never forgotten.” He (Murrow) was very instrumental in putting this through … he has the connections,” said Turiace.

“This stretch (of highway) is to honor John and Lena.” Although the federal government offered to bury Lena in Arlington National Cemetery near her husband, she refused because “she didn’t want to cause trouble for everyone.” Services are set for 2 p.m. Wednesday at Hunter Perez Mortuary, 5443 Long Beach Blvd.

Local Marines will provide a bugler and pallbearers. A private service will follow at Veterans Administration National Cemetery in Riverside.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Veterans of WWII Association.

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Henoch Kornfeld-His only crime he was a Jewish child.

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Henoch’s religious Jewish parents married in 1937. His father, Moishe Kornfeld, and his mother, Liba Saleschutz, had settled in Kolbuszowa, where Henoch’s mother was raised. There, Liba’s father bought the newlyweds a home and started his new son-in-law in the wholesale textile business.

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Henoch was born in late 1938, and was raised among many aunts, uncles and cousins. Around Henoch’s first birthday, Germany invaded Poland and soon reached Kolbuszowa. Polish soldiers on horses tried to fight against the German army, but they were no match for tanks. After a short battle, there were many dead horses in the streets. Henoch’s town came under German rule.

1940-42: Everyone in town, including the children, knew of Hafenbier, the vicious German police commander with the face of a bulldog who was posted in Kolbuszowa. Hafenbier terrorized and killed many of the town’s Jews. Henoch often played a game with the other children in town in which he would portray Hafenbier, saying to his friends, “If you are a Jew, you are dead.” Then, with a rifle made from a piece of wood, Henoch would “shoot” his playmates. They, in turn, would fall over, pretending they had been killed.

Henoch and his family were deported to the Rzeszow ghetto on June 25, 1942, and then to the Belzec extermination camp on July 7 where they were gassed. Henoch was 3 and a half years old.

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Battle of Little Bighorn

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On this day in 1876, Native American forces led by Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeat the U.S. Army troops of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer in a bloody battle near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River.

 

Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, leaders of the Sioux tribe on the Great Plains, strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the U.S. government to confine their people to reservations. In 1875, after gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. This betrayal led many Sioux and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. By the late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River–which they called the Greasy Grass–in defiance of a U.S. War Department order to return to their reservations or risk being attacked.

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In mid-June, three columns of U.S. soldiers lined up against the camp and prepared to march. A force of 1,200 Native Americans turned back the first column on June 17. Five days later, General Alfred Terry ordered Custer’s 7th Cavalry to scout ahead for enemy troops. On the morning of June 25, Custer drew near the camp and decided to press on ahead rather than wait for reinforcements.

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At mid-day, Custer’s 600 men entered the Little Bighorn Valley. Among the Native Americans, word quickly spread of the impending attack. The older Sitting Bull rallied the warriors and saw to the safety of the women and children, while Crazy Horse set off with a large force to meet the attackers head on. Despite Custer’s desperate attempts to regroup his men, they were quickly overwhelmed. Custer and some 200 men in his battalion were attacked by as many as 3,000 Native Americans; within an hour, Custer and every last one of his soldier were dead.

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The Battle of Little Bighorn–also called Custer’s Last Stand–marked the most decisive Native American victory and the worst U.S. Army defeat in the long Plains Indian War. The gruesome fate of Custer and his men outraged many white Americans and confirmed their image of the Indians as wild and bloodthirsty. Meanwhile, the U.S. government increased its efforts to subdue the tribes. Within five years, almost all of the Sioux and Cheyenne would be confined to reservations.

 

My name is Aleksander- A Lebensborn victim.

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Should we succeed in establishing
this Nordic race, and from this seed bed
produce a race of 200 million,
then the world will belong to us.

Heinrich Himmler
Mastermind of the Lebensborn Program

FOLKER HEINECKE

Everyone in the neighborhood admired the handsome young boy called Aleksander. Born in the Crimean town of Alnowa, he had blond hair and piercingly beautiful blue eyes.

When the child was 1 year and 10 months old, Hitler’s troops swooped into Crimea (which, at the time, was part of Russia). It was 1942, and Aleksander’s parents were about to experience something far worse than the German occupation of their town.

While Aleksander was playing outside of his parents’ home, two Nazi SS * officers spotted the child. The toddler fit a profile of children about whom the officers, like others in their unit, had been instructed. They were told to find … and … kidnap such children.

The SS officers took the boy from the front yard of his home.

Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and one of Hitler’s right-hand men, had concocted a plan about creating a “master race.” The race would be Aryan-based. Its people would be strong with blonde hair, blue eyes and with not a trace of any features which appeared “Jewish.”

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The program was called “Lebensborn”—meaning—“Fountain [or Spring] of Life.” The plan consisted of two very different parts:

  • SS officers, considered supremely Aryan, would either have four children each, with their Aryan-appearing wives or, if that were not possible, they would father children with blonde-haired, blue-eyed Nordic women who were not their wives. In a sense, these offspring would be “Children of the Master Race.”
  • SS officers would remove Aryan-appearing children from families living in German-occupied lands, have them tested to be sure they were non-Jews and then give the kidnapped children (after they were “re-educated”) to pre-approved Nazi couples who would raise the children as their own.

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Aleksander, and his parents, were some of the unfortunates living in German-occupied territory.

After he was forcibly removed from his home, the toddler was taken to a town in Poland where he was examined. When he was found “worthy” of being “Germanized,” he spent about one year at Sonnenwiese (“Sun Meadow”), a large, institutional “home” for Lebensborn children in Kohren-Sahlis, near Leipzig.

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At Sun Meadow, the kidnapped children were not provided with love and comfort from their attenders. Instead, the Lebensborn nurses followed the child-rearing advice of Dr. Johanna Haarer (for whom rules and strict order were more important than love and tenderness).

Beyond having no one to help them deal with their pain and sense of loss, the Lebensborn chilren were treated like products-on-a-shelf when potential adoptive parents came to visit:

The Nazi-faithful foster parents came to this Lebensborn home in Kohren-Salis where they selected the children they desired, almost like products from a catalog – they could choose their German child. If the foster parents did not like us, it was also possible to return the child. So the child was simply a product, stolen goods.

After completing his reeducation-adoption program, Aleksander was given to a German couple for adoption.

His real parents never saw their son again.

For decades thereafter, Aleksander was (and still is) known as Folker Heinecke.

FOLKER HEINECKE

His “parents” raised him well, providing him with love and a good education, but he never really knew who he was. Nor, apparently, did his adoptive parents.

I have had a good life and I loved my adoptive parents, even though they were Nazis. I was just without roots and it was these roots that caused me to spend over 30 years of my life looking for the secrets of the past.

I had a good upbringing after the war. My parents gave me a good education, spells in London, Paris and Ireland. They believed in Nazism at the time but they weren’t war criminals and always did right by me.

But of course they could not answer the question of who I was. They didn’t know.

After their deaths, Folker searched and searched and searched for answers. Who was he? Where was he from? Who were his real parents? Where were they?

Not until the Red Cross opened a major Holocaust-era archive, in the German town of Bad Arolsen, did Folker get a chance to find answers to his questions. His quest, even at the archives which focus on displaced persons, was not easy.

Sifting through documents, potentially applicable to millions of people, he was able to piece-together his childhood story. It was then that Folker learned his real name and the town of his birth. As reported in various newspapers:

The files showed that he was first taken to Lodz in Poland—the Nazis called it Littmannstadt—where SS “doctors” examined him to find out if he was “worthy” of Aryanisation.

“The files show I was measured everywhere – head size, body size, whether I had ‘Jewish Aspects’ or not,” he recalled.

“Then I was declared to be capable of being Germanised and was shipped back to the Fatherland.”

What Folker does not know, and what he would like to find-out, is what happened to his real parents. If he can learn those details, he would like to visit their graves:

The former shipping agent, who lives in Hamburg, now has one quest left in life: to discover the grave of his real mother and lay flowers on it.

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The Battle of Bamber Bridge

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The Battle of Bamber Bridge was an outbreak of racial violence and mutiny that began in the evening of 24 June 1943 among American servicemen stationed in the British village of Bamber Bridge, Lancashire. Coming just days after the 1943 Detroit race riot.

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The incident was sparked by the attempted arrest by white Military Police (MPs) of several black soldiers from the racially segregated 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment in the Ye Old Hob Inn public house.

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In the following hours, the situation was further inflamed by the arrival of more military police armed with machine guns, and the response of black soldiers who raided the armoury and armed themselves with rifles. A firefight broke out, and continued until the early hours of 25 June. The fight left one soldier dead and several MPs and soldiers injured. A court martial after the event convicted 32 soldiers of mutiny and related crimes, but put blame on poor leadership and racist attitudes among the MPs.

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On 20 June, 1943, an estimated 100,000 black civilians travelled from Detroit city to the Belle Isle on the Detroit river to relax in the 90 degree heat. Rumours began to spread of a black woman and her baby being murdered, which quickly led to tensions and later fighting on the way back to the city.

The rioting tragically resulted in 25 black people dead, 17 shot by the police, and riots quickly spread to Texas, Massa, Ohio, Harlem and 4,000 miles to North West England. Bamber Bridge had been the headquarters for the 1511th Quartermaster Truck regiment for several months, and many of the American black soldiers would socialise in Preston.

On the evening of Thursday, June 24 1943, several black GIs decided to stay in Bamber Bridge and drink in thatched pub the Olde Hob Inn. At 10 pm, the drinkers in the pub jeered as closing time was announced, the atmosphere already tense between the GIs from the news of the riots in Detroit. Military Police passing by attempted to arrest one GI in the pub, resulting in a backlash from other drinkers.

A British soldier asked: “Why do you want to arrest them? They are doing nothing wrong.” However, they then attempted to arrest several more GIs between the pub and Adams Hall, their base. The result ended up in a GI being shot and injured. Three Military Police vehicles set it off again at midnight after a brief calm period, by returning to the base armed with a machine gun. The word was spread from the gates to the several hundred soldiers inside, who broke into storerooms for weapons and ammunition.

They smashed through the gates and headed into Bamber Bridge, where they launched an attack on all Military Police and vehicles. British civilians watched as their quiet town erupted in violence and gunfire, forcing many to hide indoors away from the chaos. The Military Police set up a road block and again tried to arrest the disorderly GIs. Local policeman alleged that the Military Police ambushed the GIs by trapping them in the road with machine guns. One GI was shot and died several days later. More than 20 men were found guilty and charges included resisting arrest and illegal possession of rifles. Sentences ranged from three months to 15 years, but most soldiers had these reduced and were serving again within a year.
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Dancing Mania aka dancing plague, choreomania, St John’s Dance

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Dancing mania (also known as dancing plague, choreomania, St John’s Dance and, historically, St. Vitus’s Dance) was a social phenomenon that occurred primarily in mainland Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. It involved groups of people dancing erratically, sometimes thousands at a time. The mania affected men, women, and children who danced until they collapsed from exhaustion. One of the first major outbreaks was in Aachen, in the Holy Roman Empire, in 1374, and it quickly spread throughout Europe; one particularly notable outbreak occurred in Strasbourg in 1518, also in the Holy Roman Empire.

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The Strassbourg outbreak began in July 1518, when a woman, Mrs. Troffea, began to dance fervently in a street in Strasbourg. This lasted somewhere between four and six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers, predominantly female. Some of these people eventually died from heart attacks, strokes, or exhaustion.One report indicates that for a period the plague killed around fifteen people per day.

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Affecting thousands of people across several centuries, dancing mania was not an isolated event, and was well documented in contemporary reports. It was nevertheless poorly understood, and remedies were based on guesswork. Generally, musicians accompanied dancers, to help ward off the mania, but this tactic sometimes backfired by encouraging more to join in. There is no consensus among modern-day scholars as to the cause of dancing mania.

The several theories proposed range from religious cults being behind the processions to people dancing to relieve themselves of stress and put the poverty of the period out of their minds. It is, however, thought to have been a mass psychogenic illness in which the occurrence of similar physical symptoms, with no known physical cause, affect a large group of people as a form of social influence.

Modern theories include food-poisoning caused by the toxic and psychoactive chemical products of ergot fungi, which grows commonly on grains in the wheat family (such as rye).

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Ergotamine is the main psychoactive product of ergot fungi, it is structurally related to the recreational drug lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD-25), and is the substance from which LSD-25 was originally synthesized. The same fungus has also been implicated in other major historical anomalies, including the Salem witch trials.

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Theodore Roosevelt Jr.-the forgotten Roosevelt.

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The Roosevelt name must be one of the best known names in US and world history, for it was the name of not 1 but 2 legendary presidents.

A lesser known but not a lesser heroic man was Theodore “Ted” Roosevelt III (September 13, 1887 – July 12, 1944), known as Theodore Jr., an American government, business, and military leader. He was the eldest son of President Theodore Roosevelt and First Lady Edith Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was instrumental in the forming of the American Legion in 1919 following his valiant service in the United States Army during World War I. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Governor of Puerto Rico (1929–32), Governor-General of the Philippines (1932–33), Chairman of the Board of American Express Company, Vice-President at Doubleday Books. Returning to the Army in 1940, he led the first wave of troops at Utah Beach during the Normandy landings in 1944, earning the Medal of Honor for his command. He died in France 36 days later, holding the rank of Brigadier General.

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Five months before the allied landings in Normandy, Roosevelt was assigned to the U.S 4th Infantry Division (Ivy Division), and was stationed in England. Roosevelt had requested to lead the attack on Utah Beach with the first wave of soldiers; however, this request was repeatedly denied by Major General Barton. Barton eventually agreed, albeit reluctantly, and Barton made it very clear that he did not expect Roosevelt to live through the initial landings on Utah Beach.

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As a result of this agreement from Barton, Roosevelt would be the only General to land with the first wave of troops on any of the allied beaches on D-Day.

At the time of the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944, Roosevelt was a frail man, not in the best of health; needing the aid of a walking stick. His health had suffered as a result of the first World War. Despite his poor health, he proved to be a fine leader and as depicted in the film the longest day, he would famously state: “We’ll start the war from right here!”. He made this famous quote after discovering that the allied landings on Utah Beach were approximately 2 km off course.

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His decision to start the battle regardless of this error, worked in favour of the allies. As many of the German’s stationed in this area were redeployed to deal with the allied paratroopers dropping over Sainte Marie Du Mont, resistance from this part of the Atlantic Wall coastal defences was considerably weaker than expected.

Later in the day, once the beach head at Utah Beach was secured, General Barton came ashore and to his great surprise, Roosevelt was waiting to meet him. Barton never expected to see him alive and both men were filled with great emotion.

On July 12th 1944, after being involved in fierce fighting, Roosevelt died from a heart attack. He was buried at the Omaha Beach American Cemetery in Colleville Sur Mer, Normandy. He was buried next to his brother, Quentin Roosevelt, who was killed in the first World War.

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Theodore Roosevelt Jr. is buried in Plot: Plot D, Row 28, Grave 45.

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For his bravery, Theordore Roosevelt Jr was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Dear Sir, I salute you.

Oberleutnant Armin Faber-Oops I did not mean that to happen.

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Oberleutnant Armin Faber was a Luftwaffe pilot in World War II who mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and landed his Focke-Wulf 190 (Fw 190) intact at RAF Pembrey in south Wales. His plane was the first Fw 190 to be captured by the Allies and was tested to reveal any weaknesses that could be exploited.

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Oberleutnant Armin Faber anxiously scanned the ground below, his eyes constantly drawn to the fuel gauge of his Focke-Wulf 190 fighter, hoping desperately to spot an airfield. It was the evening of 23 June 1942 and the Luftwaffe pilot, running perilously low on fuel after an intense dogfight over southern England, was searching for somewhere to put his aircraft down.

Minutes later a feeling of relief washed over him. There in the distance was an aerodrome. He rapidly descended, gently bumped the Fw 190 down onto the grass airstrip, cut his engine and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

No sooner had he done so, however, than a man in blue uniform came running towards his plane, holding what looked like a pistol. Strange, the German pilot thought. Then, as the figure came nearer, he recognised the man’s uniform and his heart instantly sank – it was that of an RAF officer!

Before Faber could restart his engine the man reached the cockpit and shoved a Very pistol in his face. Faber realised that he wasn’t in France at all. In fact, the Luftwaffe pilot had landed at RAF Pembrey in South Wales, home to the RAF’s Air Gunnery School.

 

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In June 1942, Oberleutnant Armin Faber was Gruppen-Adjutant to the commander of the III fighter Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2, Second Fighter Wing) based in Morlaix in Brittany. On 23 June, he was given special permission to fly a combat mission with 7th Staffel. The unit operated Focke-Wulf 190 fighters.

Faber’s Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 of III/JG 2 at RAF Pembrey, June 1942

The Fw 190 had only recently arrived with front line units at this time and its superior performance had caused the Allies so many problems that they were considering mounting a commando raid on a French airfield to capture one for evaluation.

7th Staffel was scrambled to intercept a force of six Bostons on their way back from a bombing mission;

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the Bostons were escorted by three Czechoslovak-manned RAF squadrons, 310 Squadron, 312 Squadron and 313 Squadron commanded by Alois Vašátko.

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All the Bostons returned safely while a fight developed over the English Channel with the escorting Spitfires, which resulted in the loss of two Fw 190s and seven Spitfires, including that of Alois Vašátko, who was killed when he collided with an Fw 190 (the German pilot bailed out and was captured).

During the combat, Faber became disoriented and separated from the other German aircraft. He was attacked by Sergeant František Trejtnar of 310 Squadron. In his efforts to shake off the Spitfire, Faber flew north over Exeter in Devon. After much high-speed maneuvering, Faber, with only one cannon working, pulled an Immelmann turn into the sun and shot down his pursuer in a head-on attack.

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Trejnar bailed out safely, although he had a shrapnel wound in his arm and sustained a broken leg on landing; his Spitfire crashed near the village of Black Dog, Devon.M

Meanwhile, the disorientated Faber now mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and flew north instead of south. Thinking South Wales was France, he turned towards the nearest airfield – RAF Pembrey.

Disused_RAF_training_facility_and_a_Spitfire_-_geograph.org.uk_-_507432

Observers on the ground could not believe their eyes as Faber waggled his wings in a victory celebration, lowered the Focke-Wulf’s undercarriage and landed.

The Pembrey Duty Pilot, Sergeant Jeffreys, identified the aircraft as German while it was landing and he ordered his men to signal it to park in the dispersal area. As the Fw 190 slowed, he jumped onto its wing and took Faber prisoner with a flare gun (as Pembrey was a training station, Jeffreys had no other weapon to hand).

Faber was later driven to RAF Fairwood Common for interrogation under the escort of Group Captain David Atcherley (twin brother of Richard Atcherley).

Atcherley-David-F-W-by-Eric-Kennington-WW2

Atcherley, fearful of an escape attempt, aimed his revolver at Faber for the entire journey. This was possibly unwise as at one point, the car hit a pothole, causing the weapon to fire; the shot only narrowly missed Faber.

What the RAF needed was an intact Fw 190 so that they could unpick the technical secrets of Hitler’s new super-fighter. But how to get hold of one? Various schemes were put forward, one of the more outlandish being proposed by Squadron Leader and decorated ‘ace’ Paul Richey, which sounds like a plot straight out of Dad’s Army.

His plan was for a German-speaking RAF pilot, wearing Luftwaffe uniform, to fly a captured Messerschmitt fighter (of which the RAF possessed several) made to look as if it had been damaged in combat, into France and land at an Fw 190 aerodrome. The “German” pilot, would then “taxi in to where the 190s were, let off a stream of German, say he was a Colonel so-and-so, and wanted a new aeroplane as there was a heavy raid coming this way. With any luck, an airman would see him into a Focke Wulf…and he’d take off and head for home..

But Richey plan was not required because Armin Faber delivered the RAF with the FW 190,’free of charge’.

A_captured_Focke_Wulf_Fw_190A-3_at_the_Royal_Aircraft_Establishment,_Farnborough,_with_the_RAE's_chief_test_pilot,_Wing_Commander_H_J_-Willie-_Wilson_at_the_controls,_August_1942._CH6411