Oops! I didn’t mean that to happen- WWII mistakes.

Boeing B-17E

The town of Boise City, Oklahoma has a population of approximately 1,250 people, just a shade lower than the roughly 1,450 who lived there during World War II.

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And in the height of the war, Boise City experienced something few other mainland American towns experience: at roughly 1 A.M. local time on July 5, 1943, whistles and, ultimately, explosions woke up the town. Never mind the fact that Boise City, given that it is located in the middle of the country, is one of the least likely places to be hit by the Germans or the Japanese. This was no Independence Day celebration: Boise City was under attack.

As TIME reported, the townsfolk “acted the way most civilians would act who had never been bombed before. Most of them ran like hell, in no particular direction.”  This was a slight exaggeration: while most of Boise City’s citizens panicked, some kept their heads.  The man in charge of the light and power for the city, Frank Garrett, ran to the town’s central power station and shut down all the lights, in case other bombers were en route and looking for ground targets.  Others went to collect guns and ammunition.  Soldiers — visiting from an army base in Dalhart, Texas, about 45 miles away — helped evacuate a local soda dispensary.

But no further bombs were coming.  The attack was not the Luftwaffe nor the Japanese Air Force.  It was a B-17 bomber — an American plane — lost on a training flight.  The bomber took off from the same army base in Dalhart armed with a six pack of training bomb — a nerfed one which had much less gun powder than the standard World War II-era warhead.  The pilot circled around looking for his target and, upon seeing the lights below, let his payload go.  Way off course, he mistook the lights emanating from Boise City’s town center as his target.

The bombs struck the town center, damaging a garage, a church, and the sidewalk.  Thankfully, no one was killed.

Flugzeug Junkers Ju 88

In July 1944 the crew of a Junkers JU88 nightfighter, lost and without fuel, emergency landed their plane on an RAF airfield in Suffolk.Thinking it was a German Airfield This gift from the skies provided British Air Intelligence with the latest German radar secrets. Throughout the war a technological see-saw had been underway with each side trying to gain the the advantage in radar detection and evasion equipment. The radar technology in this particular night fighter explained why large numbers of British bombers were being shot down from the rear and the RAF aircraft were quickly modified as a result.

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Before American forces finally sunk it during the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the Japanese battleship Musashi was a menacing sight to behold. As one of the two largest and most powerful battleships ever built (the other one being her sister ship Yamato), the Musashi boasted a displacement of over 65,000 metric tons (72,000 tons) when fully armed and possessed 46-centimeter (18.1 in) guns with a range of nearly 37 kilometers (23 mi). In addition, the giant battleship bristled with myriad smaller guns, including as many as 150 anti-aircraft batteries.

Its massive size and weight, however, led the Musashi to unintentionally flood the city of Nagasaki during its launch in November 1940. The process of lowering the huge ship into the water caused a meter-high (3.3 ft)tsunami that flooded the surrounding residential areas and capsized nearby fishing boats.

Owing to the secretive nature of the launch, the Japanese military kept the flooded residents from leaving their homes. Fortunately for them, no further mishaps plagued the rest of the ship’s construction, which finally finished in August 1942.

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Relieving oneself aboard a submerged submarine doesn’t differ from the usual dry land procedure, but getting rid of the resulting waste is much, much more complicated, requiring advanced technology and the training of personnel to operate the equipment. Unfortunately for the crew of German U-1206, a systems failure was the beginning of unlucky events that would lead to four deaths.

The original toilet or “head” developed for U-boats was a two-valve system that only worked during shallow dives. The newest VIIC U-boats like U-1206 were outfitted with new toilets with a high pressure valve rigged for deep water dives.

On April 14, 1945, while patrolling at 200 feet, 10 miles off Scotland’s coast under the command of Karl-Adolph Schlitt, an improperly flushed toilet aboard U-1206 malfunctioned and began flooding the compartment with sewage and salt water. The water leaked into the batteries, creating deadly chlorine gas. The captain was forced to surface the submarine.

While repairs were being made, U-1206 was spotted by British patrols and fired upon. The captain burned his orders and scuttled the boat. One crewman died in the attack, and three others drowned. Forty-six other crewmen were captured. While it’s not known exactly whose “movement” caused the initial problem, some have speculated the captain himself was responsible. The lost submarine was rediscovered in 2012.

 

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