The Japanese attack on Bly, Oregon. USA

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A fire balloon , or Fu-Go was a weapon launched by Japan during World War II. A hydrogen balloon with a load varying from a 15 kg (33 lb) antipersonnel bomb to one 12-kilogram (26 lb) incendiary bomb and four 5 kg (11 lb) incendiary devices attached, it was designed as a cheap weapon intended to make use of the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and drop bombs on American and Canadian cities, forests, and farmland.

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The Japanese fire balloon was the first ever weapon possessing intercontinental range (. The Japanese balloon strikes on North America were at that time the longest ranged attacks ever conducted in the history of warfare, a record which was not broken until the 1982 Operation Black Buck raids during the Falkland Islands War.

The balloons were ineffective as weapons but were used in one of the few attacks on North America during World War II.

On May 5, 1945, a Japanese balloon bomb exploded as it was being pulled from the woods by curious picnickers.

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Killed in the explosion were: Elsie Mitchell, 26, wife of minister Archie E. Mitchell; Edward Engen, 13; Richard Patzke, 14; Jay Gifford, 13; Sherman Shoemaker, 11; and Joan Patzke, 13.Rev. Mitchell heard the explosion and discovered the bodies. Victims were compensated by the government. A memorial was erected at what today is called the Mitchell Recreation Area.

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Operation Carthage

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Operation Carthage, on 21 March 1945, was a British World War II air raid on Copenhagen, Denmark, which incurred significant collateral damage. The target of the raid was the Shellhus, used as Gestapo headquarters in the city centre. It was used for the storage of dossiers and the torture of Danish citizens during interrogations.

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The Danish Resistance had long asked the British to conduct a raid against this site. As a result, the building was destroyed, 18 prisoners were freed, and anti-resistance Nazi activities were disrupted. But, part of the raid was mistakenly directed against a nearby boarding school; it resulted in a total of 125 civilian deaths (including 86 schoolchildren and 18 adults at the school). A similar raid against the Gestapo headquarters in Aarhus, on 31 October 1944, had been successful.

The raid was to be carried out by de Havilland Mosquito fast-bomber aircraft, and thus it was that on the morning of 21 March, these aircraft took of in three waves of six along with two Mosquitoes that were to film the raid.

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The force left RAF Fersfield in the morning and it reached Copenhagen after 11:00. The raid was carried out at rooftop level. In the course of the initial attack, a Mosquito hit a lamp post, damaging its wing, and the plane crashed into the Jeanne d’Arc School, about 1.5 km (0.93 mi) from the target. Several bombers in the second and third wave attacked the burning school, mistaking it for their target.

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In all, eighty-six children and thirteen adults, mostly nuns, were killed. Separately, over fifty Gestapo members were killed in the attack on the headquarters, along with dozens of Danish workers and several prisoners of the Gestapo. Memorials now stand to the children killed as well as the Danish resistance members.Mindesten_for_den_Franske_Skole_(2_af_2)

All fourteen prisoners in the Southern wing of the Shell House survived as this part of the building was not bombed.Shellhuset_210345

The three remaining prisoners were under interrogation on the 5th floor, one of whom died. 18 out of 26 prisoners survived the bomb raid. A total of 133 Danes died during and after the raid. Telegrams from Copenhagen modstandsbevægelse (Resistance Movement) thanked the RAF for the successful raid, and with the destruction of the Gestapo archives the threat against its members was neutralised..

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The Luftwaffe Bombing of Sandhurst Road School

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The bombing of Sandhurst Road School occurred during an air raid on Wednesday, 20 January 1943 when the school on Minard Road, Catford, south east London was seriously damaged. A German fighter-bomber dropped a single 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb on the school at 12.30 pm, killing 38 children (32 killed at the school and 6 more died in hospital) and 6 staff and injuring another 60 people. Many were buried for hours under the rubble.

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The German attack was part of a raid by 28 Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4U3 fighter-bombers escorted by Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, which took off at noon from an airfield in German-occupied France.

The planes were to attack any targets of opportunity in what the Germans called a Terrorangriff (“terror raid”).The German pilot who attacked the school was Hauptmann Heinz Schumann from Jagdgeschwader 2. He was flying a Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-4 carrying a single 500 kg SC 500 bomb.

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It is debated whether Schumann deliberately targeted the school, or simply attacked what looked like a large factory (the school was several stories high).

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Due to inefficiencies of the warning system, the air raid siren had not sounded by the time the German planes arrived. Many children were having their lunch and the attack destroyed the area of the school where they were eating. Witness reports suggest the attacking planes first flew past the school and then bombed it on a second run.Another plane is alleged to have also strafed the playground and local streets. In the same raid four barrage balloon sites were destroyed in Lewisham, a large gas holder in Sydenham was set alight, a Deptford power station suffered three direct hits, and the President’s House at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

The bomb killed (either immediately or later in hospital) 24 pupils and 2 teachers in the dining room. Five more children were killed on a staircase and nine in second floor classrooms. The blast also destroyed the staff room killing three teachers and another was killed in a science room. Roughly 60 others were injured. The teachers who died were: Mrs Connie Taylor, Mrs Ethel Betts, Mrs Virginia Carr, Miss Mary Jukes, Miss Gladys Knowelden and Miss Harriet Langdon.

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Of the 38 children and 6 teachers killed by the bombing, 31 children and 1 teacher were buried together at Hither Green Cemetery in a civilian war dead plot. The mass grave has a rectangular stone surround that contains a raised tablet with inscription. The burial was conducted by the Bishop of Southwark Bertram Simpson, and over 7,000 mourners attended The school now has both a stained glass window and a memorial garden commemorating the event.

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Flight 28-Non Combat Casualties of War in WWII

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Not all casualties during WWII were caused by battles or other war related events. Like any other era in history there were also other ‘regular’ disasters that occurred. However this disaster was indirectly linked to WWII actions.

October 23 1942 – All 12 passengers and crewmen aboard an American Airlines DC-3 airliner were  killed when it is struck by a U.S. Army Air Forces bomber near Palm Springs, California. Among the victims is award-winning composer and songwriter Ralph Rainger.

American Airlines Flight 28 was a scheduled domestic passenger flight that crashed on October 23, 1942 in Chino Canyon, near Palm Springs, California after being struck by a United States Army Air Forces B-34 ‘Lexington’ bomber. The B-34 suffered only minor damage, and landed safely at the Army Airport of the Sixth Ferrying Command, Palm Springs, California.

(the picture below is of a B-34 bomber,not the one that caused the crash)

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Flight 28 departed from the Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank, California at 4:36 p.m. on October 23, 1942.

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At 5:02 p.m., Captain Pedley reported his position over Riverside, California, and estimated his arrival over Indio, California, at 5:22 p.m. and 9,000 feet (2,700 m). At 4:26 p.m., the B-34 bomber departed from Long Beach, California, en route to Palm Springs. Lieutenant Wilson proceeded to Riverside, circled twice near March Field, and continued toward the San Gorgonio Pass.

At approximately 5:15 p.m., at an altitude of approximately 9,000 feet (2,700 m), Flight 28 was struck by the B-34. The DC-3 lost its rudder to the propeller from the B-34’s right engine, along with portions of its tail. It fell from the sky in a flat spin and impacted a rocky ledge in Chino Canyon, below San Jacinto Peak, before crashing into the desert and exploding.

Lieutenant Wilson later testified at his court martial proceedings that he first realized that the two aircraft had collided when he heard a “noise and a wrenching of my ship up… to my left.”He also testified that he noticed that his aircraft handled sluggishly and the right engine felt “rough.” He was informed by his copilot that they had hit the airliner. The B-34 called the Palm Springs tower to notify them of the accident and then subsequently landed at Palm Springs Army Airport.

The Burbank operator at the company station reported that he had picked up a message from Flight 28 at exactly 5:15 p.m., saying: “Flight 28 from Burbank… correction Burbank from Flight 28…” The radio operator was only able to distinguish the flight calling Burbank, and though he attempted to respond, he received no answer from Flight 28. He then directed the message to the American Airlines Flight Superintendent at Burbank. The Civil Aeronautics Board determined that, as Flight 28 crashed at 5:15 p.m., it was possible that the pilots were attempting to report the collision

Three separate investigations into the accident occurred: a coroner’s inquest, a military investigation and court martial, and the official Congressional investigation of the Civil Aeronautics Board. All three investigations were independent of the others.

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The coroner inquest was the first investigation to be completed, occurring shortly after the crash. Its purpose was not to decide absolute culpability, but rather to determine exactly the manner of death of the involved individuals. During the inquest, both surviving Army pilots testified that they had seen the airliner, but that they had subsequently lost sight of it when their aircraft had flown into smoke from a nearby forest fire.

Air safety investigators of the Civil Aeronautics Board arrived at the scene of the crash at midnight of October 23. The remnants of the aircraft were placed under military guard for the duration of the investigation.During the course of the investigation, it was learned that Lieutenant Wilson of the B-34 and First Officer Reppert of Flight 28 had trained together, and had met up the previous night and talked about their chances of meeting while in flight. Though they briefly discussed the possibility of signalling each other, they made no such plans to the effect. The B-34 copilot, Sergeant Leigh, told investigators that Wilson had confided that he’d like to fly close to the airliner and “thumb his nose at him.”[1] It was for this reason that the bomber circled twice around March Air Force Base in order to ensure that the aircraft would meet up during the flight to Palm Springs.

Subsequent depositions revealed that Lt Wilson flew his B-34 level with the DC-3 and rocked his wings in greeting to First Officer Reppert. When Flight 28 did not respond in kind, the B-34 crossed over the airliner’s line of flight and throttled back to allow the slower DC-3 to catch up. Lt Wilson flew close to the airliner to attempt a second greeting, but misjudged the distance between the aircraft, and when he tried to pull up, the B-34’s right propeller sliced through the airliner’s tail.

The Civil Aeronautics Board determined that the cause of the crash was:

The reckless and irresponsible conduct of Lieutenant William N. Wilson in deliberately maneuvering a bomber in dangerous proximity to an airliner in an unjustifiable attempt to attract the attention of the first officer (copilot) of the latter plane.

— Civil Aeronautics Board Docket #SA-74, File# 2362-42.

Lieutenant Wilson faced manslaughter charges by the U.S. Army. During the course of the court martial proceedings, a number of military witnesses produced testimony that corroborated the findings of the CAB. One witness, however, Private Roy West, provided testimony in direct contradiction of the previous witnesses. According to Private West:

They were coming through this Pass and the Bomber in a right bank and the airliner moved in under it. The airliner nosed down and the tail came up and hit the right motor of the Bomber and the tail was cut off….

— Roy West, Private, US Army, Army Court Martial Proceedings of Lieutenant William Wilson.

The CAB dismissed West’s statement as unreliable, as when a plane’s nose dips, the tail does not rise by such a significant amount as witnessed by West. However, the court-martial trial board acquitted Lt. Wilson of blame in the accident.

The Lockheed B-34 that collided with American Flight 28 was repaired and re-designated as an RB-34A-4 target tug. On August 5, 1943 the same RB-34, serial number 41-38116, suffered engine failure during a ferry flight and crashed into Wolf Hill near Smithfield, Rhode Island, killing all three crew members.

060713-f-1234s-020     A U.S. Army RB-34 like the one that crashed on Wolf Hill in the Georgiaville section of Smithfield,