SS and Nazis in the Dutch Coalmines

mijn

The most southern province of the Netherlands, Limburg, in the south east of the country used to be a rural area with mainly farming as employment opportunities, However in the late 19th and early 20th century something nicknamed “black gold” was discovered in the southern part of the province, this ‘black gold’ was coal.

The Dutch government exploited the discovery of coal by building 4 coal mines.

-Staatsmijn Wilhelmina in Terwinselen
-Staatsmijn Emma in Treebeek/Hoensbroek (1911 – 1973)
-Staatsmijn Hendrik in Brunssum (1915 – 1963)
-Staatsmijn Maurits in Lutterade-Geleen (1926 -1967)

Maurits

Although the mines brought jobs and prosperity it didn’t come without costs.The mine workers would receive a relatively high wage , the work was very physical and sometimes emotionally draining .A great number of mine workers  would not retire because of Coal workers’ pneumoconiosis(aka black lung disease)or Silicosis, they would die at a young age.

Lungs

During WWII the mines were exploited by the German occupiers, and the coal would be used for the German war effort.

Some dutch men had signed up to the SS and were also members of the NSB, The Dutch Nazi party. After the war some several hundreds of these men were imprisoned in Prisoner of War camps.

43743591_1034093993434756_2737810057973465088_nThey were sentenced  to work in the coal mines by the Dutch government and the Allied forces , mainly in the Maurits and the Emma.

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After their shifts they were made to walk back to the camp from the mine. Those working in the Maurits had to walk back to prisoner camp ‘Graetheide’ which was a 12-15 km march.

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Some records indicate that some men were sentenced to 25 years labor in the mines, but since the last mine closed in 1969 it is a clear indications that those sentences were reduced. Despite the hard labor in the mines they were let off easy.

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Sources

Demijnen.nl

Nostal Gia

 

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The era of hypocrisy-The post WWII era

Paperclip

One thing that has always baffled me was the blatant double standards applied at the end and the era just after WWII.

On one hand you had scientists like Alan Turing, whose work on the enigma code shortened the war by 2 years, and potentially saved millions of lives, but because of his homosexuality was forced to undergo ‘chemical’ treatment to suppress his homosexuality or face jail. He did choose the former option but eventually committed suicide.

alan

On the other hand you have operations like ‘Operation Paperclip’  a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency largely carried out by Special Agents of Army CIC, in which more than 1,600 Nazi scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as  were recruited and saved from legal persecution. To top things off many of them received prestigious awards and were given high positions in several government agencies, like Wernher von Braun who became the top man at NASA.

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Braun who had willingly participated in the use of slave labour from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp , for his work on the V2 rockets. More people had actually died from building the rocket, than were killed by it as a weapon. claim von Braun engaged in brutal treatment or approved of it.

Witnesses claimed  von Braun engaged in brutal treatment of prisoners or approved of it.

Then there is Dr. Hubertus Strughold who had conducted various medical experiments , in conjunction with the Luftwaffe, in which prisoners from the Dachau concentration camp were used as human test subjects.Most of them did not survive.

Hubertus

It would make sense that such a evil and barbaric man would be brought to justice, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact he too got a high position with NASA.And they even named an award after him. an award for Space medicine, he himself was given the nickname ‘Father of Space Medcine’ it was only in 2013 when NASA decided to remove his name from the award.

Another scientist, Kurt Blome, who had been  the Deputy Surgeon General in the Third Reich and headed its biological warfare program disguised as cancer research. He had been running  experiments involving spreading disease through insects like mosquitoes and lice. And also carried out d tests which involved dropping nerve gas and insecticides from planes as well and attempted creating  a weaponized Bubonic plague, during WWII.

bLOME

Blome had also links to Unit 731 of the Japanese army. Unit 731 were probably the most evil and barbaric unit in WWII.

He was arrested on 17 May 1945 by an agent of the United States Counter Intelligence Corps  in Munich.It is widely believed that American intervention saved Blome from execution in exchange for information about biological warfare, nerve gas, and providing advice on to the American chemical and biological weapons programs.

He was never  charged with war crimes  after his acquittal at the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial in 1947. He also was allowed to continue  practice medicine in West Germany, and was active in politics as a member of a right-wing Germany Party. He died in Dortmund in 1969.

There were several operations by the US,British and Soviet governments which facilitated Nazi scientists and other Nazis safe passage and a new start.

Scientist

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The abdication of a Queen.

Wilhelmina

On this day 70 years ago, the Netherlands’ war time Queen,Wilhelmina, handed over the reign to her oldest daughter Juliana.

On 4 September 1948, after a reign of 58 years, Wilhelmina abdicated in favour of her daughter Juliana, because of advancing age and declining health. The abdication meant that she would henceforth be known as addressed as “Her Royal Highness Princess Wilhelmina of the Netherlands”

She had been inaugurated as Queen aged 18 on September 6 1898.Technically she had been Queen since 1890, after the death of her Father ,King William III. But since she was only 10 at the time her mother,Queen Emma served as regent until Wilhelimina turned 18. Therefore technically her reign was for 58 years even though the first 8 years her Mother reigned in her stead.

Wilhelmina queen

During World War II she took charge of the Dutch government in exile,in the UK. On  August 5, 1942 She addressed the U.S. Congress and was the first queen to do so.

cONGRESS

In the night of 20/21 February 1944 she was nearly killed during Operation Steinbock, sometimes referred to as Baby Blitz, by a bomb that took the lives of two  of her staff and severely damaged her country home near South Mimms in England.

Junker

She was not a great fan of  politicians, instead stating a love for the people. When the Netherlands was liberated in 1945 she was disappointed to see the same political factions taking power as before the war.

Following the end of World War II, she made the decision not to return to her palace but to move into a mansion in The Hague, where she stayed for eight months. She traveled throughout the Netherlands to motivate people, sometimes using a bicycle instead of a car. But in 1947, as  the country was still recovering from  the woes of World War II, the revolt in the oil-rich Dutch East Indies saw sharp criticism of the Queen by the Dutch economic elite.

Around the same time, her  health started failing , forcing her to  temporarily cede her monarchial duties to Juliana at the end of 1947 (14 October tto 1 December). At that stage she already contemplated abdication, but Juliana convinced  her to stay on for the stability of the nation, urging her to stay on the throne until 1950 so she could celebrate her diamond jubilee. Wilhelmina had the intention of doing just that , but unfortunately exhaustion forced her to relinquish  duties as a monarch  to Juliana again on 12 May 1948. The timing wasn’t great  as it left Juliana to deal with the early elections caused by the demand for  independence by the Indonesian colonies.

Dismayed by the return to pre-war politics and the pending loss of Indonesia, Wilhelmina abdicated on 4 September 1948.

abdication

During the last years of her life  she wrote her autobiography entitled Eenzaam, maar niet alleen (Lonely but Not Alone), in which she gave account of the events in her life, and revealed her strong religious feelings and motivations.

Wilhelmina died in Het Loo Palace at the age of 82 on 28 November 1962.

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The effects of Operation Market Garden are still being felt today.

Garden

Operation Market Garden started on September 17 1944. It was supposed to end the war in the Netherlands.But the operation failed, as a result the war was prolonged for several months,compounded with one of the severest winters on record it resulted in a famine for the northern provinces.

POW

But there was more,as a form of reprisal the Germans started stealing everything valuable they could find. although Market Garden failed the Germans knew the war was coming to an end and they would be on the losing side.

Dr J.H. Smidt van Gelder, the director of the children’s hospital in Arnhem, stored 6 works of art in a bank vault for safekeeping during the Second World War.

Dr

One of the pieces was a painting called The Oyster Meal by Jacob Ochtervelt The paintings were looted in January 1945, when the Nazis plundered the town.Although the instructions were given not to loot the banks a German officer called Temmler paid no attention to those instructions.

Even Himmler had warned about Temmler, he said he would bring disrespect to the Nazi party, killing millions was okay, but stealing art was disrespectful.

The painting then made a bit of a mysterious journey. In 1971 was acquired by the property  Harold Samuel,  it had  painting reappeared on the Swiss art market ,a few decades after the war, where Harold Samuel bought it

Harold Samuel  bequeathed the painting to the City of London Corporation in 1987, on condition that they be shown permanently in Mansion House.

The Commission for Looted Art in Europe uncovered the history of the painting and discovered the rightful owners. Samuel’s daughters agreed to waive the condition so that The Oyster Meal could be returned to Charlotte Bischoff van Heemskerck, the daughter of Dr van Gelder,she is now aged 97.

It was returned to her in November 2017.

The painting will go on auction at Sotheby’s in July 2018, estimated value 2.5 Million Pounds Sterling.

oyster meal

 

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Sources

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Sotheby’s

Ernest Erbstein-Holocaust survivor who died a tragic death.

Ern

Now that the World Cup Football is well on its way in Russia, it is a good opportunity at one of the sport’s legends.

Ernest Erbstein, aka Ernest Egri-Erbstein was a Jewish-Hungarian football player and  He was involved in  football as a player and coach in several countries,  but he was most noted for his association with Italian football.

coach

Erbstein moved to Torino in 1938 to  play for the team , but because of World War II and the fact that he was Jewish he returned to Hungary.

He, his wife Jolan and their two daughters all survived the holocaust.

In 1944 he was imprisoned  in a slave labour camp near Budapest along together with another great Jewish footballer Béla Guttmann,who also survived the Holocaust . They found out  that their labour brigade  of Jewish men was about to be deported to a most likely death.

Rather than awaiting the same  fate of their  600,000  fellow Hungarian  Jews, they escaped by jumping from a window.

After the war Erbstein rejoined Torino,  but this time as  a trainer; it would become  one of the most noted spells in Italian football as the Torino side became known as Grande Torino.

Garnde Torino

Erbstein  along with Englishman Leslie Lievesley were co-managers during the 1948–49 season.  On 4 May 1949 while on the way back from Lisbon, the plane carrying Erbstein and the majority of the Torino team and staff crashed  into the retaining wall at the back of the Basilica of Superga, which stands on a hill on the outskirts of Turin.

crash

Erbstein’s luggage was undamaged. He had borrowed the suitcase from his daughter and had promised to return it to her when he came back from Lisbon.

luggage

 

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Sources

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The day that evil and arrogance was hung.

Eichmann

On May 31st 1962 Adolf Eichmann was executed for his crimes by hanging.

I have read a lot about Eichmann and have seen a lot of documentaries. He was a particularly evil man, he never showed any remorse for all the crimes he committed or ordered to be carried out. Throughout his trial he remained arrogant.

Adolf Eichmann’s last words, before he was hanged  were “I hope that all of you will follow me,”

arrogance

Eichmann was one of the architects of the Holocaust. On January 20 1942, he  met with top Nazi officials at the Wansee Conference near Berlin.The conference marked a turning point in Nazi policy toward the Jews. Plans to transport Jews to Madagascar was abandoned, as were other plans for relocation. The focus was on the final solution, the eradication of the Jews.

The most disturbing aspect of the conference was the business like attitude adopted for the mass extermination of millions of people.

wannsee

During the Nuremberg Trials, Rudolf Höss the commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp, testified that Heinrich Himmler had instructed Höss to receive all operational instructions for the implementation of the Final Solution from Eichmann.

After the war Eichmann escaped ,as so many other Nazi war criminals, to Argentina. He had used an alias ,Ricardo Klement, However on 11 May 1960, he was captured by Mossad agents. near his home on Garibaldi Street in San Fernando, Buenos Aires, and was shipped off to Israel.

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On April 11, 1961, Eichmann’s  was put on trial  in Jerusalem. It would the first televised trial in history. He  faced 15 charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and war crimes. According to him he was just following orders, But the panel of Judges Benjamin Halevy, Moshe Landau, and Yitzhak Ravehthe judges disagreed, and found him guilty on all counts on December 15 and sentencing him to die. On May 31, 1962.

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The hanging had been scheduled for midnight on 31 May, but was slightly delayed and thus took place a few minutes past 12:00 a.m.His body was cremated and his ashes thrown into the sea.

I was going to include a picture of the hanging, but decided against it, because there will always be some misguided fool who would have sympathy for his dangling body.

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Your job in Germany and Our Job in Japan.

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Cat in the hat;How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and It’s a Wonderful Life are not stories you would associate with WWII or propaganda, and yet they have a distinct ,albeit indirect link to WWII propaganda movies.

The name Theodor Seuss Geisel will mean little to many people,although there is a hint in his name which gives away the name he is known by to most. He is better known as Dr. Seuss.

Seuss

In 1943, he joined the Army as a Captain and was commander of the Animation Department of the First Motion Picture Unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Where he got to work with Frank Capra, the director of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.

Initially they worked together on a series of black-and-white American instructional,  cartoons, of a character created by Capra called ‘Private Snafu’,that were produced between 1943 and 1945

Private_SNAFU

The cartoons were humorous very much like the Looney toons. The short movies were directed by famous  directors like Chuck Jones and Fritz Freleng.

In one episode of the series ‘Three Brothers’ released on December 4, 1944 a certain Bugs Bunny made an appearance.

Frank Capra and Dr Seuss worked on 2 hard hitting propaganda films ,shortly after WWII in 1945.

Your Job in Germany

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The film would probably be called racist and non political correct nowadays but in the context of the time it was accepted and also understandable.This training film was made for U.S. Army occupation forces in Germany following World War II.

It  tells how Germany has always been evil and when given a the chance again they would start another war with another leader like Hitler.

In the films the troops are urged not to become friends with the Germans, for the Nazi mentality is still prevalent in the German psyche, and probably always will be.

intro

Jack Warner, of Warner Brothers,  secured the rights to ‘Your Job in Germany’ and turned it into a short documentary entitled Hitler Lives?, directed by Don Siegel. It was released commercially on December 29, 1945 and won the 1946 Academy Award  for Documentary Short Subject.

Our Job in Japan

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Our Job in Japan was a United States military training film made in 1945. Equally to ‘Your Job in Germany’ this movie would now be perceived as racist and totally not political correct.But similarly in the context of the aftermath of WWII and the brutality the Japanese army had displayed during the war it was understandable and probably warranted to portray the Japanese people in the way they did.

The film was aimed at American troops heading to Japan to occupy the country in 1945  It presented the problem of turning the militarist state into a peaceful democracy.

It starts off showing Japan surrendering  , followed by the depiction of bad things that they did during the war, and also how the Japanese always followed a backward quasi religious philosophy. The  narrator explains that although the war is over the Japanese brains still need to adapt to a more modern society based on common sense and not by worshiping the old ways.

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Our Job in Japan was also used as a  basis for a longer, commercially released film, with the title ‘Design for Death’  in 1947 directed by Richard Fleischer. It won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

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Sources

National Archives

IMDB

 

Nazi War criminals in Ireland

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Before I start I have to say I love Ireland and I love living here, but like most nations in the world Ireland too has some black pages in its history.

Although Ireland was supposed to be neutral, at times it took that neutrality too far, Sending condolences to Germany after Hitler died was a good example. What is even more disturbing is that it did harbour Nazi war criminals and helped some evade justice. Often these evil men did lead a very comfortable life in Ireland.

A small number of Germans, Croatians,Belgians and Dutch who arrived in the Irish Republic after 1945. Although some were suspected of having worked for Hitler, there was no determined official effort to weed them out. It is estimated that between 100 and 200 Nazi criminals found refuge in Ireland.

I will be looking at just a few of them, starting off with a fellow Dutchman. Pieter Menten.

 

Menten, a millionaire art collector, was convicted in the killings of dozens of Jews in Podhorece, a village in Poland, while he was serving as a translator with a Nazi SS unit in 1941.

Menten built up much of his business empire trading between his native Netherlands and Poland, he was a significant importer of lumber for example. He lived in Eastern Poland from 1923 until 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded.

Two years later, he returned to Poland after the Nazi counter-occupation.This background was kept hidden and he lived much of his time in Ireland, in county Waterford in the mansion Comeragh House.

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But it all became public in the 1976 when he was arrested for his crimes in Holland. He claimed a case of mistaken identity, but was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail.He was freed from prison in 1985 on good behavior after serving two-thirds of his 10-year sentence and entered the nursing home in July.

Pieter Menten died on 14 November 1987, a demented old man age 88.

Andrija Aurtukovic aka Andrew Aurtukovic aka Alois Anich aka the Butcher of the Balkans.Butcher of the Balkans

Andrija Aurtukovic, called the Butcher of the Balkans, as a Croatian minister of Interior set up a concentration camp which ended up killing one million under his authority. He was deported to Yugoslavia and sentenced to be executed decades later but was judged ‘too old’Andrija_Artuković_za_govornicom

With other members of Government, he left Zagreb on 6 May 1945 and went to Austria. He was detained in an Allied camp in Spittal an der Drau. On 18 May 1945, British extradited some Croatian ministers and Prime Minister Nikola Mandić to the Yugoslav authorities. Artuković was not extradited, but he was released soon with remaining ministers. He left the British occupational zone, then went via the American to the French occupational zone, where his family was. With a Swiss passport under the pseudonym of Alois Anich, he traveled to Ireland. In 1948, with his wife and children, he entered the United States on a tourist visa and settled in Seal Beach, California. The Visa he got using Irish identification papers.id

He was eventually extradited to Yugoslavia Artuković died of natural causes in prison hospital in Zagreb on 16 January 1988.

Otto Skorzeny is a special case for not only did he escape to Ireland he ended up working with the Mossad in Israel.

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Not an easy man to miss, Skorzeny stood 6 foot 4 inches tall and weighed 250lbs. And he was known as “Scarface” for a reason. He had a long, distinctive scar on his left cheek.

Skorzeny achieved ‘fame’ during the war for rescuing deposed Italian leader Benito Mussolini from an Italian hilltop fortress. Like so many other Nazis he went to Argentina after the war. where he  served as a bodyguard to Eva Peron, wife of the Argentine dictator Juan Peron. It is rumored that he had a romantic affair with her.

In July 1957 he traveled to Dublin where he was met with a gala reception by members of Parliament and celebrities. Following his warm welcome he purchased Martinstown House, the 160-acre farm estate in The Curragh, County Kildare.

martinstown.jpg

Skorzeny was recruited by the Mossad conducting operations for the agency from 1962, where he worked with Avraham Ahituv and Rafi Eitan.

On Israel’s request, Skorzeny flew to Egypt and compiled a detailed list of German scientists and their addresses. Skorzeny also found for Mossad the names of many front companies in Europe that were procuring and shipping components for Egypt’s military projects. Skorzeny agreed to work with Israel on the condition that Simon Wiesenthal erase his name from the list of wanted Nazi war criminals and act to have an arrest warrant against him cancelled. Though Wiesenthal rejected this request, Skorzeny decided in the end to cooperate with the Mossad.

 

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Sources

Irish Times

Irish Independent

FBI

Jacques Cousteau-Oceanic explorer,Naval officer and Resistance fighter.

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Before David Attenborough explored the oceans in the Blue Planet, Jacques Cousteau had been doing it for decades and he did much more then that. When it comes to Oceanic exploration he literally wrote the book.

The title ” The Silent World” was released this day 65 years ago.

silent-world-cover

As a kid I would be glued to the Television every time they aired one of Cousteau’s explorations, they would be the highlight of the week. In this blog I will be focusing on his work during WWII and the years after the war..

During World War II, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Jacques  Cousteau and his family took refuge in the small town of Megreve, near the Swiss border. For the first few years of the war, he quietly continued his underwater experiments and explorations. In 1943 he met Emile Gagnan, a French engineer who shared his passion for discovery. Around this time, compressed air cylinders were invented and Cousteau and Gagnan experimented with snorkel hoses, body suits and breathing apparatus.

In  that time, they developed the first aqua-lung device allowing divers to stay underwater for long periods of time.

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Cousteau was also instrumental in the development of a waterproof camera that could withstand the high pressure of deep water. During this time, Cousteau made two documentaries on underwater exploration, Par dix-huit mètres de fond (“18 Meters Deep”) and Épaves(“Shipwrecks”).

Par 18 mtres

Having kept bonds with the English speakers (he spent part of his childhood in the United States and usually spoke English) and with French soldiers in North Africa (under Admiral Lemonnier), Jacques-Yves Cousteau (whose villa “Baobab” at Sanary (Var) was opposite Admiral Darlan’s villa “Reine”), helped the French Navy to join again with the Allies; he assembled a commando operation against the Italian espionage services in France, and received several military decorations for his deeds. At that time, he kept his distance from his brother Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, a “pen anti-semite” who wrote the collaborationist newspaper Je suis partout (I am everywhere) and who received the death sentence in 1946. However, this was later commuted to a life sentence, and Pierre-Antoine was released in 1954.

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In 1947, Cousteau, using the Aqualung, set a world’s record for free diving, reaching a depth of 300 feet. The following year, Dumas broke the record with a 306-foot dive. The team developed and perfected many of the techniques of deep-sea diving, working out rigorous decompression schedules that enabled the body to adjust to pressure changes. This physically demanding, dangerous work took its toll; one member of the research team was killed during underwater testing.

On July 19, 1950, Cousteau bought Calypso, a converted U.S. minesweeper

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Jacques-Yves Cousteau died of a heart attack on 25 June 1997 in Paris, 2 weeks after his 87th birthday.He was buried in the family vault at Saint-André-de-Cubzac, his birthplace.An homage was paid to him by the town by naming the street which runs out to the house of his birth “rue du Commandant Cousteau”, where a commemorative plaque was placed.

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Flight 19-The Lost squadron

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The Bermuda Triangle’s reputation as a boat and plane-devouring chasm was first sealed in December 1945, when a group of five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo bombers known as “Flight 19” vanished in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. No sign of the Avengers was ever found, and a Navy seaplane sent to rescue them also disappeared without a trace.

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At 2:10 p.m., five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers comprising Flight 19 take off from the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station in Florida on a routine three-hour training mission. Flight 19 was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base. They never returned.

Flt19map

Flight 19 was a training flight with five TBM Avengers or Torpedo Bombers and was led by Commander Charles Taylor. Each was a 3-seater plane, very robust, safe and US Navy’s best bombing planes to destroy enemy submarines. It could carry up to 2,000 pounds of bombing ammunitions and had a range of 1,000 miles.

Other than Taylor, there were 13 others in the flight (in different planes) but were all trainees. Taylor was the only experienced pilot. On December 5, 1945 at 2:10 p.m., the five Avengers of Flight 19 took off one after the other from the Naval Air Station (NAS) of Fort Lauderdale at Florida for a routine training session. It was a clear day.

Flight19-E
At first, Flight 19’s hop proceeded just as smoothly as the previous 18 that day. Taylor and his pilots buzzed over Hens and Chickens Shoals around 2:30 p.m. and dropped their practice bombs without incident.
But shortly after the patrol turned north for the second leg of its journey, something very strange happened.
For reasons that are still unclear, Taylor became convinced that his Avenger’s compass was malfunctioning and that his planes had been flying in the wrong direction.
The troubles only mounted after a front blew in and brought rain, gusting winds and heavy cloud cover. Flight 19 became hopelessly disoriented. “I don’t know where we are,” one of the pilots said over the radio. “We must have got lost after that last turn.”

As the weather deteriorated, radio contact became intermittent, and it was believed that the five aircraft were actually by that time more than 200 nmi (230 mi; 370 km) out to sea east of the Florida peninsula. Taylor radioed “We’ll fly 270 degrees west until landfall or running out of gas” and requested a weather check at 17:24. By 17:50 several land-based radio stations had triangulated Flight 19’s position as being within a 100 nmi (120 mi; 190 km) radius of 29°N 79°W; Flight 19 was north of the Bahamas and well off the coast of central Florida, but nobody transmitted this information on an open, repetitive basis.

At 18:04, Taylor radioed to his flight “Holding 270, we didn’t fly far enough east, we may as well just turn around and fly east again”. By that time, the weather had deteriorated even more and the sun had since set. Around 18:20, Taylor’s last message was received. (It has also been reported that Taylor’s last message was received at 19:04.)He was heard saying “All planes close up tight … we’ll have to ditch unless landfall … when the first plane drops below 10 gallons, we all go down together.

HighFlight-Flight19-5

As it became obvious the flight was lost, air bases, aircraft, and merchant ships were alerted. A Consolidated PBY Catalina departed after 18:00 to search for Flight 19 and guide them back if they could be located. After dark, two Martin PBM Mariner flying boats originally scheduled for their own training flights were diverted to perform square pattern searches in the area west of 29°N 79°W. US Navy Squadron Training No. 49 PBM-5 BuNo 59225 took off at 19:27 from Naval Air Station Banana River (now Patrick Air Force Base), called in a routine radio message at 19:30 and was never heard from again.

Martin_PBM

At 21.15, the tanker SS Gaines Mills reported it had observed flames from an apparent explosion leaping 100 ft (30 m) high and burning for 10 minutes, at position 28.59°N 80.25°W.

Captain Shonna Stanley reported unsuccessfully searching for survivors through a pool of oil and aviation gasoline. The escort carrier USS Solomons also reported losing radar contact with an aircraft at the same position and time.

USS_Solomons_CVE67

The disappearance of the 14 men of Flight 19 and the 13 men of the Mariner led to one of the largest air and seas searches to that date, and hundreds of ships and aircraft combed thousands of square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and remote locations within the interior of Florida.

No trace of the bodies or aircraft was ever found.

Although naval officials maintained that the remains of the six aircraft and 27 men were not found because stormy weather destroyed the evidence, the story of the “Lost Squadron” helped cement the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, an area of the Atlantic Ocean where ships and aircraft are said to disappear without a trace.

The Bermuda Triangle is said to stretch from the southern U.S. coast across to Bermuda and down to the Atlantic coast of Cuba and Santo Domingo.

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