“Lets bomb Boise City in Oklahoma”said no US Air force officer ever, and yet.

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It all began on July 5, 1943. At the other end of the world, the United States was involved in a bitter war against the Axis forces. The Axis forces wanted to control Europe and the Pacific, while the Allies fought for peace. The Nazi’s had begin their last offensive against Kursk, and the Australian and U.S. Army forces under General MacArthur were struggling to fight back the Japanese at Buna in New Guinea.

B-17 "Flying Fortress"

While the citizens of Boise City followed the news closely, pilots at Dalhart Army Air Base in Texas were preparing four B-17 bombers for a practice run.  The nighttime training mission was to begin a few hours after dark.  The navigator was supposed to lead the flight group from Dalhart base to drop bombs in a range near Conlen, Texas.  The target was a small square area, lit by four lights at each corner.  It was supposed to be a simple mission, but somehow, something went horribly wrong.

Late in the evening, the training mission began as scheduled.  The young navigator felt confident in his abilities, and the pilots were well prepared.  The roar of the B-17’s engines was deafening as they took to the sky.  Everyone expected the training mission would be a success.

Thirty miles to the north, most of the 1,200 residents of Boise City had already gone to bed.  Most of the lights of the small town had been shut off, with an exception of the lights that surrounded the courthouse square.  The small city seemed deserted, except for a small café and a few young couples walking home after leaving the local movie theater.  At the café, several truck drivers calmly chatted with one another while eating their midnight dinners.

Boise City Bomb landmark in Boise City.
Boise City Bomb landmark in Boise City.
This is a practice bomb such as the ones dropped on Boise City during WW II military training.
This is a practice bomb such as the ones dropped on Boise City during WW II military training.

It was just after midnight when all hell broke loose in this sleepy little town.  The explosions weren’t particularly loud, but they were loud enough to wake most, if not all, of the 1,200 people in Boise City.

The air raid continued for thirty long minutes as the townspeople rushed for cover.  The first bomb thundered through the roof of a garage and exploded, digging a four-foot deep hole in the floor.  The B-17 made another pass and dropped a second bomb that struck the white framed Baptist church, exploding beside the building and breaking out several windows.  The crater was three feet deep.

The driver of a munitions truck parked on the square quickly dropped everything and rushed from the café, rapidly driving his rig away.

After the first bomb fell, the town’s air warning office, John Adkins, phoned the FBI in Oklahoma and sent the Adjutant General a cool wire: “Boise City bombed one A.M. Baptist Church, garage hit.”

The third bomb struck between the sidewalk and curb in front of the Style Shoppe Building, just a few feet away from where the driver of a gasoline tanker was rushing to get out of the city.

The fourth bomb also came close to striking a parked fuel transport truck, striking the ground and exploding only yards from the McGowan Boarding House.

Frank Garrett, the light and power man for Boise City, sprinted for the Southwestern Public Service building and yanked down hard on the town’s master light switch.  Almost immediately, the town was thrust into complete darkness.  The only lights that could be seen were from the remaining two bombs as they struck the ground and set off small explosions.

Either the blackout or a radio message to the pilot in response of Adkins’ wire caused the navigator to realize his almost fatal mistake.  Somehow, after leaving the Dalhart base, the young navigator had made a 45-mile mistake: he mistook the four lights centered on Boise City’s main square for the intended practice target.  After realizing his error, the pilots quickly departed back to Dalhart, Texas.

While the bombing left numerous craters in the town, no one was actually injured. The bombs were 100-pound practice explosives. Each bomb was filled with four pounds of dynamite and ninety pounds of sand. There was no damage besides the garage and the church, and a few deep craters in the city.

This accidental bombing made Boise City famous; it is the only continental American town to be bombed during World War II. The estimated property damage to the city? Less than $25.

A year after the misguided bombing of Boise City, the same bomber crew led an 800-plane daylight raid on Berlin and became one of the most decorated of World War II. All of the crewmembers survived the war and went on to tell stories about their slightly misguided raid on a small Oklahoma town. In fact, one crew member even went on to marry a Boise City Girl.

 

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The perfect Aryans that weren’t actually Aryans.

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Hessy Levinsons Taft (born May 17, 1934) is a woman, born to Jewish parents in Berlin, best known for having been featured prominently as an infant in Nazi propaganda after her photo was surreptitiously entered in, and then selected as the winner of, a contest to find the most beautiful Aryan baby.

Taft’s image became one of the most subversive of the 20th century when it was subsequently distributed widely by the Nazi party in a variety of materials, such as magazines and postcards, to promote Aryanism.

Her parents, Jacob and Pauline (Levine) Levinsons,[2] were unaware of their photographer’s decision to enter the photograph into the contest until learning that the photo of their daughter had been selected by Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels as the winner of the contest.

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Fearing that the Nazis would discover that their family was Jewish, Taft’s mother informed the photographer that they were Jewish. The photographer told her mother, Pauline, that he knew they were Jewish and deliberately entered Taft’s photograph into the contest because he “wanted to make the Nazis ridiculous”.Taft told the German-language newspaper Bild that “I can laugh about it now” in July 2014, “but if the Nazis had known who I really was, I wouldn’t be alive.”

Hessy Levinsons Taft is now a chemistry professor in New York.

WernerGoldberg

Werner Goldberg (October 3, 1919 – September 28, 2004) was a German who was of half Jewish ancestry, or Mischling in Nazi terminology, who served briefly as a soldier during World War II and whose image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as “The Ideal German Soldier”, and his image was later used in recruitment posters for the Wehrmacht. 1935 Nuremberg Laws classed persons with three Jewish grandparents as Jewish; those with two Jewish grandparents would be considered Jewish only if they practised the faith or had a Jewish spouse. Therefore according to the Nuremberg Laws, Werner Goldberg woulds have been considered a “non-Aryan” German by Nazi authorities because of his German Jewish mother.

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1938 he joined the army. Werner saw military action soon after completing basic training. He participated in the German invasion of Poland in 1939. Shortly after the invasion of Poland began, a German army photographer took photos of Werner Goldberg and sent them to the Berliner Tagesblatt, a major newspaper in Germany’s capital. They liked the photos and published a full-page picture of Werner Goldberg in their Sunday edition. The newspaper didn’t state his name. They probably didn’t know it. They captioned the photo ‘The Ideal German Soldier.’ Hitler was very impressed by the picture and ordered it reprinted on Nazi propaganda and army recruiting posters.

Eventually Nazi officials discovered the truth, that the ‘ideal German soldier’ was a Jew. Goldberg was forced out of the army, but he was never sent to jail or a concentration camp. In 1942, Werner Goldberg rescued his sick father who was being held in a Gestapo prison hospital for Jews. On Christmas Eve, Werner went to the hospital. He gambled that the guards and Gestapo agents at the door would either be absent from their posts or drunk because of the holiday, and he was right. Werner got into the hospital by showing the guards a photo of himself captioned ‘the ideal German soldier.’ The guards recognized the photo and let Werner into the hospital. Once inside, Werner simply went to his father’s room, dressed his father in street clothes that he brought with him and simply walked out the door with his father. Werner Goldberg survived the war and died in 2004.

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.

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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).

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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’.

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

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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.