How Peter Falk cheated the system to serve in WWII-Columbo’s 1st case

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I have always been a great fan of the cop show Columbo with Peter Falk in the title role. However I did not know that Peter Falk and I had a few things in common.

Born in New York City, Falk was the son of Michael Peter Falk , owner of a clothing and dry goods store, and his wife, Madeline (née Hochhauser) an accountant and buyer. Both of his parents were Jewish,coming from Poland and Russia on his father’s side,and from Hungary and Labowa, Nowy Sacz, Poland, on his mother’s side. Falk grew up in Ossining, New York.

When Peter was 3  he lost his right due to a tumor. This is where one similarity comes in, although I did not lose my right eye, I did nearly lose my left eye when I was 3. Due to an accident my eye was pulled out of its socket. I have  had a very bad vision in that eye ever since, well until recently, I’ll come back to that later.

He used a prosthetic  eye throughout his life, which makes his War contribution evene more remarkable.adafruit_products_IMG_5242

Always embracing challenges, he tried to join the Marines, and even got as far as passing his first eye test, using “creativity.”, by memorizing the eye test chart. This is something I also did when I was called up for military service. A second round rousted Peter Falk out though. Undaunted, several months later he joined the Merchant Navy as a cook. He also tried to join the Israeli Irgun and the CIA, both turned him down. The CIA however did not turn him down because of his eye but according to Peter Falk in a Guardian interview “I’d joined the union of cooks and stewards at sea. And because I’d attended a liberal college and been in Yugoslavia.”

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As I mentioned earlier I would come back about my eye. Ironically,although I had always fears of losing my left eye.In 2011 I ended up losing my right eye, well partially, because of a failed operation the wall of my left eye caved in, making it shrink and resulting in loss of vision.I now also wear a prosthetic eye, not a full one as Peter Falk though.

Peter Falk is one of my heroes, despite some set backs in his life he didn’t give up on his dreams.Such was the charisma of the man that when one thinks of Columbo one automatically thinks of Peter Falk, not realizing he was actually the 2nd actor to play the slightly confused but highly intelligent Lt Columbo.

The first actor who played Columbo was Bert Freed  in an episode of “The Chevy Mystery Show” called “Enough Rope”

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Bert Freed had served in the US Army during WWII in the European theatre.

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U-638 & Irish Elm-How tourism saved an Irish ship from sinking.

IRISH ELM 1941-45

Even though Ireland was a neutral country during WWII it didn’t escape the war completely unscathed.It was especially it’s mercantile marine which was affected by the German Navy.

Admiral Karl Dönitz had issued a standing order to U-boats on 4 September 1940, which defined belligerent, neutral and friendly powers. Neutral included “Ireland in particular”. The order concluded: “Ireland forbids the navigation of her territorial waters by warships under threat of internment. That prohibition is to be strictly observed out of consideration for the proper preservation of her neutrality. Signed, Dönitz”

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However this order was not always obeyed, and the punishment for disobeying this order were very mild or non existent.

The City of Limerick,Luimneach,Clonlara,Kyleclare had all been encountered by U-Boats and sunk.

The Irish Elm however fared better.On 20 March 1943 U-638, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Oskar Bernbeck stopped Irish Elm. Rough seas prevented Elm’s crew from pulling their rowboat alongside the submarine to present their papers.

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The interview was therefore conducted by shouting. In the course of the conversation, Elm’s Chief Officer Patrick Hennessy gave Dún Laoghaire as his home address. Bernbeck asked if “the strike was still on in Downey’s”, a pub near Dún Laoghaire harbour. (The Downey’s strike started in March 1939 and lasted 14 years.

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The Irish Elm was allowed to continue its journey

Clearly Heinrich Oskar Bernbeck must have been a visitor to the emerald isle. It just goes to show that tourism is a very important industry to Ireland in more was than one.

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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The SS Tjisalak Massacre

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The SS Tjisalak was a 5,787-ton Dutch freighter with passenger accommodation built in 1917 for the Java-China-Japan Line and used by the Allies during World War II to transport supplies across the Indian Ocean between Australia and Ceylon. On 26 March 1944, she was torpedoed and sunk by the Japanese submarine I-8 while traveling un-escorted. The freighter’s crew were subsequently massacred in an infamous naval war crime.

The Tjisalak was sailing from Melbourne and Colombo with a cargo of flour and mail. The crew of 80 consisted of Dutch, Chinese and English merchant seaman, plus ten Royal Navy gunners manning the ship’s four-inch gun. Also on board were five passengers (including an American Red Cross nurse, Mrs. Verna Gorden-Britten) and 22 Laskar sailors returning to India after the loss of their ship. Tjisalak had been travelling for 19 days, when her captain became confused by an unusual wireless message from Perth, and changed his course, sailing at 10 knots to conserve fuel. At 5.45 am on 26 March 1944, she was struck by a torpedo from the I-8.

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One passenger, a Lieutenant Dawson from Australia, was killed instantly, and the ship began to list to port. The order was given to abandon ship. Most of the crew obeyed, taking to the ship’s boats and liferafts, but the British gunners and the Dutch gun commander, second officer Jan Dekker, remained on board, waiting for the Japanese submarine to appear and opened fire. I-8 responded with her own deckgun, forcing the gunners to abandon ship.

Once in the water, the 105 survivors were collected by the Japanese, who placed them on the ship’s deck and ordered Captain Hen into the conning tower to confer with the Japanese commander, Tatsunosuke Ariizumi.

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Survivors reported Hen as shouting“No, no, I don’t know.” At that moment, a Chinese sailor slipped into the water and was shot.

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The Japanese then tied the survivors together in pairs and walked them towards the stern (rear) of the ship around the conning tower, where they were attacked with various weapons. Four men jumped or fell from the submarine while being attacked and survived the random gunfire ,from three Japanese sailors seated behind the conning tower. These were Chief Officer Frits de Jong, Second Officer Jan Dekker, Second Wireless Operator James Blears and Third Engineer Cees Spuybroek. A Laskar named Dhange also survived the massacre.

After the Japanese had killed all but about twenty of the prisoners, they tied the remainder to a long rope, pushed them overboard, and then submerged. Dhange, the last man on the tow rope, managed to free himself before he drowned.

The survivors swam several miles through the open ocean back to the location of the sinking, where they found an abandoned liferaft. Three days later they spotted a distant shape, which approached them. She was an American Liberty ship, the SS James O. Wilder. After briefly firing on them by mistake, the Americans rescued the survivors and took them to Colombo.

As merchant seamen, the Tjisalak survivors were ineligible for treatment at both the British military and civilian hospitals, and had to arrange for accommodations at their own expense.

The crew of the I-8 committed similar atrocities against the crew of the Liberty ship SS Jean Nicolet, and possibly other ships from which no one survived.

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(A Liberty ship similar to the SS Jean Nicolet with extra accommodation built on deck. Aerial photo of the Liberty ship SS John W. Brown outbound from the United States with a large deck cargo after her conversion into a “Limited Capacity Troopship.”

Captain Ariizumi committed suicide when Japan surrendered in August 1945, but three members of the crew were located and prosecuted for their participation. Two were convicted and served prison terms which were commuted by the Japanese government in 1955. The third was granted immunity in exchange for testifying against his former shipmates.

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