“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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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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The bombing of Schaffhausen-Switzerland.

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74 years ago on April 1, 1944  the United States air force accidentally bombed the Swiss city of Schaffhausen, mistaking it for a German target. Some 400 incendiary and demolition bombs were dropped, killing 40 people and destroying large parts of the city.

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About 15 B24 planes unleashed their bombs, mistaking the city for the target of Ludwigshafen am Rhein near Mannheim, about 235 km north of Schaffhausen.

B-24 Liberator

Bad weather had broken up the American formation over France and winds that nearly doubled the groundspeed of the bombers confused the navigators. The radar systems also failed to function. As Schaffhausen is on the north side of the River Rhine, it was apparently assumed to be the German city.

Switzerland was neutral during the Second World War but the fear of being bombed was acute. Up until then, air raid warnings had been sounded many times in Schaffhausen with no follow up attacks, so people felt relatively safe. When the alarm went off on April 1, many did not take it seriously and failed to take cover.

US President Franklin Roosevelt sent a personal letter of apology to the mayor of Schaffhausen and by October 1944, $4 million had been paid in restitution.

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After the bombing, the Swiss began to paint their roofs with the white cross of the Swiss flag.

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Forgotten History:The Bombing of Zutphen-the Netherlands

 

 

Zutphen is a town in the province of Gelderland in the Netherlands. It lies some 30 km north-east of Arnhem, on the Eastern bank of the river IJssel at the point where it is joined by the Berkel

On the 14th of October 1944,  Zutphen was bombed by the allies

At 4 PM three allied bombers flew over Zutphen theor task was to destroy the Ijsselbrug(Ijssel Bridge) in order to disrupt the supply of arms and block the German troops going in the direction of Arnhem.

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The bridge was destroyed but so was a nearby part of the town.De Rozengracht, Kreijnckstraat, Barlheze en Apenstert were complete wiped away.The station was badly damaged.

 

 

It is not exactly know how many people died that day but 92 were buried a great number of victims was never found.

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The Sinking of the HMS Oxley

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HMS Oxley was the Royal Navy’s first loss in WWII. Today marks the 77th anniversary of that event.

You probably are wondering why I am doing a blog about it. Because lets face it , it was war and there were going to be losses. This is true,however, what makes this special is not because it was the 1st loss but the fact it was sunk by another Royal Navy submarine the HMS Triton.

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When the Admiralty was notified that the United Kingdom would declare war on Germany, five submarines of the 2nd Submarine Flotilla were ordered to patrol on the Obrestad line off Norway on 24 August 1939.Thus, on 3 September all British submarines were in their combat patrol sectors.

At 19:55 on 10 September 1939, Triton had surfaced, fixed a position off the Obrestad Light, set a slow zigzag patrol, and began charging batteries. Lieutenant Commander Steel, having verified that the area was clear and having posted lookouts, gave the bridge to the officer of the watch and went below, leaving orders that he was to be called if anything unusual appeared. At 20:45, he was called to the bridge when an object in the water could be seen very fine on the port bow.

Steel ordered propulsion shifted to the main motors, the signalman to the bridge, and torpedo tubes 7 and 8 readied for firing. The object was recognised as a submarine low in the water.

Once on the bridge, the signalman sent three challenges over several minutes with the box lamp, none of which were answered. Steel wondered if the boat could be HMS Oxley, which should have been patrolling next in line, but some distance away. Steel and his bridge crew studied the silhouette, but could not distinguish what type of submarine it was.

A fourth challenge was sent: three green rifle-grenade flares. After firing, Steel counted slowly to 15 and then decided that they were seeing a German U-boat.

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He ordered tubes 7 and 8 fired with a three-second interval. Less than a minute later, an explosion was heard.

Triton moved into the area to investigate and heard cries for help. The light from the Aldis lamp revealed three men floundering amid oil and debris.

Lieutenant Guy C. I. St.B. Watkins and Lieutenant Harry A. Stacey entered the water and rescued Lieutenant Commander H.G. Bowerman,Oxley’s commanding officer, as well as Able Seaman Gluckes, a lookout. The third person in the water, Lieutenant F.K. Manley, was seen to be swimming strongly when he suddenly sank from view. Neither Manley’s body nor any other survivors from Oxley were found.

A Board of Enquiry found that Steel had done all he reasonably could in the circumstances. Oxley was out of position, Triton had acted correctly, and the first Allied submarine casualty of World War II was due to “friendly fire.” During the war, the loss of Oxley was attributed to an accidental explosion. After the war, it was explained to have been a collision with Triton. The truth was not revealed until the 1950s

 

Oops! I didn’t mean that to happen.WWII Mistakes-Part 2.

The allied invasion of Kiska

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When a Japanese task force of 500 marines swiftly invaded the U.S. occupied island of Kiska, the Americans decided to take it back with 35,000 men.

On August 15, 1943, an invasion force consisting of 34,426 Allied troops, including elements of the 7th Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Regiment, 87th Mountain Infantry Regiment, 5,300 Canadians (mainly the 13th Canadian Infantry Brigade from the 6th Infantry Division, with supporting units including two artillery units from the 7th Infantry Division), 95 ships (including three battleships and a heavy cruiser), and 168 aircraft landed on Kiska, only to find the island completely abandoned. The Japanese, aware of the loss of Attu and the impending arrival of the larger Allied force, had successfully removed their troops on July 28 under the cover of severe fog, without the Allies noticing. Allied casualties during this invasion nevertheless numbered close to 200, all either from friendly fire, booby traps set out by the Japanese to inflict damage on the invading allied forces, or weather-related disease. As a result of the brief engagement between U.S. and Canadian forces, there were 28 American dead as well as four Canadian dead, with an additional 130 casualties from trench foot alone. The destroyer USS Abner Read hit a mine, resulting in 87 casualties.

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The Brazilian Sailors Who Shot And Sank Their Ship By Mistake.

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With the European theater of World War II drawing to a close, crewmembers of the Bahia—a Brazilian cruiser stationed northeast of Brazil to protect Allied convoys—practiced a live-fire anti-aircraft drill using a kite towed behind the ship as the target. During the course of the exercise, the gunner accidentally hit a row of depth charges on the ship’s stern (the consequence of not placing guard rails to prevent the guns from firing so close to the ship).

Subsequently, the depth charges exploded and sank the ship in just a few minutes, forcing the crewmembers to bail out on lifeboats and endure almost a week out at sea. Of the more than 350 men aboard, only a few dozen survived, with four US Navy personnel among the dead.

The Ship That Almost Torpedoed FDR To Death.

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Perhaps no other ship in the US navy can ever surpass the tragicomic history of the William D. Porter and its crew. Its unenviable resume included wrecking a sister ship with its anchor, friendly-firing another one, and accidentally shooting a live round into a base commander’s front yard. However, all these incidents paled in comparison to the time the William D. Porter almost assassinated the president of the United States.

In 1943, the ship, along with three other destroyers, had been assigned to guard the USS Iowa, which carried FDR and his Secretary of State Cordell Hull en route to the Tehran and Cairo Conference. During the trip, the William D. Porter caused a major scare when one of its depth charges accidentally fell to the water and exploded, causing the rest of the convoy to think U-boats had found them.

After that incident, the crew—in a training exercise—inadvertently launched an armed torpedo right at the USS Iowa. The big ship managed to dodge it just in the nick of time.

Although the William D. Porter did finally serve with distinction during the Philippine and Okinawa campaigns, the ship met a demise as bizarre as its mishaps. On June 10, 1945, a kamikaze plane it shot down dove underwater and exploded, sinking the vessel. Miraculously, all the crew members survived.

Battle of Barking Creek.

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At 6.15am on 6 September 1939, unidentified aircraft were reported approaching from the east at high altitude over West Mersea, on the Essex coast. In response, six Hurricanes were ordered to be scrambled from 56 Squadron, based at North Weald Airfield in Essex. For some unknown reason, the Squadron’s Commanding Officer, Group Captain Lucking, sent up his entire unit. In addition to these, and unbeknown to the rest of the pilots, two Pilot Officers took up a pair of reserve aircraft and followed at a distance, destined to be the targets of the mistaken attack.

Additionally, 151 Squadron’s Hurricanes (also from North Weald), and Spitfires from 54, 65, and 74 Squadrons based at Hornchurch Airfield scrambled. With the war only three days old, none of the Royal Air Force pilots had seen combat, and very few had ever seen a German plane. Communications between planes and command centres were poor. There was no identifying procedure for pilots to distinguish between enemy and friendly aircraft.

With everyone in the air expecting to see enemy aircraft, and no experience of having done so, the conditions readily lent themselves to misunderstanding. ‘A’ Flight of 74 Squadron saw what they believed were enemy planes and their commanding officer, Adolph “Sailor” Malan, allegedly gave a clear and definite order to engage. Two of the three, Flying Officer Vincent ‘Paddy’ Byrne and Pilot Officer John Freeborn, opened fire.

Malan later claimed to have given a last minute call of ‘friendly aircraft – break away!’ but, whether this actually happened or not, the call was not heard by the attacking pilots.[2]

One Hurricane was piloted by Frank Rose, who was shot down but survived. Pilot Officer Montague Hulton-Harrop, however, did not survive. Fired upon by John Freeborn, he was hit in the back of the head; he was dead before his plane crashed at Manor Farm, Hintlesham, Suffolk, approximately five miles west of Ipswich. He was the first British pilot fatality of the war. His Hurricane was also the first plane shot down by a Spitfire. The entire air-raid warning turned out to be false.

Both Byrne and Freeborn were, along with Group Captain Lucking, placed under close arrest immediately after the incident.

Operation Bodenplatte

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The Luftwaffe’s last major air campaign of the war, which took place on New Years Day, 1945, was another friendly fire disaster. Planned to support the two-week old Ardennes Offensive (aka The Battle of the Bugle), the German high command scraped together the last remaining fighters and bombers for one final aerial blitz aimed at reigniting the stalled push into Belgium. The operation called for 900 aircraft to strike at British and American airfields in the region. Unfortunately, the plan was kept so secret that not even Axis units operating in the area were aware that it was taking place. Assuming the planes suddenly overhead were British and American, German anti-aircraft batteries along the front opened fire on the  planes. In all, 300 aircraft were destroyed and more than 200 pilots died. It was the largest loss ever suffered by the Luftwaffe in a single day.

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.