More unusual WWII facts-Part 8

History of Sorts

American fighter pilot William Bruce “Bill” Overstreet Jr. (April 10, 1921 – December 29, 2013) shot down a German Messerschmitt Bf-109G after chasing it through the arches of the Eiffel Tower.

During WWII the United States asked Mexicans to cross the border to work agricultural jobs. Wouldn’t Donald Trump just love this.

A British proposal to have a sniper assassinate Hitler that was vetoed because it was ‘unsportsmanlike‘.

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During WWII, when Sergeant Leonard A. Funk was confronted by 90 German soldiers that had captured his squad, he began to laugh hysterically at the situation. Many of the enemy soldiers began to laugh along with him, until Funk wiped out his machine gun, gunning down 21 and capturing the rest.

T13BeanoGrenadeAmerica designed a grenade the weight and size of a baseball because they believed young American troops should be able to throw them

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Millin was a 21-year-old private in…

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Forgotten History-Europe’s last battle

History of Sorts

I have to confess two things, firstly I am not 100% certain it was the actual last battle in Europe, although I believe it is. Secondly I actually hate the place, I was there once for a weekend and I believe the reputation of the Dutch being a bit tight must come from this place Texel. We stayed in a guest house which really resembled Fawlty Towers.

However this story is a fascinating one and one I wasn’t aware of until recently.

The Georgian Uprising on Texel (5 April 1945 – 20 May 1945) was an insurrection by the 882nd Infantry Battalion Königin Tamara (Queen Tamar or Tamara) of the Georgian Legion of the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) stationed on the German occupied Dutch island of Texel (pronounced Tessel). The battalion was made up of 800 Georgians and 400 Germans, with mainly German officers.

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For five years it…

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Forgotten History-Luise Löwenfels

History of Sorts

This is a WWII story from my hometown of Geleen in the Netherlands about a lady called Luise Löwenfels although she was known as Maria Aloysia Löwenfels AKA Sister Aloysia.

Luise Löwenfels (Trabelsdorf,Germany  5 juli 1915 – Auschwitz-Birkenau, ca. 9 augustus 1942). She was born in a small village called Trabelsdorf in Germany in a Jewish family.

Even though she was Jewish she attended a Roman Catholic school. When she was 10 her father passed away, in that time she did get consolation from her Catholic friends at school.

She was drawn to the Roman Catholic faith and often visited Catholic churches and would attend mass on a regular base, this to the dismay of her family.She would often be punished by her Mother and Brothers for this. Later when she still didn’t conduct herself in the manner her family expected her to she was disowned by them.

She sought refuge…

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Baseball and the WWII Battlefield

History of Sorts

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In January 1942, Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1866-1944), the national commissioner of baseball, wrote a letter to President Roosevelt in which he asked if professional baseball should shut down for the duration of the war.

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In what came to be known as the “green light” letter, Roosevelt responded that professional baseball should continue operations, as it was good for the country’s collective morale and would serve as a needed diversion.

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During the war, 95 percent of all professional baseball players who donned major league uniforms during the 1941 season were directly involved in the conflict. Future Hall of Famers Bob Feller (1918-), Hank Greenberg (1911-86), Joe DiMaggio (1914-99)

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and Ted Williams (1918-2002) exchanged their baseball jerseys for military fatigues. Feller, in fact, enlisted in the U.S. Navy one day after Pearl Harbor. Because baseball was depleted of so many able bodies, athletes who otherwise likely never would have made the big…

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A treasure with so little worth but yet so much value.

History of Sorts

kist-mainThese were once the toys, clothing and medicine of Hugo Steenmeijer, the child of a ddDutch father and an Indonesian mother.

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When Japan occupied the Dutch East Indies in 1942, his father was sent to work as a forced labourer on the Burma Railway. The Japanese imprisoned Europeans in internment camps. The 150,000 people native to the country, but with ties to the Dutch like Hugo’s mother, were left to their fate.

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As so-called buitenkampers (those outside the camps) they were extremely vulnerable. Because of their loyalty to the Dutch the Japanese often made their lives miserable and they also felt threatened by groups of native rebels set on Independence. Hugo’s mother struggled to survive in the city of Surabaya with her young son. After the war his father returned. But given Hugo was so frail, he died in 1947.

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Along with their two younger children, the couple left for…

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Vere St.Ledger Goold -Irish Wimbledon finalist and murderer.

History of Sorts

Since the tennis season is at full swing at the moment I thought it only appropriate to have a story about a Wimbledon semi finalist.

Vere Thomas “St. Leger” Goold (2 October 1853– 8 September 1909) was an Irish tennis player. He quickly faded from the game and ended his life in prison convicted of murder and premature death, by suicide.

He  shares two distinctive titles: He was the first Irishman to make it to the semi finals of Wimbledon. He is also the only Wimbledon finalist ever to be convicted of murder.

Goold was the fifth son of a magistrate in Co Waterford, his grandfather was a baronet and his grandmother was a daughter of the Earl of Kenmare. He became interested in lawn tennis and quickly ascended the ranks of the Irish Tennis League, winning the Irish Open in 1879 at the age of 25. The first prize…

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Battle for Castle Itter

History of Sorts

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The Battle for Castle Itter is the only battle during WWII where the allies fought alongside the Wehrmacht.In early May 1945, American and German soldiers fought together against the Nazi SS to free prominent French prisoners of war..

The Battle for Castle Itter in the Austrian North Tyrol village of Itter was fought on 5 May 1945, in the last days of the European Theater of World War II.

Troops of the 23rd Tank Battalion of the 12th Armored Division of the US XXI Corps led by Captain John C. “Jack” Lee, Jr.

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, a number of Wehrmacht soldiers, and recently freed French VIPs defended Castle Itter against an attacking force from the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division until relief from the American 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division of XXI Corps arrived.

The French prisoners included former prime ministers, generals and a tennis star. It may have been the only…

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Eddie Leonski- US Soldier and Serial Killer

History of Sorts

War time is a great opportunity for evil men to act upon their instincts and get away with it. Fortunately they don’t always succeed. When I was doing research on Paul Ogozow, the S-Bahn murderer, I discovered there was a whole list of serial killers that operated during WWII and even in WWI.

Eddie Leonski, a US soldier who was stationed in Melbourne,Australia was one of them.

Private Edward Joseph Leonski of the United States Army, a heavy drinker, raped and strangled to death with his own hands three women in Melbourne: about 3 May 1942, he killed 40-year-old Mrs. Ivy Violet McLeod, about 9 May 31-year-old Mrs. Pauline Thompson, and on about 18 May 41-year-old Miss Gladys Lilian Hosking. He was arrested on 22 May, was tried by an American Court Martial and sentenced to death for triple murder on 17 July 1942. It was the first and only…

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Battle of Little Bighorn

History of Sorts

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On this day in 1876, Native American forces led by Chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull defeat the U.S. Army troops of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer in a bloody battle near southern Montana’s Little Bighorn River.

Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, leaders of the Sioux tribe on the Great Plains, strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the U.S. government to confine their people to reservations. In 1875, after gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region. This betrayal led many Sioux and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. By the late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River–which they called the Greasy Grass–in defiance of a U.S. War Department order to return to their reservations or risk being…

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The Lizzy Borden trial

History of Sorts

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Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks,
When she saw what she had done,
She gave her father forty-one.

Actually, the Bordens received only 29 whacks, not the 81 suggested by the famous ditty, but the popularity of the above poem is a testament to the public’s fascination with the 1893 murder trial of Lizzie Borden. The source of that fascination might lie in the almost unimaginably brutal nature of the crime–given the sex, background, and age of the defendant–or in the jury’s acquittal of Lizzie in the face of prosecution evidence that most historians today find compelling.

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The case was a cause célèbre throughout the United States. Following her release from prison, where she was held during the trial, Borden chose to remain a resident of Fall River, Massachusetts, despite facing ostracism. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts elected not to charge anyone else with the murder…

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