Saturday, December 20, 2014

⚓️Navy admits error, honors World War II captain's bravery in sinking of U-boat - WWII⚓️



Navy admits error, honors World War II captain's bravery in sinking of U-boat


Adm. Jonathan Greenert speaks with Herbert Gordon Claudius Jr. about his challenge coin history on Dec. 16, 2014. Claudius accepted the Legion of Merit award on behalf of his father at a ceremony. The actions of Lt. Cmdr. Claudius as commanding officer of PC-566 resulted in the sinking of enemy submarine U-166
WASHINGTON — The Navy has posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit with a Combat ‘V” device to Herbert G. Claudius, 42 years after it dismissed his claims that he and his crew sunk a German U-boat off the coast of Louisiana during World War II.
His son, Herbert Gordon Claudius, Jr., accepted the award from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert during a Tuesday ceremony at the Pentagon.
The elder Claudius has finally been recognized for his actions on July 30, 1942, when he led the patrol ship USS PC-566 into battle against a German submarine that had been attacking American vessels.
At the time, U-Boats were wreaking havoc on Allied shipping. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called them “the only thing that ever really frightened me during the war.”
Minutes after the passenger ship SS Robert E. Lee was torpedoed and sunk by U-166 45 miles south of the Mississippi River Delta, Claudius’ crew spotted a periscope in the area. After Claudius ordered depth charges fired, the crew saw an oil slick in the area where the weapons were dropped, according to historical accounts of the incident. This was strong evidence that the submarine had been severely damaged or destroyed.
But when Claudius submitted his after-action report, the Navy doubted his account because he and his crew had not yet received anti-submarine training, according to National Geographic, which is making a documentary about the affair.
The Navy’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Assessment Committee even admonished the crew for a poorly executed attack, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Claudius was removed from command and sent to anti-submarine warfare school.
“Claudius was shafted,” U-boat expert Richie Kohler said, according to National Geographic. “He should have returned home a hero, but he was humiliated and sent back to school.”
But the Navy has since come around. Nearly 60 years after the fact, an oil company discovered U-boat wreckage very close to where the battle occurred. Last summer, oceanographer Robert Ballard explored the site with remotely piloted vehicles and conducted high-resolution mapping to try to figure out what happened. The evidence suggested that U-166 had in fact been destroyed by a depth charge.
After concluding its own historic and archeological assessment, the Naval History and Heritage Command recommended the service credit PC-556 and Claudius for sinking the U-boat and give them the appropriate recognition.
Mabus acknowledged that the Navy made a mistake.
“Seventy years later, we now know that [Claudius’s] report after the action was absolutely correct,” Mabus said at the award ceremony, according to National Geographic. “[Claudius’ ship] did sink that U-boat, and it’s never too late to set the record straight.”
Mabus also praised the captain’s bravery, noting that Claudius and his crew were operating in “very dangerous waters.”
Greenert went on social media to pay tribute.
“Claudius was essential in sighting and sinking [U-166],” Greenert wrote on his Facebook page. “Claudius’ actions reflected great credit upon himself, and it was a true pleasure to be able to share the presentation with his family.”
Claudius served 33 years in the Navy and died in 1981.
“He would have felt vindicated,” Gordon Claudius said, according to National Geographic.

AP PHOTOS: 4 seasons in 1 war on WWI battlefields

AP PHOTOS: 4 seasons in 1 war on WWI battlefields

By VIRGINIA MAYO
Associated Press
  • This photo taken on Thursday, May 8, 2014 shows the remains of the World War I German Lange Max gun in Koekelare, Belgium. The gun was originally designed to be a naval gun, but was later adapted as a railroad gun which was capable of long range. A century on, the four seasons bring constant changes to the scarred landscapes and ruins of the World War I battlefields in Belgium and northern France, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface.

BOEZINGE, Belgium A century on, the four seasons bring constant changes to the scarred landscapes and ruins of the World War I battlefields in Belgium and northern France.
Spring has its red poppies; summer its sun-kissed green foliage; fall stuns with vibrant colors; and winter brings the bleakness of rain and mud.
Soldiers of the 1914-1918 Great War had precious little time to appreciate the color. Instead they endured the mud as relentless shelling destroyed woods and villages and created desolate treeless landscapes, while many cities were reduced to heaps of rubble.
One hundred years and the force of nature have slowly changed these haunted places, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface. Some bunkers have turned into stables; shell craters became drinking ponds for cattle. Many trenches and tunnels remained largely untouched on what was known as the Western Front, a battle line stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border.
Each season offers a different view to the relic hunter. A road that seems to yield nothing in summer due to heavy foliage unveils a trove of treasures in the desolate winter. The Ziegler Bunker in Boezinge, Belgium, is likely one of the best preserved on the Ypres Salient, and the line of bunkers on Aubers Ridge in France give the viewer an idea of how important high ground was in World War I.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/12/19/5394818/ap-photos-4-seasons-in-1-war-on.html#.VJUVE4AN8#storylink=cpy

100 winters, 100 springs: Nature slowly reclaims WWI battlefields andrelics - WWI



BOEZINGE, Belgium — A century on, the four seasons bring constant changes to the scarred landscapes and ruins of the World War I battlefields in Belgium and northern France.
Spring has its red poppies; summer its sun-kissed green foliage; fall stuns with vibrant colors; and winter brings the bleakness of rain and mud.
Soldiers of the 1914-1918 Great War had precious little time to appreciate the color. Instead they endured the mud as relentless shelling destroyed woods and villages and created desolate treeless landscapes, while many cities were reduced to heaps of rubble.
One hundred years and the force of nature have slowly changed these haunted places, yet many of the relics still exist, both above and below the surface. Some bunkers have turned into stables; shell craters became drinking ponds for cattle. Many trenches and tunnels remained largely untouched on what was known as the Western Front, a battle line stretching from Belgium to the Swiss border.
Each season offers a different view to the relic hunter. A road that seems to yield nothing in summer due to heavy foliage unveils a trove of treasures in the desolate winter. The Ziegler Bunker in Boezinge, Belgium, is likely one of the best preserved on the Ypres Salient, and the line of bunkers on Aubers Ridge in France give the viewer an idea of how important high ground was in World War I.

Friday, December 19, 2014

The German Jet Me-262 in 1944: A Failed Opportunity – Part II

Me 262 A, circa 1944/45. The Luftwaffe produce...
Me 262 A, circa 1944/45. The Luftwaffe produced advanced fighter aircraft in an effort to turn the tide of the air war in 1944 and 1945 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The German Jet Me-262 in 1944: A Failed Opportunity – Part II

by  on December 18, 2014


Today’s post was written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives in College Park
Part 1 of this series can be found here.
During August and September Galland lobbied unsuccessfully against the plane being used as a bomber. During September, 72 were produced as bombers and only 19 as fighters. Galland was, however, able to organize a small fighter test group with a few Me-262s. In  September an American daylight raid on the Messerschmitt works at Augsburg and the neighboring airfield of Lechfeld, resulted in the I/KG 51—which was being refitted with Me-262s—and Galland’s test group being subject to the attack. Six Me-262 fighters were all that they could send up to meet the attackers. They were unable to prevent the 60 Me-262s, which were to be used as “Blitz bombers,” from being destroyed on the ground.
At the beginning of October, apparently on orders from Hitler, Major Walter Nowotny, one of Germany’s most successful fighter pilots on the eastern front, and his Me-262 fighter unit—now a Gruppe—were posted to the airfields of Achmer and Hesepe, near Osnabrück, athwart the main American bomber approach route. Nowotny, who had replaced Thierfelder after his death, soon recognized that much training would be necessary before he could expect to lead his team with any prospect of success. Luftwaffe Command, however, demanded operations forthwith. The daily sorties they could put up against the enemy formations and their fighter escort numbered a mere three or four. Yet, in the course of a month, these few jets knocked out between 22 and 50 aircraft. By the end of October, they themselves had been reduced from 30 to three serviceable planes—less as a result of enemy action, nearly all owing to technical problems and pilot errors.
During October, 65 Me-262s were produced as bombers and because of the growing necessity to have more fighters attacking the ever increasing Allied bomber formations, 52 were produced as fighters.It was this necessity that prompted, in October, aircraft production concentrating almost solely on fighters, with seven new types coming into production (Me-262, Ar-234, Ta-154, Me-163, Do-335, Ju- 388, and He-162).
Also, because of their relative success, Hitler was convinced that the Me-262 was really an excellent fighter plane, and in November he permitted the formation of the first jet-fighter wing.
On November 8, five Me-262s of Nowotny’s unit took off from their bases near Osnabrück to battle the American bombers, which day after day had been subjecting the jet airfield to fight-bomber attacks. So much so that the Me-262s had only been able to take off and land under the protection of a whole Gruppe of Fw-190s and concentrated flak. Nowotny shot one American plane and then reported one engine failing, and shortly thereafter he was attack by a flock of P-51s, and either was shot down or crashed. In either case he died.
Around the middle of November there was to be a two-day discussion under the chairmanship of Goering at Gatow airfield in the western outskirts of Berlin. All highly decorated unit commanders, including the heads of bomber, fighter, and reconnaissance commands, were to be present. Goering told them he wanted their help to give the Luftwaffe back its reputation. He said:
“The German people expects that because we have failed – failed disgracefully. This is the Luftwaffe’s darkest hour. The nation cannot understand why it is that the Allied bombers can come waltzing over the Reich as they did on the very day of our party congress and the fighters do not take off – because of fog, or because they are not ready, or because they are indisposed….”
He forbade any repetition of “fruitless wrangling” regarding the question of whether the Me-262 should be used as a fighter or as a bomber since his decision to give the plane to his vastly more experienced bomber pilots was already of long standing.
Goering said they were on the threshold of the battle that will win us the war [undoubtedly a reference to the Ardennes counteroffensive]. Then saying that commitments prevented him from leading the discussion, he was having the General of Bomber Pilots take his place. And as he was leaving he said he would like to break the news that the General of Fighter Pilots had been promoted to the rank of Generalleutnant. “My dead Galland, I share your delight.” Then he left.
The heads of the fighter, reconnaissance, and bomber commands reported in a few words on the situation in their respective departments. They were largely devoted to the weaknesses, the stoppages, the things that were no longer functioning. The night fighters were doing more than their sting, but they were short of aircraft and their organization was in a bad way. According to Steinhoff, the daytime fighter defenses against the mass attacks of the four-engine bombers was so hopeless a prospect as to be hardly worth taking about. “The ban on discussion of the Me-262,” according to Steinhoff, “made things even more futile.”
Next the General of Bomber Pilots talked about the notion of mass bombing England. “We knew, every one of us, that nothing could be done that would make any difference, nothing that might have diverted the ineluctable course of events.”Even if a tentative effort had been made to build a proper aircraft—a long-range four-engine strategic bomber—it would have been too late. As for the fighters capable of escorting a German bomber formation to the island and back, they simply did not exist. “The Jagdwaffe [the Luftwaffe Fighter Force] was not even capable of providing effective air defense over the Reich.” Still, according to Steinhoff, they talked of a bomber offensive against England, as if there was really a commander somewhere who had the air power to strike blows and who was just waiting for the order to let loose.
The fighter pilots, a tiny minority among the participants, followed the discussion in a mood of “baffled amazement.” Then they were told that there would be a fresh discussion on political commitment, faith in the Fuhrer and victory. A so-called National-Socialist Guidance Officerattached to bomber command gave a political pep talk. During the discussion Galland sent Steinhoff a note that read “Under pressure from the Fuhrer the Reichsmarschall has given permission for the first jet-fighter group to be set up. Do you want to command it?” Steinhoff sent the note back with two words “Many thanks!”
Steinhoff rushed back to his Fighter Group to hand over the unit to his successor. The ground and operations staff of the new group, Fighter Group 7, were already in Brandenburg, waiting for him. The ground staff were from a bomber group that had been disbanded; the pilots came from flying schools or from other fighter or bomber units. The three wings of Fighter Group 7 were based at Brandenburg, Parchim, and Kaltenkirchen, just north of Hamburg. The group subsequently came to include the experimental fighter unit that had been commanded by the late Nowotny – the man, Steinhoff believed, who had done so much to prove that the Me-262 was a first-class fighter aircraft.
The first machines began to arrive. They came in sections on long railway trucks from the south of the Reich. The mechanics, assisted by a team from the Messerschmitt works, started assembling them. The wing commanders who took the young pilots in hand and trained them were all successful fighter pilots with front experience but even they did not really have enough experienceagainst four-engine bombers. Only Nowotny’s old experimental unit—now the third wing of the group—had been in numerous aerial engagements to work out combat tactics for jet fighters.By the end of November they were in the air, training in flights of three and in small formations. It took six weeks before Steinhoff felt that a unit was taking shape; that is, before they were able to start proper formation training, and he could report that, within limits, they were ready for action.
Colonel Günther Lützow, at that time commander of the 4th Air Division, came to see how they were getting on. He was, according to Steinhoff, impressed by the technical breakthrough represented by the 7 Fighter Group having gotten the Me-262 ready for combat duty, and said they were on the threshold of a new era in the battle against the four-engine bombers. Lützow said that Galland had not seen Goering for weeks. His attempts to have the Jagdwaffe made the sole focus of their air-armament effort had evoked no reaction. The intrigues about his person appeared finally to have undermined Goering’s and Hitler’s confidence in his continued fitness for the post of General of Fighter Pilots, and it looked as if his dismissal was only a matter of time.
Towards the end of November Steinhoff received a message asking him to meet Galland the next day in Parchim, where one of the wings of 7 Fighter Group was organizing. When they met, Galland, after listening to Steinhoff’s report on the unit, abruptly vented his ill humor by accusing Steinhoff of not getting the unit on its feet fast enough and not acting rigorously enough, and told Steinhoff to get his group flight fitted out first and show what the aircraft could do in action. Steinhoff said he would. Galland calmed down and said, forget it. Then he complained about Goering. And before leaving he told Steinhoff to be careful of criticizing his superiors, because he was on the black list and that if it was any consolation, Galland went on, that he was on the list was well.
Meanwhile, it was only at the beginning of November that Speer and Saur succeeded in persuading Hitler to allow the Me-262 to be produced and used as a fighter.During November, 101 Me-262s were built as fighters and during December the number increased to either 124 or 125. During those two months none were produced as bombers.
But of the Me-262s produced as fighter during the last quarter of 1944, the number that actually went into combat was small – probably only 40 actually saw combat. Even those that were flown were relatively ineffective because of poorly trained pilots. The others were non-operational for lack of proper maintenance and failure to provide an adequate pilot training program. Because the fuel quota for the Luftwaffe was cut back drastically, Steinhoff hardly had enough fuel even to allow the minimum number of flying hours needed to train halfway competent pilots. Many of the aircraft were lost through forced landings or damaged during landings, as some rolled off runways because of brake problems. Others were taken out of operation awaiting replacement engines.
The Allies were meanwhile still flying day and night in December. Galland’s Fighter Reserve had by now reached respectable proportions and he intended to decimate a major formation of four-engine bombers by a properly coordinated attack using prop fighters in conjunction with their jets. A difficulty facing him, however, was the Me-262’s limited range and flying time. On the other hand its climbing capacity meant that it could take off very late and, the bombers flying relatively slowly, could contact the enemy with great precision.
Steinhoff reckoned to fly their first big operation in early January, since the winter high that usually sets in around that time promised the ideal kind of weather for their plan. To enable Galland to make the best possible use of his fighter power while the bomber formation in the Reich’s air space, he decided to move Steinhoff group to the west of the country. The idea was that the jets should have first go at the enemy in order to scatter the fighter escort and shake up the bomber formation, thus making thing easier for the prop fighter groups of the Fighter Reserve, which would attack further east. With the object of finding two or three airfields suitable for jet fighters, Steinhoff drove west a few days before Christmas to have a look at fields around Soest, north of the Ruhr district, and on the Lower Rhine.
Just as Steinhoff finished his tour, around Christmas, he was informed that a new commander had been appointed in his place, and that further duties would be determined in due course. Steinhoff, knowing it probably would not do much good because Galland himself was on the way out, went to see Galland about his situation. After listening to Steinhoff said “You know yourself I can’t do anything for you. No one up there listens to me any more anyway.”  Galland ended the conversation by stating “’We lost this war long ago,’ he said somberly.”
In all, before the end of the war a grand total of 1,308 Me-262s were said to have been built, although thanks to Hitler’s order that this type should be used as a fighter-bomber, only a small percentage of them became operational owing to the delays caused by the execution of the necessary modifications.And Hitler’s insistence upon the use of the Me-262 as a bomber delayed its production and operational use as a fighter by six months, thereby depriving Germany’s air defense of a new and effective weapon.

A Detailed, Majestic Diagram of Two British Ships of War, Froman18th-Century Encyclopedia

Ephraim Chambers "Cyclopaedia" (1728)
Ephraim Chambers "Cyclopaedia" (1728) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This illustration, used to demonstrate the rigging and interior setup of first- and third-rate British ships of war, appeared in Ephraim Chambers’ Cyclopedia, published in 1728. The book was one of the first English-language encyclopedias, and inspiredDenis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert's more famous project, published in France in the middle of the century.
The curators of the Royal Museums Greenwich point out that ships such as these evolved during a time of fairly constant naval conflict, between the First Anglo-Dutch War in 1652 and Napoleon’s defeat in 1815. In the 17th century, the Royal Navy standardized its ships, creating a system called the Establishment of Dimensions. A third-rate ship, such as the one whose rigging the top diagram here outlines, carried between 64 and 80 guns. A first-rate, such as the one cross-sectioned in the bottom diagram, carried between 100 and 120 guns. Both sizes of ship would have been big enough to participate in naval battles, in which ships lined up and fired at one another; such vessels were called “ships of the line.” 
Chambers told his readers that the diagrams would give them “an Idea of the Several Parts and Members of a Ship, both Internal and External, with their respective Denominations in the Sea Language.” For readers without naval experience, the drawings—which depicted the vessel stripped bare and with all parts perfectly assembled, its human hands absent—represented the ship as a complicated and amazing machine.  
Click on the image to reach a zoomable version, or visit the diagram's page in the University of Wisconsin's Digital Collections, which hosts a full version of Chambers' Cyclopedia. 




From Ephraim Chambers, Cyclopædia, or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences : containing the definitions of the terms, and accounts of the things signify'd thereby, in the several arts, both liberal and mechanical, and the several sciences, human and divine : the figures, kinds, properties, productions, preparations, and uses, of things natural and artificial : the rise, progress, and state of things ecclesiastical, civil, military, and commercial : with the several systems, sects, opinions, &c : among philosophers, divines, mathematicians, physicians, antiquaries, criticks, &c : the whole intended as a course of antient and modern learning (1728).
University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.

The Cure For Syphilis Was Developed As Part Of The US Effort ToWinWorld War II

I
Syphilis Organism Electron Microscope 1944APThe organism treponema palladium, which causes syphilis, is seen through an electron microscope, May 23, 1944.
World War II is the deadliest conflict in history.
But the human race still emerged from the war with a few potential advances in hand, among them a cure for syphilis.
The bacteria responsible for the disease was discovered in 1905, and its eventual cure, penicillin, in the late '20s.
But it wasn't until 1943, in the midst of World War II, that doctors at a US Marine Hospital on Staten Island in New York applied the antibiotic to effectively cure four patients suffering from the early stages of the disease.
That October, TIME ran an article about the experiments with the headline "New Magic Bullet," and the next year the doctors published a study on the effectiveness of penicillin injections administered every few hours for eight days.
The development was especially important given the measurable impact that syphilis and other diseases had on the manpower needed to fuel the war effort.
Nearly five percent of draftees in 1942 had syphilis, according to a medical paper published in the journal Military Medicine and entitled "History of US Military Contributions to the Study of Sexually Transmitted Diseases."
When left untreated, the disease causes genital sores before attacking other parts of the body, including the nervous system, to cause a slew of debilitating symptoms and even eventual death. The military's syphilis problem during a major US combat mobilization prompted the War Department "to embark on a massive educational and prophylactic campaign."
Contemporary posters warned that "You can't beat the Axis if you get VD," and that venereal disease makes "a sorry ending to a furlough."
Manpower suffered during World War I from exactly this problem. American soldiers weren't supplied with condoms (something which would change in the next world war), and sexually transmitted diseases as a whole "were the second most common reason for disability and absence from duty, being responsible for nearly 7 million lost person-days and the discharge of more than 10,000 men," according to an article in the Journal of Military and Veterans' Health.
Shortly before that war, syphilis — which first got its name in an Italian poem from the year 1530 — was treated with a medical form of an arsenic compound. Its creator, a German chemist named Paul Ehrlich, won the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his discovery and the drug's effectiveness in the Great War was noted by a medical officer in the United Kingdom's Royal Army Medical Corps.
Still, arsenic was a toxic substance that produced adverse side effects — and it was sometimes used in combination with mercury, which is also poisonous. Penicillin was much easier for the human body to take and the discovery of its effectiveness against syphilis had positive effects that outlasted the second World War.
Woman Poster World War II syphilis gonorrheacommons.wikimedia.orgA poster from 1940 urging caution on the gentleman soldier.
The disease was "the fourth leading cause of death in the United States before World War II, behind only tuberculosis, pneumonia, and cancer," according to the article in the Journal of Military and Veterans' Health. 
In 1939, 64,000 Americans died from the disease, almost as many as died from diabetes in a recent year. Today, the rate of annual infection is round 13,000 cases for which a cure is available.
The disease has also faded in the American military. In the early years of the Vietnam War, for instance, syphilis represented only one percent of servicemen's cases of sexual infections (though the total rate of these, mostly due to gonorrhea, was actually greater than during World War II).
In 1999, prevalence in the US military was down to 3 cases per 100,000 individuals, close to the civilian rate of 2.5.
The urgency of the US war effort 70 years ago, alongside decades of advances in publish health, reduced the sting of a once-devastating disease in the military and in American society more generally.


Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/the-cure-to-syphilis-was-discovered-as-part-of-the-us-effort-to-win-world-war-ii-2014-12#ixzz3MK7G6c2m

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