World War II

Photo of the Day

Donald Stratton was stationed on the USS Arizona when a million pounds of explosives detonated beneath his battle station fifteen minutes into the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Donald Stratton was stationed on the USS Arizona when a million pounds of explosives detonated beneath his battle station fifteen minutes into the attack on Pearl Harbour.

“Remember Pearl Harbour”

“Arizona, I remember you”

Donald Stratton could never shake the memory of it all – the deafening explosions, searing heat, machine gun blasts and heart-wrenching screams of his friends – from his head.

“Never a day goes by for all these many years when I haven’t thought about it,” Stratton said. “I don’t talk about it too much, but when December rolls around I do. It’s important the American people don’t forget.”

Donald Stratton, 93, served four years in the United States Navy and was on board the USS Arizona December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. The adventure of being at sea had been a lifelong dream for Stratton, so when he turned 18, he enlisted in the Navy. One year later he was assigned for duty on the USS Arizona. The hulk of the ship still rests in Pearl Harbor as a memorial to the nearly 2,500 Americans killed that day.

That any sailors survived the attack on the Arizona is a miracle, Stratton says.

“A million pounds of ammunition exploded,” he said. “The fireball went 600 or 800 feet in the air and just engulfed us.”

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YEARS AGO—Marthe Cohn as a young woman in the 1940s. Photo: Marthe Cohn

YEARS AGO—: Marthe Cohn as a young woman in the 1940s. Photo: Marthe Cohn

Marthe Misses Nothing

The Lady was a Spy

 During World War II, Marthe Hoffnung was a French espionage agent in Nazi Germany, posing as Martha Ulrich, a 25-year-old ‘Fräulein’ whose cover story was that she needed to find her fiancé at the German front

  “You should never accept to be kept under the boot of anybody; you have to fight back.”

Marthe Cohn

Marthe Cohn (nee Hoffnung), was crouching in a forest, dressed in a skirt and jacket, with white socks covering her silk stockings. She took a deep breath and grabbed her suitcase, taking leave of Georges Lemaire, the Swiss intelligence officer who had accompanied her to this spot on the Swiss-German border. Marthe began crawling through the underbrush toward the stretch of road patrolled by two German sentries. She waited until they met midway and reversed direction, so their backs were to her.

This was her cue. She was to pose as Martha Ulrich, a German nurse searching for her fiancé, but she was suddenly paralyzed by fear, overcome by the enormity of her mission, so she just lay there for more than two hours. Then she thought about a captain named Mollat, the French officer who had overseen her previous 14 missions to infiltrate enemy territory, all unsuccessful, and who had doubted her abilities.

She rose, pulling herself up to her full 4-foot-11 height, and walked to the road. “Heil Hitler,” she greeted the sentry coming toward her, presenting her papers. “Go on your way,” he said.

It was April 11, 1945, two days before Marthe’s 25th birthday.

Marthe Cohn was an unlikely World War II spy. At just 4 feet, 11 inches, Cohn was petite with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was also Jewish. Never hesitant to resist an unjust cause, especially during the Nazi reign in World War II, she courageously risked everything and contributed to the Allies’ victory.

With her fair features and flawless German language skills, however, she was able to convince Nazi officers she posed no threat.

“I was now in Germany,” she said.

Cohn had no compass, map, radio or weapons, only clothes without labels and German money and vouchers.

“Everything I needed to know was in my memory,” she said with a smile. “I have a pretty good memory.”

Now 96 years old, Cohn said she feels compelled to travel around the country to share her story with others. “It’s important that people know that Jews fought,” she said. “We were not just waiting to be arrested.”

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Photo of the Day

Pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas "Cotton?" Jones, including a portrait of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis, at right. Before Jones died, he wrote what he called his "last life request" to anyone who might find his diary: "Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved."CREDIT: AP/National WWII Museum

Pages from the diary by 22-year-old Marine Cpl. Thomas “Cotton” Jones, including a portrait of his high school sweetheart, Laura Mae Davis, at right. Before Jones died, he wrote what he called his “last life request” to anyone who might find his diary: “Please give it to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved.”CREDIT: AP/National WWII Museum

Woman Finds Diary of Man She Loved In World War II Museum

Corporal Thomas ‘Cotton’ Jones had one ‘last life request’ before he was killed by a Japanese sniper on a South Pacific island in 1944: Please give my diary to Laura Mae Davis, the girl I love…

During 1944, the scale of the fighting in the Pacific – and the length of the casualty lists – grew markedly.

One of the costliest amphibious operations that year was the invasion of Peleliu, a small, but heavily-defended island in the southwestern Pacific. Nearly 10,000 Army troops and Marines were killed or wounded in the battle for Peleliu. Among the dead was Corporal Thomas Paul “Cotton” Jones.

Jones served with the 1st Marine Division. On September 15, 1944, American forces assaulted Peleliu. Jones’ unit came ashore on September 17. As he approached the beach carrying his machine gun, Thomas Jones was shot in the head and killed.

Corporal Thomas “Cotton” Jones served as a marine for the United States military during World War II. Before he was killed by a Japanese sniper in the Central Pacific, he wrote a “last request” to whoever found his diary. He wanted it to be given to Laura Mae Davis, the girl he loved.

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Photo of the Day

The 47 suitcases seized by police in a private residence at Villeneuve at the Seine Assize Court during the trial of French mass murderer Dr Marcel Petiot. The cases contain clothes which were identified by relatives of some of his victims. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The 47 suitcases seized by police in a private residence at Villeneuve at the Seine Assize Court during the trial of French mass murderer Dr Marcel Petiot. The cases contain clothes which were identified by relatives of some of his victims. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Dangerous Lunatic

The Monster of Rue Le Sueur

Meet the French doctor who promised Jews safe passage from Nazis, only to rob and murder them

To all who knew him, he was the most devoted, benevolent doctor in Nazi-occupied Paris. Dr Marcel Petiot provided free care for the poor and risked his life helping persecuted Jews flee to safety.
Or so everyone thought – until locals in his affluent neighbourhood reported a foul stench from his home and thick black smoke pouring out of his chimney in March 1944.

Nazi-occupied Paris was a terrible place to be in the waning days of World War Two, with Jews, Resistance fighters and ordinary citizens all hoping to escape. Disappearances became so common they often weren’t followed up.

And one man used the lawlessness for his own terrible purposes, killing perhaps as many as 60 people.

Petiot’s criminal career stretched from his teenage years to his mid-life, and ran parallel to a successful military, political, and medical career. He was a real life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The inherent grisliness of murder makes it hard — if not impossible — to describe any murderer as “better” or “worse” than another. Still, Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot was truly superlative in his horror, mainly because of the circumstances and motivations behind his acts: He promised safety and freedom to those leaving Nazi-occupied France, only to strip them of their possessions and lives.

Despite his infamy in France, many elsewhere have never heard his story. As with many serial killers, internal struggle marked much of Pétiot’s early life.

Born on January 17th, 1897, he was the son of a civil servant, and his uncle, Gaston Petiot, was a professor of philosophy at the College of Auxerre. From childhood he showed signs of violence, after he strangled a cat after plunging its legs in boiling water.

However, he showed great intelligence, at 5 years old he was reading like a 10-year-old child. He then was found distributing obscene images when he was eight. Interned at St. Anne for a psychiatric disorder, his mother died when he was 12, he was then subsequently sent to several schools for discipline, but exhibited severe behavioural problems in school and was expelled several times before completing his education.

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Photo of the Day

On April 19, 1919, Leslie Irvin, made the world’s first free fall parachute descent using a rip cord, rather than using a canister or tether line attached to the aircraft to pull open the parachute.

On April 19, 1919, Leslie Irvin, made the world’s first free fall parachute descent using a rip cord, rather than using a canister or tether line attached to the aircraft to pull open the parachute.

The Caterpillar Club

“Life depends on a silken thread”

” It remains a club without a charter, without membership fees, without meetings. Yet it is the most exclusive in aviation, for there is only one way to join. It is a way that appeals to few…….! “

The Caterpillar Club is an informal association of people who have successfully used a parachute to bail out of a disabled aircraft. After authentication by the parachute maker, applicants receive a membership certificate and a distinctive lapel pin. The nationality of the person saving their life by parachute and ownership of the aircraft are not factors in determining qualification for membership; anybody who has saved their life by using a parachute after bailing out of a disabled aircraft is eligible. The requirement that the aircraft is disabled naturally excludes parachuting enthusiasts in the normal course of a recreational jump, or those involved in military training jumps.

In 1922, Leslie Leroy Irvin founded the Caterpillar Club. Membership is only open to those whose life has been saved by an Irvin designed or manufactured parachute. The Caterpillar name was chosen for the pure silk from which parachutes (at that time) were made, and also because a caterpillar lowers itself to earth by the silken thread it spins. The Club slogan is “Life depends on a silken thread.” After acceptance into the Caterpillar Club, members receive a certificate of membership, and a Caterpillar pin with the member’s name and rank.

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Dennis and Joan Wheatley 1930's.

Dennis and Joan Wheatley 1930’s.

Dennis Wheatley : Churchill’s Storyteller

Few people are aware that Dennis Wheatley spent the Second World War as a member of Winston Churchill’s Joint Planning Staff, dedicating his talents to the formation of ideas and plausible scenarios to assist the war effort.

Before Ian Fleming there was Dennis Wheatley. A best-selling spy novelist at the outset of World War II, Wheatley became a master of deception for Great Britain, turning pulp fiction fantasies into real-life espionage. This is the amazing true story of one man who applied the plots of his own novels to the battlefield—and changed the course of history.

Dennis Wheatley was born in London in January 1897, the son and grandson of Mayfair wine merchants. From 1908 – 1912 he was a cadet on HMS Worcester, then spent a year in Germany learning about wine making.  In September 1914, at the age of seventeen, he received his commission and later fought at Cambrai, St. Quentin and Passchendaele.

Gassed, he was subsequently invalided from the army and entered the family wine business, and following the death of his father in 1926, became its sole owner. During this period he began to write short stories, a number of which were later published or expanded into full-length novels.  Following the failure of his first marriage, in 1931 he married Joan Younger.

Wheatley’s business was badly affected by the slump of the early thirties and by 1932 he was forced to sell up and came close to bankruptcy.  As a diversion from his financial worries and with the encouragement of his wife, Wheatley set about writing a full-length murder mystery that he called ‘Three Inquisitive People’. His agent’s reader considered the book to be weak, commenting:

“This story shows considerable promise but does not conform to the accepted formula for murder stories. We do not see enough of the murderer, and the construction is poor in that the heroine is not brought in early enough and plays no essential part, and that after the point at which the book should normally be concluded there is a long epilogue tacked on which is unduly loaded with bathos.”

However, this book introduced the characters of the Duc de Richleau and his friends who were to become Wheatley’s most popular inventions.  Whilst ‘Three Inquisitive People’ was in the hands of his agent he set about writing a second book featuring the same characters, ‘The Forbidden Territory’, which was immediately snapped up by Hutchinson. This adventure story won immediate acclaim from both the press and public alike. It was reprinted seven times in as many weeks, was translated into many languages and the film rights were bought by Alfred Hitchcock.

This book was followed by a string of thrillers that, throughout the 1930s, propelled Wheatley into the category of best selling author.  As an avid reader himself, and fanatical collector of modern first editions, he was familiar with the work of authors such as H. Rider Haggard, Conan Doyle, William Hope Hodgson, John Buchan and his particular favourite Alexandre Dumas, and was influenced in varying degrees by each.  His work in the thirties seemed to be perfectly in tune with the spirit of the age, enforcing the virtues of imperialism in which he totally believed, and countering the rising threat of communism.

In 1939 he became the editor of the ‘Personality Pages’ of the Sunday Graphic and a volunteer speaker on behalf of the war effort. In the early days of the war, despite his best efforts, Wheatley was unable to find suitable war-work and so continued to write his novels, being one of the first writers to use the real life events of the day as the backdrop to his stories.

Then in May 1940, following a chance conversation between his wife and her passenger while she was a driver for MI5, Wheatley was commissioned to write a series of papers on various strategic aspects of the War. These ‘War Papers’ were read by the King and the highest levels of the General Staff, and as a result in December 1941 he was re-commissioned, becoming the only civilian to be directly recruited onto the Joint Planning Staff. With the final rank of Wing Commander, for the rest of the War, Wheatley worked in Churchill’s basement fortress as one of the country’s small handful of ‘Deception Planners’ who were charged with developing ways to deceive the enemy of the Allies real strategic intentions. Their top-secret operations, which included the plans to deceive the enemy about the true site of the Normandy landings, were highly successful and saved countless lives.

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Photo Of The Day

Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Remembering Irena

A Light that Never Went Out

Arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death, Sendler managed to escape her sentence for smuggling over 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and saving them from certain death.

Irena Sendler, born in 1910, in Warsaw, Poland, was raised by her parents to respect and love people regardless of their ethnicity or social status. She grew up in the town of Otwock, Poland. Her father, a physician, died from typhus that he contracted during an epidemic in 1917. He was the only doctor in his town of Otwock, near Warsaw who would treat the poor, mostly Jewish community of this tragic disease. As he was dying, he told 7-year-old Irena, “If you see someone drowning you must try to rescue them, even if you cannot swim.”

When World War II started in 1939, Irena immediately started protecting her Jewish friends in Warsaw. She worked as a social services director in Warsaw. She would make false documents for Jews in the city and had already started gathering her famous rescue network. When the Warsaw Ghetto was erected in 1940, Irena saw the danger ahead.

When liquidation started in 1942, Irena and her network accelerated the rescue process. The number 2,500, in connection with children rescued, is estimated by Irena and historians to be of this division. About 800 were taken from the Warsaw Ghetto, many of which were orphans. Approximately the same number were in orphanages and convents, Irena and her network assisted in the hiding of these children.

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Photo Of The Day

Angus and Evelyn Jane.

Angus and Evelyn Jane.

My Mother’s Lover

What Happens when Your Mother’s Dying Wish is to Rest in Peace with…Someone You’ve Never Heard of Before?

For years my mother wore a gold locket. When I was a boy, I liked to pull it up from inside her blouse on its chain, tugging it up from between her breasts so I could squeeze the curved button that ran along one edge and make the curlicue gold cover, heavily sprung, pop open to reveal a photograph of my mother’s grandparents.

On an elegant chair sat her grandmother and namesake, Ivy Evelyn Stone, a formidable-looking woman wearing a full skirt, a fuller blouse, and an immensely confident expression. Next to her chair stood her husband, Gene, a railroad engineer in their hometown of Wichita Falls. Especially in Wichita Falls, a railroad town, this was a high-status position then, like that of an airline pilot 50 years later. He is dressed in suit and tie, hair slicked, with his hand on the back of the chair.

I viewed this portrait as a fair representation of the distant world from which my mother came: a stable, solid existence full of aunts and uncles and her mother and father and grandparents all living toughly but carefully in the high bright sun struck towns of north Texas. The picture agreed with the steady, accomplished, morally sturdy person I and many others knew my mother to be. But it hid the fact that she came from a world that moved violently beneath her feet.

The February after my mother died, my brother, Allen, left his New Mexico home and boarded a plane for Honolulu. He carried a backpack that carried a rosewood box that carried our mother’s ashes. The next day, on Maui, he bought six leis and rented a sea kayak. With the leis in a shopping bag and our mother’s ashes in his pack, he paddled into the Pacific.

That day nine years ago was the sort one hopes for in the tropics: warm and balmy, with a breeze that pushed cat’s paws over the water. Beyond the mouth of the bay he could see rising plumes, the spouts of humpback whales gathered to breed. He paddled toward them. When he was closer to the whales than to the shore, he shipped his oar and opened his pack. He pulled out the box and sat with it on his lap, letting the boat drift. He watched the distant spouts. Without any prelude, a whale suddenly but gently surfaced about 30 yards in the distance and released a gush of air. It bobbed, noisily breathed, and dove.

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Carte The original Monster in my pocket Mad gasser of mattoon Battle cards in verkoop op Delcampe.

Carte The original Monster in my pocket Mad gasser of mattoon Battle cards in verkoop op Delcampe.

The Mysterious Mad Gasser of Mattoon

Temporary paralysis, tremors, nausea, burning skin…

Was some Axis operative or local lunatic attacking little Mattoon, Illinois, with poison gas?

Towards the end of World War II, the sleepy town of Mattoon came under attack by a madman. Or perhaps it came under attack by many madmen and women, who believed that they were under attack by a madman. Who was the “mad gasser” of Mattoon?

By the end of August the town of Mattoon, Illinois was baking in the heat and people kept their windows open at night to let in the cool night air. In 1944 they kept those windows open only a crack, because many of the men were away, fighting in World War II, and even civilians were instructed to be on the alert. People were told to keep their eyes open for suspicious activity. The entire country was on edge.

And so, when a couple woke up smelling something sweet and feeling strange, they were understandably freaked out. The two people had wildly different symptoms. The husband was up on his feet, vomiting. The wife thought perhaps she’d left the gas on, but when she tried to get up to check, found she couldn’t move. Later the same night, in a nearby house, a child got sick in bed while its mother was too incapacitated to get up and comfort it. A few nights later, another woman smelled a sweet substance and felt herself being slowly paralyzed from the legs upward. She screamed enough that her neighbours heard her and came running.

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Record numbers of Jews are fleeing Europe

Europe is no longer a safe place for Jews, and record numbers are fleeing as Islamic immigration increases tensions and anti-semitism.

With the rise of Islam, so too has anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic attacks spiked worldwide, and particularly in Europe. It comes as no surprise then that a new report shows that immigration to Israel, otherwise known as “Aliyah,” among European Jews is at all all-time high.

TruthRevolt previously reportedly the fact that Jews are fleeing France in record-numbers, but the Jewish Agency indicates that while French-Jewish migration remains the highest of all others, the UK, Italy and Belgium are also seeing record migration levels of its Jewish citizens to Israel.

The Jewish Agency, which works closely with the Israeli government and acts as a link to Jews around the world, told The Associated Press that 9,880 western European Jews immigrated to Israel in 2015 — the highest annual number ever. The figure is more than 10 percent over the previous year and over double the 2013 level.   Read more »

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