World War II

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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Photo of the Day

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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Photo of the day

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 »

Kissinger on Daesh: ‘Nobody Was Confused on How to Deal with Hitler in WWII’

Henry Kissinger is fairly blunt when it comes to how we deal with ISIS.

Truth Revolt reports:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told Sky News that there was no question in anyone’s mind on how to deal with Adolf Hitler during World War II and so it should be with ISIS.

“During the Second World War, nobody said, “What is the solution for dealing with Hitler?” Kissinger said. “And this is an organization that has engaged in mass murder on television in the killing of prisoners. So I do not think that the Islamic State as it exists is a group with which we can negotiate.”   Read more »

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Unknown Source. Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.

Photo: Unknown Source.
Häyhä after being awarded the honorary rifle model 28.

Simo Häyhä

The White Death – World’s Greatest Sniper

Simo Häyhä was credited with over 500 kills in his service during the Winter War with his service cut short as he was wounded by a Soviet sniper. Simo was shot in the face with what turned out to be an exploding bullet and he was taken out of action due to these wounds. The total time that Simo Häyhä served in the Winter War was 100 days with about 500 kills credited to him. His record is truly remarkable and is long since remembered in the nation of Finland.

Häyhä’s specialty was his knowledge of the forests, his enduring patience, and his impeccable rifle marksmanship. A sniper by trade, he would dress up in all-white camouflage, sneak through the woods with only a day’s worth of food and couple clips of ammunition, and then lie in wait for any Russian stupid enough to wander into his kill zone.

Simo Häyhä was born in 1906 or 1905 (there seems to be two dates of his birth depending on the reference materials) in Rautajärvi, Finland.  The town was in the shadow of the Soviet Union and as was the case with many border areas, the home of Mr. Häyhä was lost to the Soviets in the spoils of the Winter War.  Like many of the towns and villages of this region the area was rural, and Mr. Häyhä was what people would call an outdoorsman spending much of his time outside letting his skills sharpen.

In 1925 Mr. Häyhä joined the Finnish Army for his one year of mandatory service.  He must have been suited well for the Army in some regards as when he left he had achieved the rank of corporal.  Later Simo Häyhä joined the Suojelskunta (Finnish Civil Guard) serving in his home district. The Civil Guard is a difficult organization to explain but putting the Civil Guard in US terms it is much like a very well-trained National Guard Unit.

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Photo Of The Day

Photo: Unknown Source. Susan Travers in North Africa. Travers was an Englishwoman and the only woman to serve officially with the French Foreign Legion.

Photo: Unknown Source.
Susan Travers in North Africa. Travers was an Englishwoman and the only woman to serve officially with the French Foreign Legion.

‘I Think Actually They Thought I was a Man’

She was the Mistress of a French General; she led 4,000 troops to safety; and she was the only Woman to join the Foreign Legion.

As a well-bred Englishwoman educated in the nuances of understatement, Susan Travers seemed unimpressed that she was the only woman ever to join the French Foreign Legion. She had spent World War II as a volunteer driver with Free French legionnaires who were fighting in North Africa and Europe. But in the summer of 1945, she faced demobilization and did not relish the prospect.

”I shall leave all my friends — I shall go back and live with my family, and it will be dull,” she recalled telling the legion’s recruiting officer, who happened to be a friend. He promptly invited her to sign up and passed her an application form. ”I didn’t say I was a woman,” she said, although her nickname was ”La Miss.” ”I didn’t have to pass a medical. I put down that I was a warrant officer in logistics. That was all.”

Indeed, it was pretty straightforward in comparison with her life leading up to that moment. It seemed far more unusual that a free-spirited young woman who spent the 1930’s playing tennis and partying around Europe should end up in the early 1940’s on the front line of the North African campaign carrying on a clandestine love affair with a married man who happened to be the top French military commander in the region.

For this, too, though, Ms. Travers had a simple explanation. ”My family was very dull,” she said of her reason for socializing in Europe. ”England was very dull.” As for becoming a military driver in combat zones, she said, ”I wanted adventure. I wanted more action.” And her romance with Gen. Marie-Pierre Koenig, a man who became such a war hero that a Paris square carries his name? ”It was a relationship between a man and a woman,” she said.

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Photo Of The Day

Image sources: The House Under the Wacky Star, National Digital Archive, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Warsaw Zoological Garden.

Image sources: The House Under the Wacky Star, National Digital Archive, Museum and Institute of Zoology, Warsaw Zoological Garden.

The House Under A Whacky Star

Jews in hiding at the Warsaw ZOO

Refuge, haven, ark – that is how those who had survived the Second World War owing to the Żabiński family’s help referred to the Warsaw ZOO.

It was World War II, Warsaw was under German occupation, and the wife of the director of the Warsaw zoo spotted Nazis approaching the white stucco villa that she and her family inhabited on the zoo grounds.

According to plan, she went straight to her piano and began to play a lively tune from an operetta by Jacques Offenbach, a signal to Jews being sheltered in the house that they should be quiet and not leave their hiding places.

That scenario, repeated over years of war, was one of the tricks that allowed Jan and Antonina Żabiński to save the lives of many Jews, a dramatic chapter in Poland’s wartime drama. The Żabińskis’ remarkable wartime actions included hiding Jews in indoor animal enclosures.

The Żabińskis saved hundreds of Jews during World War II by hiding them in animal cages in the Warsaw zoo and sheltering them in their home.

Many cages in the zoo had been emptied of animals during the Germans’ September 1939 bombing campaign on Warsaw, and zoo director Jan Żabiński used them as hiding places for fleeing Jews. Over the course of three years, many Jews found temporary shelter in these abandoned animal cells, located on the eastern bank of the Vistula River, until they were able to relocate to places of refuge elsewhere. In addition, the Żabińskis sheltered Jews in their two-story private home on the zoo’s grounds.

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