Another Bletchley Park Cryptanalyst Has Passed Away

Ann Mitchell: 19 November 1922 – 11 May 2020.

I don’t think much was made of the passing of Ann Mitchel. Bletchley Park codebreaker who helped change course of World War II dies aged 97.

Even after that movie about Alan Turing, people still don’t seem to understand what an impact Bletchley Park had on WWII.

She played an integral role in bringing about that peace, thanks to her work in Hut 6, a ramshackle wooden structure home to some of Bletchley Park’s brightest minds.

There, for nine hours a day, six days a week, from September 1943 until the final exultant hours of VE Day, the young Oxford graduate would create complex diagrams used to break strings of incomprehensible Enigma code used by the Nazis.

It is interesting that the journalist/editors at The Scotsman choose the term “incomprehensible” for the Enigma codes. I suppose any sufficiently complex Mathematics is indistinguishable from magic, at least to people in journalism. (With apologies to Arthur Clarke.) In reality, they were not incomprehensible; decoding them was exactly what they did at Bletchley Park. (Haven’t they seen that movie?)

Not many women were studying Math at Oxford University in 1940, but that is exactly what Ann Mitchell did, though after the war she would switch to psychology and become a marriage guidance counselor.

Ann was just a kid, but she was discreet, intelligent, and modest, and although she would never describe herself as a codebreaker, she was recruited for her mathematical ability.

The average age of people who worked at Blechley Park and are still alive is now 97; they won’t be with us much longer. One of the reasons the British are still speaking English and not German, is in a very large part to the work done by the folks at Bletchley Park. They helped the French, the Belgians, and the rest as well, defeat the Nazis. (Hat tip to Schneier on Security.)

Cecile Rol-Tanguy: French Resistance Fighter Passes Away

She died during the remembrance of the 75th anniversary of Germany’s surrender in WWII. She was 101. French Resistance hero Cecile Rol-Tanguy dies at age 101.

She joined the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) with her husband Henri.

She later recalled how she used their children’s strollers to transport messages, weapons and explosive material.

The greatest generation. Today we have a fit if our internet connection isn’t 100 Mbps.

A P-38 Lightning Story

By a veteran who would know. This Veteran Tells What It Was Like to Fly the P-38 in World War II.

Jim Kunkle did it all. He flew the Lightning. He shot down German fighters. He earned America’s second highest award for valor in battle. During the mid-1940s’ transition from props to jets, he piloted almost every other fighter and then, when he took his uniform off, Kunkle continued flying. He still flies today, at age 88. Americans don’t use the term as much as our British friends, but James K. Kunkle, of Santa Ynez, California, is a “total aviation person.”

Attacks across the channel before D-Day. A run in with the “Abbeville Boys.” Strafing Germans in the Falaise Pocket. A description of what it was like to fly the P-38. Worth a look.

The Shot Heard Round the World

Lexington and Concord. April 19th, 1775. Part 2, of today’s history lesson. Lexington and Concord: The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.

The first shot was fired in Lexington.

the King’s troops marched into the small town of Lexington around 5:00 am to find, facing them, a militia company of more 70 men led by Captain John Parker. When the vanguard of the British force rushed forward upon the town green, Captain Parker immediately ordered his company to disperse. At some point a shot rang out– historians still debate who fired the shot. The nervous British soldiers fired a volley, killing seven and mortally wounding one of the retreating militiamen. The British column moved on towards Concord

The British did burn some supplies in Concord. The Minutemen numbering 400 from Concord and the surrounding area formed up and marched toward the North Bridge.

At that bridge, usually calld the Old North Bridge, is where the first British casualties came.

The Minute Men formed up and marched down the hill. As they did so, the British soldiers, intimidated by the colonial numbers and orderly advance, retreated to the opposite shore and prepared to defend themselves. When Davis’s company came within range, British soldiers opened fire, killing Isaac Davis and also Abner Hosmer, another Acton Minute Man. Major Buttrick of Concord shouted, “For God’s sake, fire!” and the Minute Men replied with their own volley, killing three British soldiers and wounding nine others. This volley is the volley considered “the shot heard round the world.” The rest of the British troops retreated back to town.

Smith and Pitcairn soon ordered a return to Boston, which devolved into a rout as thousands of minute men patriots descended on the area. As the British were attacked from all sides by swarms of angry Minutemen along what is now known as Battle Road. When they reached Lexington, John Parker and his men had their revenge, firing on the British regulars from behind cover.

The day ended with 73 dead and more wounded British soldiers, as well as 49 dead American militia.

The lesson of the day:

On April 19, 1775 they were simply loyal British subjects who believed that they were standing up to defend and fight for their rights. In doing so they changed the world forever.

I leave you with “The Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, which was sung at the dedication of the Battle Monument, July 4, 1837. Well the first stanza is below. Click this link for the entire poem.

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
    Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
    And fired the shot heard round the world.

Paul Revere’s Ride – April 18th 1775

History Lesson. Part 1. The Midnight Ride Of Paul Revere

245 years ago tonight Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Dr. Samuel Prescott left on their journey to warn the Minutemen that British regulars were marching to seize the colony’s stores of arms, powder, and shot. The next morning, the American Revolution began.

Click thru for the details.

Maj. Kim Campbell and a Shot-to-hell A-10 Thunderbolt

The A-10 was designed to keep its pilot alive, even flying close air support, and all the damage that could bring. Air Force Pilot Landed Damaged A-10 Using Only ‘Cranks and Cables’.

On April 7, 2003, Major Kim Campbell was flying a close air support mission over downtown Baghdad.

“We were originally tasked to target some Iraqi tanks and vehicles in the city that were acting as a command post, but on the way to the target area we received a call from the ground forward air controller or FAC, saying they were taking fire and needed immediate assistance.”

The FAC ultimately turned out to be a member of the captain’s squadron. Once over the target area, they descended below the clouds to positively identify the friendly troops and the enemy’s location.

After her last past over the enemy position she was hit by hostile fire knocking out both hydraulic systems. But an A-10 pilot doesn’t need no hydraulics, because it has manual redundancy.

After realizing both of her hydraulics systems were impaired, Major Campbell said she had to put the jet into manual reversion, as the back-up system. She said that manual reversion is a system of cranks and cables that allow the pilot to fly the aircraft under mechanical control.

With the aircraft in that degraded mode, she flew for an hour, back to her base, and landed safely. Click the link above for a view of the damage to her aircraft.

“I am incredibly thankful to those who designed and built the A-10 as well as the maintainers who did their part to make sure that jet could fly under any circumstances, even after extensive battle damage,” said Major Campbell.

See this link for a compilation of images of A-10s battle damage.

Your WWII History Lesson for the Day

I know, we just had a history lesson yesterday. You’ll survive. You might actually learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute!) The Friday Flyby – Bombing Germany.

Sarge has some info on the bombing campaigns in WWII to inflict punishment on Germany.

The B-17F, the B-24 Liberator, the Lancaster, Handley Page Halifax B.III. And info on the German Flak guns, and German fighters like the Messerschmitt Bf 109, and the venerated P-51 Mustang, that could provide cover for the bombers all the way to Germany and back.

Click thru. Sarge always has good info.

As for yesterday’s history lesson, it was on the Soviet side of WWII.

Marina Raskova – The Russian Amelia Earhart

Marina Mikhaylovna Raskova (Мари́на Миха́йловна Раско́ва): 28 March 1912 – 4 January 1943. She was the first female navigator in the Soviet Air Force in 1933, and the first woman teacher the following year. The Female Soldier: Marina Raskova.

She became famous – at least in the Soviet Union – for setting a number of long-distance records.

This included the famous ‘Flight of the Rodina’ covering 6000km from Moscow to Komsomolsk, which she conducted with two other female pilots, Polina Osipenko and Valentina Grizodubova. However the flight ran into difficulties at the end of its 26 and a half hour journey when poor visibility hampered the landing. As the navigator’s pit was vulnerable in crash landings, Raskova bailed out with a parachute while the two pilots completed the landing. She survived with no water and almost no food for 10 days before she found her way to landing site and reunited with her team. All 3 women were decorated with the ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ award, the first women ever to receive it.

At the outbreak of WWII, the Soviets were unprepared, and a lot of men were killed and material was destroyed in the early days.

Raskova proposed the creation of women’s aviation units and used her celebrity status to propose the idea directly to the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Following a speech by Raskova in September 1941 calling for women pilots to be welcomed into the war, Stalin ordered the creation of 3 new air regiments, the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment, the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, and the 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, dubbed The Night Witches [Z-Deb’s Note: The 46th Taman Guards were origianally the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. “Guard status” was an honor they got later, after completing lots of missions.]

Raskova herself commanded the 125th Bomber Regiment. That regiment went on to fly 134 missions, dropping 980 tons of bombs on the German Army.

She died January 4th, 1943 making a forced landing.

The Winter War: November 30, 1939 to March 13, 1940

I missed a somewhat important anniversary on Friday. History.com asks What was the Winter War?

Finland had been part of the Russian Empire, but was not part of the USSR. In 1939, Stalin decided to change that. It didn’t go well.

The Civil Guard was called up, and it included a hunter by the name of Simo Häyhä. He would become history’s deadliest sniper, with over 500 kills. We will have more on him at a later date.

Technically it was a victory for the USSR. Finland gave up 11 percent of its territory in the treaty ending the war.

For the Soviets, meanwhile, victory came at a heavy cost. During just three months of fighting, their forces suffered over 300,000 casualties compared to around 65,000 for the Finns.

The performance of the Soviet Army may have also convinced the Germans that their planned invasion of Russia would be easy.

The U-boat War in WWI and WWII

OldAFSarge has a your history lesson for the day. Chant du Départ: Sea Wolves.

In both World Wars the enemy was anything but incompetent. Especially those sailors who served in Germany’s Ubootwaffe1. In both wars they nearly brought Britain to her knees. It was, to paraphrase the Duke of Wellington, a damned near run thing.2

When you mention “U-Boats3” most people think of World War II, while some might remember that the sinking of RMS Lusitania was a proximate cause of the United States entering World War I. (Though not really, Lusitania went down in May of 1915, the U.S. entered the war in April of 1917. Though the sinking did shift public opinion in the U.S. against the Germans 4.) Of Germany’s top five submarine captains (based on tonnage sunk), four are from World War I.

Go read the whole thing, but be warned; it is not short. Sarge is very thorough with his naval history. Which I always found a bit odd, since the “AF” stands for “Air Force,” and not something else.

The Night of Black Snow: The Firebombing of Tokyo, 9 March 1945

Operation Meetinghouse: March 9th and 10th, 1945. Operation Meetinghouse: The 1945 firebombing of Tokyo was the single deadliest air raid in history.

When we think of how World War Two came to an end, we recall the atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, before the situation escalated to the point of the Allies commissioning a nuclear weapon, some devastating air raids were green-lighted.

An air-raid conducted on the night of March 9-10, 1945, is regarded as the single deadliest air raid in the history of the war. It damaged a greater area and led to more deaths than either of the two nuclear bombings. Reportedly, over 1 million people had their homes destroyed during the Tokyo bombing that night, and the estimated number of civilian deaths is recorded as 100,000 people. Subsequently, the Japanese would dub this event the Night of the Black Snow.

YB-29 SuperfortressThe introduction of the B-29 Superfortress bomber in 1944 meant that bombing raids on Japan could become a more regular occurrence. First from China, then from Mariana Islands. Precision bombing wasn’t working however, so subtlety was abandoned.

When command of the 20th Air Force came to General Curtis LeMay in January 1945, he immediately set about planning a new tactic. His first change was to switch from general purpose to incendiary bombs and fragmentation bombs. These were used from high altitude in February on Kobe and Tokyo. The next step, boosted by the fact that Japanese anti-aircraft batteries had proved less effective at the low altitude of 5,000 feet to 9,000 feet, was to launch a low-altitude incendiary attack.

Bombs carrying jelled gasoline, and napalm ignited a huge flaming “X” in the city. Fire services were destroyed within 2 hours. 16 square miles were incinerated. 100,000 people died and a million were made homeless.

Tokyo was only the first city to be bombed in this fashion. The Fire Raids on Japan.

On March 12, Nagoya was hit. About 1 square mile of the city burned. Osaka was hit on the 13th. Kobe was targeted on the 16th.

In the space of ten days, the Americans had dropped nearly 9,500 tons of incendiaries on Japanese cities and destroyed 29 square miles of what was considered to be important industrial land.

Given what the Japanese were doing to POWs, there was little to say this wasn’t justified. Shot down pilots were tortured, killed with boiling water, and subjected to medical “experiments” that even the Nazis hadn’t tried. I leave you to find references. I won’t inflict those nightmares on you.

Germany surrendered on the 7th of May 1945, but the Japanese still refused to surrender. And so in August, we had the bombing of Hiroshima on the 6th, and three days later there was the bombing of Nagasaki. The Japanese surrendered six days after Nagasaki.

The Polish Navy in Exile During WWII

ORP Błyskawica A history lesson from Old AF Sarge at Chant du Départ: Storm, Lightning and Thunder. Plus an Eagle. You might learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute.)

The Polish destroyer, ORP Błyskawica. (The photo is by Piotr Parda – występujący czasami pod pseudonimem Topory. Click for more info.)

Note that “ORP” stands for Okręt Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej, “Warship of the Republic of Poland.” So ORP is analogous to “USS” and “HMS.”

Błyskawica is Polish for “Lightning.” ORP Błyskawica is currently a museum ship in Poland.

Her sister ship ORP Grom (Thunder) was lost.

ORP Grom was lost in the Norwegian campaign after being hit by two bombs from a German Heinkel He-111 bomber.

A third ship (different class) was named “Gale,” ORP Wicher was first ship sunk during WWII. ORP Burza (“Storm”), a Wicher-class ship, was evacuated to Great Britain and with ORP Błyskawica survived the war.

The decision was made to evacuate the destroyers of the Polish navy at the start of the war, because it was clear that they would be either captured or destroyed. It was styled Operation Peking or the Peking Plan.

Anyway Sarge has more info on the service of these ships in the effort to defeat the Nazis. The Polish government in Exile, which existed in London until 1990 (after Lech Wałęsa became President, the government in exile was dissolved.)

As for the title of this post, The Polish Home Army was based in Great Britain during the war. I’m not sure how the Polish naval ships serving with the allies during WWII styled themselves.

US Navy Seizes Weapons Bound for Yemen

This is worrisome. U.S. Navy Intercepts MASSIVE Cache of Iranian Made Weapons In Arabian Sea.

The weapons were apparently bound for the Houthis in Yemen, in violation of UN resolutions.

The weapons seized include 150 ‘Dehlavieh’ anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM), which are Iranian-manufactured copies of Russian Kornet ATGMs. Other weapons components seized aboard the dhow were of Iranian design and manufacture and included three Iranian surface-to-air missiles, Iranian thermal imaging weapon scopes, and Iranian components for unmanned aerial and surface vessels, as well as other munitions and advanced weapons parts.

I don’t expect the media to make much of this, since Iran was Obama’s friend, or something. (Hat tip to Ninety Miles from Freedom.)

The Liberation of Auschwitz: January 27, 1945

History. Ignorance. Rinse. Repeat. The Shocking Liberation of Auschwitz: Soviets ‘Knew Nothing’ as They Approached.

The first Soviet Soldiers entered the camp at 9 AM.

Eighty-eight pounds of eyeglasses. Hundreds of prosthetic limbs. Twelve thousand pots and pans. Forty-four thousand pairs of shoes. When Soviet soldiers poured into Auschwitz in January 1945, they encountered warehouses filled with massive quantities of other people’s belongings. Most of the people who owned them were already dead, murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust’s largest extermination and concentration camp.

The Germans had spent some time trying to destroy evidence of the camp, but much remained, including about 9000 prisoners. Only 7500 would survive.

Most of the other perpetrators of the Holocaust denied their involvement. [Rudolf] Höss [the SS officer who served as Auschwitz’s commandant for more than four years] did not. While he awaited his execution, he wrote his memoirs and expressed remorse for his crimes. He was hanged near the Gestapo quarters at Auschwitz—Poland’s last public execution.

New US Aircraft Carry to Be Named After WWII Hero

I expect that the media will ignore this story, because they probably can’t use it to make Trump look bad. Navy Will Name A Future Ford Class Aircraft Carrier After WWII Hero Doris Miller.

This will be the second ship named in honor of Miller, and the first aircraft carrier ever named for an African American. This will also be the first aircraft carrier to be named in honor of a Sailor for actions while serving in the enlisted ranks.

And there’s a history lesson….

On Dec. 7, 1941, Miller was collecting laundry on the battleship West Virginia (BB-48), when the attack from Japanese forces commenced. When the alarm for general quarters sounded he headed for his battle station, an anti-aircraft battery magazine, only to discover that torpedo damage had wrecked it. Miller was ordered to the ship’s bridge to aid the mortally wounded commanding officer, and subsequently manned a .50 caliber Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he ran out of ammunition. Miller then helped move many other injured Sailors as the ship was ordered abandoned due to her own fires and flaming oil floating down from the destroyed Arizona (BB-33). West Virginia lost 150 of its 1,500 person crew.

Miller received the Navy Cross for his actions. (Hat tip to Godfather Politics.)

Not Climate Change, and Not “Just” Arson

Of course he was laughing. Muslim charged for starting Australian wildfire laughs after court hearing.

Jihad Watch Director Robert Spencer noted Islamic jihadis have identified setting fires as a tool of jihad.

In 2018, the ISIS-linked Al-Ansar Media claimed wildfires in California were retribution for America’s participation in the civil war in Syria.

Don’t expect to see this story on the 24 hour news channels. Doesn’t fit the narrative. Find my previous post on this topic at this link.

Flinging Calamari at Submarines?

Not quite. The Rise of the Attack Cephalopods. “Squid Anti-Submarine Mortar, it was a thing.”

Sarge at Chant du Départ has a history lesson. Pay attention; you might learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute!)

Now lest you think that this was a device for flinging calamari at enemy submarines (also known as “pigboats,” wait for it…), nope it was actually just the Brits with their penchant for giving things interesting names. Such as the Directorate of Miscellaneous Weapons Development. If ya can’t figure out who will use it or what it will be used against or even if you really need it, then assign the project to the DMWD. (No doubt where the LCS got its start…)

DMWD was responsible for the Hedgehog (another anti-submarine weapon, see the link above) and the Mulberry Harbor, used to create landing docks at the D-Day beaches, to offload ships and get material ashore.

Go read the whole thing. (I will warn you, it goes downhill from highbrow history to lowbrow humor pretty quickly.)

Does Anyone Remember the Libyan No-fly Zone?

Of course not. Because the Democrats don’t want to remember, and besides most of the country has the memory of a fruit fly. Here’s a reminder.

That’s a clip from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show With Jon Stewart from 3/21/2011 talking about the missile-enforced no-fly zone over Libya while Qaddafi was still in power. (A no-fly zone that destroyed a group of tanks, bombed Qaddafi’s residence, …)

So do actual attacks on our embassy count as imminent threats? I would say, “Yes!” But then I’m not woke. (You can tell from where I live and what I drive.)

This was completely predictable

It begins: Virginia forms active militia to protect sheriffs, citizens from unconstitutional laws.

Virginia – Earlier in the week, we reported on how lawmakers over in Virginia were threatening to use the National Guard if members of local law enforcement refused to enforce laws passed in the state that they felt violated the second amendment.

Well, looks like Tazewell County isn’t going down without a fight. On top of calling themselves a second amendment sanctuary county, they’re also crafting a militia as well. The Virginia county has taken the movement that has swept across the state and added an element that is sure to trigger pro gun-grabbing politicians in the state.

This is really not going to end well. But then as the saying goes… TINVOWOOT. (Hat tip to The Daley Gator.)