Monday, March 24, 2014

Monday Afternoon Chuckle...

This one comes from OldNFO. A quick check reveals that the book referenced is entirely real; it would be simple to find out if this story is, in fact, in the book. In any case, here's the story:
*Sometimes, it's not really just luck.*

Elmer Bendiner was a navigator in a B-17 during WW II. He tells this story of a World War II bombing run over Kassel , Germany , and the unexpected
result of a direct hit on their gas tanks. "Our B-17, the Tondelayo, was barraged by flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns. That was not unusual, but on
this particular occasion our gas tanks were hit.

Later, as I reflected on the miracle of a 20 millimeter shell piercing the fuel tank without touching off an explosion, our pilot, Bohn Fawkes, told me it was not quite that simple. On the morning following the raid, Bohn had gone down to ask our crew chief for that shell as a souvenir of unbelievable luck. The crew chief told Bohn that not just one shell but 11 had been found in the gas tanks. 11 unexploded shells where only one was sufficient to blast us out of the sky. It was as if the sea had been parted for us. A near-miracle, I thought. Even after 35 years, so awesome an event leaves me shaken, especially after I heard the rest of the story from Bohn.

"He was told that the shells had been sent to the armorers to be defused. The armorers told him that Intelligence had picked them up. They could not say why at the time, but Bohn eventually sought out the answer. "Apparently when the armorers opened each of those shells, they found no explosive charge. They were as clean as a whistle and just as harmless. Empty? Not all of them! One contained a carefully rolled piece of paper. On it was a scrawl in Czech. The Intelligence people scoured our base for a man who could read Czech. Eventually they found one to decipher the note. It set us marveling.

Translated, the note read:

*"This is all we can do for you now........."* "Using Jewish slave labor is never a good idea."
Here's another kicker for you: Imagine the German gunners who thought they were missing the plane with those shells...

That is all.


Old NFO said...


Geodkyt said...

Reminds me of a story I heard about some Czech-made Mauser rifles Israel ended up with. The sights were reliably so far off to one side that you would miss a man at combat distances.

Which means at least 2-3 people HAD to be in on it -- the test shooter had to know the hold off necessary for the rifles to "pass" acceptance tests.

To an American or Brit, it seems absolutely absurd -- "Come on! The soldier would figure out his sights were bollixed up the first time he went to the range! Not too hard for the Gestapo to figure out all these guns were bitched up in the exact same way, and which workers were responsible!"

Given German rifle marksmanship training and procedures in WWII, the idea that you could get away with such sabotage is actually plausible. VERY little live fire for accuracy shooting, and the guns are supposed to be zeroed at the factory.

Still wish I could confirm the story as fact or fiction. . .

RabidAlien said...

Dood.....goosebumps. That's frikkin awesome!

wolfwalker said...

The background of the story is true: factories under the Nazis often used slave labor, and the workers did occasionally sabotage the things they were making. However, this particular story smells like a tall tale to me, because of one specific detail. The storyteller says that his B-17 was hit by "flak from Nazi antiaircraft guns," then identifies the dud shells as 20mm caliber. The problem with this is that B-17s over Germany routinely flew at 18,000 feet or higher -- an altitude that 20mm AA guns can't reach. High-altitude flak is 88mm and larger shells. German fighters routinely carried 20mm cannon as their primary heavy weapons, but the story says "flak," not "fighters."

Comrade Misfit said...

There is a story about a GI in the Battle of the Bulge who was taking cover in a hole during an artillery barrage. After it was over, the soldier found a dozen 88mm shells had hit the ground very close to his position. None had detonated. Supposedly all of the fuzes had been sabotaged.