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Author Topic: True Stories?  (Read 22281 times)

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petermilly

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #38 on: August 01, 2013, 17:54:16 »
I have spoken to a gentleman who was in the tank corps who was told by his senior officer not to drink so much, after he had reported that the plane that had just flown over didn't have any propellers.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #37 on: August 01, 2013, 17:38:18 »
The 'I met someone who ..........' statement can lead to all kinds of historical threads. I had the pleasure of meeting a Gentleman, from a quite well know family in Banking circles, in late 1987 who told me that his Grand Mother used to tell him of hearing about the Victory at Waterloo. The Gent in question was in his late 80's at the time and his Grand Mother was 6 at the time of the Battle. I had, and have, no reason to doubt his word as the Lady lived to the ripe age of 106.

On another tack I used to be a Gents Hairdresser in Canterbury. One of my customers and I were talking about aircraft one day and the war cropped up. He told me that he was a Pilot and we had a few good chats but he could never give me the answer to what he flew. Now this Gent had a Geordie accent you could cut with a knife so imagine my surprise when the next time he came in for a trim he produced a photo of him in uniform standing in front of a Stuka Dive Bomber. He was shot down on the last Stuka raid on England, aimed at Dover to bring down the Radar Pylons. He ended up in a POW camp close to Gateshead from where he met a local girl and married as soon as they could after the war. He moved down this way in the late 1970's chasing a flying job out of Manston.

How the circle of life turns.....

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Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #36 on: August 01, 2013, 17:17:34 »
Errr….yes :).

My point, and the reason for me opening this topic, was not the exchange of ‘information’ over a pint in the pub, but the ‘information’, recorded in records, of facts that with a little bit of thought or research, would be revealed as – if not obviously untrue – at least highly unlikely.

If I remember correctly, the memories of the 8 year old Medway boy at the start of the thread came from the BBC series ‘The Peoples War’. I was a 10 to 15 year old Medway boy during WW2 and can say that what he said was utter rubbish, and it is inconceivable that the programme producers apparently believed it and broadcast it.

Similarly, the entry in ‘The Real Dad’s Army’, about our soldiers being too frozen to even get out of their landing craft, should have been recognised as nonsense by a person who had at one time been a regular army Colonel. Admittedly it was a private document, but I still can’t help getting hot under the collar when I read of such stories being put about by people who should know better.

A story that always springs to my mind when this subject arises is the one broadcast by BBC South East Today in the 70th anniversary year of the Battle of Britain, of how 4 Bristol Blenheims drove off 12 Messerschmitt 109’s that were attacking Manston. The Bristol Blenheim was a twin-engined fighter having a top speed of about 260mph and armed with 4 forward firing rifle calibre machine guns; the Bf109 was a single seat fighter with a top speed of about 360 mph armed with 20 mm cannon. It wouldn’t have been so bad had the bulletin qualified the item with something like “this is a report we have received”, but it was broadcast as fact. To have reported that 4 antelopes drove off 12 lions would have been just as believable.

The most likely version is that the 4 Blenheims arrived on the scene just as the German fighters were running short of fuel and were leaving for home anyway, and their crews were the luckiest airmen flying that day. That is not to say they wouldn't have sold themselves dearly if it came to it, but to have reported that they 'drove the enemy off' somehow makes a mockery of both them and their adversaries

OK, perhaps I make too much of stories like that, but there are enough stories of true heroism  that could be told, without displacing them by sensational ones dug out by ‘researchers’ who don't seem to check their sources.

Sorry about the rant, but I feel that it’s important for future generations to understand WW2 as it really was – an absolutely horrific day-after-day grind of death and destruction, and not a series of sensational and exciting events.

Now for a cuppa :)
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Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2013, 14:10:56 »
Everyone alive in the UK during WW2 knew someone who knew someone who had seen light signals being flashed to enemy planes.

This reminds me that all of us are statistically seldom more than five handshakes from anyone in the world.

I know someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone  who knew someone who actually flashed the messages, (and that would be true for each of the message flashers). Moreover, I know someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone  who knew someone who actually flew the German aircraft that picked up these messages. And that would also be true for any aircraft crew that picked up each of these light signals.

I know we're looking back in time, but it should remain true provided the people in the chain stay alive long enough.

So this next chain might have broken links today:

I know someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone  who knew someone whose father lit an armada beacon in 1588.

Its more likely to be true still for someone who was at Waterloo or Trafalgar. In the 1950s I was three handshakes away: I was told by X he'd met someone Y whose father Z had fought at Waterloo.

Small world.

Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #34 on: July 31, 2013, 20:45:47 »
You’re welcome, but it still doesn’t quite add-up.

If I were a pilot wanting to defect to the enemy I would land as soon as possible and not fly across many miles of hostile territory. Then, knowing how heavily defended airfields in the south of England were, I think I would try to crash-land in open country or bale-out ASAP. Flying a reciprocal compass course was not uncommon, especially if it was overcast and sun or stars could not be seen – see the post in the link about the JU88 crew that managed to reach the UK during a flight from Holland to Germany!

But having realised where he was and that he was almost out of fuel, Herr Faber probably felt a bit of an idiot. What better way to save face than to drop his undercarriage to confuse the defences, land, and make out it was what he intended to do? Far fetched, or not?

Back to the Lofoten raid, HERB-COLLECTOR’S posts of yesterday seem to put the version in ‘The Real Dad’s Army’ to rest. I commented on it as an example of the many cases we had during the war (and since) of people going on record (not just a chat over a pint of beer) with stories that were, to say the least, somewhat dubious, and apparently not asking themselves “Could that be true?”
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Offline sharmuk

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #33 on: July 31, 2013, 17:35:43 »
Thanks peterchall for that.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #32 on: July 31, 2013, 16:56:20 »
Here is Seafordpete's post that I referred to:

http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=10027.msg81407#msg81407.

According to the book 'Hitler's Luftwaffe', the range of the FW190-A was 560 miles. The approximate distance from its base in Brittany to Pembrey is 500 miles. What does that suggest?

The other posts in the same thread are interesting and related.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #31 on: July 31, 2013, 12:43:07 »
I think the West Malling incident is too well documented to have been mistaken for another. It took place in the early hours with a 3/4 waxing moon which was probably near to setting. We don't know how good the visibility was, but West Malling is probably too far from water (Thames Estuary or English Channel) for that to be of help if it was poor.

The Pembury incident took place daylight, so that the SOUTH coast of Wales being mistaken for the NORTH coast of France is hard to understand.  If I remember correctly, there has been mention somewhere on KHF, by ex-member Seafordpete, of his father actually being duty officer at Pembury when this incident occurred, and it was he who accepted the German pilot's surrender.

I have heard that it was the practice to allow defecting enemy aircrews to use a cover story to explain how they finished up in the UK, so that they were not penalised by fellow POW's, although I don't know how true that is.
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Offline sharmuk

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #30 on: July 31, 2013, 09:40:20 »
On 16th April 1943, at RAF West Malling, the runway was lit for a night-fighter to land when a strange aircraft landed and stopped at the end of the runway. Thinking that it was the expected night-fighter and that it must have a problem, the control tower sent a truck out to it. There were two surprised people - the truck driver and the German pilot climbing out of a FW190 fighter! Before that was sorted, another FW 190 touched down, but the pilot realised his mistake and was 'shot down' on the runway as he tried to take-off again. Yet a third 190 was shot down on its approach run! Apparently, for a reason not recorded, the pilots thought they were over France. The FW190 was one of the war's finest fighters and was the bane of the RAF - to be presented with one in flyable condition, so that its characteristics could be assessed, was priceless!

A similar story involving an FW190 is told by Neil Oliver in a BBC episode of Coast from Wales. It's not currently available on line but I think this was the one http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tfn9l . If I remember rightly the analysis was that the pilot realised his odds of getting back to France were pretty low due to the number of RAF fighters covering The Channel.

Edit: Some more on the Welsh FW190 here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armin_Faber . I wonder if the West Malling incident is a scrambled-in-the-telling version of this?
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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #29 on: July 30, 2013, 23:10:36 »
Operation Claymore, the Lofoten raid.
Link to the Lofoten War Museum, http://www.lofotenkrigmus.no/e_lofotraid.htm
Padstow May Song Lisa Knapp

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #28 on: July 30, 2013, 21:24:10 »

In ‘The Real Dads Army’, about the Hythe Home Guard, the entry for 17 May 1941 reads “Williams is an interesting lad (who was he?). He was in the ….. Lofoten Islands commando raid…..our men were so cold they couldn’t get out of their boats until the locals gave them hot coffee”. So when the ramps went down the commandos were frozen stiff and couldn’t move, whereupon the local population immediately realised what was wrong, brewed coffee and waded out to the landing craft with it. Thereby they enabled the commandos to destroy the local fish-oil plants (and hence the inhabitants’ living), and take some German prisoners (who presumably had been just watching events).  OK, there must have been some basis behind what he wrote, and I think it’s interesting to think of what it might have been. Any ideas?

"The first large-scale Commando raid was launched in March 1941 against the Lofoten Islands off the north-west coast of Norway where fish oil was being processed and being shipped to Germany for the extraction of glycerine, a vital component in the manufacture of high explosives. In freezing conditions the factories were put to the torch, 800,000 gallons of petrol and oil were destroyed, 18,000 tons of shipping was sunk, 300 men were brought back to join the Norwegian forces in exile, and 200 Germans were taken prisoner. Perhaps the most valuable prize was a number of wheels for the German Enigma encoding machine. The Lofoten raid was a model operation, and the force returned to Scapa Flow to a rapturous welcome."

From Elite 64, Army Commandos 1940-1945, M Chappell.
Padstow May Song Lisa Knapp

Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2012, 22:50:16 »
Everyone alive in the UK during WW2 knew someone who knew someone who had seen light signals being flashed to enemy planes.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2012, 17:03:40 »
I second peterchall's 'hear hear' (can I do that? Never mind, I just did!) It always pays to question these things, especially if from a "chap I used to know knew a guy whose brother's cousin once spoke to a guy who...." type source. But even things that are established 'facts' can sometimes be woth questioning and you'll be surprised how often these facts are not quite as factual or simple as you first thought.  I always remember as a kid reading a book entitled "Why Are There More Questions Than Answers, Grandad?" (by Philip Mahood) and highly recommend it to any parent/grandparent to get their little ones thinking about things.
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Offline peterchall

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2012, 16:09:11 »
Absolutely 'Hear, hear'.

As this is a history forum, I think it behoves us to at least question any information that we don't understand or agree with. "Why?" and "How?" are perhaps two  of the most useful words in the English language. But when I asked "why?" too often my mother would say "that's a village near Ashford" :) But it hasn't stopped me doing it :)
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Offline Far away

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Re: True Stories?
« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2012, 15:09:42 »
I think it is easy to assume that a comment is fact when it appears among facts or is said by someone who is assumed to know. Also, if you do not understand well enough what you are looking at then it is easy to assume that what you do know is enough to comprehend what you are seeing (I know what sand looks like, that looks like sand, therefore what I am seeing is sand).

And then there is sacrificing facts, or even lying, for the sake of a good story. This has also the benefit of making you sound that you know more than you do.

Finally, we mostly do not pay attention to our surroundings, until something changes. Then we see things we never noticed before, and assume that they have just appeared.

 

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