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July 14, 2014
[war] Burlington Bunker, under RAF Corsham, Wiltshire … a look at a cold war secret hidden underneath RAF Corsham in Wiltshire … ‘ Assembled as an emergency relocation site for the British government if the threat of nuclear war ever became reality. The bunker boasts some impressive ‘sections’ from a BBC broadcasting suite to a Hospital all accessible via 10 miles of ‘road’. Adjacent to Burlington is over 30km of tunnels and passageways belonging to Box Freestone Quarry, part of which taken over by the MOD and turned in to an air inlet. For years, explorers like myself would marvel at the MOD area of Box Mine and the mysterious ‘red door’ that sits at the end of the passage…’
June 22, 2014
[war] America’s Nuclear Arsenal Still Runs Off Floppy Disks‘The control room was not what Stahl—or I—expected: There’s no “big button,” but there are floppy disks. Like the old, big 8-inch floppy disks. Like the kind, [...] that are often featured in a computer history museum or found in your attic, beneath old DOS manuals. Like, not even the newer, 3.5-inch model of floppy disk. That’s how they control our nuclear missiles. At 23 years old, the deputy missileer said she had never even seen a floppy disk before finding one that can help wreak untold carnage on planet Earth.’
May 16, 2014
[comics] Great War was world’s first sci-fi war, says Pat Mills … BBC News discusses Charley’s War. Pat Mills: ‘We often imagine that Armageddon is a horror that awaits us sometime in the future. But Armageddon has already happened. It was World War One.’
February 28, 2014
[ships] Russia’s Giant Secret Spy Ship Killed Rats, Ruined Careers and Almost Got Blown Up TWICE … fascinating story of the Russian ship Ural… ‘Ural didn’t just kill turtles. She also became what Russian Navy Blog described as “one of those rare ships free of rats.” When her electronics were all switched on, something—radiation, perhaps—swiftly killed all the rodents aboard. Rats “only reappeared when the ship moored at the pier.”’
February 24, 2014
[history] Time travellers: please don’t kill Hitler … Why Killing Hitler is a bad idea … ‘This is overlooked surprisingly often, so it bears repeating: Hitler didn’t win. Whatever you think of the present, we don’t live in some bleak wasteland dominated by a global Reich. Because Hitler and his armies lost. Although it was a costly victory, it was still technically a victory, so why risk going back and interfering with an outcome you favour? And arguably, it was due to Hitler’s incompetence as a strategist that the war panned out the way it did. In a way, Hitler had the perfect combination of drive, charisma, evil and incompetence to unite the world against him and ensure that his forces lost.’
September 17, 2013
[history] Early recollections of Adolf Hitler: “Eccentric but quite a pleasant fellow” … a profile of Adolf Hitler published in the New Statesman in 1933 …

In those days in Munich I lived in the Thiersh Strasse, and I frequently noticed in the street a man who vaguely reminded me of a militant edition of Charles Chaplin, owing to his characteristic moustache and his bouncing way of walking. He always carried a riding whip in his hand with which he used incessantly to chop off imaginary heads as he walked. He was so funny that I inquired from neighbours who he might be: most of them, owing to his Slav type, took him to be one of these Russian émigrés who abounded in Germany at that time, and they freely talked of his being probably a trifle mentally deranged. But my grocer told me it was a Herr Adolf Hitler from Braunau in Austria, and that he was leader of a tiny political group which called itself the “German National Socialist Workers Party”. He lived as a boarder in the apartment of a small artisan, wrote articles for an obscure paper called the Völkischer Beobachter, and orated in hole-and-corner meetings before audiences of a dozen or two. Out of curiosity I bought the paper once or twice, and found it a scatter-brained collection of wild anti-Jewish stories and articles interlarded with panegyrics on the Germanic race. My obliging grocer closed his information on Hitler by remarking that he frequently purchased things in his shop and was, despite his eccentric appearance, quite a pleasant fellow, though inclined to talk sixteen to the dozen about anything and everything.

April 5, 2013
[ww2] Hitler’s Food Taster: One Bite Away from Death … The remarkable story of one of Hitler’s team of food tasters who survived the war … ‘Hitler’s thugs brought her and the other young women to barracks in nearby Krausendorf, where cooks prepared the food for the Wolf’s Lair in a two-story building. The service personnel filled platters with vegetables, sauces, noodle dishes and exotic fruits, placing them in a room with a large wooden table, where the food had to be tasted. “There was never meat because Hitler was a vegetarian,” Wölk recalls. “The food was good — very good. But we couldn’t enjoy it.” There were rumors that the Allies had plans to poison Hitler. After the women confirmed that the food was safe, members of the SS brought it to the main headquarters in crates.’
January 21, 2013
[war] WWII lard washes up on beach at Angus nature reserve‘Staff at St Cyrus nature reserve said four large, barrel-shaped pieces of lard have appeared on the shore. The fat is believed to have escaped from the wreck of a merchant vessel that was bombed in WW II. Scottish Natural Heritage said the lard was still a brilliant white and smelled “good enough to have a fry up with.” The lard would have originally been stored in wooden barrels, which have long since rotted away.’
January 17, 2013
[war] What You Wear to Kill Osama bin Laden … some exhaustive details on what you need to kill the world’s most wanted man …

First he laid out his Crye Precision Desert Digital combat uniform, a long-sleeve, partially camouflaged shirt and cargo pants combo with ten pockets, “each with a specific purpose.” In the pockets he put assault gloves, leather mitts for “fast-roping,” an assortment of batteries, energy gel, two PowerBars, an extra tourniquet, rubber gloves, an SSE (forensic) kit, an Olympus point-and-shoot digital camera, and $200 in cash. The money was for a bribe or a ride, if needed. “Evasion takes money, and few things work better than American cash.”

November 13, 2012
[war] Pakistani Boy, U.S. Drone Form Unlikely Friendship: ‘An unlikely friendship has developed between a 9-year-old Pakistani boy and a U.S. MQ-1 Predator drone in North Waziristan. “You’d think they would have nothing in common, and yet you see them together all the time, wandering around the countryside hand in wing,” area merchant Siraj Rahmad told reporters…’
August 15, 2012
[war] War Sand … an interesting look at the microscopic remanants of WWII left on the beaches of Normandy …

Archaeology magazine highlights the presence of spherical magnetic shards—remnants of the D-Day operations of World War II—found hidden amongst natural sand grains on the beaches of Normandy. “Up to 4 percent of the sand is made up of this shrapnel,” the article states; however, “waves, storms, and rust will probably wipe this microscopic archaeology from the coast in another hundred years.”

April 2, 2012
[war] 30 Years Since the Falklands War … some fascinating pictures from the Falklands War – and not just the usual ones you see published in British Newpapers.
March 14, 2012
[terrorism] The Dubai Job … a fascinating look at a semi-botched assassination of a high-ranking Hamas leader by Mossad…

‘The rest of the investigation that Tamim conducted, however, was meticulous and efficient in a way that no one, least of all the Mossad, had expected. A source close to the investigation said that the moment Tamim concluded that Al-Mabhouh had not died of natural causes, he ordered his people to search Dubai’s extensive databases and identify everyone who had arrived in the emirate shortly before the killing and left soon after. This list was then cross-referenced against the names of visitors who had been in Dubai back in February, March, June, and November of 2009, all the times of Al-Mabhouh’s previous visits. The short list that emerged was then checked against hotel registers, and footage from hotel security cameras at the times these individuals checked in made it possible to put a face to each name. Tamim then compared these visual identifications to the footage from the Al Bustan Hotel at the time of Al-Mabhouh’s death, which gave him the names of the assassins. And searching databases of financial transactions gave him the identities of the rest of the team, all of which Dubai authorities posted online for the world to see.’

February 28, 2012
[war] Never Surrender: The Lonely War Of Hiroo Onoda … the story of the last WW2 Japanese soldier to surrender… in 1974! ‘Onoda was officially relived from military duties and told to hand over his rifle, ammunition and hand grenades. He was both stunned and horrified. ‘We really lost the war!’ were his first words. ‘How could they [the Japanese army] have been so sloppy?” [via YMFY]
February 21, 2012
[history] BBC Transcript To Be Used In Wake Of Nuclear Attack‘Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes. Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away.’
December 20, 2011
[books] The War for Catch-22 … A look at the genesis of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 … ‘The Czech writer Arnošt Lustig claimed that Heller had told him at a New York party for Milos Forman in the late 1960s that he couldn’t have written Catch-22 without first reading Jaroslav Hašek’s unfinished World War I satire,The Good Soldier Schweik. In Hašek’s novel, a mad state bureaucracy traps a hapless man. Among other things, he stays in a hospital for malingerers and serves as an orderly for an army chaplain.’
October 25, 2011
[war] Last Nuclear ‘Monster Weapon’ Gets Dismantled‘[The B-53 Bomb is] the ultimate Cold War weapon, the one that Major Kong would have ridden into Armageddon at the end of Dr. Strangelove. And on Tuesday, it will no longer exist. Out at the Energy Department’s Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, the last of America’s B-53s is in storage. Come Tuesday, it will be dissected: The 300 pounds of high explosives will be separated from its enriched uranium heart, known as a “pit.” The pit will be placed into a storage locker at Pantex, where it will await a final, highly supervised termination.’ [via jwz]
February 12, 2011
[history] The London Pedestrian Crossing of Doom … the place where one man’s thoughts later caused the deaths of a quarter of a million Japanese citizens …‘We’re on the corner of Southampton Row and Russell Square in leafy Bloomsbury. There’s no plaque to mark the event but this is the unlikely spot where the nuclear chain reaction was first conceived.’
December 26, 2010
[tv] Christmas Night Fail From Yesterday TV – Nazi Collaborators All Nighter … a history TV channel’s idea of Christmas entertainment!
December 20, 2010
[history] Probably The Most Inappropriate Christmas Card Ever Sent‘The year is 1938, and you’re looking for a suitably seasonal picture for the front of your Christmas cards. A festive image which will convey seasonal goodwill to all humanity. What could better symbolise those eternal truths than an international peace treaty signed by the two major European powers which had once been at war?’ [thanks Phil]
October 9, 2010
[comics] Were The Wartime Beano And Dandy Editors On A Nazi Death List?‘Seventy years ago this year, the Nazi’s were working on the details of Operation Sealion, their planned invasion of mainland Britain. These plans included a list of people who were to be rounded up by, or handed over to, the Nazi security forces once they were in control of the United Kingdom. It has been said that the editors of the Beano and Dandy were included on this list due to the humorous, and therefore disrespectful, attitude that the two comics had towards Adolph Hitler…’
September 27, 2010
[war] Go Look: Photo Of A Improvised Nokia Bomb Detonator In Iraq: “01 Call Missed”(more…)
August 29, 2010
[war] Colonel Kicked Out of Afghanistan for Anti-PowerPoint Rant‘He gave his superiors a briefing on “proven organizational methodologies” to streamline IJC, but it went nowhere. “It was only my rant that everyone read,” he says. “My hope is that after they stop being angry at me, maybe they will take a serious look at how they operate.” The irony? His briefing was a five-slide PowerPoint. ‘
August 24, 2010
[blogs] World War II Today … blogging World War II one post at a time.
May 24, 2010
[people] The Reporter Who Time Forgot … Remembering Cornelius Ryan the author of The Longest Day and A Bridge To Far

He had sold, he believed, between 25 and 35 million copies of The Longest Day and 400,000 hardcover copies of The Last Battle in the United States alone. Yet each book had cost him some $150,000 to research. “I have no less than 7,000 books on every aspect of World War II. My files contain some 16,000 different interviews with Germans, British, French, etc,” he wrote. “Then there is the chronology of each battle, 5×7 cards, detailing each movement by hour for the particular work I’m engaged in. You may think this is all a kind of madness, an obsession. I suppose it is.”

February 23, 2010
[war] Lost Nazi nuke-project uranium found in Dutch scrapyard‘Forensic nuke scientists at the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) traced two pieces of metal – described as a cube and a plate – back to their exact origins and dates. Apparently both came from ores extracted at the “Joachimsthal” mine in what is now the Czech Republic, though the two are from different production batches.The cube, according to specialists at the JRC’s Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU), was produced in 1943 for the Nazi nuclear programme and was used in the lab of famous boffin Werner Heisenberg (of uncertainty principle fame).’
November 1, 2009
[war] Inside the Apocalyptic Soviet Doomsday Machine … fascinating look at the dead-man’s switch the Soviet’s have deployed as part of their strategy of nuclear deterrence … ‘Perimeter was never meant as a traditional doomsday machine. The Soviets had taken game theory one step further than Kubrick, Szilard, and everyone else: They built a system to deter themselves. By guaranteeing that Moscow could hit back, Perimeter was actually designed to keep an overeager Soviet military or civilian leader from launching prematurely during a crisis.’
October 31, 2009
[war] Secrets Hope As Hitler Aide Dies … [via Warren Ellis]

He also told the German newspaper how he was dismissed by Hitler over a bizarre incident involving a fly.

The fly had been buzzing around the room during a strategy conference in July 1944, irritating the Nazi leader.

Hitler ordered Mr Darges to get rid of it, but the SS adjutant suggested that as it was an “airborne pest” the job should go to Luftwaffe adjutant, Nicolaus von Below.

He said Hitler then flew into a rage and dismissed him, saying: “You’re for the eastern front.”

August 20, 2009
[war] The Wandering Soul Psyop Tape Of Vietnam‘Listen to the eerie sounds of “The Wandering Soul” – also known as “Ghost Tape Number 10″ – that was broadcast by loudspeakers installed on Swifts and other units during “Chieu Hoi” and Psychological Warfare missions to “taunt” the enemy.’
June 10, 2009
[computers] The Register makes a good case for the Minuteman 1’s nuclear missile guidance computer being the first truly portable computer‘We should celebrate this wonderful nuke. Oh sure, the computer system couldn’t run “Wordstar” or a game of “Colossal Cave,” like the Osborne 1, but how many computers do you know that can destroy the world? That feature offers some serious LAN-party cred right right there. And with a three-stage, solid-propellant rocket build in, travel is a breeze.’
May 21, 2009
[war] MI6 urged Churchill to nuke Berlin‘The proposal was discussed in August 1944, when British agents were reporting that Hitler was poised to launch the supersonic V2 rockets, armed with 2,000lb warheads, at London. Britain had no effective counter-measures against the 46ft-long rocket-propelled V2s and because they travelled faster than the speed of sound, they detonated without warning. An alarmed Liddell asked Sir Stewart Menzies, the head of MI6, if a nuclear threat could be used against Hitler…’ [via Warren Ellis]
February 18, 2009
[history] The greatest motivational poster ever? … BBC News on the Keep Calm and Carry On Poster … ‘One company has given it a twist, replacing the original slogan with “Now Panic and Freak Out”.’
January 26, 2009
[war] Atomic John … New Yorker article on one man’s obssesive search to find the secrets behind the first Atomic Bombs … [via qwghlm]

‘Human beings are proud of what they create—no matter how controversial or deadly. Edward Teller revealed the essential secrets of the hydrogen bomb in a popular encyclopedia article. In 1995, Robert Henderson, the chief engineer for the Manhattan Project, sent back to Coster-Mullen an early version of the “Atom Bombs” manuscript, with comments such as “shit” and “pure shit,” and then went on to explain the exact (and still classified) process by which engineers made the lens molds that cast the explosives that squeezed the core of Fat Man until it achieved critical mass. Reading through President Truman’s diaries, at the Truman Library, in Independence, Missouri, Coster-Mullen found an entry dated July 25, 1945, in which the President marvelled that “13 pounds of the explosive” had made the shot tower at Alamogordo, New Mexico, disappear—a pretty accurate estimate of the amount of nuclear material contained in Fat Man.’

January 22, 2009
[war] Rocket Strikes I Am Near … type in a London postcode and get a list of V2 rockets strikes in that area. Londonist: ‘V-2 explosions devastated Selfridges, Speakers’ Corner and Holborn. That isolated Caffe Nero near the mural on Tottenham Court Road stands on the still-undeveloped site of a blast that killed nine.’
July 18, 2008
[movies] Peter Bradshaw reviews Errol Morris’s documentary Standard Operating Procedure: ‘The Abu Ghraib scandal was a product of the digital age: ordinary roll-film cameras or Polaroids might have been too conspicuous, there would be no facilities for development, and any resulting prints might have been confiscated or lost. But digital images, immediately accessible and so easily transferable and reproducible, and with ineradicable date and time stamps, were the captors’ undoing. Watching this film is the grimmest experience imaginable…’
July 6, 2008
[history] German Bunker in my Garden … the blog of a guy who digs up an abandoned Nazi War Bunker in his back garden … ‘Unfortunately… the boulder was too big for the digger to move (we estimated about 8 tonnes) and we needed to get behind it to keep digging. So we had to call a halt to proceedings while I source a rock-breaker attachment for the digger! Oh, and I hadn’t warned my wife either… so I had this to explain when she came home…’ [via Metafilter]
January 3, 2008
[war] Which Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? [Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3] — a wonderful long series of blog posts from Errol Morris as he obsessively examines two early war photos taken during the Crimean War to decide if they were staged or not … [via Metafilter]

‘Much of the problem comes from our collective need to endow photographs with intentions – even though there are no people in the frame, including Fenton himself, who is conspicuously absent. The minute we start to conjecture about Fenton’s reasons, his intent – his psychological state – we are walking on unhallowed ground. Can we read Fenton’s intentions off of a photographic plate? Is there anything in the letters that tells us what he was really thinking and what really happened?’

January 2, 2008
[blogs] WW1: Experiences of an English Soldier — a blog posting letters in real-time (ninety years after they were written) from a English Soldier in World War I to his family … ‘Three days after, we were called up the line again of course I went this time. We had to go to the front line were it was on the Menin Road no doubt you have heard about it. We were there for three days it was awful the shelling day and night.’
November 15, 2007
[war] British Nukes were protected by Bike Locks‘To arm the weapons you just open a panel held by two captive screws – like a battery cover on a radio – using a thumbnail or a coin. Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which you can turn with an Allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or groundburst and other parameters. The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees.’ [via Grayblog]
March 22, 2007
[news] Evening Standard: War Has Started(more…)
March 7, 2007
[iraq] Pat Dollard, Hollywood Guy Gone Gonzo‘After his fourth wife left him because she got upset about his hobbies, which included cocaine and hookers, Hollywood agent/producer Pat Dollard decided to get his head together by flying to Iraq to hang out with Marines and fight insurgents and film a pro-war documentary that would make him “the Michael Moore of the right.” A few weeks later, he sent his Hollywood pals a photo of himself with a Mohawk haircut, a machine gun and the word DIE shaved into his chest hair. After that, things started to get weird.’ [thanks Phil]
March 3, 2007
[comics] Ask Metafilter: What’s the appeal of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller?‘The disillusionment portrayed in Catch 22 is symbolic of the disillusionment that was forming in the American conscious throughout the 20th century. Just look at Vietnam, a war that began just a few years after Catch 22’s publication. And I would say that the same ideas are still with us, maybe growing. Our Presidential and congressional leaders seem just as incapable of hearing the truth as any authorities in Catch 22. All one can do is navigate through the bureaucracy, using its illogical rules to our own advantage whenever possible.’
August 18, 2006
[ww2] Fighting Jack Churchill Survived a Wartime Odyssey Beyond Compare — More details on the wartime exploits of Captain Jack Churchill …

‘He became so good with the bow that he shot for Britain at the world championships in Oslo in 1939. By then, however, the long ugly shadows of war were stretching across Europe. As the German Army smashed into Poland, Churchill returned to the British Army and the Manchester Regiment, and was shipped off to France. “I was,” he said later, “back in my red coat; the country having got into a jam in my absence.”

One of his brother officers, an old friend, saw him about that time chugging across the Flanders plain on a small motorcycle, his bow tied to the frame, arrows sticking out of one of the panniers on the back, a German officer’s cap hanging on the headlight. “Ah!” said Churchill, spotting his friend, “Hullo Clark! Got anything to drink?” Once Churchill had dismounted, his friend noticed dried blood smeared across one ear and asked Churchill about the injury. German machine gun, said Churchill casually. His men had shouted at him to run but, he said, he was simply too tired.

In later years, Churchill served as an instructor at the land-air warfare school in Australia, where he became a passionate devotee of the surfboard. Back in England, he was the first man to ride the Severn River’s five-foot tidal bore and designed his own board.’

August 14, 2006
[ww2] Any Officer Who Goes Into Action Without His Sword is Improperly Dressed — a summary of the almost unbelievable wartime adventures of Captain Jack Churchill

‘In 1940, some of the German commanders who were overseeing the push into France began to receive seemingly random reports of soldiers having been killed with broad-head arrows or hacked with a English Claymore. Effective enough weapons it would seem, but archaic even in that day and age. They likely could have guessed the bowman was an English soldier, but they couldn’t have appreciated these as the calling card of the rabid eccentric, Captain Jack Churchill.’

‘Commando training ended with an attack on Nord Fiord, Norway. While the two companies he commanded advanced on their target, Jack stood in the lead craft, and played on his pipes “The March of the Cameron Men”. His report at mission’s end was simply: “Maaloy battery and island captured. Casualties slight. Demolitions in progress. Churchill.”

‘In 1944 Jack’s luck and tenacity took a slip when he was ordered into an impossible situation. Most of his squad was killed, and Jack was taken captive. After being hauled to Berlin for questioning, he was sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he was meant to stay until war’s end. He might have done so, but one night the power went out, and Jack was prepared: he had a rusty can and some onions. It was all that he needed. In the darkness he just walked away and made his escape.’

March 17, 2006
[history] Boy’s Pancake Breakfast Delayed the End of WWII — Proving that the path of human history does not run smoothly when teenagers are involved in the process… ‘On Aug. 14, 1945, [Thomas] Jones, a 16-year-old messenger in Washington, D.C., was entrusted to deliver to the White House the cable announcing Japan’s surrender to the United States to end World War II. Unaware of his cargo’s import, the boy, in cavalier teenage fashion, put work on hold to eat pancakes at a diner, hang out with his friends and flirt with waitresses. Later, he left his pancakes to complete the job only to be pulled over en route to the White House by a police officer, who berated the boy for making an illegal U-turn…’
February 28, 2006
[ww2] Distributed computing cracks Enigma code — wartime German code cracked after 60 years … ‘Forced to submerge during attack. Depth charges. [...] I am following the enemy.’ [via Metafilter]
December 16, 2005
[movies] Vision of Hell — a Guardian article which asks: What Makes a Great War Film? … ‘It is easy to understand why Jane Fonda abominated The Deer Hunter. The Vietnamese characters are not sympathetic or deep, the American soldiers are, and the movie ends with the survivors sitting around the table, singing God Bless America. But that simplistic summary, and Fonda’s hostility, mischaracterise the subtlety and complexity of Cimino’s feature: the tender slowness with which he describes the home town the conscripts come from, which makes you understand the coldness of the American war machine, the depth of the betrayal involved in hurling trusting young patriots into an incomprehensible nightmare for which their upbringing has not prepared them, and the true, lingering nature of war wounds.’
November 8, 2005
[war] The Military Applications of Silly String‘ I’m a former Marine I in Afghanistan. Silly string has served me well in Combat especially in looking for I.A.Ds., simply put, booby traps. When you spray the silly sting in dark areas, especially when you doing house to house fighting. On many occasions the silly string has saved me and my men’s lives.’ [via As Above]
August 5, 2005
[blogs] The Blogs of War — Wired News covers Bloggers in the American Military … Danjel Bout, aka Thunder 6: ‘Americans are raised on a steady diet of action films and sound bites that slip from one supercharged scene to another, leaving out all the confusing decisions and subtle details where most people actually spend their lives. While that makes for a great story, it doesn’t reveal anything of lasting value. For people to really understand our day-to-day experience here, they need more than the highlights reel. They need to see the world through our eyes for a few minutes.’
July 27, 2005
[bell] Steve Bell: Uneasy Rider [Related: Archive of Steve Bell's Cartoons]

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