WWII

Researchers find wreckage of lost WWII warship USS Indianapolis

Naval researchers announced Saturday that they have found the wreckage of the lost World War II cruiser USS Indianapolis on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, 72 years after the vessel sank in minutes after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The ship was found almost 3 1/2 miles below the surface of the Philippine Sea, said a tweet from Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen, who led a team of civilian researchers that made the discovery. Historians and architects from the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, District of Columbia, had joined forces with Allen last year to revisit the tragedy. The ship sank in 15 minutes on July 30, 1945, in the war’s final days, and it took the Navy four days to realize that the vessel was missing. About 800 of the crew’s 1,200 sailors and Marines made it off the cruiser before it sank. But almost 600 of them died over the next four to five days from exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Nineteen crew members are alive today, the Navy command said in a news release. The Indianapolis had just completed a top secret mission to deliver components of the atomic bomb “Little Boy” to the island of Tinian. The bomb was later dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In a statement on its website, the command call the shipwreck a “significant discovery,” considering the depth of the water. “While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming,” Allen said in a statement. His research vessel, Petrel, has state-of-the-art subsea equipment that can descend to depths like those at which the ship was found. The cruiser’s captain, Charles Butler McVay III, was among those who survived, but he was eventually court-martialed and convicted of losing control of the vessel. About 350 Navy ships were lost in combat during the war, but he was the only captain to be court-martialed. Years later, under pressure from survivors to clear his name, McVay was posthumously exonerated by Congress and President Bill Clinton.

I had the distinct privilege of meeting one of the survivors of the USS Indianapolis about 16 years ago.  He gave a presentation to the Army unit I was assigned to at the time.   To read the rest of this article, and see some photos, click on the text above.    🙂

Israel says Nazi camp excavations unearth link to Anne Frank

Researchers excavating the remains of one of the most notorious Nazi death camps have uncovered a pendant that appears identical to one belonging to Anne Frank, Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial said Sunday. Yad Vashem says it has ascertained the pendant belonged to Karoline Cohn — a Jewish girl who perished at Sobibor and may have been connected to the famous diarist. Both were born in Frankfurt in 1929, and historians have found no other pendants like theirs. The triangular piece found has the words “Mazal Tov” written in Hebrew on one side along with Cohn’s date of birth. The other side has the Hebrew letter “heh,” an initial for God, as well as three Stars of David. Researchers are now trying to reach out to any remaining relatives of the two to confirm whether they were related. Since 2007, the Israel Antiquities Authority, together with Yad Vashem, has been conducting excavations at the former camp in Poland in a novel approach to Holocaust research. The camp was destroyed after an October 1943 uprising, with the Nazis leveling it and planting over it to cover up their crimes. Yet, archeologists have managed to uncover the gas chamber foundations and the original train platform. More than 250,000 Jews were killed in Sobibor, in eastern Poland, one of the most extreme examples of the Nazi “Final Solution” to eradicate European Jewry. Frank died at the Bergen-Belsen camp, in northern Germany, in 1945. Unlike other facilities that had at least a facade of being prison or labor camps, Sobibor and the neighboring camps Belzec and Treblinka were designed specifically for exterminating Jews. Victims were transported there in cattle cars and gassed to death almost immediately. “These recent findings from the excavations at Sobibor constitute an important contribution to the documentation and commemoration of the Holocaust, and help us to better understand what happened at Sobibor, both in terms of the camp’s function and also from the point of view of the victims,” said Havi Dreifuss, of Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research.

To see a photo of this pendant, click on the text above..

Incredible images reveal US Navy seaplane lost in Pearl Harbor attack

Archaeologists from NOAA and the University of Hawaii have released incredible images of a U.S. Navy plane sunk during the opening minutes of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7 1941. Just minutes before the attack on Pearl Harbor, aircraft from the Japanese Imperial Navy bombed the nearby U.S. Naval Air Station on the east coast of Oahu, NOAA explained in a press release. Some 27 Catalina PBY “flying boats” on the ground or moored on Kāne‛ohe Bay were destroyed in the attack. A University of Hawaii dive team attempted to photograph the wreck of a Catalina PBY-5 in 1994 but was thwarted by the murky waters of Kāne‛ohe Bay. An attempt by a local sport diving group, Hawaii Underwater Explorers, met with limited success 14 years later. However, in June, with better visibility and using improved camera equipment, a team of students from the University of Hawaii Marine Option Program returned to the wreck and conducted a detailed archaeological survey, NOAA said. The effort was coordinated by Hans Van Tilburg, a maritime archaeologist with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. The plane, which is protected by the Sunken Military Craft Act of 2004, rests in three large pieces at a depth of 30 feet. Van Tilburg explained that while the precise identity of the aircraft remains unknown, it is possible the crew died while attempting to take off in the face of the attack. “The new images and site plan help tell the story of a largely forgotten casualty of the attack,” Van Tilburg said, in the press release. “The sunken PBY plane is a very important reminder of the ‘Day of Infamy,’ just like the USS Arizona and USS Utah. They are all direct casualties of December 7.” “This sunken flying boat is a window into the events of the attack, a moment in time that reshaped the Pacific region,” said June Cleghorn, senior archaeologist at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. “Understanding this site sheds light on the mystery of the lost PBYs and honors the legacy of the Navy and Marine Corps Base in Hawaii.” Catalina PBY seaplanes were used as long-range patrol bombers by the U.S. military. NOAA notes that the strike on the planes’ Oahu base was a significant loss, adding that the bombers could have followed the Japanese planes back to their carriers.

Fascinating!!   🙂

Remains of Japanese WWII soldiers found in sealed cave

The island nation of Palau is preparing for a visit from Japan’s Emperor Akihito next week with an unusual and grim task: It’s investigating long-sealed caves on the island of Peleliu to look for the remains of Japanese soldiers from World War II. The remains of six soldiers have been discovered so far, but that’s just the start. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports they were found in one of about 200 sealed caves on Peleliu. An estimated 10,000 Japanese men were killed in a weeks-long battle with US troops during the war, and the bodies of 2,600 of them were never found. The Japanese used a network of caves and tunnels during the 1944 fighting, recounts the Telegraph, and largely “staged their defense” from within the caves. About 1,600 American troops were killed, but the US military blew up many of the caves (essentially sealing the Japanese within) and eventually gained control. The six newly found bodies were found in the vicinity of an anti-tank gun, and “it’s my understanding that those [bodies] were the crew, perhaps the officer and his men that were manning that gun,” says one of the search officials. “A number of US soldiers died in that vicinity as well.” The task is painstaking because searchers need to guard against booby traps or the detonation of old munitions. An interesting side note from the Telegraph: Some 35 Japanese soldiers who had been hiding in the caves surrendered in April 1947—more than a year after the war’s end.

Fascinating!!

Wreckage of Japanese WWII battleship located by Microsoft co-founder’s research team

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says that he and a team of researchers have located the wreckage of the Japanese battleship Musashi, more than 70 years after it was sunk during World War II. If confirmed as the Musashi, the find would complete eight years of searching by Allen’s team, who have outfitted the billionaire’s yacht, M/Y Octopus, with high-tech equipment to map undersea topography. A statement released by Allen’s publicity agency Edelman early Wednesday said the wreckage had been located Sunday by a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) outfitted with a high-definition camera.

Very cool!!    🙂

Expedition uncovering Nazi U-boat in Gulf shows WWII played out close to home

Expedition uncovering Nazi U-boat in Gulf shows WWII played out close to home

Cool!  I love stuff like this.  Too bad they can’t retrieve some of these historical relics, and bring them up for us to see in a museum exhibit, etc.  Just leaving them all at the bottom of the Gulf seems kinda silly to me.  So much history here!