Lady Plumber

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Irena Sendler
Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98) Warsaw, Poland 
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During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist.
She had an ulterior motive.
Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried.   She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her truck for larger kids.  Irena kept a dog in the back of her truck that she had trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto.   The soldiers, of course, wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking which covered the kids/infants noises.
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During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants.  Ultimately, she was caught, however, and the Nazi’s broke both of her legs and arms and beat her severely.
Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she had smuggled out in a glass jar that she buried under a tree in her back yard.  After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and tried to reunite the family.  Most had been gassed.  Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.
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In 2007 Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize.  She was not selected.   Al Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming. 
Later, another politician, Barack Obama, won for his work as a community organizer for ACORN.
In  MEMORIAM – 65 YEARS LATER: I’m doing my small part by forwarding this message.   I hope you’ll consider doing the same.   On May 8, it will be 70 years since the Second World War in Europe ended.  This email is being sent as a memorial chain in memory of the six million Jews, 20 million Russians, and 10 million Christians were  murdered, massacred, raped, burned, starved and humiliated.

Now more than ever, with Iran and others claiming the HOLOCAUST to be “a myth,” it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets,  because there are others who would like to do it again.

The Canadian $10 Bill – a Great Story!‏

If you look at the back right-hand side of a Canadian $10 bill, you will see an old veteran standing at attention near the Ottawa War Memorial. His name is Robert Metcalfe and he died last month at the age of 90.

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That he managed to live to that age is rather remarkable, given what happened in the Second World War. Born in  England , he was one of the 400,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force sent to the mainland where they found themselves facing the new German warfare technique – the Blitzkrieg.

He was treating a wounded comrade when he was hit in the legs by shrapnel.

En route to hospital, his ambulance came under fire from a German tank, which then miraculously ceased fire. Evacuated from  Dunkirk  on HMS Grenade, two of the sister ships with them were sunk.

Recovered, he was sent to allied campaigns in North Africa and  Italy . En route, his ship was chased by the German battleship  Bismarck .

In  North Africa  he served under General Montgomery against the Desert Fox, Rommel.

Sent into the Italian campaign, he met his future wife, a lieutenant and physio-therapist in a Canadian hospital. They were married in the morning by the mayor of the Italian town, and again in the afternoon by a British padre.

After the war, they settled in  Chatham ,  Ontario , where he went into politics and became the warden (chairman) of the county, and on his retirement he and his wife moved to  Ottawa . At the age of 80 he wrote a book about his experiences.

One day out of the blue he received a call from a government official asking him to go downtown for a photo op. He wasn’t told what the photo was for, or why they chose him. ‘He had no idea he would be on the bill,’ his daughter said.

And now you know the story of the old veteran on the $10 bill.

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Normandy 70 years later

Same place 70 years later

Very cool and unique‏

Pictures from the Past – It is amazing the difference in 70 years.




Monopoly – I Did Not Know This!

 (You’ll never look at the game the  same way again!)

Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the  involuntary guests of the Third Reich, and the Crown was casting about  for ways and means to facilitate their escape…

Now  obviously, one of the most helpful aids to that end is a useful and  accurate map, one showing not only where stuff was, but also  showing the locations of ‘safe  houses’ where a POW on-the-lam  could go for food and shelter.

Paper maps  had some real drawbacks — they make a lot of noise when you open and  fold them, they wear out rapidly, and if they get wet, they turn into  mush.

Someone in  MI-5 (similar to America ‘s OSS ) got the idea of printing escape maps on silk. It’s durable, can be scrunched-up into tiny wads, and unfolded  as many times as needed, and makes no noise  whatsoever.

At that  time, there was only one manufacturer in Great Britain that had  perfected the technology of printing on silk, and that was John  Waddington, Ltd.  When approached by the government, the firm was  only too happy to do its bit for the war effort.

By pure  coincidence, Waddington was also the U.K. Licensee for the popular  American board game, Monopoly.  As it happened, ‘games and  pastimes’ was a category of item qualified for insertion into ‘CARE  packages’, dispatched by the International Red Cross to prisoners of  war.

Under the  strictest of secrecy, in a securely guarded and inaccessible old  workshop on the grounds of Waddington’s, a group of sworn-to-secrecy  employees began mass-producing escape maps, keyed to each region of  Germany or Italy where Allied POW camps were regional system).   When processed, these maps could be folded into such tiny dots that they  would actually fit inside a Monopoly playing  piece.

As long as  they were at it, the clever workmen at Waddington’s  also managed  to add :
1.    A playing  token, containing a small magnetic compass
    A two-part  metal file that could easily be screwed together
    Useful  amounts of genuine high-denomination German, Italian, and French  currency, hidden within the piles of Monopoly  money!

British  and American air crews were advised, before taking off on their first  mission, how to identify a ‘rigged’ Monopoly set — by means of a tiny  red dot, one cleverly rigged to look like an ordinary printing glitch,  located in the corner of the Free Parking square.

Of the  estimated 35,000 Allied POWS who successfully escaped, an estimated  one-third were aided in their flight by the rigged Monopoly sets.   Everyone who did so was sworn to secrecy indefinitely, since the British  Government might want to use this highly successful ruse in still  another, future war.

The story  wasn’t declassified until 2007, when the surviving  craftsmen from  Waddington’s, as well as the firm itself, were  finally honored in  a public ceremony.

It’s  always nice when you can play that ‘Get Out of Jail’ Free’  card!

I realize  most of you are (probably) too young to have any personal connection to  WWII (Dec. ’41 to Aug. ’45), but this is still  interesting.


(See for more on this story. – Ed.)

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Remarkable doesn’t begin to cover it.
These are real treasures, aren’t they?
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Miss America 1924
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Helen Keller Meeting Charlie Chaplin
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Leather gloves worn by Lincoln to Ford’s Theater on the night of his assassination.
Blood stains are visible at the cuffs.
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Phoebe Mozee (aka: Annie Oakley).
Famed for her marksmanship by 12 years old,
she once shot the ashes off of Kaiser Wihelm II’s cigarette at his invitation.
When she outshot famed exhibition marksman Frank Butler,
he fell in love with her and they married.
They remained married the rest of their lives.
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Very Young Lucy Lucille Ball around 1930
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This is one of five known X-rays of Hitler’s head,
part of his medical records compiled by American military intelligence after the German’s surrendered and declassified in 1958.
The records also include doctor’s reports,
diagrams of his teeth and nose and electrocardiograms.
He had bad teeth, lots of fillings and crowns.
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Two Victorian sideshow performers boxing – the fat man and the thin man.
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Amy Johnson, English aviator 1903-1941.
One of the first women to gain a pilot’s licence,
Johnson won fame when she flew solo from Britain to Australia in 1930.
Her dangerous flight took 17 days.
Later she flew solo to India and Japan,
and became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic East to West.
She volunteered to fly for The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in WW2,
but her plane was shot down over the River Thames and she was killed.
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Prison Garb 1924.
Belva Annan murderess whose trial records became the musical “Chicago.”
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Female photojournalist Jessie Tarbox on the street with her camera, 1900s.
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Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole.
At approximately 3pm on December 14, 1911
Amundsen raised the flag of Norway at the South Pole
and named the spot Polheim ­ ‘Pole Home.’
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The extraordinary life of Maud Allen:
Seductive US dancing girl who was sued for being too lewd,
outed as a lesbian,
and fled London after being branded a German spy
who was sleeping with the prime minister’s wife.
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John Fitzgerald Kennedy
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Caroline Otero, courtesan.
The most sought after woman in all of Europe.
She associated herself with the likes of Prince Albert I of Monaco,
King Edward VII of the United Kingdom,
Kings of Serbia, and Kings of Spain
as well as Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas,
the Duke of Westminster and writer Gabriele D’Annunzio.
Six men reportedly committed suicide after their love affairs with Otero ended.
Two men fought a duel over her.
She was famed for her voluptuous breasts.
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Wedding day photograph of Abraham and Mary
taken November 4, 1842 in Springfield, Illinois.
After three years of a stormy courtship
and a broken engagement. Their love had endured.
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Billie Holiday at two years old, in 1917
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Washington, D.C., circa 1919. “Walter Reed Hospital flu ward.”
One of the very few images in Washington-area photo archives
documenting the influenza contagion of 1918-1919,
which killed over 500,000 Americans and tens of millions around the globe.
Most victims succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection.
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Filming the MGM Logo
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Amelia Earhart
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Mae Questel ca. 1930’s.
The voice of Betty Boop and Olive Oyl,Minnie Mouse,
Felix the Cat (for three shorts by the Van Beuren Studios),
Little Lulu, Little Audrey and Casper, the Friendly Ghost
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Bea Arthur (nee Bernice Frankel) (1922-2009) SSgt. USMC 1943-45 WW II.
Enlisted and assigned as typist at Marine HQ in Wash DC,
Then air stations in VA and NC.
Best remembered for her title role in the TV series “Maude”
and as Dorothy in “Golden Girls”.
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In 1911, Bobby Leach survived a plunge over Niagara Falls in a steel barrel.
Fourteen years later, in New Zealand, he slipped on an orange peel and died.
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Emily Todd was Mary Todd Lincoln’s half-sister.
In 1856 she married Benjamin Helm, a Confederate general.
After Helm’s death in 1863
Emily Helm passed through Union Lines to visit her sister in the White House.
This caused great consternation in the Northern newspapers.
Emily Helm took an oath of loyalty to the Union and was granted amnesty
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Three days before his 19th birthday,
George H.W. Bush became the youngest aviator in the US Navy.
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Market Street, San Francisco after the earthquake, 1906.
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All-American Girls Baseball, 1940s
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c. 1943 : Breast Protectors for War Workers
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Mary Ellen Wilson (1864-1956) or sometimes Mary Ellen McCormack
was an American whose case of child abuse led to the creation of
the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
As an eight-year old, she was severely abused by her foster parents,
Francis and Mary Connolly.
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Stolen, held captive, sold, eventually reunited the Shoshone Indians.
She was an interpreter and guide for Lewis and Clark
in 1805-1806 with her husband Toussaint Charbonneau.
She navigated carrying her son, Jean Baptiste, on her back.
She traveled thousands of miles from the Dakotas the Pacific Ocean.
The explorers, said she was cheerful, never complained,
and proved to be invaluable.
She served as an advisor, caretaker,
and is legendary for her perseverance and resourcefulness.
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Zelda Boden, circus performer, ca. 1910.
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A Confederate and Union soldier shake hands during a celebration at Gettysburg in 1913.
Image from the Library of Congress.
July 1-3, 2013 marks the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.
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Geraldine Doyle, who was the inspiration behind the famous Rosie the Riveter poster.
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Vintage Baked Potato Cart. A legitimate fast food lunch option back in the day.
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Black physicians treating in the ER a member of the Ku Kux Klan
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Cyclists ride in the first running of the Tour de France, in 1903.
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Sergeant Stubby (1916 or 1917 – April 4, 1926),
was the most decorated war dog of World War I
and the only dog to be promoted to sergeant through combat.
America’s first war dog, Stubby, served 18 months ‘over there’
and participated in seventeen battles on the Western Front.
He saved his regiment from surprise mustard gas attacks,
found and comforted the wounded, and even once caught a German spy
by the seat of his pants (holding him there til American Soldiers found him).
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Nightwitches –
Female Russian bombers who bombed Germany during WW2.
They had old, noisy planes
& the engines used to conk out halfway through their missions,
so they had to climb out on the wings mid-flight to restart the props.
To stop Germans from hearing them & starting up the anti aircraft guns,
they’d climb to a certain height, coast down to German positions,
drop their bombs, restart their engines in midair
& get the hell out of dodge.
Their leader flew 200+ missions & was never captured.
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Marilyn Monroe meets Queen Elizabeth II, London, 1956 Both women are 30 years old.
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Chief Petty Officer Graham Jackson plays “Going Home”
as FDR’s body is borne past in Warm Springs, GA,
where the President was scheduled to attend a barbecue on the day he died. April, 1945.

WWII B17 Survival Story

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B-17 “All American” (414th Squadron, 97BG) Crew
Pilot- Ken Bragg Jr.
Copilot- G. Boyd Jr.
Navigator- Harry C. Nuessle
Bombardier- Ralph Burbridge
Engineer- Joe C. James
Radio Operator- Paul A. Galloway
Ball Turret Gunner- Elton Conda
Waist Gunner- Michael Zuk
Tail Gunner- Sam T. Sarpolus
Ground Crew Chief- Hank Hyland
B-17 in 1943
A mid-air collision on February 1, 1943, between a B-17 and a German fighter over the Tunis dock area, became the subject of one of the most famous photographs of World  War II. An enemy fighter attacking a 97th Bomb Group formation went out of control, probably with a wounded pilot, then continued its crashing descent into the rear of the fuselage of a Fortress named All American, piloted by Lt. Kendrick R. Bragg, of the 414th Bomb Squadron.

When it struck, the fighter broke apart, but left some pieces in the B-17. The left horizontal stabilizer of the Fortress and left elevator were completely torn away. The two right engines were out and one on the left had a serious oil pump leak. The vertical fin and the rudder had been damaged, the fuselage had been cut almost completely through connected only at two small parts of the frame and the radios, electrical and oxygen systems were  damaged. There was also a hole in the top that was over 16 feet long and 4 feet wide at its widest and the split in the fuselage went all the way to the top gunner’s turret.

Although the tail actually bounced and swayed in the wind and twisted when the plane turned and all the control cables were severed, except one single elevator cable still worked, and the aircraft still flew – miraculously! The tail gunner was trapped because there was no floor connecting the tail to the rest of the plane. The waist and tail gunners used parts of the German fighter and their own parachute harnesses in an attempt to keep the tail from ripping off and the two sides of the fuselage from splitting apart. While the crew was trying to keep the bomber from coming apart, the pilot continued on his bomb run and released his bombs over the target.

When the bomb bay doors were opened, the wind turbulence was so great it blew one of the waist gunners into the broken tail section. It took several minutes and four crew members to pass him ropes from parachutes and haul him back into the forward part of the plane.  When they tried to do the same for the tail gunner, the tail began flapping so hard that it began to break off. The weight of the gunner was adding some stability to the tail section, so he went back to his position.

The turn back toward England had to be very slow to keep the tail from twisting off. They actually covered almost 70 miles to make the turn home. The bomber was so badly damaged it was losing altitude and speed and was soon alone in the sky. For a brief time, two more Me-109 German fighters attacked the All American. Despite the extensive damage, all of the machine gunners were able to respond to these attacks and soon drove off the fighters. The two waist gunners stood up with their heads sticking out through the hole in the top of the fuselage to aim and fire their machine guns. The tail gunner had to shoot in short bursts because the recoil was actually  causing the plane to turn.

Allied P-51 fighters intercepted the All American as it crossed over the Channel and took one of the pictures shown. They also radioed to the base describing that the empennage was waving like a fish tail and that the plane would not make it and to send out boats to rescue the crew when they bailed out. The fighters stayed with the Fortress taking hand signals from Lt. Bragg and relaying them to the base.  Lt. Bragg signaled that 5 parachutes and the spare had been “used” so five of the crew could not bail out. He made the decision that if they could not bail out safely, then he would stay with the plane and land it.

Two and a half hours after being hit, the aircraft made its final turn to line up with the runway while it was still over 40 miles away. It descended into an emergency landing and a normal roll-out on its landing gear.  When the ambulance pulled alongside, it was waved off because not a single member of the crew had been injured. No one could believe that the aircraft could still fly in such a condition. The Fortress sat placidly until the crew all exited  through the door in the fuselage and the tail gunner had climbed down a ladder, at which time the entire rear section of the aircraft collapsed onto the ground. The rugged old bird had done its job.

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Dolittle’s Raiders

On Tuesday, in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, the surviving
Doolittle Raiders gathered publicly for the last time.
They once were among the most universally admired and revered men in the United States. There were 80 of the Raiders in April 1942, when they carried out one of the most courageous and heart-stirring military operations in this nation’s history. The mere mention of their unit’s name, in those years, would bring tears to the eyes of grateful Americans.
Now only four survive.
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After Japan’s sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, with the United States reeling and wounded, something dramatic was needed to turn the war effort around.
Even though there were no friendly airfields close enough to Japan for the United States to launch a retaliation, a daring plan was devised. Sixteen B-25s were modified so that they could take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. This had never before been tried — sending such big, heavy bombers from a carrier.
The 16 five-man crews, under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle, who himself flew the lead plane off the USS Hornet, knew that they would not be able to return to the carrier. They would have to hit Japan and then hope to make it to China for a safe landing.
But on the day of the raid, the Japanese military caught wind of the plan. The Raiders were told that they would have to take off from much farther out in the Pacific Ocean than they had counted on. They were told that because of this they would not have enough fuel to make it to safety.
And those men went anyway.
They bombed Tokyo, and then flew as far as they could. Four planes crash-landed; 11 more crews bailed out, and three of the Raiders died. Eight more were captured; three were executed. Another died of starvation in a Japanese prison camp. One crew made it to Russia.
The Doolittle Raid sent a message from the United States to its enemies, and to the rest of the world: We will fight. And, no matter what it takes, we will win.
Of the 80 Raiders, 62 survived the war. They were celebrated as national heroes, models of bravery. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer produced a motion picture based on the raid; “Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo,” starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson, was a patriotic and emotional box-office hit, and the phrase became part of the national lexicon. In the movie-theater previews for the film, MGM proclaimed that it was presenting the story “with supreme pride.”
Beginning in 1946, the surviving Raiders have held a reunion each April, to commemorate the mission. The reunion is in a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson, Arizona, as a gesture of respect and gratitude, presented the Doolittle Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets. Each goblet was engraved with the name of a Raider.
Every year, a wooden display case bearing all 80 goblets is transported to the reunion city. Each time a Raider passes away, his goblet is turned upside down in the case at the next reunion, as his old friends bear solemn witness.
Also in the wooden case is a bottle of 1896 Hennessy Very Special cognac. The year is not happenstance: 1896 was when Jimmy Doolittle was born.

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There has always been a plan: When there are only two surviving Raiders, they would open the bottle, at last drink from it, and toast their comrades who preceded them in death.

As 2013 began, there were five living Raiders; then, in February, Tom Griffin passed away at age 96.
What a man he was. After bailing out of his plane over a mountainous Chinese forest after the Tokyo raid, he became ill with malaria, and almost died. When he recovered, he was sent to Europe to fly more combat missions. He was shot down, captured, and spent 22 months in a German prisoner of war camp.
The selflessness of these men, the sheer guts … there was a passage in the Cincinnati Enquirer obituary for Mr. Griffin that, on the surface, had nothing to do with the war, but that emblematizes the depth of his sense of duty and devotion: “When his wife became ill and needed to go into a nursing home, he visited her every day. He walked from his house to the nursing home, fed his wife and at the end of the day brought home her clothes. At night, he washed and ironed her clothes. Then he walked them up to her room the next morning. He did that for three years until her death in 2005.”
So now, out of the original 80, only four Raiders remain: Dick Cole (Doolittle’s co-pilot on the Tokyo raid), Robert Hite, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher. All are in their 90s. They have decided that there are too few of them for the public reunions to continue.
The events in Fort Walton Beach this week will mark the end. It has come full circle; Florida’s nearby Eglin Field was where the Raiders trained in secrecy for the Tokyo mission. The town is planning to do all it can to honor the men: a six-day celebration of their valor, including luncheons, a dinner and a parade.
Do the men ever wonder if those of us for whom they helped save the country have tended to it in a way that is worthy of their sacrifice? They don’t talk about that, at least not around other people. But if you find yourself near Fort Walton Beach this week, and if you should encounter any of the Raiders, you might want to offer them a word of thanks. I can tell you from first hand observation that they appreciate hearing that they are remembered.
The men have decided that after this final public reunion they will wait until a later date — some time this year — to get together once more, informally and in absolute privacy. That is when they will open the bottle of brandy. The years are flowing by too swiftly now; they are not going to wait until there are
only two of them.
They will fill the four remaining upturned goblets.
And raise them in a toast to those who are gone.
(Ed:  Learn more here.)

The Great Escape

Untouched for almost seven decades, the tunnel used in the Great Escape has finally been unearthed.
The 111-yard passage nicknamed, Harryby Allied prisoners was sealed by the Germans after the audacious break-out from the POW camp Stalag Luft III in western Poland.
Despite huge interest in the subject, encouraged by the film starring Steve McQueen, the tunnel remained undisturbed over the decades because it was behind the Iron Curtain and the Soviet authorities had no interest in its significance.
But at last British archaeologists have excavated it, and discovered its remarkable secrets.
Many of the bed boards which had been joined together to stop it collapsing were still in position. And the ventilation shaft, ingeniously crafted from used powdered milk containers known as Klim Tins, remained in working order.
Scattered throughout the tunnel, which is 30ft below ground, were bits of old metal buckets, hammers and crowbars which were used to hollow out the route.
A total of 600 prisoners worked on three tunnels at the same time. They were nicknamed Tom, Dick and Harry and were just 2 ft square for most of their length.
It was on the night of March 24 and 25, 1944, that 76 Allied airmen escaped through Harry.
Barely a third of the 200 prisoners, many in fake German uniforms and civilian outfits and carrying false identity papers, who were meant to slip away managed to leave before the alarm was raised when escapee number 77 was spotted.
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Tunnel vision: A tunnel reconstruction showing the trolley system.
Only three made it back to Britain . Another 50 were executed by firing squad on the orders of Adolf Hitler, who was furious after learning of the breach of security.
In all, 90 boards from bunk beds, 62 tables, 34 chairs and 76 benches, as well as thousands of items including knives, spoons, forks, towels and blankets, were squirrelled away by the Allied prisoners to aid the escape plan under the noses of their captors.
Although the Hollywood movie suggested otherwise, NO Americans were involved in the operation.  Most were British, and the others were from Canada , (all the tunnellers were Canadian personnel with backgrounds in mining) Poland ,   New Zealand , Australia , and South Africa .
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The site of the tunnel, recently excavated by British archaeologists
The latest dig, over three weeks in August, located the entrance to Harry, which was originally concealed under a stove in Hut 104.
The team also found another tunnel, called George, whose exact position had not been charted.  It was never used as the 2,000 prisoners were forced to march to other camps as the Red Army approached in January 1945.
Watching the excavation was Gordie King, 91, an RAF radio operator, who was 140th in line to use Harry and therefore missed out.
This brings back such bitter-sweet memories, he said as he wiped away tears. I’m amazed by what they‘ve found.
Channel4 - The Great Gatsby
Bitter-sweet memories: Gordie King, 91, made an emotional return to Stalag Luft III.