This month in history


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Mar 15, 2004 According to Greenpeace there have been more than 120 submarine accidents concerning nuclear weapons since 1956. The most recent incident, in August 2000, was the loss of the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea. The Kursk is the seventh nuclear submarine lost, five of them Russian, two American. There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.

Mar 14, 2004 The "V" for victory sign was the idea of a Belgian refugee in London, Victor De Laveleye. In a short-wave broadcast from London, he urged his countrymen to chalk the letter "V" on all public places as a sign of confidence in ultimate victory. This was plugged in all BBC foreign language programs and later supported by the two finger "V" sign of the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

Mar 13, 2004 The US Army had more ships than the US Navy during World War II.

Mar 12, 2004 On the morning of April 14, 1965, Julia Grant, wife of US General Ulysses S. Grant had a strong feeling that she and her husband should get out of Washington. As they were leaving, the couple passed John Wilkes Booth on his way to assassinate President Lincoln at the theatre. Grant was also found to be on Booth's death list.

Mar 11, 2004 Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians and then forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and further forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the U.S. Army.

Mar 10, 2004 When the allied armies reached the Rhine River in Germany, the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal, from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. George Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

Mar 08, 2004 William Bourne, a British mathematician, drew plans for a submarine in 1578. But it was only in 1620 that Cornelius van Drebbel, a Dutch inventor, managed to build a submarine. He wrapped a wooden rowboat tightly in waterproofed leather and had air tubes with floats to the surface to provide oxygen. Of course, there were no engines yet, so the oars went through the hull at leather gaskets. He took the first trip with 12 oarsmen in the Thames River - staying submerged for 3 hours.

Mar 05, 2004 The first words spoken on the moon, by Neil Armstrong, are well known, but what were the last words spoken from the moon?

"America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow."
- Commander Eugene Cernan, Apollo 17 Mission, 11 December 1972.

Mar 04, 2004 The first German serviceman killed in World War II was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940), the highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

Mar 03, 2004 The youngest U.S. serviceman was 12-year-old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress).

Mar 02, 2004 It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. Tracers had different ballistics so at long range if your tracers were hitting the target 80 percent of your rounds were missing. Worse yet, tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.

Mar 01, 2004 Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 U.S. and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. Twenty-one troops were killed in the firefight. It would have been worse if there had been any Japanese soldiers on the island.