Tuesday, July 23, 2024 Misc. » Quotes » War  

World War I

The Spy who came to dinner

On August 27, 1918, Anderson had been shot down, taken prisoner and interrogated by a very astute German Intelligence Officer.

As was common practice, Anderson gave his name and rank, but no more, resisting all the German officer's persuasive powers to disclose his squadron. At a point of deadlock in the questioning the German casually asked Anderson if he had been on leave recently. Seeing no reason why he should not answer this apparently innocuous question, Anderson replied that he had not.

"Well then, Mr Anderson," smiled the Intelligence Officer, "you must be from 40 Squadron."

Anderson made no reply to this startling announcement.

"You see," continued the German, "there are only two S.E.5 squadrons operating in this area, numbers 40 and 56. Now you are not from 56 because I had dinner with them, a few days ago and you were not present."

The German officer then went on to name for the astonished Anderson several of the 56 Squadron pilots, including the Americans serving with the squadron, among them Winslow.

Who was this incredibly courageous resourceful German officer?

“The Spy who came to dinner” by Alex Revell, Aeroplane Monthly, July 1976.

World War II – Malta

Aircraft serviceability

“Here, on this battered and isolated Island set in a mainly hostile sea, everything had to be improvised. The do-it-yourself, make-do-and-mend, cobble-the-parts-of-three-damaged-aircraft-together-to-make-one-fly concept ruled everywhere . . . . Out of some sixty or seventy aircraft in varying states of damage and disrepair, there was a daily average of a dozen serviceable Hurricane IIs on the Island against Kesselring's front-line strength of some 400 aircraft in Sicily.”

Wing Commander Laddie Lucas.

Spitfires are essential

”Either sir, we get the Spitfires here within days, not weeks, or we're done. That's it.”

Squadron Leader Stan Turner DFC & Bar, CO, 249 Squadron, to Malta’s Air Officer Commanding Hugh Lloyd. Sqd. Ld. Turner had been on the island for just two weeks, and increasingly frustrated at the lack of suitable aircraft to oppose the Luftwaffe.

Notta my war

”Very large units of the fleet were in the harbour. And we were told this Cant 107 was coming to photograph the fleet. So six of us were sent up, and I happened to be leading.”

”And we were told when we got on the ground that one had survived. Well now, just as I opened fire, something fell out of the aircraft. I though it was a bomb or something. And the survivor was apparently the rear gunner. And the intelligence officer went down to the hospital to interview him in hospital. And he was asked, ‘Why did you abandon the aircraft? Did you tell your captain?’”

“’No. I see six Hurricanes. I get out. Notta my war.’”

Dan Stones, Malta-based Hurricane pilot. From the DVD ‘Guns for Malta’.

George Cross

”To honour her brave people, I award the George Cross to the island fortress of Malta, to bear witness to a heroism and devotion that will long be remembered in history.”

King George VI, in a hand-written note, when awarding the George Cross. He also visited Malta on 20 June 1943.

Morale - I

”Indeed I so well remember the redoubtable Hugh Pughe Lloyd, one of the RAF's really exceptional field commanders of World War II, addressing the squadrons one evening in the Xara Palace, our Mess in Mdina, the lovely old citadel up on the hill. It was a time of crippling aircraft losses on the ground due to the weight and accuracy of the Lutfwaffe's bombing.”

”Lloyd was adept at these 12- to 15-minute interventions. He liked to create the theatre. He responded to the drama. Pulling no punches, he had laid bare the magnitude of the challenge confronting us.”

”Then speaking without a note - whisky and soda in one hand, cigarette in an extra-long holder in the other - he came to his peroration:”

’And so I say, gentlemen, the risks before you are very great. But win this air battle for Malta - capture this coveted prize and all the rest of your life you will be entitled to look back with pride and say: I was there.’

”Half a century and more on, with all the advantage of hindsight, I incline to think: the Air Marshal may have had a point.”

The late Wing Commander Laddie Lucas, in an address to the Association of Aviation of Medical Examiners, Malta on 20 Apr 1996. He was Squadron Leader of 249 Spitfire Squadron at Ta Qali during the war. He passed away on 20 March 1998, aged 82.

Morale - II

“The tempo of life here is just indescribable. The morale of all is magnificent – pilots, ground crews and army, but it is certainly tough. The bombing is continuous on and off all day. One lives here only to destroy the Hun and hold him at bay; everything else, living conditions, sleep, food, and all the ordinary standards of life have gone by the board. It all makes the Battle of Britain and fighter sweeps seem like child’s play in comparison, but it is certainly history in the making, and nowhere is there aerial warfare to compare with this.”

Flying Officer Mitchell, 10 May 1942, No. 602 squadron.

Morale - III

“The convoy is still in, and it means the whole squadron at full strength the whole time, with double the usual shifts. I can only arrange a day off once in six days. In the circumstances the strain on pilots is equivalent to that of last September [London] blitz. We are having a steady flow of casualties, and are equipped with inferior [aircraft] than those which come over in great numbers. God knows why they don't try to fight us more. I don't see how we could cope for long, if they did. So far they have only taken obvious opportunities, such as diving on a straggler but they are there always, all the same, and so devilish hard to see, little silver camouflaged things. The Squadron-Leader, Lambert, ought to go down in history for the calm courage and the complete lack of bullshit he shows. A complete inspiration to every member of the squadron, and this who we all know that he was shanghaied here over six months ago - then a ferry pilot - that at heart he has not the liking or the inclination to be a fighter pilot, and in reality hates the life and the Island that with others such as Trumble etc. He could have gone, but has stayed on through sheer willpower, to be the very fine example that he is.”

From the diary of Flying Officer C D Whittingham, 261 squadron.

Surrender of the Italian Fleet

”Be pleased to inform their lordships that the Italian battle fleet now lies at anchor under the guns of the fortress of Malta.”

Commander in Chief Mediterranean, Admiral Cunningham, in a cable dated 11 September 1943, announcing the surrender of the Italian fleet which had arrived in Maltese waters between the 10th and 11th. The signing of Italy’s surrender took place on board the battleship Nelson in Grand Harbour.

USS Wasp

“Who says a wasp doesn’t sting twice?”

Churchill in a cable to President Roosevelt. The US Navy had lent the carrier USS Wasp twice to ferry Spitfire to Malta. The first 47 Spitfire Vs (Operation Calendar) were launched on 20 April 1942. Only 46 made it to Malta, and fewer than ten survived the onslaught of a vicious German/Italian bombing raid. On 9 May 1942, the Wasp and HMS Eagle (Operation Bowery), flew off 64 aircraft. Prompt re-fuelling and re-arming after landing saw the aircraft in the air within minutes, fighting off a German raid. Another German raid on the 10th saw the RAF claiming 60 aircraft destroyed or damaged. Churchill sent the above cable after learning of the success of Operation Bowery.

RAF Ta’ Qali

“Corporal Shannon, have you surrendered the Station?”

Station Commander, RAF Ta’ Qali, to the corporal on duty for failing to raise the RAF ensign at exactly 08.00 hours. From the article Memories of Ta Kali Airfield (1), which appeared in Malta Flypast 5, a Malta Aviation Museum publication. Ta Kali, which started out as a civil airport, became an RAF Station on 8 November 1940.


World War II – Great Britain

Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister

”How horrible, fantastic, incredible, it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.”

Reference to Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland. Radio broadcast, 27 Sept 1938.

”I believe it is peace for our time . . . peace with honour.”

Broadcast after Munich Agreement, 1 Oct 1938.

“I am speaking to you from the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street.”

“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we hear from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.”

Announcing the beginning of hostilities on 3 September 1939.

Sir Winston S. Churchill, British Prime Minister

”I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.”

BBC Radio broadcast in London, 1 Oct 1939.

"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may be even a worse fate. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves."

Winston Churchill - On the eve of Britain's entry into World War II.

"You ask, What is our policy? I will say; It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us. . . . That is our policy. You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: Victory – victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival."

His first speech as prime minister to the House of Commons May 13, 1940.

”We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”

Speech in House of Commons, 4 June 1940.

”Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’”

Speech, 18 June 1940, House of Commons, announcing the fall of France, and the start of the "Battle of Britain.

”Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

Speech, 20 Aug 1940, House of Commons, on the pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain.

”This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Referring to the Battle of Egypt. Speech, Mansion House, 10 Nov 1942.

”Munching a porcupine, quill by quill.”

Describing the hellish combat in World War II's China-Burma-India theater.

World War II – U.S.

Dropping the bomb

When Little Boy dropped from the bomber, arming wires yanked free, starting the bomb's internal clocks. Then circuits tripped, preparing the next phase of the detonation process. As the bomb plunged toward Hiroshima, redundant radar-proximity devices came alive to measure the precise altitude above the ground. At 5,000 feet, Little Boy's barometric-pressure fuse circuit was armed.

At that moment in the city, thousands of people paused to gaze up at the spectacle of two shining B-29s diving steeply away toward the port. White parachutes blossomed, a sight few of the city's residents had ever seen. Eight thousand schoolgirls, recently drafted into the civilian defence forces, worked in the humid morning heat clearing air-defence fire lanes. Elsewhere, Hiroshima's residents walked to their jobs along sunny sidewalks or crammed into overcrowded tramcars, unaware that their doom was hurtling toward them in the form of a 9,000-pound bomb.

At 08:16:02 hours and an altitude of 1,900 feet directly above the courtyard of the Shima Hospital - just Southeast of the Aioi Bridge aiming point - the bomb's final detonation circuit closed. The cordite charge fired, slamming the U-235 slug down the gun barrel and into the nestled uranium target rings. For an infinitesimal fraction of a millisecond, supercritical mass was achieved and sustained, converting less than 2 percent of the radioactive metal from matter into energy before the bomb was vaporized in a fireball with the stellar heat of 50 million degrees centigrade. During that brief, hellish moment, the heat on the ground directly below flashed to more than 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

A silent, unearthly purplish glare filled the doomed city, blinding or dazzling countless thousands, followed almost instantly by the bomb's searing thermal pulse. Then the blast wave travelling at two miles a second ripped across Hiroshima. The parachute instrument packages that The Great Artiste had dropped automatically radioed "yield" data for the bomb: 12,500 tons of high-explosive equivalent.

Since World War II, the plight of the Hiroshima victims has been documented in great detail in scores of books, films, and television programs. The atomic bombing has come to symbolize the utter brutality of war. Ironically; this has blunted the impact of the far greater carnage Japan suffered during the nine-month American strategic bombing campaign of 1944-45. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have also tended to cast Japan in the role of victim, not an aggressor, and have often diverted the scrutiny of postwar generations from the wholesale atrocities Imperial Japanese forces committed throughout Asia (particularly China) in the name of the Emperor and the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

But Hiroshima was far from the innocent civilian city it has come to symbolise in so many post-war accounts. And everyone on the ground certainly was not civilian. At the moment the bomb exploded, thousands of bare-chested Japanese soldiers were performing callisthenics on the parade grounds surrounding Hiroshima Castle, headquarters of the Second General Army, which was working feverishly on the Ketsu-go operation. In fact, according to Thomas and Witts, the chroniclers of the Enola Gay, the "largest single group of casualties" that morning was among those troops. They burst into flame, and their ashes and charred husks were scattered by the blast wave.

Rather than being a purely civilian enclave untouched by war, as it has so often been portrayed since 1945, Hiroshima had earned its reputation among the Japanese as "an Army city." The sprawling Inland Sea port's wartime civilian population of perhaps 290,000 was augmented by an estimated 43,000 soldiers, which gave it the highest civilian-military density of any large Japanese urban area.

”The Last Mission: The Secret Story of World War II’s Final Battle”, Jim B. Smith and Malcolm McConnell.

The Cold War

”From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe.”

Sir Winston S. Churchill, from his “Sinews of Peace” address at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, on 5 March 1946. This speech, which saw the words Iron Curtain come into common use, is seen by many as having signaled the beginning of the Cold War.

”I have never seen a human being who more perfectly represented the modern conception of a robot.”

Referring to Soviet statesman Molotov.


“Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervour, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has 'closed', the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. AND I AM CAESAR.”

Julius Caesar
Aviation Films People War
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