View Full Version : Unusual Events/Uncommon Valor

09-17-2008, 06:54 PM
I can't say for fact this story is true, but here goes:

During WW1, a wounded German soldier is lying and moaning in no-mans land. An American soldier goes out to rescue him and the Germans start shooting at him until they realize what's happening then stop. The American drags him back to the German trenches. As he is about to leave, a hand grips his shoulder and he thinks he's about to be a prisoner. Instead, it's a German officer, who removes his Iron Cross and pins it on the American soldiers uniform. He then is allowed to return to the American lines. Whether or not it's true, it's still a great story. Does anyone else have any such stories that they can provide? I would like to read some.

09-17-2008, 07:10 PM
I was also going to start a thread In WWII section, but George Eller already started a thread called Lesser Known Stories from WWII, so maybe post such stories from that war in his thread.

09-18-2008, 11:02 AM
The Christmas truce of 1914
A well-known episode from WW1, almost mainstream for a movie was made about it: "Merry Christmas" (Joyeux Noël), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424205/

It was cold and rainy in November and December of 1914. The trenches of both sides were filling with water and conditions were horrible. This led to a "live-and-let live"-attitude with the german and british soldiers in the northern sectors of the frontline. December 24 brough bitter frost, the ground got hard, the stench of decomposing bodies was decreasing. The germans put up christmas trees with candles on the edges of their trenches, Christmas carols were sung with comradely salutes.
When the fog was clearing the next morning the christmas trees were covered with rime sparkling in the sun. Calls sounded from trench to trench, the weapons hushed and soldiers climbed into the no-mans land .
They exchanged gifts and used the occasion to bury their dead.
This all was not meant to be repeated according to the allied commanders. In the forthcoming years orders were given to shoot every enemy trying to fraternize. (somewhat re-translated by me from "First World War" by H.P. Willmott)

09-18-2008, 11:08 AM
[quote=flamethrowerguy;134819]The Christmas truce of 1914
A well-known episode from WW1, almost mainstream for a movie was made about it: "Merry Christmas" (Joyeux Noël), http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0424205/
Cool! I remember hearing about this. You know, I've looked at this movie at the video rental store but never have got it to watch. Anyone seen it?

09-18-2008, 11:11 AM
Not yet, I think I'll wait until "The Red Baron" is released and have myself a WW1 session then.

09-18-2008, 11:16 AM
Not yet, I think I'll wait until "The Red Baron" is released and have myself a WW1 session then.
You've piqued my interest, there's a movie coming out about the Red Baron? I hadn't heard. I liked the movie Flyboys about Lafayette Escadrille? squadron.

09-18-2008, 11:21 AM
You've piqued my interest, there's a movie coming out about the Red Baron? I hadn't heard. I liked the movie Flyboys about Lafayette Escadrille? squadron.

Yup, lookie here:

or here:

I heard it's not really going to win some Academy Awards but anyway...

09-18-2008, 11:39 AM
Yup, lookie here:

or here:

I heard it's not really going to win some Academy Awards but anyway...
Oooh.........I like! At least the trailer makes the movie look good! I'd definitely go to see it.

09-18-2008, 12:04 PM
I heard the story of the Angels of Mons which I thought was really interesting, but it turned out to be false.:( There's actually an article on wikipedia telling about it.

09-18-2008, 01:14 PM
During an attack he tended the wounded in the open all day, under heavy fire, frequently in view of the enemy. During the ensuing night he searched for wounded on the ground in front of the enemy's lines for four hours. Next day he took one stretcher-bearer to the advanced trenches, and, under heavy fire, carried an urgent case for 500 yards into safety, being wounded in the side by a shell splinter during the journey. The same night he took up a party of trusty volunteers, rescued three wounded men from a shell hole twenty five yards from the enemy's trench, buried the bodies of two officers and collected many identity discs, although fired on by bombs and machine guns. Altogether he saved the lives of some twenty badly wounded men, besides the ordinary cases which passed through his hands. His courage and self-sacrifice were beyond praise.

Though severely wounded early in the action whilst carrying a wounded soldier to the dressing station, he refused to leave his post, and for two days, not only continued to perform his duties, but in addition, went out repeatedly under heavy fire to search for and attend to the wounded who were lying out. During these searches, although practically without food during this period, worn with fatigue and faint with his wound, he assisted to carry an number of badly wounded men over heavy and difficult ground. By his extraordinary energy and inspiring example was instrumental in rescuing many wounded who would have otherwise undoubtedly succumbed under the bad weather conditions. This devoted and gallant officer subsequently died of his wounds.

I figure this qualifies as both an unusal event and uncommon valour - the award of a Bar to the VC has only happened three times (the other recipients were Captain Arthur Martin-Leake, for actions in the Boer War and WW1, and Captain Charles Upham for actions during WW2).

09-18-2008, 01:30 PM
Thanks pdf27! That's definitely both unusual/uncommon. He was well deserving of the medals, and our respect!

11-16-2008, 08:04 AM
I've got a good story, below. But first, "Merry Christmas" was a painfully inaccurate piece of crap. They got just about everything wrong. From the woman singing in No Man's Land (what??? A woman in No MAN'S Land????) to playing soccer there (football anyone?) The trenches they depicted were not 1914 early ditches but well developed 1917 styled trenches...the cease fire was informal and happened spontaniously at night between enlisted men yet the movie shows the officer negotation of truce. The actual fact: The officers started shooting the enemy randomly to break up the truce.

And that all happened over one night. The movie shows such farces as the Germans being invited into the British lines so the artillery barrage wouldn't hurt any one. Huh?? Not worth even a free rental from your local library.

On the retreat from Mons to the Marne, the BEF fought an extrodinary action in the village of Nery. On Sept. 1, 1914, a single battery of 6 guns (13 pounders) from the Royal Horse Artillery held off a surprise attack by 3 German batteries in superior position AND a German 4th Calvalry Division!!!

The inital surprise shelling wiped out most of the guns and killed or wounded 30 men in the opening of the attack. Under heavy fire, Captain Bradbury, Lieutenant Mundy, Sgt. Nelson and Battery Sergent-Major Dorrell raced for one of the remaining 3 guns. Manning the guns, an 'inferno of shells' rained down from the surrounding hills: a devasting fire put out by German batteries. One of the 3 guns was almost immediately destroyed by a direct hit...the other remaining two guns returned fire upon the enemy.

With shells exploding everywhere and more than 5000 rifles of a German division in the hills, the 2nd remaining gun managed to fire one round before one of the crew was severly wounded and fired 3 rounds in total before the entire crew was killed or wounded. That left just one gun against 3 batteries and a division. 'Not good odds' is an incredible understatement. They should've lasted about 5 seconds. Maybe 10. Two minutes if they had unbelievable luck.

But this gun lived a charmed life. No shells hit it and while thousands of rifles fired upon them and splashed the ground like raindrops, none hit the crew. And they fired to great effect and badly mauled one enemy battery.

The 2 remaining German batteries meanwhile had massed all their guns against the one field piece and set up in a commanding position less than 800 yards away (again, not good.) Dashing back and forth 20 yards to the ammunition wagon, the men braved a torrent of rifle fire to keep their gun firing. And somehow, even though the attack began at 5:05 am, the crew was still firing at 7:15am!! Lieutenant Mundy was severly wounded and out of action, Sgt. Nelson were now seriously wounded but fighting, Dorell was wounded but keeping up the best rate of fire he could and Capt. Bradbury was still untouched.

Finally, reinforcements arrived and seeing this, Captain Bradbury raced agained to the wagons to fetch more ammo when he was hit by a shell and mortally wounded. With just two bleeding men to man it, the gun of L battery fired it's last shell and fell silent.

But the gun singlehandedly held back an massive German surprise attack and achieved the objective of delaying the assault until reinforcements could arrive. Having lost 163 men with many more wounded, the Germans retreated into the woods.

For this miraculous event that completely defied all odds, the men received an unprecedented 3 Victoria Crosses.

11-16-2008, 08:21 AM
Wow! Great story Beam, Thanks for posting that!

11-16-2008, 09:17 AM
Navyson, I cannot believe you liked "Flyboys". Sorry but I have rarely seen a more badly done piece of drivel. Every German plane was a Red Tripe except the bad guy who flew a black one (big shock) and obviously styled himself on **** Dastardly in "catch the pigeon". It made an episode of Hogan's Heroes look like the "World at War".

I wanted so hard to like it and it could have been so good (CGI was good) but I ended up wanting to sue the makers for the 90 minutes of my life back.

Rant mode off

11-16-2008, 09:26 AM
On topic again how about this Victoria Cross winner.

Rifleman Bhanbhagta without waiting for orders dashed forward alone to attack the first foxhole. With two grenades he killed both occupants and without hesitation rushed on to clear three more foxholes single handed with bayonet and grenade. Realizing that a light machine gun now firing on him would hold up not only his own platoon behind him, but also another approaching from the west, Bhanbhagta for the fifth time advanced alone under heavy enemy fire to knock out this position.
Doubling forward he leapt on to the roof of the bunker from where, his hand grenades being finished, he flung two smoke grenades into the slit. Two Japanese rushed out partially blinded by the smoke and Bhanbhagta promptly killed them both with his kukri. Another Japanese inside the bunker was still firing the gun, holding up the advance of the platoons, so Bhanbhagta crawled inside, killed this remaining gunner and captured the gun.

11-25-2008, 11:35 AM
An unusual event of chivalry

A couple of days after german fighter ace Max Immelmann ("The Eagle of Lille") was shot down and killed during a dogfight with a british FE 2b (Second Lieutenant G.R. McCubbin and Corporal J. H. Waller) on June 18, 1916, british pilots dropped a wreath with black bow above Immelmann's airfield. The honorific inscription said: "As a rememberance to Lieutenant Immelmann, the brave and chivalrous opponent! The Royal Flying Corps."


11-25-2008, 08:10 PM
Luftwaffe pilot-turned-Canadian performed an act of amazing grace

Ordered into the skies to shoot down a damaged Allied bomber during the Second World War, he could not bring himself to open fire. It would be 43 years before he learned its fate

Special to The Globe and Mail
April 18, 2008

VANCOUVER -- Franz Stigler of Surrey, B.C., was a German fighter pilot who committed one of the few documented acts of chivalry during air combat in the Second World War. In 1943, faced with shooting down a badly damaged U.S. bomber whose crew was obviously badly wounded men, he just couldn't pull the trigger and instead escorted the aircraft to safety.
Within a decade, Mr. Stigler had immigrated to Canada, but for years, he wondered whether the Boeing B-17 had made it back to Britain.
Born in Bavaria when the First World War was at its height, he was meant to be a pilot. His father had served as an observer in the German air force, and after the war, he encouraged his son to take an interest in flying. By the time he was 12, Franz had soloed in a glider.
He studied aeronautical engineering and took flying lessons. After qualifying, he flew several different types of aircraft. In 1939, he joined the fledgling Luftwaffe, and by Sept. 1 he was at war. Despite having flown multiengine aircraft, Mr. Stigler chose to fly fighters. On most of his combat missions, he flew the legendary Messerschmitt BF-109F, which, according to fighter pilots on both sides, had characteristics that were superior to the equally legendary Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane. Like most fighter pilots, he flew with several different squadrons and eventually commanded two, 8/11 and 12/IV Squadrons (or Jagdstaffels), which in turn were part of Jagdgeschwader 27, the equivalent of an Allied fighter wing.

In four years of operational flying, he served in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Holland and Germany. He was shot down 17 times and bailed out of aircraft four times, but otherwise managed to land or crash-land. His score was 28 confirmed aircraft shot down or badly damaged and more than 30 "probables." He flew a total of 417 combat missions from 1940 to 1945 and earned the Iron Cross Second Class, the Iron Cross First Class and the German Cross in Gold.
Although there were many German pilots with much higher scores, some claiming well in excess of a 100, it is doubtful that they survived as many critical situations. Mr. Stigler was wounded four times, suffered burns and sustained lifelong scars on his legs and head, among them a very visible forehead mark made by a bullet that came though the windshield of his fighter. Fortunately, the windshield slowed the bullet's velocity and it failed to penetrate his skull.
While stationed in the Mediterranean, his squadron was detailed to escort Stuka dive bombers targeting a shipping convoy. Each Me-109 carried a 225-kilogram bomb slung underneath and, having reached the target, they were instructed to dive and release the bomb as they pulled out. The idea was to make the bomb "skip" on the water and hit the ship's side. Mr. Stigler released his bomb and it bounced so well that it became airborne and kept pace just off his port wing. He climbed away as fast as he could.
By late 1943, he was posted in Holland at a base from where the Luftwaffe could best attack Allied aircraft on both the outward and return legs of bombing missions. The British and Canadians flew the four-engined Avro Lancasters and Short Sterlings, while the mainstay of the U.S. Army Air Force was the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.
One of the Flying Fortresses was piloted by a 22-year-old lieutenant named Charlie Brown, from Western, W.V. On Dec. 20, 1943, Mr. Brown took off from his base at Kimbolton, near Cambridge, as part of a raid on the Focke-Wulf fighter plant at Bremen in Germany. It was only his second combat mission, and his first as captain. His B-17, with its equally young crew, had the whimsical name of "Ye Olde Pub." The plane reached the target without incident, dropped its bomb load and turned for home, only to suffer a direct hit from an anti-aircraft gun. The Plexiglass nose was shattered and two of the four engines were damaged. Unable to maintain his position within the formation, Mr. Brown dropped astern.
Eight German fighters appeared and pounced in an attack that damaged a third engine, destroyed most of the tail and knocked out the oxygen, hydraulic and electrical systems. The controls were only partly responsive, the rear gunner was dead and three other crew members were wounded. To make matters worse, Mr. Brown had been struck in the shoulder by flak.
Only half-conscious because of a lack of oxygen, he lost control and the plane inverted and spiralled down to within about 100 metres of the ground. Miraculously, he came to his senses and levelled out. He struggled to gain height and speed, but with only one engine at full power and one at half power, the aircraft was close to stalling. Three of his crew were unable to bail out, so his only options were to crash-land in enemy territory or try to make it back to England.
While struggling with the controls, he became aware of a lone Me-109 flying alongside. The B-17 had lumbered through the skies near a German airbase and the fighter had been sent up to finish it off. The German pilot circled around the B-17, came back to his original position and pointed towards the ground. Mr. Brown, still dazed, ignored the suggestion that he should attempt to land, and kept flying. The enemy pilot held position until the B-17 was over the North Sea and pointed in the direction of England. He waved, saluted and flew back toward to Holland.
Mr. Brown and his crew made it back to England and landed safely at Seething in Norfolk. The story of the encounter was immediately classified as secret, as it would not have gone over well for the public to know of a chivalrous enemy when they were exhorted to hate all Germans.

The pilot was Franz Stigler. When he closed on the bomber, preparing to shoot it down, he was astonished.
"I was amazed that the aircraft could fly," he told The Associated Press in 1997. "The B-17 is the most respected airplane. I flew within 12 yards. It was a wreck. The tail gunner was lying in blood ... holes all over."
The pilot, he noticed was also wounded and "his crew was running all up and down tending the wounded."
Mr. Stigler held his fire. He could not bring himself to attack a plane carrying dead and severely wounded crew. "It would be like shooting at a man in parachute," he said years later.
Back at base, he reported that he had successfully shot down the B-17 and that it had crashed into the sea. To admit the truth would have risked court-martial and very likely execution. "I couldn't tell anyone about it at home that I had let them go or I would have been looking down the barrels of a firing squad," he said.
Earlier in the day, he had already downed two other B-17s, and a third would have assured him the coveted Knight's Cross medal.
In 1953, Mr. Stigler emigrated to Canada - first to Montreal and then to British Columbia. He found work as a mechanic with a logging company in the Queen Charlotte Islands and later settled in Surrey, where he became operations manager for the truck division of Hertz. He than ran his own trucking company for several years, assisted by his wife, Hija.
Through the years, he never forgot the damaged B-17. He often mentioned the plane to Hija, and speculated about what had happened to the crew. For all he knew, it might have crashed into the sea on its own.
For 43 years, the riddle went unanswered and then a letter appeared in a newsletter for German fighter pilots, past and present. Charlie Brown, the American pilot, had submitted it on a hunch.
Mr. Brown had survived the war and remained in the U.S. Air force and served various staff roles before retiring as a lieutenant colonel. By 1986, he had settled in Florida and sometimes he thought about the enemy pilot who had given his crew a chance at survival. It was not until he attended a convention of the U.S. Air Force Association that year that a chance remark by a friend prompted him to act. He wrote to the newsletter, seeking information and describing the extraordinary 1943 incident over the North Sea.
Two months went by and finally a letter with a Canadian stamp arrived. The writer said his name was Franz Stigler, and that he was the pilot who had waved the B-17 on to England.
In the summer of 1990, the two men finally met at a hotel in Seattle. It was the first opportunity they had to pin down a time and place. A friendship immediately resulted, and eventually they toured together to tell their story at reunions and at special museum events. Not surprisingly, they found themselves celebrities among veterans and became the subjects of many articles in newspapers. Peter Gzowski, host of CBC's Morningside, was the first to interview them on radio.
For his part, Mr. Brown also found an unexpected release. In the long years since the war, he had suffered a recurring nightmare in which he was in an aircraft spiralling down toward trees and buildings. The dreams ceased the day he met Franz Stigler.

Once enemies, the two men became as close as brothers and talked on the phone almost every week. "For some reason, we really hit it off," Mr. Brown said.

Franz Stigler was born Aug. 21, 1915, in Regensburg, Germany. He died March 22, 2008, in Surrey, B.C., of complications from surgery. He was 92. He is survived by wife Hija and daughter Jovita. Two earlier marriages ended in divorce. He is also survived by Charlie Brown of Perrine, Fla.

Source: http://www.airlinepilotforums.com/hangar-talk/25639-chivalry-air-when-enemy-became-friend.html

11-25-2008, 08:20 PM
In the fall of 1939 Hitler's murderous wave was sweeping through Eastern Europe. In the face of the Nazi onslaught, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara made a decision that would change his life and thousands of others. With no possible hope for reward and at great risk to his family and career, Sugihara acted on his innermost beliefs and used his diplomatic power to rescue desperate Jewish refugees.

As Japanese Consul to Lithuania, Sugihara defied Tokyo authorities by writing transit visas that were the sole remaining hope of Jews facing extermination. More than 2,000 Sugihara-stamped passports allowed hundreds of families to flee Europe through Russia to Japan and safe havens abroad. Today it is estimated that at least 40,000 people owe their existence to Sugihara’s heroism.

Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who was stationed in Lithuania on the eve of WWII, when a number of people from Poland had recently fled there. They, as well as many native Lithuanians, were desperate to leave Europe, or at least the part occupied by the Nazis, before it was too late. Even knowing he was breaking a lot of regulations and rules, Sugihara kept issuing visas, even having to forge them sometimes. Even as his train was pulling out of the station when he was recalled because of his behavior, he was still writing visas for people clinging onto the train, and he continued making out visas in the hotel he arrived at afterwards. The visas were written for the Dutch-controlled Curacão, but none of the people ever made it that far. They were able to travel to Japan, the alleged stopping-off point, but were able to stay there for the entire war. In all, he wrote about 2,500 visas, including ones for the entire Mir Yeshiva. Because he had broken the rules and written these visas without authorisation, Sugihara was dismissed from his job when he returned to Japan in 1947, and spent most of the rest of his life doing odd jobs. It wasn't till late in his life that he was finally recognised for the heroic thing he'd done, and like many people whom Yad Vashem has honored, felt he hadn't done anything special, but had only done what was right, what was expected, what a normal compassionate decent human being should do in such circumstances. This documentary does true justice to him, narrating a story about an ordinary human being who acted heroically in extraordinary circumstances.

11-26-2008, 06:41 AM
Thanks everyone for posting, great stories!

11-26-2008, 07:13 AM
I have read that Hermann Goering gave his Iron Cross to an American pilot(I think they both had to land after shooting at each other)during WW1.The story says that this pilot gave it to a member of his family who brought it with him when going to Europe and died on the beach of Normandy on D-Day.The story says that the medal could still be on the beach.I'll try to find the link for this story.

11-26-2008, 07:39 AM
That would make for a good story kamehouse, hopefully you can find out more information!

11-26-2008, 08:33 AM
I have read that Hermann Goering gave his Iron Cross to an American pilot(I think they both had to land after shooting at each other)during WW1.The story says that this pilot gave it to a member of his family who brought it with him when going to Europe and died on the beach of Normandy on D-Day.The story says that the medal could still be on the beach.I'll try to find the link for this story.

Good one, that must have been before Göring discovered national-socialism and morphine for himself.

11-26-2008, 04:20 PM
In June 1917, after a lengthy dogfight, Göring shot down an Australian pilot named Frank Slee. The battle is recounted in The Rise and Fall of Hermann Goering. Göring landed and met the Australian, and presented Slee with his Iron Cross. Years after, Slee gave Göring's Iron Cross to a friend, who later died on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Also during the war Göring had through his generous treatment made a friend of his prisoner of war Captain Frank Beaumont, a Royal Flying Corps pilot. "It was part of Goering's creed to admire a good enemy, and he did his best to keep Captain Beaumont from being taken over by the Army."
From Wiki:
So not American but Australian.Sorry my memory seems to get worse.

11-27-2008, 08:21 AM
Thanks kamehouse!

11-28-2008, 06:56 AM
June 26, 1943. France. Robert S. Johnson is flying a P-47 and jumped by a ton of FW-190s and is shot down. He's hit by a couple MG bullets and his P-47 spins down in flames. He can't bail out because his canopy is jammed.

He miraculously manages to pull out of the spin...and the flames go out. He tries to take his badly damaged plane back to England when ANOTHER FW-190 pulls up on him. This time, his opponent is an ace with 66 kills, Meyer.

Meyer moves onto his 6, and pummels him with MG rounds. Johnson hides behind the armor plate as the MG rounds slam all around him. But the P-47 takes the abuse.

The ace pulls up on his wing and looks Johnson over and waves...before returning to his 6 and firing again, raking the plane from wing to wing. Still, the p-47 holds up.

Again the ace pulls up and looks...and returns again to his 6 for another go. The ace empties his guns into the badly damaged P-47, slamming it heavily as Johnson helplessly hides behind the rear armour plate. And STILL the plane keeps flying.

Finally, the ace pulls up beside Johnson, out of ammo and salutes before peeling off.

Johnson's plane, nicknamed the Flying Tank, lands back in England. Without leaving his cockpit, Johnson counts 267 bullet holes on one side of his plane...before he stops counting.

The fact that a plane could be shot down, spinning in flames, recover, and take every round from an ace with 66 kills and stll land??? Unreal.

Rising Sun*
11-28-2008, 07:44 AM
I hadn't heard the Goering Iron Cross story before, so I've searched the Australian War Memorial site and, finding nothing there, done the Google thing.

It's not mentioned in this radio program about Slee, which otherwise is fairly detailed.

However there is a version here which mentions it during, but not on, the Normandy beaches.

What are the sources of the story?

11-28-2008, 07:44 AM
Thank you for sharing, Beam, however this is a WW1 thread.;)
You want to post WW2 stories e.g. here:

01-18-2009, 11:13 AM
So it is...and I prefer WWI anyway. OK, an unusal WWI event. Give me a moment. How about from a much respected vet of the war --a story from Will Byrd's WWI memoirs:

On the battlefield of Vimy, Will Byrd was in the 42nd battalian, sleeping in a dugout in a reserve trench. He was awakened by another soldier by overcame his anger when he realized it was his brother, who was listed as "missing" two years ealier. When he made an exclaimation, his brother put his warm hand on his mouth, told him to grab his gear and follow him.

Will was amazed to see his bro and quickly tried to catch up to him as he was moving quickly down a communication trench. Stumbling in the dark, he brother wouldn't slow down and he finally lost him when he rounded a corner. Exhausted from the fighting on Vimy and crushed from losing his brother again, he fell asleep in a funk hole.

The next morning, his mates woke him and questioned Will as to why he was sleeping in such an odd spot. He told them the story. And then his mates told him that the dugout he was in was hit by a massive shell and they had assumed he was amongst the spongy red mess -- they had even incorrectly identified a leg as him.

When an officer questioned Byrd about leaving his dugout, he recounted the stroy truthfully and both agreed that this apparition of his brother had saved his life.

The title of his memoirs? Ghosts Have Warm Hands

01-18-2009, 11:33 AM
Thanks for posting Beam! Great story, I liked your other post also.(#25)