Webster

The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)


Thursday, February 22, 2018

The imcompetant commanders of the Boer War

I read a book recommended by Peter and name of the book was ""Three Sips of Gin" and it talked about some of the exploits of the Rhodesian Bush war and the aftermath.  The book was very good and I got a chuckle out of the term "FlatDog" a term used by the Rhodesians for "Crocodiles".  I had known a bit before and it did expand my knowledge.  I knew some of the stories because I read a lot of "Soldier of Fortune",  and the Rhodesian bush war was a big part of the magazine in the late 70's and early 80's.  

  Now I wish I still had all those magazines, but when you are a teenager, you don't think of stuff like that.   I did some more reading and rolled with it.

This exerpt is from "Wiki"
The Second Boer War (11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902) was fought between the British Empire and two Boer states, the South African Republic (Republic of Transvaal) and the Orange Free State, over the Empire's influence in South Africa. It is also known variously as the Boer War, Anglo-Boer War, South African War or Anglo-Boer South African War. Initial Boer attacks were successful, and although British reinforcements later reversed these, the war continued for years with Boer guerrilla warfare, until harsh British counter-measures brought them to terms.
The war started with the British overconfident and under-prepared.[11] The Boers were very well armed and struck first, besieging Ladysmith, Kimberley, and Mafeking in early 1900, and winning important battles at Colenso, Magersfontein and Stormberg. Staggered, the British brought in large numbers of soldiers and fought back. General Redvers Buller was replaced by Lord Roberts and Lord Kitchener. They relieved the three besieged cities, and invaded the two Boer republics in late 1900. The onward marches of the British Army were so overwhelming that the Boers did not fight staged battles in defence of their homeland. The British quickly seized control of all of the Orange Free State and Transvaal, as the civilian leadership went into hiding or exile. In conventional terms, the war was over. The British officially annexed the two countries in 1900, and called a "khaki election" to give the government another six years of power in London. British military efforts were aided by Cape Colony, the Colony of Natal and some native African allies, and further supported by volunteers from the British Empire, including Southern Africa, the Australian colonies, Canada, India and New Zealand. All other nations were neutral, but public opinion in them was largely hostile to the British.Inside the UK and its Empire there also was significant opposition to the Second Boer War.
The Boers refused to surrender. They reverted to guerrilla warfare under new generals Louis Botha, Jan Smuts, Christiaan de Wet and Koos de la Rey. Two more years of surprise attacks and quick escapes followed. As guerrillas without uniforms, the Boer fighters easily blended into the farmlands, which provided hiding places, supplies, and horses. The UK's solution was to set up complex nets of block houses, strong points, and barbed wire fences, partitioning off the entire conquered territory. The civilian farmers were relocated into concentration camps, where very large proportions died of disease,[citation needed] especially the children, who mostly lacked immunities. Then British mounted infantry units systematically tracked down the highly mobile Boer guerrilla units. The battles at this stage were small operations with few combat casualties (most of the dead were victims of disease). The war ended in surrender and British terms with the Treaty of Vereeniging in May 1902. The British successfully won over the Boer leaders, who now gave full support to the new political system. Both former republics were incorporated into the Union of South Africa in 1910, which Boers controlled.
Boer Militia at Spion Kop
“The Boers are not like the Sudanese, who stood up to a fair fight. They are always running away on their little ponies.”
– General Kitchener, 1900
The Second Boer War (1899-1902) was a grueling campaign which the British won despite their commanders rather than because of them. British commanders were in general of a poor quality in the war. Faced with Boer guerrillas fighting a careful, tenacious campaign for freedom from Britain, the forces of the empire would have struggled at first even under forward-looking and capable officers. Instead, they were repeatedly led by men of stunning ineptitude, who cost many brave men their lives and probably prolonged the war.

1. General Sir Redvers “Reverse” Buller

Once an excellent major, General Buller had been promoted far beyond his abilities. He had also been away from the action, having not commanded any troops between 1887 and 1899. He was put in charge of the British expeditionary force to put down the Boers.
With little grasp of his mission, Buller failed to direct the officers beneath him, even promoting the terrible General Warren. Buller’s undoing came in December 1899 at the Battle of Colenso. There he failed to identify where the Boer troops were, despite hurling artillery shells against the hillsides to try to drive them out. His advancing columns were devastated by the dispersed Boer riflemen. In this action, some field guns were abandoned.
Becoming obsessed with retrieving a set of field guns, Buller lost track of the big picture. By the time he gave in and retreated at eleven in the morning he had lost 1,139 men, compared with around 40 casualties on the Boer side.

VCRedversHenryBuller
Photo of Victoria Cross recipient Redvers Henry Buller.

His setbacks earned the general the nickname “Reverse Buller” among his men

2. General William “Backacher” Gatacre




William_Gatacre
Major-general William Forbes Gatacre
The bearer of another unfortunate nickname was General Gatacre. He was called “Backacher” by his unhappy troops.
Gatacre’s most notable disaster was when he tried to launch a surprise raid to seize the Stormberg railway junction. Taking 2,700 men on a hard night march, he failed to bring the one man who knew the terrain, leading his troops to become hopelessly lost.
At dawn, Boer soldiers found themselves looking down a sheer cliff face at the lost British below. They opened fire, and those British soldiers brave enough to try climbing the rock face soon found it impossible. As his men fled, Gatacre ordered a retreat that descended into chaos. 600 men were left behind, not having been given the fallback order. Surrounded by the Boers, these men surrendered, while Gatacre ran off to lick his wounds.

3. General Lord Methuen



Lord Methuen, circa 1902 (Public Domain / Wikipedia)
Lord Methuen, circa 1902
Approaching a hill near Magersfontein, Lord Methuen concluded that it was defended by Boers and took the sensible decision to bombard it before advancing. Unfortunately, he failed to find out where the Boers were before putting his artillery into action. A rain of shells fell on the top of the hill while the Boers sat safely dug in in trenches at the bottom.
Believing he had shaken the defenders, Methuen ordered an advance by the Black Watch through a moonless night of pouring rain. As dawn broke, the soaked Scots found themselves marching in close formation towards the bottom of the hill. From 400 yards away the Boers opened fire.
Most of the Highlanders leapt for the inadequate cover of bushes and anthills. The heat of the African sun and the bites of the insects added to their misery as they lay trapped. When the Light Infantry panicked and ran many of them were shot down from behind.
Of 3,500 men who advanced, 902 were killed or wounded.

4. General Sir Charles Warren



Charles_Warren_carbon_print_portrait_by_Herbert_Rose_Barraud_of_London
Charles Warren carbon print portrait by Herbert Rose Barraud of London
Following Colenso, Buller was reinforced by troops under General Warren, who had spent the previous year in retirement. While crossing the Tugela, Warren spent so much time supervising the crossing of his own baggage that the 600 Boer defenders grew to ten times that number.
Buller made Warren commander at the Battle of Spion Kop. Neither Buller nor Warren ordered proper reconnaissance of the hill they were planning to attack. With little purpose, plan or information, Warren ordered General Woodgate – a man even Buller considered stupid – to lead an advance. He gave Woodgate neither machine guns nor a telegraph team to keep in touch.
Ill-equipped and ill-informed, Woodgate and his men fought their way to what they thought was the top of the hill, but was actually a plateau mid-way up. The Boers took the ridges and rained down death from three sides upon the British, who could not even dig in on the rocky ground.
It was nine hours before Warren thought to send reinforcements, by which time Woodgate was dead and his men in retreat. When a war correspondent named Winston Churchill had urged Warren to act earlier in the day, Warren had ordered him arrested in a fit of rage.

5. Colonel Charles Long

Buller’s failings at Colenso were compounded by his subordinates below him, including Colonel Long.
Long was an old-school officer who believed that “the only way to smash those beggars is to rush in at ‘em”. Ordered to keep his horse artillery at least two and a half miles back, Long instead ordered them to gallop forwards, leaving behind the infantry meant to protect them.  A thousand yards from the Tugela River, Long set up his guns in what he considered a pleasingly straight line and began firing at the Boers across the river.
This close, Long’s men were defenceless in the face of a thousand Boer rifles. After an hour’s firing, with no ammunition left and no cover to hide behind, they were forced to retreat, leaving behind the guns, which were later used by the Boers against the British.

6. Major-General Hart



Herbert Hart, in the uniform of a brigadier general (Public Domain / Wikipedia)
Herbert Hart, in the uniform of a brigadier general
Not to be outdone, another of the officers at Colenso, Major-General Hart, ordered his men to advance towards the enemy in close order in broad daylight. Unable to cross the swollen Tugela, he kept moving along it despite warnings from other officers of Boers all along the far bank. Surrounded on three sides by Boers, the British came under deadly fire. As his officers tried to move their men into open formations, and so reduce their losses, Hart ordered them back into close order and as a result he Boers were able to pick off many British soldiers with their rifles.
Of 1,139 British casualties at Colenso, 532 – nearly half – were from Hart’s brigade.
The Boer War turned into a bloody conflict. If the British Army had been properly led, then it would have been shorter and far less bloody.
Sources:
Geoffrey Regan (1991), The Guinness Book of Military Blunders.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Monday Music "Modern Day Delilah" Van Stephenson

I have been real busy...well today's "Monday Music will be on Tuesday, well it happens.  I had a rare day off off and rather spending it behind a computer, I was spending time with the family, priorities I suppose.   I had gone shopping and saw this for the first time...

Yes I parked there, it is the first time I had seen something like that.  I thought it was pretty neat.

  Well anyway I heard this song as one of the "Lost hits" that Sirius/XM plays on the "80's" channel and I remember the song back in 1984 and I thought it was pretty catchy and the video was pretty good, but the song faded away and I forgot about it until Sirius/XM played it and it was "Dang, I remember that song."   I had a bit of problem finding any real information on the song or the video.

 Van Stephenson was born in Hamilton, Ohio but moved to Nashville, Tennessee when he was ten years old, and played in garage bands as a teenager. He graduated from seminary school and wrote songs on the side in the 1970s; his first chart hit as a songwriter was for Crystal Gayle, who cracked the US country Top Ten with his "Your Kisses Will" in 1979. Stephenson went on to write hits for Kenny Rogers, Dan Seals, Janie Fricke, and John Anderson. Partnering with Dave Robbins, Stephenson wrote a string of hits for Restless Heart, and would continue to work with Robbins later in his career.
Stephenson landed a recording contract of his own with Handshake Records, through which he released his first solo album, China Girl in 1981.

 He later signed with MCA, and his second album, Righteous Anger was released in 1984. He scored big on the Billboard charts with "Modern Day Delilah" peaking at No. 22, and a second hit, "What the Big Girls Do" peaked at No. 45. Righteous Anger charted at No. 54 on the Billboard 200, but his follow-up 1986 disc, Suspicious Heart, did not chart, nor did its lead single, "We're Doing Alright." It also included two songs featured on movie soundtracks: "Make It Glamorous" from the 1984 film The Wild Life and "No Secrets" from the 1985 film Secret Admirer. Stephenson returned to songwriting duties until the early 1990s, when he became one-third of BlackHawk, a successful country group, through the end of the decade. In February 1999, Stephenson was diagnosed with melanoma and underwent surgery. He left the group in February 2000 to continue battling the cancer, but he died on the morning of April 8, 2001 as a result of the disease.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

My Opinion why there are school shootings.....

When I was in high school in the early 80's, we would have kids go to school with rifles in the back of their pickup trucks, especially during hunting season,  The older generation remember rifle teams in the schools gun ranges under a structured environment and it was understood that you don't bring then to class.  What has changed when I was a kid to today..?
     The kids have changed, not the guns, you can or could get a lot of firepower when you wanted to, especially back then.  The AR platform has been around since the 60's  What has changed...?    It is not the guns, it is the kids or society in general that has changed, back then if you had issues with another kid, you handled it on the playground..and kids went to the playground to burn off excess energy.  Some of my fondest memories of elementary school was playing soccer with my classmates and we went back into class feeling good because we burned off some of that excess energy that all kids have and we also bonded with our classmates.  Now there is no playground and to control the natural energy, they push medication.    Also back in the day kids knew their roles in society, now you have several generations of boys that are told that "they are evil" and that all the ills of society are their fault, I hear the term "Toxic Masculinity" used so much.  Boys have no hope, when you are told since elementary school that you are "evil" and responsible for all the bad things of society and that you have to atone for all the imagined slights and sins of your gender and treated as a potential rapist and especially if you are a white boy, you have the added sin of your race to "atone" for..Boys can't be boys, girls want to be boys and you don't know which bathroom to use.  That is a hell of a burden to dump on a kid.
    You also have parents that no longer parent, but want to be "the kids best friend", that isn't our role as parents...our job is to prepare the next generation to succeed and to be honorable productive members of society.  When I was in school, if I screwed up, the teacher notified my parents and I caught hell,  I make jokes about being a wooden spoon survivor but today the parents will support the kid no matter what against the teacher and this erodes the authority of the teacher and the principal.
    Kids today have not been taught to respect authority and to avoid repercussions of their decisions.  This is a corrosive effect on the kids mental well being.  a kid has to have definite boundaries set, that is the job of the parents to instill the"Rules to live by" in a polite society.
     You have boys being raised by single moms because the destruction of the nuclear family which has been proven through generations of struggle is the most stable for raising kids.  Now you have single moms raising kids because the fathers left and a big reason is that there is no longer a stigma attached to fathering kids and booking. Also there is no stigma for moms having multiple kids through multiple fathers for "benefits".  This all is destructive and corrosive to the kids mental well being, you have a generation of feral boys running around with no positive male role model influence for the sons. 
    Now people will still "blame guns" because it is easier to blame an inanimate object that has no soul and no morality and the soul or morality of the use depends on the makeup of the user.  This goes where blaming an individual for doing a bad thing is not acceptable anymore, it is easier to blame "something" rather than "someone" for the evil in their heart.
    I call it "no longer believing in God", call it what you will, but when people no longer believe in a higher power than the here and now is all that matters and the future no longer is a concern.  We as a society have fallen from grace and no longer believe and the results are in front of us.  We as a society glorify poor behavior, disrespect for each other, violence to each other and poor manners.
    I don't know what it will take to change it, but screaming "Gun control" ain't going to fix it, the problems are much deeper and slapping a band-aid on the problem will not solve it.  The kid, I will not use his name broke a slew of laws and adding another one will not solve the problem and stop the evil in a persons heart. 
   

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The 2 American Fighter Pilots During Pearl Harbor...

I remembered this story when I first started reading on WWII especially the Pacific war and Pearl Harbor was where I started at and I remembered reading about Welch and Taylor and their attack on the Japanese Armada and it was one of the few bright spots on a day filled with errors and goofs by the Americans.  The thought of lining up all the P40's in straight rows and made them easy targets for the Japanese Zero fighters that were amazed by the vision they saw.  That the radar tower picked up the armada and was discounted and other errors that were committed by the Americans.  the Japanese committed mistakes also, the biggest was their timing of declaring war after the attack was a great dishonor and infuriated the already angry Americans and the ramifications were felt all the way to Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  And also that Admiral Nagumo not the best choice as an admiral of the Japanese strife force lost his nerve and didn't order the 3rd wave that would have targeted the repair facilities and the fuel farms that would have really crippled the U.S efforts afterwards. 

The nuances of military history are often lost to the passage of time and with the men who could give first-hand accounts.  As much as training and battle play a significant role in the story of war, so does the camaraderie built through nights of recreation and if rumor has it, a beverage or two, or three.
While there were no breathalyzers on the day to confirm the fact, by these two particular men’s admission, they had spent the night of December 6th, 1941 drinking heavily and had little to no sleep when the Japanese launched the most brutal surprise attack in American history. But that didn’t stop them from loading up into two P-40 fighters without orders and taking on the brunt of a massive Japanese assault.
This is a story the world knows whether it realizes it or not.  It was loosely depicted in the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor with the story of these two men played by Ben Affleck and Josh Harnett.  And while that particular movie was certainly full of its typically Hollywood artistic liberties, the 1970 movie Tora, Tora, Tora would be a much more accurate portrayal.


But make no mistake about it, two audacious men took to the skies against the mightiest air assault America has ever known.


The attack on December 7th, 1941 took place on a Sunday.  Which means for many on the island, particularly those stationed there, a typical Saturday night was all that separated them from that day and one which would live in infamy.
Returning to the barracks, 2nd Lieutenants George Welch and Ken Taylor of the 15th pursuit group had just returned from an epic night of partying and poker playing. To be musing about the nights activities one minute and watching the Japanese attack the next must have been a remarkably sobering sight.
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
The Japanese attacked in two waves with over 350 fighters, bombers, and torpedo planes from 6 different aircraft carriers.  The target was the American Pacific fleet most of which was anchored at Pearl Harbor when the attack began.
When it was over, 8 US battleships would be sunk or heavily damaged along with three light cruisers and three destroyers.  A total of 188 US aircraft were destroyed in the attack as well, mostly sitting wing to wing on the ground.  But that doesn’t mean a few brave fighters didn’t take to the sky to give the Japanese a little taste of what was to come in this long war they had just begun.


As Wheeler Air Field had become a primary target for the Japanese, Welch called out to Haleiwa Airfield to have to have two P-40 aircraft fueled and ready because two pilots were coming in hot.  Potentially a little drunk and hungover, but coming in hot all the same.
They sped to the airfield in their Buick and quickly mounted the planes without orders to do simply what they could.  The P-40s were initially only armed with .30 caliber ammo for the wing guns, but to these two men, that was enough to get started.


After they took off, they headed towards Barber’s Point at the southwest tip of Oahu, and initially saw an unarmed group of American B-17 Flying Fortress bombers arriving from the mainland United States. They soon arrived at Ewa Mooring Mast Field, which was being strafed by at least 12 Aichi D3A “Val” dive bombers of the second Japanese attack wave after expending their bomb ordinance at Pearl Harbor.
Although the two pilots were outnumbered six-to-one, they immediately began firing on the dive bombers. Taylor shot down two dive bombers and was able to damage another (the third damaged aircraft was considered Taylor’s first probable kill).
The two men continued to circle the skies fighting what targets presented themselves until they needed to return to base for more ammunition and fuel.  Returning to Wheeler under the threat of friendly anti-aircraft fire, they sought to refuel and load up with the more potent .50 caliber ammunition for the nose-mount synchronized machine guns too.
When they returned to Wheeler, the .50 caliber ammunition was, unfortunately, residing in a burning hanger.  Yet, two brave mechanics headed into the inferno in order to save the ammunition.
USS_SHAW_exploding_Pearl_Harbor_Nara_80-G-16871_2
With extra firepower, Welch and Taylor took to the skies again to take on the second wave of fighters and bombers. Taylor headed for a group of Japanese aircraft, and due to a combination of clouds and smoke, he unintentionally entered the middle of the formation of seven or eight A6M Zeros.
A Japanese rear-gunner from a dive bomber fired at Taylor’s aircraft and one of the bullets came within an inch of Taylor’s head and exploded in the cockpit. One piece went through his left arm and shrapnel entered his leg. Welch shot down the dive bomber aircraft that had injured Taylor, and Taylor damaged another aircraft (his second probable kill) before pulling away to assist Welch with a pursuing A6M Zero fighter.
The Zero and the rest of its formation soon broke off the pursuit and left to return to their carriers as Taylor neared Welch. Taylor continued to fire on several Japanese aircraft until he ran out of ammunition. Both pilots headed back to Haleiwa.
The attack was over and when it was done four planes would be claimed shot down by these two young Lieutenants with others damaged.  With the overwhelming odds they faced, each man could have easily claimed after the first sortie that they had done all they could.
Yet, each man insisted on returning to the sky for additional runs. They did so without orders from their superiors and in fact, some accounts have them denying the request of a higher officer to remain on the ground.  For their actions that day, each man was nominated for the Medal of Honor but were only awarded the Distinguished Serve Cross instead.

Staying in the War

After Pearl Harbor, Welch was initially tasked with giving war bond speeches to support the war effort while Taylor was assigned to the 44th Fighter Squadron where he would go on to get additional air to air kills.  Ken Taylor would later be wounded in an air raid at Guadalcanal and be sent home to train US pilots.
After the war, he remained in the service and became an officer in the newly formed United States Air Force.  He retired at the rank of Colonel.
TaylorWelchPH
Taylor and Welch shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack
Welch’s story would be a little more tragic. In 1944, he resigned his commission to become a test pilot for some of America’s newly evolving jet aircraft.  While instructing and training American pilots on these new aircraft in the Korean War, it was reported that Welch scored several MiG kills in direct disobedience to orders while “supervising” his students.
However, in 1954 while test piloting an F-100 Super Sabre, the plane broke up in mid-air ultimately resulting in his death.  Welch would go on to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
While the fate of these two men would take separate courses after the war, what they accomplished together in the skies over Pearl Harbor inspired a nation.  They proved from early on that America was ready for a fight and the iconic words of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto to be true.
For when he said, “I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve,” it would be because men like Welch and Taylor were determined to make that so.
 
 

Friday, February 16, 2018

The WWI allied Soldier that saved Hitler?

I ran across this story a while back, I remembered hearing about it years ago then forgot about it  and it cropped up again.  I can understand showing mercy to an vanquished enemy, it is a human thing to do, it shows mercy, a unique trait to humans.  There is something that says that "we are human, we have honor" and to attack and kill a vanquished foe is dishonorable to many soldiers, especially to Western based soldiers.  You just get tired of killing and decide not to do it that day. 

The History of War will always be about that which we know for certain, that which we have reason to believe, and that which will always be lost to myth and the passage of time.
It is certain that men of war take the most inexplicable stories with them when they fall in combat.  But from time to time, a story survives and persists that while unproven, would have literally altered the course of mankind were it true.
Thankfully for us today, such a dubious story is intertwined with a historically proven recipient of the Victoria Cross.  So let us take a journey into World War I heroism and you can decide where history ends and a drastically different alternative future begins.



Henry Tandey
Pte Henry Tandey Victoria Cross, Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Victoria Cross recipient Henry Tandey is a legitimate hero of war and the most highly decorated British Private of the first World War. Born in 1891 and having spent some time growing up in an orphanage, Tandey would enlist in the Green Howards Regiment of the British Army in 1910.
Before the outbreak of World War I, Tandey would serve in Guernsey and South Africa with the Green Howard’s 2nd Battalion.  When war broke out in Europe, he would immediately find himself in the action.
He participated in the Battle of Ypres in 1914 and was subsequently wounded at the Battle of the Somme in 1916.  After a recovery in the hospital, we was later assigned to 3rd Battalion in May of 1917.  He was later wounded yet again during the Battle of Passchendaele in November of that year before returning to duty in January of 1918.
And while he undoubtedly fought honorably during the prior four years, it would seem that 1918 was the year he was marked for exceptional bravery and conspicuous gallantry.


via wikipedia.org
Going Over the Top
As the war entered its final months in August of 1918, he would see action at the 2nd Battle of Cambrai where he dashed across the dreaded no man’s land of World War 1 with two others to bomb a German trench.  He came back with 20 German prisoners and was awarded the Distinguished Combat Medal as a result.


Later in September, he participated in an attack at Havrincourt where he would once again brave heavy fire to bomb German trenches and return with more prisoners.  For this action, he was awarded the Military Medal.
On September 28th, he was involved in another action at a canal near Marcoing, France when his platoon began to receive heavy machine gun fire.  Tandey took a Lewis gun team, crawled forward under the fire and took out the German position.
Once he reached the canal, he helped restore a plank bridge under intense enemy fire.  Later that night, when he and his men were surrounded by the enemy, he led a bayonet charge that freed his men and sent the enemy running into the direction of the rest of his company.
For his actions that day, he was awarded the Victoria Cross and became Britain’s most decorated Private of World War 1.  And were the story to stop there, it would be enough to own its place in the halls of history.
It is a documented fact that Adolf Hitler fought in World War 1 and was wounded on a couple of occasions.  With such a controversial and powerful figure who undoubtedly attempted to write his own narrative of his war experience, separating fact from fiction can be more difficult than it would seem.
But out of this historical chaos comes the inexplicable story that would have Adolf Hitler and Henry Tandey cross paths.  But more than cross paths, it would indicate that a wounded Hitler wandered in front of Tandey’s sights only for Tandey to spare the most evil man of the 20th century.


via wikipedia.org Hitler on the Far Right in WW1
Hitler on the Far Right in WW1
As the story goes, in late 1918, after being wounded in battle, a young Hitler stumbled across the battlefield only to see a British soldier with every opportunity to kill him.  With the British soldier recognizing that the wounded man didn’t even raise his rifle, he let him pass.  The wounded Hitler waved at the British soldier and what seemed like a random act of compassion in the midst of a brutal war would be lost to history as one of the common untold stories.
As newspapers reported the historic exploits of Henry Tandey, it is reported that Adolf Hitler recognized him as the man who spared him on the battlefield on that fateful day.  Many years later as Hitler would rise to power in Germany, he came in possession of a painting that was reportedly of a Tandey carrying a wounded comrade.
When Neville Chamberlain visited Hitler in 1937 for the negotiations that led to the Munich Pact, he noticed the painting where Hitler mused that it was the man who had spared him so long ago.  He asked that Chamberlain pay his regards to Tandey and in an instant, a British Victoria Cross recipient would be forever tied to Hitler.

Further analysis of the report would prove the account unlikely.  However, the story simply will not go away and as the passage of time moves on it carries with it a more cemented place in history.  We know that Hitler served in World War 1 and was wounded on multiple occasions, the last of which was a gas attack.

The young Hitler was reportedly in a hospital recovering from his wounds when he was informed of the armistice and Germany’s surrender.


via wikipedia.org
Hitler in WWI, before he adopted his signature mustache
What is beyond a shadow of a doubt is that some British men had the opportunity to kill Hitler in World War 1 and for whatever reason, he survived. It may very well be that Hitler in his arrogance attempted to tie himself to one of Britain’s war heroes from the war by referencing Tandey.
Hitler would survive the Great War and then in a few short decades go on to set the entire world in flames. But for a well-placed shot or the random luck of an indiscriminate artillery shell, the future could have been much different.
So why is it so hard to believe that the man who spared Hitler was a British War hero?  Fact, fiction, and myth.  Perhaps the world will never fully know one of the great stories lost to the passage of time.