War Fare

War Fare

Jap Fire Balloons a Fizzle

Japan landed more than 200 bombcarrying, unmanned paper balloons in this country, most of them in the Western area, out of perhaps thousands launched, but the attack fell flat as a military weapon.

At July 31, last, nearly 230 of the balloons or their exploded remnants had been recovered. They fell from Alaska to Mexico and as far east as Michigan, but most frequently in British Columbia, Washington. California and Montana.

Many more were sighted and still are being sought and recovered in isolated areas, where unexploded bombs remain a menace. The exact number sent out of Japan and to land on our hemisphere may never be known. Official guesses, however, place the total released at well into the thousands. One Navy task force reported seeing hundreds in a single day off the Aleutians, headed for California. This was at the time of the San Francisco Security Conference and the report caused considerable apprehension and a redoubled watch. Apparently all of them fell into the sea.

Except for killing six persons who tampered with a bomb near Lakeview, Ore., perhaps causing two small fires and diverting manpower for their investigation, and control, the drafting balloons failed miserably as a war weapon. Not one ever fell in a city or war plant although it is disclosed several came down near the Hanford atomic bomb factory in south central Washington state, and one dropped on the Bonneville Dam power line, momentarily stopping power to the Hanford project. Capt. Don Leonord of the Michigan State Police reported one fell only twenty miles front Detroit.

The hitherto secret details of landings, and the bomb specifications have now been released. The balloons were thirty-three foot hydrogen-filled bags made of five layers of paraffined rice paper; they traveled at an altitude of about 30.000 feet with prevailing Pacific winds, coming from Japan in three and a half to four and a half days. Each carried five bombs, four incendiaries, and a thirty-three pound fragmentation-type antipersonnel bomb.

Famous St. Paul’s Saved

The British Ministry of Information has disclosed a story of heroism in the days of the London blitz, in 1940, when a bomb disposal expert saved St. Paul’s Cathedral at the risk of his own life.

An unexploded mine fell into the courtyard of St. Paul’s at the height of one of the German attacks, landing only three yards away from the cathedral wall. Commander Lieut. Ronald J. Smith, sent to render the mine harmless, found it covered by a parachute with which it dropped and so entangled that the ’chute could not be removed.

He crawled under the ’chute to get to the mine and unscrew the fuse, which had to be done before he could fit in a safety device. Just as he began work a fire engine rumbled by and the vibration started the clockwork mechanism of the fuse. That meant just seventeen seconds before the mine would go off.

Racing against time, Smith cooly unscrewed the fuse disc and got in the “safety gag;” with about two seconds to spare.

Jap Oxygen Mask

A mask that generates its own oxygen electrically is reported used by the Japs. Our fliers rely on masks to which compressed oxygen is fed from containers. One type Japanese mask consists of a battery, two electric buttons, a container for the oxygen generator, a gas-meter, the mask and the necessary rubber tubing for connections. Two special chemical oxygen generators are inserted in the container.

When ready for use, one of the electric buttons is pressed down to ignite the generator. Oxygen begins to flow in five seconds. Generation of gas continues for seventy-five minutes. By using both generators, enough oxygen to last a man for two hours is produced, it is said. The meter tells the fighter how much oxygen he is getting.

About U. S. Incendiary Bombs

Incendiary bombs that fired Japanese cities with 3,000 degree Fahr. flames are themselves roasted at 2,000 degrees in U. S. war plants, it is disclosed. The General Electric Company, whose brazing furnaces turned out incendiary casings at the rate of 400 per furnace, per hour, explain that the containers were filled with inflammable gel-gas which discharges almost non-extinguishable flame. The furnace treatment seals the joints of the metal casings before they are filled.

The incendiaries, known officially as M-69 and M-74, weigh from six to ten pounds, are about half the size of a baseball bat and trail green ribbons or metal vanes for stability during their descent to a target. They usually were dropped in clusters of fourteen to thirtyeight.

As the incendiary strikes the target its fuse sets off an explosive charge in the bomb nose. The pressure developed by the charge shoots the flaming gasoline jelly from the tail end, and the burning charge adheres to anything it strikes. The casing itself, however, does not burst.

Effects of U. S. Bombing of Japan

The questionable Tokio radio is responsible for these statistics: Forty-four Japanese cities were almost completely wiped out and nearly 10,000,000 people killed, injured or rendered homeless by Allied air assaults on Japan throughout the war.

Tokio “statistics” said that one-fifth of Japan’s 206 cities were almost totally destroyed, with a death toll of 260,000. In addition, thirty-seven other cities, including Tokio, lost more than 30 per cent of their built up areas under the high explosive and fire bombs of United States aircraft.

Japanese air defense GHQ gave the following totals “which are still incomplete and are likely to mount as further investigations are made”:

Killed: 260,000, of whom 90,000 died from the atomic bomb blows on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Injured: 412,000, including 180,000 atomic bomb victims.

Homeless: 9,200,000.

Houses wrecked: 2,210,000 completely demolished or burned down and 90,000 partially destroyed.

This, of course, is in addition to the damage done to industrial and military establishments, commercial and business structures.

Home Made Bomb Effective

In St. Paul, Minn., Conrad Olson, 14, was killed when a home-made bomb exploded as he and a companion attempted to duplicate experiments in spontaneous combustion. The companion, Bert Schilling, was not injured.

The boys had used a mixture of powder from shotgun shells and other chemicals in their experiments and had exploded several bottles without harm. Then they obtained a steel pipe, threaded at both ends. After putting a cap on one end, they filled it with the chemical mixture. It exploded as the Olson boy started to screw a cap on the open end.

Navy Releases Crash Accident Data

The Navy has disclosed that ten men were killed, eighty-five planes w-ere destroyed and fifty-five others damaged when a four-engine Navy bomber veered off a runway on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshalls August 9, 1944.

A Consolidated Liberator, when taking off, plowed into a replacement pool of planes for carriers. Seven of the Liberator’s 500-pound bombs exploded or began burning as flames spread rapidly from the plane’s 2,900 gallons of gasoline. The pilot and all but one of the eleven-man crew were killed in the crackup, or died later.

The crash emphasized the possibilities for accident always present in landing or take-off operations a crowded airport.

War Fare

War Fare

The Hazzard Lingers On?

From Wilmington, Del., comes an anonymous contribution, dated June, which tells about a 1,200-acre secret Army railroad yard at Cooch’s Bridge, near the place which has been used as a huge ammunition storage dump since last fall. Although few knew it, tons of “hot stuff” have been stored there in railroad cars, until it could be handled at the Hog Island Terminal of the Philadelphia Port of Embarkation.

The Army has not revealed the tonnage handled in the yard, but it is said to be an important cog in the Hog Island Terminal, which shipped 1,340,996 tons of ammunition in three years. No decision has been made as to the future of the yard, say Army officials, but Hog Island will be discontinued this summer. Let’s hope for the fire service of the area that the hazard has also ceased to exist.

Where Ignorance Is Bliss

In London, Eng., Mr. and Mrs. John Conn spent nearly two years blissfully unaware that an unexploded German anti-personnel bomb was hanging over their heads.

The bomb, a relic of the Nazi air blitz on London, was found on the root’ of their home. When exploded by A demolition expert it blew gaping holes in the roof and damaged furniture inside the house.

Those Loud “White Elephants”

Looks like it is going to cost some cities money to get out of the air raid alarm business. New York, which offered to sell ten super-dooper sirens which cost $3,750 each in 1942, got just seven bids, but the most attractive offer was a negative one, from one bidder who offered to remove them—one one from atop the R.C.A. Building, the others scattered around the city—and keep them if_ the city would pay his company $2,250. Just for removal, with the city keeping the sirens, the company wanted $4,460. The Department of Market and Purchase present “keeper” of the “white elephants” is hoping for better luck with 443 small sirens, which are also on the block.

Bombay Fire Loss Declared Record

It has been said that the fire in Rombay, India, which was started by an explosion on a munition ship on April 14, 1944, may prove to be the largest individual fire loss in history when complete information is finally, available.

Though reports on casualties and monetary damage very widely and accurate details are slow in materializing, the loss of life is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 1,000 persons, personal injuries to between 1,000 and 2,000 and the aggregate property damage more than a billion dollars.

The fire started on the S.S. Fort Stikine, which had docked at Bombay with a cargo of cotton, lubricating oil and other commodities in addition to explosives and ammunition. Accidental ignition of cotton in one of the lower holds was responsible for the outbreak. The resultant spread of the fire and explosions killed many officers and men of the Bombay Fire Brigade.


The Manchester Guardian (Manchester, Eng.) recalls that when an American, in 1873, took a steam fire engine to Tokio, he found himself in competition with a “racket” which, briefly, appears to have been an arrangement under which owners of property paid protection money to the local fire brigade bosses.

The larger the subscription, the greater the quantity of water which arrived at a fire and presumably the rule was—no subscription, no water at all.

This payment in advance system was so lucrative that the local fire bosses would brook no interference and the enterprising American, having had it earnestly impressed upon him that his early departure was advisable, left the city with his fire engine, never to return. (Thanks “The Fireman”).

Firehouse Training

British firemen are brushing up on their English and arithmetic. Blackboards and class room paraphernalia are in evidence in many fire stations, firemen instructors at 55 houses in London alone are holding classes in English and mathematics for their fellow firemen and firewomen.

All this, we are told, is part of a scheme to help prepare the men and women for civilian employment again; but the professional fireman too is finding that there is much that he has forgotten that can advantageously be re-learned by these classes. The instructors are said to be formerly school-masters themselves. Pupils in April numbered 1,300.

Foreign False Alarm Fields

False alarms are not indigenous to America. Great Britain has its fill of ’em, too. We are told that an appeal to the public to cooperate with the police detecting persons who give false fire alarms was made by Mr. J. Dyer Simpson, chief general manager of the Royal and the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance companies, at the annual meeting of the Fire Salvage Association in Liverpool this spring.

Mr. Simpson said that of 2,018 calls received to civil fires on Merseyside last year, no fewer than 787 were false alarms, 652 of them malicious. “He hoped drastic treatment would be forthcoming to stop a nuisance which wasted valuable time and effort of the fire services.”

This ought to give some of us a comfortable feeling to know that our Brothers in Britain are in the same boat with us.

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Queer Asphyxiation

A National Fire Service part-timer was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes while sitting in a towing vehicle, which was adjacent to a trailer pump working from a dyke. He died later. His comrade, who was also overcome by the fumes, said that there was no smell of any fumes.

A verdict “Asphyxiated by CO” was given at the inquest.

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Wide Open Spaces

The brush fires in Victoria a year ago were on a vast scale and the after-effects on the world’s food supply are now being felt. It is estimated that 3,000 square miles of country were burnt out, 1,000,000 sheep, 50,000 cattle 1,000 horses, 1,000 pigs, 200,000 head of poultry and 5,000 hives of bees were destroyed and large areas of highly productive country rendered useless for a long period. The cost of repairing the damage is said to have exceeded $75,000,000.

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Dangerous Work

The story of an outstanding operation of an exceptionally dangerous nature performed by Merseyside firemen has now been released for publication.

More than 1,500 gallons of high-octane aviation spirit (gasoline) had leaked from containers in a 7,000 ton ship. A thick fog prevented the vessel from being taken out to sea, where the gasoline could have been pumped overboard, so, stripped to the waist, and with all metal removed from the rest of their clothing, the men operated hand pumps to transfer the gasoline into 45 gallon drums, in which it was removed. Frequent reliefs were necessary, and strict supervision had to be maintained in case the men became affected by the fumes in a situation where one irresponsible act would have meant disaster.

Oxygen breathing apparatus was kept in constant readiness. While other vessels passed all men were withdrawn from the vapor-filled ship in case a spark from the funnels caused an explosion.

(Acknowledgments to “The Fireman”)

Hot Off the News Tape

In an attempt to fasten his belt while riding on the off-side running board of an NFS (National Fire Service) appliance responding to a fire alarm at Southampton, Eng., fireman Albert C. Robins, 39, fell to the ground, fracturing his skull, from which he died. . . . Coventry Works Fire Brigades Association, Coventry, Eng., formed in the last war, to afford protection to industrial plants, contemplates erection of a $75,000 headquarters, as a memorial to industrial fire-lighters killed during air raids on city and district during the present war. . . .