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david leigh-smith
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On This Day…December 18th

December 18, 2018 · in News · · 21 ≡

Some lovely photos of early Mk IX Spitfires at dispersal (Biggin Hill) in the event of air raids. Taken 18th December, 1942.

Typhoon Cobra hit Admiral Halsey’s Task Force 38 on December 18th, 1944 in the Philippine Sea resulting in the loss of almost 800 men. Three ships, the Hull, the Monaghan, and the Spence were capsized and sank. The photo below is the USS Cowpens (CVL-25).

The strange story of Aloysius the Lamb. An R.A.F squadron based in France adopted a lamb as a mascot and named him Aloysius. The lamb and one of the sergeants (pictured ‘feeding’ the animal and looking just a little sheepish) quickly became best friends.

Not to be outdone, the ground staff also had their own mascot, Bully (complete with luxury kennel). Also pictured on December 18th, 1939.

A squad leader of Kampfgruppe Hansen (1. SS-Panzer-Division ''LSSAH'') gives his men the sign to advance. Poteau/Belgium, December 18th 1944.

Reader reactions:
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21 responses

  1. Another interesting Daily post - Thanks, David!

  2. Esa chica que desea ser hombre... con lo bien que está así.Bonitos y nuevos Spit en sus aparcamientos.

  3. I remember skirting the edge of a Typhoon aboard the Independence, how hard we rolled, got a dent, yes a dent in the hull from a wave, and the general craziness of it. I can't imagine going through one on smaller ships. I mean we were on the extreme edge and that was rough on a modern carrier. When the wave hit that dented the hull it felt like a hammer hit us.

    • Fascinating (as a landlubber). I'd like to hear more about.

    • When I was on the old Pine Island, a friend of mine and I snuck up to the signal bridge inside the ship ("stand clear the weatherdecks" was the order). We then stepped out for maybe 20 seconds. We were nearly blown off the bridge, hanging on for dear life as we looked UP at the wave we were going into, which crashed over the main deck (65 feet above the waterline) and washed back the length of the ship. We scurried back inside, considerably chastened, and I never did that again. There's nothing like a storm at sea to make you feel insignificant, and that was the extreme edge of a typhoon. The ship was rolling 20 degrees to either side of vertical. My excuse is we were 18 and stupid.

      • LOL, I did something similar, weather decks were secured, but my buddies and I said "We'll hang on tight". Different storm than the one above, but a pretty big tropical depression off the Philippines if I recall correctly. Got out to the catwalk, could not see your hand in front of your face...until the biggest flash of lightening I had seen lit up the world. We saw the waves, the Indy was pitching and rolling..."Run away run away!" Youth...

    • In a former life, one of my adventures was crewing fore deck on a 40' Sailboat. It was a cruiser but we were racing on weekends. One day after racing, we were coming back into port with the sails down and were hit by a Micro-burst. I was on top of the cabin securing the main with the owners wife opposite me when I saw the wave of rain/wind approaching at what seemed like light speed. Before I could warn or grab her, the boat tipped so much that we put the mast in the bay. Luckily she instinctively grabbed the main's boom and did not fall off the boat. One of the scariest events of my racing career. Even though we were only in about 12 feet of water, it makes it even scarier to think about being in Deep water and running into a monster storm.

  4. Amazing stories! I deduce a sense of fear and exhilaration in your recounts. Thanks for posting. I do enjoy a good sea adventure yarn.

    • Somewhere I have a picture from my first cruise aboard Nimitz going around Cape Horn. We were only allowed up on vultures row (An observation deck on the island of a carrier) due to the wind and waves. Anyway the picture is of an F-14 parked on Elevator 4, which is aft near the fantail on the port side, with a wave breaking over the tail of the jet. The deck of a Nimitz class carrier is about 90 ft up, when we would go down in the troughs of the swells down there you would almost be level with the tops. The ocean is crazy, the fact guys did that in wooden sailing ships just amazes me.

  5. We hit a storm during the night in mid Atlantic on Saratoga '77. Wasn't quite as bad as your accounts, but I do remember having to periodically check the heavy weather tie downs on an F-4 I was the plane captain of, which was parked all the way forward on the bow. With the plane shaking on its struts and after a couple of waves reaching over the bow, this young airman decided he did not want to be a cruise loss statistic, and headed below.

  6. AWESOME photos and extraordinary stories. The Spitfire photos are nice for a diorama scene. Think I might display my Airfix 1/48 Mk IX on such a diorama. The photo of USS Cowpens reminds me of that saying: It's not a job, it's an adventure!

  7. In reference to the course of Admiral Halsey, taking TF.38 in to typhoon Cobra.

    He was reprimanded "Error of Judgement" for his action and turned over the command of third fleet in January to Admiral Spruance. Personally I think he should have been court marshaled for the loss of 800 man and millions of material.

    He was well aware of the weather conditions, as advised by his meteorological staff on board his flagship.

    The board of inquiry was under pressure from Nimitz CinCPACFLT, King CNO and the President himself.

    What about the relatives of these mostly 800 man that never returned home!

    These kind of articles make me realize what kind of unnecessary sacrifices were brought during WWII, in this case by an Admiral that was fighting his "own" war.

    Regards, Dirk

  8. Hi Dirk. The decision to head into thar weather front was just wrong in so many levels. I think there are many elements here of the nature of command, power, respect, and duty. I think even great men often lose their values. The ‘trial’ was a travesty; his decision and committed ness to course was just wrong and unnecessary. 800 men are testament to that.

  9. Hello David,
    You are a very wise person.
    Looking forward to much more "On this day".
    Regards, Dirk.

  10. Thanks for supporting me he series, Dirk.

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