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david leigh-smith
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On This Day…January 26th

January 26, 2019 · in News · · 19 Comments

In 1927 HMS ‘M2’ became the first undersea aircraft carrier - a submarine carrying a small Parnal ‘Peto’ two-seater seaplane (below) in a watertight hangar. The seaplane, which had folding wings, was launched by catapult off a runway on the deck. When it landed near the sub, it was hoisted on board and into the hangar by a specially designed small crane. · on youtube

The M2’s crew was proud of the speed with which it could launch and recover the floating plane and were ever trying to beat their turnaround time, which may in some way have contributed to the disaster which befell them on January 26th, 1932.

The M2 dived at 10.11am during exercises off Portland (South west England) and disappeared. Tragically a ship was nearby, but being unaware of how submarines worked, did not know that the M2 was sinking, rather than making a routine dive. Navy divers discovered that the hangar door had apparently been opened while she submerged. All 58 submariners and the two pilots died.

On January 26th, 1918 the US government urged people to have one meatless day, two wheat less days, and two porkless day’s a week to help the war effort.

USS Intrepid (CV-11) on 26th January, 1944 - on her way to launch strikes against Truk Atoll. The forward flight deck is filled with SBD Dauntless and TBF Avenger aircraft and if you look carefully (whereas Wally?) there’s one one F4U Corsair on the outrigger sponson.

On the 27th of January 1957, the very last North American Aviation F-51D Mustang fighters in operational service with the United States Air Force were retired from the 167th Fighter Squadron, West Virginia Air National Guard, Martinsburg, West Virginia.

Recently in this series I’ve chronicled a few ‘couldn’t make it up’ stories. In the ‘Colmar Pocket’ of eastern France on 26th January, 1945, Audie Murphy earned the Medal of Honor to go along with several other awards for bravery and outstanding achievements in the field. His actions that day are said to have inspired the last act of the movie, ‘Fury’.

Since landing in Sicily in 1943, Murphy had been incapacitated by malaria, shot several times, won several promotions, and suffered a leg wound that contracted gangren, resulted in surgical removal of a large area of muscle. In October of ‘44 he was awarded two Silver Stars and a battlefield commission.

Murphy was a complex character; moody, a little gun obsessed, and a gambler. However, after the war, and becoming an ‘A-List’ movie star, he did some inspirational work bringing PTSD to the fore of military consciousness. He openly talked of his depression, ‘flashbacks’, anxiety attacks, and difficulty readjusting to civilian life after the war.

Citation for the Medal of Honour...

Moving on from the Battle of the Bulge, a German tank provides a bridge for 102nd Infantry Division troops crossing a small stream near Brachelen, Germany.

Two very wet and battle-weary soldiers of the 26th Marine regiment on the Batangan Peninsula. Soth Vietnam, 26th January, 1969.

Reader reactions:
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19 responses

  1. The M2 Looks like same concept as the what the Japanese had. I believe that Murphy is in Arlington National cemetery under a standard headstone.

  2. Nice set David @dirtylittlefokker. No. 7 would make a great Dio. I believe those are either B-50 or KB-50 A/C in the background.

  3. Hello David...that lone Corsair seen on the deck of the USS Intrepid is an F4U-2 from VF(N)-101. It was a part of Air Group 6 at the time. Thanks for sharing some day to day history and interesting photos.

  4. Jim, you are man who knows his potatoes. And his F4U’s...thanks!

    Shameless plug (sorry, Jim!) -

  5. I believe there is also a lone F-6F Hellcat in that deck (third row from the back, on the port side). The M-2 story is new to me, and what a story it is. Wonder if there is a kit of the small “Peto” out there?

  6. I just watched The Dirty Dozen, in which Murphy plays an MP sergeant. He's not only a pretty good actor, he's got a great sense of humor. Amazing man, really.

    • I think Audie had fistfuls of personality, courage, humour, some demons, but a heart that was fundamentally exactly in the right place. He was plagued after the war by nightmares and headaches. When he realised he was addicted to major tranquillisers he took himself off to a hotel room, locked himself in and stayed until he was clean. Despite regular financial problems he refused to appear in alcohol or cigarette ads he was offered.

      Despite being a Medal of Honor recipient, his will asked (as @roofrat commented on) that he be buried with a plain headstone in Arlington.

  7. As usual David, you have compiled another great set for "On this Day"... You have really been tugging at my sub consciousness with all of these recent Corsair photos... a subliminal message perhaps ? 🙂

  8. Ah, more F4U’s coming up in near future episodes...

  9. I always thought that making “To Hell and Back” must have taken a terrible toll on Audie. To reinact the death of his closest friends...even if only for “one take”.. I can’t imagine the pain he must have endured.

  10. Murphy's birthdate is off by at least 2-3 years. He was 15 when he signed up and had made it all the way to 18 by the time he won the MoH.

  11. A great day for your series, David. Thanks. The story of the HMS M2 is so sad. Certainly not the only one, but a great telling of their sad final missions.


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