Topic: Military history/World War II
112 Gripes About the French was a 1945 handbook issued by the United States military authorities to enlisted personnel arriving in France after the Liberation. It was meant to defuse the growing tension between the American military and the locals.
The euphoria of victory over Germany was short-lived, and within months of Liberation, tensions began to rise between the French and the U.S. military personnel stationed in the country, with the former seeing the latter as arrogant and wanting to flaunt their wealth, and the latter seeing the former as proud and resentful. Fights were breaking out more often, and fears were raised, even among high officials, that the situation might eventually lead to a breakdown of civil order.
Set out in a question-and-answer format, 112 Gripes about the French posed a series of well-rehearsed complaints about the French, and then provided a common-sense rejoinder to each of them — the aim of the authors being to bring the average American soldier to a fuller understanding of his hosts.
It has recently been republished in the United States (ISBN 1-4191-6512-7), and in France under the title "Nos amis les Français" ("Our friends the French"), ISBN 2-7491-0128-X.
- "112 Gripes About the French" | 2021-07-16 | 408 Upvotes 339 Comments
In the statistical theory of estimation, the German tank problem consists of estimating the maximum of a discrete uniform distribution from sampling without replacement. In simple terms, suppose we have an unknown number of items which are sequentially numbered from 1 to N. We take a random sample of these items and observe their sequence numbers; the problem is to estimate N from these observed numbers.
The problem can be approached using either frequentist inference or Bayesian inference, leading to different results. Estimating the population maximum based on a single sample yields divergent results, whereas estimation based on multiple samples is a practical estimation question whose answer is simple (especially in the frequentist setting) but not obvious (especially in the Bayesian setting).
The problem is named after its historical application by Allied forces in World War II to the estimation of the monthly rate of German tank production from very few data. This exploited the manufacturing practice of assigning and attaching ascending sequences of serial numbers to tank components (chassis, gearbox, engine, wheels), with some of the tanks eventually being captured in battle by Allied forces.
- "German Tank Problem" | 2023-11-26 | 39 Upvotes 7 Comments
- "The German tank problem" | 2016-12-03 | 64 Upvotes 6 Comments
- "German tank problem" | 2014-02-21 | 231 Upvotes 83 Comments
- "German tank problem" | 2011-03-02 | 28 Upvotes 1 Comments
- "The German Tank Problem" | 2009-06-23 | 103 Upvotes 18 Comments
A jerrycan (also written as jerry can or jerrican) is a robust liquid container made from pressed steel. It was designed in Germany in the 1930s for military use to hold 20 litres (4.4 imp gal; 5.3 US gal) of fuel. The development of the jerrycan was a significant improvement on earlier designs, which required tools and funnels to use, and it contained many innovative features for convenience of use and robustness. After widespread use by both Germany and the Allies during the Second World War, today similar designs are used worldwide for fuel and water containers, some of which are also produced in plastic. The designs usually emulate the original steel design and are still known as jerrycans. The original design of jerrycan and various derivatives remain in widespread military use.
- "Jerrycan" | 2022-01-03 | 272 Upvotes 155 Comments
Bat bombs were an experimental World War II weapon developed by the United States. The bomb consisted of a bomb-shaped casing with over a thousand compartments, each containing a hibernating Mexican free-tailed bat with a small, timed incendiary bomb attached. Dropped from a bomber at dawn, the casings would deploy a parachute in mid-flight and open to release the bats, which would then disperse and roost in eaves and attics in a 20–40-mile radius (32–64 km). The incendiaries, which were set on timers, would then ignite and start fires in inaccessible places in the largely wood and paper constructions of the Japanese cities that were the weapon's intended target.
András Toma (5 December 1925 – 30 March 2004) was a Hungarian soldier taken prisoner by the Red Army in 1945, then discovered living in a Russian psychiatric hospital in 2000. He was probably the last prisoner of war from the Second World War to be repatriated.
Because Toma never learned Russian and nobody at the hospital spoke Hungarian, he had apparently not had a single conversation in over 50 years, a situation of great interest for the fields of psychiatry and psycholinguistics.
- "The man who did not have a conversation in over 50 years" | 2023-09-30 | 213 Upvotes 61 Comments
En svensk tiger (Swedish: [ɛn ˈsvɛnːsk ˈtǐːɡɛr]) was a slogan and an image that became part of a propaganda campaign in Sweden during World War II. Its goal was to prevent espionage by encouraging secrecy.
- "En svensk tiger" | 2020-01-26 | 99 Upvotes 77 Comments
Pykrete is a frozen ice alloy , originally made of approximately 14 percent sawdust or some other form of wood pulp (such as paper) and 86 percent ice by weight (6 to 1 by weight). During World War II, Geoffrey Pyke proposed it as a candidate material for a supersized aircraft carrier for the British Royal Navy. Pykrete features unusual properties, including a relatively slow melting rate due to its low thermal conductivity, as well as a vastly improved strength and toughness compared to ordinary ice. These physical properties can make the material comparable to concrete, as long as the material is kept frozen.
Pykrete is slightly more difficult to form than concrete, as it expands during the freezing process. However, it can be repaired and maintained using seawater as a raw material. The mixture can be moulded into any shape and frozen, and it will be tough and durable, as long as it is kept at or below freezing temperature. Resistance to gradual creep or sagging is improved by lowering the temperature further, to −15 °C (5 °F).
- "Pykrete" | 2015-07-07 | 114 Upvotes 41 Comments
Unit 731 (Japanese: 731部隊, Hepburn: Nana-san-ichi Butai), also referred to as Detachment 731, the 731 Regiment, Manshu Detachment 731, The Kamo Detachment, Ishii Unit, Ishii Detachment or the Ishii Company, was a covert biological and chemical warfare research and development unit of the Imperial Japanese Army that undertook lethal human experimentation during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) of World War II. It was responsible for some of the most notorious war crimes carried out by Imperial Japan. Unit 731 was based at the Pingfang district of Harbin, the largest city in the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo (now Northeast China), and had active branch offices throughout China and Southeast Asia.
Its parent program was officially known as the Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army (関東軍防疫給水部本部, Kantōgun Bōeki Kyūsuibu Honbu). Originally set up under the Kempeitai military police of the Empire of Japan, Unit 731 was taken over and commanded until the end of the war by General Shirō Ishii, a combat medic officer in the Kwantung Army. The facility itself was built in 1935 as a replacement for the Zhongma Fortress, and to expand the capabilities for Ishii and his team. The program received generous support from the Japanese government up to the end of the war in 1945.
Unit 731 and the other Units of the "Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department" were biological weapon production, testing, deployment and storage facilities. They routinely tested on human beings (who were referred to internally as "logs"). Additionally, the biological weapons were tested in the field on cities and towns in China. Estimates of those killed by Unit 731 and its related programs range up to half a million people.
The researchers involved in Unit 731 were secretly given immunity by the U.S. in exchange for the data they gathered through human experimentation. Other researchers that the Soviet forces managed to arrest first were tried at the Khabarovsk War Crime Trials in 1949. The Americans did not try the researchers so that the information and experience gained in bio-weapons could be co-opted into the U.S. biological warfare program, much as they had done with German researchers in Operation Paperclip. On 6 May 1947, Douglas MacArthur, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, wrote to Washington that "additional data, possibly some statements from Ishii, can probably be obtained by informing Japanese involved that information will be retained in intelligence channels and will not be employed as 'War Crimes' evidence". Victim accounts were then largely ignored or dismissed in the West as communist propaganda.
- "Unit 731" | 2019-10-05 | 131 Upvotes 30 Comments
German submarine U-1206 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was laid down on 12 June 1943 at F. Schichau GmbH in Danzig and went into service on 16 March 1944 before sinking a year later, in April 1945. The boat's emblem was a white stork on a black shield with green beak and legs.
- "German submarine U-1206" | 2019-07-11 | 66 Upvotes 101 Comments
A bouncing bomb is a bomb designed to bounce to a target across water in a calculated manner to avoid obstacles such as torpedo nets, and to allow both the bomb's speed on arrival at the target and the timing of its detonation to be pre-determined, in a similar fashion to a regular naval depth charge. The inventor of the first such bomb was the British engineer Barnes Wallis, whose "Upkeep" bouncing bomb was used in the RAF's Operation Chastise of May 1943 to bounce into German dams and explode underwater, with effect similar to the underground detonation of the Grand Slam and Tallboy earthquake bombs, both of which he also invented.
- "Bouncing bomb" | 2016-11-15 | 91 Upvotes 67 Comments