Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bari.



This is coolbert:

"I would regard it as a personal affront if the Luftwaffe should attempt any significant action in this area." - - Arthur Coningham, commander of the RAF First Tactical Air Force"

Thanks to the comment from Steiner:

"A complement to this story is the incident at the port of Bari, Italy, in December 1943. The Allies had begun to off-load supplies of mustard gas for possible use in Europe when an unanticipated and successful German aerial attack resulted in a release of the poison."

Steiner is speaking of course about the air raid Bari. Italy - - 1943.

"The Air Raid on Bari was an air attack by German bombers on Allied forces and shipping in Bari, Italy on December 2, 1943. In the attack, 105 German . . . bombers . . . achieving complete surprise, bombed shipping and personnel . . . sinking 17 cargo and transport ships in Bari harbor"

Allied warships in port, unloading cargo attacked by a massed formation of German Ju-88 bomber aircraft, the results catastrophic. Many ships sunk or damaged, the port of Bari out of action for months. A serious blow to allied efforts during the Italian Campaign. AND VERY HUMILIATING TOO!!

Allied air defenses nil, the harbor well lit during hours of darkness, the German threat discounted - - the entire affair referred to as the European "Pearl Harbor"!! The German raiders escaping unscathed!

"The attack, which lasted a little more than one hour, put the port out of action until February 1944 and was called the 'Little Pearl Harbor'."

In addition to the enormous casualties suffered by the allied forces, mustard gas released into the air and water, a U.S. Liberty ship struck by flying debris, set afire, exploding, spewing deadly chemical agent [mustard gas] in all directions!!

"One of the destroyed vessels, the US Liberty ship John Harvey, had been carrying a secret cargo of 2,000 M47A1 World War I type mustard gas bombs, each of which held 30-35kg (60-70 lb) of sulfur mustard."

This too gives some indication of the problem as faced by those exposed to chemical agents. In particular, naval ratings of a British warship, having merely picked up survivors from the water in the aftermath of the air raid, themselves became casualties from the toxicity of the mustard agent, exposure to the chemical agent in aerosol droplet form causing blindness.

"the HMS Bistera, though lightly damaged picked up survivors from the water during the raid and put out to sea; during the night members of the crew went blind and developed chemical burns."

[please recall that A. Hitler during the Great War suffered temporary blindness - - having undergone attack by mustard agent in aerosol form.]

Comments:

* My understanding was originally that the John Harvey was SINGLED OUT FOR BOMBARDMENT, the German knowing full well in advance that the ship was carrying chemical munitions. I had thought hit by a glide bomb. This is not the case.

* The Ju-88 even by the early stages of WW2 was an outmoded and inefficient bomber aircraft? But was put to good use at Bari!

* These were mustard gas bombs [U.S.] designed to be dropped from aircraft, and from the era of the Great War [WW1]. Surely by 1943 American industry had provided the U.S. military with more updated versions of chemical munitions?

* Many American casualties from the Bari raid were from the Navy Armed Guard service? A war time measure - - naval personnel serving on merchant shipping, using field expedient weaponry of dubious value in the effort to defend civilian shipping used in the war effort. A type of duty unknown to me prior to this.

coolbert.

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