Operation Vegetarian The British Plan To Kill Germans During World War II

When it came to World War II nearly every horrific operation and act was considered, all parties at some point planned out operations of war that would have caused immense destruction and catastrophic death tolls. And as we know, unfortunately, such as the Nuclear Bomb or the Holocaust, some of those operations were put into action and became a reality. One of the more unknown plans that never did happen, was codenamed Operation Vegetarian by the British.

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In 1942, the British began to form a plan that would wipe out millions of lives by a crippling famine and it would even have contaminated large parts of Europe. In the end, luckily for Europe, the British never felt it was necessary to put the plan into action. Still, even the preparation caused some horrors and damage.

During the spring of 1942, most countries in Europe were either neutral or under Hitler’s control. And the British were very worried that the Nazis would invade the British Isles. Since nuclear weapons of mass destruction had not yet been invented, it was biological warfare that was seen as the most dangerous and a way to force a country to surrender. This prompted the British to start developing their biological weapons, especially as Hitler appeared to be unstoppable, and Operation Vegetarian was formed. It was a plan to disrupt the whole German economy.

Winston Churchill asked the director of the biology department, Dr. Paul Fildes, to make a secret weapon, and thus the idea of dropping large amounts of anthrax contaminated cattle supplements was born. This would cause the German meat supply to die out nearly overnight. The plan was approved and over five million cattle poison cakes were made, to be dropped by specialized RAF bombers all over Germany.

The poison was so strong when the government tested it on a Scottish island the sheep died within days, but the bacteria spread across the ocean and killed hundreds of animals before the area was guaranteed. Even though the operation never happened, the testing place Gruinard Island is still quarantined to this day!

So Columbus Did Not Actually Discover America Turns Out It Was China

In 2006, a prominent Chinese collector first unveiled an ancient map that showed clear evidence that the Chinese were actually the first people to discover America and not the Europeans. If proven to be completely true this would definitely shatter some immense historical tales of Western civilization.

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The Chinese map which is dated to have been drawn in 1763 but has a note imprinted on it that it was a reproduction of a map first created in 1418, shows the globe with every major continent present. And the amazing part is that it shows the continents with an exactitude that European maps did not have for at least another century. It took the explorations of Columbus, Da Gama, Magellan, Dias, and others before the European maps were of an equal quality.

However, it seems that there are many skeptics amongst scholars, even Chinese scholars seemed quite unsure if the Chinese seamen were the first sailors to go round the world. But there is strong evidence to suggest it could be true when you look at the story and voyages of Zheng He.

Zheng He owned a huge fleet during the time of 1405 to 1433 and embarked on seven voyages himself. Historical records show he did explore Indian Oceans, Southeast Asia, India, the Persian Gulf and the east coast of Africa. He used navigational techniques and built ships that were far ahead of his time. And some scholars argue that he traveled much further and that he discovered America 1421 years before Columbus did.

His achievements, however, have always been widely disputed and been the subject of much speculation over the years. The problem is that a later Chinese emperor decided that connecting with the outside world was dangerous, and destroyed much of their historical records about exploration and travel.

The Roller Coaster Was Invented To Transport Coal

If you have ever wondered how in the world someone decided to plummet themselves along at massive speeds in a little box with wheels, then you may be surprised at how the invention first came to be. The Roller Coaster holds its heritage from a Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway in Pennsylvania, which was being used to transport the coal down a mountainside.

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What started off as a simple and easy way to move coal down a mountain turned into a popular tourist destination for thousands of thrill-seekers in the late 19th century. There are of course earlier precedents of roller coasters in the history books, notably those that were built for Russian royalty. But it really is the Mauch Chunk that popularized the thrill-seeking and speeds that we see in roller coasters today. To think it was originally designed to transport coal.

Opened in 1827, it seemed like a real technological advance for coal miners, no longer would they have to trek 9 miles down the mountain or use a mule. And as with any new technological miracle, it attracted onlookers to see how it worked. Which is when some brave people decided it would be fun to climb into the carts themselves. You see they realized the carts would travel at speeds of over 50 miles per hour, a feat that started the American appetite for creating rides that went against gravity.

And by 1872 the railway had become completely obsolete for transporting coal, due to a tunnel through the mountain that was able to send the coal down even faster. The owners didn’t want to demolish a perfectly good railway, so they thought the best thing to do would be to turn it into a tourist attraction. Which is how over 35,000 people a year lined up to shoot down a mountain at reckless speeds: for the thrill of the ride and the scenic views of the mountains.

Eventually, it did close down during the Depression, as revenue dried up from lack of visitors, but it had inspired the first roller coasters to be built on Coney Island: and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Secret Atlantic U-Boat Attacks Of World War II

On January 13, 1942, German U-boats began their campaign on the Eastern Seaboard of North America, targeting merchant ships and oil tankers. And for the next seven months, they dominated the waters off the East Coast. German U-boat captains loved to be assigned to this region as it was an easy place to rack up their kill count, sinking fuel tankers and cargo ships without any resistance. Often they were even in sight of the shore. Yet this is something rarely talked about during the US history of World War II.

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During those seven months, the U-boat attacks destroyed 22 percent of the US tanker fleet, sinking a total of 233 ships in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. It is estimated they killed over 5,000 sailors and passengers, which is more than double the amount of people who died at Pearl Harbor. While thousands of people may have been looking at the skies in fear of enemy airplanes, nobody knew about this carnage that was going on right at their doorstep.

You see at the start of the war the U.S. Navy was ill-equipped to deal with submarines, they had no idea how to deal with them or protect their ships from them. And the U.S. Admiral King at the time famously refused to take advice from his British allies. This led to the U.S. Navy lying about what was going on in the seas and ensuring that the news media agreed to nationwide government censorship about the topic. This ensured that the military’s incompetence was hidden, and no one realized they were incapable of protecting their shipping routes and saving the lives of merchant seamen.

When the United States entered World War II, Germany believed they would still be able to win the war if they prevented the U.S. from supplying Britain with war materials and fuel. And the German Admiral Karl Donitz was sure they were ill-prepared for dealing with U-boats, which he was completely right. For months, the United States continued to send out ships one by one and even did not order them to turn their lights off, making these cargo ships all easy prey for German U-Boats.

Great Britain exasperated with their incompetence sent an Admiral to plead with the United States to change their tactics, from experience, Britain had learned the best defense against U-Boats was to travel in conveys guarded by military destroyers. It took until April for them to finally implement these tactics and sink the first German U-boat, but by this time the damage was done.

A period of time that the U.S. Navy would prefer us to forget, but we should always remember those that have been lost.

A Freed Slave Penned A Sarcastic Letter When Asked Back To The Farm

Brother Jordan Anderson was a former slave who had been freed from a plantation in Tennessee by Union troops in 1864. He spent his remaining years up in Ohio finding the North much more friendly at the time to him and his family.

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After gaining his freedom, he lived quietly and would most likely have tried hard to completely forget the horrors of slavery and his old plantation master. Yet his old master asked him to come back, which caused Anderson to write back a letter which now is seen as one of the best examples of satire in history.

Anderson’s letter is studied and taught by historians and writers all around the world. It is seen as a masterpiece of satire and has received numerous praises from news outlets. It is now treated as a treasured document that shows how satire evolved over the years. Humorist Andy Borowitz and told the world it would be something that Twain would have been proud to have written.

The letter addressed to Col. Patrick Henry Anderson starts out quite cheerfully with relief that he had not been forgotten but does mention that he often felt uneasy around his old masters. He then goes on to explain that he is now working in Drayton, Ohio and has a very well paid job. Also explains that in Ohio his family is respected and his children are allowed to go to school.

His letter takes a much more satirical turn when he asks for 52 years of back pay to test his old master’s sincerity regarding his offer of employment. Jordan tallies this up at being over $11,000 dollars.

He then goes on to take a much more serious tone, commenting on the violence that happened to a black woman in Tennessee and that he could not risk bringing his family around that sort of level of violence. One of the best parts is his nonchalant way of signing off, advising his old master to thank George for stopping him from shooting him.

Questions have arisen over how Jordan possibly wrote this letter after years of working on a plantation with no education, however, historians and researchers have verified that his letter is indeed real and not a fake. All the signs point to Jordan dictating his words to a writer.

The Last Major Cavalry Charge

Over 600 Italian cavalrymen cried their traditional battle cry of “Savoia!” as they galloped information against over 2000 Soviet foot soldiers. This is what historians usually date as the last major cavalry charge, which happened on August 23, 1942. The cavalrymen were part of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II.

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And you definitely may be forgiven for thinking that the last cavalry charge should have happened years before that date, especially when you think these Italians cavalrymen were charging headlong into machine guns and mortars. Some experts even believe some smaller cavalry charges happened after this date, even possibly as late as the 1970s in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

The Soviet line was retreating, so the Italians charged their flank while tossing hand grenades and slashing with their sabers. And despite heavy losses, they did cause the Soviets to break position. Other cavalry charges during World War II did not yield any positive results, Polish lancers had been slaughtered by a German infantry battalion. U.S cavalry regiments had been gunned down in the Philippines and Indian regiments under British command all faced similar results.

It may seem logical now that these cavalry charges should never have happened and that horse regiments should have stopped when the automatic rifle made them obsolete nearly a century before. But the die-hard generals and commanders that controlled the military just could not let the horses go, most likely still living in the teachings of famed military leaders. Indeed, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, and Genghis Khan and Frederick the Great all used their mounted horsemen to immense effectiveness.

Napoleon Bonaparte built up such a potent and fearless cavalry force that they were known to be the finest in the world, though he would always weaken up the enemy lines with artillery fire before signaling for a charge. Even with all his tactics, he could not stop the disastrous defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Even when cavalry regiments were deprecated from most militaries, commanders did lament the loss of the skill of riding a horse into warfare and feared a time when they would be needed again but nobody would be there to get into the saddle.

Basque Sailors Never Died From Scurvy

Sailing has always been a major industry and passion throughout the history of humanity, civilizations have been shaped and fallen because of their ability to open up shipping routes or discover new lands. Known as the Age of Sail, which is usually dated from around 1571 to 1862, it was a period during which international trade and naval warfare were primarily made up of sailing ships.

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During the Golden Age of Sail where the sailing vessels reached their peak size and complexity, it is estimated that around 50% of sailors died from scurvy on any trip. Scurvy is a disease that happens due to a lack of vitamin C, early symptoms include simply being tired or suffering from sore arms or legs. But without treatment, the decrease in red blood cells start to cause major problems for any patient. As it worsens you will find poor wound healing, personality changes and then eventually death from infection.

It takes at least a month of no vitamin C in a diet to start seeing the symptoms, and this is why sailors during the Age of Sail were so at risk. During this time long cargo hauls or whaling trips would see a sailor being out at sea for months. It took until 1753 for the British Royal Navy to start routinely giving their sailors lemon juice to ensure no scurvy would be present.

But one group of interesting sailors never suffered from the disease at all. These were the Basque sailors, who were very successful in dominating the whale oil trade for some time. They were extremely skilled at hunting whales, and as a result, always had whale oil to trade. One of the ways they achieved this was incentivizing the sailors, they were one of the first sailors to have contracts that ensured payment. And the payment had to be made in some part in oil, this gave them further motivation to produce as much whale oil as possible.

The real interesting part of their contracts though, which was how they never caught scurvy, even though they probably did not know at the time: the contract stipulated Basque sailors had to receive at least 2 to 3 liters of sagardoa each day. Now sagardoa is a type of strong Basque cider, which as a result contained vitamin C, and prevented scurvy.

Trapped On The Suez Canal For Eight Years

During the mid-20th century, Egypt and Israel had a salty and rocky relationship, to say the least. By 1967, the war had broken out between the two nations. This prompted Israel to capture the Sinai Peninsula immediately, and Egypt reacted by trying to cripple their economy with a blockade of the Suez Canal.

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They blocked it with mines, debris and sunken ships which meant that the cargo ships that were traveling through the canal at the time, the unlucky 14 cargo ships, became trapped. The ships from all over the world: British, French, American, German, Swedish, Bulgarian, Polish and Czechoslovakian clustered in the middle of the lake together like an old wild western wagon train. And they ended up getting stuck there for 8 whole years.

The Captain Proskurnicki from the Polish ship Jakarta explained that at the start they treated it like a holiday, but after the first three months, there was nothing to do. They all drifted around the lake aimlessly to ensure their engines stayed well, but after so much boredom kicked in they decided to moor all together and form a micronation. They called themselves the Yellow Fleet, after the sands that the winds would blow over their decks constantly. And like any country, each vessel had a special duty to ensure the nation kept going.

One ship would serve as a hospital, another had a movie theater and potentially the best of all the German Nordwind vessel was receiving a free beer from the breweries back in their homeland. Which meant every Sunday, they would host a beer party. This became a way of life, beer would keep the crews going.

The sailors like to joke that they all drank so much during their time trapped in the canal that the 40-foot lake is now only 35 feet of water. As the remaining 5 feet is made up of beer bottles. They formed the Great Bitter Lake Association, and by the mid-1970s most of their cargo had rotted.

Luckily by 1975, over 750,000 explosives were finally removed from the Suez Canal, making an escape possible. This means the Yellow Fleet could finally make their way home.

Survival Story Of The Castaway Narcisse Pelletier

One of the world’s most unknown survival stories is the tale of the French cabin boy Narcisse Pelletier, who was cast away in 1858 in Australia off the coast of Far North Queensland. He was aboard the trader’s vessel Saint-Paul when it was shipwrecked off the Eastern tip of New Guinea.

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The survivors found themselves on the perilous Heron Island which had no freshwater and very little supplies. They sent a party over to the neighboring Rossel Island in search of freshwater but were attacked by locals, the locals then attacked the whole party by swimming over to Heron Island. As they had firearms some of the crew were able to escape in a longboat, there were nine to twelve men aboard and accounts vary on what happened next.

They made a 12-day journey across the Coral Sea in an open boat by surviving off seabirds and drinking urine. After 1,200 kilometers they made it to the Cape York Peninsula and found freshwater, and here Pelletier was left behind. No one knows why, but historians figure he must have been weak from the lack of nourishment and wounds inflicted at Rossel Island. Perhaps the crew did not want to deal with a dying child, as he was only 14 at the time.

Three Aboriginal women found him, and then came back with their husbands. This time it seems Pelletier was lucky or maybe it was that he was alone, the Aboriginal group decided to adopt him and gave him the new name Amglo.

He lived with the Uutaalnganu speakers for the next 17 years, until he was found by the English crew of John Bell on 11 April 1875. Though the English crew of John Bell assert he was rescued, Pelletier always told the story that he was kidnapped and did not want to leave his Aboriginal family. He was unable to speak English and reported that he had left three children behind. He had many markings and cicatrices on his chest which would have held wooden plugs, his records contain some of the most detailed reports about the social organization, language, and beliefs of the Uutaalnganu speakers.

In the end, he never returned and did make his way back to France where his family met him and celebrated his return.

The Bank Robber Whose Mummified Body Ended Up In An Amusement Park

Elmer J Curdy was a bank robber who operated during the early 1900s all around the United States of America. He was famous for using nitroglycerin during his robberies, though he never did figure out the correct amount to use which caused most of his robberies to be completely bungled affairs.

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The illegitimate child of a fling where his mother never did know who his father was, caused Elmer to be a very unruly and rebellious kid. Apparently from an early teenager age was heavily drinking, which led to alcoholism throughout his life. For a time he did work steadily as a plumber and it seemed he was happy with his life, however, after losing his job to economic turmoil during the 1898 everything took a turn for the worse. After this point, Elmer’s drinking increased heavily and he could not hold down a job, just drifting along the Eastern States. Until he joined the army in 1907, where he was trained on how to use nitroglycerin for demolition purposes, though many debate the extent of his training.

After honorably discharged from the army he entered the life of crime, trying to rob banks and trains. Unfortunately, when using nitroglycerin to blow up safes, he would generally use too much. This resulted in the silver or gold being melted to the safe, meaning his robberies always returned much less than he expected. Elmer is famous for the smallest train robbery in history, where he got away with only $45.

In 1911, he was shot dead by a couple of sheriffs near Okesa, Oklahoma who had tracked him down after a train robbery. He decided to not give up and shoot it out with the sheriffs which gave him the nickname “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up.” You see his body was unclaimed so the funeral home refused to bury him without being paid for his services, this led to him putting the body on display and charging people to see the bandit. Which was why his body was waxed and conserved, it ended up changing hands and being displayed on several shows, eventually getting lost in the era of time.

In 1976 a production crew was filming an episode at The Pike, an amusement park when a prop man moved what was thought to be a wax mannequin. Suddenly the mannequin’s arm broke off and it was visibly human bone and tissue! Elmer had been rediscovered.