“All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” — United States Constitution
On July 28, 1868, the 14th Amendment to the U-S Constitution was adopted, finally guaranteeing citizenship to Black Americans.
The 1865 Union victory in the Civil War may have won over 4 million enslaved Africans their freedom, but the path to equality and the process of rebuilding the South was wrought with obstacles.
The period known as Radical Reconstruction saw the passing of the 14th Amendment, which stated that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States are citizens of the United States,” and was meant to grant every citizen “equal protection of the laws.”
Segregation, racial discrimination, and white supremacist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan would inhibit true equality for another century, when Black people would raise their voices in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, demanding the political, economic, and social equality they deserve.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force is one of the world’s most modern air forces. It is also very large (100 combat planes) compared to the size of the country (276 square miles – less than a quarter of the area of Rhode Island). One could wonder how they fit all their planes in there?
The answer is, they don’t. In fact, about a quarter of Singapore’s primary combat jets, a total of 40 F-15SG Strike Eagles and 60 F-16C/D Fighting Falcons, aren’t based in Singapore at all. They’re in the United States.
You’ll find ten of Singapore’s F-15SGs at Mountain Home Air Force Base, the home of the 366th Fighter Wing (which operates F-15E Strike Eagles). They are assigned to the 428th Fighter Training Squadron.
Fourteen of Singapore’s F-16C/D fighters are at Luke Air Force Base, the home of the 56th Fighter Wing, which handles training for not only the F-16, but for the F-35. They are assigned to the 425th Fighter Training Squadron.
So, why is roughly one-fourth of Singapore’s combat aircraft inventory stationed across the Pacific Ocean, well over 8,500 miles away? Well, the answer is Singapore’s small size, and its poor geography. Singapore is really an island nation pushed smack dab between Malaysia and Indonesia, and its airspace is less than six miles across.
One thing you need for flight training, though, is space, and a lot of it. This is especially true with high-performance fighters like the F-15SG and F-16C/D.
Transport helicopter pilots and basic flight training are done in Australia, where the trainees, it is safe to assume, can guzzle all the Foster’s they want. Jet training for the Singaporean Air Force is done in France. Oh, and eight of Singapore’s 17 AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters are based near Tucson, Arizona.
In essence, Singaporean flight trainees get to see a lot of the world before they join a front-line unit. Not a bad way to enter service.
On June 27, 1950, President Truman ordered U.S. forces to Korea.
Just two days prior, 90,000 communist troops of the North Korean People’s Army invaded their southern counterparts. This action prompted an emergency U.N. Security Council session to search for a resolution.
The USSR was boycotting the council due to the U.N.’s rejection of North Korea’s participation and missed their opportunity to veto the vote.
On June 27, President Truman made his announcement to the world that the U.S. would get involved in the conflict. Truman believed that the Soviets may have been behind the North Korean invasion because of their utilization of Soviet built tanks. Truman’s decision to enter the conflict was met with overwhelming approval from Congress and more importantly, the American people.
When the Korean War started, victory was far from assured. The North Korean attack on June 25, 1950 took the U.S. and South Korea by complete surprise and the Communists were able to make large gains in a very short amount of time.
The battle lines swung as wildly as the momentum of the war itself before grinding into months of stalemate as the two sides haggled at the negotiating table. Every time the pendulum shifted, more American and UN forces were captured by the North Korean and Chinese forces. The first reports of enemy atrocities filtered into the UN headquarters as early as two days after the invasion started.
The report found the Communist forces in Korea “flagrantly violated virtually every provision of the Geneva Convention” as well as Article 6 of the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter.
After just over three years of brutal fighting, an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. Even to this day, no peace treaty has been signed and the two Koreas are technically still at war.
It must be so tempting, staring down an awesome piece of military hardware… just sitting there, waiting for someone to take it for a spin. The maintainers know everything about their plane, tank, or other vehicles, right down to the last detail.
Imagine anyone’s surprise when one of these vehicles just up and leaves when its not supposed to. Sounds unlikely, but it’s happened a lot more than one might think.
1. Sergeant Paul Meyer gets sick of his wife, steals a C-130
On May 23, 1969, Meyer, a U.S. Air Force crew chief stationed at RAF Mildenhall, England, took off in a C-130E, and very quickly crashed into the English Channel. His body was not found, but he was assumed to have died on impact.
The USAF investigation showed Sgt. Meyer was “under a considerable amount of stress” in the days leading up to the theft. He was married just eight weeks before his deployment to England and his wife constantly badgered him to come home – because she was being sued by her ex-husband.
On top of his marriage difficulties, he failed to pass for promotion despite allegedly being better qualified than his peers who did get promoted. Meyer was grounded and restricted to barracks for being arrested in an alcohol-related incident.
The same night he was arrested, he called the fuels unit on the base to fuel up his C-130. He then took an officer’s flight clothes and GOV, then drove to the flightline.
He did not crash on takeoff. He climbed, turned north, and made his way over the Channel. He called his wife over the radio until he lost control and crashed.
2. An Army PFC takes a Huey to the White House
Army Pfc. Robert K. Preston washed out of Army flight school in 1973. The 20-year-old was apparently determined to get under the rotors of an Army aircraft – by any means necessary. On Feb. 17, 1974, Preston stole a Bell UH-1 Huey Helicopter from Fort Meade, Maryland, and flew it down the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, stopping at a trailer park along the way.
Preston, who held a civilian pilot’s license for fixed wing aircraft, completed 24 weeks of Army aviation training before washing out for “deficiency in the instrument phase.” Yet, Maryland State Police pilots who chased Preston called him “one hell of a pilot.”
The helicopter buzzed the Washington Monument and the White House itself before touching down amid a hail of Secret Service buckshot. Preston was injured in the gunfire, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,400.
3. A USAF Mechanic steals an F-86 Sabre, regrets nothing
When the F-86 Sabre appeared in the Air Force fleet in the 1950s, pilots needed a year of training to fly it. Airman 1st Class George Johnson, however, took the initiative. On Sept. 20, 1956, he hopped in the cockpit of a Sabre and went for a ride.
Johnson was a mechanic with dreams of flying. Unfortunately, a burned retina from staring at an eclipse meant a plane like the F-86 was forever out of reach. As part of a routine functional check one day, he asked the tower to clear the runway for a high-speed taxi test, which was actually a thing.
Except when it reached the right speed, Johnson took off with the plane – literally. But he had no way down. No chute. No experience. The officers of the day had to talk Johnson down. Johnson was court-martialed and fined almost $200, sentenced to six months confinement and loss of rank to Airman Basic.
4. A Marine becomes a mechanic – then steals an A-4M Skyhawk
Lance Cpl. Howard Foote couldn’t become a Marine Corps pilot because he got the bends during a glider test. He had to settle for becoming a mechanic.
But the dream of flying a USMC fighter never left him. One day in 198 he gassed up a Skyhawk and took it for a joyride.
Foote landed his plane much easier than anyone else – he was an accomplished pilot already. But he still served time in the brig for his chicanery.
BONUS: U.S. Army soldier steals a tank, goes on a rampage
In 1990, a California veteran named Shawn Nelson lost a medical malpractice suit to a local hospital, who counter-sued for thousands. His wife filed for divorce in 1991. Both parents died of cancer in 1992. His brother became hooked on meth.
By 1995, his business went defunct and he lost everything and was facing homelessness. In April of that year, his live-in girlfriend died of a drug overdose.
On May 17, 1995, Nelson calmly drove to a California National Guard armory in San Diego and forced his way into a 57-ton M60A3 Patton tank. Though unarmed, Nelson still drove the tank off the base.
For 23 minutes, he led police on a slow-speed chase through local residential neighborhoods as he rampaged over utility poles, hydrants, and at least 25 cars. Eventually, the tank got caught on the median of State Route 163, where police ordered Nelson to leave the vehicle. When he instead tried to free the tank, the police shot him. Nelson died from his wounds, the only fatality.
Expelled from their main stronghold in northern Iraq, Islamic State militants are now trapped in a military vise that will squeeze them on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said.
Mattis arrived in the Iraqi capital on an unannounced visit August 22 just hours after President Donald Trump outlined a fresh approach to the stalemated war in Afghanistan. Trump also has vowed to take a more aggressive, effective approach against IS in Iraq and Syria, but he has yet to unveil a strategy for that conflict that differs greatly from his predecessor’s.
In Baghdad, Mattis was meeting with senior Iraqi government leaders and with US commanders. He also planned to meet in Irbil with Massoud Barzani, leader of the semi-autonomous Kurdish region that has helped fight IS. Mattis told reporters before departing from neighboring Jordan that the so-called Middle Euphrates River Valley — roughly from the western Iraqi city of al-Qaim to the eastern Syrian city of Der el-Zour — will be liberated in time, as IS gets hit from both ends of the valley that bisects Iraq and Syria.
“You see, ISIS is now caught in-between converging forces,” he said, using an alternative acronym for the militant group that burst into western and northern Iraq in 2014 from Syria and held sway for more than two years. “So ISIS’s days are certainly numbered, but it’s not over yet and it’s not going to be over any time soon.”
Mattis referred to this area as “ISIS’s last stand.”
Unlike the war in Afghanistan, Iraq offers a more positive narrative for the White House, at least for now. Having enabled Iraqi government forces to reclaim the Islamic State’s prized possession of Mosul in July, the US military effort is showing tangible progress and the Pentagon can credibly assert that momentum is on Iraq’s side.
The ranking US Air Force officer in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Croft, said that over the past couple of months IS has lost much of its ability to command and control its forces.
“It’s less coordinated than it was before,” he said. “It appears more fractured — flimsy is the word I would use.”
Brett McGurk, the administration’s special envoy to the counter-IS coalition, credits the Trump administration for having accelerated gains against the militants. He said August 21 that about one-third of all territory regained in Iraq and Syria since 2014 has been retaken in the last six or seven months.
“I think that’s quite significant and partially due to the fact we’re moving faster, more effectively,” as a result of Trump’s delegation of battlefield authorities to commanders in the field, McGurk said. He said this “has really made a difference on the ground. I have seen that with my own eyes.”
It seems likely that in coming months Trump may be in position to declare a victory of sorts in Iraq as IS fighters are marginalized and they lose their claim to be running a “caliphate” inside Iraq’s borders. Syria, on the other hand, is a murkier problem, even as IS loses ground there against US-supported local fighters and Russian-backed Syrian government forces.
The US role in Iraq parallels Afghanistan in some ways, starting with the basic tenet of enabling local government forces to fight rather than having US troops do the fighting for them. That is unlikely to change in either country. Also, although the Taliban is the main opposition force in Afghanistan, an Islamic State affiliate has emerged there, too. In both countries, US airpower is playing an important role in support of local forces, and in both countries the Pentagon is trying to facilitate the development of potent local air forces.
In Iraq, the political outlook is clouded by the same sectarian and ethnic division between Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish factions that have repeatedly undercut, and in some cases reversed, security gains following the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.
An immediate worry is a Kurdish independence referendum to be held September 25, which, if successful, could upset a delicate political balance in Iraq and inflame tensions with Turkey, whose own Kurdish population has fought an insurgency against the central government for decades. McGurk reiterated US opposition to holding the Iraqi Kurdish referendum.
“We believe these issues should be resolved through dialogue under the constitutional framework, and that a referendum at this time would be really potentially catastrophic to the counter-ISIS campaign,” McGurk told reporters in a joint appearance with Mattis before they flew to Iraq.
With the Iraqi military’s campaign to retake the northern city of Tal Afar now under way, Mattis has refused to predict victory. He says generals and senior officials should “just go silent” when troops are entering battle.
“I’d prefer just to let the reality come home. There’s nothing to be gained by forecasting something that’s fundamentally unpredictable,” he told reporters traveling with him over the weekend.
California may start giving legal help to veterans who have been deported.
The state Assembly passed a bill May 8 to provide legal representation for people who were honorably discharged from the military but have since been deported.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher says her bill is intended to help deported veterans return to the country. The San Diego Democrat says the bill would help them reunite with their families and access health services and other benefits.
“It’s time we bring our deported vets back,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “California can lead the way by trying to bring them home.”
The American Civil Liberties Union says it has found dozens of cases where veterans have been deported.
Many deported veterans would have been eligible to become naturalized citizens but were not properly informed about the process, Gonzalez Fletcher said.
Funding for the bill will be subject to availability of money in the state budget.
The bill directs the state to contract with a nonprofit legal services organization. AB386 passed the Assembly without any dissenting votes and now goes to the Senate.
Military retirees have unique concerns when compared with their civilian counterparts, especially as it relates to getting the most out of their retirement life. You’ve got one year after your active duty separation date to plan your final move, but make sure you spend plenty of time researching before your official military retirement.
Whether you’re entering retirement with a military pension alone or coupled with other retirement or spousal savings, here’s what to keep in mind when making what’s hopefully your last move (and maybe even your first one where you get total choice in where to go!)
General lifestyle goals for military retirement
As a military family, you’ve had the chance to live in at least a few different places, so there’s a good chance you know what climate you like by now. When determining your post-retirement resident state, make sure you’re picking an area of the country you either loved living or have always wanted to live. If being close to family post-PCS life is important for you, chart out driving distances or flight costs, too.
Cost of living can factor into the equation, too. How affordable are housing, childcare, groceries, and utilities in your chosen city?
State income tax
Nine places don’t require residents to pay any statewide income taxes: AK, FL, NV, NH, SD, TN, TX, WA, and WY. Depending on if you’re still earning any form of income or your spouse is still actively working, this could influence your decision about where to live.
Sales tax and property tax
While most people turn first to state income tax as the primary factor for determining where to live in retirement, sometimes the sales and property tax landscape could offset any savings on the state income tax side. Certain states will exempt food or medications from sales tax, others have no sales tax, and others will apply sales tax to everything.
Just as cities can also assess sales taxes on their own, property taxes can vary a lot from one state and town to another.
At the federal level, most pensions and retirement plans will be taxed. But not every state has an additional tax requirement for these funds.
There are 14 states that won’t tax your pension income. They are AK, FL, NV, SD, TN, HI, MS, IL, AL, WY, NH, TX, WA, and PA. New York excludes federal pensions from their tax scheme but not all private pensions are exempt. For TSP funds, most states do tax these with the exception of AK, FL, NV, NH, SD, TN, TX, WA, WY, IL, MS, and PA.
Corporate income tax
Did you start a business after leaving service or do you plan to do so? Some states level high corporate income taxes that could influence your budget. If a business is part of your retirement earnings plan, consider how corporate income taxes influence your earnings from self-employment since rates in the 44 states that charge this tax range from 2.5% in North Carolina to 11.5% in New Jersey.
General quality of life for veterans is another factor you can’t miss in your evaluation. Check out WalletHub’s recent evaluation of the best states for military retirees. Consider things like:
Proximity to VA health centers
Number of veterans per capita
Veteran homelessness or unemployment numbers
Percentage of veteran-owned businesses
State, regional, or local veteran support groups or nonprofits
If you’re used to only a few options from a billet, making all these decisions can be harder than expected. Using these factors will help you make the right decision for you and your family.
While cyber-attacks do not kill humans outright in the way the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did, they degrade the faith of Americans in their political systems and infrastructure in a way that could devastate the country and that furthers the foreign-policy goals of the US’s adversaries.
“When Americans have lost trust in their electoral system, or their financial system, or the security of their grid, then we’re gonna be in big trouble,” Eric Rosenbach, a former US Army intelligence officer who served as Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s chief of staff, said July 13 at the Defense One Tech Summit.
‘A failure of deterrence’
The US has long relied on the concept of deterrence, or discouraging nation-states from taking action against the US because of the perceived consequences, for protection.
“Deterrence is based on perception,” Rosenbach said. “When people think they can do something to you and get away with it, they’re much more likely to do it.”
While the US conducts cyber-operations, especially offensives, as secretly as possible, mounting evidence suggests that the US has not fought back against hacks by adversarial countries as strongly as possible.
After receiving intelligence reports that Russia had been trying to hack into US election systems to benefit Donald Trump, President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop and brought up the possibility of US retaliation.
A former senior Obama administration official told The Washington Post earlier this year that the US’s muted response to the 2016 hacking was “the hardest thing about my entire time in government to defend.”
“I feel like we sort of choked,” the official said.
The Post also found that Obama administration’s belief that Hillary Clinton would win the election prompted it to respond less forcefully than it might have.
While the attacks on vital US voting systems and nuclear power plants highlight recent failures of deterrence, Russia has been sponsoring cyber-crimes against the US for years.
“The Russians, and a lot of other bad guys, think that they can get away with putting malware in our grid, manipulating our elections, and doing a lot of other bad things and get away with it,” Rosenbach said. “Because they have.”
In physical war, the US deters adversaries like Russia with nuclear arms. In cyberspace, no equivalent measure exists. With the complicated nature of attributing cyber-crimes to their culprits, experts disagree on how to best deter Russia, but Rosenbach stressed that the US needed to take “bold” action.
While Rosenbach doesn’t find it likely that Russia would seek to take down the US’s grid in isolation, he pointed out that the nuclear-plant intrusions gave Russia incredible leverage over the US in a way that could flip the deterrence equation, with the US possibly fearing that its actions might anger Russia.
Russia’s malware attacks have been so successful, Rosenbach says, that the next time the US moves against Russia’s interests, fear of future attacks could “cause the US to change course.” The US losing its ability to conduct an independent foreign policy would be a grave defeat for the world’s foremost superpower.
ISIS sucks. That’s a fact. Here are 7 great videos of them turning to ash.
1. ISIS releases footage of its own artillery being blown away
It seems odd that these videos end up on the internet. If a videographer is filming propaganda for their cause and accidentally captures their own equipment turning into shrapnel, why would they upload it?
2. ISIS suicide bomber becomes a space cadet, fails re-entry exam
3. Apache drops hellfire and fires multiple bursts of 30mm
Apache pilots are renowned for a lot of things. Restraint isn’t one of them.
4. AC-130 finds the proverbial barrel of fish, acts accordingly
AC-130s are great in any environment, but they really distinguish themselves when the area is target rich.
5. U.S. hits explosive-laden vehicle so hard, the computer can’t decide where it ended up
It’s always great to see the larger explosion indicating that a target was filled with explosives, but it’s really fun to see the computer try to relay where the vehicle probably is. “Well, it was here when it blew up–but something just flew by over there. Also, there’s a smoldering chunk of metal over here, so maybe it’s the vehicle?”
6. Only the dog escapes
Apache pilot: “Engage.”
All targets on the ground, clearly never getting up again.
AP: “Engage again.”
That’s what’s so great about Apache pilots. They always engage again.
7. Jordan’s spectacular retaliation for the execution of its pilot
ISIS executed the Jordanian pilot, Moaz al-Kasasbeh. Jordan responded with 56 air strikes and two executions in three days. Jordan was then kind enough to make a video for ISIS to remember them by.
Some of the greatest businesses of the 21st century started in a garage: Microsoft, Apple and Amazon, just to name a few. In the firearms industry, one of the most prolific manufacturers of accessories is Magpul. Today, it is a leading innovator and supplier to both the military and civilian markets around the world. And the company started in — you guessed it — a garage.
In 1991, Richard Fitzpatrick was a Recon Marine in Alpha Company, 3rd Recon Battalion. It was during this time he began thinking of ways to improve a battlefield improvisation going back to the Vietnam War.
For infantry in the heat of battle, keeping your weapon going is one of, if not the most important, things you can do. Reducing the time needed to reload your weapon also reduces the time that you are out of the fight. To help with this, troops used to improvise loops out of duct tape and paracord and attach them to the bottom of their magazines. This made them easier to pull from pouches and control during a reload. Taking this tried and tested concept, Fitzpatrick sought to improve it.
At first, he tried glueing pieces of rubber together. However, the design wasn’t up to Fitzpatrick’s standards. Still, he kept toying with the idea. In 1997, a few years after he left the Marine Corps, he found the solution. Fitzpatrick made a magazine puller with a dual friction band and had his eureka moment.
He used his life savings to patent the idea and buy a small injection mold to start making them. From his garage in Erie, Colorado, Fitzpatrick produced and sold his new rubberized magazine pullers. He christened his new product Magpul and bet it all on its success.
In 1999, Fitzpatrick introduced the Magpul at the NDIA Small Arms Symposium. Although there was much interest in the new product, no orders were placed. While Fitzpatrick did not initially receive a military contract like he had hoped for, the Magpul quickly became popular with individual units. Discretionary unit purchases and individual sales started to come in on Magpul’s website.
Through the early 2000s, Magpul’s notoriety expanded. The company’s growth was due in large part to its focus on education over direct marketing. Every package of Magpuls came with a booklet titled “Advanced Tactical Reloading.”
“It had over 60 illustrations in it and was very detailed,” Fitzpatrick recalled. “Because of this detail, users became experts on the product and went on to become ambassadors for Magpul.” Today, Magpul even has a dedicated training division.
As the company grew, so did its product line. In addition to Magpuls for M4/M16 STANAG and other weapon magazines, the company made other accessories like grips and stocks. They also designed a self-leveling follower for their magazines to reduce the likelihood of jams. In 2006, after years of individual sales, Magpul received its first official NATO Stock Number.
The next year, the company introduced the PMAG 30 for the AR-15/M4 platform. In contrast to the standard aluminum magazine used by the military, the PMAG is made of a composite polymer. This allows the magazine to flex under pressure that would otherwise bend the feed lips or crack the body of a metal magazine. Moreover, all PMAGs include the aforementioned self-leveling follower. All of this resulted in increased reliability over traditional metal magazines.
An export version of the PMAG, called the EMAG, was introduced in 2009. The next year, Magpul won a contract to supply 1 million EMAGs to the UK Ministry of Defence. Meanwhile, the company diversified even further with products like back-up iron sights, conceptual firearms, and even phone cases.
In 2016, Magpul hit the jackpot when it was awarded an exclusive contract to manufacture magazines for the U.S. Marine Corps. Two years later, the Army followed with a formal announcement allowing all units to acquire PMAGs with procurement funds.
Today, all branches of the U.S. military field PMAGs in their weapon systems. Moreover, Magpul’s accessory attachment system, M-Lok, was selected by SOCOM as its standard system. Although not standardized, troops commonly accessorize their weapons with Magpul grips and stocks as well. In just over 20 years, Magpul has changed the face of the firearms industry and worked its way to the top.
According to medieval legend, King Arthur lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries where he fought off the Anglo-Saxons with his legendary sword, Excalibur. He lived in Camelot, and his life long mission became the quest for the Holy Grail.
While Arthur would attend festivals, his noble knights often got into violent brawls over who should be sitting at the head of the table — granting them power over those in attendance. The other war-hardened Knights just couldn’t figure out a resolution to the issue.
Therefore, King Arthur used his wisdom had a round table constructed, making all his men feel equal. It was a good leadership move and created what we all know today as the “Knights of the Round Table.”
The Knights embodied a unique code of chivalry like righteousness, honor, and gallantry towards women — but one of them was bound to carry it too far.
Sir Lancelot was King Arthur’s closest friend, the best swordsman and knight in all the land. He was also known for sleeping with a lot of women. He even started a romantic affair with Arthur’s wife, Queen Guinevere. This action sparked a civil war, which led to the death of King Arthur and the dissolution of his knights.
But the legacy of the Knights of the Round Table lives on forever. Learn more in the video above.
During World War II, there were many ingenious and courageous raids, but only one would come to be known as “The Greatest Raid of All” – the British raid on St. Nazaire.
Since the beginning of hostilities, the German Navy had wreaked havoc on shipping in the Atlantic. With the fall of France, the Nazis had ample facilities on the Atlantic to service their fleet, well away from areas patrolled by the Royal Navy. The British wanted to take this away and force them through the English Channel or the GIUK (Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom) gap, which they heavily defended. To do this, they devised a daring raid that would put the port of St. Nazaire out of action.
The plan, codenamed Operation Chariot, was to assault the port with commandos supported by a converted destroyer, the HMS Campbeltown. The British planned to load the Campbeltown with explosives and then ram it into the dry docks where it would detonate. The commandos would also land and destroy the port while up-gunned motor launches searched for targets of opportunity.
The raiding force consisted of 265 commandos (primarily from No.2 Commando) along with 346 Royal Navy sailors split between twelve motor launches and four torpedo boats.
The raiders set out from England on the afternoon of March 26, 1942, and arrived at the target just after midnight on March 28. At that point, the Campbeltown raised a German naval ensign to deceive German shore batteries. However, a planned bombing by the Royal Air Force put the harbor on high alert, and just eight minutes from their objective they were illuminated by spotlights.
A gun battle between the approaching ships and the Germans ensued. At one mile out, the British raised their own naval ensign, increased speed, and drove through the murderous German fire. The helmsman of the Campbeltown was killed, his replacement wounded, and the whole crew blinded by searchlights. At 1:34 a.m., the destroyer found the Normandie dry dock gates, hitting with such force as to drive the destroyer 33 feet onto the gates.
As the commandos disembarked, the Germans rained small arms fire on the raiders. Despite suffering numerous casualties, they were able to complete their objectives, destroying harbor facilities and machinery.
The commandos on the motor launches were not so lucky. As the boats attempted to make their way to shore, most of them were put out of action by the German guns. Many sank without landing their units. All but four of 16 sank.
The motor launches were the means of egress from the port for the commandos already ashore. The image of many of them burning in the estuary was a disheartening sight.
Lt. Col. Newman, leading the Commandos on shore, and Commander Ryder of the Royal Navy realized evacuation by sea was no longer an option. Ryder signaled the remaining boats to leave the harbor and make for the open sea. Newman gathered the commandos and issued three orders: Do the best to get back to England, no surrender until all ammunition is exhausted and no surrender at all if they could help it. With that, they headed into the city to face the Germans and attempt an escape over land.
The Commandos were quickly surrounded. They fought until their ammunition was expended before proceeding with their only remaining option: surrender. Five commandos did manage to escape the German trap though and make their way through France, neutral Spain, and to British Gibraltar, from which they returned to England.
As the Germans recaptured the port, they also captured 215 British commandos and Royal Navy sailors. Unaware that the Campbeltown lodged in the dry dock was a bomb waiting to explode, a German officer blithely told Lt. Commander Sam Beattie, who had been commanding the Campbeltown, the damage caused by the ramming would only take a matter of weeks to repair. Just as he did the Campbeltown exploded, killing 360 people in the area and destroying the docks – putting them out of commission for the remainder of the war.
The British paid dearly for this success. Of over 600 personnel involved, only 227 returned to England. Besides those taken prisoner, the British also had 169 killed in action. The raid generated a large number of awards for gallantry, one of the highest concentrations for any battle. Five Victoria Crosses, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, were awarded, two posthumously. There were a total of 84 other decorations for the raiders ranging from the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal to the Military Medal.
Close up of HMS Campbeltown after the raid. Note the shell damage in the hull and upper works and the German personnel on board the vessel.
The raid infuriated Hitler and, along with other raids by commandos, caused the Germans to spread troops all along the coast to defend against future raids or invasions. More importantly, the destruction of the St. Nazaire port denied the Germans repair facilities for large ships on the Atlantic coast. Due to the daring nature of the operation and the high price paid for success, the action came to be called “The Greatest Raid of All.”