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Short Rounds

"Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" Comes Home

Not all of the enormous number of bombers and escort fighters that the Allies sent over Germany during the Second World War came home.  Many became casualties due to enemy action or other causes, U.S.A.A.F alone losing some 4,000 bombers.  In addition, hundreds of aircraft, either heavily damaged or with seriously wounded crewmen or merely lost, or due to faintheartedness, ended up landing in neutral countries, primarily Switzerland, where nearly 175 American aircraft landed, and Sweden, where over 100 landed.  Naturally, the crewmen of these aircraft were interned.  This was not exactly an unpleasant situation.  Although internees had some restrictions placed on their movements and activities, they were provided with some pocket money through diplomatic channels and generally treated well.  Naturally, some of these men tried to get home, and Uncle Sam made some efforts to expedite this.  Of course, given the proximity of German military power, neither Switzerland nor Sweden took a benevolent view of efforts to get interned airmen back into the war.

In 1944, however, it was becoming clear that not only was Germany going to lose the war, but that it was unlikely to take military action in the event that one of the host countries released some of the interned airmen.  Anxious to get its men back into the war, the U.S. offered Sweden a deal it couldn't refuse.  In return for releasing about 300 airmen, the U.S. agreed to sell the Swedes nine of the 68 B-17s interned in their country for the princely sum of $1.00 a piece.  The Swedes readily agreed, and the exchange was made.  Now the Swedish Air Force decided it really didn't need all those bombers, so it turn gave seven (three B-17Fs and four B-17Gs) to the Swedish Intercontinental Airways (now part of SAS).  Converted to 14-seat airliners by Saab, these aircraft remained in service into the early post-war years, when they were replaced by DC-4s.  Two of the converted bombers, were then sold to the Danish National Airline, including the former B-17G-35-BO (USAAF 42-32076),  of the 401st Bombardment Squadron, 91st Bombardment Group, which had landed in Sweden on its 24th combat mission, on May 29, 1944.

Of course, the Danes soon began acquiring new aircraft, and in 1948 B-17G-35-BO was sold to the Danish Army Air Corps.  The following year, the DAAC transferred the airplane to the Danish Royal Navy, which, in 1952, turned it over to the Danish Royal Air Force. The DRAF used the plane for utility missions for while, but laid it up in late 1953.  Two years later, the airplane was sold to the French Institut Geographique National, becoming part of a fleet of converted B-17s fitted out to conduct geophysical surveys.  Eventually, the French relegated the airplane to a bone yard, where useful parts were taken for use in other aircraft and it was left to slowly deteriorate.

In 1972 the United States Air Force reacquired the rather deteriorated airframe.  Since restored, B-17G-35-BO "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio

 

"Mad" Anthony Wayne, Physician

In the early 1790s, a confederation of the Miami, Shawnee, and Delaware nations under the inspired leadership of the war chiefs Little Turtle, Blue Jacket, and Buckongahelas, inflicted two devastating defeats on the United States, first crushing a column of nearly 600 regulars and militiamen under Maj. Gen. Josiah Harmar in the Battle of Kekionga (October 19-22, 1790), and then virtually annihilating Maj. Gen. Arthur St. Clair's 1,000-strong column at the Battle of the Wabash (November 4, 1791).

These two humiliating disasters prompted President Washington to turn to the best commander he could find, Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne, who had earned the nickname "Mad Anthony" for his exploits during the Revolutionary War [See "Bon repos!." ]   

 The army that Wayne took command of in early 1792 was a pitiful one.  Numbers were low, desertion rife, there were few trained troops, and morale was abysmal.  Wayne promptly began kicking these men into shape, as they would have to become the cadre around which to build a new army.

Among the problems that Wayne noticed when he assumed command was the large number of troops who were claiming exemption from duty due to illness.  Clearly, if this "illness" was not cleared up, there would be little hope of building a disciplined force.  Wayne promptly hit upon an excellent "cure."  He ordered that anyone on the sick list was to have his daily whiskey ration replaced by an additional serving of vegetables.  Almost instantly, virtually all of the ailing men reported themselves much improved, and returned to duty.

Using these men, Wayne established a training camp known as "Legionville," not far from Pittsburgh.  There he created the "Legion of the United States," a brigade-sized force  of about 4,000, organized into four "Sub-Legions," each of two battalions of infantry and one of rifles, a troop of dragoons, and a battery of artillery.  By mid-July of 1793 the Legion had taken the field, and on August 20, 1794, crushed the Ohio tribes at the Battle of Fallen Timbers.

Wayne may have been "Mad" but his craziness was like that of the fox.

BookNotes: A good recent biography of Wayne is John Hyde Preston's Mad Anthony Wayne: A Gentleman Rebel (2008).  The war in the Old Northwest is well covered by Alan D. Gaff's BAYONETS IN THE WILDERNESS: ANTHONY WAYNE'S LEGION IN THE OLD NORTHWEST (Campaigns & Commanders) (2004) . 

 


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