The World War 2 Obscure Trivia Thread


The retribution was against the Germans and Italians, not the Japanese.

It was a well written signal, though. The admiral in question certainly knew his ABC’s.


Nobody? Not even after a clue like “ABC”?

OK fair enough then. The quote was from Admiral “ABC” Cunningham who commanded the British Mediterranean Fleet for most of the first half of the war.

In 1940, with the best capital units of the Royal Navy retained in home waters, Cunningham faced a considerable disadvantage both quantitatively and qualitatively when compared to the Italian fleet. In keeping with the finest traditions of the Royal Navy, he took the fight to the enemy anyway and scored some significant and impressive victories such as the raid on Taranto or the victory in the battle of Cape Matapan.

He also presided over two major evacuations of British forces in Greece and Crete,which were significant setbacks for British arms. When one of his staff officers remarked that fighting the Luftwaffe was like banging one’s head against a brick wall, Cunningham is said to have replied, “what you forget, you miserable undertaker, is that you may loosen a brick.”

In 1943, with the Axis forces in North Africa facing total collapse, Cunningham launched operation Retribution, a plan to use units of the Royal Navy to interdict German and Italian efforts to evacuate troops form Tunisia. His signal to the fleet included the “sink, burn, destroy” quote. In the end, the Italian navy refused to even leave port so Cunningham’s ships had little to do. 250,000 Axis troops were taken prisoner though when the army surrendered.

Cunningham eventually witnessed the surrender of the Italian fleet and their internment in Malta, and must have taken great pleasure in being able to end the signal, “‘Be pleased to inform their Lordships that the Italian battle fleet now lies at anchor beneath the guns of the fortress of Malta.”.


Aha! I always liked the quote from him in regards to the potential danger for RN vessels during the evacuation of Crete:

It takes the Navy three years to build a ship. It will take three hundred years to build a new tradition. The evacuation will continue.


Been a bit quiet of late on this thread. Surely we’ve not managed to military history nerd ourselves into oblivion already?

I’m not sure if this quote is from WW2 but the person who said it certainly served in WW2 with distinction.

Who said this?

“Son, when the Marine Corps wants you to have a wife, you will be issued one.”


I fully believe “Chesty” Puller would have said something like this.


I’ve heard the bayonet comment and “Take me to the brig, I want to see the real marines.”


“Don’t forget that you’re First Marines! Not all the Communists in hell can overrun you!”

The guy lead his men through Guadalcanal and the Frozen Chosin. To say that he was absolute nails would be a massive understatement.


Perhaps not too obscure, but perhaps not common knowledge either… Most ships are named for a single person, but one, DD-537, was named for five brothers who died when their ship sank.

Who were the other set of four brothers, who died within months of each other, that lead the War Department to institute the Sole Survivor Policy?


Me in my head: don’t say Ryan, don’t say Ryan


PS., Joke


There was second set of brothers, the Niland brothers, whose situation did inspire that story, since three were reported dead and one taken back home before it was discovered one brother was a POW.

I shouldn’t have to, but bonus points if you know the five brothers, or the ship they were on.


USS Sea Tiger?


The Borgstrom brothers.

They, along with the Sullivan brothers (who died when USS Juneau, CL-52, sank), were the impetus behind the Sole Survivor Policy.


How about an easier one?

Which was the first squadron to paint teeth on P-40s?


I think that I read/heard a few years ago that the American volunteers in China painted the teeth on there P-40’s as first in the world. But I don’t have any evident for that claim.


It was the RAF’s No. 112 Squadron in North Africa.

While they were the first squadron, they were merely copying a paint job seen on several Bf-110s of Bomber Destroyer Wing 76, though it was not an official unit-wide paint scheme.


Affirmative. No. 112 was the first, with the American Volunteer Group copying it, having seen it in a magazine. Granted, the AVG went even more flamboyant with their flying tiger logo and clever (or even provocative) squadron insignia. And I have heard that some Bf-110s had teeth as well.

But what other predatory creature was boldly painted on the nose of the Messerschmitt “Zerstörer”?