Gas Warfare in WWII- Part II

Lead: Outlawed by international convention in the 1920s, carefully banned by the warring powers from combat operations during World War II, gas warfare found a grizzly application in the final solution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: There was considerable debate in the highest allied circles during World War II about the feasibility of using gas weapons. This dispute arose after the tenacious Japanese defenses of Iwo Jima and Okinawa were seen to be a mere dress-rehearsal for Japan’s threatened last-ditch defense of the home islands. Nevertheless, President Roosevelt steadfastly refused to authorize the use of gas, fearing retaliation by the axis powers and the moral implications of the use of such a terrifying and condemned class of weapons.

 

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Gas Warfare in WWII- Part I

Lead: Poison gas was used widely for the first time during World War I. So horrific was this experience that most countries drew back from its use, but that was not exactly the way it turned out.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1925 the major powers outlawed the use of gas warfare in the Geneva Protocols. The United States Senate never ratified this treaty, but Presidents Harding, Hoover and Roosevelt accepted the principal that the use of gas in warfare was immoral and committed the United States to abiding by the treaty. The vivid images and bitter memories of the use of gas on the battlefields of France were enough to compel public and official opinion into a firm determination that America would not be the first to use such a debilitating and morale destroying agent of destruction. Even so, the United States did not draw back from manufacturing or stock-piling these weapons, just in case.

 

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Spruce Goose II

Lead: With Allied shipping in serious jeopardy due to German submarine attacks during the early years of World War II, military planners turned to aircraft manufacturers. Howard Hughes responded with the Spruce Goose.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Metal for the construction of experimental aircraft was scarce in 1942. Therefore, when the designers at Hughes Aircraft began their mock-up of the gigantic new cargo plane, they built their model using Duramold, lightweight plywood saturated with synthetic glue to make it waterproof and very strong. The basic airframe had no nails, screws or rivets, no metal at all. Skilled woodworkers crafted special joints that were bonded with glue for strength.

 

 

 

Spruce Goose I

Lead: Of all the problems the Allies faced in the summer of 1942, none was more threatening than unrestrained submarine warfare. German U-boats were sinking transport ships faster than they could be built.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Fresh challenges seemed to inspire Howard Robard Hughes, Jr.. At the age of 17 he took control of the Hughes Tool Company upon the death of his father. This provided the financial base for Howard's other interests. In 1926 he migrated to Hollywood where over the years he produced numerous motion pictures and premiered actors such as Jean Harlow and Jane Russell. Hughes eventually owned and later sold RKO Pictures.

 

 

 

Battle of Midway III

Lead: In the late spring of 1942, two great armadas met off the Midway Islands.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Isoroku Yamamoto opposed the war with America. He had served as Naval Attaché at the Japanese Embassy in Washington and knew first-hand how lethal was the power of the giant American democracy once awakened. However, when the decision to go to war was made he insisted that Japan’s only hope for victory was a surprise attack which would cripple U.S. forces in the Pacific. Pearl Harbor proved him right but he had missed the American aircraft carriers on December 7th, because they were at sea on maneuvers. Yamamoto was back in the Central Pacific in late May 1942 to take out those carriers and to establish an early warning picket line anchored by the two tiny Midway Islands at the tip of the Hawaiian archipelago 1300 miles northeast of Honolulu.

Battle of Midway II

Lead: Samuel Johnson, the author of the first great English Dictionary once said, “the prospect of hanging clears the mind, wonderfully.” In the early summer of 1942 with two great armadas converging on Midway Island, the mind of the Admiral Chester W. Nimitz was very clear.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Since civilian Eugene Ely first flew an airplane off a specially constructed platform on the USS Birmingham in November 1910, aircraft carriers played an increasingly important role in strategic planning. If there were any lingering doubts as to the value of the aircraft carrier, these doubts departed with the Japanese dive bombers leaving Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The Japanese attack was very destructive but it failed to take out the greatest prize of all. The three aircraft carriers assigned to the U.S. Pacific fleet were out at sea when Pearl Harbor was pulverized. In the early summer of 1942, a fleet under Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto returned to the Central Pacific to provoke a battle which he was confident he could win, take out those carriers, and establish an early warning line using the Midway Islands as an anchor.

Battle of Midway I

Lead: In the early summer of 1942 United States forces in the Pacific could have been defeated at the distant tip of the Hawaiian archipelago.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When the last Japanese dive bombers departed through the smoke that billowed from the ruined U.S. Naval Station at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, they left a job undone. While the line of battleships was hard hit and some of vessels such as the USS Arizona were lost for good, battleships were headed for a diminished role in strategic military planning. Hickam and Wheeler Air Fields were filled with many burning wrecks, but the aircraft could be easily replaced. Japanese had missed the greatest prize. Three aircraft carriers assigned to the Pacific fleet were absent on that fateful Sunday morning and to the Japanese command these ships remained a deadly threat.

Flight of Rudolph Hess

Lead: On May 10, 1941, Adolf Hitler’s Deputy, Rudolf Hess, parachuted onto a Scottish farm after an 800-mile solo flight. It was one of the war’s most bizarre incidents.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Adolf and Rudolf served together in World War I and the latter became one of the Fuehrer’s most devoted followers. In prison with Hitler following the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, Hess took much of Hitler’s dictation for Mein Kampf and, as success attended the Nazi movement, Hess became Hitler’s private secretary and, in 1939, was designated second in line to succeed him.

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