Stray bullets...

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by GrauGeist, Feb 23, 2009.

  1. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I was just browsing through the May 2009 edition of WWII History, by Military Heritage, and they have an article about black soldiers and thier contributions in the U.S. military.

    While it has great information, I had to stop and re-read one caption beneath a photo...

    On page 54, It showings an ambulance driver holding up a pair of dogtags with a bullet attached. The caption reads:
    And herin lies the problem...

    German fighters weren't using .50 caliber ammo, and even still, a strafing fighter's bullets rarely stop at windsheild glass, especially .50 cal.

    My guess would be that someone was shooting at the attacking fighter, and he got the bullet in the windshield on a richochet.

    Anyone else see this article?
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    ahem...bullsh...ahem. One thing for sure, GIs love to tell stories, and this one is a doozy! I am quite sure that there were plenty of .50 cal rounds laying around all over Europe. Was it a war story? Probably. But there is a possibility that it was lying on the ground and the vehicle in front of him picked it up and sent it into his windshield.

    A more likely scenario is that they were playing catch with it and someone didn't catch it and it got into the windshield.
    "Quick, Jim, come up with a cover story or we're in deep sh!t".
     
  3. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I reckon you're about right there Eric! Unless, of course, it was a 'spent' 13mm round, falling to Earth after a dogfight, as discussed in another thread here?
    More likely one of your theories though Eric, especially as, no disrespect to the GI concerned, he was a non-combatant.
     
  4. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    LOL Eric, I was thinking along those lines as well...

    If his ambulance got strafed, he'd be in alot more trouble than just having a bullet (of any caliber) *lodged* in his windsheild...they would have been picking parts of him and his ambulance out of someone else's windshield...
     
  5. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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    I've always wondered how many people (military/civilian) were hurt/killed by bullets from aircraft that were shot at someone else and missed. Or pieces of aircraft falling to earth. Some of those battles were so high up it would be difficult to see them taking place, impossible to hear them...I imagine some poor schmuck trudging out to his field when all of a sudden blammo! A wing panel slams into the earth two feet away. Heh. This brings to mind an incident that Donald Burgett describes (in one of his books....think it was the Bastogne one) about a "bomb" falling just outside their line of foxholes. When the demolitions guys finally got there, they started laughing. Apparently, it was a P51's drop-tank. Still, though, ya gotta wonder....with all the lead tossed around upstairs, where did it all end up?
     
  6. Bill G.

    Bill G. Banned

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    It happened to me story.

    I am sure most of you remember when US Forces in Iraq found, shot and killed Saddam's two brats. Well, I was at Camp Victory outside of Baghdad.

    We hadn't got the news yet. But something was up that night. We could see tracer fire all over the sky. It looked like the AA fire from the first night of the Gulf War.

    We were standing outside of the team's house watching it. Then we remembered that what goes up must come down, so most drifted inside the house. Several of us were still outside when we heard a thud nearby. We figured that it was one of the bullets. So we all went inside!

    Was it a bullet, I will never know for certain. But thousands were fired to celebrate the death of the two brats.

    Bill G.
     
  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Happened (in civilian terms) to a friend of my father. In the last couple years too. It was out in Lancaster, Pa. He owns a farm (or something similar) out there and was out in his fields, doing his bit. Was hit by a stray. Not sure of the particulars beyond the shot not being fatal. The round was traced back to a shooting range on the far side of a ridge that is next to his property. Public shooting range and the bullet was either fired over the ridge or (unlikely) it richocheted over the top.
     
  8. FlexiBull

    FlexiBull Member

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    What was the name of the GI in the original story ............ Rick O'Shey?

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    I'll get my coat
     
  9. Captain Dunsel

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    One that I've long remembered happened on the outskirts of NYC, back in the early 60's. A young girl was driving on a highway along the river, when her car drifted off the road and crashed. She was taken to the hospital and treated for the crash, including an apparent head injury, but died shortly after arriving. It wasn't until a closer inspection of her head wound occured, that it was realized she'd been hit in the head by a rifle bullet. That wound wouldn't have been immediately fatal, had it been recognized right away, as the wound wasn't very deep.

    Because the wound was so shallow, it was figured that the shot had occured from a great distance. Assuming she'd been hit immediatly before the accident, it had to have come from the river side.

    It turned out that some folks were shooting at sharks that day, well out in the river. Apparently, one round, fired at a shallow angle, had bounced and had just enough energy to hit and mortally wound her. IIRC, no charges were filed as all was legal at that time.

    No puns intended, but this one has always stuck in my mind as an example of where someone didn't think well about what might happen well downrange.

    CD
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    While doing some research for a project, I came across this info:

    (The following report's source is Polish Air Force Operations Record Books 1940-1947 1945-03 - No. 308 Squadron - F540)
    ORB - 308 SQUADRON - Polish Airforce, B-77 - Gilze-Rijen, Holland Saturday 24-3-1945
    The Squadron detailed for patrol over enemy-occupied Holland, but nothing worth while was encountered, because of poor visibility. Very intense and accurate flak from Deventer damages one of our a/c, which crashed on landing at base. Pilot safe.
    A standing patrol was carried out by The Squadron in the Zutphen-Winterswijk-Arnhem area.
    Only two jet planes flying at about 25,000 feet were seen. The enemy did attempt to attack.
    Later the Squadron taken off on armed recce.
    Rail lines and "cross roads" were dive bombed with good results.
    6 "MET" were attacked by canon and "m/g fire", but because of very intense and accurate flak, results were unobserved.
    One a/c attacked a small vessel near Harderwijk. Result unseen. Intense flak on this mission.
     
  11. Konigstiger205

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    Interesting but sad stories...there you are minding your own business and then bam...you're dead...:rolleyes:
     
  12. barney

    barney Member

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    Back in the 1950’s, as a kid, I was working in the family garden plot when I noticed something shiny. Partially buried in the soil was a fresh 50 caliber brass.

    A few years later, when I was in college, my sister retrieved a pilot chute from the same garden spot. It was white and about 4 feet in diameter with a spring inside. I took it to school and showed it to members of the sky diving club. They said it was the same sort of chute they used with their equipment so I gave it to them.

    This was in Hastings, Nebraska, USA, about as far off the beaten path as you can get. Even there things fell from the sky.
     
  13. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    German cannon rounds featured self destruct fuzes to avoid them falling down upon incident civilians. Wether the Allies used this I can't recall.

    But I would imagine that there are loads of .50 cal projectiles lying around all over western Europe.
     
  14. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    :lol:
     
  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I wonder if Erich has any anecdotes from Germany what is was like to have millions of flak fragments and spent bullets and cartridges landing around the countryside.

    I remember hearing from some old timers from London that after the all clear air raid sirens went off, the smart people stayed in their shelters for some time, waiting for all of the things in the air to get back down to the ground.
     
  16. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    The danger all these "fragments" would cause very much depends on their size. A normal rifle bullet just falling from the sky, having reached its terminal velocity, poses very little danger to anyone unless it hits you straight in the eye. A 20 or 30mm shell however might be able to knock someone unconcious :D

    As for flak shrapnel, well again it depends, but a large piece you would no doubt not want to land on you.

    And then finally theres the drop tanks, well let me put it like this, I wouldn't even feel safe in my little civilian safehouse if one of those were to land on top of it.
     
  17. rudicantfail

    rudicantfail New Member

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    Hi there GrauGeist, I am new around here, but I found this forum by searching Google for infomation on just this topic. It seems to be a topic which has either never been recorded, or, there is just no interest in the topic. I can not find any specific references to civilian casualties at ground level who have be killed or wounded as a result of aerial combat, but during WW2, with the enormous use of aircraft in battle, there had to be a large number of people accidentally stuck by rounds fired in the skies. I had come across this reference to this unfortunate young girl before, but did you find any other sites giving such information to other incidents? I have hit a blank in my efforts to find documented reports!

    Thanks in advance to anyone who can pass on any info. :thumbup:
     
  18. Bernhart

    Bernhart <b>2012 Forum Fantasy Football Champion</ b>

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    Mom lived in Groningen during the war and remebers antiaircraft guns firing and hearing the shrapnel plinking off the roof of her house, said this usually lasted 1/2 hour after planes had flown by
     
  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Hi rudicantfail, welcome to the forums!

    This does seem to be one of many things that happen in warfare that seems to pass by without much attention. There will always be civilian casualties during war, it's an unfortunate and tragic byproduct that is usually summed up in the aftermath with little or no real documentation as to how they were killed.

    You'll see occasional eyewitness accounts, but by and large there isn't a comprehensive database that seems to exist out there on this subject. I found this referance on a webpage from the Netherlands that doesn't seem to exist anymore. They had a number of war-related civilian casualties with corresponding Allied combat reports like the reference I had posted earlier (308 Sqd. report).

    I'll keep an eye out for you though, and if I turn something up, I'll be sure to give you a head's up!

    And Bernhart, that must have been a real strain on the nerves, having all that stuff raining down on the roof like that. My thoughts would have been worrying more about various aircraft parts coming down than the schrapnel, though...
     
  20. rudicantfail

    rudicantfail New Member

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    #20 rudicantfail, Feb 17, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2010
    Thanks GrauGeist

    perhaps the Dutch site you are thinking of is the link below? There are two links, which when I preview, don't look correct, but try clicking on each link.

    JACK EDWARD GIBBS - 1942 - RCAF - WADDINGTON - 420 SQUADRON - etc......, MACR 12109 - WWII - HISTORY - FOOTNOTE - PATS - TEUNIS SCHUURMAN - VOLLENHOVE - CRASHES - TEUNISPATS

    JACK EDWARD GIBBS - 1942 - RCAF - WADDINGTON - 420 SQUADRON - etc......, MACR 12109 - WWII - HISTORY - FOOTNOTE - PATS - TEUNIS SCHUURMAN - VOLLENHOVE - CRASHES - TEUNISPATS

    As to what Bernhart had to say about flak, when my father was a boy, he would go up onto the roof tops of the buildings in the block where he lived, and "pick up pieces of shrapnel by the handfull" !
     
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