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Friday, August 19, 2022

The Top Secret Navy Mission that Accidentally Rediscovered the Titanic

More than a century after it struck an iceberg and sank beneath the waves, the Royal Mail Ship Titanic continues to capture the popular imagination. It is a classic fable of ambition, hubris, and the tragic social divisions of the Gilded Age, and has inspired countless books, documentaries, TV programs, and one of the highest-grossing feature films of all time. But while the memory of the Titanic lives on, for more than seven decades the ship itself remained lost, hidden somewhere beneath the vast North Atlantic. Then, on September 2, 1985, an expedition by oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard finally discovered the wreck at a depth of nearly four kilometres, reigniting a global obsession with the ship and her sinking that persists to this day. However, this discovery very nearly didn’t happen at all, for Ballard did not initially set out to find the Titanic. His historic 1985 expedition was actually part of a secret U.S. Navy mission to survey the wrecks of two sunken nuclear submarines, the loss of which remains one of the greatest mysteries of the Cold War.

The nuclear fast attack submarine USS Thresher was launched on July 9, 1960 from Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine. The lead boat in her class, the 85-metre-long, 3,200-ton Thresher was the most capable and technologically-advanced submarine in the U.S. Navy to date – so advanced, in fact, that shortly after her launch the Navy approved the construction of 14 more of the same class – an unprecedented order in U.S. naval history. Designed to hunt down and destroy Soviet ballistic missile submarines, Thresher could reach speeds of up to 33 knots and depths of 500 metres, and was fitted with the latest electronic systems and weapons, including the SUBROC nuclear-tipped antisubmarine missile. As the first of her class, Thresher spent much of her early career undergoing extensive sea trials and tactical exercises to evaluate her performance and advanced onboard systems. On July 16, 1962, she entered the Portsmouth dry dock for a thorough inspection and overhaul, returning to service on April 8, 1963.

On April 9, as part of her post-overhaul evaluation, Thresher sailed to a position 350 kilometres east of Cape Cod to meet up with the submarine rescue ship Skylark and conduct deep-diving trials. After making two preliminary dives to half test depth, at 6:30 the following morning Thresher began the test proper. Sailing in large circles beneath Skylark to remain within hydrophone communication range, Thresher slowly descended, pausing every 30 metres to check the integrity of her systems before continuing the dive. At first all went well, but at 9:18 AM, as Thresher approached her test depth, the crew of the Skylark received a garbled message from the submarine:

” …  minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow, will keep you informed…”

This was followed by a second, even more garbled message…then nothing. Skylark desperately attempted to reestablish contact with the submarine, but the minutes ticked past in silence, the grim realization slowly dawned on everyone aboard: USS Thresher had been lost, along with all 129 of her crew. It was the second greatest disaster in the history of submarine warfare and the worst to involve a nuclear submarine.

News of Thresher’s loss shocked the American public, and as President John F. Kennedy ordered flags flown half-mast across the country, a massive expedition was launched to locate the wreck and determine the cause of the sinking. The recovery fleet included the advanced sonar ship NRL Rockville, the oceanographic vessel USNS Mizar, and even the deep-diving bathyscaphe Trieste, which on January 23, 1960 had become the first manned vessel to reach the bottom of the Marianas Trench, the deepest point on earth. After more than a month of searching using camera sleds towed along the seabed, the main body of the wreck was finally located on June 27, 1963 at a depth of 2,500 metres. What the cameras revealed was shocking: Thresher had been completely ripped apart, its hull lying in six large pieces amid a debris field covering some 134,000 square metres. The investigators were baffled as to what could have caused such catastrophic damage.

Over the next month the search expedition managed to photograph the majority of the debris field, and based on these photographs, debris recovered from the seafloor, and an examination of the Thresher’s design, a clearer picture of the events of April 10 began to take shape. The official board of inquiry concluded that as Thresher approached test depth, she had likely suffered a failure in her salt-water piping system, which made extensive use of silver brazing instead of conventional welding. A similar failure had occurred on November 30, 1960 aboard the submarine USS Barbel, causing nearly 18 tons of water to flood into her engine room before she was able to blow her ballast tanks and surface. Had such a failure occurred aboard Thresher, the water could have shorted out vital circuits and triggered an automatic shutdown or “scram” of her reactor. As nuclear submarines rely mainly on propulsion and dive planes for diving and surfacing and only blow their ballast tanks near the surface, such a shutdown would have left Thresher dead in the water. And while standard procedure would have been to order an emergency blow of the ballast tanks, experiments conducted aboard Thresher’s sister ship USS Tinosa revealed that the sudden release of pressure from the air flasks could cause the release valves to freeze and clog up with ice, preventing further air from reaching the ballast tanks. Thresher thus helplessly plunged deeper and deeper until, at a depth of around 700 metres, the immense water pressure caused her to implode, ripping her hull apart like a tin can.

In the wake of the Thresher disaster, the Navy launched SUBSAFE, a quality-assurance program that ensured that every component exposed to water pressure met strict material and manufacturing standards. The Navy hoped SUBSAFE would prevent a repeat of the Thresher tragedy, and for a while it seemed to work. But then, in early 1968, disaster once again struck the nuclear submarine fleet.

On May 21, 1968, the Skipjack-class fast attack submarine USS Scorpion was crossing the Atlantic, returning to its home port of Norfolk, Virginia from the Azores. For the past two months Scorpion had been posted to the Mediterranean, where she had acted as an aggressor in NATO antisubmarine exercises. Launched on December 29, 1959, by 1968 Scorpion was beginning to show her age. Suffering from a litany of mechanical problems including hydraulic leaks, excessive vibration, seawater leaks around her propeller shaft, and ballast tank problems that limited her maximum depth to only 100 feet, she was badly due for an overhaul. However, Navy budget constraints and Cold War pressures continually delayed much-needed repairs. These delays were a constant source of frustration for the crew, with several demanding to be transferred off what they referred to “USS Scrap Iron.”

In late April 1968 Scorpion was preparing to leave Naples for Norfolk when she received a message ordering her to make for the Azores instead. Unusual Soviet naval activity had been spotted in the area, and Scorpion was instructed to observe and report. Scorpion discovered two November-class fast attack submarines and a missile cruiser operating just south of the Azores, but after watching them through her periscope for three days observed nothing unusual and headed home at a speed of 18 knots. On May 21, Scorpion sent a radio message announcing she would arrive in Norfolk on May 27 at 1PM.

May 27 came and went, yet Scorpion did not arrive. At first there was little cause for concern; submarines were delayed all the time. But as days and then weeks passed, the Navy began to fear that something had gone terribly wrong. Finally, on June 5, two weeks after Scorpion was due back in Norfolk, the submarine and her 99 crew were declared “missing, presumed lost.” Scorpion was one of four submarines lost under mysterious circumstances in 1968, along with the Israeli Dakar, French Minerve, and Soviet K-129, the latter of which was partially recovered in a secret CIA operation called Project Azorian in 1974.

Speculation as to the cause of Scorpion’s loss ran wild, with many suspecting she had been sunk by the very Soviet vessels she had been ordered to spy on. Yet no unusual naval activity had been observed either before or after Scorpion’s disappearance. The only way of determining her true fate was to locate the wreck. However, unlike with the Thresher, the Navy had little idea of where the Scorpion might have sunk, making the chances of finding her exceedingly remote. Fortunately they had an ace up their sleeve: a man with unique experience in just this kind of search operation. The former head of the Navy’s Special Projects Office, John P. Craven had made his name in 1966 when, on January 17, a Strategic Air Command B-52 bomber collided with a KC-135 aerial tanker and broke apart over Palomares, Spain, resulting in a 1.1-megaton B28 thermonuclear bomb falling into the Mediterranean. Standard Navy search procedure would have been to divide a large search area into grid squares and have ships, submersibles, and towed camera sleds methodically sail back-and-forth across each square, a process known as “mowing the lawn.” However, Craven decided to take a more analytical approach, and developed a novel search method based on a branch of mathematics known as Bayesian Probability. Based on factors such as the speed, course, and altitude of the aircraft and a sighting by a Spanish fisherman of the bomb entering the water, Craven assigned each grid square a different probability, which was continuously updated as the search progressed. This method significantly reduced the search time, and on March 17, 80 days after the crash, the bomb was successfully recovered by the submersible Alvin at a depth of 780 metres.

But in order to apply his method to the search for Scorpion, Craven needed more data. If Scorpion had sunk not long after her final transmission, Craven reasoned, then she would have quickly reached her crush depth and imploded, creating a distinctive sound that could be detected by underwater hydrophones. At first Craven turned to the Navy’s Sound Surveillance System or SOSUS network, but this was designed to detect the engine noise of Soviet submarines and filtered out louder sounds like explosions. However, Craven managed to to locate a research hydrophone in the Canary Islands and two more in Newfoundland, and after digging through reams of data printouts finally found what he was looking for: a pair of loud explosions, ninety seconds apart, at around the same time Scorpion was thought to have disappeared. While the first explosion was a mystery, the second was most likely the sound of Scorpion imploding. By triangulating the signals from all three hydrophones, Craven was able to narrow the search area to a much more manageable size. But he had also turned up an unexpected fact: while everyone had assumed Scorpion was heading west when she sank, the hydrophone data revealed that she was actually heading east, back towards the Mediterranean. When Craven asked submarine commanders what this could possibly mean, the answer was unanimous: Scorpion had suffered a “hot run.”

Among a submariner’s worst nightmares is to be hit by one’s own torpedo. For this reason, torpedoes are fitted with a safety mechanism that disarms them if they turn past 180 degrees. If a submarine experiences a “hot run” – Navy jargon for a torpedo accidentally arming in its tube – standard procedure is to turn the submarine around in order to trigger this mechanism and prevent the warhead from detonating. Indeed, Scorpion had survived just such an incident only 6 months before.The hydrophone data seemed to indicate this time she had not been so lucky, and that she had either been struck by her own torpedo or a torpedo had accidentally exploded in its tube, flooding the forward compartment and sending the submarine plunging to the bottom. To support his theory, Craven conducted a computer simulation with Scorpion’s former executive officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert Fountain, in which Craven simulated a hot run and an explosion in the torpedo compartment. Despite Fountain’s best efforts to save his ship, the submarine quickly sank and reached crush depth after 90 seconds – exactly like in the hydrophone data. Years later, Craven would discover that the Mark 46 silver-zinc batteries used on the Mark 37 torpedo had a disturbing habit of bursting into flames and exploding during vibration tests, and that such fires were hot enough to potentially set off the torpedo’s warhead. In fact, the report announcing this flaw had been published shortly before Scorpion’s disappearance, but once again due to budgetary constraints the Navy ignored it and refused to overhaul its torpedoes.

Though the Navy was initially skeptical of Craven’s claims that Scorpion was heading east at the time of her sinking, they nonetheless allowed him to proceed with his search, and on October 29, 1968 the survey ship USNS Mizar finally located the wreck at a depth of 3,000 metres – less than an eighth of a mile from where Craven predicted it would be. Shortly thereafter, the Navy bathyscaphe Trieste II was sent down to survey and photograph the wreck. Trieste II discovered that Scorpion had impacted the seafloor at high speed, digging a long trench in the mud, and that her centre section containing her control room had completely imploded, detaching her sail and splitting the wreck into two pieces. However, photographs revealed no evidence of damage to the torpedo compartment, either from an external hit or an internal explosion. Consequently, the 1969 board of inquiry concluded that no incontrovertible proof could be found for the cause of the sinking. The exact circumstances of Scorpion’s loss remain a mystery to this day.

But while the Navy had officially closed the book on Thresher and Scorpion, they was not quite finished with the two submarines. As both were nuclear powered, it was feared that their reactors might leak radioactive contamination into the surrounding environment, forcing the Navy to carry out a pair of monitoring expeditions in 1965 and 1977 to sample water and sediment around the wrecks.  In the 1980s, the behaviour of reactors in the deep ocean became particularly topical as the U.S. Navy considered disposing of surplus nuclear submarines at sea to comply with the SALT arms-limitations treaties. And it is here that Robert Ballard enters the picture.

Ballard had long been obsessed with finding the wreck of the Titanic, and he wasn’t alone. Soon after the sinking, the families of some of the ship’s wealthier victims such as John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim contracted the Merritt and Chapman Derrick and Wrecking Company to salvage the Titanic. However, this project was quickly abandoned as the wreck lay far beyond the reach of contemporary diving technology. Over the following decades dozens of harebrained schemes would be proposed for raising the Titanic, including filling the wreck with ping-pong balls, vaseline, or ice to float her to the surface, but none of these plans went anywhere due to technological and financial constraints and the simple fact that nobody was quite sure were the Titanic had actually sunk. In 1977, while working for the Woods Hole Oceaographic Institute in Massachusetts, Ballard launched his first privately-funded expedition to locate the wreck. Sailing aboard Alcoa aluminium company’s drillship SeaProbe, Ballard used a camera rig attached to a long drill pipe to scour the ocean floor. Unfortunately, the expedition ended in disaster when the drill pipe broke, sending the modern equivalent of $2 million dollars worth of camera equipment plunging to the ocean floor. Despite this, Ballard was confident that with better technology the Titanic would eventually be found. Back at Woods Hole, Ballard used Navy funding to develop a pair of advanced remotely operated vehicles or ROVs to explore the ocean floor: Argo, a towed camera sled; and Jason, a fully mobile robotic submersible that could be controlled from the surface. In 1982 Ballard approached the Navy to fund an expedition to locate the wreck of the Titanic. While the the Navy was initially uninterested, they eventually recognized that Argo and Jason could be used to conduct a more thorough survey of USS Thresher and Scorpion, potentially allowing the true causes of the sinkings to be determined. They then further realized that one mission would form the perfect cover story for the other, and that Ballard – a former Navy officer himself – could be given the security clearance needed to examine the submarines. Both sides thus reached a compromise: the Navy agreed to fund Ballard’s expedition, on the condition that he survey the wrecks of Thresher and Scorpion first. Any remaining time could then be used to search for Titanic. As Ballard later recalled:

“We knew where the subs were What they wanted me to do was go back and not have the Russians follow me, because we were interested in the nuclear weapons that were on the Scorpion and also what the nuclear reactors were doing to the environment.”

Ballard set out on his first expedition to photograph USS Thresher in the summer of 1984, sailing aboard the Woods Hole research vessel RV Knorr. This was followed the following summer by a second voyage to photograph Scorpion off the Azores. In both cases Ballard sailed under the guise of searching for the Titanic, and was forbidden from revealing the true purpose of the mission:

“I couldn’t tell anybody. There was a lot of pressure on me. It was a secret mission. I felt it was a fair exchange for getting a chance to look for the Titanic. We handed the data to the experts. They never told us what they concluded – our job was to collect the data. I can only talk about it now because it has been declassified.”

Knowing that the official expedition schedule would leave him little time to search for the Titanic, Ballard partnered with the French Research Institute for the Exploration of the Sea. While Ballard and the Knorr surveyed the Scorpion, the French research vessel Le Suroit sailed ahead to scout the Titanic search area, using a towed side-scan sonar array to survey a 390-square-kilometre area of seafloor for large metallic objects. The idea was for Le Suroit to locate potential targets, which Knorr would later investigate using Argo. However, despite five weeks of searching, Le Suroit came up empty-handed and the ship was recalled to France. Ballard, having just finished photographing the Scorpion, now had only 12 days to find the Titanic on his own.

Thankfully, the expeditions to Thresher and Scorpion had provided Ballard with a valuable insight. Both submarines had broken apart as they sank, scattering debris over a wide area of seafloor. Due to ocean currents these debris fields took the form of a large fan like the tail of a comet, with the larger, heavier pieces falling close to the main wreck and smaller, lighter objects farther away. Ballard realized that the sinking of the Titanic would likely have created a similar debris field, creating a much larger and easier-to-find target than the wreck itself. And while sonar could not distinguish man-made objects from natural ones, the human eye could. So instead of repeating Le Suroit’s sonar survey, Ballard decided to sweep the ocean floor with Argo and follow the debris field to its source. For nearly a week the Knorr sailed-back and-forth across the search areas, with multiple shifts monitoring Argo’s cameras 24 hours a day. Day after day the cameras returned nothing but featureless mud, and as the 12 day allotment drew to a close Ballard began to fear he had failed once again. But then, in the early morning hours of September 1, 1985, a large object appeared on the monitor: it was a marine boiler, identical to those installed aboard Titanic. The next day at 2:20 AM – the exact time the Titanic sank – the ship’s streamlined bow drifted into view. A cheer erupted among the crew: after 73 years, the Titanic had finally been found. However, the jubilant mood quickly faded as the full weight of the discovery hit:

“We realized we were dancing on someone’s grave, and we were embarrassed. The mood, it was like someone took a wall switch and went click. And we became sober, calm, respectful, and we made a promise to never take anything from that ship, and to treat it with great respect.”

The rediscovery of the Titanic made headlines around the world and turned Ballard into an instant celebrity – much to the Navy’s chagrin:

“…the Navy never expected me to find the Titanic, and so when that happened, they got really nervous because of the publicity. But people were so focused on the legend of the Titanic they never connected the dots.”

It was not until 2018 that the mission was declassified and Ballard was allowed to reveal the military connection to his greatest discovery. Ballard has since admitted that he has participated in numerous other secret Navy missions, but cannot discuss them until they, too, are officially declassified.

In 1986, Ballard returned to Titanic with the deep-diving submersible Alvin, and became the first person to set eyes upon the ship in nearly three-quarters of a century. This expedition revealed a number of unexpected details regarding the ship and her sinking. While most historians up until that point believed that Titanic had sunk in one piece, Ballard discovered the wreck in two pieces lying 600 metres apart. This supported the assertion of many eyewitnesses that as Titanic sank by the bow, her stern rose free of the water and buckled under the stress, tearing the ship in half before she sank. Another surprise was the condition of the wreck itself. Scientists had long believed that the seafloor at such depths was a barren wasteland, and that low temperatures, lack of oxygen, and the absence of the sea life that usually preyed upon shipwrecks would have preserved the ship in near-pristine condition. But to Ballard’s surprise the wreck was teeming with life, from sea anemones and starfish to crabs and many varieties of fish. It was also far from pristine: wood-boring molluscs had totally consumed the ship’s decks and other woodwork, while a previously undiscovered species of bacterium was slowly eating away at its iron hull, festooning the ship with stalactite-like formations Ballard dubbed “rusticles.” Further expeditions also revealed that far from tearing a large gash as was previously believed, the iceberg had merely dented the hull plates, causing water to rush in through the edges.

While Ballard attempted to photograph as much of the wreck as he could, he was careful not to touch anything, stating: “Every shipwreck, generally someone died. You don’t pick up stuff. You don’t pick up belt buckles from the Arizona. You don’t go to Gettysburg with a shovel. That’s why I left everything alone at the Titanic. It’s totally disrespectful to pick up anything …We had brought the ship back to light, but, except to land Alvin on her still-solid subdeck, we’d barely touched it, unless by accident. I had reason to hope that others would follow our lead.”

But it was not to be. Since Ballard’s first dive in 1986, dozens of expeditions have visited the wreck of the Titanic. While some, like the three dives made by filmmaker James Cameron in 1995, 2001, and 2005, sought only to film and explore the wreck, others were more exploitative in nature, raising thousands of artefacts from the seafloor including a 20-ton section of the hull complete with portholes, currently on display in the Luxor Las Vegas hotel and casino. Such activities have sparked fierce debate between “conservationists” like Ballard and “preservationists,” who argue that as much of the wreck as possible should be raised and preserved before it disappears entirely. Indeed, given the wreck’s current rate of decay – significantly accelerated by damage inflicted by salvage operations – it is estimated that by 2040 nothing will remain of Titanic but a large rust stain on the seafloor. But in a way, the Titanic has been preserved, in the countless photographs and hours of high-definition footage which have been taken of the wreck  – records that will persist long after the physical wreck itself has crumbled to dust. Thus, thanks to a pair of Cold War submarines, a determined oceanographer, and some extraordinary luck, the memory of Titanic will go on.

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Expand for References

Dunmore, Spencer, Lost Subs, Madison Press Limited, 2002


Ballard, Robert & Archbold, Rick, Lost Liners, Madison Press Limited, 1997


Cressman, Robert, Thresher II (SSN-593), Naval History and Heritage Command,


Thorne, Stephen, Declassified Documents Shed New Light on Notorious Sinking of USS Thresher, Legion Magazine, March 23, 2021,


Smith, Lewis, Titanic Search Was Cover for Secret Cold War Subs Mission, Times Online, May 24, 2008,


Blum, Sam, The Hunt for the Titanic Was Actually a Hunt for Lost U.S. Nuclear Submarines, Popular Mechanics, December 17, 2018,


Frost, Natasha, The Discovery of the Titanic Wreck Was a Front for a Secret U.S. Military Mission, Government Executive, December 18, 2018,


Andrews, Evan, The Real Story Behind the Discovery of Titanic’s Watery Grave, History, August 29, 2018,


Ofgang, Erik, Two Fallen Nuclear Submarines and Their Top-Secret Link to the Titanic, Connecticut Magazine, April 17, 2019,


The Untold Story of the Titanic and Dr. Bob Ballard, National Geographic Newsroom, May 16, 2018,

The post The Top Secret Navy Mission that Accidentally Rediscovered the Titanic appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - August 18, 2022 at 11:32PM
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The Flying Bandit and One of the Greatest Gold Heists in History

On December 14, 1979, a light aircraft of Sabourin Lake Airways disappeared while on an air ambulance flight out of Red Lake, in the Canadian province of Ontario. Aboard were pilot Ken Leishman, nurse Janet Meekus, and patient Eva Harper, an indigenous woman who had broken her hip in a snowmobile accident. So wild and remote was the crash site that it was not discovered until the next spring. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces sent to find the wreckage successfully identified the remains of Meekus and Harper, but strangely those of the pilot were nowhere to be found. Though the Coroner would later conclude that the body had most likely been dragged away and eaten by wolves, others weren’t so sure, for Ken Leishman was no ordinary bush pilot. While outwardly this charming, generous man with an easy smile and Errol Flynn moustache appeared a model citizen and pillar of the Red Lake community, he had, in fact, a long and infamous criminal history. For nearly a decade, Ken Leishman engineered a string of brazen, headline-grabbing robberies including the single greatest gold heist in Canadian history, earning him a reputation as a Robin Hood-like folk hero and the enduring nickname of “The Flying Bandit.”

Kenneth Leishman was born on June 20, 1931in the small farming town of Holland, Manitoba, the second child of Norman and Irene Leishman. Kenneth’s childhood was a troubled one. His father was abusive and an alcoholic, resulting in his parents separating in 1938. His mother, left to raise three children alone in the depths of the Great Depression, soon found work as a live-in domestic for a local widower. Unfortunately, the situation for young Kenneth did not improve, for his new stepfather proved just as abusive as his biological one. Facing the prospect of losing her home and livelihood, Irene Leishman was forced to make the heart-wrenching decision to send her son into foster care.

Over the next few years Kenneth bounced between various foster homes before winding up in a Children’s Aid orphanage. In 1943, after Irene’s divorce from Norman Leishman was granted, she married William Brooking and invited Kenneth to live with the new family in the town of Treherne. Unfortunately, Kenneth did not get along with this stepfather either, and was sent away to live on his grandparents’ farm. Though life on the farm brought much-needed stability to Kenneth’s life, he was beset by bad luck and suffered a number of severe injuries, including being kicked in the head by a horse. This injury in particular would later be blamed for his eventual criminal behaviour.

At age 16, Kenneth dropped out of school and reconciled with his biological father, who had settled in Winnipeg with a new wife and found work with the Western Elevator and Motor Company. For four years Kenneth lived with his father, working half the year at the elevator company and the other half at a cottage country resort in Kenora, Ontario. Then, while attending a funeral in Treherne in the summer of 1947, he met 20-year-old Elva Shields. The two fell immediately in love and were married the next year. It was to prove a tumultuous honeymoon period, for it is around this time that Ken Leishman began his descent into a life of crime. Leishman’s job at the elevator company granted him free access to various office buildings, allowing him to case the properties for furniture and other products he needed to furnish his new family’s home. Once he had located the items he wanted, he would break in after hours and, posing as a company employee, call a shipping company to pick up the items and deliver them to his home. At first this scheme proved extraordinarily successful, with his thefts in February 1950 alone consisting of a radio, refrigerator, kitchen range, Chesterfield suite, dinette suite, and a bed worth the equivalent of $11,000 today. But it could not last, and in March of that year a shipping company dispatcher grew suspicious of Leishman’s late-night calls and alerted the police. Leishman was arrested, plead guilty, and was sentenced to nine months in jail, though he got out on good behaviour after only three.

Upon his release, in 1951 Leishman found work at Machine Industries, travelling around southern Manitoba repairing straw cutters and other farm machinery. He also decided to pursue his lifelong passion for aviation, taking flying lessons and buying his own aircraft in order to more easily reach the remote farms he serviced. He did not, however, bother to obtain a pilot’s license, and in 1953 received a two-year suspended sentence for flying without one.

By the mid 1950s things seemed to be going well for Leishman. He had a stable job, a large house, a Cadillac and a plane, and a thriving family of five children. In reality, however, Leishman was living well beyond his means. Machine Industries had gone bankrupt, forcing Leishman to find a job at Queen Anne Cookware where worked until November 1957 when it, too, closed its doors. Worse still, Leishman had recently invested his life savings in a failing fly-in fishing resort in northern Manitoba. Running desperately low on capital, Leishman did what any reasonable person would do and decided to rob a bank.

On the pretence of making a business trip, Leishman boarded a commercial flight to Toronto and checked into a luxury downtown hotel. He would later claim that while there was money to be had in Manitoba, much of it was tied up in land and investments; Toronto, on the other hand, was a place where cash flowed more freely. On December 17, 1957, Leishman walked into the Toronto-Dominion Bank on the corner of Yonge [“Young”] and Albert street and, posing as “Mr. Gair,” a businessman from Buffalo, New York, asked to speak to the bank manager about a business loan. On entering the office, Leishman produced a gun and forced the manager to write out a cheque for $10,000 – all while questioning him about his personal life. The details he gleaned allowed him to pose as a close friend of the manager as he walked him to a teller and had the cheque cashed. Then, on the pretence of going out for a drink, Leishman escorted the manager out of the bank before hopping in his getaway car and speeding away, leaving the manager – shaken but unharmed – on the sidewalk.

The brazen crime stunned and confounded the nation; nothing like it had ever been seen before in Canada. Polite, charming, and impeccably dressed, Leishman did not fit the profile of a typical bank robber, and the police found themselves without any leads. Buoyed by his success, Leishman returned to Toronto on March 16, 1958, this time to rob the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce on Yonge and Bloor Street. However, this time he was not so lucky. The bank manager refused to cooperate and a scuffle ensued, attracting the attention of a teller who proceeded to activate the alarm. Leishman fled the bank but was tripped by a bystander and tackled by bank staff, who held him until the police arrived. Leishman pleaded guilty to both robberies and was sentenced to 12 years at Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Penitentiary.

Leishman took to prison with his usual energy and charm, as his son Ron later recalled:

“He was well liked at Stony Mountain. The warden used to have him over for dinner. They had a Toastmasters club in the prison, and he was the president. He ran the hockey league. If some guy was having a problem with his wife or girlfriend, Dad would write a romantic poem he could send.”

During Kenneth’s imprisonment, Elva Leishman ran a gift shop in Winnipeg to support the family, which had by now grown to seven children. Meanwhile, Leishman’s exploits had turned him into a dashing, romantic folk hero and earned him the nicknames “The Gentleman Bandit” and“The Flying Bandit.”

Described as a “model prisoner” by the warden of Stony mountain, Leishman was released after only three and a half years, on condition that he not leave the province of Manitoba. For a while, at least, things seemed to go back to normal. Leishman got a job as a fly-in kitchenware sales representative for World Wide Distributors and purchased a new family home in a fashionable Winnipeg suburb. But then, in March 1966, Leishman was arrested for parole violation at the Vancouver airport and escorted back to Winnipeg by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. While at first this appeared to be a minor incident, the RCMP soon became convinced that Leishman was in fact behind one of the most brazen crimes in Canadian history: the theft of 360 kilograms of gold in broad daylight from the Winnipeg International Airport.

The idea for the Great Gold Heist came to Leishman while idly watching aircraft take off and land from the airport. He noticed the arrival of regular Transair flights carrying gold from mines at Red Lake, which were then shipped by Air Canada to the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa. Leishman formulated a plan to steal the gold while incarcerated at Stony Mountain, and upon his release he set about assembling a team to pull it off. To finance the operation Leishman sought the help of lawyer Harry Backlin. While a law student Backlin had visited inmates at Stony Mountain and befriended Leishman. The two became fast friends and even went into business together, running a small cleaning supplies wholesale business on the side. As he was by now too well known by the police, Leishman hired two accomplices, Richard Grenkow and John Berry, to actually steal the gold. To help them infiltrate the airport, Leishman bought a pair of white winter coveralls and stencilled the Air Canada logo on them. He also obtained Air Canada freight waybills by waiting around the freight counter until the staff went to lunch and simply helping himself. Meanwhile, Richard Grenkow’s brother Paul was sent to Red Lake  to act as a lookout.

On March 1, 1966, Paul Grenkow called Leishman to report a large gold shipment had just left Red Lake, and Richard Grenkow and John Berry were dispatched to the airport to intercept it. The pair stole an Air Canada truck and made their way onto the tarmac, where the recently-arrived Transair plane was being unloaded. Posing as Air Canada employees, Grenkow and Barry explained that an earlier charter flight was waiting, and that Air Canada wanted to get the gold out sooner rather than later. As the men had the proper uniforms and documents, the ground crew bought the ruse and the shipment was duly loaded onto the truck. Grenkow and Barry then simply drove out of the airport with 360 kilograms of gold worth $385,000 – or nearly $13 million today.

Just a few kilometres outside the airport, Grenkow and Barry ditched the truck and loaded the gold into Leishman’s waiting getaway car. The trio then drove to the house of Harry Backlin. Though Backlin was away on vacation, his mother was home housesitting, and in delightfully Canadian fashion the trio explained they were delivering a load of moose meat Backlin had ordered. Backlin’s mother kindly led them into the basement, where the trio stashed the gold in a chest freezer. Leishman intended to move the gold the next day to his uncle’s farm in Treherne, but in a stroke of bad luck one of the worst blizzards on record foiled these plans. Backlin, who had by this time distanced himself from the scheme, returned from vacation and demanded the gold be removed from his basement. It was instead buried in the snow in the back yard until the weather improved sufficiently to move it.

However, the police were already hot on the conspirators’ trail. The audacious heist was by now front-page news, and the flamboyant nature of the crime led the police to immediately suspect Leishman’s involvement. Furthermore, police informants and fingerprints found in the abandoned Air Canada truck pointed directly to Grenkow and Barry. Realizing it was only a matter of time before they were arrested, the conspirators decided to fly to Hong Kong and sell the gold on the black market. This was a risky proposition, for Leishman was still forbidden by his parole terms to leave the province. Nonetheless, he decided to take the risk and booked a flight to Hong Kong for himself and the gold. On arrival in Vancouver, Leishman noticed a strong police presence at the airport and managed to ditch the gold before he was inevitably arrested. To this day, no one knows exactly what happened to the gold.

On March 20, 1966, Leishman and his four accomplices were charged with conspiracy and robbery and sent to Headingley Jail to await trial. But the “Flying Bandit” wasn’t ready to give up just yet, and on September 1 he and 10 other prisoners staged one of the most brazen prison breaks in Canadian history. After overpowering a guard and stealing his keys, the prisoners broke into the guardhouse, stole eight weapons and 800 rounds of ammunition, and fled the prison in three cars. Leishman and three prisoners made their way to the town of Steinbach where, true to form, they stole a light aircraft and headed south towards the United States. Landing in a field outside Gary, Indiana, they managed to convince a local farmer to drive them into town, where they rented a hotel room and went down to the bar to celebrate. Unfortunately, the bartender recognized the men from the news and called the police. After a brief foot chase the four men were arrested and returned to Winnipeg.

But if you think the story ends here, well then you haven’t been paying attention. While awaiting trial, Leishman was held in an empty wing of Winnipeg’s old Vaughan Street Jail, the only prisoner in the entire facility. On October 30, 1966, Leishman managed to pick the lock on the main wing door, overpower three guards using a piece of steel pipe, and escape by scaling the walls of the exercise yard. However, this escape lasted barely four hours, and Leishman was re-arrested while trying to call his lawyer from a nearby payphone. The police, baffled as to how Leishman had managed to pick the massive prison locks, asked him to demonstrate his method. In ingenious MacGyver style, Leishman had turned the bolts with nothing more than a strip of cloth and a piece of wire.

On November 1, 1996, Ken Leishman pleaded guilty to all nine charges against him and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the gold heist, his escapes and parole violations, and the remainder of his Toronto robbery sentence. But once again the Flying Bandit managed to escape early – this time using not lock picks and aeroplanes but rather the power of the Law. After applying for and being denied parole in June 1974, Leishman requested an official review of his complicated web of overlapping sentences, some of which were to be served concurrently, others sequentially. Amazingly, the Parole Board determined that the sentences had in fact been improperly pieced together and that Leishman should be released immediately. And so, in 1975, after only nine years in prison, Ken Leishman was once again a free man.

Upon his release, Leishman at last put his criminal past behind him and moved his family to Red Lake, where he worked as a bush pilot for Tomahawk Airlines and ran a gift shop. He became a pillar of the community, serving as chair of the local Chamber of Commerce and even coming close to being elected reeve. Meanwhile, his past exploits continued to attract attention, and he was invited to make countless television appearances and newspaper interviews. Hollywood actor Darren McGavin even bought the rights to Leishman’s life story and began scouting locations for a possible movie. But when Leishman disappeared without a trace in December 1979, many suspected he had in fact returned to his life of crime and used the plane crash to make a clean getaway. But with no evidence either way, Kenneth Leishman, the Flying Bandit, was declared legally dead on December 16, 1980.

Pilot. Gentleman. Poet. Family Man. Thief. Ken Leishman lived the kind of life epic movies are made about. His audacious exploits, easygoing charm, and ‘never-say-die’ attitude captured the imaginations and hearts of the public, and forever cemented the legend of the Flying Bandit in the annals of Canadian history.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

 Cassidy, Christian, Kenneth Leishman – The Flying Bandit, This Was Manitoba, 2011,


Presumed Dead, Flying Bandit ‘Alive,’ Montreal Gazette, September 26, 1980,


From the Archives: The Flying Bandit and the Biggest Gold Heist in Canadian History, The Calgary Herald, April 14, 2021,


Flying Bandit’s Wings Clipped in Second Escape Bid, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, October 31, 1966,


“Flying Bandit” Out Again But This Time It’s Legal, The Leader-Post, Regina, May 6, 1974,


Montgomery, Marc, Canada History: Mar.1, 1966: the Great Winnipeg Gold Heist, Radio Canada International, March 1, 2017,

The post The Flying Bandit and One of the Greatest Gold Heists in History appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - August 18, 2022 at 11:27PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

The Littlest Naval War: Britain’s Balls to the Wall Bid to End German Domination of a Single Lake

When we picture the First World War, we tend to think of the mud and slaughter of the trenches in the fields of Belgium and France. But this is only a very narrow view of the conflict, for true to its name the First World War was very much a world war, with combat taking place as far afield as the waters of the South Atlantic, the steppes of Russia, the deserts of Mesopotamia and Arabia, and the islands of the South Pacific. But perhaps the most far-flung and unusual theatre of the war was Southeast Africa, where German forces, though vastly outnumbered, fought a skillful and protracted guerrilla war in defence of the Kaiser’s African colonies. It was this conflict which saw one of the strangest naval engagements in history, in which a pair of British motorboats named Mimi and Toutou were hauled more than 200 kilometres overland to fight a German gunboat and win back control of a lake. This is the bizarre story of the battle for Lake Tanganyika.

Germany, which had only become a unified nation in 1871, was a relative latecomer to the colonialism game. However, following the 1884 Berlin Conference when the major European powers met to divide up Africa between them, she acquired with a respectable overseas Empire consisting of territory in what are now the nations of Cameroon, Guinea, Ghana, Togo, Namibia, Mozambique, and Tanzania; as well as Pacific islands in Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Micronesia, and Palau – and for more on what happened in Namibia –  then German Southwest Africa – please check out our previous video Germany’s Forgotten Genocide: the Early Atrocity That Provided a Blueprint for the Nazis.

When the First World War broke out in August 1914, the Entente powers moved swiftly to capture Germany’s colonial possessions. Her African colonies were mainly taken by British and South African forces while her Pacific territories were taken by the Japanese – then members of the Entente. These possessions, lightly defended by small garrisons of colonial troops, all fell swiftly to the Entente forces – with one exception: German East Africa or Tanganyika, which encompassed parts of modern-day Tanzania, Rwanda, Mozambique, Kenya, and Burundi. Here, German general Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck [“fohn-lettov-fohrbeck”] along with only 3,000 German and 11,000 native African troops or Askaris led a masterful campaign of guerrilla warfare against Entente forces, using the terrain to his advantage and conducting hit-and-run attacks against British railways and encampments. Knowing that the East Africa campaign was merely a sideshow to the larger war, von Lettow-Vorbeck vowed to tie up as many enemy troops as possible in Africa, keeping them away from the more strategically-important Western Front. In this he was successful, as the Entente powers were forced to send some 300,000 British, Indian, South African, Belgian, and Portuguese troops to East Africa in an attempt hunt him down. Despite being chronically undermanned and short on supplies, for four years von Lettow-Vorbeck managed to evade and defeat far superior forces and even invade a part of Rhodesia, becoming the only German commander to capture British territory during the war. These exploits earned him the nickname “The Lion of Africa.”

With the land and sea routes into East Africa blocked by German ground and naval forces, Entente troops had only one remaining route of attack: crossing Lake Tanganyika. The second-largest of the African Great Lakes, lake Tanganyika stretches 676 kilometres north-south and at the time bordered German Tanganyika to the east, the Belgian Congo to the north and west, and Rhodesia to the south. However, British and Belgian troops stationed in these colonies dared not cross the lake into German territory due to a small but powerful flotilla of German gunboats. At the outbreak of war, Germany had two gunboats on the lake: the 60-ton Hedwig von Wissman [“Hew-vig Fohn Viss-mahn”] and the 45-ton Kingani, both heavily armed with 37 millimetre “pom-pom” automatic cannons. Within two months of war being declared, these ships had sunk all opposing British and Belgian vessels, giving Germany unchallenged dominance of the lake. In April 1915 Hedwig von Wissman and Kingani were joined by a third gunboat, the 1,600-ton Graf von Götzen [“Graff Fohn Goats-ehn”], which had been built in Germany before being disassembled, packed into 5,000 crates, and shipped to the Tanganyikan port of Dar-es-Salaam. From here the crates were shipped by rail to the lake port of Kigoma, where the ship was reassembled. In addition to bolstering German control of the lake, Graf von Götzen would carry and deposit up to 900 troops anywhere along the shoreline to conduct raids into British or Belgian territory.

The only ships the Entente could potentially field against the German flotilla were the Belgian barge Dix-Tonne [“Dee-tun”], the motorboat Netta, and the 1,500-ton steamer Baron Dhanis, which lay disassembled in the Congolese port of Lukuga. However, the Belgians dared not reassemble her for fear that she would be discovered and destroyed by the Germans before she could be launched. The 12-pounder guns provided by the British to the Baron Dhanis were thus installed as shore batteries to defend Lukunga.

Finding this situation unacceptable, on April 21, 1915, big-game hunter John R. Lee arrived at the British Admiralty in London to meet First Sea Lord Sir Henry Jackson. Lee, who had observed the German flotilla on Lake Tanganyika, had noted that the gunboats were relatively slow and that their heaviest armament was only capable of firing forward. He thus suggested that the Royal Navy deploy a force of small, fast motor launches armed with 3-pounder guns, which would be able to outrun, outmaneuver, and outgun the German gunboats. There was also a further advantage to using small launches. As there was no direct river or rail link to Lake Tanganyika from the cost, any vessel deployed on the lake would have to be dragged overland for a considerable distance. A vessel small enough to be transported in one piece could be launched immediately upon arrival, reducing the risk of it being discovered and destroyed while being assembled.

Despite the outlandish nature of the plan, Admiral Jackson approved it, stating:

“It is both the duty and the tradition of the Royal Navy to engage the enemy wherever there is water to float a ship.”

To head this quintessentially eccentric British mission, Admiral Jackson chose a quintessential British eccentric: Captain Geoffrey Basil Spicer-Simson. An irrepressible braggart, hothead, and independent spirit Simson never missed an opportunity to show off the elaborate tattoos he had acquired while serving in the Far East and whenever possible wore a khaki kilt in place of regular uniform trousers. Vessels under his command also had a nasty habit of coming to grief. While testing the defences of Portsmouth harbour in 1905 he had managed to run his patrol boat aground and later collided with another vessel, resulting in the death of a sailor. On November 11, 1914, while commanding the torpedo gunboat HMS Niger, he had stepped ashore to visit his wife at a nearby hotel only to watch as his ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat. Due to these various misadventures, Spicer-Simson was relegated by the Admiralty to a desk job transferring merchant marine sailors into the Navy. However, despite his shortcomings, Spicer-Simson had experience in Africa and was fluent in German and French, making him the ideal man for the Lake Tanganyika mission. Furthermore, the Admiralty saw little risk in sending a man they saw as a liability to a remote backwater like East Africa.

For the mission, Spicer-Simson chose a pair of 40-foot mahogany motorboats, which were fitted with Maxim machine guns and 3-pounder quick-firing cannon. Spicer-Simson initially suggested naming the vessels “cat” and “dog,” but this was rejected by the Admiralty. They did, however, approve the names Mimi and Toutou, French for “meow-meow” and “bow-wow.” Mimi and Toutou were tested in the Thames on June 8, 1915, and while both performed to expectations, one of the 3-pounder guns was found to be improperly bolted to the deck, sending both it and its gunner flying into the river when test-fired. The tests complete, on June 15 the motorboats were loaded aboard the steamer SS Llanstephen Castle and set off on their epic 16,000 kilometre journey to Lake Tanganyika.

After 17 days the Llanstephen Castle arrived at the South African port of Cape Town, where Mimi and Toutou were loaded onto railway flatcars and transported north by train to Elisabethville in the Belgian Congo. From here the boats were loaded onto special cradles and dragged by oxen and steam tractors through the dense bush and deep gorges of the Mitumba mountains to the railhead at Sankisia – a gruelling journey of 235 kilometres. From Sankisia the boats were taken 30 kilometres by rail to Bukama, then sailed down the Lualaba River and across Lake Kisale to Kabalo. The water in Lualaba was low, causing the boats to run aground 14 times over 20 kilometres – a feat Spicer-Simson quipped was“a record, I think, for His Majesty’s ships.” The flotilla reached Kabalo on October 22, and following a 280 kilometre rail journey finally arrived at Kalemie just south of Lukuga. Against all odds, the little boats had made it intact across nearly 3,000 kilometres of some of the most challenging terrain in the world.

But Spicer-Simson’s arrival had not gone unnoticed by the Germans. On the morning December 1, 1915, the gunboat Kingani, under the command of Lieutenant Job [“Yohb”] Rosenthal approached Kalemie to investigate enemy activity, only to be driven away by the shore batteries. Kingani returned later that evening, allowing Rosenthal to swim ashore and get a closer look at the harbour. There he discovered Mimi and Toutou and the slipways Spicer-Simson had constructed to launch them. Rosenthal tried to return to Kingani but was unable to find her in the dark, and with dawn approaching the gunboat departed without him. While waiting for Kingani to return, Rosenthal was spotted and captured by Belgian soldiers and was unable to report his discovery of the British motorboats.

The slipways at Kalemie were completed on December 22, and Mimi and Toutou launched two days later.  This timing proved fortuitous, for on the morning of December 26 the Kingani, now under the command of one Sub-Lieutenant Junge [“yoong”], suddenly appeared outside Kalemie. Breaking off his morning prayers, Spicer-Simson ordered his men to their vessels, and before he could say “schiesse!” Lieutenant Junge suddenly found himself set upon by a pair of fast motorboats bearing the Royal Navy’s White Ensign. In a brief but furious battle, the motorboats ran rings around the Kingani and scored a direct hit on her forward gun, killing Lieutenant Junge and two petty officers. After barely 11 minutes the Kingani’s chief engineer struck the ship’s colours and surrendered her to the British. “Simson’s Circus,” as it had become known, had scored its first victory. Three German and eight African crewmen were taken prisoner, and the Kingani, continuing the theme of animal sounds, was rechristened HMS Fifi – French for “tweet tweet.”  Fifi was the first German warship of the war to be transferred into British service, and for this accomplishment Spicer-Simson was promoted to the rank of Commander.

Despite the Kingani’s sudden disappearance, bad weather on the lake prevented the Germans from investigating until January 1916. In the meantime, Spicer-Simson bolstered his flotilla with the Belgian steamer Delcommune, which he renamed Vengeur or “Avenger.” In mid-January the Hedwig von Wissman, under the command of Lieutenant Job Odebrecht, scouted around Kalemie, but finding nothing turned around and returned to port. On February 8 she set out again, with orders to rendezvous with the Graf von Götzen the next day. Early that morning Spicer-Simson spotted the Hedwig and launched a flotilla consisting of Mimi, Fifi, the barge Dix-Tonne, and a motorized whaleboat to intercept her. While the Hedwig was faster than Fifi and Dix-Tonne, once again Mimi was able to steam circles around the German gunboat, while the longer range of her 3-pounder gun prevented the Hedwig  from returning fire. Odebrecht circled his ship to dodge Mimi’s fire, allowing Spicer-Simson aboard Fifi to close in for the kill. However, at the last moment Fifi’s 12-pounder jammed, and Odebrecht took the opportunity to flee and rendezvous with the more heavily-armed Graf von Götzen. Spicer-Simson and his crew struggled for 20 minutes to clear the gun while the German gunboat steadily slipped away. But then, with its last two shells, Fifi scored a direct hit on the Hedwig’s hull, bursting her boiler and killing seven of her crew. With the ship now a burning wreck, Odebrecht ordered scuttling charges set and his men to abandon ship. The second German gunboat on Lake Tanganyika was now out of action. Only the formidable Graf von Götzen remained.

While his fleet of small boats had more than proved their mettle, Spicer-Simson decided he needed a bigger ship if he was to tangle with the Götzen. He found it in the form of the St. George, a steamboat belonging to the British consul in the Congolese capital of Leopoldville. Spicer-Simson he had the St. George dismantled, dragged to Lake Tanganyika, reassembled, and armed with the Belgian 12-pounder shore defence guns. By this time, however, the strategic situation in East Africa had changed. British and Belgian troops had begun advancing north towards the port of Bismarckburg, and Spicer-Simson’s flotilla was ordered north to support the advance. However, upon arriving at Bismarckburg Spicer-Simson found the port defended by a heavily-armed fortress and chose to withdraw his flotilla. Little did he know that the fortress guns were actually wooden dummies, the originals having been commandeered by General von Lettow-Vorbeck for use as mobile artillery. Spicer-Simson’s hesitance to engage allowed the fort’s garrison to escape under the cover of darkness, much to the annoyance of his superiors. Spicer-Simson also missed his chance to engage the Graf von Götzen, which was withdrawn from Bismarckburg and on July 26, 1916, scuttled at the bottom of Katabe Bay. She would later be salvaged in 1918 and still plies Lake Tanganyika to this day as the ferry MV Liemba. 

By July 1916 British and Belgian forces had retaken control of Lake Tanganyika, though the East African campaign would drag on for a further two years. In fact, General von Lettow-Vorbeck would not surrender his forces until November 14, 1918 – three days after the Armistice had taken effect. He was one of few German commanders to remain undefeated in the field, and on his return to Germany was hailed as a national hero.

Geoffrey Spicer-Simson, however, would not be so lucky. Despite the ingenuity and determination he had shown in his bid to end German domination of Lake Tanganyika, his frequent quarrels with his Belgian allies led to his being reprimanded by the Admiralty, and he was never again given a naval command. He did, however, become Assistant Director of Naval Intelligence and served as a naval delegate and French translator at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. He was later elected as the first secretary-general of the International Hydrographic Organization in Monaco, in which role he served from 1921 to 1937. Geoffrey Spicer-Simson died on January 29, 1947 at the age of 71. Though he was never to attain the legendary status of General von Lettow-Vorbeck, Spicer-Simson’s unorthodox naval campaign on Lake Tanganyika was no less a military accomplishment than those of his great rival, a feat described by his Belgian allies as:

“A feat unique in British History. Rarely have officers and men of the Royal Navy worked in an environment so foreign, or met conditions of greater difficulty with more ultimate success.”

And if all of this seems just a bit familiar, the Battle of Lake Tanganyika served as the inspiration for the 1935 C.S. Forester novel and the classic 1951 film The African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References

Wilson, Derek, Our History: the Strange Battle of Lake Tanganyika, The Times Colonist, January 9, 2016,


Christy, Gabe, The Battle for Lake Tanganyika Was One of the Strangest Battles of World War One, War History Online, July 2, 2017,


The Naval Africa Expedition and the Battle for Lake Tanganyika, Weapons and Warfare, August 8, 2015,


Probably the Strangest Naval Battle of WWI, Naval Encyclopedia,


Kirkpatrick, Tim, This German General Told Hitler Off in the Most Satisfying Way Ever, We Are the Mighty, January 28, 2019,


Who’s Who – Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, First World War,

The post The Littlest Naval War: Britain’s Balls to the Wall Bid to End German Domination of a Single Lake appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - August 18, 2022 at 11:22PM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Review: Reese's Snack Bar

Don't confuse this Reese's Snack Bar (which actually contained two bars) with the individually wrapped Reese's SnackBarz (which we reviewed 18 years ago and have not seen in a long while). ...

from Snack Reviews
by August 18, 2022 at 06:54AM

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Review: Takis Kettlez Jalapeño Typhoon

It's another Takis-branded snack that isn't tubular tortillas, and just like the Habanero Fury ones, these are potato chips. ...

from Snack Reviews
by August 11, 2022 at 09:54AM

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Review: Savoritz Turtles Baked Extra Cheddar Snack Crackers

These crackers were obviously a Goldfish knockoff — orange crackers with cheddar shaped like an aquatic animal — but they replaced the fish shapes with turtles. ...

from Snack Reviews
by August 06, 2022 at 07:25PM

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Mad Aussie Who Stung Himself and His 9 Year Old Son With a Deadly Creature FOR SCIENCE!!!

Australia is infamous for its abundance of absurdly dangerous wildlife. From highly-venomous brown snakes and funnelweb spiders to giant saltwater crocodiles and great white sharks, nearly everything that slithers, crawls, or swims in the Land Down Under seems perfectly designed to inflict the most horrible death possible. But one Aussie creature stands above the rest, its sting so painful its victims literally beg for death. It is a creature so mysterious and elusive that up until 60 years ago, science didn’t even know it existed.

For thousands of years, the Aborigines of Australia’s northern coasts have known that to swim in the ocean between the months of November and May is to risk an ordeal painful beyond description. At first, the victim feels only a mild burning sensation, no more painful than a bee sting. But ten to fifteen minutes later, they are suddenly struck down with a crippling combination of symptoms. As Australian biologist Lisa Gershwin explains:

“It gives you incredible lower back pain that you would think of as similar to an electric drill drilling into your back. It gives you relentless nausea and vomiting. How does vomiting every minute to two minutes for up to 12 hours sound? Incredible. It gives waves of full body cramps, profuse sweating … the nurses have to wring out the bed sheets every 15 minutes. It gives you very great difficulty in breathing where you just feel like you can’t catch your breath. It gives you this weird muscular restlessness so you can’t stop moving but every time you move it hurts.”

And if that weren’t enough, victims are also often struck with an overwhelming feeling of looming dread:

“Patients believe they’re going to die and they’re so certain of it that they’ll actually beg their doctors to kill them just to get it over with.”

If the victim is lucky, these systems persist for up to 24 hours before gradually fading away. If not, severe hypertension can lead to death from heart failure or cerebral haemorrhage.

As more and more white Australians began living and vacationing in the area around the Great Barrier Reef, reports of this mysterious syndrome began trickling back to the medical community. Among the first to study the phenomenon was Dr. Ronald Southcott, who in the 1940s  dubbed the incidents “Type A Stingings” to distinguish them from the more well-known “Type B Stingings” inflicted by Chironex Fleckeri, the Australian Box Jellyfish. The Box Jellyfish is the bane of every Australian swimmer. Growing up to 30 centimetres wide with 60 tentacles four metres long, their nematocysts are among the fastest objects in the natural world and are powerful enough to penetrate the carapace of a crab. The venom they deliver is so potent that a mere two metres of tentacle can kill a grown man in under two minutes. And if that wasn’t enough, unlike regular jellyfish which are largely blind and drift passively with ocean currents, box jellyfish possess 24 surprisingly sophisticated eyes and can swim at speeds up to 3 knots. These creatures have killed around 100 Australians since record-keeping began and seriously injured countless more, and fear of them regularly shuts down beaches for six months of the year across a 5000-kilometre stretch of Australia’s northern coast. But despite its ubiquity, the venom of the Box Jellyfish did not match the highly-specific symptoms of Type A Stingings – nor did any of the other ‘usual suspects’ like the Portuguese Man ’o War.

Southcott’s research was taken up in the 1950s by Dr. Hugo Flecker, a pioneer of jellyfish research and the namesake of Chironex Fleckeri. While Flecker suspected that Type A Stingings were caused by some sort of jellyfish, he was unable to find any nematocysts – the syringe-like stinging cells jellyfish use to inject their venom – on any victims. Unable to finger a definitive culprit, in 1952 Flecker grouped the symptoms together under the name “Irukandji Syndrome,” after an Aboriginal tribe native to the area of Northern Australia where the phenomenon was most common.

For nearly a decade the cause of Irukandji Syndrome remained a mystery, until in 1958 an eccentric doctor named Jack Barnes arrived in the northern town Cairns. Born on April 2, 1922 on a sheep station outside Charleville, Queensland, in 1942 Jack Handyside Barnes suspended his medical studies to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force and spent the war fighting the Japanese on the island of Timor. After the war he returned to medicine, becoming Medical Superintendent of Thursday Island Hospital before setting up his own practice in Cairns in 1958. That year he was tasked by the local branch of the British Medical Association with finally tracking down the cause of Irukandji Syndrome.

According to his associate Dr. Graham Cossins, Barnes was:

“…irritable and belligerent, … demanding and critical, unsociable and rude…but under that gruff exterior was a kindly and compassionate associate”.

This prickly personality also belied the sharp and analytical mind of a detective, which allowed Barnes to make several key deductions about his prey. First, as nobody had ever seen the creature, Barnes reasoned it must be very small and nearly transparent. Second, as most victims were stung in relatively shallow water, it must stay close to the surface. Third, as stingings tended to occur in clusters, it must occur in large numbers; and finally, the creature must be mobile, as none had ever been found washed up on the beach. Poring through hospital reports, Barnes discovered that 85% of Irukandji cases occurred in only two places: Palm and Ellis Beaches. And after analyzing tidal charts, he quickly discovered why: every winter, sustained northerly winds reversed local tidal flows, bringing in fresh currents from the Timor and Coral Seas – and with them the causative agent of Irukandji Syndrome. It was here that Barnes focused his search for the elusive Irukandji creature.

Over the next three years, Barnes spent hundreds of hours sitting on the seafloor in a weighted diving suit, laying out traps cobbled together from flour sifters and staring upwards in the hopes of spotting the creature’s silhouetted against the sunlight filtering down from the surface. It was tedious, unrewarding work, with Barnes’ traps quickly becoming clogged with assorted marine life. But on December 10, 1961, his patience paid off as he finally found what he was looking for: a tiny, nearly-transparent jellyfish barely more than a centimetre across. On the same day, another specimen was caught by lifeguard Don Ludbey, who noticed a small, nearly invisible creature clinging by one tentacle to an erratically-swimming fish.

But was this tiny creature really the cause of Irukandji Syndrome? While most scientists would have started by analyzing the venom’s chemical composition or testing the creature’s sting on an animal, Barnes had other ideas, skipping straight to human experimentation. As for the test subjects, this included Barnes himself, of course, along with local lifeguard Chilla Ross and, controversially, Barnes’ own 9-year-old son, Nick. Barnes’ description of what happened next, from his 1964 paper Cause and Effect in Irukandju Stinging, is disturbingly clinical and detached, perhaps appropriately for a father who no doubt sentenced his son to a lifetime of crippling trust issues:

“The first Carybdeid was applied to an adult (J.B.), and to a boy, aged nine years (N.B.). A robust young life-saver (C.R.) volunteered to test the second specimen, of similar size to the first. The jellyfish was placed in contact with the inner surface of the upper arm of each volunteer. The effects were not long in coming.

The lad reported mild abdominal pain twelve minutes after being stung, and two minutes later declared he had an ache in both armpits, that abdominal pain was worsening rapidly, and that his back was hurting. Within 20 minutes, the two adults noted aching in both axillae, followed almost immediately by backache and by discomfort around the lower ribs anteriorly. Back pain was maximal in the sacral area, deep and “boring” in nature.

Severe abdominal pain, the most constant feature of the Irukandji syndrome, was well established in all cases within 30 minutes. … Subjects were seized with a remarkable restlessness, and were in constant movement. … As the pains increased, initiative was notably depressed, and cerebration, though accurate, was decidedly sluggish. … Palpation of painful areas, now including arms and legs, showed muscle groups in tonic contraction, little short of spasm. This possibly explains the peculiar postures noted, for extremes of flexion and extension were avoided, and the volunteers adopted a stance, which I can best liken to that of an infant with a full nappy.”

During the 20 minutes drive to Cairns, the victims were in considerable distress, heightened, it seemed by the necessity to remain seated. All had abdominal and back pain, pain in the anterior chest wall with some difficulty in breathing, and diffuse aches in muscles and joints. … N.B. felt very cold and was shivering violently.

Forty minutes after the stinging, the abdominal musculature of the three subjects was in unrelenting spasm, so rigid as to warrant fully the term “board-like.” … Undoubtedly, the advent of coughing and retching marked the peak of misery for the two adults. Each spasm increased the gripping pains in the chest and abdomen, and as these eased, the cycle was repeated.” 

This absurdly reckless experiment confirmed Barnes’ suspicion: that this tiny, seemingly innocuous jellyfish was indeed the cause of the mysterious Irukandji Syndrome. Following the publication of Barnes’ groundbreaking paper in 1964, the creature was dubbed Carukia barnesi in his honour. Over the next two decade, Barnes dedicated his life to the study of the Irukandji and other jellyfish, mobilizing a network of medical practitioners to report cases of Irukandji stingings and inform bathers of the dangers. In the course of his research, he discovered that many jellyfish refuse to sting though a synthetic barrier, and took to wearing women’s pantyhose while wading in the ocean to collect samples. This practice was soon widely adopted among lifeguards. Barnes also pioneered the now-common practice of washing a jellyfish sting with alcohol or vinegar to kill any remaining stinging cells. Barnes was appointed a Member of the British Empire in 1970 for his work and died in 1985 of a heart attack. Though he ultimately succeeded in passing on his mad scientist genes, his reckless approach to toxicology won him the title of “At-Risk Survivor” at the 1997 Darwin Awards.

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Bonus Facts:

In case snakes, spiders, jellyfish, crocodiles, and sharks aren’t enough to discourage you from visiting Australia, here are a few more lesser-known dangerous animals native to the Land Down Under.

While the Irukandji and Box jellyfish are infamous for their painful stings, if you really want to know what pain is, then simply find the nearest Stonefish and step on it. Comprising 5 species native to the Pacific and Indian oceans, stonefish are so-named for their remarkable resemblance to an algae-covered rock, which allows them to lay perfectly camouflaged among the coral waiting for prey to swim by. If threatened or stepped on, the stonefish raises a set of razor-sharp dorsal fin spines which can easily pierce a sandal or diving boot and inject the most powerful venom of any known fish. The effect of this venom is often described as the worst pain in the world – so much so that death by stonefish is typically due not to the venom itself but rather shock induced by the sheer agony. Thankfully, however, an antivenin is available, and treating the wound with very hot water effectively breaks down and neutralizing the venom, meaning that fatalities are relatively rare.

Back on the surface, perhaps the most well-known Australian bird is the Emu, a giant flightless ratite famous for defeating an army of machine-gun-wielding soldiers in what has come to be known as the Emu War of 1932. But as badass as this feat is, the Emu has nothing on the Cassowary. Standing 2 metres tall and capable of running at speeds of up to  50km/hr,  the Cassowary is armed with a fearsome 12-centimetre claw on its centre toe capable of inflicting a deadly kick when threatened. Its skull is also equipped with a thick bony ridge or “casque” that allows the bird to run full-tilt through dense vegetation. Despite its intimidating appearance, however, the Cassowary is a shy and solitary bird, living mainly on fruits and berries in the dense rainforests of Northwestern Australia. However, in recent years urban and agricultural development has lead to the significant loss of the Cassowary’s preferred habitat, increasingly forcing the birds to wander into urban areas looking for food – and increasing the chances of a deadly encounter with humans.

But if you thought for a moment that you’d find safety in the realm of flying birds, think again. In 2017, an article in the Journal of Ethnobiology by Robert Gosford, Mark Bonta and others presented the first recoded evidence of a phenomenon that had been reported by Australian Aborigines for thousands of years. The team observed birds of prey such as the Black Kite, Whistling Kite, and Brown Falcon lifting burning branches from brushfires and using them to start fires elsewhere. The birds would then pick off mice and other small animals fleeing the blaze or feast on the charred corpses of the ones who didn’t make it. Because of course corpse eating arsonist birds are a thing in Australia.

And finally we come to that most distinctively weird of all Aussie animals- the duck-billed platypus. While this egg-laying, half-duck, half-beaver-looking creature may look adorable and harmless, the male of the species packs a powerful punch in the form of two sharp spurs on its hind legs. These are capable of delivering a peptide-based venom whose effects have been described as excruciating and resistant to most common painkillers such as morphine. The extensive swelling induced by the venom can last for months, while residual pain can persist for years. Interestingly, the fossil record suggests that until relatively recently, venomous spurs were a common feature of many mammals, with the platypus being the sole surviving possessor of this trait. And, of course, the sole survivor of this one would exist in Australia…

Expand for References

What is the Worst a Jellyfish Could Do? Irukandji Syndrome, Gelatinous Sting, April 15, 2020,


Romm, Cari,  Apparently There’s a Jellyfish Whose Sting Causes Feelings of Impending Doom, The Cut, April 28, 2016,


Gussow, Leon, The Amazing and Bizarre Discovery of Irukandji Syndrome, Emergency Medicine News, April 2005,


Fenner, Peter & Hadsk, John, Fatal Envenomation by Jellyfish Causing Irukandji Syndrome, Medical Journal of Australia, October 7, 2002,


Raffaele, Paul, Killers in Paradise, Smithsonian Magazine, June 2005,


Baker, Joe, Barnes, John Handyside (Jack)(1922-1985), Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2007,


Pant, Anupum, Jack Barnes and Irukandji Syndrome, WESCI,


Nickson, Chris, Jack Barnes and the Irukandji Enigma, Life in the Fast Lane, July 1, 2019,


Millward, Adam, Why the Cassowary is the World’s Most Dangerous Bird, Guinness World Records, April 15, 2019,


Maguire, Dannielle, Australian Birds “Firehawks” Deliberately Spread Fires in Incredible Hunting Technique,,

The post The Mad Aussie Who Stung Himself and His 9 Year Old Son With a Deadly Creature FOR SCIENCE!!! appeared first on Today I Found Out.

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by Gilles Messier - August 02, 2022 at 02:14AM
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The Impossibly Badass Story of Mills’ Marauders

South Georgia lies 54 degrees south of the equator in the South Atlantic Ocean, some 1,900 kilometres off the coast of Argentina. A cold and inhospitable place covered in jagged snow-capped mountains, fjords, and glaciers, until its discovery by European sailors in 1675 the island had no permanent native population. For the next three hundred years the island would remain largely uninhabited save for a handful of whalers and sealers harvesting the rich waters of the Antarctic Ocean. But in April of 1982 this frozen little speck of land became the touchpoint for one of the last great conventional wars of the 20th Century, and played host to an extraordinary incident in which a small band of 22 British Royal Marines managed to hold off a vastly superior Argentine force and even disable an entire warship. This is the impossibly badass story of Mills’ Marauders and the Battle of Grytviken.

Along with the South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia is administered as a dependency of the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory lying 1,400 kilometres to the east. Though the British have claimed sovereignty over the Falklands since 1833, this claim has long been contested by Argentina, where the islands are known as Las Islas Malvinas. In 1982 Argentina was riven by economic and social turmoil in the wake of its 7-year “Dirty War,” which saw the rise of a brutal military dictatorship or junta [“Hun-tah”] lead by General Leopoldo Galtieri, Air Brigadier Basilo Lami Dozo, and Admiral Jorge [“Hor-hay”] Anaya. Galtieri and Anaya in particular saw the retaking of the Falklands as an ideal means of distracting the Argentine people from their current troubles, settling an old score with Britain and reasserting Argentina’s prestige and dominance in the region. Calculating that the British would not bother to retake such a small archipelago 13,000 kilometres from the Home Isles, Anaya set the invasion for early April 1982.

On March 19, the Argentine transport ship ARA Bahía Buen Suceso steamed into Leith Harbour on South Georgia without clearance and unloaded a team of 19 scrap metal workers. Officially, the landing was part of a business deal between Argentine scrap metal dealer Constantino Davidoff and the British company Christian Salvesen to salvage the remains of a defunct whaling station on the island. However, as part of a secret military plan code-named Operation Alpha, the workers had been infiltrated by a squad of Argentine commandos, who proceeded to raise the Argentine flag over the harbour. At the time, the only British presence on the island was a team from the British Antarctic Survey led by Trefor Edwards who, disturbed by the Argentines’ actions, demanded they lower their flag and report to senior Antarctic Survey officer Steve Martin at the island’s capital of Grytviken. The Argentine commander, Captain Briatore, agreed to lower the flag but refused to report to Grytviken. And while he and the rest of the scrap metal workers departed on March 22, Antarctic Survey members soon reported the presence of other Argentine personnel on the island, prompting Trefor Edwards to contact Rex Hunt, Governor of the Falklands. Hunt duly dispatched the Royal Navy Ice Patrol vessel HMS Endurance carrying a small contingent of 22 Royal Marines to monitor the situation.

As the Endurance steamed towards South Georgia, the Argentines dispatched the corvettes ARA Drummond and ARA Granville to intercept her, as well as the ARA Bahía Paraíso to land a contingent of 10 naval commandos on the island. Over the next week the Endurance and the Argentine vessels played a game of cat-and-mouse in the waters around the island while British and Argentine officials worked to find a diplomatic solution. When none could be found, Endurance steamed into Grytviken harbour and offloaded its contingent of Marines, consisting of two detachments of 8 and 12 men under the command of 24-year old Lieutenant George Thomsen and 23-year-old Lieutenant Keith Mills. On the day they landed, April 2, 1982, Argentina launched Operation Rosario, the large-scale invasion of the Falkland Islands. The 650-man invasion force quickly overwhelmed the islands’ tiny garrison, and within hours the British government at the capital of Port Stanley capitulated. On the same day, the Argentine corvette ARA Guerrico, carrying 40 marines and two helicopters, was dispatched to South Georgia to capture the island, but bad weather delayed its arrival by 24 hours.

The 22 Marines at Grytviken, cut off from support and 13,000 kilometres from home, braced themselves for the coming assault. A radio message from London instructed them to“not resist beyond the point where lives might be lost to no avail,” to which Lieutenant Mills infamously replied: “Sod that! I’ll make their eyes water!”

With the invasion force only hours away, the Marines set about fortifying the harbour, lining the beach with barbed wire and antipersonnel mines and building a makeshift bomb packed with nuts, bolts, and harpoon heads which they placed under the jetty. The Marines had barely enough time to snap a group photo before the sound of a helicopter was heard in the distance. The Battle of Grytviken had begun.

Argentine operations began at 11:41 AM as an Aérospatiale Puma helicopter from the Guerrico landed a contingent of 15 Argentine marines across the harbour from the British positions. A second helicopter took off at 11:45 but was struck by heavy small-arms fire from the Royal Marines, causing it to crash land with the loss of two killed and four wounded. The Marines had drawn first blood, raising a cheer of elation among the tiny force. As Lieutenant Thomsen later recalled:

“There wasn’t a single one of us that wasn’t prepared to fight it out to the last man. We weren’t expected to come back. [Shooting down that helicopter] was like a gift. That kicked off the battle, and we were 16-nil up from the start.”

Following the loss of the helicopter, the 15 Argentine Marines already on the island attacked the British positions, but were pinned down by heavy fire. Having accidentally left their mortars behind on the ship, the Argentines called upon the Guerrico for fire support. The corvette, which had only just left dry dock following extensive repairs, sailed into the narrow bay and  at 11:55 opened fire on the British positions with her 20, 40, and 100 millimetre automatic cannons. However, after only a few shots all three guns jammed and became inoperative. Now completely defenceless, the ship had no choice but to complete her turn around the bay, exposing her flanks to the British, who immediately opened fire with rifles, machine guns, and an 84-millimetre Carl Gustav antitank recoilless gun. The Marines landed over 200 hits on the corvette as it sailed past, as Lieutenant Thomsen later recalled:

“It was raking us with its 40mm anti-aircraft gun until we wiped out the gun crew. We then used a [Carl Gustav] but three out of five rounds didn’t go off. If they had we’d have sunk it. But we put it out of action and it was listing at 30 degrees. We whacked out its Exocet launchers with rocket launchers and hit the 4in gun on the front and disabled it. We were putting sniper fire through the bridge so they didn’t-know where they were going…At the same time they were landing troops from two or three other ships and we were outnumbered 50-1, or 100-1 if you count everyone on their ships.”

Seriously crippled, the Guerrico limped out of the harbour until she was at last beyond the range of British fire. It is now thought that the commander of the Argentine forces, Captain Carlos Trombetta, was unaware of the Royal Marines presence on the island, and believed he was only facing members of the British Antarctic Survey team. Otherwise he would likely not have exposed his vessel to such dangerous conditions. Whatever the case, this bizarre engagement remains one of the few occasions where ground troops armed only with light weapons have taken on a warship and come out on top.

Meanwhile, a helicopter from the Bahía Paraíso had been ferrying more Argentine troops ashore out of range of British fire. With the Guerrico safely out of range, the Argentines attacked again, wounding Royal Marines Corporal Nigel Peters in the arm. At the same time, the Guerrico managed to repair her 100-millimetre gun and opened fire on the British positions. Realizing he was outnumbered and outgunned, Lieutenant Mills finally decided to call it quits, and approached the Argentine positions waving a white flag. In a legendary bit of British bluff, Mills announced that he and his men would keep fighting unless the Argentines agreed to his terms – including safe passage for his men off the island. The Argentines agreed, only to discover to their shock that they had been facing a force of only 22 Marines. It was 12:48 PM; ‘Mills’ Marauders’ – as they became known – had managed to hold out against a vastly superior force for more than an hour, inflicting 12 casualties to 1. This action has been likened to a modern-day Rorke’s Drift, the 1879 battle in which 139 British soldiers held out against a force of 5,000 Zulu warriors in Natal, South Africa.

Mills and his men were disarmed and taken aboard the Bahía Paraíso. The Marines were treated well, as Corporal Andrew Lee later recalled:“[The Argentines] bore us no malice. They did understand the job we did. They were Marines, like ourselves.”

Mills’ Marauders were taken back to Argentina and airlifted back to the UK, where they arrived on April 20 to a heroes’ welcome. 15 days earlier, contrary to Admiral Anaya’s calculations, the British government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dispatched a naval task force to the South Atlantic to retake the Falkland Islands. Many of the Marines who had bravely defended South Georgia on the opening day of the conflict would return as part of Operation Paraquet, which succeeded in retaking the island on April 25. The fighting on the Falklands would rage on for another 50 days, finally ending on June 14, 1982 with the surrender of Argentine forces at Port Stanley. The Falklands War lasted a total of 74 days and claimed the claimed the lives of 649 Argentine and 255 British military personnel and 3 Falkland Islanders. It was the last large-scale conventional engagement the United Kingdom would fight entirely on its own, and the last major colonial war in the history of the British Empire. And while the conflict saw its fair share of heroic actions on both sides, few can compare to the sheer badassery of 22 lightly-armed Marines taking on an entire warship – and winning.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

Expand for References


Hickley, Matthew, Revealed: Untold Story of How 22 Marines Held off Hundreds of Argentinians and Disabled a Warship on Eve of Falklands War, Daily Mail, April 15, 2009,


Oord, Christian, When 22 British Marines Held off a Superior Argentine Invasion Force & a Naval Corvette, War History Online, April 8, 2019,


Schweimler, Daniel, Scrap Dealer Who Accidentally Set off the Falklands War, BBC Radio 4, April 3l, 2010,

The post The Impossibly Badass Story of Mills’ Marauders appeared first on Today I Found Out.

from Today I Found Out
by Gilles Messier - August 02, 2022 at 02:10AM
Article provided by the producers of one of our Favorite YouTube Channels!