Ranks Left to Right ROA.

·  Soldier
·  Corporal
·  Unteroffizier
·  Feldwebel
·  Second Lieutenant  
·  Senior lieutenant
·  Captain
·  Major
·  Lieutenant Colonel  
·  Colonel
·  Major General
·  General
The ROA did not officially exist until autumn of 1944, after Heinrich Himmler persuaded a very reluctant Hitler to permit the formation of 10 Russian Liberation Army divisions.
On 14 November in Prague, Andrey Andreyevich Vlasov, Commander of the ROA, read aloud the Prague Manifesto before the newly created Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia. This document stated the purposes of the battle against Stalin, and spelled out 14 democratic points which the army was fighting for. German insistence that the document carry anti-Semitic rhetoric was successfully parried by Vlasov’s committee; however, they were obliged to include a statement criticising the Western Allies, labelling them “plutocracies” that were “allies of Stalin in his conquest of Europe”.
Prague Manifesto, which states:
1.      The equality of all peoples of Russia and a real right for national development, self determination, self rule, and governmental independence.
2.      The confirmation of a popular worker front, before which the interests of the government are subordinate to the goals of raising the well-being and development of the nation.
3.      The preservation of peace and the establishment of peaceful relations with all nations of the world, an all round development of international collaboration.
4.      Wide ranging government actions for the strengthening of the family and marriage. A true equality for women.
5.      The liquidation of forced labor and the granting to the laborers a real right to free labor which creates their material well-being, the confirmation of a wage for all types of labor in an amount that can support an appropriate standard of living.
6.      The liquidation of collective farms, the free return of land to the private ownership of farmers. The freedom to determine labor land usage. The freedom to use the products of one’s personal labor, the abolishment of forced requisitions, and the cancellation of all debts to the Soviet government.
7.      The establishment of protected private labor ownership. The reestablishment of trade, crafts, domestic industry, the granting of the right of private initiative and an opportunity for it to participate in the economic life of the nation.
8.      Granting the intelligencia the opportunity to freely create for the well-being of their people.
9.      Granting social justice and defense of laborers from any exploitation, regardless of their origin and former activities.
10.  The creation for all without exception the real right for free education, medical care, vacation, and senior welfare.
11.  The destruction of the regime of terror and force. Liquidation of forceful repopulations and mass exiles. The establishment of a true freedom of religion, conscience, speech, assembly, press. A guarantee of the protection of person, property, and home. The equality of all before the law, the independence and clarity of the court.
12.  The liberation of political opponents of Bolshevism and the return to the motherland from the jails and camps of all who were repressed for their battle against Bolshevism. No revenge and persecution for those who stop their battle for Stalin and Bolshevism, regardless of whether this was done by necessity or by conviction.
13.  The reestablishment of national property ruined during the war – cities, villages, factories, and plants at cost to the government
14.  Government support of invalids of the war and their families.
By February 1945, only one division, the 1st Infantry (600th German Infantry) was fully formed, under the command of General Sergei Bunyachenko. Formed at Münsingen, it fought briefly on the Oder Front before switching sides and helping the Czechs liberate Prague.
A second division, the 2d Infantry (650th German Infantry), was incomplete when it left Lager Heuberg but was put into action under the command of General Mikhail Meandrov. This division was joined in large numbers by eastern workers which caused it to nearly double in size as it headed on its march south. A third, the 3rd Infantry (700th German Infantry), only began formation.
There were about 113 battalions serving under Vlasov, 42 (Roughly 14,000 people) of these were later sent to  Poland, Italy, Belgium, Finland, the Balkans and most notably, France where a number of them fought against the allies on the battle of D-Day. On the Eastern Front, two divisions were already created those being the 600th German Infantry led by Sergei Bunyachenko and the 650th German Infantry led by Mikhail Meandrov.
An air force was also created during the RLA’s existence as a division of the Luftwaffe. The RLA air force was led by Aviation Colonel Viktor Ivanovich Maltsev, who personally selected pilots, radio specialists, mechanics, and navigators to be a part of the air division. In the beginning, the RLA’s air force was used for three purposes: delivery of newly-made planes from factories to airfields, repair (The engineer team consisted of about forty people.), and conducting tests with Soviet aircraft, but would later participate in hostile actions against the Soviets, mostly over Belarus.
This is when the air force was divided into the fighter, light bomber, and reconnaissance (Flak regiment, parachute battalion, and signal battalions, respectively.) Figures estimate 5,000 Vlasovites were involved in the air force. The technology the air force was given was mostly captured Soviet planes from an airfield in 1941 or whatever was claimed from the German invasion. This was beneficial in two ways: the first was it gave the Germans the ability to get to know the Soviet Union’s aerial technology and fighting qualities at a closer distance and the second reason being the volunteers were already familiar with the planes from their time prior to being captured.
The Luftwaffe had also donated several of their old planes which were more of a danger than the damaged Soviet ones, most were out-of-date models such as the Gotha Go-145 A (This was actually a wooden biplane used for training, it became obsolete even before the war had begun.), Heinkel Не-50, Heinkel He-46, or Fokker C.V. which is actually a Dutch model rarely used by the Luftwaffe themselves. Despite this, relations between the German Luftwaffe and the Russians were very warm, and they would often come together for what they called “beer meetings”.
Several other Russian units, such as the Russian Corps, XVth SS Cossack Cavalry Corps of General Helmuth von Pannwitz, the Cossack Camp of Ataman Domanov, and other primarily White émigré formations had agreed to become a part of Vlasov’s army. However, their membership remained de jure as the turn of events did not permit Vlasov to use these men in any operation (even reliable communications was often impossible).
The only active combat the Russian Liberation Army undertook against the Red Army was by the Oder on 11 April 1945, done largely at the insistence of Himmler as a test of the army’s reliability. The Russian Liberation Army only saw one major battle against the Soviets on the River Oder swamp where the first division was sent to attack a Soviet entrenchment covered by mortars and mounted guns. The battle ultimately ended in defeat After three days, the outnumbered first division had to retreat.
Vlasov then ordered the first division to march south to concentrate all Russian anticommunist forces loyal to him. As the army, he reasoned, they could all surrender to the Allies on “favorable” (no repatriation) terms. Vlasov sent several secret delegations to begin negotiating a surrender to the Allies, hoping they would sympathise with the goals of ROA and potentially use it in an inevitable future war with the USSR.
The now-combined armies of the ROA were caught in the Prague uprising where several Czech insurgent groups were fighting against the Nazi occupation. Bunyachenko, leading the army, requested Vlasov to give permission to fight the Occupation and change sides once again. A definite reason was not given as to why the RLA switched sides once again, it may have been the fact that Bunyachenko had heard of the cries for help from the Czech people or it may have been his dislike of the national socialist ideology.
For the next three days, The RLA fought its last battle with a total force of three T-34-72’s (2 1942 models, 1 1940 model, two of those were lost during the battle), two Panzer IV ausf. H’s, three Hetzers (One of these were lost), two Panzerjager model I’s (one of these were destroyed in battle as well), one StuG IV, one AMD 35 Panhard, four Sd.Kfz. 250’s, one Sd.Kfz.263,  two Sd.Kfz.232’s, one Sd.Kfz.234 Puma, two BA-20’s (One of which was destroyed), one BA-64, one BA-11, one Wespe, around ten loading trucks (A fifth of these were lost in the fighting) , and roughly the same number of light vehicles and jeeps at their disposal, a number of machine guns and artillery placements were also available. The battle later ended in victory for the Czech people and the Vlasov’s delegates returned without a definite answer. Not knowing this, Bunyachenko and his troops began leaving the city to escape to escape capture from the Communist partisans in the hope of being aided by the US Third Army.
The composition of the VS-KONR forces were as follows:
Infantry divisions
    600th Panzergrenadier Div.
    650th Panzergrenadier Div.
Air elements
    I. Ostfliegerstaffel (russische) (1st Eastern Squadron-Russian) (1943-1944)
    II. Störkampfstaffel (Night Harassment Squadron) 8 (1945)
    KONR Air Force
Two former Soviet Air Force ace pilots, Semyon Trofimovich Bychkov and Bronislav Romanovich Antilevsky, defected and became part of the ROA Air Force. The air force was later disbanded in the July of 1944.

"Gendarme of Europe"

Nicholas I (Nikolai I Pavlovich; 6 July [O.S. 25 June] 1796 – 2 March [O.S. 18 February] 1855) was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855.

He was also the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland. He is best known as a political conservative whose reign was marked by geographical expansion, repression of dissent, economic stagnation, poor administrative policies, a corrupt bureaucracy, and frequent wars that culminated in Russia’s disastrous defeat in the Crimean War of 1853-56. His biographer Nicholas Riasanovsky says that Nicholas displayed determination, singleness of purpose, and an iron will, along with a powerful sense of duty and a dedication to very hard work. He saw himself as a soldier – a junior officer totally consumed by spit and polish. A handsome man, he was highly nervous and aggressive. Trained as an engineer, he was a stickler for minute detail. His reign had an ideology called “Official Nationality” that was proclaimed officially in 1833. It was a reactionary policy based on orthodoxy in religion, autocracy in government, and Russian nationalism

Because of the success of revolutionary resistance, Franz Joseph had to ask for help from the “gendarme of Europe” Czar Nicholas I of Russia in March 1849. Russian armies, composed of about 8,000 soldiers, invaded Transylvania on 7 April 1848. But as they crossed the Southern Carpathian mountain passes (along the border of Transylvania and Wallachia), they were met by a large Hungarian revolutionary army led by Józef Bem, a Polish-born General.

Bem had been a participant in the Polish insurrection of 1830 – 1831, had been involved in the uprising in Vienna in 1848 and, finally, became one of the top army commanders for the Hungarian Republic from 1848 – 1849. When he encountered the Russians, Bem defeated them and forced them back out of the towns of Hermannstadt (now Sibiu, Romania) and Kronstadt (now Brașov) in Transylvania, back over the Southern Carpathian Mountains through the Roterturm Pass into Wallachia. Only 2,000 Russian soldiers made it out of Transylvania back into Wallachia, the other 6,000 troops being killed or captured by the Hungarian Army. After securing all of Transylvania, Bem moved his 30,000–40,000-man Hungarian army against Austrian forces in the northern Banat capturing the city of Temesvár (now Timişoara, Romania).

In June 1849 Russian and Austrian troops entered Hungary heavily outnumbering the Hungarian army. After all appeals to other European states failed, Kossuth abdicated on August 11, 1849 in favour of Artúr Görgey, who he thought was the only general who was capable of saving the nation. However, in May 1849, Czar Nicholas I pledged to redouble his efforts against the Hungarian Government. He and Emperor Franz Joseph started to regather and rearm an army to be commanded by Anton Vogl, the Austrian lieutenant-field-marshal who had actively participated in the suppression of the national liberation movement in Galacia in 1848. But even at this stage Vogl was occupied trying to stop another revolutionary uprising in Galacia. The Czar was also preparing to send 30,000 Russian soldiers back over the Eastern Carpathian Mountains from Poland. Austria held Galacia and moved into Hungary, independent of Vogl’s forces. On August 13, after several bitter defeats in a hopeless situation, Görgey signed a surrender at Világos (now Şiria, Romania) to the Russians, who handed the army over to the Austrians.

HMS Exeter

HMS Exeter (68) was a York-class heavy cruiser of the Royal Navy that served in World War II. She was laid down on 1 August 1928 at the Devonport Dockyard, Plymouth, Devon. She was launched on 18 July 1929 and completed on 27 July 1931. She fought against the German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the 1939 Battle of the River Plate, suffering extensive damage that caused a long refit.

Having been rebuilt, she was sent to the East Indies where she was sunk by the Japanese in 1942.

On completion, Exeter joined the 2nd Cruiser Squadron with the Atlantic Fleet, where she served between 1931 and 1935. In 1934 she was assigned to the America and West Indies Station and remained there, with a temporary deployment to the Mediterranean during the Abyssinian crisis of 1935 and 1936, until 1939.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, she formed part of the South American Division with Cumberland, under Commodore Henry Harwood. Together with the Leander-class light cruisers Ajax and Achilles she engaged the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate on 13 December 1939, which culminated in the scuttling of the Admiral Graf Spee several days later. Exeter operated as a division on her own, Achilles and Ajax as the other, in order to split the fire of Graf Spee. Exeter was hit by seven 11-inch shells and several near misses caused significant splinter damage. Sixty-one of her crew were killed and another twenty-three wounded. All three 8-inch turrets were put out of action and her speed was reduced to 18 knots (33 km/h), forcing her to withdraw from battle. Exeter made for Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands for emergency repairs which took until January 1940. For a short time consideration was given to leave the ship there as a hulk and headquarters ship. Shortly later however, the decision was made for her to be made sea-worthy enough to return to Devonport, for full repairs and a modernisation refit between February 1940 and March 1941. On 10 March, 1941, during the repair and refit period, her commanding officer, Captain W.N.T. Beckett MVO DSC died at Saltash Hospital, from complications resulting from surgery related to injuries received earlier in his career. He died the day Exeter was due to be re-commissioned. His replacement was Captain Oliver Loudon Gordon. Upon completion of the repair and refit, Exeter was the most modern heavy cruiser in the Royal Navy, and kept that title for a short 1-month period until HMS London emerged from her extensive rebuild and modernization.

On returning to the fleet in 1941 she was engaged on escort duty for Atlantic convoys, including the escort of convoy WS-8B to the Middle East during the Bismarck episode. After this, she went on to the Far East.

On the entry of the Empire of Japan into the war in December 1941, Exeter formed part of the ABDACOM naval force intended to defend the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) from Japanese invasion.


On 27 February 1942, Exeter was damaged in the Battle of the Java Sea when she received an 8-inch shell hit to a boiler room and was subsequently ordered to Surabaya for repairs. The destroyer HMS Electra was sunk covering her withdrawal. Two days later, when she attempted to reach the Sunda Strait, she was intercepted by the Japanese heavy cruisers Nachi, Haguro, Myoko and Ashigara and the destroyers Akebono, Inazuma, Yamakaze and Kawakaze on the morning of 1 March 1942. The Second Battle of the Java Sea ensued, now more appropriately called The Battle of Bawean Island, and Exeter was soon badly damaged by gunfire, one hit causing the loss of all power to the ship. Scuttling charges were set and she soon began sinking, initially listing to port only to be hit to starboard by two torpedoes from the destroyer Inazuma which sat her back upright and rolled her to starboard before she finally sank about noon. Her escorting destroyers, HMS Encounter and USS Pope were also lost; Pope temporarily escaped the initial melee, only to be sunk by aerial attack a few hours later. About 800 Allied seamen, including Exeter’s commanding officer, Captain Oliver Gordon, were picked up by the Japanese and became prisoners of war, with 153 of Exeter’s crew dying while in captivity with three more dying after being liberated at war’s end due to their treatment by the Japanese.

The wreck was located and positively identified in February 2007. Exeter lies in Indonesian waters, at a depth of about 200 ft (60 m), 90 miles northwest of Bawean Island – some 60 miles from the sinking position given by her captain.

The Ottoman Fleet

Ottoman fleet anchored at the French port of Toulon in 1543. Miniature by Matrakçı Nasuh who was travelling with the fleet.

The Ottoman Turks transport their fleet overland into the Golden Horn.

In 1453 the Ottoman fleet participated in the historic conquests of Constantinople, Gökçeada, Lemnos and Thasos. The conquest of the Duchy of Athens in Morea was completed between 1458 and 1460, followed by the conquest of the Empire of Trebizond and the Genoese colony of Amasra in 1461, which brought an end to the final vestiges of the Byzantine Empire. In 1462 the Ottoman fleet conquered the Genoese islands of the northern Aegean Sea, including Lesbos. This was followed by the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1463-1479. In the following period the Ottoman fleet gained more territory in the Aegean Sea, and in 1475 set foot on Crimea on the northern shores of the Black Sea. Until 1499 this was followed by further expansion on the Black Sea coasts (such as the conquest of Georgia in 1479) and on the Balkan peninsula (such as the final reconquest of Albania in 1497, and the conquest of Montenegro in 1499). The loss of Venetian forts in Montenegro, near the strategic Castelnuovo, triggered the Ottoman-Venetian War of 1499-1503, during which the Turkish fleet of Kemal Reis defeated the Venetian forces at the Battle of Zonchio (1499) and the Battle of Modon (1500). By 1503 the Ottoman fleet raided the northeastern Adriatic coasts of Italy, and completely captured the Venetian lands on Morea, the Ionian Sea coast and the southeastern Adriatic Sea coast.
According to Katib Celebi a typical Ottoman fleet in the mid-17th century consisted of 46 vessels (40 galleys and 6 maona’s) whose crew was 15,800 men, roughly two-thirds (10,500) were oarsmen, and the remainder (5,300) fighters.
The restored Byzantine Empire was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1453 while the Empire of Trebizond managed to survive until 1461, when it too was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Manuel III (1390–1417), the second son and successor of Alexios III, allied himself with Timur, and benefited from Timur’s defeat of the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Ankara in 1402. His son Alexios IV (1417–1429) married two of his daughters to Jihan Shah, khan of the Kara Koyunlu, and to Ali Beg, khan of the Ak Koyunlu, while his eldest daughter Maria became the third wife of the Byzantine Emperor John VIII Palaiologos. Pero Tafur, who visited the city in 1437, reported that Trebizond had fewer than 4,000 troops.
Alexios IV’s eldest son, John IV (1429–1459), could not help but see that his Empire would soon share the same fate as Constantinople had suffered in 1453. The Ottoman Sultan Murad II first attempted to take the capital by sea in 1442, but high surf made the landings difficult and the attempt was repulsed. While Murad’s son and successor, Mehmed II, was away laying siege to Belgrade in 1456, the Ottoman governor of Amasya attacked Trebizond, and although defeated, took many prisoners and extracted a heavy tribute.
John IV prepared for the eventual assault by forging alliances. He gave his daughter to the son of his brother-in-law, Uzun Hasan, khan of the Ak Koyunlu, in return for his promise to defend Trebizond. He also secured promises of help from the Turkish emirs of Sinope and Karamania, and from the king and princes of Georgia.
After John’s death in 1459, his brother David came to power and misused these alliances. David intrigued with various European powers for help against the Ottomans, speaking of wild schemes that included the conquest of Jerusalem. Mehmed II eventually heard of these intrigues, and was further provoked to action by David’s demand that Mehmed remit the tribute imposed on his brother.
Mehmed’s response came in the summer of 1461. He led a sizeable army from Bursa, first to Sinope, whose emir quickly surrendered, then south across Armenia to neutralize Uzun Hasan. Having isolated Trebizond, Mehmed quickly swept down upon it before the inhabitants knew he was coming, and placed it under siege. The city held out for a month before David surrendered on August 15, 1461. With the fall of Trebizond, the last remnant of the Byzantine Empire, and thus also of the Roman Empire from which the Byzantine Empire sprang, was extinguished.

The Development of Naval Tactics in the 19th Century

It was on this day in 1866 that the naval battle of Lissa was fought, during the Third Italian War of Independence, which was a stunning defeat for the Kingdom of Italy. In the end, the Prussian victory over Austria eventually brought Venice back into the Italian nation but no more, with other formerly Venetian territories remaining under Austrian control. The battle was a loss for a variety of reasons, paramount of which was probably the feuding Italian commanders failing to put personal squabbles aside for the sake of the country and work together but also some faulty naval ordinance. Austrian shells penetrated Italian ships while Italian shells often bounced off the Austrian vessels (many of which included Italian sailors as well). However, despite being a defeat, there were still moments of extreme heroism and sacrifice on the part of the Italian fleet; such as the sailors of the Palestro refusing to abandon ship but staying with their captain and going down fighting. It did not help that the battle was first reported as a victory which only made the eventual news of defeat all the more shocking and terrible. Worse, it was mostly hushed up by the high command whereas it should have been looked at honestly to learn from the mistakes made.

The interval of ninety years between the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 and the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904 was marked by no major naval war. There was fighting at sea, and there were prolonged blockades, but there were no campaigns between large and well-appointed navies. During this period an entire revolution took place in the means of propulsion, armament and construction of ships. Steam was applied to warships, at first as an auxiliary force, in the second quarter of the 19th century. The Crimean War gave a great stimulus to the development of the guns. It also brought about the application of iron to ships as armour-plate. Very soon metal was adopted as the material out of which ships were made. The extended use of shells, by immensely increasing the danger of fire, rendered wood so inflammable that it was too dangerous for employment in a warship. Changes so sweeping as these could not take place without affecting all the established ideas as to propulsion, armament and construction.

Revival of ramming

Steam allowed the ship herself to be used as a projectile. Many thought that the use of the ram would again become common and the sinking of the Re d’Italia by the Austrian ironclad Erzherzog Ferdinand Max at the battle of Lissa in 1866 seemed to give force to this supposition. Accidental collisions such as those between the British warships Vanguard and Iron Duke, Victoria and Camperdown showed how fatal a wound could be given by the ram of a steam warship. But even the sinking of the Re d’Italia was largely an accident, and steam-powered ramming turned out to be impractical.

Between vessels both under full control, a collision was easily avoided where there was space to move. In a mêlée, or pell-mell battle, opportunities would occur for the use of the ram, but the torpedo and the mine soon made it very dangerous for one fleet to rush at another. The torpedo may be said therefore to have excluded the pell-mell battle and the use of the ram except on rare occasions.

Ramming as a tactic also invalidated the former need to concentrate guns on the broadside, which in any case was being made obsolete by the larger guns developed as a consequence of the Industrial Revolution and made necessary by the iron or steel armour now being used. Fewer of the large guns could be carried or mounted, and a wider arc of fire was required to compensate.

Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night

During the last months of the war, Ishii was preparing for a long-distance attack on the United States. This operation, codenamed “Cherry Blossoms at Night”, called for the use of airplanes to spread plague over Southern California at night. The plan was finalized on March 26, 1945. Five of the new I-400-class long-range submarines were to be sent across the Pacific Ocean, each carrying three Aichi M6A Seiran aircraft loaded with plague-infected fleas. The submarines were to surface near San Diego and launch the aircraft towards the target, either to drop the plague via balloon bombs, or to crash in enemy territory. Either way, the plague would then infect people in the area and kill perhaps tens of thousands. The mission was extremely risky for the pilots and submariners, likely a one-way kamikaze mission. A pilot under the command of Ishii, Ishio Kobata, recalled the plan in 1998:

I was told directly by Shiro Ishii of the kamikaze mission “Cherry Blossoms at Night”, which was named by Ishii himself. I was a leader of a squad of seventeen. I understood that the mission was to spread contaminated fleas in the enemy’s base and contaminate them with plague.

The plan was scheduled to begin on September 22, 1945, but was not realized because the Imperial Japanese Navy was committed to defense of the home islands, did not see the mission as practical, and they did not want to risk any of the new I-400-class submarines, of which only three had been built. In any case, the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, made the operation moot.

It was the Japanese during World War II that then developed plague into a biological weapons agent. In Unit 731, the Japanese biological weapons program in Manchuria headed by army officer and physician Shiro Ishii, the flea bomb or Uji-50 was created. The simple design of the bomb was a ceramic container filled with plague-infested fleas and flour. Once the container reached the ground and broke, the flours would attract rats, the fleas would mount the rats, and the rats would spread the disease. The Japanese tested the weapon on Manchurian villages. One witness wrote:

    “I was fifteen years old at the time, and I remember everything clearly. The Japanese plane spread something that looked like smoke. A few days later we found dead rats all over the village. At the same time, people came down with high fevers and aches in the lymph nodes. Every day, people died. Crying could be heard all through the village. My mother and father – in all, eight people in my family – died. I was the only one in my family left.”

Rats infested with plague-carrying fleas were also released by the Japanese. Nobuo Kamaden, a former Unit 731 member, spoke of releasing 500-gram rats with 3,000 plague-carrying fleas into local populations. Chinese prisoners called ‘logs’ were infected with the plague. Autopsies were performed on these prisoners without the benefit of anesthesia and before they had fully died to harvest fresh tissue samples and infected organs. It was reported that Ishii had devised Operation Cherry Blossoms at Night, a plan to send kamikaze bombers loaded with plague to San Diego, California. The operation was scheduled for 22 September 1945. The Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945.


As the end of the war approached In 1945, Unit 731 embarked on its wildest scheme of all. Codenamed Cherry Blossoms at Night, the plan was to use kamikaze pilots to infest California with the plague.

Toshimi Mizobuchi, who was an instructor for new recruits in Unit 731, said the idea was to use 20 of the 500 new troops who arrived in Harbin in July 1945. A submarine was to take a few of them to the seas off Southern California, and then they were to fly in a plane carried on board the submarine and contaminate San Diego with plague-infected fleas. The target date was to be Sept. 22, 1945.

Ishio Obata, 73, who now lives in Ehime prefecture, acknowledged that he had been a chief of the Cherry Blossoms at Night attack force against San Diego, but he declined to discuss details. “It is such a terrible memory that I don’t want to recall it,” he said.

Tadao Ishimaru, also 73, said he had learned only after returning to Japan that he had been a candidate for the strike force against San Diego. “I don’t want to think about Unit 731,” he said in a brief telephone interview. “Fifty years have passed since the war. Please let me remain silent.”
It Is unclear whether Cherry Blossoms at Night ever had a chance of being carried out. Japan did indeed have at least five submarines that carried two or three planes each, their wings folded against the fuselage like a bird.

But a Japanese Navy specialist said the navy would have never allowed Its finest equipment to be used for an army plan like Cherry Blossoms at Night, partly because the highest priority in the summer of 1945 was to defend the main Japanese islands, not to launch attacks on the United States mainland.

If the Cherry Blossoms at Night plan was ever serious, it became irrelevant as Japan prepared to sur-render in early August 1945. In the last days of the war, beginning on Aug. 9, Unit 731 used dynamite to try to destroy all evidence of its germ warfare program, scholars say.

Incredible discovery of boat wreck in Croatia dated to 3,200 years

An example of a sewn boat. Photo credit: World of Boats.
Marine archaeologist and researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in France, Giulia Boetto, has announced the incredible discovery of a boat wreck in Zambratija Cove, Croatia, which has just been dated to 1,200 BC.  The unique and rare finding is a Bronze Age sewn boat, a type of wooden boat which is literally sewn together using ropes, roots, or willow branches.
The boat wreck was first seen by fishermen in 2008, just 600 metres from the beach and only two metres below the surface, however, they believed it to be a fairly recent wreck.  Giulia Boetto, and two of her Croatian colleagues, Ida Koncani from the Archaeological Museum of Istria, and her husband Marko Uhac from the Ministry of Culture, investigated the site and believed the boat to be quite old.  Initial dating led to the surprise discovery that the boat was from pre-Roman times.
The research team returned to the site in 2011 to take further samples and to conduct more rigorous analyses.  Finally, results of radiocarbon dating have revealed that the boat dates to a much earlier period – the 12th century BC.  Ms Boetto described the finding as “an extraordinary discovery [translated]”. She added, “It is extremely rare to find a wreck dating from the Bronze Age [translated]”

Ancient Warship Archaeology Program

The Ancient Warship Archaeology Program (AWAP) was initiated after the discovery of numerous warship rams in the Egadi Islands, Sicily. Together with previous ram discoveries, this increase in the corpus of rams provides a signficant body of evidence for warships studies from an archaeological perspective. Having relied almost solely on literary, iconographic and indirect architectural evidence to date, it is now possible to bring archaeological evidence, direct evidence, to this study. Research objectives include warship construction, ram construction and function, warship tactics, warship deposition. 

Is a bronze warship ram a weapon? The definition of weapon is really quite broad being anything used to cause harm, injury, or damage. Such a definition can include almost anything including a roof tile that killed an invading King Pyrrhus in Greece. More instructive for this discussion is to limit ‘weapons’ to those objects that were purposefully manufactured for use in warfare, and are a composite of several materials. In antiquity weapons can be broken into two main categories: ranged and melee. Ranged weapons are designed to shoot a projectile and inflict harm at a distance from the wielder of the weapon. These type weapons included javelins, bows, catapults, and slings. Melee weapons were used in a manner that the wielder maintained contact with the weapon as it inflicted harm. The most common weapons of this type were swords, spears, axes, daggers, clubs, maces, and hammers. A warship’s ram was part of a larger weapon, the warship, which falls within the broad category of melee weapons. The warship was powered and wielded by individuals who were required to stay with it and directly operate the vessel for it to function. Warships were not propelled forward to travel unmanned with intention to strike another warship, a case where they would be ranged weapons, rather the crew and officers directly propelled and steered them into their intended targets.

In addition to being a component of a weapon, the warship, a bronze ram also served in the capacity of armor. Armor is a covering of material that is designed to offset the penetration or impact force of projectile or melee weapons. Clear examples are the body armor worn by soldiers in antiquity that protected the soldiers’ skin, and in some cases helped to protect the bones. One of the key personal armor elements was the helmet that was typically constructed of bronze or iron and had an intervening padded section with the wearer’s head; this system helped to protect the skull from being easily penetrated or shattered. Not unlike the helmet, or the hilt guard on a sword, the ram had a protection role. As noted, a bronze ram on the bow of a warship helped to project the timbers that most often came into direct contact when delivering the weapon’s blow. Without a protective function as consideration, there is little need for the cowl and bottom plate/tailpiece. The important structural keel and stem timbers required protection as did the intricate scarfs at the bow; damage here could easily render the entire warship unserviceable.