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WWII Dispatches, September 2009

By Justin Ewers 
Originally published by World War II magazine. Published Online: July 07, 2009 
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  • Better late than never. Japan's ambassador to the United States personally apologized this summer to the 73 remaining American survivors of the Bataan Death March, the forced march that killed some 11,000 prisoners of war after the fall of the Philippines. "We extend a heartfelt apology for our country having caused tremendous damage and suffering to many people, including prisoners of war," Ichiro Fujisaki said at the final gathering of the remaining members of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. Fujisaki's remarks drew a standing ovation from the crowd.
  • Americans may have had more to do with winning the Battle of Britain than previously thought. In a recent article in Invention and Technology, science writer Tim Palucka asserts that the Royal Air Force was aided in holding off the Luftwaffe in 1940 by a high-octane gasoline supplied by the American Sun Oil Company, which arrived just in time for the battle. The 100-octane fuel, which increased the Spitfire's speed by 25 mph at sea level and 34 mph at 10,000 feet—enough to give it a decided advantage over German fighters of the time—was made in the United States. The Spitfire "is an icon, so we approach this with trepidation," a Royal Society of Chemistry spokesman said. "But the possibility should be aired."

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