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Celebrity Cutthroats

“CUTTHROAT BUSINESS” in the March/ April issue prompts me to wonder if the miscellaneous “uniforms” and lack of rank insignia worn by the Alaska Scouts was the remote ancestor of the later Delta Force practice of the same character.

Also, the photo on page 52 seems to show a badly deconstructed human body lying in the foreground. What’s the story here?



Military personnel who must operate outside of the ranks have been eschewing uniforms and insignia since ancient times, for various practicality reasons. Delta Force’s covert operations often require concealed identities, whereas the Alaska Scouts were primarily concerned with survival.

As for the figure in the foreground, the original image caption explains: “Alaska Scouts on a successful moose hunt.”

Meeting Audie in Hell

IN 1954 I WAS A SOPHOMORE in high school in Yakima, Washington. My drama club visited the set of To Hell and Back, which was filming the battle scenes at the Yakima Firing Center. Some of the troops were dressed as German soldiers, apparently wearing World War I helmets—a March/April “Challenge” answer. But I was more interested in Audie Murphy than the helmets. Murphy, his wife, and child were there when we visited and were very friendly to us. Thanks for bringing back an old memory!



A Respectable Enemy

WHAT WAS THE POINT of “The German View of Patton” in your March/ April issue? Was it that Germans had differing views of Patton’s—and by extension the Third Army’s—worth? Not exactly a scoop. Yet we know that some Germans from general to private did respect him. Why else would Germans captured in Lorraine and along the Rhine insist that they were surrendering to the Third Army and not to “lesser” formations?



“THE GERMAN VIEW of Patton”is a very informative article. However, it is necessary to emphasize that the low esteem the Germans had for Patton at the beginning coincided with the complementary nature of the operations he carried out with the U.S. Seventh Army, within the larger strategy led by Montgomery after El Alamein. With the assignment of an important mission that enabled him to break the German line in Normandy and the race to Germany, Patton became more noted by the German generals, who in a certain way began to see him as a “colleague” of the panzer weapon and fear him as a respectable enemy.



Power to the Philippines

IN STEVEN TRENT SMITH’S March/ April article “Moving Target” there is a list of people involved in trying to escape from the island of Panay. Among the miners was a man named Claude Fertig. Since Fertig is uncommon, I wondered if he was related to Colonel Wendell W. Fertig, the guerrilla leader on Mindanao who eventually commanded a force of 33,000.



Claude Fertig was the brother of Wendell, a former mining engineer and reserve army officer who escaped to the Philippine jungle when the Japanese invaded. The guerrilla force he commanded ambushed the Japanese and provided intelligence to MacArthur’s staff in Australia, and Wendell Fertig helped guide American forces onto the islands when they returned to liberate the country in 1944.

Shore Leave?

IN “U-BOATS, RUM, and Refugees” in the March/April issue, there is a statement that on occasion U-boat crews came ashore to party at a nightclub in Kingston, Jamaica. Is there any evidence or documentation to back up this outlandish claim?



The story, from one of the author’s sources, is reminiscent of others featuring U-boat crews visiting the U.S. to catch a movie or buy groceries. In this case, a U-boat near the Panama Canal is rumored to have had a Jamaican nightclub ticket on board. But no such story has ever been confirmed.

Less than Zero

“WEAPONS MANUAL” in the March/ April issue aroused a pet peeve of mine. I would like to dispel once and for all with the myth of the Zero fighter! It was a fantastic airplane, but a terrible warplane.

One point that doesn’t get a lot of attention is how small the control surfaces were for the wing loading. This was done to cut weight, but the effect was to make it difficult to move the controls at 290 mph and virtually impossible at 350 mph. In a dive at 350-plus mph you couldn’t pull out even if you were the Hulk. When every Allied fighter of the time could pull out of a dive at 450-plus mph, this was a major weakness.



Hitler Through the Looking Glass

THE PHOTO OF HITLER on page 56 of the March/April issue is reversed! I visited Landsberg Prison in 1997 and had my photo taken while standing in the exact spot where Hitler stood, using that picture for reference.

Besides, Hitler’s hair is parted on the left side rather than the right!




A letter from Kingsley R. Woodhead was incorrectly transcribed; he visited 12 ports between Gothenburg and Gibralter.


Originally published in the August 2012 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.