Morbid Fact Du Jour for January 17, 2017

Today’s Infested Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A woman died after being mistaken for a car thief and tied to a tree infested with poisonous ants.

The 52-year-old was rescued by police but died in hospital from breathing problems caused by severe throat swelling after her windpipe was bitten by the insects.

The victim had gone to help her son who had been bound to the tree by angry vigilantes who accused them of trying to steal a car.

Her daughter also received the same punishment but she and her older brother survived and are now recovering from their injuries.

Local reports said the trio were also beaten and burned.

The shocking incident happened on New Year’s Eve (2016) in Caranavi in Bolivia, around 100 miles north east of the capital La Paz.

A radio station published a picture of two of the three people blindfolded and bound to the tree while villagers, including a woman with a child in her arms and a schoolboy kneeling on the ground, looked on from a few feet away.

Worst. Nightmare.

Authorities said preliminary investigations had shown the dead woman and her children, ages 22 and 28, had traveled to the area from La Paz to recover a debt.

The tree they were tied to was a Palo Santo, a mystical tree growing on the coast of South America which is the favorite haunt of colonies of Brazilian fire ants known for their extremely painful bites.

Police chief Gunter Agudo said: “We managed to rescue all three people but one of them, the 52-year-old woman, was in a bad way and had to be taken to hospital.

“She died at 3:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

“Initially the investigation was opened as a probe into an attempted car theft, but now it has been changed to a murder and serious assault investigation.”

Only one person has been arrested so far on suspicion of inciting locals to commit their shocking act, although the authorities have confirmed others took part.

The unnamed suspect was held on January 1 and has been remanded in prison following a court appearance.

Roxana Bustillos, lawyer for the family targeted by the vigilantes, said: “It’s probable that the ants bit the victim’s windpipe, which caused an inflammation and meant she wasn’t able to breathe.”

One local described the trio as criminals who had gone to the area to “make mischief” and said they had picked on poor people who had made huge sacrifices to obtain their own vehicle. But authorities insisted the victims had not done anything wrong.

Roberhtmar Aramayo, who described himself as a nephew of the dead woman, said on the Facebook page of a local radio station: “Damned community Indians of Caranavi. My family is suffering the loss of my beloved aunt.

“I hope the courts clarify what’s happened because they’ve left my cousins orphans.”

Culled from: The Sun
Generously Submitted by: Kelly K.


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

I stumbled across this on the interwebz.  My sincerest apologies to the easily-offended!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for January 16, 2017

Today’s Young Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

James Arcene (ca. 1862 – June 18, 1885) was the youngest person sentenced to death, who was subsequently executed for the crime, in the United States. Arcene, a Cherokee, was hanged by the U.S. federal government in Fort Smith, Arkansas for his role in a robbery and murder committed thirteen years earlier, when he was 10 years old.

He and a Cherokee man named William Parchmeal noticed William Feigel, a Swedish national, making a purchase in a store. They followed him when he left, heading for Fort Gibson, and caught up with him about two miles outside of the fort. With robbery as a motive, they shot Fiegel six times before crushing his skull with a rock. Arcene and Parchmeal then divested Fiegel’s corpse of its boots and money, totaling only 25 cents ($5.00 today).

Arcene was arrested and tried for the robbery and murder of his victim, but escaped and eluded capture until he was apprehended and executed at the age of 23. He and Parchmeal were ultimately brought to justice by Deputy Marshal Andrews, after the case had lain cold for more than ten years. “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker presided over the executions, which were held at Fort Smith.

It is difficult to verify James Arcene’s age with complete certainty because there are few surviving census records for Indian Territory in the 1870s and 1880s. Primary documents confirm that, after he was captured, James Arcene claimed to have been a child in 1872 when the crime was committed. He did not revise that statement when it became clear that that status would not help him in sentencing.

Arcene’s case is frequently brought up in discussions of the death penalty for children, and to a lesser degree in discussions of the unfair treatment Native Americans received from the United States government.

Culled from: Wikipedia


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Speaking of kids, if you must let them play with guns, let them play with Iver Johnson Revolvers!  (Thanks to Eleanor for the pic.)

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 15, 2017

Today’s Urgent Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On July 28, 1945, Lt. Col. William Franklin Smith Jr. flew a B-25 bomber into the 78th floor of the Empire State Building, which was then the tallest building in the world.

It was just before 10:00 on a Saturday morning at the tail end of World War II, and Smith was flying a routine transport mission—giving a handful of servicemen a ride home. He himself was a decorated pilot, fresh from logging 1,000 combat hours in the war, per TIME. He’d earned the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Croix de Guerre as a member of the 457th Bomb Group, where he “hammered at targets in central Germany,” per his obituary in the West Point alumni magazine.

A B-25 Bomber

“When Bill entered the Academy in July of 1938 he stood on the threshold of a brief but brilliant career as a soldier. To look back on that career we wonder if he knew that his time was short,” his obit concludes. “He wanted to do everything in a military manner, but fast and well.”

Wild Bill: Do it fast?  Check!  Do it well?  Maybe not.

That sense of urgency may explain why, 70 years ago today, the 27-year-old pilot ignored an air traffic controller’s warning of low visibility en route from LaGuardia to Newark.

“We’re unable to see the top of the Empire State Building,” the controller told him, according to TIME’s 1945 report. Smith flew anyway.

In the dense fog, he maneuvered through Manhattan at about 225 m.p.h., narrowly missing a skyscraper on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street before he pulled up and banked slightly left—and collided head-on with the Empire State Building.

“The bomber gored through the thick steel and stone of the building as if they were papier-mâché,” TIME reported. “Then, in a flash of flame, the gasoline tanks exploded. In another instant flames leaped and seeped inside & outside the building.”


Smith and his two passengers were killed instantly; 11 people in the building also died. Most of the victims, per TIME, were “women employed by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, which has offices on the 79th floor. Many were burned beyond recognition.”


Some survived against the odds—including a 19-year-old elevator operator, Betty Lou Oliver, who broke her pelvis, back and neck when the plane sliced through the elevator’s cables and she plummeted from the 79th floor to the subbasement. It is believed a fluke of physics saved her life; as the elevator plummeted from the 79th floor, the elevator cables coiled underneath the cab that created a kind of spring that cushioned the fall.

The Rescue of Betty Lou Oliver from the Elevator Shaft

Decades later, it’s hard not to read about this history without thinking of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—but the skyscraper and the plane weren’t the only components these two events shared. The disaster also prompted adrenaline-fueled acts of heroism reminiscent, on a smaller scale, of those that prevailed after 9/11. To free the badly-injured young woman from the basement elevator, first responders battered a hole through the wreckage. One courageous volunteer tunneled through it to reach her. Per TIME:

Donald Malony, 17, a Coast Guard hospital apprentice, squeezed through it, brought her out, gave her morphine. Passing the building at the moment of the crash, he had run into a drug store, talked a clerk into giving him hypodermic needles, drugs, other supplies. He gave first aid to many.

Betty on the Mend

Culled from: Time

In fact, when someone in my office told me on 9/11 that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center, I immediately assumed it was a repeat of this incident.  When they said a SECOND plane had crashed, then I thought, okay, that’s different… 



Broken Doll, Update

It’s been a couple of weeks since I watched the video but I still find myself captivated by the story of Katelyn Nichole Davis, the 12-year-old girl who hung herself on a livestream on December 30th. Well, if you want to be a creepy voyeur like me, a number of the livestreams from the month before her death have become available on You Tube and they reveal just how dysfunctional her home life really was.  Her mother was a drug addict and dealer who was very seldom home and left Katelyn to take care of her kids and all the household chores.  And when her mother was home she was often yelling abusively at Katelyn.  Katelyn seemed to have no friends, no peace (the neglected children screamed constantly), and no privacy (the doors in the trailer were mere curtains).  She livestreamed just to have someone to talk to about her sad life. The scumbag mother is extremely culpable in Katelyn’s death.

For those of you who would like to continue to follow the story, may I recommend the Facebook group Justice for Katelyn Nichole Davis.  The discussions there have helped me to process my own grief and anger about this story. 

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 6, 2017

Today’s Sacrificial Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

By 1944 it had become an accepted method of warfare that Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen were called upon to commit suicide as a measure to destroy Allied equipment and personnel in an attempt to keep the Allies away from the Japanese home islands, together with their spiritual and material resources. The best known of these suicide measures was the kamikaze flying bomb, but there were others that are now less well known, including various forms of self-destruction involved in eliminating Allied tanks.

Japanese Kamikaze Pilot

Perhaps the most extreme of these were the backpack human mines. This weapon was very simple to devise and devastating in use, for it consisted of little more than a canvas backpack loaded with about 9 kg (19.8 lb) of explosive to form a satchel charge. The user worse this charge and concealed himself until an Allied tank approached. He then ran forward to the tank and dived underneath it, at the same time pulling a length of cord that initiated a short delay to ensure the tank would be right over the charge before it exploded, destroying both tank and user. This tactic was hard to counter, for very often the user waited until the tank was really close before making his suicide rush, so protecting infantry had to be very quick to react if they were to prevent the attack. It was also very unnerving for Allied tank crews. A variant on the satchel charge was a Type 93 anti-tank mine on a pole which was simply shoved under a track with dire results for both the track and the user.

A further modification on the suicide theme was encountered in some parts of Burma in 1945. Here there was no deliberate death rush, for the hapless anti-tank troops were concealed in foxholes either in the center of roads or tracks, or at the sides of routes that Allied tanks were expected to use. There they remained until a tank approached and once one was overhead or very close the idea was that it would be destroyed by the man in the foxhole setting off a charge; this might be a simple explosive device, or a form of mine, or sometimes even a small aircraft bomb. The charges were set off manually and deliberately by the suicide candidate, who acted as little more than a human fuse. In practice this ploy did not work too well for the personnel in their foxholes were easily spotted by infantry and were killed before they could use their charges. Accounts exist of Allied personnel surrounding foxholes and their suicidal occupant without the Japanese making any attempts to injure the attackers with their charges, the philosophy appears to have been that such attackers were not tanks and the explosives had to be saved to use against tanks, not infantry. As these suicide anti-tank miners had no weapons other than their explosives, they were killed in their foxholes to no benefit for the Japanese war effort.

Culled from: Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II


Ghastly: Broken Doll Edition

Katelyn Nichole Adams

Perhaps you’ve heard of the 12-year-old girl who live streamed her suicide last week? It’s been a few hours now since I watched the video on You Tube but I still feel numb inside.

Maybe it’s because she was so beautiful and fragile and determined?

Maybe it’s because I’m writing this while sitting in the bedroom in California where I spent countless days plotting my own suicide, staring at the tree that used to have a rope hanging from it that used to imagine placing around my own neck.

Maybe it’s because the mother calling for her daughter reminds me of the time my own mother, clued in to my intentions by my best friend, walked in on me when I was 16 and preparing to overdose on sleeping pills – and guilted me out of it by declaring that her life would be worthless without me.

Maybe it’s because the sound of the cell phone ringing reminds me of awakening in the hospital after my own near-fatal suicide attempt and seeing my mother’s gentle face staring down at me, reminding me that I was never alone, even though I felt that I was.

Maybe because the sight of that body gently swinging from the tree as the sun goes down reminds me of the many dark nights I spent alone in my rural countryside surrounded by coyotes yiping, owls hooting, and a vast emptiness.

I just feel overwhelming sadness and empathy for Katelyn.

I wish I could have helped her get through those awful, unforgiving years.

I wish her mother could have stopped her before it was too late, like my mother did, and get her the help that she needed.

I wish that someone watching that video would have sent help.

I wish we lived in a better world, a world that doesn’t make 12 year olds want to desperately escape it.

I wish she hadn’t killed herself that way – a slow hanging death – one of the most excruciating ways to die, her arms jerking, probably wanting to reach up for the noose, but unable to do so

But above all, I wish her peace.

And I hope that her brave act – and yes, though you may disagree, it IS brave to kick that bucket away – brings greater attention to other depressed kids, so that they might get the help they need before it’s too late.

Here’s an article about Katelyn that gives some of the background of her troubled young life as detailed in her Diary of a Broken Doll.
Why Did 12-Year-Old Katelyn Nichole Adams Hang Herself on a Livestream? 

(I won’t host the video of Katelyn’s death, but here’s a link on You Tube if you want to watch it. It may not be there for long but I’m sure you’ll be able to find it somewhere online.)

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 5, 2017

Today’s Onrushing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and code-named Operation Watchtower, originally applying only to an operation to take the island of Tulagi, by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater of World War II. It was the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan.  The Americans caught the Japanese off-guard and were able to capture an airfield (named Henderson Field by the Americans) that the Japanese were building on the island.  The airfield soon became the focus of months of fighting during the Guadalcanal Campaign, as it enabled U.S. airpower to hinder the Japanese attempts at resupplying their troops. The Japanese made several attempts to retake Henderson Field, resulting in continuous, almost daily air battles.

The following is a continuation of the tale of Japanese flying ace Saburo Sakai whose plane was struck by an American Dauntless plane during the first Japanese attempt to retake Henderson Field on August 7, 1942.

Saburo Sakai regained consciousness just as his plane was about to crash into the water and, although still blind from blood, he managed to right the Zero by sheer instinct. But his whole left side seemed to be paralyzed. Tears washed away enough blood for him to see his instruments dimly, but his situation seemed hopeless. It was more than five hundred miles to Rabaul. His cockpit cover was gone, the plane was surely seriously damaged and he was in need of immediate medical attention. Somehow he managed to work his silk flier’s scarf up and under his helmet to help staunch the flow of blood and to position a seat cushion as a windbreak.

Slouched as low as possible to avoid the onrushing wind, and unable to see where he was going, Sakai now found himself fighting the desire to sleep. time and again he dozed off, starting awake to find himself flying upside down or almost crashing into the waves. He tried hitting himself on his wounded cheek, hoping the pain would help him maintain consciousness, but this only caused his face to bloat out, as if a rubber ball were growing inside his mouth. “If I must die,” he began to say to himself, “at least I will go out as a Samurai.” More than once he turned back toward Guadalcanal to look for an enemy ship to crash into, then changed his mind and reversed course for Rabaul. But each backtrack wasted precious fuel, making his safe return more and more unlikely. At one point he came out of his stupor to realize that for some time he had been flying north into the empty Pacific. Finally, with the increasing pain from his head wound now keeping him awake, he regained his bearings and headed once and for all for Rabaul, flying at minimum speed to conserve fuel.

A Mitsubishi Zero in Flight

After what seemed like many hours, Sakai spotted the familiar volcanic peaks of New Britain, but the direct route over its mountainous interior seemed too perilous, so he decided to skirt the coast, following St. George’s Channel between Rabaul and New Ireland. As he entered the channel he glanced below him to see the white wakes of two cruisers heading rapidly southeast. He hoped they were headed for Guadalcanal.

A few minutes later, the airfield at Rabaul was at last in his sights, but he and his plane were both near their limits. He circled, debating whether to ditch in the water just off the beach. The thought of a bone-jolting crash into the water was too much to bear, so he determined to attempt a landing. His first try almost ended in disaster when he missed the runway and nearly crashed into the parked fighters. Pulling up, he circled four times and then went in for another try. His fuel gauge read empty, but he was taking no chances of an engine fire on crash landing. When he cleared the palms at the edge of the runway he switched off the ignition with a kick of his right boot (his left leg was still useless). A few seconds later the plane hit the ground with a jolting thud and rolled to a halt in front of the command post. As his mind let go and he fell into blackness he heard shouts of “Sakai! Sakai!’

“I cursed to myself,” he later recalled. “Why didn’t they keep quiet? I wanted to sleep.”

The Wounded Sakai

Culled from: The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal

More details from Wikipedia:  Sakai was struck in the head by a 7.62 mm (0.3 in) bullet, blinding him in the right eye and paralyzing the left side of his body.After landing, he insisted on making his mission report to his superior officer before collapsing. His squadron mate Hiroyoshi Nishizawa drove him to a surgeon. Sakai was evacuated to Japan on 12 August, where he endured a long surgery without anesthesia. The surgery repaired some of the damage to his head, but was unable to restore full vision to his right eye. Nishizawa visited Sakai while he recuperated in the Yokosuka hospital in Japan.

He eventually returned to combat but after the war he became a devout Buddhist and vowed to never again kill a living thing, not even a mosquito.  He later visited the U.S. and met and embraced several of his former adversaries, including Harold “Lew” Jones, the tail-gunner who had wounded him.

Saburo Sakai and Lew Jones in 1982

One of Sakai’s Zero planes is on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.  (More info on the plane here.)

And the helmet he was wearing when wounded is on display at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas:

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 4, 2017


Today’s Attacking Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The Guadalcanal Campaign, also known as the Battle of Guadalcanal and code-named Operation Watchtower, originally applying only to an operation to take the island of Tulagi, by Allied forces, was a military campaign fought between August 7, 1942 and February 9, 1943 on and around the island of Guadalcanal in the Pacific theater of World War II. It was the first major offensive by Allied forces against the Empire of Japan.  The Americans caught the Japanese off-guard and were able to capture an airfield (named Henderson Field by the Americans) that the Japanese were building on the island.  The airfield soon became the focus of months of fighting during the Guadalcanal Campaign, as it enabled U.S. airpower to hinder the Japanese attempts at resupplying their troops. The Japanese made several attempts to retake Henderson Field, resulting in continuous, almost daily air battles.

The following is a description of an air battle between Japanese ace Saburo Sakai and American pilot Pug Southerland in the first Japanese attempt to retake Henderson Field on August 7, 1942.

Saburo Sakai and the rest of the airplane attacking force were about fifty miles from Guadalcanal when he saw flashes of yellow flame piercing the tropical blue sky. Apparently the advance wave of attackers was already receiving a warm welcome. As he drew closer he looked down on the vast enemy fleet – more warships and transports than he had ever before seen together – and all of them showing white wakes, which meant they were already on the move, the standard tactic to make themselves more difficult targets. As the bombers entered a slow turn to prepare for their attack run, Sakai in his Zero fighter plane caught his first glimpse of the enemy fighter plane he would soon come to know well – the Grumman F4F, or Wildcat. Eight of them, in fact, painted blue-gray above and light gray below and looking chubby and awkward, fell on the bombers. As Sakai and the other fighter pilots roared to their defense, more Wildcats joined the fray, and soon several Bettys (the American nickname for the Japanese bombers) were in flames. Rattled, the bomber pilots released their payloads while still four miles up, targeting the ships just southeast of Savo Island. Not one scored a hit.

Japanese Flying Ace Saburo Sakai

While the Japanese bombers turned for home, the Zeros and Wildcats engaged in a series of acrobatic dogfights in which the Zero proved its superior maneuverability and the Wildcat its stubborn sturdiness. Sakai shortly spotted one Wildcat that appeared to be pursuing three Zeros (in fact the Wildcat pilot, whose plan was damaged, was simply trying to stay airborne until he could bail out over friendly territory.) He dove to the attack, firing a desperate burst. The Wildcat rolled away, turned tightly and then climbed under Sakai. (This was Sakai’s own favorite tactic – an attack from below – and he admired the American’s flying skill.)  There ensued a deadly aerial duet of lightning turns, sudden shifts in throttle and bone-crashing spirals until Sakai’s adversary seemed to give up the fight, flying level and making no attempt to evade further attack. The Japanese ace pumped round after round into the cockpit, yet amazingly the enemy pilot kept flying.

An American Wildcat chases a Japanese Zero

As Sakai closed in for the final kill, there occurred one of those moments when, in the heat of battle, the enemy suddenly becomes human. The Wildcat’s cockpit canopy had been blasted back and, as the two planes flew side by side, Sakai opened his cockpit window and stared at a big older man with a round face wearing a light khaki uniform. There was bloodstain on his right shoulder and another on his chest. Sakai himself later recalled what happened next: ‘But this was no way to kill a man! Not with him flying helplessly, his plane a wreck. I raised my left hand and shook my fist at him, shouting, uselessly, I knew, for him to fight instead of just flying along like a clay pigeon. The American looked startled; he raised his right hand and weakly waved.”

But then, as the American somehow pulled his plane into an upward loop, Sakai’s fighting instincts returned. One carefully aimed burst from his cannon and the Gramman’s engine exploded into smoke and flame. Then the plane rolled and the pilot bailed out. When the American’s parachute snapped open, Sakai could see that the man’s body hung lifelessly.

Sakai’s adversary in this extraordinary episode was Lieutenant James J. “Pug” Southerland from the Saratoga. Miraculously, he lived to tell the tale and fight again. Many of his comrades were not so lucky. Half of the eighteen Wildcats that engaged the enemy were lost. But the Japanese suffered more heavily, losing nine Vals, as well as five Bettys and two Zeros. In return they scored only one hit, on destroyer Mugford, whose afterdeck house and two stern 5-inch guns were destroyed.

Pug Southerland

Meanwhile Sakai’s own luck had run out. Mistaking a flight of Dauntless dive bombers for more Wildcats, he and another Zero attacked from the rear and below. Too late, he realized his mistake. The Dauntless with its rear machine gunner was much tougher game. Suddenly he was enveloped by enemy fire. The hit, when it came, felt as though someone had thrust a knife into each ear. The world suddenly turned red. Then he went blind.

[To be continued]

Culled from: The Lost Ships of Guadalcanal

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 3, 2017

Today’s Pushy Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Germany in November 1923 was in chaos. The inflation that had been growing steadily since the Great War was completely out of control. In Berlin, a single loaf of bead cost 201,000 million marks. The streets of Germany’s cities were thronged with unemployed workers, and hitherto prosperous middle class people were suddenly made paupers as money lost nearly all value. Throughout the country extremists of right and left were calling for the overthrow of the central German government in Berlin and for a new revolutionary government in its place.

On the evening of November 8, an unusually large and influential crowd filled Munich’s largest beer hall, the Bürgerbräukeller (‘Citizen’s Beer Hall’). It included the commander of the army in Bavaria, General Otto von Lossow, and the state’s police chief, Colonel Hans von Seisser. They had gathered to hear a speech by the right-wing head of Bavaria’s state government, Gustav von Kahr, on the moral justification for dictatorship. Lossow, Seisser and Kahr were the state’s most powerful men. Also present was Adolf Hitler, leader of the National Socialist or Nazi party, one of the many far-right political groups that had sprung up in post-war Bavaria.

Entrance to the Bürgerbräukeller 

Suddenly, at 8:30 pm, shortly after Kahr had begun his speech, one of Hitler’s lieutenants, Herman Göring, burst into the hall. He was followed by 25 armed, brown-shirted supporters – members of the Nazis’ stormtrooper force, the Sturmabteilungen or SA. Hitler jumped onto a chair and fired a shot at the ceiling. ‘The national revolution has begun,’ he shouted. ‘This hall is occupied by 600 heavily armed men. No one may leave the hall.’ He then forced Kahr, Lossow and Seisser into another room.

Bigmouth Strikes Again

For several months Hitler had been calling on Kahr and his colleagues to support him in overthrowing Germany’s republican government. He now informed the three men that he and his ally, the Great War veteran General Erich Ludendorff, had already formed a new German government, with Hitler as dictator. Influenced by Mussolini’s march on Rome the year before, he demanded support for a similar march on Berlin and in installing the new regime.

The Munich, or ‘Beer Hall,’ Putsch was soon over. Hitler’s three captives agreed to back him, but once released alerted Berlin. The next day Hitler, Ludendorff and a column of supporters marched through Munich. At the Feldherrnhalle war memorial in the center, they encountered a police cordon. A shot was fired (nobody knows by whom) starting a shoot-out which left three police officers and 16 Nazis dead.

Heinrich Himmler, holding a flag, with a group of Nazi storm troopers during the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich.

One police shot very nearly changed the course of history. A demonstrator marching arm in arm with Hitler was mortally wounded, dislocating Hitler’s shoulder as he fell. Ludendorff, like the general he was, marched proudly on. But he was alone. Hitler picked himself up and fled, only to be arrested three days later.  He was given the minimum sentence of five years’ imprisonment, yet was released after nine months. Hitler used the time profitably, dictating the first chapters of his political testament Mein Kampf to the ever- faithful Rudolph Hess.

Culled from: The World At Arms: The Reader’s Digest Illustrated History of World War II

The Morbid Sightseers among us will be saddened to learn that the Bürgerbräukeller survived a bombing (attempted assassination of Hitler) and the war only to be demolished in 1979.


Traces of Evil

Traces of Evil is an invaluable resource for Morbid Sightseers.  It is a collection of sites of Nazi infamy put together by a history instructor. Fascinating stuff.

Traces of Evil: Remaining Nazi Sites in Europe

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 2, 2017

Today’s Destructive Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The earthquake centered on Hausien in the Shensi (or Shaanxi) province of China on the night of January 23, 1556 is thought to be the worst natural disaster in recorded history in terms of lives lost. Estimated to be of a magnitude 8.0 to 8.3 on the Richter scale, it devastated ninety-eight counties and eight provinces of Central China.

The destruction spanned an area of five hundred square miles, and in some counties the average death toll was sixty percent of the population. A total of 830,000 people lost their lives according to imperial records. This was because many lived in poorly constructed houses whose roofs collapsed or artificial caves dug in cliffs in the plateau of the loess, or soft clay, formed over millions of years by silt blown there from the Gobi Desert 200 miles to the northwest.

Examples of the Shaanxi cave dwellings

The earthquake also struck at night when most people were indoors, ensuring a higher death toll. Survivors of the initial quakes also found themselves victims of subsequent fires, landslides and floods caused, in part, by the quake. The tremor was so big that people felt it in over half of China.

Culled from: 100 Catastrophic Disasters


Morbid Trinket Du Jour!

I went wine tasting at the Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi a few days ago and tried their “Old Ghost” wine. While the wine itself was quite nice, I was most taken by the pourer – and I’m sure you can see why!  I think I need this in my life!

Available from Menagerie.  Check out their other pourers too!

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 1, 2017

Today’s Surprising Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Territory, on the morning of December 7, 1941. The biggest loss for the U.S. Navy was the battleship Arizona which was a total loss with 1,177 dead. Miraculously, several hundred men did survive on Arizona. Carl Carson was out on deck on that beautiful Sunday morning, when all hell broke loose.  “I was out on deck doing the morning chores… and I was working on Admiral Kidd’s hatch, shining brightwork and so forth. And all of a sudden this plane came along, but I didn’t pay much attention to it, because planes were landing at Ford Island all the time. But this was different. The chips started flying all around me, and I realized that this same plane was strafing me.

The newly-built U.S.S. Arizona in New York City, circa 1916.

“When they flew between the ship and Ford Island, I could look up and see the meatball on the wings [ie. the Japanese rising sun] and I could see the pilot sitting up there. Now somebody hollered to get under cover. So I ran forward and tried to get under cover. The officer on deck, one of my division officers, ordered me back out to close the hatches. So I was out there closing the hatches when another plane came around about the same direction and strafed us. But I don’t think anybody that was out there working at the time got hit.

“Then I went forward and inside the ship and started back to my battle station. At that point a bomb went off. I learned later it was back about turret No. 4, about where I’d been working only ten, fifteen minutes before. Evidently it knocked me out, ruptured both my lungs, and I suffered smoke inhalation. All the lights went out, and I don’t know how long I laid there.  But when I woke up I picked up a flashlight, which I guess had fallen out of somebody’s hand. And so again, I started down into my battle station. But at this point they wouldn’t let me in the door, the watertight door you’re not supposed to open in battle conditions. But I managed to wait for what seemed like it was about 30 minutes. And I finally outlasted the guy on the other side.

“When I got into the turret it was totally dark except for my flashlight. And one of my division officers, Ensign J. B. Fields said, ‘You’re a good boy, Carson.’ And he said that’s exactly what we needed. Strangely, there was no panic down there or anything, despite the smoke and water knee deep. And a bosun’s mate by the name of Tucker took the flashlight and ordered me up on the ladder to open the hatch into the upper handling room.

“But now I started to feel pretty sick, so they had a guy come up to hold me, to keep me from falling off the ladder until I got the hatch open. And then we all made it out of the lower handling room into the upper. We’d only been up there about ten minutes when Ensign Miller, the senior division officer, stuck his head through the escape hatch in the rear of the turret and told us to all come out on deck and help fight fires. But there was nothing we could do. The ship was a total loss. So Commander Fuqua and Ensign Miller both said we might as well abandon ship.

The Arizona Burns

“Before I did, I ran into a friend of mine who was crying and asking me for help. I looked at him in horror. The skin on his face and his arms and everywhere else was just hanging like a mask. And I took hold of his arm. His skin all came off in my hand. And there was just nothing in this world I could do for that boy. That has bothered me all my life. Of course he died. He died later.

“Now they gave the word to abandon ship, and because the ship was sinking so low we practically stepped off the quarterdeck into the water. I was planning to swim over to Ford Island, but I’d forgotten how badly I’d been injured, in my lungs. So I swam out there about ten feet and I guess I must have passed out. I went down in the water, and everything was just as peaceful and nice that it would have been so easy to just let go. But I saw this bright light you hear about, and something made me come to. So I got back up to the surface of the water only to find oil all around, oil in my eyes and my teeth, just as fire was burning across the water toward me. I got back to the quay. Miraculously a man saw me down there just as the fire was approaching me. It wasn’t more than two feet away from me, and this man reached down and pulled me up out of the water. This man saved my life. I think he was a man from the Fourth Division. About now a motor launch came along, and I either jumped or fell into the motor launch, because they said they couldn’t stop on account of the fire. And they took me over to Ford Island.

“At Ford Island, I walked down to the barracks with the rest of the crew. About the time I got down there I must have passed out again, because my friends and shipmates took me over to the sick bay at Ford Island. They laid me alongside the bulkhead. While I was unconscious there a dud Japanese shell hit right in the center of the sick bay. The impact brought me to and I looked over. Another of my shipmates was laying across from me, and I realized he was holding his intestines in with his hands. And he looked up at me and said, “War sure is hell isn’t it, shipmate?’ And I said, ‘Yeah it is.’ Then I discovered I wasn’t bleeding anywhere, so I got up and walked out of there.”

As the awful morning wore on, Arizona turned out to be the most disastrous loss. Her fires, explosions, and sinking killed 1,103 officers and men out of her total crew of 1,400 and the total death toll eventually reached 1,177. The casualties on Arizona accounted for more than half of the 2,403 deaths suffered by the U.S. at Pearl Harbor that day.

Burned out wreck of the Arizona

Culled from: Graveyards of the Pacific


Morbid Sightseeing in the Pacific!

Of course, the only reason I really want to go to Hawaii is to visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial where you can view the rusting remains of the ship as it lies in the harbor.  You too?

The U.S.S. Arizona Memorial