Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:29 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Paul Cadogan,

thanks for your precious input Paul, ... as usual some value add from your side, ... :wink:

No, I do not underestimate the blast effect, ... but I think we need really to realize a bit better what happened during those 4 minutes and 30 seconds main guns engagement.

It is not so important for me where the truth will be, ... what counts is that we will try to find it with an open mind.

At this point, assuming that some of the reports are correct about Warspite firing only to Fiume and Barham at the end firing to the destroyer Alfieri, ... what I think needs to be better understood is what happened between the Valiant targeting the Fiume and after the Zara ... and the Barham at first targeting the Zara ... to switch target to the Alfieri after some time ... as it seems have occurred.

We need to realize the whole target initial selection/assignment by Adm Cunningham ... and the real reasons for the target exchange if it really occurred ... as it seems.

All this in my opinion needs to be better understood, .... from the British side ... because from the Italian side we can only read what they realized as effect ... but surely not the real reasons of this to have happened, ... if it happened.

Every additional input and/or suggestion is welcome ...

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby paulcadogan » Wed Aug 05, 2015 4:22 am

Hi Antonio,

According to Roskill's "HMS Warspite", she did shift target:

Here are the entries in Warspite's report for these dramatic minutes:

10.25.30 Sighted three cruisers and two destroyers 10 degrees on starboard bow. [Actually two cruisers and four destroyers]

10.26.30 Altered course to 280 degrees to open "A arcs" on port side.

10.26.40 Alarm Port. [The targets were then fine on the port bow.]

10.27.12 Searchlights "Target." [Trained on the enemy and ready.]

10.27.15 15-inch guns "Target."

10.27.25 Starshell guns "Target."

10.27.30 6-inch guns "Target."

10.27.45 Greyhound illuminates with searchlight.

10.27.55 Open fire.

10.28.00 First 15-inch broadside. Range 2,900 yards. Six guns fired, five or six hits. The enemy burst into vivid flame from just abaft the bridge to the after turret.

10.28.10 First 6-inch salvo.

10.28.40 Second 15-inch broadside, eight guns, mostly hit. The ship now a mass of fire.

10.28.50 Shift one ship left.

10.29.18 Third 15-inch broadside at new target. Range 3,500 yards. Mostly hit. The ship burst into flames.

Enemy destroyers were then engaged by Warspite's main and secondary armaments. In all she fired forty rounds of 15-inch armour piercing shell and forty-four rounds of 6-inch high explosive.


Not sure if it makes sense that she was firing AP at cruisers and destroyers. Maybe SAP? But still, according to this, Warspite only fired 3 broadsides at the Zara and Fiume.
Qui invidet minor est - He who envies is the lesser man

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Antonio Bonomi
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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Wed Aug 05, 2015 5:55 am

Hello everybody,

@ Paul Cadogan,

many thanks for this account Paul ... :clap: :clap: :clap:

We are getting close to what I would like to re-construct about this engagement.

Now we need to have similar precise information about the Valiant and the Barham.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby paulcadogan » Wed Aug 05, 2015 6:47 pm

You're very welcome Antonio.

Here is another quote from Roskill's book that may be helpful (or may confuse things further??):

There is actually some controversy over which ship fired at which target during those hectic minutes. Admiral Cunningham and others who were with him are certain that Warspite fired first at the leading ship, then shifted to the second one, leaving her first target to the Valiant; but Captain Fisher remains convinced that he engaged the targets in reverse order. It does not much matter. Both were quickly demolished....


So Cunningham thought Warspite fired first at Zara then shifted to Fiume, while Fisher said it was the other way around. The report I quoted above supports Fisher and given that the opposing forces were on reciprocal courses, it seems more logical.
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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Wed Aug 05, 2015 7:31 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Paul Cadogan,

thanks again for another very important input ... :clap:

If confirmed on the official reports, ... I think that one key evaluation element is this one :

10.25.30 - Sighted three cruisers and two destroyers 10 degrees on starboard bow. [ Actually two cruisers and four destroyers ]


Just as correctly reported they were two cruisers and four destroyers : The heavy cruisers Zara and Fiume, followed by the 4 destroyers Alfieri, Gioberti, Carducci and Oriani in line.

Now we need to know the orders given by Adm Cunningham as far as target to Warspite, Valiant and Barham.

It seems they initially failed the identification, so the initial order should have covered 3 targets ( cruisers ) and not only 2.

But it seems that both Warspite and Valiant opened fire to Fiume ( the second cruiser ) and Barham opened to Zara ( the first cruiser ) while nobody fired at the 3rd ship in the line ( assumed to be a cruiser too ... even if it was the destroyer Alfieri )

Than apparently we have the order from Adm Cunningham :

10.28.50 - Shift one ship left.


It seems that Valiant did it correctly switching target and firing to Zara ( so changing one ship to the left, from the Fiume to the Zara ), ... while we do not know what did the Warspite.

We seems to have realized what Barham did, ... switching from the first ship, ... the cruiser Zara ... to the third on the line, ... so to the destroyer Alfieri.

A lot to be still realized ... and clarified here ... :think:

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

A Raven

Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby A Raven » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:45 pm

My message of August 3rd, at 10.03pm.

Would anybody who has read the Official Italian account, please explain what the Italian ships were firing at, long after the battle had ceased. If I am unable to receive a good and referenced answer, I will be forced to come to a certain negative conclusion.
Thank you.

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby wadinga » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:54 pm

Hello All,

This is from the appendices in S W C Pack’s Night Action Off Cape Matapan Ian Allan books 1972. I do not have scanning and posting capability.

It would appear to be extracted from official records, but is incomplete, although only the most paranoid/imaginative would think it had been redacted to hide some British “secrets”.

Pack’s account makes it clear, that Barham at least was targeting the stopped Pola when the new targets on nearly reciprocal course with rapid change of bearing and range were identified, coming from a “totally unexpected direction”.

Warspite First broadside 2900 yds at Fiume 6 Guns bearing 232 degrees
second 3000 yds Fiume 8 guns unknown
third 3500yds Zara 8 guns 186[?]
fourth no range Zara unknown, unknown
fifth no range, Zara,unknown, unknown
sixth no range,Zara,unknown, unknown
seventh 2500yds, Gioberti, unknown, unknown
40 APC rounds in total, Y turret did not bear on first broadside

Valiant First broadside 4000 yds at Fiume 4 guns bearing 230
second 3825yds Zara 7, unknown
third 3675yds Zara, 7, unknown
fourth 3325yds Zara 8, unknown
fifth 3225yds, Zara 6, unknown
sixth 3475yds Zara 7, unknown
39 APC rounds in total [Pack says Y turret only bore on 4th broadside but if so how were 7 guns in second and third possible?]

Barham First broadside 3100yds Alfieri unknown, port bow
second unknown, Zara, unknown, port bow
third unknown, Zara, unknown, port bow
fourth unknown,Zara, unknown, port bow
fifth unknown, Zara, unknown, port bow
sixth unknown, Zara, unknown, port bow
21 rounds APC. In no broadside was Barham able to fire all guns as some of the guns were masked or too close to the superstructure.

We have to remember the British misidentified the leading ship as a small cruiser initially and subsequently incorrectly as Alfieri. Assuming Barham fired first at the extreme left hand target, it was Zara. As Zara was hit immediately upon illumination, Barham’s first broadside probably hit. Identifying her second target as “Zara” probably means she had shifted one target to the right i.e. Fiume.
During the action the British did not know which ship they were firing at, since their targets did not have illuminated signs on them. The named identities were added afterwards. Incorrectly.

It is often assumed that X and Y turrets would have the same firing arcs, but it is clear that liberties were taken to allow X turret to fire closer to the bow than Y in some ships. The additional blast damage to personnel and fittings e.g. searchlights was obviously deemed acceptable. The recorded ranges are probably immaterial since trajectories were virtually flat. Cunningham was expecting to meet Vittorio Veneto so all ships loaded for bear with APC. Hits on Alfieri probably went straight through without exploding.

These incomplete and confusing records are exactly what one might expect in such an action. Since Warspite fired at Havock it is no surprise if the Italians shot at each other as well. Antonio's criteria of precision so as to be able apportion retrospective blame and identify any "shameful" behaviour by British Officers are obviously unachievable.

All the best
wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:49 am

Hello everybody,

@ Wadinga,

First of all many thanks for providing additional precious inputs, so we are all able to realize which information are available and from which source … :clap: :clap: :clap:

The “ shameful “ behavior during some events is easy to be found on official documents, … on Glorious and Denmark Strait, … it is enough to have the intention to find the truth, … and you perfectly know what I mean.

Who failed already more than one time, … is very likely to have failed some other times on the same “ shameful “ way.
Anyway, lets move on Cape Matapan battle.

Now we have some more inputs and while we need to double check them versus the official recods, … what we miss are the order sequence from Adm Cunningham to the warship Commanders before, and during the action until the disengagement.

This will be “ key “ to realize more precisely to which enemy ship ( position ) they fired at first and how the targets has been changed during the broadsides.

We know the 3 ships in line were : Zara, Fiume and Alfieri.

I think we have to verify if, at open fire, Adm Cunningham was still thinking to have a light cruiser ahead of the 2 heavy cruisers of the Zara class.

Than we can associate the firing to the correct warship.

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

A Raven

Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby A Raven » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:02 pm

Has any Italian person who has posted messages on this board, ACTUALLY READ the official Italian report/s on the Battle of Matapan?
A simple yes or no will suffice.
Thank you.

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sat Aug 08, 2015 7:50 am

Hello everybody,

a very good Fiume account :

http://conlapelleappesaaunchiodo.blogsp ... fiume.html

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

A Raven

Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby A Raven » Sat Aug 08, 2015 9:36 am

Mr Bonomi, unfortunately has NOT posted the official account of the battle from the Italian archives.
Mr Bonomi has NOT read the OFFICIAL Italian account.
His failure to be able to answer a simple direct question shows most plainly.
The tide has receded, letting us see who is wearing bathing trunks, Mr Bonomi is not one of them.

The trouble with his cooked up excuses, is that they are half baked.

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Sun Aug 09, 2015 8:38 am

Hello everybody,

@ Wadinga,

now it is interesting to realize the bearings and the enemy target associations :

Cape_Matapan_02.jpg
Cape_Matapan_02.jpg (69.37 KiB) Viewed 895 times


In is too easy to realize that if the above bearings are coming from the official account, ... Warspite and Valiant cannot have been firing to the same target, ... the Fiume ... given their in line positions one after the other, with Valiant following the Warspite, ... and with respective open fire bearings 232°( Warspite ) and 230° ( Valiant ) at open fire broadsides ...

Matapan_paint_01.jpg
Matapan_paint_01.jpg (83.9 KiB) Viewed 894 times


... something clearly does not match ... :think:

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby pgollin » Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:56 am

.

It seems that people are talking past each other, so a few questions ;

1: Did the surviving Italian destroyers produce official reports ?

2: If so has anyone read them ?

3: What did THEY say about the order of firing and targets ?

4: What were they firing at later ?

================

Wadinga ;

Each class of ship had different angles for bearing of their turrets. In general there were three different angles. The one generally quoted and used were the normal "maximum" firing angles, these were nominally designed into the ship, but they were actually set by trials where the effect of blast were noted and it was agreed by the trials officers, ships officers and DNC what angle should be set. Mostly these were then set using physical stops, but not all. Ships sometimes re-set the stops (either way) due to mods or additional equipment. Some ships had an emergency angle where if deemed necessary the normal angles could be exceeded. In addition some ships had further limits which were unsafe for firing but the turret could be moved to for maintenance or convenience.

The stops could be internal (normal for basic range of angles) or external (both bearing and elevation).

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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby wadinga » Mon Aug 10, 2015 12:35 am

Mr Gollin,

I'm so glad we are in agreement (I'd hate to be on the wrong side of you ) :D . I believe my observation agrees with your exposition.

What is clear is that all three battleships were firing on their utmost forward bearing, accepting damage like the destruction of Barham's searchlights as necessary. I think we create confusion by using the identities used by Pack in his table which are the misidentifications made at the time. Remember Pack, writing in 1972 still thought Alfieri lead the line.

Let's call the targets 1, 2 & 3 counting left to right. Barham engages the leftmost target, number one, which is actually Zara. Y turret will not bear. Valiant engages number 2 Fiume, only A & B turrets bear and Warspite engages target 3 Alfieri and Y turret does not bear. They are each engaging a target as far to the right as they can.

In order to increase firepower both Warspite and Valiant later shift one target left, former to Fiume, latter to Zara. The Barham probably shifts one target right to Fiume, which is why her after turrets get off fewer shots and her total ammunition expenditure is lower. With all the gun flashes and her own searchlights out of operation, her original target Zara may not be visible.

Incidentally, I see over on the Court Martial thread things are hotting up. However I believe based on revelations here, Prosecutor Bonomi will abandon his case against John Leach (blown up, ruptured and unconscious) for turning one somewhat damaged and defective battleship away from an unsunk enemy to prosecuting three battleship captains for turning three undamaged battleships away when enemy vessels remained in line. Against all ye ancient and prescribed practise of battels for ye Kinge's Navy 1603 edition. Of course all three captains were merely obeying the orders of Admiral A B Cunningham. Therefore the indictment will be against the Admiral. Apparently Mr Virtuani will haul down his prosecutor's flag and appear as Prisoner's Friend and Counsel (and Admiral's admirer!) for Cunningham. :cool:

Just as it was expedient and correct for Cunningham to withdraw, so was it for Leach to do so. There was no case to answer at Denmark Straits, and there is no evidence here that Barham was "forced out of line" by hits from machine gun fire which the Ship's doctor did not see any damage from, not treat casualties caused thereby.

All the best

wadinga
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Re: Cape Matapan and Italian WWII fighting procedures

Postby Antonio Bonomi » Mon Aug 10, 2015 1:37 pm

Hello everybody,

@ Wadinga,

while on the Denmark Strait all is clear now, ... from the war propaganda guidelines given by Churchill to the Admiralty on 1939 ... until the creation and modifications of the reports to save a Captain leaving too early a battlefield ... and the creation of " The Plot " in order to save a superficial RearAdm declaring something he should have never declared and signed ...
... and remember that I am still looking for who Pinchin really was ... as I suspect he was not the Norfolk navigating officer signing that incorrect chart for the second board ... but an " useful " help ... used on purpose ... to avoid the negative propaganda on summer 1941 ... and enable the recognitions after ... which saw him decorated too.... with Kelburn ... another very interesting presence on Norfolk that day ... :wink:

.... moving on this thread subject, ... here there is still a long way to go in order to realize what happened.

Your 1, 2 and 3 target apparently have been identified on board the Warspite being a Colleoni class light cruiser leading and 2 Zara class heavy cruisers following in line, ... than 2 destroyers, ... total 5 enemy ships ... but we know they were 6 ships ... but in the darkness I see no problems to accept this identification errors.

This should have determined at first the target selection and assignment, ... and we will found it out hopefully.

Logic would dictate that Warspite, as you wrote, should have being opening against the Alfieri, so the third on the line in reality.
Valiant should have opened to Fiume, the second one in line, as it seems to have occurred.
Barham should have opened against the Zara, the first enemy warship, as it seems to have occurred.

But Adm Cunningham declared Warspite opened on Fiume with 5 hits he saw on the enemy out of her first 6 shells fired ... :think:

Alfieri was not targeted at the beginning, and Officer eyewitnesses surviving declared they saw ahead on them the Fiume and the Zara under fire before being targeted themselves.

Alle 22.30 la Warspite aprì il fuoco per prima, da 3500 metri di distanza. Subito la seguirono la Valiant e la Barham: ventiquattro cannoni da 381 mm riversarono un diluvio di proiettili sui due incrociatori della I Divisione, mentre i proiettori del cacciatorpediniere Greyhound e delle corazzate illuminavano lo Zara, il Fiume e l’Alfieri.

Lo Zara ed il Fiume, colti completamente alla sprovvista, non ebbero nemmeno il tempo di abbozzare una reazione: entrambi gli incrociatori furono ridotti, in capo a tre minuti, a due relitti galleggianti, devastati dall’uragano di fuoco che si era abbattuto su di loro.

Alle 22.35 (o 22.33) la Barham aprì il fuoco per ultima, ed il suo comandante, capitano di vascello Cooke, ordinò di aprire il fuoco contro un cacciatorpediniere che era appena apparso nel fascio del proiettore del Greyhound, a prora sinistra della corazzata: era l’Alfieri, che divenne il bersaglio delle prime due salve da 381 della corazzata.


translated :

At 22.30 the Warspite opened fire first, from 3500 meters away. Immediately followed by the Valiant and the Barham: twenty-four 381 mm guns poured a deluge of bullets on the two cruisers of the First Division, while the destroyers Greyhound projectors as well as the battleships ones lit the Zara, the Fiume and the Alfieri.

The Zara and Fiume, caught completely off guard, did not even have the time to draft a response: both cruisers were reduced, after three minutes, to burning wrecks from the hurricane of fire they received.

At 22:35 (or 22:33) the Barham opened fire being the last one, and its commander, Captain Cooke, ordered to open fire on a destroyer that had just appeared in the beam projector of the destroyer Greyhound, left at the prow of the battleships: it was the Alfieri, who became the target of the first two 381 mm salvoes of the battleship.


Something clearly does not match here ... :think:

Lieutenant Sansonetti confirms from the Alfieri :

Era passato poco dall’avvistamento dei due presunti Very rossi a sinistra, quando da bordo del cacciatorpediniere si assistette all’improvvisa apertura del fuoco contro Zara e Fiume, con tiro illuminante e battente da parte delle corazzate britanniche. Il sottotenente di vascello Vito Sansonetti, sull’Alfieri, aveva appena aperto la porta della plancia quando vide attraverso il vetro un enorme incendio svilupparsi sulla poppa del Fiume (soprattutto a dritta), poche centinaia di metri a proravia dell’Alfieri, e poi sentì improvvisamente delle esplosioni e corse fuori, mentre schegge infuocate di ogni dimensione si levavano nel cielo. Non trascorsero che pochi istanti, che l’Alfieri divenne a sua volta un bersaglio, contro cui fu fatto fuoco non solo con i pezzi secondari da 152 delle corazzate (il cui effetto fu poco inefficace, in quanto la Warspite, per un problema al sistema d’illuminazione automatico EBI, aprì il fuoco in ritardo, solo alle 22.31, da una distanza di 2290 metri – ritenuta eccessiva –, tirando la prima salva a vuoto e colpendo uno dei cacciatorpediniere con la seconda, mentre la terza e la quarta mancarono l’Havock), ma anche con quelli da 381 della Barham: la prima salva da 381 della Barham, sparata da soli 2800 metri di distanza, mise un colpo a segno sotto la plancia della nave di Toscano, ed il direttore del tiro della Barham, osservando i risultati della prima salva sull’Alfieri, disse “È stato il migliore tiro notturno che abbia mai fatto”. Il comandante della Barham si trovò d’accordo. Poi la corazzata spostò il suo tiro sullo Zara.


translated :

It had been a little by the sighting of two alleged Very red on the left, from aboard the destroyer when we witnessed the sudden opening of fire against Zara and Fiume, with fire lighting and swing by the British battleships. The lieutenant Vito Sansonetti, on board the Alfieri, had just opened the door of the bridge when he saw through the window a huge fire developed on the stern of the Fiume (mostly straight), a few hundred meters at the bow of Alfieri, and then felt sudden explosions and ran outside, while fiery shards of all sizes rose in the sky. Not passed that a few moments, that the Alfieri in turn became a target against which the fire was done not only with the pieces from the secondary 152 mm of the battleships (the effect of which was little ineffective, since the Warspite, for a problem to the system Automatic lighting EBI, opened fire late, only to 22:31, from a distance of 2,290 meters - considered excessive - pulling the first salvo in vacuum and hitting one of the destroyers with the second and the third and fourth missed the RN destroyer Havock), but also with those from 381 mm of the Barham: the first salvo of 381 mm of Barham, fired from just 2,800 meters away, put a hit under the bridge of the Capt. Toscano ship ( Alfieri ) , and the Director of the shot of Barham, observing the results of the first salvo on the Alfieri said " It was the best night shooting I've ever done." The commander of Barham found himself in agreement. Then the battleship moved his shot on the Zara.


We seem to have a correct understanding and match only about the Valiant opening fire on the Fiume.

But to who Warspite opened fire ?

To who Barham opened fire ?

Which one were the initial target assignment and the relative orders issued, ... which orders have been issued after ( like the : " shift target one ship left ", ... and why ?

This is what we need to realize now.

It will be interesting to read the Official RN battleship war diaries and the official accounts both sides ... and also George Stitt and Mazzantini books ... and one day hopefully ... like for the HMS Glorious and the Denmark Strait, ... we will realize what really happened ... and mostly : why ??? ... :wink:

Sorry, my fault I forgot the propaganda guidelines :

Good news was made to seem better; bad news was toned down, delayed or sometimes suppressed.


We know very well why. We just need to reconstruct the real facts ... like for Denmark Strait ... :wink:

Bye Antonio :D
In order to honor a soldier, we have to tell the truth about what happened over there. The whole, hard, cold truth. And until we do that, we dishonor her and every soldier who died, who gave their life for their country. ( Courage Under Fire )


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