8 September 1944

8 September 1944

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8 September 1944

Eastern Front

3rd Ukrainian Front enters Bulgaria, triggering anti-German rising in the country.

Bulgaria declares war on Germany

Western Front

Allies liberate Ostend, Nieuport, Liege and Besancon, and cross the Albert Canal


The first V-2 rocket lands at Chiswick, West London

Occupied Europe

German troops begin an offensive against the Slovak uprising

Major General G L Verney, GOC 7th Armoured Division, enters Ghent in his Staghound armoured car, 8 September 1944.

Major General G L Verney, GOC 7th Armoured Division, enters Ghent in his Staghound armoured car, 8 September 1944.

Major-General Gerald Lloyd Verney, DSO, MVO was personally appointed by "Monty" to take command of the Desert Rats in Normandy on 4 August 1944, after the division's disappointing showing in the bocage. Verney commented, in the history of the division (which he wrote postwar), that before the battles of Caumont he had been warned to look out for the transport of the 7th Armoured on the road, because its march discipline was "non-existent!" He also said that they*"greatly deserved the criticism they received"*. A no-nonsense Guardsman, Verney soon had them "firing on all cylinders" again. He left in November 1944 to command 6th Armoured Division.

8 September 1944 - History

Documents on Germany, 1944-1959 : background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956

Documents on Germany, 1944-1959 : background documents on Germany, 1944-1959, and a chronology of political developments affecting Berlin, 1945-1956
Washington, D.C.: G.P.O., 1959
xii, 491 p. 24 cm.


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Today in World War II History—September 8, 1939 & 1944

80 Years Ago—September 8, 1939: German troops reach Warsaw suburbs Polish government evacuates to Lublin.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a limited state of emergency and orders an increase in the armed forces.

75 Years Ago—Sept. 8, 1944: Soviet troops enter Bulgaria, which switched sides and declared war on Germany the day before.

First German V-2 rocket hits London.

V-2 Rocket launch, Peenemünde, Germany, 21 June 1943 (German Federal Archive: Bild 141-1880)

September 8, 1944 – This Day During World War ll – Submarine Spadefish (SS-411) attacks Japanese convoy sinking 4 ships

September 8, 1944 – Submarine Spadefish (SS-411) sinks Japanese transport Shokei Maru, army cargo ship Shinten Maru, merchant cargo ships Nichiman Maru and Nichian Maru, off Sakishima Gunto
USS Spadefish (SS/AGSS-411), a Balao-class submarine, was the first ship of the United States Navy to be named for the spadefish. Although she was commissioned late in the war and spent only one year in the Pacific war zone, she was to run up a record of 88,091 tons in 21 ships and numerous trawlers sunk.
On 8 September, Spadefish was patrolling in waters of Nansei Shoto when she contacted a convoy of eight cargo ships.
At 2205, the convoy is attacked by LtCdr (later Cdr) Gordon W. Underwood’s (USNA ‘32) USS Spadefish (SS-411). Underwood torpedoes and sinks Nichian Maru at 24-45N, 123-20E. 51 crewmen are KIA. Underwood Then torpedoes and sinks Nichiman Maru at 24-45N, 123-20E. 53 crewmen are KIA.
At 2320, USS Spadefish again attacks and Underwood torpedoes and sinks Shinten Maru. Eight crewmen and two gunners are KIA. Underwood then torpedoes and hits Shokei Maru’s port side aft. She sinks at 24-45N, 123-20E. Two crewmen are KIA.
During this daring night surface attack, Spadefish fired a total of 20 torpedoes, sinking four ships and damaging another. The submarine’s only reward on this occasion was a rain of depth charges.

USS Spadefish (SS/AGSS-411)

8 September 1944 - History

Today in 1944, V-2 rockets were first launched against London by Germany. These craft, the first ballistic missiles, were crude by today’s standards but seemed almost otherworldly at the time. They were less a strategic weapon than a weapon of terror, but they claimed thousands of lives, both in cities and in the factories where they were produced.

Although many people contributed to the development of the V-2, it was Wernher von Braun and Walter Riedel who were the chief engineers of the project. The two had tested several designs during the 1930’s with varied success. By the end of 1941, their A-4 design, later to be renamed V-2 for the German word “Vergeltungwaffe” or vengeance weapon, was complete. The rocket contained three key technologies that made it truly a ballistic missile: a liquid-fuel rocket engine, guidance controls and supersonic speeds. Two more years of testing would be required before the V-2 saw use as a weapon. Part of this delay was caused by a lack of suitable funding early in the war. Hitler was not fond of the V-2, which he viewed as not particularly effective when compared to bombers, tanks and the other weapons of conventional war. It was only when the war turned against Germany that Hitler and his cronies became enthusiastic about the program.

By summer, 1943, the first assembly lines for the V-2 were being tested for mass production. The plan was to build the rockets at Peenemunde, a small town in northeastern Germany. The labor force was made up of prisoners from concentration camp F-1, located nearby, as well as other slave labor gathered from throughout occupied Europe. In August of 1943, the Royal Air Force Bomber Command attacked Peenemunde with mixed results, but the operation was effective enough to compel the Germans to move production to a mine near Nordhausen, where the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp was established to house the slave labor brought from Peenemunde and the nearby Buchenwald camp. 60,000 prisoners worked in the Mittelwerk factory, as the underground facility was called, between the fall of 1943 and the end of the war in Europe in May, 1945. 20,000 of those died.

The V-2s were launched from mobile launchers. A convoy of 30 trucks was required to haul the missile, equipment, fuel, and men needed to launch the rockets, which took 90 minutes to set up and launch. After launch, the ground crew could be on their way in a half-hour. This system proved to be highly effective, both in terms of launching missiles and hiding from Allied air strikes. During the operation of the convoys, none was destroyed by attacking aircraft. Some convoys averaged 10 launches a day, and could have averaged more had there been more V-2s available.

The first V-2s used against live targets were fired at recently-liberated Paris on September 2, 1944. The rockets used their engines for only 65 seconds, allowing them to reach a height of 50 miles on their way to the target. They travelled up to four times the speed of sound, so their approach was silent all the people in the target area knew was that a 2,000 pound bomb, the size of the V-2s warhead, had exploded nearby. After the London attacks of September 8th, 1944, the British government decided to keep the source of the attacks secret. Many of the V-2s veered off course or did not explode, but those that reached their targets were reported as conventional bombing attacks or, more often, not reported at all. This was intended to keep the German High Command guessing as to whether or not the rockets were reaching their targets. This plan worked until November, 1944, when the Germans announced the existance of the V-2 and Winston Churchill was forced to admit that England had been under attack by the new weapon for two months.

There were no countermeasures to the V-2 other than finding and destroying them on the ground. One rocket was destroyed seconds after launch by the quick-thinking gunners of an American B-24 Liberator bomber, but this was simply a case of being at the right place at the right time. As the Allies advanced across eastern and western Europe, the mobile launchers were forced further and further away from their targets, resulting in some cities becoming out of range. This proved to be the only effective means of stopping the terror weapons.

Over 3,100 V-2s were successfully fired at Belgium, England, France, and the Netherlands. Antwerp was hit 1,610 times, London 1,358 times. These two cities accounted for 90% of the completed V-2 attacks. Many hundreds more were launched but were lost over the North Sea or exploded in flight. Approximately 7,000 men, women and children were killed by V-2s, meaning that more people died building them than from their attacks.

At the end of the war, Wernher von Braun came to the United States to continue his rocketry work. The Allies captured a number of complete V-2s as well as many parts---their design was used as the framework for many early NASA rockets. While von Braun’s work on the V-2 project was well-known during his time at NASA, his knowledge of the conditions in the Mittelwerk factory was known only to a few. In the 1970’s, von Braun finally talked openly about what he witnessed and even admitted in a letter that he had personally picked prisoners from Buchenwald to work in the factory. Critics of von Braun have for decades maintained that the American space program was essentially built by a man who should have been charged with war crimes and sent to prison. That debate still rages.

A Brief History of the Magic 8 Ball

Since the 1950s, generation after generation of children have turned to one object to provide answers to the more burning yes/no questions of life: the Magic 8 Ball. But was the Magic 8 Ball always intended as a children’s fortune-telling toy? And why, of all things, is it shaped like a billiard ball?

If you were to grab the Magic 8 Ball off your desk right now and ask it “Will this article answer all those questions and more?” the words “Without a Doubt” would hopefully emerge through the murky blue liquid. However, with mathematical probability taken into consideration, this might not be the case after consulting Dr. Lucien Cohen, a psychology professor at the University of Cincinnati, the creators of the Magic 8 Ball decided upon 20 possible responses: 10 positive, five negative, and five indifferent.


From an early age, Albert C. Carter, the son of a Cincinnati clairvoyant, found himself surrounded by all things mystical. As his mother Mary’s popularity as a medium increased, so too did Albert’s interest in her work. In particular, he—like the majority of her clients—was fascinated by one of her fortune-telling inventions: the Psycho-Slate.

The Psycho-Slate consisted of a small chalkboard that could be placed inside of a sealed container. While with a client, Mary would close the lid of the container and ask a question aloud to the “other world.” To her clients’ amazement, the room would fill with the sounds of chalk scribbling across the board. When the scratchings died down, Mary would then open the container to reveal the answer as dictated by the spirits. While no one is quite sure exactly how Mary achieved the results, it is safe to say that this inspired Albert to create his own version of the Psycho-Slate—one that didn’t require any psychic ability.

In 1944, Carter completed the device that he would call the Syco-Seer. The result was a liquid-filled tube, divided in the center. On each end, a clear window allowed a view of the worded dice Carter had placed in each half. By turning the tube upright, one die would slowly raise through the viscous liquid, revealing a response to the user’s question. (In his book, Timeless Toys: Classic Toys and the Playmakers Who Created Them, author Tim Walsh claims that Carter used molasses early on.)

Feeling confident in the Syco-Seer, Carter presented the prototype to a local Cincinnati store owner, Max Levinson. Levinson immediately took to the idea, so much so that he expressed an interest in working with Carter to mass-produce the Syco-Seer. To accomplish this, Levinson contacted his brother-in-law, Abe Bookman.


Abe Bookman, or Buchmann as he was known before the Anglicization of his name in 1955, was a first-generation American born to Russian Jewish parents. A smart and business-savvy man, Bookman graduated from the Ohio Mechanics Institute in 1921. Because of this, Carter and Levinson turned to Bookman to handle the logistics of producing the Syco-Seer on a larger scale.

They formed a novelty company, Alabe Crafts, Inc. (a combination of Abe and Albert’s first names) in 1946. Under Bookman’s guidance, Alabe Crafts produced and marketed the Syco-Seer as a “Miracle Home Fortune-Teller.”

Though Carter had applied for a patent for his “Liquid Filled Dice Agitator” on September 23, 1944, he unfortunately didn’t live to see it granted in 1948. While it is unclear what became of Carter in his final years or exactly when he died, most sources state the cause of his troubles stemmed from his “gypsy lifestyle” and alcoholism. Luckily for Alabe Crafts, Carter had shared the patent assignment credit with Bookman and Levinson.


Following Carter’s passing, Bookman spearheaded a redesign of the Syco-Seer. In order to reduce to cost of production, Bookman removed one end of the tube, turning it into a smaller, single-windowed viewer. With this slimming change, Bookman decided to rebrand the Syco-Seer as the Syco-Slate: The Pocket Fortune Teller.

In 1948, Bookman opted for another redesign, this time in an attempt to tie in a marketing theme he placed the Syco-Slate tube inside a crystal ball. While this did nothing to improve sales, it garnered the attention of Brunswick Billiards who, in 1950, were on the lookout for a fun item to use as a potential giveaway to promote their Chicago-based billiards company.

Bookman jumped at the opportunity. He changed the design once again, replacing the crystal ball with the iconic black 8 ball we know today. Once the promotion had ended and Bookman’s contract with Brunswick was fulfilled, he decided to keep the 8 ball design, energized by the success of the giveaway.

Bookman then went on to market the Magic 8 Ball as a paperweight. It wasn’t until he noticed the 8 Ball’s popularity among children that Bookman decided to re-market the product as a toy. With this, the Magic 8 Ball quickly found its footing.

In 1971, Bookman sold Alabe Crafts and the Magic 8 Ball to Ideal Toys. Today, the Ball is owned by Mattel, who claims to sell a million Magic 8 Balls every year. In 2011, TIME Magazine named the Magic 8 Ball as one of the “All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys.”

Why did the system change?

During the 1950s and 1960s, it was said, mainly by Labour politicians and egalitarian educationalists, that the selective education system reinforced class division and middle-class privilege.

In 1965, the government ordered local education authorities to start phasing out grammar schools and secondary moderns, and replace them with a comprehensive system.

The quickest changes were made in Labour-controlled areas, while strongly Conservative counties moved slowly or not at all.

A handful of counties and local authorities in England have kept largely selective schools systems, including Kent, Medway, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire, while others such as Gloucestershire, Trafford and Slough have a mix.

In other places, a few grammar schools survived in areas that were otherwise fully comprehensive, such as Birmingham, Bournemouth and some London boroughs.

In 1998, Labour's School Standards and Framework Act forbade the establishment of any new all-selective schools.

It also made provisions for local ballots on the future of existing grammar schools.

Only one such ballot has taken place since then. In 2000, parents in Ripon, North Yorkshire, voted by 67% to 33% in favour of keeping Ripon Grammar as a grammar school.

29 thoughts on &ldquoUSS Sealion sinks Rakuyo Maru – and 1300 PoWs&rdquo

Tragically my Uncle Frank George Barnes 2/2nd Battalion died that day . Having survived as a POW on the Burma railway and the torpedo blast of the ship, he dived back to fetch some water for his mates on the raft but never resurfaced. One of the surviving mates joined the same freemasons lodge as my father and other uncle and that is how I know of this tragedy. Although I never knew Uncle Frank, his story I’ve captured in my scrapbooking journals. Rest in peace Uncle Frank.

AB Frank J. McGovern S3478 who serve on HMAS Perth a POW and survivor of the sinking of Rokuko Maru and transported to Japan was 100 years old on the 1st Oct 2019 he is in a Care Home in NSW.

My Great Uncle Lovell Glendower Tresham 2/12 RAE (NX52907) was on the Rakuyo Maru and didn’t survive. He was in A Force and worked at the Thai end of the Burma Railway.

Still looking for hints about his time. There were quite a few mentions of him in the 2/12 RAE Regimental Diary and he was in the church st Accident before he embarked… I’ve spent over a decade researching his life for my Grandmother and managed to get photos of him for her. It’s a long story but she was in the Post Office with her mother who received a letter. My Great Granny apparently opened it, turned white and said “oh dear, your brother is dead, you didn’t know you had a brother but you do, and now he’s dead”. My Granny only glimpsed his name in the letter (she had a fantastic memory). I pulled his attestation records and the regimental diary and even tho my Granny died in 2013 I’m still researching his life.

John Arthur Gorman QX18663 of the 2/26 Infantry Battalion was part of the A Force group selected to go to Japan. Its really sad that he managed to make it through all the horrors that were POW life, only to lose his life at sea due to bombing of the Rakuyo Maru. I have been researching about him, and trying to find out what I can. I keep hoping I will come more information other than just records of the events.

Are there photographs of the memorial?

Wonderful yet very painful bit of history. Their courage and bravery is so powerful as to have been almost unbelievable. Unfortunately, there will never be enough recognition of their strength, love and sacrifice.

My uncle sapper Francis Victor Hoy 2/10 Field Engineers was on the Rakuyo Maru. Drowned 15th Sept 1944

I am the Grand Daughter of Hector Lindsay Matthews who was an Australian on board,

My mother’s first husband William George Villiers Hall died with the sinking of the Rakuyo Maru. I have visited his memorial in Singapore. May he RIP

My wifes uncle Francis( Frank) Tomlinson of the 5th Battalion , Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire regiment was killed on the Rakuyo Maru age just 27.
We visited the Memorial in Singapore in 2016.

My uncle, Gregory Ross Vidal, died on the sinking of the Ryoku Maru. He was 22. I was born a few months after, in December 1944, and was named after him. I would love to hear from anyone who knew him.

Recently I was fortunate enough to visit my Uncle’s memorial at Kranji, Singapore. He went down with the Rakuyo Maru, age 24: 917355 Robert, Alfred Humfrey R.A.

My Great-grandpa, Colin Frank Smith, an Australian, was aboard the Rakuyo Maru when it was torpedoed. Thankfully for our family he survived the ordeal and was taken aboard the Pampanito.
He remained in contact, as did my grandpa, with Paul Pappas for a long while (Until my grandpa passed away). Paul Pappas was the American gentleman aboard the Pampanito responsible for the photographs of the POW survivors.

Excellent article. Horrifying of what the POW’s went through. I truly cannot imagine the horrors.

My Uncle now is on the Roll of Honour. If you scroll down there is a letter which includes a list of POW’s that survived the attack. Hope it helps anybody looking for names of survivors.

My father was Kitch Loughnan QX10108 who was a great friend of Dr Rowley Richards, they ended up in Sakata, Rowley mentions dad quite a lot in A Doctors War, dad always reckoned he was one of the last off the ship having swum back to it during the day and then it sank right beside them.

My grandad William Arthur Leighton was a survivor of this I’m trying to find out as much information as I can about his life in the war.
I know he was a gunner & I’m sure my mum has his gunner number but i’m doing a remembrance tattoo so trying to find out the exact badge/emblem they’d of used on their uniform as well as they badge & ship number of the US Sealion which i was told rescued him.
He was an amazing & remarkable man & lead an amazing & long life sadly passing 6 years ago at an amazing age of 98. He was & always will be my hero.

My Dad’s cousin was Francis Aumont “Darky” Lemin

My uncle Sapper Ronald Flannery from Don in Tasmania TX5185 2/10 Field Company Royal Australian Engineers was on thr Rakuyo Maru .His memorial is at the Labuan Cemetery in Malayia. many thanks for the interesting reports on this incident NOEL MATHER

For anyone researching this event, don’t forget that US submarines QUEENFISH and BARB also saved some lives pulling men out of the water. While they didn’t record names, they recorded the numbers saved, and also the number who dies after being rescued, their bodies respectfully committed to the deep.

My Father, Sgt Harold Madderson 848339 – 135 Field Regiment RA – British, was a survivor of the Rakuyo Maru. He was one of the 136 men in the Duncan Group (Rowley Richards) and was picked up by the Japanese.
I am trying to find a list of the 136 survivors – particularly the British ones. Can anyone help?
Many thanks

… the Japanese murdered 70% of the Diggers from the Rakuyu Maru … 543 Australian Diggers … 503 Army – 33 Navy – 7 RAAF … from the Rakuyu Maru were killed, my Uncle Bluey survived he was in Duncan’s group …

“by 14 September 1944, the 136 POWs crowded into the four boats of Duncan’s group had made sound progress. It was their third day of freedom and they believed that the coast was just over the horizon. The six boats of Varley’s group had broken away the day before and were about ten kilometres away but still keeping pace. Suddenly Webb called to Duncan, ‘Smoke on the horizon’.
Three Japanese corvettes made their way toward Varley’s group. As the men watched, prolonged bursts of continuous machine-gun fire could be heard. Webb could do little else but assume that the Japanese were machine-gunning the survivors in Varley’s six lifeboats.
As the corvettes steamed toward Duncan’s group, the soldiers had little doubt they were about to suffer the same fate as their mates. They calmly said their good-byes and awaited the inevitable. One of the corvettes peeled off and, with guns fully manned, slowed as it came alongside the lifeboats. Vic Duncan told the men, ‘If you believe in God, say your prayers now’.
‘Are you American?’ came the question from the direction of the ship.
‘No,’ replied the POWs.
‘Are you British?’
‘No, we’re Australian,’ shouted the prisoners.
Then, to the utter amazement of Webb and the others, a rope ladder tumbled down the side of the ship. As the last of the POWs climbed aboard, the ship slowly picked up speed. They were taken to the small harbour of Sangai, on the island of Hainan where they were transferred to a Japanese whaling ship bound for Japan”

My Great Uncle John Nolan from Flintshire 4191376 – Royal Artillery (85 Anti-Tank Regt. ), UK perished also aboard the Rakuyo Maru. How desperately sad for all those men who survived the horrors of the railway and the camps to be killed so tragically.
Kev Francis

My uncle James Smith was one of the men that went down on the Rakayo Maru ,he was in the gordon Highlanders and come from Stonehaven in Scotland ,this year in November i am finelly going to Singapore to place a flower on his memorial, also to visit the burma railway in thailand.

My uncle Frank Lemin was on the Rakuyo Maru. He was 14 years and 4 mths old.

My uncle francis aumont lemin was on that ship rakuyo maru

An extremely touching story, thank you for sharing. I have been asked by the niece of one of the sailors aboard the USS Sea lion to find an article in the Canberra Times about the rescue operation. She believes the article was written in the 1970s during a reunion of survivors. Any information would be gladly accepted!

My Uncle ( my mother’s brother ) was Gunner 890905 William Paterson of 7 Coast Regiment Singapore ( listed on the duty roll of those missing from the Rakuyo Maru). He was the son of William and Meta Paterson of Macduff, Banffshire, Scotland
I know there will be very little specific information regarding Billy but If you have any other information or contacts you can share with me I would be very grateful

I lost two relatives aboard the Rakuyo Maru.
William Neville Walker Serial No 15619 –VX63237𔃀/10 Workshop
John Henry Robertson Service Nr. QX596 Place of Enlistment Toowoomba Queensland. Rank Staff Sergeant 2/10 Field Reg.
Both men went drowned. It came to light while doing the Family Tree, as no one ever spoke about it, just that they were lost at sea as POWs. I now know the facts.
Brian Sefton

Today in World War II History—September 8, 1939 & 1944

80 Years Ago—September 8, 1939: German troops reach Warsaw suburbs Polish government evacuates to Lublin.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares a limited state of emergency and orders an increase in the armed forces.

75 Years Ago—Sept. 8, 1944: Soviet troops enter Bulgaria, which switched sides and declared war on Germany the day before.

First German V-2 rocket hits London.

V-2 Rocket launch, Peenemünde, Germany, 21 June 1943 (German Federal Archive: Bild 141-1880)

Diplomatic Relations

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations and the American Legation in Lebanon, 1944 .

The United States established diplomatic relations with Lebanon when George Wadsworth presented his credentials as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary on November 16, 1944. Wadsworth had been serving as Diplomatic Agent and Consul General to Syria and Lebanon while the United States considered them to be “semi-independent” states.

American Legation in Beirut Raised to Embassy, 1952 .

The American Legation in Beirut was raised to embassy status on October 3, 1952, when Harold B. Minor was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.

American Embassy Staff Withdrawn, 1989 .

The United States withdrew all personnel including Ambassador John Thomas McCarthy from the American Embassy in Beirut on September 6, 1989. In a statement to the press, the Department of State explained that the step was taken after supporters of a faction in the civil war had surrounded the embassy, endangering the safety of embassy personnel and preventing the embassy from functioning effectively.

American Embassy Reopened, 1990 .

The American Embassy in Beirut was reopened on November 29, 1990, when new Ambassador Ryan Crocker presented his credentials.

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