Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Steve Jobs
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Veterans Stabbed in the Back by Liberals

I was 22 years old when, as an infantry 2nd Lieutenant, my neck and back were fractured serving my country. I didn't know then that the rest of my life would be severely altered by those very same injuries. I persevered in my service for 4 more years, finally retiring as a Captain. Even then the damage done by my injuries hadn't shaken my life. Now things are different - very different. I can't get into all the details publicly at this time as they are evidence in an ongoing legal action against the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, but suffice it to say that my injuries began taking a serious toll on me by my early thirties. Today at 51 my injuries rate me a 101% disability rating on the odd scales used by Veterans Affairs. I am one of those soldiers, veterans, who by virtue of the New Veterans Charter that took effect in 2006.

I spent 5 years in the Veterans Affairs machinery, being chewed up and spit out at various levels along the way. The same amount of time my father fought the Nazis in World War II. Veterans Affairs initially rated my injuries and disabilities at 5%, or $14,000 for a ruined spine (cervical and lumbar). It was devastating. Not just on a personal care level, dealing with the effects of my injuries, but at a professional level as well. The military is an honour based institution. You are honoured with a salute. You are honoured to give a salute. You consider it an act of honour to look after the welfare of your men, and to complete a mission with them. Your Regimental battle honours (flag) are just that - honours earned by men and women before you. The sense of dishonour and betrayal imparted on you from the bureaucracy and political masters of Veterans Affairs can destroy you if you don't have the support to take it on. I was lucky, because I had that support from my family. Many are not, and many end their lives is sheer frustration at a system that denies them their honour and desperately needed help.

That brings me to the Liberal government, Justin Trudeau and Kent Hehr. During the last election the Liberals promised to recognize the "sacred obligations" Canada has to its veterans - especially its injured and disabled veterans. Trudeau himself made statements about it several times on the campaign trail and as Prime Minister:

"For 10 years, Stephen Harper draped himself in the Canadian flag, then betrayed the men and women who fought for it."

"There are a lot of court cases across this country that this government has taken on to deprive veterans of their benefits, to go after individuals for unreasonable reasons... we would actually cease (them) if this government changes on October 19."

Then after being elected, and as Prime Minister, Trudeau pledged:

"We are also committed to ensuring that new and significant investments are made to meet the scared obligation that we have to our veterans."

All that changed this week. The federal government ended the year long truce with six veterans who sued in the British Columbia courts to have the sacred obligation of the federal government to its injured troops upheld, and the treatment of those veterans to reflect that principle. The Harper government went to the BC Court of Appeal to have the lower courts decision overturned that the six veterans had the right to file such a class action lawsuit. However, with the installation of Erin O'Toole as Veterans Affairs Minister, the appeal by the government was put on hold for a year to negotiate an honourable result. This week the federal government notified the court it intended to continue the appeal of the veterans' right to launch the class action suit.

The documents submitted to the court by the Liberals painfully, and humiliatingly, denounce any obligation whatsoever to injured and disabled veterans:

" the submissions made by [former Conservative attorney-general Rob Nicholson] on the hearing of the appeal, and as set out in the factum filed by him, accurately reflect the current position of the federal government...

The House of Commons motion referenced by the plaintiffs (6 veterans), while it records the opinions of the then members of Parliament on the matters referred to in the motion, does not have the force of law and cannot bind the federal government."

There is nothing that cuts so deep as a betrayal of trust. There is nothing that is more important to the dignity of the individual soldier than the honour of his service. Trudeau, and his Liberal government managed to destroy it all by this one court action. His minister Kent Hehr appeared on CTV's Power Play show with host Mercedes Stephenson yesterday and several times reiterated "Canada's sacred obligation to its veterans". He did so while trying to wiggle out of the straight forward questioning of the host on the government's court actions. His words range hollow. His own government's position is his words mean nothing and are simply the "opinions of the then members of Parliament... (which) does not have the force of law".

The Liberal Party has made a very serious mistake in stabbing the veterans of this country in the back. It took decades for veterans, and military people in general, to look past previous Liberal governments and their treatment of the military. That leap of faith has now been dashed. The lingering wound of betrayal is festering in all veterans as we seek not only to have our own wounds looked after, but those that inevitably come after us. It is a brotherhood ( and that includes our fellow female soldiers). The brotherhood now knows how easily, and without a bit of shame, a Liberal government can leave the bitter taste of betrayal in their mouths. It means we now have to fight another battle together against another government, but for the Liberals it means that whatever bond they had hoped to hold with the vast veteran community, and military community at large, is as broken as any betrayed bond can be. Anything other than a complete reversal of the Liberals "new" position, and anything other than a new minister, will bury the Liberal Party of Canada and leave it dead in the eyes of veterans, and military men and women, across this country who honourably served it.












Monday, June 13, 2016

UPDATED - Evidence of the Muskrat Falls U-boat Wreck

They say that people lie, but the evidence doesn't. Throughout the years there have been many rumours about the German U-boat wreck near Muskrat Falls. There have been plenty of tails passed down by Innu hunters and fishermen. Tales of seeing the long dark shadow going up the river so quietly. Tales of others, encamped very near the river hearing the engines in the middle of the night. Scenes of large groups of men dressed in uniforms speaking different languages or refusing to speak. So many stories and so hard to prove any of them with the passage of time.

However, time doesn't erase all the traces. In the case of the sunken U-boat wreck near Muskrat Falls there is plenty of evidence - although it has taken years to put together on a part-time basis. The key to the puzzle was to discover just what kind of U-boat it was. There were many different types of U-boats during World War II. The best identifiers of a U-boat type was whether or not it had a snorkel. A snorkel was fitted on U-boats after late 1943. It was also, which is key, fitted on the port side of the type VII U-boats, but only on the starboard side of type IX U-boats. In the picture below you can see the snorkel raising gear (circled in red) is on the starboard side of the conning tower which means this wreck is a type IX U-boat built after late 1943. (The arrow points to the front of the U-boat or the bow)


Here is a close-up of the snorkel raising gear on the wreck.





Here is a picture of the snorkel raising gear from a U-boat in better shape (apparatus on the left).


Here is another look at the raising gear from a model.




To get an idea of how a U-boat snorkel system works I've attached a short video from a model here


Another key piece of evidence is the snorkel itself. In this wreck the snorkel is more or less in tact, and just as importantly, if not more importantly, the radar unit mounted to the top of the snorkel is still intact. For your reference I've included some detailed drawings of the snorkel type this U-boat had on board. You will notice the two little antenna sticking out the top. That is a radar unit. More on that in a bit.


Take note of the illustration on the left. Note how the top "canister" appears like a "closed clam". Now, here is a picture from the wreck, enhanced for size is a picture of the snorkel and Naxos radar unit from the wreck.



The blue arrows indicate the radar antenna and the red arrow indicates the snorkel head. You will notice that the snorkel head has essentially been opened by the blast, so the top covering plate of it, and the bottom, have been opened like an "opened clam" as opposed to the "closed clam" in the drawing. The radar is a Naxos unit first implemented in the U-boat fleet in late 1943. The picture below shows the location of the snorkel unit in the wreck.





The next picture shows a snorkel with attached Naxos radar in good condition.




The relatively intact snorkel and Naxos radar allow us to date the U-boat from late 1943 forward. It is also a key piece of evidence, because it survived the explosions so well and is relatively easily identifiable.

Having established the U-boat wreck near Muskrat Falls was an IX type U-boat commissioned after late 1943 by the type of snorkel and radar, and by the position of the snorkel raising gear, the primary challenge became what type of IX boat was she. That part of the puzzle proved much trickier. Due to the destruction of the U-boat, many defining features which would have made this process easier were not available. Initially my conclusion was it was an IXC type. There were a few possibilities of missing IXC boats that could have qualified as the wreck. However, after a year and a half of research and detailed examinations of the sonar, including enhancing of the picture and magnification, I stumbled across a glaring piece of evidence.

During the war a "gyro copter" or FA330 was developed by the German Navy for use on U-boats. It's purpose was to spot enemy boats from a much high vantage point than the conning tower. The gyro copter was launched from the rear of the conning tower, and pulled behind the U-boat at heights of up to 300 feet. The picture below is a gyro copter on a U-boat.




The gyro copter was used exclusively on "Monsoon U-boats" that travelled to Japan from Germany. The major problem with the copter was in the case of approaching enemy aircraft the U-boat would be required to emergency dive, leaving the poor sailor in the air still attached to the U-boat - instant death. The only practical use for the copter was in seas that did not have allied air over - like the South American or Indian Ocean areas of operation.

One piece of evidence from the wreck had always stood out to me. It was well preserved and seemed to suit a particular purpose, but with my initial limited knowledge of U-boats I couldn't place it. The pictures below is of that piece of equipment.







After extensive research, and because this piece of equipment only existed on type IXD2 U-boats, I was finally able to discover what it was. It is in fact an electrical winch. Not just any electrical winch, but the winch that let out and pulled in the steel cable for the gyro copter. Below are some pictures of it on the deck of a type IXD2 U-boat.



This one piece of evidence was critical in determining that the wreck near Muskrat Falls must be that of a German type IXD2 U-boat. In addition, the post to the left of the gyro winch can also be found in the wreck. A picture of it below (circled in blue) and from the wreck:













The gyro copter winch and post were found in the wreck here (circled in red):



Another unique piece of evidence comes from the bow area of the wreck (circled in red).



The two odd protrusions at first seem out of place. However, once the U-boat was identified as an IXD2 type that piece of the puzzle was solved as well. The IXD2 had dual "jumping wires" to the bow and a single "jumping wire" to the stern. This was very unique in the U-boat designs. Here is a picture of the dual supports for the dual jumping wires on an IXD2:


The two supports protruding from the bow area of the wreck picture above coincide with those of the photo above. The wire like features joining the two in the wreck picture are likely wires.

The front deck gun, as shown in the picture above, was a 105 mm gun. The picture below shows the breach housing of the gun (circled in blue):


During the massive explosion at the centre of U-851 the breach housing was ripped from the main gun and ended resting near the bow, while the remainder of the gun sank below.

From the wreck the breach housing:


From the wreck the rest of the gun and where they rest on the wreck (blue circle = breach housing, and red circle = remainder of 105 mm gun):


The 105 mm gun was used exclusively on IX type U-boats due to its weight. Type VII class U-boats used the smaller 88 mm deck gun - further proving the identity of this U-boat wreck.

Several guns used for anti-aircraft protection are still visible on the wreck. The MG 34 was a commonly used weapon for anti-aircraft on U-boats. A picture of a MG 34 used on a U-boat:


A picture of a MG 34:



Now, from the wreck, there is a MG 34, but not in that good of condition. The butt has been either blown off or eroded in the water, and it is bent in half - in an "L" shape formation. Yet, it's distinctive features are still evident:



The MG 34 is found here in the wreck (red circle):



Along with the MG 34 the wreck has a fairly well preserved 37 mm gun - without the barrel. Here is what a 37 mm anti-aircraft gun looks like:



The gun in the wreck lies just below the deformed platform it once stood on. The platform and the Flak guard which protected the gun are still recognizable - despite the guard being twisted savagely by the explosion within the U-boat. The first picture below is the 37 mm gun (circled in blue), and the second picture is the gun platform and flack guard:







Here is a picture where they rest on the wreck (circled in red):



Here is a picture of an IXD2 with the 37 mm gun location circled in red behind the conning tower and the 105 mm deck gun in front of the conning tower (circled in blue):



The IXD2 type U-boat was powered by a series of 6 cylinder motors. One of these motors (circled in blue) appears  to be still in fair condition while much was destroyed given the central explosion at the front of the engine room:




Here's a picture of a German U-boat diesel motor. The one above from the wreck is viewed from the top of the motor, but it will give you an idea:



In addition to the diesel motor (circled in blue) still apparent, several electric motors (circled in red) are also evident on the wreck:



Here is a schematic which shows the electric motors and their normal position on the U-boat (the electric motors are well preserved on the wreck and match up perfectly to the schematics):






The U-boat's periscope (circled in blue) also survived the blast in decent condition. At least one of the handles used by the Captain to hold onto while viewing out the periscope is still attached.



Here is a close up (also circled in blue). Note the viewing handle on the right (FYI the periscope is lying upside down in the wreck):



Here is a picture of a U-boat Captain using the periscope:



The periscope lies here in the wreck:




Another well defined feature from the wreck is the bow compressed air tank (circled in blue):



Here is a plan of a U-boat showing the location of the tank:



The compressed air tank lies here in the wreck (circled in red):



The flak guard on the side of the conning tower was blown off by the explosion, and lays just behind the conning tower of the wreck (circled in red with red arrow indicating where the flak guard was installed and where it landed):


A flak guard on a similar U-boat installed (circled in red):




A torpedo door (circled in blue) also lies in the wreck - the only one to be found at the rear of the boat - which leads credence to the IXD2 identification, because many were stripped of all, or but one, in order to make room for cargo for Japan:


A picture of a torpedo tube door:


Other bits and pieces of the U-boat found:

Anchor chain:



Bow winch (circled in blue):





Anchor windless (circled in blue) with a good picture of the 37 mm breach housing directly behind it:



Schematics showing the windless (circled in red):



Rear Hatch (circled in blue):



Rear Hatch close up:



Hull water vents (circled in blue):



Front jumping wires with a good view of the anchor chain:



Rear jumping wire:






Deck railing:




Canisters, which may contain mercury, spilled out of the central part of the wreck:



The field of "canisters" that spilled from the wreck after the explosion:


Remnants of the two periscope stands on the top of the conning tower (red circle):




Here is a picture of the two periscope stands still intact on a wreck (circled in red):


(You'll note where the floor of the conning tower is on the wreck above. Now examine the same feature on the Muskrat Falls U-boat wreck, and you will note the explosion inside the Muskrat Falls boat was so violent that it drove the floor up to level with the conning tower lip)

EXPOLSIVE CONCLUSION:

Orders from German Command at the time of U-851's disappearance gave explicit instructions on how to scuttle a U-boat should it become necessary:


The U-boat wreck near Muskrat Falls had three centres of explosives: one near the bow; one near the bow side of the engine room (roughly mid ship); and one at the stern. The explosive force is still evident in the wreck (red circles and arrows):





The blasts left gaping holes at the centre of the U-boats hull, at the front of the bow, and massive tear marks to the stern of the boat (red circles).





The bow explosion ripped the entire front of the U-boats super structure off and left a massive hole in the hull (blue dotted circle):



The U-boat's superstructure surrounds the inner hull as shown in the diagram below (inner hull lined with blue):


The bow blast was so powerful it ripped the bow superstructure right off and the top half of the inner super structure ( red line represents the missing portion of the front of the U-boat from the main wreck site):



The blast was most powerful at the centre of the boat, which indicates an engine room explosion as per headquarters instructions on scuttling. In fact the blast transformed the shape of the conning tower itself. Specifically, the bow portion of the conning tower was ripped from its normal position and thrust forward so that it came to rest horizontally from the conning tower - rather than up and down as it should be. I've attempted to show the transformation with a diagram on the sonar picture. The dotted blue line represents where that piece should be. The line indicates where the piece ripped from the conning tower body. The arrow indicates the direction necessary to put the piece back in it's proper place.




CONCLUSION:

There were only two IXD2 U-boats unaccounted for at the end of the war. One was U-851 carrying mercury and other still classified cargo. The other was U-180 carrying uranium oxide. U-180 disappeared from radio contact the moment it left its base on the western coast of France in the summer of 1944. It was thought to have been destroyed in a minefield off Biscay, but that was never confirmed. According to the accounts of its escorts U-180 was at a depth where it would have cleared the minefield - as the other boats did that left at the same time as U-180 (with a similar cargo also going to Japan). Therefore, it is also a remote possibility that U-180, and not U-851 is the U-boat at Muskrat Falls. Of course, that would mean the cargo laying at the bottom of the river is uranium oxide and not mercury. Either way it's not a good result.

If U-180 was the boat that was scuttled near the Falls it would beg some potentially uncomfortable questions. Why did U-180 maintain radio silence from the moment it left its base to its final destination. Was the voyage never meant to go to Japan, but rather deliver uranium to the US at Goose Bay air force base (which had a large docking facility)? There were deals being made toward the end of the war between Nazi's looking to get out and allied forces. The US desperately needed uranium oxide to build an atom bomb before Japan could. The story of German U-boat U-234 surrendering to US forces rather than the nearby Canadian forces, whilst carrying a load of uranium oxide to Japan rings some bells. A good synopsis of that story can be found here . It begs the very real question why a German U-boat would bother scuttling far up a river in Labrador, as if to make sure the boat was never found again. However, surely that could have been done almost anywhere along the northern Labrador coast, and that would have placed them closer to any Moravian Reverend that cared to aid them for an exit. One conclusion could be that the base at Goose Bay was the intended mission destination, and an exit up the river was the shortest and safest way to exit the base (hidden from the regular air traffic going to it).

However, it seems the story of U-851 fits the bill better. An older Captain (as described as well in Sellar's Hard Aground book) who was able to navigate the river and its sandbars makes sense. The fact that U-851 was meant to be heading south to Japan, but instead did a U-turn just south of Newfoundland heading in the general northern direction of the Labrador coast on its final radio transmission. No description or account of any allied naval or air assets destroying a U-boat off the coast of Newfoundland or Labrador at that time. No mention of a U-boat spotted. No need for a dark and sinister conspiracy to aid an enemy with uranium while still at war with them. A "convict crew" that wanted nothing to do with the war no doubt. The story of the surviving members of U-234 is a stark reminder that toward the end of the war their morale was "nonexistent" and they "couldn't care less" what was in the boxes (uranium) in their hold. As far as they were concerned their mission was a suicide mission as Russian troops entered Berlin. The tale of the survivors can be found here in this video .

As I finish this post, after three long years of research, one question still nags at my mind: why? Of all the places why take a treacherous trip up a river lined with sand bars in the middle of the night on the surface? Why has the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, or the Canadian government not had the wreck dived on to ascertain which U-boat it is and what cargo it has on board? After all, this was promised. The German Ambassador to Canada at the time was quoted in the media as saying: "We must brace ourselves for surprises". The Ambassador also said the Newfoundland and Labrador government agreed to take the lead in authenticating the wreck. The story is here . Yet nothing. It's as if the governments of Germany, Canada, and this province want to leave a sleeping dog lie. That also begs the question: why? There are just as many questions left about the U-boat wreck as have been answered. The one thing that is certain is there is a U-boat wreck near Muskrat Falls from World War II. The rest cannot be proven beyond a doubt until the wreck is dived upon. One of the best divers in the world, from the United States, has agreed to do that dive this summer. In the words of the German Ambassador to Canada: " We must brace ourselves for surprises."


UPDATE:

If you believe there is nothing to the case of the sunken Muskrat Falls u-boat, please feel free to read the letter below - response from Transport Canada to my access to information request: