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Racers who served (AutoSkunk finale review) by ShawnSkunk

Racers who served (AutoSkunk finale review)


alright, it's for the season finale review and given that Pearl Harbor Memorial day has come and gone, I decided in commemoration to that day as well as veteran's day
(even though it was last month, I meant to do this review for that day but never did), I decided to do a review that'll be small series of short stories dedicated to racers who had served
in the military.
while we admired our childhood racing heroes and their daring on the track, we take very little in consideration that some of these racers also competed in a different competition far more
deadly than auto racing, the traumatic blood soaked battlefields of war.
when I was researching to look up war stories of racers who served their time in the military, I came upon an article posted in 2015 by a website called "the drive", which features a list
racers who served, though this article never goes into detail with some lengthy articles and just merely mentions them, I for one am going to fix that, with all that being said,
here is a good line up of war stories of racers who served:

1: Mad Jack Churchill:

we'll start off this with someone who sounds like a real badass, a motorcyclist who I can find no record of him involved of any kind of racing, so I don't I could call him a racer but he was
on the article's list of racer's who served so I'll give him a mention, the closest thing I found about with a connection to racing is that he owned a bike that was an Isle of Mann TT trophy
winner and was considered to be the fastest bike on earth, but that's it.
now getting to his war story, I did mention just now that he sounds like a badass and here's why I say that, it's because he is perhaps the only British guy to serve during World War II
wielding only a bow-n-arrow, bagpipes, and a Scottish broadsword for weapons and is rumored to be the only soldier in modern war history to kill an enemy soldier with a bow-n-arrow.
during the war, he served in the Manchester regiment and was sent to France in 1940 as part of the British expeditionary force.
in May 1940, Churchill and some of his men ambushed a German patrol near L'Épinette, he gave the signal to attack by raising his broadsword, and is also the battle where the legend that he
killed soldier with a bow-n-arrow, truth be told Churchill explained that his bow-n-arrow actually got crushed by a truck earlier in his campaign.
after fighting at Dunkirk, he volunteered for the Commandos.

Churchill was second in command of No. 3 Commando in Operation Archery, a raid on the German garrison at Vågsøy,
Norway, on December 27, 1941.
as the ramps fell on the first landing craft, he leapt forward from his position playing "March of the Cameron Men" on his bagpipes before throwing a grenade and charging into battle.
for his actions at Dunkirk and Vågsøy, Churchill received the Military Cross and Bar.

in July 1943, as commanding officer, he led No. 2 Commando from their landing site at Catania in Sicily with his trademark Scottish broadsword slung around his waist,
a longbow and arrows around his neck and his bagpipes under his arm, which he also did in the landings at Salerno.
leading 2 Commando, Churchill was ordered to capture a German observation post outside the town of Molina, controlling a pass leading down to the Salerno beachhead.
with the help of a corporal, he infiltrated the town and captured the post, taking 42 prisoners including a mortar squad.
Churchill led the men and prisoners back down the pass, with the wounded being carried on carts pushed by German prisoners.
he commented that it was "an image from the Napoleonic Wars", he received the Distinguished Service Order for leading this action at Salerno.
Churchill later walked back to the town to retrieve his sword, which he had lost in hand-to-hand combat with the German regiment.
on his way there, he encountered a disoriented American patrol mistakenly walking towards enemy lines.
when the NCO in command of the patrol refused to turn around, Churchill told them that he was going his own way and that he wouldn't come back for a "bloody third time".

as part of Maclean Mission (Macmis), in 1944, he led the Commandos in Yugoslavia, where they supported Josip Broz Tito's Partisans from the Adriatic island of Vis.
in May he was ordered to raid the German held island of Brač.
he organized a "motley army" of 1,500 Partisans, 43 Commando and one troop from 40 Commando for the raid.
the landing was unopposed, but on seeing the gun emplacements from which they later encountered German fire, the Partisans decided to defer the attack until the following day.
Churchill's bagpipes signaled the remaining Commandos to battle. After being strafed by an RAF Spitfire, Churchill decided to withdraw for the night and re-launch the attack the
following morning.

the following morning, a flanking attack was launched by 43 Commando with Churchill leading the elements from 40 Commando.
the Partisans remained at the landing area, only Churchill and six others managed to reach the objective.
a mortar shell killed or wounded everyone but Churchill, who was playing "Will Ye No Come Back Again?" on his pipes as the Germans advanced, he was knocked unconscious by grenades
and captured.
believing that he might be related to Winston Churchill, German military intelligence had Churchill flown to Berlin for interrogation.
Afterwards, he was transferred to a special compound for "prominent" POWs – including some actual or suspected relatives of Winston Churchill – within the grounds of Sachsenhausen
concentration camp.
in September 1944, Churchill, three Royal Air Force officers (survivors of the great escape) and Major Johnnie Dodge escaped Sachsenhausen using a tunnel dug by themselves in secret.
Churchill and Royal Air Force officer Bertram James attempted to walk to the Baltic coast, only to be captured near the German coastal city of Rostock, a few kilometers from the sea.
in late April 1945 Churchill and about 140 other prominent concentration camp inmates were transferred to Tyrol, guarded by SS troops.
a delegation of prisoners told senior German army officers they feared they would be executed.
a German army unit commanded by Captain Wichard von Alvensleben moved in to protect the prisoners.
outnumbered, the SS guards moved out, leaving the prisoners behind, The prisoners were released and, after the departure of the Germans, Churchill walked 93 miles to Verona, Italy,
where he met an American armored unit.

as the Pacific War was still on, Churchill was sent to Burma, where some of the largest land battles against Japan were being fought.
by the time Churchill reached India, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed and the war ended.
Churchill was said to be unhappy with the sudden end of the war, saying: "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!"

there's more information on other wars and conflicts he was involved in after WWII which you can find on Wikipedia where I got this info from, just look up mad jack churchill, makes for an
awesome bedtime story.

2: Dick Bailey:

one of Nascar's first pro drivers back in the 1950's, but before he was a stock ar driver, he served in the Army Air Corps during WWII, fighting in the Pacific Theater.
unfortunately, I couldn't find anymore info on this guy's military service, so this is all I could about him, so we'll move on.

3: Anthony "Tony" Rolt:

a British F-1 driver and champion, a 1953 Le Mans 24 Hours winner, a soldier, and an engineer, Tony Rolt was a decorated war hero of WWII, awarded with the Military Cross and the Medal Bar.
in 1939 he entered the royal Military College in Sandhurst and in the same year was put in the rifle brigade.
during the war, Rolt was a lieutenant and in 1940 was sent to France where he was in charge of a reconnaissance platoon.
he was soon in the thick of the fighting and helped defend Calais, the men defending Calais held their ground for three days trying to stop the 10th Panzer Division from advancing and in
doing so, they delayed their attack on Dunkirk.
he was then captured and taken prisoner by the end of the battle at Calais just before the Dunkirk evacuation.
for his actions, he was awarded the Military Cross for his exploits including helping a wounded comrade while firing his gun at the advancing German troops.
Rolt escaped seven times from German POW camps, before eventually being sent to a maximum security prison Oflag IV-C in Colditz Castle on July 14t, 1943.
in one attempt to escape, he got within yards of the Swiss border before being recaptured – which accounted for his transfer to the East German fortress.
for his determined escape attempts, Rolt was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.
in early 1944, he was one of the masterminds behind the audacious glider escape plan, the plan for this glider was to use it to fly out of the POW camp, pretty bold and daring for an escape
plan, but in spring 1945, the US army liberated the castle, negating the need for it.
after the war Rolt resigned his commission with the rank of Major to develop advanced automotive technologies.

3: Chuck Daigh:

here's another driver who I can't much military information about, Chuck Daigh a successful sports car racer and a 1959 Sebring Endurance race winner, was a paratrooper on the western front,
all that I could learn about his military actions (at least from the article I'm writing this list off from), is that he earned a bronze star for his actions on the western front, and a purple
heart after being wounded in action on the same front.
when the war ended and he returned home, he resumed his racing career, racking up a total of six Formula 1 entries.
and of course like I just mentioned, Daigh even claimed an overall victory at Sebring in 1959, sharing the cockpit of a Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa with the likes of Phil Hill and Dan Gurney.

4: James Garner:

this famous actor not only loves motor racing, he also competed in races, while most of his trouble was from movie producers not wanting him to risk his neck on the racetrack, Garner decided
to take his racing off road, racing at Baja in Mexico.
James's work in the military began as early as the end of WWII at the age of 16 years old, working as a merchant in the United States Merchant Marine, he loved his work and his shipmates,
however he had just one problem, he suffered from chronic sea sickness.
when he was old enough, he then enlisted in the California Air National Guard, serving his first seven months in California, he then went to Korea for 14 months, as a rifleman in the 5th
Regimental Combat Team during the Korean War, then part of the 24th Infantry Division.
he was wounded twice, first in the face and hand by shrapnel from a mortar round, and the second time in the buttocks from friendly fire from U.S. fighter jets as he dove into a foxhole.
Garner received the Purple Heart in Korea for the first wound, he qualified for a second Purple Heart (eligibility requirement: "As the result of friendly fire while actively engaging
the enemy"), but he did not actually receive it until 1983, 32 years after the event.

5: William Grover-Williams / Robert Benoist / Jean-Pierre Wimille:

this time I'll be talking about a threesome of drivers who fought in battle, all three of these gentlemen were well respected Grand Prix drivers, but one day, in the early years of WWII,
Germany invaded France and took over, and that's when these drivers decided to join the SOE (Special Operations Executive) and the French resistance.
unfortunately, Grover Williams was arrested during a raid and was then executed.
Benoist was captured but managed to escape by jumping out of a Gustapo car, he was smuggled out of the country to safety but later returned to France to continue fighting only to be
recaptured and eventually executed in 1944.
the last one of the three standing was Jean Pierre Wimille, he'd serviced the war up unto it's end in 1945,afterwards he resumed racing, sadly he too was killed in 1949 during a run up
to the 1949 Buenos Aires Grand Prix, thus the threesome were forever engraved into legend and story.

6: St. John Horsfall:

reckless yet talented on the racetrack, Jock Horsfall, known as St. John Horsfall, was an Aston Martin Works driver, another thing about him is that he was allegedly blind, which could
explain why he was considered reckless.
he was near sighted and afflicted with astigmatism, but nevertheless he managed to pull off the most important driving feat of the second world war.
it was called Operation Mincemeat, a plan that involved dressing a corpse in officer's clothing, planting phony information in the jacket pocket, and then dropping the body off in Spain
for the Nazis to find, luring the SS forces away from Italy before the allied invasion of Sicily.
but there was a problem, how to get the corpse from London to a ship in Scotland bound for Spain before the body starts decomposing?, Horsfall was up to the task, his solution?, a mad dash
across the U.K. in a hot rod tuned Ford van.
as a result?, the corpse stayed fresh and made it to Spain, the Nazis were tricked, and the allied forces liberated Sicily and Mussolini was defeated soon afterwards.

7: John Fitch:

before he was a racer, he was a pilot for the army air corps flying a P-51D Mustang, and one of only a handful of pilots who got to dog fight against some of the top secret German ME-262
jet fighters, and shoot one down.
here's a little more on this guy from a little stub in a Wikipedia article:
"his first passion was not cars, it was airplanes, so it was not surprising that when war broke out, he volunteered to become a pilot, whilst in England on an extended trip around the
world (1939).
in spring of 1941, he volunteered for the United States Army Air Corps, his service took him to North Africa, where he flew the A-20 Havoc and then on to England.
by 1944, Captain Fitch was a P-51 Mustang pilot with the Fourth Fighter Group on bomber escort missions, and became one of the Americans to shoot down a German Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter.
just two months before the end of the war, he was shot down himself while making an ill-advised third strafing pass on an Axis train and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war."
he was then captured and taken to a POW camp for a few years, but later escaped and ended up working with a special agency till the end of the war.
during his time with them he snuck behind enemy lines, stole some German aircraft and flew them back to the allies, most of the time crash landing so they could re engineer their specs
according to Fitch.

8: Bud Moore:

last but not least on the list is none other than Bud Moore, you guys probably remember a few years back in 2017 when I posted a journal announcing his death, Bud was a famous race car
and engine builder, building some successful race winning race cars, for some famous names in racing such as Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip, most famous though in my opinion are the 1967
Mercury Cougar of Dan gurney and the 1970 Ford Mustang Boss 302 of Parnelli Jones who drove it to win 1970 Trans Am Championship.
I actually have two 1/64 scale replicas of some of Bud Moore's race cars, Dan Gurney's 67 Cougar made by Mattell, and Darrell Waltrip's 1972 Ford Torino stock car made by Johnny Lightning.
more than that, he was once a soldier in the second world war, approximately one day after graduating high school, and one week after his 18th birthday, Bud moore was drafted into the
military, while he was interested in joining the navy (mainly because his some of his family was in the navy), there was one implication that kept him from joining, he didn't have a college
degree, something that was required in order to join the navy, so instead, a naval officer decided attempted to place Moore in the Marines, but Bud didn't like it, so he instead decided to
join the army.
where he was assigned to the 90th Infantry Division, D Company, 359th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 1st Platoon as a machine gunner.
as a member of the 1st Platoon, Moore's machine gun was .30 caliber water-cooled, described as a heavy weapon.
Moore and his group were not expecting to participate in the Normandy landings in 1944, in March, they were told they would be involved in an amphibious assault off the English coast,
with plans of a dry run upon completing training in Knighton, Powys.
the group landed in Liverpool before going to an army camp in Wales, South Yorkshire, on June 4, two days before the landings, Moore observed a map produced by officers and realized the
land depicted was not England, but France, and that he would be involved in the invasion of Normandy, the regiment was reattached to the 4th Infantry Division for the operation.
on June 6, Moore's division landed on Utah Beach, where they faced German resistance and other obstacles; at one point, as he waded through the water, Moore stepped in a shell hole and
fell in, causing him to go underwater before recovering.
upon reaching land, he hid behind a sand dune before continuing. By nightfall, the division had reached half a mile inland and started settling into foxholes when the 82nd and 101st
Airborne Divisions arrived to divert German attention.
there was also discussion among Moore's division about General Dwight D. Eisenhower recalling them due to the lack of progress made at nearby Omaha Beach, though they stayed at Utah,
after clearing the beach, Moore joined General George S. Patton at Périers, Manche.
at the city, Moore witnessed American airplanes dropping bombs along a ten-mile strip near the city, an event nicknamed "The Big Push", while he was near Paris, Moore's group was
assigned to capture the Cotentin Peninsula before returning to Patton, instead of Moore's group, General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque's men liberated Paris.
after leaving France, Moore's group crossed the Siegfried Line and reached the Rhine before being withdrawn to Verdun, where they stayed for three weeks without supplies.
as it turned out, the Germans had built their infantry along the Siegfried Line and had launched the Battle of the Bulge, which forced Moore's division to fight their way back to the line
and losing approximately 12,000 men in the process.
on one mission during the battle, Moore and a German-speaking Jeep driver entered a German-occupied town that also served as a Wehrmacht area regimental headquarters, the two began to
inspect houses and spotted a German soldier running into a wooden hut.
Moore attacked the hut, causing it to catch fire and prompting the soldier to surrender; he was tied onto the hood of the Jeep, as they continued through the town, they noticed more
Germans hiding in a rock house, which Moore also fired upon, although the Germans displayed a white flag of surrender, they did not exit the building, Moore's driver ordered the captured
soldier to convince his comrades to surrender before Moore summoned artillery.
when they left the house, Moore discovered 15 soldiers and four officers among the surrendering German troops, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his work in the operation.
as he continued through Germany into Czechoslovakia, Moore was promoted to sergeant, during which he earned a second Bronze Star after his involvement in a battle located in an abandoned
hospital, he also received five Purple Hearts, four for shrapnel damage and one for taking machine gun fire to the hip.
in spite of his injuries, he was often sent back into battle after brief stays in the hospital; by February 1945, he and a lieutenant were the only men in the group to have fought in
Normandy, at one point, Moore and the lieutenant were to receive a 90-day furlough and return to the United States in March, but Moore was injured and his reprieve papers were lost,
forcing him to remain in Europe.
in December 1944, Moore participated in the Siege of Bastogne, providing support for the besieged 101st Airborne Division, two months later, Moore's division was replaced by the 5th,
though he stayed at the Rhine, then in May 1945, Germany finally surrendered, the war in Europe was over, at the time, Moore was in Plzeň, Czechoslovakia, learning of the German defeat
from Red Army soldiers.
despite the victory in Europe, Moore wondered about the possibility of fighting in the Pacific War against Japan, though the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August ended
speculation of such combat.
to return troops home, the government instituted a points system in which the most decorated troops leaving first, with his medals and service time of nine months and fourteen days
without a break, he was among the first to return to the United States, doing so aboard the USS Excelsior; the ship was named after the Excelsior Mills in Union, South Carolina near
Moore's hometown of Spartanburg, he was formally discharged on November 15, 1945.
despite his honors, Moore distanced himself from his allies, he received the information of his company members but did not contact them out of worry that doing so would lead to him
finding out they were killed in action, he also turned down offers to return to the beaches of Europe, saying he "left too many friends over there."
in 1994, the 50th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Moore was invited by Unocal Corporation to follow his route during the war from Utah Beach to Czechoslovakia, he declined the offer,
stating he "would have gone, but when racing is your livelihood and there's a race on the schedule for a certain weekend, you about have to be there."

and so that concludes this list of racers who served, but I would like to make honorable mentions:

Ken Miles: who stormed the shores of Juno Beach on D-Day 1944.

Tony Gaze: a fighter pilot from WWII who is described as a living legend.

Capt. Edward Rickenbacker: a world war one fighter pilot who earned the title "Ace of Aces", before he was a fighter pilot, he was a racer, competing in races from 1912 to 1917 including the
first Indianapolis 500, and he was also a land speed record holder achieving a speed record of 134 miles per hour at the time.

and that's about it, I hope you all enjoyed this line up of heroic racers as we have honored them for their service and their bravery, this was something I've been wanting and I'm glad I
finally did it, I think this was the best way to cap off this year. :3

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