Weather makes a difference in wartime

5:44 PM, Nov 11, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS - When you start to think of wartime weather, the Invasion of Normandy might come to mind.

"The tides weren't quite right and the weather was extremely poor so planes couldn't fly. So they had no idea where the Germans were.  They couldn't get fighter support in there, they couldn't get bomber support. The tides had to be low and the weather had to be clear so they could go in," explains Stephen Osman, a retires Senior historian for the Minnesota Historical Society.

Just six months later, thick cloud cover worked against Allied forces for the Battle of the Bulge.

Osman continues, "Of course the Americans were caught unprepared because they were not aware because the photo reconnaissance was not available.  The planes couldn't fly. They couldn't see the Germans building up.  And the weather was miserable for the next two weeks.  Finally the skies cleared and U.S. Air forces were able to interdict German supply lines and prevent them from getting supplies to the front."

Bitter cold takes the blame for a miserable Battle for the Chosin Reservoir in 1950 Korea. Harry Burke can vouch for that.

"We were just trying to stay alive," he says. "I knew from Minnesota that it was cold, but I never believed that it was 30 below at night. A lot of people had trouble with their weapons not firing properly.  We had snow at night and you had to keep the snow out of your hole... And that would just add to your problems."

Battle wasn't even an option if it was raining on Civil War Troops.

Osman reports, "The soldier's cartridges were made out of paper.  And if you try to load a musket in a civil war battle when it's raining pretty soon your powder's wet and it won't fire."

It wasn't a bullet at all that took a life in the Dakota War of 1862.

"The first Minnesota Mounted Rangers were charging the Indians. And there was a terrific lightning and thunderstorm and a bolt of lightning cam down and struck Private John Murphy and killed him on the spot," says Osman.

These are just a few of many wartime weather tales.

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