back to article 75 years ago, one Allied radar techie changed the course of WW2

Would you give up your comfy technical desk job to join a military raid into hostile territory? Would you jump at the chance to put your world-leading technical knowledge to use in the most extreme of circumstances, even if your own side was under orders to shoot you if you got captured? This was the choice that Jack …

iwi

My grandfather worked on RADAR in the 2nd world war. I was told that his family thought he was an idiot who couldn't spell radio. Amazing that any reference to RADAR was allowed through the censors in letters home.

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Anonymous Coward

A self-taught technical expert with thorough knowledge of hands-on electronic engineering and system capabilities alike..

.. would have never gotten past HR's tick box process now.

Sterling job.

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Typical

In spite of his heroism, Nissenthall was never given any official recognition for his part in the raid. None of the Canadians knew who he really was until 25 years later, when he turned up at a regimental reunion out of the blue.

Some things never change.

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Bronze badge

Something I cannot understand

How is it possible that us humans can somehow allow a single person be directly responsible for death of millions of people? It is so easy to stop a person. Why didn't somebody, anybody just take out someone like Genghis Khan? He was responsible for killing uncountable millions of people.

The concept of people being totally blind followers mystifies me. Now it is possible for a brainless idiot to kill much of the world population.

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Silver badge

Re: Something I cannot understand

I have a theory that there's some combination of genes that gives people this unreasoning and uncritical acceptance of royalty (inherited or self-proclaimed) and gods. I don't seem to have it.

I suspect it's something to do with being evolved similiarly to other primates, most of which have strongly defined 'bosses' leading the troop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Something I cannot understand

No, it's more a case of getting yourself into a position whereby your underlings realise they (a) are in a reasonably cushy position provided they toe the line and (b) the risk of failure and the certainty of losing everything if they mounted a coup that failed keeps everyone supporting the status quo. If the underlings' underlings have more or less the same imperatives then everything is stable, cf Kim Fatty the Third.

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Re: Something I cannot understand

> How is it possible that us humans can somehow allow a single person be directly responsible for death of millions of people? It is so easy to stop a person. Why didn't somebody, anybody just take out someone like Genghis Khan? He was responsible for killing uncountable millions of people.

For the specific example of Temujin, I rather expect it was because he was surrounded by an army - a literal horde - of mongols for whom he was the bee's knees.

Otherwise, think about it. When would you have "stopped" Adolf Hitler, hmmm? When he was still just some guy ranting his head off after being thrown in the clink for his ridiculous attempt to overthrow the government in an overgrown pub?

Kind of an overreaction, don't you think? Looking at that buffon and thinking "This man is going to start WWII, I'd better get myself put in the same prison he's in so I can shank him and spend the rest of my life in jail/be executed on a murder rap, because That Guy is gonna start the shit."

When he was a rising-star politician who was energizing vast and disenfranchised swathes of the base, and "taking him out" would definitely launch a massive wave of reprisals from him angry supporters, risking destabilizing everything? Better to just the ordinary mechanisms of politics take care of him, he'll fuck-up royal and they'll abandon him shortly, etc.

Hindsight is 20/20, innit? As you're watching things go by, not so much - especially since, no matter how much YOU want him gone, you'd rather keep on living your life, and so would rather just wait because any day now, someone else who values the country more than their personal liberty and reputation will "take him out" for you.

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Gareth Corfield

"communist Russia." Wrong. USSR. You sound like a Septic, because that is what they call Russia today, that or Soviet Russia.

"RAF radio direction finding stations (RDF, the short-lived original term for radar)" Wrong, completely wrong. RDF is RDF and radar is radar. They existed side by side for decades.

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Anonymous Coward

I really love the fact

Not sure if this has already been said.

I really love the fact that he was Jewish and shows they aren't just victims. It also shows this fascist / racist attitude is doomed to failure. We are all equal and capable of great things.

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Re: I really love the fact

Totally agree with objective but that is far from fact.

That we today know his "race" shows a racist attitude. Referring to peoples race in such a manner shows we still think there is more than one race. Race and racism is as important and integral part of our society and governments as it ever was.

We are still racist and we certainly are not all equal. We, humans particularly those in Africa, Asia, and Europe are very far away from such a utopia. Though a lofty goal, the idea that we are all equal and in particular when it comes to race, has been rejected by the vast majority of people and leaders.

If anything people and cultures/races are increasingly being pitted against each other with governments regularly making value judgements on which culture is best, or is even worthy of consideration, some cultures are told they do not exist or should willingly step aside if they do.

But I think the most obvious refutation of "the fact" such fascist/racist attitude is doomed can be seen in the country those Canadians soldiers. The most obvious proof of the success of the fascist/racist attitude is Canada's ongoing and growing Apartheid system.

Today, in the 21st century, being born Canadian isn't the measure of equality in the eyes of Canadian law, government, or society. It is race. Canada still abides by treaties from a time when slavery and racism was not only legal but often legally mandated. Those treaties were created in a time and by people who not only agreed that different races meant a different equality but that all future people would agree that a persons race should decide their place in society.

Today those treaties are at the foundation of an Apartheid system that not only has Reserves where people of only one race are allowed to live but also decides a Canadians roles and responsibilities to the government and society.

In Canada race decides a Canadians healthcare funding, educational opportunities, and job opportunities. Race also determines what laws apply, what taxes must be paid, what government programs are available, even the level of political representation. In Canada race is the determining factor and it is mandated by law at many levels in many situations. Access to many government programs are determined by race/culture and not just when it comes to Aboriginal people. The poison that is racism can be found in many many government programs, particularly those targeting cultures and peoples and that, as always, creates victims and victors.

The idea that a Canadians race should decide such things was fought against by many Canadians in the past, including many of those fighting in WWII, and suggesting those attitudes are doomed to failure while their flourish in our own countries does IMO a disservice to those who fought and gave so much.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I really love the fact

To the Thumbs down, which part do you disagree with?

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What about Nissenthal's own book?

"Winning the Radar War"; Nissen, Jack with A.W. Cockerill; Robert Hale 1989

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How did they manage any surprise?

I mean the radio waves MUST have bounced off those big brass ones he was hauling around with him and lit up the screens like Christmas..

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Silver badge

This, combined with the naivete of the Allied planners back in Britain, had left the Canadians exposed and vulnerable.

I doubt it was naivete, it's because of politics and their chiefs' ego that Canadians were sacrified in this suicidal task. Mountbatten words were just a way to hide that fact and heal the Canadian wounds.

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