Friday, 13 February 2015

Yes, Virginia, a Bible Really Did Stop a Bullet.

     I seem to be writing a lot about war these days. Of course, we have all heard the story about the soldier whose life was saved when the Bible in his breast pocket stopped a bullet. But it's just an urban legend, isn't it? Besides, it has been effectively debunked by the Mythbusters, hasn't it?
     Well, not quite. Yes, it is an urban legend, in that nobody can tell you when, where, or to whom it happened. But folklorists do recognize such a thing as "ostension", when real life accidentally mimics an urban legend. As for the Mythbusters, all they proved was that no book is strong enough to stop a bullet fired directly at it from the distance of a normal rifle range. It ignores what really happens on the battlefield, with bullets and shrapnel spraying and ricocheting left, right, and centre, losing momentum with each ricochet. In fact, military rounds are designed to ricochet. So you should not be surprised that the Australian Bible Society does possess a Bible - or, to be more precise, a New Testament with Psalms - which did stop a bullet.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Itching Powder for the U-Boats

     When American forces were busy liberating the south of France, imagine their surprise when, along a road, instead of German reinforcements, up marched a British officer in full Highland dress, including kilt. Major Havard Gunn had been parachuted in some weeks before dressed in his Seaforth uniform, with his kilt coming down with a subsidiary parachute. From there he joined the French Maquis, or irregular resistance fighters, and no hint of a British officer wearing a kilt behind enemy lines ever reached the ears of the Germans.