Suicide as an act of war - a question.

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by one-flew-over, Jan 14, 2009.

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  1. I am writing a presentation on “Suicide in war”. It is part of a study into suicide bombing and I want to look at how and when suicide has been used in lawful combat.

    Obviously the Jap Kamikaze is the start but I would like to ask the more knowledgeable Arrsers of other examples. To clarify, I mean lawful acts of war where soldiers have conducted a mission in which they planned to take their own life in the execution of the mission. Bravely fighting to the last or missions likely to lead to death but not deliberately taking own life are not the issues I’m looking at.

    (Sensible) suggestions welcomed.

    Cheers OFO
  2. Not the best of sources I admit but I recall from reading "Lord of the Bow" by Conn Iggulden ref. to a "Black Tong" in China (or Chin, as per the book) whose members were trained as assassins for "one-way missions" :D

    Clearly the book is a work of fiction but given that it is based upon a factual character i.e. Genghis Khan, it is possible that the author may have source material to back up his inclusion of the "Black Tong" reference - then again it might just be dramatic licence on his part. Google is most certainly not my helpful friend today so can't validate further 8O

  3. Cheers lancs - I can do the research, it is startpoints like that I need! Cheers mate.
  4. A few spring to mind

    Russian penal battalions in WW2

    The Tet Offensive and suicide bombers attacking the American embassy

    The Spartan last stand 300

    The lost fighter about the hurricaine pilot who rammed his plane into a german bomber on its way to buck house

    American civil war submariners
  5. Thanks folks, useful stuff.
  6. ofo,

    Although thankfully it never had to be done, some of the targets for nuclear strike in Ukraine and Bellarus were beyond the combat radii (but not range - ie they could make it there but not all the way home) of the NATO fighter bombers tasked against them.

    Many USAF and RAF fast jet (and to a lesser extent bomber) aircrew understood that there job was to get to the target and then get as far back to home as possible, or a neutral country before ejecting. Throughout the Cold War, each nuclear qualified aircrew were only briefed on one or 2 targets, the route and nature of which they had to memorize. Many were under no illusions that their trip would have been one way.

    Good luck with the presentation.

  7. To that you could mention the entire armed forces during the cold war .
    Not sure about the marines in norway ,but,West germany seemed destined to be where the Army got mowed down by hordes of russians just before the nukes went off .
  8. Peninsular War - Forlone Hope squads?
  9. Thanks guys! Sure there are a lot of "Operation CERTAIN DEATH" but it is examples of those actually starting out with a plan to kill themselves (not get killed) as briefed in the 'Execution' paragraphs!

    The Cockleshell heroes went out knowing they would probably not come back but not intending to die by their own free will.

  10. Not sure if this one counts but he deliberately took his life and that of others during the Ten Day Campaign in 1831.

    Edited: The Hashshashin may we worth googling.
  11. BIPOLAR77 - "The lost fighter about the hurricaine pilot who rammed his plane into a german bomber on its way to buck house"

    I've heard this chap talk about the event. He had no intention of killing himself. Being out of ammo he thought he'd do enough with a knock to incapacitate the bomber's rudder or elevators. As it was he ended up chopping the whole tailplane off - and living to tell about it of course. 8O :D

    one-flew-over - "The Cockleshell heroes went out knowing they would probably not come back but not intending to die by their own free will."

    In that case you could say that about a lot of Cdo, SAS, SBS, SF raids??? Also the Independent Coys in Norway and a number of Units in Britain’s invasion defence had to sign an 'acknowledged expendable' form. 8O


    ps. does riding in the tail boom of a Blackburn Beverley count?
  12. Cheers Stanley.

    I'm looking at this to talk about 3 levels now. 1. Soldiers embarking on a mision in which they know they will die (but hope not to). I have so many examples, WW1 just geting out the trench seems to be the sort of thing. 2. Those who take their oewn life as an act of war due to circumstances they find themselves in. The did not set out intending to die but take their own life for the grater good once all other options are gone. 3. Those who deliberately set out planning to use their death at their own initiation to destroy a target.

    Thanks for all the good ideas so far!
  13. This may (or may not!) come under level 2 but I recall being told of Fegen's exploit when I was in junior school,
    If it doesn't qualify , it won't hurt for the story to get another outing anyway.

    Capt Fogarty Fegen VC