The WWII battle where potatoes were used as projectiles


After spotting the Japanese submarine, USS O’Bannona Fletcher-class destroyer (according to the Destroyer History Foundation), was ready to attack. One would guess that a ship from the iconic Destroyer Squadron 21 would be equipped with advanced military technology like missiles. O’Bannon had impressive artillery, including state-of-the-art anti-aircraft guns, deck guns and torpedo tubes, for We are the mighty. However, after pulling up next to the sleeping submarine, the crew suddenly believed it was a layer of mines. This led them to an awkward situation. The submarine’s crew was awakened by a menacing American destroyer which was a little too close to lower its guns. The answer to this riddle? Potato barrels on the deck of the O’Bannon.

Both crews on deck were short of guns and so began a frantic game of hot potato. The Japanese unknowingly believed that these tubers were pomegranates and threw them directly onto O’Bannon’s deck. Meanwhile, Commander Donald J. MacDonald, O’Bannon’s commander (per Americans in World War II), ordered the ship’s crew to pull O’Bannon away from the submarine the correct distance so they could loot it. This strategy worked. Potatoes themselves proved to be an excellent weapon of choice: heavy, sturdy balls flying through the air, wreaking havoc on enemy bridges. In 1945, Maine potato growers gave O’Bannon a memorial plaque for potato heroic deeds (per The Bangor Daily News).


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