Search results



Book One World War Three 1946

Book One World War Three 1946
New Book Covers

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tin and Copper Make Brass

The tin came from the Cajalco mine in California. The piece of land that holds the mine is part of a 50,000 acre Spanish land grant. Because it forms a natural passageway through the mountains, the Temescal Valley it had served as an old Indian camping ground, later becoming an alternate route of the Southern Emigrant Trail in the 1850s and 1860s, as well as a Butterfield-Overland stage corridor.

The tin ore was discovered when a shirt tail relative of the local Native American tribal chief was shown what looked like a possible deposit of “metaliferous rock.” He promptly filed claim.

The area became collectively known as the Temescal Tin Mines as hundreds of claims were filed despite two prominent geologist’s reports that questioned the profitability of the area. Nevertheless miners kept coming to the area and digging. The Civil War interrupted most of the mining in the area. In 1868 almost 7000 pounds of tin were mined. Ore specimens were sent to England where they were pronounced the purest quality. The area was pronounced the only the workable body of tin in America.

An English syndicate became interested in the area and bought much of the land in 1891 and imported 200 experience Cornish miners, two were from the little town of St. Mawgan, Cornwall, Great Britain. After their arrival production of the mine increased dramatically. A pyramid of tin was built near the railroad and President Benjamin Harris had his pictures taken at the base of the Pyramid. Yet even so, within the short span of two years, unwise investments and bad management decisions led to the Cajalco Mine’s abrupt closure.

1927 the mine was reactivated and extensive improvements were made. Unfortunately the stock market crash of 1929 forced the closure of the mine once again. 1942 the Timko Corporation of Richmond Virginia bought the mine and reopened it to supply the demand of the military effort in World War II until its final closure in 1945.

The Cornishmen who stayed in the area worked the mine until its closing. Our small amount of tin came from this mine in 1944.

The copper came from the Calumet and Hecla, mining company in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In 1864 William J. Hobart discovered copper in the area. The town of Red Jacket, now known as Calumet, was built next to the mine. By 1886 the area was the leading copper producer in the United States, in fact from 1869 - 1876 it was the leading producer of copper in the world. Again, like the tin mines, the copper mines fell on hard times and consolidated during the 20s. However they still continue to produce high-grade copper until the 1970s.

Laborers for the copper mine were Finns, Poles, Italians, Irish, and once again Cornishmen with one coming from St. Mawgan, Cornwall, Great Britain.

A particular tragedy of note happened in 1914 at a laborers meeting. A meeting hall was packed with 500 people when someone shouted fire. There was no fire. 73 people died with 62 of them being children. They were crushed to death trying to escape and this became known as the Italian Hall Disaster. One of them was our Cornishman’s youngest son.

United States seems to have a knack for both finding and producing exactly the resources it needed at exactly the right time. From timber to oil, tin and copper, gold and uranium we’ve always found exactly what we need when we need it. The same was true in the Soviet Union and in addition both have needed help in bringing their resources to market. Much of that help for the Soviets is now coming from the former territories of Austria-Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany whereas the help for our tin and copper came from villages near St. Mawgan, Cornwall, Great Britain.

The Empire that the Soviets now held sway over holds every resource they will need to defend themselves from any aggressor. They just need time to exploit it properly.

The tin from the Cajalco Mine and the copper from the Calumet Mine combined to form the brass which was formed into the 20 mm cartridge casing that is the object of our story.

On the spent shell casing is stamped the letters AS which means it was produced at the Aluminum Specialty Company of Manitowoc. WI. Manitowoc is 30 miles south of Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI home of the World Champion Green Bay Packers and on the shores of Lake Michigan. Millions of exact replicas of our shell casing came from this company’s factory. Four former residence of St. Mawgan, Cornwall, Great Britain worked in this plant.

The projectile end of this assembly was shot in the general direction of a Tupolov 6 Reconnaissance aircraft that was actually doing quite well in evading the Spitfires sent up to intercept it until it's port engine became unreliable near St. Mawgan, Cornwall, Great Britain. This particular projectile missed it's intended target. Others did not.

Our shell casing was ejected from the 2nd of two Hispano Mk II cannons on either side of the British Spitfire fighter plane’s port wing. It and 37 of its cousins fell through the air and fell on a house in St. Mawgan, Cornwall, Great Britain as the projectile went on to miss its intersection with the pilot’s intended target. The second burst from this gun did not miss and sawed off the wing of the Soviet aircraft 6 minutes later in the twisting turn battle over Mawgan, Cornwall. The noise of the shell casings on the roof of the house caused the family living inside to venture out to explore what had made the noise. The three year old girl of the family saw our shell casing and picked it up and held it in her tiny hand as her father held her other hand.

They moved to the center of the street to get a better look and after a few minutes or so they started back to their home when the 8 year old boy saw the wing from the Tu 6 with one engine still attached cart wheeling towards their home and screamed for his father and pointed his little finger at the falling hunk of metal. His father never did see the flailing wing but immediately reacted to his son’s cry of terror and pulled his family into a doorway on the other side of the street.

The wing hit the house and sliced like a knife through the roof and second floor where a small portion of the fuel in the wing tanks vaporized and then exploded from a spark caused by an iron fitting hitting a small fragment of flint in the stones on the fire place. The explosion went straight up taking a large portion of the second floor and blowing off the roof of the house while leaving the walls intact. The debris from the roof rained down upon our little family.

Family lore credited our shell casing with getting the family out of their house and to safety. The little girl cherished the shell casing all her life and it is now prominently displayed over the new fireplace mantle and still in St. Mawgan, Cornwall.

Two metals came from California and Michigan, both mined by Cornishmen from St. Mawgan were combined together by others of St. Mawgan in Manitowoc, WI, USA. This shell casing and the noise it made hitting the roof over our little family probably saved their lives. None of this can be proven of course, but try and tell that to a 69 year old grandmother of six who still lives in the house she grew up in on that same street in St. Mawgan and you will get the story straight from the mouth of what was once a 3 year old girl cowering next to her father as her home exploded in front of her eyes and if her 75 year old brother is sober he will tell you the same story.

The chances that both the shell casing and later the cart wheeling wing of the Tu 6 would both hit the same roof after dropping from a height of 8934 meters is astronomical I'm sure, but such is the irony of war.

On another note. The spent projectiles from the same shell fired by the Spitfire that missed the Tu 6, went on to kill a cow eating quite contently in the middle of a field some distance away. The farmer's wife was about to herd the cow into the barn and was about 2 meters away when the poor creature was struck.

To this day the family living on the farm tells the story of expired cow and speculation abounds as to where the bullet came from. At every holiday family feast and reunion the story grows more and more complex and convoluted. As the old saying goes "truth is stranger than fiction" and none of the stories concocted on the farm is anywhere near as interesting as the truth.

The spent projectile is in almost pristine condition and sits on this families fire place mantle as a memento of their close brush with death. Neither family knows that they possess pieces of the same 20MM cannon round and the stories that go with them.

No comments:

Post a Comment