Dead Pool 30th July 2023

This week is marked by the sad passing of Sinéad O’Connor, unsurprisingly, nobody had her listed. However, George Alagiah finally succumbed to cancer, so 83 points for Neil, Martin, Nickie, Christine, Julia and myself. Well done everyone! 

Look Who You Could Have Had:

In Other News

A beloved captive manatee has died after ‘high intensity sex’ with his brother caused severe internal injuries, a autopsy has found. Hugh, 38, died at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Saratsota on April 29th after mating with his larger brother, Buffet, caused a 14.5cm rip in his colon. The aquarium said it observed the pair engaging in ‘in natural, yet increased, mating behaviour’ on the day, and then later found blood in Hugh’s colon, before he was found unresponsive at the bottom of the pool. According to the aquarium such behaviour has been ‘documented in manatees both in managed care and in the wild.’ Officials said this was the first time such heightened mating behaviour was witnessed between the two manatees and it was believed that separating them would cause more harm. Hugh and Buffett were both observed initiating and mutually seeking interactions from each other throughout the day and there were no obvious signs of discomfort or distress such as listing, crunching, or active avoidance that would have triggered a need for intervention’ they explained. Jenessa Gjeltema, an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine told the Flying Monkeys: ‘You can have a poor outcome in those kinds of situations either way sometimes… Managing these wild animals under human care, it’s not always a straightforward situation.’ Gjeltema said that sex between male manatees, including brothers, is not uncommon. ‘They’re not too meticulous about who their partners are. They just have this kind of a sexual urge, and then they’ll engage in activity with whomever seems to be in the area’, she explained. She added: ‘That context of whom is related to whom is less of an important factor in their social engagements and interactions.’ 

TV chef James Martin has revealed he was diagnosed with cancer on his face and gets ‘regular’ treatments to combat the disease. This revelation comes after he was accused of ‘bullying and intimidating behaviour’ by crew members on an ITV show. He released a statement where he said he “was shocked by what had happened and on reflection acknowledges he responded emotionally.” James, 51, has been accused by a producer that while filming for James Martin’s Spanish Adventure he ‘berated’ staff and ‘reduced them to tears’ in front of other colleagues. Leaked audio was released that heard him ranting at staff for ten minutes in an expletive-filled rant. In response, Martin said that time was “one of the most fraught and difficult periods of my life”. Opening up about his illness, he told the Flying Monkeys: “I was diagnosed with cancer on my face and I had to have surgery, which I couldn’t do until two days before Christmas when we had finished filming. Since then it has returned on several occasions and I have to have regular treatments.” Martin said he “sincerely apologised” to the crew at the time of the rant in 2018. He said: “I have always strived to keep my private life private. However since details of a conversation, which was secretly recorded in January 2018, are now five years later being made public by a former member of our production team, I have decided to make a statement. The end of 2017 was one of the most fraught and difficult periods of my life. I was dealing with the death of my last living grandparent, my grandfather, and on account of work commitments I could not attend his funeral. Later that month I was burgled at night by a team of masked men, who entered my house while my partner Louise was at home alone and I was away working. I was devastated that she had to go through that alone.” Excuses excuses… 

On This Day

  • 1966 – England defeats West Germany to win the 1966 FIFA World Cup at Wembley Stadium after extra time and they haven’t shut up about it since…
  • 1975 – Jimmy Hoffa disappears from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, at about 2:30 p.m. He is never seen or heard from again.
  • 1990 – Ian Gow, Conservative Member of Parliament, is assassinated at his home by IRA terrorists in a car bombing after he assured the group that the British government would never surrender to them.
  • 2003 – In Mexico, the last ‘old style’ Volkswagen Beetle rolls off the assembly line.
  • 2006 – The world’s longest running music show Top of the Pops is broadcast for the last time on BBC Two. The show had aired for 42 years.


  • 1898 – Otto von Bismarck, German politician, 1st Chancellor of Germany (b. 1815).
  • 1992 – Joe Shuster, Canadian-American illustrator, co-created Superman (b. 1914).
  • 2007 – Ingmar Bergman, Swedish director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1918).
  • 2022 – Nichelle Nichols, American actress, singer and dancer (b. 1932).

The Ramree Island Crocodile Massacre 

In early 1945, as part of the Pacific War during World War II, Allied forces pinned down 1,000 Japanese soldiers in a mangrove swamp off the coast of Burma. Only 20 of the Japanese fighters made it out alive. The rest were reportedly eaten alive by hordes of prehistoric-looking saltwater crocodiles. According to one Allied commander: 

“That night was the most horrible that any member of the motor launch crews ever experienced. The scattered rifle shots in the pitch-black swamp punctured by the screams of wounded men crushed in the jaws of huge reptiles, and the blurred worrying sound of spinning crocodiles made a cacophony of hell that has rarely been duplicated on earth. At dawn the vultures arrived to clean up what the crocodiles had left… Of about one thousand Japanese soldiers that entered the swamps of Ramree, only about twenty were found alive.” 

This horrific event is known as the Ramree Island crocodile massacre, and in 1968 the Guinness Book of World Records awarded it the dubious distinction of “most human fatalities in a crocodile attack” at roughly 900 dead.

But in recent decades, historians and herpetologists have cast doubt on the ghastly tale. While it’s clear that scores of Japanese soldiers died in the battle for Ramree Island, there’s no mention of a “crocodile massacre” in official military reports (either British or Japanese), and saltwater crocodiles aren’t known for “feeding frenzies” of this scale, especially on live human prey.

So where did this apocryphal tale come from, and how did it spread so far and wide? 

The gruesome passage quoted above was written by Bruce S. Wright, a Royal Canadian Lieutenant Commander credited with inventing the idea of “frogmen units,” SCUBA-diving soldiers who could spy on the enemy from the water.

In 1945, Wright took part in the joint British and Indian assault on Ramree Island, which the Allies hoped to capture from the Japanese and use as a strategic airfield. As the leader of his frogman unit, Wright’s job was to perform reconnaissance, but he also spent hours documenting the local sea life, which included sharks and octopi. After the war, Wright became a respected wildlife biologist and author.

Interestingly, it may have been Wright’s clout as a naturalist that helped launch the myth of the crocodile massacre into the public imagination.

Wright wrote his one-paragraph account of the killer crocodiles in his 1962 book, “Wildlife Sketches: Near and Far.” But then the story was picked up by another scientist, the conservationist Roger Caras. In his 1964 book “Dangerous to Man,” Caras called the Ramree incident “one of the most deliberate and wholesale attacks on man by large animals that is on record.” Caras admits that “had the story come from a source other than Bruce Wright, I would be tempted to discount it. But Bruce Wright, a highly trained professional naturalist, was there at Ramree.” 

The problem is that while Wright was technically at Ramree, he wasn’t among the witnesses who claimed to have heard the cries of the Japanese as they were mauled by the giant crocodiles. According to a later retelling of the story in his memoir “The Frogmen of Burma,” Wright heard the story from British comrades on the boat crews patrolling the island.

If you read the passage closely, you see that Wright never said that he personally witnessed the massacre. “That night was the most horrible that any member of the motor launch crews ever experienced,” wrote Wright using the third person. But it’s precisely because of Wright’s reputation as a careful observer of the natural world that his secondhand (and likely embellished) account was accepted as fact. 

Yes, the saltwater crocodile is one of two crocodile species that “regularly prey on humans,” according to herpetologist Steven Platt. Saltwater crocodiles can grow to lengths of 23 feet (7 meters) and weigh more than a ton, and unlike alligators and smaller crocodiles, saltwater crocs will aggressively defend their territory and snack on the occasional human. Every year, dozens of people are killed by saltwater crocodiles, like the unfortunate 8-year-old girl who was attacked and eaten in front of her friends in Indonesia in 2021.

How common are saltwater crocodile attacks? In 2015, there were 180 total crocodile attacks in Southeast Asia, coastal India and Oceania and 79 of those were fatal.

Given that fewer than 100 people are killed by saltwater crocodiles each year across all of Southeast Asia and Oceania, what are the odds that 900 Japanese soldiers could have been eaten alive by ravenous crocodiles in a matter of weeks — much less during one horrific night — on one small island?

Historian Frank McLynn, in his book on the battle for Burma, concluded that the Ramree Island crocodile massacre “offends every single canon of historical verifiability” and also defies ecological logic. “If ‘thousands of crocodiles’ were involved in the massacre,” McLynn asks “how had these ravening monsters survived before and how were they able to survive later?” 

If the 900 Japanese soldiers weren’t gobbled up by crocodiles, as reported by Wright, then how did they die?

Well, for starters, the Japanese didn’t lose 900 soldiers at Ramree. According to two investigations. Roughly 500 of the original 1,000 Japanese soldiers were able to escape the mangrove swamps alive. That information was found in the Japanese military archives.

That still leaves 500 Japanese soldiers dead on Ramree, but very few of them, if any, were victims of crocodiles. According to local Burmese villagers who were alive during the battle for Ramree, including some who were conscripted by the Japanese military, most of the Japanese casualties in the swamp were due to dehydration and disease caused by exposure and lack of clean food and water.

So, what were those terrifying sounds that British boat patrols reportedly heard on that fateful night in February of 1945? There might be an answer for that, too. According to British military records accessed by the National Geographic investigation, in the early hours of February 18th 1945, the Allies discovered a “desperate attempt” by hundreds of Japanese soldiers to swim across a channel separating Ramree Island from the Burmese mainland.

“Except for a few swimmers, it’s doubtful that any survived the crossing,” reads the official British report. “It’s estimated that at least 100 Japanese were killed or drowned that night … 200 killed is regarded as a conservative estimate — about 40 loaded boats were known to have sunk. Possibly another 50 Japanese died in the mangrove from exposure and want of food and water. 14 prisoners were taken.”

This was most likely the real Ramree Island massacre, one perpetrated by human soldiers in an awful war, and not by bloodthirsty predators. 

Even though the vast majority of the Japanese casualties at Ramree Island were from conventional causes, there is some credence to the crocodile story.

When Steven Platt’s team interviewed local villagers, they said that 10 to 15 Japanese soldiers may have been attacked and killed by crocodiles as they tried to swim the channel. Another Allied commander reported that the escaping Japanese soldiers fell victim to naval patrols — and sharks — while attempting to reach the mainland. So, there’s evidence that at least some soldiers were killed by large predators lurking in the water.

And then there’s this gruesome clue to the origin of the Ramree Island myth. The morning after the Allied forces mowed down hundreds of escaping Japanese soldiers, the British military noticed the arrival of some opportunistic hunters to feed on the dead.

“The next day presented a grim appearance to add to the horror of the scene,” says the official British report. “Crocodiles previously reported as rarely seen appeared on the channel banks in increasing numbers.” 

Myth or fact, we will probably never really know. 

Last Week’s Birthdays

Christopher Nolan (53), Arnold Schwarzenegger (76), Laurence Fishburne (62), Hilary Swank (49), Jean Reno (75), Lisa Kudrow (60), Terry Crews (55), Carel Struycken (75), Frances de la Tour (79), Wil Wheaton (51), Anya Chalotra (28), Hannah Waddingham (49), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (53), Donnie Yen (60), Taylor Schilling (39), Jason Statham (56), Sandra Bullock (59), Kate Beckinsale (50), Helen Mirren (78), Kevin Spacey (64), Eve Myles (45), Nana Visitor (66), Mick Jagger (80), D.B. Woodside (54), Matt LeBlanc (56), Iman (68), Rose Byrne (44), Summer Glau (42), Anna Paquin (41), Jennifer Lopez (54), Elisabeth Moss (41), Lynda Carter (72), and Danny Dyer (46).

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