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Sawing a woman in half ... using a machine gun!!

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Will Rock was one of many magicians drafted into military service during World War Two. Luckily for Rock, one of America’s foremost illusionists at the time, the army chose to make use of his magic skills, by putting him in charge of entertainment in a key training centre. Throwing his all into the task, Rock becoming a first-class soldier sorcerer for Uncle Sam.   Born William George Rakauskas in Lithuania in 1907, Will Rock and his family emigrated to the U.S.A. when he was five years old, settling in Detroit, Michigan. As a young man he worked at a car factory, but left to pursue a career in magic. Inspired by magicians such as Eugene Laurant, Rock put together act and, by 1928, he was performing in the lesser vaudeville circuits. In 1931 he became an assistant to The Great Raymond, learning his craft and saving up the money needed to mount his own show.  Will Rock, 1938 (Source: Genii Magazine) In 1938, two years after Howard Thurston ‘the last greatest magician in the world’ d

Hitler's V-Weapons: Magicians and the battle against the V-1 and V-2

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"I am informed by the Fuhrer that the big rocket bomb weighs 14 tons. This, of course, is a devastating murder weapon. I suspect that when the first projectiles plunge down into London, the English public will panic." - Josef Goebbels, Nazi propaganda minister An hour before sunrise on 13 June 1944, two members of the Royal Observer Corps were on duty at their post on the top of a Martello tower on the seafront at Dymchurch in Kent, England. At that moment, they spotted the approach of a flying object spurting red flames from its rear  and with  the sound of a roaring engine. This was the  first V-1 (Fi 103) flying bomb to be released against Britain and it was rattling towards them. A week earlier, the D-Day and the Normandy landings, had signalled the beginning of the end of the war in Europe. Unkindly, just when the possibility of success and peace looked not too far away, Hitler's  Vergeltungswaffen 1 (German: Vengeance Weapon 1), known as the 'doodlebug' or &

Punx: A POW magician in Wales (and the story of the friendship clock)

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A German magician in a Welsh prisoner-of-war camp discovers how the brotherhood and art of magic can transcend war. Some of the magicians who served as sailors, soldiers and airmen in World War Two, inevitably became prisoners-of-war (POW). Those serving with the Allied Powers ended up in the hands of the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan and Fascist Italy, or vice versa. The majority of POWs from the Axis Powers were captured by the Soviet Union, who held 3 million POWs in thousands of camps. Others were captured and held by the Western Allies and dispersed throughout the world. In Britain, at its peak, there  were 390 major POW camps  to house half a million POWs or surrendered enemy personnel (SEP).  Another 400,000 prisoners were sent to the U.S.A.  Countries in the British Empire, such as Australia, Canada and India, also took in POWs. On e Axis soldier to end up incarcerated in Britain, was a German magician called Ludwig Hanemann. Ludwig Franz Wilhelm Hanemann

Bill Bowes: England and Yorkshire cricketer becomes POW conjurer

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William Eric Bowes (1908-1987), known as 'Bill' Bowes, was an English professional cricketer. He played for Yorkshire, Marylebone Cricket Club and represented England in test cricket 15 times.  Active between 1929 and 1946, Bowes' strength was as a right-arm fast-medium bowler. In first-class cricket he took  1,639  wickets at a cost of just 16.76, a highly commendable bowling average. At 6' 4", his bowling was a bit gangly and ponderous, but he delivered the goods. To those who knew him, Bowes was a  charming, intelligent and generous sportsman. W. E. (Bill) Bowes, cricketer (1932) (Source: Public domain) Off the cricket field, Bowes enjoyed a side-interest in magic. He wrote about his introduction to magic in his  autobiography, Express Deliveries (1950): “Sitting in the dressing-room at Lord’s one wet day when I was nineteen, I was fascinated by a display of conjuring given by Arthur Cuthbertson, a minor counties cricketer. The amateur conjuror is always assure