Friday, October 9, 2015

"Great War Ends! Japs Will Surrender to Gen. M'Arthur"-- Part 2

Today, many younger Americans believe World War II ended immediately after the atom bombs were dropped.  It didn't.

Japan had held on for three months after Germany's surrender against increased Allied attack and most believed that the only way to bring Japan to its knees would be a massive invasion.  American casualties were estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands and Japanese, including civilians would be astronomical.

Throughout the spring of 1945, troopships landed in east coast ports carrying soldiers from Europe who were to be redeployed in the Pacific.  General Homer Groninger, commander of the New York port observed, "This is the start of the big parade to the Pacific."  he said this on the arrival of the famed Blackhawk Division, the first arriving contingent.  Seven hundred of them were from the Chicago area.


"Great War Ends! Japs Will Surrender to Gen. M'Arthur"-- Part 1

From the August 9, 2015, Chicago Tribune. "On V-J Day, Chicagoans celebrated with abandon" by Ron Grossman.

The newspaper ran a copy of the top of the August 15, 1945, Chicago Tribune's Two-Star Final.  Three Cents--  Pay No More.

The banner headline at top of this blog entry.

Other headlines on the page:

U.S.S. Indianapolis Sunk; All Aboard Casualties: Lost in Action After Delivering Atom Bomb Parts.

Army To Free Millions; Cut Draft Quotas.

Jury Asks Execution of Petain.

Words That Ended War.

Hirohito Accepts Role of Puppet; Agrees To carry Out Allied Orders.

Truman to Proclaim V-J Day After Emissaries Complete Signing of Formal Terms.Emperor Says Atom Bomb Made Nippon Give Up.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The USS North Carolina Floats Again

I came across mention in the Wilmington (NC) Star-News that the latest round of rain in the state has put the Cape Fear River in flood stage and that as a result the battleship will actually float above the mud it is mired in at some point today.

It last floated in 2010 as a result of heavy rains and high tide.  This also happened during Hurricane Floyd and the March storm of 1993.

Go, You Old Battleship.  --GreGen

Gold Hunters Blocked from the Site of Alleged Nazi Train-- Part 2

From the September 9, 2015, CNBC "WWII tunnel found in search for Nazi gold train" by Matt Clinch.

Gold rush fever intensified Wednesday with the confirmation that a tunnel was found near the suspected site of a lost German gold train.  The trainis believed to have been carrying billions of dollars in gold and disappeared in the closing days of the war in Europe..

Now, officials in the city of Walbrzych in Poland report the finding of "a railway tunnel with a multi-level complex of underground corridors from the days of World War II."

It is possible that the train, fleeing the advancing Red Army, was carrying 300 tons of gold, precious stones and firearms.  One death has been attributed to this new gold rush.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Gold Hunters Blocked From Site of Alleged Nazi Train-- Part 1

From the Sept. 1, 2015, Chicago Tribune.

Polish authorities have blocked off a wooded area near a railroad track after scores of treasure hunters swarmed southwest Poland looking for an alleged Nazi gold train.

The city of Walbrzych and its surrounding hills are experiencing a gold rush after two men, a Pole and a German, informed authorities through their lawyers that they have found a Nazi train with armaments and valuables that reportedly went missing in the spring of 1945 while fleeing the advancing Red Army.


Dane Saved Chinese Lives During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 6: A Refuge

Bernahrd Sindberg, now in charge of the plant, with Karl Guenther, a German, painted a Danish flag and German Swastika flag on the factory to keep the Japanese from bombing or attacking it.  Japan was not at war with either of those countries.

When Chinese civilians realized that the building was safe, they began flocking there.  Bernhard and Karl set up a makeshift hospital on the grounds and started providing shelter.  They would risk their lives leaving the compound to go to the Red Cross to get food, supplies and medicine.

Meanwhile, conditions in the factory started failing.  The Chinese suffered from hunger, disease and the cold.

The Japanese were aware of what was going on, and after three months, forced Sindberg to leave and sent him to Shanghai where he took a ship to Europe and arrived in Italy where his father picked him up and they drove home.  On the way, they stopped at Geneva where he was honored and thanked by the Chinese delegation.

Later, Sindberg moved to the United States and lived there the rest of his life.


A Dane Saved Chinese Lives During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 5: China

Bernhard Sindberg arrived in China in 1934, once again as a stowaway on a Danish merchant ship, but this time he was caught, but escaped.  He then held several different jobs, including one where he demonstrated Dutch rifles to the Chinese.

One job that he held for awhile probably had a huge impact on his later days in Nanking.  He was the chauffeur for English journalist Penbroke Stephens after the Japanese occupied Shanghai.  The Daily Telegraph reporter covering the Sino-Japanese War was noted for his front line style of reporting until he was killed doing just that.

The Danish company F.L. Smidth was building a concrete factory in Nanking and hired Sindberg as a guard.  It was dangerous, but well-paid work.  He arrived in Nanking on December 2, 1937.  Eleven days later the Japanese occupied the city and the atrocities began.  Sindberg documented them with his camera and wrote extensively about what he was seeing.


Monday, October 5, 2015

A Dane Saved Chinese Lives During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 4: Bernhard Arp Sindberg

From Wikipedia.

Born 19 February 1911, Died 1983.  Known in China as "Mr. Xin," "Xinbo," "The Greatest Dane," "The Shining Buddha" or "Our Savior."

Sindberg always had the urge to travel and see things and eventually left home, after running away often, at age 17.  He lived most of his life in the United States, but traveled extensively around the world.

He was one of the view foreigners to witness the Japanese Rape of Nanking.  His pictures, letters and journals show the atrocities that took place.  In addition, his business efforts are responsible for saving as many as 6,000 Chinese civilians, which has given him the title "Friend of China."

At age 17, he went to the United States, but returned home.  His next time away, he joined the French Foreign Legion, but didn't like the desert and deserted after ten months by being a stowaway on a ship.


A Dane Saved Chinese Lives During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 3

The Chinese government never recognized Nernhard Sindberg during his lifetime, but did send a delegation to Denmark in 2000 to search for him.  He had years earlier, but they did find his relatives.  In 2005, members were invited to China and given the VIP treatment as Bernhard was honored by the government.

Ole Sindberg inherited his half-brother's documents and donated some of them to the University of Texas in Austin.  But he still has dozens of documents at his Trout Valley home.  he even has a 1954 motorcycle from the same company his brother once worked for, which he occasionally drives around town.

He spent three hours with the documentary crew and then more hours telling the story to his grandchildren.

One relative, Sonya, intends to use Bernhard's story as the basis of her undergraduate thesis at Lake Forest College.


Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Dane Saved Chinese Lives During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 2

Ole Sindberg's father was also the father of Bernhard Sindberg, though Bernhard was 23 years older.  However, Ole began having contact with Bernhard in 1962 when they were working in British Columbia, Canada.  They met for dinner in Vancouver and afterwards retired to Ole's hotel room where Bernhard told stories that lasted well into the night.

The two stayed in touch and over time, Ole began to realize his brother's stories were true.

Bernhard Sindberg had made a number of stops after he left Denmark.  As a teen, he joined and deserted from the French Foreign Legion, got thrown into the brig of a ship traveling from the U.S. to China, and selling motorcycles and machine guns.In 1937, a Danish company put him in charge of a cement factory in Nanking, where civilians were being brutally murdered and abused by Japanese soldiers.

It was then that Bernhard decided that he could do something to help them.  With the regular staff gone, Bernhard invited civilians to the factory and painted a huge Danish flag on the roof.  He maintained a good relationship with the Japanese in order to protect his factory and Chinese citizens.


A Dane Saved As Many as 20,000 Chinese During the Rape of Nanking-- Part 1

From the September 24, 2015, Northwest Herald (Illinois) "  Man tells of brother's life-saving actions during Rape of Nanking" by Caitlin Swieca.

This story came about because a Chinese TV crew recently interviewed Ole Sindber,81, in Trout Valley, Illinois.  They were there to document what his half-brother Bernhard had done to save the lives of thousands of Chinese during the Japanese Rape of Nanking in the late 1930s.

Bernhard Sindberg died in 1983 and is regarded as a hero by the Chinese government for sheltering thousands of innocent Chinese citizens in a Danish-owned cement factory through the worst of the massacre in 1937 and 1938.

The Chinese government estimates that 300,000 people died in the first six weeks of the occupation and Sindberg may have saved as many as 20,000 lives, although estimates vary greatly.

The story is being documented by the China Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp. and will in a 10-part series dedicated to heroes of the massacre.

Ming Liu is the director of the documentary and contacted Ole Sindberg, a native Dane now living in Trout Valley, to tell of his brother's deeds.


Friday, October 2, 2015

USS Schenck (DD-159)-- Part 2

From then on, it escorted convoys carrying much-needed supplies to England.  It escorted its first convoy right away in September.  After the U.S. formally entered the war, it continued its North Atlantic  until 1943.

It was decommissioned 17 May 1946 and sold for scrap.

The ship was 314 feet long, 31 foot beam and had a crew of 122.  Besides torpedoes and depth charges, it mounted four 4-inch guns and one 3-inch.


The USS Schenck (DD-159)-- Part 1: Neutrality Patrol and Civil War Connection

From Wikipedia.

Yesterday, I wrote about Rear Admiral Robert B. Ellis.  At one time, he commanded the destroyer USS Schenck (DD-159)  It was a Wickes-Class destroyer commissioned 30 October 1919.

It was named after James F. Schenck who served in the Mexican and Civil War.  he was the first to raise and American flag in California in 1846.  During the Civil War, he commanded the USS Powhattan and the Third Division of ships during Admiral Porter's bombardment of Fort Fisher.

The USS Schenck began its Neutrality Patrol off the east coast of the United States on 8 September 1939 and then patrolled off Key West.  It then took USNA midshipmen on two cruises from Annapolis and then began patrolling the Caribbean looking for German ships.  Ellis commanded the Schenck from 1941 to May 25, 1942.

On September 15, 1941, it went to Newfoundland and escorted convoys.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Rear Admiral Robert Beaman Ellis-- Part 2: Destroyer Man and Castro

Rear Admiral Robert Ellis died July 15, 1984.  He graduated from the USNA.  In World War II, he commanded a squadron of destroyers. One of his ships, the USS Reuben James was sunk by a German U-boat off the coast of the U.S. before the U.S. entered World War II.  He also commanded the destroyer USS Schenck (DD-159) while a lieutenant-commander from 1941 to May 26, 1942.

He served in the Navy for 33 years and during that time was chief of staff for the US Navy Sixth Fleet in 1952 and the US North Atlantic and Mediterranean Command in 1954.

He was in command of the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during Castro's insurgency.  A newspaper article mentions him in regards to 30 U.S. servicemen and 4 civilians who were being held captive by Castro in 1958.

The Wilmington (NC) Star-News ran an obituary for him July 17, 1984 and said he retired from the Navy in 1959 and spent six years as superintendent of the USS North Carolina Battleship memorial.

He moved to Griffin, Georgia, in 1976 and lived there until his death.


Rear Admiral Robert B. Ellis-- Part 1:Superintendent of USS North Carolina Battleship Memorial

In yesterday's post, I mentioned this man as the superintendent of the Battleship North Carolina back in 1965.

He was from Durham, North Carolina and died in 1984 at the age of 81.  During World War II he served as chief of staff of the Navy's Sixth Fleet and in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Command.

When the USS North Carolina entered its final mooring opposite Wilmington, N.C., Pearl Harbor had not quite been 20 years earlier.  Thousands of men and women from World War II visited the ship in those days.  Sadly, not so many anymore.


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Battleship USS North Carolina's Alligator Gets a Name Back in 1965

From the Sept. 27, 2015, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.

I am sure glad to see they've started up this interesting column looking back on the area history over the years in the Wilmington papers.  They were doing this regularly for awhile, but not often  the last year or so.  The big problem is that this paper only allows a small number of views each month.

SEPTEMBER 12, 1965:  The USS North Carolina had been moored in Wilmington for about four years at the time and animals had started hanging out in her slip across from the city.  The best-known was an alligator that the people on the ship had named Charley (but who could just as well be Charlene, as no one checked for some reason).

Other fauna hanging around were jumping mullet (probably because of Charley), gar, otters, marsh hens and lots and lots of turtles.

The USS North Carolina battleship superintendent, Retired Rear Admiral Robert B. Ellis, joked that they should open an aquarium because of all their animal and fish residents.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

World War II Museums Show Way to VJ Day-- Part 6: National World War II Museum

The war with Japan and the country's eventual surrender are told in a new exhibit opening this December at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

The "Road to Tokyo" follows the trail of GIs beginning at Pearl Harbor and then through the island hopping across the Pacific over the next nearly four years.  The exhibit will show the grueling conditions faced by our men, but also facing an enemy from a vastly different culture.

Aging veterans greet visitors in the lobby at a small table and will share their experiences.


Monday, September 28, 2015

World War II Museums Show Way To VJ Day-- Part 5: National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

It was new President Harry Truman who ultimately made the decision to drop the atom bombs on two Japanese cities--  Hiroshima and Nagasaki--  in August 1945.  The devastating blasts brought the Japanese around to surrendering.

The impact of unleashing the then-new technology can be seen at the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The atom bomb was developed at the "secret city" of Los Alamos, N.M., and the first test detonation occurred near Almogordo, N.M..

Curator David Hoover says, "We just present the facts.  We let people draw their own conclusions."


Saturday, September 26, 2015

World War II Museums Show Way to VJ Day-- Part 4: Ernie Pyle, "Dead Men By Mass Production"

In Ernie Pyle's pocket the day he was killed April 18, 1945, was his final dispatch in his own handwriting, that eloquently described the horrors of war:  "Dead men by mass production-- in one country after another--  month after month and year after year.

"Dead men in winter and dead men in summer.

"Dead men is such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous.

"Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them."

Though most Americans nowadays have probably never heard of him, Pyle was so famous that Harry Truman, who had become president just six days earlier, announced his death.  "More than any other man, he became the spokesman of the ordinary American in arms doing so many extraodinary things," Truman said.


Friday, September 25, 2015

World War II Museums Show Way to VJ Day-- Part 3:The Ernie Pyle World War II Museum in Indiana

It is in tiny Dana, Indiana and volunteer Phil Hess believes that war stories should be preserved, "History is fragile."

He is one of the people who keep the Ernie Pyle World War II museum going..

Ernie Pyle was a very famous war correspondent who grew up in Dana, actually in a farmhouse that is now part of the museum.  He is one of the most famous war correspondents of all time.

"He had about 40 million daily readers.  He was in 700 newspapers," Hess explained.  "He spent his time with the enlisted guys.  He'd go to the front lines.  He'd go up to the repair shops He'd go with truck drivers.  ...People who read (his columns) felt like they were reading a letter from their servicemen."

The museum features dioramas from various places from where he wrote his columns-- North Africa; Normandy; France; and the Pa Near the end of the museum tour, visitors see a mural depicting the ditch in which Ernie Pyle was killed by Japanese gunfire on April 18, 1945.