Thursday, October 30, 2014

Black Sailor on the USS North Carolina-- Part 2

John Seagraves served on the battleship USS North Carolina, eventually becoming one of eight blacks assigned to man 20 mm anti-aircraft guns, but remembers it wasn't an easy thing to do.

He told his chief that he would not clean up the officers' rooms.  "I refused to be a servant on the ship.  They called me a troublemaker.  I just don't want to be a flunkie to anybody."

There is a picture of Seagraves and his gunner crew taken on April 14, 1945.  It was taken by a U.S. Navy photographer just a moment after they had shot down a Japanese kamikaze plane that had slipped by dozens of American planes as well as spotters.

Seagraves remembers seeing the plane's propeller, tracers of his 20 mm shells and the two pilots in the front.  The plane went down 30 yards from the North Carolina, "You could see the fire under the water, and it actually jolted the ship when it exploded,"

Sixty-four years later, John Seagraves attended the USS North Carolina's reunion and found that that photo is now on the ship.

Fighting the Enemy and Segregation.  --GreGen

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Black Sailor Rose Above Segregation on the USS North Carolina-- Part 1

From the June 3, 2012, Fayetteville (NC) Observer "Black sailor who refused to be held back made a difference aboard the USS North Carolina during World War II" by April Dudash.

John Seagraves worked his way up from a cook in the officers' mess to 20 mm gunner on the battleship USS North Carolina.

He joined the Navy in 1943, a week before his 17th birthday and went to Jacksonville, Florida, for boot camp where the barracks and chow hall were segregated.  His white petty officer didn't want to train blacks, but as the weeks of training went by, he changed his mind.  Upon graduation, Seagraves was assigned to the Stewards' Branch, a group of black sailors assigned to serve white officers.

He was sent to the USS North Carolina.

--GreGen

Monday, October 27, 2014

Top Ten Bizarre Weapons of World War II

4.  BAT BOMBS--  A U.S. weapon.  A small incendiary device device was attached to them.  Dropped in a carrier from a bomber by parachute and opens and lets 1040 bats escape.  They would roost in Japanese buildings and the device would go off by timer.

3.  PIGEON GUIDED MISSILE--  This was proposed by American psychologist B.F. Skinner.  Something about a pigeon inside a missile.

2.  PROJECT HABAKKKUK--  Either an iceberg or an ice flow.  It would be leveled off and hollowed off inside.  A landing platform for aircraft and used to protect convoys.

1.  SOLBERVOGEL (SILVER BIRD) BOMBER--  Designed by Germany for extreme long range in order to attack the United States.

Some Real Weird Stuff, Indeed.  --GreGen

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Top Ten Bizarre Weapons of World War II-- Part 2

7.  OHKA (CHERRY BLOSSOM PLANE) SUICIDE PLANE--  Japanese purpose-built suicide kamikaze planes.

6.  ANTI TANK DOGS--  Deployed by the Soviet Union.  These dogs were kept hungry and taught to search under tanks for food.  Each one had a 10-12 kg mine detonator on a wooden level on the dog's back. When they would go under a German tank, the wooden lever would catch and explode the mine.

It didn't work as the dogs were scared by German gunfire and would run back to Soviet lines and explode there, but the Soviet Union claimed they destroyed 300 tanks this way.

5.  BACHEM BA349 NATTER FIGHTER--  German plane could be launched from a 25-foot rail and controlled by radio.  Once above the enemy bombers,the pilot would take over.  36 built.

--GreGen

Friday, October 24, 2014

Top Ten Bizarre Weapons of World War II-- Part 1

From the October 7, 2010, Listverse.

10.  X-CLASS MIDGET SUBMARINES--  a 4-man Royal Navy midget sub towed by a mother ship.

9.  V-3 SUPER GUN--  A Hitler vengeance weapon to strike back at London, capable of firing a 1310 pound shell 100 miles with a 460-foot long barrel.

SONDERKOMMANDO "ELBE"--  A stripped down (of weapons and armor) ME-109 plane designed to attack bombers.  They were to dive on the tails of bombers and destroy them.  The pilot was then to parachute out.  In the first attack of 120 of these, only 15 pilots returned, but they destroyed 17 B-17s and 5 P-51s.  Kind of a version of the Japanese kamikaze.

That's One Big Gun!  --GreGen

One of Maine's Last Pearl Harbor Survivors Dies-- Part 2

Bernard H. Hall was stationed at Schofield Barracks that fateful day and had just gone to the mess hall for coffee.  Asa he stepped outside it, he overheard another soldier say "a pretend emergency" was on.  He looked into the sky and knew it was not a false alarm.

"The plane went right over my head.  He was flying so low I saw the red circle and I could see his goggles."

He and some others shot at the plane with rifles, only to have their bullets ricochet off the plane.  Most of his fellow soldiers were scared to death.  Some ran away and hid.

That night there were no lights anywhere, not even a lit cigarette.  He and others loaded trucks with ammunition and supplies all day and night.

"Communication was bad.  We didn't even know the Japanese were coming.  They wiped out everything--all radio contact, even the water tower."

--GreGen

Thursday, October 23, 2014

One of Maine's Last Pearl Harbor Survivors Dies in 2012-- Part 1

From the May 31, 2012, Foster's.com Sanford News.

One of Maine's last-known survivors of the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Bernard H. Hall, died at age 96.

After having enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 25, he was one of the older soldiers when he was stationed at Fort Slocum in New York, where he served as a truck driver in Co. M, 19th Infantry, 24th Division.  December 7, 1941, he was stationed at Schofield Barracks.

--GreGen


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

USS England Sinks Record Sixth Japanese Submarine

On May 31, 1944, the USS England (DE-635) sank a record sixth Japanese submarine in 13 days.

--GreGen

Death of Alf Kongslie, 93: Pearl Harbor Survivor

I looked up Mr. Kongslie's name after I posted the last entry and am sad to report that he died December 17, 2013.

He was on the USS St. Louis, a heavy cruiser at Pearl Harbor.  The ship got underway and a Japanese submarine fired two torpedoes at it, but fortunately missed.

After seeing the men jumping overboard from the liberty boat, he then saw the Japanese Zero strafing them.  His battle station was manning a 5-inch anti-aircraft gun..

--GreGen

Staten Island Pearl Harbor Survivor Visits Fleet Wekk

From the May 27, 2012, Military News by MC1 Patrick Gordon.

The last-known Staten island Pearl Harbor survivor, former Chief Boatswain's Mate Alf Kongslie, 91, was on his ship, the USS Saint Louis (CL-49) and recalls the day began like so many others on that December 7, 1941.

"I saw guys going across the harbor in a liberty boat.  I figured they were going to church.  Then I saw them jumping into the water.  I didn't know what was going on.

"I kept trying to climb my way up the ladder to get  to my battle station, but guys kept knocking me off coming down the other way.  I finally got to my station and got to work."

He served in the Navy until 1947.

--GreGen

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

World War II Ship Gets Blue Star

From the May 29, 2012, Pinde Patch "World War II Ship Gets Blue Star from El Cerrito Garden Club" by Charles Burress.

The marker was set in stone next to the SS Red Oak Victory in Richmond, California.  It was built by the Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond during the war and is in the process of being restored.

The Blue Star Memorial Program is a long-standing project of the National Garden Clubs dating to World War II to honor veterans.

--GreGen

USS Mohawk Makes Final Voyage

From the May 24, 2012, Sand Paper.

The former USCG "A" class cutter Mohawk (WPG-78) will be sunk 28 nautical miles west of Redfish Pass in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is the largest ship to be scuttled in Lee County's Artificial Reef Program.

Plans are to sink it in July 2012 after the ship has been cleaned and gutted.

It was built in Wilmington, Delaware 78 years ago for $500,000 and served during World War II.

--GreGen

World War II Reshaped the Bay Area-- Part 5

The population of San Francisco was 634,000 in 1940 and by 1950, it had grown to 774,821.  The populations of outlying towns doubled.  In 1940, there were only 4,864 blacks in San Francisco, making up less than 1% of the population.  By 1950, that number had grown to 43,821.

At the same time, the impact on those of Asiatic descent was mixed.  Chinese-Americans fared well during the war (since China was on the U.S. side.  However, many Japanese and Japanese-Americans were interred.

The economy of the Bay Area boomed as over $6 billion in war contracts were awarded to businesses.

--GreGen

Monday, October 20, 2014

World War II Reshaped the Bay Area-- Part 3

Government records show that 1,647,174 passengers, including soldiers, sailors, Marines and civilians like Red Cross personnel boarded ships at Fort Mason bound for different places in the Pacific Theater.Two-thirds of all troops fighting in in the Pacific passed through the fort.

Johnny Johnson was a sailor of the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco said that when he was on leave, "A sailor couldn't buy a drink in a bar.  They couldn't even buy a hot dog.  It was all free."

During and especially after the war, many military personnel moved to San Francisco.

--GreGen

Saturday, October 18, 2014

World War II Reshaped the Bay Area-- Part 2

In East Bay, Henry J. kaiser built three shipyards which together built 747 ships during the war.  One of them was built in a world record four days.

During its shipbuilding height some 240,000 workers were employed in Bay Area yards.  That is the equivalent of the number of men in 13 Army divisions.

Fort Mason, on San Francisco's northern waterfront, became the main port of embarkation for the Pacific War.

--GreGen

Friday, October 17, 2014

World War II Reshaped the Bay Area and Its People-- Part 1

From the May 28, 2012, San Francisco Chronicle by Carl Nolte.

World War II had a huge impact on the Bay's racial makeup, economy and even physical appearance.

The conversion of the orchard-rich Santa Clara County into Silicon Valley can be traced to the war.

Oakland and Richmond turned into boom towns.  After Pearl Harbor, the Bay Area became a centerpiece of FDR's Arsenal of Democracy.

Shipyards went up.  In San Francisco, Bechtel Corporation got a telegram from the government on March 2, 1942 asking if it wanted to build ships on San Francisco Bay.  Within ten days, the corporation began clearing marshlands in Sausalito for a shipyard named Marinship.  Just three months after the call, the keel of a freighter had been laid and in September, the William Richardson, named for Sausalito's founder, was launched.

--GreGen

Thursday, October 16, 2014

McHenry County's First World War II Casualty

From the May 29, 2012, Northwest Herald (McHenry County, Il.) "First WWII casualty in McHenry County remembered decades later" by Stephen D. Benedetto.

On December 7, 1941, Private Joseph Nelles of Woodstock was preparing the altar for Mass at the makeshift chapel at Hickam Field.  He had dreams of becoming a priest and was an assistant chaplain.

He was at first thought to be missing but later was confirmed among the dead from that day.His body was found near the base of the altar.

His watch had stopped at 7:50.

He is buried at Diamond Head Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu.

In 1995, the current Air Force Base Chapel was named after him.

--GreGen

USS Arizona Memorial Turns 50 in 2012

May 22, 2012 Hawaii News Now.

A number of events were planned for May 25-28.

The USS Arizona's anchor is now at Phoenix, Arizona at Wesley Bolin Plaza.  It was retrieved from the wreck.

--GreGen

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Top Ten Naval Warfare Movies of All-Time-- Part 2

And, best line:

6.  THEY WERE EXPENDABLE (1945)--  "I used to skipper a cake of soap in the bathtub, too."

7.  MIDWAY (1976)--  "Wait and see.  We waited December 7, we saw.  The 'wait and see'ers will bust your ass every time."

8.  THE CAINE MUTINY  (1954)--  "The first thing you've got to learn about this ship is that she was designed by geniuses to be run by idiots."

9.  PEARL HARBOR (2001)--  "I've got some genuine French champagne.  From France."

10.  ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC (1943)--  The trouble with you, Pulaski, is you think America is just a place to eat and sleep.  You don't know what side your future's buttered on."

--GreGen

Top Ten Naval Warfare Movies of All Time-- Part 1

From the May 22, 2012, Moviefone "Battleship, Memorial Day and the Top 10 Naval Warfare Movies of all-time" by Jason Apuzzo.  This got me to do yesterday's blog entry because of its mention of the movie "Battleship" being such a bomb.

And, best line from the movie:

1.  THE ENEMY BELOW (1957)--  "I don't want to know the man I'm trying to destroy."

2  DESTINATION TOKYO  (1944)--  "Congratulations, Wolf...It's been an hour since anything reminded you of a dame."

3.  TORA! TORA! TORA!  (1970)--  "I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

4.  THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990)--  We will pass through the American patrols, past their sonar nets, and lay off their largest city and listen to them rock-and-roll...while we conduct missile drills."

5.  SINK THE BISMARCK (1960)--  "We are unsinkable...and we are German!"

This is one that I saw a whole bunch of times at the theater.  Afterwards, my friends and I came up with a game called "Sink the Bismarck."  The idea was to put your arms in defensive position up by your chest and run into everyone else as hard as you could and try to sink them by knocking them down.  Lots of fun. but mighty painful.  Our parents would wonder why we were so sore.

--Cooter