Thursday, March 26, 2015

Judge George N. Leighton's World War II Service: the 93rd Infantry Division

From Wikipedia.

George N. leighton served in the 93rd Infantry Division which was a "colored" unit in the very much segregated U.S. Army, serving in both world wars.

During World War I, the unit acquired the name "Blue Helmets" from the French army while serving alongside French units an the Battle of the Marne.  Their shoulder patch bore a blue French Adrian helmet.

They were reactivated 15 May 1942, at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and most of the division saw service in the Pacific Theater where they were primarily used in construction units and defensive operations.  Campaigns they participated in were New Guinea, Northern Solomons and Bismarck Archipelago.

They were inactivated in 1945 but some of its units continued in the Illinois and Maryland National Guard.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Judge George N. Leighton's World War II Service-- Part 2

Unfortunately, i wasn't able to find out much about his service in the war other than in passing.

On March 10, 1942, George Leighton was ordered to active duty and reported to Fort Benning, Georgia.  On June 13, 1943, he reported to the 93rd Infantry Division in Arizona and from there he served in the Pacific Theater, rising to the rank of captain.

Since he was black, I had to figure that the 93rd Infantry Division must also be a black outfit as he never would have been made an officer to command white troops.

More research was necessary.


Judge George N. Leighton's World War Service: The Black Experience-- Part 1

Earlier this month, I wrote about Chicago Judge George N. Leighton's highly controversial decision on March 5, 1965,   Two policemen had arrested Simon Suarez after he refused to do what they told them then got into a fight and slashed one officer in the face with a broken bottle and beat the other one.

Judge Leighton ruled that the arrest wasn't lawful and that the officers shouldn't have drawn their guns.  This decision set off shock and outrage among many Chicagoans.

This, however, didn't cause Judge Leighton problems two years later when he was nominated for a federal judgeship.  Then, in 2012, the Cook County Criminal Courts  Building at 26th and Cal was renamed in his honor.

I'd never heard of the man before, so looked him up on Wikipedia and other sources and found out he was a captain during World War II.  Then, it became apparent he was also a black man and this was a period in the U.S. military when blacks were extremely discriminated against.

There must be something to this story.


Death of Arctic Convoy Veteran in England: "The Worst Journey in the World"

From the Feb. 26, 2013, Grimsby (U.K.) Telegraph "Tribute  to war veteran Neville Boden who battled 'the worst journey in the world'...and survived

Former Merchant Navy officer Neville Boden, who sailed on "notoriously treacherous Arctic Convoys" has died at age 86.  He died Feb. 16th after a long illness.

During the war, he served on the MV Marathon carrying aircraft fuel to the Soviet Union in 1943, facing icy conditions, the threat of constant attack from the air and, of course, German U-boats.  Winston Churchill called it "The worst journey in the world."  Mr. Boden also served on the HMLSI Empire Lance, a ship that brought British troops to Normandy during the D-Day landings.  He also sailed on ships from the United States and Caribbean carrying petrol before they joined the Arctic Convoy.

He was born in Lancaster in 1926

Last year, one of the Arctic Veterans was denied the Russian Silver Ushakov Medal for Bravery because of British rules concerning military decorations.


Bits of War: WWII Mine Found-- British Arctic Convoy and Bomber Command Vets Honored

Short Stories of World War II.

1.  WWII MINE FOUND--  Jan. 28, 2013.  A fishing boat came across an unexploded World War II mine off Brixham, England.  Bomb disposal units called in and carried out a controlled explosion.

2.  BRITISH ARCTIC CONVOY AND BOMBER COMMAND VETS HONORED--  Feb. 23, 2013.  They will be receiving awards in recognition of heroism and bravery within weeks according to Defence Minister Mark Francois.

Production of the Arctic Star and Bomber Command Clasp will start this week.  Up to a quarter million veterans and families of those who have died are eligible.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

"Hearing the Roar" at Pearl Harbor: "Cal" Calderone

From the February 5, 2013, "World War II: Then and Now: "Hearing the Roar" by Gary Brown.

Adone "Cal" Calderone of Jackson Township was a Pearl Harbor and was a musician of the USS West Virginia, playing the tuba and bass.  Each battleship had its own band and there was a competition scheduled for the different bands, but his couldn't perform because they were scheduled for guard duty.

The band master of the USS Arizona was a friend and had invited him over to spend the night before the attack and have breakfast the next morning.  he declined as he wanted to go to the USS Oklahoma and then go to church with a friend.  He returned to the West Virginia on the night of December 6th.

"If I'd gone to the Arizona, I'd be dead.  Nobody from the Arizona's band survived.  Had he stayed that night on the Oklahoma, he also might have been dead.

That morning on his ship, "I had gotten up, got cleaned up and was talking to a couple friends, then WHAM!"  The third torpedo blew the area I was in up and that's when I got hit by some shrapnel.  A guy next to me said, 'Hey Cal, you're bleeding.'  I didn't even know."

After treatment, he returned to his post, "I was in damage control and we were getting damaged."

I researched for obituaries and didn't find any for him, so he must still be alive.


Monday, March 23, 2015

"Secret Listeners" Revealed

From the Jan. 29, 2013, Jewish Daily Forward "World War II 'Secret Listeners' revealed: by Anne Joseph.

Secret Listener Fritz Lustig was told his job was more important than firing a machine gun or driving a tank.

The "Listeners" were a group of Austrian or German refugees who "monitored, recorded and made detailed transcripts of private conversations between Nazi prisoners of war in the United Kingdom."

Between 1942 and 1945, Trent Park was used to imprison high-ranking officers and allowed a comfortable existence with the idea that making them feel relaxed and happy might cause them to discuss sensitive affairs of state amongst themselves, unaware that their quarters were bugged.

Microphones were in the flower pots, a snooker table and elsewhere.  The listeners were in the basement.

Lustig believes he is the only still-living Listener.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

New York's Grand Central Palace

From Wikipedia.

I had never heard of this building when I wrote about it earlier today for my February Calendar blog entry about the World War posters.

It was an exhibition hall in New York City built in 1911, replacing an earlier Grand Central Palace on the same site.  Standing 13 stories tall and occupying Lexington Avenue between 46th and 47th Streets.  It was built over the railroad tracks leading into the Grand Central Terminal.

It served as New York City's main exposition hall until it closed in 1953.  In the late 1920s, early 1930s, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show was held here

Besides dances and the hospital mentioned in the previous blog, it also served as an induction center during World War II.  many physical fitness exams were given here.  I was unable to find out any other information about its role during the two world wars, but being by the railroads, I am sure many military personnel passed through it.

It was demolished in 1964 to make way for 245 Park Avenue building which has 48 floors and was completed in 1967.


World War Calendar Posters for 2015-- Part 5: Joan of Arc Saved Her Country, You Save Yours

Another one from World War I.  Joan of Arc Saved France.  Haskell Coffin, United States Treasury Office, 1918.

Showed a young Joan of Arc in full armor holding her sword aloft.  It reads:  "Joan of Arc Saved France --  WOMEN OF AMERICA SAVE YOUR COUNTRY --  BUY WAR SAVING STAMPS --  UNITED STATES TREASURY DEPARTMENT --  W.S.S. War Saving Stamps Issued  By the United States Government.

In an effort to reduce military surplus and increase revenue, in 1919 the U.S. government converted unused hand grenades into piggy banks.  These banks were loaned to school children to encourage them to save coins to buy War Savings Stamps.  They could keep the grenade bank as a reward if they saved enough to buy a stamp.


World War Calendar Posters-- Part 4: 7th Vacation Ball at Grand Central Palace

This one is from World War I.

7th Vacation Ball.  February calendar.

On the poster, an army soldier and a navy sailor saluting a young woman holding an American flag.

"Under the Auspices of the Vacation Association, Inc. 7TH VACATION BALL --  GRAND CENTRAL PALACE --Lincoln's Birthday --  Feb. 12, 1918 --  8 P.M.  --  Admission  Fifty vents  --  Including Hat Check  --  THE BALL WITHOUT AN INTERMISSION."

Two floors of the Grand Central Palace's twelve floors served as a dance hall until September 1918 when the building was leased to the U.S. government.  Once the government refitted the building, the Grand Central palace became the largest military hospital in the nation, caring for 18,190 injured and sick returning World War I veterans.

I wonder if they also took care of those who had the influenza from the Great Epidemic?


Friday, March 20, 2015

World War Poster Calendar-- Part 4: United We Are Strong

"United We Are Strong--  United We Will Win."

This is the poster for January featuring a painting of around twenty huge cannons pointing skyward and firing with the flags of Denmark, U.K., U.S., China, Soviet Union, Australia and other Allies.

Made by Henry Koerner, office of War Information, 1943.

Henry Koerner escaped from Austria in 1938 after it was annexed by Germany.  Soon after his arrival in the United States, Koerner began his career as an artist for the United States government creating numerous posters for the war effort.


HMS Beryl Was a Second World War Hero Ship

From the Feb. 16, 2013, Hull (England) Daily Mail "Beverly-built HMS Beryl was a true World War hero."

The beryl was a trawler requisitioned by the Royal Navy.  It was sent to defend Malta's capital port of Valletta and endured a two year siege by the Axis.  It is reportedly the only Royal Navy surface warship to stay afloat during the duration.

It earned the nickname "The Flagship of Malta" and became the symbol  of the defiant defense of that important Mediterranean island.  Its enduarance lasted from 1940 to 1942 with the effective end in November 1942.  During that time, the Luftwaffe and Italian Air Force conducted some 3000 bombing raids.

It was built in 1934 and named the Lady Adelaide.  The ship was bought by the Royal Navy in 1939 and adopted and sponsored by the town of Bourne in Lincolnshire for 55,000 pounds during warship week.

Two of the streets there have HMS Beryl-related names: Beryl Mews and Sellwood Terrace (named for Commander Harry Sellwood).

After its service at Malta, the Beryl took part in the Allied landings on Sicily.

Postwar,  it went back to being a trawler until it was scrapped in the 1960s  Beverly-built ships served in both World Wars.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

World War Poster Calendar for 2015-- Part 3: The Collection

"The posters featured in this calendar are from the National Museum of American History's Archives Center.  War posters can be found in the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana and the Princeton University Poster Collection.

"Created by Isadore Warshaw, the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana was donated to the museum in two parts in 1968 and 1972.  The posters represent only a small portion of the significant collection of ephemera.

The Princeton Posters were donated by the university in the 1960s.


World War Poster Calendar for 2015-- Part 2: Military Posters

"During World Wars I and II, the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom used posters to motivate  civilian involvement and military enlistment.  Often both nations used the same art work, with only the text differing.

"Posters were considered a crucial component of Total War--war that is waged on all fronts using all available resources.  Civilians and members of the military were bombarded with posters encouraging participation in battlefield and home front war efforts.

"Contemporary popular artists were often commissioned to paint posters and drew on popular culture references and images to increase the recognition and, thus,  effectiveness of such posters.  Causes reflected in war posters ranged from recruitment for the military to not wasting food.

"Some posters aimed to motivate people, while others employed guilt and fear to spur participation.  Regardless of specific purpose, war posters were prominent in public and private spaces during both wars and significantly aided the war effort."


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

World War Poster Calendar for 2015-- Part 1

I bought a 2015 Calendar of World War I and II posters and it is hanging beside the bar at Margaritaville.

It is published by Zebra Publishing.

"Inexpensive, accessible, and ever-present, the poster has been an ideal agent for making war aims the personal mission of every American.  American government agencies, businesses and private organizations have historically issued posters linking the military front with the home front -- calling upon every citizen to boost production at work and home.

"These posters help tell the story of allies mobilizing human and natural resources by uniting the power of art with the power of advertising.

"The National Museum of American History holds a vast collection of military posters.  Collectively, these 'pictures of persuasion' offer a wealth of art, history, design, and popular culture for us to understand.  Throughout their history, posters have been a significant means of mass communication, often with striking visual effect."

For more information on the Smithsonian, visit


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

U-Boat Sunk By Toilet Troubles Found

From the May 29, 2012 Scotsman "Found after 70 years, the wreck of the U-1206."

It took a twelve year search by a team of divers, but the wreck of the U-1206, mentioned in yesterday's post, was found 12 miles off Cruden Bay, Scotland, in 86 meters of water.

According to its commander, Captain Karl Schlitt, "I was in the engine room, when, at the front of the boat, there was a water leak.  What I have learned is a mechanic had tried to repair the forward WC's outboard vent."

WC refers to Water Closet, a term used for toilets.

Something Stinks.  --GreGen

Monday, March 16, 2015

Toilet Troubles in World War II Caused the U-1206 to Be Sunk

I decided to write about one of the last post's 10 Unusual Events of World War II and chose Toilet Troubles.Relieving one's self in a submerged submarine is the same as on dry land, but getting rid of it is considerably more complicated  It requires advanced technology and training of personnel.

A horrible event on the German U-1206 involving system failure led to four deaths.  The original U-boat head system was a two-valve system good only during shallow dives.

Newer VIIC U-boats such as the U-1206 were outfitted with high pressure valves rigged for deep-water dives.

On April 14, 1945, while 200-feet deep off Scotland and under the command of Karl-Adolph Schlitt, the toilet was improperly flushed and began flooding compartments with sewage and salt water.  This concoction leaked onto the ship's batteries, creating deadly chlorine gas, forcing the submarine to surface.

While repairs were being made, the submarine was spotted by  British patrols and forced to surrender.  The Germans, however, scuttled their ship before leaving.

One sailor died in the attack and three more drowned and the other 46 were captured

Some historians blame Schlitt for the incident.  The U-1206 wreck was discovered in 2012.

You Know, Schlitt Sounds a Bit ZLike )____.  --GreGen

Saturday, March 14, 2015

10 Unusual Events of World War II

From the Feb. 13, 2013, Listverse by Nene Adams.

I'm just listing.  For photos and details go to the site.

10.  Nazi Spy in U.S.
9.  Allied Diamond Heist
8.  Bat Man

7.  Streetcar Assault
6.  Raining Sheep
5.  Boat Drop
4.  Toilet Troubles

3.  Free Love
2.  Radio Traitor
1.  Lady Sniper

An Interesting Look.  --GreGen

"Mein Kampf" Reissue Debated in Germany-- Part 2

"Described as a rambling, repetitive work panned by literary critics for its pedantic style 'Mein Kampf' was drafted by Hitler in a Bavarian jail after the failed Nazi uprising in Munich of November 1923.  It was originally published in two volumes in 1925 and 1926, with later, joint editions forming a kind of Nazi handbook.

"During the Third Reich, some German cities doled out copies to Aryan newlyweds as a wedding gift.

"The book also laid the groundwork for the Holocaust stating, for instance, that Jews are and 'will remain the eternal parasite, a freeloader that, like a malignant bacterium, spreads rapidly whenever a fertile breeding ground is made available to it.

"Mein Kampf" means "My Struggle."  It was never actually banned in Germany after the war, but reprinting it was.  It is estimated that some 12.4 million copies were made of it before 1946 and hundreds of thousands are thought to still exist.

Personally, my opinion is that it is history and as such should be available for anyone.


'Mein Kampf' Reissue Debated in Germany-- Part 1

From the February 26, 2015, Chicago Tribune by Anthony Faiola.


"This book is too dangerous for the general public," library historian Florian Sepp warns.  "Mein Kampf is Adolf Hitler's autobiographical manifesto of hate.  It is restricted at the Bavarian State Library.

"Nevertheless, the book that once served as a kind of Nazi bible and was banned from domestic reprints since the end of World War II, will soon be returning to German bookstores.

"The prohibition on reissue for years was upheld by the state of Bavaria, which owns the German copyright and legally blocked attempts to duplicate it."  Those rights expire in December and the first print run  of it since Hitler's death will be out early next year.

This reissue has caused a whole lot of controversy.

Not Surprisingly.  --GreGen