Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pearl Harbor

A couple stories from the last Pearl Harbor Day in 2011, the 70th anniversary.

From the Dec. 7, 2011, Huffington Post "Pearl Harbor Day 2011: How Radio Stations Broke the News" audio.

The H.P. posted five different stations audio (of course).  There were lots of photos and film of the events.  Very worthwhile watching and listening if they still have it.

Fron the Dec. 7, 2011, San Antonio (Tx) Express-News.

The Alamo Chapter of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association met for the last time.  The group once numbered 200, but now down to 35, with just 17 actual survivors.

Sad to See Them Go.  --GreGen

Monday, July 30, 2012

Soldier Saved By Rosary, Just Like His Great-Grandfather

From the August 3, 2010, Telegraph.co.uk.

Private  Glenn Hockton, 19, of the Coldstream Guards bent down to pick up a rosary after it fell from his neck.  In doing so, he realized he was standing on a land mine.  He remained on it for 45 minutes while his unit figured out how to get him safely off it.  This took place over in the Middle East.

His great-grandfather, Joseph Sunny Truman, also credited a rosary for saving his life in a bomb blast after he was captured in World War II.  A member of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, he was being forced to march away from advancing Allied troops when he bent down to pick up something and a bomb went off and he was the only one to survive.  That something turned out to be a rosary.

Quite a coincidence.

Must be Something To It.  --GreGen

Saturday, July 28, 2012

North Carolina's Military History Museum-- Part 2

The place is designed with the military unit called Old Hickory in mind, the North Carolina National Guard's30th Enhanced Heavy Separate Brigade and its predecessors.  But, all branches have a part in the displays.

Along one wall are several letters from Pfc Roy West to his parents.  Part of one dated April 21, 1945 reads, "I hope to have time to write more now for we are not in any battle now.  It sure is nice to be where you can't hear any guns firing."

There is also a display of a 1944 Army Signal Corps Command Post under a small olive drab cloth with a typewriter on top of a field desk.  A sergeant's jacket rests over the back of a fold up chair and a mess kit sits beside a field telephone.

Wished I had remembered I Had Written It Down Two Years Ago.  Maybe Now That I Have Entered It in My Blog, I Will the Next Time I'm In the Area.  --GreGen

The North Carolina History Museum-- Part 1

From the July 27, 2010, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Military Museum lies hidden in Kure Beach" by Amy Hotz.

It features tanks, artillery pieces and a helicopter, but even so, few people know of the North Carolina Military History Museum.  It is set at the back side of the Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Area for active duty troops, but the museum is open to all.  You can not see it from US-421 as it passes by.

Brian Holland is the curator who volunteered for the job.  When he arrived, there wasn't much organization to the place.  Nothing was even labeled.  It was a small, low-tech museum.  Things have changed greatly.

There is no admission charged, buit every shelf and cabinet is packed with primarily World War I to the present items, but there are a few things from the Civil War.

And, I Drove Right By It Earlier This Month.  --GreGen

Friday, July 27, 2012

Torpedo Discovered in Ukraine

From the June 14, 2012 , New York Daily News.

The torpedo contained 600 kg of explosives and was found off the Crimean seaport of Sevastopol, scene of much fighting between Axis and Soviet forces during the war.

It was two kilometers off the shore and the first discovered since 1945.  Ukranian officials are planning to blow it up.

Don't Go In the Water.  --GreGen

Churchill's False Teeth Sell For $23,000

From July 29, 2010, CNN World  by Simon Hooper.

And, there is a nice big photo of them wih the article.  I didn't know he wore them.

Winston Churchill had several sets of partial upper dentures specifically designed to hide his natural lisp.  These also accentuated his signature slurred diction.  He always lived in fear of losing his false teeth and always had a spare set with him.

These sold for three times the expected price and were put up for sale by the son of the dental technician who made them.  Son Nigel Cudlipp said his father, Derek Cudlipp, could always tell how the war was going from the distance Churchill hurled the teeth.  "They were prone to breaking, especially when Churchill got angry."

Winston Churchill suffered from poor teeth and gums from childhood and later nominated his dentist to knighthood.

Churchill items are in demand.  In the past two years, a silver butter dish used as an ashtray and a half-smoked cigar have sold for more than $6,200 each.

Never has So Much Been Paid for So Little.  --GreGen

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Honoring the Airmen at the EAA

This whole week, the Tuskegee Airmen and Doolittle's Raiders have been honored at the huge Experimetal Aircraft Association doings in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  A well-deserved honor for the dwindling numbers of these great groups. 

These two groups fought a common enemy but from two completely different angles.  The Raiders attack on Japan didn't do a lot of damage, but was great for US morale, coming so soon after Pearl Harbor and the losses in the early part of the war.

The Airmen not only had to fight the enemy, but had to overcome racist bias.

I did not see how many from each group were in attendance.  But, at least five of the surving Raiders were on hand.

A Well-Deserved Honor.  --GreGen

Why the U.S. Won World War II

From the July 27, 2010, New Deal 2.0 by Wallace C. Turbeville.

The German military had better weapons.  Their tanks were larger and had greater firepower.  Their individual solder's weapons were better.  Even their air force had technical advantages.  The German staff was equal to that of the Allies.

The decisive event was the Allied breakout in the weeks following D-Day which had higher casualties than the invasion itself.  This breakout was achieved by using less experienced soldiers, inferior planes and tanks.

The United States simply outproduced the Axis machine and overwhelmed them with quantity.

The same thing happened in the Pacific to the Japanese.  The US could replace all their losses and Japan could not.

Can't Argue With This.  --GreGen

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Codebreaker Dies Back in 2010

From the June 16, 2010, Aiken (SC) Standard "Codebreaker was one of few remaining."

Mabel Garvin Crawford died June 17th in Wegener, SC, and was one of the last US Navy veterans who ran decryption machines that cracked the Axis' encoded messages.  She was one of 250 who worked dawn to dusk at a converted building at Hunter College in Washington, DC.

It was still top secret until 1995 when the effort was declassified and the National Security Agency issued Exceptional Service Awards in September.  Until then, she and the others were unable to talk about their war service.

Widowed in 1941, she moved from Wegener to Aiken where she met Odell Weeks who encouraged her to join the military.  From 1941 to 1942, she worked as a cryptologist using one machine to decode German and Japanese cyphers and another to relay the intercepted messages to US military command.

All the windows in the building were bricked over and Marine guards were posted around it.  They could not leave the building during the work day.

The generator for the machines was a giant proto-computer that was so noisy it left most of them hard of hearing.

Workman's Compensation?  --GreGen

Thursday, July 19, 2012

This Is Something I Like to See-- Part 2

Each member of the club is matched  with a local veteran.  They then interview, film and write the veteran's story.  Eight volumes are available now at http://www.veteransheritage.org/.

Hatch said that many of her students started with their grandfathers and altogether almost 500 have been interviewed.  These have become an addition to the Veterans History Project in Washington, DC, and the stories haver been archived and preserved in the Library of Congress.

Two of Barbara Hatch's students have been accepted into US military academies and one, Madi Pascale, became the youngest guardian in history to accompany a veteran on an Honor Flight to Washington, DC, to see the World War II Memorial.

Four other high schools in Arizina have adopted the VHP model which has become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2010.  Hatch's next goal is to expand it through Arizona and nationally.

One of the veteran contributors to the project is Larry DeSanto, whose wife, Loralee DeSanto is a member of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the DAR.  The chapter nominated Hatch for the Mary Smith Lockwood Founders Medal for Education, which she accepted at the 120th DAR Continental Congress in 2011.

Like I Said, Something I Like to See.  -DaCoot

This Is Something I Like to See-- Part 1

From the July/August American Spirit Magazine (of the Daughters of the American Revolution) "Front and Center" by Nancy Cooper.

This was the kind of story I like to see where young people learn about history first-hand and, often, their own families. 

Barbara Hatch was teaching high school at Judson School in Scottsdale, Arizona, when her students began wondering whether the movie "Saving Private Ryan" was true.  She found out it was fictional, but loosely based on the story of the four Niland brothers from Tonawanda, New York.  Three of them were reported as dead and the last one, Fritz, was sent back to the US to complete his service.

Finding this out put her in contact with Ralph George who had created the Veterans in the Classroom program and Hatch began inviting veterans to speak in her classroom to tell their stories.

What started as classroom visits grew into a school club, the veterans Heritage Project (VHP), a program to capture and share veteran stories.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Wilmington's Mr. World War II: Wilbur D. Jones-- Part 3

Mr. Jones' Navy service led to a 41-year career with the Department of Defense.  For awhile, he was chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Barry Goldwater Jr.  Then, he was appointed to a position in the Nixon administration and ran Nixon's re-election campaign in New Hampshire in 1972.  After a brief stint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, he worked as an advance man for President Ford from 1975 to 1977.  A highlight of that was being with Ford at America's Bicentennial celebration in New York Harbor.

After that, he held a series of government jobs, retiring in 1996.

He and his wife decided to move back to Wilmington in 1997.  In September, he heard a radio news story about plans to tear down the USO building on South Second Street.  Besides the historical value of the building, it was one of 14 World War II buildings in Wilmington.  The building also had family connections.  His father had been on the dedication committee for the building and his sister met her future husband there.

He and a group got the Wilmington City Council to save the building in 2000 and its new incarnation as the Hannah Block Historic USO was dedicted July 4, 2008.  Right now, Wilbur Jones is working with U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre to promote House Bill 2712 which would establish a yearly "American World War II City" with Wilmington being the first one.

The Kind of Person Every City Needs.  --GreGen

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wilmington's Mr. World War II-- Wilbur D. Jones-- Part 2

From the July 15th Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Lifetime of Achievements."
"History is a living thing to Wilbur Jones, a Wilmington native with quadruple careers in the military, government, politics and writing.

 Now 78, Jones has served as a captain in the US Navy, chief of staff of a US Congressman and worked with presidents Nixon and Ford.  His passion for all things World War II has led him to write 17 books on military history and national defense issues.

As a boy growing up in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Wilmington during World War II, he and his buddies collected parts of military uniforms and insignia from military personnel stationed or living nearby.  At age 16, he graduated from New Hanover High School, he went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

After graduation, he joined the Navy and went to Officer Candidate School.

Quite a Guy.  --GreGen

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Much-Deserved Honor to Wilmington's Mr. World War II-- Pt. 1

From the July 15th Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Lifetime of Achievements: 2012 Star News Lifetime Achievement Award Winners."


Every year the newspaper looks for individulas in a wide variety of fields who have extraordinary talents and have accomplished much for the city and region.

Past winners ith a World War II connection include Hugh Morton, one of the founders of the North Carolina Azalea Festival and instrumental in bringing the battleship USS North Carolina to Wilmington who won in 2005.  In 2009, Hannah Block, a charter member of the USO club at Second and Orange streets.

One of the three winners this year is a man I'm familiar with, Wilbur D. Jones.  I have come across his name many times in conjunction with his work with Wilmington and World War II.

The article gave a lot of information on him which I will go into next post.

A Well-Deserved Honor.  --GreGen

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Receives Silver Star 66 Years Late

From the June 18, 2010 Raleigh (NC) Telegram.

Edwin Stevens, 94, received the honor 66 years overdue, the third-highest military award.

In June 1944, he was a B-17 pilot.  He and his crew of ten were on a mission over France and the plane was hit 151 times by AA fire.  Three of the four engines failed over enemy territory, but the plane managed to get back over the English Channel, but couldn't clear the White Cliffs of Dover, some 300 feet high.

In a split-second decision, Stevens headed for the beach at the base of the cliffs.  The cockpit split from the rest of the plane on the rough landing, but all the crew survived.

Said Stevens, however, "I don't know why I should get this special medal."

Like I Said, The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Monday, July 9, 2012

The USS Iowa Museum Opens in Los Angeles

From the July 7th Yahoo! News Reuters "Thousands vivit battleship USS Iowa as museum opens in L.A." by Dana Feldman.

The gallant ship's sides were draped in red, white and blue ribbons as its new role as a museum ship commenced July 7th in the Port of Los Angeles.  World War II planes: a B-25 bomber, P-40 Warhawk and P-51 Mustang did a flyover in a triangular formation to honor the occasion.

The 887-foot-long battleship was commissioned in 1943 and decommissioned in 1990.  After that, it was mothballed in San Francisco Bay until towed to Los Angeles a few months ago.  A $7 million restoration has taken place with $3 million given by the State of Iowa (I kind of wish they would have had the final berth in that state).

In World War II, it ferried FDR across the Atlantic to a meeting with Churchill and Stalin and is called "The Battleship of Presidents" and "The Big Stick."

Attendance was brisk opening day with 1,500 tickets bought inadvance and another 1000 over the counter for Saturday's grand opening.

Visitors were able to view FDRs specially-built bathtub that he had to use because of his polio. 

One visitor was Paul Chiapoinelli, 86, who was a Navy radio man during World War II but did not serve on the Iowa.  Joe Nishimura, 78, served on the Iowa in 1953 when he was 18 and received his gunnery training inthe Atlantic.

The Pacific Battleship Center group operates the museum which is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Something Else to See in L.A..  --GreGen

What Happened to Churchill's Cigar?

From the June 15, 2010, Fox News.com.

"You can fight on the beaches, you can fight in the fields and in the streets, but if you're Winston Churchill, the one thing you can't do in Britain these days is chomp on a cigar."

There is a photo of Churchill over the entrance to a London World War II museum that has had the famous cigar airbrushed out.  The Daily Mail has a before and after photo of it.

David McAdam told the Daily Mail, "Viewing the now disfigured image reveals just how unhinged the vociferous anti-smoking lobby has become.  So much for the notion that only communist tyrants airbrushed history."

Churchill's suits had to be constantly repaired from holes he singed in them from smoking.  His favorite cigars were Cuban maduros.

The Smokin' PM.  --GreGen

Bazooka Co-Inventor Dies

EDWARD Uhl, 92, died May 9, 2010. 

In 1942, as an Army lieutenant with an engineering degree from Lehigh University, he and Col. Leslie A. Skinner, invented the bazzoka anti-tank weapon.  They were charged to find a way for a soldier to deliver a M10 charge against enemy tanks.  Uhl accidentally happened upon a five-foot tube about the diameter ofthe charge they wanted fired and it became the shoulder-fired rocket launcher nicknamed bazooka because it resembled that tube-shaped instrument.

After the prototype was tested, the Army immediately ordered 5,000 bazooka launchers and 25,000 bazooka rockets.  These proved very devastating to German tanks later in the war.

American Ingenuity.  --GreGen

Saturday, July 7, 2012

In Case You're Wondering

The reason why so many of my recent posts have been from 2010 is that I am trying to close out my history notebook from that year.  Whenever I come across an interesting article, I write pertinent facts down in a notebook.

I still have history notebooks, along with ones devoted to roads, Lincoln Highway, Route 66, music, current stuff, War of 1812, Civil War, Civil War Navy, Heritage Attacks and Fort Fisher.

Back in 2010, World War II items were also included in the history notebook.  Since the beginning of the year, I have a separate notebook on World War II.

Hopefully I will soon be able to get to 2011.

So Far Behind.  --GreGen

Bits of War: Bomb-- USS Oklahoma-- Anchor in Dixon

Some New News (in 2010) About an Old War. 

1.  BOMB--  An unexploded World War II bomb was discovered in London, a short distance from the Imperial War Museum, about a mile from the the British House of Parliament.  It was dismantled.  Bombs and other ordnance are still found in Europe where battles occurred.

2.  USS OKLAHOMA--  June 14, 2010, the Air Force Reserve flew a 40-foot section of the USS Oklahoma's mast from Pearl Harbor to the Muskogee War Memorial in Oklahoma.  It arrived June 21 at Tinim AFB on Oklahoma City and was then transported by tractor-trailer to the memorial.  The mast had been discovered during dredging of the harbor recently.

3.  ANCHOR IN DIXON--A US Navy Lightweight Mark 2 anchor is on display at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Dixon, Illinois.  The 6,600 pound anchor was used on small yard, patrol crafts and on LSTs as a stern anchor.  When approaching a beach, it was let go.  The LST then would wrench itself off the beach after offloading its cargo using the anchor.

Also at the park is a 155 mm Howitzer of the type used in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.


Only Padre Killed in the War

From the June 14, 2010, LA Times.

And the Padre refers to a member of the San Diego Padres, in this case Manuel "Nay" Hernandez, who played for the Padres when they were a member of the Pacific Coast League.

A ceremony was held before the Padres- Toronto Blue Jays game and a plaque placed in the outfield stands with several family members in attendance.

Before being drafted in August 1944, "Nay" was the starting left fielder.  He was killed in early 1945 in Europe while serving with the 94th Infantry Division.  New military recruits were also sworn in at the same time.

Hernandez was born in San Diego October 12, 1919, one of ten sisters and four brothers.  He attended San Diego High School.

A Great Story.  --GreGen

Friday, July 6, 2012

On Three Ships Sunk in the South Pacific-- Part 2

He spent three months in hospitals in Noumea, New Caledonia, and California being treated for both physical injuries and what is today called post-traumatic stress disorder.

When the USS John Penn was sunk, Jim Maurais ended up in the water for hours surrounded by a sea of fire and sharks

After his release from hospital, he met his future wife, Maggie, on a blind date.  They remained married for 62 years until her death in 2006.  He would often say, "For every misfortune, there is a seed of equivalent benefit.  If that ship (the Penn) hadn't gone down, I'd never have met my beloved Maggie."

In August 1945, he was declared fit for duty and reassigned to the USS Trapper, a  minelayer that assisted in the clearing of mines in the Sea of Japan.  He was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered, but pretty far away.

With Canadians Like This, No Wonder We Won.  --GreGen

On Three Ships Sunk in the South Pacific-- Part 1

From the May 2nd Chicago Tribune obituary "Frenchy served in WWII, became citizen, sales exec" by Joan Giangrasse Kates.

Germain J. Maurais came to America from Quebec in 1927 and his English was so broken he got the name "Frenchy" and that name followed him into the Navy during World War II.  Enlisting as an apprentice seaman, he rose through the ranks to chied petty officer before being discharged.  He served in the Pacific, European and North African theaters on destroyers and Higgins boats and earned a Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.

Jim Maurais, 90, died April 25th in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

From Quebec, his family moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, and he joined the Navy in 1939 and was assigned to the USS McCook, a transport escort in the North Atlantic.  He went on to serve on three other ships, the USS Atlanta, the USS McCawley and the USS John Penn, all of which were sunk in battle in the South Pacific.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Thursday, July 5, 2012

World War II Bomber Command Memorial

From the May 10, 2010, BBC News.

World War II's RAF Bomber Command heroes are going to get a 3,500,000 pound mmorial to be built in central London by 2012 (this year).  During the war 55,573 members of the Command were killed at an average age of 22.

The 8.5 meter tall pavillion will be made of Portland Stone and the structure will be open.  Part of the entrance will be made up of melted don sections of a Halifax bomber shot down during the war in which all seven crew members died.  There will also be an inscription by Winston Churchill on it.

It was dedicated June 28, 2012 by Queen Elizabeth II.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company

From Wikipedia.

This Wisconsin company was founded in 1902 and built steel ferries and ore hauling freighters.

During World War II, they expanded to building submarines, LCT (Tank Landing Craft) and self-propelled fuel barges called YOS.

Employment peaked during the war at 7,000.  The shipyard closed in 1968, but continues at the Manitowoc Company.  In 1939, President Charles C. Wood approached the federal Bureau of Construction and Repairs with plans to build destroyers in Manitowoc.  These ships would then be transported on Lake Michigan to the Chicago River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Illinois River and to the Mississippi River on a floating drydock towed by a tug boat.

The Navy suggested they build submarines instead.  On September 1940, the company received a contract for ten of them.  When each was completed, it went to the Illinois River where it enetered a floating drydock to get throughthe 9-foot deep Chain of Rocks Channel near St. Louis.  They would leave drydock in New Orleans where the periscops and radar masts were reinstalled after being removed to allow clearance of bridges.

The company had never built a submarine before, but had the first one finished 228 days before the contract due date.  In all, 28 submarines were completed for $5,190, 168 less than other submarines.

All Part of the War Effort.  --GreGen

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oops, Wrong Blog

I accidentally put an entry about Liberty Ships built by the Houston (Texas) Shipbuilding Corporation in my Cooter's History Thing Blog of today's date.

USS Cobia

With a fish name, you know it is a World War II-era submarine.  Today's submarines are named after states such as the battleships used to be.

From Wikipedia.

Gato-class submarine.  Laid down 17 March 1943 by the Electric Boat Co. of Groton, Ct.  Launched 28 March 1943 and commissioned 29 March 1944 and went on six war patrols.

Decommissioned in New London, Ct. in 1946.  Recommissioned July 1951 for reservists and sub school.  Located in Milwaukee from 1959 to 1970.  In 1986, became part of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowac where you can take 45-minute tours of the vessel with your $12 admission.

At the museum, you can also look through the periscope of the USS Rasher (SS-269) one of the submarines built in Manitowac.

Always Good to Have Examples of Those Ships That Won the War Still Around.  --GreGen

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wilmington's Liberty Ships-- Part 6

Thirty percent of the workers at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company were blacks and many of them were in skilled positions.  Work stations were completely desegregated.

Wilmington's population skyrocketed to over 100,000 during the war years as workers, military personnel and their families moved to the area.  Barracks were built for workers and public housing projects were hastily built to handle the influx.  Also, 1,400 homes were built, many in what is today Sunset Park.  Some of the projects still exist today.

The Maritime Commission also leased busses to transport workers from Catolina Beach, Southport, Warsaw and Wallace.

The last NCS Company, the SS Santa Isabel, was launched April 16, 1946, and the site sat vacant after that.  In 1949, the Maritime Commission leasedpart of it to the North Carolina State Ports Authority.  In 1971, the state bought the land outright for $445,000.

Some names remain from the shipyard.  Of course, a major road  is the Shipyard Boulevard and Burnett Boulevard named for H.C. Burnett, the shipyard's popular assistant personnel director.

File Under Stuff Most People Wouldn't Know.  --GreGen