Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Watching the Ships Go Off to War-- Part 1

From the December 17, 2011, New Bern (NC) Sun-Journal "WWII: Watching the ships go to war" by Willard Seidenfield.

William Seidenfield was an eleven-year old boy and at Madison Square Gardens in NYC with his father watching a minor league hockey game.  In the middle of the game, the announcer came on and said, "All sailors report to your ships immediately.  The date was December 7, 1941.

Later, sirens were attached to the lampposts in their Bay Ridge, Brooklyn neighborhood and tested regularly.  Soon, he could distinguish between the pending attack and all clear signals.

Every street had an air warden to make sure no light came from homes during test blackouts.

There was a railroad five blocks from his house and occasionally  see flat cars passing by with canvas-covered tanks with their muzzles sticking out.

It Was War At Home As Well.  --GreGen

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Man Who Provided the Iwo Jima Flag Dies: Alan Wood-- Part 2

A Marine boarded Wood's LST looking for the largest U.S. flag he could find.  American forces had already fought their way to the top of Mt. Suribachi and had a raised a small flag attached to a piece of water pipe.

U.S. officials called for a larger flag to be raised.  It has always been said that the U.S. secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal wanted the original as a momento.  Several months earlier, Wood had come across a 37-square foot flag at a Pearl harbor Navy depot and acquired it.  This is the flag shown in the famous photo.

Over the years, others have claimed that they were the ones who had given the flag, but Marine Colonel Dave Severance, who commanded the company that took the top of Mt. Suribachi said just this week that the second one was Wood's.

Some 60 people have claimed over the years that they had had a role in the flag/flag-raising.

Wood was born in Pasadena, California, on May 3, 1922. 

The Iwo Jima flags are on a rotating basis at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.

The Story of One Really Famous Flag.  --GreGen

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Man Who Provided the Iwo Jima Flag Dies: Alan Wood, 90-- Part 1

From the April 25, 2013, Los Angeles Times by Steve Chawkins.


Died April 18, 2013.    Alan Wood never claimed to be a hero but he certainly had an important supporting role in one of the war's most recognizable photographs, the raising of the second U.S. flag at Iwo Jima.

On February 23, 1945, five Marines and a Navy corpsman planted a flag atop Iwo Jima's Mt. Suribachi.  AP photographer Joe Rosenthal was there and took the photograph.  Mr. Wood wasn't there, but it was his flag that they raised.

In 1945, he wrote: "The fact that there were men among us who weer able to face a situation like Iwo  where human life is so cheap, is something to make humble those of us who were so very fortunate not to be called upon to endure any such hell."

He was communications officer on LST-779 which had landed very close to Mt. Suribachi that day.


Friday, April 26, 2013

HMS Exeter

From Wikipedia

On April 6th of this month, I wrote about World War II submariner Ernie Platz who was on the USS Perch sunk in March 1942 and spent the rest of the war as a Japanese prisoner.  He is still living.

The Perch was found on November 23, 2006, by an expedition looking for the wreck of the HMS Exeter, which is why I am doing this entry.

The cruiser Exeter was commissioned in 1931 and fought the German pocket battleship Graf Spee at the December 13, 1939, Battle of the River Platte where it was hit by seven 11-inch shells and had all three of its 8-inch gun turrets put out of action.  Casualties at the battle were 61 killed and 23 wounded.

After repairs, the Exeter did Atlantic convoy duty.

On February 27, 1942, it was severely damaged at the Battle of Java Sea.  While withdrawing from it, the Exeter was attacked by four Japanese heavy cruisers and three destroyers.  The ship was scuttled and its two escorting destroyers, the HMS Encounter and USS Pope were also sunk.

Its wreck was located in February 2007 at 200 feet deep.

So, They Found It.  --GreGen

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Indiana Pearl Harbor Survivor Passes Away

From March 21, 2013.

It would seem that this blog is really having a lot of news about the deaths of Pearl Harbor survivors.  So be it.  That is fitting.

James Moore, 94, of Peru and a member of the Indiana pearl harbor Survivors Association Chapter 2 has died.  James Laud, Sr., of Highland is the Indiana State Chairmean of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors says there are only about 40 survivors left in the state.

In 1940, James Moore was on the USS Arkansas, battleship, and in 1941 became senior officer on the USS Antares which was at the mouth of Pearl Harbor during the attack.

Later, he was commanding officer on the USS Pembina during World War II and commanded the USS Burlington during the Korean War.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Mal Middlesworth Speaks About Pearl Harbor

From the March 23, 2013, Cooper Museum in Upland, California.

Mal Middlesworth was the national president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association from 2005-2008 and also has been the editor of the of the Pearl Harbor Gram.

He joined the USMC in April 1841 in Chicago, Illinois and graduated boot camp in June of that year.  He then joined the Marine detachment on the heavy cruiser USS San Francisco in October.  The ship was at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

In 1942, he participated in fighting at Wake Island, Midway and Samoa as well as the Gilbert and Marshall Islands.

In August 1942 the ship was at the Guadalcanal landings, the Battle of Cape Esperance and the naval battle of Guadalcanal.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sad to See Them Go: The USS West Virginia's Deaths

From the USS West Virginia Organization site.

This is a list of sailors and Marines who had died between the 2011 and 2012 reunions.  The next reunion this September in San Diego, California, may be the last one. Of course, the West Virginia was sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack, raised, rebuilt and later participated in other battles in the Pacific.

Taps were played at the 2012 Reunion in Charleston, West Virginia, for these men who had served on the ship and passed away:

Donald B. Wilkins
Ralph Batchelor
Charles Shea
David Franklin Jones
Albert J. Gleason, Jr.
Anthony Sereno
Esla E. Gates
Joseph B. Keziah
John J. Mikottis
William V. Stein
Ernest R. Wilson
Ray Stevens
Heinz Volz
Herman H. Schlaefer
Claude B. Knox
Robert A. Jones
Richard Jesson
Robert R. Cony

Sorry to See Them Go.  --GreGen

Monday, April 22, 2013

Battleship North Carolina's Sound and Light Show: Dad's Friend Rudely Awakened

From the April 16, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.

APRIL 9, 1963, The North Carolina Battleship Commission was studying the possibility of beginning a $400,000 sound and light spectacular which would show the building of the ship, its launching, life on board, news of Pearl Harbor, training, the battles of Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima, and arrival in Tokyo Bay just after the war's end.

They did have it and I was fortunate to see it a couple times.  Quite impressive.  The audience sat on bleacher seats and the sound and lights took you right back.  Everyone would jump when the torpedo  explosion happened, sending a plume of water up beside the ship.

Dad used to laugh about it saying once he was there with family friends and the man had been a World War II sailor, but prone to falling asleep whenever he watched something.  The "torpedo" almost caused him to fall out of the stands when it went off and awoke him.

Unfortunately, they don't have it anymore.  Perhaps it is time to bring it back, only minus the mosquitoes.

Wonder if he had ever seen the North Carolina during the war?

Like, BOOM!!!!!!  --GreGen

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Funeral Service Held for Pearl Harbor Survivor

From the March 28, 2013 WSAW 7 CBS.

John Weindorfer, 89, died March 27th.  He arrived at Pearl Harbor on November19, 1941 on the destroyer escort USS Cassin which was scheduled for drydock.  While the ship was there, Weindorfer was assigned to the Ford Island  Naval Station as an aviation mechanic.

December 7th he was on mess hall duty.  It quickly became an emergency first aid station and he helped provide aid to the wounded.

It was fortunate for him as his ship was destroyed in the drydock and he lost 43 shipmates.

Starting in April 1942, he was assigned to PBYs (sea planes) operating out of a variety of bases throughout the Pacific including Midway.  During the course of the war, he survived three airplane crashes.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Friday, April 19, 2013

We Lose the "Chief"-- Pearl Harbor Survivor

From the April 11, 2013, Sheboygan (Wi) Press "'Chief' Schleusner was one of two Pearl Harbor survivors in Sheboygan County."

Known as "Schlea," "Bud," and "Dutch" but mostly just by "Chief."  Harry Schleusner, 93, died March 29th.  he was one of only two known Pearl Harbor survivors still alive in the county.  The other one is Stuart "Bud" Sweeney, of Plymouth.

Chief Schlea spent 40 years in the Navy and became a chief petty officer.  He grew up in Bruce, Wisconsin, and joined the Navy at age 18 and served as an aviation machinist and pilot and was 21 when the attack came.  He was sleeping in his barracks when awakened by his commander and recalled being told that the Japanese planes were flying so low that he should just grab anything to fight, even if it was just to throw it.

He was almost always seen wearing a hat with the word "Chief" on it.

Another One Gone.  --GreGen

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lt. Robert R. Hatch, USAAF-- Part 4

On the June 9th raid, the Dixie carried General W.F. Marquat.  The crew consisted of :

2nd Lt. R.R. Hatch
2nd Lt. C.A. Soffern
2nd Lt. G.D. Barnhill
1st Lt. N.A. Wright
Corp. R.I. Slater
Corp. Rorbinson
Corp. J.F. Shemberger.

I do not know why thy were carrying the general.  Perhaps as an observer or perhaps they were transporting him.


Star Trek's George Takei Recalls His World War II Internment

From the Dec. 21, 2011, 90.9 WBUR Boston.

Executive Order 9066 caused 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the west coast to be relocated to what were called internment camps, but much more like prison.  The actor played Hikaru Sulu on Star Trek and was 5 years old at the time.  he and his family were forced to board a bus.  Their neighbors waited until they were gone and then looted their house. 

His family spent three months in a temporary camp and then were moved to Arkansas.

His father told him that he was going on a long vacation.  "I remember the barbed wire fence that we were told not to go near.  And I remember the sentry towers that had machine guns pointed at us.  And I remember the searchlight that followed me when I made night runs from out barracks to the latrine."

A Hard Life For Them.  --GreGen

Local Pearl Harbor Chapter Closes Down

From the Oct. 3, 2011, CBS47 TV News, Fresno, California.

The Central California Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chapter held its last meeting in October and will officially close December 7, 2011, the 70th anniversary of the event.

Chapetr 8 lost several members this year to what the Japanese were unable to do all those years ago.  The remaining six survivors decided to close it.

They used to meet monthly and had more than one hundred members.

Elijah Richardson, 90, was on the USS Pennsylvania and said, "You weren't safe no place."

Always Sad to Have This Happen.  --GreGen

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Lt. Robert R. Hatch, USAAF-- Part 3: The "Dixie" Crashes

From Oz at War site.

On August 7, 1942, the Dixie crashed near Wu Wu after missing Port Moresby and running out of fuel.  The crew escaped injury and returned to Port Moresby six days later.  The pilot of the plane was Lt. Robert Hatch.

In a photo taken of Dixie's crew after the Raid on Rabaul Harbor on April 6, 1942, the crew was listed as:

Pfc James F. Shemberger (turret gunner)
Pfc L.G. Robinson (radio operator)
Private L.R. Ware (bombadier)
2nd Lt. J. Seamer Jr. (copilot)
2nd Lt. Richard R. Hatch (pilot)
2nd Lt. C.W. Castel (navigator)

They are listed left to right in the accompanying photo.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lt. Robert R. Hatch, USAAF-- Part 2: Flew Lyndon Johnson on Raid

One source said that Robert Hatch flew a B-26 Marauder named "Dixie" #01496 on 12 missions with the 19th Bomb Squadron of the 22nd Bomb Group against the Japanese at Rabaul, Lae and Salamua.

The plane was lost October 1, 1943.

This goes against his death being Jan. 10, 1943.

I found out that on 8 June 1942, the "Dixie" was one of eleven B-26 Marauders that raided Lae on June 9th.  On board as an observer was one Lt. Cmdr. Lyndon Baines Johnson, USNR, the future 36th president of the United States.

Of course, Lt. Hatch was from North Carolina which may have had something to do with the "Dixie" name of the plane.

Digging Deeper.  --GreGen

Two Other Goldsboro/Wayne County Men Killed During the War in the Pacific

I looked through the whole book on war dead which had quite a few pages.  I was particularly looking for residents who had been killed in the Pacific Theater besides Robert Hatch.

I found two:

Robert E.  Abel, Lt. died March 19, 1945 in the aircraft carrier USS Franklin.

William Z. Holland, EM 2/c Died December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.

I'll have to do some research on these men as well.


LT. Robert R. Hatch, USAAF-- Part 1

Back in March, I went to a presentation about North Carolina's Tuscarora Indians at the Wayne County Museum (an old USO from the war) in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  After the presentation, I was touring the museum and came across a book about Goldsboro and Wayne County men who had died during World War II. 

It was opened to a page and one of the names was that of Robert R. Hatch who died January 10, 1943 in the Pacific area.  He was the son of Mrs. James J. Hatch of N. George Street in Goldsboro.

Well, of course, this sparked my interest in the man so had to do some more research on him.  My father was so impressed with the man that he named my brother after him.  When my parents took him over to meet Mrs. Hatch, she started crying according to my mom. 

Now, that is just quite a coincidence.  --GreGen

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pearl Harbor Purple Heart Found in California and Returned to Family in Texas

From the March 27, 2013, ABC 13 News, Texas.

Thanks to the students in Ken Hooper's history studies class at Bakersfield High School in Bakersfield, California, a purple heart given to the family of Robert Bates, who was on the USS Arizona.  His body was never recovered.

The Purple Heart medal was likely given to his mother, but was lost sometime after she died in 1945.  It was found last month by a trucker outside the VFW Post in Bakersfield.  The post turned it over to Mr. Hooper's class.

Robert Alvin Bates was a pharmacsts mate 3rd class.  Records show that his body was never recovered and his name on the Arizona is misspelled as Tobert and his home state listed as Indiana instead of Texas.

A great experience for the students and some real historical research.  And getting in touch with a lost one for a family.

This Is a Real Nice Stry.  --GreGen

Area's Last Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies at 91

From the March 26, 2013, Mason County (Michigan) Press.

Leo Petrosky of Ludington died March 16th.  Born in Helvetia, Pennsylvania, he joined the Navy in 1940 on his 18th birthday.  He was assigned to the battleship USS Pennsylvania and served as an aviation mechanic and worked on the ship's reconnaissance planes.

The Pennsylvania was damaged in a November 1941 storm and had gone to pearl Harbor for repairs in drydock.

While that was going on, Mr. Petrosky was assigned to a PBY Catalina seaplane crew on Ford Island where he was during the attack.

We Lose Another One.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

USS Arizona Survivor Dies

From the February 18, 2013Waterloo-Cedar Falls (Iowa) Courier by Pat Kinney.

Eddie Welter died Tuesday.  As of last April, according the the USS Arizona Organization, there were only 13 survivors of that ship from Pearl Harbor still alive of the 330 sailors and Marines who did not die.  Mr. Welter is believed to be the last survivor living in Iowa..

He was born in Minnesota and grew up in Waterloo. In recent years, he had been a resident of the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown.

When the attack came, he was an 18-year-old seaman below deck in the laundry room when General Quarters sounded.  He went topside and to his battle station.  After the explosion, he remembered going down a gangplank and suffered ruptured eardrums and received splinters from the deck.

He was able to get to an aid station where he administered morphine to the wounded.  "I'll never forget the guys whose legs and arms were as black as tar.  Their skin already peeling."

He served out the war in Hawaii as a cook.

Sad to See Them Go.  --GreGen

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Japanese Submarine I-70-- Part 4

When Dickinson returned to the scene, he saw four Japanese sailors floating in the water and a bubble of oil appear on the surface of the water, followed by two others containing more oil and debris.

This was the first enemy combatant ship sunk by U.S. aircraft during the young war and the first Japanese fleet submarine lost.

The US Sixth Fleet continued to try to make contact with the I-70.  The ship is to presumed to be a loss with all 93 hands.  The submarine never returned to port or contacted any other Japanese fleet so was also considered a loss by them.

More to Come on the Loss of the I-70.  --GreGen

The Japanese Submarine I-70-- Part 3

9 Dec. 1941--  4 miles southwest of Diamond Head, Oahu.  At 1:30 AM reports the arrival of the USS Enterprise at Pearl Harbor.  This is the last signal received from the I-70.

10 Dec 1941--  The I-6 reported a Lexington-Class aircraft carrier and cruiser heading northeast.  SunRon1 and other boats ordered  to pursue and sink the carrier.  So, the ship is still operating at this time.

One hundred and twenty-one miles NE of Cape Halawa, Molokai, Hawaiian Islands.  After 0600, Ensign Perry L. Teaff's Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless dive bomber of VS-6 from the USS Enterprise sighted a surfaced submarine, the I-70, and attacks.  Has a near-miss with a 1,000 pound bomb that damages it and prevents it from submerging.

In the afternoon, another SBD-2 of VS-6 from the Enterprise, flown by Lt. (jg) Clarence E. Dickinson, back aboard his ship after being shot down at Pearl Harbor during the Dec. 7th attack,  sighted a surfaced submarine in the same area.  (He is the reason I am writing about the I-70 now.  See March blog) 

He climbs to 5,000 feet for a diving attack.  The I-70 spots him and commences a slow-turn to the starboard, opening fire from its 13 mm machine gun.  The bomb lands right beside the I-70, amidships.  The explosion throws several gunners overboard.  The submarine stops and starts to settle on an even keel, disappearing about 45 seconds later.

More to Come.  --GreGen

The Japanese Submarine I-70-- Part 2

Continued from March 18th.  From the Combine Fleet site.

This is the Japanese submarine that participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor and is considered to be the first Japanese ship (other than the mini submarines) sunk by the U.S. in the war and the first sunk by American planes.

This is a timeline of its movements until it disappeared and presumed sunk.

20 November 1941--  Arrives at Kwajalein, refuels and reprovisions.

23 Nov. 1941--  Departs for Hawaii

2  Dec. 1941--  Coded signal "Climb Mt. Niitake 1208 received.  Hostilities set to commence 8 Dec., Japanese time.

7 Dec. 1941--  The I-70s SubDiv 12 to patrol 25-50 miles from south of Oahu.  they were to reconnoiter and attack any American ship making a sortie from Pearl Harbor.  The I-70 stationed ten miles from entrance.  At midnight fails to answer a radio call from Katori.

The Part of Pearl Harbor You Don't Hear About.  --GreGen

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wilmington Launches Its 65 th Liberty Ship

From the February 20, 2013, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

FEBRUARY 7, 1943--  The SS Matt W. Ransom , the 65th Liberty Ship launched by Wilmington's North Carolina Shipbuilding Company.  It was named for a Confederate General from North Carolina who later became a US senator.

FEBRUARY 9, 1943--  Among rationed items in the Wilmington area:  shoes, fuel oil, sugar, gasoline, general groceries, tires and coffee.


Pearl Harbor Survivors Honored

From the December 12, 2011, Rome (NY) Observer.

Syl Puccio, 90, was honored at the 21st Annual Remembrance Luncheon.  His actions that day helped keep the USS West Virginia from capsizing like the Oklahoma and saved countless lives.

He served in the Navy from 1939 to 1947.  Puccio and another man had to open a damage control locker to get at valves to counterflood, but neither had a key.  So they smashed the hinges with a steel crank.  The other man opened the valves and the West Virginia settled on an even keel.

Leo Cross, 88, served in the Navy from 1940-1945 and the Air Force from 1948 to 1963.  He was on the USS New Orleans that day and had just finished eating and manned a anti-aircraft gun.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

U.S. Firm Finds 2nd Silver-Laden British Shipwreck

From the October 11, 2011, Reuters.Tampa, Florida's Odyssey Marine Exploration found the North Atlantic wreck of the SS Mantola at  8,250 feet, 110 miles from the site of the SS Gairsoppa shipwreck.

It was sunk February 9, 1917, torpedoed by a German U-boat, carrying 600,000 ounces of silver worth some $18 million today.

The Gairsoppa was sunk February 17, 1941, during World War II and is 15,510 feet deep, carrying 7 million ounces of silver.  This is the largest-known cargo of precious metal ever discovered. 

The company plans to salvage both sites in 2012, using remote operated submersibles.  The company gets to keep 80% of whatever they recover.

I Know Some Folks Who Are Going to Be Mighty Rich.  --GreGen

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Honolulu's World War II Landmarks-- Part 2

HOTEL STREET in China Town, once a hotbed of prostitution operating with the knowldege of the U.S. military.  This was the center of much off-base action in the book and movie "From Here to Eternity."

Today it is an area of restaurants, bakeries and lei shops.

PAGODA-LIKE BUILDING--  was  the site of the legendary, now-closed Wo Fat restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Hawaii.  The producers of the original "Hawaii Five-O" TV show named their arch villain after the place.

Another of the few remnants of the World War II era is the neon sign of the HUBBA HUBBA,  no longer in business. The place was an "infamous exotic dance hot spot.  The risque neon sign is all that remains of the run-down building that was boarded up in 1997.

There is a historic area between Bethel Street and Aala Triangle.

LA MARIANA SAILING CLUBis in industrial Sand Island between Pearl Harbor and Honolulu.  However, its tiki-themed bar didn't open until 1957, but it is a prime example of a World War II watering hole.  (Could it have been the bar shown the night before Pearl Harbor was attacked in the movie of the same name?)

HALE KOA is a modern concrete hotel near Ft. DeRussey Park with absolutely no 1940s ambience, but is a recreational center for military and veterans.  They serve the strongest mai tai in Waikiki and a good place to meet Pearl Harbor survivors.

Taking a Trip Back Into History.  --GreGen

Honolulu's World War II Landmarks-- Part 1

From the December 10, 2011, Seattle Times "Honolulu landmarks offer glimpse of wartime period" by Gary A. Warner of the Orange County Register.

Most people know about the Pearl Harbor aspect of the Hawaiian island of Oahu, but there are places still standing from the war in Honolulu.  Here are some of them:

The MOANA SURFRIDER luxury hotel on the beach at Waikiki is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year (2011).

The ROYAL HAWAIIAN "The Pink Palace of the Pacific" opened in 1927 and served as a recreational facility for servicemen during the war.  Like at the MOANA, its beachfront was strung with barb wire during the war.

ALOHA TOWER, 184-feet tall and the tallest building in Honolulu when it opened in 1926 and up until the 60s.  Made the NRHP in 1976.

There Is More World War II in Honolulu.  -- GreGen

Monday, April 8, 2013

Camp Laguna Turned Boys Into Desert Men-- Part 2

Private Hardrath got to Yuma twice and remembers it as a small town with Native Americans selling jewelry and crafts.  Then, there were the watering holes, "These joints were popular among the soldiers and we really guzzled beer."

Their next destinations, North Africa and Europe, proved a dangerous assignment, "To my knowledge, nearly everyone who went into the field with my company, aside from the support people, was hit by enemy fire.  This included both officers and men.  Even I was hit in the leg after fighting the Germans in France for 31 days.  I spent a year in the hi\ospital after that."

Today, the US Army Proving ground is the Army's desert environmental center where a wide variety of weapons are tested including the M1 Abrams tank, M777 howitzer, Apache helicopter and unmanned aircraft.  It has a workforce of 3,000 military and civilian workers.

Hitting the "Watering Holes."  --GreGen

Camp Laguna Turned Boys Into Desert Men-- Part 1

From the Dec. 18, 2011, Yuma (Az) Sun by Chuck Wullenjohn.

Tens of thousands of US servicemen trained at the Camp Laguna US Army Desert Training Center in the harsh Arizona desert, now the US Army Yuma Proving Grounds.  These men lived in canvas tents and made forced marches to prepare for service in North Africa.

The mostly-drafted recruits arrived on the Southern Pacific Railroad and took a 25-mile to the camp.  For many, it was their first experience with a desert environment.

From the account of Howard Hardrath of Co. C, 313th Inf. Regt, 79th Division who arrived July 14, 1943 and departed December 5th.  He reported they were acclimated the first ten days, rarely let out of their tents and then just for night marches.

"Even in the evening it was hot.  Later, they had both night and day forced marches "(and believe me, forced marches are no joy). 

One time, his unit was out of camp for a full month during a maneuver during which they underwent "water training-- one quart of water per day."  He said they really suffered from that.

Rough Training in the Desert.  --GreGen

Is the USS North Carolina Seaworthy?

From the Dec. 14, 2011, "Mr Reporter: After repairs are completed on the Battleship North Carolina, will she be seaworthy again?"

Captain Terry Bragg, director of the battleship reports, "Now that repairs are completed to the starboard bow, the ship is considered sound and ready for continued service as the state of North Carolina's World War II Memorial." 

However, dredging of the boat slip, refloating (it's sitting in the mud right now) and a full Coast Guard Inspection would be required before a certification of "seaworthy" is warranted.

Future plans for the ship include more hull repairs (the ship has been in th water in Wilmington for over 50 years now), replacement of hull plates, removal of 1,5 million gallons of ballast water and underwater inspections and floating the ship in it berth.

The "Showboat" Hangs On.  --GreGen

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The USS Perch (SS-176)-- Part 2

Once again, the Perch resurfaced on March 3rd and repairs were being made despite the deck being awash and only one engine operating.  A test dive was made which proved to be near fatal and only with great difficulty did the ship resurface again.

Almost immediately, the Perch was spotted by a Japanese battle group consisting of two cruisers and three destroyers.  Shells began straddling the submarine and with no opportunity to dive, the order was given to "Abandon ship, scuttle the boat."

The entire crew was picked up by one of the destroyers.  Of 54 men and 5 officers, all but six who died of malnutrition in Japanese prison camps, were able to return home after VJ Day.

On November 23, 2006, the Perch's wreck was found by an expedition searching for the wreck of the HMS Exeter (68) a heavy cruiser sunk March 1, 1942, in the Second Battle of Java Sea.

The Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

The USS Perch (SS-176)-- Part 1

A follow-up to today's earlier post.  This was Ernie Plantz's ship.

From Wikipedia.

The Perch was the lead ship of her class and commissioned 19 November 1936 and joined the Pacific fleet's Submarine Squadron 6 (SubRon6) and operated around the Philippines during the year before the war began.  The ship was in Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines when the war broke out and witness to the bombing of that place.  It later made it to Darwin, Australia, for repairs.

On March 1, 1942, the Perch was attacking an enemy convoy near Java when it was spotted by two Japanese destroyers, attacked, and driven to dive where depth charges caused much damage, knocking out the starboard motors and flooding the ship.

Temporary repairs were made and the Perch resurfaced March 2nd.  It was spotted by destroyers and attacked again.  A huge loss of oil and air convinced the Japanese ships that the Perch was breaking up and they left.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Connecticut World War II Submariner Tells His Story

From the February 22, 2013, Norwich (Ct) Bulletin "Meet a Veteran: Ernie Plantz, of Gales Ferry" by James Mosher.

Ernie Plantz joined the Navy as a seaman a year after graduating from high school in Charleston, West Virginia.  Between those times, he served a ten-month stint with the Civilian Conservation Corps.  He completed his basic training at Norfolk, Virginia, and served on the battleship USS New Mexico before volunteering for submarine duty on the USS Perch 

The submarine was scuttled after receiving serious damage during the Battle of Java Sea in March 1942..  He was one of 54 sailors and 5 officers taken prisoner and sent to the Mokassar prison camp in Indonesia.  It held some 3,000 Allied prisoners.  Six of his shipmates did not survive their captivity.  Once he suffered 75 blows to his rear end with a baseball bat.

Prisoners built radio towers and moved pillboxes.  Plantz got a severe case of dysentery and malaria and lost 100 pounds while in prison.  After spending 1,297 days in captivity, he was liberated in September 1945.

He later served on the submarines USS Tautog, Diablo and Bushnell and later was an instructor at the US Navy's Groton Navy School, retiring as a lieutenant.

Quite the Story.  --GreGen

Friday, April 5, 2013

Texas' Kenedy Detention Camp

From the Handbook of Texas Online and Densho Encyclopedia.

The camp was located in Kenedy, Texas (spelled with the one "n," not two like I originally thought) and originally would hold only men whose families had been sent elsewhere.  The Army took over it in 1944 and it became a POW camp.  Before the war, it had been the J.M. Nichols Civilian Conservation Corps camp.

In April 21, 1942, the first internees arrived: 456 Germans, 156 Japanese and 14 Italians.  Most of the Japanese were from Mexico.  The Germans and Italians were from Central and South America.

A book has been written on the camp by Robert H. Thonoff.

Hadn't Heard of It before.  --GreGen

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Who Were Those Japanese-Peruvians During World War II?

From Wikipedia.

At the beginning of World War II, there were some 26,000 people of Japanese descent living in Peru.  The U.S. State Department reached an agreement with Peru and 1,779 of these people were transferred to the United States for incarceration in internment camps.

I sure didn't know about these people. 


A Follow Up to California's Tuna Canyon Detention Station-- Part 2

The first enemy aliens arrived at the camp December 16, 1941 and between then and May 25, 1942, some 1,490 Japanese males passed through the camp.  Later, Japanese-Peruvians were transferred to the Kenedy INS detention camp in Texas.

Tuna Canyon included seven barracks, an infirmary, mess hall, office building, medical care and barbershop.  Visitors were allowed, but one Sunday, 1,837 showed up causing all sorts of problems and after that, visits were limited to just two minutes.

One person of particular interest incarcerated at the camp was Toraichi Kono, Charlie Chaplin's chauffeur and personal secretary until 1934.  he had been accused of being a Japanese spy.

After the war, the site became a Los Angeles probation school for boys until 1960 when a group of doctors bought it and built the Verdugo Hills Golf Course which is still operating, but since sold to developers who want to build 229 homes on it.

Peruvian-Japanese?  Looks like something I'll have to look up.

Stuff I Didn't Know.  --GreGen

A Follow Up on California's Tuna Canyon Detention Station-- Part 1

Continuing from the March 27th post.  From the Densho Encyclopedia.

Ask most Americans, particularly younger ones about Japanese-American internment camps in the United States during World War II and you'll most likely get a blank look.

I'm aware of them, but until I found the article about this camp, I was unaware of its existence.

The Tuna Canyon Detention Station is where Issei were detained by the FBI after Pearl Harbor.  It opened Dec. 16, 1941, and was a temporary stopover until they could be transferred elsewhere.   With a 300 capacity, it was located  in Tujungo, California, near Pasadena in Los Angeles County.  It closed in September 1945.

Other temporary stations for those classified as enemy aliens were at Ellis Island, East Boston in Massachusetts, Cincinnati, Angel Island in San Francisco Bay and Seattle.  In December 1941, 279 Japanese-Americans,, 248 German-Americans and 81 Italian-Americans were incarcerated at Ellis Island.

The La Tuna Camp had originally opened in May 1933 as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp located at 6330 Tujunga, about 14 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Australia's MV Krait

From Wikipedia.

Named after a small, extremely  poisonous snake.

Originally a Japanese fishing boat that operated out of Singapore before the war called the Kofuku Maru.  Taken over  by the Allies and evacuated over 1,100 people from ships sunk along the East Coast of Sumatra.

In September 1943, it was used by  by the "Z" Special Unit to sink seven ships in Singapore Harbor.

After the war, the ship was sold and it operated off Borneo.  In 1964, it was purchased for use by the Australian Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol before being acquired by the Australian War Memorial in 1985 where it serves today as a museum ship.

Never Heard of the Ship Before.  --GreGen

Bid to Save Famous Australian Ship

From the February 23, 2013, News.com.au "Bid to save former World War II Japanese fishing boat MV Krait" by Ian McPhederan.

The Australian War  memorial is asking the New South Wales government and the corporate sector for help in saving the former Japanese fishing boat MV Krait.  In September 1943, the 21 meter vessel with 14 members of the top secret "Z" Special Unit entered Japanese-occupied Singapore Harbor.

The Australians then paddled into the harbor and sank 39,000 tons of enemy shipping and then returned to Australia.

As a result, Operation Jaywick sank more enemy shipping than any other Australian ship.  The Krait is now tied to the Australian  National Maritime Museum in Darling and in bad shape.

Save That Ship.  --GreGen

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pearl Harbor Survivors

This last year's annual Las Vegas, Nevada, Veterans Day Parade was the last one that the handful of survivors of Chapter 2 Silver State Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will be in as an official organization.

Clifton Dohrman said the group is down to just five and all have health problems.

Sad to See Them Go.  --GreGen