Friday, October 31, 2014

Wilmington Aviators Helped Win the Battle of Midway-- Part 1

From the June 3, 2012, Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News by Wilbur D. Jones, Jr..

Five weeks after the Battle of Midway in 1942, Lt. Clarence Earle Dickinson, Jr., a pilot on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, spoke at his hometown of Wilmington's Rotary Club after he had won his third Navy Cross in six months.

At the battle, in just ten minutes, at about 10:20 a.m. on June 4, 1942, U.S, planes destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers of a Japanese attack force, turning the tide in the war with Japan in the Pacific.  The remarkable success came from a combination by fusing intelligence, analysis, leadership, initiative, daring, bravery, enemy miscalculation, timing and good fortune.  That pretty well sums it up.

Besides Dickinson, Wilmington's Ensign Carl David Peiffer flew a Dauntless Dive Bomber with the Enterprise's Scouting Squadron Six.

Also flying that day was Army Air Force Lt.Col. Brooke Empie Allen, commanding the 42nd Bombardment Squadron of Flying Fortresses based on the island of Midway.

However, only the carrier-based aircraft succeeded in their mission.


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.


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.


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."


Thursday, October 23, 2014

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

From the May 31, 2012, Foster' 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.


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.


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..


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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."


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.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

That's Me, a Big Battleship Fan

Jason Apuzzo says the newly released movie "Battleship" capsized at the box office.  It did, bit I liked the movie a whole lot as I am and always have been a big fan of battleships ever since I saw my first one, the USS North Carolina.  I have seen "Battleship" on FX several times and have the DVD.

It was great that none of the new digital weapons or ships could stop the aliens, but bring that old "Mighty Mo" back and that did the trick, especially with part of the crew being our World War II veterans.

My brother and I used to argue a lot about which was better, aircraft carriers or battleships.  I, of course, went with battleships even though I knew a battleship would be no match for a carrier's planes.

Our battleships, especially the last four were the most striking looking warships ever built.

Coming Tomorrow, Jason Apuzzo's Top Ten Naval Warfare movies of all-time.

A Lot of Guns, A Lot of Punch in Those Battleships.  --GreGen

Monday, October 13, 2014

Wilmington's USS North Carolina in 1962

From the May 1, 2012, Wilmington-Star News.

APRIL 16, 1962:  A recent Sunday set a daily record for the new USS North Carolina battleship museum as it had opened recently.  That Sunday, 6,583 boarded, up 192 from the previous Sunday.

During the first six months 107,279 had visited the ship.

A 2012 Star article reported a drop in attendance for the previous year to 193,150 visitors between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011.

APRIL 30, 1962:  Thousands of people were on hand as high-ranking U.S. Navy officials and Governor Terry Sanford helped dedicate the USS North Carolina.

A tribute was presented to Battleship Commission Chairman Hugh Morton and te late Jimmy Craig (who had died in 1 1961 plane crash) and never got to see the ship they worked so hard to acquire actually get to Wilmington.

Governor Sanford noted that 700,000 North Carolina school children had donated to help bring the ship home.

I Was One of Them.  --GreGen

Wilmington At War, April 1942

From the May 1, 2012, Wilmington (n.C.) Star-News.

APRIL 17, 1842:  Construction across the whole United States was curtailed because of the war, but not at Wilmington where 800 jousing units were going up at this date.  650 of those units were meant for white shipbuilding workers and 150 for blacks

The black units were probably at Maffitt Village which is still there and now called Long Leaf Park.  Segregation was still very much alive during the war.

Maffitt Village was named after famous Confederate naval officer John Newland Maffitt.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sunken WWII Ship Causing Oil Slicks and Smell in Canada

From the May 3, 2012, Vancouver (Can) Sun "Sunken Second World War ship leaking fuel, natives say" by Larry Pynn.

The Gilga'at Nation wantes the Canadian government to do something about the sunken ship at Hartley Bay.  It is producing oil slicks and has a bad smell.

The U.S. Transport Ship Brigadier General M.G. Zalinski was carrying 700 tons of bunker oil and at least a dozen 227-kilogram bombs when it hit rocks in 1946 in Grenville Channel about 40 miles north of Hartley Bay and sank.  All 47 men aboard were saved even though the ship sank in twenty minutes.

It is 27 meters under the surface and oil slicks are forming.  Another ship, the ferry MV Queen of the North sank near the site in 2006.

The Zalinski was built in Lorain, Ohio, and delivered to the government in June 1919, too late for use during World War I.  It was sold in 1924, but reacquired in 1941.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Prince Philip Breaks the Silence on His Role Against Italian Warships at Battle of Cape Matapan

From the April 16, 2012, Mirror (UK) News.

Prince Philip, 90, describes his role in the Battle of Cape Matapan against Italian ships and destroyers off the coast of Greece in 1941.

He operated a battleship's search light. and they caught the Italians by surprise, picking out their targets and sinking 3 cruisers and 2 destroyers.

Prince Philip joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17 in the spring of 1939 and was a midshipman on the British World War I battleship Valiant.  Prince Philip recounted: that he was "ordered to 'open the shutter.'  The beam lit up a stationary cruiser, but we were so close by then that the beam only lit up half the ship.

"At that point all hell broke loose, as all our eight 15-inch guns, plus those of the flagship and Barham's started firing at the stationary cruiser, which disappeared in an explosion and a cloud of smoke.

His ship then destroyed another cruiser.

Later in the war, Prince Philip became one of the youngest officers to make first lieutenant and second in command of a ship.


USS Iowa Update from 2012

The USS Iowa took four days to be towed from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

The ship is 887 feet long and was called "The Big Stick."

On May 21, 2012, the USS Iowa tow was delayed because of weather.

May 24, 2012: USS Iowa still in port

May 26th: USS Iowa sailed (towed)under the Golden Gate Bridge, the last time a battleship will ever pass under it.  It is expected to be open for the public in Los Angeles by July 7th.

May 29th:  USS Iowa just about at its final home.  A WWII merchant ship came by for a look.

May 30th:  The USS Iowa at anchor on Wednesday of the Port of Los Angeles, its final home.  Still expected to open to the public on July 7th after a reunion of USS Iowa veterans.


National Maritime Day Wreath Laying in N.C.

From the May 21, 2012, Cape Fear Business News "M.C. Ports to Host National Maritime Day Wreath Laying Ceremony.""

This is an annual event honoring the U.S. Merchant Marine.

The ceremony will take place Tuesday, May 22 at 11 a.m. at the veterans Memorial Wall on Water Street in downtown Wilmington.

From 1941-1945, Wilmington built 243 Liberty Ships.

During World War II, 243,000 served with the Merchant Marine and 9,500 died, the highest casualty rate of any U.S. service branch.


Rosie the Riveter Visitors Center Grand Opening in 2012

From the Oakland (Cal.) Post by Tanya Dennis.

On May 26, 2012, the Rosie the Riveter Home Front National Park visitors center opened.  The national park opened in 2000.

The United States was profoundly affected by World War II and this had an effect on the roles of women, blacks and migration to California.

Henry J. kaiser hired 98,000 people, working three shifts around the clock.  Using prefabrication, he could build a Victory Ship in 4 days, 15 hours and 23 minutes using unskilled labor.

He built 747 ships in three years and eight months at his Richmond, California, shipyards, essentially launching a new ship every other day.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

World War II Tank Traps Destroyed in Britain

From the May 19, 2012, Swindon (UK) Advertiser "WWII tank traps destroyed in bridge work" by Scott D'Arcy.

Three monolithic concrete structures were destroyed in Swindon.  They had been part of the GHQ (General Headquarters Line) Line set up as a last line of defense from a perceived imminent German attack on the British mainland.

Construction crews were working on a bridge in town.They were too big to be removed and were too close to the new bridge.  they were photographed and recorded before they were destroyed.


New Zealand Hero Died in 2012

From the May 20, 2012 "Kiwi WWII hero dies" by Max Lambert.

Phil Lamason, a New Zealand bomber pilot saved a large group of Allied airmen from going to Buchenwald Concentration Camp died May 19, 2012, at the age of 93.

He was the senior officer of 168 Allied airmen and in August 1944 risked his life to get word to the Luftwaffe after finding out the Gestapo had ordered them executed.

On October 19th, Luftwaffe officers arrived and demanded the Allied men's release and took took them to Sagan, a regular POW camp.

The majority of the Allied airmen had been shot down in France and were trying to escape in civilian clothes which the Gestapo considered as spying.

Of the 168 men: 2 were from New Zealand, 9 Australians, 29 Canadians, 47 British and 81 Americans.  Two of them died of sickness.


Top 10 Little-Known Events of World War II-- Part 2

5.  OTHER EUROPEANS IN GERMAN FORCES--  Troops from the countries of Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Norway and even Britain fought alongside the Germans.

4.  JAPANESE FIRE BALLOONS--  From the fall of 1944 into early 1945, some 9000 balloons were launched from Honshu.  Only 1000 got as far as North America.  Six Americans were killed in one explosion.

3.  STALAG LUFT III--  The Great Escape.

2.  THE NI IHAU INCIDENT--  A Hawaiian Island.  On December 7, 1941, Japanese pilots were told that if their plane was damaged to land there because it was uninhabited.  One did land there and found it was inhabited.  He was treated like a guest until the islanders found out about the attack.  The Japanese descent islanders tried to help him escape, but he and one of the islanders were killed.

1.  THE DEATH MATCH--  A soccer game played between a POW Soviet team and a Luftwaffe team.  The Soviets won 5-3 despite some very prejudicial refereeing .  Many of the Soviets were tortured and treated harshly.

Sore Losers.  --GreGen

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Top Ten Little-Known Events of World War II-- Part 1

From the March 1, 2011, Listeverse.  There is a lot more information at the site as well as photos.

10.  ALEUTIAN ISLANDS CAMPAIGN--  Began June 3, 1942 against Japanese occupied Attu and Kiska islands.

9.  JAPANESE HOLDOUT--  Not all Japanese soldiers surrendered in August 1945.  The last one, Hiroo Onada, surrendered in 1974.

8.  SOUTH AMERICAN INVOLVEMENT--  Brazil and others fought on the Allied side.  Plus, quite a few Germans left to live secretly in Argentina after the war.

7.  VICHY FRANCE VS. ALLIES--  In 1940, the Nazi puppet government of France declared war on the Allies.

6.  OPERATION DRUMBEAT--   This was the name of the successful attack of 40 U-boats off the eastern U.S. coast.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Official End of the Battleship Era in 2012: Last Voyage of the USS Iowa

From the May 19, 2012, Piedmont Patch "Floating Farewell to WWII Battleship Sunday."

The World War II Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien will be escorting another WWII ship on the first step of its final journey from San Francisco Bay to San Pedro where it will become a floating museum.

The journey of the battleship USS Iowa marks the official end of the battleship era, both for the United States and the world.

The USS Iowa was launched in 1942 and served until 1990.  The SS Jeremiah O'Brien is one of the only two functioning World War II Liberty Ships left and will escort the Iowa from Richmond to the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Iowa also will be escorted by the USS Potomac, President Roosevelt's yacht during the war. The Iowa transported FDR across the Atlantic Ocean to the Tehran Conference in 1943 and was in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered.

 The ships are expected to pass under the Golden Gate Bridge at 3:30 p.m..

A Sad Day to End the Era, But At Least the Iowa Was Saved.  --GreGen

Veteran Got a U-boat Flag As a Souvenir

From the May 15, 2012, Daytona Beach (Fla.) News Journal "WWII bet kept enemy flag as souvenir of war" by Valerie Whitney.

William Lorusso, 87, was part of a special detail of sailors who landed after D-Day to look for German sound equipment which would then be shipped back to the States to be examined.

In Cherbourg, France, they saw a German battle flag flying from a U-boat.  Said Larusso, "I saw the flag waving and I said to my friend, 'I'm going to get that flag'."

Larusso did and now keeps it packed away, though he's been offered $550 for it.  He says he has no plans to sell it.  As far as the future, he thinks he might leave it to his descendants or he might donate it to a museum (which I hope he does).

Flags from U-boats are extremely rare.

During the war, they also went to a perfume factory that produced Chanel No. 5 and he picked up some and sent it to his sisters even though they were forbidden to wear perfume by their father.

A Flag and Perfume.  --GreGen

Chesapeake Inmates Restore WWII-era Liberty Bus

From the Nay 18, 2012, Virginian Pilot by Veronica Gonzalez.

The bus arrived four years ago and was in really bad shape.  It has now been restored in baby blue paint and new vinyl.  It had once been used by Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  It is now heading for Jacksonville, N.C., where it will be displayed at the Museum of the Marine, soon to be under construction.

The work was done at the St. Brides Correctional Center in Chesapeake in the body shop.

It was used in the 1940s to carry Marines off base for liberty in Kinston and Wilmington.  Construction workers also rode it to the base while it was being built.

The 1934 GMC bus was loaned to the prison in 2008 and is now donated to the museum.

I bet the Marines really liked that bus.

A Real Piece of a Different Part of World War II.  --GreGen

Monday, October 6, 2014

USS Pennsylvania's Guns Still Around-- Part 3

THe Pennsylvania was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, and received a bomb hit on the boat deck that wiped out an entire anti-aircraft gun crew.  It was among the first American ships to return anti-aircraft fire on the attacking Japanese planes.

In August 1945, right at the end of the fighting, the ship was hit by a Japanese torpedo from a bomber, killing nineteen and almost ending up sinking.By 1944, three of the 1935 14-inch gun barrels were worn out by constant use and replaced with newer ones from other ships.  The old ones were originally housed in storage at a Virginia depot. where two remained until 1999 when they were slated to be scrapped but the officer in charge contacted the museum and now they will be preserved.


USS Pennsylvania's Guns Still Around-- Part 2

There already is a stone and shrubbery outline of the Pennsylvania's 612-foot long hull and, in addition the museum has the ship's bell and other artifacts.  The 14-inch guns will be the crown jewel of the exhibit.

The 14-inch guns of the Pennsylvania were once the world's largest until the 16-inch guns (referring to shell diameter) guns came out for battleships and land defenses.

The Pennsylvania fired 6,854 14-inch shells in Pacific action during the remainder of the war.

The battleship was launched in 1915 and was the B-38.  It missed out on World War I because the ship burned oil (while previous battleships burned coal).  No oil tankers could be spared to carry oil to England for the Pennsylvania..


Saturday, October 4, 2014

USS Pennsylvania's Guns Still Around-- Part 1

From the March 20, 2012, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "USS Pennsylvania, damaged at Pearl Harbor, may be gone but her guns survive" by Torsten Ove.

After the battering the battleship USS Pennsylvania took at Pearl Harbor, it was repaired and took part in battles at Guam, Saipan, Palau, Leyte Gulf and Okinawa.  It ended its career being scuttled in the South Pacific in 1948.

Two of its 14-inch diameter main battery gun barrels had been at a Navy depot since the ship's 1944 refit.

The guns now will be going to a Centre County museum is volunteers can raise $50,000.  The gun barrels, weighing 66 tons each will be mounted on a concrete cradle outside the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg with $200,000 in state money.

So far, the Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum have raised $50,000.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Scottish Minister Calls for Medals for Arctic Convoy Veterans

From the May 12, 2012, BBC News, Scottish Politics.

More than 3,000 seamen died in Operation Dervish, the convoys that supplied the Soviet Union with arms and weapons to Murmansk and Archangel.

Scottish Minister Keith Brown wants a campaign medal for them and was meeting with surviving veterans of the operation this week.

These men faced definite threats from German U-boats and aircraft as well as extreme weather.


The Merchant Marine Battle for Recognition-- Part 5

Gerard Driscoll (from Part 1) was from a family of 14, 11 boys and 3 girls)  Two brothers were in the Army Air Corps, another in the Navy and he and two other brothers were in the Merchant Marine during the war.

He worked as an oiler in the engine room and said he didn't worry much about the danger he faced.  "You are young and foolish."  he went on to say, "You always carried a flashlight.  If your ship was hit by a torpedo, you could try finding your way out."

The Merchant Marine veterans deserve as much credit as anyone else in uniform.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Merchant Marine Battle for Recognition-- Part 4

During the war, the Merchant Marine was under the control of the War Shipping Administration.  Sailors were recruited by the federal government and trained at government camps and uniformed by it as well.

Between 1940 and 1946, some 250,000 served in the Merchant Marine and it is estimated (in 2012) that fewer than 6,000 were still alive.

Membership in the Mon Valley Chapter of the American Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II has shrunk from 76 a few years ago to 29 in 2012.  Most of them are in their 80s and 90s.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Merchant Marine Battle for Recognition-- Part 3

The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 classified sailors on privately-owned ships as civilians.  When the war ended they did not qualify for the education or mortgage benefits that members of the Armed Forces did.

Civilian ships were requisitioned and armed to carry war supplies making them prime targets of enemy attack.

Nearly 7,000 Merchant Marine sailors died on the more than 700 ships that were sunk.

Since 1988, veterans in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters have been eligible for treatment in VA hospitals and for casket flags, headstones and burial in national cemeteries.


The Merchant Marine Fight for Recognition-- Part 2

Merchant Marines crewed civilian-owned ships which is why they can not get veteran recognition.  Even though these ships often had U.S. Navy people to man the guns for protection.

Mark Gleeson, 85, grew up in Ford City and turned 18 in May 1945.  Germany had surrendered and preparations were being made for the invasion of Japan.  he and 4-5 classmates signed up for the Merchant Marine.

They started training in New York City at Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn, but was not assigned to sea duty until after Japan had surrendered..


The Merchant Marine Fight for Recognition-- Part 1

This is one of the saddest stories of the war.  These men risked all the same things that Navy personnel did, but they can not get the recognition they so deserve.

From the May 17, 2014, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Merchant Marines have fought for recognition as veterans since World War II" by Len Barcousky.

Gerard Driscoll, 85, tried to join the U.S. Navy at age 16 by changing the date on his birth certificate, but was turned down because of his age and told to come back later.

He left his boyhood home in Versailles, now part of White Oak and became a crew man on  Great Lakes freighters and earned his seaman's papers in a few months.  He was then assigned to a C-1 cargo ship on the West Coast and later during the war faced Japanese submarines and kamikazes delivering supplies to U.S. troops attacking the Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

He and fellow World War II Merchant Marines were talking to students at Elizabeth Forward High School.  They belong top the Mon Valley Chapter of the American Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II.