Monday, July 31, 2017

About That Movie "Dunkirk"-- Part 1: "The Dunkirk Spirit"

From the July 19, 2017, Chicago Tribune "Nolan taking a huge risk on 'Dunkirk'" by Josh Rottenberg, LA Times.

Christopher Nolan took a half hour  just working in post filming on the sound where the torpedo hit the British destroyer full of young British soldiers who were thinking they were finally going home.  He wanted just the right pitch of sound to convey the terror.  The scene was barely a minute long in the movie.  This gives you an idea of how important this movie is to him.

The movie recounts the harrowing story of the evacuation of nearly 400,000 British and Allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk, France in the spring of 1940.

For British audiences, it is a cherished tale of resilience, a military catastrophe that turned into a moment of communal heroism immortalized in the phrase "Dunkirk Spirit."

But to most American movie-goers, especially the younger ones, it is an unfamiliar piece of history.  Like I said, I knew about it, but not much.

--GreGen

Friday, July 28, 2017

Just Got Back From Seeing the Movie "Dunkirk"

If you haven't yet seen it, definitely do so.  I'd put it up for an Academy Award for Best Picture as well as other nominations.  Outstanding.  We even had applause at the end of it, something I've rarely heard.

There wasn't much dialogue, but the story wasn't hard to follow, involving the land, air and sea.  Of course, the fleet of small pleasure and work boats which came over were featured and there was a whole "Red Badge of Courage" thing going on with the first man the Moonstone rescued as well as the two main characters, one of whom turned out to be a French soldier wearing British clothing.  The British weren't rescuing French soldiers until all the British ones were off.

How hard was it to get away from Dunkirk?  I doubt that anyone had it harder than the main pair.

Plenty of wonderful war quotes as well.

All I can say is that the British destroyers sure couldn't take a hit and sank, as did all the ships in the movie, very fast.  A bomb or torpedo hit and down you went within a few minutes.

And those lines of British soldiers just standing there calmly.  The man in the one line pushing away the floating body and the man walking into the English Channel and trying to swim it.  The list goes on of memorable scenes.

Well Worth Seeing.  --GreGen

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wings of Freedom Tour Comes to Chicago: See the Warbirds

Advertisement in July 23, 2017, Chicago Tribune.

It was an eye-catching ad with those four wonderful old World War II Warbirds:  B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell and P-51 Mustang.  Those planes will catch my eye every day.

The tour is at the Chicago Executive Airport (unfortunately, they didn't say where it was) July 26 to July 30.

Walk-through tours are $15 for adults.  And, you can fly in one of the bombers for $400 to $450.

Website www.cfdn.org.

I looked the Chicago Executive Airport up and found it to be the former Palwaukee Airport which is not too far from where I formerly lived in Palatine, Illinois.  I might just go see those old Warbirds.  Now, if they also had a British Spitfire like the ones in the movie "Dunkirk" that would really make this a must-see event for me.

That's the Real Thing.  Thinking About It.  --GreGen

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Looking Forward to the "Dunkirk" Movie

I am planning on seeing this movie tomorrow.  I've been looking forward to it since I first saw it was being released in July.

I don't know a whole lot about it, but a few days ago bought one of those special magazines about it.

And, of course, this is one of those movies that really needs to be seen on the big screen and I will probably end up seeing it twice at the theaters.

And, of course, since this is a historical movie, even better.

--GreGen

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Long-Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 8: Now Hidden Away in a Government Facility

So, most likely, the 200+ pound memorial was placed on public land by the American Nazi Party.

The National Park Service couldn't do anything about removing the marker until they found out if anyone was buried under it.  They went over World War II records for details on where the bodies had been buried, but came up with no definitive answers were forthcoming.  Old maps showed conflicting spots for the burials and one even showed it under a building.

Rosenstock believes that whoever buried the bodies didn't want them found.

But, no one was buried under where the marker was found because in the 1940s a creek had run through the spot.

In 2010, under direction of the museum curator, a fork lift exhumed the granite block and lowered it into a truck.  The stone, tagged OXCO-475, now spends its days under a protective blanket on a shelf in a storage facility in suburban Maryland -- its exact location a secret.

Sounds a Bit Like At the End of the Indiana Jones Movie About the Lost Ark.  --GreGen

Monday, July 24, 2017

A Long-Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 7: The "N.S.W.P.P." Clue

Until the mid-1960s, the National Socialist White People's Party had gone by the more familiar name:  The American Nazi Party.  The group's founder, George Lincoln Rockwell, had given it the new title shortly before his assassination in 1967.

By the 1970's, however, the group had begun to split apart and had lost much of its relevance.  Jim Rosenstock believes the newly found Nazi memorial marker is from that time.

The party didn't entirely cease to exist until 1983 so the stone may have been carved more recently.

As for now, the memorial presents a conundrum.  It is certainly something that should have been left on public property, but there is nothing in any handbook that says what to do with it.

--GreGen

Friday, July 21, 2017

July 20, 1944: Hitler Assassination Attempt, FDR Nominated for a 4th Term

From the Chicago Tribune "On July 20..."

73 Years Ago yesterday.

July 20, 1944:  An attempt by a group of German officials to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb failed as the explosion at Hitler's Rastenburg headquarters only wounded the Nazi leader.

July 20, 1944:  President Franklin Roosevelt was nominated for an unprecedented fourth term of office at the democratic convention in Chicago.

Four years earlier he had been nominated for an unprecedented third term of office.

--GreGen

A Long Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 6: Fast Guilt, Fast Death

In mid-Summer 1942, seven U.S. Army generals found all eight men guilty but left their punishment up to the president.  FDR sentenced six to death, and two, including John Dasch, to lengthy prison terms, though both were deported after the war.

The electrocutions began at 12:01 p.m. on August 8.  By 104, all six were dead.

Three days later, they were secretly buried amid a seldom-visited thicket of Southwest Washington known as Blue Plains.

Jim Rostenstock back searched this information, but the question remain, "Who placed the granite memorial stone there?"

The line at the bottom spelling out "N.S.W.P.P." offered a clue.

GreGen

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Long Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 5: Hysteria and Secret Military Trials

War hysteria broke out.  Hundreds of German immigrants were rounded up, and others suspected of spying were arrested.  The Justice Department banned German and Italian barbers, servers and busboys from Washington, D.C.'s restaurants because three of the would-be saboteurs had worked as waiters in America.

Ignoring due process, President Franklin Roosevelt ordered that the Germans be tried in secret before a military commission -- a tactic then backed by the U.S. Supreme Court, that President George W. Bush would replicate 59 years later in his directive that Guantanamo Bay detainees be judged in similar fashion.

--GreGen

A Long Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 4: J. Edgar Hoover Took Credit for Stopping Them

Four days later, John Dasch took the $82,000 he'd been given for the operation -- more than $1 million in today's money --  and boarded a train for Washington.  There he met with FBI agents, whom he expected to welcome him as a hero.

They didn't.

J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the bureau, recognized the opportunity.  In late June, with all eight men captured, Hoover announced their capture in New York -- and claimed credit for the FBI.

He made no mention of Dasch.

A huge war scare rolled over the United States.  Francis Biddle, then attorney general, later wrote in a memoir, "The country went wild."

--GreGen

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A Long Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 3: Here's the Story

At the strat of World War II, Adolf Hitler decided he wanted to show the world just how susceptible America was to a German attack so he ordered his military to devise a plan.

The high command recruited eight Germans for the mission.  In teams of four, the men were loaded onto a pair of U-boats, one destined for Jacksonville and the other for a beach near the tip of Long Island.

On June 13, 1942, the New York group reached shore -- and was discovered by an unarmed Coast Guardsman on foot patrol.  The Germans escaped, but by morning the Coast Guard had unearthed the Germans' buried supplies:  fuses, pre-made bombs and four crates of TNT.

Those supplies wouldn't have mattered as their leader, John Dasch, had no intention of setting off any of the bombs.  When the group reached New York City, he and a comrade decided to turn the others in to American authorities, so Dasch phoned the FBI.

--GreGen

A Long-Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 2: All the Elements of a Great Mystery

Jim  Rosenstock works in resource management for the National Park service and was a big local history buff was curious and skeptical about this stone.  He got involved with finding out about the marker.

As he dug deeper, it had all the elements of a great mystery:  World War II espionage, nationwide panic, a mass electrocution, J. Edgar Hoover chicanery, white supremacists, federal bureaucracy and a U.S. Supreme Court case that played a significant role in America's modern war on terror.

For decades, few people in Washington, or elsewhere, knew of the stone's existence.  It wasn't a secret so much as something that just never got out.

--GreGen

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Long-Forgotten Nazi Memorial Mystery-- Part 1: Six Executed German Agents

From the July 2, 2017, Chicago Tribune "Nazi memorial a long forgotten mystery" by John Woodrow Cox.

This is one really interesting story.

Power company workers were walking  through a rarely visited thicket in Southwest Washington state when they spotted something, a rectangular slab of granite.  Upon closer inspection they saw it was a memorial to honor Nazi spies and it was on U.S. government property.

It said:  "In memory of agents of the German Abwehr executed August 8, 1942.".

Below that were the names of the six executed:

Herbert Hans Haupt
Heinrich Harm Heinck
Edward John Kerling
Hermann Otto Neubauer
Richard Quirin
Wener Thiel

And, at the bottom "Donated By the  N.S.W.P.P."

The whole endeavor had the code name Operation Pastorius.

And, It Thickens.  --GreGen


Monday, July 17, 2017

Old Jalopies For the War Effort in 1942

From the March 16, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"There are 26,995 worn-out jalopies in automobile graveyards in the state of Illinois.  Before long these old cars will be melted into armaments.

"That is good news for everyone, not to mention residents of neighborhoods in which one of the graveyards is located.  It is estimated that this amount of scrap material will produce 3,680 American tanks to help Uncle Sam's soldiers win the war."

--GreGen

Friday, July 14, 2017

World War II-Era 'Ghost Army' Up for a Congressional Gold Medal in 2016

From the March 12, 2016, Washington Times.

described as "Masters of innovation, large scale camouflage -- and tactical deception."

Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced to give the Gold Medal to the "Ghost Army."

The unit created intricate battlefield deception using hundreds of inflatable tanks, aircraft, sound effects and phony radio transmissions to confuse the Germans before D-Day.

Currently, there are Ghost veterans living in 11 states and Washington, D.C..

They were officially known as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops.  There efforts were chronicled in a 2013 documentary film by Rick Beyer and is under development for a Hollywood movie

In the past, the Congressional Gold Medal has been given to Doolittle's Raiders, the Monuments Men, WASPs and Code Talkers.

Legislation is also underway to give the Gold medal to the OSS -- forerunners of the CIA.

All So deserving.  Thanks.  --GreGen

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Three At Pearl Harbor on the USS Hull, New Orleans and Shaw

DON ALSBRO    Enlisted 1940 at age of 16.  On USS Hull when the attack came.  Eating breakfast and thought it was practice until he heard the explosions.   The Hull was not hit and immediately put out to sea.  he didn't see a lot of devastation then, but sure did when the ship returned two days later.

ROBERT FLAHERTY  seaman 1st class on USS New Orleans and worked in the ship's store.  His ship sustained minor damage.  Eating breakfast when the attack began.  From his battle station, he saw the Arizona and Oklahoma hit by torpedoes and sink.

JOHN DeFIELDS, yeoman on the USS Shaw where 25 were killed.  He was one of the 17 wounded and spent two weeks in the hospital.

--GreGen

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Building a C-47 Cargo/Troop Plane

March 19, 2016  TEAMWORK: 1942

October 1942.  :Men and women make efficient operating team on riveting and other jobs at the Douglas Aircraft plant, Long Beach, Calif.  Most important of the many types of aircraft made at this plant are the B-17F 'Flying Fortress' heavy bomber, the A-20 'Havoc' assault bomber and the C-47 heavy transport plane shown here for carrying troops and cargo."

Alfred Palmer, OWI  Color photograph.

Comments:  Posed.  The woman is outside holding a riveting gun.  The man is inside the plane holding a bucking bar.

--GreGen

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Carnivals and Trees

From the March 20, 2016, Shorpy site--  FAIR MAIDENS: 1942.  July 1942, Klamath Falls, Oregon.  Carnival of the Circus>  Waiting in line for the Tilt-A-Whirl.  Russell Lee, OWI

I noticed all sorts of lights on at night.  No black out here evidently.

From the March 18, 2016, Shorpy--  UP A TREE: 1942.  July 1942, Klamath Fallls, Oregon.  "Boys in a city park on a Sunday afternoon.  Russell Lee, OWI.  Two shirtless boys are  climbing a tree.

Even With a War On, You Gotta Have Some Fun.  --GreGen

Monday, July 10, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos: At a Relocation Camp-- "Dr. Pepper: Good for Life"

March 23, 2016, GOOD FOR LIFE: 1942.

July 1942, "Nyssa, Oregon, Farm Security Administration mobile camp.  Soda pop is delivered at the camp for Japanese-Americans."  Russsell Lee, OWI  There are those old wooden crates of Dr. Pepper bottles and they are picking up empties.  A sign says "Drink Dr. Pepper:  Good for Life."

Not one of our prouder moments, but understandable under the circumstances.

--GreGen

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Japanese Submarine Bell Recovered Off Oahu in 2016

From the March 17, 2016, Phys.org.  "Bronze bell recovered from WWII aircraft-carrying submarine off Oahu coast."

The I-400 Japanese submarine had been lost since 1946 when it was intentionally sunk by the United States.

It lies in 400-foot deep water.

The Sen-Toku class were the largest submarines ever built until the nuclear submarines were constructed.

One of the 5 submarines of this class was bought to Pearl Harbor to be examined  The Soviet Union demanded the sub be turned over to them to examine and the United States sank it to prevent them from getting the advanced technology.

--GreGen

USS Oklahoma Sailor Lewis Stockdale Laid to Rest at Punchbowl in 2016

From the March 18, 2016, KHON 2 News.

Navy Ensign Lewis S. Stockdale, 27, was from Anaconda, Montana and he was one of the Oklahoma's unknowns.  Bodies were recovered from the stricken ship from December 1941 to June 1944 and were interred at Halawa and Nuu anu cemeteries.

In 1947, they were disinterred and transferred the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks where 35 remains were identified.  The many unidentified were buried in 46 plots in the Punchbowl.

In 1949, they were all classified as "non-recoverable."

On June 15, 2015, they began exhuming those commingled bodies for identification.

--GreGen

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Search for Frozen Heroes in 2016

From the March 19, 2016, International Business Times "Scientists to lead mission to find frozen World War II heroes buried under 40 feet of ice" by Romil Patel.

Two previous missions to find the plane failed.

Lt. John Pritchard,  radioman Benjamin Bottoms and Corporal Loren Howarth's plane crashed into a Greenland glacier in November 1942.  Pritchard and Bottoms were flying a rescue plane to survivors of a B-17 bomber crash.  They had rescued some of them and returned and had rescued Horwarth when they got caught in a storm and left stranded.

In the early days of the U.S. involvement in the war, the U.S. Army Air Corps transferred bombers across Canada, Greenland and Iceland to the United Kingdom by air to avoid German U-boats sinking transports.

--GreGen

Hitler's Personal Copy of "Mein Kampg" Sells for $20,000

From the March 21, 2016 Times of India by Ashley Cowburn.

It was sold at an auction at Chesapeake City along with thousands of other World War II items.  The book was published in 1924 and it was bought by an American.

The book was found by members of an American field artillery unit and signed by eleven officers on the first page with the words "From Adolf Hitler's apartment on May 2, 1945."

--GreGen

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Some More On the "Nuts" Reply-- Part 4: Short Straw Wins

Edward Ihlenfeld remembered:that once he and two buddies were hiding in a barn and drew straws to see who would go out and search for food.  He got the short straw, went out and when he returned he found that his two buddies had been captured by the Germans.

Another time, near the end of the war, he and his buddy lobbed grenades at a window where a sniper had been firing at them.  They found the body of a boy about 12 or 13.

He returned to his police job in Milwaukee after the war.

--GreGen

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

To Our Enemies Today: One Word!! "NUTS!!!!!"

In keeping with this 4th of July day here in the good ol' U.S.A., just one word.

"Nuts!!"

Get the Idea.

How's About a Little "Shock and Awe?"  --GreGen

Some More On the Famous "Nuts!" Reply-- Part 3: Wounded and Had Good Typing Skills

Edward Ihlenfeld's daughter, Christy Breihan said:  "He was in midair and they could see bullets flying back and forth.  he remembered thinking, 'I hope I get hit somewhere that doesn't kill me.'  It got him in the leg right below the knee.

This is what took him off the front lines and got him a clerical job because he also had good typing skills.  That is how he ended up typing the famous response.

He enjoyed going to 101st Airborne Reunions and talking with old friends.  For many years, he just talked about the good times in the war, but more recently had begun talking about other things.

What You call a Million Dollar Wound.  --GreGen

Some More On That Famous "Nuts!" Reply-- Part 2: Edward Ihlenfeld

Edward Ihlenfeld was a 1938 North Division High School graduate in Milwaukee and worked for the Milwaukee Police Department when he was drafted in the fall of 1942.

He parachuted into France during D-Day, landing at Sainte-Mere-Eglise, where he saw the paratrooper whose chute got caught up on the church steeple in the town square which was shown in the movie "The Longest Day."

After D-Day, he returned to England, then made another parachute jump into the Netherlands September 1944 during Operation Market Garden where he received a Purple Heart for a wound he received on the way down.

--GreGen

Some More On That Famous "NUTS" Reply-- Part 1: "To the German Commander..."

From the March 16, 2016, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Edward Ihlenfeld recalled for role in famous 'NUTS' response in WWII" by Meg Jones.

Edward Ihlenfeld died March 13, 2016, in Milwaukee in the home he built.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st Airborne acting commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe received a message from the German commander saying he had to surrender to avoid annihilation.

McAuliffe crumpled the paper and said, "Aw, nuts."   He had the reply typed:  "To the German Commander, NUTS!  The American Commander."

Edward Ihlenfeld typed that message.

--GreGen

Monday, July 3, 2017

Shorpy Home Front: Swimming

From the Shorpy Old Photo site.

MARCH 13, 2016--  SWIMMING OF '42--  July 1942 "Rupert, Idaho.  Dressing after swimming.  Russell Lee, OWI.

MARCH 9, 2016--  PICNIC IN THE PARK: 1942--  July 1942  "Klamath Falls, Oregon.  Picknickers in city park."  Russell Lee, OWI.  Family seated at picnic table preparing to feast.

Comment:  They are at Moore Park on Lakeshore Drivee.

MARCH 9, 2016--  LAST ONE IN  July 1942  Rupert, Idaho.  Schoolboys at swimming pool."  Rupert Lee, OWI.

Comment:  Very thin boys.  really tight, form-fitting trunks, at least one with a belt on his trunks.

Swimming and Fun Went On for Kids, Despite the War.  --GreGen

Veteran of USS Flasher Dies in 2016-- Part 2: Loved That Strawberry Ice Cream

On the submarine USS Flasher, Mr. Sherman worked in electronics.  It was his job to keep the sub's radar, sonar and radio going.  He was one of 60 men on it.

After the war he was in corporate industry.

He remembers that his favorite dessert was strawberry ice cream.  After each sea battle, the cook would break out frozen strawberries and bake up some shortcake to celebrate.  He really loved that celebration.

The USS Flasher was scrapped in 1963.  Its cunning tower was saved and is on display at the National Submarine memorial and Wall of Honor at Groton, Connecticut, which honors the 3,500 submariners who lost their lives in World War II.

Mr. Sherman said, "You find that after you've been at sea for awhile, the officers smell about the same as you do.  You're all one big family."

--GreGen

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Francis Sherman, Submariner on USS Flasher, Dies At 96-- Part 1

From the February 17, 2016, Press-Democrat "Francis Sherman, World War II Navy veteran, dies at 96" by Chris Smith.

Francis Sherman boarded the submarine USS Flasher in 1943 and served on every combat patrol it went on for the rest of the war, credited with sinking over 100,000 tons of Japanese naval and cargo ships.

He died February 11, 2016, in Santa Rosa.  A native of Yuba County, he grew up in Dobbins and enlisted in the Navy in 1942.

In six combat patrols, the Flasher sank a reported 21 Japanese ships: freighters, tankers, transports, a destroyer and other vessels.

--GreGen

10 Bizarre World War II Weapons That Were Actually Built-- Part 2: The Mistel Flying Bomb

5.  The Mistel Flying Bomb--  an unmanned flying aircraft packed with explosives.

4.  The Surcouf--  France--  a huge submarine with 8-inch guns.

3.  Type XVII Submarine--  Germany--  A unique propulsion system using hydrogen peroxide would enable it to go 30 knots underwater, extremely fast for a submarine.

2.  Nakajima A6M2- 'Rufe'--  Japan--  a float fighter version of a Zero.

1.  The Canal Defense Light--  Allies--  a light that would disable German troops using a powerful flickering searchlight.

Very Interesting.  --GreGen

10 Bizarre World War II Weapons That Were Actually Built-- Part 2: The Sturmtiger

From the February 25, 2016, Listverse by Sam Derwin.

10.  Touchpanzer--  Germany.  For use in Operation Sea Lion (the invasion of Britain).  A tank that could actually dive.

9.  DD Tank--  Allies--  tanks that could float.  Actually used at D-Day without much success.

8.  Karl-Gerat--  Germany--  A super gun.  Could fire a 4000 pound shell three miles.

7.  Sturmtiger--  Germany--  for urban fighting, a heavily armored vehicle with a rocket launcher.

6.  The Zueno Project--  Soviet Union--  A plane that could carry other planes.

You can find photos and more information at the Listverse site.

What Will They Think Of Next?  --GreGen