Thursday, November 15, 2018

"Bloody, Bloody" Tarawa-- Part 1: 75th Anniversary This Month

From the November-December 2018 VFW Magazine by Dave Spiva.

November 20 marks 75 years since the American assault against Japanese forces on Tarawa in World War II.

The victory on this central Pacific island came at a high cost for the Marines.  Mistakes were made but lessons learned.  These proved invaluable in later amphibious assaults in the "Island-Hopping" Campaign.


New Flag Hoisted Over Court House in Sycamore in 1943

From the May 2, 2019, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Without the standard awarded by the country for the successful scrap drive, which has been practically destroyed by the storms and wind, the court house was flying a new United States flag and it is a far prettier sight than the old one that was removed and burned.

"The scrap drive award flag was ruined and destroyed."

So, if your county had a successful scrap drive it would get a U.S. flag.  This flag was flown over the DeKalb County Court House in Sycamore, Illinois.


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Someone Goes for a Joyride in 1943

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  :Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Early this afternoon the Charles Bradt car, taken during the night, was recovered about a block from his home.  The gasoline supply was nearly exhausted indicating that those who had taken the car had driven it a considerable distance before deserting it on the nearby street."

And, remember, there was gas rationing going on.

Joyriding During the War?  --GreGen

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Case of the Drunk Soldier in DeKalb

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"A soldier on his way west was taken from a bus yesterday afternoon by the DeKalb police and taken to the station and held until he sobered up.

"The driver of the bus had asked that he be removed."


Monday, November 12, 2018

No. 8 Group RAF-- Part 3: Heavy Losses During the War

Continued from Friday.

There were initially five squadrons in Group 8, but that was expanded to 19.  No. 8 Force was also responsible for  the Light Night Striking Force which used Mosquito bombers and harassing Germany.

The Force was disbanded 15 December 1945.  However, in 1943, members got patches with the inscription "We Guide To Strike."

Most of the Pathfinder Forces (PFF) were members of the Royal Air Force, but there were also members from Commonwealth countries.

The PFF flew a total of 50,490 individual sorties against some 3,440 targets.  It was at a big cost, though.  At least 3,727 members lost their lives.


It's Threshing Time in DeKalb County in 1943

From the August 8, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Threshing crews are in vogue this week, and many 'rigs"  as the farmers designate them, are in operation in all parts of the county.

"The oats were cut and shocked  through the cooperative aid of the United States Employment Agency in conjunction with the California Packing corporation and much of the work was completed in time."

This U.S. Employment Agency may have been referring to the War Manpower Commission.

Food for the War Effort.  --GreGen

Sunday, November 11, 2018

"The War To End All Wars" Ends and Veterans Day Today

On this date, at 11 a.m., the guns along the Western Front ceased firing, marking the end of "The War To End All Wars."  Sadly, this was not the last war.

But, anyway, the bloodiest war in the annals of human history ended and everyone was happy.

Today, we still commemorate Armistice Day, though we call it Veterans Day.

In a short time, Liz and I will be going to the train station in Fox Lake, Illinois, for the observance of this special day.

If You See a Vet Today, Definitely Thank Them.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

"No Smarter, Handier, or More Adaptable" USMC

The U.S. Marines have their roots in the Continental Marines of the American Revolution, formed 243 Years ago by a resolution of the Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

"I am convinced that there are no smarter, handier, or more adaptable body of troops in the world."

Prime Minister of Britain Winston Churchill speaking about the USMC.


Friday, November 9, 2018

No. 8 Group RAF-- Part 2: Using Oboe, Gee and H2S

It was a key component of the Bomber Command.  It consisted of specialist squadrons that marked targets for the main targets of Bomber Command aircraft.

The Force, which had been formed in August 1943 with five squadrons flying a mix of Short Stirlings, Handley Page Halifaxes, Avro Lancasters and Vickers Wellingtons.

Whenever new improved aircraft became available, like the de Havilland Mosquito,  8 Group got the first ones.  Its aircraft used  advanced navigation aids like Gee, H2S and Oboe to find targets of attack more accurately than the main force of bombers could do on their own by eye.


Thursday, November 8, 2018

No. 8 Group RAF-- Part 1: In Both World Wars

From Wikipedia.

The No. 8 Group RAF (Royal Air Force) existed in the final year of the First World War and during the Second World War.

During the First World War it was formed in April 1918 as a training unit and designated  as 8 Group (Training).  It remained  at this for the remainder of the war and was disbanded May 1919.


The group was re-established as No. 8 (Bomber) Group on 1 September 1941 only to be disbanded  around five months later on 28 January 1942.

However, 8 Group was re-constituted when Bomber  Command's Pathfinder Force was redesignated No. 8 (Pathfinder Force) Group on 8 January 1943.


We Guide To Strike-- Part 2: Marked the Targets

The Pathfinder force was able to penetrate the industrial pollution with aircraft equipped with the blind-bombing device known as Oboe.  This technology afforded them the ability to seek out targets regardless of weather conditions and to illuminate desired areas with brilliant target markers which reflected back up from the ground through the haze.

The application of the crew's precise identification of the target locations enabled  the following bomber strikes to be  incisively accurate.

That's why "We Guide To Strike" is the motto of the No. 8 Pathfinder Force Group.


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"We Guide To Strike"-- Part 1: 156 Squadron Pathfinder Force

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Calendar Heroes of the Air.  With another amazing painting by Aviation Artist Gil Cohen.

November 2018.

You see five British RAF men at a high altitude, four working with instruments and one flying the plane.

Here, a Lancaster of 156 Squadron Pathfinder Force, flying ahead of the main force of bombers, makes a run over its target in the heavily defended German industrial Ruhr Valley.

The Ruhr, the greatest industrial area in all of Germany, was the most heavily defended target in the world.  The Ruhr Valley was almost always covered by an almost permanent  smoke-haze from the factories, which made visual pin-pointing of towns below nearly impossible at night.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

USS Abner Read-- Part 2: Operations Before the Mine Explosion

After a shakedown cruise along the California coast in April 1943, the Read left for the Aleutian Islands and started patrolling May 5.  On 11 May, she shelled Japanese positions on Attu Island supporting a U.S. landing on the island.  She again shelled the island May 16, before returning to California at the end of the month.

Two weeks in drydock  and returned to the Aleutians in June and began patrolling off Japanese-occupied Kiska  On 22 July 1943, the Read joined a general fleet bombardment of Kiska in Operation Cottage where a joint American-Canadian landed only to find the Japanese had withdrawn their troops.


Friday, November 2, 2018

The USS Abner Read Named After A Civil War Union Naval Officer

From Wikipedia.

Abner Read (5 April 1821 to 7 July 1863)

An officer in the U.S. Navy who distinguished himself during the Civil War.

He died of injuries sustained while patrolling the Mississippi River in command of the USS New London.

At the time of his death he had attained the rank of lieutenant commander.

The destroyers USS Abner Read (DD-526) and USS Abner Read (DD-769) were named after him.

The DD-769 was a Gearing-class destroyer laid down during World War II but never completed.

I will be writing about Abner Read in my Running the Blockade: Civil War Navy blog.


USS Abner Read (DD-526)-- Part 1: Fletcher-Class Destroyer

From Wikipedia.

The USS Abner Read was a Fletcher-class destroyer named after Lieutenant Commander  Abner Read (1820-1863) who died in the Civil War.  It saw action in the Aleutian Islands Campaign where its stern was blown off by a Japanese mine in 1943.

After repairs, she returned to service and was involved in the New Guinea Campaign and the Battle of Leyte.  She was sunk off Leyte in 1944.

Built by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding  Corporation of San Francisco.  Laid down 30 October 1941, launched 18 August 1842 and commissioned 5 February 1943.  Commander Thomas Burrowes commanding.

376.6 feet long, 39.8 foot beam, 336 crew, Five 5-inch guns, 17 AA guns, ten torpedo tubes,  six depth charge projectors and two depth charge racks.


Thursday, November 1, 2018

USS Abner Read Stern Found-- Part 8: Found Proof

The multi-beam sonar scans of the flat sea floor west of Kiska on July 17 had quickly picked up an object.

The scientist sent down an underwater robot with cameras, and there, looming in the dim light, was the encrusted profile of the Abner Read's sunken five-inch gun.

Said Andrew Pietruzka, lead archaeologist:  "It's like scoring a touchdown.  You see it  come on the screen, and the whole room goes pretty nuts."

"It's a very humbling experience,"  he said.  To be part of, even without the recovery of these remains, (something where) families can find some solace that somebody found where their loved one is, that you.can put that to rest."


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Stern of USS Read Found-- Part 7: Sunk By a Kamikaze in 1944

Another destroyer managed to tow the ship out of danger.  It was later towed to Bremerton, Washington, where it got a new stern and rejoined the fighting.

It participated in several actions before sailing to Leyte Gulf by the Philippines.

On November 1, 1944, the Abner Read was struck by a suicide kamikaze and sank in about 30 minutes.  All but twenty of her crew were rescued.  Daryl Weathers was burned but survived, in part because a shipmate gave him his life jacket.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Stern of USS Abner Read Found-- Part 6: :You Weren't Good For More Than 10 or 15 Minutes"

The rescuers used life jackets to hook men in the water and then haul them in.  "We pulled up a few," he said.  But "they didn't last too long in the cold water.  ...You weren't good for more than 10 or 15 minutes."

Seventy-one men were lost according to Navy records.  Daryl Weathers said he knew most of them.

The crew numbered about 330.  Commander Burrowes went on to higher command after the incident.

The blast also set off the ship's smokescreen mechanism which was belching toxic smoke and choking the survivors.

The Read was now powerless and adrift near the shore.  There was the knowledge that there might as well be more nearby mines.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Stern of USS Abner Read Found-- Part 5: From Boredom To Blown Out of the Water

Mr. Weathers continued:  "We'd been doing figures 8s, about 3-, 4-miles long.  We'd been doing this for a day and a half and were becoming relaxed because there was no report of anything."

Scores of sailors were asleep in the aft compartments.

When the mine went off "the whole ship came out of the water."  A huge flash appeared on the radar screen.

The crew went to battle stations.  Weathers ran to his anti-aircraft gun, but there was nothing to shoot at, so he started helping rescue men who had fallen into the rigid water.

"It was a kind of bad thing."  The sea was coated with fuel oil  "Everybody was slippery, you couldn't get  get a hold of anybody."


Thursday, October 25, 2018

Stern of USS Abner Read Found-- Part 4: A First Hand Account

Seaman First Class Daryl Weathers, 19, from Los Angeles was in the radar room on the bridge, standing the mid-watch --  midnight to 4 a.m..  "Everything was peaceful," he said, and the exhausted skipper, Cmdr. Thomas Burrowes, had just gone to his quarters for rest.

Burrowes had already lost one ship, the USS O'Brien the year before and was reluctant to leave the bridge.

"I got a responsibility here for everyone of these kids' mothers to bring them back home again," Weathers remembers him saying.

"I was very touched by that, he said.  "But he went down to his cabin and about 30 minutes later, 'Bam!'"


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Stern of Abner Read Found-- Part 3: Locating War Artifacts At the Bottom of the Sea

The Japanese seized Kiska in June 1942 and weren't driven off until June 1943 after relentless shelling and bombing by U.S. forces.

Along with the Read' stern, a dozen Japanese ships, two Japanese submarines and numerous downed American airplanes are believed to be in local waters.  And this, in part, is the reason Project Recover is there as that is a bi part of it, the locating of lost World War II aircraft at sea.

The project got a $600,000 grant from the NOAA and spent two weeks in a research vessel off Kiska in July.


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Stern of USS Abner Read Found-- Part 2: Ship Later Sunk By a Kamikaze

Despite losing its stern, the Read managed to stay afloat that night.  It was later repaired and went back into action.  In 1944, the Read was hit again, this time by a Japanese kamikaze and sank off the Philippine island of Samar.

The Abner Read was named for a Civil War naval hero.  Shortly after commissioning, it was sent to Kiska.

And there, 75 years after it lost its stern, on July 17 underwater archaeologists found the 75-foot stern section where scores of men probably remain entombed.

The expedition was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and run by Project Recover and several other organizations.  The aim was to study the almost untouched underwater battlefield of the battle for the Aleutian Islands.

It was the only World War II battle on North American soil.  Kiska and Attu Island are the only U.S. territories occupied by a foreign force in the last 200 years.  Kiska is about 1,000 miles off Alaska's western coast in the Bering Sea.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Stern of USS Abner Read (DD-526) Found-- Part 1: Sunk By Japanese Mine

From the August 19, 2018, Chicago Tribune  "Stern of WW II ship found off Aleutians" by Michael E. Ruane. The Washington Post.

The USS Abner Read had just finished one leg of its anti-submarine patrol and was starting the next one off shore of Kiska, in Alaska's Aleutian Islands.  It was August 18, 1943 and the Japanese had just evacuated the island.

But, they still had a minefield in the area.  The Read figured it to be 2,000 yards away. At 1:50 aa.m., its stern erupted in a huge geyser of water.  It had struck a mine which snapped off a large chunk of the stern sending it and a 5-inch gun to the bottom of the sea.  As many as 70 men were trapped inside it.

On Wednesday, August 15, maritime scientists announced that they had found that stern encrusted in sea growth in 290 feet of water.

No remains of sailors were seen or recovered.


Visiting Europe's Fascist Sites-- Part 5: Gestapo and SS HQs and Hitler's Bunker

The Topography of terror exhibit in Berlin stands atop the rubble of what was once one of the more terrifying of Nazi sits, the headquarters of the Gestapo secret police and the elite SS force.

Hitler's life would end in Berlin, deep underground in his bunker.  With his capital smoldering in ruins in the spring of 1945, the war in Europe ended after his death.

Rick Stevens:  "While traveling in Italy and Germany recently and taking in the remnants of Mussolini' and Hitler's reigns, I was struck by how entire nations have become mesmerized and led astray by fascist leaders.  The best souvenir from that trip:  a realization of how fragile democracy is -- and how, if you take freedom for granted, you can lose it."


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Visiting Europe's Fascist Sites-- Part 4: Eagle's Nest and the Reichstag

Another of Hitler's shows was at his mountain-capping Eagle's Nest.  It was his Alpine getaway south of Munich in Berchtesgaden where he softened his image and became a "regular guy."  A stone tunnel leads to his elevator which takes you to the top.

The Reichstag in Berlin is Germany's parliament building.  It "mysteriously" caught fire in 1933 and gave Hitler the excuse to frame the communists and seize power.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Visiting Europe's Fascist Sites-- Part 3: Germany

"Inspired by Mussolini and buoyed by the Great Depression in 1929, Hitler's similar promises of a better life gained traction in Germany."

For the Nazi's, this was especially to center on the city of Nurnberg, nicknamed the "most German of German cities.  It was a favorite of Hitler to showcase his nationalistic pomp and pageantry and where he held those grand rallies you always see in documentaries.

The Rally Grounds consist of four square miles southeast of Nurnberg's Old Town.  Zeppelin Field was the site of those rallies.  Today, the stark remains are "thought provoking."

You can also see the unfinished Congress Hall which now is the site of the Documentation Center Museum.  This is the largest surviving example of Nazi architecture.  Hitler modeled the building on Rome's Colosseum, only on an even grander scale.

The Documentation Center traces the evolution of the Nationalist Socialist movement and how it both energized and terrified the German people.


Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Visiting Europe's Fascist Sites-- Part 2: Rome's Olympic Stadium and E.U.R.

Two examples of Mussolini's infrastructure can be seen in Rome.  One is the Olympic Stadium, located north of Vatican City and the planned city called E.U.R. in south Rome.

The Olympic Stadium was originally called Foro Mussolini and is still in use today.  It was built with the intention of having the games in Rome as well as to promote physical prowess as a key element of fascist ideology.

In the late 1930s, Mussolini made plans for an international exposition -- the Exhibit Universal Rome (E.U.R.) to show off the wonders of his fascist world.  World War II stopped it from happening, but the project was completed in the 1950s and today houses apartment blocks, corporate and government offices and big, rarely visited museums.


Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Visiting Fascist Sites in Europe-- Part 1: Rise of Mussolini and Hitler

From the August 19, 2018, Chicago Tribune  "Visiting 20th-century fascist sites" by Rick Stevens.

"The sweeping impact of fascism in the 20th century can be felt to this day in the many monuments and memorials across Europe that remind us of those horrific years."

Fascism started in the post-World War I years when anger ruled and charismatic leaders rose to manipulate that anger.  Both Benito Mussolini in Italy and Adolf Hitler in Germany turned fringe movements into totalitarian fascist regimes.

Mussolini gained power first and met with success, pumping up the Italian economy, creating jobs and investing in infrastructure.


Save That Kitchen Fat for the A.A. Guns

From the August 22, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"If each household in DeKalb county saved one teaspoon of waste fat for a year it would provide enough glycerin to make 458,496  anti-aircraft shells."

Do Your Part, Save That Fat.  --GreGen

Monday, October 15, 2018

Horace Carlsen, USMC-- Part 5: Funeral Arrangements

VISITATION:  Friday, October 12, 2018 from 5 pm until 8 pm at Glueckart Funeral Home, Ltd. 1520 N. Arlington Heights Road (4 blocks south of Palatine Road) Arlington Heights, Illinois 60004.

A 11 am Saturday, October 13, 2018 Committal Service will be held at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, Elwood, Illinois.

In lieu of flowers, memorial may be donated to non-profit organizations working to locate and identify the remaining lost Tarawa Marines.

Funeral information and condolences can be given at www.GlueckertFuneralHome,com or (847) 253-0168.

Great To Have You back, Sgt. Carlsen  --GreGen

Horace Carlsen, USMC-- Part 4: Finally Identified

Due to extensive research by William Niven, Rick Stone (Chief Rick Stone and Family Foundation), and Mark Noah (History Flight), the search for Bud focused on Grave E1212.

Work by Nancy Spellman, Bud's niece, and great nephew Ed Spellman, led to the exhumation if E1212 and the conclusive identification of Bud in June 2018.

Bud is survived by his nieces and nephews:  Barbara Rapp, James Goodman, Richard Goodman, JAne Hilmer, and many great nieces and nephews.

Many Thanks to Them.  --GreGen

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Horace Carlsen, USMC-- Part 3: Killed At Battle of Tarawa, Remains Unidentified

In November of 1943, he was among the first troops to assault the heavily fortified enemy defenses of Betio Island Red Beach One, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert islands, as part of an advance team whose mission was to establish a headquarters for tractor battalion operations.

Bud was one of the 550 Marines killed in the battle whose remains were not identified or recovered. Dogtags were removed, gravesites obliterated and records lost.In 1946, his unidentified remains were moved to Hawaii's Schofield Mausoleum.

In 1949 his remains were reinterred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Hawaii's Punchbowl in grave E1212.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Horace Carlsen, USMC-- Part 2: At Many Battles, Including Guadalcanal

Horace "Bud" Carlsen was born January 4, 1912, in Brookfield to James and Amalia (nee Mehalek) Carlsen.  He died on November 20, 1943 during the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific during WW II.

Bud came from a large family of 4 sisters and two brothers.  Through the 1930's Bud worked as an auto mechanic for Mahoney & Sirvotka in Cicero.  He was married to Jarmila Fisera from 1933 to 1941.

He enlisted in the Marine reserves in December 1941.  He rose to the rank of Technical Sergeant and served as the Quartermaster Maintenance Chief for Company A of the 2nd Marine Division's Second Amphibious Tractor Battalion.

From August through December of 1942, he participated in landing assaults against several strongly defended enemy positions in the South Pacific, including Tulagi, Gavutu, Tonambogo, Florida, Guadalcanal and British Solomon Islands.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Horace Bud Carlsen Obituary-- Part 1: Died in 1943, Unknown Until 2018

From the October 7, 2018, Chicago Tribune Obituaries.

While reading Sunday's Chicago Tribune I happened to glance at the obituaries.  I usually don't look at the obituaries in the Tribune when people have to pay for them as they are too short.  I want to know about the lives of the people.  This one was a lot longer than most and then in the second sentence read that he had died on November 20, 1943.

OK. that was a long time ago and 1943 would mean World War II.  Then I saw he died at the Battle of Tarawa.  And, he was from the Chicago area.

And then, I thought to myself that the Tribune had definitely missed a good story here.  But, today, I see the story made front page.  Many Marines who died in that battle were never identified and buried as unknowns.

Here's hoping the U.S. government will start work on identifying these people as they have the Oklahoma unknowns.


USS Amethyst (YPc-3)-- Part 3: Back to the Former Owners

The Amethyst was again decommissioned at San Diego on 27 February 1946 and 11 September transferred to the Maritime Commission for disposal.

It was sold to Samual K. Rindge, son-in-law of Willits J. Hole,  and the name Samona II given to her again.  In the 1950s it was sold to  David P. Hamilton of Shreveport, Louisiana, and renamed the Pudio until sold in 1962 and renamed the Explorer.

As of 2000 it was reported to still be operating along the Gulf Coast.


USS Amethyst (YPc-3)-- Part 2: Patrolled Entrance of Los Angeles Harbor

The ship was assigned to Inshore Patrol, 11th Naval District and helped patrol the entrance to Los Angeles Harbor.  After the U.S. declared war, its role expanded to escorting vessels and convoys as well as  carrying local passenger traffic.

On April 1, 1943, the Amethyst was attached to Surface Task Group, Southern Section, San Pedro, California, and continued patrolling the California coast.  This duty continued until January 1944 and the ship was decommissioned 2 February 1944.

The Amethyst was placed back in commission 19 April 1944, thus time manned by a U.S. Coast Guard crew.  Through the end of 1945, it maintained plane guard station, collected weather data and carried out anti submarine and antiaircraft  coastal patrols.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

USS Amethyst (YPc-3)-- Part 1: The Second of Willits J. Hole's Yachts Acquired by Navy

From Wikipedia.

Willits Hole had two ships built by the name Samona and sold the first one to buy the second one.  The first one was renamed Elvida by its new owner.  Both the Elvida and the second Samona became yard patrol craft for the U.S. navy during World War II.

Formerly the yacht Samona II.  Launched 1931.  Acquired by Navy 1940 and commissioned 1941.  Purchased from Willets Hole.

147-feet long, 24  foot 10 inch beam, two guns and depth charge racks.

Built by the Craig Shipbuilding Co., Long Beach, California.  Converted to naval service by same company.  Commissioned 27 February 1941.


Monday, October 8, 2018

Willits J. Hole Owner of Elvida and Samona II

In the last posts I mentioned this man as the one who had the YP-109 Elvida built.

From Wikipedia.


American businessman and real estate developer of Southern California.   Known as the "Father of La Habra, California."

In the early 1920s, Hole took up boating and since he was quite rich by then, he had the yacht built for him.

Naval architect Leslie Edward Geary designed it and N.J. Blanchard built the 115-foot Samona in 1923.  (It was renamed Elvida when sold.)   In 1931, the Craig Shipbuilding Company built the 147-foot, steel-hulled long range cruiser Samona II, which was bought by the U.S. Navy in 1940, and commissioned as the USS Amethyst (PYc-3).


Saturday, October 6, 2018

USS Elvida (YP-109) Part 2: So, It Was There

*  Acquired  21 October 1941 by U.S. Navy.
*  Allocated to 14th Naval District.

*  Placed in service as District Patrol Craft YP-109 at Pearl Harbor, late 1941.
*  YP-109 present at Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941.

*  Placed out of service, date unknown.
*  Struck from Naval Register 3 January 1946

*  Delivered to War Shipping Administration for disposal 9 January 1947.
*  Final disposition, to Mexican flag 1948.  Further fate unknown.


USS Elvida (YP-109)-- Part 1: Somebody's Yacht

I could not find this ship's name anywhere other than on The Greatest Generation Foundation Facebook page where it mentions Steve Warren as being on this ship.

But NavSourceOnline has it, but just under the name YP-109 with no name.

It was classified as a District Patrol Craft.

*  Built by N.J. Blanchard Boat Co.  Seattle, Washington
*  Completed as the yacht Samona (ON 2223191) for Willits J. Hole, Los Angeles, California , 1923.

*  Sold to Craig Shipbuilding, Long Beach, Ca. as partial payment for Hole's new yacht Samona (later Amethyst PYc-3), 1930.
*  Sold to Thomas R. Dempsey. Los Angeles, CA. and renamed Elvida, 1936


Friday, October 5, 2018

Death of a Pearl Harbor Survivor Steve Warren: Saved By Infected Wisdom Tooth

As the years take more and more of the Greatest Generation.

From the Sept. 19, 2018, Rapid City Journal

STEVE P.WARREN, 97.  Died September 15, 2018.

Grew up in Meadow, Texas.  Joined Navy at age 19 and served six years, rising to the tank of Chief Warrant Officer.  In late 1941 he was to ship out on the USS Arizona but delayed because of complications from an infected wisdom tooth.

Instead, he shipped out on the USS Elvida (YP-109).  This ship was docked at the mouth of Pearl Harbor during the attack.  Had he been on the Arizona, no telling if he would have survived.  He lost many friends on the Arizona.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Requiem For Torpedo Eight-- Part 3: Battle of Midway the Turning Point of War in the Pacific

Soon after, SBD Dauntless dive bombers hit and sank three Japanese aircraft carriers, the Akagi, the Kaga and the Soryu -- the pride of the Japanese fleet, and later, the Hiryu.

Ensign George Gay was rescued the day following the battle and Torpedo Eight was later awarded the American Presidential Unit Citation.

This event was the turning point of World War II in the Pacific.  From that point on, Japan would be fighting a defensive war against increasingly powerful American forces.


Requiem For Torpedo Eight-- Part 2: All Shot Down, Only One Survivor

The pilots' orders are to attack the entire might of the Japanese fleet off Midway Island.  Squadron leader LCDE John C. Waldron and his aircrews are well aware that their chances of survival from this fateful mission are minimal at best.

Flying low and slow against the Japanese armada, all fifteen torpedo bombers were shot out of the sky with only one survivor, Ensign George Gay.

But this daring action forced the defending Zero fighters down to wave-top level and exhausted much of their fuel, leaving their carriers virtually unprotected.


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Requiem For Torpedo Eight-- Part 1: Getting Ready for the Battle of Midway

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Calendar.  Artwork by Gil Cohen.

Shows planes on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet getting ready to take off.

It is 0700 hours on the fourth day of June, 1942.  The place is the deck of the carrier Hornet (CV-8), made famous less than two months prior when B-25s led by Jimmy Doolittle were launched from her deck in the first surprise bombing raid on japan.

The atmosphere is tense, as the Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers of Torpedo Squadron Eight are poised for takeoff.


LST-325 Visits Dubuque-- Part 5: War's Going to Be Over

Roger Klauer says the trip to the LST-325 on Monday was emotional for the whole family:  "This is where Dad was figuring out who he was going to be.  He was just 22 years old and not yet married."

Klauer's LST was at sea when he learned the war was ending.

"Our captain announced: 'Now hear this:  We've just had an announcement that a bomb was dropped on enemy territory that is equivalent to what 2,000 bombers could carry, and we expect the war to be over soon."

We went into the bay at Manila and we counted 42 enemy ships that had been sunk," Klauer said.

He was discharged on June 6, 1946, and attended dental school on the G.I. Bill and practiced dentistry in Dubuque for 45 years, retiring in 1998.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

LST-325 Visits Dubuque-- Part 4: LST-806 At Sea in the Pacific

In New Orleans, the LST-806's weapons were mounted.  Then the ship went through the Panama Canal on its way to the South Pacific Ocean.

"Along the equator, there were times the ocean looked like glass -- it was absolutely calm," he recalled.  "The sunrises and sunsets were gorgeous."

His job on board was to assist in the ship's office and he also served as a "conn talker," an individual who relays the captain's orders to the rest of the crew.

After sailing along the equator alone, the 808 joined a large number of ships upon arrival in the South Pacific.  After that, the ship embarked on a series of island invasions.


LST-325 Visits Dubuque-- Part 3: Training and His Ship

As he walked through the LST-325, he recalled his days on the identical LST-806.

"We slid down those stairs," he said of a steep set of stairs leading down to the ship's living quarters,.  "Sometimes the seas were so rough the deck with ripple."

Roger Klauer entered Navy service on May 11, 1944.  His LST crew was assembled  shortly after that in Libertyville, Illinois.  "from there, we trained at Navy Pier (Chicago), then we were sent to Evansville, Indiana."

The Navy launched Klauer's LST-806 from the shipyards in Evansville (which is the LST-325's home port).  With him and the rest of the crew of 123 on board,  the USS LST-806 traveled down the Ohio River to Cairo, Illinois, where it went into the Mississippi River and eventually to New Orleans.


LST-325 Visits Dubuque-- Part 2: LST-806 Operations

Roger Klauer said that one of the invasions his LST-806 was involved in was the one of  Palawan in the Philippines in early 1945.  "Palawan was of extreme importance because the enemy was holding out prisoners there."

His LST also made landings at Brunei Bay on Borneo and on the tip of the Philippines.

"We would hit the shores at low tides.  We would open the doors, and equipment, tents, food and everything would come out."

He toured the LST-325 on Monday, August 27, the same day I was on the ship.  He had his family with him who lived all over the country.


Monday, October 1, 2018

LST-325 Visits Dubuque, Iowa-- Part 1: LST Veteran Visits

From the August 28, 2018, Dubuque (Iowa) Telegraph-Herald  "Veteran revisits tour of duty aboard restored WW II ship" by Eric Hogstrom.

Roger F. Klaure, 94, toured the restored LST-325 in Dubuque, 74 years after he first stepped aboard  a LST (Landing Ship Tank), the USS LST-806, in the Pacific Theater of action during World War II.

His own LST transported troops and equipment during invasions around Borneo and the Philippines in 1945.

"We did make three landings, after the shores had been bombarded by cruisers, destroyers, rockets, planes and everything," he said.


Friday, September 28, 2018

Three More USS Oklahoma Unknowns Identified

These are from June 2018.


USMC  His recovered remains consist of a jawbone, a piece of his shoulder and a shinbone.

He will be buried in Utah.


Of Port Edwards, Wisconsin.  Navy Pharmacist's Mate 1st Class, age 39.

His funeral will be at Naval Air Station Pensacola later this month.


He was 22 when he died on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941.  He will be buried June 21 at Fort Logan National Cemetery  in Colorado.

Born and raised in Caney, Kansas and was a Storekeeper 3rd Class.

So far, 135 of the USS Oklahoma's Unknowns have been identified and 70 reburied.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Pearl Harbor

1.  May 8, 2018 CNY  "CNY native Pearl Harbor survivor passes away at 97-years-old"

Larry Parry.  Was playing football when he saw the Japanese planes.  He spoke of his Pearl Harbor experiences at many schools and went back there for the 73rd anniversary.

2.  Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise  "Christensen served on the Tennessee at Peal Harbor."

Alvin H. Christensen.


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Railroad Repairs in DeKalb in 1943

From the May 16, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The Chicago and North Western Railroad will start the repair work on its crossings in this city within a short time it was announced.  Some of the crossings are badly in need of repair, especially the one at Fourth Street and the Lincoln Highway.

"The railroad, like most others is short of help at present and it also difficult to secure the necessary materials.  The city has received many complaints on the condition of the crossings and has been doing everything possible to have the necessary repairs made as soon as possible."

More Wartime Shortages.  --GreGen

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

USS Cumberland Sound: Seaplane Tender and Operation Crossroads

From Wikipedia.

In the last post, I mentioned that Pearl Harbor survivor Ludwig "Lou" Radil was on this ship during the nuclear testing at Bikini Atoll.

Was a Kenneth Whiting-class seaplane tender  launched 23 February 1944 and commissioned 21 August 1944, Captain E. Grant in command.492 feet long, 69.6 beam, crew 1,077.

In October it sailed to Pearl Harbor and then to Enitowek and Ulithi where she tended the seaplanes of the  Patrol Bomber Squadron 22.  Then, the Cumberland Sound rendezvoused with the 3rd Fleet at Okinawa and sailed to Tokyo Bay, arriving 28 August 1945.  returned to the United States in November and was converted to carry returning U.S. military home.

She departed Seattle 28 December 1945 and embarked returning servicemen at San Pedro, California,  12 January 1946.

The Cumberland Sound was then assigned to "Operation Crossroads" nuclear testing. and on 19 January entered Long beach  Naval Shipyard for conversion to a laboratory ship.  She served during the atomic tests until 12 September 1946 when she returned too San Diego.

Placed out of commission in naval reserve 27 May 1947.


Monday, September 24, 2018

Pearl Harbor Survivor Ludwig Radil Dies in Nebraska

From the May 8, 2018, Omaha (Neb) World-Herald  "Navy veteran among last of Pearl Harbor survivors in Nebraska, dies at 98"

Ludwig "Lou" Radil was in the Navy for six years.  He was a yeoman on the USS California when the Japanese attacked and later he witnesses the nuclear testing after the war.

Joining the Navy in 1941, he arrived in Pearl Harbor in August and was the ship's librarian on the California. At the time of the attack he was setting up deck chairs for church services and remembered, "We got a torpedo hit, then another, and then a bomb hit.

"We started listing to one side.  We got word that the ship was sinking and might capsize.  So, the captain ordered a call to abandon ship.."

He jumped into the water and swam 200 yards to Ford Island, soaked with oil but uninjured.  The next day he helped remove bodies of the nearly 100 who died on his ship.

After the war he was assigned to the USS Cumberland Sound, a seaplane tender and was at Bikini Atoll in the spring of 1946 and observed the first of two post-war tests of nuclear weapons.

He was buried at Graceland Park Cemetery in South Omaha.


Sunday, September 23, 2018

The USS North Carolina Rides Out Hurricane Florence, It's Visitor Center Not So Well

From the September 19, 2018, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

The battleship USS North Carolina, anchored at Wilmington, North Carolina, weathered Hurricane Florence as it came ashore last week.

But two-thirds of the roof of the visitors center is gone and some of the administrative offices were flooded.

Captain Terry Bragg, the battleship director said that repairs were already underway, but the ship will be closed to the public until further notice.

Let's hope the cofferdam and ship are able to handle the flooding Caper Fear River as well.


Some More Oklahoma Unknowns Identified:


Age 22.  Radioman from Rushford, North Dakota.  Enlisted in Navy April 23, 1940 at a salary of $54 a month.  The first torpedo hit the Oklahoma near the radio room so it is likely he was killed immediately.

A service held for him on July 7, 2018.

There are still 79,000 service personnel unaccounted for from World War II.


Age 23.  Seaman 1st Class.  Born December 28, 1918, in New London, Minnesota.  Joined Navy May 7, 1940, for a four year tour of duty.  Basic training at Great Lakes  Naval Base assigned to USS Oklahoma as a cook, specifically as a baker.

The day before the attack, he had been on shore leave and had purchased and sent Christmas presents home..  The presents arrived the same day as the telegram saying he was missing in action.  The family received official notification of his death in February 1942.

It Is A Great Thing Our Government Is Doing.    --GreGen

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Kids Getting Into the War Effort in DeKalb, Illinois, in 1943

From the August 15, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Five DeKalb youngsters have been putting part of their summer vacation to good use by helping with war work.  For the past several weeks they have been collecting much needed waste kitchen fats from homes  about DeKalb, these valuable fats  being needed in making explosives.

"In this period of time they have collected nearly 60 pounds, a record of which they will be proud.  The waste kitchen grease has been sold to the meat markets and the money derived from the sales was turned over to the Red Cross."

Even the Kids.  --GreGen

A Practice Blackout in Kirkland, Illinois

From the August 15, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"A practice blackout will be staged in Kirkland and vicinity Friday night between 9:30 and 10:00 o'clock.

"One long blast of the whistle will be given for the alert signal and another long blast for all clear."

Just In Case.  --GreGen

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Joe Gaspar, Pearl Harbor Survivor Honored on 100th Birthday

From the May 8, 2018  "Ellwood City helps Pearl Harbor survivor celebrate 100th birthday

Joe Gaspar was on maneuvers on a hill above Pearl harbor when the attack came.  He remembered:  "At first we didn't know what was going on, but the planes came over so low we could see the faces of the Japanese.

"There were three waves of planes.  Bombs were dropping everywhere.  My command car was hit, and I was thrown down a 70-foot cliff.

Mr. Gaspar was in the 21st Infantry and served from August 1839 to August 1945.  During that time he received three Bronze Stars.


Wakako Yamauchi, Japanese-American Writer Imprisoned During WW II

From the September 14, 2018, Chicago Tribune by Emily Langer, Washington Post.


Wakako Yamauchi was living behind barbed wire, poring over books in a tar paper-covered barrack that doubled as a library when she discovered the depth of her love of literature.

She was at the time a 17-year-old Nisei, or first generation Japanese-American confined with her family to the Poston Internment camp in Arizona.  They were among the 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government in such centers during World War II.

Her most famous work was "And the Soul Shall Dance" which grew from her youth as the daughter of itinerant migrant  farmers in California.  The work is sometimes described as a Japanese "Grapes of Wrath."


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Ideal Commutator Dresser Co.-- Part 2: Moved to Sycamore in 1924

Ideal Industries was founded in 1916 by J. Walter Becker as the Ideal Commutator Dresser Company in Chicago, Illinois, manufacturing commutator dresser stones.  In 1924, he relocated the company to where it is now in Sycamore, Illinois.

By 1949, it had become  the leading producer of wire nuts in the United States.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary says a commutator is a series of bars or segments connected to the armature coils  of a generator or motor so that the rotation of the arm will in conjunction with a set of fixed brushes convert alternating current to direct current.

I still don't know what this is.


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Ideal Commutator Dresser Company-- Part 1: What They Make

In the last post I mentioned the name of this company.  I had no idea what they made or did, so had to look it up and I found an article about it in good ol' Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia  Ideal Industries

An American company that today produces connectors, hand tools, testers and meters for electrical and telecommunications industries.

The company makes many of its products in the United States.  It also owns Western Forge and Pratt-Read, the largest and second-largest  American-made producers of screwdrivers at the time of their acquisitions.  Its tools are sold at Lowe's and Ace  Hardware stores as well as many independent distributors.

Oh, They Make Those.  --GreGen

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Ideal Commutator Dresser Company Doing Its Part

From the July 11, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Manufactured articles of the Ideal Commutator Dresser Company pertaining to the war effort, have been placed on display at the offices of the Chamber of Commerce, and attracting considerable attention.

"The Ideal is one of the industries in this city working night and day for the war effort and the many articles shown at the Chamber  office depict in a small way, what is being done at the west side plant."

Working Day and Night for the War Effort.  --GreGen

The Dogs of War in 1943

From the August 8, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Among the fourteen dogs which left Rockford today for war service were two from DeKalb, their owners being Wilbur C. Watson and C.B. Watson.  W.W. Dorwood, Rockford area director of Dogs for Defense the group today runs the count to 78 dogs which have been sent from the district.

"The recruits must be purebreds or mixed breeds that is a cross of not more than two breeds.  The heavier breeds, particularly farm collies, Doberman pinschers and German shepherds make the best recruits."

The dogs were probably trained at Camp Grant in Rockford.

Fido Goes to War.  --GreGen

Friday, September 14, 2018

September 14, 1940: Selective Service Act Passed

On this date in 1949, Congress passed the Selective Service Act.

This was the first time in U.S. history that a peace time draft was enacted.  The United Staes, of course, was preparing fir entry into World War II.


John S. McCain, Jr.-- Part 3: Lackluster USNA Career, Then, Subs

John S. McCain, Jr. entered the United States Naval Academy at age 16 in 1927 and accumulated many demerits and had just mediocre grades.  He was also known as a drinker and quite the partier, very dangerous during Prohibition.  He graduated  in 1931 #423rd out of 441.

Upon graduation, he was appointed ensign and assigned to the battleship Oklahoma.  (His father had also spent time on the doomed cruiser USS San Diego which was sunk by a mine during Wold War I.)  The USS Oklahoma was sunk at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

While stationed on the USS Oklahoma, based in Long Beach, California, he met Roberta Wright and when her parents objected, they eloped and were married in Tijuana, Mexico.

He managed to get into Submarine School at Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut.  There he placed #28 out of 29.

Next came service on the  old World War I-era submarines S-45 and R-13.  In 1940 and early 1941, he was on the more modern Skipjack.  In April 1941, he received his first command, the World War I submarine O-8.  This ship had been decommissioned in 1931, but with WW II imminent, was called back to duty as a training ship with McCain in command.


John S. McCain, Jr.-- Part 2: Strong Family Presence in the U.S. Navy

His father, John S. McCain  Sr. was an admiral in the U.S. Navy and a naval aviator, and the two became the first father-son pair  to achieve the four-star rank of admiral.

His son, John S. McCain III, was a former naval aviator (and USNA graduate as was his father and grandfather) who was a prisoner of North Vietnam during his father's time as CINCPAC  who retired with the rank of captain and became a U.S. senator from Arizona and was the 2008 Republican nominee for president.

Two grandsons are now in the U.S. Navy and Marines.


Thursday, September 13, 2018

John S. McCain, Jr.-- Part 1: Senator John McCain's Father

From Wikipedia.

(January 17, 1911 to March 22, 1081)

He was the father of Senator John McCain.  I have been writing about Sen. McCain's grandfather, John McCain Sr. in my Cooter's History Thing and in this blog as he was in both wars.  As you'll see, John McCain Jr. also played a big role in World War II.

United States Navy admiral who served in conflicts from the 1940s through the 1970s, including Commander, United States Pacific Command.

The son of a Navy officer, he grew up in Washington, D.C..  Graduated from the USNA in 1931, after which he entered the submarine service.  During World War II he commanded submarines in several different theaters of action and was responsible for sinking several Japanese ships and received a Bronze Star.

After the war, he held command in several commands, specializing in amphibious warfare.  In 1965, he led the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic.  A staunch anti-Communist and an advocate of a strong  naval presence, he became known as "Mr. Seapower".

During the Vietnam War, McCain was Commander-In-Chief, Pacific Command (CINCPAC), commander of all U.S. forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972.


Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Motorists, Check Those Tires

From the May 9, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The DeKalb War Price and Rationing Board urges all motorists to check their tires closely at frequent intervals so as to not let them get by the recapping condition.

"There is a shortage of tires and the board has only been able to fill but a fraction of the eligible applications to date.  With the shortage expected to remain motorists are being urged to have their tires recapped."


Adm. John McCain-- Part 2: World War II Service and Family

Admiral McCain held several commands during World War II's Pacific campaigns.  He was a pioneer of aircraft carrier operations which proved to be the turning point of the war in the Pacific.

In 1942, he commanded all land-based aviation operations in support of the Guadalcanal Campaign, and in 1944-1945 he aggressively led the First Carrier Task Force.  His operations off the Philippines and Okinawa and air strikes against Formosa and the Japanese home islands caused tremendous destruction of Japanese naval and air forces in the closing months of the war.

Sadly, the  stress of his war service took a drastic toll on his health, and McCain died of a heart attack four days after the formal Japanese surrender.  His death was front page news across the United States.

Several of his descendants also graduated from the USNA at Annapolis.    He and his son, John S. McCain Jr.  were the first father-son pair to achieve four-star admiral rank in the U.S. Navy.  His grandson, John S. McCain III also graduated from Annapolis and became a U.S. senator from Arizona and was the Republican candidate for president in the 2008 election.

Two great grandsons have also graduated from the USNA and both are currently serving.

I'll have to research Senator John McCain's father.

What A Family.  --GreGen

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Algonquin's 9/11 Memorial: WTC Beam a Donation From the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

From the site.

Whereas, Tinley Park has evidently not done anything with their piece of the World Trade Center wreckage, Algonquin, Illinois, has.

The Algonquin-Lake in the Hills Firefighters Association is building a memorial on the north end of Riverfront Park.  Construction on the memorial started last week after agreements were approved by the Village of Algonquin and fire protection district and is on track to be finished  in time for a September 11 dedication.

The memorial will consist of a brick paver circle 40 feet in diameter with the World Trade Center beam in the middle and landscaping around it.

Dan Teson said the association got the beam from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  He and two other firefighters flew to New York City in November to accept the donation and were met there by one of the firefighter's fathers, who drove his truck.  They picked up the beam at a hangar outside LaGuardia Airport, and the father and son drove it to Illinois.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Admiral John McCain, Sen. McCain's Grandfather-- Part 1: World War I Service and Interwar

From the United States World War I Centennial Commission  "Remembering the World War I service of John "Slew" McCain" by Chris Isleib.

A few weeks ago, our country lost one of our greatest heroes, Senator John McCain.  He was in the U.S. Navy and his father and grandfather were both admirals in the Navy and both fought in World War II.  All three men were named John McCain with the senator being the III.

This is his grandfather's role in World War I and the interwar:

After his service in World War I, which was primarily convoy duty in the Atlantic Ocean aboard the USS San Diego (which was sunk by a mine placed by a U-boat off Long Island, New York two months after he transferred off it) he advanced in rank and became an expert in the budding field of Naval Aviation.

These skills would prove critical to American efforts when World War began.


Chinese Pirates Plundering British War Graves-- Part 4: The Other Four Ships


Sunk in the Battle of Java Sea on March 1, 1942  Eight died.  Eighty percent of the ship has been removed.


Sunk at the Battle of Java Sea on March 1, 1942.  Loss of 40 crew members.  Nothing remains of this ship.


Sunk three days before the HMS Encounter.  Fifty-four dead.  Almost half of this ship has been removed.


Sank near Endau, Malaysia on January 27, 1942.    It is now "broken Up."

A Horrible Thing.  --GreGen

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Chinese Pirates Plundering British 'War Grave' Ships-- Part 3: Ten All Together

Besides the HMS Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales, the other eight ships:

SS LOCH RANZA--  Seven crew members died after this merchant ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft before sinking off Indonesia in February 1942.

HMS TIEN KWANG--  Sunk with the HMS Kuala south of Singapore on February 14, 1942.    298 lives were lost, many civilians being evacuated from Singapore.

HMS KUALA--Newly plundered.  This patrol vessel and the HMS Tien Kwang were hit south of Singapore as they headed for Jakarta  Around 200 men, women and children died.

HMS BANKA--  Newly plundered.  This minelayer sank off the coast of Malaysia on December 9, 1941, with the loss of 38 lives.  Previous looting means nothing of its remains are left.

And, there are four more.


Chinese Pirates Plunder British Shipwrecks 'War Graves'-- Part 2

The battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse were both sunk 10 December 1941. This incident is often referred to as Britain's Pearl Harbor.  These two ships were part of Force Z which also included four destroyers sent out to stop the Japanese invasion of Malaya.  They had no air cover.

Earlier in 1941, the Prince of Wales had participated in the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck and had also ferried Winston Churchill across the Atlantic for a secret summit where he and FDR signed the Atlantic Charter, a document that paved the way for the United Nations.

The HMS Repulse was a World War I battle cruiser.


Friday, September 7, 2018

Chinese Pirates Plundering British Shipwrecks-- Part 1: HMS Repulse and Prince of Wales

From the August 18, 2018, Daily Mail (UK)  "Desecration of British war graves:  Chinese pirates plunder ten shipwrecks carrying remains of UK's Second World War heroes."  Abul Taher and Nick Craven.

**  Ten ships
**  Final resting place of more than 1,000 British sailors
**  Defence (British spelling) Secretary Gavin Williamson demands an immediate investigation

The ten ships are off the coasts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

HMS Prince of Wales
HMS Repulse

These two ships were part of Britain's Force Z.

835 men died on these two ships

Half of the Prince of Wales' hull has been plundered, mostly in the past two years.  Some 327 died on this ship, including Admiral Tom Phillips, the highest-ranking British military figure to die in the war.


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Three Shifts At Sycamore War Plant in 1943

From the August 29, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The south mill of the Anaconda  in Sycamore is now on a three-shift basis.  The mill is engaged in filling an important war contract and is engaged in nothing else at this time.

"More help is needed there.    Not only because of the war time shortage but because several younger workers are planning to return to school this fall.  Many women are on duty in all three shifts.  They are of all ages, from young to gray haired."

My Answer:  Dead Pirates.  --GreGen

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Mission Regensburg-- Part 3: They Mission They Almost Did't Make It Back

The B-17 bomber called Just -A-Snappin is one of the better known planes in 100th lore.

She is best remembered for bringing her crew back from Bremen on October 8, 1943, as is described in this account by Lt. Harry H. Crosby:  "Leading a large formation of B-17s, we were hit hard over the target, spun out of control and saved from crashing by the superb efforts of our pilot and command pilot.

"With two engines knocked out, we were forced to head home alone at low altitude, our plane riddled by over 1,200 shell holes by actual count, one crewman mortally wounded and five severely injured.

"When we were attacked repeatedly by Luftwaffe fighters along the way, our gunners shot down ten of them.  Unable to ditch in the North Sea because of our wounded or to make it over our own airfield, we crash-landed at a 'dummy' airfield on the English coast."

Quite An Accomplishment.  --GreGen

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Mission Regensburg-- Part 2: North Africa Instead of England

After being postponed several times by unfavorable weather, "Mission No. 84" was a strategic bombing attack by B-17 Flying Fortresses led by the 4th Bombardment Wing commander Colonel Curtis E. LeMay on August 17, 1943.

The Regensburg attack group was able to successfully hit their targets, and then, to fool the Germans, they flew on to Africa instead of doubling back through Germany to return to England.

After a week in North Africa, the bomber group returned to England on August 24.  They bombed Bordeaux, France, en route home.


Monday, September 3, 2018

Mission Regensburg-- Part 1: Bombs Away!!

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Calendar Heroes of the Air featuring the aviation artwork of  Gil Cohen.

And his artwork is spectacular.

Inside the somewhat claustrophobic nose compartment of Just-A-Snappin, Bonbardier Lt. Jim Douglas, the lead bomber of the 100th Bombardment Group, signals Navigator Lt. Heuropeaarry S. Crosby with a thumbs-up after releasing his salvo of bombs on the Messerschmitt factory in the city of Regensburg, Germany.

Crosby then records the time of the bomb release in his log before charting a course for North Africa.

With quiet heroism and amid the tumult of the deadly flak bursts just outside the plane's windows, these men are simply doing their job.


War on the Weeds in Sycamore in 1943

From the August 8, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Again, it was proven beyond all reasonable doubt that if the business men or any other group  of Sycamore, make up their minds to do something in a big way, they do it, and with a vengeance too.

"About 40 business and factory men went to Sycamore Park after work, armed with hand sickles, sycthes, rakes, and mowers and after a last minute meeting strategic meeting between the generalissimos, Emil Cassier as superintendent of the par, Vernon Weitzel, Ed Boies and a few more, the attack on the tall grass, obnoxious weeds and other objectionable began with a vim that meant a decided victory for the attackers, and a noticeable improvement in the grounds."

Don't Mess With Those Sycamore Guys.  Must Have Been Axis Weeds.  --GreGen

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Access to USS Arizona Memorial Still Closed in May

From the May 15, 2018, Hawaii News Now  "Access to USS Arizona Memorial remains closed as repairs continue.."

These are short term repairs.  They are hoping the memorial will reopen by the end of the week.

Tour boats still go by it, but don't let passengers off.

Rhonda Householder had an uncle who died on the Arizona and said, "We're from Ohio, so we're a little disappointed."

Imagine going all the way to Hawaii from the mainland and not being able to visit the memorial.

Authorities are looking for long term solutions to the problem.


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Gordon Jones Pushed for A USS Pearl Harbor-- Part 2: And He Got It

He died August 24, 2018 in Chula Vista, California, at the age of 96.

Mr. Jones was at Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii tending  PBY Catalinas (flying boats) on December 7, 1941, when the attack came.  Looking forward to liberty, he was in his dress whites when the first plane came swooping in very low.  At first, he thought it was a Marine pilot harassing the Navy.  That is, until the bullets started flying and bombs going off.

Most of the 30 PBYs at the base were destroyed and almost 20 of the men were killed.  There were dozens wounded, including his brother Earl, who was hit in the back by bomb shrapnel and disabled.

Afterwards, he island-hopped across the Pacific and kept a diary.

That would be interesting reading.


Friday, August 31, 2018

Pearl Harbor Survivor Who Pushed for a USS Pearl Harbor Dies-- Part 1: Gordon Jones

From the August 28, 2018, San Diego Union-Tribune "Gordon Jones, Pearl Harbor survivor who pushed Navy to name ship after the attack dies" by John Wilkens.

Gordon Jones, a naval aviation mechanic who was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked sent letter after letter to the Navy over a 15 year period of time, requesting they name a ship after the attack was turned down over and over again, but persisted until he got his wish, has died at age 96.

The Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship was commissioned in 1998 and is still in use.

He was born in 1922 in Philadelphia and went to high school in New Jersey and joined the Navy while still in school.  At his graduation, he wore his uniform.


Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies at 101: Alton Lee Stone


Died July 19, 2018, 4 days short of his 102nd birthday in Monroe, North Carolina.  He was born July 23, 1916, and grew up in Broadway, N.C..

He and his younger brother James joined the Navy and both survived Pearl Harbor.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out any specifics about their experiences or where they were during the attack.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Take on Japanese-American Internment

I agree that it was not one of our finer moments and was extremely unfortunate, especially with how much they lost of their possessions during the internment.  But those who completely condemn what was done are looking at what happened from a long distance in the future.

Unless you were there and experienced what happened at the time, you should not put your feelings on the case on top of theirs.

You gave to remember, the United States suffered a huge sucker punch.  Pearl Harbor was not expected, though it should have been.  I still have questions about that aspect of the attack.  How could you not look at Japanese living in the U.S. without some modicum of suspicion?

I am sure that I would have and would have probably favored the relocation.

Again, Put Yourself In Their Shoes.  --GreGen

The Census Bureau and Japanese Internment-- Part 5: The Bureau's Role

In 1988, President Reagan signed legislation issuing a formal apology for the wartime internment of Japanese-Americans.  Former internees also received $20,000 in reparations for property seized during the roundups.

The mass incarceration of them, the majority of whom were American citizens is now considered a major stain on American history.

The Census Bureau obviously had a part in this roundup.  They came under scrutiny again after 9/11 when the bureau gave information to the Department of Homeland Security about neighborhoods that had large percentages of Arab-American populations.


The Census Bureau and Japanese-American Internment-- Part 4: A threat to FDR

Under the March 1942 Second War Powers Act, which suspended the confidentiality protections for census data, the chief clerk had the authority to release census data to other agencies.  According to researchers, then the information released  was not illegal, but ethically questionable.

On August 4, 1943, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau requested the names and addresses of all individuals of Japanese ancestry living in Washington, D.C..  The request was to aid in a Secret Service investigation of threats made against President Roosevelt.

That request was triggered by an incident that had taken 17 months earlier when a Japanese-American man  being forced from Los Angeles to the Manzanar Internment Camp had said, "we ought to have enough guts to kill Roosevelt."

The man was later committed to a mental hospital for schizophrenia.

Information about 79 people in the D.C. area was released.  This request was filled in just seven days, very fast for a Washington bureaucracy.

The confidential provisions were reinstated in 1947.


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Willard C. Aves, USS Arizona Victim, Kingston, Illinois Resident

From the  August 1, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Charles T. Aves, well-known Kingston resident, received an Order of the Purple Heart citation, posthumously  awarded his son, Willard C. Aves, member of the crew  of the U.S.S. Arizona."

A DeKalb County Casualty Right At the Beginning of U.S. Involvement In World War II.--  GreGen

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

LST-325 Comes to Dubuque, Iowa, This Weekend

The famed World War  II LST-325 is coming to Iowa this weekend and will be at Dubuque and is currently moored there.  It will be open for tours from Thursday, Aug. 23 to Monday, Aug. 27.

Then it will visit Bettendorf, Iowa, from August 30 to Sept 3 and then to Chester, Illinois, September 6 to Sept. 9.

Hoping to visit it in Dubuque.

This ship, the LST stands for Landing Ship Tank, for one of its major jobs,  and was at D-Day and the follow up.  6 June 1944, it carried 59 vehicles,  30 officers and 396 enlisted men to the beach at Normandy, and then returned with 38 casualties.

Over the next nine months, the ship made more than 40 trips across the English Channel carrying thousands of men and pieces of equipment.

Then, later it was in the Greek navy.

The ship is 327 feet long and has a 50-foot beam.

A Lot of History Here.  --GreGen

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Census Bureau and Japanese-American Relocation-- Part 3

According to the researchers, the FBI and military intelligence agencies began pushing in 1939 to relax census confidentiality rules, but that was opposed by Census Bureau Director William Lane Austin.

After the 1940 presidential election, Austin was forced to retire and he was replaced by J.C. Capt, who backed efforts to remove confidentiality provisions..  His efforts helped clear the way for other agencies to access information on Japanese-Americans.

Documents were found that the Census Bureau provided information on where those of Japanese ancestry lived in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho and Arkansas.  (Why Arkansas?)

Then, it was found that the Bureau gave out micro-data about individuals and their addresses.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Census Bureau and Japanese Internment-- Part 2: 120,000 Relocated

Information from the 1940 Census was secretly used in one of the worst violations of constitutional rights in U.S. history --  the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

In papers presented by historian Margo Anderson in 2000 and 2007, evidence was found that census officials cooperated with the government providing data to target Japanese-Americans.

The Japanese-American community has long suspected that the Census Bureau played a role  in banishment of 120,000 of heir people, mostly living along the West Coast to nearly a dozen internment camps following the bombing of Pearl harbor on December 7, 1941.

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary Norman Mineta was one of those people banished to internment camps. He was 11 and living in San Francisco when his family was sent to live in an internment camp in Heart Mountain, Wyoming.

For decades, census officials had denied they had supplied information.

This was not a great day in American history, but in war all sorts of things happen.


The Census Bureau In On Japanese-American Internments-- Part 1

From the April 12, 2018, Chicago Tribune  "Disclosure count against Census Bureau" by Lori Aratani, Washington Post.

The Census Bureau plans to ask people in the 2020 count if they are U.S. citizens, bringing about fears that the information might be used to target those in the country illegally.

This has not been done since 1950.

It is illegal to use that information that would identify individuals or families for target purposes.

And target is exactly what the government did at the beginning of U.S. involvement in World War II.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Three Destroyers Named for Civil War USS Marmora Sailors Awarded Medals of Honor

I have been writing a lot about the USS Marmora from the Civil War in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy blog.  Also, I have been writing about three of its sailors awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their action on land at the March 5, 1864, Battle of Yazoo City in Mississippi.

The three sailors names were  William J. Franks, Bartlett Laffey and James Stoddard.

It turns out that all three of them had World War II destroyers named after them.

USS Franks  (DD-554)

USS Laffey  (DD-459)  Sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942

USS Laffey  (DD-724)

USS Stoddard   (DD-566)

I'll have to write about these ships.

You can read about the Civil War USS Marmora and what these three sailors did in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy blog.


USS Marmora (IX-189)-- Part 2: Action in the Pacific

Now back in U.S. service, the USS Marmora was assigned to the Service Force, United States Pacific Fleet and departed Pearl Harbor 28 January 1945 and went to the Marshall Islands and arrived at Eniwetok on 13 February for duty as a mobile floating storage ship.  Four days later she went to Saipan in the Mariana Islands and began unloading aviation.

On  31 March, the Marmora departed for the Caroline Islands and reached Ulithi on 3 April.  Then it was on to  the Ryukyu Islands, operating out of Okinawa to the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945.

She continued operating out of Okinawa until  1 November 1945, when she went to the U.S. Gulf Coast via Pearl Harbor and the Panama Canal.  The Marmora arrived at Mobile, Alabama  4 January 1946 and was decommissioned in February and delivered to the War Shipping Administration and her first name restored.

She was scrapped after that in 1947.

There is a rown named Marmora  in New Jersey which must be where the name originated.


Friday, August 17, 2018

USS Marmora (IX-189)-- Part 1: Lend-Leased to Soviet Union

From Wikipedia.

I have been writing about the Civil War USS Marmora a lot in my Running the Blockade Civil War Navy blog.this past week.  There was one other USS Marmora which served during World War II.

From Wikipedia.

U.S. Navy tanker serving between 1944 and 1946.  Saw service as a mobile floating warehouse in the aftermath of the war.  Built as the SS Montrolite in Seattle, Washington in 1918.  Renamed  the SS J.S. Fitzsimmons in 1926 while involved in commercial service.

Standard Oil of California chartered her to the U.S. government in 1942.  Under the Lend-Lease Act the ship was transferred to the Soviet Union on 14 October 1942. and was renamed the SS Valerian Kuybyshev in their service.

Transferred back to the U.S. 13 December 1944 and name changed to USS Marmora (IX-189).


Camp McCoy, Wis.-- Part 7: Other WW II Activities

In addition to training, other specialized groups received instruction at Camp McCoy.

The nation's first ordnance regiment, the 301st came to Camp McCoy after basic training in North Carolina.  Also, an induction and basic training center for Army nurses was set up there.

A Limited Service School was set up to train physically disabled soldiers in several specialist fields.

Building of new recreational and welfare facilities continued at the base throughout the war.  Also, a bakery was set up.  Other activities went on at auxiliary sites like a radio school at Tomah, Wisconsin.  There was also Camp Williams in Juneau County (now Volk Field Air National Guard Base).


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wis.-- Part 6: Trained the 100th Infantry Battalion

The first unit to train at the new base that was Camp McCoy was the 100th Infantry Battalion.  This unit was comprised of Hawaiian National Guard who were of Japanese descent.

They served with distinction in Italy, suffering severe casualties while compiling one of the most remarkable  battle records of any U.S. unit during World War II.  More than 9,000 Purple Hearts were awarded to its members.

Shortly after they received their training at Camp McCoy, they were followed by the  2nd and 76th Infantry Divisions.

From Wikipedia.

The unit was unofficially called "The Purple Heart Battalion" and had as a motto "Remember Pearl Harbor."  Twenty-one received the nation's highest honor, the Medal of Honor.  In 2010, the whole battalion received the Congressional Gold Medal.

One Great Fighting Group.  --GreGen

Camp McCoy, Wis. --Part 5: Prisoner of War Camp

In addition, the previous CCC  discharge and reception center on South Post, was converted into a relocation and prisoner of war camp.  The camp was the largest Japanese prisoner of war camp in the Continental United States and also housed several thousand German and Korean prisoners.

Camp McCoy is unique in American history because it was both a relocation camp for West Coast Japanese Americans as well as European and Japanese prisoners captured in World War II.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wis.-- Part 4: Preparing for War


Following World War I, a Citizen's Military Training Camp was set up at Camp McCoy to provide men of high school and college age military training.  This would primarily prepare them for National Guard or Reserve duty.

In 1933, a Civilian Conservation Corps camp was set up at the post.  This operated until 1939.

In August 1940, the site was used for the Second Army Maneuvers involving 65,000 soldiers from seven states.  In the summer of 1940, the last horse-drawn artillery left the post.

More than 45,000 acres were added to Camp McCoy between 1938 and 1942.  Construction of facilities to house, train and support 35,000 troops began.  Some 8,000 local workers built over 1,500 buildings at a cost of $30 million.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin-- Part 3: Served As a POW Camp and In Korean War

The South Post of the Camp had served as a Civilian Conservation Center before the war, but during World War II, that was converted into a prisoner of war and Japanese-American relocation camp.  It was the largest holding facility for Japanese POWs in the Continental United States and also housed several thousand German and Korean prisoners.

I had never heard of Korean prisoners of war in World War II.  Koreans who fought for Japan.

The camp was briefly deactivated after World War II, but the Korean War saw its reactivation as a training center until 1953 when it was again deactivated.  In 1973,  the Army reactivated Camp McCoy  as a permanent training center and the following year officially redesignated it as Fort McCoy.

So, it was Camp McCoy until 1974.  Today, it trains some 100,000 troops a year as a Total Force Training Center. It is also the headquarters of the Navy's Mobile Construction Battalion- 25  (Spades and Clubs).


Friday, August 10, 2018

Camp McCoy, Wisconsin-- Part 2: Role in World War II

During World War II, Fort McCoy was used early on as a detention camp for 170 Japanese and 120 German and Italian-Americans arrested as potentially dangerous "enemy aliens" in 1942.  After they were transferred to other camps, McCoy was used a s a training facility for soldiers from across the country preparing to enter combat.

One of these units was the segregated all-Nisei 100th Infantry Battalion.

The post was also used as a prisoner-of-war camp, holding 4,000 German and Japanese prisoners.  Fort McCoy's prisoners were featured in the 2001 movie "Fort McCoy."  This movie was not widely released.


Camp McCoy, Wisconsin-- Part 1: Named for Robert Bruce McCoy

In the last post I mentioned DeKalb, Illinois, resident Stephen J. Mikez being promoted to first sergeant at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin.

From Wikipedia.

Now called Fort McCoy.  Army installation of 60,000 acres between Tomah and Sparta, Wisconsin.  It got its start in 1909 a 14,000 acres in the Sparta Maneuver Tract.  In 1910 it was renamed the Camp Robert Bruce McCoy.  In 1926 it was shortened to Camp McCoy.

He served during the Spanish-American War and the Pancho Villa Expedition into Mexico and World War I.

As the United States was ramping up its military before World War II, in 1938, an additional  45,00 acres were added, increasing the capacity to 35,000.  Many additional structures and barracks were also built at this time.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Sergeant Stephen J. Mikez Promoted

From the May 9, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Word received from Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, states that Stephen J. Mikez, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Mikez of North Eleventh Street, was recently promoted to the rank of first sergeant.

"He is connected with a medical detachment."

Hugh Rossman Alexander Receives Silver Star Posthumously

From the April 2, 2018, DVIDS  "World War II-era Navy dental officer posthumously awarded th Silver Star for heroism during Pearl Harbor attack."

Lt. Cmdr. Hugh Rossman Alexander's Silver Star was accepted by his daughter Gloria Alexander Rogers on April 2.

He was the senior dental officer on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  While trapped in a small compartment, he assisted many sailors in escaping through a very small 14-inch porthole as the ship turned over.  He personally selected slender men to escape.

Lt. Cmdr. Alexander has already received the Navy and Marine Corps Medals and the Purple Heart. The Silver Star is the military's third highest medal.

His body was buried with the Oklahoma Unknowns and evidently hasn't been identified yet.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Two USS Laffeys

From Wikipedia.

USS Laffey  (DD-459)  Named for Bartlett Laffey, a Civil War Naval Medal of Honor winner (see my Running he Blockade blog August 9, 2018, for more on him).

Commissioned 31 March 1942.  Sunk at the Battle of Guadalcanal 13 November 1942.  This was quite a remarkable ship.  Her final battle was something else.

USS Laffey  (DD-724)  Commissioned 8 February 1944  Decommissioned 30 June 1947.  Recommissioned 1951.  Decommissioned 1975.  Served in the Korean War.  Today is a museum ship at Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina.  This is "The Ship That Would Not Die" after receiving multiple strikes from kamikazes, the one they will star in a movie.

Another Remarkable Ship.  --GreGen

There Were Two Ships Named the USS Laffey

In the last post, I said that Mel Gibson would be directing the movie "Destroyer" about the the USS Laffey.  I have written about it before, and one man said he was on it when it sank, only there is now a USS Laffey at Patriot Point in Charleston, South Carolina.

How could it be there if is sank?  Unless, of course, they raised it.

Then, I found out that there were two destroyers named USS Laffey.

The first one was sunk and then a second destroyer received the name and the second one is the one the movie will be about.  My March 24, 2016, post was about the death of Bob Flaherty who was at Pearl Harbor during the attack and then on the first USS Laffey which was sunk.

Question Resolved.  --GreGen

Mel Gibson Asked to Direct Movie "Destroyer"

From the April 30, 2018, Variety"Mel Gibson asked to direct World War II drama 'Destroyer'" David McNary.

The movie will be based on the book "Hell From Heaven:  The Epic Story of the USS Laffey and World War II's Greatest Kamikaze Attack" by John Wukovits.

The Laffey was known as "The Ship That Wouldn't Die."

Mel Gibson directed the movie "Hackshaw Ridge" about the Battle of Okinawa.


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

A Bumper Hemp Crop and A New Hemp Mill

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Construction work has started on the new hemp mill to be erected at Kirkland, cement has been poured and the surveyors are finishing up their end of the work at this time.

"It was stated that at the present time there is hemp to the north of Kirkland that is outstanding and is seven feet in height.  Any number of acres that are planted to hemp in the north end of the county measure five feet  in height."

Don't Bogart That Hemp for the War Effort.  --GreGen

Monday, August 6, 2018

Donald Blakeslee-- Part 2: Joined the RCAF

Blakeslee was born in Fairport, Ohio, in 1917. and became attracted to flying while watching the Cleveland Air Races as a young boy.  In the mid-1930s, he and a friend bought a plane, but his friend crashed it. Donald Blakeslee decided the best way for him to continue flying was to join the Royal Canadian Air Force.

He trained in Canada and arrived in England May 15, 1941, and was assigned to No. 401  Squadron RCAF, part of the Biggin Hill Wing.  They flew sweeps over France.  His first combat came November 18 and first kill on November 15.

He prroved to be not so good at shooting, but excelled as a flight leader and on the ground, receiving a British Distinguished Flying Cross on August 14, 1942.


The Pea Emergency Is Over

From the July 18, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Workers at the Sycamore Preserve Works from J.W. Thuma, general superintendent, down to the extra help hired in the emergency are resting a little easier as most of the pea crop has been harvested.

"The peas have been prepared, canned and barreled and the plant is now getting ready for the corn pack, which it is understood is next on the docker."


Saturday, August 4, 2018

Donald James Matthew Blakeslee-- Part 1: Flying Ace with 15.5 Victories

This hero was featured in the Paralyzed Veterans of America's August calendar.  My last four posts were about him and the Fourth Fighter Group.

From Wikipedia.

Born  September 11, 1917  Died  September 3, 2008

United States Air Force pilot whose military career began with the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II.  He then became a member of the Royal Air Force Eagle squadrons before transferring to the  United States Army Air Force in 1942.

He flew more combat missions against the Luftwaffe than any American pilot and by the end of the war was a flying ace credited with 15.5 aerial victories.

Quite a Record.  --GreGen

Friday, August 3, 2018

Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 4: Col. Blakeslee Had 500 Missions and 1,000 Combat Hours

By the war's end, the Fourth Fighter group was credited with downing 1,020 German aircraft.  As an individual, Colonel Blakeslee flew nearly 500 missions and had about 1,000 combat hours to his credit.  This is believed to be more missions and hours than any other American fighter pilot of World War II.

In all, Colonel Blakeslee received two Distinguished Service Crosses, seven Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Silver Stars, six Air Medals and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.  A decade later, he also received the Legion of Merit, another Distinguished Flying Cross and four Air Medals for his service in the Korean War.

Nice Haul.  Well-Deserved.  --GreGen

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 3: The New American Fourth Fighter Group

As commander of the newly formed American Fourth Fighter Group, consisting mostly of former members of the Eagle Squadron, Colonel Blakeslee led three squadrons of 16 single-seat, single-engine P-51 Mustangs.  Each Mustang was equipped with six machine guns mounted in the wings and sighted so that the bullet streams could converge on the Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulf fighters that were trying to shoot down Allied bombers.

The Fourth Fighter Group made many significant achievements.  On march 6, 1944, they became the first to fly above the fleet of B-17s and B-24s as they each dropped up to 4,000 pounds of bombs on Berlin.  And, on April 8, , 1944, they set a record for the European Theater, shooting down 31 planes ion one day.


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 2: Donald J.M. Bleakeslee

Among the many RAF units flying that day were three "Eagle" squadrons made up of American airmen flying MK VB Spitfires.  One of the three was the 133 Eagle Squadron, led by Flight Lieutenant Donald J.M. Blakeslee from Fairport Harbor, Ohio.  He alone is credited with shooting down one FW190 and one DO-217, as well as two FW190 probables in a gallant attempt to protect the Allied troops below.

Blakeslee also has the distinction of being the only "Eagle" commanding officer to complete all four missions that day.


Fourth Mission of the Day-- Part 1: "Operation Jubilee" the Attack on Dieppe Aug. 19, 1942

From the Paralyzed Veterans of America 2018 Heroes of the Air Calendar.

This features the artwork of Gil Cohen.


The 19th of August 1942 is remembered as the date of the ill-fated "operation Jubilee", in which the joint British/Canadian amphibious assault against German troops on the French coast at the harbor of Dieppe.

Air cover was provided by the greatest armada of aircraft assembled for battle up to that time.  That day has been described as an almost continuous melee of close aerial combat:  aircraft of both sides spiraling toward the sea; planes colliding in mid-air; ships burning and sinking in the harbor and along the Channel coast was a pall of smoke covering the entire scene below.


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Larry Parry

From the May 7, 2018, Syracuse (NY).com.

Balwinsville's Larry Parry, 97, one of the last Pearl Harbor survivors, has died.  He died May 5, 2018.

During the attack, he was 21 and an Army mechanic delivering ammunition and remembers seeing the USS Arizona blow up.

In 2014 and 2016 he returned to Pearl Harbor with about 100 other Pearl Harbor survivors.

2016 was the 75th anniversary of the attack.

So Sad to be Losing Them.  --GreGen

Monday, July 30, 2018

Another USS Oklahoma Unknown Identified


Gunners Mate 2nd Class, 20.

A December 20, 1941, letter from Rear Admiral Randall Jacobi, Chief of Bureau of Navigation, to his parents:   "The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son, William Francis Hellstern, Gunners Mate 2nd Class, U.S. Navy, is missing following action in performance of his duty and the service of his country."

His parents received another letter in February 1942"  "After exhaustive search it has been found impossible to locate your son."

He was reburied May 18, 2018 in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.


Friday, July 27, 2018

The Sycamore Laundry Had to Close Down for Awhile Until Parts Are Obtained

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"C.W. Buress, of the Sycamore laundry, while apparently having more than his share of troubles in securing necessary repair parts for the boiler and other machinery at the place, has every hope of being able to resume business this coming week.

"The proprietor was obligated to close the place this week until replacements could be made, and the parts necessary were difficult to obtain anywhere because of priorities."

And, of course, the "priorities" were the war effort.


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Restaurant Reducing Hours Because of Lack of Help and Food

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Due to a shortage of help and also the inability to secure sufficient food, the restaurant operated by the Niewolds announced that it will closing daily from 2:00 to 5:00 o'clock.

"Inability to secure competent help seems to be one of the biggest problems with the restaurant people.

--War Shortages At Home.  --GreGen

Sycamore Department Store Closes For Lack of Merchandise

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"The doors of the Sycamore department store, one of the largest in the city and which has been a part of the mercantile interest of this city, for some time, were closed yesterday.

"For several days the owner of the place has been disposing of all the merchandise left and did a successful  piece of work as there was but very little to be hauled away.  Inability to secure merchandise to successfully operate a general variety store of this nature was given as the reason for closing."

More Wartime Shortages.  --GreGen

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The Jeep on the DeKalb Post Office Steps

From the May 2, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

A photograph for World War II propaganda.  It shows an Army jeep on the steps of the DeKalb post office.

A sign on the jeep reads:  "The Willys Overland Go-Devil Quad;  U.S. Army Mobile Machine Gun West; Same Motor As Willys Americar."

Nothing Beats A Willys Jeep.  --GreGen

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Main Weapons At the Battle of the Coral Sea

From the May 2018 We Are the Mighty  "Here's a run down of the main weapons at the Battle of the Coral Sea."

The number after the plane denotes how many were at the battle.

In 1942, fleet carriers had three types of planes:  fighters, dive bombers and torpedo planes.

**  F4F Wildcat  (42)--  One of the Navy's most successful fighter planes of all time.

**  Mitsubishi ALM Zero  (54)  Called the "Zeke" by Americans.  Japan's best fighter.

**  Douglas SBD Dauntless (74)  The U.S. Navy's most lethal ship killer.

**  Aicha D3A  (41)  Called "Val" by Americans.  Japan's primary dive bomber.

**  Douglas TBD Devastator  (25)

**  Nakajima B5N  Called "Kate" by Americans.  Japan's ship killer.


Monday, July 23, 2018

More USS Oklahoma Unknowns Identified

CLIFFORD GEORGE GOODWIN, 24  Oo Diamond, Missouri.   Enlisted in the Navy in 1940.  Duty on the Oklahoma a few months later.  He chose the Oklahoma because his brother Don was on it.  Navy recovered his remains in 1944 but were unable to identify him.

I was unable to find a Don Goodwin on the USS Oklahoma at the time of the attack.  I did find a George M. Goodwin as being killed on the ship, but also couldn't find out anything about him either.  He might have been confused with Clifford George Goodwin.

WILLIAM HELLSTERN  Gunner's mate 2nd class, 20.  From Peoria, Illinois.  Buried Friday May 18, 2018, in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

HOWARD BACKMAN  Petty Officer 2nd Class.  Buried Memorial Day in Batavia, Illinois.  Born in Wilton, North Dakota.  Family moved to Batavia after he enlisted.

So Happy These Identifications Are Happening.  --GreGen

WAACs To the Pea Rescue in Rochelle

From the July 11, 2018, MidWeek   (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Former farm girls, now WAACs (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) at Camp Grant, Illinois, volunteered to help get in the peas on farm near Rochelle, when labor shortage threatened crops.

"The girls drove machinery and took drinking water to the men in the field."


Friday, July 20, 2018

Fort McHenry, Baltimore, During World War II

From Wikipedia.

I have been writing a whole lot about this fort in my Not So Forgotten War of 1812 blog.  Of course, this is "The Rockets Red Glare" fort.

The fort became a national park in 1929 and in 1939 was redesignated "National Monument and Historic Shrine.A national tradition now has the first time a new American flag flies, it does so at Fort McHenry.  The first 49-star and 50-star flags flew here and are still located on the premises.

During World War II, Fort McHenry was a Coast Guard base for training and for fire control and port defense.


Thursday, July 19, 2018

Fort Kamehameha-- Part 3: Pearl Harbor

During World War II some of the fort's anti-aircraft guns were used against the Japanese planes during the attack on Pearl Harbor.  A Japanes Mitsubishi  A6M2 model 21 Zero was shot down and crashed near the fort.

I am sure that George Stevens and the other men were manning the guns in case the Japanese Navy came into sight.

In 1942, concrete shielding was added above the big guns to protect against air attack.

None of the large caliber guns were ever fired except in practice, about once a year.  They were salvaged after the war.

Some of the fort's area is used todayf or the Hawaii Air National Guard.  Batter Closson is now the Mamala Bay Golf Course.


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Fort Kamehameha-- Part 2: The Batteries

The batteries:

SELFRIDGE--  Constructed 1907-1913.  Two 12-inch guns on disappearing carriages.

JACKSON--  Constructed 1913.  Two 6-inch guns on disappearing carriages.

HASBROUCK--   Constructed 1909-1915.    Eight 12-inch coastal mortars

CHANDLER--  Two 3-inch guns

BARRI--  Two 4.7-inch guns.

ADAIR--  Two 6-inch Armstrong guns.  On Ford Island

BOYD--  Two 6-inch Armstrong guns on Ford island.

CLOSSON--  Had massive 20-foot thick concrete reinforced walls behind 3- feet of earth.  The earlier guns had becme obsolete and these replaced them.   Two 12-inch guns.  Anti-aircraft guns.


Fort Kamehameha, Hawaii-- Part 1: Built to Protect Pearl Harbor

From Wikipedia.

In the last post I mentioned that George Stevens of Shasta County, California, is the lone remaining Pearl Harbor survivor.  He was stationed at Fort Kamehameha in Hawaii during the attack.  I'd never heard of this installation so looked it up.

The fort was a U.S. Army base with several coastal artillery batteries set up to defend Pearl Harbor.

In the early 1900s, Secretary of War William Howard Taft headed up a group to review coastal fortifications and decided on this location.  It was originally named Fort Upton, but local citizens objected and it was renamed to honor King Kamehameha, the first king of the unified Hawaiian Islands.

The fort consisted of eight batteries built at different times.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Last Shasta County Pearl Harbor Navy Survivor Laid to Rest

From the July 13, 2018, Redding (Cal.) Record Searchlight  "Last Shasta County Navy veteran who survived Pearl Harbor laid to rest" by Jim Schutz.

Mel Fisher, 96, was buried at Northern California Veterans Cemetery.  He died June 17 and was the one of the last two last living members of Shasta County's Pearl Harbor Survivors Association Chapter 28.

Mr. Fisher enlisted in the Navy in 11940 and was aboard the USS Whitney, a destroyer tender on December 7,1941.    He remembered, "It was like watching the Fourth of July fireworks.  I could see explosions and lots of smoke."

Afterwards, he was in nine engagements in the Pacific, including Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the Marianas on the battleship USS Indiana.

Now, the only Shasta County survivor is George Stevens, 98, U.S. Army.  He enlisted in 1938 and was stationed at Fort Kamehameha when the attack came.  During the course of the war, he was awarded four Bronze Stars and fought at the Battle of the Bulge.


One Who Survived Pearl Harbor and One Who Didn't

**  Ed Johann joined the Navy at age 17, was at Pearl Harbor and just turned 95.  He was on a hospital ship's water taxi when the attack came and spent most of rest of the day rescuing the wounded from the battleships.  Lincoln City, Oregon

**  W. Francis Roberts was ion the USS Arizona and died that day.There is a new exhibit at the Berman Museum of World History in Anniston, Alabama,and a letter of his to his parents on December 5, on USS Arizona stationery is in it.   He was to be temporarily part of the Arizona's crew.  He did not survived December 7, 1941.

This museum also has a piece of the USS Arizona, a large metal piece with rivets.


Monday, July 16, 2018

Kamikaze Strike on USS Tennessee, April 12, 1945

From Wikipedia.

In the last post, I gave Henry Cannon's account of the kamikaze hit on the battleship USS Tennessee.

On the afternoon of April 12, 1945, the Tennessee was one of the fire support battleships when she was attacked by five kamikazes.  Four were shot down, the last three within hundreds of yards of it.  The fifth one, an Aichi D3A Val dive bomber got through and flew at the Tennessee's bridge.

It ended up crashing into the signal bridge. and began sliding aft along the superstructure, crushing anti-aircraft guns and their crews.  It was carrying a 250-pound bomb went through the deck and exploded.

Twenty-tow men were killed or mortally wounded and another 107 wounded.

However, it did not put the ship our of action.  The dead were buried at sea and wounded transferred the following day to the casualty-evacuation ship USS Pinkney.  The ship's crew then did emergency repairs and by April 14, the ship was back in service.


When Kamikaze Hit the USS Tennessee, Henry Cannon Jumped Into Action

From the July 6, 2018, TPR Org.  by Danielle Trevina.

"People throw a rag doll into the air," said Henry Cannon.  "That is how I flew into  the air.  I was hurt pretty good."

After only a few weeks of basic training, Mr. Cannon was assigned to the battleship USS Tennessee (BB-43).  The Tennessee had been repaired and modernized after Pearl Harbor was attacked.  A few days into the Battle of Okinawa, on April 12, 1945, a kamikaze crashed into his ship.

He rushed to help wounded friends, but an officer told him to seek cover because Henry was also badly wounded.  All in all, he helped eight wounded to the medics.