Friday, June 29, 2018

USS Emmons (DD-457/DMS-22)-- Part 2: Stationed in the European Theater

The USS Emmons was launched 23 August 1941 at the Bath Iron Works Corporation at Bath, Maine.  Commissioned 5 December 1941 (two days before Pearl Harbor, most likely the newest ship in the Navy at the time of the attack).

It's captain was Lt.Commander T,C. Ragan.  It spent the first part of the war as a destroyer, before being refitted and reclassified DMS-22 on 15 November 1944.

It reported to Norfolk 31 January 1842 and had its shakedown cruise.  It patrolled the New England waters.  In April it escorted the aircraft carrier USS Ranger across the Atlantic Ocean.

Summer 1942 found the Emmons patrolling out of Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland and escorting troopships from Boston to Halifax.  It was then stationed in England and did escorting from Scapa Flow, Ireland and the Soviet Union.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

USS Emmons (DD-457) (DMS-22)-- Part 1: Named for a Civil War Officer

Continued from June 21, 2018.

From Wikipedia.

2,050 tons, 348.4 feet long, 36 foot beam, 35 knots, 208 crew, four 5-inch guns, 12 anti-aircraft guns, torpedo tubes, six depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge racks.

Gleaves-class destroyer named for Rear Admiral George F. Emmons (1811-1884).  Served in the Mexican War and the Civil War.

There will be a USS Emmons Association 2018 reunion September 20-23 in Saratoga, New York.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Peshtigo Firestorm-- Part 6: Firebombing Japan

From Facts and Detals "Fire Bombing Attacks on Tokyo and Japan in World War II.

The U.S. Army carefully studied the Peshtigo Firestorm in Wisconsin in 1871 before they commenced firebombing of Axis cities in Germany.

During the spring and summer of 1945, the U.S. Army Air Force destroyed nearly every major Japanese city.  Early raids were daytime and high altitude with many bombs missing their targets.Later these changed to low-level, night-time raids that used hundreds of B-29 bombers that dropped bombs with napalm and other incendiary chemicals.


The Peshtigo Firestorm-- Part 5: The Japan Firebombins

Tokyo and sixty other Japanese cities were firebombed by the United States during the war.  despite how deadly they were, the wasn't much American criticism at the time because most felt "they  had it coming" after Pearl Harbor.

E. Bartlett Kerr's book "Flames Over Tokyo:  The U.S. Army Air Force's Incendiary Campaign Against Japan 1944-1945" discusses the origins, development, planning and implementation of this campaign.

There are also other books that discuss it.

On November 7, 1941, General George C. Marshall, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, instructed his aides to develop contingency plans for "general incendiary attacks to burn up the wood and paper structures of the densely populated Japanese cities."


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Peshtigo Firestorm-- Part 4: Dresden

Using information from the Peshtigo Firestorm, Allied bombing had become very proficient at creating firestorms in their attacks.  They knew of the right combination of wind, fuel and incendiary devises as well as drought conditions.

They applied it to the attack on Dresden, Germany.  Over 1,000 Allied planes dropped 3.900 tons of bombs and incendiary devices.  Over 1,600 acres of the city centre were destroyed and civilian deaths were put at between 22,700 and 25,000, though many sources say many more died.


Monday, June 25, 2018

The Peshtigo Firestorm of 1871-- Part 3: Operation Gomorrah

In Europe, Allied airstrikes at Dresden and Hamburg were carefully planned to turn into incendiary firestorms

Indeed, the destruction at Hamburg was code named "Operation Gomorrah."  Hamburg, because of its industry, shipyards, U-boat pens and oil refineries, made it a major target for Allied attacks all throughout the war.  But the last week of July 1943 Operation Gomorrah created one of the largest firestorms of the war.

Some 42,600 civilians were killed and 37,00 wounded by Royal Air Force and U.S. Army Air Force and virtually destroyed most of the city.

It had not rained for some time and everything was very dry.  The concentrated bombing created a vortex and a super-heated air which created a 460 meter tornado of fire.


Friday, June 22, 2018

The Peshtigo Firestorm, 1971-- Part 2: The Peshtigo Paradigm

I have been writing about the Peshtigo Firestorm's relationship to the Civil War in my Saw the Elephant: Civil War Blog this past month.  Occurring in 1871, there were many Civil War veterans involved in it.

But, this calamity was studied for use in World War II.

"Those responsible for planning the U.S. tactics in World War II would seek to understand how to create firestorm conditions using the information gathered from Peshtigo and other studies.

Peshtigo was not only the first documented firestorm but it was the only firestorm to destroy seventeen towns, and when Chicago is included in the Peshtigo Paradigm, the only firestorm to destroy towns, forests and a major American city."


The Peshtigo Firestorm of 1871-- Part 1 To Create An Air Attack

From the "Firestorm At Peshtigo" book by Denise Gess and William Lutz.

I finished reading this book about a huge fire at Peshtigo, Wisconsin, on October 8, 1871, that killed between 1,500 and 2,500 people.  Peshtigo is near Green Bay.  It is largely unknown, though, although ranked as one of the biggest United States natural disasters (see Cooter's History Log for today) because it took place the same day as the Great Chicago Fire, which killed considerably fewer people.

The Peshtigo Firestorm came up again as World War II loomed.  In 1941, the U.S. military began gathering as much information about Peshtigo as they could to "determine how to create the most devastating incendiary attacks on enemy cities possible."


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Looking for the USS Emmons-- Part 2: Five Kamikazes Hit It Almost Simultaneously

Four kamikazes missed the Emmons by mere yards and then, almost simultaneously, five crashed into the ship's bridge and main deck.  The Emmons soon was engulfed in flames.

It remained afloat, though, and was deliberately sunk by U.S. forces  April 7 to prevent capture.

The ship sits 40 meters deep.

Now, a Japanese team has extensively mapped the wreck using 3-D imaging.  They found the ship still had four unexploded depth charges and next to it is an engine, likely from one of the kamikazes that so damaged the ship.

Interesting That a Japanese Team Would Be Doing This.  --GreGen

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Looking for the USS Emmons-- Part 1: Battle of Okinawa

From the June 14, 2018, Laboratory Equipment "Advanced 3-D Seafloor Imaging of World War II Destroyer sunk off Okinawa" by Seth Augenstein.

The USS Emmons was a 350-foot minesweeper rushed into service in World War II.  On April 6, 1945, in the Battle of Okinawa, the USS Rodman was under an intense kamikaze attack.  The Emmons took position near it to provide anti-aircraft fire.

It shot Japanese six planes down.

But, the ship's luck soon ran out.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Family Day Last Weekend at Battleship USS North Carolina

From the June 16, 2018, WWAY Wilmington, N.C. Justin McKee.

On Saturday, June 16, it was family day at the battleship USS North Carolina in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Along with activities for the kids, there were VIP tours offered with the proceeds going to restoration and education projects.

Food was provided by Trolley Stop Hot Dogs.

Tim Casserly of the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary gave lectures on sunken Herman U-boats off the North Carolina coast.

A free World War II submarine film was shown in the evening.

Getting the People Out to the Boat.  --GreGen

Monday, June 18, 2018

The USS Arizona Memorial-- Part 2: Eight Battleships Sunk or Damaged That Day

Since the location of the wreck is not considered a hazard to navigation, the ship was left in place.

It is considered an active American military cemetery.

All eight U.S. battleships at Pearl Harbor suffered varying degrees of damage that day.  Four were sunk, but the West Virginia and California were raised and later returned to service.  (The USS West Virginia was also in Tokyo Bay when the Japanese surrendered, so bookended the war.)

The USS Oklahoma was eventually uprighted, but too damaged to repair.  It sank while being towed to be scrapped in the Pacific Ocean.

The USS Utah was a decommissioned battleship that had been turned into a target ship.  It was also sunk and today is a war grave.


Saturday, June 16, 2018

The USS Arizona Memorial-- Part 1: Battleship Was Considered a Total Loss at End of Battle

The USS Arizona Memorial was designed by Honolulu architect Alfred Preis.

It was built in 1962 and straddles the wreck of the ship.  Of the crew, 1,177 died in a huge explosion early in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Some 900 sailors are still aboard the ship, cremated by two and a half days of a searing fire.  Just 355 survived that day.

The Arizona was considered a total loss and no effort was made at salvage.


Friday, June 15, 2018

The War Hits the Asparagus Crop in Illinois

From the June 6, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back.

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"A labor shortage may mean the loss of 20 percent of the asparagus crop this year and one of the canners, The Rochelle Asparagus Company, has been seriously handicapped by the shortage.

"They hope to be able to salvage about 80 percent of the crop at Rochelle but have been forced to import 175 Jamaicans and use about 90 Mexicans."

The War Hits Home.  --GreGen

Thursday, June 14, 2018

48 Stars on the World War II Flag

Since today is U.S. Flag Day, the flag of our country during World War II had 48 stars arranged in six rows of eight.

The famous one in the flag-raising at Iwo Jima had that arrangement.

U.S. Flag Day is celebrated today because it was this date that the Second Continental Congress adopted the flag in 1777 during the American Revolution.

So, Happy Birthday Star-Spangled Banner.  --GreGen

No Gas for Funerals and Visiting the Sick and Dying

From the May 30, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"H.H. Pearce, chief ration board, said emphatically that the ban on gasoline for funerals or for the purpose of visiting sick or dying relatives, will not be lifted."

So, What Are They To Do?  --GreGen

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wilmington May Become Country's First World War II Heritage City

From the June 11, 2018, WWAY, Wilmington, N.C.

Wilbur Jones says there are two major criteria for a city to get this honor.  One is what the city did for the war effort.  The second is what the city does now to preserve that heritage.

Last week, the N.C. House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging the U.S. Congress to recognize one city in the United States every year for that honor.

Wilbur Jones has been spearheading this effort for the last ten years.

During the war, 243 ships were built in Wilmington and the city was flooded with U.S. military personnel.  The battleship USS North Carolina and the Hannah Block USO Building are examples of World War II preservation.

Jones will be in Washington, D.C., this week to talk with North Carolina senators and representatives about the project.

Good Luck Mr. Jones.  --GreGen

For God and County-- Part 3: 13,00 Paratroopers and 925 C-47s

The airborne assault into Normandy, which was part of D-Day (June 6) Allied invasion of Europe, was the largest use of airborne troops up to that time.  Paratroopers of the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, the British 6th Airborne Division, the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion and other attached Allied units all took part in the assault.

Numbering more than 13,000 men, the paratroopers were flown from bases in southern England to the Cotentin Peninsula in approximately 925 C-47 airplanes.  The parachute troops were assigned what was probably the most difficult task of the initial operation -- a night jump behind enemy lines five hours before the famous coastal landings.


Ruth M. Gardiner-- Part 2: Died in Alaskan Theater

She entered Army nursing in January 1943 and served in the Alaskan Theater.

She died when her plane crashed while on a medical evacuation mission on July 27, 1943.

A hospital in Chicago was named for her on July 9, 1944.  A crowd estimated at 3,000 attended the dedication.

The hospital had 1,250 beds.


Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Ruth M. Gardiner-- Part 1: First Nurse Killed In Line of Duty

From Wikipedia.

In the June 10 post, I wrote about the Chicago Beach Hotel being turned into a hospital named Gardiner General Hospital.  It was named for Ruth M. Gardiner, the first nurse to lose her life in World War II while in the line of duty.

May 20, 1914 to July 27, 1943.  Nurse in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

She trained as a nurse at the White Haven, Pennsylvania, Sanitarium and graduated in 1934.


For God and Country-- Part 2: Ike's Letter

Many of the 101st Airborne carry a letter from General Eisenhower that they keep tucked under their helmets, in jump boots or in bulging jacket pockets, close to their hearts.  It read:  "Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!  You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months.  The eyes of the world are upon you."


Monday, June 11, 2018


 Last Wednesday marked the 74th anniversary of D-day, the "Longest Day."

This was written before June 6, but since I was unable to post this past week, I'll put it in here.

Remember, June 14, this Thursday, is Flag Day.  Very few people put their flags on this day.  Ours will be out, however.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Chicago Beach Hotel/Hospital-- Part 2: Became an Army Hospital

The Algonquin Apartments were built on the original hotel site.  Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed these apartments.

During World War II, the new wing was taken over by the military and served as the Gardiner General Hospital.

After the war, the building was the headquarters of the Fifth Army.

The hotel/hospital was demolished in the early 1970s.  Regents Park Apartments, constructed in the 1970s are now on the site.


Monday, June 4, 2018

Chicago Beach Hotel (Hospital)-- Part 1: A Luxury Hotel

From Wikipedia.

In my June 2 post, I wrote about art teacher Miss Miner from Sycamore High School (Illinois) who was to teach manual arts to disabled soldiers recovering in Chicago area military hospitals.  One of those was the Great Lakes Naval Hospital in North Chicago.  I'd, however, never heard of the Chicago Beach Hospital.

This hospital was originally a hotel.

The Chicago Beach Hotel was originally a luxury resort hotel at 1660 Easy Hyde Park Boulevard.  It was built in 1892 for the Columbian Exposition and boasted 450 rooms and 175 bathrooms.

In 1921, a 12-story building with 545 rooms was constructed on the eastern portion and the original hotel was demolished in 1927.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

For God and County: Paralyzed Veterans of America June 2018 Calendar-- Part 1: 101st Airborne Prepares For D-Day


Painting of paratroopers kneeling by parachutes as they are blessed, standing by a C-47 plane.  These paintings are remarkable in their detail.

The day is June 5, 1944, and the setting is Upottery Airfield, England.  As the sun goes down, the 101st Airborne paratroopers of Easy Company's Stick 70 receive a blessing from their beloved regimental chaplain, Captain John Maloney.

On this evening, later dubbed the "Night of Nights," the paratroopers and the aircrew begin a new battle in France for the salvation of the Free World.  When the blessing concludes, the men don their parachutes to go serve God and country.

And, You Know, D-Day.  --GreGen

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Exterior Crack Force Indefinite Closure of the USS Arizona Memorial

From the May 29, 2018, Smithsonian by Jason Daley.

The USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii has an estimated 1.8 million visitors a year.  It straddles the ship below it which is in 40 feet of water in Pearl Harbor.

It has been declared no longer structurally sound and will be closed for an undetermined period of time.

On may 6, someone noticed cracks and they were repaired and ferry service resumed.  But the cracks reappeared.


Teaching Disabled Soldiers the Manual Arts

From the May 30, 2018, MidWeek  ":Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Miss Miner, art teacher at Sycohi (I had to look this one up, it stands fro Sycamore Community High School), has been informed that she will be definitely teaching the soldiers who are disabled at the Great Lakes and Chicago Beach Hospitals.

"Among things she will teach will be handicraft, weaving, drawing and any other manual art they might wish to learn to do.  This new job will occupy only the summer months and possible Saturdays of her time as she will continue to teach throughout the school system in Sycamore."


Air Raid Practice in DeKalb, Illinois, in 1943

From the May 30, 2018, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Emphasizing that Illinois must prepare for around-the-clock bombing, DeKalb Civilian Defense Council members will be routed out of bed at 5:30 o'clock in the morning on May 25.

"This will be the fourth of a series of monthly mobilization exercises that will climax in July under air raid and surprise conditions."

Never Know When Illinois Will be Attacked.  --GreGen

Friday, June 1, 2018

84th Infantry Division-- Part 2: In the Thick of the Fighting At the End

The division saw its first combat in November during Operation Clipper at Geilenkirchen, Germany.  They took Geilenk 19 November.  they saw further fighting before moving to Belgium to help stop the German winter offensive in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge.

There, the division battled snow, sleet and rain as well as very cold temperatures and near constant German attacks.

When that ended, they crossed the Roer River and took two cities and then crossed the Niers and then Rhine rivers.

On 1 April the 84th captured Hanover, then 13 April reached the Elbe River and finally met Soviet troops 2 May 1945.  They liberated two Nazi satellite concentration camps.

After the surrender, the 84th did occupation duty and returned to the United States 19 January 1946.

Casualties during time in European Theater:

Total:  7,260   KIA: 1,284,  WIA: 5,098, MIA:  129, POW: 749.

Days in combat: 170.


84th Infantry Division-- Part 1: "The Railsplitters"

In the last posts in May, I wrote about the two Indiana World War II veterans, Vernon Clark and Acie Shaffer.  I do not think Vernon Clark was in this division since he was in the Pacific Theater and I found no mention of the 84th being there.

From Wikipedia.

The division had been in service during World War I, but saw no action.

It's nickname is "The Railsplitters."

It was activated on October 15, 1942, at Camp Howze, Texas, 60 miles north of Dallas.  The men embarked in September 1944, arrived in the United Kingdom 1 October and received additional training.  They landed at Omaha Beach from November 1-4, 1944 and moved to the Netherlands.