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."