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.