Monday, April 30, 2012

Up to 25,000 Died in Dresden Bombing

From the March 10, 2010, BBC "Report: Up to 24,000 died in bombing of Dresden."

That number is fewer than thought, especially since some groups claim that as many as 500,000 died.  The official German report by the Dresden Historians Commission, after five years of research on the Feb. 13-15, 1945 air raid by British and US planes puts the number at 25,000.  These bombings unleashed a firestorm.

The raid has drawn criticism ever since as Germany was already near defeat and there was no military reason for it.  Those involved should be tried for war crimes.

Others say the city was an important logistical point behind German lines and the Soviet Army was approaching it.

The Commission used records from the city archives and official registries to come up with the 25,000 number.  They found that fewer refugees in the city were killed as well.


Veteran Talks About General Patton

From the May 6, 2010 WAFF 48 News, Alabama "WWII veteran talks about meeting General Patton during war:"

Robert Boykin was on the Honor Flight to Washington, DC, to see the World War II Memorial.  He landed at Normandy on D-Day and delivered food and supplies to the front lines as the Army pushed inland.

He also served as chauffeur for both Eisenhower and George Patton in Germany.  He says he is a big Patton fan.  "Patton was a tough man, good, happy, laughing and partying, and shooting and drinking."

Patton, the Man, the Myth.  --GreGen

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Worst Home-front Disaster Recognized-- Part 2

The disaster took place at 10:18 AM, July 17, 1944.  Wood splintered, explosions, smoke, fire and deeper blasts.  Two ships were blown out of the water.  The shock was felt as far away as Nevada.  Five thousand pounds of explosives gone.

The surviving white officers were given a thirty-day leave to recover.  Three hundred black survivors were ordered to continue loading at different depots and 258 refused.  Two hundred and eight were given bad conduct discharges and  fifty were singled out for court-martial on the charge of mutiny. Thurgood Marshall, later Supreme Court Justice, represented them.

They were convicted and sentenced to 8-15 years hard labor but the sentences were set aside at war's end.

Access to the park, however, is restricted because it is on a military base which was turned over to the Army in 2008 and is now called Military Ocean Terminal-Concord.  Visitors must file an application two weeks in advance and undergo security clearance.

There are plans for a visitors and interpretive center and a commemoration is planned for the 66th anniversary of the tragedy.

Let's hope they find a way to make it more accessible as it is a site people should visit.

A Generally Forgotten Event in the War.  --GreGen

Friday, April 27, 2012

Worst Home-front Disaster Gets Recognition-- Part 1

From the Dec. 28, 2009, USA Today.

The United States' newest national park consists of just 5 acres along the Sacramento River on a military base in northern California.  It is the site of the worst home-front disaster where 320 died, about two-thirds black, in a munitions explosion.

Fifty blacks were later court-martialed for refusing to return to work, something that had a huge impact on racial segregation in the military.

President Obama signed legislation establishing Port Chicago Naval magazine National Memorial as a full unit of the National Park System.  As a result, federal dollars, rangers and a visitors center will be at the site in Concord, California. 

Two hundred and two black cargo handlers were loading explosives, incendiary bombs, depth charges and ammunition aboard ships bound for the Pacific Theater.  These men had no training in handling explosives and were commanded by white officers.  They had been ordered to move fast as the job as the result of a bet among the officers as to whose men could get it done first.

About Time.  --GreGen

Army Corps of Engineers Looking for Bombs and Shells

From the December 25, 2009, Silicon Valley (Ca) News.

The US Army Corps of Engineers was searching hundreds of square miles of desert in southeast California for an unknown number of unexploded bombs and artillery shells.

Thousands of bombs were dropped and many more shells fired east of Borrego Springs during training exercises for North Africa.  Most weren't live, bit some weren't and others dumped.

So some are potentially dangerous.

The search was scheduled to start in January.

Careful Where You Walk in the Desert.  --GreGen

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Doolittle Raider Billy Farrow Remembered

From the April 17th SCNow "Darlington Doolittle Raider: Lt. Billy Farrow still remembered" by Dwight Dana.

Lt. William G. "Billy" Farrow never attended a Doolittle Reunion in person "but his indomitable spirit has been to each and every one."

Farrow's plane ran out of fuel and he was captured by Japanese soldiers April 18th, the day after the raid.  Later, Farrow and two others: Lt. Dean Hallmark and Sgt. Harold Spatz were executed by firing squad in October 1942.  Farrow had just turned 24 in September.

Farrow joined the new Army Air Corps in 1940 and got his wings.  On the raid, he was the last plane off the USS Hornet, taking off 59 minutes after Doolittle.  Flying just 100 feet above the Pacific to avoid detection, his mission was to bomb oil tanks and an aircraft factory in Nagoya, Japan.

Eight Raiders were captured and summarily tried by Japanese officers and sentenced to death, but for some, it was commuted to life in prison.  But, not for the unfortunate three.  They were used for propaganda purposes and then imprisoned and tortured for six months.  On October 14, 1942, they were taken from their cells and told to write farewell letters to family and friends.

They were taken to Public Cemetery No. 1 outside Shanghai, China, on Oct. 15th. Their arms then strapped to crude crosses and blindfolded with white handkerchiefs marked with black crosses between the eyes as targets and then executed.  Next, their bodies were cremated and remains not discovered until the end of the war when they were returned to the U.S. and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Quite a Story.  --GreGen

World War II Homefront Museum in Wilmington

The long-term goal of Wilbur D. Jones, Jr., co-founder of North Carolina's World War II Wilmington Home Front Heritage Coalition, "We are, after all, America's World War II City."  Displays of the Home Front are on display at the Hannah Block Historic USO Building at 120 S.Second Street.

The building was constructed in December 1941 and was one of 14 USO facilities in and around Wilmington and New Hanover County during the war.  After the war, it became the Wilmington Community Recreation Center and today it has expanded to being an arts place along with the museum.

Back in 1941, it was built by the Army Corps of Engineers for $80,000 ($4 million in today's dollars).  Another one to provide for black soldiers was built at 9th and Nixon streets.  These facilities served soldiers from nearby Camp Davis which trained Army anti-aircraft men and the USMC base at Camp Lejeune.

The various centers would serve 35,000 military personnel on liberty on the weekends.  There were also facilities at Second and Orange streets, a YMCA, YWCA, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board.

Wilmington's population, swollen by all the defense workers (mostly at the NC Shipbuilding Company), neared 100,000 during the war.  The USO was open seven days a week with Big Band dances, plays, music recitals and art exhibits.  As many as 63,000 military personnel would pass through the city most weekends.

In 2006, $2.1 million in repairs were done to the building which reopened in 2008 and was named for Hannah Block, noted Wilmington philanthropist.

I Really Have to Check This Place Out the Next Time in the Area.  --GreGen

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Remembering the Doolittle Raiders: "We Thought We Had Really Messed It Up"

From the April 20th Vancouver (Wash) Columbian "Remembering the Doolittle Raiders" by Tom Vogt.

Staff Sgt. Wayne Bissell of Vancouver died in 1997.  The navigator of his plane, Tom Griffin is still alive and in Dayton for the 70th Reunion recently.

Bissell was a 1937 graduate of Vancouver High School and already a three-year veteran of the US  Army Air Corps at the time of the raid.  He said he could see the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and wouldn't have minded bombing it had they not had specific orders from Doolittle not to bomb it so they continued on their way to their target, Tokyo Gas & Electric.

One of Doolittle's planes landed in the Soviet Union's Siberia after the attack and its crew held by that country, even though an Ally, for a year before being released.

Bissell and Griffin were in the "Whirling Dervish" and made it 300 miles into China before the fuel ran out.  They bailed out in a storm right in the middle of some mountains.  Bissell was captured by a robber band of deserters from the Nationalist Chinese Army.

Griffin said they never felt like heroes, "We thought we had really messed it up.  When you lose all your planes, you don't think you're much of a hero."

The B-25s had originally been equipped with state of the art, top secret Norden Bombsights, but these were removed so they wouldn't fall into Japanese hands.  They replaced them with twenty cent bombsights built in a machine shop at their training base.

Yeah.  Those Weren't Heroes.  Right.  --GreGen

State of Some Victory Ships in 2009-- Part 2

The Earlham Victory was still in fully operational mode in 1950.  It hauled cargo in the Korean and Vietnam wars and carried the first American shipment of weapons to Vietnam to the French Army.

Sad as it is to lose these two Victory Ships, there are still three afloat that have been turned into museum ships:

SS Red Oak Victory
SS Lane Victory
SS American Victory

The Pan American Victory had already been towed and its destruction will cost the Federal Government $3.1 million:  $1 million for the hull cleaning and the rest for scrapping.

Two other Victory Ships are at Suisun Bay in drydock, the SS Rider Victory and the SS Winthrop Victory.

Scrapping will be done at a facility in Brownsville, Texas, where the USS Gage is already being taken apart.

Sad to Lose These Ships.  --GreGen

Monday, April 23, 2012

State of Some Victory Ships in 2009-- Part 1

From the October 22, 2009, Contra Costa Times.

Two obsolete World War II Victory ships are to be removed from the Suisun Bay reserve Fleet, cleaned of underwater growth and then towed to Texas for scrapping.  Fifty-five vessels still remain.

The Earlham Victory and Pan-American Victory were built in 1945 by Permanente Metals of Richmond, California with the first one launched June 13, 1945.

Victory ships were based on their predecessors, the Liberty ships.  A total of 531 were built from 1944 to 1945 and capable of speeds of from 15 to 17 knots.  They were also mass-produced and each 455 feet long with a 62 foot beam.  They could carry a dry cargo of 10,850 tons and operated by 62 merchant seamen and 28 Navy personnel.

Their armament consisted of one 5-inch stern gun, one 3-inch at the bow and eight 20mm machine guns.

After the war, 200 of them were sold and many mothballed as part of the National defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF).

More to Come.  --GreGen

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Big Guns Arrive in Arizona

From the April 20th "World War II gun barrels arrive in Arizona" Friday morning a freight train arrived in Phoenix carrying huge main armament gun barrels from two famous World War II battleships, a 14-inch one from the USS Arizona and 16-inch one from the USS Missouri.

They will be installed at Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza as "bookends of the war" in an Arizona memorial.  The plaza is located at Washington Street and 17th Avenue near the Capitol.

None metal ribs are to be built between the two guns which will represent the hull of a ship plus the nine minutes it took the Arizona to sink at Pearl Harbor.  Each rib will have a name plate on it with the names of the 1,900 Arizonans who died during the war.

The project cost $500,000, about half of it raised by donations.  No tax dollars were used.

A dedication is planned for December 7th, the 71st anniversary of the attack.

According to the April 17th KTAR, the USS Arizona gun was not on the ship December 7, 1941, but was elsewhere being relined and later ended up on the USS Nevada (which was also at Pearl Harbor).  It was used at D-Day on that ship so helped protect Joe Barrington of the previous two posts.

Small World.  --GreGen

A Family's 1944 Christmas-- Part 2

Even though his mother was extremely upset that he had not written, the fact was that Joe Barrington had been ordered not to write. It was pre D-Day and no one involved with it was allowed to write home for fear that vital information might leak to German spies. So, he had an excuse. According to Joe in a recent interview, he got on a ship bound for England on Thanksgiving Day, "We went on a British luxury ship, Brazil, that had been transformed into a troop ship. We were in the hold. Six bunks were stacked in rooms eight feet high. There were 15,000 men on the ship. It took us 14 days to get to England, zigzagging as part of a convoy." He remembers standing at the Brazil's rail and watching thosands of frozen turkeys loaded and imagined the feast in store for him, instead, "we had baloney sandwiches for dinner. We never saw those turkeys again until we reached the dock in Southampton" where the turkeys were offloaded. Joe still thinks they were destined for the black market to the advantage of corrupt quartermasters or to woo Englishwomen. The Case of the Missing Turkeys. --GreGen

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Family's 1944 Christmas-- Part 1

From the December 25, 2009 Albany (NY) Times Union "Christmas greeting recall a world at war."

The Francis and Mary Barrington family of Rensselaer had three sons in the military on the long ago Christmas in 1944.

Bill had enlisted in the Army March 11, 1942, 3 months after Pearl Harbor.

Jim also joined the Army August 28, 1942.

Joe, the youngest, was drafted after he graduated from Rensselaer High School, entering the Army on Good Friday, April 7, 1944, just two months before D-Day.

The family also had three daughters.

This Christmas 1944 found Jim was a clerk in the Army Air Force in the South Pacific. Joe was in England preparing for D-Day.

Some Families Gave Their All. --GreGen

Doolittle's Raiders Goblets-- Part 2

The case the goblets are in was custom-made by Doolittle's co-pilot, Richard Cole, in four panels, each one five-foot high for the crew of each plane. Left to right, they represented the crews of No. 1 to No. 16 in order of takeoff. The goblets are arranged in rows top to bottom with pilots on the top row, then copilots, navigators, bombardiers and gunners.

Each reunion, the Raiders meet privately to conduct their "Goblet Ceremony" where they toast Raiders who have passed away since the last meeting. Those goblets are then turned upside down.

There are now just five of the Raiders left. When just two remain, they will meet and drink a final toast to their departed comrades. A special bottle of Hennessy Cognac has been reserved for that final toast.

The five surviving Raiders:

1. Col. Richard Cole, copilot No. 1, born Sep. 7, 1915
2. Major Thomas C. Griffin, Navigator No.No. 9, born July 10, 1916
3. Lt. Col Robert L. Hete, copilt No. 16. born March 3, 1920
4. Major Edward Joseph Sayles, engineer No. 15, born March 15, 1920
5. Staff Sergeant David J. Thatcher, gunner No. 7, born July 31, 1921

The Greats. --GreGen

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Doolittle's Raiders Goblets-- Part 1

From the Photorecon Site at Aviation, Space, History.

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, has a restored Mitchell B-25 given to the place in 1958 displayed to appear as if taking off the deck of the USS Hornet.

Behind it is an exhibit featuring a glass display case. It was not on that famous raid, but it much tied to its history. In it are 80 silver goblets, one for each man who went on the mission. Each name is engraved on it twice: once right-side up and the other upside down.

They were used at each reunion for the annual toast. When the last Raider dies, the public will get the chance to see it.

The Reunions started in 1946 to celebrate Doolittle's birthday and became an annual event hosted by a different city each year. In 1959, the city of Tucson, Arizona presented the goblets, one to each Raider.

The goblets were later presented to the Superintendent of the USAF Academy. In 2005, the goblets got their permanent home at the Air Force Museum.

Some of the Greatest of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Back Then: The AHS Centaur

I covered this ship extensively in my Cooter's History Thing Blog back when they were looking for it and after it was found.

From Dec. 24, 2009, Australia's Courier Mail.

A plaque honoring the 332 Australians aboard the hospital ship when it sank. David Mearms and his Seahorse Spirit was to sail Jan. 4, 2010, and was to have a ceremony with descendants of the those who died.

The Japanese government was continuing to refuse admission of the sinking or an apology for it, claiming "circumstances were not clear."

Back then, there were still three survivors of the sinking alive. One, Martin Pah was calling for a Japanese apology. Betty Argent, whose husband Jack was a survivor said the world is now different, "In wartime all sorts of terrible things happen."

A Japanese submarine sank the the Centaur which was a clearly marked hospital shop.

A Real Tragedy. --GreGen

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Auschwitz Sign Recovered

From the Dec. 22, 2009, Global Times.

Less than a month before the 65th anniversary of the Allied Liberation of Auschwitz Concentration Camp (Jan. 27, 1945), Polish police recovered the famous "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Will Set You Free" sign, two days after it was stolen.

Five suspects were arrested with Neo-Nazi affiliations.

The five meter metal sign hung over the entrance gate in northern Poland where 1.1 million died.

In the meantime, the Auschwitz Museum had erected a metal copy of it and posted a $30,000 Euro reward.

Let's hope they will keep the original in the museum and leave the copy out in the elements after this.

Retaining the History. --GreGen

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today Is the 70th Anniversary of Doolittle's Raid

Even though the damage to Japan was insignificant, the impact on American morale and blow to Japanese can never be underestimated. It was the first time Americans had much reason to cheer and the Japanese were sure it just could not happen.

I had hoped to be there in Dayton, Ohio, and would have been had we been able to get tickets to one of the dinners (plus our current gas gouge). Tickets sold out very quickly and I imagine a lot of people will be in Dayton today for other activities.

Most remarkable is that all five surviving Raiders will be on hand for the event. And, later today, there will be a flyover of some 20 B-25 Mitchell bombers, the type of plane used in the attack.

I sure would have liked to be there. I'm sure there will be fewer Raiders next year.

To Some Mighty Significant Men of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Raid's 70th to Honor the Chinese Who Helped

From the April 16th KATC in Lafayette, Louisiana "Raid's 70th anniversary also a tribute to Chinese."

The five-surviving members of Doolittle's Raid are all in Dayton, Ohio, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of that significant event of the war.

D.R. Thatcher, 90, of Missoula, Montana, one of the Raiders, had this to say about the role played by Chinese civilians after the bombs were dropped and the planes got to China: "They were very important to us. If not for them, the Japanese surely would have captured us."

Eight Raiders were captured and three of those executed and one later died in captivity. However, tens of thousands of Chinese civilians were executed for helping the others get away.

The Raiders are all in their 90s now. The Chinese who helped them are either dead or too old to travel to the reunion. But, a Chinese delegation will attend, including the children of two of their benefactors from back then.

A Great Help to U.S. Morale. --GreGen

Old Washington State Forts

From the July 7, 2010, Seattle Times "Old forts are scenic spots for getaways, culture and fun" by JoAnn Roe.

There are several decommissioned forts in the Seattle area for two 20th century wars, World War I and World War II.

Forts WORDEN, FLAGLER AND CASEY were part of the "Triangle of Fire" along with the satellite compounds of FORT EBEY (ok, I spelled it with an "a" instead of the second "e" the first time. So, that's where they came up with the name.) and Camp HAYDEN.

FORT FLAGLER's gun emplacements rarely fired, and then only when being tested.

CAMP HAYDEN, near Joyce. During WWII, 150 soldiers were stationed here manning two 6-inch and two 16-inch guns, the latter able to fire a shell 28 miles (16-inch guns were usually mounted in battleships. A 16-inch gun from the USS Missouri is being transported to Arizona right now to be part of an exhibit with a 14-inch one from the USS Arizona.)

FORT CASEY on Whidbey Island, is a still-standing fortress, originally built in 1847. By the Spanish-American War, two 10-inch guns on disappearing carriages were installed. These guns could be raised from behind a concrete embankment, fired, and then lowered for reloading.

The armament was removed before World War II, but the fort was used for training.

FORT EBEY was just north of FORT CASEY, but nothing remains of it.

Homeland Defense Back Then. --GreGen

Monday, April 16, 2012

Are the USS Arizona and RMS Titanic Considered the Same Type of Memorial?

In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic yesterday. From Yahoo! Answers.

Someone wrote them asking this question.

THE ANSWER: Both are considered grave sites, but not the same type of memorial. The Arizona is a war memorial and the Titanic is to civilians.

You can still see the wreck of the Arizona in the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor, but the Titanic is much too deep to be seen.

The Arizona is a war grave. On April 15, 2012, the Titanic became a UNESCO Protected Heritage Site.

A Tragic Centennial. --GreGen

USS Oklahoma Survivors in Oklahoma Down to One

From the Aug. 30, 2010, Tulsa (Ok) World "USS Oklahoma survivors down to one."

EDWARD VEZEY, 90, is thought to be the last USS Oklahoma Pearl Harbor survivor from Oklahoma.

On August 12th, IRA WILLIAMS, JR, 96, died. It is believed that nationwide there are still about 25 to 30 survivors of the ship still living.

PAUL GOODYEAR of the USS Oklahoma Family, Inc., says, "It won't be long before there's none of us left. A total of about 20 Pearl Harbor Survivors are still alive in Oklahoma.

IRA WILLIAMS was from Kansas and served in the Navy from 1940 to 1946. At Pearl Harbor that day, he saw an airplane drop something then hear the call to man battle stations. "The torpedo went into the deck below me and exploded. I was knocked out by the concussion. When I came to, I was on the side of the ship as she was rolling, but I don't remember going topside."

He swam to the USS Maryland where he helped fight off Japanese planes.

EDWARD VEZEY was an anti-aircraft gunner on the Oklahoma. His buddy FRANK FLAHERTY went to one of the ship's turrets and won a Medal of Honor. he remained in the turret holding a flashlight to let others escape as the ship was roiling over.


Alabama Pearl Harbor Survivors Reflect on Experience

From the Nov. 11, 2010, Anniston (Al) Starr "Pearl Harbor survivors reflect on service, lead Veterans Day parade" by Cameron Steele.

On Dec. 7, 1941, GLENN McNEILL, 24, was asleep at Schofield Barracks. GEORGE MURRAY, 22, was also at Schofield Barracks and heading for work at the chemical weapons depot.

PAUL JOYCE was shining his shoes aboard the USS Utah and planning on going to Honolulu to celebrate his promotion to second-class petty officer with a girlfriend.

WILLIAM NESTOR, 19, was on his way to Honolulu from Fort Barrette where he was an artillery officer.

These men were honorary grand marshals for the Veterans Day parade.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

F6F-3 Hellcat Recovered from Lake Michigan

Dec. 1, 2009.

Hunter Brawley, grandson of the plane's pilot, Lt. Walter B. Elcock, was instructed by his grandfather to look for a pack of Lucky Strikes that he left when he crashed into the lake. Elcock said he brought the plane in too fast and low to the aircraft carrier and lost his lift.

He landed on the carrier (USS Wolverine?) and broke one wing on the catwalk and hung over the side for ten or fifteen minutes before falling into Lake Michigan.

The Coast Guard picked him up right away.

Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation built the Hellcats for the Navy. David Grumman said his father designed the folding wings based on a paperclip-eraser design.

Some 12,500 were made from 1942 to 1945. At peak production, one was made every 20 minutes.

Lost and Found. --GreGen

The USS Tautog

This was a Tambor-class submarine and one of the most successful ones in the war. It is credited with sinking 26 Japanese ships for a total of 72,600 tons. This put the Tautog first in number of ships sunk and 11th in tonnage among American submarines.

It was commissioned July 3, 1940, and went on its first war patrol Dec. 26, 1941. the sub was scrapped in 1960.

A Pearl Harbor Survivor Remembers

From the Nov. 14, 2009 and Dec. 7, 2011, Bowling Green (Ky) Daily News.

William J. Roberts, 87 and 89 at the times, joined the Navy in 1940 before he was drafted into the Army. When the attack came, he was a 19-year-old mail clerk on the USS Maryland.

"I knew most everyone on the ship. If a guy didn't get mail I heard from him it seems like. I remember the planes flying so low I could have thrown a rock and hit the guy in the teeth."

"There was a guy hurt, the doctor gave him a shot I don't know what and I must have sat with him for two hours till he passed on. O couldn't do nothing but I couldn't leave either...for some reason."

"A couple bodies floated out from under the pier, these things still get to me."

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Friday, April 13, 2012

French Resistance Hero Dies

From the April 12th Chicago Tribune from Reuters.

RAYMOND AUBRAC (1914-2012)

One of the last-surviving leaders of the French to German occupation during World War II died at age 97. His rescue from captivity in 1943 was made into a movie.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, "These heroes of the shadows who saved France's honor at a time when it seemed lost are disappearing one after another."

His wife, Lucie, was also a Resistance fighter he organized his escape in 1943 and died in 2007. He was arrested with other underground fighters in June 1943 by Klaus Barbie, head of the Gestapo in Lyon. She organized an attack on the German truck carrying him and others. They escaped to London, but his parents were arrested in France, transported to Auschwitz where they died.

Resistance members disrupted occupying German forces through sabotage and guerrilla warfare, blowing up bridges and railroad tracks and providing intelligence and aid to Allied forces.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Pearl Harbor

LOCAL SURVIVOR PASSES AWAY March 19, 2012, NBC San Diego-- Henry mesa Cruz, 91, died Mar. 12th. h
He was one of 344 on the ship to survive that day and was one of just 16 still living.

THIEF STEALS PEARL HARBOR SURVIVORS MEMORABILIA-- April 5, 2012, KTVU San Leandro, California-- Mickey Ganitch, 92, had his memorabilia stolen from his car while at a veterans function. he was a 22-year-old on the USS Pennsylvania when the attack came.

PARADE TO HONOR PEARL HARBOR-- April 5, 2012, Norwich (Ct) Bulletin-- To be held May 27th. Thomas Migliacio, 94, on the USS Arizona that day and one of only 13 known living survivors. (So two more also died going back less than a month.)


German POWs in Texas

From the Dec. 14, 2009, Palestine (Tx) Herald Press.

The public library was hosting a traveling exhibit "Held in the Homefront: POWs in the U.S. 1943-1946." This is a follow up to the "Vanished: German-American Civilian Internment 1941-1948."

During the war, 425,000 German, Italian and Japanese POWs were imprisoned in the U.S. at 660 base and branch camps.

Texas had 78 camps, many located in the eastern part. Millions more were held in other camps around the world. Obviously, not many were Japanese who often elected suicide before surrender or to fight to the death.

The U.S. Army ran the camps in the U.S. where 372,000 Germans were held. During the day, most would leave the camp to harvest and process crops, build roads and waterways, fell trees, roof barns, erect silos, work in light non-military industries, lay sewers, construct tract housing and wash U.S. Army laundry among other jobs.

They felt at home also because many Americans were of German descent and had come over between the 1850s to World War Ii and could speak German. Friendships were formed (many romantic) and many even emigrated to the U.S. after the war. Some even dated local girls and sneaked out to bars and saw movies.

All in All, It Was better to Be a German POW in the U.S. Than an American One in Germany. --GreGen

German POWs Held in Michigan

From the Dec. 13, 2009, Detroit Free Press by Zlati Meyer.

More than 5,000 German POWs were held in Michigan during the war. With the distance from both coasts it was determined that escape would be that much more difficult. The best-known camp was Fort Custer near Battle Creek.

The Upper Peninsula had five camps, Camp Evelyn and Camp AuTrain were in central Alger County. Camp Sidnaw and Camp Pori were in western Houghton County and Camp Raco was in eastern Chippewa County.

Camp Lake View in Alleghenny County was by Lake Michigan and 250 Germans captured in North Africa were held there loving in an old CCC camp near the middle of the county. Several of these Germans later became US citizens and married local women.

Two POWs escaped from Camp Owosso in Shiawassee County on what used to be the Owosso Speedway ran off from a local business where they worked during the day with the help of two local women in a car. They were caught the next day.

At the end of the war, the Germans were sent home, but 25 are buried at the Fort Custer Cemetery.

One comment on the story told of another camp south of Howell in Livingston County. One of the prisoners was a U-boat captain who stayed after the war, became a citizen and lived by the water off Pettysville Road. He died a few years previous.

Today, Many Americans Do Not Know of the German Prisoners Among Us. --GreGen

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Making Ordnance on the Homefront-- Part 4

John "Swede" Lundstrom is the landowner's grandson and was living with his mother and grandparents when the government took some of the family's land for the plant. Two thousand five hundred acres were taken total from different people for the plant and an additional 2,000 for the firing range. They had to find a different home.

Construction on the plant went around the clock. New roads were built and Arkeny's water system couldn't handle plant needs so a water main was run from Des Moines. A testing range and huge bunkers were built.

After the war, the government allowed original owners have first chance to get their land back and his grandfather got his back. Homes were built on the former range and developers figure people are sometimes puzzled when they come across a bullet.

All for the War Effort. --GreGen

Making Ordnance on the Homefront-- Part 3: "After a Couple Explosions I Got Out of There."

TINA BATTANI, 85, packer and public relations.

She was a graduate of Arkeny High School, Class of 1942, and her first job was packing 50-caliber bullets at the plant. They thought she was smart and moved her to where they put powder into the casings. "I went in there thinking I'd get more money. After a couple explosions, I got out of there."

She was transferred to public relations where she stayed until the plant closed.

Arkeny was chosen as the site for the ordnance plant because it was doubted that enemy planes could get all the way into the central part of the U.S..

The plant became its own community with a fire station,police station, laundry, print shop and huge cafeterias. After school, kids came and washed dishes.

The plant operated 24-hours a day and you could hear the noise from it all over town. At night, town residents often drove over to where the tracers were tested. They lit up when fired and you had a mini-fireworks display.

After the plant closed, many residents bought wooden boxes from it and several Arkeny homes were built using the wood from them.

More to Come. --GreGen

Monday, April 9, 2012

Making Ordnance on the Homefront-- Part 2: A Premonition

MARGE SWARTFAGER, 89, was final casing inspector at the Des Moines Ordnance Plant in Arkeny, Iowa. In 1941, she was a single mother (her husband was in the Navy) and had never worked outside home, but she needed a job and the ordnance plant needed her.

As inspector, she rolled casings in her hand to check for flaws. "They stressed to us that if we let one shell go with a split in it or a mark on it that wasn't right, it could kill one of our own men. So we took that real seriously."

Most of the men working at the plant were too old or deferred from service because of disability or because of family.

Her husband Sam loaded the box cars for two months before he was drafted into the Navy. He was shipped to Seattle and served on the battleship USS Washington in the powder room area working with the huge 16-inch shells because of his experience loading the railroad cars in Iowa, "They didn't know I didn't know that much."

She remembers the day FDR died: "They brought the whole plant to a sudden halt. ou could have heard a pin drop (and these plants were quite noisy) because everyone stopped and bowed their heads in prayer. At the same time, i remember I wondered how many boys or men were dying that day. And a couple weeks later, we got the report that my brother had died that very same day."

Reuben Hutchins, 27, was killed one month before World War II ended.

More to Come. --GreGen

Making Ordnance on the Homefront-- Part 1

From the Dec. 13, 2009, Des Monies (Iowa) Register "Honoring the home front" by Jane Scchorer Meisner.


Some 19,000, mostly women, worked the plant 24-hours a day producing eleven railroad cars worth of the munitions to win the war. Three former workers were interviewed for the article: Tina Baltran, 85, and Marge Swartfager, 89, explained the 72-steps to make a bullet. Bernice Muehlenthale used salt tablets to stay awake.

Today, John Deere now makes equipment in the old plant.

The Arkeny Area Historical Society is now developing an interactive mobile of the history of the plant.

The story of workers, next.

A 100% Effort Here on the Homefront. --GreGen

USS Columbia Reunion

From the Oct. 12, 2009, Columbia (SC) The State.

The light cruiser USS Columbia participated in most of the World War II battles in the Pacific. This week the few remaining crew members of the ship were honored in Columbia. About 24 veterans in their 80s and 90s and 100 family members came to town. They were last here in 2004.

An eight-foot highly detailed model of their ship was unveiled at the South Carolina Relic Room and Military Museum. The ship's flag from the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle of the war, was donated to the museum by the son of Admiral Maurice Curtis, who was then the ship's captain.

The model had already been in the collection, but not displayed, but the museum was renovated and the USS Columbia is now protected by a $5000 permanent display case.

The ship was commissioned ten days after Pearl Harbor. On January 6th and 9th, 1945, it was attacked by three Japanese kamikaze planes. Two hit, causing casualties and damage. During the war, 60 sailors were killed or MIA.

The Columbia was decommissioned in 1946, after earning ten Battle Stars. The name was revived in 1995, was the commissioning of a nuclear attack submarine.

The Story of a Ship. --GreGen

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Town's Remembrance of Their Adopted Escort Ship-- Part 2

Tommy Jess remembers that they thought they were safe as they neared Kola Inlet as U-boats were only interested in stopping supplies being delivered to the Soviets and if they were around, would concentrate on the merchant ships. Everyone was looking forward to their 11 AM rum ration when the torpedo hit.

"The blast lifted me off my post and threw me about 10 to 12 feet across the deck. It took the skin off my knuckles but that was the only injury I had."

He was 22 at the time and awaited the order to abandon ship which did not come quickly as the captain had been knocked out. When it did, they were told it was every man for himself and he jumped 40 feet over the side into the freezing water.

He was not a good swimmer, but fortunately had his life belt on. Very shortly afterwards, he was hauled onto a life raft with sixteen others. Only seven were left alive by the time they were rescued.

Quite the Story. --GreGen

Town's Remembrance for Their Adopted Escort Ship-- Part 1

OK, here is a more current story. From the April 1, 2012 Saffron Walden (UK) Reporter "Crew members of town's adopted Second World War escort ship remembrance" by Sam Tonkin.

On March 20, 1945, 158 of 219 crew members of the HMS Lapwing died when it was torpedoed by a U-boat less than six miles from it final destination at Kola Inlet, in northern Soviet Union.The town's coat of arms was on the quarter deck when it went down. It had been placed there after town residents had raised 250,000 pounds to sponsored it during Britain's War Week.

Tommy Jess, 89, was the only surviving crew member able to make it for the commemoration.

Fisherman Claims He Knows Where AHS Centaur Is

From the Dec, 10, 2009, Queensland (Aus) Times by Binnen Clare.

Jake Cannon, 64, has been prawn-trawling since he was 14 and avoids traveling in an area east-south-east of Cape Moreton lighthouse for fear of wrecking his nets on some deep-water wreckage.

Thirty-five years ago, his net got caught in 98-100 fathoms of water. In the 70s, he says he pulled up some lifeboats in the area, but says he dumped them.

He claims that his dad saw smoke and flames from the Centaur that night.

It Was Quite the Story Back Then. --GreGen

Search for AHS Centaur About to Start in 2009

I am trying to finish up articles from my 2009 notebook, which is why there have been so many old stories in the last couple weeks. Back in 2009, Australia was about to embark on an attempt to find the wreck of the hospital ship AHS Centaur.

From the Dec. 8th Big Pond News.

David Mearms found the HMAS Sydney and now he had arrived in Brisbane, Australia, to lead another expedition, this time to look for the AHS Centaur. If the weather held (summer in Australia) it was to get underway this weekend on the Seahorse Spirit, carrying 70 tons of specialized sonar equipment.

After years of research, Mearms is confident they will find the wreck off the southeast Queensland coast. Even so, there is still a 400-square mile area to search.

Both the Queensland and Australian governments have jointly committed $4 million to the project.

I reported extensively on this expedition in my Cooter's History Thing Blog.

Finding History. --GreGen

"Attention, This is the Battleship USS North Carolina Calling"

From the Dec. 6, 2009, Wilmington (NC) Star-News.

Members of the Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club spent a day in the radio room aboard the USS North Carolina sending out Morse Code messages, using the original equipment which club members spent eight years restoring.

By the time of Pearl Harbor, Morse Code was almost obsolete, but this is how the military was alerted of the attack.

They do this every year and once contacted Richard E. McCullough of Wrentham, Massachusetts who was the radio operator on the North Carolina during World War II. Unfortunately, he had died in the last few months before this contact.

Bringing Back the Past. --GreGen

The Story of Two USS Missouris

From the December 6, 2009, Kansas City Star.

The newest in a line of US Navy ships named after the state of Missouri is the $2 billion nuclear attack submarine christened in Groton, Ct. on Saturday.

The previous USS Missouri was a battleship that was not at Pearl Harbor that day, but was under construction back in the U.S. at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. It was christened by Margaret Truman, daughter of then-Senator Harry Truman, entering service in 1944, serving for five decades and three wars (World War II, Korea and the Persian Gulf).

Back in 2009, it was in dry dock in Hawaii before returning to duty as a museum ship in Pearl Harbor.

The USS Missouri is a member of the Virginia-class of submarines which is replacing the Los Angeles-class. Although these submarines are not as big as the battleships, they pack more wallop.

The battleships had 16-inch guns capable of firing 30 miles. The subs have Tomahawk missiles which can pin-point a target hundreds of miles away.

Carrying On a Proud Tradition. --GreGen

Friday, April 6, 2012

The SS James Oglethorpe


On 17 March 1943, the U-758 fired four torpedoes and sank two ships, the SS James Oglethorpe and the Zaanland. Master Albert W. Long was in command of the Oglethorpe which was on its maiden voyage.

It was struck by one torpedo and began sinking at the head and Long ordered abandon ship.

Thirteen men drowned when one boat was cut prematurely. Long and the 29 remaining crew remained aboard and tried to reach St. John's, but were never seen again.

The ship either sank or was finished off by the U-91.

The Story of a Ship. GreGen

Savannah Liberty Ships-- Part 2

The Southeastern Shipbuilding yard was capable of building six Liberty ships at a time.

Two Savannah vessels remain: the SS Jeremiah O'Brien, homeported in San Francisco and the SS John W. Brown in Baltimore.

The first vessel built in Savannah was the SS James Oglethorpe on Nov. 20, 1942.

On March 11, 1943, it sailed from new York Harbor in a 40-ship convoy designated Halifax 229. Five days out, eight German U-boats attacked and the Oglethorpe was hit by a torpedo and sank the next day.

During the war, some 200 Liberty ships were sunk.

Some of the Forgotten Ships That Won a War. --GreGen

The Savannah Liberty Ships-- Part 1

From the December 3, 2009, Historical Marker Data Base site.

Even before Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt and Congress authorized the Liberty Shipbuilding Program. These vessels were made rapidly, using welded component construction and assembly line production techniques.

The Southeast Shipbuilding Company in Savannah, Georgia, built 87 of them.

Today, only a few of the 2,700 Liberty Class ships remain. During the war, they were a part of the so-called "Atlantic Bridge" to bring munitions of war and soldiers to the European Theater.

A standard Liberty Ship was 441-feet-long with a 56-foot beam, powered by a 2,500 hp triple expansion steam engine capable of going 11 knots while carrying 10,000 tons of cargo in their five holds. That would relate to 300 railroad cars, 2,840 jeeps or 440 Sherman tanks.

They carried a 3-inch gun and two 37 mm Bofors cannons in the bow, a 4- or 5-inch gun at the stern and six 20 mm Oerlikon machine guns for protection.

More to Come. --GreGen

Japan Plans a Secret Submarine Attack-- Part 2

Squad Commander, Captain Tatsunosuke Arrizumi, ordered all planes and torpedoes launched and sunk and then the subs scuttled with all hands on board. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the subs were later captured. Arrizumi committed suicide.

The I-14 was captured a a negotiated peaceful surrender made.

The I-201 had "a hellacious number of batteries and could go 20 knots submerged compared to a maximum 8 knots for US subs. It was double-hulled and 300 feet long compared to the 200 for their counterparts. A rubberized coating on the hull muffled internal noise and messed up sonar.

The National Geography Channel, which supported the search for these submarines, has made a show of it, "Hunt for Samurai Subs."

It was amazing how technologically advanced these Japanese submarines were.

Glad They Were Too late Or We Might Have Had A 9-11 Back in World War II. --GreGen

Japan Plans a Secret Submarine Attack-- Part 1

From the Nov. 13, 2009, LA Times by Thomas H. Maugh II.

The Japanese submarine I-401 was discovered St. Patrick;s Day 2005 off Hawaii along with several mini subs and other wrecks.

Some Japanese submarines carried reconnaissance planes. The I-400 series had 2-3 Achii Seiran bombers, whose wings and tails could be folded, and were the stealth weapons of their time. These submarines could surface, launch their planes in 7-10 minutes and dive. A restored plane is on display at the Smithsonian Institute's Dulles Airport exhibit.

Near the end of the war there was a huge mission planned where the I-400s would attack Washington DC and New York City. After that, the Panama Canal was to be bombed before the US Fleet staging near Ulithi Atoll north of the Philippines where they were staging for the final attack on Japan.

However, Japan surrendered the day before the attack and it was called off.

More to Come. --GreGen

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The SS Henry Bacon

From Wikipedia.

Built at North Carolina Shipbuilding Company. There is a book about the ship "The Last Voyage of the SS Henry Bacon" written by Donald Foxvey and Robert Alotta.

The hull of the Bacon was laid September 29, 1942, and it was launched November 11, 1942 and delivered Nov. 24, 1942. The ship spent just 42 days on the ways.

Just an example of US wartime effort.

That Was MIGHTY FAST. --GreGen

Bits of War: Nose Art-- $25 Million-- USS Missouri

Bits of War: news of World War II.

1. NOSE ART-- From Oct. 6, 2009, Anonymous Arts. Four pictures of World War II nose art on the site. Nose art was the term given to the paintings near the front of US aircraft.

One featured was Nancy and another was Leapy Time Girls.

2. $25 MILLION--

October 7, 2009, The Department of Defense has an appropriations bill for $25 million in funds to go to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans to build the U.S. freedom Pavilion and Homefront exhibition.

3. USS MISSOURI-- From the Columbian Missourian-- The USS Missouri was the nation's last battleship and it has been towed two miles from its spot as a memorial in Pearl harbor near the USS Arizona Memorial to a dry dock where it will be sandblasted, fully repainted and hull repaired for $18 million.

It was scheduled to leave dry dock in early January, 2010 and have a grand reopening Jan. 29th, the 66th anniversary of its launching at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Some News. --GreGen

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pearl Harbor Veterans

From March 29, 2012, KSAT, San Antonio, Tx. Gordon Poling died March 29th. He joined the Army at age 16 and served six years before joining the US Marine Corps where he had a real long career.He was stationed at Kaneohe, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941, and remembered Japanese planes circling the field.

From the March 30, 2012, Duncan (Ok) banner. Pearl harbor survivor Roland Nee served 29 years during World War II, Korea and Vietnam and was honored by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

He was born Oct. 22, 1922, in Winchester, Mass. He enlisted in the Army Jan. 1941 at the age 18. Dec. 7, 1941, he was at Pearl harbor as a gunner.

We're Losing These men Too Fast. --GreGen

Looking for His Pilot's Wings

Continuing with the previous post.

Bernard Harding, 90, of New Hampshire traveled to Klein Quenstadt, Germany, southwest of Berlin to look for his pilot's wings. His B-24 bomber was shot down the same day as Jack Glenn's.

he was captured and held in a farmhouse. fearing that he would be beaten and killed if they found out he was a pilot, he dug a small hole in the basement and buried his wings.

Long story short, he did not find his pilot's wings.

However, Heinz Kruse gave him Glenn's bracelet.

On July 7, 1944, Kruse was planting potatoes when he saw a B-24 overhead pursued by German fighters. It broke apart and fell to earth. He rushed home. At midday, an adult told him to help a classmate drive a horse-pulled wagon to retrieve an American body.

As they loaded the body, Kruse saw the bracelet and gave it to a major who wrote down the name and returned it, saying, "You keep it as a remembrance." He had it all these years before giving it to Harding.

Glenn's body is buried at the U.S. Cemetery in Belgium.

Kruse was drafted into the German Army in 1945 and captured by the Soviet Army and held until 1949.

An Interesting Story. --GreGen

More Items Returned

From the Oct. 1, 2009, Dutch Harbor (Alaska) Fisherman. AP.

Jack Harold Glenn was a World War II bomber navigator killed in a mission over Germany in 1944. His silver bracelet was given to a 16-year-old boy who helped retrieve the body.

Sixty-five years later, that bracelet is returning to his sister in Alaska. Bernard Harding, 90, of New Hampshire, traveled to that village in Germany to look for his pilot's wings he buried there during the war.

Instead, he found the bracelet. Glenn's only surviving relative, Helen Glenn Foreman of Anchorage, Alaska, will get it and then send it to the museum in Matagordo County, Texas, where Glenn Grew Up.

A Touch From the Past. --GreGen

Bits of War: Return Captured Items-- Reunion

RETURN CAPTURED ITEMS-- From Sept. 29, 2009, KRGV Channel 5, Rio Grande Valley, Texas-- Lee Nicholson's grandfather served aboard the USS Missouri during World War II. His grandfather died in 1996, but Lee still has his medals and photos.

The Missouri was once hit by a kamikaze plane. The grandfather took a scrap of the plane, the pilot's case and an ID pack from the wreckage. Nicholson would now like to return it to the pilot's family.

The USS Missouri is currently a museum ship anchored in Pear Harbor, Hawaii, close to the wreck of the USS Arizona. They will take personal items but can't guarantee they can find the pilot's family.

REUNION-- In September 2009, 140 veterans and family members of the 463rd Bomber Group gathered for a reunion in Oklahoma City.

They flew B-17 Flying Fortresses over Europe from 1944 to 1945.

TV producer Norman Lear, creator of "All in the Family," "Sanford and Son," "One Day at a Time" and "The Jeffersons" flew with them.

William Bonnell, of Oklahoma City, was the squadron lead pilot and is buried in Italy. he flew 27 missions and on one over Germany, German flak went through the bottom of his plane and tore a chunk out of the seat between his legs.

That Was Real Close. --GreGen

Want to Own a WWII Prison Camp?

From the Sept. 29, 2009, (U.K.) Daily Mail.

It was listed on e-Bay and had been dropped to 900,000 pounds from $1 million. Such a Deal!!

The item for sale is the Harperly POW Camp, near Crook in County Durham and it has been a tourist attraction since 2004. Lisa and James McLeod have spent nearly 1 million pounds of their own money renovating it.

The McLeods think the former German/Italian prison has tremendous potential.

The first prisoners were Italians who slept in tents in the early 1940s before they built huts for themselves. They stayed on the site until September 1944, when 900 Germans arrived.

One former German POW, Bert Trautmann, became a famous footballer (soccer) for Manchester City after the war.

The prison was on 17 acres and had 50 structures, including a chapel and a theater. Prisoners were considered "low risk." They were often allowed to go into town and about 10% remained in the area after the war ended.

Even so, reportedly, when Hitler or other high-ranking Germans appeared on newsreels, the prisoners reportedly would cheer.

After the war, the camp was used as storage. Ten murals remain inside the structures that were painted by the homesick Germans.

Own Your Own Piece of History. --GreGen

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Closer to Home, But Still Too Far

From the March 29th Dayton (Ohio) Daily News.

As many as 24 World War II-era B-25s will be landing at Grimes Field in Urbana, Illinois beginning April 14th. One of them will be "Champaign Gal."

While in Illinois, they will be open for visitors and flights in these authentic pieces of history. These were the planes that Doolittle's Raiders used in that attack on Japan that did so much for American morale in the months after Pearl Harbor.

They will leave April 17th and fly to Dayton to take part in the flyover to mark the 70th anniversary of the raid.

I was planning to go to Dayton, but the GRBs at Big Oil and others have gotten the price of gas up too high. It is even too high to go to Champaign-Urbana, even though they are much closer.

Drat You GRBs. --GreGen

Tripod Mast of USS Oklahoma Found

From 2009.

When the USS Missouri was brought into Pearl Harbor to become a memorial, they had to dredge part of the bay by where the USS Oklahoma was anchored Dec. 7, 1941.

The USS Oklahoma capsized in the attack and lost part of its tripod mast in the mud of the harbor after it was uprighted in 1943.

The city of Muskogee in Oklahoma was trying to get it. It did.

A Bit of History. --GreGen

Donald Duck and Mickey Vs. Der Fuhrer

Check out

Not only were US forces fighting the Nazi's, but Walt Disney as well.

"Donald gets Drafted"
"Private Pluto"
Der Fuhrer's Face"
Nutzi Land"
"Blitz Wolf"

Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse did not just entertain during the war, but they also spread anti-enemy propaganda and educated Americans about our enemies.

"Der Fuhrer's Face" was an Oscar-nominated short film in 1943.

I imagine that had we lost, Walt Disney's life might have been in danger.

There was also a 1943 film "Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi Dictators: Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito."

The Duck Takes on the Nazis. --GreGen

Monday, April 2, 2012

Battle of the Atlantic: The HMT Bedfordshire-- Part 2

On May 19, 1942, the Bedfordshire and HMT Loman were dispatched from their base at Morehead City, NC, to search for a U-boat reported to be off Ocracoke Island.

The submarine found them first and fired a torpedo at the Loman but missed. Then, two torpedoes went at the Bedfordshire, the first missing but second striking home. The ship sank immediately with loss of entire 37 crew.

On May 14th, two bodies washed ashore on the island. Until then, Americans did not know the Bedfordshire was gone. They were buried on a small plot at the Ocracoke Cemetery. Later, two more bodies washed ashore and they were also buried at the plot. In 1976, it was deeded to Britain and now called the British Cemetery.

That Battle of the Atlantic Was a Rough One. --GreGen

Battle of the Atlantic: HMT Bedfordshire-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

The HMT Bedfordshire was a British armed anti-submarine trawler sunk by the U-558 11 May 1942 off Ocracoke Island, NC, with the loss of all hands.

It had been built in 1935 as a commercial fishing trawler. In 1939, it was sold to the Admiralty and armed with a 4-inch gun, machine guns and depth charges for use against submarines. The ship weighed 443 tons, was 162 feet long and had a 27 foot beam.

In early 1942, the Battle of the Atlantic was going badly for the Allies. In January, 35 Allied ships were sunk by U-boats along the US Atlantic coast. In March, the British government sent 24 ships, including the Bedfordshire, to patrol the American coast.

From February to April, another 45 ships were sunk. The only German loss during that time was the U-85.

More to Come. --GreGen

The USS Reading's Silver Set Found

From the July 6, 2009, Reading (Pa.) Eagle.

The six piece silver set today sits under a picture of the USS Reading, a frigate that became a Coast Guard ship near the end of World War II.

It was built in the summer of 1943 by the Leathem D. Smith Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and was 303 feet long, 1,284 ton Tacoma-class frigate capable of 20 knots and carrying a crew of 190.

twenty-five companies raised $1,000 a piece for the silver service.
In May 1945, the ship was retrofitted with meteorological devices and it was assigned to the Coast Guard as a weather ship.

Two years later, it was sold to the Navy of Argentina and renamed the Heroina.

Reading wondered what ever had happened to the silver service after 1945 and it was found at an army base and in 1947 returned to Reading. It is the only ship ever to serve in the US Navy by the name Reading. Argentina scrapped it in 1966.

Tea and Crumpets, Anyone? --GreGen

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bits of War: WWII Bunker for Sale-- Pearl Harbor Vet Dies

From the July 20, 2009,

WWII BUNKER FOR SALE-- A former World War II bunker, now a 4 bedroom Cornish holiday house is for sale for 350,000 pounds offering spectacular views from its grassy roof. During the war it was used to watch for German ships.

After the war it was used as a potato storehouse.

It also kept watch on a nearby cable wireless station. A tunnel used to link the two, but that has collapsed.

PEARL HARBOR VET DIES-- From the July 22, 2009 News Star-- Funeral services for B.A. "Gus" Petterson, 85, held. He was a 17-year-old aircraft machinist mate at Ford Island when the attack on Pearl harbor came. He was later aboard the USS Lexington when it was sunk May 1942.

Then, he was a crewman on a naval rescue seaplane in the Pacific. One time it crashed in the water near Midway and he swam back to base. Later, he was on yet another plane hat was shot down. He was also a crewman on the rescue plane that found WW I ace Eddie Rickenbacker who was touring the Pacific and carrying several messages from Gen. Douglas MacArthur who was adrift on a raft for 24 days.

Quite a Life. --GreGen

WWII-era Dive Bomber Recovered from Lake Michigan

April 29, 2009.

Sixty-four years ago, a Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber crashed into the lake on a training mission and ended up 100 feet down.

It has now been found and pulled out and will be restored at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida and will be put on display at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Money for its recovery and restoration came from an anonymous donor.

This is the third Dauntless dive bomber recovered by the museum from Lake Michigan in the last several years. Much naval aviation training took place in Lake Michigan, far from the enemy submarines that might sink aircraft carriers.

It was covered with algae and zebra mussels when brought up. Its wings and propeller was twisted from the crash.

Always Good to Recover Something Like This. --GreGen