Friday, August 31, 2012

Quaker Oats' Captain Sparks Home Defense Series Cards-- Part 2

From Time Machine Collectibles site.

Captain Sparks was a heroic combat pilot and sidekick of Little Orphan Annie on that radio show, whose card could be cut out from the back of Quaker Oats Sparkles cereal boxes.  The first series featured a picture of an era plane and description of it.


Card 1: a Vultee Trainer
Card 4  North American B-25 "Mitchell" Bomber
Card 5  The Grumman "Wildcat" (F41-3)
Card 10  The DC-3 of the Army Air Transport Command

The last card was described as being cut by a child with edges not straight.  The front is clean and bright and back is clean except "Wildcat" has a one by one-and-a-half-inch piece of paper stuck to it.

Since there is mention of warfare on the cards, they must have been made throughout at least part of the war.

I'll Trade You... For a...--  DaCoot

Quaker Oats' Captain Sparks Home Defense Series Cards-- Part 1

Back in 2010, I came across mention of these World War II era trading cards that kids could cut out from from boxes of Quaker Oats' Puffed Wheat Sparkles back in 1940 to 1942.  Hopefully, they emptied the box first.

I went to the Skytamer site and found out about the background of the cards which had me thinking "A Christmans Story" because of its original ties to a radio show and product.

"The Little Orphan Annie" radio show began in the 1930s and its origial sponsor was Ovaltine.  It soon had 6 million young listeners.  Each 15-minute show heavily pushed the product with 7 minutes devoted to it.  Listeners could get free items with proofs of purchase such as a decoder ring used to decipher secret messages each week.  I just couldn't help but think about Ralphie Parker at this point, even though I think the movie supposedly occurred after World War II.

In 1940, Quaker's Puffed Wheat Sparkles became the show's sponsor and aviator Captain Sparks was added to the lineup.  Get it, Sparks-Sparkles?  "Little Orphan Annie" continued until 1941.  Two sets of cutout cards were issued from 1940 to 1942(or '43).

Skytamer has pictures of all 24 cards.

Wonder If They're Worth Anything?  --GreGen

Thursday, August 30, 2012

U-772 and U-322

From Wikipedia

The U-722 was commissioned in December 1943 and sunk Dec. 17, 1944, by depth charges from the British frigate HMS Nyasaland south of Cork Ireland with loss of all 48 hands.

The U-322 was commissioned February 1944 and sunk Dec. 29, 1944 by depth charges from the Canadian corvette HMCS Calgary with loss of all 52 crew.


The SS Empire Javelin

The last several days, I have been blogging about the LST-325 and mentioned how in December 1944, it rescued more than 700 men after the SS Empire Javelin, a troopship, was sunk.

The Empire Javelin was classified as LSI (Large), and infantry landing ship and built by the Consolidated Steel Corporation of Wilmington, California, and launched October 25, 1943.  Lend-leased to Britain, at D-Day it carried members of the 1st Battalion 116th Infantry Regiment of the US 29th Division.

It was sunk in the English Channel Dec. 28, 1944.  It was initially thought that the U-772 sank it, but it was later found that ship had been sunk a month prior.  The U-322 then became the candidate as it was known to have been active in the area at the time., but it was sunk December 29, 1944.  Now, it is thought the Empire Javelin might have been sunk by a mine.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

LST-325 Visiting Pittsburgh-- Part 5

After World War II, the LST-325 helped install radar posts in Greenland and Canada as part of the Cold War.  In the 1960s, it was transferred to Greece as part of a lend-lease program (I only thought they had this program during World War II).  It served in the Greek Navy under a different name until 1999.

It was then that a veterans group bought it.

Visiting Pittsburgh, it will also bring along some items of interest like a jeep from the original "Mash" movie and some vehicles that were in the "Flags of OurFathers" movie from 2006.

Cost of the tours were $10 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 17.

For more information on the ship and museum, go to

And, if you're ever driving through Evansville, Indiana, it is tied up right along the Ohio River.

A National Treasure.  Thanks for Saving It.  --GreGen

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

LST-325 Visiting Pittsburgh-- Part 4

In October, 1943, Mr. Barish endured his most harrowing moment of the war when German bonbers released their new radio-controlled glider bombs on his convoy in the Bay of Biscay off the French coast.  He was supposed to be below deck, but remained above and watched the crew manning the 3-inch gun on the stern opened fire on a plane just as it released a bomb causing it to swerve, and the bomb as well which splashed into the water and just narrowly missed a destroyer escort.

"I could see the bomb falling. I could feel my blood pressure rising, muscles tensing."

In addition to service at D-Day, in December 1944, the crew helped rescue more than 700 men from the troop tansport Empire Javelin which had been torpedoed off France.  Skipper Lt. Cmdr. Clifford Missier, was awarded the Bronze Star for the rescue.

As a class, the LSTs were tough and seaworthy and suffered few losses considering operating in dangerous waters.  Of the 1,051 built, only 26 destroyed by enemy action and another 13 sank in storms or accidents.  Just one 325 sailor died during the war--a sailor who plunged to his death off the side of a drydock in England.

Sure Glad This Ship Is Still Around.  --GreGen

Monday, August 27, 2012

LST-325 Visiting Pittsburgh-- Part 3

This is LST-325's first visit to Pittsburgh where many LSTs were made.  On its way up the Ohio River, it will pass Neville Island and Ambridge.  During the war, Dravo Corporation built 146 LSTs at the island and the American Bridge Corporation at Ambridge built another 119.  The ship's home base, at Evansville, Indiana, produced another 167; the reason the museum wnd base were placed there.

A town on the Illinois River, I think Seneca, also produced a lot of LSTs and has an LST celebration every year, but I can't think of the name of it right now.

The LST-325 was built, however, in Philadelphia.  Mr. Barish went there while it was still being painted and welded.  He said his life aboard the ship was pretty good, especially since his quarters were "second-best to the captain's."  He was in charge of 32 men in the "black gang" who kept the diesel engines going.

First military operation for the ship was to practice beach landings in North Africa and then they supported the invasion of Sicily where they delivered supplies and evacuated Italian prisoners of war.  They came under fire for the first time at Tunisia where four men were wounded during a Sept. 6, 1943 air raid.  A little more than a week later, four more crew memebers and four British soldiers were wounded in another air raid off Salerno, Italy.

Seeing the Elephant.  --GreGen

Saturday, August 25, 2012

LST-325 Visiting Pittsburgh-- Part 2

Stanley Barish, 90, was transferred off the LST-325 after D-Day and not happy about it, " I didn't want to leave.  I was part of the original crew that commissioned that ship.  We felt a bond, I guess."

LST-325 (wonder why they didn't name these ships?) was in the thick of the fighting on that June 6, 1944,  at D-Day as a backup troop transport at Omaha Beach.  The next day the ship anchored and unloaded men and vehicles.  It later shuttled supplies from England and returned with wounded Americans and German prisoners.  It made 44 trips in all.  Barish was on 13 of them before his transfer.

There is another LST in Michigan, the LST-393, which is also a museum, but it can't move under its own power.  A few other LSTs exist that have been converted into other uses such as dredges.

The LST-325 is the only operational vessel still functioning in its original configuartion.  It makes two trips a year with its all-volunteer crew.  They report that crowds line up along the way to see the historic ship.

Glad It Is Still With Us.  --GreGen

Friday, August 24, 2012

Returns Japanese Flag 67 Years Later

From the Dec. 16, 2011, WREG Channel 3 TV, Memphis, Tennessee "WWII Veteran Finds Peace by Returning Japanese Flag 67 Years Later" by Daniel Hight.

Carl Coker, 90, was a Marine on Guam and found a flag on a Japanese soldier.  He now wants to return it to return it to one of the families whose name is wriiten on it.

"Well I got me a Jap flag.  I didn't know if my buddies had any, but I thought I had a real trophy.  I don't need it anymore, but I have a yearning to get that flag to these people.

He contacted the Japanese consulate in Nashville who came and picked it up.  Some of the names on the flag are hard to read.  The flag will be shipped to Tokyo where it will be transcribed.  If a family can't be found, it will probably end up in a museum.

Regardless of whether relatives are found, that flag has a lot of history to it.

Since this article is eight months old now, I did a search to see if any of the families had been found and came up with nothing new.  I imagine it was a small flag as it was found in a Japanese helmet.

It Is the Right Thing to Do.  --GreGen

LST-325 Visiting Pittsburgh-- Part 1: Large Slow Targets

From the August 30, 2010, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "World War II landing craft due on North Shore for b-day appearance" by Torsten Ore.

Stanley Barisg, 90, served on LST-325, the last functioning Landing Ship Tank (what the LST stands for)  during World War II.  The ship was at the invasion of Sicily and at D-Day.  Today, the ship is based in Evansvlle, Indiana, but goes out on cruises to bring World War II's heritage to people.  It will be in Pittsburgh until September 7th.

Barish, a former engineering officer, is an amateur photographer and took many pictures of his old ship while aboard.

During the war, over 1,000 of these ships were built with the purpose of delivering tanks, trucks and troops directly to the beach through a pair of giant bow doors.

As far as I know, they were never named, just numbered, which is strange for a vessel the size of these.  Because they were built to move large cargoes, they weren't very fast and earned the other name of LST: Large Slow Targets from their crews.

I've Visited This Ship.  --GreGen

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pearl Harbor Not Forgotten 70 Years Later

From the Dec. 6, 2011, Hendersonville (NC) Times-News.

Ensign John Davenport was fast asleep on the USS Oklahoma when General Quarters sounded.  he remembers hearing this is not a drill and then a torpedo hit.  He put on his uniform and rushed topside to his anti-aircraft gun.  There were three more explosions and the ship began rolling over.

He found a place on the starboard side where he witnessed the Arizona blowing up.  Later, a rescue boat took him to safety.

Another Story and Another Survivor.  --GreGen

Escaped Fiery Waters of Pearl Harbor

From the Dec. 7, 2011, Northern Ohio Journal "Navy veteran recounts escape from fiery waters of Pearl Harbor" by Bill Delaney.

Claude Blondin, 90, was below deck on the USS Oklahoma looking for something in his locker when the attack began.  He said, "I went up to the metal stairway to the rear of the boat.  As I opened the door, the mast fell.  The ship started swaying, so I jumped in the water and started swimming.  The water was on fire.  Wherever I swam, I had to brush the fire away."

He enlisted in 1940, directly out of high school.  Born and raised in Cleveland, the best civilian job he had paid 25 cents and hour.  In 1941, he went to Pearl Harbor.  He liked Hawaii, but not Honolulu, "There was nothing there but whore houses and beer joints.

He swam from the stern to bow of the Oklahoma and was rescued by a captain's boat and taken to Ford Island.

The Tragedy of the Oklahoma.  --GreGen

Rosie's Building That Won World War II To Be Demolished

From KIRO Radio "The building that won World War II to be demolished" by Chris Sullivan.

Rosie the Riveter became famous here.  Boeing learned how to build airplanes here.  At its highest production, 12 B-17s a day were built at Boeing's Plant 2.  Executive Director of Seattle's Museum of Science and Industry, Leonard Garfield, said it is fair to make that statement.

The factory, built on the Duwamish River is scheduled to be torn down.  During the war, the plant was so important that a fake town was built on the roof to hide its location from Japanese planes.  B-17s, B-29s, B-52s and the percursor of the 737 rolled off the assembly lines.

During the war, there were thousands of women working there, including Eva Vasser, 83, who started at the Bremerton Shipyard before becoming a riveter working at Plant 2 where she stayed for 33 years.

Boeing plans to restore half a mile of the bank along the Duwamish River and create five acres of wetlands on the site.

Sorry to See Such an Important Site to the American Victory Torn Down.  --GreGen

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recruitment in Wartime Wilmington, NC

From the Aug. 14th Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.  He goes back through the Star-News papers from 70 years ago for these stories.

AUGUST 2, 1942--  The Secretary of the U.S. Navy in World War I, and the only man FDR called "Chief," (FDR served under him) Josephus Daniels, was expected to be in Wilmington August 8th to speak when the local Navy recruiting station climaxed its Eastern North Carolina Navy Day drive to enlist 100 men.

Daniels had also been the former secretary of the Navy and had recently been elected to be ambassador to Mexico.

Daniels also had been publisher of the Raleign News & Observer.  The Navy recruiting publicist who released this story was Jesse Helms, who went on to be the long-serving US senator from the state.

I Wonder If Daniels Showed Up?  --GreGen

Battle of Britain Anniversary-- Part 2

The RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was formed in 1957, and includes planes such as Spitfires, Hurricanes and one of only two airworthy Lancaster bombers left in the world.

William Walker, one of the "Few" was based at Lakefield in Yorlshire and was shot down.  Initially, German pilots had more experience, having gotten it in early action in Poland and France.  In June 1940, Walker, a complete rookie, was pressed into service after just five hours of training.

As I type this, I'm listening to Neil Young and Crazy Horse do his version of "God Save the Queen" on his new Americana album and feeling a bit Brit.  How's that for timing?  He also went into "My Country Tis Thee" at the end.

He was shot down in August by Luftwaffe Ace Werner Molders, credited with being the first person in history to record 100 aerial kills, with 68 coming during the Battle of Britain, including Walker.

Molders was then transferred to the Eastern Front and by June 1941, he had surpassed the Red Baron's (Manfred von Richtoven) 80 planes during World War I.  By mid-July, he reached 100 and was retired by Germany for propaganda purposes.

Unfortunately, Molders died in a conventional air crash that November when he was ordered back to Berlin for the state funeral of World War I Ace Emst Udet.  How's that for irony?

There are rumors that Molders worked against the Nazis.  In 1973, he was honored by the German government and had a fighter wing named after him, but was stripped of the honor in 2005 over a dispute of his role in the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War in 1938.

A Key Battle in the War.  --GreGen

Battle of Britain Anniversary-- Part 1

I originally posted the first part of the entry back on Sept. 16, 2010, in my History Blog, but never followed up on it, so will rewrite it in this new World War II blog and finish it this time.  I am still trying to finish up (I seem to have hit something to change the print, but have no idea what.) the whole article this time.

From the Sept. 15, 2010,"Battle of Britain day 'a time to remember all who lost their lives in the conflict'" by Nichloas Milton.

The number of pilots on both sides is dwindling more every year. 

Germany wonders how to celebrate the heroism of its Luftwaffe pilots.  There is no day to celebrate their bravery.

Current RAF squadron leader Ian Smith said, "Make no mistake the regime was truly appalling but seventy years on, surely it's time to distinguish between Nazism and the bravery of German pilots.
Like all military personnel they were first following orders and like a lot of our boys, they made the ultimate sacrifice."

September 15th was celebrated as the Battle of Britain Day, as it is considered to be the turning point.

Over the years, many of the former adversaries have reconciled with each other, including Douglas Baxter, the English legless hero of the Battle of Britain, who is friends with Adolf Galland, the Luftwaffe ace.

Let By-Gones Be By-Gones in This Case.  --GreGen

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Some of World War II's "Forgotten Stories"

From the September 6, 2010, South Coast Today "Display gives life to World War II forgotten stories" by Curt Brown.

They have a museum that displays some of the less familiar items of the war, the kind of things that are really great interest to me.

Some of the things they have:

**  US Army helmets resembled those of the Germans and had to be placed in storage until the British could be educated about the American uniforms.  (Personally, I don't think the helmets look that much alike.)

**  To see at night and remain undetected in North Africa, US troops placed the red circle from their packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes over the clear lens of their flashlights.

**  The US government-issue phonograph was hand cranked.

**  The MG34 German machine gun fired 900 rounds per minute.

Sure Wouldn't Have Wanted to Charge That Gun.  --GreGen

Netherlands "Adopts" Graves of U.S. World War II Military-- Part 2

Said Lili Pasteur, the "adoptees" try to "get in touch with the soldiers' families in the United States to let them know their loved one's grave is cared for.

She continued, "On the first Memorial Day (May 30, 1945) all of the gravesites of Americans in the Netherlands had flowers.  Over the years, there have been a lot of reburials.  Families have been given the option of leaving them there or sending them home.  Now, there are 8,301 Americans left and every one of those graves is adopted."

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial covers 65.5 acres and each grave is marked with a white cross.  The Memorial reads: "Here we and all who shall hereafter live in freedom will be reminded that to these men and their comrades we owe a debt to be paid with grateful remembrance of their sacrifice and with the high resolve that the cause for which they died shall live."

The history of action in World War II is depicted on plaques along the walkways.

In the case of John Jasper Lewis, a wall was put up with the names of those missing in action or killed in action with no identifiable remains.  That is when Lili adopted two of them, including Lewis.  She especially wanted one killed in the day she was born and says, "As a result of his death, I have lived in freedon for 68 years."

Finally, Some People Who Appreciate What the United States Has Done For Them.  We Need More Like Them.  --GreGen

Monday, August 20, 2012

Sunken World War II Oil Tanker Threatens California Coast

From August, 2010.

The SS Montebello, launched in 1921, was a 450-foot-long oil tanker discovered about 15 years ago, 900 feet deep about six miles off the Central California coast near Morro Bay.  It was sunk by a Japanese submarine Dece,ber 23, 1941, and still has 3 million gallons of crude oil in its hull.

The problem is that it has started to rust through after all these years.

Sonar images were taken about ten weeks ago and this fall authorities intend to drill into the ship to determine what should be done.

Old Problems.  --GreGen

Netherlands "Adopts" Graves of U.S. World War II Military-- Part 1

From the July 16th Wilmington (NC) Star-News by Sue Book, New Bern (NC) Sun Journal.

There is an American cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands, with the bodies of some 12,000 of its soldiers buried there.  Margraten citizens started an activity that led to the adoption of the American graves that has continued so that now nearly all have been "adopted."  These adoptions are then passed down generation to generation.

Adopters visit the graves often, place flowers on them on special days and, in general, stand-in for American families too far away to visit their loved ones.

Lili Pasteur, of Joppe, Netherlands, about a four-hour round trip away, is one of those adoptees.  She proudly held up a photo of John Jasper Lewis of New Bern, NC, a World War II Army Air Corps serviceman killed in action over her country on the day she was born.

This Is a Mighty Nice Thing They're Doing.  --GreGen

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cape May, New Jersey, During World War II

From the August 21, 2010,

Cape May continued to operate as a coastal resort during the war though the military had a huge presence.  There was strict light control regulation to protect coastal shipping from submarine attack which local businessmen opposed.

After months of losing ships, the military prevailed and a permanent blackout was established at nignt.

It was illegal to take photos of the ocean, bridges and causeways.

In April 1942, the Civilian Airvraft Warning Service predicted a possible air raid on coastal cities.  The following month, the entire Eastern Seaboard was designated as a military area under the Eastern Defense Command.

Cape May residents joined rationing and many served as volunteers manning coastal lookout towers looking for German planes and ships.

It Was Total War.  --GreGen

Friday, August 17, 2012

Dead Page: Ex-WWII Prisoner

WALTER W. MARTIN (1925-2012)

In the space on one year, Army private Walter W. Martin went from basic training, to the Battle of the Bulge and then spent six months as a prisoner in Germany.

He died Jan. 17th at age 86.

Born in New York, he was drafted into the Army in 1944.  On December 19th of that year, he and some 7,000 others of the 106th Infantry Division were captured by German forces in southeastern Belgium in Germany's final offensive at the Battle of the Bulge.

He and the others spent the next two weeks being herded to a POW camp in eastern Germany.  They walked single file down a road for three days.  Once across the German border, they were crammed into unheated box cars, 60 to a car and traveled that way for ten days to Stalag 4B in Muhlberg, near Dresden.

Just once they got off that train in Limburg on Christmas Eve on the night British forces bombed the city.  The next morning they were ordered to collect the dead bodies.

In a 1994 Tribune article, Mr. Martin recalled, "A few times during the trip we were given bread and water.  I never found out how many survived."

He and the others were freed by Societ forces in May 1945.

This is sure a far cry from the conditions German POWs faced in the United States.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

From the Feb. 1st Chicago Tribune.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Great Video of 1945 Japanese Surrender Celebration in Hawaii

Yesterday marked the 67th anniversary of the Japanese surrender marking the end of World War II.  My wife had me come up to her computer to watch a video that a friend had sent her.  It was home movies of the impromptu celebration that took place around Honolulu, Hawaii .

I had never seen the footage before and found it of great interest.  Hawaii was about as close to the fighting as you could get on the homefront and really teeming with military personnel throughout the war.

You can see it with a Yahoo! search to VJ Day, Honolulu Hawaii, August 14, 1945 on Vimeo or go to the Vimeo site.

Well Worth a Look.  --GreGen

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Remembering Maryland's World War II History-- Part 2

Continued from August 9th.

Civilians were not allowed in "prohibited zones" along the coast.

The big tourist destination of Ocean City was open only from dawn to sundown.

Blackouts were enforced.  One outfit, the National Window Shade Company, offered roll-up blinds in eeru, black and cream colors.

Victory Gardens were planted.

To conserve gas, executive Harry Black of the Baltimore Sun newspaper rode a horse to work.  Of course, gas was one of the first things rationed.

The call went out from the government for "Dogs for Defense."  Dobermans, collies, Chesapeake Bay retrievers, shepherds, chows and Norwegian elkhounds were wanted for patrol duty.

It Was All-Out War.  --GreGen

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Black Marine Finally Gets His Due-- Part 2

Potts remembers heading off to war on a Pacific transport where he and his fellow black Marines were relegated to sleeping bags on the decks because they weren't allowed in the ship living quarters.

Montfird Point Marines fought at Okinawa and other battles.  Potts mainly served as a driver, hauling supplies to battle zones, a very dangerous job.  "It was only for the pure of heart to serve then," Potts said.  "You had to fight both the system and the Japanese."

Being home wasn't easy either.  When Potts was heading back to North Carolina to continue training after a short leave, he boarded a bus full of military personnel.  The driver wouldn't allow Potts to sit down and he had to stand for much of the long trip.  Potts did say that a white sailor offered him his seat.

Just hard to believe that brave men and women willing to risk their lives for their country like that would be treated in such a manner.  But, it was just part of the way things wree back then.  Glad that has changed.

A Long Overdue Honor.  A Salute for the Montford Point Marines!!  --GreGen

Friday, August 10, 2012

Black Marine Finally Gets His Due-- Part 1

From the July 16th Wilmington (NC) Star-News by AP.

David Potts Sr. and 400 other surviving Montford Point Marines, the nation's first group of black Marines have been honored at the U.S. Marine Barracks in Washington, DC.

All of the men are well into their 80s and served in the nation's segregated military during the war.  Potts, 88, told how he and the others had to deal with discrimination both at home and overseas.  The Montford Point Marines once numbered 20,000 and Potts believes he is the only surviving one from  Mississippi since John Hall Jr of Gulfport died in May.

Back in 1942, President Roosevelt gave the blacks the opportunity to train to be Marines, but they had to do it in a segregated camp.  It turned out to be Montford Point, NC, near Camp Lejeune and Jacksonvile.

Too bad these men do not have their own survivors organization like so many other groups do.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Hitler Protected His Jewish World War I Commander

From the July 5th UK Telegraph by Matthew Day.

His commander from World War I, back in the Flanders trenches, was Ernest Hess, whose mother was Jewish, making him a full Jew in the eyes of Nazi Germany must have held a special place to Adolf Hitler as newly found documnets have Hitler directing Himmler, the author of the Final Solution, that Hess "not be in-opportuned in any way whatsoever."


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Blacks in World War II-- Part 3

With conditions such as these at Port Chicago, the inevitable happened July 17, 1944, a Liberty ship was virtually atomized and more than 300 sailors killed.  When the black sailors refused to return to work weeks later, the Navy put 50 of them on trial for mutiny.  The case would eventually involve many later connected to the Civil Rights Movement, including future Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall.

The author put his emphasis on people.  To tell the Montford Point story, he focuses on Edgar Huff, from Alabama who was in the first training class.  He excelled and his white officers made him a DI to train other blacks.  As Drill Instructor, he drove his men harder than a white sergeant would have to make sure they were more than proficient in all aspects of fighting, which paid off when they finally got into combat.

All the while, he had to overcome the constant racism constantly.  Once on leave to go home to see his mother, he was apprehended in Atlanta by a shore patrol for "impersonating a Marine."  White policemen stole his pay, forcing him to walk the rest of the way home.

Later, in Jacksonville, NC, six white Marines tried to rip his newly-earned sergeant's stripes off and he with his bare hands left all lying bloody on the ground.  For recreation, Huff and other black Marines had to ride to Wilmington to the nearest USO Club designated for blacks on Castle Street.

Ironically, Huff, who later became the Corps' first black sergeant-major, spent almost all of the war at home as he was just too good of a GI to spare.  He did not see combat until the Korean War and later Vietnam where he would earn a Bronze Star and Purple Heart saving American lives in the Tet Offensive.

Just One More Example of the Greatest Generation, One Who Also Had to Overcome Even More Obstacles.  --GreGen

Remembering Maryland's World War II History-- Part 1

From the June 4, 2010, Baltimore Sun by Jacques Kelly.

There is an air raid shelter in downtown Baltimore.  Other sites from World War II where people could take shelter in case of an air raid were the Bromo Seltzer Tower, the Two O'Clock Club, Yale Underwear Factory on Hanover Street and the Horn & Horn restaurant on East Baltimore Street.

There were 20 POW camps in Maryland for captured Germans.  Some were at Fort Holabird, Logan Field in Dundalle, Westminster, Edgewood and Pikesville at what had been the Old Confederate Home and Armory. 

Fort Meade had three political internee camps: one for those of Japaneseancestry, one for German and Italian soldiers and one for German sailors from the commerce raider Odenwald captured by the crew of the cruiser USS Omaha in Puerto Rico.  The Germans and Italians complained that they were not allowed beer or wine.

Poor Guys.  How Can You Get By in a POW Camp Without Alcohol?  --GreGen

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Blacks in World War II-- Part 2

On Saipan, desperate fighting cost 3,500 American lives which led commanders to throw the first black Marines into combat.  These men had trained at the segregated Montford Point facility outside Jacksonville, NC, now part of the USMC's Camp Lejeune.  They were only supposed to be stevedores, supply handlers and rear-echelon guards.  They performed admirably.

There was no longer the question of how well they could fight.

The military needed huge amounts of ordnance to fight the Pacific war.  Shipping it to the front was largely the part of black sailors who were ordered to become ammunition handlers at the Port Chicago, California, depot.  It was a huge accident waiting to happen.  In the rush to supply the front and to set records, white Navy officers ignored safety precautions.  Coast Guard inspectors complained of the conditions, they were ordered off the base.

Black sailors got the job because Navy brass wanted to avoid problems and pay with unionized civilian stevedores.  Morale among the sailors was low.  As late as 1944, the Navy would only allow blacks to serve as cooks, busboys and stevedores.  It was in that year, however, that the first black officers were commissioned.

The Accident.  --GreGen

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blacks in World War II-- Part 1

From the July 15th Wilmington (NC) Star-News ""'The Color of War': Story of Giants" by Ben Steelman.

This is a review of James Campbell's book "The Color of War: How One Battle Broke Japan and Another Changed America.."

It took many years for the Tuskegee Airmen to be recognized.  I am glad that now the Montfort Point Marines and men serving at Port Chicago are being likewise given credit.  The obstacles these men had to overcome were remarkable and the fact that they stuck with it and persevered in the face of all the bigotry is a true credit to their race.  Just to show how deep this segregationist attitude went, Wilmington, NC, had over ten USOs and there was one exclusive for blacks.

"Wilmington plays a bit part in this history about a different side of World War II: The battle of black service memebers to achieve equality, respect and the right to fight for their country."

In the book, Campbell focuses on two incidents from mid-1944, the Battle of Saipan in the Pacific and the explosion at the ammunition-loading station at Port Chicago by San Francisco Bay.  "The two events are intertwined."

More to Come.  --GreGen

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Died on the USS Oklahoma

December 7, 2011, Boston Globe.

Thirteen days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a telegram arrived at the home of Eugene Keller Eberhardt, machinist mate first class, saying, "The department appreciates your great anxiety and will furnish you further information promptly.  To prevent possible aid to our enemies, please do not divulge the name of the ship or station."

Eight weeks later, a Western Union telegram arrived, "After exhaustive search, it has been found impossible to locate your son.  He has therefore been officially declared to have lost his life in the service of his country."

That was the last they heard about him until this past fall.  The phone rang and a forensic scientist wanted a DNA test.  Thirty-six bodies had been recovered from the Oklahoma after it was raised and had been identified.  The rest were buried in 50 communal caskets.


Friday, August 3, 2012

Another Pearl Harbor Veteran Dies

From the September 14, 2010, San Diego News.

James C. Bounds was buried at Riverside National Cemetery and had been one of the 32 "cut out survivors" on the USS Oklahoma that tragic day.  "Cut Out Survivors" refers to those who were cut out ofthe hull after the ship turned over.

At age 19, he was of eight rescued from the ship's steering room compartment and said that he felt the ship shake three times in rapid succession as it started to keel over.

He remebered, "I could see nothing, but knew what was going on.  I could hear bullets hitting the hull and explosions.  Water kept coming in so the sailors used everything they could find, including their clothes, to plug the vents.  I came down to my last item of clothing.  I decided to hold  onto that."

He was always very thankful to Shop 11, the name of the shipyard workers who rescued him from the dark and oily water.  The Shipyarders broke through to his compartment around 4 PM, December 8th, after 32 hours of being trapped.  A total of 429 others on the ship weren't so lucky and died during the attack.

Afterwards, Bounds shipped out on the cruiser USS Helena which was blown in half at the Solomon Islands and again he was rescued.  I don't know, but after two ships I was on were sunk, I  might have called it a day, but not him, he went on to serve 27 years in the Navy.

When he boarded his third ship in the war, he met fellow Pearl Harbor Survivor Bob Ruffalo who gave him a hard time about him sinking this new ship.

Another of the Greatest.  --GreGen

Mark Klunk, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Dies

From the June 9, 2010, Marion County (Ca) Independent Journal.

Mr. Klunk died at age 94, June 4th and was a member of Chapter 2 Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

He was born in 1916 in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and raduated the USMA in 1940 and stationed at Schofield Barracks when the attack came.  He remembered, "The Zeroes were flying over at tree top level, strafing the camp."  During the second attack, he manned a .50 caliber machine gun for a solid hour.

He later led troops at Saipan and after the war, witnessed three nuclear blasts in New Mexico.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Loyal Force: The Animals of World War II

From the Aug. 1, 2012, Dallas News "New Orleans exhibit features animal heroes of World War II" by AP.

Smokey the Yorkshire terrier
Lady Astor the pigeon
horses and mules

These are (were) the features at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans back in 2010.  Hey, I'm still trying to catch up on articles I found of interest.  This exhibit ran until October 17, 2010.  I had never given the role of animals much thought before this article.

Part of the exhibit showed Coast Guardsmen on patrol along a beach on his horse.  Shore patrols were continuous during the war, especially along the eastern coast with all the U-boat activity off shore.  At least twice, German saboteur teams landed on American shores.

In North Africa and the Mediterranean, pigeons like Lasy Astor were often used for communications.  Lady Astor lost half of the feathers on one wing and had a broken leg due to enemy pellet fire.

There is an oral history of Hiram Boone, an Army mule who operated in the China, Burma and Indian theaters of the war.

Smoky represents the Pacific Theater and was found in a foxhole in New Guinea and became a mascot.  She became a war hero when she helped engineers string a 70 foot telegraph wire through an eight-inch culvert under an airfield.

Stuff You Didn't Know.  --GreGen

German U-Boat Found Off Massachusetts Coast-- Part 2

On April 15, 1944, the U-550 torpedoed the gasoline tanker SS Pan Pennsylvania which had lagged behind its convoy.  It was carrying 140,000 barrels of gasoline heading for Great Britain (this was right before D-Day).

The U-boat went under the doomed tanker to hide, but the USS Joyce caught the move on sonar and damaged the submarine with depth charges, forcing it to surface where its deck guns were manned and an exchage of gunfire took place.  Another escort ship, the USS Gandy, rammed the 550.  A third escort, the USS Peterson hit the stricken ship with two more depth charges.  The German crew abandoned the ship after setting explosives to sink it.

Down went the U-550 and it wasn't seen again until Monday.

Several sunken U-boats have been located along the U.S. coast, but the U-550 is the only one in this area.

Discovery was made even more difficult because of U'S. military positioning of the battle site was inprecise.  A side-sonar scan in a mow-the-lawn pattern was used covering 100 square miles of ocean floor was used.  At first, just the nose of the submarine could be seen on the swing.  A second one confirmed it.  Mazraani will nect contact combatants and their families.

I wonder if they found the wreck of the SS Pan Pennsylvania since the article mentioned it as a doomed ship?

Always Great to Find Sunken Warships.  --GreGen

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

German U-Boat Found Off Massachusetts Coast-- Part 1

From the July 27th WECT 6 NBC Wilmington, NC "Explorers find sunken German U-boat off Mass" by Jay Lindsay.

This is definitely big news right now.

The U-550 was sunk almost 70 years ago off Nantucket, massachusetts.  Its sinking was just one more chapter in the Battle of the Atlantic which took place off the coasts of the United States (including the Gulf of Mexico).  German submarines were on the prowl and sinking lots of Allied shipping, especially in 1942.  Sadly. many Americans today know little if anything about it.

A privately-funded group founded by New Jersey lawyer Joe Mazraani found the sub on their second trip in two years to the site.  Some members of the group have been looking for the 550 for twenty years.

Using side-screen sonar, the 7-man team found it listing to its side in deep water about 70 miles south of Nantucket.  The 252 foot German sub was found on the second day of diving.

History of the U-550 Up Next.  --greGen

V-J Day

From the August 13, 2010, "V-J Day marks a victory that changed the world" by Herschel L. Abboott, Jr.

On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered.  That set off some celebration, but the war was not over, Japan continued to fight.

When word of Japan's surrender August 14, 1945, it set off celebrations all across the U.S.  In 2010, it was the 65th anniversary of that event.  Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was in New York City's Time Square and caught "The Kiss" as it happened.  Nurse Edith Shain was 27 at the time when she was "grabbed" for that kiss.   After the war, she moved to California, worked and raised a family,  She died Jan. 20, 2010, at the age of 91.

Sadly, the World War II generation is rapidly dying off now.  It was estimated in 2010 that there were still 25,092 veterans living in Louisiana.  By 2020, that number is expected to be 3,227.

Sorry to See Them Go.  --GreGen