Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pearl Harbor 70th Anniversary

From the Dec. 4, 2011, Indianapolis Star "Pearl Harbor: A Rediscovery" by Alex Farris.

The new Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum and Visitor Center on Oahu has a replica oscilloscope showing what the radar technicians saw just before the attack.  An American sailor describes climbing out of the stricken USS Oklahoma, but his buddies died.  The new center places much emphasis on the personal side of the attack,

The new facility took five years to build and cost $56 million and, at 24,000 square feet, doubles the old one.

For the next twenty years after the attack, nothing was done at Pearl Harbor other than simple flag-raising ceremonies.  In 1962, Elvis Presley held a concert to raise money for the Arizona Memorial, which, even then, had no interpretation.  It wasn't until 1980 that the National Park Service built the old visitors center.

Pearl Harbor survivor Robert Kinzler was a private at Schofield Barracks during the attack and has volunteered to work at the memorial ever since 1985.

The Day of Infamy.  --GreGen

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bombing of Darwin Remembered

From the Feb. 19, 2013 Global Times.

Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory had a commemoration February 19th to remember those killed in Japanese attacks 71 years ago.

The commemoration in Darwin included the opening of a new memorial wall at Darwin Military Museum lists the name of all 1,672 people killed during Japanese attacks on the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia.

In 2011, the Australian government proclaimed February 19th thenceforth as a national day of observance to be known as Bombing of Darwin Day.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Last Toast for WW II "Last Man's Club"

From the Feb. 19, 2013, Rochester (NY) Post Bulletin by Matthew Stolle.

A small group of old men will uncork a bottle of champagne and raise their glasses one last time as this group officially disbands later today.

The Last Man's Club formed in the 1960s of World War II veterans at one time had about 100 members as a subgroup of American Legion Post 92.  Only a handful are left, all in their upper 80s, lower 90s.  According to instructions drawn up decades ago, they were to do this when membership was down to six.

One member, Kendall Heins served in the Aleutian Islands during the war.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says that 16,112,566 served during World War II.  Of that number, 405,399 died in combat, 670,847 were wounded.  As of November 2011, the last time numbers were counted, an estimated 1.7 million were still alive  That number is probably below 1.4 million now.

The Last Man's Club was a social one connected to the Legion.  There was a joining fee, but no dues for the group which met twice a year at first and then later just once.

In the 1960s, a World War I veteran who also owned a liquor store in Rochester, donated a bottle of champagne.  That bottle disappeared and another was bought and for many years housed in display case.

And, I intend to keep writing about these World War II veterans as long as I can.

Sad to Have That Happen.  --GreGen

Some More 70th Pearl Harbor Anniversary News

From the Dec. 5, 2011, St. George (Utah) Spectrum.

Pearl Harbor survivors from Washington County.

Harrison Hammersmith, retired naval officer, has 400 shipmates who died during the war.

Other survivors:

Lee R. Warren
Carl Allan, Garth Sawyers
Wendell Jenkins
Dick Werner

The Utah Dixie Chapter #2 Pearl Harbor Survivors Association has 29 deceased members.

The Dec. 5th Washington Olympian.

Larry Lydon, 93, had just taken a seat for breakfast on the USS San Francisco, "At Pearl Harbor, the Marine and I were eating breakfast when something outside went 'boom' and my plate went on the floor.

Seven Pearl Harbor survivors were at the museum for the 14th annual Pearl Harbor/World War II Veterans remembrance Day.


Back in 2011: Rhode Island Honoring Six Pearl Harbor Survivors

From Dec. 5, 2011, WPRI News.

The six survivors were:

Gilbert Haekins--  East Greenwich
Raymond Haerry, Sr.--  East Greenwich
Ralph Churchwell--  Portsmouth
Daniel Hunter--  Cumberland
Wilmor Stevens--  Wakefield
Bernard Chreswick-  Warwick

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Monday, February 25, 2013

Salamaua- Lae: A Follow-Up

This past Feb. 22, I wrote about Jim Landis' plane at Pearl Harbor attacking the Japanese in March at Salamaua-Lae.  I had never heard of the operation, so Wiki here I come.

This was in connection with the Japanese invasion of Salamaua-Lae from March 8-13, 1942, while Japan was still on the offensive in the Pacific.  Their intention was to build a base and airfield there.

The March 10th attack from American carriers, one of the planes being Landis' (and, I'll finish that plane's history tomorrow), covered 201 miles.  The Lexington's SBD Dauntlesses hit at 0922.  The Japanese transports Kongo Maru, Tenyo Maru and Yokahoma Maru were sunk and several other ships were damaged..


70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Remembered-- Part 2

Mr. Mahoney continued, "We had to walk almost into the fires, and we're slipping and sliding on the deck with a thirty degree list with blood, oil, water." 

He discovered the bodies of five friends with whom he had eaten breakfast just that morning.  "They were incinerated.  The bomb had exploded underneath them.  That is why I could never go back to Pearl Harbor.  Memories are on my mind all the time.."

His brother was also on the Curtiss and they were so covered with soot and blood that they didn't recognize each other at first.   "We just stood there and hugged and cried, like the kids we really were."

At one time, there were 700 survivors of Pearl Harbor living in New Jersey, and, as of the 70th anniversary in 2011, that number had dwindled to 4 or 5.

Tom Mahoney still has a piece of the scorched Arizona.

It Was a Rough Day.  --GreGen

70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Remembered-- Part 1

From the CBS "Stories from Main Street: Union's Tom Mahoney Among NJ's Last Pearl Harbor Survivors."

Mr. Mahoney said that he "looked out the porthole, put my head out.  About fifteen feet from the ship, [there] was this plane coming around out of a turn and he had a huge torpedo underneath him, and he dropped that torpedo into the old Utah.  I turned around in the mess hall and I yelled loud and clear 'Go to your battlestations!'"

He was from Union, New Jersey, and, at age 19, was an electrician on the USS Curtiss, which took a direct hit.

Four decks were on fire.  The ship was a hell of a mess.  We're fighting the fires, being strafed by planes constantly."  He ended up manning a hose for eight and a half hours.

Getting the Stories before They're Gone.  --GreGen

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Follow-Up: USS Hull (DD-350)

From Wikipedia.

The last entry concerned Buck Beadle of Hart. Michigan, who was on the destroyer USS Hull at Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.  Here is a follow-up on that ship.

The USS Hull (DD-350) was a Farragut-class destroyer named after the War of 1812's commander of the USS Constitution in its fight against the HMS Guerriere.  It was commissioned in 1935.

At Pearl Harbor, it was tied up next to the tender USS Dobbins (AD-3) undergoing repairs.  Destroyers weren't high on the Japanese priority list to attack and the ship came through without being hit.  The next day, it went out and escorted the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6) into Pearl Harbor.

In the next several months, it screened the aircraft carrier Lexington (CV-2) to the Solomon Islands (Jim Landis' plane was on that ship, another follow-up.  The Hull was at Guadalcanal, the Aleutian Islands and other Pacific campaigns until it was sunk by Typhoon Cobra on December 19, 1944.  Part of this sinking gave Herman Wouk the story for his book "The Caine Mutiny."

Little Ship, Big Story.  --GreGen

Remembering the 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor: Buck Beadle on the USS Hull

From the Dec. 5, 2011, White Lake (Michigan) Beacon.

Buck Beadle of Hart, Michigan was there.  It was a beautiful warm and sunny day at Pearl Harbor and the 21-year-old US Navy metal smith First Class was reading the funny papers on the USS Hull, a destroyer.

He heard an anti-aircraft gun, "When we heard that going we knew something was wrong."  Then, he heard bombs, "We were lucky not to get hit.  The Japanese were strafing us.  We were able to get a few guns and shot back."

"We could see the Arizona, to our left.  It was on fire.  So was the Solis, one of our hospital ships."


The USS Princeton (CVL-23)

From Wikipedia.

The Independence-class light aircraft carrier was lost at the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944.  It was laid down as a Cleveland-class light cruiser Tallahassee CL-61 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp. of Camden, NJ on June 2, 1941 and reclassified as the CVL-23, in Feb. 1942 and renamed Princeton in March.

Launched Oct. 18, 1942, sponsored by Margaret Dodds, wife of Princeton University President Harold Dodds.

The new aircraft carrier was 622.5 feet long with 71.5-foot beam, weighed 13,000 tons, capable of 31 knots and crew of 1,569 officers and men and could carry 45 aircraft.

It was sunk Oct. 24, 1944. 

This is a follow-up to my March 7, 2012, blog entry on the death of Harold T. Berc, 92, who served as fire director on the USS Princeton when it sank and was awarded a Bronze Star for his efforts.


From the Desk of Der Fuehrer: A Letter to "Dennis"

From Nov. 1, 2011, Yahoo! News by Ian Shapira.

In the CIA Museum there is a letter from a father to his three-year-old son.  The gold-embossed letterhead with a Swastika which also bears the name Adolf Hitler.

"Dear Dennis" it begins. 

"The man who 'might' have written on the card once controlled Europe, three years ago when you born.  Today, he is dead, his memory dispised, his country in ruins.  He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellect and honesty.

He was a force for evil in the world.  His passing, his defeat-- a boon to mankind.  But thousands died that it might be so.  The price for ridding society of bad is always high."

Love, Daddy"

That Dennis, is Dennis Helms, now 69 and a New Jersey lawyer.  His father was Richard Helms and was CIA Director during the Vietnam War and Watergate eras.

Right after Germany's surrender, Lt. Helms, sneaked into Hitler's Chancellery in Berlin and pilfered his stationery.  He dated the letter "VE Day" for May 8, 1945.

I don't know, the CIA director stealing something?

Putting No-Longer Needed Stationery To Good Use.  --GreGen

Friday, February 22, 2013

Japanese Midget Submarine Found

From the Oct. 28, 2011, UK Mail Online "Japanese World War II midget submarine found under water in a harbour" by Chris Parsons.

The 66-foot long midget sub was found in 180 feet of water at Simpson Harbor, Rabual, Papua New Guinea, partially buried in the sand.  This harbor was a major Japanese base in the southwest Pacific.  These submarines were manned by one or two men.  It may have been destroyed by an American air raid, a naval bombardment or perhaps scuttled.

It was thought it also might be the Australian submarine AE-1 that sank during World War I.

It is thought that around 65 Japanese submarines were sunk during the war at Simpson Harbor.

Finding the Past.  --GreGen

Jim Landis' Pearl Harbor Plane-- Part 3

On March 10, 1942, pilot Mark Whittier and radioman second-class Forest G. Stanley joined 103 other planes from the Lexington and Yorktown on an attack on Japanese ships at Lae and Salamaua, New Guinea for some payback.

On its return to pearl Harbor, the SBD-2 Dauntless 2106 (wonder what its name was) was again put ashore until it was transferred to Marine Scout Bombing Squadron (VMSB) at Midway Atoll and arrived there with 18 other SBD-2s on May 26, 1942 on the aircraft transport Kitty Hawk (APV-1).

On the morning of June 4, 1942, 1st Lt. Daniel Iverson and Pvt. First Class Wallace Reid manning the 30 caliber machine gun in the aft-cockpit were one of 16 SBD-2s to launch an attack on Japanese carriers west of Midway at the beginning of that turning point battle.

They dropped a bomb on the Hiryu aircraft carrier at 800 feet and weer chased by four Japanese fighters.  When they returned, Reid was wounded and 219 bullet holes were counted in the plane.  They were one of just eight to make it back.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Jim Landis' Pearl Harbor Plane-- Part 2: Left Behind at Pearl

From the Naval Aviation Museum website.

The plane in question at the Naval Aviation Museum was built by Douglas Aircraft Co. on its assembly line in El Segundo, California on in December 1940.  It was an SBD-2 Dauntless (Bureau Number 2106) and delivered to Bombing Squadron VB2 at NAS San Diego on December 31, 1940.

Starting the next year it flew with that squadron from the deck of the aircraft carrier Lexington (CV-2) and participated in military maneuvers in Louisiana.

In the first week of December 1941, the Lexington was ordered to deliver aircraft to the Marine Scout bombing squadron at Midway.  While at Pearl harbor, aircraft, including 2106, were offloaded from the carrier to make room for others and left behind on Ford Island when the ship left port for Midway.  That's where it was the day of the attack (and the lexington at sea heading for Midway.

It sustained no damage and was put back on board the Lexington when it returned.

That's Just the Beginning of Its Career.  --GreGen

Jim Landis' Pearl Harbor Plane-- Part 1

Earlier this week I wrote about Jim Landis whose plane was at Pearl Harbor during the attack and is now at the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Florida.  Then, I wrote about six other Pearl Harbor survivors who went with him to that place for the 70th anniversary of the attack back in 2011.

One of them, Cass Phillips wrote, "When the attacks were over, all but two of the thirty-eight planes we had just brought over from the west coast were destroyed."

Was Landis' plane one of the two?  And did Landis pilot the plane or was he charged with keeping it in shape to fly? 

I found a history of the Naval Aviation Museum plane that might answer the question.

Was It?  --GreGen

No WWII Apologies at Japan Shrine-- Part 2

Continued from Feb. 11, 2013 blog entry.

Japan and its neighbors they invaded before and during the war, have long squabbled over past animosities and that continues to this day. 

In Japan, the Yasukuni Shrine has re-emerged as a battleground over the war, especially when Shinzo Abe, a front runner to become prime minister visited the shrine on October.  Most Japanese, according to polls view the years before and during World War II as a dark era for the nation.

In 1978, the shrine added 14 Class A war criminals who were tried and sentenced for what they did in the war.  Among them was Iwane Matsui, commander of the troops that carried out the Nanjing (Nanking) Massacre, a six-week takeover of China's historical capital in 1937 that left hundreds of thousands dead.

Only two paragraphs at the museum/shrine cover it saying only that the Japanese Army occupied the city and carried it out to discourage "the Chinese from continuing their resistance."

Another big situation revolves around the use of "Sex Slaves" by the Japanese Army whereby Chinese and Korean women were forced to provide sex to the soldiers. They were referred to as "comfort women."

The Past Still a Hot Subject.  --GreGen

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Jim Landis and His Pearl Harbor Survivors Go There for 70th Anniversary-- Part 2

The seven Pearl Harbor Survivors Association who went there in 2011 for the 70th anniversary of the attack.  These are their stories from that day.

JACOB GALLAWA--  "I was on duty as a radioman on the submarine tender USS Pelias, I kept running out on the deck whenever I could see what was going on."

BILL BRADDOCK--  "We were in the mess hall having breakfast on Ford Island when the silverware began jumping on the table.  We ran outside and low and behold there weren't anything but airplanes all in the air with the red balls on the side of them.

I saw a Jap plane fly by with his shield pulled back.  We saw him drop this big torpedo that was hanging down below his plane and saw it hit the water."

CASS PHILLIPS--  "I was up getting ready to go have breakfast, when we looked up and saw planes flying by.  We thought that they were Army planes.  I said 'Look they are really making this look realistic, they've got meatballs painted on the side of the planes.'

When the attacks were over, all but two of the thirty-eight planes we had just brought over from the west coast were destroyed."

The Story of One of Those Two Planes, Next.  --GreGen

Wilmington's Mothball Fleet-- Part 2

Generally, five of the ships weer kept at a high level of readiness and the rest were mothballed, which means coated with red-oxide paint, oil and varnish as preservatives to prevent rust.

The operation employed 296 workers with a $600,000 payroll.  Most of them were employed as armed guards to prevent theft of copper and brass fittings. Others worked routine maintenance.

The ships were lashed and anchored in groups of five with each fifth one moored to pilings driven deep into the river bottom.  Despite precautions, however, two freighters broke loose during Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and drifted into the channel, threatening to collide with the U.S.-74 bridge until a tugboat pushed them away.

On December 8, 1958, the SS Edgecomb, a Victory Ship, became the last vessel to be tied up in the Brunswick River.  Beginning in 1958, the government began selling the older and less-fit ships for scrap with others being moved to the James River Reserve Fleet.

By 1964, there were only 152 left and just 15 by 1968.  Many of the ones scrapped had it happen at Horton Industries in Wilmington, who could finish off two in ninety days (almost as fast as they could be built back in the war).

The last ship, the SS Dwight W. Morrow, was towed for scrapping Feb. 27, 1970.

After the War.  --GreGen

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Jim Landis and His Pearl Harbor Survivors Go There for the 70th Anniversary-- Part 1

From the 2011 CNN iReport "One Last Goodbye."

Seven of the Pensacola PHSA managed to go to Pearl Harbor for the commemoration.

The last entry, I wrote waht Jim Landis, one of the seven, had to say about his experience that 1941 day.

These are what the other six had to say:

GEORGE MILLS--  "We just couldn't believe it.  All those planes flying down the harbor dropping bombs and torpedoes on the battlewagons."

JAY CARRAWAY--  "We were waiting for the mess cooks to bring us our breakfast, when someone called down 'General Quarters, man your battle stations.'  We said, 'We don't drill on Sunday morning.'  About then a bomb exploded near our ship and rocked it, putting everything into perspective."

FRANK EMOND--  "At five minutes to eight, we were on the deck of the USS California, waiting to play 'Colors', when I looked up to see a line of planes.  One peeled off and dropped something that hit the ground and exploded.  We saw the big red spots on the planes and we knew we were in trouble then."


Monday, February 18, 2013

Jim Landis' Pearl Harbor Dive Bomber

From 2011 WKRG News 5, Mobile, Alabama.

The dive bomber Jim Landis was assigned to when the attack came at Pearl Harbor is on display at the Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola (Florida).

Jim Landis on the attack:  "I was posting the watch that morning on Ford Island.  When I realized we were under attack I ran to one of the SBD planes that I knew was loaded with ammunition.  When I pulled back the canopy to get out the guns, a bullet went through my hand.  Somehow I managed to get the guns out and did some shooting."

The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was trying to organize a trip for seven of its remaining members to Pearl Harbor for the 70th anniversary.

I see that they made it to the anniversary.

The Greatest generation.

Wilmington's Mothball Fleet-- Part 1

From the October 12, 2011, Wilmington (NC) Star News "My Reporter: Brunswick River harbored huge 'Mothball Fleet" by Ben Steelman.

There is a great aerial view of these ships.  A reader had asked, "What was the 'mothball fleet'?"

Officially, it was named the National Defense Reserve Fleet and sometimes referred to as the "The Ghost Fleet" and anchored in row after row on the brunswick River, near its confluence with the Cape Fear River.  It consisted of World War II surplus transport vessels. 

So many were tied up that it was also called "the second largest ship graveyard in the world."  The largest was in the James River, near Hampton Roads, Virginia.

After the war, the U.S. Maritime Commission established a "Reserve Fleet Basin" on the Brunswick River to house Liberty ships and others no longer made or needed.  The first, Liberty Ship SS John B. Bryce arrived August 12, 1945.  Between January and April 1946, 426 came to Wilmington.

Over the next several years, vessels moved in and out od "storage."  Altogether, there were 628 at one time or another.  The biggest number of them were Liberty Ships, with 542.  These were mass-produced freighters like the ones built during the war at Wilmington's North Carolina Shipbuilding Company.

There were also 68 Victory Ships (an update of the Liberty Ships) and 48 others, including tankers.

I remember seeing them as a young kid.

It Was a Sight to See.  --GreGen

National World War II's New Addition-- Part 2

The museum came into existence partly because of the flat-bottomed boats made in New Orleans by Andrew Jackson Higgins.  These originally were used to maneuver through bayous, but it was found that they could just as easily be used to deliver troops directly to a beach.

By 1943, some 92% of the Navy's ships were these so-called Higgins Boats (of course, they were quite small compared to other ships) and many were used at D-Day.

General Eisenhower was quoted saying that they "won the war for us."

Historian Stephen E. Ambrose taught at the University of New Orleans and had the idea of having a "small" museum that was focused on D-Day.  That "small" museum has frown to the present "large" one.

Again, Next trip to Nawlins.  --GreGen

Saturday, February 16, 2013

500th Post

According to the site master, this is my 500th post on World War II. I started this blog back on January 1, 2012.  It grew out of my Cooter's History Thing Blog, which was essentially becoming a World War II blog by itself.

Of course, the fact that we are commemorating the 70th anniversary of the war until 2015 had a part to do with the decision to start this one.  And then,there is the fact that we are losing so many of the Greatest Generation everyday.  Their story needed to be written.

As a matter of fact, my sign-off for each entry, GreGen, comes from Greatest Generation.  The "Tattooed On Your Soul" part of the blog name comes from Frank Curre who was at Pearl Harbor on the USS Tennessee and who died 70 years to the date, Dec. 7, 2011.

I write about the little odds and ends of the war that I find of interest, particularly anything naval.

I'll keep this running as well as I can, hopefully until at least 2015, the end of the war 70 years earlier.


National World War II Museum's New Addition-- Part 1

Fom the Jan. 13, 2013, WWL TV .

This new addition is a $35 million, 26,000 square foot, addition to showcase World War II weaponry.  It has six planes, including a Red Tail P-51, the plane of the Tuskegee Airmen, which flew 68 combat missions in 1945.

From the Jan. 11, 2013, New York Times "A Big Exhibition About An Even Bigger War" by Edward Rothstein.

This new hall is the National World War II museum's third building, now half-way to their goal of six. on their $325 million campus.  They hope to be finished by 2016.  So far, they have 178,000 square feet, aiming for another 100,000.

The new hall features a B-17 Flying Fortress, a Corsair fighter (Whistling Death) and two levels of catwalks.

There is also an enormous interactive database. One of them is of the 464 Medal of Honor winners from the war and another one of over 700 governmental leaders in it including George H.W. Bush, Gerald. Ford, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

Something I'm Going to Have to See the Next Time I'm in New Orleans.  --GreGen

Friday, February 15, 2013

Watch Where You Dig or Step in North Carolina

Still using the Charlotte Observer article which was really three-in-one stories.

Starting in 2006, explosives have been removed from around 225 homes and military sites in North Carolina, but only10-15 had the potential to explode.  Many of these have been found in the state's Outer Banks.

Two have been found in Charlotte: one in a former Army missile plant on Statesville Avenue and the other on a 2,000 acre Naval shell-loading plant off Arrowhead Road.  Both sites might also have ground contamination from chemicals used in manufacturing.

The shell-loading plant run by U.S. Rubber Company, at its peak employed 10,000 people, 70% women and one-third black.

A Lot Going On During the War On the Homefront.  --GreGen

North Carolina's Camp Butner-- Part 2

From Wikipedia and Town of Butner, NC.

Camp Butner was named after Army Major General Henry W. Butner (1875-1937), a native of the state, born in Surrey County, 1898 graduate of West Point and World War I colonel.  He commanded Fort Bragg from 1928-1929.

  It was purchased by the US government August 4, 1842.  During the war, it was used as a staging and training area for unites headed overseas, including the 78th Infantry Division.  Also artillery and engineers trained there.

In addition, there were rifle and artillery ranges as well as a POW compound, barracks and support services for 40,000 troops.

After the war, it was used for demobilization and deactivation for units like the 3rd US Infantry Regiment and 4th Infantry Division.  Currently, some of the former camp is used by the North Carolina National Guard.

The abandoned hospital became the site of the John Umstead Hospital, a psuchiatric hospital, serving 16 counties.

Never Heard of This Camp.  --GreGen

North Carolina's Camp Butner-- Part 1

From Oct. 24, 2011, Charlotte (NC) Observer.This continues from yesterday's post.

For the past ten years, the Army Corps of Engineers has been digging up ordnance near the town of Butner, north of Durham, at the former World War II Camp Butner, a 40,000 acre Army post in Person, Granville and Durham counties.

When the war ended, Camp Butner was still in a largely rural and undeveloped area, and much of the explosive materials was simply buried and left behind when the Army left it.  But, there has been a lot of growth and residents in new subdivisions began find explosives in their yards, and even beside their homes.

In the 50s and 60s, the Army came back and began looking for their explosives.

Mighty Neighborly of Them.  --GreGen

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Explosive Bits of Past Found in North Carolina

From the October 24, 2011, Charlotte (NC) Observer "Gaston search turns up explosive bits of history" by David Perlmutt and Cleve R. Wootson, Jr.

To bombs were found in Gaston County woods, possibly training devices left over from a World War II plant in Ranlo, 20 miles west of Charlotte.  One was found Friday and was turned over to Fort Bragg for detonation.

They are believed to be inactive and filled with sand or concrete and probably were used as practice bombs and likely made by the now-closed Cocker Machinery and Foundry Company.  A local resident has said that he worked at the factory during the war and they made devices used for training.

Some War Leftovers.  --GreGen

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bits of War: Stalingrad's Back-- Vandals Damage WW II Ship

Some New News About an Old War.

1.  STALINGRAD'S BACK--  From the Jan. 31, 2013, Washington Post.  The southern Russian city of Volgograd will revert to its World War II name, Stalingrad, at least for awhile to commemorate the pivotal Battle of Stalingrad where the Red Army turned back German forces in one of the major events of the war.  Feb. 2nd marked the 70th anniversary in the battle that resulted in some 2,000,000 deaths.

2.  VANDALS DAMAGE WW II SHIP--  From the Feb. 2, 2013, Arkansas Online by AP.  Four men were arrested for spraying fire extinguisher powder all over the destroyer escort USS Stewart, in Sea Wolf Park in Texas.  Previously, much money had been spent on it to repair damages suffered in Hurricane Ike, Sept. 13, 2008.


Sunken World War II Ship Poses Oil Spill Threat

From Southern California Public Radio.

The SS Montebello was sunk shortly after Pearl Harbor, December 23, 1941, by a Japanese submarine off the coast of Cambria and was carrying 3 million gallons of crude oil at the time.  What is strange, though, is that very little or perhaps none of the crude oil has ever come up from the wreck.

The mystery is, what happened to the oil?  The ship lies six miles off shore in 900 feet of water.

Just Don't Let the Big Oil Investors Know About It Though As It Might Set Off a "Buying Panic" and Send Our Gas Prices Up Even Higher.  --GreGen

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wilmington's Maffitt Village

The residential area in Wilmington, North Carolina, called Maffitt Village was established to help handle the huge influx of workers in Wilmington for the World War II war effort.  Many worked at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company that built over 200 vessels, mostly Liberty ships, during the years of its operation.

The residents of it from the 1940s and 50s have occasional reunions.

It was named after noted Confederate Naval commander John Newland Maffitt.

All Part of the Homefront War Effort.  --GreGen

The Dutch Navy in World War II-- Part 3: Submarine K XVI

Continued from Feb. 8, 2013.

The Dutch submarine K XVI was laid down in 1930 and launched in 1933 and commissioned in the Royal Netherlands Navy Jan. 30, 1934.

On December 24, 1941, it attacked and sank the Japanese destroyer Sagiri with two torpedo hits, causing the ship's own torpedoes to explode.  Up to 121 died and 120 rescued.

Later that day, it made an unsuccessful attack on the Japanese destroyer Marakumo and a transport fleet that was in water too shallow for the K XVI to operate in.

On December 25, 1941, Japanese submarine I 66 torpedoed and sank the K XVI, becoming the first submarine to sink another submarine during the war.

In May 2003, an unsuccessful search was made for the K XVI.  It was found October 26, 2011 as I reported in this blog back on Feb. 7, 2013.

A Dutch Navy?  Who Knew?  --GreGen

Gatwick Airport Temporarily Closed in 2011

From the Oct. 17, 2011, Redhill Life "Builders unearth World War II explosive at Gatwick Airport."

And, I have been in that place a couple times.  That would not have been cool to have been blown up by nearly 70 year-old ordnance..

Train and air service were temporarily and bomb disposal units called in after a cluster of unexploded explosives was found.  Five objects had been dug up in airport expansion work and id'd as objects from the Second World War.

A controlled explosion was carried out.  These were found next to the Brighton to London rail lines.  These were probably Allied as it was a smoke grenade, 4-inch mortar and three hand grenades.

Watch Where You Walk in Britain.  --GreGen

Monday, February 11, 2013

Divers Explore World War II Sunken Shipwrecks

From the August 9, 2011, MSNBC.

Scuba-diving scientists off the southern coast of Maui, Hawaii, have discovered six wreck sites.  One is a carrier-based SB2C-1C Helldiver and another F6F Hellcat fighter.

There are also three amphibious assault vehicles: LVT-4, LVTA-4AS and two with mounted 75 mm howitzers.

The two-week survey was sponsored by the NOAA and University of Hawaii.

The USMC and Army trained before their major Pacific invasions along Maui's southern shore.  Accidents happened which claimed these items.

Not in Battle.  --GreGen

No World War II Apologies At Japan Shrine-- Part 1

From the Dec. 14, 2012, Chicago Tribune by Chico Harlan.

A Shinto shrine in Tokyo, lined with cherry trees "asserts a jarring and unrepentant storyline about Japan's wartime past, brushing aside well-documented atrocities and describing its rampage through Asia as tragic but justified."

The museum has videos and wall displays and says that Japan "advanced through Asia between 1931 and 1945 to protect neighboring countries from Western colonization.  No mention is made about forcing women into brothels to service Japanese soldiers, or ransacking cities or using civilians for bayonet practice.

The Yasukuni Shrine is a religious site, not a national one.  The writer says the shrine and "adjacent museum remain the symbolic heart of World War II militarism."  It also symbolizing the hardening, did-no wrong approach to Japan during that time.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Final Doolittle Raiders Reunion

From the Feb. 1, 2013, Stars and Stripes "Doolittle Raiders to meet for final reunion to close mission" by Angel McCurdy, NW Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach, Florida.

They are holding the last reunion at the place where they first started back in 1942, when they trained at Eglin Field by Fort Walton Beach.  The raid heard round the world comprised 70 men in 16 Army B-25 bombers.

Now, there are only five remaining, one of whom is invalid.  The four others, ages 92 to 97, decided last April in Ohio that this would be the final reunion.  The get-together is being run by the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of commerce and will be from April 16-21, and is called "A Farewell Tribute."

Originally they had planned to open a bottle of cognac made the year their leader, Jimmy Doolittle was born when there were just two members left.  The four will do one last toast to the mission.

Sad to Hear This.  --GreGen

Bits of War: RAF Station for Sale-- USS Arizona Burials

1.  RAF STATION FOR SALE--  The Neatishead Radar Base, formerly an RAF base during World War II, covering 25 acres and decommissioned since 2006, is for sale on E Bay for a cool 2.5 million pounds.

2.  USS ARIZONA BURIALS--  Former crew members of the USS Arizona can have their ashes buried in the battleship.  So far, 33 internments have taken place.  For a look at what they do, go to You Tube: Eternal Peace.


Friday, February 8, 2013

New Zealand Ship Sunk By Japanese Found: MV Limerick

From the Feb. 6, 2013, New Zealand 3 News.

The wreckage of the New Zealand-owned MV Limerick was found off Australia, some 70 years after it sank.  It was sunk by a Japanese torpedo off the coast of northern New South Wales.  When it was sunk, on Anzac Day 1943, it was in a wartime convoy traveling from Sydney to Brisbane.

It didn't sink until the next day and all but 70 of its crew were saved.  It was one of the largest vessels sunk by the Japanese off Australia's east coast during their 1942-1943 offensive and was located by local fishermen.

The 140-metre ship was built in the UK in 1925 and at the time of its sinking belonged to the Union Steam Ship Co. in New Zealand.  It is protected under the provisions of the Historic Shipwreck Act.

Always Good to Find a Lost Shipwreck.  That's History.  --GreGen

The Dutch Navy in World War II: The Submarine 0 16

From the Dutch Submarine Site.

The Dutch submarine 0 16 had a good cruise during December 1941.

On 8 December it attacked the Japanese Malay invasion.

Dec. 10-- damaged the Japanese troopship Ayatosan Maru.

Dec. 12--  attacked several Japanese ships in the Bay of Soengei Potani (east coast of Malaya and only nine meters deep).  The 0 16 torpedoes while surfaced.

Sank: troopships Tosan Maru, Asosan Maru and Kinka Maru.

Damaged troopship Ayatosan Maru (second attack on that ship in two days)

All of the sunken ships were later raised and recommissioned.

Dec. 15--  about 2:30 AM, the 0-16 struck a mine after sailing right into a line of Japanese mines while exiting the Gulf of Siam and nearly broke in half.  Forty-one died and just one survivor.

The K XVII was also sunk by these mines.

The 0 16 is regarded as a war grave.

Quite a Cruise.  --GreGen

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Dutch Navy in World War II-- Part 2

From te Dutch Submarine site.

Originally Dutch submarines were intended for home service and had the prefix "O" for onderzeebot= subsea boat.  This would be followed by an Arabic number.  Those intended for East Indies service had the prefix "K" for Kolonien, which meant colonies.  So, the HR. MS KXVI ship that was found in 2011 stood for His/Her Royal Majesty's Ship K (colonies) 16.

The "O" ships were generally smaller, intended for use in the North Sea.  This practice was stopped in 1937 when the KIX and KXX were renamed with the "O" prefix.  Subs were afterwards intended for use in both home and colonial waters.

The K XVII hit a mine and sank 21 December 1941.
The O 13 was mined June 1940?
The O 8 originally was a British submarine and sold to the Dutch Navy.  It was scuttled by the Dutch, raised by the Germans and became a part of their navy until scuttled 3 May 1945.

Up Next, the War Exploits of the O 16.  --GreGen

The Dutch Navy in World War II-- Part 1

From good old Wikipedia.

And, as I said in the last post, I'd never heard of the Dutch as having a Navy during World War II.

The Dutch Navy was based in Allied countries after the fall of the Netherlands and headquartered in London.

Dutch ships escorted transports at Dunkirk and D-Day and escorted convoys.  They suffered especially heavy loses in the Dutch East Indies and the Battle of Java Sea at the hands of the Japanese.

The dutch Navy in Asia was virtually annihilated during the Japanese campaign to take the Dutch East Indies in February and March 1942.  Twenty ships were sunk, including the only two light cruisers.  Some 2500 men were killed or wounded.

The HN. MS. that went with the submarine mentioned in the previous post stands for His/Her Netherlands Majesty's Ship.

A small force of Dutch submarines sank more Japanese ships during the first weeks of the war than the entire British and U.S. navies together.  They sank so many, their commander Admiral Conrad Helfrich gained the nickname "Ship-a-Day Helfrich."

And, I Didn't Know.  --GreGen

Dutch World War II Submarine Found Off Borneo

From the October 26, 2011, Borneo Post.  This was originally posted in the Cooter's History Thing blog on October 26, 2011, but I will reprint it here as next I intend to write about the Dutch Navy in World War II, something I had never heard of before.

Sport divers found the wreck of the Dutch World War II submarine HR.MS. KXVI off the northern coast of Borneo.  It had been missing since 1941 with its 36 crew members.  The divers had received a tip from local fishermen.

The 1,000 ton sub was part of an Allied fleet fighting the Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies.

It had torpedoed the Japanese submarine hunter Sagiri on Christmas Eve 1941 and was sunk itself the next day by a Japanese submarine.

This brings to six the number of Dutch submarines sunk during World War II that have been found.  This leaves just one submarine, the wreck of the HR.MS. O 13, still not accounted for somewhere in the North Sea.

And, i Never Knew They Had a Navy.  --GreGen

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chislehurst Caves

From Wikipedia.

The last post mentioned the baby being born in these caves during a bombing raid in 1941.  I'd never heard of them, so...

The Chislehurst Caves is a 22-mile series of manmade caves dug searching for chalk and flint in the southeast London suburbs.  The first recorded mention of them was 1250.

During World War I they were used as an ammunition depot.

During the Second World War, during the Battle of Britain's aerial attacks on London, they were used as an air raid shelter.  They became an underground city of up to 15,000 inhabitants with their own electricity and even a chapel and hospital.

Rose Cavena Wakeman is the only recorded baby born there.

So, Now We Both Know.  --GreGen

Bits of War: Code-Breaking-- Born in a Shelter

Bits of War.

1.  CODE-BREAKING-- Oct. 5, 2011.  The major British code-breaking site at Blethchley Park received a 4.6 million pound grant for restoration.  The country estate housed once housed around 10,000 people at its peak.  This is where the German cypher systems Enigma and Lorenz were broken, shortening the war by an estimated two years

2.  BORN IN A SHELTER--  Oct. 6, 2011.  A woman born in Chislehurst Caves during World War II bombing returned for a visit.  Rose Razzell, 70, was born during and April 1941 air raid to her mother, Polly Wakeman.  Polly couldn't think of a middle name for her baby girl and nurses suggested Cavena for where she was born.

A Bit of History.  --GreGen

The Battleship North Carolina Comes Home-- Part 6

One of the main people behind the ship coming to Wilmington was Thomas S. Craig, Jr., advertising executive for the city's WECT-TV, member of Wilmington American Legion Post 10 and World War II veteran.  On January 9, 1959, he set up a battleship committee which was the reason the state got the ship.

Sadly, just after the North Carolina arrived, on September 24, 1961, there was an air show at the Wilmington airport and he caught a ride with WECT personnel aboard an Air Force C-123 carrying members of the Army's Golden Knights for a parachute drop.  He also planned to take a photo of the ship's future home.

It stalled on takeoff, crashed and burst into flames, killing three immediately.  Craig was severely burned and rushed to the Army burn center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.  He died there October 14th, the day the battleship opened to the public.  On October 15th, the flag of the USS North Carolina was lowered to half mast.

Thanks, Mr. Craig.  --GreGen

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Battleship North Carolina Comes Home-- Part 5

Newspapers all over the country reported the story.  The Long Island Press in New York had a picture of it with the headline, "Yes, Dear, a Battleship; No, Dear, I'm Stone Cold Sober."

Fergus eventually sued the battleship commission for $25,000 and settle out of court in 1965 for slightly over $3,000.

The Ark reopened within weeks and stayed in business until Feb. 1865 when work began on the Coast Guard building on Princess Street.  Then, Fergus moved his restaurant ashore.

Separating the two ships took quite some time, but by 6 PM, the bow of the North Carolina was nosed into its berth.  Work was halted for the night and then finished the following day.

If I recall, I think I remember seeing a picture of the Ark with a Purple Heart on it after the collision.

Wonder If It Was On Purpose?  --GreGen

The Battleship USS North Carolina Comes Home-- Part 4: The Ark Gets an Ouwie

As the North Carolina was turned to ease into her berth, the back of the ship hit the Ark, a floating restaurant moored on the riverfront at the foot of Princess Street.  It was originally named the General Frederick C. Hodgkins, a concrete-hulled ship built in Wilmington in the 1920s and had led a varied career ranging from banana boat, casino, floating barracks for the Coast Guard and offices for the U.S. Maritime Commission (responsible for building ships for the war effort).

In 1952, businessman Eldridge Fergus opened the Ark as a seafood restaurant and soon became a favorite with tourists.  In 1955, it was accidentally rammed by a US Navy submarine

Guns from one of the North Carolina turrets crashed into the Ark's galley, knocking stores around.  Damage was estimated at between $10,000 and $15,000.

Local legend has it that Fergus had moved the Ark into a more dangerous position in hopes there would be a collision.  Fergus, however, claimed that he had already cut his power and water lines and was preparing to move the ship on the Sunday.  On Monday he tried to call a tugboat but got no response.

Newspapers reported the incident all over the country.

More Ark Coming.  --GreGen

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Battleship USS North Carolina Comes Home-- Part 3

The very hardest part of its coming to Wilmington was turning a 729 foot battleship in a 500 foot wide river in order to get into its berth.  In the spring of 1960, a 690 foot Panamanian-flagged freighter sailed up the Cape Fear River.  Like the North Carolina, it also drew 30 feet (the CFR is 32 feet deep).

The experienced Captain B.M. Burris of Southport was put in charge of piloting the USS North Carolina.

On September 26, 1961, ocean-going tugs Diane L. Moran and Margaret Moran began towing the ship to its final destination.  All fuel and water tanks had been pumped out for increased bouyancy.

By September 30th, the flotilla was off Frying Pan Shoals by the mouth of the Cape Fear River and waiting for a flood-tide to enter it.  But, plans to arrive downtown on October 1st were delayed a day.  Storms were threatening at sea and the Coast Guard tug Cherokee had its towline entangled on the bottom of the river which cause temporary damage to the winch.

Come Monday, the North Carolina proceeded up the river, with plenty of school kids on hand who had skipped school.

Ramming Speed!  --GreGen

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Battleship USS North Carolina Comes Home-- Part 2

Workers at the site scooped out thousands of old railroad spikes and boards along with cypress stumps, coquina rock and bits of fossil coral.

Mark Koenig of the Wilmington Railroad Museum says the site was formerly the terminus of the old Wilmington, Columbia and Augusta Railroad from the 1800s.  It later became part of the Atlantic Coast Line.

On June 1, 1961, the USS North Carolina was formally struck from the Navy's Register of Ships.  On August 28, 1961, the Navy and North Carolina signed a contract turning the warship over to the state on permanent loan, but the Navy reserved the right to take it back in case of a national emergency.

On September 6, 1961, Governor Sanford formally accepted the ship in a ceremony in Bayonne, New Jersey.

Now Comes the Hard Part.  --GreGen

The Battleship USS North Carolina Comes Home-- Part 1

Well, actually, the North Carolina was built in Brooklyn, New York and I don't think it ever even visited its namesake state.

From the October 1, 2011, Wilmington Star-News "Fifty years ago entire state rallied to bring battleship home" by Ben Steelman.  The first entries on this article are in my Cooter's History Thing from October 2011.


In North Carolina, any child who contributed to bringing the North Carolina home, even as little as ten cents, would get a free pass to visit the ship.  School children in Texas had likewise contributed coins to bring that state's battleship home.

More than 700,000 children contributed (including me)

According to Block, "I gave my dime, but never used the pass."

There was a statewide television appeal over Memorial Day weekend by WECT in Wilmington, WRAL in Raleigh and Public TV WUNC and ten other stations.  Some $330,000 was raised.  New Hanover County (Wilmington) raised $40,000 with one legion post donating $1,000.

In addition, Wilmington and New Hanover County raised funds to buy a 36 acre site on the west bank of the Cape Fear River to dock the ship.

Coming Home.  The NC's Coming Home.  --GreGen

Friday, February 1, 2013

Bits of War: Arctic Convoys-- No Spitfires Found

Some New News About An Old War.

1.  ARCTIC CONVOYS--  From the Jan.14, 2013 BBC--  World War II Arctic Convoy veterans to get medals.  These brave souls took supplies of food and munitions to the Soviet Union under near constant attack and atrocious weather conditions.  Who would ever want to go in that frigid Arctic water if your ship sank.

2.  NO SPITFIRES FOUND--  From Jan. 18, 2013, Slash Gear--  Last month I wrote about the expedition looking for some 143 British Spitfire fighter planes supposedly buried in Burma near the end of the war.  This article reports that none were found.  It didn't say if they were still looking or not.


These Tanks Did Not Make It to D-day

From the July 28, 2011, BBC News "Isle of Wight's sunken WW II tanks studied.

Tanks and other equipment lost when the ships carrying them capsized heading for Normandy during the D-Day invasion have been found east of the Isle of Wight and Selsey, West Sussex.

The good folks who found the LCT 427 in the last post, The Southsea Sub Aqua Club discovered them in 2008.  The Mark V Landing Craft Tank ship LCT 2428 set off for Normandy on the evening of June 5, 1944 and had developed engine trouble in the English Channel.  It was being towed by the rescue tug HMS Jaunty.

On the way back, it capsized and lost its cargo.  The Jaunty fired on the upturned hull until it sank and would not cause a shipping obstruction.  All of the crew survived.

When the incident took place, the LCT 2428 was carrying two Centaur CS IV tanks, two armored bulldozers, a jeep and other equipment for the Royal Marines armored support group.

The cargo and ship occupy two sites 66 feet down, about 3.7 miles apart.

Didn't make Its Destination.  --GreGen