Friday, May 31, 2013

HMS Matchless-- Part 2

In June 1942, the Matchless took part in Operation Harpoon which aimed to relieve the besieged island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.  The ship was damaged by a mine June 15th and had to remain in Malta for repairs.  During that time, the Matchless survived 265 air raids.

Repaired and out of Malta, the Matchless returned to the island during Operation Malta, also designed to relieve it.

Its next service was two Arctic convoys until May and June 1943, when the destroyer escorted the RMS Queen Mary half way across the North Atlantic.  The ocean liner was carrying none other than Winston Churchill on his way to the United States for a meeting with FDR.

While on convoy duty in December, the Matchless and three other destroyers were ordered to leave and join a task force going against the German cruiser Scharnhorst.  On December 25th, word was received that the British cruisers Belfast, Norfolk and Sheffield had engaged it.

The Scharnhorst had been ordered to attack convoys, but avoid a general battle with Allied warships.  On December 26th, Boxing Day in Britain, there was another fight and the Scharnhorst broke off and started heading for its home base in a Norwegian fjord.

The Matchless and other destroyers were ordered to intercept it.

Running for Home.  --GreGen

Thursday, May 30, 2013

HMS Matchless-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

M-Class destroyer commissioned 12 February 1942, decommissioned 1946.  Sold to Turkish Navy in 1959 and renamed the Uluc Ali Reis.  Length of 362 feetand crew of 221.  Armament: several 4.7-inch guns, anti-aircraft guns, depth charges and torpedoes.

Evidently, ships of the Royal Navy were sometimes adopted by towns after they riased money.  The Matchless was adopted by the Maidenhead Bourough Council in Berkshire after they raised over 550,000 pounds.  In 1943, the ship was also adopted by the Associated Motor Cycle Company in London, which made Matchless cycles.

The ship went on Arctic convoy duty right after training.  On May 15, 1942, the Matchless rescued 200 survivors from the light cruiser HMS Trinidad and then sank the ship with torpedoes.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How the Scharnhorst Was Sunk-- Part 2

December 26, 1943 is British Boxing Day and that is when the British ships caught up with the German cruiser Scharnhorst which had altered course and running for safety in a Norwegian fjord.  It was pitch dark and radar was being used.

The Scharnhorst first encountered the HMS Duke of York and engaged the battleship receiving damage and being forced to slow down because of it.  Various other destroyers and cruisers moved in for the kill.  Star shells lit up the sky.

Near the end, the destroyers came in and fired off their torpedoes at the Scharnhorst, often described at the most beautiful fighting ship of any navy.  Fighting to the end, the German ship fired every gun still operational and used 20 mm cannon on the destroyers.

The destroyers and HMS Matchless could not find the Scharnhorst on their second torpedo run, but did find men, mostly dead, floating in the water.  Norman Scarth remembers a man from the Matchless calling out, ""Scharnhorstgesunken?" and getting the reply "Ja Scharnhorst gesunken!"

The destroyers scrambled to get nets over the side to rescue the Germans.  Only 36 of the 2,000 man crew were saved.

Then, the Matchless was ordered away and Scarth can still remember voices calling out for help in that cold Arctic water.

A Valiant Ship to teh End.  --GreGen

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How the Scharnhorst Was Sunk-- Part 1

From the December 25, 2011, BBC News "How Germany's feared Scharnhorst was sunk in World War II" by Claire Bower.

The Scharnhorst was sunk by Allied forces 26 December 1943 in the Battle of North Cape.

Norman Scarth was 18 and on the destroyer HMS Matchless protecting a convoy to Soviet ports in the Arctic Circle.  Rumors were out that the Scharnhorst had gotten out and was on the prowl.  The Matchless, going full speed at 35 knots in mountainous seas in a full gale, was ordered to join the 10th CruiserSquadron with the HMS Belfast, Norfolk and Sheffield.

These cruisers had already had an engagement with the Scharnhorst, but it had gotten away

The British Admiralty guessed the Scharnhorst would be heading north to attack the Matchless' convoy.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Cruising on the Liberty Ship John W. Brown-- Part 2

Some 2,700 Liberty Ships were made during the war and transported cargo and troops to the war fronts.  They were built very quickly.  It took just 41 days to build the John W. Brown.  The ships featured few frills and were designed to be functional and not necessarily to last.

These ships were indispensable to the war effort and many remained in military service for many years after the war.  Others were sold to other countries and to to private interests.  Many also became part of so-called "Ghost Fleets" at various ports along both coasts.  These were ships kept in readiness for use in case of another war.

An all-volunteer group called Project Liberty Ship restored the Brown.  Beginning in 1988, the ship began cruising from Pier One of Baltimore's Clinton Street.  The one Donald Halverson was on had 550 passengers (the ship can hold 700).

When cruising, every effort short of being attacked is replicated.  The ship's guns are popular sites for photographs.  The September 10th trip is sold out and will also feature a flyover by vintage Japanese, German and British planes as well as actors portraying FDR, General MacArthur and Abbott and Costello will be on board.

There will be a two-hour Veterans Day Tour November 5th for just $20, but only veterans are allowed for this one.

Real, Living History.  --GreGen

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Deaths: Photographer


(1918-May 22, 2013)  American photographer known for his striking photos from World War II and then Chicago's South Side after the war.  The photos of the South Side were put in a book "The Way of Life of the Northern Negro."

In World War II, he was assigned to Edward Steichen's U.S. Navy Combat Photo Unit, and was on hand for many important events as well as one of the first photographers to enter Hiroshima after the atom bomb.

He also provided photos for Dr. Benjamin Spock's book "A Baby's First Year."

Deaths: Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Fighter


One of the last remaining survivors of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising where 750 Jewish fighters launched an attack on their German occupiers April 19, 1943, (we just had the 70th anniversary of it, but I came across no mention of it, sadly).  Outnumbered and outgunned badly, they defied odds and held on for nearly a month before being crushed.

They became a symbol of resistance.

A few dozen fighters were able to escape to the so-called "Aryan" side of Warsaw.  German revenge was harsh and every building in the ghetto was destroyed.  Then, Mr. Spiegel and his wife joined the Polish partisans fighting the Germans and took part in the 1944 Warsaw Revolt.

Sadly also, it is not known how many of those 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising fighters are still alive, but there can't be too many.

Heroes--  GreGen

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cruising on the Liberty Ship John W. Brown-- Part 1

From the September 7, 2011, Baltimore Sun "Liberty ship sets sail for the 1940s" by Chris Kaltenbach.

The last time Donald Halverson was on a Liberty Ship, he was a young draftee on his way across the Atlantic where he spent two and a half years fighting the Axis.

More recently, he took a leisurely 6-hour cruise on the Chesapeake Day aboard the refurbished Liberty Ship SS John W. Brown.  It brought back memories.

The John W. Brown was launched from Baltimore's Bethlehem Steel Shipyards on Labor Day 1942 and was named for an east coast labor leader.  It is one of only two operational Liberty Ships left and the only one on the Atlantic coast.

It is a museum ship and a living memorial to wartime shipyard workers, merchant marines and naval armed guards.

Glad We Still Have Liberty Ships.  They Were As Important To the US War Effort As the Bigger, Better-Known Ships.  --GreGen

Monday, May 20, 2013

Harry Daube, Last Remaining Survivor of the USS Leopold-- Part 3

In an accompanying video, Mr. Daube speaks of looking into the eyes of sailors holding on to the sides of the life rafts and as they lost their lives to thee xtreme cold water, just go limp and drift away.  Survival in the frigid water was just 20-30 minutes.

They had to wait 10-15 hours as torpedoes were still being fired at the USS Joyce as it tried to rescue the survivors.

Harry Daube is a survivor and it is belived that Signalman 3rd Class Joseph Arnand is the only other one still alive.  (I wasn't able to find any information on him, though.)

Mr. Daube is a retired park police sergeant and lives in New Smyrna Beach, Florida.

The Story of a Ship and Its Valiant Crew.  --GreGen

Harry Daube, Last Remaining Survivor of the USS Leopold-- Part 2

The thread for the USS Leopold started back last week when I wrote about the lost Purple Heart of Clyde Ballenger being found.  I found this follow-up from 2010 about one of his shipmates receiving his Purple Hear, some 66 years later in 2010.  I came across no mention of his death, so hopefully Mr. Daube is still alive.

From the U.S. Department of Defense by Christopher Lagan.

The Coast Guard blames the 66-year delay on Daube's Purple Heart on paperwork.  Said Mr. Daube, "I accepted the delay....  We had lost all of the officers and the ship's personnel records."

He says he has suffered poor circulation in his legs ever since the attack due to "quite a few hours" of exposure in icy waters.

Better Late Than Never.  --GreGen

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Another Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies

From the May 14, 2013, Prairie View (Kansas City, Mo.) Post "Jesse Dunnagan-- Prairie Village resident, Pearl Harbor survivor--  dies at 92."

Mr. Dunnagan was gun director on the USS California and had to jump into the water and avoid pools of burning oil swimming to safety to Ford Island.  He was initially reported as dead.

Back on the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2011, Prairie Village declared it as "Jesse Dunnagan Day."

He also served in the Korean and Vietnam wars.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Calling All Rosies

From the May 16, 2013, Lancaster (Pa) News " Group seeks stories from county's 'Rosies the Riveters'"

Rosie the Riveters were women who worked as riveters, welders and plant inspectors during World War II to keep the fighting men supplied with the weapons they needed.

The "American Rosie the Riveter Association" is looking for stories from Lancaster County women to put into their archives.

The association was formed in 1998 and currently has 4,300 members nationwide.  The 15th Annual Convention will be held June 14-16 in Dearborn, Michigan.

Call toll free at 1-888-557-6743 or write "American Rosie the Riveter, P.O. Box 188, Kimberly, Al., 35091.

A Great Group.  --GreGen

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Great Story: The Bracelet

From the December 25, 2011, Chicago Sun-Times.

This was one of those touching human-interest stories, especially on Christmas Day.  The story involved a bracelet being returned to a woman.  This bracelet had been given to Delores Wells Mistretta by Army Lt. Bill Sexton before he shipped off to Europe.

It was returned to her 69 years later.

Check It Out, by Mark Konkel.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Harry Daube, Last Remaining Survivor of the USS Leopold-- Part 1

From the June 6, 2010, Coast Guard Compass "WWII Coast Guardsman receives Purple Heart" by Christopher Lagan.

Harry Milton Daube, 88, the last surviving member of the crew of the USS Leopold, sunk by a German U-boat March 9, 1944, in the North Atlantic near Iceland, received a long overdue Purple Heart Medal from the commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville.

Daube was a seaman first class at the time and one of only 28 survivors when the ship sank.  All 13 officers died as did 158 of 186 enlisted men.  The men waited on life rafts (some in the water hanging onto the rafts) as their ship split in two and sank beneath the waves.

He was rescued by the USS Joyce and returned to New York City.  He continued his Coast Guard service until the end of the war.

The Purple Heart is the oldest military decoration in the world and awarded in the name of the president of the United States to servicemen and women wounded or killed in combat.  Earlier this month I wrote about the Purple Heart Medal of Clyde Ballenger who lost his life on the Leopold.  However, he received his during the war, but it somehow became lost until earlier this year.

Mr. Daube's arrived just 66 years late.

Better Late Than Never.  --GreGen

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The USS Joyce (DE-317)-- Part 2

The Joyce's next convoy found it involved with rescue operations for the SS Pan-Pennsylvania, one of the largest vessels ever built, that had been hit by torpedoes.  In the process of rescuing survivors, the submarine was detected and the Joyce dropped a pattern of depth charges forcing the U-550 to the surface where the Joyce and two other ships opened fire.  After a hard fight, the submarine surrendered, but was scuttled.

The Joyce went on eight more convoys before being transferred to the Pacific in July 1945.  There, it protected some more convoys.

It was decommissioned May 1, 1946 and placed with the Atlantic Inactive Fleet in Florida.

As the Cold War heated up in 1950, the ship was recommissioned and became a Radar Picket Ship, serving first in the Atlantic and then the Pacific.  It was decommissioned in 1960 and sold for scrapping in 1973.

The Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

The USS Joyce (DE-317)-- Part 1

Of there was ever a sister ship to another, it would have to be the USS Joyce to the USS Leopold, the ship that Clyde Ballenger died on in 1944.  It was also an Edsall-class destroyer escort.  This one was named for Ensign Philip Michael Joyce, KIA 19 February 1942 in the Japanese attack on Darwin.\, Australia.

It was built by the same builder as the Leopold, in the same place, only laid down sixteen days earlier, March 8, 1943, launched 26 May and commissioned 30 September 1943.  Again, it sure didn't take the country a long time to launch a ship.

Its first duty was escorting a 100-ship convoy tp North Africa, leaving 4 December 1943.  It returned in January 1944, and then was sent on the March 1st convoy with the USS Leopold.  The two ships attacked the German U-boat and the Leopold was sunk.  It was the Joyce that rescued the few survivors.

A Story of Two Sister Ships.  --GreGen

Monday, May 13, 2013

The USS Leopold (DE-319): Clyde Ballenger's Ship-- Part 2

The  Leopold was built by the Consolidated Steel Corporation in Orange, Texas.

It's first duty was a convoy to the Mediterranean Sea and then it performed anti-submarine net duty off the Strait of Gibraltar.  It then returned to New York City with another convoy.

On March 1, 1944, it joined 27-ship convoy CU-16 crossing the Atlantic.  On March 8th, they received intelligence that there was a German submarine ahead, so course was altered, coming close to Iceland.  On the 9th, radar contact with the sub was made and the Leopold and USS Joyce were sent off to intercept it.

The crew was sent to General Quarters, a flare shot off and they spotted the U-255 in the process of diving.  A short time later, a torpedo hit the Leopold.  There were just 28 survivors and 171 lost their lives, including North Carolinian Clyde Ballenger.

And, That North Atlantic Water Is Mighty Cold.  --GreGen

The USS Leopold (DE-319): Clyde Ballenger's Ship-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

Last week I wrote about Clyde Ballenger's Purple Heart medal being found in Wilmington, some 70 years after he was issued it.  His ship, the USS Leopold, was sunk on convoy duty in the North Atlantic, March 9, 1944.  He did not survive.

The USS Leopold was an Edsall-class destroyer escort named for Ensign Robert Lawrence Leopold who lost his life on the USS Arizona that day in Pearl Harbor.  It was laid down on 24 March 1943, launched 12 June 1943 and commissioned 18 October 1943.  That gives you an idea at how fast the American war industry was operating by 1943.    From beginning to launch was just over two and a half months.

It was 306 feet long, had a crew of 209 and weaponry consisting of three 3-inch guns, anti-aircraft guns, depth charges and torpedo tubes.

The Story of a Ship.  --GreGen

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Wrap Up Last Mission-- Part 2: "We Just Did What We Had to Do"

"At the time of the raid, you know the war was on and it was just a mission we went on, we were lucky enough to survive it but it didn't seem like that big of a deal at the time," said Edward Saylor.  I don't know, taking off from the short flight deck of an aircraft carrier, something people didn't think Army bombers could do, is something in my book.

Sixteen planes, loaded with one-ton bombs took off from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, knowing that they had just enough fuel to drop their loads and high-tail it for China and hopefully safety.  Of course, there would be no way they could land back on the ship.

Richard Cole said, "We were all pretty upbeat about it.  We didn't have any bad thoughts about what was going to happen.  We just did what we had to do"  Cole was James Doolittle's co-pilot.

The reunion was a week-long event

Thomas Carey, business manager for the Raiders said that the four survivors have decided that because of age and health issues, they can no longer keep up with the demands of public appearances.  "Their mission ends here in Fort Walton Beach on Saturday night, but their legacy starts then."

The Greatest generation.  --GreGen

Doolittle Raiders Wrap Up Last Mission-- Part 1

From the April 19, 2013, USA Today, AP, "Doolittle Raiders wrap up missions."

The final reunion, number 71, took place at Eglin Air Force Base near Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  They met here because it is where they trained in early 1942 for their top-secret mission, a short time after the devastation at Pearl Harbor.

There are still four survivors of the raid and three were present at the reunion.  Robert Hite, 93, was unable to attend.

Richard Cole, 98, can still fly and land a vintage B-25, which he did, waving and smiling from the cockpit at onlookers.

David Thatcher, 91, loves to tell stories about his part in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Tokyo.

Edward Saylor, 93, still gets laughs from his one-liners that helped U.S. morale as much as it hurt that of Japan.

The Final Toast Taken.  --GreGen

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lost Purple Heart Found-- Part 3: Clyde Ballenger

The Coast Guard keeps it records before 1950 on index cards.  Here is the Clyde Ballenger story.

In 1940, Clyde Ballenger, 18, was living with his parents in New Bern, North Carolina. He had left school after 9th grade.

Clyde Edward Ballenger, service number 220-823, was born in Sumter, SC, October 26, 1921 and enlisted in the Coast Guard as an apprentice seaman.  It is known that he married Emily Elizabeth Ballenger, but no records of her can be found after 1944.

Mr. Ballenger's mother, Nora, died in 1949 and his father Clyde died in 1955.

William "Bill" Ballenger, 84, still lives in New Bern, a cousin of Ballenger's on his father's side.  He remembers a little about Clyde, but says he is the last of his family.  He said that Clyde's wife, a young widow, remarried and moved away.

There is still a question as to how the renters came to have the Purple Heart.

One of History's Little Questions.  --GreGen

Lost Purple Heart Found-- Part 2: Sinking of the USS Leopold

Seaman First Class Troy Gowers was knocked out of his shoes and onto a net a dozen feet away.  He returned to his gun only to find it jammed.  Electricity went out and the order to abandon ship given.

Making matters worse, there was a storm going on and it continued to strengthen as the USS Leopold sank.  The USS Joyce passed by heading to attack the submarine.  Its captain said they were dodging torpedoes, but would be back to pick up the survivors.

The Leopold rolled over in waves fifty feet high.  Of the 199 crew, just 28 survived.  Clyde Ballenger, 22, was not one of them.

Mr. Clyde Ballenger Next.  --GreGen

Lost Purple Heart Is Found-- Part 1: Battle of the Atlantic

From the 4-24-13, Jacksonville (NC) Daily News "recently discovered Purple Heart belonged to New Bern man lost in WW II" by Julian March.

Nearly 70 years after Clude Ballenger's ship was sunk in the North Atlantic, a Wilmington mother, Sylvia Jabaley, doing spring cleaning found his Purple Heart medal.  Her husband had found it in 1998 in the belongings left by renters at a house he owned at the corner of Wrightsville Avenue and Audubon Boulevard.

Inscribed on the back was name and rank "Clyde E. Ballenger, boatswain's mate second class USCG."  He did an internet search, but found no family that could be confirmed.

Some 73,000 Americans never returned home from the war.  Clyde Ballenger was one of them.  He was on the USS Leopold when it was sunk 400 miles south of Iceland March 9, 1944.  The Leopold was one of 30 destroyer escorts built in 1943 by the Navy and manned by Coast Guard crews for Atlantic convoy duty.

In the winter of 1944, after two weeks of training off the coast of Maine, the Leopold escorted a 27-ship convoy across the North Atlantic.  On March 9th, they made contact with a German U-boat and the Leopold and USS Joyce attacked.  The submarine managed to dive and then shortly after, the Leopold was hit by a torpedo.

Mighty Cold Water Out there in the North Atlantic.  --GreGen

Bits of War: Missouri Benefits-- Bad Residue

Some New News About an Old War.

1.  MISSOURI BENEFITS--  From the April 26, 2013, Pacific Business News.  With fewer boats going out to the USS Arizona Memorial on Oahu because of the government's sequester, visitors are going more to the nearby battleship USS Missouri, with the second-highest number ever last month, 51,954. The Missouri also reported a 12% increase in January (before the sequester) over the same month in 2012.

The Pacific Aviation Museum also reports an increase. 

2.  BAD RESIDUE--  From the 4-23-13 Seattle (Wash) Post-Intelligencer.  The soil at a base where WWII B-17 bomber gunners were trained is contaminated.  The shooting range had them firing at clay targets that, as it turns out, were made of potentially dangerous chemicals fired in coal tar used to make the targets.

It Just Goes On.  --GreGen

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

World War II-era Vessel Still Sunk in Mississippi River

From the Dec. 23, 2011, St. Paul (Mn) Pioneer Press.

Unfortunately, I was unable to come up with the ship's name and am not sure if it was a submarine chaser or minelayer.  I'd guess sub chaser because of its size, though.  I also read that it was a minelayer used at D-Day and at one time had log books from the Normandy Invasion.

Anyway, the ship is partly submerged.  Maybe its not even there anymore as I did not read a follow-up on it.

Local governments and agencies are squabbling over who is responsible for the 200 ton ship's cleanup and removal.  It sank some four years earlier in 2007 between Denmark Township and Hastings, Minnesota.

Oil and petroleum has been removed from it, it poses no environmental threat and it is right by the shoreline in shallow water, posing no navigational hazard.

No one knows for sure who the current owner is.  Former owner Richard Lindsay lived on it and supposedly sold it to his friend Doug Lentz.

Cost to remove and get rid of pollutants is anywhere from $70,000 to $140,000, which is the big hold-up.

Let's get It Out of There.  --GreGen

Bits of War: Marines-- Mines and Bombs

1.  MARINES--  There was a good article by Beth Crumley in the Huffington Post on December 22, 2011, "I'll Be Home for Christmas--Marines in WWII."  It was about the Marines at Wake Island who weer attacked on December 8, 1941 and held out for 15 days against incredible odds.

2.  MINES AND BOMBS--  December 22, 2011, UPI "World War II mines still a threat in Germany."

Land mines set out during the war are decaying, becoming unstable and exploding as happened with two that went off spontaneously in the eastern German state of Brandenburg.

Plus, there is the problems with bombs that failed to explode back then.  One that exploded December 14th made a hole 33 feet deep.  Earlier in the month, 45,000 were evacuated in Kolbenz while experts disarmed a 1.8 ton British bomb found in the Rhine River.

Germans will be dealing with these for years to come.

Watch Where You Walk.  --GreGen

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The USS Iowa Comes Home

December 2011 AP "USS Iowa nearing final voyage."

It is now in its final mooring near Los Angeles, California, but back in 2011 it was preparing to make the last voyage of a United States battleship.

The last-surviving World War II battleship without a home had been docked in Richmond, California (near San Francisco), is preparing for its final journey to the Port of Los Angeles.  It was to be towed there in March.  The Pacific Battleship center in Los Angeles has raised $8 million to rescue the 68-year-old ship from the Ghost Fleet in Suisun Bay. 

The 800-foot ship was commissioned in 1943 and was used in World War Ii, the Korean War and last sailed in 1990.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The Iowa is long and lean and power-ful-looking like an old lion."  Its two anchors weigh 30,000 pounds each and it is the only American battleship ever fitted with a bathtub which was installed when the ship carried FDR to Africa on his way to his summit meeting in Iran during World War II with Churchill and Stalin.

In 1989, the middle gun on a turret exploded, killing 47 sailors.

While still in San Francisco, it was open for tours on weekends from 10-4 for a $10 donation.

Sure Glad They Saved It.  Fortunately, Most All of Our Last battleships Are Museums Today.  --GreGen

Aircraft Turret Found in Ohio Woods-- Part 2

The partially buried turret was dug up December 10th.  Dale Burrier said, "The turret housed twin 50-caliber machine guns that would shoot bullets at roughly 600 rounds per minute.  This type was mounted on top of B-17s, right behind the pilot.  It was operated by the flight engineer who was tending the plane."

The turret is six feet tall and 32-inches in diameter "just enough for a fellow to climb into and stand upright."  Burrier figures the turrets value at $3,000 and that it is fairly rare, "Most of them were scrapped after the war, chopped up, melted down and turned into other things."

According to Burrier, there are about twelve B-17s still flying.  Only three have complete original turrets, the rest are reproductions carrying fake guns.

No one knows how it got there.  Possibly it was bought at a second-hand store or Army-Navy Surplus place and used a s a plaything by children who lived in a now-demolished house on the property before the city acquired it.

Post-war uses of B-17s were often fighting forest fires as "fire bombers.  They were also used to rescue crews of stricken aircraft and sinking ships, aerial mapping and topography.

Glad They Saved It.  --GreGen

Aircraft Gun Turret Found in Ohio Woods-- Part 1

From the December 21, 2011, Hudson Hub (Ohio) News "World War II aircraft gun turret found in Aurora headed to museum" by Holly Schoenstein.

The turret was found in the woods at Moebius Nature Center by Aurora resident Paul Yoc and a friend who were jogging through the woods last year..  Last month, they told colleague and aviation history buff Dale Burrier of Newton Falls about it.

The Sperry Corporation manufactured the cast aluminum and steel turret for mounting on aircraft during the war.  They were used on heavy and medium bombers like B-17s and B-24s.  They were mounted above and behind the pilots for protection from attack from above.

This particular turret was in bad shape after all its time in the woods.  The City of Aurora owns the nature center and will donate it to the Military Aviation Preservation Society in North Canton.

Digging Turrets.  --GreGen

Monday, May 6, 2013

German Dornier 17 Bomber to Be Raised From English Channel

From the May 3, 2013,  Indeendent "Second World War Dornier bomber to be raised from watery grave in the Channel" by Rob Williams.

The effort to raise this plane, the only surviving one of its kind, was announced today.  It was spotted by divers in 2008 at 50 feet deep in a chalk bed with a small debris field around it in the Goodwin Sands off the Kent Coast.

The bombers were called the Luftwaffe's "Flying Pencil" because of its narrow fuselage.  Reports say it is in remarkable condition.

Inspection of it shows it is DO17Z Werke number 1,160.  The undercarriage tires are still inflated and propeller damage from the water crash is evident.

It is expected to take three weeks to lift and is funded by a grant from the National Heritage Fund and its historical value stems from it being one of the main German bombers used during the Battle of Britain.

This is one mighty strange-looking aircraft.  I wonder how it carried the bombs?

Here's Hoping All Goes Well.  --GreGen

Saturday, May 4, 2013

New York City's Fort Hamilton

Likewise, I hadn't heard of this fort either when I did today's first blog entry.  Wiki here I go again.

The cornerstone was laid in 1825 and the fort was completed in 1831.During both world wars it served as major embarkation and separation centers.  It is estimated that some 3 million troops headed for Europe were processed there.

Most if its parade ground and brick barracks were destroyed in 1959 when the Verrazano Bridge was built.

Its Battery AMTB 18 at Norton Point was built as a defense against fast enemy torpedo boats and aircraft and it also had a coastal gun battery mounting four 3"M1902MI guns.  The guns were transferred to Fort Wadsworth 29 Nov 1942.

Nothing remains of the fort.

Now, You Know.  --GreGen

Las Vegas' Rancho Drive and Its World War II Connection

Yesterday, I posted about this major road in Las Vegas, Nevada, which was built during World War II with a specific reason.

You can find the account in my May 3rd RoadDog's RoadLog Blog.


New York City's Fort Wadsworth

From Wikipedia.

Willard Seidenfield mentioned Fort Wadsworth, which I had never heard of, so Wiki there I go.

Fort Wadsworth is located at The Narrows, which divides New York Bay into upper and lower.  The fort was closed in 1994 and at that time was the longest-continually-manned military installation in the United States.

It was named in 1864 in honor of Union General James Wadsworth who had been killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virgina that year.  The fort also included the Civil War-era Battery Weed and Fort Thompkins, built on the bluff above it.  Both of these installations were built around 1850.  The site is located by the Verrazano Bridge.

During World War II, several batteries were built at the fort and many anti-aircraft positions added.  The Coast Artillery had operational control and there was also underwater mine defenses as well.  Four three-inch guns were also added and used in conjunction with Battery Turnbull.  And, at one point, some Italian prisoners were housed there.

After the war, it became a radar control center for a missile system.

So, That's the Fort.  --GreGen

Watching the Ships Go to War-- Part 2

Continued from April 30th entry.

In the park across the street from the railroad, Willard Steinield saw a wooden structure with steps going up and a platform on top which had an anti-aircraft gun and a machine gun.  He always thought the thing was so rickety that if a German plane flew too close it would fall down of its own accord.

His home was close to where the Hudson River flowed into the Atlantic Ocean.

One morning at Fort Hamilton (Fort Wadsworth was across from it), he "aw two destroyers steaming back and forth across the entrance to the harbor like metallic sentinels.  That evening I visited at Shore Road alongside the Hudson River.  You could not have any cameras or binoculars in this area.

I counted 60 merchant ships strung haphazardly across the harbor.  I remember marveling how the ferry boat from Brooklyn to Staten Island would thread its way among them.

The next morning there wasn't a single ship in the harbor.  They had all left in the night as part of a convoy headed for England.

We used to get warnings in school to keep our windows open when they would try out the big guns at Fort Hamilton.  They were afraid that the concussion would break windows."

A Great Account of Life On the Homefront  --GreGen

Friday, May 3, 2013

Five Things About the Doolittle Raiders-- Part 3

4.  The raid caused strategic scrambling by the Japanese.  Very little real damage was done to Japan during the raid.  But it did cause the Japanese to pull back its fleet from the Indian Ocean to protect the home islands.  It also contributed to Japanese Admiral Yamamoto's decision to attack Midway Island which became a major American victory and turned the tide of the War in the Pacific.

It was great for American morale and a blow to that of Japan.

5.  China suffered the most from the raid.  Chinese civilians and American missionary John Birch helped rescue and hide the raiders.  In retaliation for helping the Americans, Japanese forces massacred approximately 250,000 Chinese civilians in eastern China as part of its Zhejiang-Jiangxi Campaign.

A Gallant Effort.  --GreGen

Five Things About the Doolittle Raiders-- Part 2

3.  James Doolittle considered the raid a failure because he lost all 16 of his planes due to ditching or crash landing.  He was sure he'd be court-martialled when he returned.  Rather than that, he received the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor.

Five of his men were captured by the Soviets (supposedly allies), but managed to escape in Iran.

Eight were captured by the Japanese.  Of those, three were executed and one died of starvation.

The other four were finally freed by US troops in August 1945, including one who is still alive, Lt.Col. Robert Hite

Four are still alive as of this date, but one was too ill to attend the 71st Reunion.


Five Things About Doolittle's Raiders-- Part 1

From the April 21, 2013, Air Force Times "What Airmen should know about the Doolittle Raiders."

1.  They had short takeoff training for their B-25 bombers on a 500-ft airstrip at Eglin Field (now Eglin AFB.  This was how much room they would have to take off from a Navy aircraft carrier's deck (the Hornet)  This was the first time an Army bomber had ever taken off from a carrier.

And, the first plane (Doolittle's) to take off had less runway than the latter ones.

2.  They did not spend time on landings.  As it was, they had to take off some ten hours and 170 miles farther out than planned when they were spotted by a Japanese patrol boat.  Doolittle went ahead anyway, knowing that this additional distance meant there was no way they had enough fuel to reach unoccupied China.

Mighty Brave Lads.  --GreGen

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Visit Pensacola-- Part 2

The Doolittle Raiders had their 71st reunion last week at Eglin Air Force Base in nearby Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  They don't plan on having a 72nd one because, according to Richard Cole, "It's getting harder for some of us to travel.  But, we'll keep in touch on the telephone."

Only three of the remaining four showed up for this one.

The Raiders sign autographs for $5 apiece and commemorative posters for $30.  The proceeds from this go to the General James H. Doolittle Scholarship Fund which provides a $5,000 college scholarship to high achievers.  These Raiders are still doing good for their country.

Sheridan Liu traveled from his home in Los Angeles for the event.  His father, Tung-Sheng Liu, was part of the Chinese resistance to the Japanese occupation of his country.  "My father spoke English.  He was introduced to the Raiders and was kind of recruited by them as an interpreter to help get them to safety.  He traveled with the Raiders for about two weeks helping to get them out of Japanese-occupied territory."

Among the Best of the Best.  --GreGen

Two Kitsap Pearl Harbor Survivors Die-- Part 2

Don Greem was a shipfitter on the USS Pyro, an ammunition ship in West Loch Depot, about a half mile from Battleship Row.  He was 19-years-old and manned a gun and began firing.

A Japanese dive bomber released a bomb that landed on the dock, just twelve feet from his ship.  It penetrated the concrete and exploded underneath, jarring the Pyro (some name for a ship) but didn't set off the ammunition the ship had. 

The Pyro suffered no damage and is credited with damaging one enemy plane.

That Was a VERY CLOSE Call.  --GreGen

Two Kitsap, Washington Area Pearl Harbor Survivors Die-- Part 1

From the February 27, 2013, Kitsap (Wash) Sun by Ed Friedrich.

GERHARD JENSCH, 93, died February 21st.
DON GREEN, 90, died Monday

JOSEPH STENSTROM, 92, died December 20, 2012.

There are now only eight Pearl Harbor survivors still living in Kitsap County.

Gerhard Jensch was a Gunners Mate on the USS California, which had 105 deaths that day, manning a 5-inch anti-aircraft gun.  He abandoned ship and swam to Ford Island.  :"I was halfway there, swimming and I noticed these little pinpoints of water, water spouts.  The fighter planes, they were strafing us."

He wasn't hit, got to shore and took shelter among some pipes, but the Navy believed he had died in the attack and notified his parents.  An obituary appeared on the front page of his hometown newspaper in Saginaw, Michigan.

The Navy found out he was alive and sent a telegram to his parents a few days later.

Oops!  Sorry!  --GreGen

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Visit Pensacola-- Part 1

From the April 21, 2013, Pensacola (Fla) News Journal."Doolittle Raiders: Surviving WWII aviators greet fans at Naval Aviation Museum" by R. Johnson.

Two of the remaining four Doolittle Raiders were at the museum: Richard Cole, 97 and David Thatcher, 91.

Elizabeth Pelon waited in line for half an hour just to shake their hands.  She recalled the April1942 news flash and thought, "Hey, maybe we can win this war.

Cole said that the highlight of the attack for him was when he had to bail out of the plane, "The best thing was when my parachute opened."  I guess so.

Mighty Special People.  --GreGen

Another Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies

From the March 19, 2013, Ludington (Michigan) Daily News "Pearl Harbor survivor Leo Petrosky dies Saturday"

Leo Petrosky, 91, was born in Pennsylvania in 1922 and his family moved to Detroit four years later.  He joined the Navy on his 18th birthday in 1940.

He was on the flagship of the U.S. Pacific fleet, the USS Pennsylvania and worked on the ship's plane catapults.

Sorry to See Them Go.  --GreGen