Saturday, November 30, 2013

"Tutankhamun's Tomb of Aviation History": The Lost Kitty Hawk

From the Nov. 26, 2013, Perth Now "A World War II Kitty Hawk fighter has been recovered intact from the Sahara Desert,"

British Flight Sergeant Dennis Copling was returning a damaged P-40 Kitty Hawk fighter to repair center in Egypt and was never seen again. His plane was recently found and declared the "Tutankhamun's Tomb of Aviation History.

An oil worker came across it some 400 km from the nearest town, evidently uncovered by shifting sands. The pilot, Sgt. Copling likely set out on foot after the crash. Human remains were found a few kilometers away from the crash site.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Doolittle Raiders Final Toast-- Part 2

This past Saturday, November 9th, Liz and I watched the proceedings on a live stream from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson AFB, northeast of Dayton, Ohio. This was major history in my book. Early on, we saw a video featuring past Doolittle Reunions. It was sad to see fewer and fewer attendees, especially in the last ten years. Just four remain now.

Then there were a lot of speeches. I was surprised that the president was not there. Then they had a roll call by plane. The names of each five-man crew was called off and the three in attendance answered with "Here" when their name was called. Somewhere at home, I'm sure Col. Hite did the same (he was unable to attend due to health). Relatives of "Those Who Have Passed On" stood when their name was called.

I particularly enjoyed the talk about the first reunion in 1946 which must have been quite a party with all sorts of antics keeping guests at the Miami hotel up to the wee hours and a "Raid" on the hotel pool. Col. Doolittle paid $2,000 for it, but said that in the future, the Raiders had to pay their own way.

Then we heard the history of the toast and the bottle of 1894 Hennessy cognac given to Doolittle in the 1950s with the 1894 being his birthday. I always thought the bottle in the goblet case was the original, but it wasn't. The very original one disappeared while at the U.S. Air Force Academy. The replacement bottle was always kept at the homes of various Raiders, so this was the first time the public had ever seen the original, well replacenment.

Col. Cole, Doolittle's co-pilot, had some difficulty opening the bottle, but once done, the toast was made. Liz and I toasted right along with the Raiders, I with a shot of Rebel Yell and Liz with a Rumchata.

Like I Say, "The Greatest Generation." -- GreGen

Doolittle Raiders Final Toast, Nov. 9th

If that just doesn't really burn you. I had just finished a rather lengthy account of the Doolittle Raiders Final Toast and while setting my pop can down, managed to hit the stupid Escape button and gone it was. Even worse, the screen went to blank page mode so I had to shut everything down and that takes forever. That's a Real Burn. Stupid Can. --GreGen

Hoping to See the Doolittle Goblets and JFK's Air Force One This Friday

I'm leaving tomorrow for North Carolina and planning on being at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB, northeast of Dayton this Friday. I'm going there because of the recent Doolittle Toast on November 9th and, of course, this Friday is November 22nd, the 50th anniversary of the JFK Assassination.

The museum is the repository of the Doolittle Raiders and it also has the Air Force One jet that carried the Kennedys to Dallas that day and then Kennedy's body back and where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as the new president with Jackie Kennedy standing by his side in that famous photo. Plus, Kennedy was quite the war hero, especially with the PT-109 incident.

That Would Be Quite a Connection With the Date. --GreGen

Festung Guernsey and Channel Islands Occupation Society

From Festung Guernsey site.

I have been coming across the name Festung Guernsey quite a bit in my entries about the German occupation of the island during the war. According to their site, they are "Dedicated to Preserving Guernsey's German Fortifications."

Some of the sites include: Batterie Dollmann, MP3, Naval Signal HQ, 10.5 cm Jager Casemate, Telephone Bunker, Vale Castle, Batterie Mirus, MP4, Grantez, 4.7 cm Pak Casemate L'Eree, Batterie Scharnhorst, 2 cm Flak and Cobofels.

They offer tours, but not for individuals, but do have information packs for self-guided tours.

According to Wikipedia, there is also a Channel islands Occupation Society with two branches, one based on Jersey and the other on Guernsey.

It's Great That They Are Maintain Their Heritage. --GreGen

Flooded World War II Guernsey German Bunker Reopened By Festung Guernsey

From the BBC-Guernsey.

The Festung Guernsey organization pumped water out of four concrete structures built to house a 4.7 cm gun at Vazon Bay. There is also an identical bunker at L'Eree. They were a bit surprised to find a Congee eel and no one is sure how long or how it got there. After catching it, the eel was returned to the sea.

The bunkers were part of Hitlers Atlantikwall (Atlantic Wall) which ran from northern Norway to France and its border with Spain. It was built to defend occupied countries from the anticipated Allied attack.

No doubt German engineers determined that Vazon Bay would be a good spot to invade Guernsey.

Most Have Been One Thankful Eel. --GreGen

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anti-Landing Devices Found on Guernsey

From BBC--Guernsey.

They were discovered by the group Festund Guernsey on the west coast during low water on Saline Bay near Grand Rocques. They were a part of German anti-landing defense. Four were found of the six needed to build the tetrahedron-shaped object. These were never removed after German withdrawal from the island.
The British Army disposed of these devices by cutting the wires that held them together and letting them fall to the beach and slowly sink into the sand.

Gales or tidal conditions exposed them. There are still ones at Fermain, Belle Greve and Fort Doyle. Germany placed them at mid-tide point, figuring that if there was an Allied attack it would be during rising tide. At mid-tide, their vessels/vehicles would hit the mines or obstacles and sink.


Missing Marines Laid to Rest-- Part 3

In 1949, Captain Henry White and S.Sgt. Thomas Meek were declared "non-recoverable," and their names were etched on the Tablets of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

On a separate recovery mission in Vanuatu in 2010, personnel from the military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command snapped aerial photos of Mavea Island. A year later, a team was on the ground interviewing residents, including Willy's son, who was a child at the time of the crash.

When excavation began in August 2012, the team found some bones along with old U.S. and Australian coins, White's rank insignia and Meeks ID card. They concluded they had enough evidence that the Marines had been found.

Too bad there was no mention of whether any relatives were found. --GreGen

Monday, November 18, 2013

Missing Marines Laid to Rest-- Part 2

Their plane was designated bureau number 06969, a line of planes that sank many Japanese vessels during the war. The crash occurred on a coral cliff less than two miles from the runway. A rescue party found its burnt wreckage and collected what they could of Captain White and S.Sgt. Meek, burying the remains in a nearby ravine, according to a 2012 report on the crash.

Four years later, after the war, a group of the Army's 604th Quartermaster Graves Company went to Mavea Island to investigate the crash, and also that of 2nd Lt. Bernard Jensen, whose aircraft had no identifying bureau number. They met two islanders known as Willy and Billy and "...Billy led the search party to an area of thick jungle and described what he saw there on the day of [Jensen's] crash. He explained to the [soldiers] that he and the Marine search party found only the pilot's body approximately 100 feet from the airplane. 

After a search of the crash site for any remaining evidence, the search team left Mavea Island without finding the BuNu 06969 crash site."

If At First You Don't Succeed.... More to Come Tomorrow. --GreGen

Turtle Bay Airfield, Espiritu Santo Island

From Wikipedia.

Following up on the last post.

Also called Fighter Field #1. Former World War II airfield on the island of Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides Islands. The first bases on Espiritu Santo were built to defend Efate and to support the Solomon Islands Campaign.

A group of SeeBees and a Marine anti-aircraft battery arrived at Turtle Bay 8 July 1942, to begin work on the airfield and were given twenty days to have the place up and running. Assisted by 296 infantry, 90 Marines and 50 islanders they had a 6,000 foot long runway cleared and surfaced with crushed coral.

They made their target date.

The first fighters arrived July 28, 1942, followed the next day by B-17 bombers from the 26th Bombardment Squadron. Planes were fueled from drums and the first attack against Guadalcanal was launched July 30th.

The base was disestablished 2 Jan 1945 and the same happened to NOB Espiritu Santo 12 June 1946. The airfield is now largely overgrown with vegetation.

According to the excellent Pacific Wrecks site, the airfeield was built in the middle of a coconut plantation with rows of plam tress lining both sides of the runway.

Never Heard of Turtle Bay Airfield Before. --GreGen

Missing Marines Laid to Rest-- Part 1

From the Oct. 28, 2013, Marine Corps Times by Andrew deGrandpre.

The remains of two Marines missing since World War II were laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Oct. 18th. Captain Henry White and Staff Sgt. Thomas Meek were in a SBD-4 Dauntless dive bomber that crashed July 21, 1943, on Mavea Island in the South Pacific about 1,100 miles from Australia's east coast. It is part of the Vanuata Chain.

The two Marines had taken off from Turtle Bay Airfield on the Espiritu Santo Island, a staging point for Allied operations against the Solomon Islands.. They were on a nighttime training mission when they went down about three minutes after takeoff.

The pilot, Henry White, 23, of Kansas City, Mo., and his gunner Meek, 19, of Lisbon, La., were assigned to a Marine scout bomber squadron. White had been commissioned a Marine officer in 1942, having come up through the Naval Reserve. Meek was the great grandson of noted American explorer Kit Carson.

Always Glad to Find Them. --GreGen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Russian Guns in German Battery On English Soil-- Part 3: The Imperator Aleksandr, From World War I to the Cold War

After rebuilding the guns to accept German ammunition, they were placed at Batterie Mirus in Guernsey. The Finns used four of the remaining 12-inch guns in coastal batteries and the last four were used to replace ones on Soviet Railway guns.

After the war, these last eight were handed over to the Soviet Union and kept in operation until 1991. One turret is now a memorial at Isosaan and one barrel is preserved at the Finnish Coast Artillery Museum in Kuivasaan.

When captured, the Nina was also carrying some of the Aleksandr's 13-cm guns. Some were used at the fort at Tangane on the island of Rugsunday. These guns engaged the British light cruiser HMS Kenya during Operation Norway Archery in 1941, but saw no other action.

So There You Have the History of the Guns of the Aleksandr. --GreGen

Russian Guns for German Battery on British Land-- Part 2: The Imperator Aleksandr III

The 551-foot long Imperator Aleksandr was interned at Bizerte by the French after it unloaded the White Russians (anti-Communist). It was later scrapped by them to pay for dock fees. Its guns were put into storage and later used by the Germans (at Guernsey Island) and Finns for coastal artillery. The Soviets and Finns continued to use the ship's guns into the Cold War.

The Aleksandr's main armament consisted of a dozen 12-inch guns mounted in four triple turrets.

These twelve guns were placed in storage in Bizerte. In June 1940, the French gave them to Finland. Eight made it safely to that country, but four were seized by Germany aboard the SS Nina when they invaded Norway April 1940.

About Those Russian-German Guns on Guernsey. --GreGen

Friday, November 15, 2013

Russian Guns for the German Battery On English Land-- Part 1: The Imperator Aleksandr III

Last week I wrote about the German battery on the British Channel Island of Guernsey that had its main 14-inch guns that had been on a Russian battleship. I decided to find out some more about that battleship.

From Wikipedia.

The Russian battleship IMPERATOR ALEKSANDR III had an interesting history. It was begun before World War I, completed in 1917 and served in the Russian Black Sea fleet during the war. There were several Russian ships by the name Imperator Aleksandr, but this is the one the guns came from.

It was later renamed Volia, or Volya, which means freedom in Russian. The ship was surrendered to Germany in 1918 who then turned it over to the British under terms of the Armistice. The British then turned the ship over to the White Russians in 1919 during the Russian Revolution. The ship helped evacuate the White Russian from Crimea in 1920 when the Red Russians took control of the country.


Women Marines-- Part 2: BAMs

From Wikipedia.

The first women Marines served during World War I. Opha Mae Johnson was the first woman to enlist in the USMC on 13 August 1918. At first, women were nicknamed Marinettes.

During World War II, the Womens Reserve was officially established 13 February 1943. By the end of the war, some 85% of all enlisted USMC personnel at headquarters were women.

They were often referred to as Lady Marines, though other branches had catchier names for their female personnel like WACs, WAVEs and WASPs. One female reporter came up with the name Beautiful American Marines, or BAMs. It didn't take long for regular Marines to start referring to them as BAMs, Broad Ass Marines.

Oh Well. --GreGen

Women Marines-- Part 1

From Women of World War II. I didn't know much about women Marines in the war until I met Madeline Weiner at the Marine Corps Birthday breakfast, so decided to do some more research on them. We had two active duty female Marine officers in attendance as well so women have come a long way in the USMC.

On July 30, 1942, the Marine Corps Womens Reserve was established as part of the Marine Corps Reserves. Their mission as stated was to provide qualified women for duty at shore establishments, releasing men for combat duty.

They were assigned to over 200 different jobs and here is a partial list: radio operator, photographer, parachute rigger, driver, aerial gunnery instructor, cook, baker, quartermaster, control tower operator, motion picture operator, auto mechanic, telegraph operator, cryptpgrapher, laundry operator, post exchange (store) manager, stenographer and agriculturalist.

And, More to Come. --GreGen

Marine Corps 239th Birthday Breakfast: Part 7: The Commandant's Message

Finishing up with General James F. Amos' annual birthday message: "Sergeant Major Michael Burrett joins me in congratulating each of you. Because of you, your selfless service, and your many sacrifices, our Corps remains strong and ready to respond to any crisis.

Throughout history, Marines have faced tough times and there will be tough times ahead, but there is no challenge we cannot overcome if we remain honorable and always faithful to our Nation, our Constituition and each other. Happy birthday, Marine!

Semper Fidelis

James F. Amos
General, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Congratulations USMC!! --GreGen

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 6

We had a 20-25 member unit of Young Marines present who were ages 8 to probably 16. They were being trained by two active-duty sergeants and were impressive kids. At one point, a middle school Young Marine accidentally bumped into me and said, "Excuse me, sir." I was impressed.

There was also a Marine at my table with a Survivor Tet Offensive patch. Altogether, we had six World War II veterans and 8 Korean War veterans. Each one was escorted to the breakfast table by the Young Marines.

I was sitting near the oldest Marine, Corporal Madeline Weiner who served from 1943-1945 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. She had a great sense of humor and referred to herself as a BAM. I'll get to that later.

Every breakfast, they walk around with microphones and everyone gets a chance to say something about their Marine service. When they came by me, I mentioned about the Doolittle Raiders Final Toast later today.

Ooh Rah!! --GreGen

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 5: Cake Cutting Ceremony

After the messages were read, the tradional cake cutting ceremony took place and, as in years past, the good folks at Lovin Ovens in Round Lake donated a magnificent cake with the Marine Corps emblem done in icing. This is where the oldest Marine present gives a piece to the youngest active duty Marine, signifying the passing on of tradition and knowledge.

This tradition was begun in 1925 in Philadelphia as a coming together of the old with the new.

Oldest Marine in attendance was a woman, Madeline Weiner, born in 1922. She received the first piece, then presented the second piece to Corporal Largent, who was born in 1990. This brought chuckles from the other, much-older, Marines in the room even though Corporal Largent was 23. Signifying warriors, the cake was cut with a sword.

After that, we had the retiring of the colors and introduction of guests.

Marines Are All About Tradition. --GreGen

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 4: The Commandant's Message

"This year, we celebrate the anniversary of several epic battles in our celebrated history: the 70th anniversary of the 2nd Marine Division landing on Tarawa, the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Hue City, and the 10th anniversary of the 'March Up' to Baghdad. Marines who fought in these legendary battles each made their mark upon the history of our Corps.

"They have passed a rich and illustrious legacy on to us, a much heralded reputation. It is ours to jealously guard and it is up to us to make our own marks and thus proudly pass it on to the generations of Marines who will follow."

Words to Be Proud Of and Continue. --GreGen

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 3: The Commandant's Message

Marines of generations past built our reputation as the most disciplined and honorable warriors to ever set foot on a battlefield, and we have triumphed in every battle because our Corps has always focused on iron discipline and combat excellence.

This is who we are, this is what we do! It matters not whether you carried an M-1, M-14, or an M-16. It matters not whether you fought on a lonely island in the Pacific, assaulted a citadel in the jungle, or marched up to Baghdad. It matters not whether you are a grunt, pilot or a loggie (logistics). What matters most is that when the chips were down and things got down your fellow Marines could count on you to stand and fight...and fight we did!"


Monday, November 11, 2013

The Doolittle Raiders Final Toast-- Part 1

This past Saturday, Liz and I stayed home long enough to see the ceremony live from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base's National Museum of the US Air Force, featuring three of the surviving Doolittle Raiders and their Final Toast to "those who have gone on before."

This was major history happening right before our eyes and we got to see it. It streamed live on the National Museum USAF and you can probably still see it at the site. I have been keeping tabs on the surviving Doolittle raiders on this blog and on my history blog before this for three years now. I also kept up with the last survivors of World War I.

Dignitaries were there, but I have to wonder why President Obama, the vice president or Secretary of Defense weren't in attendance. What these men accomplished and the courage they displayed is what the Greatest Generation is all about and they took it to a new level. I WOULD have been there.

The Greatest of the Greatest. --GreGen

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 2: The Commandant's Message

From James F. Amos, General USMC, Commandant:

"For 238 years, The United States Marine Corps has proudly served our great Nation with unfailing valor--bolstered by the enduring fortitude of our fellow Marines, our families, and our friends. This is why each year on November 10th, Marines from all generations gather together, in groups large and small, to celebrate the birthday of our Corps and to reflect on the proud legacy and warrior ethos we share. This is what unites us as Marines.

From our first battle at New Providence to today in Afghanistan, Marines have always shown that they were made of tougher stuff-- that when the enemy's fire poured in from all angles, and the situation was grim, Marines unequivocally knew that their fellow Marines would stay behind their guns, fight courageously, and drive the enemy from the battlefield.

We have always known hardship, fatigue and pain...but we have never known what it is to lose a battle."

The Few, the Proud....

Marine Corps 238th Birthday Breakfast-- Part 1

This past Saturday morning I attended the Tom Grosvenor Memorial Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast& Toys for Tots at the Fox Lake, Illinois, American Legion, Lakes Region Post 708. I've been doing this for at least the last 6-7 years and wouldn't want to miss it.

This event had its origin in 1970 when brothers Ken and Tom Grosvenor, both former Marines, would call each other on November 10th to wish each other a happy Marine Corps birthday. In 1982, Tom suggested they get together with other Marine friends and on November 10, 1983, they all met together at Hoff's Kitchen in Grayslake, Illinois, and it has been going on ever since, now in its 30th year.

That day, the Original Thirteen met: Jim Bissing, Tom Farm, Ben Floyd, Mike Gray, Ken and Tom Grosvenor, Ernie McClannahan, Jeff Ryham, Don Senger, Pete Tekampe, Jim Turnbull, Ernie Van Es and Steve Watkins.

Libby Collins of Milwaukee's WTMJ radio served as master of ceremonies. The Marine Corps League Color Guard posted the colors and then the birthday message of the Marine Corps Commandant and General Lejeune's message were read.

The Few....  --GreGen

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Liz and I Toasted Doolittle Raiders' Final Toast Yesterday

We watched the ceremony live from the National Museum of the USAF in Dayton, Ohio, yesterday. And, as three of the four survivors took that Final Toast of the 1894 Hennesy Brandy, we had a toast of our own. That was a moving ceremony and big-time history. --GreGen

World War II Marines At the USMC Birthday Breakfast Yesterday

Today marks the 238th birthday of one of America's best fighting forces, the United States Marines. Yesterday, I attended the Tom Grosvenor Memorial Marine Corps Bithday Breakfast in Fox Lake, Illinois. We had six World War II Marines in attendance, including one woman, most doing quite well healthwise. I'll be writing more about it here in the next week. Happy 238th, USMC. --GreGen

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Final Toast for the Doolittle Raiders Today

As I prepare to leave to go to the Tom Grovsner Marine Corps Birthday Breakfast (marking the 238th) and Toys for Tots Kickoff at the Fox Lake, Il., American Legion in a few minutes, I went to the National Museum of the USAF site and found a tag for the Doolittle Raider Final Toast at the upper left-hand corner and a short video reading "One Aircraft Carrier...16 Bombers....80 Men....One Incredible Mission."

That pretty-well sums it up.

I'll be watching the live feed at the site this afternoon at 5 P.M. CST. The Mission Officially Ends Today. --GreGen

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's the Final Toast for the Doolittle Raiders-- Part 2

The toasting tradition began in 1959 when the city of Tucson, Arizona, presented the Raiders with a set of 80 silver goblets, each with the name of a Raider. In the past reunions, a toast was made to those who had died since the previous meeting, then, that member's goblet would be turned upside down in the display case.  
Due to advancing age and health issues, it was decided that the reunion this past April would be the very last one. However, the surviving members wanted one last private toast and that is what will happen tomorrow.

Efforts are also underway to award a Congressional Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award, to all the Raiders.

The Raid started off from Alameda NAS and was launched from the USS Hornet. The original Hornet was later sunk in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island in October 1942. The current USS Hornet was being built at the time as the USS Kearsarge but was given the name.

The final toast is not open to the public but will have a live feed at the Pentagon Channel at 6 P.M. EST. It is also going to be available at www.nationalmuseum/ and

I plan to be watching when this history takes place.

To the Raiders. --GreGen

It's the Final Toast for Doolittle Raiders-- Part 1

From the Oct. 30, 2013, Contra Costa Times "Doolittle Raiders to gather for a final toast" by Peter Hegarty.

"They carried off one of the most legendary attacks of World War II and boosted American morale when victory over Japan seemed far from certain."

But for the survivors of the Doolittle Raid, their mission will only truly end when they raise a final toast to those who were with them that fateful day and who have since died. Just four of the men are still living.

Richard Cole, Edward Saylor and David Thatcher will be at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, tomorrow, November 9th, to do just that.

Each will lift a silver goblet of brandy during the solemn ceremony. The fourth survivor, Robert Hite will not be in attendance due to poor health.

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

Guernsey World War II Battery-- Part 2

The fortification housed more than 300 German soldiers. Their mission was to attack Allied shipping in the English Channel and secure convoy routes for German ships.

The 12-inch guns came from the Russian battleship Inperator Alexandr Trety, commissioned in 1917. The 27,300 ton warship had its name changed to Volya, meaning liberty, after the Russian Revolution and it served with the German Navy in the Black Sea. It was renamed the General Alekseyev when it became a part of the Russian White Navy.

It was broken up in 1935 and its 12-inch guns placed in storage before being sold to Finland in 1939. The German Navy captured a steamer carrying the guns and they were reconditioned and installed in Guernsey.

The battery was operational in 1942 and named after Naval Captain Rolf Mirus, who was killed traveling between Guernsey and Alderney.

Fortification Architecture. --GreGen

Guernsey World War II German Battery May Be Opened to Public-- Part 1

From the March 10, 2011, BBC Guernsey.

Batterie Mirus was built by occupying German forces on high ground along the west coast of the island of Guernsey. It consisted of four 12-inch gun emplacements and is located on now-private land. The new owner of the land has now allowed the historical group Festung Guernsey access to the battery.

It is overgrown and its interior full of trash and soil. Its guns were originally on a Russian battleship and were scrapped after the war.

Each gun site had an undergroud area with barracks, ammunition storage, generators, heating and ventillation systems. The compound also had anti-aircraft guns, flamethrowers, mortars, machine guns, radar, smaller artillery and searchlights.

No Slouch of a Fortification. --GreGen

A "Rosie" Turns 105: Jennie Truncale

From the April 3, 2011, Fort Myer (Fla.) News-Press.

Jennie Truncale, 105, of South Fort Myers, Florida, is still on the go. During World War II she made bullets for the fighting men and was featured on the cover of "Woman Power Magazine" in 1942, shown cutting out cardboard fuse rings in the press room of Scovill Manufacturing in Waterbury, Ct.

She quit school at age 15 to begin working there. She and hundreds of thousands of other women replaced some two million men in uniform who were off to war. She ended up working there for 38 years.

She is a long-standing member of the Rosie the Riveter Association.

FOLLOW UP:  Since this story is over two years old and because of her advanced age, I did a follow up to see how she was doing. Jennie Truncale is now 107 "years young" and according to the 4-12-13 River Weekly News is living with her daughter and had a birthday luncheon at the Continental Women's Club in Fort Myers.

She was born April 11, 1906 when the average life expectancy was 50. She grew up on a farm.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Ashes Committed to Sea

From the Oct. 31, 2013, Navy News.

The ashes of GALE MOHLERBRINK were scattered in Pearl Harbor near the USS Utah Memorial by Ford Island at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam during an October 29th ceremony.

He was born in 1924 and entered the U.S. Navy at age 17 and stationed on the heavy cruiser USS Northampton CA-26, but had been assigned to work ashore on the Captain's Gig, a job entrusted to only the best sailors.

After the attack, he worked to rescue survivors and then went on patrol in Hawaiian waters looking for the Japanese Battle Fleet.

He held the rank of coxswain at Pearl Harbor and later in the war was at the Battles of Midway and Guadalcanal where his ship earned six battle stars before it was sunk at the Battle of Tassafaronga. Mr. Mohlerbrink survived that despite being in shark-infested waters until a destroyer rescued him and his shipmates.

Later, he served on the destroyer USS Edison (DD-439). //// He died July 7, 2013. //// Another of the Greatest Generation.


More Pearl Harbor Deaths

NELSON J. "FERGY" FERGUSON, 93-- Died Oct. 6, 2013. Was at Schofield Barracks during the attack and a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association (PHSA).

JOHN RAUSCHKOLB, 92 Died Oct. 12th in Marion County, California. On the USS West Virginia during attack and led the local PHSA chapter. Four vintage WW II-era vehicles were displayed at his services.

The Greatest Generation. --GreGen

Britain's Guernsey Island in World War II

From Wikipedia.

This past week I posted two articles about German defense mines being found back in 2012 on the island of Guernsey and the opening of a German bunker. I have several other 2012 items to write about as well as I play catch up on my World War II articles.

I was completely unfamiliar with the existence of this island or its occupation by the Germans during the war before the blog, so here is a little background information.

In my War of 1812 blog, I found out that British war hero Isaac Brock, commander of British forces in Canada in the first year of the war, was also born there in 1769.

Guernsey is a British Crown Dependency, one of what is called the Channel Islands, in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. It includes the main island of Guernsey and several smaller nearby ones.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey was occupied by German forces during World War II. Before its occupation, most of the island's children were evacuated to Britain where they lived for the duration of German occupation. Some never returned. In addition, some Guernsey residents were sent to camps in southwest Germany.

The island was heavily fortified by the Germans "out of proportion to the island's strategic value."

With the war's 70th anniversary upon us, Guernsey has taken steps with its heritage.

Remembering. --GreGen

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Maui in World War II-- Part 4

From Wikipedia.

This last week I have been writing about the Hawaiian island of Maui during the war. Here is a general overview of its role in the war.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Maui airfields were militarized. In 1942, the military determined that Pu-unene airport was unsatisfactorty so condemned it and began building a new NAS. Even so, they continued to use Pu'unene and expanded it during the course of the war.

Maui served as a staging center, training base and point of rest and relaxation during the war. At the island's peak use in 1943-1944, 100,000 military personnel were stationed there.

Maui was the home base of the 4th Marine Division in Haiku. Its beaches were used for practice landings and for training in marine demolition and sabotage. The Maui Agricultural Company converted its kiln facility to a cement plant for the duration of the war.

After the war, thousands of ex-GIs settled in the Hawaiian islands, including Maui, and many returned as tourists which became a basis of Maui's modern economy.

An Island At War. --GreGen

World War II Air Ace Buried In an Unmarked Grave

From the Feb. 12, 2012, U.K. Telegram "World War II: air ace in an unmarked grave."

The remains of Flying Officer Derek Allen was found after being in an unmarked grave for 71 years. Over an eight-day stretch when he was 22-years-old, he was shot down twice and credited with four outright and three shared enemy kills.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down a German bomber that was wreaking havoc on Allied forces during the Battle of France in May 1940.

One day, his Hurricane fighter plane was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He bailed out and spent 24-hours walking through enemy-held territory to get to Allied lines. He went into battle two days later, but his plane was shot down again in northern France and this time he was killed. He was listed as MIA and presumed KIA.

Recently, Andy Saunders began researching on Flying Officer Derek Allen and discovered that a Hurricane plane had crashed the same day that Allen disappeared. His body was removed May 18th and buried in an unmarked grave in the village of Poix-de-Nord, near Cambra.

Some 40,000 RAF personnel were unaccounted for at the end of the war.

Let's Hope the Grave Is Now Marked, Or, Even Better, Moved Back to Britain. --GreGen

Follow Up from the 2-16-12 History Channel. Derek Allen's younger brother, Richard, now 81, will lead his family to his grave for a dedication.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Guernsey German World War II Bunker Opened

From the January 12, 2012, BBC Guernsey "Guernsey World War II German bunker opened at Cobo."

This past Saturday, I wrote about German mines being found on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel that had been occupied by the Germans during World War II. They also built fortifications to repell a possible attack.

The bunker on the west coast of the island was found flooded and is believed to have been untouched since 1947. It was empty with the exception of part of a weapon mount. Originally the structure housed a large armored turret with two machine guns.

After the war, it was destroyed for scrap. There is an identical bunker at Fort Hommet. A number of old German fortifications still exist around Guernsey and two have not yet been explored.

And, Before This Blog, I Never Knew the Germans Occupied a Part of Britain During the War. --GreGen

Maui's World War II Legacy-- Part 3

From the National Marine Sanctuaries site. Continued from Oct. 30-31.

Between June 5-18, 2011, the NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program and the University of Hawaii's Marine Option program conducted a survey of sunken World War II-era aircraft and shipwrecks along Maui's southern coast.

Combat training impacted this area during World War II, especially coming in the months before major combined operations. Marine, Army and Navy personnel trained here from Ma alaea Harbor to Ahihi Bay.

Among items found: aircraft from the Marine Pu unene NAS; previously undocumented unidentified sailing vessel shipwrecks used in training; several carrier-based aircraft and three tracked amphibious vehicles.

Training could be dangerous as the numerous planes and assault vehicles attested. Lives were lost.


U-87: Sank Five Allied Ships


Last week and yesterday, I wrote about the sinking of the SS Port Nicholson by the U-87 off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and rescue by the Canadian warship HMCS Nanaimo.

The U-87 was commissioned 19 August 1941 and commanded by Joachim Berger for its whole career. In its career, it sank five ships totalling 38,014 tons.

Its most successful day came when it sank two ships, one the SS Port Nicholson, on June 16, 1942.

It was sunk 4 March 1943, west of Leix Oes off Portugal by depth charges from the HMCS St. Croix with the loss of all 49 crew.

Ships sunk by the U-87:

31 Dec 1941, SS Cardita, British, 8,237 tons
17 Jan 1942, SS Nyholt, 8.087 tons
16 June 1942, SS Port Nicholson, British, 8,402 tons
16 June 1942, SS Cherokee, U.S., 5,896 tons
11 October 1942, SS Agapenor, British, 7,392 tons.

The Story of a Submarine. --GreGen

Wilmington's Robert Taylor Housing / Chicago's Robert Taylor Housing

Back on October 8th, I wrote about public housing being built in Wilmington, NC, to accomodate the thousands of workers and military personnel who flocked to Wilmington during World War II. Indeed, Wilmington was very much involved in the war, despite being on the homefront for the United States. The city is actively pursuing the name of World War II City.

Some of the housing in those segregated days, was set aside for blacks, being the New Brooklyn Homes and later renamed the Robert R. Taylor Housing. I knew of a Robert R. Taylor Homes in Chicago and wondered if there were a connection.

There was.

I wrote about Robert Robinson Taylor in my Cooter's History Thing blog today.

Quite An Interesting Man, and Family. --GreGen

Monday, November 4, 2013

HMCS Nanaimo (K101)

From Wikipedia. Back on Oct. 25th, I wrote about the SS Port Nicholson being sunk by a U-boat and supposedly carrying one of the largest treasures ever in a sunken ship. The crew was rescued by the Royal Canadian Corvette Nanaimo.

It was named for Nanaimo, British Columbia, and commissioned 26 April 1941 and served until 28 September 1945. It was a Flower-class corvette, 205-feet long and mounting 4-inch guns, machine guns and depth charges.

After commissioning, it did escort duties from Halifax, Canada, for three months. In October 1941, it transferred to the Newfoundland Command and escorted convoys from St. John's to Iceland. In March 1942, the Nanaimo was assigned to the Western Local Escort Force and on June 10, 1942, picked up 86 survivors from the British merchant ship SS Port Nicholson which had been torpedoed by the U-87 northeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

In November 1944, it was ordered to Pacific Command and after the war was sold for commercial conversion and became the whale catcher Rene W. Viake. It was broken up in South Africa in 1966.

The Story of a Ship. --GreGen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

World War II Mines Found at Guernsey

From the Feb. 14, 2012, BBC Guernsey News "World War II mines found at Pembroke Bay."

During World War II, German troops occupied the British island of Guernsey. Two WW II German mines were found. One was discovered last week by a dog walker and destroyed by Guernsey police officers trained in bomb disposal. (Kind of strange in these days of terrorists to still have to worry about 70-year-old ordnance.

Two other German anti-tank mines were found nearby. The Germans were preparing for an anticipated Allied attack. The one discovered Monday prooved impossible to remove and authorities will attempt to remove it next week.

During the war, Germans heavily mined Guernsey's coasts. In bad weather, some of the mines fell off their barricades into the water. These mines are still live and after 70 years in the water are unpredictable.

It is unusual to find three mines together which probably came off the same barricade. Strong tides have shifted sand and brought the mines to the top.

Also on Feb. 7th, a flooded World War II bunker was reopened on Guernsey.

Be Careful in the Water. --GreGen

A Big Disappointment for Me Back in 2012

From the Feb. 15, 2012, WDTN NBC News "Doolittle Tokyo Raider Banquet Planned."

When I read about this back then, I was definitely planning to attend it in Dayton, Ohio.

It was announced that a limited number of tickets to a banquet and two luncheons were to be sold starting Feb. 15th for the 70th anniversary of the famous raid. The banquet was to be April 19th at the Air Force Museum and cost $70. Both luncheons were to be at the Hope Hotel's Richard J. Holbrooke Conference Center on April 19th and 20th. Cost for these were $35 apiece.

Sadly, when I looked into it Feb. 17th, all functions were sold out. I guess there are plenty of people aware of Doolittle's Raid and its significance.

Now, there is to be one final gathering of three of the remaining four survivors in Dayton on Nov. 9th that is not open to the public. Sadly, I wasn't invited.

Oh Well. Hats Off to These Members of the Greatest Generation. --GreGen

A World War II Connection

Yesterday, I wrote about Helen Wall of Massachusetts taking a ride in the 1941 Ford Super Deluxe convertible she and her husband Wally owned in 1941 before he shipped off to be a pilot during the war. This was in honor of her 100th birthday. From my RoadDog's Roadlog Blog.

Earlier this morning I wrote about Bosse Field in my Cooter's History Thing blog. This is loacted in Evansville Indiana, and is where the movie "A League of Their Own" was filmed, about the professional women's baseball league established to provide entertainment during World War II when so many ballplayers were serving in the military.

It's a Connection. --GreGen

Friday, November 1, 2013

USS West Virginia Survivor Setting Students Straight on Pear Harbor

From 2012 WJFW NBC NEWS "History Lives for Phillips Middle School Students."

Sylvester Puccio was a teenage pipefitter on the battleship USS West Virginia when it was torpedoed and sank at Pearl Harbor. His quick thinking made sure his shipmates had the opportunity to get off the ship when he fixed it so that the ship settled straight down instead of turning over like the USS Oklahoma.

Mr. Puccio is worried that today's students are getting the facts about the attack, but not the humanity of its history. He has the students write him, even though most are too young to have had a grandfather in World War II.

Students Getting Their History First Hand. --GreGen