Saturday, May 31, 2014

Shorpy's World War II: Arlington Farms

From the Shorpy Old Picture site.

From May 27, 2014 "Bingo Zimba: 1943."

June 1943.  Arlington, Virginia.  "A soldier treating his date to a coke in the service shop at Idaho Hall, Arlington Farms, a residence for women who work at the U.S. government for the duration of the war."  By Esther Bubley, OWI.

Comments:  Part of Arlington Hall complex which eventually moved to Fort Meade as the National security Agency.

Comment:  Coke shown in the lower case.

Comment:  These Cokes were dispensed in a paper cup instead of a bottle.

The government needed a lot of workers to keep up with the mountains of war-related details in this pre-digital age.  You can go to the site and see the picture.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Frying Pan Shoals Lightship

From the May 11, 2014, Wilmington (NC) Star-News."Back Then."

Of course, lightships and lighthouses would have to be extinguished for most of World War II what with the threat of German U-boats lurking off the coast in wait of prey.

One of those lights extinguished was the Frying Pan Shoals Lightship, the latest of a series of such ships that guared the dangerous shoals of that name dating back to the 1850s (with the exception of the Civil War).

From the May 16, 1964, Wilmington Star-News:  The town of Southport (near the mouth of the Cape Fear River) was trying to obtain the Frying Pan Shoals Lightship for a marine museum and memorial.  But, the Coast Guard decided to transfer it elsewhere.

The town had previously been told that the 133-foot ship would be sold by the government as surplus (after the Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower had been installed..  The FPS LV-115, WAL 537 had been use from 1930 to 1942 and then, after WW II from 1945 to 1964.

During World War II it had been used as training ship.  It was retired from duty in 1964 and sent to Cape May, New Jersey, as a relief ship and then decommissioned in 1965.  It sank in 1987, was raised in 1987, sold, and then restored.  It was listed on the NRHP in 1999.

It is currently in New York City at Pier 66a in the Chelsea neighborhood wgere it is a floating bar and party boat.

Have Your next Party on a Lightship (Find Your Way Home).  --GreGen

Thursday, May 29, 2014

HMS Bluebell, Another U-711 Victim

From Wikipedia.

The U-711 only sank two Allied ships during its operating career.  The most significant was the HMS Bluebell which was mentioned in the Hans-Gunther Lange (the U-711's commander) obituary.

  I had previously not heard of the HMS Bluebell.

The HMS Bluebell was a Royal Navy corvette laid down 25 October 1939 and launched 24 April 1940.  It served primarily protecting convoys in the Atlantic, Arctic and Mediterranean.  It took part in the invasions of Sicily and France.  At D-Day, it escorted LSTs and follow-up convoys to France.

On 17 October 1940, it rescued all 39 officers and men from the SS Scoresby which had been torpedoed.

 On February 17, 1945, while on a convoy to the Soviet Union, the U-711 fired a homing acoustic torpedo at the Bluebell which hit it in the stern and caused the depth charges to explode.  The ship sank in 30 seconds and only one of its 88-man crew was saved, Albert Holmes.


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A U-711 Victim

From the site.

The Solvol was a Norwegian fishing vessel that was shelled and sunk by the U-711 in the Norwegian Sea 13 April 1944.  

All 8 aboard were taken onto the U-711 and held as POWs by the Gestapo until the end of the war.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hans-Gunther Lange's U-711

From Wikipedia.

Some more on the death of Hans-Gunther Lange back in April 2014 which I wrote about earlier today.

Laid down in Hamburg, Germany on 31 July 1941.  Type VIIC U-boat.  Launched 25 June 1942.  Commissioned 26 September 1942.  Went on 12 war patrols and sank one ship, one warship and damaged another warship.  Hans-Gunther Lange commanded the ship its whole career.

The U-711 sank the HMS Bluebelle on 17 February 1945 for its biggest victory.

Sunk May 4, 1945 in Arctic Ocean  near Harstad, Norway, by aerial bombs from British escort carriers HMS Searcher, Trumpeter and Queen.  There were 40 deaths and 12 survivors.

  On the day it was sunk, the U-711 had been damaged earlier during an attack by Avenger aircraft from the escort carriers in Operation Judgement which was aimed at sinking the German depot ships Black Watch and Senje.

Only a few hours before the attack, Lange had received orders from Germany for all U=boats to cease attacks on Allied shipping.  The 40 crew members who died that day had gone on board the Black watch and died when it was sunk.


Deaths: Three Navy Veterans

I sure wish newspaper obituaries would go more into the stories of men who served during the war.  Usually, there is just mention that they had served.

From the May 13, 2014, Northwest Herald (McHenry County, IL).

DONALD F. McALLISTER:  (1924-May 7, 2014)  Born in Iowa.  Served in the Navy and member of VFW.  I sure would have liked to know more about his service.  Died in McHenry, Illinois.

PHILLIP D. MEIER:  Died May 8, 2014.  Awarded an early high school diploma so he could join the service in World War II.  Served as Navy radio operator on a PBY sea plane, deployed in the South Pacific, search and rescue patrols.

RONALD F. TUCKER (born Feb. 18, 1927 in New York, died April 18, 2014)  He was a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater.

Deaths: German U-boat Commander

HANS-GUNTHER LANGE   (1916-April 3, 2014)

German U-boat officer and Kapitanlieutenant with Kriegsmarine during World War II.  Received Knight's Cross of Iron Cross with the Oak Leaf.

On the U-431 from December 15, 1941 to June 30, 1942 and was on three war patrols in the Mediterranean.  The U-711 was under his command 17 Feb 1945 when it sank the HMS Bluebell.

The U-711 was damaged during Operation Judgement and sunk.  The wreck of it was located in 2007.

Deaths: Code Talker-- Naval Aviator

SAMUEL JESSE SMITH, 88.  Died April 12, 2014.  American Navajo soldiers and code talker.

JOSEPH A. DOYLE, 93, Died April 4, 2014.  Lawyer, Asst. Secretary of Navy 1979-1981.  Born 1920, served in U.S. Navy 1941-1945.  From 1943-1945, he was aviator on USS Enterprise (CV--6) and awarded Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Cross.

Deaths: Japanese Internee Served with Merrill's Marauders

ROY MATSUMOTO, 100.  Died April 21, 2014.

Born in California and educated in Hiroshima, Japan.  Interned in 1942 and volunteered for U.S. Army.

Served as Japanese language intelligence specialist with Merrill's Marauders in Burma.  Remained in the Army for twenty years.  In 1993, inducted into the U.S. Rangers Hall of Fame.  Received the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal along with other surviving Nisei World War II veterans in November 2011.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Thank You, Pops

A little while ago, we went to Hello Folks in Fox Lake and had a nice talk with my honorary "Pop."  This is what everyone calls him as he essentially is everyone's father.

He is also a World War II veteran, having fought in the Burma/Thailand area.

At age 93, he is sharp as a tack and is often out with his son Kenny.  Kenny was born exactly one day after me, on May 25, 1951.

The YOUNGSTER!!  --GreGen

Thursday, May 22, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 13: Hospitalized

Edgar Harrell was suffering from salt water ulcers and his skin was coming off and he was bleeding as well.  He was taken to Pelilu and then to Guam.  There, he was strapped into his cot and covered in Vaseline grease.

Admiral Spruance came and gave him a Purple Heart.

On August 6, 1945, he found out what the thing the Indianapolis was carrying on that top secret mission.

At that time, Mr. Harrell said there was more, but, "Invite me back or read my book."

Of the 317 men who survived the sinking and days in the water back then, only 36 are still alive.  Of the 36, he and just one other Marine survive of that branch of service.

The last reunion was attended by just 15 survivors, but there were 450 there including relatives, friends and interested persons.  I am thinking of going to the next one in July which may be the last one.

Mr. Harrell made a big point out of the fact that in all that huge ocean that they would have been so fortunately sighted by the plane.  "What were the chances that you'd be seen."

I had a nice talk with others interested in the saga while waiting in the long line to get my book signed by Mr. Harrell.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014


There is not a lot of information on this ship that was at Pearl Harbor.  Its classification, YP, stood for yard patrol and that was its job.

I did find out that the 107-foot former yacht was acquired by the Navy October 3rd (I imagine  1941) and placed on harbor patrol at Naval Station Pearl Harbor in 1941.  It was struck from the Naval Register 3 January 1946, so must have continued to serve throughout the war.

It was one of two YPs at Pearl Harbor, the other being YP-109.


Pearl Harbor Survivor's Story-- Part 3: Friends On the USS Arizona

A lot of friends he had made at boot camp had gone ahead of him and been assigned to the USS Arizona.  He also would have been assigned to that ship had it not been for a bad reaction he had to an inoculation which caused him to have to remain at boot camp while they went ahead.

"I checked the Arizona list of survivors, and there wasn't any of them listed, so I assume they were all killed.  At least, I never saw them again."

Almost.  --GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivors Story-- Part 2: Supposed Japanese Landing on Oahu

When Steve Warren and a friend came back up above deck, a bullet hit right in front of him, "It must have been a spent bullet, or about spent, and it just hit the deck.  I picked it up for some crazy reason, I don't know why, and put it in my pocket."  (A nice souvenir.)

Warren began helping fight the Japanese.  he brought ammunition up.  Word spread around that the Japanese had landed on Oahu.  He had no weapon to fight this new threat, but he and others were  loaded on a truck and went speeding off to where they thought the landing was.  Of course, there was no landing.

Later he helped with the wounded where he laid the men out in rows.

He also kept that spent bullet that landed on the deck of the YP-109 that day.  It is now in a glass case at Warren's home.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Story-- Part 1: YP-109 Man

From the December 4, 2011, Argus Leader "Steve Warren: Seaman in survivor mode, comforted dying during the attack."

The Elvida was a wooden-hulled yacht bought by the Navy and converted into a yard patrol boat.  The crew had a rough ten-day crossing of the Pacific from San Pedro, California, to Pearl Harbor.  The boat was not designed for open water and all aboard were seasick.

Once at Pearl Harbor, the Elvida became the YP-109.  One of its crew was Steve Warren, seaman first class, standing 6 feet tall, who had joined the Navy on August 30, 1940 because he was tired of earning$1.50 a day working at neighbors' farms.  he was now paid $54 a month.

On December 7, 1941, he ran topside just in time to see a Japanese bomber go by.  Warren remembers: "There was a rear gunner on the plane, and he was real close, he was looking right at me.  I looked up at him, and I dove back down below decks."

More to Come.  --GreGen

Saturday, May 17, 2014

World War II Veterans 90, Government Shutdown 0-- Part 2

These guys were not to be denied.

"There was no way anyone could (have stopped them), said Tracey Rouse.  "We were actually greeted by hundreds of supporters who were clapping and holding signs."

A handful of Illinois' Congressional leaders also were there, most notably U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican.

Kirk Tweeted early in the day he planned to meet the group, though lawmakers weren't the focus of the visit.
"We're not here to see them.  They might be here to see us, but the veterans are here to see their memorial," Rouse said.  "This is not a day for politicians, this is a day for honor."

The Illinois veterans were the second wave to come ashore on the banks of the Potomac to take the World War II Memorial.

Like there was any way that they would be stopped or arrested.

Like We've Said Many Times, "The Greatest Generation."  --GreGen

World War II Vets 90, Government Shutdown 0-- Part 1

From the Oct. 11, 2013, Boone County (Illinois) Journal.. By Benjamin Yount of Illinois Watchdog.

Older news, but I sure enjoyed the way it was written.  I'll just write it as it appeared.

They pinched the Nazis in the mouth, rolled back imperial Japan in the Pacific then stared down communism for another 40 years.

No way a few barricades and some security guards were going to tell 90 World War II veterans from Illinois the government shutdown closed the World War II Memorial.

"This is their memorial, they waited far too long to see it," Tracey Rouse, president of Honor Flight Chicago told Illinois Watchdog on Wednesday.  "To have them wait one other day is a shame."

The 90 veterans had been planning the trip to see the memorial for months, but Tuesday's federal government shutdown closed it and other federal parks.

YOU WORK FOR US.  Illinois vets were unimpressed with politicians like U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, at the WWII Memorial.  The group from Illinois, Rouse said, never thought about canceling the flight.  In fact, Rouse said, the group of men in their 80s cheered from the bus as they got ready to battle anyone who told them the monument was closed.

After All, These Guys Had Stormed Ashore At D-Day In far Worse Conditions.  --

Friday, May 16, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 12: Rescued!!

Finally, there was a B-25, just 4,000 feet high.  This plane was having problems with its radio stabilizer which it towed behind it.  The pilot was working on it when he saw the sun glint off an oil slick (from the Indianapolis).  The plane was out looking for Japanese submarines and this might have something to do with one.

So, the plane circled 2-3 times, saw the survivors floating around like "ducks on a pond," then climbed up high enough to radio the location and bring other planes and ships to the area.

The destroyer USS Doyle was notified and made haste for the scene.  Another plane, a PBY,  came and landed and despite huge swells, managed to pick up 51.  The plane was so crowded, they had to tie seven survivors on the wings.

Because of the huge swells and overloading, the PBY couldn't take off, but continued to avoid swamping until a destroyer arrived.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Battleship USS Missouri's Big 16-Inch Gun

From the Feb. 21,  2012, Columbus (Ind.) Republic, AP "USS Missouri Gun to Delaware."

It is 66 feet long and weighs 250,000 pounds and will be taken by train from Norfolk, Virginia, to Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware, where it will join two similar Army guns.  Park officials and the Fort Miles Historical Association have been developing a section of the former base into a World War II attraction.

They estimate that in four years they will have it all in place.

The 16-inch gun (so-called because of the diameter of the shell it fired) could fire a one-ton shell up to 23 miles.  Two Army 16-inch guns are already there.  (I didn't know that the Army had 16-inch guns.)

The Association has raised $110,000 to acquire and transport the Missouri gun by train.  It was made at the Washington Navy Yard.  It began its journey in late March or early April 2012.

Originally there were two 16-inch guns at Fort Miles and they were only fired in practice.  After the war, these two were probably cut up for scrap.

The new guns and emplacements will be part of  a  $6 million World War II museum.


Battleship USS Iowa-- Part 2

For the last ten years the Iowa has been in Suisun Bay off Bernicia.  Now, in Richmond, some 1,000 visitors come each weekend.

The USS Iowa was launched in New York City in 1942 and was the last of its class of battleships, which were the last battleships ever launched by the United States (the others were the Missouri, New Jersey and Wisconsin).

The ship ferried FDR across the Atlantic to a war council in 1943 and then went to the Pacific in 1944.  It never, however, engaged in what it was designed for and that was shooting it out with other battleships.  It primarily was used to bombard enemy positions and air cover for carriers.

It continuing bombarding during the Korean War and was mothballed from 1958-1982 before returning to service for one last hurrah during President Reagan's tenure.  In 1989, there was an explosion in one of its main gun turrets which killed 47.

Plans for the ship call for have at least one main turret accessible and for people to see the special bathtub installed for President Roosevelt as he was unable to shower because of his paralysis.


Battleship USS Iowa-- Part 1

From the 2012 Silicon Valley (Ca) Mercury News "rare chance to visit battleship in Bay Area" by Thomas Peele.

This was on the USS Iowa before it moved to the Los Angeles area to be made into a museum ship.

John Wolfinbarger, 87, served on the USS Iowa in every Pacific battle.  At the Battle of Saipan in 1944: "I was up there (pointing at the ship's superstructure).  We were bombarding all night long."  The next morning there was a massive Japanese air strike against the U.S. fleet and a torpedo bomber made it through "a sea of fire and flew right over the Iowa but didn't drop its torpedo.  "His mechanism must have jammed.  Either that or he saved it.  What they were really after were our carriers.  He never got the chance though, seconds later a 3-inch shell blew him out of the sky."

Getting these words from a sailor who was there, it one great story.

The USS Iowa docked at the Port of Richmond, California, for cleanup work and painting.  In the spring it was towed to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro.

While at Richmond the ship was open for limiting touring on Saturdays and Sundays.  Mr. Wolfinbarger volunteers his time for the tours.


Last Mission of the LCI(L)-600-- Part 3: Useful in Kicking Off Sharks

Tony Judkins went into the air from the explosion and came down on the deck, suffering painful but minor injuries.  John Murphy was blown off into the water where he found some floating debris and clung onto it with another man who died later.

John Murphy had his shoes on and was considering kicking them off, but was glad he kept them as they were useful in kicking off sharks.  He still had those shoes when he died.

Rescuers arrived on the scene (unlike in the case of the USS Indianapolis) and were about to give up looking for survivors in the water, but Judkins insisted that his buddy John was still alive out there.  On their last try, 24-hours later, they found John floating a mile away.  he was alive, but had suffered a broken back which troubled him for the rest of his life.

The ship captain and second in command had been killed in the wheelhouse during the explosion.

Tony Judkins then was transferred to an aircraft carrier and his buddy John was transferred back to the U.S..  His war was over.

This story related to James Murphy by John Murphy.

Just One of Those World War II Stories.  --GreGen

Last Mission of LCI(L)-600-- Part 2

Two crew members on the LCI(L)-600 were John Darrell Murphy and Tony Judkins, two best friends from Des Moines, Iowa who enlisted in the U.S. Navy December 10, 1943, and had their basic training near Chicago (Great Lakes) and were assigned to the East Coast and then to the newly-launched LCI(L)-600.

They went through the Panama Canal to Pearl Harbor and from there to Ulithi in the Caroline Island.

When it was sunk on January 12, 1945, it was on a mission to transfer a sailor from his ship to a hospital ship for medical treatment.  The captain had ordered the crew to their battle stations.  Tony Judkins, a cook, had his at the forward gun.  His friend John Murphy manned a gun near the wheelhouse.

The official Navy report from the time lists an undetermined explosion followed, but recent research of Japanese war records shows that the Japanese submarine I-36 released four Kaiten Special Attack Submarines on Jan. 12, 1945 and one of them struck the LCI(L)-600.

More to Come.  --GreGen


From the

The LCI(L)-600 was built by the New Jersey Shipbuilding Corporation in Barber, NJ.  It was laid down on 27 March 1944, launched 29 April 1944 and commissioned the same day.  That is a pretty amazing one month to build a ship that was 158-feet long that was designed to carry 200 troops.  LCI(L) refers to Landing Craft Infantry (Large).

It was sunk 12 January 1945 by a Japanese Kaiten launched by the I-36.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Last Mission of LCI (L)-600-- Part 1

From by James Murphy.

The I-58, the Japanese submarine that sank the USS Indianapolis, on an earlier mission on Jan 12, 1945, launched all four human-manned torpedo submarines called Kaiten and is credited with sinking an escort carrier and a large oiler on that date.  I could find no mention of an American escort carrier sinking that day or fleet oiler.

However, on that same date, the Japanese submarine I-36 released special attack submarines called Kaiten and is credited with sinking the LCI-L-600.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivore Edgar Harrell-- Part 11: Spotted?

Edgar Harrell and another Marine then joined 55 others on a raft.  While on it, he saw a crate floating in the ocean and swam over to it and found it loaded with potatoes, although mostly rotten.  he peeled off the rotten parts and ate several, his first food since the sinking.  He referred to it as his little picnic of half-rotten potatoes.

Five others joined him for dining.

He remembers the nights being really dark.  By now, it was just Harrell and Lt. McKisseth from texas still on the raft.

They could every so often see B-29s flying off on missions at 30,000 feet, way too far away and high to see them.  And, the USS Idaho had not reported them missing.

Then they looked up and the call went out, "There's a plane.  It was a B-25 flying along at 4,000 feet.  This gave them renewed energy despite the ordeal, as they tried to wave it down.

Did the Plane See Them?  --GreGen

Monday, May 12, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivore Edgar Harrell-- Part 10: Second and Third Days

The second day at sea, a cloud came over and it rained a little.  Everyone took as much advantage as they could of this really little bit of water.

At night, the water was warm, but the air was cold and Harrell's group was losing members to hypothermia, believe it or not.

By the third day, there were only 17 left in the group.  Bodies were decomposing and Harrell remembered that if you bumped into one, they would leave a residue.

Another developing problem was that their Kapon Jackets were only meant to be used for 48 hours and now were beginning to lose buoyancy.  The men had taken their life jackets off and were sitting on them.  They learned that you could squeeze the water out of the jackets to regain some of the buoyancy.

This Is When They Saw a Raft.  --GreGen

Saturday, May 10, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 9: The Next Day

The next day dawned bright and hot for the men in the water.  One thing they were thankful for was that the battleship USS Idaho would soon be looking for them because there was to be gunnery practice the next day.  Surely, this ship would alert someone and a rescue made.

About this time, they spotted a large fin slicing through the water, heading toward them and circling.  . Some thought they were seeing a mirage, and then other fins joined with the first one.  Then the attacks began and they started losing sailors.

Fighting off sharks and losing men was pretty much the order for the rest of the day.

By the second night, they had been without water for a long time and some began drinking the seawater.  Kapon jackets require near constant swimming and they were worn out from that as well as many had injuries from the explosions.  Those who drank the salt water lost their minds.  Many were hallucinating.


USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 8: Sinking Ship

Edgar Harrell went to midship where he saw an officer who had been flash-burned in the explosion and whose flesh was just hanging down.  He knew the ship was sinking and since he didn't have a life jacket (strapped to the side of the ship), he asked a Marine lieutenant for permission to grab one, but was refused because orders to abandon ship hadn't been given.

All ship communications had been destroyed in the explosions, but finally word filtered that they were to abandon ship.  Harrell grabbed a life jacket, prayed and jumped overboard (which was not too far of a jump as the ship was rapidly sinking.

The life jackets were called "Kapon Jackets" which the men referred to as "horse collars" because of their shape.

The ship was going down fast by now and Harrell remembers seeing the huge screws still turning as it went down.

He got into a group which included two other Marines.  One, with broken bones was dying and lived but for a little while.  Making matters worse were the ten foot high swells they found themselves in.  Every attempt was made to stay together, but that was extremely difficult.   Somehow, they made it through the night to the next day.


Friday, May 9, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 7

From Tinian, the Indianapolis went to Guam and then was ordered to the Philippines..  The captain asked that escort ships be sent in case of encounter with Japanese submarines, but the request was denied.  Mr. Harrell made a big point of the fact that the Indy was sent directly into "Harm's Way" without escort.

Three days out, Mr. Harrell had just gotten off his watch at midnight.  The temperature was still at 110 degrees and the Indianapolis had no air conditioning.  Fortunately, the captain had allowed off-duty sailors to sleep on the deck.  Harrell returned to his quarters and got a blanket and went topside, all the way forward.

The night before, he had slept on top of gun turret #1 at the front of the ship.  There was a life raft on top of that turret.  This night, he slept on the deck.

This night, the Japanese submarine I-58 was in the area.  It had two Kaiten suicide submarines aboard, but, after he saw a large ship, Cmdr. Horshimoto decided not to use them.  Two of his torpedoes struck the Indianapolis.  The first torpedo literally took the ship's bow off.  Harrell said it simply was no longer there.

The second torpedo struck directly below the Marine compartment, causing the magazine for No. 2 turret to explode.  Harrell could clearly hear the sound of bulkheads breaking on the ship.


USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 6

Mr. Harrell was just 18 and from Kentucky when he enlisted in the U.S. Marines and had boot camp at San Diego, California.  From there he went to sea school and after graduation from there, went to San Francisco and was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis.

He was on it for service at Saipan, Tinian, Pelilu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  He was part of the ship's Marine Guard.  At Okinawa, the ship was hit by a kamikaze and had to return to San Francisco for repairs.

It was there, on July 16, 1945, when a big crane picked up a big crate and placed it on board.  No one knew what was in that crate.  They received orders to proceed at top speed to Tinian Island with that strange crate.

Then, a heavily guarded canister was placed in Admiral Spruance's vacant quarters.  It also was heavily guarded.  They found out later that the canister contained half of all the uranium the United States had at the time.  The crate contained the components for the Fat Man and Little Boy atomic bombs.

The Indianapolis got underway and crossed under the Golden gate Bridge.  It is 5400 miles from San Francisco to Tinian and the ship covered the distance in just ten days and then they unloaded the strange cargo, still unaware of what it was for.


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Naval Aviator Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr: Operation Aphrodite

From Wikipedia.

This is the man for whom the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. destroyer was named.   He died August 12, 1944 while on a top secret mission in Operation Aphrodite.  This was a mission to send unmanned, explosive-laden Army Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses and Navy PB44-1 Liberators bombers and deliberately crash them into targets using remote control.

These planes could not take off by remote control and required a crew of two to take off, fly up to 2,000 feet, activate the remote controls and parachute down.

Joseph Kennedy and Lt. Wilford John Wills were designated to be the Navy crew.  They took off on August 12, 1944, carrying 21,170 pounds of Torpex, 50% more powerful than TNT.  The plane was going to crash into the Fortress of Mimoyecques in northern France.  The Germans had the super cannons, V-3 there with a 165 kilometer range with intention of firing on London.

Unfortunately, once in the air, the explosives went off.

Quite the Hero.  --GreGen

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850)

From Wikipedia.

Like I said, with a number like 850, the Kennedy was one that was launched late in the war.  This was the model destroyer that was at the Edgar Harrell presentation.  I needed to do some research.

It was named after Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., naval aviator and son of Ambassador to Britain Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr..  He was the older brother of President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Attorney General/Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy.

It was laid down and launched at Quincy, Massachusetts in just four months 2 April 1945- 26 July 1945 and commissioned after the war on 15 December 1945.  It was decommissioned 2 July 1973 and today is a museum ship at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Robert F. Kennedy was on the Kennedy's shakedown cruise as an apprentice seaman.  It's nickname was "Joey P."

In 1961 it took part in the blockade of Cuba during the missile crisis and later in the 60s, the recovery of Gemini 6 and 7.

Not Quite World War II, But With a Lot of Ties.  --GreGen

Monday, May 5, 2014

World War II Veterans At the Harrell Presentation

I was kind of wondering how many World War II veterans were in attendance and the organizers asked how many veterans altogether were in attendance.  I had seen several enter with assistance and walkers, perhaps they might be.  They had several autographed books by Mr. Harrell and asked how many veterans were over the age of 90 and three held up their hands and received them.

Then, they asked who the youngest one was and turned out to be a 26-year-old petty officer from Great Lakes.  He got one as well.

The overall World War II total of veterans was five.

When Mr. Harrell, 89,  got to the podium, he asked how many of the World War II veterans were USMC  (he was a Marine).and two of them were Marines.  He then said, "Now you know why the Marine Corps is still looking for a few good men."


Why It Takes So Long to Do This Blog

Well, actually, this applies to all my blogs.

After the last post about the model of the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850) at the Edgar Harrell presentation, I decided to find out more about the ship.  An hour passed by.

First I researched the ship.  That led to its namesake, brother of President John F. Kennedy, then his death in something called Operation Aphrodite, a top secret operation.  That led to the German batteries of V-#3 long-range cannons at the Fortress of Mimoyecques in northern France. from which they intended to bombard London.

No Wonder.  --GreGen

USS Joseph P.Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850: Model At the Edgar Harrell Presentation

We were in the Chain of Lakes Bible Church's main sanctuary and I was a little surprised to see the a large-scale  model of a World War II destroyer on the altar.  We were told that Art Carlson had built it over a two-and-a-half year period and it appeared to be quite detailed.

Afterwards, I went up to the altar for a closer look and found it to be the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. (DD-850) which would have made it a very late in the war ship.  Mr. Carlson was there and he said he did not serve on it and had just chosen it as a project.  He had used  used all sheet metal and that the ship could actually run under its own power.  He's used it to chase ducks.

And, was it ever detailed.  Actually, I'd say it was partially a floating gun platform used a lot for anti-aitcraft duty, but also had several turrets of double 5-inch guns, torpedoes and depth charges.  A real multi-task vessel.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

USS Register (APD-92)


Yesterday, I mentioned the USS Register as one of the USS Indianapolis' rescue ships.

The USS Register, a high-speed transport ship was commissioned  11 January 1945 and had just escorted two escort carriers to Ulithi Atoll when, on its way back, joined eight ships searching for the USS Indianapolis survivors.  

On August 3, 1845, it picked up 12 survivors and transferred them to the hospital at Peleliu the next day.


Friday, May 2, 2014

USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 5

The talk by Mr. Harrell began at 7 PM April 30, 2014, at the Chain of Lakes Bible Church on Grasslake Road in Lake Villa, Illinois.  I found out after the presentation that he had been on the Moody Bible Institute radio station earlier in the morning and that the next day he had another presentation elsewhere in the Chicagoland area.

I was glad I came thirty minutes later because the place was filling up rapidly.  By the time he started, all 500 or so seats in the place were filled, people standing along the back walls and even an overflow crowd in the adjacent gymnasium watching on a large screen.

I was especially encouraged to see a large number of younger people in attendance, plus, there was a sizable contingent from Great Lakes in Chicago, the Navy's only training base.  A Lt.Cmdr. sat next to me with his son and had a plaque to present Mr. Harrell showing his training command in front of the USS Indianapolis Pool.  Each year, all 44,000 recruits have to show that they can swim in this pool, so, for many, it is their first introduction to that ship.  Great Lakes is the only naval recruit training center.

The lt.cmdr. told me that there were just 37 Indianapolis survivors still alive and, last month, I found out that the youngest sailor on the ship had just died earlier in April.    He said that George Stockton, who was on board the USS Register which had rescued some of the survivors, had just died last year.


USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 4

He has written a book about his experience on the USS Indianapolis.  It is called "Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis."  By Edgar Harrell, USMC with David Harrell.


USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 3

From the event's brochure.

Edgar Harrell owned and operated Pella Window Company, Inc., Rock Island, Illinois, for thirty-five years until his retirement in 1985.  He also served on the board of trustees of the Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, Illinois, and has been a popular Bible teacher and lay minister throughout his adult life.

He has enjoyed many years of fishing and big game hunting in the Rocky Mountains from Alaska to New Mexico, and currently resides in Clarksville, Tennessee, with his wife Ola, enjoying their two children, eight grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren.

As a survivor of the USS Indianapolis (, Mr. Harrell speaks extensively around the United States about his experience at sea.


USS Indianapolis Survivor Edgar Harrell-- Part 2

Edgar Harrell's story has to do with his experience during those four-and-a-half days.  He abandoned ship with only a kapok life jacket and thus required swimming  for that period of time. It was estimated that some 900 men got off the ship into the sea, but many had been injured from the explosions and resulting fire.

Of the eighty men the group that Harrell found himself in, some 40 didn't make it through the second day, and there were only 17 alive the third day at noon.

It was an answer to a prayer for water when a small cloud passed overhead and dropped some much needed rain.  On the third day, he found a crate of half rotten potatoes which helped sustain him.

At the end of the 4th day. an American plane very fortunately spotted the Indianapolis' oil slick and upon investigation, found Indianapolis survivors scattered over a 75-mile area.  Rescue was called in and over the next 24 hours, only 317 of the 1197 on the Indianapolis when it sank, were rescued.

There Was No Way I Was Going to Miss an Opportunity to See and Hear This Man.  --GreGen