Saturday, February 28, 2015

World War II Plane Grounded for Tuneup-- Part 2

After the war, the Stuka came to America as part of a tour of war relics put on by the British Information Services and was donated after the tour to the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI).  That is also how the Stuka's companion plane also hanging from te ceiling arrived at MSI.

"About a year later," Kathleen McCarthy said, "the British thought, 'Well, you ought to have an Allied aircraft too.  Would you like a Spitfire as well?'"

That is how the British Supermarine Mark 1A Spitfire (regarded by some as one of the prettiest planes ever built) came to be in Chicago.

Few would call the Stuka pretty, but it was more along the lines of scary with that unique wing design and I've heard it made a frightening sound when dive bombing.

(Other planes in the MSI hall are a 1917 Curtiss JN-4D "Jenny" biplane (is this the one featured on the most valuable stamp ever made "The Inverted Jenny?"), a 1928 Boeing 40B mail-transport plane and a 1930 Texaco TravelAir Model R racing plane.)

What About That Small Trap Door Under the Pilot's Seat?  --GreGen

Friday, February 27, 2015

World War II Plane Grounded for a Tuneup-- Part 1

From the Feb. 19, 2015, Chicago Tribune by Doug George.

The German Luftwaffe Stuka airplane that has been soaring up at the ceiling of the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's Transportation Gallery is not up there right now.  It has been lowered to the floor and undergoing a deep cleaning and inspection.

The Stuka, more specifically the 1941 Junkers Ju-87R-2 Tropical Stuka, was a World War II-era dive-bomber is exceedingly rare, one of only two such aircraft left in the world.

It is not in perfect condition.  There are bullet holes in the fuselage which is part of the reason it ended up in Chicago.

According to Kathleen McCarthy, the museum's director of collections, the Stuka was forced down in fighting over North Africa and made an emergency landing in Libya just before the British captured the German air base.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The First Iwo Jima Flag-Raising

The first photograph, not the famous one, was taken by SSgt. Louis R. Lowery.  Present in the photo were Col. Charles W. Lindberg, 1st Lt. Harold G. Schrier, Private Gene Marshall and PFc James Michels (holding the gun).

James Michels was the Chicago-connection that I wrote about earlier this week.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Eugene Camp in 2013

From the Jan. 20, 2013, My San Antonio "Camp enjoyed sharing his stories as Pearl Harbor survivor."

Eugene Camp was serving in the California National Guard Coastal Artillery at Pearl Harbor.  He  was in his barracks and ran outside to see what the commotion was all about.  He saw Japanese aircraft flying low and helped set up an anti-aircraft gun.  He later served as an infantry man in the Pacific.

In December last year, he was one of five Pearl Harbor survivors honored at the Barn Door Restaurant for the 71st anniversary.

Col. Eugene Camp was born in Texas in 1920 and moved to California where he joined the Coastal Artillery of the California National Guard in 1940.  His unit was activated and reported to Pearl Harbor in November of that year.

He was an anti-aircraft sergeant during te attack.  Afterwards, he went to Officer candidate School and by the end of the war was an Infantry Company Commander.  His service in the Army continued until 1973 and he was one of the first U.S. military advisors sent to Vietnam.


More Federal Housing in Wilmington

From the Jan. 22, 1943, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

JANUARY 4, 1943:  An additional 180 homes in the John N. Maffitt housing project for shipyard workers were turned over to the housing authority.

By then, 4471 of 800 houses had been completed.  Another 3,500 shipyard worker homes were expected.

Wilmington's population increased tremendously during the war and housing was always in short supply.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Flag Raised Over Iwo Jima 70 Years Ago-- Part 2

The Marines down below were still able to see that first flag go up and there was much cheering.  Then, the fleet chimed in with whistles.  Even though the fighting would continue for weeks for the volcanic island, this was a major turning point of the battle.

Before the fighting was over, 6800 Americans and 19,000 Japanese had lost their lives, but the Marines had secured the island and its three airfields.  The bombing of Japan itself soon began.

The Rosenthal photo showed six men, five Marines and one Navy corpsman, raising the flag.  Of them, three did not make it off Iwo Jima alive.

Clint Eastwood's famed "Flags of Our Fathers" movie barely mentioned the first flag and didn't show any of it.

James Michels' family contacted the National Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia, and found they had no artifacts from the first flag raising and were kind enough to donate Mr. Michels' uniform and medals to it.

James Michels died in 1982 at the age of 67 and is buried at the Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.

A Member of the Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Flag Raised Over Iwo Jima 70 Years Ago-- Part 2: A Chicago Connection

From the Feb. 23, 2015, WGN TV News.The famous photo of the flag raising was actually not the first flag raised atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima..  It was the second one raised after four days of hard fighting against a determined Japanese garrison.

Japan was fully aware of the consequence of what would happen should the island and its four airfields fall into American hands.  It would be used as a forward base for bombing attacks on the Japanese home islands.  It simply could not fall.

Sadly, the first flag to be raised is largely forgotten because of the much more famous Joe Rosenthal photograph.  Those Marines who raised it were largely forgotten as well.  That flag was determined to be too small, so a new, larger flag was raised.  Those men did it while Mount Suribachi was still in Japanese hands.

One of the men in the first raising, also photographed after it was up, had his rifle at ready to protect his comrades.

That man with the rifle was Private James Michel, from Chicago.

--More to Come.  --GreGen

Monday, February 23, 2015

Flag Raised On Iwo Jima 70 Years Ago Today-- Part 1

From Wikipedia.

That famous photograph of the six Americans raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima was taken 70 years ago today.  Joe Rosenthal was there to take the photograph of the five Marines and one Navy corpsman raising it.  Sadly, there of them did not live to see the end of the battle which raged for considerably longer.

Putting that flag up did not end the battle.

Iwo Jima was a tiny eight-square mile island in the Pacific.  Its importance came from the three Japanese airfields located there.  The United States wanted to use them to strike at the Japanese home islands.

The picture was taken four days after the battle started.

It is quite possibly the most reproduced photograph in history and one of the most recognized images of the war and is the only photo ever to win a Pulitzer Prize in the same year it was taken.

However, it was not the first flag raised atop Mount Suribachi.

More On That Tomorrow.  --GreGen

Saturday, February 21, 2015

War Stamp Brides-- Part 1

Back on feb. 19th, I wrote about a Life Magazine with a picture of a bride with the title "War Stamp Bride."  I had not heard this term before.  I'd heard "war Brides," but not "War Stamp Bride."  I had to investigate further.  Sadly, there was no entry in Wikipedia for it so I had to do some more searching.

I found this account from the July 10, 1942, Lorain (Ohio) Journal  "Lorain to Have 'War Stamp Bide,' City Invited to Shower and Public Wedding Ceremony."

"All of Lorain is invited to a 'war stamp and bond shower for the city's first war stamp bride, Miss Irene Ketchum, 20, 1154 E. River St., Elyria.

"Climaxing Lorain's observance of Victory Corsage day today and tomorrow, Miss Ketchum will be married to Joseph G. Anthony, 21, Cleveland, in a public ceremony on the show window of the Smith and Gerhart Co..

"For the ceremony, the bride will carry  large war stamp corsage."

It was a part of a Victory Corsage Day in July 1942, "Retailers for Victory" national campaign to sell War Stamps and Bonds.

More to Come.  --GreGen

USS Utah Survivor Dies in 2013: Louie "Pete" Underwood

From the Jan. 23, 2013, Southeast Missourian "Pearl Harbor survivor buried in Scott City" by Keith Lewis.

Louie "Pete" Underwood was buried January 22, 2013.  He had just returned from the Pearl Harbor 71st Reunion at Pearl Harbor for his ship, the USS Utah.

During the attack, he was ordered to remain below deck but disobeyed after a torpedo hit his ship and it began to list.  He made his way topside and jumped into the harbor where he remembered being strafed.  The Utah lost 54 men that day.

Mr. Underwood was in his underwear.  He found an officer's quarters and took his clothes and drank his liquor because, as he said, "They'd had a rough morning."

Afterwards, he was assigned to convoy duty on the USS Detroit and served in the New Guinea and Philippines campaigns.  he was on another ship that was sunk, the USS Helena.


Friday, February 20, 2015

Follow Up on Howard Bender: Only Torrance Man to Survive

From the Dec. 8, 2014, AXS "Pearl Harbor survivors attend memorial ceremony aboard USS Iowa."

With the older blog entries, I sometimes do a search to see if the people I wrote about are still alive.  I did so with Howard Bender and am happy to report that as of this past Pearl Harbor Day he was still alive.

Howard Bender, 92, turns 93 on January 22.  He was an 18-year-old Yeoman 3rd Class Petty Officer on the USS Maryland in the attack..

He was joined by another Pearl Harbor survivor, Nelson G. Mitchell, Jr., who will be 85 on January 19th. When the attack came he was a 21-year-old Steward Mate 1st Class on the destroyer USS Jarvis DD-393.

Mr. Bender remembers: "I was on watch in the evening.  Myself and three other men from the City of Torrance in 1940 were taken down to San Diego and trained to the Pacific Fleet.  Those three men were on the Arizona and I was the only one from Torrance that came back alive."

Glad To Know He's Still Alive.  --GreGen

Howard Bender on Surviving Pearl Harbor: Check Your Shorts

From the January 23, 2013, Mission Viejo Patch (Cal.) "Surviving Pearl Harbor" by Peter Schelden.

Howard Bender, 91, is one of five remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in Orange County.  He joined the Navy right out of high school and sent to Pearl Harbor after boot camp where he was assigned to the USS Arizona before being transferred to the USS Maryland.

Mr. Bender remembers seeing the USS Oklahoma hit through a porthole.

When asked how he reacted, he replied, "It is not until after the fact when you check your shorts."


Philippines Veterans Still Fighting Their Battle

From the Jan. 26, 2013, Los Angeles Times "Still fighting their battles over World War II" by Richard Simon.

Philippine's World War Ii veterans, in their 80s and 90s now, are still fighting their battle for recognition.

In 2009, President Obama authorized a one-time payment for those who saw service in country there.  U.S. citizens received $15,000 and non citizens, even those living in the Philippines received $9,000.

A total of 43,083 applied, but more than half were turned down because their service could not be verified.

But, there is a Congressional bill to award  the group with the Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian honor.


Shorpy's Yreka Magazine Stand: 1942-- Part 2: Western, Crime and War Dominates

DARE-DEVIL ACES--  10 cents--  bombers"Leatherback Wings"  "The Hell Divers' Last Patrol"

LIBERTY--  10 cents

G-MEN DETECTIVES--  10 cents--  Nazis on cover


.44 WESTERN MAGAZINE--  10 cents--  cowboys


SUPER SPORTS--  15 cents-- baseball on cover




WEST--  15

You could sure get a lot of reading for a buck back then.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Shorpy's Yreka, Cal. Magazine Stand, June 26, 1942-- Part 1

From the Feb. 11, 2015, Shorpy "Yreka Comix: 1942."  You can see the photo by typing in the title.  "Yreka, California Magazine Stand." by Russell Lee, OWI (Office of War Information).

I was interested in seeing what people back then were reading, especially kids.  Were some of the comics about the war?

Here are the magazines, newspapers and comics I could make out in the photo with headlines  

LIFE MAGAZINE--  "War Stamp Bride"  10 cents

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE--  "Rommel Drives On Deep Into Egypt"


The rest are comic books.

ACTION STORIES--  20 cents

SKYFIGHTERS--  10 cents   World War II, "Wings of Victory"

Great Reads.  --GreGen

25th Liberty Ship Launched at Wilmington August 23, 1942

From the August 28, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Looking Back."

AUGUST 23, 1942:  The Thomas Pinchney, the 25th Liberty Ship to be launched by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company (present-day N.C. State Port) at 8:30 that morning.

Thomas Pinckney was an American statesman and veteran of both the American Revolution and War of 1812.  He was born in South Carolina and governor of that state.

During the war, 243 Liberty Ships were launched at Wilmington.

For more on the Wilmington Liberty Ships, go to

Wilmington: Arsenal of Democracy.  --GreGen

Historic Ship Buffs Work to Restore World War II Landing Ship in Oregon-- Part 2

The LCI 713 (Landing Craft Infantry) was built in 1944, one of 923 LCIs constructed.  They could carry 200 troops at a time and were 380 feet long  At Mindinao, Philippines, it carried members of the 41st Infantry Division.  This was a part of the Oregon National Guard.

THE LCI 713 was built in Neponset, Massachusetts and traversed the Panama Canal to get to the Pacific Ocean to fight.

The only other surviving LCI is the LCI-1091 in Eureka, California.  (Not sure of the ship number here if they only built 923, though that number probably was the ones built during World War II.  So the LCI 1091 might not have been a World War II vessel.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Historic Ship Buffs Work to Restore World War II Landing Craft in Oregon-- Part 1

From the january 25, 2013, Oregonian by Dean Baker.

A couple dozen buffs have been working on the USS LCI-713 for the last 14 years.  It was an infantry landing craft used in amphibious operations.

Thirty-six days the ship was on its side and sunken in the Columbia River at the Stevenson Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum.  Working along with a maritime museum, $200,000 has been raised so far.

They also hope to include Portland's fully restored PT 658 and an old sternwheeler in a maritime museum.

Today, the LCI-713 is located a half mile downstream of the I-5 bridge.  Nearby it is 1926 Coast Guard Cutter Alert and the World War II-era seagoing tug Sakrissa YT-269.  There is also the hull of the Vietnam War-era USS Washtenaw County LST-1166.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Doolittle Raiders 71st Reunion in 2013

From the Jan. 26, 2013 Yahoo! News.  PR Web.

It will be held at Eaglin Air Force Base in Fort Walton Beach, April 17-20th, 2013.

Four of the five remaining Doolittle Raiders are expected to be on hand, the youngest now being age 90.

On Thursday, 18th there will be a luncheon with the Raiders and an autograph session at the Northwest Florida Fairgrounds.  Regular admission is $35.  For $60 you will get a signature print, preferred seating and the opportunity to meet the Raiders.

On April 19th, there will be a Raiders fly-by.

April 20th:  "Parade of Heroes" in Fort Walton Beach  The Raiders will be Grand marshals of course.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Pilot Who Flew Last World War II Mission Honored

From the Feb. 15, 2015, KUSI News, San Diego "Pilot who flew last mission of World War II being honored."

Captain Jerry Yellin, 90, was the star of this weekend's "Gathering of the Spirit of '45" event in San Diego.  It was the first such gathering under this name, even though there is already a similar "Keeping the Spirit of '45 Alive" event commemorated every August across several U.S. towns, including a big one in McHenry, Illinois.

He piloted a U.S. bomber and also witnessed the death of the last American killed in the war, 2nd Lt. Phillip Schlamberg, his best friend and wingman.  Mr. Yellin had had a talk with his friend before they took off and said Phillip had a premonition of death beforehand.


Allied Ships Sunk Off Cape Hatteras in World War II-- Part 2

By far the largest number of Allied ships were sunk off Cape Hatteras and the North Carolina coast during the first eight months after the U.S. entry into World War II.  Other than persons living along the shore, many Americans didn't even know the attacks were taking place by the U-boats as the U.S. government downplayed it.

MANUELA--  Freighter sunk by the U-401 on June 24, 1942.  150 feet deep.

TAMAULIPAS--  tanker carrying 10,200 tons of oil, torpedoed April 10, 1942.  160 feet deep.

TARPON--  U.S. submarine that foundered under tow.  140 feet deep.

U-701--  Ten miles east of Diamond Shoals Tower, mostly covered with sand.

LST-471--  On shore in the Rodanthe area.  Served in the Pacific during the war and being towed to scrapping with the LST-292.  A storm blew both ashore.  Due to beach erosion, now 250 yards off the beach.


Allied Ships Sunk Off Cape Hatteras During World War II-- Part 1

From the Dive Hatteras site "Shipwreck Diving in Cape Hatteras."

AUSTRALIA--  Texas Oil Co..  Large tanker sunk by U-332 March 16, 1942.  In two sections at 100 feet.  Artifacts and sharks.

BRITISH SPLENDOUR--  British tanker sunk April 6, 1942.  100 feet, visibility usually good.

DIAMOND SHOALS LIGHTSHIP--  Sunk by shellfire from U-140.  180 feet deep.

EMPIRE GEM--  British tanker 143 feet deep.  Called the "Gem" by divers.

KASSANDRA  LOULOUDIS--  Carrying war materials bound for Britain.  75-80 feet deep.

LIBERATOR--  Torpedoed in 1942.  110 feet deep and near the AUSTRALIA.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dresden Bombed 70 Years Ago-- Part 2

Just six of the 796 British Lancaster bombers were lost in the two attacks.

Germany was losing the war at the time, but still raining V-2 rockets on London and Britain and the German armies were still in the field and a serious threat.

Dresden had a population of 600,000 and was world renowned for its historical base.  But it was a valid military target because it was a center for the German railroads.  A big reason for the attack was that the city had previously been unscathed by bombing.

The aircraft took off at 5:20 p.m. on February 13, 1945.  There were 274 Lancasters in the first wave carrying bombs weighing up to 4,000 pounds known as "cookies."  Most of the German anti-aircraft guns at Dresden had been removed to the Russian front, so the planes met little resistance.

The first bombs began falling shortly after 10 p.m. from 8,000 feet.  The second wave consisted of 529 bombers.

--A Sad Part of War.  --GreGen

Friday, February 13, 2015

Dresden Bombed 70 Years Ago Tonight-- Part 1

From the Feb. 7, 2015, Express (U.K.) "Total Destruction: 70 years ago the Allies launched their historic raid on Dresden" by Adrian Lee.

Seventy years ago, on the night of Feb. 13, 1945, the English Bomber Command ordered two raids, 3 hours apart on the historic German city of Dresden.  Over 2,600 tons of high explosives and incendinaries were dropped.

Up to 25,000 died in the firestorm the explosives started, said to be visible from the air over 500 miles away.  Dresden was still burning the next day when hundreds of U.S. B-17 Flying Fortresses struck.


British Torpedo Boat Launched Again

February 3, 2015,  West Country (U.K.) "Second World War torpedo boat lowered into Bridgewater Docks" in Somerset.

The 70-foot 1941 Motor Torpedo Boat 219 was placed in the water to test its redone hull.  It started leaking a few hours later.  All wooden boats leak and the only way to find out what more was needed was to put it in the water.

The day earlier there had been a ceremony.

The 219 was in numerous battles including the "Channel Dash" when the German cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisnau and Prinz Eugen did so to avoid bombing in Brest, France.

The boat is being restored and the final cost is expected to be around 60,000 pounds, British.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Chicago's Top Flying Ace, William Cullerton, Died in 2013-- Part 2

Stories of his World War II success were all over the Chicago papers back during the war as he was related to the Chicago Cullerton political dynasty.

He named his plane "Miss Steve" for his fiance, Elaine Steve.

Some Chicago war headlines for him:

"Chicago Pilot Bags Eight Nazi Planes in One Day's Flight"

"Cullerton has 18 kills"

"Germans Find Chicago Ace Too Hot to Handle"

Mr. Cullerton had 21 kills, the third highest ace in the U.S. 8th Air Force and flew in the 355th Fighter Group.  The dragon was the symbol of his squadron and he was the last living member of the Dragon Squadron.

Quite the Story.  --GreGen

Chicago's Top Flying Ace, William Cullerton, Dies in 2013-- Part 1

From the Jan. 14, 2013, Chiocago Sun-Times "William J. Cullerton, Chicago's top flying ace of World War II, dies at 89" by Maureen O'Donnell.

At one time during the war, Mr. Cullerton was downed behind enemy lines and shot by German soldiers at point-blank range.  He survived.  The Allies found him hiding under a bridge bear Feachtwangen and were not sure if he was an  American or German soldier pretending he was an American flyer.  The Americans asked him who the "Slendid Splinter" was and Cullerton correctly identified him as Ted Williams, the famed Boston Red Sox player.

After the war, he became host of the WGN radio program "Great Outdoors Show."

USS William D. Porter (DD-579): Bad Luck Destroyer

From Wikipedia.  From blog entries of Dec. 20, 2012 and Jan. 17-19, 2013.

Fletcher-Class destroyer named for Commodore William D. Porter (1808-1864).  Porter was the son of Commodore David Porter of War of 1812 fame, brother of Civil War hero Rear Admiral David D. Porter and foster brother of Admiral David G. Farragut.  His uncle was captain of the USS Franklin, ship-of-the-line.  He served in the Western Waters during the Civil War.  Quite the naval family.

Laid down 7 May 1942 and commissioned 6 July 1943.376 feet long, 39.8 foot beam, five 5-inch guns.

It had a minor mishap leaving Norfolk to join the battleship Iowa and other ships escorting President Roosevelt to Europe, when its anchor caused damage to a sister destroyer.  The next day, a depth charge from the Porter broke loose in rough seas, causing the Iowa and others to take evasive maneuvers, fearing a U-boat attack.

On November 14th, at FDR's request, the Iowa and other ships conducted and anti-aircraft and torpedo drill, but the Porter's #3 torpedo tube accidentally discharged toward the Iowa (with FDR onboard.  The destroyer attempted to warn the Iowa by radio, but with radio silence the torpedo detonated 3000 yards in the wake of the Iowa which was taking evasive maneuvers.

The Porter's captain and crew were placed under arrest and ordered to Bermuda for an inquiry.  But, Roosevelt said it was an accident and charges were dropped.

After that, it was transferred to the Pacific Ocean for the rest of the war.  IUt was sunk by a kamikaze in 1945.

Unlucky Ship.  --GreGen

Youngest Schindler's List Survivor, Leon Leyson, Died in 2013

Died Jan. 11, 2013.

Leon Leyson was nearly ten when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939.  Six months later, he and his family were sent to the ghetto in Krakow where he survived mass killings.  He was then sent to a concentration camp where he lost two brothers.

Later he was the youngest of Schindler's List of Jewish workers declared too necessary for production at his factories at age 13.  Schindler called him "Little Leyson" as he had to stand on a box to work on machinery.  His mother and surviving siblings were also put on the list.

Mr. Leyson began a public speaking career after the 1993 movie.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

USS Idaho Sailor's Diary Found in Arizona-- Part 3: Raising the Iwo Jima Flag, Kamikaze Strike

I am of the understanding that diaries were illegal on American ships during the war for fear of their falling into enemy hands, which makes this discovery all the more important.

MARCH 3, 1945:  "Received ammunition off Iwo Jima from ammo ship. They finally changed the battle flag on Mount Suribachi for a big one--looked like they wouldn't get her up for awhile but they did."  "The famous flag-raising as witnessed from the USS Idaho.

MARCH 25, 1945:  "Arrived off Okinawa during the night--  all quiet."

APRIL 12, 1945:  "We got it today.  Terrific suicide attack by God knows how many Jap planes--  55 were shot down in our immediate area.  We got 5 in 4 minutes & received a suicide plane in our port blister.  ...when that guy hit us he really raised hell--I've got port stack, & pieces of the plane covered the entire platform.  I pulled 5 pieces of Jap pilot off my clothes--the largest about as big as my hand--the explosion sure scattered him."

JULY 31, 1945:  )Last entry) "Out for practice firing--  can you imagine that?"

Mighty Interesting Diary.  --GreGen

Monday, February 9, 2015

USS Idaho Sailor's Diary Found in Arizona-- Part 2

February 13, 1945--  "Underway for Iwo Jima!!  Where the hell does Rosie get her information?  Maybe the Jap fleet will come out this time-- I hope.  I'd like to get this business over with & go home."

FEB. 14, 1945--  "Another kid jumped over the side last night.  So far all these guys who have cracked up are in their teens.  Maybe they haven't lived long enough to know that what they are fighting for is worth all the discomforts we have to put up with."

FEB. 16, 1945--  "Commenced bombardment (of Iwo Jima).  Funny looking island with a dead volcano on one end called Suribachi."

You don't hear much about sailors committing suicide during the war.


USS Idaho Sailor's Diary Found in Arizona-- Part 1

It was written by Jack Van Horn, bosun's mate 2nd Class from July 16, 1943, to July 31, 1845.

Also found were two sets of box cards. One was to identify Allied and enemy ships.  The other was to learn pennant signal flags, semaphore and Morse Code.

Part of the August 18, 1943, entry read: "Tokyo Rose claims the Idaho is sunk.  I don't believe her."

Oct. 25, 1943--  entered Pearl Harbor.

Oct. 27, 1943--  "The USS Oklahoma being raised after nearly two years, but the Arizona is sunk for the duration."

More to Come.  --GreGen

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bits of War: Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor-- Bob Hope

1.  DEATH OF PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR--  From the Dec. 14, 2012, Yakima Herald "Pearl Harbor survivor and Granger native dies one day before the attack's 71st anniversary."  Herb Fairbanks, 96,  Was 25 years old and on the USS West Virginia when the attack came.

2.  BOB HOPE--  From the Jan. 26, 2013, KMJ Now "World War II Legacy of Bob Hope & Bing Crosby."  Bob Hope aired 144 radio shows during the war. Only nine were recorded at NBC studios.  The rest were on location at various military bases.


At Pearl Harbor and "Operation Crossroads"

From the Dec. 23, 2012, Northern Nevadan "Guy Clifton: Verdi man recalls 'Operation Crossroads' nuclear tests of 1946 and the 'Unsinkable USS Nevada."

Dave Larson, 85, was on the USS Nevada, the only battleship to get underway at Pearl Harbor.  His ship was launched during World War I but did not fight in it.

After the war, he was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Independence and in July 1946, he was at Bikini Atoll in the South Pacific and observed the nuclear tests on U.S. Navy ships.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Milt Card's USS Brownson DD-518


In the last post, I mentioned that Milt Card had also survived  his destroyer being sunk near New Guinea in which he was one of only 30 survivors.

I came across the name of a destroyer, the USS Brownson DD-518, which was sunk while covering action at Cape Gloucester, New Guinea on 26 December 1943.

A dive bomber hit it with two bombs causing huge damage.  The article said that 108 of the 300-man crew died.


Death of Milt Card, Last Known Aurora Pearl Harbor Survivor in 2012

From the November 19, 2012, Chicago Sun-Times.

Died at age 92.  A 1939 graduate of East Aurora High School, he couldn't find a job and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  He was 21 when the Japanese attacked and on the USS Tracy.  He went over to the USS Pennsylvania to help fight the fires  He was a cook and the captain made him make food and coffee.

A ship's ammunition locker blew up and killed three of his friends.

The next day, he reported to the wreck of the USS Arizona to help recover bodies and remembers, "I was crying.  I was cussing.  Some of the guys were taking bodies off, but they were black (from the fire).  Made you sick."

He was also one of 30 to survive his destroyer sinking near New Guinea.

There will be a Pearl Harbor luncheon for area survivors scheduled for Dec. 10 at the Gaslite Manor in Aurora and only three are expected to attend.


Arctic Convoy Veterans Honored...At Last

From the Dec. 21, 2012, Leicestershire (UK) Mercury "Second World War Arctic convoy veterans honoured at last" by Dan Martin.

Many are now happy that the government has at long last decided to award medals to those who served on the Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union, so vital in keeping that country in the war.  Many feel this should have happened decades a go.

These brave men brought weapons and food to the Soviet Union and there are an estimated 400 still alive in the United Kingdom

One of them is Bill Merry, 89, of Leicester, who said, "The Russians gave us medals but our government would not."  He served on the HMS Westcott as a stoker from 1943-1945 and was on 14 convoys between Ireland, Scotland and the Russian ports of Murmansk and Archangel.

They braved freezing temperatures and 22 hours of darkness.  "Always at the back of your mind, was the thought a U-boat might be about to sink us.  It was hard and frightening."

Arctic Convoy veterans wear white berets at functions to signify their service.

These men risked as much as the soldiers and sailors on the front lines, plus having the added prospect of having to jump into freezing waters.  In addition, there is the thought of a torpedo hitting you while you're on an oil tanker or ammunition ship.  definitely not something I would relish.

I believe more honor should be given to the U.S. Merchant Marine who faced similar situations.


New Mexico Dogs Used in World War II

From the Dec. 22, 2012, Santa Fe New Mexican "Dozens of New Mexico dogs served in World War II front lines."

In late October 1943, the military launched a campaign asking Americans to loan their dogs to the cause.  They wanted 250,000 in the program, called "Dogs for Defense."  They were to be used as guards, messengers and help medics.

The government, however, would not guarantee their return.  They were to be the Army's Canine Corps.

To be accepted, the dog had to stand 20 inches at the shoulder and be between one and five years old.

Doggone It.  --GreGen

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor William Lefabvre, 93, in 2012

From the October 16, 1012, Merrimack Patch.

Died October 14, 2012,.  Born in Manchester, New Hampshire in 1920.  Enlisted in Navy August 39, 1940.

On USS West Virginia, BB-48 at Pearl Harbor.  Transferred to USS San Francisco CA-38 for duration of war.  Also served in the Korean War.


World War II Submarine Veterans Disband National Chapter in 2012

From the September 25, 2012, Virginia Pilot.

The national convention of this organization in Norfolk, Virginia, was attended by just 62 men.  At one time thousands attended.  It was decided at the convention to disband the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II.  Its local chapters get to decide if they want to continue under another name or dissolve.

Of the 1,100 submarine veterans of the organization remaining, the youngest is 86 and oldest 102.  The national organization was established in 1955.

Submarines made up just 2% of the U.S. fleet during the war, but sank more than 30% of the Japanese Navy as well as nearly 5 million tons of enemy shipping.

Some 16,000 men served on the submarines and 52 were lost with the deaths of 3,500 Americans.

Hopefully they will be keeping the records of the organization somewhere.


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

World War II Rationing Closes Schools in Chicago

I wrote about Chicago school closures during World War II for rationing registration.  See the account in my Cooter's History Thing Blog for toady.


Whiskey Rationing Coming, Huge Growth in Wilmington

From the December 22, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star News "Back Then"

DECEMBER 6, 1942:  "Coupon rationing of whiskey will become effective in the state Dec. 10.

The sale of wine through ABC stores was not affected.

Of North Carolina's 100 counties, only 25, including New Hanover, had the ABC stores.

On DECEMBER 7, 1942, a year into the war, on the front page, there were some amazing numbers.  There were 4,000 members of the Office of Civilian defense, 18,000 employees at the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company and 2,595 Federal Housing Agency homes.

Wilmington's population had boomed from 33,407 in 1940 to 90,000 by the end of 1942.  New Hanover County's population was up to 120,000 from 47,935.

Impact of War.  GreGen

Peace Was Close, But a Torpedo Was Closer

From the Nov. 14, 2012, Sherman Publications, Inc..

Albert Anderson, 91, of Oxford was a Marine on the USS Pennsylvania BB-38 when a Japanese plane torpedoed it while anchored in Buckner Bay, Okinawa.

He remembers: "I just came out of the shower, I had a pair of white shower shorts on and Japanese wooden shoes.  I just reached up to open my locker door and boy, that ship went sky high.  I didn't hear anything.  It just went up went up.

The date was August 12, 1945.  Japan officially surrendered two days later.

The torpedo blew a 30-foot hole in the Pennsylvania, killing 20 and wounding 10.

The ship did not have any lifeboats, but fortunately, the flooding was brought under control.

Overall, however, Mr. Anderson remembers life on the ship was pretty good: "On board a ship, you've got a mattress and three squares--and you get to watch a movie at night."  To him that was better than "living in a fox hole.  He had only two duties.  During battle, he loaded shells and manned  20 mm and 40 mm guns.  The rest of the time he was one of eight men assigned to the captain's guard.

He enlisted in the Marines in 1944 at the age of 23.


Sailor Joins Shipmates on USS Arizona in 2012

From the Dec. 12, 2012, Henderson (Ky) Gleaner "Jenkins: Seaman joins shipmates on submerged USS Arizona" by Judy Jenkins.

Former seaman 1st class Wallace Frank Quillin's remains were returned to his former ship exactly 71 years after it was destroyed Dec. 7, 1941.  He was on shore leave so he could attend church services, however, that fateful day.

Mr. Quillin died December 6, 2006, and his ashes were stored until now and a team of dicers placed his ashes on his ship.

After the attack, he was assigned to the USS Neosho at Pearl Harbor.

He was one of only 111 survivors when the Neosho was sunk at the Battle of Coral Sea.


On USS San Francisco at Pearl Harbor

From the December 20, 2012, Cincinnati "Pearl Harbor Survivor shares stories" by Lisa Wakeland.

Joe Whitt was on the USS San Francisco in drydock that day and had just finished breakfast and was on deck learning how to play guitar.  Many of the ship's crew were on shore on liberty.  Most guns and ammunition was stored away.

When the attack came, the men grabbed whatever they could to fight with and went off to war.  He remembers, "We had no guidance, we had nobody to tell us, and we were pretty much on our own."

The torpedo planes were gone and the ones coming now were dropping bombs and strafing.  He was shocked to see the battleships on fire.

Mr. Whitt joined the Navy at age 17 only one year before Pear Harbor.  During the war, he was in 17 battles including Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

D-Day's Sunken Secrets

From PBS Nova.

There is much history at the bottom of the coast of Normandy.  On June 6, 1944, D-Day, some 7,000 warships, 11,000 planes and 200,000 Allied soldiers stormed ashore.  This day was three years in the planning.

Today, that sea bottom forms one of the largest archaeological sites in the world.

Hundreds of ships, tanks, guns and even potentially unexploded mines are in that water.

It was the biggest amphibious assaults ever undertaken, eclipsing the one at Fort Fisher during the Civil War.  An unbelievable amount of planning went into it and England was turned into the launching base.  Great secrecy went throughout it.

Tagged Operation Overlord, it was an all-out gamble to crack Hitler's Atlantic Wall.  Great subterfuge was used to make Germans think the main attack was coming at Calais, the closes point across the English Channel.


I Got to See "The Imitation Game"-- Part 2

The movie was about the brilliant mathematician John Turin who was the principal person to crack Nazi Germany's supposedly unbreakable World War II Enigma Code.  He did it by making what would have to be considered a forerunner of today's computers.

The Germans used the Enigma Code on all their secret documents that went out over the air.  The Allies could get them but not decipher them.  On top of that, the Germans changed the code every day.

I'd never heard of him before but had heard of the Enigma Code.

Once they cracked it, they had to be careful that the Germans not figure out their code had been cracked, so Turin came up with a mathematical process to determine which German plans to defeat and which to let take place.  That was a hard decision as well as it meant that peoples' lives were sacrificed.

Another part of the story was that John Turin was a homosexual, a criminal act in Britain,  caught in the 1950s and forced to undergo chemical castration which caused him to commit suicide.  A horrible end to a real hero.

His character reminded me a lot of "A Beautiful Mind."


Monday, February 2, 2015

I Finally Was Able to See "Imitation Game"-- Part 1

I had planned to see this much heralded movie this week at my usual theater in Fox Lake, Illinois, but found they had taken it off showings.  I figured I'd have to go to Round Lake to see it.

After all, it has received all those Academy Award nominations and it was about World War II.  I figured this had to be a good movie.

Saturday, I was at Woodstock, Illinois, for the annual Groundhog Days Festival.  Most of the famous movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed here.

On my way over to the chili cook off at the Woodstock Opera House (Hotel Pennsylvanian in the movie), I passed by the Woodstock Theatre (the Alpine Theater in the movie) and saw they were showing "Imitation Game" starting at noon.

Well, I didn't get my chili this day.

No Chili For Me!!  --GreGen

It Was a Cold War Thing in Wilmington, N.C.

From the Dec. 22, 2012, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then."

DECEMBER 5, 1962:  The USS North Carolina Commission agreed to help turn the battleship into a fallout shelter in case of nuclear attack, but as yet have not received permission from the Navy as the ship is on permanent loan.

The warship can hold 1,395 people right now, but with alterations that number can go up to 5,000.

I Don't Know That I'd Want to Be Above Ground in a Nuclear Attack.  --GreGen

World War II Pigeon Message Decoded

From the Dec. 22, 2012, New Zealand.

This was a big story back in the fall of 2012 when pigeon remains with a WWII message was found in a chimney in a home under renovation.  When the message was examined, it was found to be in code and the British military said that the code was no longer used and its was uncrackable.

However, Gordon Young said it took him 17 minutes ti decipher it using his great uncle's code book from World War I.

The message identified German troop units and Panzer tank positions

It was sent back to Britain during the Battle of Caen after the D-Day landing.

Some 250,000 pigeons, working in pairs, were used during the war.


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Surprised at How Little I've Seen About the Death of Edward Saylor

I've just seen a couple of Google/Yahoo Alerts on the death of Edward Saylor, one of the four remaining World War II Doolittle Raiders.

The Chicago Tribune barely had a paragraph on his death.

Come on, Mr. Saylor was one of the reasons the United States became such a great country!!

His brave deed gave hope to the country when there was very little.

Should Have Been a Much Bigger Deal.  --GreGen