Tuesday, January 31, 2017

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 5: A Real Fast "Star-Spangled Banner"

When Hamlin reached the main deck he caught sight of what he thought "was the biggest submarine I'd ever seen."  It was the overturned USS Oklahoma.

Before jumping into the water, he saw musical instruments scattered all over the California's teak wood deck.  A musician later told him "they had just started to play the National Anthem when the Japanese planes started coming in.  he said they never played faster in their lives and finished."

He swam to a life boat, arriving just as a plane strafed it and immediately decided to swim the rest of the way to Ford Island.


Monday, January 30, 2017

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 4

James Hamlin and a few others scrambled for their gas masks.  A chief petty officer stopped him and said this was no gas attack and ordered him to the Number Three Fire Room to help get the ship underway.  Minutes later, a bomb hit and exploded where the gas masks were stored and he never saw the others who had been with him again.

When the abandon ship order was given he found his escape route blocked by fire and debris.  He saw a sailor slumped against the bulkhead and recognized him as one of the clerks at the ship's "Geedunk" stand where sailors could buy cigarettes, ice cream and candy.

Hamlin laid him out on a couch in the wardroom and found out later that the clerk was already dead.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 3: This is No Drill

James Hamlin went to breakfast and then headed topside afterwards and bought a copy of the Honolulu Advertiser from "Sweatshirt" Clark, the only unofficial "paperboy" when the USS California was in port.  He found a shady spot under the big canvas awning, by the No. 1 14-inch gun turret, which was set up for church service.  The breeze, however, made it hard to turn the pages so he went below.

At 7:55 a.m. the ships' air raid siren sounded.  Said Hamlin, "I thought it was a heck of a time to have an air raid drill.  But, it didn't take me long to realize it wasn't a drill.."

The torpedoes shook the ship and dust started falling off overhead and they thought they were being gassed.


31 of 388 Unidentified USS Oklahoma Victims Identified

From the January 8, 2017, Providence Journal  "Veterans Journal:  USS Oklahoma sailors -- proper military burials 75 years later."

Thirty-five of the 429 sailors and Marines who died aboard the were identified afterwards.

Since most were not recovered until two years later, the bones of the rest were commingled in 61 caskets in 45 graves.

Because of DNA, recently the graves were dug up and examinations made.

As a result, so far, 31 of the 388 have been identified.

This effort began in January 2015.

This is the only right thing to do.  Thanks, U.S.A..


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Report of Pearl Harbor Victim Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 2: The Radio and the "Prune Barge"

James Hamlin was on the battleship USS California that day.  And, far from it being his last, he lived on until 1999.

The nickname of the USS California was the "Prune Barge" because of the seemingly endless supply of that dried fruit supplied by the ship's namesake.

December 7, like December 6, was to be another duty-free day for him, "liberty" in Navy lingo.  He was looking forward to sunbathing and swimming with his shipmates at Waikiki Beach, where he had also gone the day before.

That December 6, he had stopped on his way to the beach at the Honolulu Montgomery Ward store and bought a $9.95 radio for his steady girlfriend back in Lone Oak, a suburb of Paducah, Kentucky.  The clerk had promised him it would be shipped promptly to Almyra Craig, who he had met in 1937.  (They were married in 1943 while he was home on leave.)


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Report of Pearl Harbor Victim Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 1

From the December 23, 2016, Ky Forward "Old Time Kentucky: Christmas report of soldier's Pearl Harbor demise was greatly exaggerated" by Berry Craig.

James Thomas Hamlin, fireman 1st class was from Harlan, Kentucky and at Pearl Harbor that day.  On December 16, 1941, his parents, Green and Molly Hardin, received this telegram:

"The Navy Department greatly regrets to inform you that your son, James Thomas Hamlin, fireman first class, U.S. Navy, was lost in action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country."

A memorial service was held for their 28-year-old son at the Harlan Baptist Church where they worshipped.  There was an obituary in the Harlan Enterprise newspaper where he had once been a cub reporter.

The Only Thing.  --GreGen

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Apology for Pearl Harbor, As It Should Be

Japan's Prime Minister Abe did not apologize for the attack on Pearl Harbor, just as President Obama did not apologize for the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  As well they shouldn't.  At most, they should acknowledge that it was a sad time in history and must not be repeated.

Plus, neither man was alive back then.

I was happy to see the president finally doing something about Pearl Harbor.  It always seemed to me that he essentially ignored it.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Looking Back to 1941: Tire Inventories Ordered for Rationing

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Sheriff William Runnells of DeKalb County received a telegraphic order from Henry Pope, Jr., State Tire Rationing Superintendent, requesting the sheriff to notify all tire dealers in the county to send a complete inventory of present stocks of casings and tubes as of Jan. 3, 1942.

"The report is expected to be filed immediately."

More Rationing Already.  --GreGen

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"We Patch Anything": The WPA's Sewing Rooms-- Part 3

I had never heard of this operation before coming across it in one of my "Looking Back" posts.  I especially liked how they took the WPA's initials and turned it into "WE Patch Anything."

Seamstresses took pride in what they did and would say the WPA stood for "We Patch Anything."  Each item they made had a WPA label on it and the inscription "Not to Be Sold."  I wonder if there are any remaining WPA garments?  Perhaps even collector articles now?

By 1940, the Fort Worth sewing room had 650 women,ages 35-64, and had produced 2,341,369 garments and 130,408 household items.

As the United States drew closer to war, the women began finding better paying jobs in defense industries.  Starting pay in the sewing rooms was $35 a month for 140 hours.

WPA sewing rooms disbanded in 1941.

Something Else I Didn't Know About.  --GreGen

Friday, January 20, 2017

"We Patch Anything": The WPA's Sewing Rooms-- Part 2

Some women were placed in clerical jobs by this program.  Others became librarians, worked in canning, gardening and sewing.

Nationally, some 7 percent of WPA workers were women engaged in sewing projects.

The Fort Worth sewing room opened in 1935 and later had separate sewing rooms for black and white women.  It provided job training for illiterate women also included basic education.

The federal government paid the women's salaries while the city and county paid a portion of the expenses.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

"We Patch Anything": The WPA's Sewing Rooms-- Part 1

Continued from the January 7 and 8 blogs.

From the May 27, 2013 "Living New Deal site "We Patch Anything: WPA Sewing Rooms in Fort Worth, Texas."

This is in reference to my posts of January 7 and 8 referring to the closure of the sewing room formerly housing the KPA (actually WPA) in DeKalb and reopening as a Red Cross sewing room, now for the war effort.

Most think of the U.S. government's attempt to get the country out of the Great Depression called the Works Progress Administration usually referred to by its initials WPA as mostly men working on highways, parks and schools.

But, there were also programs for women starting in 1933 through the Women's Division of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and later under the auspices of the WPA.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pearl Harbor's Mysteries-- Part 4: PTSD and "The Tears of the Arizona"


The United States lost 2,403 persons in the attack.  But many of the survivors suffered from what we now call PTSD.  In a 1988 study, 85% of those still alive still suffered from flashbacks.

Look up the story of Sterling Cale.


And that is 75 years after it went down.  On December 6, 1941, the day before the attack, it had taken on a full load of oil, 1.5 million gallons for a January trip to the U.S. mainland.  It still leaks between 2-9 quarts a day.  It is estimated that it still has 1/3 of the thick bunker fuel oil that powered it on board.

This is easily observed by visitors who call the drops the "R|Tears of the Arizona."

I watched these for several minutes when I visited.  It is a moving experience.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pearl Harbor's Mysteries-- Part 3: The Mysterious New Yorker Ad


On November 22, 1941, there were several odd advertisements in the publication for a dice game called "The Deadly Double."  They had headlines "Actung, Warning, Alert."  "Actung" being a German word.

Other ads about the game were in the magazine, including one that showed a pair of dice with the numbers 12 and 7 showing, December 7?


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pearl Harbor Still Holds a Few Mysteries-- Part 2: Major Tomura


  Communications between Japan and United States at this serious stage were handled over the wireless telegraph.

FDR sent a cable December 6 to Emperor Showa in hopes of "dispelling the dark clouds" of war due to the two countries' long-standing peace and friendship.  In Tokyo, Major Morio Tomura, at the Tokyo cable office, delayed the message ten hours believing that war was Japan's only destiny.

When FDR's cable arrived, Japan already had its 14-part cable ready announcing the end of the negotiations.  The same Major Tomura delayed this cable as well and it didn't arrive until nearly two hours after the attack.

Thanks a Lot Major Tomura.  --GreGen

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pearl Harbor Still Holds a Few Mysteries-- Part 1: "The Sleeping Dragon"

From the December 8, 2016, Popular Mechanics by Matt Blitz.

As a result of the attack, nineteen Navy ships were damaged or destroyed.

Even with all the history written about it, there are still things many Americans don't know about it.

1.  The "Sleeping Dragon" almost stayed asleep.

The attack was the result of failed negotiations on both sides.  The U.S. considered Japan to be like Nazi Germany, but there was much disagreement in the Japanese government about going to war with the United States.


Monday, January 9, 2017

World War II Glass Penny Goes for $70,000-- Part 2

The Blue Ridge Glass Company in Tennessee, which no longer exists, made experimental pennies made of tempered glass.

The former owner of the penny, Roger Burdette, says that the coins' impressions weren't precise, their weight and size not uniform and there was a tendency to develop sharp edges.  These led to their being rejected.  Most of these experimental pennies were destroyed.

He knows of just one other in existence and it is broken.

The U.S. Mint did make its 1943 pennies from low grade steel covered with zinc and started making copper pennies again in 1944.

Penny for Your Thoughts.  --GreGen

World War II Glass Penny sells for $70,000-- Part 1

From the January 6, 2017, CBS Money Watch "Possibly unique glass penny from World War II sells for $70k."

Heritage Auctions announced that an experimental glass penny, possibly the only one of its kind, was sold for $70,000 on January 5, to an American buyer who wishes to remain anonymous.

During the war, copper was needed for ammunition and the U.S. Mint authorized tests to be made using other metals, plastic and rubber as pennies.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

About That KPA in the Last Post

I looked up KPA in the last post and found it should have been the WPA sewing project, not the KPA.

WPA, of course, stands for the Works Progress Administration, a major government agency formed by FDR to get us out of the Great Depression.

I'll do some more research on the WPA sewing project.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Sewing for the Red Cross in DeKalb

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Announcement was made today by the DeKalb Chapter of the American Red Cross that it will open a sewing center in DeKalb.  The center is to be located on the second floor of The Chronicle building in quarters previously occupied by the KPA sewing project.

"The chapter invites all women who wish to do sewing or knitting for the Red Cross to go to the center any afternoon that is convenient for them."


Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Meet in Pearl Harbor-- Part 4

Continued from December 29, 2016.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama rode a small boat to the white USS Arizona Memorial building in the harbor that sits over the stricken battleship.  There the remains of 1,177 sailors and Marines lie entombed for the ages.

Abe laid a wreath to honor the dead.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Obama, Japan's Leader Meet in Pearl Harbor-- Part 3: "Sorry Is Just a World"

Among those in attendance at the Arizona Memorial was Sterling Cale, 95.  He was a sailor at Pearl Harbor the day of the attack.  In the days following the attack, it was his job to pull bodies out of the still-burning battleship.

Mr. Cale said he did not come hoping to hear Abe apologize.  He said: "'Sorry' is just a word.  What matters more is the action of coming here and going out there with our commander in chief.  That says more than words."

Prime Minster Shinzo Abe did not issue a formal apology, even as he detailed the horror of the sinking of the Arizona.''"Each and every one of those service men had a mother and father anxious about his safety.  many had wives and girlfriends they loved, and many must have had children they would have loved watching grow up."


Obama and Japan's leader Meet at Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

Continued from December 29, 2016.

The ceremony was conceived as an affirmation of the close relations that now exist between the two countries.

Said Prime Minister Abe as he spoke to Pearl Harbor survivors:  "Ours is an alliance of hope that will lead us to the future."

Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to make a highly publicized visit to the USS Arizona Memorial, though it is believed that three of his predecessors are thought to have quietly visited  Pearl Harbor.  His visit comes after President Obama's visit in May to Hiroshima, site of one of the two nuclear attacks that helped end the war in 1945.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Deaths: Donald E. Casey Sr.-- Part 3: Shell-Shocked

His son said:  In retrospect, he thought any and every POW in World War II had that.  They just thought it was being shell-shocked.  I think he became interested in sharing his experiences."

Over several years, Donald Casey began pulling together his wartime materials, including photos and began to work on his story which resulted in a 294-page book titled "To Fight For My Country, Sir."


Deaths: Donald E. Casey Sr, --Part 2: Shot Down Over Germany

While flying on his 28th mission in June 1944, German anti-aircraft fire shot down his plane.  All nine crew members survived a parachute jump from 23,000 feet, but four were killed by civilians in Hamburg, Germany.

Casey and the other four were captured and transported under guard to prisoner-of-war camps in Poland and then Bavaria.  He and his fellow prisoners were liberated by Gen. George Patton's Third Army in April 1945.

After the war, he received his undergraduate degree in economics from Dartmouth College in 1948 and then worked in investment banking before returning to Chicago where he got his law degree in 1957.

For many years, Casey would not talk about his wartime experiences, but about 25 years ago he began researching about World War II and attending meetings with veterans around the country.  He also began editing a newsletter for the 379th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force.

In his eighties, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Deaths: Donald E. Casey Sr. (1924-2016)-- Part 1

From the April 11, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Lawyer, vet wrote book about war experiences" by Bob Goldsborough.

Donald E. Casey Sr., a Chicago lawyer and frequent volunteer at Chicago's Pritzker Military Museum & Library, was also an author who in 2009 documented his experiences as a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany during World War II.

He died March 14, 2016.  Born in Oak Park and attended school at Campion Jesuit High in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and then went to Purdue University.

While at Purdue, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces' Aviation Cadet program during World War II.  Called to active duty in February 1943, he completed aerial navigation school the following October and became a navigator on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers on combat missions from England.


Looking Back to 1941: Flag to Stay Up on Sycamore Courthouse for Duration of War

From the December 28, 2016, Looking Back (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.

"The flag went up over the court house yesterday, Sheriff William Runnells, custodian of court house properties announced that the flag would be flown daily for the duration of the war.

"Ordinarily the flag is flown only on specific holidays."

The DeKalb County Court House is in Sycamore.

Raise the Flag!!  --GreGen

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

After Pearl Harbor: The Race to Save the U.S. Fleet-- Part 2: Returned to Service Quickly

The Flagship of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the USS Pennsylvania, had been in drydock.  The USS Tennessee and Maryland were moored inboard of the USS West Virginia and Oklahoma and were sheltered from the Japanese torpedoes. All suffered damage, but remained afloat.

Within three months, the USS Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, cruisers USS Honolulu, Helena and Raleigh, destroyers Helm and Shaw, seaplane tender Curtiss, repair ship vestal and floating drydock YFD-2 were back in service or had been refloated and headed back to the United States for final repairs.

The most heavily damaged of the smaller ships, the Raleigh and Shaw, were returned to active duty by mid-1942.


After Pearl Harbor: The Race to Save the U.S. Fleet-- Part 1

From the December 1, 2016, History by Sarah Pruitt.

Most of the big damage at Pearl Harbor was done in the first 30 minutes.  The Arizona was completely destroyed and the Oklahoma capsized.  The West Virginia, California and Nevada were sunk in shallow water.  Altogether, five battleships were sunk.

Also, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers and other smaller vessels were seriously damaged.  That was along with 180 planes destroyed on the ground.

In addition, there were 3,400 casualties and 2,300 killed, mostly on the Arizona and Oklahoma.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos:

Dec. 5, 2016--  AIR NOIR: 1943.  July 1943.  Greenville, South Carolina "Air Service Command.  Enlisted man folding up his gas mask to hang on the wall after having worn it all day."  Jack Delano, OWI

December 6, 2016 ELECTRIC ANGEL: 1943.  January 1943.  Washington, D.C..  "This Office of Price Administration clerk, speaking of her boarding house room, says:  'The light looks like an angel when I leave the shade off, so I do.'"  Esther Bubley, OWI.


Shorpy Home Front Photos: Zoots to Relax

Dec. 3, 20016  ZOOT ALORS: 1943.  July 1943.  Washington, D.C..  "Negro alley dwellings near Capitol."  Esther Bubley, OWI.  The picture shows slums, but the man is wearing a real nice, probably expensive Zoot Suit, probably one of the ugliest creations ever.

Ya Gotta See It To Believe It.

Dec. 4, 2016  CORNERMAN: 1943.  July 1943.  Greenville, South Carolina.  "Air Service Command.  Enlisted man of the 25th Service Group relaxing in his hutment."  Jack Delano, OWI.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Germany Evacuated Entire Town On This Past Christmas Day Because of World War II Bomb

From the December 25, 2016, Independent "Germany evacuated entire town on Christmas Day after discovering Second World War bomb."

Thousands in the town of Augsburg were forced to evacuate while authorities worked to disarm the bomb.  It was discovered last week during construction in the city's central district.

The evacuation involved some 32,000 homes and 54,000 people in a 1.8 kilometer zone.

The bomb found was weighed 1.8 tons.  That's a huge blast if it goes off.

A large part of Augsburg was destroyed February 25-26, 1944, when it was bombed by hundreds of British and American bombs.

Bombs, the Gifts That Keep Giving.  --GreGen

Lauren Bruner Returns to Pearl Harbor for 75th-- Part 4: Amazing Recovered and Continued to Serve

Continued from December 23, 2016.

It took Mr. Bruner seven months to recover and he then returned to duty in the Navy as the service needed all the sailors it could get.

He was on the USS Coghlan at Attu Island in Alaska in 1943.  His ship later took troops to the South Pacific and was near Guam when the war ended.

After his death, he wants his ashes interned in the wreck of the Arizona with his old shipmates.  He prefers this to being buried in a sparsely visited cemetery on land.

"I think I've got the final spot," he says, confidant that he will be the last of the Arizona's survivors to die.


Beginning This Blog's 6th Year

This post marks the beginning of this blog's sixth year and marks its 2456th post.

I was writing about World War II in my Cooter's History Thing blog, but as we were entering the 70th anniversary of the war and especially after all the Pearl Harbor articles back in 2011, I figured why not start this new blog.

I have always been interested in Pearl Harbor, but but so much in the rest of the war.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s (I was born in 1951) most all of my parent's male friends were World War II veterans and, essentially, they were just all over the place.  But now, with the Greatest generation passing away so quickly, I figured this would be a good time to honor them.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen (Short for Greatest Generation)