Monday, April 30, 2018

USS North Carolina Crewman Visits His Ship

From the April 26, 2018, WWAY, Wilmington, N.C.  "World War II veteran revisits ship decades after serving on USS North Carolina" Jenna Kurzyna.

It has been fifty years since his last visit to the "Showboat."   But Pat Fonzi, 95, remembers it well.  He was just 18 when first boarded the ship.

His comment after seeing the ship again:  "I was happy, everything looks beautiful. Now I can rest a lot different.  I know that everything is going to be nice."

Mr. Fonzi served 1941 to 1945 after joining the Navy to see the world.  On the battleship, he served as a gun captain.

He and his family traveled from Pennsylvania to Wilmington to see his old ship.  The USS North Carolina also hosted a memorial dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday.

Always Great When a Veteran gets to Visit Their old Ship.  GreGen

Friday, April 27, 2018

Experience the USS North Carolina-- Part 2: Memorial Walkway Dedicated

Visitors can take free self-guided tours.  Guided tours are available at an additional fee.  Just be prepared to go up and down a whole lot of stairs.

On April 26, at 4:30 p.m., the SECU Memorial Walkway and cofferdam will be dedicated.  It is 1.2 mile long and ten-feet wide with five areas to sit to honor the five military branches.  This way visitors can view the entire ship.

The cofferdam was built to enable drydocking of the ship at its site.

April 26 will also coincide with the annual crew reunion.  Twelve original members are expected to be in attendance.


Experience the USS North Carolina and World War II

From the April 17, 2018, My  "Experience World War II history aboard Battleship North Carolina" by Kristyn Winch.

The USS North Carolina was built in the New York Navy Yard in 1937.  It had a seven year service in the U.S. Navy and received 15 Battle Stars, the highest decorated battleship in the war.  It was at Iwo Jima.

Children in North Carolina donated nickels and dimes to bring the ship to Wilmington after it was found that the Navy was going to scrap the ship.

It is open 8 to 5 every day and from 8 to 8 Memorial Day to Labor Day.  Some 300,000 visitors board the museum ship every year.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

How Well Do You Know World War II Slang-- Part 4: What Was a Mae West?

Continued from November 9, 2017.  To see the first three, hit the label "slang".

13.  WHAT WAS A HERSHEY BAR?--  Hershey bars were actually used in parts of Europe as an exchange.  Sometimes, prostitutes would settle for a Hershey bar.

14.  WHAT WAS A D-RATION?   Dirt Bag.  Vitamins in blocks of chocolate.

15.  MAE WAST WAS NOT ONLY A FAMOUS ACTRESS, BUT SOLDIERS ALSO USED HER NAME TO DESCRIBE WHAT?  An inflatable life jacket invented by Peter  Markins in 1920 and patented in 1928.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Three More USS Oklahoma Unknowns Identified

**  Navy Seaman 2nd Class Frank Wood of Jackson, Ohio will be buried in North Carolina on October 14.  he was 25 at the time of his death.

**  Glenn Tipton of Arkansas was identified.  His remains will be returned to Lawrence County for reburial.

**  John Dennis Wheeler's remains from the USS Oklahoma have been identified.  he will be buried by his family in Gaither this month.


Navajo Code Talker Dies: Roy Hawthorne Sr, 92

From the April 24, 2018, site  "World War II Navajo Code Talker Dies at 92"  AP.

Roy Hawthorne Sr. died April 21 at age 92.

He enlisted in the USMC at age 17 and became a member of the famed group who transmitted messages in battle areas using their native Navajo language.  Their code was never broken by the Japanese.

Mr. Hawthorne was one of the better known Code Talkers as he appeared at many public events and spoke to groups often.

Even so, he never considered himself a hero.

After the war he was in the U.S. Army.

His funeral will be held Friday April 27, 2018.


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

USS North Carolina's Re-Enactors

From the December 2, 2017, WWAY 3, Wilmington, N.C.  "Battleship NC Comes Alive With WW II Re-enactors"  Justin McKee.

Re-enactors will be on hand portraying the duties and drills of men who served on the warship and they will also be answering questions.

One woman will be on hand portraying Rosie the Riveter.

This will all be at no extra charge beyond admission.

The event will be called "Battleship Alive" and happens a few times a year.  There will be another one in April.

My All-Time Favorite Ship.    --GreGen

Wants to Join the Navy

From the April 4, 2018, MidWeek  (DeKalb County, Illinois)  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"William S. Boies submitted to minor surgery on a toe this week, for the purpose of making it possible for him to pass the necessary physical examination to enter the navy.

"The surgery was performed at Sycamore Hospital."

I did not see his name on DeKalb County World War II Genealogy Trails, so he survived the war.


Monday, April 23, 2018

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

From Wikipedia.

Not to be confused with the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place in 1943 as an act of Jewish resistance to the Nazi effort to clear them out of the Warsaw Ghetto and transport them to the Trebinka Concentration Camp.

It started on April 19, 1943 and the German commander responded by burning the Ghetto block by block.  It ended May 16.  Some 13,000 Jews died, with about half of them burned to death or suffocated.  German casualties are not known, but under 300.

It was the largest single revolt by Jews against the Nazis during the war.

When the Germans took over Poland, they started moving Jews to ghettos in the major cities.  The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of them with between 300,000 and 400,000 Jews.


Poland Marks 75th Anniversary of Warsaw Uprising-- Part 2: The Tradition of the Daffodils

The daffodil tradition comes from Marek Edelman, the last surviving commander of the uprising, who on every anniversary used to lay the spring flowers at the monument to honor the fighters.  he died in 2009.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising broke out April 19, 1943, when about 750 Jewish fighters armed with pistols and fuel bottles attacked a heavily armed German force that was putting an end to the ghetto's existence.

The fighters knew they were doomed but wanted to die at a time and place of their own choosing.

They held out for nearly a month.


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Poland Marks 75th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising-- Part 1: 1943

From the April 20, 2018, Chicago Tribune.

Sirens wailed, church bells tolled and yellow paper daffodils of remembrance dotted the crowd as Polish and Jewish leaders extolled the heroism and determination of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising  fighters on the 75th anniversary of their ill-fated rebellion.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said the hundreds of young Jews who took up arms in Warsaw in 1943 against the might of the German Army fought for their dignity but also to liberate Poland from the occupying Germans.

People stopped in the streets and officials stood at attention as sirens and church bells sounded at noon to mourn the Jews who died in the uprising, as well as the millions of others murdered in the Holocaust.


Battle of Peleliu in the Pacific

From the April 13, 2018, U.S. Department of Defense  "U.S., Japan commemorate World War II Vattle of Peleliu.

The U.S. Navy, marines and Japanese Self-Defense Force laid wreaths at Peleliu Peace Memorial Park.  members of the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy were also in attendance.

The Battle of Peleliu is considered the bitterest fought one in the Pacific for the Marines, who landed on the island September 15, 1944.  The expected four-day battle lasted more than two months.  It resulted in a higher U.S. casualty rate than all of the Pacific Theater of operations.

The 1st Marine Division and later the Army 81st Infantry Division fought in  it.  The objective was the capture of an airstrip.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bits of War: Oldest Pearl Harbor Vet Turns 106-- New Book on Dorie Miller-- Another USS Oklahoma Unknown ID'd

1.  OLDEST PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR--  Ray Chavez of San Diego turns 106.

2..  NEW BOOK ON DORIE MILLER--  There is a new biography on Doris "Dorie" Miller called "Pearl harbor and the Birth of the Civil Rights Movement" by Thomas W. Cutrer and T. Michael Parrish

3.  ANOTHER USS OKLAHOMA UNKNOWN IDENTIFIED--  3-19-18--  Navy Fireman 1st Class Jarvis G. Outland.

Sure Glad They Are Identifying the Unknowns of the Oklahoma.  --GreGen

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Researchers Mark Death of Pearl Harbor Mastermind Yamamoto

From the April 11, 2018, Fox News by Chris Carola, AP.

A group of U.S. and Japanese researchers have gone to a site in Papua New Guinea where U.S. fighters shot down a Japanese bomber carrying Yamamoto, who is credited with planning and executing the attack on Pearl Harbor.

U.S. codebreakers learned of his planned route for a tour of Japanese bases in the Solomon Islands.

He was shot down April 18, 1943, 75 years ago today.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Radio Londres-- Part 3: D-Day Is Here

Beginning in June 1944, the Allies innundated the radio network with messages.  On June 1 alone,  Radio Londres broadcast 200 messages..

Shortly before D-Day, it broadcast the first stanza of Paul Verlaine's poem "Chanson d'automine" which meant that the invasion was to begin within 24 hours.

Allied victory in Europe meant the end of Radio Londres.


Radio Londres-- Part 2: "Jean Has a Long Mustache"

The occupying German forces quickly prohibited listening to the radio broadcast.

Over it, French General Charles de Gaulle called for such protests as emptying Paris' streets for an hour, demonstrations, preparations for D-Day, "V" for Victory.  he told the French to paint Vs on walls.

Sometimes the Germans were able to jam the signals.

The station also sent coded messages, often an obscure personal one like "Jean has a long mustache" or "There is a fire in the insurance agency."  Sometimes it even meant absolutely nothing, but the Germans would think something was in the works.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Radio Londres-- Part 1: "This Is London"

Last week, I wrote about the death of Franck Bauer, the last known broadcaster of Radio Londres.

From Wikipedia.

From 1940 to 1944, the BBC in London broadcast to German-occupied France in French.  It was operated by the Free French who had escaped.  This was done to counter the Nazi propaganda broadcast of the German-controlled Radio Paris of the French Vichy government.

The broadcast also appealed to the French to rise up against the Germans plus coded messages were sent to the French Resistance.

The first transmission was in 1940 and started "Ici Londres!  Les Francais parlent aux Francais...."  translated  "This is London!  The French speaking to the French..."

This is now a famous quote in France.  It was the Voice of thye Free French Forces under Charles de Gaulle.  On 18 June 1940 he made his famous Appeal of 18 June, inviting his countrymen to resist and rise up against their occupiers.


German POW Camp in Wilmington, N.C.

From the April 2, 2018, Wilmington (NC) News-Journal "Rotary learns about local prison camp" by Wilmington Rotary.

Kay Fisher from the Clinton County History Center spoke about the World War II German POW camp in Wilmington.  German prisoners included Nazis and some who opposed the Nazi doctrines.  There were also Italian  and Japanese prisoners.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) constructed 155 prison camps and 511 branch camps across the United States (actually a lot of those were camps previously used by the CCC).  Anywhere between 250 to 750 prisoners were in each camp.

In Wilmington, the POW camp was on the Hubert Barrett property on Doan Street.  It housed 250 prisoners who were guarded by 50 U.S, military personnel.

There was fear that if enemy prisoners were mistreated that would lead to American prisoners receiving the same treatment.  Actually, from what I have read, if you had to be a prisoner in World War II, being held in a prison in the U.S. was not bad at all.  Indeed, many former German prisoners, on release, returned home, settled their affairs and moved to the United States.

German prisoners were first processed in Casablanca.  U.S. POW camps ended October 13, 1945.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Elden Baxter, Q-C's Last Known Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies-- Part 2

Mr. Baxter said: "The first Jap bomber I saw flew over the USS Arizona, and the pilot waved at us.  That's how close he was.  I saw the first torpedo about 300 yards off.  They just kept coming."

His parents were notified that he was killed in the attack.  He has had a funeral and will be buried on December 7, the 76th anniversary of the attack at Rock Island National Cemetery.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Eldon Baxter, Quad-Cities' Last Known Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies-- Part 1

From the December 4, 2017, Quad-City Times by Bob Ickes.

He died December 4 and was shooting to hit the age 100.  He used to tell "The Pearl" at the local Elks Club over a couple beers.  When the attack came he was a storekeeper on the USS West Virginia, on which 106 died.

For the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor in 2003, the Vietnam Vets Assoc. Chapter 299 paid for him and Alvis "Al" Taylor to return for the ceremony.  Mr. Taylor died this past January 16 at age 91.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

"Ici Londres": Franck Bauer Underground Radio Announcer Dies-- Part 2

The broadcast that French citizens secretly listened to with wireless radios gave news of the free world, countered Nazi propaganda and transmitted coded instructions to resistance fighters.

"Ici Londres"  --  "This is London" -- became a code word after Charles De Gaulle's appeal for armed resistance in June 1940.


"Ici Londres.": French Underground Radio Broadcaster Dies-- Part 1

From the April 9, 2018, Chicago Sun-Times  "French radio broadcaster sent underground messages in WW II" AP.

Franck Bauer was the last living announcer of a radio broadcast in French by the BBC in London from 1940 to 1944.  The French listened secretly with wireless radios.

Frank Bauer, a French radio broadcasters who transmitted coded messages to underground networks in France during the German occupation, has died at age 99.  He died April 6, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that Mr. Bauer's voice "guided so many perilous operations that led to victory" during World War II.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

B-17 G Stats

Type:  Heavy Bomber

Crew:  8-10

Length:  76 feet

Wingspan:  105.4 feet

Engines:  Four Wright Cyclone with 1,200 hp each.

Maximum Speed:  300 mph at 15,200 feet

Service Ceiling:  39,700 feet

Range:  3,750 miles without bombs.  1,095 with bombs.

Weaponry:    12 X 0.5-in Browning machine guns

Impressive.  --GreGen

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

From the book "Weapons of WW II."

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is one of the best-known American combat craft of the Second World War, second only to the P-51 Mustang.  Along with the B-24, the B-17 carried out the majority of bomber attacks on occupied Europe with the 8th US Air Fleet.  The prototype of the B-17 made its maiden flight on July 18, 1935

Originally planned for use along the American coast, it was redesignated as the B-17E  and redesigned with stronger armor and heavier firepower for bombing in Europe, making its maiden voyage on September 5, 1941.


Monday, April 9, 2018

Even Ducks Getting Into War Effort

From the April 4, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Even ducks are becoming interested in war work.  At least that is the impression gained by Mrs. Walter Joslin of north west DeKalb, who found a duck egg, bearing a perfect "V," which under present circumstances means only one thing, "V for Victory."

"The "V" in the duck egg is formed in a lighter color and is about three-eighths of an inch high.  The egg is being displayed at the Quality Feed and Supply Store at the present time.?

Thanks Winston.

I Wonder What Happened to the Egg?    --GreGen

DeKalb High School Making Model Planes for War Effort

From the April 4, 2018, MidWeek  "Looking Back."

1943, 75 Years Ago.

"Excellent progress is being reported  from the DeKalb Township High School on the task of constructing model planes for use of the United States government in its defense training efforts.

"The planes are made to an exact scale and when viewed from a distance of about 35 feet appear similar to an actual plane at about 5,000 feet in elevation.  They are used in training civilian air watchers and men in the armed services for spotting and training guns."

Even the high schools getting into the war effort.

Hey, There Goes a Japanese Nakajima KI-27 Setsu  (Kate)!!  --GreGen

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Antisubmarine Platforms

In the last post, I mentioned that B-17s were used as antisubmarine platforms as well as bombers.

I looked up anti submarine platforms and Wikipedia, under Antisubmarine Warfare listed antisubmarine platforms as being both air, sea and underwater.  And it was the use of mines and torpedoes.

So, a B-17 encountering an enemy submarine would drop torpedoes or mines on it.

That is an antisubmarine platforms.


Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Mighty Eighth-- Part 3: Who's the "Kayo Katy?"

In addition to its role as a bomber, the B-17 was also employed as a transport, antisubmarine warfare platform, drone controller and search-and-rescue aircraft.

Although this composition is generic, it has the look of the 384th Bomber group at Grafton Underwood, which had a Kayo decorated in this style.  There were at least three Flying Fortresses in the Eighth Air Force named "Kayo" (playing off of the boxing term, K.O., or knock-out) and two named "Katy", hence Kayo Katy.

I did not know they had drones in World War II.  Not sure how a plane would be an antisubmarine platform either.  I'll have to research these two items.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Mighty Eighth-- Part 2: B-17s, Quite the Strategic Weapon

The U.S. Eighth Air Force (based at many airfields in southern England) and the Fifteenth Air Force (based in Italy) complemented the RAF Bomber Command's nighttime bombing in the Combined Bomber Offensive to help secure air superiority over the cities, factories and battlefields of Western Europe in preparation for the invasion of France in 1944.

Touted as a strategic weapon, the B-17 was a potent, high-flying, long-range bomber that was able to defend itself and to return home despite extensive battle damage.  Its reputation quickly took on mythic proportions, dropping more bombs than any other U.S. aircraft in World War II (640,000 metric tons).

When I think of World War II bombers, the one that pops up immediately in my mind is the B-17 Flying Fortress.


The Mighty Eighth, 8th Air Force-- Part 1: Coming Home Meant You Were Lucky

The April 2018 Calendar of Paralyzed Veterans of America is COMING HOME / ENGLAND, 1943.

The painting shows the crew of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber leaving their plane, the Kayo Katy  You can sure see why these planes are called Flying Fortresses with all the machine guns.

Back in 1943, if you happened to be a crewmember on a B-17 Flying Fortress, coming home was a very special  occasion indeed.  You were, to put it plainly, one of the "lucky ones."

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was primarily employed in the daylight precision strategic bombing campaign in World War II against German industrial and military targets.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Hoist One in Red's Memory

Red Madsen, who I wrote about in my last two posts yesterday, was just a regular guy who got caught up in a huge event.  He managed to come through and live a great life.

I really enjoyed what his daughter listed you should do in order to honor him:

**  Hoist one

**  Over tip a waitress

**  Give a bum money

**  Make a fool of yourself

**  Make a child laugh

**  Feed the hungry

**  Don't worry

Good words to love by in life as well.

I'll Definitely Hoist One in Red's Memory.  --GreGen

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Hoist a Glass for Red Today-- Part 2: Quite a Life for Mr. Madsen

"After graduating from Audubon High School, he moved to Chicago.  Shortly after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army, which put him in the Signal Corps.  During training, he met Betty Kaplan, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and married her in Stuart, Fla., before he was shipped to the Pacific.

"When the Army finally let Red go in 1946, he and Betty settled in Chicago.  He returned to Audubon and Westphalia, Iowa, working as a custom butcher.  He later worked the railroad, most of the time for for the Chicago & North Western,  He was married three times with two of his spouses passing away.

"Red Madsen loved his wives, his kids, everybody else's kids, his family, dogs, fishing, whittling, doodling, reading (especially Mark Twain), Cord automobiles, hoisting a few with friends and telling stories.

"It pleased him that mischief might break out at any time, but it distressed him if anyone got hurt by it, unless maybe it was some powerful S.O.B. who deserved it.

"Contributions may be made as follows:  Hoist one in Red's memory and overtip the waitress -- she needs it more than you.  Give a bum a dollar, maybe five, and for once don't worry about what he;ll do with it.  Learn something new.  Make a fool of yourself so a child will laugh.  Help get food to the hungry and don't worry about whether they deserve it.  Don't worry about being safe."

A Fitting Obituary.  Here's to You, Red.  --GreGen

Hoist a Glass for Red Today-- Part 1: World War II Veteran

From the May 30, 2016, Chicago Tribune editorial.

Red Madsen came home from war and led an ordinary life.  Even after seeing all the bloodshed and destruction.

When he died, his daughter wrote an obituary about his life and wartime service.  She knew that he had advanced island to island and was approaching Japan in the weeks before the two atom bombs ended the war.

Not until his death did she learn that he had earned a Bronze Star for combat heroism.

Part of the obit:  "Harry N. 'Red' Madsen, 76, retired railroad brakeman, died September 15, 1996, in Audubon, Iowa, 13 miles from where he was born."


Monday, April 2, 2018

Celebrating Wilmington's Role in World War II-- Part 2: "America's World War II City"

"America's Wor
"A retired U.S. Naval Reserve captain and historian, Wilbur Jones began a quest in 2007 to have Wilmington named 'America's World War II City.'  He was motivated not only by the city's contributions during the war years at historic sites, including the Cape Fear Museum, Shipyard Market, Burgwin-Wright  House, and the most visible symbol in the city: the steel-gray, flag-fluttering behemoth known as the Battleship North Carolina.

"Jones has persisted in his pursuit of a bill that would grant the historic designation, but legislation has stalled.  Happily, 2018 is looking better for Jones' dream."

By Susan Stafford Kelly

Hannah Block Historic USO Building
120 South Second Street
Wilmington, NC 28401
(910) 341-7860

Celebrating Wilmington's Role in World War II-- Part 1: Wilbur Jones

From the January Our State (North Carolina) Magazine  "The Liberty Armada" by Philip Gerard.

Without a doubt, Wilbur Jones is to Wilmington, North Carolina,  in World War II as Chris Fonvielle is to Wilmington in the Civil War.  I'd sure like to meet him and have him give a tour of the sites.  he has even written two books on it.

"A wartime youngster, Wilbur Jones well remembers the constant activity surrounding shipbuilding in his hometown of Wilmington, particularly the social events taking place just as constantly at the Orange Street USO.  The building has been preserved as a community arts center, as well as a public museum featuring furniture and signage, plus the original floor and piano, Hannah Block, for whom the building is named, played the piano when she worked at the USO."


N.C.'s Liberty Armada-- Part 14 Launching the Liberty Ships SS Vance, Dare and McKay

Several very interesting photographs accompanied the article.

**  Crews prepare the SS Zebulon B. Vance for its launch from the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company, which stood at the site of the current Port of Wilmington.

**  Building Liberty Ships was dangerous and deadly.  Some 115,000 workers were injured and 15 died during the five years the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company was in operation.  Shows the cranes and at least two Liberty Ships under construction, one of which was the SS Virginia Dare, named after the first white English child born in the New World.  She was born at what is now called the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island.

**   On July 30, 1942, the SS James I McKay was christened in Wilmington by Mary West Cromartie, a descendant of the ship's namesake, a North Carolina congressman from the 1800s.   Shows the bottle of champagne breaking on the bow.