Friday, December 9, 2016

PT-305 Restored in New Orleans-- Part 4: Action in the Mediterranean

U.S. and British planes had destroyed bridges, roads and railways and German shipping along the Mediterranean Sea from France to Italy.  The Allies controlled the air in the daylight so the Germans had to turn to supplying their forces in Italy by sea at night.

PT Boats intercepted them from bases in Bastia on the island of Corsica and later from Livorno, Italy.  Every night a German convoy of 8-15 barges would depart for Italy.

Allan Purdy, of Columbia, Missouri, former professor and administrator of the University of Missouri was commanding officer of the PT-305 Joe Brannon boarded it in December 1944.  Joe had a 35 mm camera and shot more than 100 photos of the PT operations.

Allan Purdy was one of several commanding officers the PT-305 had.  Enlisted men rotated as well.  PT-305 had several nicknames, including "Half Hitch," "Barfly" and the already mentioned "Sudden Jerk."

During its service, the boat was credited with sinking two German barges.

--GreGen

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Pearl Harbor a Big Reason Why I Have This Blog

I have always been interested in Pearl Harbor, even before I developed my interest in World War II in general, especially anything naval.  I write a lot about Pearl Harbor, probably my biggest single thing I write about here.

Pearl Harbor is one of my disaster interests.  The other two are the Alamo and the Titanic.

Counting this post, I have written about Pearl Harbor 508 times.

--GreGen

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

PT-305 Restored in New Orleans-- Part 3: $350 a Ride

The National Museum of World War II was started by historian Stephen E. Ambrose is thriving now.  But, back in 2005, Hurricane Katrina badly damaged it and visitors slowed to a trickle after that.  The museum had to lay off 60% of its staff.  It took them six years to get back to its pre-Katrina levels of 350,000.  In 2016, so far, they have drawn 700,000.

It is hoped that the "new" PT-305 will help even increase that.  Rides on the boat will cost $350, with the first one scheduled for April 1, 2017.  It will be home-ported in Lake Pontchartrain, the same place where it was launched 74 years earlier.

--GreGen

USS Nevada Flags Arrive in Nevada in 1946

From the June 18, 2016, Nevada Appeal, Past Pages.

June 18, 1946, 70 years ago.  "Three oil-stained and discolored flags of the famed battleship USS Nevada arrived in Carson City and now are on display at the state museum.

"The Nevada is on its way to Bikini atoll where it will be 'bull's eye' in the atom bomb target demonstrations soon."

Goodbye USS Nevada, Pearl Harbor Survivor.  --GreGen

Monday, December 5, 2016

USS Arizona Monument Dedicated at University of Arizona

From the December 4, 2016, Arizona Daily Star "New monument to the USS Arizona to be dedicated" by Natalia V. Navarro.

Dedication of it will be today at the University of Arizona Mall.

The monument consists of a 6-inch curb of running track outlining the size and shape of the battleship.  At about the site of where the ship's foremast was (this is the one blackened and leaning over toward the bow after the attack) is a brick path lined with waist-high concrete walls adorned with 1,177 bronze medallions, each engraved with the name, birth date and home state of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who died aboard the ship that day.

Being located at a college campus as it is strikes home even more when the average age of those who died was 20.

The money for the project was privately raised with $175,000 coming from individuals and veterans organizations in 20 states..

The dedication will begin around 3 p.m. with a flyover.

Hopefully some of the five remaining Arizona survivors will be able to attend.

--GreGen

PT-Boat 305 Restored in New Orleans-- Part 2: The "Sudden Jerk"

PT-305 was built in New Orleans by Higgins Industries, makers of the Higgins Boats, those small ones used to transport troops onto enemy beaches.

Since restoration, the PT-305's hull has been extended back to its original size, its mahogany decks repaired and made seaworthy again.  They even renamed the vessel with its original nickname, "Sudden Jerk," on its bow.  One of the boat's two surviving crew members said the it got its nickname after a hard landing at a dock in 1944.

Donald Rursch, a corn and soybean farmer from western Illinois, contributed the three Packard engines that powered PT-Boats in the war.  He had started to collect surplus engines in the 1960s to use in tractor-pulling competitions.

--GreGen

Bits of War: Pearl Harbor-- Rent-A-Car Foundation-- Mount Diablo Beacon

As we near the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

1.  RENT-A-CAR FOUNDATION--  This foundation has donated $50,000 for the 75th Anniversary Commemoration of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

2.  MOUNT DIABLO BEACON--  The Mount Diablo Beacon is to be relit on this December 7 by Pearl Harbor survivors.  This is sponsored by the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.  The light was extinguished after Pearl Harbor was attacked and stayed dark until Pearl Harbor Day in 1964 when it was relit by World War II Admiral Chester Nimitz who suggested that it be relit every December 7th after that, which it has been.

--GreGen

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Bits of War: Pearl Harbor: 100 to Be Honored-- Joe Triolo to Be Honored

As we are just now four days away from the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

1.  100 TO BE HONORED--  Over 100 Pearl Harbor survivors will be honored for the 75th anniversary of the attack ceremony in Hawaii.

2.  JOE TRIOLO TO BE HONORED--  Pearl Harbor survivor Joe Triolo of Des Plaines, Illinois, was on the USS Tangier on December 7, 1941, and is expected to attend the annual Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony December 7 at the Prairie Lake Theater in Des Plaines.  He is one of the last surviving men in northern Illinois.

The event is put on by the Sons & daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors.

--GreGen


World War II PT-Boat Restored--- Part 1: 13 Feet Chopped Off

From the November 21, 2016, New York Times "New Victory for World War II PT Boat: Restored and Museum-Ready" by Patrick McGeehan.

The PT-305 was taken to a barge on the Mississippi River and from there it will become a fully interactive exhibit for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans this April.  The museum hopes to offer the only opportunity in the U.S. to ride in a PT Boat.

It weighs 50 tons and is 78 feet long. and was found in Galveston, Texas as a sawed off wreck.

After the war it was a tour boat in New York City and later an oyster boat in the Chesapeake Bay.  Like other revamped PT Boats that survived the war, it had 13-feet of its hull chopped off so it wouldn't need a licensed master captain under Coast Guard regulations.

--GreGen

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Painting the Trains and Florida Ice

From the Shorpy Photo site.

NOVEMBER 22, 2016--  BOXCAR BROWN 1942:  December 1942.  "Research laboratory worker at Chicago & North Western's 40th Street Yard examines paint samples used on freight cars and coaches of the railroad."  By Jack Delano, the "Train Guy,"  OWI.  Have to keep those trains looking good and provide a canvas for the graffiti folk.

NOVEMBER 24, 2016--  FLORIDA ICE:  February 1943.  "Jacksonville, Florida.  Street scene in the Negro section."  Gordon Parks, OWI.

Even with the war on, people still needed to keep items cold in their ice boxes.  Many people did not have refrigerators yet.

--GreGen

Friday, December 2, 2016

Rosie the Riveter at Age 95

From the October 5, 2016, "See Rosie the Riveter at 95:  Woman Who Inspired WWII Poster was lost to history for 7 decades" by Tiare Dunlap.

Naomi Parker-Fraley turned 95 in 2009, did not think the iconic Rosie the Riveter poster looked much like her when she first saw it.  She was one of six million women who worked in U.S. wartime industries while the men were away fighting.

The poster was based on a photo taken in 1942 and it caught the eye of artist J. Howard Miller who made the poster in 1943.

There are some who also think woman was Geraldine Hoff Doyle (1924-2010).  Mrs. Fraley is still alive.

--GreGen

Looking Back to 1941: WPA to Concentrate on Defense Operations

From the July 6, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

"Although an order has been issued stating that all WPA projects not of a defense nature are to cease no later than July 8, word was received yesterday stating that the DeKalb WPA playground will continue to operate until September 2.

"The project sponsors three playgrounds at the Haish, Ellwood and Glidden schools, in this city as part of the activities of the DeKalb Recreational Council."

Preparing for War, But Time Enough for Playgrounds.  --Cooter


With Thanks and Remembrance: Six WW II Veterans at Lindenhurst, Illinois Ceremony

From the November 23, 2016, Hi-Liter.

Six World War II veterans: Earl Kelly, Frank Kraft, Tom Atchinson, Marvin Ryan, Norbert Pischke and Don Martin, were recognized for their service at the Veterans Day ceremony held at the Lindenhurst, Illinois Veterans Memorial on Friday, November 11.

Always great to see a group of them still alive as we continue to lose the Greatest Generation.

GreGen

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Government Project at Wilmington, Illinois

In the last blog entry, I mentioned that the DeKalb Wagon Works Company, in DeKalb, Illinois, was building thirty special truck bodies for the government project at Wilmington, Illinois.

This very likely was what became known as the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant.which opened in 1940.

--GreGen

Looking Back to 1941: Preparing for War

From the February 10, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

"At the present time the DeKalb Wagon Works Company is thought to be the only firm in the city working on a government contract.  Thirty special bodies for trucks are being made there which will be used in the government's big project at Wilmington.

"The firm has also figured on some small gun carriages, but did not receive the bid, and are working on other bids that are being asked for special equipment which the firm is able to manufacture."

There's Money to Be Made.  --GreGen

Stealing World War II Warships Off the Ocean Floor-- Part 2

The site of the Battle of Java Sea is considered a graveyard for the 2300 Allied sailors who died there.  As such, there should be no diving, salvage or anything else that would disturb the final resting p;ace of those men.

A recent mission to film the sunken vessels as part of the 75th anniversary commemoration discovered that many of the wrecks are no longer there.

The HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java, both Dutch ships, are completely gone and a large chunk of the HNLMS Kortenner is also gone.  The HMS Exeter and HMS Encounter and the submarine USS Perch (SS-17) also have been completely removed.

The wrecks of the ships were found in the early 2000s and believed to have been hit by metal scavengers.

The Lowest of the Low to Desecrate Graves Like That.  --GreGen

Stealing World War II Warships Off the Ocean Floor

From the Nov. 18, 2016, Extreme Task "World War II warships, submarine are being stolen off the ocean floor" by Joel Hruska.

A very alarming story here.

On February 27, 1942, Allied forces consisting of two heavy cruisers, three light cruisers and nine destroyers fought the Japanese Navy at the battle of Java Sea.  The Japanese Navy was on a roll since Pearl Harbor and this too proved to be a massive defeat for the Allies consisting of ships from the Australian, Dutch, British and American navies.

The Allies lost two light cruisers and three destroyers sunk and one heavy cruiser badly damaged.  The Japanese lost no ships and only one destroyer was damaged.

--GreGen

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Death of Navy Man John Howard Fuss

From the September 16, 2016, The News (S.C.)

John Howard Fuss, 95, died in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

He was born in 1921 in Boston, Massachusetts and attended the University of Kansas and Lamar University where he studied mechanical engineering.

On January 18, 1942, he joined the U.S. Navy and served until January 4, 1946.  Ships he served on were the USS Pennsylvania, USS Orletta, USS APL-11 and the USS YTB.

--GreGen

Monday, November 28, 2016

Looking Back At 1941: Knitting Sweaters for Servicemen

From the November 23, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.  "Knitters in DeKalb, who are willing to supply pull over sweaters for the young men in service, will be provided yarn without charge, according to an announcement made this morning.

"A supply of olive drab yarn has been received by the DeKalb Chapter of the Red Cross and will be given out to those who desire to knit sweaters, which are to be returned to the Red cross."

Getting Ready for War.  --GreGen

Friday, November 25, 2016

Deaths: US Army Air Force Felix Michael Rogers in 2014

Felix Michael Rogers, 92  Born July 6, 1921.  Died April 23, 2014.

United States Air Force general.  Enlisted as a private in April 1942 and became an aviation cadet in August of that year.  Completed pilot training and commissioned second lieutenant in 1943 in Yuma.

Served as a P-39 Airacobra pilot.with the 353rd Fighter Squadron.  Also flew the P-51 Mustangs and became a squadron commander.  Credited with 12 kills flying out of England, Italy and France.