Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hull Repairs on Battleship North Carolina-- Part 1

From the March 8, 2011, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Hull repairs on Battleship North Carolina to start next month" by Amy Hotz.

OK, they've been working on it for awhile now, but still an interesting article.

During the repairs, the great ship will still remain open.  A 130-foot by 10-ft section of the starboard bow will be replaced.  It has now been 64 years since the North Carolina got a good dry docking in New Jersey said the Battleship Commission's Executive Director Terry Bragg.

Taylor Brothers Marine of New Bern, NC beat out the other contenders from Alabama, Maine, Mississippi, New York, South Carolina and Virginia..

Back in 2001, the Commission announced that the hull was in need of replacement.  At first, plans were to remove it from the mud and tow it to Charleston, SC or Norfolk, Virgina.

In 2010, it was determined that repairs could be done behind a cofferdam system, a water-tight wall built around all or a part of the ship.  The water inside would be pumped out.  Repairs on the USS Alabama's hull in Mobile, Alabama, was done in this way.

The work will be done in 30-foot sections in 150-day increments.  Only the section from the waterline down ten feet is of concern.

More to Come Tomorrow.  --GreGen

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why the USS North Carolina's Bow Faces Away from Wilmington

From the Wilmington Star-News' My Reporter column.

I love this column as it is reporting at its best.  Readers write in with questions and the reporters try to find the answers.  All sorts of interesting stuff.

I had always wondered myself why the stern of the battleship faces the city.  The bow would definitely be more impressive (well, every aspect of the great ship is impressive.  I am so glad the ship was saved.)

A reader wrote in the question and this was the answer.

When the ship arrived in 1961, it was understandably towed bow first.  Taking into account the Cape Fear River's width by the final berth, the tugs had to start turning the ship before the bend to get an angle into the slip.

They couldn't tow the battleship past the berth and back it in because of the lack of room for the needed turn.

So, That's Why.  --GreGen

Monday, October 29, 2012

Iwo Jima Map Returned to USS North Carolina

From the March 4, 2011, Raleigh (NC) Telegram.

The battleship USS North Carolina took part in this battle.  For the last six months the rubber intelligence map was conserved at East Carolina University in Greenville after having deteriorated badly.

It will now be displayed on the ship in an oxygen-free environment.  It was originally made by Naval Photographic Interpretation Center for invasion preparation.  It wasn't just a fold-out map, but was a cardboard, plaster, foam rubber relief map done at 1:12,5000 inches, showing topographical features.  During the war, the "Showboat" earned 15 Battle Stars, including Iwo Jima.

The Friends of the Battleship provided funds to conserve it.

Save That Map!!  --GreGen

Ten Best World War Films

From Screen Junkies.

Okay, there are some WWI ones in here, but most are WWII, so here goes:

1.  ALL'S QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT-- (1930)  World War I
2.  PATTON (1970)
3.  THE LONGEST DAY (1962)

4.  BRIDGE OVER RIVER KWAI (1957)
5.  FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)
6.  THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963)
7.  THE CAINE MUTINY (1954)

8.  AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)  World War I.  I loved it when Bogart was harassing the hippos and was really grossed out by the leaches.
9.  BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946)
10.  SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1949)

I'm Not Sure If I Ever Saw "Best Years of Our Lives."  --GreGen

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Oldest Auschwitz Survivor Dies at Age 108

From the Oct. 22, 2012, CBS News.

Antoni Dobrowolski, educator, died Oct. 22 in Debno, Poland.

After Poland was taken over by the Germans in 1939, they banned education of the children beyond four years of elementary school as they considered the Poles inferior and wanted to maintain them as a slave race.  However, Polish educators formed an underground effort to continue the education and Mr. Dobrowolski was one of them.

He was arrested and sent to Auschwitz in June 1942, a place he described as being "worse than Dante's hell."  He was later transferred to two more prison camps and liberated in 1945.  At least 1.1 million died at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, mostly Jews.

He was born Oct. 8, 1904, in Wolborz, Poland.

To Resist and Take the Consequences.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Auschwitz Prisoner and Photographer Dies

From the Oct. 25, 2012, Chicago Tribune "Auschwitz prisoner who took photographs for Mengele" by Vanessa Gera.

WILHELM BRASSE (1917-2012)

Was one of several prisoner photographers in Auschwitz taking various photographs in the infamous concentration camp.  Wilhelm Brasse of Poland was sent there early in the war and put to work documenting fellow prisoners, a job that tormented him long after the war.  Died Oct. 23.

Born in Poland in 1917, and although not Jewish, was arrested at age 22 as a political prisoner while trying to escape out of German-occupied country in the spring of 1940.  His experience working in a photo studio before the war landed him the job at the camp.

It literally saved his life as he got better treatment, food and was kept cleaner so as not to offend the SS men he worked with.

He took about 40,000 to 50,000 identity photos used by the Nazis to register prisoners, part of their obsession with documenting their work.  He also took photographs of the inhuman experiments of Nazi Josef Mengele.

With the war ending and Soviet forces approaching, he was ordered to destroy the photographs, but he and the others refused and managed to save about 40,000.  After the war, he was active in setting up the Auschwitz museum and educating people about the Holocaust.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Another Fallen Hero Comes Home-- Part 2

A few months ago, Melissa Mahoney had received a message from a cousin that Sgt. Hogan's remains had been found.  After Kass's column, she began checking and cross-checking documents and information about the plane crash. 

The bomber went down September 13, 1944,near Neustadt, Germany, after a bombing raid on German oil refineries.  Sgt. Hogan and Lt. Wasilewski had spent their last minutes together.

Sgt. John E. Hogan's remains were buried at Arlington National Cemetery August 24th and Melissa Mahoney and other relatives were there.

Lt. Wasilewski's relatives were also on hand when he was buried in June.  None of them had ever met him but everyone knew the story of the grandfather and the empty grave at St. Casimir and how the old man would stand at it mourning his boy.

Wasilewski's casket was draped with an American flag and in the coffin were his remains and a uniform.  A horse-drawn caisson brought the casket to the grave and there was a 21-gun salute and a bugler played taps.

It was too bad that the father who lost his son that day almost 70 years ago couldn't have been there.

This Was Quite an Amazing Story.  --GreGen

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Another Fallen Hero Comes Home-- Part 1

From the July 24, 2012, Chicago Tribune "A fallen war hero comes home at last" by John Kass.

If Kass' column about Lt. Wasilewski name being adopted by a Dutch woman and then his remains being identified, that would be  a great story right there, but it gets better.

"There will be another long overdue funeral at Arlington next month, the funeral of Sgt. John E. Hogan of Missouri whose remains had also been lost for some seven decades."

Hogan has relatives in Chicago and one of them is Sandy Skurnicki, 60, of Palos Hills who read Kass' column about Wasilewski.  The Army had recently linked her to Hogan through a DNA swab and she knew through Army documents that Wasilewski was on that bomber.  She contacted Wasilewski's relatives.

Then, Melissa Mahoney, 49, of Ravenswood contacted Kass by e-mail.  She is a direct niece of John Hogan and did not know Skurnicki.  Mahoney said that Hogan's death and missing body was especially difficult for her grandmother, father and uncle.

All Mahoney's family had was a now-yellowed letter saying "the Department of the Army has been forced to conclude that the remains of your loved one are not recoverable."

The Story Gets Better.  --GreGen

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Ghost Photographs of the War

From the October 18th Mail Online "Ghosts of war: World War II photography superimposed onto modern street scenes--after finding old negatives at a flea market" by Emma Reynolds.

History expert Jo Teeuwisse of Amsterdam started the project after finding 300-year-old negatives at an Amsterdam flea market.  She then went around Europe photographing the exact spots as they looked today.  She then superimposed the World War II scenes onto the modern sites and came up with a very remarkable group of pictures.

I just wish all of them would have been like the first picture shown where I got to see the original photo, the site today and then the superimposed one.

Anyway, you can look at them as well, just Yahoo! search "Ghosts of war: World War II photography.

Well Worth a Look.  --GreGen

Lt. Emil Wasilewski Comes Home At Last-- Part 2

In 2010, Joyce Staniszewski heard that Dutch people could adopt soldiers' graves at the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, so she adopted one.  Why?  "Well, it's because my dad' side of the family is from Poland and they fled the Nazis in Poland and made it to Holland.  But if the Americans wouldn't have liberated Kerkrade, they wouldn't have survived WWII and I wouldn't be here today.  So I'm really thankful for that."

Around Memorial Day, she found out about John Kass's column on Lt. Wasilewski and that nearly 70years after his death, a nephew had given a DNA swab to a special US Army unit that searches for the remains of lost soldiers and she found out he had been buried in Germany near the crash site.

He was brought back to the U.S. and buried June 26th with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.

And the Story Gets Even Better.  Wait Until You Read About Sgt. John E. Hogan.  Arlin--GreGen

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lt. Emil Wasiewski Comes Home At Last-- Part 1

From the July 4, 2012, Chicago Tribune by John Kass.

I wrote about the Dutch adopting Americans who died saving their country during World War II back August 20th.  To see the story, click on the Netherlands label.

Joyce Staniszewski, 26 of the Netherlands obviously never knew Lt. Emil Wasilewski who had died during the war, but every month she would bring flowers in his honor and set them near the war memorial at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten.

"I tried to find pictures of Emil to see how he looked like.  I still wonder what kind of a person he was and if it was always his dream to join the military and what would his life look like if he would have survived World War II," she said.

What she did know, and most importantly, was that he was an American.

What she didn't know was that he was from the South Side of Chicago and that he was the bombardier on a B-17G, or that he had died when his Flying Fortress crashed in Germany.  And, she didn't know that his father had buried an empty coffin at St. Casimir Cemetery because his body could not be found.  His father mourned at that empty casket for years after the war until his own death.

More to Come.  --GreGen

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fred Korematsui, Japanese-American,

From Wikipedia.

Mr. Korematsui was born in Oakland in 1919 and was rejected from the US Navy when called by the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 because of a stomach ulcer.  He then trained to be a welder in order to contribute to the war effort.

He worked in a shipyard, but was fired for being Japanese.  When Japanese-Americans were prohibited from leaving California in preparation for deportation to the camps, Mr. Korematsui went to Nevada and underwent plastic surgery on his eyelids to pass a s Caucasian and changed his name to Clyde Sarah.

When ordered to report to the Assembly Center, he refused and went into hiding, but was arrested May 30, 1942.

A Sad Time in U.S. History, But Understandable Considering the Circumstances.  --GreGen

California Honors WWII Internment Defier

From the Jan. 30, 2011, Silicon Valley (Cal) Mercury News.

Statewide, Jan. 30th was to honor Fred Korematsui who fought against the internment of Japanese-Americans, a very dangerous thing to do back in the early days of the war.  It was The Fred Korematsui Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution.

He was arrested in Oakland in 1942 for refusing to leave for the camp.  His case went all the way to the Supreme Court which had to decide whether his internment and that of the other 120,000 Japanese-Americans was legal.  They decided against him in 1944.

A San Francisco judge formally vacated his conviction 40 years later.  President Clinton presented him with the Medal of Freedom in 1998.  Mr. Korematsui died in 2005.

GreGen

Illinois Ordnance Plant and Works

From the July 29, 2010, Morris (Ill) Daily News "Tourists discover impact of WWII munitions."

The Elwood Ordnance Plant and Kankakee Ordnance Works were created to prepare the United States to meet the demand of the upcoming large scale warfare of World War II.  There were other plants converting to building the guns, planes, tanks and other items of fighting, but these needed bullets, shells and bombs.

In 1939, the U.S. Ordnance Department established a network of ammunition plants to be government-owned and contractor-operated.

In 1941, these were the 5th and 6th of the 60 that were built.  Kankakee was to manufacture TNT, DNT and raw materials to make explosions.  Elwood made artillery shells, bombs and other munitions.

An extensive internal railroad system moved the materials around in the 23,500-acre compound.  Many buildings, warehouses and bunkers were also built, providing many jobs for locals and attracting others to move to the area.  At its peak operation, the two places employed 17,000.

Tours are occasionally offered at the Joliet Munitions Plant as it is now called and the old Route 66 runs right past it. 

Just one more proof that the U.S. was preparing for war even before it entered it.

GreGen

Friday, October 19, 2012

Bits of War: New Battle at Pearl Harbor-- LST-325 Runs Aground-- Low Mississippi Waters Reveal WWII Ship

Bits of War:  New News About an Old War

1.  NEW BATTLE AT PEARL HARBOR--  From the Oct. 8, 2012, LA Times--  The 450 acre Ford Island in the middle of Pearl Harbor is listed on the NRHP.  Now, the Navy plans to construct a solar power plant with 60,000 photovoltaic panels and have encountered strong oppositions from World War II veterans and historians.  Going Green is a right move as long as it doesn't interfere too much with one of the key points on the island.


2.  LST-325 RUNS AGROUND--  From the Oct. 4, 2012, Clarksville (Tn) Leaf Chronicle.  The LST-325, the last fully operational World War II (at D-Day) Landing Ship Tank vessel, ran aground in Lake Barkley, but a tugboat along with the ship's anchor winch (this is how the ships got off beaches) and engines got her off and the ship is on its way home to Evansville, Indiana.


3.  LOW MISSISSIPPI RIVER WATERS REVEAL WWII SHIP--  From the Oct. 4, 2012, Sacramento (Cal) Bee--  The USS Inaugural was ripped from the St. Louis riverfront during the floods 20 years ago and its remains are now visible again because of this summer's drought.  It is about  a half mile past the MacArthurBridge.

The fleet minesweeper was launched Oct. 1944, decommissioned in 1946 and became a floating museum ship in St. Louis in 1968.  The ship was ripped from its moorings during the 1993 floods.  About 700 ships are known to have sunk along this stretch of the Mississippi River.

Bits of War.  --GreGen

Thursday, October 18, 2012

USS Triton Bell Resurfaces

From the April 26, 2011, Virginia Pilot Online "Missing for decades, World War II subs' lost bell surfaces" by Kate Wiltrout.

It was found as part of a glass-topped end table in a private residence in Reno, Nevada.

The 14-inch diameter bell is still technically the property of the US government.  In 2009, the Virginia Pilot had done a story on the missing Triton bell and a person visiting the home had read it and reported its location.

After Pearl Harbor, all submarine ship's bells were removed in case they accidentally rang during operations.  The Triton was sunk by the Japanese in the Pacific March 1943 with loss of entire 74-man crew.  It didn't have its bell at the time which was in storage.  When the new nuclear submarine named Triton was launched, the first Triton's bell was on it, but went missing around 1967.

It would be an interesting story to learn how it got to be in that house.

Glad That It Was Found.  --GreGen

The USS Caswell (AKA-73)-- Part 2

The ship was sent to the Pacific where the crew received training.  It participated in the initial landings at Okinawa.  The movie "Mr. Roberts" was filmed on a fishing boat, but was based on a story that took place on the attack cargo ship USS Virgo (AKA-20).

After the war, the Caswell went to Norfolk, Va., where it was decommissioned 19 June 1946.  Two days later, it was returned to the US Maritime Commission which sold it the following year to the South Atlantic SS Line and it was renamed the SS Southwind.  There is some evidence that the ship participated in the Korean War.  In 1955, it was sold to the United States Line and renamed the SS American Surveyor and was involved in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1963, it joined the James River Ghost Fleet and in 1973 was sold to Northern Metal Company and scrapped in 1974.

Quite a History for One Ship.  --GreGen

The USS Caswell (AKA-72)-- Part 1

From the Caswell County (NC) Historical Association.

The USS Caswell (AKA-72) was a Tolland-class attack cargo ship built in 1944 by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, NC.

It was created as a part of an emergency shipbuilding program which saw that industry in the United States kick into high gear for the war effort.

The NC Shipbuilding Co. built 243 ships for the war, starting with the Liberty Ship Zebulon B. Vance, named for the state's Civil War governor.  Most of their ships were classified as Liberty Ships. In addition, they built 54 ships for the US Navy: attack cargo ships like the Caswell, amphibious force flagships (AGC) and ammunition ships (AE).

The Caswell was named for the county and sponsored by Mrs. W.H. Williamson.  It was 459 feet long and launched 24 Oct 1944, and accepted by the Navy 13 Dec. 1944.  It was designed to carry military cargo and landing craft and had a substantial armament and 22 smaller craft.  A crew of 395 manned her and could carry up to 5,275 troops.

Its 6,000 horsepower engine enabled the ship to steam at 17 knots and it had a 17,000 mile range.

A Ship You Don't Want to Mess With.  --GreGen

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ed Chlapowski Dies; Notified World of Attack on Pearl Harbor

From the Jan. 26, 2011, Billings, Montana Missoulian.

Ed Chlapowski, 88, died a little more than 69 years after he sent the infamous telegram from Pearl Harbor, "This is no drill--Pearl Harbor is being bombed by the Japanese--This is no drill."  A member of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, it was his duty to report deaths of members to the national organization. Now, someone else will have to do it for him.

He was one of 84,000 military personnel at the base that Dec. 7, 1941, and was one of Montana's last survivors of the attack. 

Mr. Chlapowski, a native of Massachusetts, joined the Navy June 18, 1940, and was 19 when the attack took place.  He had been stationed on the USS Arizona, but was reassigned and had been on board the ill-fated ship just the day before visiting with some friends.

That day, he had worked the early watch at the submarine base, had just eaten  and sat down on his bunk when he looked out the window and saw a hangar roof blown away and saw the "meatballs" on the plane (referring to the Rising Sun insignia).  He knew the radio room would be short-staffed on a Sunday and ran to it where the supervisor handed him those famous words, which he sent out in Morse Code.

Whenever he thought of seeing those planes, "The hair on the back of my neck stood up, just as it does today when I think of it."

The bomb that destroyed the Arizona struck at just the spot where his duty station was.

One More of Our Greatest Generation Leaves Us.  --GreGen

PHSA Will Continue...Sadly Not

The Dec. 9, 2010, Japan Times reported that the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association was going to continue as long as they could, according to its president, Art Herriford, 88.

That was almost three years ago.  Unfortunately, we know that as of Dec. 7, 2012, the organization disbanded.  I understand various chapters of it are continuing if they choose.

Kind of interesting to see this is from a news source called Japanese Times.

Sad to See It Go.  --GreGen

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pearl Harbor Survivor Also At James Dean's Death

From the August 14, 2012, California Tribune "James Dean's death: Former CHP officer who investigated crash dies" by Jay Thompson.

Ron Nelson, a Pearl Harbor survivor, was assigned to the USS Vestal, a repair ship moored next to the USS Arizona that horrific day, died August 7th. 

He was born in 1918 in North Dakota and enlisted in the US Navy in 1938.  Fortunately for him, he was not on the Vestal when the attack came, but playing tennis ashore, but even so, he got strafed.

After the war, he joined the California Highway Patrol in 191952 and later transferred to CHPs.

In 1955, there were 26 deaths in his patrol area, but the most famous was Sept. 30th, whenhe and CHP officer Ernie Tripke were dispatched to the junction of highways 41 and 466 where a Ford sedan had collided with James Dean's westbound Porsche Spyder.

He made one of the most famous accident reports in history and his photos became famous, but he received very little recognition for them.

An Interesting Life.  Perhaps a Movie?  --GreGen

Pearl Harbor Experiences

I'm getting as many of these in the blog as I can as the number of survivors is dropping rapidly.

From the Dec. 10, 2010, Manila Bulletin.

MERL RESLER, 88 fired shots at the Japanese planes from the USS Maryland and remembers standing in blood of shipmates hit by shrapnel.  "My teeth were chattering like I was freezing to death and it was 84 degrees temperature.  It was awful frightful."

DeWAYNE CHARTIER, 93, was going to church when the attack took place.

From the Dec. 8, 2010, Arkansas Times Record.

BILL CHASE, 86, was 17 that day at Pearl Harbor and recovering from the measles in the Naval hospital and had just finished breakfast and was cleaning the galley, "The head nurse heard the planes and the bombs go off and she said, 'My God, we're at war!"

He was an apprentice seaman on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington.  "Things happened so fast.  Planes blowed up. Buildings blowed up.  Ships blowed up."

Losing the Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Bits of War: Graffiti Attack-- Best World War II Movies

Bits of War


1.  GRAFFITI ATTACK-- Jan. 24, 2011, West Australian--  A 20-year-old from Tarcoula Beach sprayed graffiti on the ablution block of the HMAS Sydney Memorial in Australia.  Glad to see that person was caught.  They'd be doing community service for a real-long time if it was up to me.


2. BEST WORLD WAR II MOVIES--  From Screen Junkies

1.  SAVING PRIVATE RYAN--  D-Day and Europe
2.  THE LONGEST DAY--  D-Day
3.  DAS BOOT--  German U-boat
4.  PATTON--  North Africa, Italy and Europe
5  TORA! TORA! TORA!--  Pearl Harbor

I've seen them all.

Just Some Stuff.  --GreGen

Monday, October 15, 2012

What Do You Call It?

As I find ideas for these articles in both British and American papers and magazines, I have come to notice that quite often, the British refer to the war as "The Second World War."

Americans generally call it "World War II."

I wonder what the Germans, Japanese, Italians, French or others call it?

Interesting.  --GreGen

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Female Blogger Taking Heat for the "Kiss" Comment

From the Oct. 5, 2012, Globe and Mail "Feminist blogger calls iconic Second World War kissing photo 'sexual assault'"

A London-based blogger calling herself "Leopard" has been taking grief after her post "The Kissing Sailor, or 'The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture.'"

For many years, the identity of the two in the photo was not known, but now, it is known that the woman was dental nurse Greta Zimmer Friedman and the sailor was George Mendosa.

They were not a couple at the time and Mendosa was drunk.  Both are still alive at 89.

Said Friedman, "It wasn't my choice to be kissed.  The guy just came over and grabbed."  Mendosa's wife is in the photo as well.

I can sort of see where "Leopard" is coming from, but, hey, it was the end of that terrible war.  And, with the wife looking on, that was as far as it would go.

To Mendosa, it must have seemed like the thing to do at the time.

'Scuse Me While I Go Kiss This Gal.  --GreGen

Friday, October 12, 2012

The USS Monterey in Halsey's Typhoon

Yesterday, I wrote about this light aircraft carrier and President Gerald R. Ford being on it at the time.  Thanks to Wikipedia, I did a little more research on it.

USS Monterey CVL-26

Was an Independence Class light aircraft carrier, originally laid down as the light cruiser Dayton CL-78 in 1941, but reclassified as a CVL in 1942 and commissioned in 1943.  It was involved in lot of Pacific battles in 1943 and 1944 and was unscathed until it and its Task Force 38, steamed directly into the path of Typhoon Cobra, also known as Halsey's Typhoon.

The storm last two days, from December 17th to 18th and had winds over 100 knots.  Task Force 38 consisted of 7 fleet carriers, 6 light carriers, 8 battleships, 15 cruisers and 50 destroyers.  Three of the destroyers sank and much damage was done to the other ships.

At the height of the storm, several planes tore loose from cables, causing several fires on the hangar deck.  Gerald Ford was almost swept overboard.  He volunteered to lead a fire fighting team below deck and fought the flames that threatened the Monterey all night.

GreGen

Oldest Member of "Band of Brothers" Dies

By Timberly Rose, January 22, 2011.

ED MAUSER, 94 died Jan. 21st.

Mr. Mauser kept his military service secret until the mini-series came out.

He was born in 1916 in LaSalle, Illinois, and drafted in 1942 ad volunteered to join the 101st Airborne Division and was assigned to Co. E, 506th Regiment.  With them, he was at D-Day and Operation Market Garden, but was not one of the soldiers portrayed in the mini-series.  He loved the TV show and watched it many times.

GreGen

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halsey's Typhoon

From the Sept. 18, 2011, Chicago Tribune.

Earlier this week I was blogging about ten things you might not know about hurricanes on my Cooter's History Thing Blog and one was pertaining to World War II.

In December 1944, a U.S. Navy fleet under Admiral William "Bull" Halsey mistakenly steered right into a typhoon in the Philippine Sea.

Three destroyers sank and dozens of other ships were damaged.  Nearly 900 died.

The aircraft carrier Monterey was badly damaged by fire and among those who battled it was one Lt. Gerald Ford.

That Was One Bad Storm.  --GreGen

The Famous Runway at Tinian Island

Tinian Island is just 40 square miles and has Runway Abla, made of crushed limestone.

On July 24, 1944, 30,000 Marines landed and eight days later had possession of the island.  Of the 8,800 Japanese defenders, 8,000 died.  The Marines had lost 328 men.

Four months later, the Seebees had built an airfield.  B-29 Super Fortresses launched from there attacked the Philippines, Okinawa and the Japanese mainland.

On August 5, 1945, a B-29 named the Enola Gay maneuvered over a pit and a bomb called  Little Boy and at 2:45 AM, August 6th, took off.

Three days later, another B-29 named Bockscar (a pun on box car) under Captain Fred Bock likewise maneuvered over another bomb pit and loaded the atom bomb going to Nagasaki.

The two bomb pits are still at the airfield which gets very few visitors.

Go WWII Sight Seeing.  --GreGen

Whatever Happened to the British Village of Imber?

From the Jan. 22, 2011, BBC.

In December 1943, the whole population village of Imber on the Salisbury Plain was called to a meeting and told they would have to leave for six months as the area they were in was to be used for D-Day preparations.  They readily agreed, figuring it was their part in the war effort.

The area became a British training base.

However, six months came and went and they are still not back in their homes nearly 69 years later.  The area is still under British Defense rule.  In the interim, their homes were damaged by war maeub\vers and, of course, the elements have taken their toll.

I didn't see how many people lived there in 1943, though.

Hey, Britain, It's About Time to Let Your People Go Home.  --GreGen

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sailor In Thick of Fighting in the Pacific

From the Jan. 18, 2011, Loveland (Col.) Reporter-Herald "Sailor dove into thick of war in the Pacific at Guadalcanal" by Jim Willard.

Al Cayou, from Garden City, Kansas heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor on his buddy's car radio and wanted to join the service immediately at age 17.  He had to ditch school eight days before his dad would sign the permission form.  He then spent 27 days training with wooden rifles at San Diego before being sent to Pearl Harbor and being assigned to the cruiser USS Atlanta.  The ship was at Midway before he was even familiar with how to do his battle station.

At Midway, a Japanese bomb exploded near the Atlanta, but did no damage.

November 1942, Cayou's ship was at Guadalcanal when the Japanese counter-attacked and the Atlanta was in naval action for several weeks including the Battle of Santa Cruz and Savo Island.  The Atlanta was hit by a torpedo and sank.

Cayou had to move from his ammunition loading area to a spot where he could board a Higgins Boat to evacuate and remembers he had to walk over bodies and even climb over them.

After that, he came down with malaria and went back to the States to recover.  Healthy, he was assigned to the USS Lunga Point at Astoria. Oregon.  It was a light carrier named after a battle fought at Guadalcanal.  and was involved in several small actions.

At Iwo Jima, the ship was hit by a torpedo and shot down two other Japanese planes.  Cayou was a loader for a 20 mm gun and watched a kamikaze shoot across the deck in front of him and he had to lay down on the ammunition to keep it from fire.

Quite a Career.  --GreGen

Rosie the Riveter

Continued from Oct. 5th.

FOUR REAL ROSIES:

ROSE BONAVITA--  of Hickey, NY, had a record-setting 3,345 rivets in an Avenger torpedo bomber.

ROSE MONROE--  Riveted B-24s and B-29s in Michigan.

ROSALIND WALKER--  of Long Island, built Corsair fighter planes.

GERALDINE DOYLE--  Was the biceps-flexing model for the "We Can Do It" poster who died last month at the age of 86.


THE ROSIE INSURANCE NAMESAKE

Henry Kaiser made his first money paving roads.  After he became a steel and ship magnate, he founded Kaiser Permanente to provide health benefits to his thousands of employees.


UNFAIR, THEN UNEMPLOYED

Women made up 27% of the workforce in the Kaiser Shipyards.  They welded, riveted and drilled, but only made 60% of what the men did doing the same jobs.

When the war ended, they were immediately replaced by returning men.

Just Some Rosie Stuff.  --GreGen

Monday, October 8, 2012

Two-Time World War II POW Passes Away

From the September 28, 2012, Lehigh Valley (Pa) Morning Call by Nicole Radzievich.

Wendall A. Phillips, 88, was a 21-year-old radio operator in the US Army Air Force when his plane was shot down and he was captured in 1944 by the Germans.  He managed to escape and then fight in the Pacific Theater where he was again captured, this time by the Japanese.  This time he was tortured.

He was National Chaplain of the China-Burma-India Organization, a group that flew the treacherous supply route over the Himalayas.

Imagine being captured twice and by the two main enemies we were fighting.

The Greatest Generation

Friday, October 5, 2012

Seven World War II Marine Aviators Buried at Arlington National Cemetery

From the Oct. 2, 2012, Marine Corps Times "Arlington burial for 7 WWII Marines planned" Ap.

A funeral took place yesterday, Oct. 4th, at Arlington for seven Marine aviators whose plane was lost in the Pacific Theater in 1944.

They are:

Pfc. John A Donovan, Plymouth, Mi.
1st Lt. Laverne Lallathin, Raymond, Wash.
2nd Lt. Dwight Ekstam, Moline, Il.
2nd Lt. Walter Vincent, Tulsa, Ok.
Tech Sgt. James Sisney, Redmond City, Ca.
Cpl. Wayne Erickson, Minneapolis
Cpl. John Yaeger, Pittsburgh

Donovan's relatives also held a funeral June 8th in Washtenaw County.

The men were on a PBJ-1 bomber that crashed on Espiritu Santo Island in the South Pacific in 1944.

A Fitting Burial.  --GreGen

Rosie the Riveter Memorial in California-- Part 2

These Rosies, women who left the home to work in war industries, were just as responsible for the ultimate US victory as the men doing the fighting.  Without the weapons of war, there could be no victory.

Kaiser operated four shipyards in Richmond, California, from 1941 to 1945, and made 747 vessels.  Kaiser Shipyard No. 2 set a world record when it built the SS Robert E. Peary in 4 days, 15 hours and 29 minutes.

The "Rosie the Riveter" song was written in 1942 by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loclo.  It became a hit in 1943 when it was recorded by several groups, including the Four Vagabonds of St. Louis.   I don't remember ever hearing it, though, and I've heard a lot of World War II songs.

The May 29, 1943, Saturday Evening Post featured a Norman Rockwell painting of Rosie the Riveter on the cover, featuring very muscular arms, a grinning face and her foot on a copy of Hitler's "Mein Kampf."  Right behind me at the old 'pute, I have a popular poster of an unsmiling Rosie with a sleeve pulled up to reveal a muscular arm and the words "We Can Do It," a popular poster during the war, only mine is metal.

Couldn't Have Done It Without Rosie.  --GreGen

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bits of War: LST-325 Runs Aground-- Lane Interred on USS Arizona

Bits of War


1.  From 10-2-12 Sacramento (Ca) Bee--  LST-325 RUNS AGROUND--  The World War II ship LST-325 was in the Cumberland River on its way back to home port in Evansville, Indiana, nine miles from the Lake Barkley Lock and Dam.  There were no reports of damage and it is expected it will be able to get off.


2.  LANE INTERRED ON USS ARIZONA--  From the 10-2-12 CNIC//Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam--Glenn Lane was one of the USS Arizona's survivors that day and went on to serve 30 years in the military and in three wars.  He died Dec. 10, 2011, just 70 years and three days after the attack nearly 70 years to the day.  His ashes were interred Sept. 12th on his ship on which he had been a seaplane radioman.

Some New News About an Old War.  --GreGen

Rosie the Riveter Memorial in California-- Part 1

From the Jan. 15, 2011, New York Times by Hank Pellissier.

There is a new sculpture in Richmond, California, at the former Kaiser Shipyard No. 2 where 20,000 Rosie the Riveters worked during the war.  Richmond's population, like that in Wilmington, NC, increased greatly, quadrupling in Richmond's case.

The memorial was created by Susan Schwartzenberg, a visual artist, and Cheryl Barton, a landscape architect, and represents a ship's hull under construction.  The walkway through it represents the length of a ship's keel.  Thirty-nine photos, news clippings, postcards and other memorabilia are framed in the sculpture.

More About the Shipyard and Rosie to Come.  --GreGen

Death of the Last Doolittle's Raid Pilot in 2011

From the Jan. 11, 2011, Washington Post

William "Bill" Bower died January 10, 2011.

Bill Bower remembered skimming along just barely above the water for 600 miles on his way to bomb Yokohoma, 25 miles south of Tokyo, and being struck by its beauty before opening his bomb bay doors and unleashing retaliation for Pearl Harbor.  Facing heavy anti-aircraft fire, he dropped his bombs on the dockyard and oil refinery.

Fleeing to China, he faced strong headwinds and stormy weather.  By 11 PM, one of his engnes had died well before reaching his rendezvous at Chuchow, China.  he pulled his aircraft up to 10,000 feet and order the other four to bail out.

When they had done so, Col. Bower approached the escape hatch when the second engine died.

He bailed out with only a compass, his father's WW I-issue .45 caliber sidearm, tow packs of Lucky Stripes and matches after saying goodbye to his plane he called the Werewolf.

Once on the ground, he wrapped himself in his parachute and slept until daybreak and hiked for several hours until Chinese villagers found him and gave him food.

He later met up with other Raiders.  For the deed, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.  he was born in 1917 in Ravenna, Ohio.

One of the Greatest.  --GreGen

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fiftieth Anniversary of Movie "The Longest Day"

From Facebook.

And, I remember thinking when I saw that "Gone With the Wind" had been released fifty years ago back in 1989, thinking, "Man, that WAS A LONG TIME AGO."  And here is a movie I remember seeing several times as a young lad, and now, it was released FIFTY YEARS AGO.

This date, October 3, 1962, the World War II classic "The Longest Day" was released to theaters.  It told, on a grand scale, the story of June 6, 1944, from both the Allied and German sides of the story.

It won two Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Special Effects.  Released world-wide, it was seen by millions and was primarily shot in France.

Some 42 Hollywood actors and actresses appeared in it.

Like John Wayne's character in the flick, Lt. Col. Benjamin Vandervoot, said, "You can't give the enemy a break.  Send him to hell."

Wonder If Anyone Is Showing the Movie Tonight.  No Wait, There's That Debate.  --GreGen

The Aircraft That Changed the World

From the Jan. 14, 2011, Massapequan (NY) Observer.

The 75th anniversary of the DC-3 was recently celebrated with a taxi run on the runway of Republic Airport where the museum has a military version of a DC-3, the only operational one in NY Tri-State area.  It is one of the nearly 11,000 built by the Douglas Aircraft Company and other manufacturers licensed to build them.

On December 17, 1935, 32 years to the day of the Wright Brothers first flight, the first DC-3 lifted off the runway in Santa Monica, California.  By 1936, DC-3s were transporting passengers between Chicago's Municipal Airport (now Midway) and Newark.

Back then, a passenger paid $47.18 for the 4-hour flight operated by Flagship Illinois.  Within three years, 95% of all U.S. passenger flights were on DC-2s or DC-3s.

By December 1941, Douglas had delivered 503 DC-3s, of which 434 had gone to airlines.

By the end of World War II, production had hit a high of one aircraft every 34 minutes on some 10,654 military model DC-3s.

Oh, Those DC-3s.  --GreGen

West Germany Knew About Eichmann

From the Jan. 10, 2011, Independent.

There are now reports that West Germany knew that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman was hiding in South America in 1952, but said nothing about it.  Eichman had been responsible for the trains that carried Jews and others to the concentration camps.

He had fled to Argentina before being captured in 1960 by Israel living under the alias Ricardo Clement.  He was tried and executed in 1962.

A Cover Up If You Ask Me.  --GreGen

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Llandudno WWII Gunnery Gains Cadw Protection

From the Jan. 10, 2011, BBC Northwest Wales.

A World War II gunnery school has been officially scheduled by the Cadw (which means it can get preservation funds).  This is important because the gun emplacements and training that went on here are part of the desperate measures taken during the war to defend Britain from German attack.

The emplacements at Llandudno is not a listed property, but now it is eligible for National Assembly upkeep.

The Royal Artillery Gunnery School was established at Llandudno in 1940, but relocated to Shoeburyness in southern England for fear of potential attack.  However, the gun emplacements remained in full use for coastal defense throughout the war.

The school trained officers and ranks in the art of coast artillery, radio technology, the development of new weaponry, tactics and instrumentation.

Always Great to Preserve Something of Historic Significance.  --GreGen

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Final Reunion of the USS Haggard-- Part 2

Earl Opheim remembers horrible weather, "We were in a typhoon and we didn't get any medals for that and that might have been the scariest.  Three destroyers capsized in that one."  This might have been "Halsey's Typhoon."

After the war, Mr. Opheim taught school.

In 1997, the largest attendance, 54, got together.  Altogether, 91 former crew members made it to at least one reunion.  Ten are expected at this year's in Madison City, but spouses, sons and daughters will make attendance at 50.

Wednesday there was a get-together at the Holiday Inn Express.  Thursday a tour of the Winnebago Industries in Forest City and then lunch at the Diamond Jo Worth Casino and then a wind farm in Kensett.

Friday, there will be a memorial service at 10 AM at East Park.

The Greatest Generation. 

The Final Reunion of the USS Haggard-- Part 1

From the September 16, 2012, Iowa Globe Gazette "M.C. man hosting last reunion of WWII sailors" by John  Skipper.

This will be the final reunion of those who served aboard the USS Haggard as "there just aren't many of us left."

Madison City's Earl Opheim, 86, and the youngest of those left, will be hosting the 25th reunion of the destroyer, which saw action late in the war and earned nine Battle Stars.  Opheim received a Purple  Heart "for taking shrapnel in my leg."

The men and their families started arriving Wednesday and daily activities were held, concluding with a banquet on Saturday night.

The reunions started 25 years ago when one crew member was going to Las Vegas and invited others to meet him.  Thirty took him up on it.  Every year, it was held where one of the members lives and it is Opheim's turn to host it.  "I wasn't on the Haggard at the beginning.  When I came on, I was a radio striker and had to learn Morse Code."  A big reason he got the job was because he could type.  "You had to type 22 words a minute because that was the speed of the code."

The Haggard was in action at the Marina Islands, Western Carolines, Leyte Gulf and China Sea operations.

Sad to See All These Final Reunions.  --GreGen

Another Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies

From the September 27, 2012, Joliet (Il) Herald-News "Navy veteran survived Pearl Harbor attack" by Jean Edwards.

Peter Senffner died May 23, 2012, at age 94.  He enlisted in the Navy Jan. 3, 1941 and trained at Great Lakes Naval Base before going to Pearl Harbor on the USS Nevada.  Once there, he was assigned to report to the cruiser USS Raleigh March 12, 1941.  He went to Daogo, Midway and Mexico in the months leading up to the attack.

December 7th, the Raleigh was hit by a torpedo.  During the action, the ship shot down five Japanese planes.  Said Mr. Senffner, "We got our second Japanese plane; then our ship began to sink."

The Greatest Generation.

Wilmington, NC, USO Building Celebrates 70 Years-- Part 2

The USOs in Wilmington were operated by four agencies: YMCA, YWCA, National Jewish Welfare Board and the National Travelers Aid Association.

At the Hannah Block USO, there was a popular first floor canteen, a help desk for finding accommodations (hard to find in Wilmington whose wartime population swelled to 100,000 with all the defense workers) and a basement dorm that could house 600 on the weekends.

It was open around-the-clock, seven days a week.  Big Band dances were especially popular and they also had wedding receptions.

At the height of the war, as many as 63,000 would pass through on a typical weekend.

In 1997, the building's owners, St. John's Museum of Art announced they were going to demolish the structure causing a public outcry.  The city got it and put $2.1 million  in repairs into it.  It reopened in 2008 as the Hannah Block USO, named after a prominent Wilmington woman.

Glad They Kept This Important Aspect of the Homefront.  --GreGen

Wilmington, NC, USO Building Celebrates 70 Years-- Part 1

From the Dec. 16, 2011, WWAY News 3, Wilmington (NC) "USO building celebrates 70 years" by Katie Harden.

Located at Second and Orange streets, the Hannah Block Historical Building in downtown Wilmington has now been open since 1941.  Wilmington historian, Wilbur Jones said, "There are only about five of this type of World War II USO buildings still standing."  There is also one in Goldsboro, NC, now home to the Wayne County Historical Society Museum.

From the April 8, 2009, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "My Reporter"

The USO was built in December 1941 at 120 S. Second Street, one of 14 USO facilities built in Wilmington and New Hanover County.  The Army Corps of Engineers constructed it for $80,000, the first of two they built.  The other was for black military personnel.

The reason for so many USOs in the Wilmington area was the close proximity of the Army Anti-Aircraft Training Facility at Camp Davis and the USMC's Camp Lejeune.  An estimated 35,000 GIs on leave each weekend would flood into Wilmington.

They Had to Have Some Place to Go.  --GreGen