Monday, June 30, 2014

Ships Sunk off NC Coast June 1942-- Part 2

While researching the Senateur Duhamel (which i wrote about on Saturday) I found mention that it had towed a ship damaged by a torpedo into Morehead City, NC in April 1942.  So, not every ship hit by a torpedo or attacked by a U-boat always ended up sinking.  I hadn't thought of that.  I have just been listing ships that sank.

June 24th:  LJUBICA--  freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-404
June 25th:  NORDAL--  freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-404.
June 25th: MANUELA--freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-404, 2 killed.
.
June 25th  TAMESIS--  freighter, torpedoed and sunk by U-701.
June 27th:  BRITISH FREEDOM--  tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U-701.

June 28th:  WILLIAM ROCKEFELLER--  tanker, torpedoed by U-701.
June 30th:   CITY OF BIRMINGHAM--  passenger ship, torpedoed and sunk by U-202, 9 killed.

--GreGen

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ships Sunk Off NC Coast June 1942-- Part 1

From the nc-wreckdiving.com site.

The number of Allied ships sunk off the coast picked up significantly from the May results, which had just one non-warship sunk.  Of interest, there weer quite a few ships sunk off the NC coast in June 1918 by the U-151.  I didn't know German U-boats operated off the coast during the First World War.  I'll list these ships in my Cooter's History Thing Blog.

June 1st: WEST NOTUS, freighter, shelled and scuttled by the U-404, 12 killed.
June 3rd:  ANNA, freighter,  torpedoed and sunk by U-404.
June 7th:  PLEASANTVILLE, torpedoed and sunk by U-135.
June 11th  F.W. ABRAMS,  tanker, struck Allied mine and sank.
June 19TH:  USS YP-389,  patrol craft, shelled and sunk by U-701, 6 killed.

And, there Are More.  --GreGen

Ships Sunk Odd North Carolina Coast May 1942

From the NC-wreckdiving-com site.

The month of May marked a significant drop in the number of Allied ships sunk off the coast of North Carolina compared to the previous four months.  I'm not sure why, because in June, the numbers were up drastically.  Perhaps the drop in May was due to U-boats returning to Europe for resupply and more torpedoes so none were on station.

Some of these were already mentioned in the list of ships sunk in May on Wikipedia.

MAY 5TH:  LADY DRAKE, passenger-freighter, torpedoes and sunk bu U-160, 12 killed.:

MAY 6TH  HMS SENATEUR DUHAMEL, armed trawler collided with USS Semmes and sunk.

MAY 9TH: U-352, depth charged by USS Icarus, 14 killed.

MAY 12TH:  HMT BEDFORDSHIRE, armed trawler, torpedoed and sunk bu U-558, 37 killed.

I'll have to do some research on the collision between the Semmes and Senateur Duhamel.

--GreGen

Friday, June 27, 2014

Give "Devil's Brigade" Gold Medals

From the Feb.24, 2012, LA Times "Give 'Devil's Brigade' Gold medal, U.S. lawmakers urge" by Richard Simon.

There was even a movie about the joint U.S.-Canadian unit of the same name.    Now, there is a movement in the U.S. Congress to give the unit a Gold Medal, the nation's highest civilian award to the First Special Service Force.

They participated in the Aleutian islands, Anzio and Southern France.  They led the Allied liberation of Rome and fought in the French and Italian mountains where they specialized in high Alpine combat.  They were also experts at covert amphibious landings and other unconventional operations.

During the war, they suffered 2,314 casualties and captured over 30,000 prisoners

Other World War II units who have already been awarded Gold Medals:  Tuskegee Airmen, Navajo Code Talkers, Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), Japanese-American members of the 100th Infantry Battalion, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the Military Intelligence Service.

Certainly an honor well-deserved.

Here's Hoping They get It.  --GreGen

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ernest Hemingway Went Rogue as War Correspondent

From the May 21, 2014, Listverse "10 Incredible Facts About Ernest Hemingway" by Aaron Short.

He went rogue while carrying out war correspondence in 1944 for Collier's Magazine.

He was present at D-Day, but made to stay aboard the ship because he was considered too "precious" to lose.

Later, he was attached to the 22nd regiment and somehow obtained permission to run an intelligence operation in the town of Rambouillet, France, where he became the leader of a group made up pf a secret agent, several french soldiers and civilians who followed his orders and called him "Papa," "Captain" or even "Le Grande Capitan."

The group was described as a band of cutthroats who idolized Hemingway and even copied his mannerisms and style.  Eventually they numbered in the hundreds.  They did carry out surveillance and Hemingway even wore a colonel's uniform and led them into battle several times.

This was in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions.   Eventually, there was a court martial but Hemingway lied his way out of it and went back to his "command."  They took part in a battle at the German border and two years after the war, he received a Bronze Star.

Interesting Story.  --GreGen

Ernest Hemingway Hunted U-Boats in the Hooligan Navy

From the May 31, 2014, Listverse "Ten Incredible Facts About Ernest Hemingway" by Aaron Short.

Ernest Hemingway hunted German U-boats as part of the World War II Hooligan Navy.  With enemy submarines causing havoc off the coasts of the United States, the Navy asked for civilian volunteers to help patrol in private yachts and report U-boats.  This group became known as the Hooligan Navy.

Most would report sightings by radio, but Hemingway saw this as great fun, proclaimed himself a captain and patrolled off the coast of Cuba.  He intended to sink any U-boat he spotted and armed his boat with Thompson machine guns and hand grenades and assembled a motley crew of bullfighters, Basque jai-alai players, a billionaire businessman and a U.S. Marine.

He figured that a U-boat would surface and come close to his ship. The jai alai players could toss grenades at the sub's conning tower while the rest of his "crew" fired machine guns.

He never spotted his prey and most "patrols" were simply an excuse to go fishing and get drunk with his buddies.

What Ya Goin' to Do With Ernest?  --GreGen


Ships Sunk off NC Coast June 1942

From Wikipedia.

JUNE 5:  HMT Senateur Duhamel--  rammed by the USS Semmes, which mistook it for a U-boat.
JUNE 24:  SS Ljibica Matkovic, Yugoslavian freighter torpedoed by U-404
JUNE 25:  SS Nordal, Panamanian cargo ship torpedoed by U-404.
JUNE 26:  SS Manuela, American freighter torpedoed off Cape Lookout by U-404
JUNE 28:  SS William Rockefeller torpedoed by U-701.

The U-404 Had a Pretty Good Run.  --GreGen


Ships Sunk Off NC Coast May 1942

From Wikipedia Ships Sunk Off North Carolina.

The submarine war off the coast continued in May 1942.

May 2:  USS Clythera, patrol boat torpedoed by U-402.
May 4:  SS Byron D. Benson, tanker, torpedoed by U-552
May 8:  U-352, sunk by depth charges from the USCGC Icarus.
May 11: HMT Bedfordshire, anti-submarine trawler on loan from U.K., torpedoed bu U-588 off Ocracoke Island.

--GreGen



How Detroit Won the War-- Part 2

The media was getting into this turn-around.

The Washington Post reported:  "What may not be generally known is the amazing story of how Detroit is rapidly being transformed from a center of peacetime production into the greatest war production area to be found anywhere on the globe."

Look magazine:  "The scale of Detroit's war boom stuns the imagination."

And, Willow Run took center stage in that production.  The length of its assembly line expanded to over three times the length of the Empire State Building and four times the height of the Eiffel Tower reported the Christian Science Monitor.

A Washington Post report said Willow Run was "the greatest single manufacturing plant the world has ever seen... All 16 major league baseball teams could play simultaneous games before crowds of 30,000 each [inside Willow Run].  And there would be room enough left over for a full-sized football game before an additional 30,000 spectators."

The Wall Street Journal called the bomber plant "the production miracle of the war."

Yet, at the time, the Willow Run plant had not even produced one plane.

I wish Mr. Baime had included the date for this segment of his book, but I guess that is why you need to buy it.  Looks like a really interesting bit of research.  I'm guessing the excerpt comes from sometime in l;ate 1942.

A picture accompanies the article of then-Senator Harry S.Truman and Ford executive Charles Sorensen with a B-24 Liberator at Willow Run, so obviously it did go into production.

--GreGen

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How Detroit Won the War-- Part 1

From the June AARP Bulletin Book excerpt by A.J. Baime.

The name of the book is "The Arsenal of Democracy: FDR, Detroit, and an Epic Quest to Arm an America at War" by A.J. Baime.  This "describes how the Ford Company shifted from making automobiles to manufacturing airplanes that would win WWII.  Baime portrays the growing pains of Ypsilanti's Willow Run plant, which by the summer of 1944, would produce 400 bombers a month."

There are not enough books on the home front as far as I'm concerned.  And the huge increase in war production was amazing.

"Cast Iron" Charlie Sorensen was Ford Motor Company's "Hercules" of the assembly line and he had news for Edsel Ford, the company's president.  Willow Run was Edsel Ford's,  attempt to build the world's largest airplane factory to turn out the Army Air Corps' biggest, fastest, most destructive bombers at a set goal of one per hour and was approaching completion.

Even bigger news was the war work in Detroit had captured the imagination of the nation, almost overnight.    Even FDR was making speeches about how the war was being fought, but also how it would be won not just by the military, but at home on the assembly lines.

--GreGen

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Remembering D-Day 70 Years Later-- Part 4: Five Famous D-Day Fighters From That Day

These men were there and later when on to fame.

YOGI BERRA (1925-   )  The baseball legend was an 18-year-old seaman first class.  "Being a young guy I thought it was like the Fourth of July, to tell you the truth."

J.D. SALINGER ( 1919-2010)  The author was carrying six chapters of the "The Catcher in the Rye" when he landed on Omaha Beach with the 4th Infantry Division; his iconic novel would be published seven years later.

JAMES DOOHAN  (1920-2005) Boomers know Doohan as Scotty from the "Star Trek" TV show.  Serving with the Canadian military in the landing at Juno Beach, he was wounded six times.

CHARLES DURNING (1923-2012) The acclaimed character actor landed with the U.S. Rangers on Omaha Beach in the first wave of the invasion and was awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

JOHN FORD (1894-1973)  He was already famous.  The legendary Hollywood director, serving as a commander in the U.S. Navy, was put in charge of filming the landing on Omaha Beach and then the rest of the day's fighting on it.

--GreGen

Remembering D-Day 70 Years Later-- Part 3: Jeopardy

**  The last time an invading army crossed the English Channel before D-Day. 1688

**  Nickname for the million-plus wooden poles planted by the Germans to thwart an invasion. Rommel's Asparagus

**  Code name of the plan to deceive the Germans about where the invasion was to take place.  Operation Fortitude

**  Candy in emergency rations for paratroopers.  Four Hershey bars and one pack of charms  (Not sure what charms candy was.)

And, landing on Those Beaches Which the Germans Had Had Four Years to Prepare Was Certainly Big-Time Jeopardy.  --GreGen

Remembering D-Day 70 Years Later-- Part 2: They Said It

GENERAL DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 1944:  "Soldiers, sailors and airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force!  You are about to embark upon a great crusade, toward which we have striven these months.  The eyes of the world are upon you.  The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."  Talk about putting the pressure on these brave men.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: 1984:  (on the 40th anniversary)  These are the boys of Pointe du Hoc.  These are the men who took the cliffs.  These are the champions who helped free a continent.  These are the heroes who helped end a war.  ...What inspired all the men of the armies that met here?  We look at you, and somehow we know the answer.  It was faith, and belief; it was loyalty and love."

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, 1994: (on the 50th anniversary)  On that chilled dawn, these beaches echoed with the sounds of staccato gunfire, the roar of aircraft, the thunder of bombardment.  And through the wind and the waves came the soldiers, out of their landing craft and into the water, away from their youth and toward a savage place many of them would sadly never leave."

Writing this brings back the first minutes of "Saving Private Ryan."

--GreGen

Monday, June 23, 2014

Remembering D-Day 70 Years Later-- Part 1

From the June 2014 AARP Bulletin by Bill Hogan.

"Along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline, Allied forces led by Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower launched the largest airborne attack and amphibious landing in history.

On this anniversary, we reflect on D-Day and those who made up, as journalist Tom Brokaw later put it, "the greatest generation any society ever produced."

As a Life magazine photo editor during World War II, John G. Morris headed for Normandy within weeks of D-Day.  He photographed newly liberated people and towns.  You can check out some striking pictures at www.aarp.org/bulletin.

--GreGen

Saturday, June 21, 2014

U.S. Airman's Remains Found in Quebec Waters-- Part 2

In 2009, divers from Parks Canada found the barnacled, upside-down fuselage 40 meters down.  When they saw it, they stopped work and contacted American authorities as remains were probably still aboard.

This month the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command dispatched a 50 person team to investigate in the salvage ship USNS Grapple and was at the site for 30 days.

They have found the remains of one airman and sent DNA to a lab for testing.  They also found many well-preserved artifacts in the near-freezing water.  There are no plans to raise it.

--GreGen

U.S. Airman's Remains Found in Quebec Waters-- Part 1

From the July 30, 2012, Montreal Gazette "Second World War U.S. airman's remains found in Quebec waters" by Jonathan Monpetit.

Seventy years ago in Longue Pointe de Mingan, a small village on the St. Lawrence River's north shore,  became an emergency landing strip in 1942 on the U.S. military's "Crimson Route," a strategic air corridor to Europe through Maine and Newfoundland.

On November 2, 1942, just before Josephine Vibert's wedding reception, the village watched a U.S. PBY-SA Catalina taxi from the harbor.  It struggled to clear the water and towering waves, crashing into them and water began entering the plane.

It began sinking and townspeople ventured into the dangerous waters and managed to rescue four crew members clinging to the fuselage.  Moments later, it sank, carrying five crew down with it.

--GreGen




Friday, June 20, 2014

Seneca Shipyard Days This Weekend

June 18-21, an annual celebration honoring the role Seneca played in the American World War II effort build LSTs, Landing Ship Tanks for the U.S. Navy.  Seneca was called the "Shipyard on the Prairie."

Of interest, yesterday, Wes Harrison, called Mr. Sound Effect,  performed and he himself served during World War II on the LST-227.

This is your usual town festival with food, rides, games, etc. as well as the history of the effort.

One of these years I plan to attend, but this came too soon after our trip to Missouri on Route 66 so didn't go.

Maybe Next Year.  --GreGen


Is There a German U-boat at the Bottom of a Canadian River?

From the July 25, 2012, CBC News "German U-boat may be at bottom of Labrador River: Divers believe they have located WWII submarine 100 kilometers from ocean.:

Two years ago, searchers using side-scanning sonar looking for three men lost over Muskrat Falls believe they found a submarine in the Churchill River.

It is unclear how it ended up so far from the open water.  During World War II this was a strategically important site as there was a US Air base there.  The German government says it is possible it is theirs as there are still more than a dozen U-boats unaccounted for from the war.

It is known that German U-boats were active off Newfoundland and Labrador.  In 1942, a German torpedo sank the ferry SS Caribou on a run between North Sydney, Nova Scotia and Port aux Basques, killing 136 people.

The U-587 fired three torpedoes at St. John's in early 1942.  Two of them hit the cliffs below the city's Cabot Tower.

U-boats sank four ore carriers off nearby Bell Island in late 1942, killing more than 60 men.

When the war ended,  U-190 surrendered to Canadian forces and sailed into Bay Bulls, just southof St. John.  Its periscope is still at Crow's Nest Officers Club in downtown St. John.

I Have to Wonder If They Did Find a Sunken U-boat?  --GreGen

"Nothing Orderly Or Humane": The Expulsion of Germans After WWII

From the July 29, 2012, Seattle Times, "Nothing Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War" a book review  by John B. Saul of the book by R.M. Douglas.

This removal of Germans from occupied countries after the war is something I'd never heard of before.  This is the account of the Allied policies about ethnic Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and other European countries after the war.  It is estimated that between 12-14 million Germans, mostly women, children and old people were moved.  Often this occurred in open train cars and often without adequate food or clothing.

Again, Something I Had Never Heard Of Before.  --GreGen


Thursday, June 19, 2014

World War II Vet, 90, Running Across U.S. for LST-325-- Part 3

Many LSTs were destroyed in nuclear bomb tests after the war.    Some were used in combat as late as the Vietnam War and others were given away or sold for scrap.

The LST-325 was found in Greece which got it from the U.S. in 1964 and the LST Memorial organization bought it in 2000.

Ernie Andrus, the man running across the country, and several other WWII vets went to Greece to prepare the ship to sail back across the Atlantic to its home country.

"They told us it was a job that 44 young men could never do.  Well, 28 old men went over there and did it."

Winston Churchill once said that the Allies couldn't have won the war without the LSTs.

Andrus was a Navy corpsman during the war.

I've been able to see the ship docked in Evasville.

--GreGen

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

World War II Vet, 90, Running Across the U.S. for LST-325-- Part 2

One hundred and sixty-seven LSTs were built at Evansville, the most of any shipyard.  The LST-325, however, wasn't one of them.

Many of the LSTs were built in so-called "Cornfield Shipyards" like at Evansville, Jeffersonville and Seneca, Illinois.    These  places had never built ships of this size before and never did again.  More than 1,000 LSTs were built.  The only remaining LST in running condition is LST-325.

It also is the only ship from D-Day and Normandy still steaming under its own power.

--GreLSTGen.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

World War II Vet, 90, Running Across United States for LST- 325-- Part 1

From the June 12, 2014, WBIW (Indiana) "90-Year-Old WWII Vet Running Across the U.S.."

Ernie Andrus, 90, started his trek across the United states last October at the Pacific Ocean and is currently in Arizona.  He says he averages 17 1/2 miles a week and sometimes is running by himself and other times with supporters.  He is doing this for the LST-325, homeport in Evansville, Indiana.

LST stands for Landing Ship Tank in Navy speak.  These flat-bottomed ships were designed during World War II with the purpose of landing troops, tanks and heavy equipment to enemy beaches and were particularly apparent at D-Day and the follow-up Normandy operation as well as in the Pacific against the Japanese.  

--GreGen


Monday, June 16, 2014

150th Anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery Yesterday

I need to mention that the final resting place of many World War II military personnel, including one young PT boat skipper with initials JFK, was yesterday.

I am writing about it in more detail in my Civil War and History blogs.

--GreGen

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Capture of the U-505, 70 Years Ago

This anniversary slipped by me, but I'll mention it now.

Seventy years ago, the U.S. Navy captured the German submarine U-505.  This was a rare capture as usually if forced to surrender, U-boats were scuttled, so very few were taken into Allied hands.

Even more importantly, the ship's code was captured and it became a top secret.  Even the crew was kept at a separate facility so the Germans thought the ship had been destroyed.

Another interesting thing about this ship is that it is one of the few German World War II U-boats, maybe the only one, still existing.

You can tour the museum ship at Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry.

I will write more extensively about it next week.

--GreGen

Thursday, June 12, 2014

U.S. Navy to Explore Wreck of the USS Houston (CA-30)

From Yahoo! News and June 10, 2014, Live Science "U.S. Navy Dive Will Explore World War II-Era Shipwreck" by Tanya Lewis.

In partnership with the Indonesian Navy, the U.S. Navy and seven other countries will be a mission to assess the USS Houston's condition, allow salvage and train divers.  They will be aboard the USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50).

The USS Houston was sunk during the Battle of Sunda Strait on February 28, 1942, early in the war when the United Staes was losing badly in the Pacific.  The ship, a Northapmton-class heavy cruiser, was 570 feet-long, weighed 9.050 tons and had been commissioned in 1930.  It was the flagship of the American Asiatic fleet.  More than 700 crewmembers died when she went down.

Under international law, the Houston remains property of the United States.  The ship, however, is a popular dive site off the coast ofJava, Indonesia.    The wreck will be searched for signs of illegal salvage.

More than 17,000 U.S. Navy sunken ships and aircraft exist in nthe world.These wrecks often are war graves.

--GreGen

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

World War II Veteran To Jump Again at 93

From the June 6, 2014, Chicago Tribune.

Seventy years ago, Jim "Pee Wee" Martin parachuted into France, behind German lines ahead of the D-Day invasion.

Now, at the age of 93, the WWII veteran is jumping into Normandy again to mark the anniversary of the June 6th seaborne landings by Allied troops though this time he will not be making the jump by himself.

"They are making me do a tandem," Martin, who lives near Dayton, said.  Don't worry about me getting hurt.  I said, 'Don't worry about it.  If I get hurt or I get killed, what is the difference?  I've lived 93 years.  I've had a good life."

I Suppose He Made It.  --GreGen

Back to the June 6th: Chicago Veterans Recall D-Day

Hank Rosetti recalled that as he and fellow soldiers worked to set up their first aid station in Normandy, he watched as Germans fired at American planes.  As a medic, he carried only bandages and medication, but no gun.

"I kept watching tracer bullets.  They were shooting at our planes.  I was kind of sweating that some of our guys would get shot down."

His first aid station was at a French farmstead, perhaps 40-50 miles inland from the coast.  No wounded Americans came to him for a day.  At one point after the wounded started arriving, the Germans began shelling the area.  The young daughter of the farmer ran outside and her mother ran after her.  Both were killed.  He said that memory still haunts him.

He survived that day and the rest of the war, starting a career and getting married.  A small house on Chicago's Southwest Side served to raise a family and he still lives there.

--GreGen

Monday, June 9, 2014

PQ17 Arctic Convoy Disaster.

From June 8, 2014, Anglotopia.Net.  "Weekend Viewing: PQ17 An Arctic World War II Convoy Disaster Presented by Jeremy Clarkson Full Video."

Members of the Merchant and Royal Navy delivered vital supplies via the Arctic to the Soviet Union.

To do this, they faced temperatures of minus fifty degrees, huge icebergs and not to mention German U-boats and the Luftwaffe.  Winston Churchill called it "the worst journey in the world."

Between 1941 and 1945, more than 70 convoys delivered 4 million tons of material to the USSR.

One convoy in particular came to symbolize these dangers.  Codenamed PQ17, these 35 merchant ships were especially hard-hit.  They sailed through the Arctic Ocean to the Soviet winter port of Archangel and met what Clarkson describes as one of the biggest naval disasters of the 20th century.  Amd it didn't happen because of brutal Arctic conditions or the might of the German military, but rather from a misjudgement made by the British Admiralty in London.

You'll have to watch the video on You Tube to find out more.

--GreGen


Japan's WWII Chemical Weapons

From the June 9, 2014, Chemistry World "Explosive end for Japan's Second World War chemical weapons": by Nina Notman.

As Japanese forces retreated in China near the end of the  war, tens of thousands of chemical weapons were left behind.  Today, major progress is being made to round them up and destroy them.  They are still responsible for killing Chinese people today.More than 50,000 projectiles, mortars, aerial bombs, liquid-filled drums and gas-filled pots containing chemical agents such as sulfur mustard, lewisite and phosgene have been found in 50 sites in China so far.

Due to their age. their deterioration have cause some 2000 injuries and even fatalities.

It is estimated that the Japanese used chemical weapons 2000 times between 1937 and 1945.

--GreGen

Twelve Turning Points of World War II

Book review from Strategy Page.

TWELVE TURNING POINTS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR, by Philip M.H. Bell.  Noted WW II author's new book.

His 12 Turning Points:

1.  Fall of France
2.  Battle of Britain
3.  Operation Barbarossa and Hitler's Invasion of the Soviet Union
4.  Pearl Harbor

5.  Battle of Midway
6.  Battle of Stalingrad
7.  The Battle of the Atlantic
8.  The War in the factories

9..  The Tehran Conference
10.  D-Day and the Normandy Campaign
11.  The Yalta Conference
12.  Development and Use of the Atom Bomb

Hard to Disagree With This List.  --GreGen

Tsaritsyn- Stalingrad- Volgograd- and Stalingrad?

From the June 8, 2014, Guardian "Stalingrad name may return to city in wave of Second World War patriotism" by Alec Luhn.

The city, one of Russia's largest with over a million people,  was known as Tsaritsyn for 300 years before getting the name Stalingrad for Soviet leader Josef Stalin for 26 years and then having its name changed to Volgograd by Nikita Krushchev as in his efforts to de-Stalinize the Soviet Union.

But, it was the 26 years as Stalingrad that brought it the most fame because of the huge battle that took place there and ended Hitler's efforts to take over the country.  An estimated 2 million casualties took place on both sides.

Russian president Vladimir Putin supports the name change back to Stalingrad.

I Like he Idea of Changing It.  --GreGen

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Chicago Veterans Recall D-Day

Chicago's French Consulate presents the Legion of Honor to about 200 World War Ii veterans each year.

The historian at the National World War II Museum, aid it is important that Americans learn what they can from the surviving veterans of the war.  He sends interviewers out to veterans' homes to video-record them for an oral history collection.  Veterans visiting the museum can also video their recollections.

The idea is to allow future Americans to hear first-hand from the men who stormed the beaches at Normandy as well as against the Japanese in the Pacific.

"You will be able to see what the veteran really looked like, what that person really sounded like.

--GreGen

Friday, June 6, 2014

Chicago Veterans Recall D-Day-- Part 5

Hank Rossetti, 89, descended into Normandy by parachute to set up an inland aid station six hours before the beaches were stormed.  He is a regular at his unit's annual reunions and will be at the one held this year in Michigan during today's D-Day observance.  Some of his comrades made it to France today.

He says that recently, reunions have had more spouses and children, than the old soldiers themselves.

Rossetti, 89, was drafted into the Army after only a few months of optometry college.  On D-Day, his first action in the war, he landed in a French field about 4,000 miles from the South Side neighborhood in which he grew up.

"I was pretty scared.  There's no doubt about it."  It was bad enough coming ashore at the beaches with the enemy just in front of you, but imagine parachuting into an area where they are all around you?

Something I'm Very Glad i Never Had to Do.  --GreGen


Chicago Veterans Recall D-Day: "I Was Pretty Scared"

From today's Chicago Tribune.  I had the first part in my Down Da Road I Go blog, second part in Cooter's History Thing and third in my Not So Forgotten blog.

Pictures on the second page of the article:

A parachute drop near Ranville, France, on Thursday commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy.  The assault contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany.  Seven spectators, perhaps participants of the original drop are watching them come down.  This re-enactment was held yesterday, but during the day.  The original one took place at night.

A current picture of Hank Rossetti, 89, of Chicago, who was a medic who parachuted into the French countryside and helped treat soldiers wounded in the D-Day invasion 70 years ago.

A black-and-white photo of Hank Rossetti and friend Jimmy Dorino in a family picture taken back then. Both are soldiers.  "I was pretty scared.  There's no doubt about it."

--GreGen

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Everyone Knew Something Was Brewing

From Life Magazine, "70 Years Later: D-Day."

I went out and bought the only one of those magazines you find quite often in the stands regarding this momentous event.  I was surprised that there was just the one, figuring there would be a lot of them.  Plus, i was not happy that it cost $13.99 instead of the usual $9.99.

Good magazine though.

"Overlord: The Drumbeat to D-Day:  Much was secret as the theoretical Operation Overlord was assembled in flesh-and-blood terms in England.  But this military enterprise was so big-- the biggest ever in history--  that everyone from little kids to Hitler knew something was brewing."

--GreGen

Talking World War II in My RoadLog Blog

The last two days I have been writing about female gas station attendants and the new Wayne Gas Pumps before World War II in my RoadDog's Roadlog Blog.  This was because of the approaching 70th anniversary of D-Day tomorrow.  Worthwhile looking at for you World War II.

Of course, you had to wonder what was going through the minds of the men as they boarded the ships and landing ships off the coast of Normandy 70 years ago?  I'm sure more than one wished they were anywhere but there.  After all, the Germans had had a good four years to prepare for them.

--GreGen

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

70 Years Ago on June 6th, D-Day

The Allies and General Eisenhower threw the dice on a huge gamble, the invasion of Europe.

Don't Even Think I'm going to overlook "Overlord."

--GreGen

Happy 70th Birthday Smokey Bear

This summer will mark the 70th birthday of Smokey Bear (not Smokey the Bear) and, he has a World War II connection.  You can read about it in my three posts today in my Cooter's History Thing history blog.

You can also see the Smokey Bear-Smokey the Bear controversy.

--GreGen

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wilmington: Back Then

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

February 21, 1942:  Sheriff C. Davis Jones was picked to head all civilian defense activities after being appointed by Mayor Hargrove Bellamy.

The position carried the title "Commander."

Homeland defense become a real issue there months into the war.

--GreGen

Pearl Harbor Survivor Steve Warren Named Rapid City Veteran of the Month

From the Feb. 21, 2012, Rapid City (SD) Journal.

Steve Warren, one of the state's five remaining Pearl Harbor survivors, has been named Rapid City, South Dakota's Veteran of the Month by the city council.

he was 20 years old and on a wooden pleasure yacht with no guns that had just pulled into Pearl Harbor two days earlier, when the attack came.

He later got off the ship and was assigned to comfort and care for the wounded and dying.

I have written about him on May 20, 2014.

Deaths: Educator and Would-Be Tuskegee Airman

JOSEPH M. SMITH JR. (1927-2014)

As a soldier during World War II, Joseph M. Smith Jr. scored well enough on military flight tests to become eligible to attend the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, the first training program by the Army Air Corps for black pilots in 1941.

"But, while en route to Alabama to begin training as a bomber pilot, the war came to an end and the South Side native was sent home, where he began a long career as a Chicago Public Schools teacher and administrator."

he was a 1944 graduate of Tilden High School and enlisted in the Army at age 17 after getting his mother to sign permission papers to do so.  As an educator, he touched and influenced many lives.

And, speaking of the Tuskegee Airmen, Wednesday, FX is showing "The Red Tails."

One of Those Special People.  --GreGen

Monday, June 2, 2014

What Were These Arlington Farms?-- Part 3: "28 Acres of Girls"

Housing at Arlington Farms was segregated..

To qualify to live there, government workers had to earn between $1,260 to $1,620 a year.

Four dorms housed service women, primarily WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service and six for civilians.

A single 8'-by'10' room rented for $24.50 and a double for $16.50 a month.

It didn't take long for the complex to become known as "28 Acres of Girls" and "G-Girl heaven."

After the war ended, the complex continued in use for five years.  By 1950, fewer than 1,800 women remained and the government began closing it and turning the land over to the military.  During the Korean War it was used as a draft center.

The dorms were demolished in the mid-60s and today the site is part of Arlington National Cemetery.  So That's Arlington Farms.  --GreGen

What Were These Arlington Farms?-- Part 2

Some 7,000 units were slated for construction at Arlington Farms, just across from the Arlington Memorial Bridge into Washington, D.C..  The FWA awarded $4 million for construction of dorms in 1942.  The first occupants moved in on March 1, 1943.

Ten dorms were built, each one named for a state (hence Idaho Hall)  The site also included auxiliary buildings, an infirmary and a recreation hall, all set on 28-acres of a 108-acre site.  Six dorms housed civilians and were described as "extremely temporary in appearance."

Decorations inside and outside of the dorms were provided by WPA artists.

--GreGen


What Were These Arlington Farms?-- Part 1

The previous post I wrote about Shorpy photo  of a service man buying a Coke for a young woman at Idaho Hall at the Arlington Farms in Arlington, Virginia.  Having a hall at a farm with people just didn't make much sense to me.  Further research was needed.

From Wikipedia.

Arlington Farms was a temporary housing complex for female civil service members built during World War II.  They were built between 1942-1943 by the Federal Works Administration.  The complex got its name because it was located at the former site of the Arlington Experimental Farm on the grounds of the 1,100-acre Curtis-Lee family estate in Arlington County, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C..

The U.S. government began planning for the influx of workers needed to carry on a war even before Pearl Harbor was attacked.  In late 1940, FDR signed a law to move the Experimental Farm to Beltsville, Maryland, to allow for the expansion of the military cantonment at Fort Myer.

Originally the site was considered for the new War department building, but the Pentagon was built elsewhere starting in 1941.

--GreGen