Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking Back to 1941: "Some Gloom, Much Grim Determination, But Splendid Confidence"

From the December 121, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.  War Is Here!!

"With over 90 Sycamore men in some form of service with the armed forces of the United States there was naturally considerable shock of the sudden outbreak of war.

"A brief survey among several housewives indicates that there is some gloom, much grim determination, but splendid confidence the victory will come to us though the time of its coming will be years away."

Like FDR's Declaration of War Speech.  --GreGen

Friday, December 30, 2016

Looking Back to 1941: Army Convoy Goes Through Sycamore, Illinois

From the December 14, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.

"During the past three days Sycamore was once again feeling and hearing the rattle and rumble of an army convoy.

"Over 2,000 artillerymen, 450 vehicles and dozens of cannons and anti-tank guns have rolled westward."

Wonder What This Was All About, Looking At the Date?  --GreGen

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Obama and Japan's Leader Meet at Pearl Harbor-- Part 1

From the December 28, 2016, Chicago Tribune ""Obama, Japan's leader make hope theme where 2,403 fell" by Christi Parsons.

"Pearl Harbor, Hawaii -- President Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe together scattered petals on the waters of Pearl Harbor on Tuesday in a symbolic act aimed at laying to rest the enmity surrounding the Japanese attack 75 years ago that drew the U.S. into World War II."

It was a moment in history, but both leaders were focused on the future.

There was a nice picture of Abe and Obama shaking hands with Pearl Harbor veterans.

--GreGen

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking Back to 1941: Cookies for Illinois' Camp Grant

From the Dec. 14, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.

"Soldiers at Camp Grant are probably very contented evenings in their barracks this week.  They may be munching delicious cookies sent them by the Sycamore Woman's Club.

"The senior club was assisted in this excellent project by the Sycamore Junior Woman's Club."

Camp Grant was located in nearby Rockford, Illinois.

Taking Care of Our Fighting Men.  --GreGen

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Obama and Abe Meet at the USS Arizona Memorial Today

From the December 22, 2016, AP "USS Arizona Memorial to close as leaders of U.S. and Japan visit."

The National Par service will close the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitors Center during the visit by President Obama and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today, Tuesday.

The World War II submarine USS Bowfin, moored at the Center, will also be closed.

But the Pacific Aviation Museum and USS Missouri memorial, both by Ford Island, will remain open.

--GreGen

Monday, December 26, 2016

Jimmy Stewart, the War and "It's a Wonderful Life"-- Part 5: Eating problems and Hearing Problems

Jimmy Stewart was on the edge during filming because of his PTSD.  He always had a high metabolism and always had trouble digesting food.  During the war, this got worse.  According to Jimmy, he essentially subsisted on peanut butter and ice cream.

At night he had nightmares, shakes and sweats.

He even now had hearing problems, as did George Bailey, from the sound of the bombers during those seven-eight hour bombing missions.  He had problems hearing his cues on the set.

--GreGen

Jimmy Stewart, the War and "It's a Wonderful Life"-- Part 6: "Who Is This Monster?"

Playing the role of George Bailey was a personal and professional risk.

Lionel Barrymore, he played the mean-old Mr. Potter, even said to Jimmy Stewart; "So are you saying it's more worthwhile to drop bombs on people than to entertain them."  That really hit Stewart and made up his mind to play the role.

There is a scene in the movie where he questions his sanity and he's got that wild look about him.  Another scene is when he is in his living room and he's throwing things and yelling at his kids.  His wife and children are looking at him as if saying, "Who is this man.  Who is this monster.  He certainly isn't Dad.

Many American families faced men who came back from the war with this rage and Stewart played it beautifully.  He just let it out.

--GreGen

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Jimmy Stewart's WWII and "It's a Wonderful Life"-- Part 4: Not a Happy Set

Frank Capra had supreme confidence in the story, Jimmy Stewart not so much.  But, he felt it to be his last shot at his movie career.  His performance as George Bailey in the bleak days as Old Man Potter was about to do him in was filled with a rage and an on-the-edge-performance.  This was no doubt partly because of his war experience.

Donna Reed, who played his wife recalled: "This was not a happy set.  These guys were very tense (Capra and Stewart).  They would go off and huddle."

The shooting of the movie started at the beginning of 1946 and went on into June, way longer than anticipated.  It was a very expensive, exhausting production, costing $3 million in the end.

--GreGen

Jimmy Stewart's World War II and "It's a Wonderful Life"-- Part 3: "You've Got No Other Offers"

Jimmy Stewart did not even have a place to stay when he got back to Hollywood and had to live with Henry Fonda who offered him a room.  Fonda had just come back from service in the Pacific and they both just sort of unwound and neither got any job offers.

Finally, Stewart's former boss at MGM, Louis B. Mayer, approached him with the idea of the movie "The Jimmy Stewart Story."  Stewart said no and wouldn't even talk about it.

The only kind of movie he wanted to do was a comedy, saying, "A comedy, I have to make a comedy.  The world has seen too much trauma and horror and suffering."

Frank Capra then approached Stewart about "It's a Wonderful Life" about a man about to commit suicide.  The meeting went so bad that Stewart got up and walked out.  Stewart's agent, Lew Wasserman, then said to his client, "You've got no other offers."

--GreGen

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Jimmy Stewart's World War II Service and "It's a Wonderful Life"-- Part 2: Return From War

Before agreeing to do "It's a Wonderful Life" with director Frank Capra, Jimmy Stewart even considered quitting acting altogether.

"The war changed Jim down to the molecular level," Matzen writes in his book.  "He could never articulate what those four-and-a-half years, including fifteen months in combat, had done to him.  One thing he could do was express a bit of it on-screen."  And, we see plenty of that angst in George Bailey's breakdown.

Jimmy Stewart was the former squadron commander of the 703rd Bombing Squadron.  he flew his final mission at the end of February 1945 and was grounded because of PTSD issues.  Then, he came back to the U.S. at the end of August, returning to his parents home in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he stayed for a week or ten days before deciding to go back to Hollywood.

There, a whole new generation of leading men were taking roles that likely would have gone to him.  To make  matters worse, the war had tremendously aged him.  A photo of him in 1942 shows him looking very youthful, but by 1944 he was "looking like hell."

--GreGen

Jimmy Stewart's World War II and "It's a Wonderful Life"-- Part 1

From the December 2, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Stewart's Inner War" by Nina Metz.

"Haunted by what he saw fighting in WWII, 'It's a Wonderful Life' star brought own angst on set to play George Bailey, author reveals."

Jimmy Stewart's 1946 holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" will be shown on TV on several occasions this season.  I've already seen it once, somewhat of a Christmas tradition with me.

It was the first movie he made after returning home from war service, an experience which had psychological fallout.

Robert Matzen wrote about Stewart's war service and the fallout in his new book "Mission: Jimmy Stewart and the Fight for Europe."  He spoke with the men who flew with him and they said he went flak-happy on several occasions, something we now call PTSD.  He wasn't afraid of bombs or bullets, but was terrified of making a mistake resulting in someone dying.

This was his endless stress and something that eventually ended up grounding him.

--GreGen

Friday, December 23, 2016

Lauren Bruner Returns to Pearl Harbor 75 Years Afterwards-- Part 3: Horrendously Burned

Lauren Bruner described the experience of being on the Arizona, "You're like a chicken getting barbecued."

Doctors on the USS Solace, a hospital ship, wanted to amputate most of his hands, leaving just forefingers and thumbs.  Fortunately, they didn't. They peeled off the burned, dead skin and let new skin grow to replace it.  They put him in a special bed with hoops that allowed sheets to be draped above him but not touch him.

Recently discovered Navy Department records show that he had burns on his face, back of his neck, his right shoulder, right arm and forearm, fingers, hands, outer thighs and lower legs.  The burns on his right arm were particularly bad.

--GreGen




Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Saga of PT-305-- Part 8: A Rebirth

The Mediterranean PT-Boats fared better than their Pacific counterparts, which were stripped of valuable equipment and most burned on beaches in the Philippines, so few of those remain.

In 2001, the Defenders of America Naval Museum in Galveston acquired it.  It was authenticated as a Higgins-built PT-boat by a stamp under the deck in the bow and shipped by truck from Maryland to Galveston.  But a planned restoration project was stalled by lack of funds and, in 2007, ownership went to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

It had taken a volunteer group in Portland, Oregon, 12 years to rebuild a the World War II-era PT-658, and they had left-over parts, including an aft (stern) 20-foot section of another cannibalized PT-Boat in Vancouver, Washington, which was donated to the New Orleans project.

New Orleans is expected to spend between $3 and $5 million on the project.

So Happy to Have A Real One Back.  --GreGen

USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Survivor Lauren Bruner to Return for 75th Anniversary-- Part 2

There will be a moment of silence at 7:55 a.m., the exact moment the attack began.

Mr. Bruner did not know who was attacking them until he saw the red "Rising Sun" insignias on the planes.  They shot "everything in sight."  Then, an explosion tore through his battle station.  "That's where the flames blew right through and cooked me right there.  Everything burning."

He looked to jump overboard, but the water of the harbor was on fire.

He and several others spied a sailor on the ship moored next to the Arizona and got him to toss a rope over to them.  Then, the six of them crawled hand-over-hand across 100 feet to the USS Vestal.

They made it and another 335 sailors and Marines also somehow managed to survive the hell that had become their ship.  Sadly, another 1,177 weren't so fortunate.

--GreGen

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Saga of PT-305-- Part 7 A Sightseeing and Oyster Boat

When the war was over, Joe Brannon returned to the United States on a transport that also carried the PT-305 and other PT Boats.  On arrival in New York, the 305 was overhauled for use against the Japanese, but the war ended and the PT Boats became surplus and were sold.

The 78-foot boat's stern was cut to 60 feet 7 inches and its three powerful Packard engines replaced by two diesels for better mileage. The three Packard engines gave the boat a maximum 46 mph and two diesels 12-14.   For a time, the old PT-305 operated under the name of Captain David Jones and carried sightseers around New York City.

From 1988 to 2000, it was involved in the oyster industry in the Chesapeake Bay where it was used to dredge oyster spat, baby oysters, from the bottom and move them to a more suitable habitat.

Robert Crow's father and uncle bought it in New York and then to the Chesapeake.

--GreGen

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

USS Arizona Survivor Returns for the 75th Anniversary-- Part 1

From the December 5, 2016, ABC News/Yahoo! News   "USS Arizona Survivor Heads to Pearl Harbor 75 Years Later."

Lauren Bruner was getting ready for church on the USS Arizona that fateful day 75 years ago when the alarm sounded.  He was 21 and a bullet hit his left leg and then an explosion rocked his ship, sinking it nine minutes later.  There was a miraculous escape, but he was seriously burned.

Now, at age 96, Mr. Bruner lives in La Mirada, California, and has returned to visit Pearl Harbor many times over the years.

The U.S. Navy and National Park service expect several dozen Pearl Harbor survivors to attend this year's commemoration.

--GreGen

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Commemorating Pearl Harbor

From the November 17, 2016, KHON 2, News "Waikiki parade to honor Pearl harbor survivors, service members."

This was held the Friday after Thanksgiving and was called the Waikiki Holdiday Parade.  In it were 30 bands and many Pearl Harbor survivors.

It began at 7 p.m. at Fort DeRussy.

The More Honor, the Better.  --GreGen

Friday, December 16, 2016

The Saga of PT-Boat 305-- Part 6: Attacked By British Planes

Mitch Cirlot, whose father, Joe Cirlot, was machinist mate on the first 305 crew said it was once ordered to put British commandos ashore on the occupied coast and then return to retrieve them.  He has the boat's original flag and commissioning pennant.

Joe Brannon served of PT-Boats in the Pacific Ocean the first two years of the war.

In the Mediterranean Sea, groups of three PT-Boats would leave their bases in early evening to be in the German shipping lanes well after dark..  Once, the 305 was hit twice in the same night by British planes that attacked by mistake.

Said Brannon:  "We weren't expecting anything.  We didn't know iy was a British plane until later when they reported attacking two Italian boats at the same place we were."

--GreGen

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Pearl Harbor Survivor Gene Reinhardt, 95, Remembers

From the December 4, 2016, Shelby (N.C.) Star "Pearl Harbor survivor from Gaston County part of a dwindling breed" by Michael Barrett.

Gene Reichardt, 95 enlisted in the U.S. Army after dropping out of Shelby High School in 1940.  He was a technician fifth grade and oversaw radio and telephone communications in Hawaii.  Schofield Barracks was about 15 miles away and Wheeler Army Airfield, a major Japanese target, much closer.

After Pearl Harbor, he was transferred to Australia and later participated in many landings in the Pacific Theater, including New Guinea.  He was discharged in 1945.

It is not known for sure how many Pearl Harbor survivors remain.  In 2013, one person estimated it was between 2,000 and 2,500.

--GreGen

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Saga of the PT-305-- Part 5: PT-Boats

From the Columbia Daily Tribune "The Saga of the PT-305" by Terry Ganey.

PT-305 was manufactured in New Orleans in 1943 and decommissioned in New York City after the war.

PT-Boats are described as "small, fast and bristling with torpedoes and automatic weapons..."

Probably the best-known PT-Boat (Patrol-Torpedo Boat) was PT-109, skippered by President John F. Kenendy in the Pacific during the war.

The book and movie "They Were Expendable" helped popularize this service.  Best-known for their operations in the Pacific Ocean, they also operated against Italian and German forces in the Mediterranean Sea.

--GreGen

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

--

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.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

World War II Veteran Dies One Month After Remarkable Flight: Col. Frank Royal

From the November 21, 2016, KKTV News.  Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Colonel Frank Royal, 101, died over the past weekend.  He was able, one month ago, to visit the P-38 fighter plane he flew during the war and actually went up in another plane and flew beside his old one.

This took place at the Museum of World War II Aviation in Colorado Springs.  Back then he flew the P-38 named "White 33.

It was damaged in a dogfight over Papua New Guinea.and is now at the museum.  Frank Royal's son happened to be at the museum and saw the name "White 33" and knew it was one his father had flown.

Col. Royal went up in a chase plane, but said, "Mentally I was flying it."

Glad He Got To Revisit His Past.  --GreGen

Hero Lost At Pearl Harbor Comes Home: John Charles England

National Geographic "Hero Lost at Pearl Harbor Comes Home After Years in an Unknown Grave" by Gabe Bullard.

John Charles England was an ensign on the USS Oklahoma and disappeared after returning to his stricken ship to save fellow crew members.

He was one of the 388 Oklahoma Unknowns buried in the Punch Bowl in Hawaii.

Thirty of the Unknowns have been identified so far.

He was featured in the PBS TV show "Pearl Harbor:  USS Oklahoma - The Final Story on November 23, 2016.


Shorpy Home Front Photos: Of Cars and Of Women

Oct. 22, 2014:  PARKED FOR THE DURATION: 1942--   1942  "Effect of gasoline shortage in Washington, D.C..  Albert Freeman, OWI.  The photo and caption makes you think these cars will not be driven as long as the war and gas rationing remains.

Comment:   The person thinks they just might be parked for a workday as many have their windows open.

Oct. 17, 2014:  GINGHAM STYLE: 1942--  June 1943.  "Arlington, Virginia.  Girl getting food at the service shop at Idaho Hall, Arlington Farms, a residence for women who work for the U.S. government for the duration of the war."  Esther Bubley, OWI

I have written about the Arlington Farms often.  The war effort required a large amount of written work in these days before computers.

--GreGen

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pearl Harbor Veteran Clarence Lux Honored At Senior Center

From the Nov. 9, 2016, Hi-Desert Star "Pearl Harbor survivor honored at Senior Center" by Leah Swanson.

Clarence Lux, 95, was on the USS Tennessee that day and had only been in the Navy for a year.  He was in the engine room and didn't know what was going on or the severity of the attack.  He remembers, though, that people would occasionally call down to tell them what was going on.

It is always nice to write about a Pearl Harbor survivor who is still alive.  On November 21,  I wrote about Art Gruber, 93, who was also in the engine room of the USS Tennessee that day so it is very likely that they knew each other.  Mr. Gruber also wrote about not knowing what was going on during the battle.

--GreGen

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Shorpy Home Front Photos: A Jewish Shop and A Magazine Rack

From the Shorpy photograph site.

Oct. 29, 2014--  ROMANCE OF A PEOPLE: 1942:  August, 1942:  New YorkWindow of a Jewish religious shop at Broome Street."  There is a banner in the window reading:  "Equality * Liberty * Justice / God Bless America.   /  We Are Proud Americans."  By Marjory Collins, OWI.


Oct. 23, 2014--  READ ALL ABOUT IT (COLORIZED): 1942:  May 1942.  "Southington, Connecticut.  Woman looking at a huge magazine rack."  Fresno Jacobs, OWI.  Quite a few of the magazines have military pictures on the cover and many comic books.

--GreGen

Monday, November 21, 2016

Pearl Harbor Survivor Addresses Norman Schoolchildren

From the November 12, 2016, Oklahoman by Tim Willert.

Art Gruber, 93, was on the USS Tennessee that day and leaning against a wall far below deck when he was blown about four feet into the air.  He was waiting for the Tennessee's boilers to heat up when the USS Arizona exploded.

"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, we've run aground.'"  More than four hours later he learned that the Japanese had attacked.  The Tennessee was the only battleship in the harbor not sunk.

He later found out that the ship's commander had ordered the boilers turned on to get the propellers moving to move the oil floating in the water away from the ship.

Mr. Gruber gave his talk at the Cleveland Elementary School along with 40 other veterans.

It Is Always Great When School Kids Get to Hear a Veteran Speak, Especially a Pearl Harbor Survivor.  --GreGen

Friday, November 18, 2016

95th Anniversary of Christening of the USS West Virginia on November 19th

From This Week in West Virginia History--  Huntington Junior College.

NOVEMBER 19, 1921  The battleship USS West Virginia was christened.  It was one of six battleships at Pearl Harbor and suffered massive destruction from torpedoes and bombs.

It was raised, rebuilt and rejoined the 7th Fleet for the invasion of the Philippines.

--GreGen

World War II-Era Bomb Exploded in Tallahassee, Florida

From the November 17, 2016, Sun sentinel (Florida)  "Bombs Away!  WW-II-era munition found, detonated near Florida State University" by Brendon Farrington, AP.

The big explosion was heard several miles away and the force very evident closer.  The bomb was found in a construction area near campus less than a mile from the Florida State Capitol.  It is in a trendy area of stores and restaurants.

The 325th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight from Tyndall AFB in Panama City identified the bomb and detonated it at 9:30 p.m. after digging a large hole, placing the bomb inside it and covering it.

No one is sure how it came to be there, but Tallahassee had a training airfield during World War II.

--GreGen

Shorpy Home Front Photos

NOVEMBER 14, 2016  "Tots in Transit: 1943."  September 1943.  "Washington Court House, Ohio.  Mothers with their babies waiting at the Greyhound bus depot."  Esther Bubley, OWI.

With gas rationing and no new cars, buses were a way to get around during the war.  Two young  women with a baby each waiting in seats.  You have to wonder where they're going?  perhaps to see their husbands home on leave from the military?

--GreGen

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pearl Harbor Survivor Raymond Salsedo Planning to Return for 75th Anniversary

From the KSL.com "Pearl Harbor survivor plans to return to Hawaii 75 years after attack" by Mark Glaugun.

Raymond Salsedo was a civilian worker in Pearl harbor that day, working in the drydock where the destroyers USS Cassin and Downes were being repaired.

He recalled: "All I hear was these boys in the drydock.  Nineteen, 20-year-old boys, sailors.  They were just hollering, 'Mother, mother, mother.'""

He had trained as a diver and underwater welder and was assigned to cut holes in the USS Oklahoma's overturned hull.  Eleven men were rescued out of his hole of the 32 total saved that way.

At home that night, he worried about another attack and built a small bomb shelter.  The next day he began work on removing the Arizona's guns.

--GreGen

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Bits of War: On USS Pennsylvania-- USS Arizona Memorial in Arizona

1.  ON THE USS PENNSYLVANIA AT PEARL HARBOR--  U.S. Navy veteran and Oakland, Ca., native Mickey Ganitch was on the USS Pennsylvania during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

2.  USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL IN ARIZONA--  The USS Arizona Memorial at the University of Arizona Mall is expected to be completed this month, just in time for the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor attack.

--GreGen

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 12: After the Series

Upon returning to Boyceville, Andy Pafko was greeted by an airplane trailing a banner proclaiming:  "Our hero is back home."  The town honored him with a banquet, and then he changed into overalls.  "The cows had to be milked," he recalled.

Shortstop Lennie Merullo was determined that his memories wouldn't fade.  For the World Series, he was replaced with a more experienced player, Roy Hughes.  But he got into the sixth game and was spiked by a Tigers player, leaving him with a 3-inch gash on his forearm.  In the clubhouse, a doctor had no sooner sewn him up than Merullo started pulling out the stitches.  For weeks he picked at the scab, determined to have a flesh-and-blood souvenir.

"Even now, 50 years later, I'll stare at that scar, Merullo told a Trib reporter in 1995.  "And, I'll say to myself: 'You were there, Len.  You played in a World Series."

Lenny Merullo died May 30, 2015.  Probably one of the last members of the 1945 Chicago Cubs.

--GreGen

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 11: The '45 Series

The Cubs took two of the three games played in Detroit as they returned to Chicago.  The Tigers then took two games in a row.  The Cubs won the sixth game in extra innings.

But, in the first inning of the final game, the Tigers exploded for five runs and went on to win the game 9-3, making them the 1945 World Series Champions.

The Cubs were left with regrets for what might have been -- and memories of having almost made it to baseball's mountaintop.

But, considering how good the team was and past National League Championships, surely, there was next year and likely another shot at the championship.

Little Did Anyone Know....  --GreGen

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 10: Prim Does It

On the next to the last day of the 1945 season, the Cubs clinched the National League title with a 6-5 win over the Cardinals.  (I love it when we beat the Cardinals.)    The Tribune reported:  "Ray Prim, whose relief pitching restored order in a threatening eighth inning, was mobbed by manager Charlie Grimm and the Cubs when the last Card was out.

"There were more congratulations for the 38-year-old southpaw after he and the other Cubs had been cheered hysterically by hundreds of fans lining the ramp to the clubhouse."

In the World Series that followed, the Cubs took an early lead over the Detroit Tigers, winning two of three games played in Detroit.

Joy in Chicago.  --DaCubter

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 9: Andy Pafko Walking to Help Dad Pay Mortgage on Farm

Cub players Andy Pafko and Claude Passeau lived at Sheridan Plaza Hotel and walked to the ballpark, attracting fans.''"Sometimes, fans would keep us company for a block or two," Pafko told a Tribune reporter.  "I liked to save streetcar fare because I was sending money home to help Dad pay off the mortgage on the farm."

Pafko's parents had emigrated from Slovakia to Boyceville, Wisconsin.  Hard-working, they had never seen their son play -- until one day that season, neighbors insisted they would milk the cows at the Pafkos and they should go down to Chicago.

That day, Pafko hit a grand slam and screaming fans leaped to their feet.  Pafko's parents didn't know if the fans were yelling for or at their son until a man in the next box leaned over and explained:  "Your son did the best thing a ballplayer can."

--GreGen

Friday, November 11, 2016

1945 Chicago Cubs, Last Trip to the World Series Before 2016

Baseball Reference.com.

Some of the names I've been mentioning are familiar, others aren't, so I went to this site and found out the names of the starters for the 1945 Cubs.

Main Position Players and batting averages:

Catcher--  Mickey Livingston .254
First Base--  Phil Cavarretta--  .355
Second Base-- Don Johnson--  .302
Shortstop--  Lennie Merullo--  .239
Third Base--  Stan Hack--  .323
Outfield--  Peanuts Lowery--  .283
Outfield--  Andy Pafko--  .298
Outfield--  Bill Nicholson-- .243

Main Pitchers with win-loss and ERA:

Hank Wyse--  22-10  2.68
Claude Passeau--  17-9  2.46
Paul Derringer--  16-11  3.45
Ray Prim--  13-8  2.40
Hank Borowy--  11-2  2.13

Imagine What Some of These Guys Would Be Making Today With Their Stats.  --GreGen



The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 8: Long-Time Cubs

Stan Hack spent his whole career with the Cubs.  So too did Don Johnson, the second baseman.  First baseman Phil Cavarretta was a Cubbie for twenty years.  He came to the team from Lane Technical High School, just west from Wrigley Field  on Addison Street.  After his playing days, he worked in a clothing store on Cicero Avenue.  "You know, taking shoulder measurements and pants lengths," he said.

Given their modest salaries, players had to be penny-pinchers.  Pitcher Claude Passeau and center fielder Andy Pafko both lived at the Sheridan Plaza Hotel at Wilson Avenue and Sheridan Road.  Both were farm boys and walked to and from Wrigley Field.  That allowed admirers a close-up view.

--GreGen

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 7: "Batting First and Playing Third Base, Stan Hack"

By then the Americans had overcome whatever reservations they had about watching baseball while others were fighting and dying.  Fans and players were closer then, physically and financially.  Megamillion-dollar contracts and thousand-dollar game tickets were unknown.  A player was lucky to earn $12,000 for a season.  Bill Nicholson had delayed joining the team because he made more in the defense plant where he worked than he would have earned for spring training.

Beseball's "reserve clause" made it difficult for players to move from team to team as they now.  Cub fans heard pretty much the same names from one year to the next, when Pat Pieper, the Wrigley Field announcer intoned his famous mantra:  "Have your pencil and score cards ready, and I'll give you the correct lineup for today's ballgame.  Batting first and playing third base, Stan Hack...."

--GreGen

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 6: V-E and V-J Days

Things began to look up when the Nazis surrendered on May 7, 1945.  James Gallagher, the Cubs vice president hailed V-E Day with a baseball metaphor:  "The unconditional surrender of Germany has put our armies on second base.  One more hit against the Japs and we can send all the boys home."

When the Japanese surrendered on August 14, the Cubs were on a roll, playing the Brooklyn Dodgers that day.  "We didn't get to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning, but we beat the Dodgers by maybe 16 runs," Don Johnson remembers.

--GreGen


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 5: The Deaf Veterans

Bill Nichiolson, a slugging outfielder, didn't join the team until opening day.  He wanted to hang on to his job at a defense plant for as long as possible, given the uncertainty of the times.  Second baseman Don Johnson had a draft exemption as a father of three.  But he didn't get the hero worship that fans accorded players before the war, as he later recalled.

"When we traveled, there would be lots of troops on the trains,"  Johnson said.  "GIs would come up and ask why you weren't in the service -- some jocularly, others not."

Though he never saw a battlefield, Johnson did get a close-up view of the war's toll when the Cubs played an exhibition game at a military hospital.  The stands were unnaturally quiet.  War had left many of the patients deaf.

--GreGen

The Cubs, World War II and Chicago in 1945-- Part 4: Draft Board Blues

Even with the presidential go-ahead, only a dozen Cubs showed up in French Lick for spring training.  Others were still in the military.

Hiram Bithorn, a pitching ace serving in the Navy didn't get back until September.  Outfielder Dominic Dallessandro, who hit .305 in 1944, was in limbo, his status having been changed from 4-F, medically deferred, to 1-A, fit for service.

Pitcher Hank Borowy, acquired from the Yankees in midseason, had a similar problem with the draft board.

That was worrisome in a year when the Tribune announced in headlines:  "Majors Expect 4-F Players To See Them Through."

--GreGen

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Cubs, World War II, Chicago, in 1945-- Part 3: French Lick, Indiana, and FDR Gives Go-Ahead

In 1945, the Cubs had their preseason drills in French Lick, Indiana, because of wartime travel restrictions that prohibited the usual training on Catalina Island in California.

Indeed, the 1945 season, as were the others during the war years, almost didn't happen.  Fortunately for fans, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had overruled any cancellations who wrote Kennesaw Mountain Landis, Commissioner of Baseball:  "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going," in what became known as the "Green Light Letter.

"Everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.  And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before."

--GreGen

The Cubs, World War II, Chicago, in 1945-- Part 2: Gold Stars in the Windows

The spring of 1945 brought good news for Chicagoans.  It was beginning to appear that World War Ii was about over and, also surprising, the fact that the Chicago Cubs were already favorites to win the National League pennant.  The last time the Cubs had made it to the World Series was during the depths of the Great Depression in the 1930s.

Then came Pearl Harbor and over the following years, many a bungalow window had a Gold Stat in its window, marking the home of dead hometown hero.A homemade memorial plaque on the 4900 block of South Princeton Avenue listed six names of 48th Precinct servicemen who had died defending their country.

One small part of the South Side had sent 139 off to fight.

--GreGen

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Cubs, World War II, 1945-- Part 1: Military Service

From the October 30, 2016, Chicago Tribune "From battlefield to playing field" by Ron Grossman.

Military service, work demands took priority over baseball as Cubs started 1945 season; the year ended in military victory for U.S., World Series loss for Chicago.

Photo of Cubs coach Kiki Cuyler, left, and shortstop Lennie Merullo, tear, watch outfielder Dominic Dallessandro man a machine gun on an M-7 tank at Camp Campbell in Kentucky.

Photo of Hiram Bithorn, center, is welcomed back to the Cubs pitching staff in 1945 after service in the Navy by Claude Passeau, left, and manager Charlie Grimm.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Wrigley Field Might Have Had Lights Earlier, But for World War II

From the October 28, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Wrigley Field's transformation."

As we try to get over the late night/early morning celebrating for the Cubs winning the World Series yesterday.

LIGHTS

Owner P.K. Wrigley assigned Bill Veeck to look into lighting for Wrigley Field.

The team ordered parts in 1941 but Wrigley donated the steel to the World War II effort after Pearl Harbor.

So, there might have been lights as early as 1941, but for a war.

--GreGen

Looking Back to August 1941: Collecting Waste Aluminum for National Defense

From the August 24, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Ill.)  "Looking Back."

"Sycamore, in its participation in the collection of waste aluminum which will be taken to smelters for use in national defense manufactures, will deposit the waste metal in a large bin which is being located on the lawn of the court house yard.

"The bin will be guarded the entire week."

Hard to believe that anyone would be stealing it.  But this does show war preparations being made before Pearl Harbor.

--GreGen

Looking Back to August 1941: Looking for World War I Vets

From the August 24, 2016 MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back.:

1941, 75 years ago:  "Members of the old 'A' Company that fought in World War No. 1 and who reside in this area are urged to write to other members whose addresses they know and tell them that the annual company reunion and picnic is to be held in August.

"It will be held at Annie's Woods in DeKalb."

Kind of interesting to see how they were referring to the Great War now that there was another one going on in Europe.  I wonder if it was already being called World War II?

--GreGen

The USS North Carolina Pulled Through Hurricane Matthew

From the October 24, 2016, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Cape Fear historical landmarks weathered the storm" by Hanna Dela Court.

The battleship, anchored opposite Wilmington had delayed opening October 12-14 because of flooding and high tide.  Much of the park, especially the parking lot, is still under water as of the date of the article.  However, the big ship is floating as a result of the rainfall from Matthew, the higher than normal tides this time of the year and the super moon on October 16.

This is the second time in two years that the North Carolina has floated.  The first time was during heavy rains and flooding in October 2015 when it floated for the first time in five years.

The only damaged sustained by the ship was from downed trees limbs and trees floating ashore.  One museum piece, a bomb, fell off the seaplane, bounced on the deck and was washed overboard, but it was located on the shore by the ship.

--GreGen

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

List of Japanese-Cubans Sent to Cuba Internment Camps Found-- Part 2

About 359 Japanese-Cuban men over the age of 18 were relocated to a jailhouse in Isla de la Juventud in southern Cuba.

Women and children under the age of 18 were generally exempt from internment, but three women suspected of having connections to Japanese military officers were also arrested and sent to jail in the suburbs of Havana.

All were detained after the war until March 19, 1946.  Some died in the camps due to the horrible conditions.

--GreGen

Exhibit Traces Events before, After '41 Attack-- Part 3: Airraid On Pearl Harbor X This Is No Drill"

A glass display holds a piece of a Japanese plane shot down in the battle, as well as a copy of the first typed message sent from Pearl Harbor:  'AIRRAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL" it reads.

Other items on display include a large pair of binoculars from the bridge of the USS Arizona.  This being the ship in which so much carnage took place and over 1000 killed.

The exhibit also reflects on the heightened fear and anger over Japanese living in America, and the experiences of Japanese families forced to live in internment camps.

At the end of the exhibit are buttons, pins, stamps and other keepsakes produced in the wake of the attack.

All bear the national rallying call:  "Remember Pearl Harbor."

--GreGen

Exhibit Traces Events Before, After '41 Attack-- Part 2: Japanese Ambitions Vs. Island Paradise

The exhibition runs through January 7, 2017, and features artifacts showing Japanese ambitions.  These are contrasted with the Hawaii island paradise of hula girls in photos taken by U.S. servicemen stationed there

Then ,there was the attack involving more than 300 Japanese fighter planes and bombers that killed more than 2,000 Americans and wounded more than 1,000 more.  It destroyed or damaged scores of U.S. ships and planes.

In effect, it almost single-handedly knocked us out of the war in the Pacific in one deft stroke.

--GreGen

Massachusetts Exhibit Traces Events Before, After '41 Attack-- Part 1: "Underestimated the Japanese Terribly"

From the October 16, 2016, Chicago Tribune by Philip Marcelo, AP.

An exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack which drew the United States into World War II is opening at a private, non-profit museum west of Boston that is open to the public by appointment.

The exhibit, "Why We Still remember" is at the Museum of World War II and chronicles the mood in the U.S. and Japan leading up to and after December 7, 1941.

Themes include nationalism in Japan and  complacency in the United States.

"We underestimated the Japanese terribly.  Everyone was paying attention to Europe, no one was paying attention to Asia," said museum founder Kenneth Rendell.  "It explains a lot about why we were caught flat-footed.  That's the importance of learning from history."

--GreGen

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

List of Japanese-Cubans Sent to Cuba Internment Camp Found-- Part 1

From the October 29, 2016, Japan Times "List of Japanese-Cubans sent to internment camps during World War II found."

i was completely unaware that there were also Cuban internment camps.  I knew about the ones in the United States and Canada.

Three hundred and fifty Japanese-Cubans were sent to internment camp by the Cuban government in 1942.  Effort was made to contact these, mostly men, in the 1980s and 100 former detainees were found.  In the U.S. President Roosevelt authorized the interment of 120,000 Japanese-Americans.

The pro-American administration of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista followed suit.

--GreGen

Yet Another USS Oklahoma Sailor Comes Home: Lewis L. Lowell

From the September 26, 2016, KFDI FM 101.3 (Kansas) "After 75 years, seaman's remains will return to Kansas" by Wil Day.

Seaman 2nd Class Lewis L.Lowell was on the USS Oklahoma that fateful day.  His remains will be flown into McConnell Air Force Base on October 7 where they will then be escorted to Smith Mortuary in Haysville for a service and then laid to rest at the family plot in Whitewater on October 8.

--GreGen

Monday, October 31, 2016

Another USS Oklahoma Sailor Comes Home: William "Billy" Welch

From the October 28, 2016, Springfield, Ohio, News-Sun  "Springfield sailor killed at Pearl Harbor to be buried Saturday" by Allison Wichie.

William "Billy" Welch enlisted in the Navy at 17, leaving his senior year at Catholic Central High School.  He was the middle child of a family of eight.  At age 18, he was killed on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941.

More than 70 members of his family are expected to attend the ceremony at St. Joseph Church and he will be buried at Cavalry Cemetery.  Five of them are named William Edward after him.

The Springfield VFW Post 8673 is named after him.

A picture of him looking really young accompanies the article.

--GreGen

Friday, October 28, 2016

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Media

October 29, 2014   ROMANCE OF A PEOPLE: 1942  August 1942.  "New York.  Window of a Jewish religious shop on Broome Street."  Marjory Collins, OWI

A banner in the window reads "Equality, Liberty, Justice/ God Bless America/ We Are Proud to be Americans."

October 23, 2014  READ ALL ABOUT IT (COLORIZED): 1942  May 1941.  "Southington, Connecticut.  Women looking at huge magazine rack.  Fresno Jacobs, OWI.  Quite a few magazines with military on the cover and many comic books.

--GreGen

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

President Bush Shot Down

September 1944.

A U.S. Navy torpedo plane, piloted by Lt. George Bush was shot down near Okinawa.  he parachuted into the sea and was rescued by a U.S. Navy submarine.

--GreGen

Pilot Deaths Back in 2014: Hermann Greiner and Charles Read

HERMANN GREINER  (1920-26 September 2014)

German Luftwaffe night fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, the highest award of Nazi Germany.  He was squadron commander of the 1st Night Fighter Wing and credited with 51 aerial victories over Allied aircraft, including four American bombers during daylight and 47 British bombers at night.

CHARLES FREDERICK READ  (1918-17 September 2014

Beaufighter pilot for RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), flying the Bristol Beaufighter British long range heavy fighter often called the "Beau."  Led the No. 31 Squadron, No. 77 Wing in the Southwest Pacific.

He once flew a "Beau" under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

--GreGen

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Survivor Planning Trip to 75th Pearl Harbor Anniversary

From the September 30, 2016, Ledger-Independent (Ohio) "Pearl Harbor survivor plans trip to mark 75th anniversary of the attack."  Marla Toneray.

Jimmy Kimmerly, 93, of Manchester, Ohio, was 18 that day and a U.S. Fireman 3rd Class on the USS Medusa, a repair ship.  His ship was anchored on the opposite side of Ford Island, in the middle of Pearl Harbor, from Battleship Row.  His ship was hit by machine gun fire.

He graduated from Cherry Fork High School in Ohio in 1940 and wanted to see the world so joined the Navy.  He was discharged in 1946.

Since 1991, he has made several trips back to Pearl Harbor.

--GreGen

Monday, October 24, 2016

USS Oklahoma Sailor Coming Home

From the October 4, 2016, Military.com "Sailor Killed in Pearl Harbor Attack to Be Buried to be Buried in Ohio."  AP.

Rudolph Piskuran of Elyria, Ohio, has had his remains identified and will be buried at St. Mary's Cemetery in that town.

he was a 1940 graduate of Elyria High School where he played basketball and sang in chorus.

In a letter from the USS Oklahoma dated eight days before the attack, he told his parents that he felt safe and happy and was more worried about volcanoes than an attack from the Japanese.

--GreGen

Plans for the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Underway

From the October 3, 2016, Pacific Business News "Actor Gary Sinise to attend the 75th Pearl harbor Commemoration."

Plans call for an eleven-day event and are being organized by the 75th Commemorative of Pearl Harbor Committee.  It will include concerts, movies and galas.

American Airlines will sponsor a round-trip flight for 120 of the surviving Pearl Harbor veterans from Los Angeles to Honolulu on December 3rd.

I also see that the Obamas and Tom Hanks will be in attendance.

Let's Make This a Great One.  --GreGen

Friday, October 21, 2016

Panoram and "Soundies"-- Part 3: Mills Novelty Co.

Panorams used mirrors and were about the size of a refrigerator.  The films shown were on a continuous loop and everything was housed in an art deco-style, high quality wooden cabinet.

They were first produced by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois which also made art deco-style, fancy slot machines.

With the beginning of World War II, production of "Soundies" and Panorams were drastically reduced due to wartime raw material shortages.

--GreGen

Panoram and "Soundies"-- Part 2: Televison Killed It

The Mills Company built a vast library of short, 3-minute videos for their "Soundies."  They featured the music stars of the era like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Cab Calloway.  Many of these videos survive and are considered priceless archives of music from the pre-war period.

The Panorams were priced at $10,000 in 2006 dollars and generally found in bars, cafes and upscale dancing establishments.  They were quite a curiosity.

After World War II, they never regained their popularity due to competition from television.

--GreGen

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Panoram "Soundies"-- Part 1: Showed Early Music Videos in the 1940s

In the last post, there was a photograph of two Mills Panogram "Soundies" and mention that they were a sort of an early video jukebox.  A little more research was necessary as I'd never heard of them.

Good old Wiki to the rescue.

Panoram was the trademark name of visual jukeboxes that played music accompanied by a synchronized, film image (like today's music videos).  It was a jukebox playing a closed-loop 16 mm film reel projected out onto a glass screen.

They were popular in the United States in the 1940s.

--GreGen

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Slots of Music

SEPTEMBER 25, 2016 LOTS OF SLOTS: 1944--  "Slot machine stockroom, Maser Music Co., Mission and Washburn streets, San Francisco.  1944.  40s One-Armed Bandits.  Take My Money!!

SEPTEMBER 19, 2016,  PLUG-AND-PLAY: 1944--  June 7, 1944.  "Maser Music showroom, Mission and Washburn streets, San Francisco.  "On display on D-Day Plus One, a selection of Wurlitzer jukeboxes and two Mills Panoram "Soundies" machines, a sort of early video jukebox that played 16 mm film loops of musical acts for a dime.

One comment says these "Soundies" were before MTV.  Some mighty pretty machines.  Wish i had one in my cave.

Even In war, Gotta Gamble and Tune In.  --GreGen

Shorpy Home Front: Toys to Heal

Again, you can see the actual photograph by typing in the capital letters.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2016  PINE & SECOND 1943    February 1943  "Daytona Beach, Florida, street scene.  Gordon Parks, OWI.  This was one of several photos he took in the black section of town.

SEPTEMBER 22, 2016  TOY HOSPITAL : 1942   November 1942.  Babies' Hospital, New York.  "Nurse training.  Through classes in pediatrics, student nurses learn how the right toys can be almost as important as medicine and diet in getting a sick child well.

Encouraging an interest in play and normal activity of childhood hastens convalescence.  Fritz Henle, OWI

Another aspect of the war you don't think much about.

--GreGen

Monday, October 17, 2016

Arizona Football Team Honors USS Arizona With Uniforms-- Part 2

One shoulder will have the patch of the 47th Pursuit Squadron which was stationed at Pearl Harbor.  On the other there will be a 48-star flag (Arizona was the 48th state admitted to the Union and, of course, it was the 48-star flag that flew in Pearl Harbor that day.

The University of Arizona's football team helmets will feature a red block "A" that is based on a photo of the USS Arizona's football team.  Also, there will be a 12-7-41 date where the helmet and face guard meet.  there is also a helmet logo of the Arizona's ship's bell.

All jerseys will say USS Arizona on the front and BB-39 on the back where the names would be.

A Fitting Honor.  --GreGen

University of Arizona Football Team Wears Jerseys Honoring the USS Arixzona-- Part 1

From the September 14, 2016, Arizona Sports "Arizona football releases uniform honoring USS Arizona vs. Hawaii."

The uniforms honor the upcoming 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and will remember the sinking of the state's namesake.  The helmets and shoulder patches will especially reflect the USS Arizona.

The white-shaded helmets are the colors of the USS Arizona's upper mast.  The white jerseys are the colors of the hull and red pants are the color of the keel.

--GreGen

Friday, October 14, 2016

USS Oklahoma Sailor's Remains Returned Home

From the August 2, 2016, WCBE Central Ohio National Public Radio "Remains of Ohio Soldier killed in Pearl Harbor attack to be returned home in September" by Jim Letizia.

Clark County resident Navy Seaman William Welch's remains will be returned.  He was killed on the USS Oklahoma.

--GreGen

USS Pennsylvania Survivor Dies: Norman Lee Vance

From the August 9, 2016, Rushville (Indiana) Republican "Local Pearl harbor survivor passes away" by Kate Thurston.

Rush County native Norman Lee Vance died August 6, 2016.  He was born August 1, 1921, in New Castle.  After New Castle High School he enlisted in the Navy on was aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) when the Japanese attacked.  The Pennsylvania had 15 killed, 14 missing and 38 wounded.

On December 20, 1941, the USS Pennsylvania sailed for San Francisco for repairs, arriving December 29.  It underwent those repairs until March 39, 1941.

He later served on the USS Columbia (CL-56).  he received many World War II ribbons and battle stars.

--GreGen

Thursday, October 13, 2016

World War II Army Veterans Gather in Rockford for Their 70th Reunion

From the June 24, 2016, Rockford (Illinois) Star by Sarah Wolf.

The 103rd Division, 2nd Battalion, 410th Infantry had their first reunion with a group of eight men from Company G in a Chicago hotel in 1946..

John LaVelle was one of those men and his son, Mike LaVelle, said, "Supposedly they partied and trashed the place, vowing to do the same thing again the next year."

Needless to say, the reunion is much more tame these recent years, as are World War II reunions all over the country.  These young men are getting quite old.  World War II veterans are mostly in their 90s and are dying at the rate of 430 a day.

Once, as many as 200 veterans and their families attended this group's reunion.  This year's week-long event was held at the Rockford Holiday Inn.

Only four veterans attended it:  Bert Miller, 94, Mike Egan, 96, Fred Kann, 91 and Charlie Atkinson, 92.  The last two were in Company G.  Kann spent a year in a hospital in the war after he stepped on a mine.

--GreGen

Frederick Morin Survived the Pearl Harbor Attack

From the June 26, 2016, Newark (Ohio) Advocate  "Frederick Morin was born October 30, 1921, in Licking County, Ohio.  He graduated from Newark High School in 1938 and joined the Navy on December 12, 1940.  When the Japanese attacked the fleet he was on the USS Nevada.

He remembered:  "I was a second loader on the five-inch anti-aircraft gun.  Eventually we ran out of ammunition so the gun captain sent me and another guy down below to an ammunition hoist to bring up some more..

"I had just loaded the first round in the hoist, pushed the button, and a bomb came down through the laundry and went off.  The guy that came down with us was killed.  It blew me against the outward bulkhead.  When I came to, my skivvy undershirt was on fire.  I tore it off and got out of there.  I was running and my arm was bleeding badly from shrapnel."

He was in the hospital for 4-5 days.

Mr. Morin served aboard the USS Nevada for the rest of the war and died August 30, 1988.

The Navy, however. misprinted his name as "Moran" when he enlisted.

--GreGen

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

USS Arizona 2016 Reunion

From the USS Arizona.org site.

The ship's 2016 reunion will be held December 1-9, 2016, in Hawaii (the 75th anniversary of the attack).

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort will serve as the host.

Currently five of the six remaining survivors will be attending.

Now, of course, there are just five survivors.  I don't know if Mr. Haerry was one of the ones planning to attend.

--GreGen

Raymond Haerry, USS Arizona Survivor Dies-- Part 4: 24 Years in the Navy

Mr. Raymond remembers the horror of swimming past the burning remains of his shipmates.  He swam to Ford Island.

He managed to avoid much of the flaming oil covering the water by swimming underwater and surfacing to push the burning oil aside with his arms.

Later service in the war and postwar years was on the USS Opportune, USS Allagash, USS Luiseno and the USS Muna Kea.

Retirement came November 1964, after 24 years service in the Navy.

--GreGen

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Raymond Haerry, USS Arizona Survivor Dies-- Part 4

From the USS Arizona. org site.

HAERRY, RAYMOND JOHN,  Coxswain US Navy

DUTIES:  work with canvas and handle boats, know signaling

ENLISTED:  11 March 1940

BORN:  New Jersey

BOARDED THE USS ARIZONA:  30 September 1940 from RS Norfolk.

--GreGen

One of Last Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Survivors Dies: Raymond Haerry-- Part 3

Upon enlisting in the Navy, Mr. Haerry's first assignment was on the USS Ranger, an aircraft carrier.  While on that ship, he that the Arizona was looking for crew members and he volunteered for it and got his transfer.  In September 1940, he boarded the USS Arizona which was refitting in Bremerton, Washington.

On the Arizona, his duties involved working on the deck crew, cleaning and painting and operating boats ferrying crew to shore and back.

The morning of December 7, 1941, he had already taken a boat to shore and was back aboard and having breakfast when he saw the Japanese planes.  The big hit blew the Arizona out of the water 8-10 feet and knocked him unconscious and into the water.  He half-walked and half-swam to nearby Ford Island where he found a machine gun and began firing.

--GreGen

One of Last USS Arizona Pearl Harbor Survivors Dies: Raymond Haerry-- Part 2

From the October 7, 2016, USA Today.

Raymond Haerry was barely 18 when he enlisted in 1940.  He had initially enrolled at MIT after high school in New Jersey, but didn't like the classes so dropped out and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  In September 1940, he joined the crew of the battleship USS Arizona.

That December 7, 1941, the massive explosion blew him off the ship and into the burning water of Pearl Harbor.

There are now five remaining USS Arizona survivors:

Lou Couter, 95, Grass Valley, California

Lauren Bruner, 95, La Mirada, California

Lonnie Cook, 95, Morris, Oklahoma

Ken Potts, 95, Provo, Utah

Donald Stratton, 94, Colorado Springs, Colorado

--GreGen


Monday, October 10, 2016

One of the Last USS Arizona Survivors Dies: Raymond Haerry, 94-- Part 1

From the October 7, 2016, Fox News "1 of last USS Arizona survivors of Pearl Harbor attack dies."

Raymond Haerry, 94, died September 27, 2016.  He was one of the six remaining survivors from that doomed ship.

When the attack came, he ran to an anti-aircraft gun only to find its ammunition was in storage.  He was trying to get that ammunition when the bomb exploded and then swam through burning waters to the shore.

His son plans to take his ashes to the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor to have his ashes buried on the ship. as soon as he can afford it.   Only USS Arizona crew members can be buried on that ship.  All others are buried on the USS Utah memorial.

Mr. Haerry served 25 years and retired as a master chief.

And Then there Are Just Five.  --GreGen

Shorpy Home Front: The Delivery Boy

From the September 8, 2016, Shorpy Old Photo site.

ORCHARD PARK: 1943.

May 1943.  "Buffalo, New York.  Peter Grimm, age 10, delivers for Loblaw's grocery store with his wagon.  This was a rainy day with few customers.

"Sometimes Peter makes as much as $3 on a Saturday.  He pays for all of his school supplies and much of his clothing.  His mother, a 26-year-old widow, is a crane operator at Pratt & Letchworth."

Marjory Collins, OWI

The photo shows stacks of Orchard Park Brand Tomato Juice.  Peter's image is captured in a reflection behind the cans.

--GreGen

Friday, October 7, 2016

Looking Back to September 1941: The CCC Wants You

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

1941, 75 Years Ago:  "There was a a time when the CCC was faced with too many applications.  Today the steady decreasing unemployment problem has caused the corps to start a recruiting campaign.  Today the word goes out that the Civilian Conservation Corps is seeking young men for service between the ages of seventeen and 23 years.

"If a young man signs for CCC service and his parents are on relief he receives $8 a month and the balance, $22, is sent home.  If they are not on relief the CCC recruit still receives $8 a month and the $22 is deposited into a savings account in his name."

As we neared the war, at this point just a little over two and a half months away, young men were either entering the military or found work in war production factories.

A Way to Take Care of the Great Depression.  --GreGen

Herbert F. Rommel-- Part 2: At Pearl Harbor on USS Oklahoma

That day, December 7, 1941, Rommel was on board the USS Oklahoma and preparing to attend a pistol match when he heard an explosion.  He remembered: "I went to see what was going on.  As I reached the deck, I saw a plane with bright red balls beneath its wings fly right over me.

"The officer of the deck sounded air defense on the bugle.  I ran off toward the turret.  On the way, I grabbed the intercom and announced over the loudspeaker, 'This is a real air raid.  This is no (expletive deleted)'"

Afterwards, he served on the USS Gridley for the next three years and was awarded 12 battle stars and a Bronze Star.

He was promoted in ranks and eventually commanded the USS Wilkes at the end of the war.  Mr. Rommel said, "That was the most damn fun I ever had."

After that he became commanding officer of the Washington Navy Yard and later commanded five different ships.

He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 66, Site 6321.

--GreGen

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Herbert F. Rommel, Jr., On USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor-- Part 1

From Find-A-Grave.

This man wrote Jospeh P. Hittorff's parents about their son's final moments on the USS Oklahoma.  He survived the attack.

Born October 27, 1915, in Pennsylvania.  Died June 10, 2007.

Mr. Rommel's primary career and love, other than his wife, was the U.S. navy.

He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1934 as an apprentice seaman and was commissioned an ensign in 1938.  He was ordered to report to the battleship USS Oklahoma in 1940 and was on board that ship on December 7, 1941.

--GreGen

Looking Back September 1941: Cost of Living Excessively High at Pearl Harbor

From the September14, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 years ago.  "George Bjelk, who is now employed on a government project at Pearl Harbor, writes back to his father that the cost of living is exceedingly high at the well-known naval base."

This, of course, just three months before the attack and at a time when many Americans had never heard of Pearl Harbor before.

--GreGen

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Ten Members of USNA Class of 1940 Killed at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941-- Part 2

These members of the USNA Class of 1940 died on the USS Oklahoma:

Darby, Marshall E.
Hittorff, Joseph P.
Thompson, Irvin A.R.

I wrote about Joseph Hittorff yesterday.

--GreGen

Ten Members of USNA Class of 1940 Killed at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941-- Part 1

From USNA.com.

USNA Class of 1940 Killed in Action or Line of Duty during World War II.

These members died on the USS Arizona:

Clouse, Edward B.
Lomax, Frank S.
Merrill, Howard D.
Smith, Orville S.
Weeden, Carl A.
Whitehead, Ulmot I., Jr.
Young, Eric R.


Monday, October 3, 2016

Joseph Hittorff Was a Classmate of William Croft

I have been writing about William Crosswell Croft and Barbara Engh in connection to her being "Color Girls" of the USNA Class of 1940.

It turns out that Ensign Joseph Hittorff was also a member of the Class of 1940.

Both men were at Pearl Harbor and on battleships.  William Croft survived that day.  Joseph Hittorff did not.
--GreGen

Sailor's Remains Lost in Pearl Harbor Attack Come Home: Ensign Joseph P. Hittorff, Jr.

From the June 10, 2016, Litchfield (Connecticut) County Times by Diane Lang.

Ensign Joseph P. Hittorff, Jr, was on the battleship USS Oklahoma that day in Pearl Harbor and lost his life.  His remains have recently been identified and he will be buried with full military honors June 18th in Kent, Connecticut.

He was a ember of the USNA Class of 1940.

Herbert Rommell, shipmate, wrote to Joseph Hittorff's family afterwards and said that Joseph reported to the engine room when the alarm went off in order to attempt to get the ship underway.  "When last seen, he was in the machine shop, which is right above the engine room."

The Oklahoma was hit by many torpedoes in rapid succession and keeled over rapidly.  Some of the men down there abandoned ship.  But Joe decided to stay in an attempt to get the ship underway.  He went down to the starboard engine room.

And, that was the end for him.

Brave To the End.  --GreGen

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor William Crosswell Croft in 2009

From the March 27, 2009, Chicago Sun-Times "Pearl Harbor survivor, businessman."

He married Barbara Engh, at one time a resident of Sycamore, Illinois, where I came across her name as being "Color Girl" of the USNA Class of 1940.

Whenever he was asked about his health, William Croft would say. "I'm rugged.  I'm rugged."

He was a young naval officer on the battleship USS California at Pearl Harbor that fateful day in which almost 100 of its crew were lost in the Japanese attack.  He was also on the battleship USS Indiana when it collided with the the USS Washington in which ten crew were killed.

Mr. Croft, 91, of Northbrook, Illinois, died of pneumonia Saturday at Glenbrook Hospital, March 21, 2009.

He married Barbara Engh in 1942.  She was "The One" from the moment he met her on a blind date in 1939.  They were married for 67 years.

William Crosswell Croft was born January 8, 1918, in Greenville, South Carolina.  In the Navy he rose from the rank of ensign to lieutenant-commander.

--GreGen

Friday, September 30, 2016

Unknown for 75 Years, Pearl Harbor Sailor's Remains Finally Laid to Rest

From September 19, 2016, Wichita Eagle (Kansas) by Beccy Tanner.

Nearly 75 years after Lewis Lowell Wagoner was declared missing following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, his remains have been identified.

He was one of those lost that day on the USS Oklahoma.  Now, he will be coming home and buried next to his his brothers at the Whitewater cemetery.   This thanks to DNA technology.

Lewis Wagner was born on Kansas Day --  Jan. 29-- 1921 in Missouri.  Shortly afterwards, his family moved to Whitewater, Kansas, where he was the oldest of eight boys.     He was 20 when he died.

Since Pearl Harbor, the family had become friends with two  other Pearl Harbor survivors from the USS Oklahoma, Arthur Dunn and Paul Aschbrenner, both of whom have since passed away.

--GreGen

Thursday, September 29, 2016

T-Shirt Sales to Help Arizona Survivors Go to 75th Pearl Harbor Anniversary

From the September 20, 2016, KVOA News 4 NBC News "Sale of t-shorts to help survivors of USS Arizona go to Pearl Harbor anniversary."

A fundraiser to help the seven remaining USS Arizona survivors and their families and their families return to Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary, has been a huge success.

The Arizona Wildcats wore special uniforms honoring the ship at last weekend's game against Hawaii.  Many fans sported matching jerseys.

The seven survivors are all in their 90s now.  And most did not expect to still be alive for the 75th anniversary.

The t-shirts are in battleship gray and feature "At 'Em Arizona // BB-38."

--  GreGen

Thursday, September 22, 2016

UA to Have USS Arizona Memorial

From the September 16, 2016, Tucson News (Az) Now  "UA shares memorial plans with USS Arizona survivor" by Craig Reck.

Lauren Bruner, a USS Arizona survivor from Pearl Harbor, one of just seven remaining survivors of that doomed ship, visited the University of Arizona and received a personal briefing on plans for a USS Artizona Memorial on campus.

The names of the 1,177 sailors and Marines who lost their lives that day will be enshrined in bronze medallions and placed in a new memorial plaza in the center of the ship's outline, outside the open canyon walkway of the Student Union memorial Center.

The outline will be 600 feet long and almost 100 feet wide.

The UA is a repository for artifacts from the USS Arizona and one of the largest archives of memorabilia in the world for the ship.

The memorial is expected to be finished in time for a Remembrance Ceremony on December 4 at 3 p.m..

--GreGen

William Crosswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 6: Pearl Harbor

""She (the USS California) began to list to port while at the same time, our lighting and power went off... the Utah and Oklahoma had capsized...the Arizona was on fire."

This is taken from William Crosswell Croft's memoir "My Impressions of the Japanese Attack On Pearl Harbor."

William Croft was a native of Aiken, South Carolina, born January 8, 1918.  Died March 21, 2009.  Attended the Citadel from 1935-1936 and then accepted an appointment to the United States Naval Academy where he graduated in 1940.

The Citadel only offered Army ROTC training.  If a student wanted a direct appointment into the military they had to attend the USNA or the USMA.

--GreGen

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

William Crosswell Croft-- USNA Class of 1940-- Part 5: At pearl Harbor

From the Citadel Memorial Europe:  William Crosswell Croft USNA Class of 1939.  (Although I had it that he was Class of 1940.)

Mr. Croft was on the battleship USS California when Pearl Harbor was attacked:

"On Sunday morning, I was suddenly awakened by the ringing of the general alarm....  I thought this was another drill and I ... looked out of my port hole just in time to see a Japanese plane strafing small boats in the channel not 100 yards away....  This was definitely no drill...

"About 8:10 a.m. an explosion similar to the firing of a turret occurred....  We had been torpedoed."

--GreGen

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

William Crosswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 4: Boredom in Mothballs, Then Business World

Croft served on the USS Massachusetts for the rest of the war and ended up in command of the battleship while it was in mothballs at Norfolk.  He was in command of the ship for six months and beset by a major case of boredom and saw no foreseeable sea billets forthcoming, so he resigned in December 1946.

Afterwards, he held jobs with Anaconda Wire and Cable Company in California then in Los Angels.  In 1950, he moved to Chicago and joined Pyle National as plant manager.  He was elected president of Pyle in 1955 and served until 1977.

After that, he owned six companies in the Chicago area.

--GreGen

Saturday, September 17, 2016

William Croswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 3: Collision of the Indiana and Washington

William Croft was detailed and ordered to PG School at MIT shortly after the collision between the USS Indiana and USS Washington (both battleships).  This is considered as the worst collision in U.S. Navy history.  Both ships were reduced to just 6 knots maximum speed.  This was made even worse due to the fact that they were within 90 miles of a Japanese airfield.

Croft arrive in Boston 30 days before MIT courses started and within three weeks of waiting, declared that he couldn't concentrate on school work.

He contacted BuPers (Bureau of Personnel and requested a sea billet.  he received a telegram to report to the USS Massachusetts within 12 hours--  a record for fast action by the U.S. Navy.  the USS Massachusetts was another battleship.

A Real Battleship Man.  --GreGen


Friday, September 16, 2016

William Croswell Croft, USNA Class of 1940-- Part 2: A Question of Marriage

He was detached from the USS California in February 1941 and ordered to the USSIndiana which was fitting out at Newport News, Virginai.

While there, he married Barabar Engh, his 1940 "Color Girl" in March 1942, before it was legal to do so.  He married the same girl again in April 1942 after it was legal so he could claim the $40/ month housing allowment without having to lie about the marriage date.

He served as the Turret, Division and Deck Officer on the USS Indiana until 1944.

--GreGen

Thursday, September 15, 2016

William Crosswell Croft, Class of 1940 USNA-- Part 1: At Pearl Harbor on the USS California

From the USNA.com-- Class of 1940: William Crosswell Croft.

This is the man who selected Barbara Engh to be "Color Girl" of his Color Company in 1940.

After his graduation, William Croft joined the USS California while it was in drydock in Bremerton, Washington, Naval Shipyard.  He served as a turret officer until the California was sunk at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.  So, he was at Pearl Harbor.

The USS California was anchored by herself on Battleship Row, just south of the Oklahoma.  It received two torpedo hits that caused much damage and a 551-pound bomb exploded on her killing about 50 men instantly.  The ship sank, but its superstructure was above the water.  Total casualties were 100 killed and 62 wounded.

"Color Girls" -- Part 6: Barbara Engh

The USNA Nimitz Library has a photograph of Color Girl Helen Barbara Eagle from the Class of 1940.  I believe this to be a misprint of the name Engh.

It said that William Croswell Croft married Helen Barbara Engh, a 40s Color Girl in March 1941.

Of course, his being in the USNA Class of 1940 would have put him in World War II.  Perhaps he was at Pearl harbor.  I'll have to look him up to see what became of him.

--GreGen

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This Date in 1940, Selective Service Act Passes

September 14, 1940:

Congress passed the selective Service Act, providing for the first peacetime draft in United States history.

Even though we were not yet at war, we sure were preparing for its eventuality.

It is Good to be Selected.  --GreGen

"Color Girls"-- Part 5: Barbara Engh

From the True Republican of DeKalb County, Illinois, from 4 June 1940 (or 1941).  There is some confusion here.

Her family had lived in Sycamore, Illinois, but now resided in Irvington, New York.

Barbara Engh was selected by William C. Croft of Airken, South Carolina, commander of the 2nd Company at the USNA, the school's "Color Company."  She is a sophomore at Sweet Briar College, in Sweet Briar, Virginia.  The Engh family is well-known in Sycamore.

--GreGen

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Back Then: Anniversary of Church Established During the War

From the September 5, 2016, Wilmington (NC) Star-News "Back Then" by Scott Nunn.  I am glad they started doing this column again.  Always interesting to look back at old newspapers.

In the September 2, 1956, newspaper there was an article about the Sunset Park Baptist Church marking their 14th anniversary.  It was formed on September 6, 1942, with 39 members and was located in one of the busiest parts of Wilmington at the time, the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company.  By 1956, the church had 1,200 members.

The N.C. Shipbuilding Company grew to have a huge work force making many naval vessels, especially Liberty Ships.

--GreGen

Shorpy Photos of the Home Front: Air Raid Drills in New York City

Remember, you can go to the site and look them up or just use Shorpy In a Jiffy for your search.

July 24, 2016, IN A JIFFY: 1942--  November 1942, New York.  "Nurse training.  Hospital preparations for air raids involving the training of street accident units for increased efficiency.  Nurses wear coat and skirt that can be put on over uniform in a jiffy."  Fritz Henle, OWI.

Two women are wearing helmets and have on Civil Defense armbands.

--GreGen

Shorpy Photos of the Home Front: Swimming and Reading

August 5, 2016, Shorpy  GUYS AND DOLLS  June 1941.  Greenbelt, Maryland.  "Sun bathers at the swimming pool."  Marjory Collins, OWI.  What every well dressed boy and girl (I'm guessing high school students) wore to the local swimming pool.  You can see a person dressed in a soldier's uniform in the background.

Shorpy July 29, 2016, WORK, READ, WASH 1943--  March 1943.  Barstow, California.  "Railroad worker in the wash room of the reading room in the Santa Fe yard."  Jack Delano, OWI.

--GreGen

Monday, September 12, 2016

Famous "Kissed Woman" in the Photo, Dies

From the September 10, Yahoo! News, AP  "Woman in iconic WWII Times Square kiss photograph dies at 92" AP.

Freta Zimmer Friedman died Thursday, September 8, 2016, in Richmond, Virginia.

She was a 21-year-old dental assistant in a nurse's uniform on August 14, 1945.  She went to Times Square when she heard reports that the war was over and found an impromptu celebration underway.

A celebrating sailor, George Mendonsa,  grabbed her and planted a big old kiss on her face (perhaps lips).

Life magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt was on hand and captured the moment in what became one of the most famous photographs of the 20th century.

She will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next to her late husband, Dr. Misha Friedman.

That Was One Neat Photograph.  Wonder What Dr. Friedman Thought About It.  --GreGen

Bedford Man Recalls Attack on Pearl Harbor

From the June 7, 2016, Fredericksburg.com  (Va,) by Rachel Smith.

Leonard Peverall, 94, had this to say about it:, "If I was a foot taller, I would have lost my head."

He was on the USS Pennsylvania about to have breakfast when the attack began.  He ran up to the top deck.

"We didn't have any idea what was going on; it wasn't until we heard the bombs that we knew.  I was on the top deck and could see airplanes coming over and the commander said to 'man your guns.'"  The Pennsylvania was strafed and shots hit about a foot above his head.

Afterwards, he served the rest of the war on the USS Canfield and steamed into Tokyo Bay in mid-September 1945, after VJ-Day.

Before joining the Navy, he was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Memorial Day and a Train Bridge-- 1943

From the June 12, 2016 Shorpy.

MEMORIAL DAY: 1943.  May 31, 1943.  "Gallipolis, Ohio.  Young horn player at the Decoration Day ceremonies."  Arthur Siegel, OWI.

Comment:  Probably in high school band.  Plays a Sousaphone.  Still calling it Decoration Day then.

From the June 3, 2016, Shorpy Photo site.

DRY RUN: 1943.  March 1943.  "Crossing the almost dry bed of the Canadian River along the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in Texas."  Jack Delano, OWI.  That Jack sure took a lot of train pictures for OWI.  he must have been its main train man.

Comment:  Actually the bridge in the photo was a highway bridge by today's US-60 and US-83.  Jack must have taken the photo from the train window.

--GreGen


"Color Girls'-- Part 4: Her Duties

May 21, 2001, Laura Sullivan.

Color parade honors the USNA company with the highest academic and athletic scores during the year.   They are known as the Color Company.  This company then gets to pick a female to be its "Color Girl."    The Naval Academy buys her dress after the Color Company's commander has chosen the "Color Girl."

The "Color Girl's" duties include handing the color flag from the previous year's company this this year's color company, kissing the Color Company's commander if he is her boyfriend or fiance and accepting flowers and a string of pearls from school officers.

She can also join the Association of Color Girls of the Naval Academy who have a luncheon once a year.

In 2001, however, there was a problem because the commander of the Color Company was  Josette Fedor, a woman.

--GreGen

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Firemen Raising That U.S. Flag Found in the Rubble of TwinTowers/ Iwo Jima Flag-Raising

One of the moments really pressed into my memory was seeing that U.S. flag being raised in the rubble of the Twin Towers.  Kind of reminded me of the Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.  A moment of pride in an otherwise dismal time.

And, speaking of other famous photos, I see that Thursday, the girl who was so well-kissed in Times Square on V-J Day in 1945, died this past Thursday.  I will write more about her tomorrow.


Saturday, September 10, 2016

"Color Girls"-- Part 3: Still at USNA, But Now Called "Color Honorees"

This occurs during what is called Commissioning Week, when the graduating class gets their commissions in the USN.

A little further research and I found out that this is one tradition that still, in effect, remains.  Although now, the person so honored by the commander of the color company at the academy, is called "Color Honoree."  And instead of being girl friends or wives of the company commander, they have been their mothers in at least 2013 and 2016.

In 2013, the color company commander was Brooke Pitcher of East Hampton, Connecticut.  She chose her mother as "Color Honoree."

In 2016, the "Color Honoree" was Claire O'Garro, mother of 13th Company Comander Greggrie O'Garro.

So, The Tradition Continues.  I'm All For Tradition.  --GreGen

USNA "Color Girls"-- Part 2: A Dying Tradition?

From the May 27, 1992, Baltimore Sun "Color Girl tradition may be drummed out" by Joel McCord.

Barbara Engh was the USNA's "Color Girl" in either 1940 or 1941.  There is some confusion in accounts I've come across concerning the year.

However, by 1992, it was thought that the tradition was about to come to an end.

According to the article, the tradition was falling to "changing sensibilities."  Even though it had been a 121-year tradition at that point, having become a part of Commissioning Week activities in 1871.

By 1992, there were now graduating women from the USNA.

I came across mention that it continued into 2001.

--GreGen

Friday, September 9, 2016

USNA Color Girls-- Part 1: Barbara Engh

Back on June 23, 2016, I wrote about 19-year-old Barbara Engh, formerly of Sycamore, Illinois, having been named "Color Girl" of the graduating class of the United States Naval Academy (Class of 1941) at its June Week activities.  She and her family had since moved away, though.

I'd never heard of a "Color Girl" so had to inquire further.

--GreGen


Thursday, September 8, 2016

USS Chewink (AM-39)-- Part 2: World War II Operations

In October 1930, the Chewink sailed west and joined Submarine Division 4 at Pearl Harbor where it served as a submarine tender.    It was decommissioned at Pearl Harbor in 1933 and then sent to Mare Island in San Francisco Bay.

With war clouds on the horizon, it was recommissioned 12 November 1940 and sailed from San Diego to London, Connecticut, where the ship served for the rest of its career.

During the war, the Chewink trained Navy divers, did submarine search and rescue exercises, was station ship and was a target ship for submarine torpedoes.  It operate from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Argentina, Newfoundland and was in Key West several times.

Decommissioning came at Brooklyn 4 February 1947.  It was used as target practice and sunk off New London, Connecticut 31 July 1947.

--GreGen

The U.S. Navy's AM and ASR Ships

The USS Chewink was originally AM-39, which is Navy classification for minesweepers.  In 1929 it was overhauled and became ASR-3, Navy classification for submarine rescue ship.

A chewink is a bird species also known as towhee.

Both U.S. Navy mineweepers and submarine rescue ships are named after birds.

Now, You're Up On Your Navy Classifications.  --GreGen

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

USS Chewick (AM-39)-- Part 1: A Very Varied Career

In the last post, I mentioned Victor E, Marriott, warrant officer on the USS Chewink, and son of the proprietor of the Fargo Hotel in Sycamore visiting his father in May 1941.  I wanted to find out more about this ship so here it is.

From Wikipedia.

The USS Chewink was a Lapwing-class minesweeper later converted to a submarine rescue ship launched 21 December 1918 by Todd Shipyard in New York City.

It was commissioned 9 April 1919 and spent a lot of time clearing the North Sea of mines laid down during World War I.   It was reclassified ASR-3 on 12 September 1929.

The next 11 years it operated along the U.S. East Coast, Cuba and Puerto Rico doing salvage, target towing, school for Naval Engineers, recovering mines, experimental underwater radio tests, net laying and tending submarines.

--GreGen

Looking Back to 1941: Sycamore Man Aboard the USS Chewick

From the May 25, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.  "  Tom Marriott, proprietor of the Fargo hotel in Sycamore has had an interesting overnight guest at his hotel Thursday night.  It was no other person than his only son, Victor E. Marriott, who is a Commissioned Warrant officer aboard the Shewink, a United States Navy rescue vessel.

"The younger Mr. Marriott finished his training at Great Lakes some time ago and was commissioned aboard the Shewink when she was put back into service on November 12, 1940, after having been out of service for eight years."

The actual name of the ship was the USS Chewink.

--GreGen

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Looking Back: Civil Pilot Training

From the February 3, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago:  "After a month long delay due to inclement weather, students enrolled in the Civil Pilot Training program at the Teacher's College (Northern Illinois) received the flight tests for their private pilot's licenses at the Waterman Airport."

Going to War, We're Going to Need Pilots.  --GreGen

Monday, September 5, 2016

Looking Back: Use of Silk in Hosiery Abandoned for War Effort

From the August 31, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

Even though we were not yet officially at war, we were definitely preparing for it.

1941, 75 Years Ago:  "The United States ordered today that the use of silk in the manufacture of hosiery and other civilian items be abandoned in the favor of production of silk powder bags and parachutes for the Army and Navy."

--GreGen

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Undersea Battleground Explored Off North Carolina Coast-- Part 2

Every member of the SS Bluefield's crew survived the attack by the U-576.  Every member of the U-576's crew died and are still aboard.

The expedition found that the submarine's dive planes were tilted up with the intention of surfacing.  The ship's captain had done all he could to help his crew escape.

After the German submarine sank the Bluefields, it came under attack by Navy planes which dropped depth charges and it was also swept by machine gun fire from another merchant ship in the convoy.

During the course of the Battle of the Atlantic, nearly 1,600 sailors, including 1,100 merchant mariners, died just off the North Carolina coast.  Most of these deaths came in 1942 which was the time of the most severe fighting.  After that there weren't too many attacks.

Dives to the ships are being made in a mini submarine.  The approaching storm, however, has temporarily delayed the exploration which has returned to Beaufort.

--GreGen


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Undersea Battleground Explored Off North Carolina Coast-- Part 1

From the September 2, 2016, Charlotte (N.C.)  Observer "A haunting moment as expedition reaches World War II U-boat, freighter wrecks off Cape Hatteras."

This is a story of a victim, the culprit and then the culprit became the victim as well.  The U-boat sank the freighter and then became a victim itself and was sunk.  The two ships lie close together.

The NOAA and its research partners are searching the remains of two ships sunk close by and about the same time during the horrific, but little-known for the most part Battle of the Atlantic.  This is the part that occurred right off the shore of the eastern United States.

The NOAA is in the process of mapping this underwater battlefield.

--GreGen


Friday, September 2, 2016

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Mackey's Creamery, Sausalito, Californi

From the August 18, 2016 Shorpy.

MACKEY'S CREAMERY, 1943:  June 7, 1943  Restaurant soda fountain, Sausalito, California.  There are cigarette butts all over the floor, some of the men are reading newspapers and one guys seems mesmerized by his cell phone (Not, though).  I didn't see a single ash tray in the photo, but figure they could have used some.  Maybe the waitresses were grossed out by the butts.

There is a sign that reads:  "Due to Coca-Cola rationing we are compelled at times to substitute other colas."

There are spring-loaded hat holders on the backs of the seats

Comments:  Located at 639 Bridgeway Blvd., Sausalito.

Advertising for Mackey's Creamery:  "Donuts Made Fresh 3 Times Daily.  Plain. per dozen --  25 cents.  frosted, per dozen -- 30 cents.  639 Bridgeway.  Phone:  Sausalito 59."

Butts All Over the Place.  --GreGen

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Looking Back to 1941: DeKalb Aviators Training in Canada

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

1941, 75 Years Ago.  "DeKalb has two aviators who are engaged in war training in Canada at the present time.  Spencer Mark, connected with the Waterman airport, has just returned from Trenton, Canada, where he visited Harry Reed of DeKalb, who is a flight officer.

"Mack did not have opportunity to go to Chatam, New Brunswick, where Ray Tucker is an instructor in a Canadian army aviation camp."

Not At War Yet...But.  --GreGen

Looking Back to 1941: Collecting Aluminum for Looming War Effort

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

1941, 75 Years Ago.  "Confidant that considerable waste aluminum in the shape of discarded pots and pans, parts of old radio sets, washing machines and wringers and household articles of similar nature still remain in the homes of DeKalb, the DeKalb Aluminum Defense Committee today issued an appeal to the people of DeKalb to bring discarded, but valuable metal, to the dump which has been created at Third and Locust Streets."

I imagine this would have something to do with leading up to yesterday's post about the Boy Scouts.

--GreGen

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Looking Back to 1941: Youngsters Arouse Suspicions

From the August 17, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago:  "Youngsters with flashlights were around automobiles on North Third Street in DeKalb early this morning and persons at the Rice Hotel asked the police to investigate.

"It was found that the lads were Boy Scouts detailed to guard the collection of aluminum, and they were whiling away some of the hours looking at cars parked along the curb when they attracted the attention."

The Rice Hotel has since been torn down after turning into a transient hotel.  It was located at North Third Street in DeKalb.  I came across a postcard of its lobby.

--GreGen