Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Last Otter Tail County Pearl Harbor Veteran Dies: Gene Davis

From the November 30, 2016, WDAY 6 (Minnesota) "Honoring a vet:  Last Pearl Harbor survivor in Otter Tail County dies" by Kevin Walleband.

Gene Davis, 94, of Fergus Falls, Minnesota was buried Friday.

He joined the Navy at age 18 and was on the USS California during the attack.  A blast blew him off the deck and he was left for dead, but actually was shell-shocked.

For years, he wouldn't speak about his experience, but that all changed with a trip back to Pearl Harbor in 1980.

One hundred died on the USS California that day.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Portland's Toxic World War II Ship Graveyard

From the December 2, 2016, Portland (Ore) Tribune, by Cassandra Profita.

During World War II, several Willamette River shipyards were busy, but after victory, that stretch of waterfront became a scrapyard where many ships were dismantled.  Areas of the river were covered with ship scraps often laced with toxic pollutants like lead, asbestos and PCB.

At its peak during the war, Portland was launching on average a warship every four days.  Speed was encouraged.  As soon as one was launched, the next one's keel was immediately laid.

Pollution covered 30 acres along a half mile of riverfront.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Congress Approves Gold Medal for Filvets

From the December 2, 2016, Inquirer.Net.

The Gold Medal for the 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who served with U.S. Army Forces of the Far East, USAFFE, during World War II has been approved.

Now it goes to President Obama for his signature.

The Rescission Act of 1946, Congress stripped Filipino soldiers of the benefits they were promised by FDR.  Fewer than 7,000 of them survive today in the United States.  Overall, there are just 18,000 Filipino veterans still alive.

The Tuskegee Airmen and Hawaii's 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion have also received the Congressional Gold Medal.

About Time.  --GreGen

Friday, April 21, 2017

OSS Veterans Get Congressional Gold Medal-- Part 2

In the past, the World War II groups Tuskegee Airmen and Navajo "Code Talkers" have also received the Gold Medal.

The OSS was formed in 1942 by William Donovan who called them the "Glorious Amateurs," responsible for cloak-and-dagger operations throughout the war, including ones behind enemy lines in Germany.

The OSS insignia, the spearhead, is synonymous with the Special Operations Command.

They were dissolved after the war when what was left of the organization became the foundation for the CIA.  Other branches of the OSS became the Green Berets and Navy SEALs.

Now, I'd like to see the Montford Points Marines receive one.

Well Deserved, Even This Late.  --GreGen

Bill Honoring World War II's Intelligence Operatives Finally Passes Congress-- Part 1

From the December 1, 2016, Washington Post by Thomas Gibbons-Neff.

Photo accompanying the article shows OSS founder General William Donovan and members of the OSS operational groups, forerunners of the U.S. Special Forces.

This measure took a long time to pass Congress, despite bipartisan support.

The Congressional Gold Medal will go out to veterans of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS).  The problem with them, getting the Gold Medal was a new law that prevented groups from getting it..  This law, however, had earlier been waived in order to honor Civil Rights activists in 1965's "Bloody Sunday" march in Selma, Alabama.


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Kansas Family Made Ultimate Sacrifice-- Part 2: Another One Died in France

Their brother Bob joined the Navy when he turned 17 and was in basic training when the war ended in 1945.

Her mother's brother Leroy Blattner joined after the Pearl Harbor attack and was an Air Force pilot.  On August 3, 1944, another plane crashed into his Marauder B-26 bomber in France.  This caused a crash and his whole crew was killed.


Kansas Family Made Ultimate Sacrifice on USS Arizona, Twice

From the November 12, 2016, Hays Daily News (Kansas)  "Hays woman speaks of family's service, sacrifice" by Savannah Downing.

Fay Klein said that on both her mother and father's side, her family made the ultimate sacrifice.

Her father, Walter Becker, was the oldest brother of seven kids.  Three of his brothers:  Harvey, 24; Marcin, 22 and Wesley, 18, were stationed on the USS Arizona on December 7, 1941.  They had requested to serve together.

Harvey was not on the ship at the time as he was on shore leave with his wife, a nurse.  He went to pearl Harbor after the attack to look for his brothers.  Eventually, he had to call his parents to tell them he couldn't find his brothers.

Wesley and Marvin's name are listed on the USS Arizona Memorial.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Local Man Killed on USS Arizona

From the February 1, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Charles Aves received word that his son Willard was killed at Pearl Harbor on December 7th.  The war department had previously reported Willard as missing and his friends and relatives had felt that he was gone because he had been on duty on the USS Arizona as a fireman.

"His father and sisters have the sincerest sympathy of this community as everyone feels he too has had a loss."

The War Hits Home.  --GreGen

USS Arizona Survivor Laid to Rest On His Ship-- Part 2

Raymond Haerry was 19 that day and the blast blew him off the USS Arizona.  "The oil that was belching out of the ships ignited because of the explosion and he had to swim through that, got to Ford Island, got some medical care and somehow got a gun and fired back at the enemy and survived the day."

He is the 42nd Arizona survivor to rejoin his shipmates.  Out of the 335 who survived that day, five are still alive.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

USS Arizona Survivor Laid to Rest on His Ship-- Part 1: Raymond Haerry

From the April 16, 2017, KITV 4 ABC News Hawaii "USS Arizona survivor laid to rest inside sunken battleship" by Mackenzie Stasko.

Retired Master Chief Petty Officer Raymond Haerry was interned in the hulk of the Arizona on Saturday afternoon.

Over 100 gathered at the USS Arizona memorial for the internment ceremony.

A team of U.S. navy and National Park Service divers took him to his final resting place where the urn was placed in turret #3 in the part of the ship which they believe contain the remains of his shipmates.


New Jersey Native and One of Last USS Arizona Survivors, Gets Final tribute

From by Jeff Goldman.

The remains of Master Chief Petty Officer Raymond J. Haerry were placed on an American Airlines flight after a ceremony at Newark Liberty International Airport.  he was a Paterson native who died in Rhode Island in September at age 94.  His ashes will be interred on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor.

When the Arizona exploded that day, he was thrown into the water, but swam to safety, got a gun and began firing at the Japanese planes.

Later, he served on the USS Opportune, USS Allagash, USS Luiseno and the USS Muna Kea.  He also served during the KoreanWar, and retired from the Navy in 1964.

He was born November 21, 1924 and enlisted March 11, 1940.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Pearl Harbor Survivor Al Taylor Was a Reluctant Hero

From the January 19,2017, Quad-City (Iowa) Dispatch by John Marx.

Alvis "Al" Taylor died earlier this week at age 93 on January 16, 2017.

In 2013, there were three Pearl Harbor survivors in the Quad-City area: Eldon Baxter, Al Taylor and Bob Cewe.  Bob Cewe died in 2014.

Mr. Taylor was an Army medic at Schofield Barracks and 18 years old in the attack.  He guided ambulances to pick up wounded soldiers and non-survivors, working 48-straight hours non-stop.  Also, he helped a physician who specialized in traumatic head injuries.  he proudly said that the nineteen soldiers he assisted all lived.

"There was no break.  You just did what you needed to do," he recalled.

Another of the Greatest.  --GreGen

Friday, April 14, 2017

Death of Another Pearl Harbor Veteran: Maxwell Burggraaf

From the January 17, 2017, Fox 13 Salt Lake City, Utah "Man speaks after his father, a Pearl Harbor survivor, dies at 98."

Maxwell Burggraad, 98, died.

He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy for nearly a decade and a chief electrician's mate on the USS Nevada when the harbor was attacked.  He was born in Ottumwa, Iowa.

On December 7, 1941, he got up early and caught a street car to Waikiki for a priesthood meeting.  Upon arrival there, he was told that all servicemen were to report back to their stations immediately.

He remembers seeing the smoke and fires as he approached the harbor.  He arrived back at his ship,  the USS Nevada, just before it made its dash out of the harbor.

After the action, he found out that his cabin had been destroyed.  The sailor who had taken his place while he was on leave was killed.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen

Looking Back to 1942: Use Those Gas Rationing Coupons... Or Lose Them!!

From the January 25, 2017, MidWeek "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"The valid period for coupon three in the Mileage Ration book will expire at midnight tonight for the "A" books.  It is expected that all who have any of these coupons remaining will have used them by this evening, for they will become worthless after tomorrow."

Gas Up, Folks!!  --GreGen

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Shovel Your Sidewalks

From the January 25, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Several weeks ago an appeal was made to the residents of this city to keep their sidewalks clear of snow.  The answer to that appeal has been most gratifying but there are still a dew who have failed to cooperate.

"Since the advent of gas rationing, many more are forced to walk and it will be a great help to these pedestrians if the residents keep their walks shoveled.  Many are forced to walk to their work and most of them leave for work while it is still dark.'

Shovel for Victory.  --GreGen

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Being Poor and Interracial Activity

March 31, 2017  TOY STORY: 1943:  July 1943.  Washington, D.C.  "A child whose home is in an alley dwelling near the U.S. Capitol."  Esther Bubley, OWI.  A black child sitting in a pile of debris.

Being poor did not take a vacation during the war.  Sad to have such squalor so close to the Capitol.

March 31, 2017:  SPLINT IN A TENT: 1943:  August 1943.  Southfields, New York.  "Interracial activities at Camp Nathan Hale where children are aided by the Methodist Camp Service.  First aid."  By Gordon Parks, OWI.

White and black boys in a tent where the black boy is putting on a splint or bandage on the white boy.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hoping That New Orleans Will Not Be Taking Down the Confederate Statues

I expect the city will do just that and soon.  This would be too bad, as I really like this town with Bourbon Street and all that great music and food.  I would also like to go to the National World War II Museum which I have been writing about a great project they are undertaking.

However, if those statues come down, I might have to show my displeasure at the horrible thing they have done to my heritage by organizing my own little boycott.  Now, I know that just one person counts for little in the grand scheme of things, but it would be something I would have to do.

My Civil War Round Table group is planning a trip there in a few months to look at sites, but I haven't signed up for it while waiting to see what the city does.

I Really Don't Want to Have to Boycott New Orleans.  --GreGen

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A USS Oklahoma Hero Comes Home

From the April 8, 2017, Albert Lea (Minnesota) Tribune "A hero comes home" by Colleen Harrison.

Glaydon Iverson of Emmons boarded the USS Oklahoma on September 11, 1941, in San Francisco.  He had recently been home on furlough with his parents and family.

After December 7, 1941, his parents, Edwina and Anna received two telegrams from the War Department.  The first said that he hadn't been located and the second that his remains had not been found and was presumed dead.

He was the first casualty of the war from the county.

But, recently, the remains of the Oklahoma's unknowns have been dug up and DNA testing has led to the identification of many, including Mr. Iverson.

He will have a funeral on May 27 with full military honors and will be buried at Oak Lawn Cemetery.


USS Arizona Relic Coming to Coast Guard Auxiliary in Florida

From the April 5, 2017, Treasure Coast Palm "USS Arizona relic to be presented to Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla" by Hank Cushard.

The USCG Auxiliary Flotilla 59 at Stuart, Florida was formed April 11, 1942 to combat the menace of German U-boats off the Florida coast in the first months of the war.  As such, the group marks their 75th anniversary today.

Members of the group during the war rode horseback along beaches looking for U-boat activity or ships or persons in distress.  They manned the tower at House of Refuge on Hutchinson island and had offshore patrols.

In 1986, a member of the group, Captain Spence Kidd, brother of Rear Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, who commanded the USS Arizona at Pearl harbor and whose body was never recovered, donated a model of the USS Arizona to the group.

The USS Arizona relic will be given to the group on April 29.  Unfortunately, the article did not say what the relic was and I was unable to find out in other sources what it might be.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Boy Finds German Plane With Pilot Remains Still Inside

From the March 8, 2017, CNN "Boy finds WWII plane with pilot's remains in the cockpit" by Judith Vonberg.

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kristiansen and his father, Klaus, have discovered what is believed to be a Messerschmitt fighter plane buried in a field on their farm near Birkelse, in northern Denmark.  He was using a metal detector out in the field, hoping to find something to show at school.

He remembered his grandfather telling him about a German plane crashing there during the war in November or December 1944.

They found the pilot's papers and believe the German was flying his plane from a training base for German pilots in Aalborg, a nearby city.

An ordnance team is working on the site to determine there is nothing dangerous.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Working On Your Car

March 8, 2017--  BACKYARD MECHANIC: 1943.  June 1943.  Silver Springs, Maryland.  "Man repairing his automobile."  Anne Rosener, OWI.  Comment:  working on a 1937 Plymouth.

With gas rationing and shortages, you had to keep your car running the best you could.

March9, 2017--  D'OILY: 1943:  A different shot of the above photo.


Shorpy Home Front Photos: Buy Coke and War Bonds

MARCH 21, 2017  BOTTLE UP: 1943.  Uncaptioned photograph, circa 1943  Photograph taken by OWI of a brick tower, probably in the Upper Midwest.  The tower has been repurposed to advertise for War Bonds and Coca-Cola.

Shorpy commentators quickly identified the tower as being in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the remnant of the 1886 Minneapolis Exposition Building.  The tower's final owner, Coca-Cola, tore the building down in 1940 to make room for a new bottling plant and left just the tower, which stood for a few more years.

The advertising features a huge bottle of Coca-Cola near the top of it.  Underneath it is a picture of a grave cross at a cemetery and the caption "This Man Gave a Life....  Will You Invest More Than 10% In War Bonds?"

Both the bottle and War Bond Ads appear on two of the sides, perhaps all four.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

World War II Graveyard Off the North Carolina Coast-- Part 2

4.  Photo of the Bluefields--  sunk by the U-576 on July 15, 1942.

5.  The wreck of the Bluefields.  The wreck of the U-576 and its victim, the Bluefields, lie just 240 yards apart.

6.  Sonar scanning of the U-576.

7.  The Baseline Explorer, the research vessel at the shipwreck sites.

8. The Baseline and the 2-man submersible Nomad which went to the ocean floor to explore the wrecks.

9-16  Views of the wreck of the U-576.


Shorpy Home Front Photos: All Aboard the Train, Another Jack Delano Train Picture

March 24, 2017  WHERE I'M COMING FROM: 1943.  "Freight train operation on the Chicago and North Western Railroad between Chicago and Clinton, Iowa.  Somewhere in Illinois between Cortland and Malta (right alongside the Lincoln Highway).  Jack Delano, OWI.

Jack sure takes a lot of train photos.  He took the picture from the back of the caboose looking down the tracks behind him in some mighty flat  country.  This area wold also be near the famed Lincoln Highway.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

George Ray Tweed, Eluded Japanese for 2 Years 7 Months on Guam

From Wikipedia.

This comes about because he appeared on the an old TV show "To Tell the Truth" earlier today on the Game Show Network.  I didn't see it, but Liz did and told me about it, knowing I would be interested.  I'll have to see the next time it is shown.

(July 2, 1902-January 16, 1989)

Decorated U.S. Navy radio man, famous for evading Japanese capture for two years and seven months after the U.S. garrison on Guam island surrendered in 1941.

He enlisted in the Navy in 1922 and was sent to Guam in 1939.

As war loomed on the horizon, his family was sent back to the States in October 1941.  The Japanese invaded the island December 8, 1941.  Guam's garrison consisted of 155 Marines, aided by a force of 200 islanders and 400 Navy personnel untrained for combat.

It wasn't much of a fight.  However, George Tween and five others decided not to surrender and slipped off into Guam's jungle.

Very interesting story of his escapades at Wikipedia.


World War II Graveyard Off North Carolina Coast-- Part 1

From CBS Sunday Morning "World War II graveyard off the American coast."

This is a slide show, mostly on pictures of the German submarine U-576 and the SS Bluefields.  The German U-boat sank the Bluefields and within a short time, was sunk itself very close to its victim.

Slide Show:

1.  The wreck of the USS Monitor from the Civil War.

2.  The SS Dixie Arrow, sunk March 26, 1942 by another U-boat during Germany's Operation Drumbeat to destroy Allied shipping along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts.  In the first eight months of 1942, 400 Allied ships were sunk.  Off the North Carolina coast, 80 were sunk.

3.  The U-576 attacked the KS-520 Convoy on July 15, 1942.  It sank the Bluefields and then was sunk itself.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Jim Doyle, Pearl Harbor Survivor, Dies

I wrote about Mr. Doyle last week.  This is a follow up.

From the March 31, 2017, Lakewood (Colorado) Sentinel "Pearl Harbor survivor dies at 93."

Lakewood resident, Jim Doyle, died March 28, 2017, at age 93.

He was born in Colorado and joined the Navy at age 16, wanting to become a pilot, but instead became an aerial photographer.

Mr. Doyle's memory of the attack:  "I was an aerial photographer and was stationed on Ford Island.  We slept in the hangar, and when I heard the explosions, I grabbed my camera and started taking pictures.  Many of the Dec. 7 pictures used are mine."

After his time in the service, Mr. Doyle worked for the U.S. Geological Service.

I still do not know specifically which of the Pear Harbor attack photos are his, but since he was on Ford Island, I would say the picture of the planes on fire on the island are his.


Shorpy Home Front Photos: Peanuts and Newsboys

March 21, 2017--  MR. PEANUT: 1943.  April 1943.  "Baltimore. Maryland -- peanut stand."  Marjory Collins, OWI.  The peanut stand is on the street.

One comment is wondering about the speakers set up on a street corner pole with speakers facing all directions.  Might it be Air Raid or Civil defense?

March 24, 2017--  YESTERDAY'S NEWSBOYS: 1943.  March 1943.  "Galveston, Texas.  Newspaper delivery boys."  John Vachon, OWI.

The boys are delivering the Houston Chronicle on bicycles.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Omaha Pearl Harbor Survivor Dies At 95

From the March 30, 2017, Omaha (Nebraska)  World-Herald "Omaha man who survived Pearl Harbor attack dies at 95" by Steve Liewer.

(May 19, 1921-March 26, 2017)

Howard Linn was on the nearby USS Nevada when the USS Arizona exploded.  It blew out his eardrums.  Sixty died on the Nevada during the attack and Mr. Linn was one of the 109 wounded.  The Nevada, of course, was the only battleship to get underway that day and the one that made the dash to get out of harm's way.

He was a petty officer 1st class and remembers pieces of the Arizona coming through his ship's portholes.  No one around him on a lower deck at the time was hit, but he said that every man topside was killed.

When later asked by an officer as to how he was doing, Mr. Linn replied that he was concerned About his dad who was working in the fire room of one of the absent carriers.  His dad had enlisted in the Navy after serving in the Army during World War I.

There is a video showing the five remaining crew members of the USS Nevada.


Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Jim Doyle-- Part 2

Jim Doyle enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 16.  he was in a hangar on the west side of Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack and saw some of the Japanese planes flying in at street level.  Among his worst memories were the smell of charred bodies and others floating.  "Oil and slime were all over their bodies."

The photographs he took of the attack and aftermath are considered some of the most iconic of the attack.  (I was, unfortunately, unable to locate any source which definitely showed his photos.)

During the Battle of the Coral Sea, he was on the aircraft carrier USS Lexington.  After a sortie, he flew back to his ship, landed but had to abandon ship when it sank.

He later was shot down while ferrying planes to Guadalcanal.  Marines braved enemy fire and rescued him.  Mr. Doyle said he remembers none of this rescue as he woke up in a hospital in Brisbane, Australia.

Because of his injuries, he received a medical discharge in 1943.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Death of Pearl Harbor Survivor Jim Doyle, 93--Part 1

From the March 31, 2017, Denver Post "Denver Pearl Harbor survivor Jim Doyle dies, leaving a legacy as a war hero and artist" by Monte Whaley.

"Jim Doyle captured some of the most enduring images of Pearl Harbor attack on film."

Died March 27, 2017.

He filmed the scene.  Later, he came under fire again while flying as an aviation mate 1st Class in the Pacific Theater.

For his service, he received two Purple Hearts and a Distinguished Flying Cross, but rarely talked about his experiences.


World War II Gun Arrives in Delaware-- Part 2: Technologically Advanced

The gun weighs 32,000 pounds and could be used on ships or land.  They fired two types of shells:  high-explosive or armor-piercing.  The shells weighed 24 pounds and could hit a target 11 miles away or an aircraft flying at 34,000 feet.

Crews loaded the shells individually, but a highly complex firing system then took over to fire it.  This was extreme armament technology at the time.

When the guns were at Fort Miles during the war, they were placed on the beach, but had wheels for ease of movement.

The Fort Miles Historic Association and Delaware state Parks got the gun from the National Electronics Museum in Linthicum, Maryland.  They are currently looking for a 1918 155 mm gun as the fort at one time mounted eight of them.


World War II Gun Arrive in Delaware-- Part 1: Fort Miles

From the March 30, 2017, Delaware Inline News-Journal "Wold War II big gun arrives in Lewes" by Molly Murray.

The gun arrived Thursday, March 30.  It is like the ones that defended the entrance to the Delaware Bay back in the war.  It arrived at Cape Henlopen State Park.  Over the next year, volunteers will sandblast and restore it for display at Fort Miles.  (Which is turning into quite the World War II museum.)

Guns like this Model M2, 90 mm anti-aircraft were put in to fire on motor torpedo boats, and, of course, German planes.

General George Patton claimed that these guns were second only to the atom bombs as the technology that helped turn the tide of war.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos: War Rents and Buses

March 4, 2017--  PEARL REFUSED: 1943.  January 1943.  Washington, D.C..  "Pearl Ginsburg refused to have her boarding house rent raised."  Esther Bubley, OWI.  An obviously unhappy young woman sitting in her room.

 Of course, something for her to think about was the tremendous scarcity of rooms in D.C. because of the war.

March 4, 2017--  ANOTHER PASSENGER: 1943.  September 1943. "Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals.  Girl waiting for the bus by the road's edge."  Esther Bubley, OWI.

This is out in the country and not in a town.  With gas rationing and war shortages, trains and buses gained tremendously in popularity.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Personal World War II Stories Going Online-- Part 6: The Hurricane Katrina Factor

The museum has allocated $4.4 million for the project so far --  about two thirds from donations and grants and the rest from the museum's operating budget.  Iron Mountain, a records management company, gave $100,000 to digitize one hundred of the interviews and plans on donating a similar amount this year.

The idea of putting the collection online came about following Hurricane Katrina.  The museum didn't get flood, but was closed for months afterwards to repair damage from roof leaks and looting.  (Looting, really?)  When it did reopen, few visitors showed up.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Personal World War II Stories Going Online-- Part 5: Interviews

So far there are 4,000 staff-collected video oral histories, 3,000 video and audio recordings made by others, and nearly 2,000 "written histories" like journals, diaries that can be photographed, annotated and transcribed for online research.

The museum's six historians travel widely, scheduling at least four interviews per trip.  Afterwards, they add catalog information, including a short description of contents and when and where the interviews were made.  They annotate key words most likely to be searched.

Now, this is a job I would really love.  Just cover my expenses, I don't need to be paid.  Researching is obviously a big love of mine.  And, the chance to get to talk to and record these people.

Wow, I Could Really Go For That Job!!  --GreGen

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Personal World War II Stories Going Online-- Part 4: The Story of Harold E, Ward at Pearl Harbor

Harold E. Ward was a lookout on the cruiser USS San Francisco when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  He made four videos, covering two hours of interviews.  The videos are divided into 12 segments, each with detailed annotations describing what Ward was talking about.

The USS San Francisco was being overhauled when the planes came in low and slow.  "I just stood and watched," said Ward.  As a lookout, he was wearing headphones.

An ensign somewhere else in Hawaii asked him to describe the scene.  "He says, 'What's going on there?'"  Ward recounted:   "So I told him we were being attacked by the Japanese air force."  The ensign's response:  "Don't you get wise with me, Ward.  I asked you a question."

"So I began to describe what I was looking at.  And there was a dead silence when I finished speaking."


Monday, March 27, 2017

Personal World War II Stories Going Online-- Part 3: Collecting Oral Histories

Since May 2016, the National World War II Museum has collected 500 oral histories.  But the war generation is fading fast.  Even people who were children during the war are in their 70s and 80s.

The U.S. Holocaust  Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., has about 10,000 oral histories available online.  These are among the 66,000 that can be viewed or listened to on their site.

Putting oral histories online is not just a matter of uploading and linking to huge audio and video files.  At the World War II Museum, their six historians also describe the contents for online searching.

Greatest generation.  --GreGen

Friday, March 24, 2017

Personal World War II Stories Going Online-- Part 2

Ultimately, all of these first-hand accounts of Pearl Harbor, D-Day, Germany fighting, surrender, Hiroshima, Japanese surrender and the home front will be online.

Founded in 2000, the National World War II Museum is one of New Orleans' top attractions.  The digital collection is open to anyone, anywhere, but only about 250 of the oral histories are online so far.  Uploading more will take time, partly because the museum's six historians are racing to interview the last veterans.

I'd have to say this recording the histories of the surviving veterans is much more important at this point.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Personal World War II Stories Going Online-- Part 1: Digital-Days, Now

From the December 21, 2016, Chicago Tribune by Janet McConnaughey.

It's D-Days these days, and that's not the famous D-Day.  This stands for "Digital Days."  The National World War II Museum is seeking to move thousands of first-person accounts of experiences in the war online.

The museum is creating a vast online collection of 9,000 oral and written histories.  This will take longer than the war itself lasted, with length figured to be 10 years and cost $11 million.  They have more than 22,000 hours of audio and video and thousands of documents to be digitized as well as millions of words to be transcribed.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Unknowns From the USS West Virginia Next to Be Identified-- Part 2

There were at least four-known sailors who died of the 106 deaths from the West Virginia.  All were identified, however.

Frank J. Bartek, of Wahoo, Nebraska was buried after the war in Colon, Nebraska.

Myron Goodwin, of Sidney, was buried in Gering.

Edward Durkee, of Arlington, and Clement Durr, of Nebraska City, are interred at a military cemetery in Honolulu.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Unknowns from USS West Virginia Next to Be Identified-- Part 1

In connection with Harold Costil, who I wrote about yesterday and Friday.  he was one of the WestVirginia unidentifieds.

From the December 7, 2016, Omaha (Nebraska) World-Herald  "Unknowns from the USS West Virginia will be the bnext to finally be identified" by Steve Liewer.

It is wonderful that the United States has been identifying the remains of the USS Oklahoma's unidentified.  This was the ship sustaining the second-most casualties at Pearl harbor.  The  USS Arizona had the most.  Now, the Department of Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency can turn its attention on the ship with the third highest number of casualties, as well as unidentifieds.

The agency now has approval to open 35 unidentified graves associated with the USS West Virginia.  These graves contain an estimated 38 sailors and Marines. Most of the graves will have skulls and jawbones with teeth.  This will be a much easier effort as the West Virginia graves were not as commingled as were the ones from the Oklahoma.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Remains of Illinois Flying Tiger Pilot Coming Home-- Part 2

Maax Hammer Jr. was buried in Hawaii where his remains were classified as "Unknown" for the past 67 years.

In the continuing effort to identify World War II's "Unknowns," DNA samples from a family member were collected and the family notified January 4, 2017, that Maax had been identified.  They hope he will be buried at Oakwood cemetery where his parents and grandparents are buried..

Visitation will be today, March 20, in Carbondale, Illinois and a private graveside service held tomorrow, March 21.  A Missing Man Formation flyover will be conducted by A-10 Warthogs, similar to the plane Mr. Hammer was flying.


Remains of Illinois Flying Tigers Pilot Coming Home-- Part 1

From the March 19, 2017, Chicago Sun-Times "Remains of World War II pilot returns for burial" AP.

The remains of Maax Curtis Hammer Jr.,. a member of World War II's Flying Tigers from downstate Illinois Cairo, are being returned.

He was a volunteer pilot with the famed Flying Tigers (before the U.S. entry into the war), helping the British and Chinese defend Burma and China from Japanese aggression.  On September 22, 1941, he apparently got into an inverted spin while flying in a rainstorm and couldn't get out of it.  A crash site investigator reported that Hammer's plane hit the ground nose first and his remains were discovered on the plane's engine, some 15 feet down into the earth.

USS West Virginia Victim Harold "Brud" Costill

From casualty list Pearl Harbor.

Costill, Harold Kendall, F3c, USN, USS West Virginia.  There is a picture of him on the USS West Virginia website.

From the Homestead Site.

There is a letter from Joan Costill Burke, his sister.  In it, she says he graduated from Clayon (N.J.) High School and that his parents had to sign for him to enlist in the U.S. Navy.

She was ten at the time of his death.

His family had been looking forward to him coming home for Christmas.


Friday, March 17, 2017

New Jersey Vet Wants Brother's Remains Returned from Pearl Harbor-- Part 1: On the USS West Virginia

From the February 5, 2016,  "After 74 years, N.J. veteran wants brother's remains back from Pearl Harbor" by Andy Polhamus.

Gene Costill, former mayor of Clayton and World War II veteran has a photo frame full of pictures of his brother, Harold "Brud" Costill, who died at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  He is one of 25 unidentified bodies recovered from the USS West Virginia.

Gene Costill will soon be having his 90th birthday.  He joined the Coast Guard at age 17 and served in the North Atlantic guarding convoys.

Mr. Costill still remembers the day the Western Union man came to the family's house on Pearl Street saying that Harold was on the USS West Virginia and was MIA at age 18, just a few months after joining the Navy.  He has been listed as missing ever since.

"I don't think my mother ever lived another day after that, really.  She was convinced he was off the ship, lost somewhere, and that one day he'd walk through that door.  She waited for the rest of her life."


New Jersey Vet Wants Brother's Remains Returned From Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

Gene Costill shipped out into the Coast Guard just after D-Day.  His other brother, Robert Costill fought in both the European and Pacific Theaters.

Of the dozens of bodies removed from the USS West Virginia in 1942, only two of them were believed to be teenagers.  One was wearing the same watch Brad wore and had several physical characteristics similar to Brad's -- tall, but not fully grown and feet too small for his height.

That sailor is now buried under the tombstone "Unknown, USS West Virginia, Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941" at the Cemetery of the Pacific Punchbowl Cemetery.

Gene wants his brother Brad to come home for burial at Clayton's Cedar Green Cemetery.

DNA has been donated.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

World War II Made George Patton a Hero, But the 'Great War' Made Him a Commander

From the March 10, 2017, Washington Post by Michael E. Ruane.

In April, the Library of Congress opens a new exhibit on World War I that touches on the role it played in his life.

In World War I. Patton became the first soldier assigned to the new tank corps which he helped create.  He also built the Army's first tank school and develop the tank corps' original triangular, tricolor shoulder patch.

Patton was wounded at the biggest battle in U.S. military history, the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, when 26,000 American soldiers were killed.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

America's Oldest Pearl Harbor Survivor Turns 105: Ray Chavez

From the March 12, 2017, KPBS by Susan Murphy.

Ray Chavez turned 105 on March 10, 2017.  He was born in San Bernardino, California, on March 10, 1912, and enjoying his old age at the beach and even working out at a local gym twice a week.

He was on the minesweeper USS Condor that fateful morning and wouldn't talk about it for fifty years after the war.


Survived Seven Torpedoes and Came Back: The USS West Virginia-- Part 3

Then the USS West Virginia had repairs before returning and supporting the Philippines operation until February 1945.  In February, the West Virginia joined the 5th Fleet for the invasion of Iwo Jima and then fought off Okinawa.

It was present in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945, for the Japanese surrender.

The West Virginia continued service until 1947 when it was placed in the reserve fleet.  In 1959, it was sold for scrap.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Survived Seven Torpedoes and Came Back: The USS West Virginia-- Part 2

It took a long time for the USS West Virginia to become battleshape again.  After being raised, patches of concrete and wood were used to plug the hull damage and the ship went to Washington state for full repairs.  The ship's entire deck and armor belt were replaced.  The ship was also updated and became state of the art.  Work was completed in late 1944.

It then returned to Pearl Harbor and refueled, ready to get some payback.  It pounded Japanese shore fortifications on Leyte on October 17.  One week later, the Japanese fleet arrived and the Battle of Leyte Gulf began.

On October 24, the West Virginia and three other battleships resurrected from the ruins of Pearl Harbor spotted four Japanese ships and engaged them.  They sank two battleships and a cruiser in a nighttime combat.  This was the last time that battleships ever engaged each other.


Survived Seven Torpedoes and Came Back: The USS West Virgina-- Part 1

From the February 12, 2016, Daily News "This ship survived 7 torpedoes at Pearl Harbor and went on to help crush the Japanese" by Daniel McDonald.

The USS West Virginia was struck by a torpedo from a Japanese midget submarine and immediately began sinking, listing to the port.  That list got worse as successive torpedoes crashed into her.  The damage was major on its port side, facing out into the harbor.

At least seven torpedoes hit the ship and 2 bombs as well, but fortunately the bombs didn't explode.  The ship was counter-flooded on its starboard side so it wouldn't end up capsizing like the USS Oklahoma.

An oil fire raged through the ship for 30 hours, buckling the metal in many places.

The captain and many of the crew died that day.  Captain Mervyn S. Bennion received a posthumous Medal of Honor for saving his ship as he lay dying from shrapnel that pierced his abdomen.

Navy cook Dorie Miller helped him and then noticed an unmanned .50 caliber machine gun, manned it ans=d shot down 3 or 4 planes.  He became the first black sailor to be awarded the Navy Cross.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Pearl Harbor Survivor Paul Smith Dies

From the January 20, 2017, Naples (Fla.) Daily News "Pearl Harbor survivor Paul Smith of Collier County dies at 95."

Marine Corporal Paul Smith was at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal and other action in the Pacific Theater.  He got out of the service after the war, but reenlisted for 22 more years, serving in the Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force.

He was born June 18, 1921, in Bluefield, West Virginia.  At age 17, he enlisted in the Marine Corps, but his mother had to sign for him.

On the attack, he said, "We never dreamed such a thing would happen."  He threw his breakfast, half a grapefruit and spoon at a low flying plane and ran to his barracks to get his gun.


List of Pearl Harbor Honorees Grows to 77 Names

From the January 23, 2017, Times-Tribune (Pennsylvania)  by David Singleton.

The 9-11 Memorial Committee of Lachawana County ordered a plaque honoring county residents who were at Pearl Harbor, but missed some names.  They had a temporary plaque unveiled outside the courthouse on the 75th anniversary of the attack with 31 names on it, but now that number stands at 77.

On January 31, they plan to dedicate a permanent one with that number of names on it.

They started work on the project two years ago.  It is believed that just one man, Walter J. Paciga, of Simpson was the only one killed in the attack.

In a sad footnote, however, the last two living Pearl Harbor survivors since last month's dedication have died.  John Greco, 94, Navy, of Old Forge attended that ceremony and died Christmas Day.  Elmer Burke, 96, Army, died January 7 in Port Richey, Florida.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Food-For-Freedom Production

From the Jan. 18, 2017, MidWeek "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"How DeKalb County farmers can boost food-for-freedom production and at the same time take care of their soil will be the theme of a mid-winter meeting on soil improvement and erosion control at the Jarboe Hall in DeKalb."


Looking Back to 1942: Quota for a Special Drive

From the January 18, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"The Clinton-Afton Red Cross Chapter has received a special notice from the headquarters of the Red Cross in Sycamore that the quota for a special drive will be $300.

"Contributions will be taken to the Waterman State Bank will be greatly appreciated."


Thursday, March 9, 2017

USS Oklahoma: The Final Story-- Part 3: Capsized

Pounding from the interior of the ship's hull was heard for several days afterwards, but not much drilling was done for fear of explosion from accumulated gasses inside the ship.  The drilling that was done resulted in the rescue of 32 men.

The attack took place on December 7, and all those unaccounted for were declared dead on December 20th.

One of them was Paul Anderson Nash, whose body had been identified in 1949, but reburied.  It has recently been returned to the U.S..

J.C. England--  John Charles England.


The USS Oklahoma: The Final Story-- Part 2: Life Or Death

The USS Oklahoma's watertight integrity had been sacrificed due to an upcoming inspection.

After the ship was repeatedly struck by torpedoes and started keeling over, everyone had to make a life or death decision.  Some decided to get off the ship and crawled over to the USS Maryland on tie-off lines.

The Japanese torpedoes had plywood boxes attached to their rear fins which kept them from going too deep in the water, necessary because of the shallowness of Pearl Harbor.

Five midget submarines managed to penetrate into the harbor.  It is thought that a torpedo from one of them hit the Oklahoma.  These torpedoes were more powerful and would make a much bigger hole in a ship than the ones dropped by the planes.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

USS Oklahoma: The Final Story-- Part 1: The Attack

From the PBS show of November 23, 2016.

The USS Ward engaged a Japanese mini-sub shortly before the attack began.

The first wave of Japanese planes, 183 of them, was discovered 136 miles out when they were picked up on radar.  They were dismissed as being a flight of B-17s coming over from the mainland scheduled for that time.

The Japanese planes had veterans flying and the attack began with the words: "Tora, Tora, Tora."

  They couldn't believe they had caught the U.S. military on Oahu so unprepared.  Their planes flew so low that many Americans reported seeing the Japanese pilots laughing and smiling.

The TV show used actual footage and recreations using special effects.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

21 Lesser-Known Facts About World War II-- Part 4: Killed the Elephant

16.  The largest Japanese spy ring was actually located in Mexico.

17.  The first Allied bomb dropped on Berlin killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo.

18.  The mortality rate for POWs in Russian camps was 85%.

19.  Had it been necessary for a third atom bomb, it would have been used on Tokyo.

20.  Japanese Army intelligence officer Hiroo Onoda didn't surrender until 1974.  His former commander traveled to the Philippines and personally issued orders to relieve him of his post.

21.  Total casualties in the war were between 50 million and 70 million.  Of those, 80% came from the Soviet Union, China, Germany and Poland.  Fifty percent of them were civilians, a majority of whom were women and children.

Some Interesting Stuff.  --GreGen

21 Lesser-Known Facts About World War II-- Part 3: Adolf Hitler's Nephew in the U.S. Navy

11.  Only one of every four German U-boats survived the war.

12.  The Siege of Stalingrad resulted in more Soviet deaths that the United States and Britain sustained in the entire war.

13.  To avoid using the German-sounding name "Hamburger,"  Americans started calling them "Liberty Steak."

14.  Adolf Hitler's nephew, William Hitler, served in the U.S. Navy.

15.  Adolf Hitler and Henry Ford kept a framed picture of the other on his desk.


Monday, March 6, 2017

21 Lesser-Known Facts About World War II-- Part 2: For Better Wiping

6.  British soldiers got a daily ration of three sheets of toilet paper.  Americans got 22.

7.  In 1941 more than 3 million cars were made in the United States.  Only 139 were built during the rest of it.

8.  Four of every five German soldiers killed during the war died on the Eastern Front, battling the Soviets.

9.  Only 20% of males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 survived the war.

10.  The youngest U.S. serviceman was Calvin Graham, 12.  He lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  His real age was not discovered until after he was wounded.

Interesting Stuff.  --DaCoot

21 Lesser-Known Facts of World War II-- Part 1: Deaths in U.S. Army Air Corps

From the February 13, 2017, Warrior,

1.  The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese.

2.  The first American killed in the war was killed by the Russians.

3.  Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe.

4.  More U.S. servicemen died in the Army Air Corps than U.S. Marines in action.

5.  Polish Catholic midwife Stanislawa Leszezynska delivered 3,000 babies at Auschwitz.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Pearl Harbor Survivor Receives His Due

From the August 31, 2016, Canal Winchester (Ohio) Times "Survivor of attack receives his due."

Milton Mapon, 94 will be grand marshal of Canal Winchester's Labor Day parade.  He joined the Navy in 1940 and was on the USS Detroit during the attack.  He hopes to return to Pearl Harbor for the 75th anniversary commemoration.

During the attack, he was injured and remained in a body cast for a year.


Downed World War II Aircraft Found in the Pacific After 72 Years

From the May 26, 2016, Value Walk by Mark Melin.

In July 1944 TBM-1C Avenger torpedo bomber with a three-man crew was shot down over a shallow lagoon near Palau.  A fruitless search was made but with no success.  But now, nearly 3/4 of a century later, it has been found in 85 feet of water.

It was discovered by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC-San Diego.  It is a part of Project recover.

Palau is a small island where the Japanese had an airfield.

The landing at Peleliu during Operation Stalemate II, caused 10,000 Japanese deaths and 1.700 Americans.

The Avenger was one of several dozen aircraft lost in a dense mangrove forests and coral reefs in the area.  Nearly 80 Americans died on those planes.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Pearl Harbor Survivor John Walton Dies in Car Crash-- Part 2: "What's Going On?"

"We heard this plane screaming.  'What's going on?  This is Sunday!'  And then we started hearing  the bombs going off.  We went to the window and see this plane flying over our heads, with red spots on it.  It was probably dropping a bomb on the ol' Utah out there.  Somebody had the sense to say, 'Better get down to the first floor!  That's when it all started for us."

His younger brother William was at Pearl Harbor that day as well.  His family found out that they were both alive by calling their local Congressman.

Mr. Walton remained at Pearl Harbor until the spring of 1942 when he was transferred to the seaplane tender USS Curtiss for a year then he was radioman for a scout plane squadron in the Pacific for the remainder of the war.

He was killed when the car he was driving was clipped by a fire truck.


Pearl Harbor Survivor John Walton Dies in Car Crash-- Part 1: Reading a Newspaper

From the June 1, 2016, New  "Paterson's Pearl Harbor survivor, John Walton, 101, dies from car crash" by Minjae Park and Joe Malinconico.

Mr. Walton was interviewed and talked with students.  He remembered that before the attack, "We drank a lot of soda and we made coffee out of swimming pool water."

He was Paterson's oldest living World War II veteran.  Mr. Walton was born in Hawthorne and went to Paterson Central High School.  He was at Pearl Harbor because he had quit his job at an aeronautical company and enlisted in the Navy the year before.

In the attack, he was 27-years old and reading a newspaper in his bunk at the Ford Island Naval Air Station.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

More Shipwrecks Disappearing in the Pacific

From the Feb. 9, 2017, Gizmodo "World War II Shipwrecks Are Vanishing at a Disturbing Rate" by George Dvorsky.

Last year, the Netherlands confirmed that two of its ships lost in the war have disappeared from the bottom of the Java Sea as a result of illegal salvaging.  Now, the same thing has happened to three Japanese shipwrecks off Borneo.

The Kokusei Maru, Higane Maru and Hiyori Maru, called the Usukan Bay Wrecks and also the "Rice Bowl Wrecks" for their cargoes.  All are located within a kilometer of one another.  They were torpedoed by U.S. forces off the coast of Borneo in 1944.

The recovered materials from the ships are worth a lot of money.  Their propellers, made of phosphor bronze can bring $2,500 a ton.

It is estimated that two of the ships are 98-99% gone and the other one is just a pile of metal.


Shorpy Home Front Photos: Scrap Drive

You can see the photos by searching the title and date.

FEBRUARY 9, 2017  PUMBER'S HELPERS: 1942.  November 1942, Latitz, Pennsylvania.

"Scrap collection drive.  Each household placed its contributions on the sidewalk  It was picked up by local trucks whose owners had volunteered their services for civilian defense.

"The scrap outside a plumber's home consisted of pipes."  Marjory Collins, OWI

His two sons are standing next to the pipes.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Apple Jack and Gasoline

February 9, 2017  APPLE JACK: 1942.  November 1942.  Washington, D.C.  "Young huckster in the Southwest section."  Gordon Parks, OWI.  Not sure what he is carrying in the basket.  Could be apples, but I think way too round.

February 6, 2017  AMERICAN GAS: 1942.  November 1942.  Washington, D.C.  "Negro mechanic for the Amoco oil company."  Gordon Parks, OWI

I couldn't see the price of the gas, but one comment said it was 18.7 cents a gallon, adjusted for inflation for today it would be $2.80.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Looking Back to 1941: Air Raid Sirens in DeKalb

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.

"An ingenious scheme is being tried out to give DeKalb siren warnings for blackouts.  Phonograph records are being made from a siren on a fire truck at the fire station.

"The records will be used on public address loudspeaker systems mounted on high spots in the city.  The plan saves the city the cost of buying huge sirens as is being done in many larger cities."

Save a Buck Here, Save a Buck There.  --GreGen

Friday, February 24, 2017

Looking Back to 1941: Local Airport Now Under Guard

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) :"Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.

"Following orders of the federal government, a 24-hour a day armed guard is now on duty at the Waterman Airport, it was announced this morning by Spencer Mack, operator of the establishment.

"Armed guards are also on duty at the government weather bulletin station, which is situated near the hangar."

Fear of Enemy Espionage.  --GreGen

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos: Third Shift and Out on the Farm

10-16-14 FLASH MOB: 1942--  April 1943.  "Baltimore, Maryland.  Third shift workers waiting on a street corner to be picked up by carpools around midnight."  Marjory Collins OWI.  

With gas rationing and restrictions, carpooling was a good idea.  They are waiting under a store sign "Parks Cut Rate Drugs/Liquors."

10-14-14  MIDNIGHT SNACKERS: 1943--  April 1943.  "Baltimore, Maryland.  Third shift workers getting snack at drugstore on the corner where they shared car will pick them up around midnight."  Marjory Collins, OWI

10-11-14 IRON WOMAN: 1943.  June 1943.  Arlington County, Virginia.  "Arlington Farms, war duration residence halls.  Laundry room in Idaho Hall."  Woman ironing.  Esther Bubley, OWI.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Famous Actress Dies

From the January 18, 2017, MidWeek "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Carole Lombard is killed in a plane tragedy."

Carole Lombard, the wife of Clark Gable, had gone back to her home state of Indiana after the U.S. entered the war and had raised over $2 million in war bonds in a single evening.  She was anxious to get back to Los Angeles and took a plane instead of the train she was scheduled to return on.

The plane stopped in Las Vegas to refuel, but crashed into Potosi Mountain, killing all aboard.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Home Front Hero

From the January 18, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Mrs. Emily Fox, living at 809 North Twelfth Street, does not get about much but she is doing her share in winning the war.  Despite the fact that she is past 80 years of age, she is one of the most active Red Cross knitters in the city.

"She is setting a pace that many of the knitters of less than half her age will find difficult to maintain.  Mrs. Fox is now working on her 31st Red Cross sweater.  That is a record which should be the envy of many a Red Cross knitter.

A Home Front Hero.  --GreGen

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Aircraft Carriers on the Great Lakes

From the Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company--  Wikipedia.

During World War II, there was a great need for aircraft carriers to train the huge number of pilots needed in their service.  It was too dangerous for "practice" carriers on the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, but the Great Lakes were safe from enemy attack.

This company's ship, Greater Buffalo, 598 feet, was converted into the aircraft carrier USS Sable.  On its first day of service, 59 pilots became qualified after nine hours of operating planes with each doing eight landings and take-offs from the new carrier.

Landings and take-offs took place seven days a week.  One of the pilots who trained on the Sable was future president George H.W. Bush.

The Buffalo Line's See and Bee became the USS Wolverine aircraft carrier, also used on the Great Lakes.

Another Detroit and Cleveland Navigation Company ship, the Greater Detroit, was not taken by the Navy and during the war saw its passenger revenue increase dramatically, partly due to gas rationing.  But business fell off tremendously after the war and the ship was soon retired.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Pentagon Launches Effort to Identify Crew Members Lost on the USS Turner

From the February 12, 2017, Portland (Oregon) Press Herald "Pentagon launches effort to solve World War II ship mystery" by Chrisd Carola, AP.

An explosion caused the destroyer USS Turner to sink near New York Harbor and nearly 130 of its crew of almost 300 were listed as missing and still are.  According to the research of Ted Darcy, a World War II researcher, at least four of them are buried at a Long Island cemetery, and perhaps most if not all of the rest.

The Pentagon is now looking into it.

The USS Turner was 10-months old at the time and sank off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, on January 3, 1944, after a series of explosions rocked the ship.  The Navy could not determine the cause of the initial blast, but did find that munitions were being handled below deck at the time.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Looking Back to 1941: USS Indiana Launched

From the December 7, 2016, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1941, 75 Years Ago.

"The USS Indiana, 35,000 ton floating fortress, carrying nine 16-inch guns and other armament, making her the hardest hitting warship afloat, was launched six months ahead of schedule."

All those speed-up as a prelude to war.  Too bad nothing was written about  Pearl harbor back then that was reported in "Looking Back."


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

German U-boat Found Off the Azores

From the February 6, 2017, Fox News Science "German WWII U-boat discovered off the Azores."

The wreck of the U-581 was found in an announcement made this week.  The U-boat is 2.953 feet down off the south coast of Pico Island in the Azores.  It was sunk in 1942, after an attack by the British destroyer HMS Westcott.

The ship was sunk by depth charges on February 2, 1942.  The ship's commander ordered the crew to abandon ship and all but 4 of he 46-man crew survived.  One of the sub's officers, Walter Sitck, swam four miles to Pico Island and later made his way back to Germany.  The other 41 were rescued and became prisoners of war.

Always An Exciting Bit of News When the Wreck of a Ship Is Found.  --GreGen

Monday, February 13, 2017

103-Year Old Lieutenant Who Survived Pearl Harbor Attacks Shares His Stories

From the Feb. 10, 2017, WJLA 7 ABC, Washington, D.C. by Q. McCray.

Lt. Jim Downing, the second-oldest surviving Pearl Harbor survivor was on the USS West Virginia that day.  This week he visited and recorded his oral history at the American Veterans Center in Arlington, Virginia.

he is in the D.C. area from February 1-10 and attending and speaking at several events.

For more World War II oral histories, go to

Way to Go, Lt. Downing.  GreGen

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Massive World War II Bomb Evacuation in Greece

From the Feb. 10, 2017, NPR Northern Public Radio "Long-Buried World War II Bomb Prompts Massive Evacuation In Greece" by Colin Dwyer.

It was found by a gas station in Greece's second largest city, the port of Thessaloniki, buried 16-feet deep next to the station's underground gas tanks by a gas company crew.

They are believed to be between 150-250 kilograms.

Being a major port, the city was of a high strategic importance during the war.

Some 72,000 people with in a 1.2 mile radius will be evacuated for the disarming taking place on Sunday.


Irish Lighthouse World War II: Blacksod Lighthouse, Critical in D-Day

Located on the West coast of Ireland.

The lighthouse keeper gave the weather forecast that enabled General Eisenhower to make the decision to land Allied forces in Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

Some meteorologists had predicted a week of bad weather for France at the beginning of June.  The Germans believed this forecast and Field Marshal Rommel left the front lines in France to visit his family in Germany.

The observer at Blacksod Bay predicted a mid-week break and Eisenhower acted on that prediction.  This was a big reason for Allied success that day.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Irish Lighthouses in World War II: Blacksod Lighthouse

Blackrock Mayo Lighthouse sustained gunfire during World War II.  A German plane attacked the SS Macville in deep water near the lighthouse.

Stray bullets shattered panes in the lighthouse, but the keepers were unhurt.


Irish Lighthouse in World War II: Eagle Island Lighthouse

On the northwest coast of Ireland.

In November 1940, a lighthouse keeper spotted the tanker San Demetrio.

A German pocket battleship had attacked it and its convoy making its way across the North Atlantic.

While most of the other ships in the convoy were destroyed, the San Demetrio was so severely damaged that the crew abandoned it.  However, the ship did not sink, and after several days, five crew members returned to the ship, extinguished the flames, restarted her engines, and headed for Eagle Island.

The keepers spotted her and notified a tug and a destroyer to come to the ship's aid.


Irish Lighthouses in World War II: Lusitania Survivor Also Survived a WWII Attack

Albert Bestie was a junior officer on board the Lusitania in World War I and was swept overboard by the inrushing water when the ship sank

Later, during World War II, he survived an attack by German aircraft on the Irish lightship Isolda off the Irish coast.


Thursday, February 9, 2017

Irish Lighthouses in World War II-- Part 2: Ballycotton Island Lighthouse

And, there were a large number of German vessels operating in the area.  In the first weeks of the war, a German U-boat sank the Cunard passenger liner SS Athenia two hundred miles off the west coast of Ireland.

The Athenia was carrying 1,103 passengers and was sunk by the U-30 on September 3, 1939.

Another U-boat sank the British aircraft carrier HMS Courageous off the southwest coast.


Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Irish Lighthouses in World War II-- Part 1: Ballycotton Island Lighthouse

From "Lighthouses of Ireland" by Kevin McCarthy.

Ballycotton Island Lighthouse is located along Ireland's southern coast near Cork.  The waters near it recently have been often used by the Royal Navy from their Haulbowline Island facility in Cork Harbor.  The Royal Navy transferred that facility to Ireland in 1938.

During World War II, even though Ireland remained neutral, the Irosh government established the Marine and Coastwatching Services in 1940. and took over the old Royal Naval Repair and Victualling Yard and Naval Hospital on Haulbowline Island.

They sent their ships out to patrol the area, protect navigational aids, enforce the fishing limits, rescue shipwreck survivors and ward off unfriendly ships (German).


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Carpooling a Patriotic Thing to Do During the War

From the January 18, 2017, USA Today  "Time to get patriotic about carpooling" by Marco della Cava.

During World War II the U.S. government tried to guilt commuters into carpooling.

One of its weapons was a poster showing a driver at the wheel of his car, driving down the road.  Riding shotgun, a ghostly der Fuhrer.  It read:  "When you ride ALONE, you ride with Hitler!  Join a car-sharing club TODAY!"

Of course, this would save valuable gasoline and Americans were rationed as to how much they could get anyway.

Perhaps, we should return to that with the crowded roads of today.


Shorpy Home Front Photo: Esther Bubley's Sister

From the December 11, 2016, PARDON MY RACK: 1943.

January 1943.  Washington, D.C..  "Girl in the doorway at a boarding house.  With Esther Bubley (or her sister Enid) in front."  Nearest camera.  Esther Bubley, OWI.

It was very crowded at the place they were staying, Dissin's Guest House.  The woman in the foreground was Enid.  Sisters Enid, Claire and Esther lived in Washington, D.C., during the war.  Dissin's was the former mansion of Charles Mather Ffoulke at 2013 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, now the site of the Embassy Row Hotel.

Very cramped quarters.

Charles Mather Foulke (1841-1909) was an investment banker and art collector.


Looking Back to 1941: Victory Book Campaign

From the January 11, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"DeKalb's part in the Victory Book Campaign, a national drive being sponsored by the American Library Association, the Red Cross, and the United Service Organizations to secure books for soldiers, sailors and marines, was enthusiastically launched last evening at the DeKalb Public Library."


Monday, February 6, 2017

Shorpy Home Front: The Dance and the Eating

JANUARY 10, 2017--  A BITE TWO EAT:1943:  April 1943.  "Washington, D.C..  A cafeteria."  Esther Bubley, OWI.  Two ladies chowing down.

JANUARY 11, 2017--  FLIRTY DANCING:  April 1943.  Washington, D.C.  "Jitterbugs at an Elks Club dance, the 'cleanest dances in town'."  Esther Bubley, OWI.

Wonder what the "dirty" dances were?

Even in war, people gotta eat and dance.


Funeral for Another USS Oklahoma Victim: Walter Sollie

From the January 4, 2017, Pensacola (Florida) News Journal "Funeral service set for sailor killed at Pearl Harbor."

A service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, January 6, at the Pensacola Naval Air Station Chapel for Walter Sollie who was in the USS Oklahoma's boiler room December 7, 1941.  He died at age 37.

His DNA in bones was discovered to match a surviving niece, Betty (Tom) Tumipseed of Milton.

Mr. Solle was born in Myrtlewood, Alabama and grew up in Atmore.  He enlisted in 1923.  Service was aboard the USS Pruitt, Huron, Northampton, Maryland and lastly, the Oklahoma.

His remains will be buried at 12:30 p.m., Friday, at Barrancas National Cemetery.

Walter Solle was a Water Tender 1st Class.

Sixteen million served in the U.S. military during World War II.  More than 400,000 died in the service of their country, including Mr. Sollie.  There are still 73,104 unaccounted for, of which he was one until recently.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Chief Feathergill Has a Third Accident in Squad Car

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Chief of Police Horace Feathergill is probably wondering if fate or somebody isn't preparing him for the worst.   Yesterday while he was driving the city squad car carefully about the community it was hit by a skidding car.

"Damage was not great.  The interesting thing is that it is the third time since the car was bought that it has been bumped and each time the chief was driving.

"Details of yesterday's dented fender adventure were lacking because the chief was too busy checking up on the community's tire situation."


Saturday, February 4, 2017

Looking Back to 1941: Col. Poust of 129th Visits Sycamore

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Colonel Cassius Poust of the 129th, stationed at Camp Forrest, Tennessee, arrived in Sycamore on Sunday for a brief six-day leave."


Friday, February 3, 2017

World War II and the Rise of Barmaids-- Part 2: "Barmaids-For-the-Duration"

A 1945 Chicago Tribune story referred to these women as "barmaids-for-the-duration."  They were hired with the understanding that they would resign as soon as the men came home.  That year, the local bartenders union admitted 123 women into their organization.  They worked under Union rules and earned the Chicago minimum wage of $45 weekly.

It turned out that the women performed their jobs just as well as men.

After the war ended, most lost their jobs, but about 30 were still working.  The Chicago bartenders union set April 30, 1946, as the deadline for tavern owners to fire the females.  Only, they did make exceptions if the woman owned the bar or was married to the owner.

Those union rules stayed on the books until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Stuff I Didn't Know.  --GreGen

World War II and the Rise of Barmaids-- Part 1: Your New Bartender

From the October 16, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Chicago Flashback:  Raise a glass to barmaids of WWII era" by Lara Weber.

Think of this the next time you go into a bar and are served by a woman.

"Call it the shattering of the martini glass ceiling -- the moment when bar and tavern owners decided that a woman could pour a pint or mix a Manhattan as well as a man.

"It took a war to get there.

"For much of America's history, laws and local customs prevented women from working as bartenders.  But when the U.S. entered World War II and thousands of men shipped off for military service, women went to work."

Bartender, Pour Me Another One, Just Like the Last One.  --GreGen

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 11: His Old "Prune Barge" At Saipan With Him

In June 1944, James Hamlin and his ship, the USS La Salle landed troops on Saipan.

His old ship, the battleship USS California, now repaired, was also there bombarding the island.  It was the first time he had seen his old ship since Pearl Harbor.  Hamlin hollered through his tears, "Go get 'em Prune Barge!"

During his time in the Pacific, James Hamlin won five battle stars in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and then was shipped stateside in 1944 and was master-at-arms at the Navy Shore Patrol in Chicago when the war in the Pacific ended September 2, 1945.

He left the Navy in 1946 and lived with Almyra until her death in 1997.  They'll be together eventually again at Paducah's Mount Kenton Cemetery.

According to Hamlin he doesn't have a grudge against the Japanese even though they sank two ships from under him.  "They were just following orders like we were.  I don't hate them, and I hope they don't hate me either."

Quite a Story.  --GreGen

Thursday, February 2, 2017

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 10:

James Hamlin was on the USS Chicago at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Guadalcanal in 1942.    Again, he wnas not hurt when a Japanese torpedo smashed the bow of the Chicago off Savo Island (by Guadalcanal).  And, he escaped death again when the Chicago was sunk by Japanese planes January 29-30, 1943.

He was serving on the USS La Salle, a transport, when it landed Marines at the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943.  He said "I remember singing 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' when we put them ashore.  A lot of them didn't make it though."


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 9: How Hamlin Was Listed As Lost In Action

He was probably wearing this uniform when he joined the crew of the cruiser USS Chicago which had also been in Pearl harbor during the attack.  This ship left to hunt for the Japanese fleet and get a little payback.

Meanwhile, back on the USS California, authorities were unaware he was on the USS Chicago and compiling lists of casualties.  James Hamlin being absent, he was listed as missing and thought to be dead on his ship or in the harbor.

This is why his parents were sent the telegram saying he was lost in action.


His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 8: A Non-Regulation Uniform

Hamlin bedded down for the night on the balcony of the Ford Island Theater.

By the morning he first noticed that his white uniform was ruined.  After all, he had swam through an oil slick to Ford Island the day before.  He found a pile of clothing and rummaged through it and made himself a new uniform, though not quite regulation: a Navy chambray work shirt and khaki trousers, a brown Marine shoe and a black Navy shoe.


His Pearl Habor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 7: "Please Don't Shoot Me"

When the Japanese planes left, James Hamlin returned to his ship, the USS California to help fight fires and keep her afloat, but it sank.  However, the main deck and superstructure were above water.  he worked until almost midnight salvaging equipment and gear.

At one time that night, he fell off the gangway into the water.  An officer ordered him to go ashore and get some sleep.

He told me, though, that wherever I went I should be whistling and singing because the military personnel there were shooting anything that moved.  Hamlin continued, "I don't remember what I sang but I remember I said, 'Please don't shoot me' at the end of every verse."

Needless To Say, They Were Expecting a Land Attack As Well.  --GreGen

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 6: Hiding in a Real "Fine Target"

Reaching Ford Island, he ran to an airplane hangar for protection.  There were already many soldiers, sailors and Marines in there.  "It seemed to dawn on everybody at the same time that this was a fine target and we all scattered."

He spent the rest of the attack in a nearby ditch.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 5: A Real Fast "Star-Spangled Banner"

When Hamlin reached the main deck he caught sight of what he thought "was the biggest submarine I'd ever seen."  It was the overturned USS Oklahoma.

Before jumping into the water, he saw musical instruments scattered all over the California's teak wood deck.  A musician later told him "they had just started to play the National Anthem when the Japanese planes started coming in.  he said they never played faster in their lives and finished."

He swam to a life boat, arriving just as a plane strafed it and immediately decided to swim the rest of the way to Ford Island.


Monday, January 30, 2017

His Pearl Harbor Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 4

James Hamlin and a few others scrambled for their gas masks.  A chief petty officer stopped him and said this was no gas attack and ordered him to the Number Three Fire Room to help get the ship underway.  Minutes later, a bomb hit and exploded where the gas masks were stored and he never saw the others who had been with him again.

When the abandon ship order was given he found his escape route blocked by fire and debris.  He saw a sailor slumped against the bulkhead and recognized him as one of the clerks at the ship's "Geedunk" stand where sailors could buy cigarettes, ice cream and candy.

Hamlin laid him out on a couch in the wardroom and found out later that the clerk was already dead.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Pearl Harbor Survivor's Death Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 3: This is No Drill

James Hamlin went to breakfast and then headed topside afterwards and bought a copy of the Honolulu Advertiser from "Sweatshirt" Clark, the only unofficial "paperboy" when the USS California was in port.  He found a shady spot under the big canvas awning, by the No. 1 14-inch gun turret, which was set up for church service.  The breeze, however, made it hard to turn the pages so he went below.

At 7:55 a.m. the ships' air raid siren sounded.  Said Hamlin, "I thought it was a heck of a time to have an air raid drill.  But, it didn't take me long to realize it wasn't a drill.."

The torpedoes shook the ship and dust started falling off overhead and they thought they were being gassed.


31 of 388 Unidentified USS Oklahoma Victims Identified

From the January 8, 2017, Providence Journal  "Veterans Journal:  USS Oklahoma sailors -- proper military burials 75 years later."

Thirty-five of the 429 sailors and Marines who died aboard the were identified afterwards.

Since most were not recovered until two years later, the bones of the rest were commingled in 61 caskets in 45 graves.

Because of DNA, recently the graves were dug up and examinations made.

As a result, so far, 31 of the 388 have been identified.

This effort began in January 2015.

This is the only right thing to do.  Thanks, U.S.A..


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Report of Pearl Harbor Victim Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 2: The Radio and the "Prune Barge"

James Hamlin was on the battleship USS California that day.  And, far from it being his last, he lived on until 1999.

The nickname of the USS California was the "Prune Barge" because of the seemingly endless supply of that dried fruit supplied by the ship's namesake.

December 7, like December 6, was to be another duty-free day for him, "liberty" in Navy lingo.  He was looking forward to sunbathing and swimming with his shipmates at Waikiki Beach, where he had also gone the day before.

That December 6, he had stopped on his way to the beach at the Honolulu Montgomery Ward store and bought a $9.95 radio for his steady girlfriend back in Lone Oak, a suburb of Paducah, Kentucky.  The clerk had promised him it would be shipped promptly to Almyra Craig, who he had met in 1937.  (They were married in 1943 while he was home on leave.)


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Report of Pearl Harbor Victim Was Highly Exaggerated-- Part 1

From the December 23, 2016, Ky Forward "Old Time Kentucky: Christmas report of soldier's Pearl Harbor demise was greatly exaggerated" by Berry Craig.

James Thomas Hamlin, fireman 1st class was from Harlan, Kentucky and at Pearl Harbor that day.  On December 16, 1941, his parents, Green and Molly Hardin, received this telegram:

"The Navy Department greatly regrets to inform you that your son, James Thomas Hamlin, fireman first class, U.S. Navy, was lost in action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country."

A memorial service was held for their 28-year-old son at the Harlan Baptist Church where they worshipped.  There was an obituary in the Harlan Enterprise newspaper where he had once been a cub reporter.

The Only Thing.  --GreGen

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Apology for Pearl Harbor, As It Should Be

Japan's Prime Minister Abe did not apologize for the attack on Pearl Harbor, just as President Obama did not apologize for the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  As well they shouldn't.  At most, they should acknowledge that it was a sad time in history and must not be repeated.

Plus, neither man was alive back then.

I was happy to see the president finally doing something about Pearl Harbor.  It always seemed to me that he essentially ignored it.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Looking Back to 1941: Tire Inventories Ordered for Rationing

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Sheriff William Runnells of DeKalb County received a telegraphic order from Henry Pope, Jr., State Tire Rationing Superintendent, requesting the sheriff to notify all tire dealers in the county to send a complete inventory of present stocks of casings and tubes as of Jan. 3, 1942.

"The report is expected to be filed immediately."

More Rationing Already.  --GreGen

Sunday, January 22, 2017

"We Patch Anything": The WPA's Sewing Rooms-- Part 3

I had never heard of this operation before coming across it in one of my "Looking Back" posts.  I especially liked how they took the WPA's initials and turned it into "WE Patch Anything."

Seamstresses took pride in what they did and would say the WPA stood for "We Patch Anything."  Each item they made had a WPA label on it and the inscription "Not to Be Sold."  I wonder if there are any remaining WPA garments?  Perhaps even collector articles now?

By 1940, the Fort Worth sewing room had 650 women,ages 35-64, and had produced 2,341,369 garments and 130,408 household items.

As the United States drew closer to war, the women began finding better paying jobs in defense industries.  Starting pay in the sewing rooms was $35 a month for 140 hours.

WPA sewing rooms disbanded in 1941.

Something Else I Didn't Know About.  --GreGen

Friday, January 20, 2017

"We Patch Anything": The WPA's Sewing Rooms-- Part 2

Some women were placed in clerical jobs by this program.  Others became librarians, worked in canning, gardening and sewing.

Nationally, some 7 percent of WPA workers were women engaged in sewing projects.

The Fort Worth sewing room opened in 1935 and later had separate sewing rooms for black and white women.  It provided job training for illiterate women also included basic education.

The federal government paid the women's salaries while the city and county paid a portion of the expenses.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

"We Patch Anything": The WPA's Sewing Rooms-- Part 1

Continued from the January 7 and 8 blogs.

From the May 27, 2013 "Living New Deal site "We Patch Anything: WPA Sewing Rooms in Fort Worth, Texas."

This is in reference to my posts of January 7 and 8 referring to the closure of the sewing room formerly housing the KPA (actually WPA) in DeKalb and reopening as a Red Cross sewing room, now for the war effort.

Most think of the U.S. government's attempt to get the country out of the Great Depression called the Works Progress Administration usually referred to by its initials WPA as mostly men working on highways, parks and schools.

But, there were also programs for women starting in 1933 through the Women's Division of the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and later under the auspices of the WPA.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pearl Harbor's Mysteries-- Part 4: PTSD and "The Tears of the Arizona"


The United States lost 2,403 persons in the attack.  But many of the survivors suffered from what we now call PTSD.  In a 1988 study, 85% of those still alive still suffered from flashbacks.

Look up the story of Sterling Cale.


And that is 75 years after it went down.  On December 6, 1941, the day before the attack, it had taken on a full load of oil, 1.5 million gallons for a January trip to the U.S. mainland.  It still leaks between 2-9 quarts a day.  It is estimated that it still has 1/3 of the thick bunker fuel oil that powered it on board.

This is easily observed by visitors who call the drops the "R|Tears of the Arizona."

I watched these for several minutes when I visited.  It is a moving experience.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

Pearl Harbor's Mysteries-- Part 3: The Mysterious New Yorker Ad


On November 22, 1941, there were several odd advertisements in the publication for a dice game called "The Deadly Double."  They had headlines "Actung, Warning, Alert."  "Actung" being a German word.

Other ads about the game were in the magazine, including one that showed a pair of dice with the numbers 12 and 7 showing, December 7?


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pearl Harbor Still Holds a Few Mysteries-- Part 2: Major Tomura


  Communications between Japan and United States at this serious stage were handled over the wireless telegraph.

FDR sent a cable December 6 to Emperor Showa in hopes of "dispelling the dark clouds" of war due to the two countries' long-standing peace and friendship.  In Tokyo, Major Morio Tomura, at the Tokyo cable office, delayed the message ten hours believing that war was Japan's only destiny.

When FDR's cable arrived, Japan already had its 14-part cable ready announcing the end of the negotiations.  The same Major Tomura delayed this cable as well and it didn't arrive until nearly two hours after the attack.

Thanks a Lot Major Tomura.  --GreGen

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Pearl Harbor Still Holds a Few Mysteries-- Part 1: "The Sleeping Dragon"

From the December 8, 2016, Popular Mechanics by Matt Blitz.

As a result of the attack, nineteen Navy ships were damaged or destroyed.

Even with all the history written about it, there are still things many Americans don't know about it.

1.  The "Sleeping Dragon" almost stayed asleep.

The attack was the result of failed negotiations on both sides.  The U.S. considered Japan to be like Nazi Germany, but there was much disagreement in the Japanese government about going to war with the United States.


Monday, January 9, 2017

World War II Glass Penny Goes for $70,000-- Part 2

The Blue Ridge Glass Company in Tennessee, which no longer exists, made experimental pennies made of tempered glass.

The former owner of the penny, Roger Burdette, says that the coins' impressions weren't precise, their weight and size not uniform and there was a tendency to develop sharp edges.  These led to their being rejected.  Most of these experimental pennies were destroyed.

He knows of just one other in existence and it is broken.

The U.S. Mint did make its 1943 pennies from low grade steel covered with zinc and started making copper pennies again in 1944.

Penny for Your Thoughts.  --GreGen

World War II Glass Penny sells for $70,000-- Part 1

From the January 6, 2017, CBS Money Watch "Possibly unique glass penny from World War II sells for $70k."

Heritage Auctions announced that an experimental glass penny, possibly the only one of its kind, was sold for $70,000 on January 5, to an American buyer who wishes to remain anonymous.

During the war, copper was needed for ammunition and the U.S. Mint authorized tests to be made using other metals, plastic and rubber as pennies.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

About That KPA in the Last Post

I looked up KPA in the last post and found it should have been the WPA sewing project, not the KPA.

WPA, of course, stands for the Works Progress Administration, a major government agency formed by FDR to get us out of the Great Depression.

I'll do some more research on the WPA sewing project.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Looking Back to 1942: Sewing for the Red Cross in DeKalb

From the January 4, 2017, MidWeek (DeKalb County, Illinois) "Looking Back."

1942, 75 Years Ago.

"Announcement was made today by the DeKalb Chapter of the American Red Cross that it will open a sewing center in DeKalb.  The center is to be located on the second floor of The Chronicle building in quarters previously occupied by the KPA sewing project.

"The chapter invites all women who wish to do sewing or knitting for the Red Cross to go to the center any afternoon that is convenient for them."


Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Meet in Pearl Harbor-- Part 4

Continued from December 29, 2016.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Obama rode a small boat to the white USS Arizona Memorial building in the harbor that sits over the stricken battleship.  There the remains of 1,177 sailors and Marines lie entombed for the ages.

Abe laid a wreath to honor the dead.


Friday, January 6, 2017

Obama, Japan's Leader Meet in Pearl Harbor-- Part 3: "Sorry Is Just a World"

Among those in attendance at the Arizona Memorial was Sterling Cale, 95.  He was a sailor at Pearl Harbor the day of the attack.  In the days following the attack, it was his job to pull bodies out of the still-burning battleship.

Mr. Cale said he did not come hoping to hear Abe apologize.  He said: "'Sorry' is just a word.  What matters more is the action of coming here and going out there with our commander in chief.  That says more than words."

Prime Minster Shinzo Abe did not issue a formal apology, even as he detailed the horror of the sinking of the Arizona.''"Each and every one of those service men had a mother and father anxious about his safety.  many had wives and girlfriends they loved, and many must have had children they would have loved watching grow up."


Obama and Japan's leader Meet at Pearl Harbor-- Part 2

Continued from December 29, 2016.

The ceremony was conceived as an affirmation of the close relations that now exist between the two countries.

Said Prime Minister Abe as he spoke to Pearl Harbor survivors:  "Ours is an alliance of hope that will lead us to the future."

Abe became the first Japanese prime minister to make a highly publicized visit to the USS Arizona Memorial, though it is believed that three of his predecessors are thought to have quietly visited  Pearl Harbor.  His visit comes after President Obama's visit in May to Hiroshima, site of one of the two nuclear attacks that helped end the war in 1945.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Deaths: Donald E. Casey Sr.-- Part 3: Shell-Shocked

His son said:  In retrospect, he thought any and every POW in World War II had that.  They just thought it was being shell-shocked.  I think he became interested in sharing his experiences."

Over several years, Donald Casey began pulling together his wartime materials, including photos and began to work on his story which resulted in a 294-page book titled "To Fight For My Country, Sir."


Deaths: Donald E. Casey Sr, --Part 2: Shot Down Over Germany

While flying on his 28th mission in June 1944, German anti-aircraft fire shot down his plane.  All nine crew members survived a parachute jump from 23,000 feet, but four were killed by civilians in Hamburg, Germany.

Casey and the other four were captured and transported under guard to prisoner-of-war camps in Poland and then Bavaria.  He and his fellow prisoners were liberated by Gen. George Patton's Third Army in April 1945.

After the war, he received his undergraduate degree in economics from Dartmouth College in 1948 and then worked in investment banking before returning to Chicago where he got his law degree in 1957.

For many years, Casey would not talk about his wartime experiences, but about 25 years ago he began researching about World War II and attending meetings with veterans around the country.  He also began editing a newsletter for the 379th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force.

In his eighties, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Deaths: Donald E. Casey Sr. (1924-2016)-- Part 1

From the April 11, 2016, Chicago Tribune "Lawyer, vet wrote book about war experiences" by Bob Goldsborough.

Donald E. Casey Sr., a Chicago lawyer and frequent volunteer at Chicago's Pritzker Military Museum & Library, was also an author who in 2009 documented his experiences as a prisoner of war in Nazi Germany during World War II.

He died March 14, 2016.  Born in Oak Park and attended school at Campion Jesuit High in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and then went to Purdue University.

While at Purdue, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces' Aviation Cadet program during World War II.  Called to active duty in February 1943, he completed aerial navigation school the following October and became a navigator on B-17 Flying Fortress bombers on combat missions from England.


Looking Back to 1941: Flag to Stay Up on Sycamore Courthouse for Duration of War

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

1941, 75 Years Ago.

"The flag went up over the court house yesterday, Sheriff William Runnells, custodian of court house properties announced that the flag would be flown daily for the duration of the war.

"Ordinarily the flag is flown only on specific holidays."

The DeKalb County Court House is in Sycamore.

Raise the Flag!!  --GreGen

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

After Pearl Harbor: The Race to Save the U.S. Fleet-- Part 2: Returned to Service Quickly

The Flagship of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, the USS Pennsylvania, had been in drydock.  The USS Tennessee and Maryland were moored inboard of the USS West Virginia and Oklahoma and were sheltered from the Japanese torpedoes. All suffered damage, but remained afloat.

Within three months, the USS Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, cruisers USS Honolulu, Helena and Raleigh, destroyers Helm and Shaw, seaplane tender Curtiss, repair ship vestal and floating drydock YFD-2 were back in service or had been refloated and headed back to the United States for final repairs.

The most heavily damaged of the smaller ships, the Raleigh and Shaw, were returned to active duty by mid-1942.


After Pearl Harbor: The Race to Save the U.S. Fleet-- Part 1

From the December 1, 2016, History by Sarah Pruitt.

Most of the big damage at Pearl Harbor was done in the first 30 minutes.  The Arizona was completely destroyed and the Oklahoma capsized.  The West Virginia, California and Nevada were sunk in shallow water.  Altogether, five battleships were sunk.

Also, 3 cruisers, 3 destroyers and other smaller vessels were seriously damaged.  That was along with 180 planes destroyed on the ground.

In addition, there were 3,400 casualties and 2,300 killed, mostly on the Arizona and Oklahoma.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Shorpy Home Front Photos:

Dec. 5, 2016--  AIR NOIR: 1943.  July 1943.  Greenville, South Carolina "Air Service Command.  Enlisted man folding up his gas mask to hang on the wall after having worn it all day."  Jack Delano, OWI

December 6, 2016 ELECTRIC ANGEL: 1943.  January 1943.  Washington, D.C..  "This Office of Price Administration clerk, speaking of her boarding house room, says:  'The light looks like an angel when I leave the shade off, so I do.'"  Esther Bubley, OWI.


Shorpy Home Front Photos: Zoots to Relax

Dec. 3, 20016  ZOOT ALORS: 1943.  July 1943.  Washington, D.C..  "Negro alley dwellings near Capitol."  Esther Bubley, OWI.  The picture shows slums, but the man is wearing a real nice, probably expensive Zoot Suit, probably one of the ugliest creations ever.

Ya Gotta See It To Believe It.

Dec. 4, 2016  CORNERMAN: 1943.  July 1943.  Greenville, South Carolina.  "Air Service Command.  Enlisted man of the 25th Service Group relaxing in his hutment."  Jack Delano, OWI.


Sunday, January 1, 2017

Germany Evacuated Entire Town On This Past Christmas Day Because of World War II Bomb

From the December 25, 2016, Independent "Germany evacuated entire town on Christmas Day after discovering Second World War bomb."

Thousands in the town of Augsburg were forced to evacuate while authorities worked to disarm the bomb.  It was discovered last week during construction in the city's central district.

The evacuation involved some 32,000 homes and 54,000 people in a 1.8 kilometer zone.

The bomb found was weighed 1.8 tons.  That's a huge blast if it goes off.

A large part of Augsburg was destroyed February 25-26, 1944, when it was bombed by hundreds of British and American bombs.

Bombs, the Gifts That Keep Giving.  --GreGen

Lauren Bruner Returns to Pearl Harbor for 75th-- Part 4: Amazing Recovered and Continued to Serve

Continued from December 23, 2016.

It took Mr. Bruner seven months to recover and he then returned to duty in the Navy as the service needed all the sailors it could get.

He was on the USS Coghlan at Attu Island in Alaska in 1943.  His ship later took troops to the South Pacific and was near Guam when the war ended.

After his death, he wants his ashes interned in the wreck of the Arizona with his old shipmates.  He prefers this to being buried in a sparsely visited cemetery on land.

"I think I've got the final spot," he says, confidant that he will be the last of the Arizona's survivors to die.


Beginning This Blog's 6th Year

This post marks the beginning of this blog's sixth year and marks its 2456th post.

I was writing about World War II in my Cooter's History Thing blog, but as we were entering the 70th anniversary of the war and especially after all the Pearl Harbor articles back in 2011, I figured why not start this new blog.

I have always been interested in Pearl Harbor, but but so much in the rest of the war.

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s (I was born in 1951) most all of my parent's male friends were World War II veterans and, essentially, they were just all over the place.  But now, with the Greatest generation passing away so quickly, I figured this would be a good time to honor them.

The Greatest Generation.  --GreGen (Short for Greatest Generation)