Category Archives: Home Front

Higgins Boats

Higgins boat

President Eisenhower said: “If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs (Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel), we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.” And as Colonel Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret) said, “The Higgins boats broke the gridlock on the ship-to-shore movement.  It is impossible to overstate the tactical advantages this craft gave U.S. amphibious commanders in World War II.”

Clearly, the half-wood half-steel “smallboat” meant a lot to the War. These assault or LCVP boats would land troops and material on invasion beachheads. Their designer, Andrew Higgins, was positive there would be a need among the U.S. Navy for thousands of small boats—and was also sure that steel would be in short supply. In an common moment of eccentricity, Higgins bought the entire 1939 crop of mahogany from the Philippines and stored it on his own.

Higgins boat diagram

Higgins’ expectations were right, and as the war progressed he applied for a position in Naval design. Insisting that the Navy “doesn’t know one damn thing about small boats,” Higgins struggled for years to convince them of the need for small wooden boats. Finally he signed the contract to develop his LCVP.

Employing more than 30,000 for an integrated workforce in New Orleans. Higgins employed blacks and women among them, which was uncommon practice at the time. This force eagerly began mass-producing the “Higgins boats,” which were 36’3” in length and had a beam of 10’10”. Their displacement when unloaded was 18,000 lbs., and they could maintain a speed of 9 knots. They were defended by 2 .30 caliber machine guns, and could carry 36 combat-equipped infantrymen or 8,000 pounds of cargo. For a detailed picture of a Higgins boat’s anatomy, see the image below. Along with the help of other American factories, Higgins produced 23,398 LCVPs during the War.

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In the United States,  Andrew Higgins evaluated the Fox boat and felt it was too weak to survive mishap in emergency operations. In November 1943, Higgins assigned engineers from his company to make a sturdier version with two engines.  Higgins Industries, known for making landing craft (LCVPs)  and PT boats,  produced the A-1 lifeboat, a 1½-ton (1400 kg), 27-foot (8 m) airborne lifeboat with waterproof internal compartments so that it would not sink if swamped or overturned. Intended to be dropped by modified Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress it was ready for production in early 1944.

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Military History – Navy Style – 

The Navy’s version of Sad Sack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Adams – Rockingham, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/675 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Howard Blanchard – DE; US Navy, WWII, destroyer escort / Korea

William Cason Sr. – Charlotsville, VA; US Merchant Marines

Steven Donofrio – Middlebury, CT; US Navy, WWII

Barbara Bower Johnson – Pleasant Hills, PA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, telegrapher

Albert Moon – Jacksonville, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Hamlin

Robert Oelwang – Hornell, NY; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

William Robertson – MI; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

John Sutton – Pittsburgh, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Signalman

Richard Wynn – New Britain, CT; US Navy, WWII

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U.S. Air Force 72nd Birthday

The official birthday for the US Air Force is 18 September 1947 as enacted under the National Security Act of 1947.

 

 

 

HIGH FLIGHT

by: John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth

and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed

and joined the tumbling mirth

Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of – 

Wheeled and soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence.

Hovering there,

I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flug

My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delicious burning blue

I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untresspassed sanctity of space,

Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

 

 

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Military Humor – Air Force Style – 

They won’t be singing “Love Shack”!

Maybe “What ya gonna do, send me to McMurdo?” wasn’t the best comeback to the Colonel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Akika A. Abe – Oakland, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, G-2, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Brannan (103) – Meade, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 pilot / Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret. 31 y.)

Michael Dux – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-25 flight engineer / State Dept.

‘Last Flight’, by Rhads

Jeremy Griffin – Cristobal, PAN; US Army, Afghanistan, 3/1st Special Forces Group, KIA

Carl Kalwaitis – Elkton, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Robert McClelland – Gilmer, TX; US Air Force, surgeon

Auburn Smith – Picayune, MS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, paratrooper

Robert Werschey – Licoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Charles Whisenant – Washington D.C.; US Navy, WWII, aircraft mechanic

John Yaeger (100) – White Sulphur Springs, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Captain

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Andrew Jackson Higgins – A Legacy

Andrew Jackson Higgins

Andrew Jackson Higgins, the man Dwight D. Eisenhower once credited with winning World War II, was a wild and wily genius.

At the New Orleans plant where his company built the boats that brought troops ashore at Normandy on June 6, 1944, Higgins hung a sign that said, “Anybody caught stealing tools out of this yard won’t get fired — he’ll go to the hospital.”

Whatever Higgins did, he did it a lot. “His profanity,” Life magazine said, was “famous for its opulence and volume.” So was his thirst for Old Taylor bourbon, though he curtailed his intake by limiting his sips to a specific location.

I only drink,” he told Life magazine, “while I’m working.”

It is Higgins himself who takes your breath away,” Raymond Moley, a former FDR adviser,  wrote in Newsweek in 1943. “Higgins is an authentic master builder, with the kind of will power, brains, drive and daring that characterized the American empire builders of an earlier generation.”

USNS Andrew J. Higgins, Sept. 1987

Higgins was not native to the South, despite his love of bourbon. He grew up in Nebraska, where, at various ages, he was expelled from school for fighting. Higgins’ temperament improved around boats. He built his first vessel in the basement when he was 12. It was so large that a wall had to be torn down to get it out.

He moved South in his early 20s, working in the lumber industry. He hadn’t thought much about boats again until a tract of timber in shallow waters required him to build a special vessel so he could remove the wood. Higgins signed up for a correspondence course in naval architecture, shifting his work from timber to boats.

In the late 1930s, he owned a small shipyard in New Orleans. By then, his special shallow-craft boat had become popular with loggers and oil drillers. They were “tunnel stern boats,” whose magic was in the way the “hull incorporated a recessed tunnel used to protect the propeller from grounding,” according to the Louisiana Historical Association.

Higgins ‘Eureka’ boat

Higgins called it the “Eureka” boat. The war brought interest by U.S. forces in a similar style vessel to attack unguarded beaches and avoid coming ashore at heavily defended ports. The Marines settled on the Higgins boat, transforming what had been a 50-employee company into one of the world’s largest manufacturers.

“To put Higgins’s accomplishment in perspective,” historian Douglas Brinkley wrote in a 2000 article in American Heritage magazine, consider this: “By September 1943, 12,964 of the American Navy’s 14,072 vessels had been designed by Higgins Industries. Put another way, 92 percent of the U.S. Navy was a Higgins navy.”

Though Eisenhower and even Hitler acknowledged the importance of the Higgins boat — military leaders came to call it “the bridge to the beach” — its builder went mostly unmentioned in histories of the war. That is, until 17 years ago, when the World War II Museum opened in New Orleans and recognized Higgins’ life, displaying a reproduction of his boat.

Still, there’s been just one biography written: “Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats that Won World War II” by historian Jerry Strahan.

“Without Higgins’s uniquely designed craft, there could not have been a mass landing of troops and matériel on European shores or the beaches of the Pacific islands, at least not without a tremendously higher rate of Allied casualties,” Strahan wrote.

Higgins Hotel, New Orleans

The WWII Museum in New Orleans officially broke ground on the Higgins Hotel directly across the street from the museum in 2017.

The one man in the South I want especially to see is Andrew Jackson Higgins.  I want to tell him, face to face, that Higgins’ landing boats such as we had at Guadalcanal are the best in the world.  They do everything but talk; honest they do.”  ___ Warrant Officer Machinist, James D. Fox, quoted in the Shreveport Times, 6 March 1943

AJ Higgins held 30 patents, mostly covering amphibious landing craft and vehicles.

Higgins died in New Orleans on 1 August 1952, and was buried in Metairie Cemetery.  He had been hospitalized for a week to treat stomach ulcers when he suffered a fatal stroke.

Article resources: The World War II Museum in New Orleans (2018 Annual Report), The Marine Corps & the Washington Post.

There will be more information on the boats in the upcoming post.

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Military Humor – Navy Style ……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bill Balser – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Thomas Carney – Naples, FL; US Army, Vietnam, 173rd A/B Brigade / Cmdr. of 5th Infantry Div., Lt. Gen. (Ret. 35 y.)

Donald Davis – Orangeville, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Bill Hardin – Wheat Ridge, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 72nd Sea Bees

John Johnson – Sanford, NC; US Army, WWII, 9th Infantry Medical Detachment, medic

Garry Massa – Pickney, MI; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Roger Patrick – Tabor, IA; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Paul “Ken” Rash – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Roy Schwabe (100) – Park Ridge, IL; US Army, WWII

Carl Wheaton – Bar Harbor, ME; USMC, WWII, PTO, Lt. Colonel, pilot

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Fear brought rise to an icon – Smokey

One of the first Smokey Bear posters during WWII, circa 1946.
Advertising Archive/Everett

“Remember Pearl Harbor!” “Loose Lips Might Sink Ships.” Those are among the most famous slogans of World War II. But another poster child birthed during the war—Smokey Bear—might be even better remembered. The ad campaign that spawned the cartoonish bear, and a fire prevention legend, was only made possible by wartime paranoia about the possibility of a Japanese invasion of the continental United States.

At the time, many Americans worried that explosive devices might spark forest fires along the Pacific coast—for which the U.S. was hardly prepared.

WWII  was a tricky time for forest fire fighting. In the face of wartime rationing, it became harder and harder to get a hold of modern firefighting equipment. As more and more male firefighters joined the war efforts, officials faced a dilemma. “Foresters feared that the forest fire problem might soon get out of hand unless the American public could be awakened to its danger,” said forestry researcher, J. Morgan Smith.

The shelling sparked a national invasion panic, with speculation as to just what Axis fighters could be capable of on U.S. soil. The specter of devastating fires loomed large. Not only were local men assisting with the war effort instead of watching for fires, but firefighting had long been considered a local concern.

Though federal funds had been going toward forest fire fighting since the early 20th century, there was no national effort to fight forest fires.  State forestry services and the Forest Service joined the newly created War Advertising Council to create the Cooperative Forest Fire Prevention Program in 1942.

The program focused on public service advertising, and posters urging the public to aid the war effort by preventing forest fires were soon splashed across the country. In 1944, the program enlisted a famous poster child, Disney’s Bambi. But Disney only lent the character to the effort for a year.

Smokey, over time

Artist  Albert Staehle, known for his illustrations of adorable animals, stepped into the gap. He created the first poster of a cartoonish bear pouring water on a campfire. The Forest Service named the character after a former firefighting legend, New York  assistant fire chief, Smokey Joe Martin.

The injured bear cub, rescued from a forest fire in the Capitan Mountains – calender
US Forest Service/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

The living symbol of Smokey Bear was a five-pound, three month old  American black bear cub who was found in the spring of 1950 after the Capitan Gap fire, a  wildfire that burned in the Capitan Mts. of  New Mexico.  Smokey had climbed a tree to escape the blaze, but his paws and hind legs had been burned. Local crews who had come from New Mexico and Texas to fight the blaze removed the cub from the tree.

Smokey Bear, frolicking in a pool, by Schroeder, Francine, c. 1950s, Smithsonian Archives – History Div, 92-3559.

During his 26-year tenure at the zoo, Smokey Bear became a national icon—and the words “Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires” a nationally known catchphrase.

Ironically, the only real enemy attempts to burn U.S. forests were failures. More than 9,000 Japanese fire balloons were launched over the western United States between 1944 and 1945, but the weapons caused few casualties and even less fire damage.

Over the next 75 years, Smokey’s message of forest fire prevention successfully raised awareness of the dangers of unattended fires—but is also thought to have turned public opinion against burns of any kind. Ironically, the bear helped put the brakes on controlled burns, which keep the amount of flammable brush under control and help encourage new growth in forests.

While Smokey’s message has since been updated to mention “wildfires” instead of “forest fires” and to support prescribed fires while still preventing “unwanted and unplanned outdoor fires,” the “Smokey Bear effect” has been blamed for making U.S. forests less resilient in the face of climate change.

From: History.com

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor  from the 1942 New Yorker magazine –  

“I’ll see if he’s in, sir.”

 

 

“I still can’t tell them apart.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bruce Aikenhead – London, CAN; RC Air Force/RAF, WWII, CBI, mechanic

Thomas Barry – Clearwater, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Edward Cole – Surprise, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Andrew ‘Max’ Eggman – Gridley, CA; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, GySgt. (Ret. 20 y.)

Raymond Howey – Ransom County, ND; US Army, WWII

Arthur Jacob – Webster, MA; US Army, WWII, 84th Infantry, Purple Heart

Dorothy Klar – New Orleans, LA; Civilian, Engles Shipyard, WWII, inspector

Frank Livoti – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII

Billie Paige – Winfield, KS; US Navy, WWII, USS Shangri-la

Charles Whitten – Winter Haven, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII

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How Donald Duck & Dumbo Helped to Win the War

Just one day after Pearl Harbor, Walt Disney received his first military contract and began creating promotional reels, war bond advertisements, short training and instructional films, and other WWII materials.  Also at this time, he received requests from military units all over the world requesting Disney-designed insignia’s and mascots.

David Lesjak, a former employee and Disney historian says, “Insignia helped build morale.  Having a cartoon character you grew up with on your plane or shoulder patch helped remind you of home.  In my mind it was a happy diversion from the horrors of war.”

Hank Porter @ Disney

One of the purest expressions of Walt Disney’s genuine patriotism during the war years was his decision to establish a unit devoted to producing customized military unit insignia free of charge for U.S. armed forces and their allies.  Headed by the talented draftsman, Hank Porter, whom Walt referred to as a “one-man department,” a unit of 5 full-time artists worked steadily throughout the war, turning out 1,300 insignia.

By far, the single most requested and used Disney character was Donald Duck, who was featured in at least 146 designs.  The numerous requests for Donald’s likeness resulted in a wealth of drawings that successfully channeled his irascibilty as patriotism and military zeal, often with a comedic flourish.

Next, the character that appeared most was Pluto in about 35.  Pluto was popular and his trademark facial expressions made it easy for the artists to incorporate him into a variety of insignia.  Goofy followed in popularity at 25 insignia and Jiminy Cricket appeared in 24.

B-29 Thumper nose-art

Sometimes a unit had a special design in mind and was seeking a Disney artist’s skill to bring it to life, attaching a rough sketch to their request letter for reference.

The bulk of insignia were designed for Army units and Navy vessels, but occasionally individuals requested their own personal design.  These requested were accommodated and executed with the same level of care as an insignia for an entire ship, bombardment group or battalion.

Mickey nose-art

The requested letters were often addressed simply: Walt Disney, Hollywood, California.  Once a letter was received in was placed in the queue of pending requests, and the turnaround time was usually 3-4 weeks, though a wait of several months was possible when the insignia unit was particularly swamped.

The procedure for the creation of the insignia design varied, but it typically involved a preliminary pencil drawing in which the image was established, then a full-color pencil version and finally a full-color gouache on art board that would then be forwarded to the requesting unit or party.  This would often hang in the unit headquarters and serve as a template for reproducing the emblem on aircraft, tanks, and other military equipment – as well as uniforms and letterheads.

War Bond by Disney

It is difficult today to fully appreciate how it felt for a serviceman to have his unit represented by a Disney-designed insignia.  For the generation that fought WWII, Disney character images possessed and iconic heft that has no analog in contemporary animation.

A Donald Duck insignia boosted morale, not just because it reminded soldiers of home, but also because it signified that the job they were doing was important enough to be acknowledged by Walt Disney.

The 127th Airborne Engineers/11th Airborne Division’s first insignia was Donald Duck with combat engineer equipment and aviation goggles.

This article and information was printed in the “Voice of the Angels” 11th Airborne Division Association newspaper.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Tracking Guide

Disney Humor

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Bradshaw III – E. Greenwich, RI; US Army, WWII & Korea. Major (Ret. 45 y.)

Jimmie Calder – Pensacola, FL; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, MSgt. (Ret. 22 y.)

Charles Graybeal – W. Jefferson, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO

Charles Hankammer – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, CSG2 cook

Clayton J. Horne – Atlanta, LA; Saudi Arabia, Specialist, 351/160th Military Police Battalion, KIA

Meredith Keirn – Niagara Falls, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO, Spl. / Korea, Sgt., Co F/2/7/1st Marine Division, KIA

Ralph Mayville – Windsor, CAN; RC Forces, WWII, ETO, 1st Special Forces (Black Devils)

Horace Ogle – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44071, WWII

George Rash – Pulaski County, VA; US Army, WWII, POW / Korea

Martin J. Wurth –  Paducah, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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How Chocolate Helped To Win The War

Seventy-five years ago, more than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy during the D-Day invasion.  And while we all know that day served as a huge turning point for the Allied cause, you probably haven’t thought much about what those soldiers carried with them to eat during and after the invasion.

Food had to be lightweight, nutritious and very high in energy; after all, these men were about to invade Nazi-occupied land.  As it so happens, the one substance that could fulfill all those requirements was a very unlikely it — a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

D ration chocolate bar

The Hershey Chocolate company was approached back in 1937 about creating a specially designed bar just for U.S. Army emergency rations.  According to Hershey’s chief chemist, Sam Hinkle, the U.S. government had just four requests about their new chocolate bars: (1) they had to weigh 4 ounces; (2) be high in energy; (3) withstand high temperatures; (4) “taste a little better than a boiled potato.”

The final product was called the “D ration bar,” a blend of chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk powder and oat flour.  The viscous mixture was so thick, each bar had to be packed into its 4-ounce mold by hand.

As for taste, well – most who tried it said they would rather have eaten the boiled potato.  The combination of fat and oat flour made the chocolate bar a dense brick, and the sugar did little to mask the overwhelmingly bitter taste to the dark chocolate.  Since it was designed to withstand high temperatures, the bar was nearly impossible to bite into.

Troopers had to shave slices off with a knife before they could chew it.  And despite the Army’s best efforts to stops the men from doing so, some of the D-ration bars ended up in the trash.

Tropical chocolate bar

Later in the war, Hershey introduced a new version, known as the Tropical bar, specifically designed for extreme temperatures of the Pacific Theater.  By the end of the war, the company had produced more than 3 billion ration bars.

Soldier with a Tropical bar

But “Hitler’s Secret Weapon”, as many infantrymen referred to the chocolate bar, was hardly the only candy in the D-Day rations.  Candy was an easy way to pep up the troops, and the quick burst of energy provided by sugar was a welcome addition to kit bags.

Along with the D rations, troops received 3 days worth of K ration packs.  These were devised more as meal replacements and not sustenance snacks like the D rations, and came complete with coffee, canned meats, processed cheese and tons of sugar.  The other chocolate companies would soon join in with the production.

Cadbury ration bar

At various points during the war, men could find powdered orange or lemon drink, caramels, chewing gum and of course – more chocolate!!  Along with packs of cigarettes and sugar cubes for coffee, the K ration packs provided plenty of valuable energy for fighting men.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

The Lost 52 Project has located the ‘late and presumed lost’ US submarine, USS Grunion off the Aleutian Islands.  She sunk with 70 crewmen on board during WWII.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader’s Digest ‘Humor In Uniform’

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Beckwith – Ossipee, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO, US 6th Army / Korea, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Ralph Bennett – Ames, IA; US Army, WWII, CBI, KIA

Lonnie ‘L.D.’ Cook – OK; US Navy, WWII, Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona

Frederick Haberman (100) – Bloomfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII

Claude Honeycutt – Gadsden, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-47 pilot, 34 FS/437 Fighter Group

Roy A. Knight Jr. – Millsap, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Colonel, 602 Special Operations Squadron, KIA

Anthony Lewis Sr. – Watervliet, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John McRoskey – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, Major, 515/13th Airborne

Myron Stone – Tacoma, WA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Harry Walton Sr. – Allentown, PA; USMC, Korea

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The postcard read: “Your boy is alive!”

James MacMannis and his wife listen to their ham radio

James ‘Dad Mac’ MacMannis is believed to have sent as many as 33,000 postcards during World War II.

WEST PALM BEACH — Dad Mac sat in his living room and furiously scribbled the names the German propaganda machine rattled off. Names of GIs whose moms and dads and siblings and sweethearts in Florida and Iowa and Oregon. Loved ones who for weeks or months had wondered and worried and wrung their hands. Mac would fill out and address a postcard. It would say: Your boy is alive.

As World War II raged, and before and after D-Day, James L. MacMannis wrote as many as 33,000 postcards to families across America. After a while, people called him Dad.

At first, he said, he sent out just a few cards, and he got few responses.

“I was discouraged,” he told Palm Beach Evening Times Editor Tom Penick for a June 1944 column. “It was weeks before I heard from any of the folks I had written. Then they started.”

One parent wrote, “You are doing marvelous work. May God bless you.”

The date of Penick’s column was June 2, 1944. Neither he nor most of the country knew at the time that in four days, on June 6, the world would change

‘Keeping faith’

James L. MacMannis was a veteran of both the Army and Navy and both world wars. He’d been a barnstorming pilot in those first days of flight — a relative claimed he got America’s fourth-ever pilot’s license, something that couldn’t be independently verified — and taught pilots in World War I, when military aviation was in its infancy

He was a parachute jumper who later became an airplane inspector. He joined World War II via the Coast Guard in the Baltimore area.  Around 1943, he moved to West Palm Beach, believed to be about a block south of what’s now the Norton Museum of Art.

MacMannis did have a hobby: shortwave radio.

In August 1943, he tuned in to a Berlin station. Naturally, it was a propaganda broadcast by the Third Reich. Night after night, the feminine voice would rattle off each soldier’s name and serial number, along with messages the GI hoped would get back to their families in the U.S. The Berlin fräulein even gave the GI’s home address so that anyone listening could drop a line to the family that he was OK, at least relatively.

Whether the idea was to show how humane the Germans were or was a ploy to get parents to pressure the U.S. government to push for peace, only the Nazis could say.

But for Dad Mac, a light went on.

Ray Sherman

Every night at 7, Dad would settle into his rocking chair. He listened even when the static made broadcasts pretty much undecipherable. Some nights he would listen until dawn.

“He doesn’t dare leave because he fears he may miss some of the broadcast with the prisoners’ list,” Mary MacMannis said, “And he tries to get all.”

Some nights it was 20 names, some nights 60 or 80. One night he heard 157 names. Some nights, there was no list.

Dad Mac didn’t tell families everything. Sometimes the broadcast would impart that a boy had had both legs blown off or had bullets still lodged in his body.

“It’s enough to let them know that Berlin says they (soldiers) are alive and a POW,” MacMannis said.

He also worried at times if he was a dupe, forwarding details to desperate families about which the Nazi propaganda machine might be lying. He said he felt better when the War Department began verifying to him what he was hearing.

Once word got out about “Dad’s Listening Post,” others stepped up to help; fellow radio enthusiasts, the West Palm Beach fire chief, an assistant chief and a printing firm donated everything from radio parts to postcards. Dad Mac graduated from a small radio to a big receiver.

By January 1945, MacMannis estimated he’d heard 20,000 messages about American POWs and mailed out about 15,000 cards.

Life magazine got wind of him and ran a photo of Dad and Mary in their living room in front of a giant radio. That story quoted a total of 33,000 messages from POWs, including Canadians.

“War Prisoner Information,” Dad Mac’s cards said. “A free humanitarian service given by ‘Dad MacMannis’ Listening Post.′ ” And, “A veteran of both wars keeping faith with his buddies.”

“Howdy, folks,” one postcard quoted G.I. Ray Sherman. “I won’t be long. These Germans treat us mighty well. I will write you soon. Don’t worry. Love Ray.” The form was dated July 22; no year.

A search of databases shows a Ray J. Sherman, born in 1923, had enlisted in Milwaukee and served in the infantry in both the North African and Italian theaters before the Germans captured him at Anzio on Feb. 16, 1944.

Article located in the Palm Beach Post.

We spoke once before about the ham radio operators during WWII and the great job they did, read HERE!

Click on images to enlarge.

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Home Front Ham Radio Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anne Bertola – Rockland County, NY; US Army WAC, WWII

Arnold Fleischmann – Brn: GER/ MD; US Army, WWII, ETO, Eisenhower’s interpreter, POW, Col. (Ret.)

Roy Harsh – Lancaster, PA; US Navy, WWII, USS St. Paul

Joseph Murphy – Dedham, MA; US Navy, WWII, ETO

James Newmark – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, Carrier pilot

Robert Parks – New Smyrna, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./2/187/11th Airborne Division

Louis Reeg – Galveston, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Peter Shymske – Seville, OH; US Army, WWII & Korea, 43/103 Infantry Division

Albert Vnencak – Whippany, NJ; USMC, WWII

Ernest Webb – Neodesha, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII, medic

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Personal Note –  This is my 1000th post.  Yikes, I never would have believed it!!

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The Timelessness of July 4th

SEEMS WE DON’T SAY IT ENOUGH – SO, I’M TRYING TO FIX THAT RIGHT HERE – GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

A 1940’s CELEBRATION WRAPPED AROUND A 1776 WAR SONG

HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!!

HARK, hark the sound of war is heard,
And we must all attend;
Take up our arms and go with speed,
Our country to defend.

Our parent state has turned our foe,
Which fills our land with pain;
Her gallant ships, manned out for war,
Come thundering o’er the main.

There’s Charleton, Howe and Clinton too,
And many thousand more,
May cross the sea, but all in vain,
Our rights we’ll ne’er give o’er.

Our pleasant homes they do invade,
Our property devour;
And all because we won’t submit
To their despotic power.

Then let us go against our foe,
We’d better die than yield

We and our sons are all undone,
If Britain wins the field.

Tories may dream of future joys,
But I am bold to say,
They’ll find themselves bound fast in chains,
If Britain wins the day.

Husbands must leave their loving wives,
And sprightly youths attend,

Leave their sweethearts and risk their lives,
Their country to defend.

May they be heroes in the field,
Have heroes’ fame in store;
We pray the Lord to be their shield,
Where thundering cannons roar.

We can rant, we can complain and we can thank the troops for giving us the right to do so!  Today we celebrate our country’s birthday, traditional BBQ’s, fireworks, family and friends, we have a day off and have a ball!  – and to whom do we owe it all?  You guessed it_____

 

                                    THE SOLDIER’S POEM

When this is over

And we come home again,

Forget the band

And cheers from the stand;

Just have the things

Well in hand –

The things we fought for.

UNDERSTAND?

_____Pfc C.G. Tiggas

 

 

ONLY A SAILOR

He’s only a sailor on the boundless deep,

Under foreign skies and tropical heat.

Only a sailor on the rolling deep,

In summer rain and winter sleet.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE!

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4th of July Humor – 

Most Americans will celebrate and enjoy a day off work – some NOT all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Bryant – Canton, OH; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Anthony Debasio – Newburgh, NY; US Army, WWII, CBI

Alice Fellows (102) – Durham, ME; US Army WAC, WWII

Thomas Garvin – Burlington, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Hoke – Huntsville, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

Charles Lapr – Rumford, RI; US Merchant Marines, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

John Roberts – Baltimore, MD; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart / US Army, Korea

Shane Shanem – UT & NV; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Louis Vetere – Flushing, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/675th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

William Woolfolk – Los Angeles, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.)

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TAKE A MOMENT FOR YOUR NATIONAL ANTHEM – in its entirety!!!

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Looking Back on the War – Humor

Pacific Paratrooper received a request for a humorous post, from Equipsblog, after all the tissues I caused her to use in the previous posts –  so here’s what I came up with on short notice – hope you all like the stories – I’m sure some of you have stories from your relatives too – feel free to add them!!!

 

Zuit suit craze

I’VE GOT URGES FOR SERGES
I’ve gotta passion for fashion,
I’ve gotta run on fun,
‘Cause I’m Ten million new civilian
Ex-G.I.’s in one.
I’ve got urges for serges,
I’ve gotta need for tweed;
I’ll put the smile in a world of stylin’
No War Department decreed.
I’ll be the zoot-suit-suitor,
I’ll be the rainbow beau,
I’ll be the luminous,
Most voluminous,
Viva-Truman-ous-
Leader of the Freedom Show.
Long I’ve thirsted for worsted;
Ain’t I the plaid-glad lad?
Open the haberdash!
Here comes a color-flash!Here comes the post-war fad!
– Cpl. R. CHARLES

India

scrub brush business

They’re telling the story around New Delhi about a certain G.I. building supervisor who recently had a bit of trouble with his 19 Indian employees. Seems that one evening towards closing time, the G.I. bossman discovered that someone had made off with 12 of his good scrub brushes. He promptly called his staff together. “None of you guys leaves here ’til you bring back those brushes,” he ordered. The Indians thought it over for a moment, then scattered. A few minutes later, they reported back, each carrying a brush. Only 12 brushes lost. Nineteen returned. That’s good business.

______ September 1945, C.B.I. Roundup newspaper

Marine Raider Battalion, Makin Island
“One of the many BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) men we had, damn fool, was loading his weapon and cranked off about a three-round shot, and that woke every Jap up that was in the South Pacific, and from then on, all hell broke loose … Well, the whom damn command situation broke down the minute the firing started,” says Carson. “None of the people there outside of a couple of sergeants that had fought in the civil war in Spain, none of them had any war experience, and so it kind of turned out to be everybody for himself and the devil for the hindmost and it was an unorthodox battle. And it was my first battle, so I had nothing to compare it to, and I got to thinking if this is an organized war, we’re in a hell of a shape.”

U.S. Navy, off Attu Island
David Lake was in charge of Mount Two of the 5-inch guns on USS Pennsylvania. The ship was among those sent to the waters off Alaska to aid in re-capturing islands there that had been occupied by Japanese troops.

“It was pretty darn cold up there, too. I stood my watches on Mount Two all the time … And we bombarded Attu and it got cold up there, I kid you not. The ice inside them guns mounts, you’d fire them and that ice would fly everywhere. ”

The one who served in Africa

Gen. Patton

“I was a private, a tank driver. Anyways, I was sitting by the side of my tank, reading a newspaper and just relaxing. All of a sudden I felt a horrible itch when I breathed out…and the normal human reaction? I picked my nose. Half-way through the nose picking, a shadow fell over me. I looked up with my finger stuck full up my nose. General Patton…standing over me…with a bunch of Army planners and such. I slowly started to take my finger out of my nose. “Soldier, did I give you an order to take your finger from your nose?” He asked. I, of course, gave him a full blown no sir, which sounded very high pitch. “Carry on soldier, and hunt that booger down.” He then walked off, with the group of Army people staring at me.

Battle of the Bulge

LOOK OUT BELOW!

In horror I learned that if a man was away from his unit for more than 20 days, starting that day, he would be re-positioned into another unit. I escaped the hospital, and joined up with my unit on the way to the woods. They called me “the cook” for the entire time. I had acquired a blanket, and spread it over the top of a 155mm hole, perfect size of a foxhole to! I soon employed my cooking skills to try and feed the men. But unfortunately, even 30 seconds out in the cold made the food almost frozen. I had cooked white navy beans one night, and it produced the most astonishing gastronomical outbursts anyone has heard. We thought the Germans could zero in on us just because of the noise.

 

 

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More Military Humor –

Future War Stories

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Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Amey – Kalamazoo, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Carl Bengeton – Gary, IN; US Air Force, 8th Air Division

Pasquale Gugluzzi – Palm Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Solomons

John Hall – Natick, MA; US Merchant Marines / US Navy, WWII, PTO, Midshipman, USS Clay

Robert Ketterer – Pahrump, NV; US Army, WWII, APO

Kelley LaBrash – Dana, CAN; RC Army, WWII

William Murphy Jr. – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 101st Airborne Division

Lawrence Rohrwasser – Franklin, WI; US Army, Korea, Co. F/187th RCT (airborne)

Jack Shires – Freer, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. G/511/11th Airborne Division

George Weitner – Snellville, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO

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U.S. Army 244th Birthday / Flag Day

 

244 Years Strong

THE U.S. ARMY

AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL INSTITUTION

 

Since its official establishment, June 14, 1775 — more than a year before the Declaration of Independence — the U.S. Army has played a vital role in the growth and development of the American nation. Drawing on both long-standing militia traditions and recently introduced professional standards, it won the new republic’s independence in an arduous eight-year struggle against Great Britain. At times, the Army provided the lone symbol of nationhood around which patriots rallied.

 

PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO VIEW THESE TWO (2) VERY SHORT VIDEOS.  THANK YOU

 

*****          *****          *****

Tomorrow is also Flag Day, an annual observance of the Second Continental Congress’ official adoption of the stars and stripes in 1777. At the time, they “resolved that the flag of the 13 United States” be represented by 13 alternating red and white stripes and the union by 13 white stars in a blue field, “representing a new constellation.” Now, more than 200 years later and with an updated design, the flag is an American icon.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is the only state to recognize it as a legal holiday.

As national treasures go, it was a bargain: $405.90 was paid to Mary Pickersgill of Baltimore, who fashioned it from red, blue and undyed wool, plus cotton for the 15 stars to fly at the fortress guarding the city’s harbor. An enormous flag, 30 by 42 feet, it was intended as a bold statement to the British warships that were certain to come.  And, when in September 1814, the young United States turned back the invaders in a spectacular battle witnessed by Francis Scott Key, he put his joy into a verse published first as “Defense of Fort M’Henry,” and then, set to the tune of a British drinking song – immortalized as “The Star Spangled Banner.”

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harold Amstutz – Deerfield, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8/4th Infantry Division

Donald Buckley – Herkimer, NY; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Thurman Childress – Stamford, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. E/188/11th Airborne Division

Valentine Ellis – Bothell, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Clyde Holcomb – Mobile, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 566th Anti-Aircraft Division, 3 Bronze Stars

Robert Mackey – North Bennington, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret.)

Sam Ostrow – Cincinnati, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Milton Persin – Oak Brook, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Harold Sanders – Hayesville, NC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Walter Shamp – NY; US National Guard / US Army, WWII, 109/28th Division

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