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Home Front – A Weed Went to War

Late in World War II, the common milkweed was often the only thing that kept a downed aviator or soaking-wet sailor from slipping beneath the waves. The plant’s floss was used as the all-important filler for flotation devices.

The northwest part of the Lower Peninsula, particularly the area around Petoskey, became the country’s picking and processing center for milkweed floss. By the time the war ended, an army of citizens—including schoolchildren—led by a visionary doctor had helped keep America’s servicemen safe from harm.

In the early 20th century, the typical filler for life preservers was a material called “kapok.” A cottony fiber extracted from the pods of the ceiba tree, kapok was cultivated in the rainforests of Asia. America’s primary source for this material was the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia).

Then, in 1937, came Japan’s invasion of China, which initiated World War II in the Pacific.

Enter Dr. Boris Berkman, a Chicago physician and inventor who was a champion of the milkweed, long considered a noxious weed to farmers. Berkman envisioned this plant as a new crop rivaling the soybean in usefulness. He suggested more than 20 uses for the plant’s stems, leaves, and pods: among them insulation, pressed board, oil, animal food, rayon, cellophane, dynamite, surgical dressing, and textile fibers. In his 1939 patent application for a milkweed gin to process the plant, he asserted that “milkweed is an American crop capable of producing untold benefits to the American farmer, and not subject to the uncertainties attending the importation of foreign raw materials.”

This October 1944 scene shows Six Mile School students pointing upwards to some of the 109 sacks of milkweed pods they gathered for the war effort. The bags are hanging in a corn crib near the school so the pods could dry out. Teacher Louise Behrend (left) looks on proudly.

This would be the first factory of its kind in the world. The Navy contract initially called for 200,000 pounds of milkweed floss production in 1942, then increased its request by 100,000 pounds for other experimental uses. Such an endeavor would require harvesting over 2 million pounds of ripe milkweed pods. The spot chosen to host this ambitious project was in the milkweed-rich hills along the Lake Michigan shore.

Picking was a low-tech, labor-intensive task, requiring some knowledge of the plant and the seasonal variations that affected it. It was crucial for processing that the pods be picked while they were ripe but not yet fully open. Too early, and the crop would be spoiled by moisture. Too late, and there would be no crop at all.

Pickers entered their fields knowing that it took approximately two full bags, or about 20 pounds of ripe pods, to produce enough floss for one life jacket; “Two Bags Save One Life” was the government slogan. This fact provided a simple message to all involved: that they were doing their part for the war effort.

Berkman continued to champion the milkweed cause, registering various patents including the use of the plant’s floss as an “ear defender” (ear plug) and clothing liner. But he was never able to raise interest in developing another processing facility.

Still, his achievements as the head of the Milkweed Floss Corporation of America did stand on their own. Under his leadership, it is estimated that enough material was collected and processed over the life of the Petoskey facility to fill 1.2 million life preservers.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Home Front Political Cartoons –

Sioiux City Times

Rochester Times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chattanooga Times, the overburdened railroads

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Clark – Millport, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, pilot

Keith Cole – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 492nd

Richard Johnson – Rockport, MA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Major, Academy graduate (Ret.)

John Karr – Washington D.C.; US Army, WWII, ETO

George Lynn – Gastonia, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division / Korea, 2 Purple Hearts

Frank McPhillips – Burlington, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot, 8th Air Force

Harold Roberts Jr. – Melbourne, FL; US Air Force, Korea

Edward Smith – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII, Captain

Raymond Stucky – Newton, KS; US Army, WWII, Medical Corps

Brent Taylor – North Ogden, UT; US National Guard, Afghanistan, Major, KIA

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Home Front recipes from WWII

As most of you know, America experienced rationing for the first time in World War II and with the holidays looming in the wings, food seemed to be a logical subject.

Some products  that were rationed during World War II were sugar, meat, coffee, typewriters, fuel oil, gasoline, rubber, and automobiles.  Each person was issued a book of ration coupons each month.  Rationed goods were assigned a price and point value.  Families were not restricted to certain quantities of rationed goods.  But once their coupons were used up, they could not buy rationed goods until the next month. Families were encouraged to plant victory gardens.  These gardens supplied a major part of the vegetable supply during the War.

But one thing most of us can admit, our parents and grandparents ate well.  They ate to live – not lived to eat!    Here are some of the recipes, given to us from The 1940’s Experiment .  More of the wartime recipes will posted at a later date or you can get them directly from Carolyn at her website.

EAT WELL MY FRIENDS!

Recipe 1. Wartime Loaf

Recipe 2. Wartime Dripping

Recipe 3. Meaty Gravy

Recipe 4. Bread Pudding

Recipe 5. Corned Beef Fritters

Recipe 6. Eggless Sponge Gone Wrong

Recipe 7. Salad Dressing for immediate use

Recipe 8. Wartime Vegetable Turnovers

Recipe 9Wartime Scotch Shortbread

Recipe 10. Carolyn’s ‘Everything In’ Wartime Stew

Recipe 11. The Oslo Meal

Recipe 12. Curried Carrots

Recipe 13: Pancakes (5 dishes from 1 recipe)

Recipe 14: Wartime Cauliflower Cheese with Bacon

Recipe 15: Cynthia’s Eggless Sponge (gone right)

Recipe 16: Pear Crumble

Recipe 17: Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam..

Recipe 18: Rock buns

Recipe 19: Mock cream recipe 1

Recipe 20: Spam Hash

Recipe 21: Wartime Pumpkin Soup

Recipe 22: Bread stuffing balls

Recipe 23: Apple crumble

Recipe 24: Lord Woolton Pie

Recipe 25: Cheese Whirls

Recipe 26: Glory Buns

Recipe 27: Cheese and Potato Dumplings

Recipe 28: Cream of Parsnip Soup

Recipe 29: Carrot and Potato Mash

Recipe 30: Cheese Dreams

Shopping with ration books.

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WWII Home Front Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frances W. Braun – Beverwijk, NETH & London, CAN; Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force, P-40 & P-51 pilot

Clarence Budke – Waynesvillle, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 77/11th Airborne Division

Simon Growick – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, ETO, Lab Tech, Medical Corps

Benjamin Kushner – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Stanley Leimer – Clarksville, TN; US Army, Co. A/159th Aviation Battalion, Chinook helicopter Flt. Engineer

Thomas Lynch – Janesville, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 508th PIR, 82nd A/B / Korea & Vietnam, Pvt. to MGeneral (Ret.), Bronze Star, Silver Star 7 Distinguish Service Medal

Edgar Miles Jr. – Bellefonte, PA; US Army, WWII, Lt.Colonel (ret.)

Martin O’Callaghan Jr. – Memphis, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 96th Fighter Sq/82nd Fighter Group, 2nd Lt., KIA

Mamie Petty – Gulfport, MS; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class

Dennis Seward – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII, HMS Alacrity & Slinger

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Japan – June 1945

Hidecki Tojo meets with Wang and other officials

From: the diary of Commander Tadakazu Yoshioka, 26th Air Flotilla, Luzon

… following the Vassal’s Conference, a new ‘Gist of the Future War Guidance’ was issued say:

Policy: Based upon the firm belief that Loyalty to His Majesty should be fulfilled even though one should be born seven times, the war must be accomplished completely with the unified power of the land and the unified power of the people in order to protect the nationality of our nation, to defend the Imperial Domain, and to attain the object of the war subjugation.

Meanwhile however overtures were being made to the Allies via Moscow, as the Soviet Union had not yet declared war on Japan.  But the negotiations faltered when Stalin and Molotov headed to Berlin to attend the Potsdam Conference.  One result of the conference was the declaration demanding Japan’s unconditional surrender.  When some began to voice their fear that the Soviet would break its neutrality agreement and attack Japanese forces in Manchuria, Secretary Tanemura berated his colleagues for defeatism, “They should be planning for victory on the mainland.,”

Tannemura said,  “In the evening, I received an unofficial order from the Chief of the Military Affairs Bureau, Yoshizumi, transferring me as a staff officer to the Korean Army.  Simultaneously with thanking my superior for the favor of giving me a place to die at this final phase of the war, I left the Imperial General Headquarters after 5 years and 8 months with the feeling of utter shame in my inability to serve His Majesty, which led to this situation.  I will compensate for my past crime by burying my bones on the front line.”

Tanemura was captured in Korea and spent 4½ years in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp before being returned to Japan in January 1950.

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Evacuation of school children into rural areas.

The Japanese home front was elaborately organized, block by block, with full-scale food rationing and many controls over labor. The government used propaganda heavily and planned in minute detail regarding the mobilization of manpower, identification of critical choke points, food supplies, logistics, air raid shelters, and the evacuation of children and civilians from targeted cities. Food supplies were very tight before the heavy bombing began in the Fall of ’44 and then grew to a crisis

Agricultural production in the home islands held up well during the war until the bombing started. It fell from an index of 110 in 1942 to 84 in 1944 and only 65 in 1945. Worse, imports dried up. The Japanese food rationing system was effective throughout the war, and there were no serious incidences of malnutrition. A government survey in Tokyo showed that in 1944 families depended on the black market for 9% of their rice, 38% of their fish, and 69% of their vegetables.

The Japanese domestic food supply depended upon imports, which were largely cut off by the American submarine and bombing campaigns. Likewise there was little deep sea fishing, so that the fish ration by 1941 was mostly squid harvested from coastal waters. The result was a growing food shortage, especially in the cities. There was some malnutrition but no reported starvation.  Despite government rationing of food, some families were forced to spend more than their monthly income could offer on black market food purchases. They would rely on savings or exchange food for clothes or other possessions

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Current News – 

Tomorrow is POW/MIA Day here in the United States.  Please spare a moment to remember those who never made it home.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Antolik – Nanticoke, PA; US Army, Korea, Co. A/85th Tank Battalion, Cpl.

Edward Brook – Lancashire, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII

Glenn Frazier – AL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Col., 75th Ordnance Co., (Bataan March survivor)

Josseph Gagner – Cranston, RI; US Coast Guard, Academy graduate, Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 20y.)

James Howard – Maiden Rock, WI; US Army, WWII

William Liell – Staten Island, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/511th // Co. A/187th RCT, Korea

Max McLaughlin – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Freddie Oversteegen – Schoten, BEL; Civilian resistance fighter, WWII

Leonard Tyma – Dyer, IN; USMC, WWII, KIA (Betio)

James Welch – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

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Salute to the Home Front Women of WWII

“Rosie to the Rescue”, Norman Rockwell

In 1943, several major magazines agreed to salute the women war workers of America on their September covers. The Post gave the assignment to Rockwell, who’d already created an iconic tribute to women defense workers with Rosie the Riveter.

For this new cover, he wanted to acknowledge the wide range of jobs that 15 million women had taken up as men went off to war. The result was Rosie to the Rescue, which showed a woman bearing the symbols and tools of several trades hurrying off to her next job. The Post editors claimed 31 different occupations were represented on this cover. Some were jobs traditionally associated with women: cleaning, farming, nursing, and clerical work. Others, indicated by tools such as an electric cable and a monkey wrench, referred to industrial occupations that women were starting to enter in great number.

The cover not only acknowledges women war workers, it also recalls occupations of the 1940s that once employed thousands. Post readers of the day would have instantly recognized the bus-driver’s ticket punch, a taxi-driver’s change dispenser, a milkman’s bottle rack, a switchboard operator’s headset, and the blue cap of a train conductor. The railroad industry was also represented by the railroad section hand’s lantern, the locomotive engineer’s oil can, and that round object swinging on a shoulder strap — a clock used by night watchwomen in railway yards.

Here is what the Post editors had to say about this image in the “Keeping Posted” section of our September 4, 1943 issue:

At least thirty-one wartime occupations for women are suggested by Norman Rockwell’s remarkable Labor Day Post cover. Perhaps you can think of more. The thirty-one we counted, suggested by articles the young lady is carrying or wearing, are: boardinghouse manager and housekeeper (keys on ring); chambermaid, cleaner and household worker (dust pan and brush, mop); service superintendent (time clock); switchboard operator and telephone operator (earphone and mouthpiece); grocery-store woman and milk-truck driver (milk bottles); electrician for repair and maintenance of household appliances and furnishings (electric wire); plumber and garage mechanic (monkey wrench, small wrenches); seamstress (big scissors); typewriter-repair woman, stenographer, typist, editor and reporter (typewriter); baggage clerk (baggage checks); bus driver (puncher); conductor on railroad, trolley, bus (conductor’s cap); filling-station attendant and taxi driver (change holder); oiler on railroad (oil can); section hand (red lantern); bookkeeper (pencil over ear); farm worker (hoe and potato fork); truck farmer (watering can); teacher (schoolbooks and ruler); public health, hospital or industrial nurse (Nurses’ Aide cap). —“Keeping Posted: The Rockwell Cover,” September 4, 1943.

When the war began, quickie marriages became the norm, as teenagers married their sweethearts before their men went overseas. As the men fought abroad, women on the Home Front worked in defense plants and volunteered for war-related organizations, in addition to managing their households.  In New Orleans, as the demand for public transportation grew, women even became streetcar “conductorettes” for the first time. When men left, women “became proficient cooks and housekeepers, managed the finances, learned to fix the car, worked in a defense plant, and wrote letters to their soldier husbands that were consistently upbeat.” (Stephen Ambrose, D-Day, 488) Rosie the Riveter helped assure that the Allies would have the war materials they needed to defeat the Axis.

The National WWII Museum recognizes the contribution that women played in the success of the Allied victory in World War II and explores that contribution in depth in its newest permanent exhibit, The Arsenal of Democracy: The Herman and George Brown Salute to the Home Front. 

Let’s hear about those Victory Gardens and other ways your mothers and grandmothers joined in!!

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Home Front Humor – 

WHAT THE HECK DID WE DO EVERY EVENING BEFORE THIS WAR?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ruth Apple – North Dorset, VT; Civilian, WWII, ‘Rosie’, aircraft

Angelina “Betty” Cicatelli – Throop, PA; WWII, Civilian, ‘Rosie’

Angnes Clagg – Ona, WV; WWII, Civilian, ‘Rosie’, weapons

Thelma Cook (104) – Pikeville, NC; WWII, Civilian ‘Rosie’, welder & parachute seamstress

Jacquelin Johns – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; WWII, Civilian, Office of Strategic Service

Lois Lenz – Chicagi, IL; WWII, Red Cross nurse’s aide / US Army, Signal Corps

Wand Elliot Matson – Quad Cities, IA, WWII ‘Rosie’, Grumman Hellcats

Mariemma Nelson – Indianapolis, IN; WWII, Civilian ‘Rosie’

Louise Steinberger – Vallejo, CA; WWII, Civilian ‘Rosie’, shipyard welder

Harriet ‘Jean’ Waltuck – Jordon, NY; US Navy, nurse

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Salute to the Women in Uniform

American women played important roles during World War II, both at home and in uniform. Not only did they give their sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers to the war effort, they gave their time, energy, and some even gave their lives.

The utilization of women in an organization such as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) offered a “golden opportunity” to solve manpower shortages. So recognizable was the opportunity that Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall himself told the War Department in November 1941, “I want a women’s corps right away, and I don’t want any excuses!” Urgent wartime demands necessitated the use of all able, willing citizens, regardless of gender. In recruiting women, the Army assured them that they would be doing “unusual and exciting work” and that their service “in making available technically trained men for combat service will be of great value in winning the war.”

Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA) introduced a bill to establish the WAAC on 28 May 1941. She cited two rationales for such an organization: to ease the shortage of able-bodied men and “to answer an undeniable demand from American women that they be permitted to serve their country, together with the men of America, to protect and defend their cherished freedoms and democratic principles and ideals.” WAAC/WAC veterans later recalled this strong desire to be of service. Mary Robinson, for example, said, “I just thought it was the sensible thing to do. The British had done it in two wars.”

The 77th Congress eventually did establish the WAAC with Public Law (PL) 77-554 on 14 May 1942, after much heated debate.

 

Nearly 350,000 American women served in uniform, both at home and abroad, volunteering for the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAACs, later renamed the Women’s Army Corps), the Navy Women’s Reserve (WAVES), the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve, the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARS), the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS), the Army Nurses Corps, and the Navy Nurse Corps. General Eisenhower felt that he could not win the war without the aid of the women in uniform. “The contribution of the women of America, whether on the farm or in the factory or in uniform, to D-Day was a sine qua non of the invasion effort.” 

Women in uniform took office and clerical jobs in the armed forces in order to free men to fight. They also drove trucks, repaired airplanes, worked as laboratory technicians, rigged parachutes, served as radio operators, analyzed photographs, flew military aircraft across the country, test-flew newly repaired planes, and even trained anti-aircraft artillery gunners by acting as flying targets. Some women served near the front lines in the Army Nurse Corps, where 16 were killed as a result of direct enemy fire. Sixty-eight American service women were captured as POWs in the Philippines. More than 1,600 nurses were decorated for bravery under fire and meritorious service, and 565 WACs in the Pacific Theater won combat decorations. Nurses were in Normandy on D-plus-four.

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At the war’s end, even though a majority of women surveyed reported wanted to keep their jobs, many were forced out by men returning home and by the downturn in demand for war materials. Women veterans encountered roadblocks when they tried to take advantage of benefit programs for veterans, like the G.I. Bill. The nation that needed their help in a time of crisis, it seems, was not yet ready for the greater social equality that would slowly come in the decades to follow.

Women today still proudly wear a uniform, as demonstrated by our very own fellow blogger, Cindy Bruchman, seen here after she graduated boot camp!!

Cindy Bruchman, US Navy

 

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Current – 14 August – National Code Talkers Day

Code talkers’ Monument

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jessie Adams (100) – Riverdale, UT; US Army WAC, WWII, PTO, nurse

Vera Bernard – Ridgewood, CAN; RC Womens Army, WWII

London Monument to the Women of WWII

Linda Dietsche – Elmira, NY; US Army, Vietnam, Captain (Ret. 20 y.), nurse

Valerie Ferguson – Waikato, NZ; QSM WAAC # 809924, WWII, Northern Signals, 9th Regiment

Eileen “Kelly” Finch – Brighton, IL; US Navy, SeaBee

Barbara Graham – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, Korea, nurse

Patricia Hamlin – Seattle, WA; US Navy WAVE, WWII, machinist

Lottie Manley – Hughesville, PA; US Coast Guard

Winifred Pickering – Lebanon, ME; US Navy, WWII

Judy Terry – Brookhaven, MS; US Army, nurse

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I will Salute

The sentiments spoken by a true American. I hope many will follow Bob MacPherson’s example and once again revere the flag !!

theleansubmariner

Forty six years ago, I raised my right hand in a room full of strangers and pledged to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. I solemnly swore to do so while standing facing the flag that represents this country. For all of the years since then, that flag has played a central role in my life.

I watched her fly as a green recruit and came to understand she is more than just another piece of cloth. I watched her fly from the deck of many submarines and ships at bases all over the world. I listened with pride one night in Yokosuka Japan while a shipmate played Taps as we retired her for the day. I felt the crushing weight of seeing a comrade under her in a casket bound for home. I felt sadness at the deaths of so many veterans who also shared her…

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Japanese Balloon Bombs hit USA & Canada

Avenging the Doolittle Raids – Project Fugo

November 1944 –  Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream.

A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington.

Three days before the end of World War II in Europe and just three months before the Japanese surrendered, spinning shards of metal ripped into the tall pine trees, burrowing holes into bark and tearing needles from branches outside the tiny logging community of Bly, Oregon. The nerve-shattering echo of an exploding bomb rolled across the mountain landscape. When it was over, a lone figure—Archie Mitchell, a young, bespectacled clergyman—stood over six dead bodies strewn across the scorched earth. One of the victims was Elsie Mitchell, the minister’s pregnant wife. The rest were children. Four of the children—Jay Gifford, Eddie Engen, Dick Patzke, and Sherman Shoeman died instantly; Joan Patzke, 13 years old, initially survived the explosion but succumbed to her injuries shortly afterward.

Rev. Archie Mitchell and his wife, Elsie

Forestry workers were running a grader nearby when the force of the explosion blew one of them off the equipment. Another dashed to the nearby telephone office, where Cora Conner was running the town’s two-line exchange that day. “He had me place a call to the naval base in nearby Lakeview, the closest military installation to our town,” recalls Conner. “He told them that there had been an explosion and people had been killed.”

Within 45 minutes, a government vehicle roared to a stop in front of the telephone shack. A military intelligence officer scrambled out of the car and joined Conner inside. “He warned me not to say anything,” Conner says. “I was not to accept any calls except military ones, nor was I allowed to send out any information.” The rest of the day proved difficult, as Conner struggled with lumber companies and angry locals who had been stripped of their phone privileges without explanation.

The U.S. government immediately shrouded the event in secrecy, labeling the six deaths as occurring from an “unannounced cause.” But in the close-knit atmosphere of Bly, many of the locals had already learned the truth: Elsie Mitchell and the five children were victims of an enemy balloon bomb, held aloft by a gigantic hydrogen-filled sphere and whisked from Japan to the western seaboard of the United States. The contraption had alighted on Gearhart Mountain, where it lay in wait until the fateful day when it found its victims—the only deaths from enemy attack within the continental United States during World War II.

bomb map

To help avoid similar tragedies, the government lifted the media blackout. In late May 1945, the headquarters of Western Defense Command, based at the Presidio in San Francisco, issued a cautious message entitled “Japanese Balloon Information Bulletin No. 1.” In an effort to avoid a media frenzy and quell public paranoia, the document was to be read aloud to small gatherings “such as school children assembled in groups.

Preferably not more than 50 in a group and Boy Scout troops.” The bulletin warned that many hundreds of Japanese balloons were reaching American and Canadian airspace. 

Balloon bombs

 For Archie Mitchell, who lost his wife, unborn child, and five members of his church on that fateful day in 1945, life eventually resumed its course. He remarried and in 1947 moved to Southeast Asia to continue the missionary work that inspired him. Unfortunately, fate would deal him yet another blow. On June 1, 1962, a wire report brought his name back into the news: “Today word came from South Vietnam that three Americans had been kidnapped by Communist guerrillas. One of them is Reverend Archie E. Mitchell, a former pastor at Bly in southeast Oregon.” Mitchell was never heard from again.

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Today’s Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How would you finish this caption?

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Farewell Salutes –

J.R. Brown – Henryetta, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 waist gunner, 2nd Bombardment Squadron

Adrian Cronauer – Troutsville, VA; US Air Force, Vietnam, (Armed Forces Radio D.J.), / DOD official

Steve Ditko – Johnstown, PA; US Army, (cartoonist)

Brian Dutton – UK; Royal Navy, Falklands, Lt.Commander, mine clearance expert

Robert Hagan Sr. – PA; US Air Force, Captain, pilot

Homer Myles – Dermott, AR; US Army, WWII & Korea

Paul Racicot – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Stanhope – Berlin, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

James Shaw – Baird, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO, Korea, Major

Dale Wilson – Des moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, LT, B-25 pilot, KIA (MIA)

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Home Front – Missouri POW’s

The main camps supported a number of branch camps, which were used to put POWs where their labor could be best utilized.

As author David Fiedler explained in his book “The Enemy Among Us: POWs in Missouri During World War II,” the state was once home to more than 15,000 German and Italian prisoners of war (POW).

Many of the camps where they were held have faded into distant memory as little evidence remains of their existence; however, one local resident has a relic from a former POW camp that provides an enduring connection to the service of a departed relative.

“Established at Weingarten, a sleepy little town on State Highway 32 between Ste. Genevieve and Farmington, Missouri, (Camp Weingarten) had no pre-war existence,” wrote Fiedler. The author further explained, “The camp was enlarged to the point that some 5,800 POWs could be held there, and approximately 380 buildings of all types would be constructed on an expanded 950-acre site.”

Camp Weingarten quickly grew into a sprawling facility to house Italian POWs brought to the United States and, explained Jefferson City resident Carolyn McDowell, was the site where one of her uncles spent his entire period of service with the U.S. Army in World War II.

Working POWs earned 80 cents a day and could buy beer at the canteens.

“My mother’s brother, Dwight Hafford Taylor, was raised in the community of Alton in southern Missouri,” said McDowell. “His hometown really wasn’t all that far from Camp Weingarten,” she added.

Although her uncle passed away in 1970, records accessed through the National Archives and Records Administration indicate he was drafted into the U.S. Army and entered service at Jefferson Barracks on November 10, 1942.  After completing his initial training, he was designated as infantry and became a clerk with the 201st Infantry Regiment.

Shortly after Taylor received assignment to Camp Weingarten, Italian prisoners of war began to arrive at the camp in May 1943. Despite the challenges of overseeing the internment of former enemy soldiers, the camp experienced few security incidents and conditions remained rather cordial, in part due to the sustenance given the prisoners.

There were four main base camps, each holding between 2,000 and 5,000 POWs.

It was noted that many of the Italians were “semi-emaciated” when arriving in the United States because of a poor diet. The Chicago Tribune reported on October 23, 1943, that the prisoners at Camp Weingarten soon “put on weight” by eating a “daily menu … superior to that of the average civilian.”

Pfc. Taylor and his fellow soldiers, most of whom were assigned to military police companies, maintained a busy schedule of guarding the prisoners held in the camp, but also received opportunities to take leave from their duties and visit their loved ones back home.

“During one of my uncle’s visits back to Alton, he asked his mother for an aluminum pie pan,” said McDowell. “He then took it back to camp with him and that’s when he gave it to one of the Italian POWs.”

Cigarette case cover

When returning to camp, one of the POWs with whom Taylor had established a friendship was given the pie pan and used it to demonstrate his abilities as an artist and a craftsman by fashioning it into a cigarette case. The case not only had a specially crafted latching mechanism, but was also etched with an emblem of an eagle on the cover with barracks buildings and a guard tower from the camp inscribed upon the inside.

“My uncle then gave the cigarette case as a gift to my father, who was living in Jefferson City at the time and working as superintendent of the tobacco factory inside the Missouri State Penitentiary,” stated McDowell. “It is a beautifully crafted cigarette case, but the irony of it all is that my father never smoked,” she jokingly added.

Inside of the case.

As McDowell went on to explain, her uncle remained at Camp Weingarten until his discharge from the U.S. Army in December 1944. The following October, the former POW camp was closed and many of the buildings were dismantled, shipped and reassembled as housing for student veterans at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

In the years after the war, McDowell said, her mother kept the cigarette case tucked away in a chest of drawers but since both of her parents have passed, she now believes the historical item should be on display in a museum.

Italian POWs

Little remains of the once sprawling POW camp located approximately 90 miles south of St. Louis, with the exception of a stone fireplace that was part of the Officer’s Club.  McDowell notes the cigarette case is not only a beautiful piece that serves as a link to the past, but represents a story to be shared of the state’s rich military legacy.

“I will someday donate the cigarette case to a museum for preservation and display, and I believe my brother, Harold McDowell, would agree. However, I want to ensure it is recognized for the treasure that it is and it is not simply thrown away,” said McDowell. “That’s why I want to tell the story of its creation … its history, so that its association to Camp Weingarten is never forgotten.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Wishing all in New Zealand a memorable Maori New Year!

 

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bealle – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, P-47 pilot

Percival Blows (100) – Summerset Karaka, NZ; RNZ Army #20590, WWII, 21st Battalion

David Chappell – Pueblo, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea

Murray Fromson – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Stars and Stripes journalist

Robert Greer – Stanford, KY; US Army, 11th A/B & 82nd A/B Divisions

Melvin Korman – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Sgt.

L.G. ‘Butch’ Lemons – Phoenix, AZ; USMC, WWII, SSgt.

Donald McIntyre – Tauranga, NZ; RNZ Army # 388853, WWII, Maj. (Ret.), 7th Rajput Reg, So. Lancaster Reg.,Royal West African Frontier Force Intelligence Corps

John Strouf – Altoona, IA; US Army, WWII

Byron Wrenn – St. Helens, OR; US Navy, WWII & Korea

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Guest Post – The Role of Sports: WW II by GPCox

I hope you are all ready for our Sunday reblog from 5 years ago. Judy has been kind enough to share these with everyone once again!! Say Hi to her over at Greatest Generation Lessons!!

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

GPCox  shares the role sports played during World War II in entertaining those left at home. Sports was a diversion from the everyday reports of how the war was progressing in the various fronts around the world.

By: gpcox https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Chesterfield ad

Chesterfield ad

The movies and newsreels of WWII provided information and diversion for many at the home front, but none could provide the escape and release of stress for the civilian as much as sports.

South Florida maintained a carnival atmosphere with the Hialeah Race Track and West Flagler Kennel Club, which took in $100,000 nightly – just to prove my point.  And, somehow, travel restrictions did not deter the action at Miami’s Tropical Park.  Horse racing went on, despite the war, in every country.  All in all, racing boomed as the 68thrunning of the Kentucky Derby went off with 100,000 in the crowd.  Unfortunately, this was…

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Guest Post – Rationing Gone Wild by GPCox

This look back helps us to appreciate what we have today!!

"Greatest Generation" Life Lessons

We’ve all heard about rationing but with GP’s help, we’ll now know quite a bit more about it. Enjoy.

  https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com

Blog - Rationing - Shate my car - 8.114.2013

The Second World War was fought on two fronts and as we’ve seen in previous posts, the home front rarely received the credit it deserved for its efforts.  The generation that endured the Great Depression, worked long, hard hours and were often forced to use the barter system to survive now, for the war effort, had shortages for most everything.  If you can name it – there was probably a ration book for it and a black market to get it; if you dared.  The children also pitched in by giving, what money they could earn, back into the family.

Rationing started just weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor and sugar was the first product to be rationed when sales ended 27 April 1942 and commercial manufacturers received…

View original post 948 more words

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