Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Overlooked Part of World War II: Rosie the Riveter

Most people know about the battles and leaders of World War II as well as the soldiers who fought it. But what about the people whose efforts enabled the soldiers to fight? What about the ones who remained at home?

The home front is overlooked by many, and people not alive during the war realized what was going on here in the United States. Major effort was being made and a cultural revolution was made necessary as women left the home by the millions to take their husbands' and boyfriends' places on the assembly lines and in the farm fields.

This week's American Profile Magazine insert in the local paper, had a good article on Fran Carter who heads up the American Rosie the Riveter Association and several times each month visits school, churches, and other organizations to bring "Rosie" to those who don't know.

I will be spotlighting this article "Being Rosie the Riveter" by Elaine Miller, in the next several days.

Another overlooked group is the Merchant Marine, whose efforts transported the soldiers and equipment and supplies they needed to fight the war.

Overlooked, But Not Forgotten. --Cooter

"The Last Tommy," Harry Patch

From the July 26th MailonLine.

Harry Patch was conscripted at age 18 into the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry and served as an assistant gunman on a Lewis machine gun team.

He was badly injured by a shell during the fighting at Passachendaele between June and September 1917, an action that cost Britain 70,000 men, including many of Mr. Patch's friends.

He was staunchly anti-war, calling it "organised murder" and not "worth the loss of a few lives, let alone thousands."

Once, while "going over the top," meaning charging out of the trenches into "no-man's land," they came across a young soldier who "was ripped open from his shoulder to his waist by shrapnel and was lying in a pool of blood.

"When we got to him, he looked at us and said, 'Shoot me.' He was beyond human help and before we could draw a revolver, he was dead. His last word was 'Mother.'"

The Noblest Generation. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Then There Were Three: Time to Properly Honor The World War Veterans

Now that only three World War I veterans remain alive, it would seem that Britain and the United States should find the money to properly honor the sacrifices of this generation, and not just those on the firing lines, but everyone. This war greatly impacted those on the home fronts as well.

The United States finally got around to honoring the World War II generation with the new memorial in Washington, DC, but there is nothing on the mall for World War I other than a small one to honor DC's World War I veterans.

Britain has the Centopath, but I don't know much about it, other than it hosted the there remaining World War I veterans back on November 11th, 90th anniversary of the end of the war.

It would be nice for money to be found and plans made while the last three are still alive, even though they probably won't be around to see its completion.

Do the Right Thing. --Cooter.

Harry Patch, 111, The Last Tommy-- Part 2

He died at the Fletcher House care home in Wells, southwest England.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the country will mourn "the passing of a great man. The noblest of all the generations has left us, but they will never be forgotten. We say today with still greater force, we will remember them."

Queen Elizabeth II said, "We will never forget their bravery and enormous sacrifice of his generation."

Price Charles said, "Nothing could give me greater pride" than paying tribute to Mr. Patch. "The Great War is a chapter in our history we must never forget; so may sacrifices were made, so many young lives lost."

From July 26th Chicago Tribune.

Harry Patch, the Last Tommy-- Part 1

As I found out when I looked up Diggers for the death of the last Australian World War I veteran, Tommy is a slang word for British soldier.

This obituary was in the Sunday, July 26th, Chicago Tribune, by Robert Barr, Associated Press. "Last vet of WWI's trenches: Briton wounded in 1917 said that 'it wasn't worth it'

"Harry Patch, Britain's last survivor of the trenches of World War I, was a reluctant soldier who became a powerful eyewitness to the horror of war and a symbol of a lost generation.

Mr Patch, who died Saturday at 111, was wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele, which he remembered as "mud, mud and more mud mixed with blood.

Anyone who tells you that in the trenches they weren't scared, he's a damned liar. You were scared all the time," Mr. Patch was quoted as saying in a book, "The Last Fighting Tommy" written with historian Richard van Emden."

The "Noblest Generation." --Cooter

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Last Tommy: Harry Patch, 111

The July 26th London Mail Online reported the death of Harry Patch. As I said, I was going to do on update on the four remaining World War I veterans Saturday, when I could only find the names of three on the Wikipedia list of World War I veterans still alive. Mr. Patch not among them. He had died that very same day.

This was the first obituary I could find.

He was a former plumber, a front-line machine-gunner at age 18. Passed away peacefully in his sleep at the nursing home in Wells, in his native Somerset, surrounded by family and friends.

He had been Britain's oldest man for 7 days, after another World War I veteran and good friend Henry Allingham (who was also the world's oldest man for a month) died at age 113.

The only surviving British military World War I veteran now is Claude Choules, 108, who served in the Royal Navy and now lives in Perth, Australia.

The Noblest Generation.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Anniversary of Chicago's Eastland Disaster

Very few people know of this horrible incident, even those living in Chicago, but Friday, July 24th marked the 94th anniversary of the sinking of the S.S. Eastland in the Chicago River in which nearly 850 people died withing yards of land on the Chicago River between Clark and LaSalle streets.

The ship was way overloaded with 2,500 employees of Western Electric, looking forward to a picnic at Michigan City, Indiana. The ship capsized and became Chicago's worst-ever disaster in terms of life lost.

It was considerably more deaths than the much-better known Chicago Fire which took place October 8, 1871 and an estimated 250 died (a fire in Peshtigo, Wisconsin, the same day claimed 1,182 lives). And, there was also a little-known calamity at the Iroquois Theater December 39, 1903, in which 602 perished..

History That Shouldn't Be Forgotten. --Cooter

Mighty Sad Thing: Death of Harry Patch-- One of Last Surviving World War I Veterans

I was going to write about the four remaining World War I veterans since Henry Allingham just died and looked it up on Wikipedia, but I could find only three verified ones. I had a bad feeling that since the name Harry Patch wasn't on the list, that he might have died.

I looked up his name on Wikipedia, and, unfortunately, he had died today.

Now, there are just three left.

Sad to Find This Out. Another of a "Greatest Generation."

I find a good article and pictures in tomorrow's Mail Online.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Canada's Last WW I Veteran Celebrates 109th

KXLY, Montana, reported July 23rd that John "Jack" Babcock, believed to be Canada's sole remaining veteran of World War celebrated his 109th birthday.

He enlisted in the Canadian service at age 16 after lying about his age. After the war, he joined the US military in 1921 and moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1932.

He became an American citizen in 1946. Not one to let age stand in the way, he got his pilot's license at age 65 and graduated high school at age 95.

One of the Few Remaining World War I Veterans. --Cooter

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Henry Allingham, 113-- Oldest Man and World War Veteran-- Part 3

Mr. Allingham fought at the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval action of the war. He also spent time observing from the planes along the Western Front. He was wounded during an attack on an aircraft depot.

After the war, he worked at the Ford Motor Company and raised two children. He was even persuaded to write his autobiography. He gave his reason for longevity as "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women."

Quite a Character. --Cooter

Henry Allingham, 113-- Oldest Man and World War I Veteran-- Part 2

Henry Patch, 111, is one of the last two surviving British World War I veterans. Claude Choules, 108, is the other. Mr. Choules served in the Royal Navy and now lives in Australia since the 1920s.

The July 18th Marine Corps Times reported that Henry Allingham was born June 6, 18996 during the reign of Queen Victoria and remembers sitting on his grandfather's shoulders for King Edward the VII's coronation in 1902, back when most transportation was by horses or train.

He left school at age 15 and worked in an east London car factory.

When World War I started, he spent the first several months refitting trucks for military duty.

His mother died in June 1915 and soon after that, he saw a plane flying and was captivated by it. He decided to get involved with them and joined the Royal Naval Air Service where he worked as a mechanic trying to keep the rickety contraptions flying. He also flew as an observer.

More to Come. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Henry Allingham, 113, Oldest Man and World War I Veteran-- Part 1

The July 18th BBC News gave this report on the death of Henry Allingham.

He was the world's oldest man and a surviving veteran of World War I. During the war, he joined the Royal Naval Air Service and later transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF) when it was created.

His funeral will be held later this month.

His life spanned three centuries, six monarchs. He leaves behind 5 grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren, 14 great great grandchildren, and 1 great great great grandchild.

He was married to Dorothy for half a century. She died in 1970.

He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in September, 1915, and served in Ypres before transferring to the RAF in 1918. He usually avoided reunions and kept quiet about his war service until 2005 when he was persuaded to unveil an RAF Memorial in France. After that, he got involved with the remaining veterans of the war.

Another of the Greats Passes Away.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

World War I Veteran-World's Oldest Man Dies

I am sorry to report that Henry Allingham, 113, of England died this last weekend. He was one of the last five surviving veterans of World War I, and for a little over a month, the oldest man in the world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20, 1969: Man on the Moon

Forty years ago, just a few minutes ago, 9:56 CDT, man set foot on the Moon. That man, Neil Armstrong, and he was followed by Buzz Aldrin. This was the Apollo 11 Mission. Astronaut Michael Collins remained in the command module Columbia.

I never thought I would see this day.

"One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind."

And that considering that humans had first flown just 63 years before that!!

One Impressive Event. --Cooter

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Walk of Remembrance and Centaur Memorial

On July 15th, I wrote about the Walk of Remembrance and Centaur Memorial in Australia and did some more research on it thanks to Wikipedia.

It was dedicated on May 14, 1993, the fiftieth anniversary of the Centaur's sinling on the headland of Point Danger at the twin towns of Coolanagatta and Tweed Heads. Also located there is Australia's first laser-powered lighthouse and an impressive museum featuring, among other things, ballast from the HM Bark Endeavor to items of Captain James Cook.

During World War II, 41 Allied naval and merchant ships were sunk off the Australian coast by mine-laying German surface raiders Pinguin, Atlantes, Kormoran, and Japanese submarines. Between 1942 and 1944, Japanese submarines out of Guam prowled the eastern and northern coasts of Australia. These were large vessels, often carrying spotter planes.

Two hundred and sixty-eight died on the Centaur.

A Sad Event. --Cooter

Friday, July 17, 2009

What is a Digger?

The article before this about Jack Ross dying mentioned that he was the last Australian Digger from World War I. Well, what is a Digger, then. I know they had a lot of trenches during the war, so perhaps he actually was a digger of trenches.

Looked the term up. A "Digger" is slang for an Australian or New Zealand soldier. I'd never heard the term before. They got the name because of the Gallipoli Campaign, in a message to General William Birdwood, commander of the ANZAC forces (Australia New Zealand Army Corps) from General Sir Ian Hamilton, who, in his postscript added, "P.S.--You have got through the difficult business, now you have to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe."

The name "Digger" became popular with New Zealand troops and later Australian. New Zealand troops called each other Diggers, while everyone else referred to them as Kiwis.


A Digger is the equivalent of the British Tommy, from the name Tommy Atkins or Thomas Atkins. It is the generic term for British soldiers, used perhaps as early as 1747. British soldiers do not particularly care for it.

So, Now You Know Your Diggers and Tommies. --RoadDog

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Last World War I Digger Dies

The June 3rd Herald Sun of Australia reported that Australia's oldest man and last remaining World War I Digger, Jack Ross, died at age 110. He enlisted the the Australian Imperial Force in January, 1918, at age 18.

He trained at wireless school and was posted to the 1st battalion at Broadmeadows Camp in Victoria. The war ended before he went overseas. During World War II, he was a member of the Volunteer Defence Corps.

Another Great Generation Leaving Us.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Things You Don't Hear Anymore

Not saying I'm getting old, but....

These are things you rarely hear said anymore.

1. Fill the ice trays. (Well, we still have to fill 'em.)

2. Be sure to pull the windows down before you leave. It looks like it is going to rain. (Imagine un-air conditioned air. What pull down, we turn the crank.)

3. Don't forget to wind the clock. (As I sit here looking at the digital display to see when to head out for the movies.)

4. Wash your feet. You've been playing barefoot all day. (But, I tend to step on sharp objects and unamused bees.)

5. You've torn the knees out of your jeans so many times, there is nowhere to put a patch. (Hey, just make shorts.)

6. Don't go outside with your school clothes on. (Anymore, you can't tell the difference between school and play clothes.)

7. Pour the cream off the top of the milk when you open a new bottle. (OK, I wasn't old enough to remember this one.)

8. Take the empty bottles back to the store for a refund. (Those bottles earned me a lot of spending money growing up. Two cents a bottle.)

Were the Good Old Days Really That Good? --Cooter

Two Articles on the AHS Centaur: Chunk of Name Plate and Survivor

I have been following the search for the Centaur off the coast of Australia. This is the clearly-marked hospital ship sunk by a Japanese submarine May 14, 1943. It's exact location is not known, but hopefully in the next year, it will. David L. Mearms, who also found the HMAS Sydney, is on the search for this one.

In May, there were two articles of interest on the Centaur.

CHUNK OF NAME PLATE-- The May 19th Courier Mail had an article about a chunk of the Centaur's name plate that was found on an Australian beach by Sgt. Chris Brown a few days after the sinking. He turned it into the Red Cross for a Centaur Fair to raise money for the survivors. Where it got to from there is anybody's guess.

SURVIVOR-- The May 15th Courier Mail wrote about Martin Pash, 86, who laid a bundle of flowers at the Centaur Memorial at Coolangatta Point Danger, a place the Centaur passed by short;y before it was torpedoed.

Mr. Pash is a former merchant navy steward who was able to swim to a raft after being sucked down as the Centaur sank.

He spoke for two-and-a-half hours with Mearms about his experience. Only three survivors of the Centaur are still alive.

It Would Be Nice If the Ship Could Be Found While These People Are Still Alive. --Cooter

Bits O' History: WW I Vet Oldest Man-- USS Pennsylvania Guns-- Thanks Kate and Leonardo

Some New News About Old Stuff.

1. WW I VET OLDEST MAN-- Henry Allingham, 113, is now the world's oldest man after Tomoji Tanabe, 113, of Japan, died.

He is one of the UK's two remaining World War I veterans.

2. USS PENNSYLVANIA GUNS-- two 14-inch guns from the USS Pennsylvania have arrived at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg, where they will be permanently displayed. Each weighs in at 66 tons. Nice when states get memorials for their namesake battleships. Of course, the Pennsylvania was at Pearl Harbor that fateful day.

3. THANKS KATE AND LEONARDO-- May 12th Big Pond News-- "Titanic" movie stars Kate Winslett and Leonardo Di Caprio paid for the nursing home for 97 year old Millvina Dean, the last of the Titanic's passengers, who was two months old when the ship sank. Her father died, but her mother and brother were saved.

She had been struggling to pay the bills at the nursing home in Southampton, England.

Now, You Know. --Cooter

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dead Page: Raiders Guitarist

Drake Levin 1946-2009

OH, he had to wear the group's trademark Revolutionary War uniform and riding books, but he was one of the great rock guitarists.

Died July 4th at age 62.

Lead guitarist of Paul Revere & the Raiders for four years during an amazing string of Top 40 hits like "Kicks," "Hungry," and "Good Thing." Became really well-known when appearing on Dick Clark's "Where the Action Is." The band's 1965 hit "Just Like Me" is on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll."

However, he was long-gone when the Raiders finally had their only #1 song, "Indian Reservation. He last played with the Raiders at a reunion in Portland in 1997, which had all the members except Paul Revere.

From the Chicago Tribune.

Kicks Just Keep Getting Harder to Find.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dead Page: Maude, Golden Girls Star


From Chicago Tribune April 26th

Best known for her portrayal of strong-willed Maude Findlay on Norman Lear's sitcom "Maude" and Dorothy Zbornak on the "Golden Girls" died April 25th.

Tall and husky-voiced, she got her TV break playing Edith Bunker's loud-mouthed cousin in "All in the Family" where she tangled with Edith's equally loud-mouthed husband, Archie. These confrontations were among the funniest parts of the shows.

From that, she starred in her own series, "Maude" which ran for six years which broke new ground with its portrayals of infidelity, death, depression, and especially, abortion. Her best line was, "God will get you for that, Walter."

She won five Emmy nominations and won one for this show.

In 1985, she returned to TV as a divorce living with her mother and two other ladies in the "Golden Girls" which won two Emmys for best sitcom.

I liked both shows, but especially "Golden Girls.

West Loch Disaster-- Part 2


A chain reaction ensued with explosion after explosion taking place as the LSTs blew up. A total of 163 men were killed and 395 wounded. Fires burned for 24 hours and twenty buildings ashore were badly damaged. Six LSTs were sunk and many damaged.

It was kept secret for 16 years. No conclusive evidence has been found to explain the cause. Possibly gasoline fumes or mortar shells exploded while being handled.

It was afterwards recommended that LSTs not be nested together during loading, but Admiral Nimitz vetoed the idea because of lack of facilities and LSTs continued to be loaded in groups, but much more carefully..


A LST had a crew of 119 and could carry 200 Marines, 80-100 barrels of high octane fuel and 6000 cubic feet of ammo.

You can see pictures at'scrs'scrs2z.htm

Like I Said, I'd Never Heard of It. --Cooter

West Loch Disaster-- Part 1

Most people are well aware of what took place at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but few, including myself, are aware of what transpired May 21, 1944, in what is referred to as Pearl Harbor's second greatest disaster, the West Loch Disaster.

KHNL TV ran a segment on it May 21st. All that remains of it is a rusting ship and about 40 survivors on the 65th anniversary.

One survivor, Harry Horn, recalls that it was a Sunday afternoon and 29 LST (Landing Ship Tank) were in Pearl Harbor's West Loch loading ammunition, vehicles, and fuel for the Saipan invasion.

At 3:08 PM, there was an explosion aboard the LST-353, "We heard the explosion and we felt the explosion as the ship lifted up and banged down! I remember just hearing cut the lines, cut the lines and just get the hell out of here! Get out of here!"

More to Come. --Cooter

US and Wreck Hunters Race to Find World War II Planes

The June 1st San Francisco Chronicle had an article about the growing conflict between the United States government and wreck hunters over the locations of downed US World War II planes. The government wants to reclaim the remains of the pilots and the hunters are after the money that can be made for recovering these aircraft whose value is fast-rising. There is great demand among wealthy American collectors.

In recent years the US has found the remains of nearly 500 American flyers, about half in Papua New Guinea, site of many air battles between Japan and the US.

A P-38 Lightning was recently offered for $495,000 and a rare twin engine P-38 Lightning goes from $3.8 to 7 million.

Treasure and wreck hunters are flocking to PNG, as Papua New Guinea is called, where there are 2,200 missing American World War II flyers.

Let's Hope the Treasure Hunters Do the Right Thing and Turn Any Remains They Find Over to Authorities. --Cooter

Saturday, July 11, 2009

World War II Planes Crash/Land Near Litchfield, Illinois-- Part 2

Scott Field sent guards to watch over the planes and a crew to dismantle them. It took them a week and they were taken to another airfield and reassembled and they continued on their interrupted trip to the west coast and probably on to Japan after that.

The dismantling crews offered their father the oil from the engine, very valuable in those days of rationing. They got 20 gallons and stored them in eight gallon milk cans. He used it in his tractors for the next 15-20 years.

The guards stayed at the house while the planes were being dismantled and the two kids remembered that each had a 45 calibre gun.

Just a Little Bit of History That Most Don't Know About. --Cooter

World War II Planes Crash/Land Near Litchfield, Illinois-- Part 1

Terry Birkencamp and his sister Marge Allen were just children on Feb. 15, 1945, when two Douglas A-20 Havoc Light Bombers (each capable of carrying up to a 4,000 pound bombload with 300 mph flight speeds) circled their home six to eight times before crash landing in the fields and cutting a 30 inch deep V in the earth.

The flights had originated at Kellogg Field in Battle Creek, Michigan and were on their way to Scott Field east of Belleville and eventually on to California.

However, they ran into a really bad snowstorm and were running low on fuel and Scott Field was closed. They thought of trying Chanute, St. Louis, Chesterfield, or Springfield airfields, but all were closed as well. Marge remembers 7-9 inches of snow that day.

With fuel low, radio contact bad, and not trusting the gauges, one pilot made an emergency belly landing that ended up about 50 yards from the Birkencamp home. The other landed in an adjacent field.

The first plane was heavily damaged on its underside and had bent propeller blades. The second one was not as bad as it landed with wheels down.

Too Damaged to Take Off. --Coot

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dead Page: Chorus Girl Turned WW II Pilot-- Stones/Beatles Manager


In the 1920s and 30s, she was in vaudeville with the Ziegfield Follies and other acts and during WW II, she served a pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots, died June 22nd at age 97.

Hobnobbed with stars like Cary Grant and dated director Vincente Minnelli and was often in gossip columns of Ed Sullivan and Walter Winchell.

While a dancer, she took flying lessons and eventually earned her pilot's license.

When WW II broke out, many of her relatives were killed in the concentration camps, and, according to her son, she wanted very much to kill Hitler. She was not allowed to do combat, but did join the WASPs where she performed test flights, moved planes around the country and towed targets for male pilots, who she said hated them for ruining their macho image.

In 2006, she again flew a WW II aircraft from Kankakee to Wheeling.

ALLEN KLEIN 1931-2009

Former manager of the Rolling Stones and Beatles

Died July 5th at age 77.

Very powerful and controversial figure in music in the 1960s. An accountant known for his brashness and temper in record deals. Some of his clients were Sam Cooke, Bobby Darrin, and Herman's Hermits. But he became most famous for signing on the Rolling Stones and later The Beatles. These eventually ended with lawsuits.

He started his own firm which later became ABKCO in the late 1950s and co-produced "The Concert for Bangladesh" in 1971.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

George's Bust Auctioned

Today, a famous bust of George Washington is to be auctioned at Sotheby's in LONDON, ENGLAND!! Why England?

It is expected to get $490,000.

It is from French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdin and was commissioned by the US Congress. He went to Philadelphia in 1787 for a series of studies. He made it in France after his return and this one is called a superb rendition of our nation's first president.

Oh, George. Give Us the Gaze. --Cooter

Work Begins on Biloxi Lighthouse

Work has begun on the Biloxi, Mississippi, lighthouse to repair Hurricane Katrina damage, four years after the event.

A decorative fence will be removed from around the base and work will commence replacing damaged bricks and mortar.

On July 23rd, a ceremony will be held at the lighthouse to unveil the new Lighthouses of the Gulf Coast postage stamps which will feature pictures from all five Gulf states.

It was built in 1848 and is 64 feet tall and is the only lighthouse to stand in the middle of a four-lane highway. reportedly, it is the most photographed site on the entire Gulf Coast.

In 1860, a storm eroded sand from one side of it, causing it to lean over. Sand was removed from the other side to level it out. It was extinguished during the Civil War.

Lighthouses, One of My Favorite Things. --Cooter

Phil Georgeff-- The Voice of Arlington Park

While sitting out at Arlington Park yesterday, the name Phil Georgeff suddenly came to mind from all the sports shows I watched as a kid and, whenever they had something from Arlington Park, it was always Phil Georgeff doing the call. Mike remembered the name immediately as well, having also grown up in the Chicagoland area.

A quick look at Wikipedia revealed this information. His surname is pronounced George-F. He did the calling at AP from 1959 to 1992, clearly a labor of love. He is probably best-known for his stretch call, "Here they come, spinning out of the turn!!!"

He wrote a book about his experiences "And They're Off" and is a member of the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.

Thanks for the Calls, Mr. Georgeff. You're in My Memory. --Cooter

HMT Rohna

Back on June 29th, I wrote about a survivor of the HMT (His Majesty's Troopship) Rohna, dying in North Carolina.

Again, this story was covered up at the time, and for decades after the war for fear the Germans would learn how effective their glide bombs (kind of the smart bomb of that era) were.

Here are some more facts about the incident from Wikipedia.

The HMT Rohna was sunk by the German Luftwaffe November 26, 1943 in the Mediterranean Sea, north of Algeria, while carrying American troops. Of the 1,138 men who lost their lives, 1,015 were American, with 35 later dying from wounds.

Seven large landing craft LCI(L)s failed to pick up survivors. Six hundred and six were picked up by the minesweeper USS Pioneer.

Details of the incident were released slowly and not fully disclosed until 1967 with the Freedom of Information Act.

The Rohna was sunk by a Henschel HS 293 radio-controlled glide bomb. Other vessels were sunk by this early guided missiles, but also hushed up.


In 1996, a monument was erected at the Fort Mitchell National Cemetery in Seales, Alabama, to commemorate the incident. There is also a Rohna Survivors Memorial Association that has a website with more information on the event.

Again, Something I Had Never Heard Of. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Day at Arlington Park

Today, I got together at Arlington Park Race Track with some buddies I used to teach with at John T. Magee Middle School in Round Lake, Illinois. We taught for close to twenty years and are all retired now. Bob, however, now teaches at a parochial school. Just can't get enough, I guess.

Watching the horses run at this beautiful facility is a great way to pass an afternoon. Unfortunately, today was overcast with a steady light rain, but even so, we had a grand time, reminiscing and betting.


It is located in Arlington Heights, Illinois, on US Highway 14, known as Northwest Highway in these parts. I lived for 13 years in two neighboring communities, Rolling Meadows and Palatine.

Racing in Chicago has always been a big deal. At one time, there were six racetracks in the city.

Arlington Park opened in 1927 after being founded by Californian Harry D. "Curly" Brown. Attendance for the inaugural day was 20,000. It was the first track to install a public address system and had Clem McCarthy as race caller. Phil Georgeff called races for many years.

In 1936, the first photo finish camera was installed and 1940 the first electric starting gate.

In 1981, Arlington Park became the site of the first horse race with a million dollar purse, the Arlington Million.

Disaster struck in 1985 when a fast-moving fire completely gutted the grandstand and clubhouse, but it was open again for business four years later.

Thanks for the information, Wikipedia.

They're Off... --Cooter

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Liberty Ship SS William D. Pender

In my Civil War Blog this date, I was writing about Confederate General W. D. Pender who was mortally wounded the second day at Gettysburg. July 7th.

I found out that a Liberty Ship build by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington was named after him. Its engines, like the SS Calvin Coolidge, which I wrote about earlier this month, also came from the General Machinery Corporation of Hamilton, Ohio. The ship was scrapped in Baltimore in 1960.

Just Another Liberty Ship. --Da Coot

Monday, July 6, 2009

What Kind of Men Were They? --Part 2

Continuing with the sacrifices of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Again, this had to be one REALLY SCARY thing to do. Not only were these men risking their lives, but all had considerable wealth that they stood to lose.

THOMAS NELSON, JR., of Virginia-- at the Battle of Yorktown, he saw that British general Cornwallis had commandeered his home as headquarters. He urged Gen. Washington to open fire on it. The home was destroyed and Nelson died bankrupt.

FRANCIS LEWIS of New York had his home and properties destroyed. The British jailed his wife where she died in a few months.

JOHN HART of New Jersey was driven from his wife's bedside where she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year, he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and children vanished.

And, We Complain About Taxes. I Guess We Don't Have It So Bad. --Cooter

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Signers of the Declaration of Independence. What Kind of Men Were They?

Some facts and individual accounts of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, most of whom, unfortunately, are not well-known to most Americans, including myself.

### Jobs
24 were lawyers and jurists
11 were merchants
9 were farmers and plantation-owners
They were mostly men of means and well-educated. They knew exactly what they were doing by voting and signing for independence. The document itself was voted on today, 233 years ago, but not signed until much later.

### CARTER BRAXTON of Virginia, wealthy planter and merchant had his ships destroyed by British. Sold his home and property to pay debts, and died in rags.

### THOMAS MCKEAN of Delaware was hounded by British and forced to move family almost constantly. Served in Congress without pay. Possessions taken and died in poverty.

### LYMAN HALL, BUTTONS GWINNET, and GEORGE WALTON of Georgia, had their properties looted.

### EDWARD RUTLEDGE, ARTHUR MIDDLETON, and THOMAS HEYWARD of South Carolina had their properties looted as well.

### WILLIAM ELLERY of Rhode Island and GEORGE CLYMER of Pennsylvania had their properties looted.

More Hardships to Come. --Cooter

Signers of the Declaration of Independence

This would seem a good day to write about this for some reason. This is from my sister, Julie.

What happened to the signers of the document.

Five captured by British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons in the Army and another had two sons captured.

Nine fought and died from wounds or other hardships.

These were men putting it ALL on the line.

It's not all picnics, parades, celebrations, and fireworks.

Hats Off to These Brave Men. --Cooter

Some More on Liberty Ship Calvin Coolidge

I found another source which said it was built in Portland, Maine by the South Portland Shipbuilding Corporation, East Yard, EC2-S-C1 Type.

It was hull #773, the sixth one constructed, WSAT (550) USAT. WSAT stood for War Shipping Transportation Administration. The number in parentheses was the number of troops it could carry, and the USAT was Army Transportation Service.

The engine was made at General machine Corporation in Hamilton, Ohio and the ship was scrapped in 1965. As of yet, I haven't found anymore about its war or postwar career. Was it sold to a company or another country? Was it laid up at one of the eight or so reserve areas like Wilmington NC?

I found the number 2.43 connected to the name, but no explanation as to what it might be.

Liberty Ships-- An Often Overlooked, But Big Reason for the Victory in World War II. --Cooter

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Reason for 4th of July

The vote was taken to declare the Independence of the colonies. It was not signed on this date.

These men were facing really bad times should the effort be defeated by the the British and all had lots to lose, including their lives if captured by the British. Treason, after all, carries a death sentence. And that is exactly what these men were doing in the eyes of the British.

Voting for it was one thing, but putting your name on the document really put your neck out there.

My sister sent me an e-mail telling what became of those 56 brave souls which would seem very appropriate for this time of the year.

Personally, I don't think I would have been brave enough to vote for independence and definitely would have thought twice about signing it. Mighty brave men in that room that day.

As my Uncle Bo said, "Freedom ain't free."

Flying My Flag With Pride. --Cooter

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What Is a WW II "Water Buffalo?"

I just keep finding out more things I don't know about World War II. I'd never heard of a "water buffalo" before I saw the picture in the calendar that I wrote about earlier today. So...I had to look it up.

Here is what I found. The "Water Buffalo" was an amphibious tank classified as a LVT, Landing Vehicle Tracked. There were five classes of it during World War II and 18,621 were delivered. Marines serving aboard them were known as "Alligator Marines" and there is a museum dedicated to these vehicles in Camp Pendleton, California.

They were originally intended to be cargo carriers, but evolved into carrying assault troops and fire support vehicles. They could carry as many as 18 troops.

The LVT-1s were 7.95 meters long and 3.25 meters wide and carried 4 Browning machine guns. Their descendants are still in use by the armed forces today.

The WW II/Korea LVT Museum is at Camp Del Mar at the USMC base in Pendleton, California and houses exhibits along with 6 LVTs with examples from all five World War II classes. The LVT-4 was the largest of them. The museum is open seven days a week.

Ooo-Rah!! --Cooter

July in World War II

Flipping my Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor 2009 calendar over to the month of July yesterday, I see that the poster is a "Buy War Bonds" one featuring soldiers charging with affixed bayonets and Uncle Sam in the clouds waving an American flag and pointing to victory with bombers filling the air.

The picture features a "Water Buffalo" loaded with US Marines churning through the sea bound for the beaches of Tinian Island near Guam, July 1944. There is a machine gun in the front and what appears to be a small turret mounting two more in the back.


July 5, 1945-- Liberation of the Philippines declared
July 10, 1945-- 1,000 bombing raids against Japan begin
July 16, 1945-- first atomic bomb tested in the US
July 19, 1944-- US Marines invade Guam
July 28, 1945-- Japanese submarine sinks the cruiser USS Indianapolis

The Greatest Generation. --Cooter

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Liberty Ship Calvin Coolidge

I couldn't find out much about the Liberty Ship Calvin Coolidge.

It was built by the New England Shipbuilding Corporation which operated 13 ways for construction. The hull was laid 19 October 1942 and was launched 2 January 1943 and delivered 4 February 1943. During the war, the company built 236 standard ships, 8 boxed aircraft transports, and 30 Ocean Class (British Liberty Ships).

There was a first SS President Coolidge which was launched as an ocean liner in 1930 and christened in 1931 by Mrs. Grace Coolidge, the wife of the president. It was taken into government service and sank October 26, 1942, after hitting a US-laid mine off Espiratu Santo in the Pacific Ocean, while carrying 5,000 troops. Fortunately, there was only the loss of two, but much equipment went under. The ship's commander, Captain Henry Nelson came under a lot of flack for the incident.

This is from Reverend Floyd McIntyre of North Springfield, Vermont, whose father was one of the survivors. He says the wreck remains a popular dive site.


On June 19, 1945, there was an incident in the northeast Atlantic but no deaths.

January 15, 1945, two crew members were killed while ashore in the Mediterranean.

During the war, 2,751 Liberty Ships were launched.

All I Could Find. --Cooter

WW II Scrap Metal Drive

The May 28th Burlington (Vt) Free Press had an article by Wilson Ring, AP.

In the fall of 1942, there was a scrap metal drive in Vermont's Lake Champlain Islands and 13-year-old Baker, a seventh grader at Grand Island Grammar School was chosen by her classmates to represent the school at the christening of a Liberty Ship in Portland, Maine, named after the 30th president, Calvin Coolidge who was also a resident of Vermont. It had been built in 69 days.

Students across Vermont had been collecting scrap metal for the war effort, and, on average, collected 168 pounds per student. Her father donated a large piece of equipment and, as a result, the 31 students in her two-class, one-room school had 6,880. Jeannine, and the second and third ranked collectors in the state were on hand for the commissioning.

Jeannine Dubuque donated the bottle she used and the wooden box to the Historical Society Museum in Montpelier along with a scrapbook of clippings.

The War at Home. --Da Coot