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Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Tue, 1st Sep '09 10:57 PM

QUICK NOTE ON THE WWII INFO WP

A couple years ago I had the privileged of interviewing a few dozen local WWII veterans as well as reading through transcripts of over 100 others interviewed by other people on the project. All of the phrases in this word puzzle are things that surprised me (a long time student of the period) in those interviews.

One in particular refers to something my father said that sort of sent a chill up my spine as I realized how close my brothers and sisters and I came to not existing.

oogie54
Oogie54  (Level: 201.2 - Posts: 1120)
Tue, 1st Sep '09 11:06 PM

Thanks for sharing these insights in your puzzle,good one

alvandy
Alvandy  (Level: 229.1 - Posts: 7560)
Tue, 1st Sep '09 11:22 PM

That was an excellent historical lesson. I never knew any of the facts highlighted before.
Bravo for writing it.


salzypat
Salzypat  (Level: 156.1 - Posts: 5313)
Tue, 1st Sep '09 11:22 PM

This was an excellent puzzle. I thought since I grew up in that era that I might know some of these things, but I didn't. Great educational puzzles. Your personal insights made it even more interesting.

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Tue, 1st Sep '09 11:39 PM

I received a note about a certain thing mentioned in one phrase. In the wiki article this things purpose is opposite of what the person who told me about it said it did. How's that for being vague?

Anyway, it's possible he had his terms wrong, but his story was so vivid that it's stuck in my mind ever since.

I can explain more after the puzzle ends, because I find this new information an interesting twist to his story.

virtus
Virtus  (Level: 161.6 - Posts: 2457)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 12:18 AM

This is one of those times my history major came in handy. Interviews are an excellent source of information in addition to being more interesting than a textbook. I used to have my A.P. students interview a WW II vet, and it made a lasting impression on some of them. Thanks for a great history lesson. Anne

smoke
Smoke  (Level: 96.7 - Posts: 12009)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 12:31 AM

Absolutely grand!

pepperdoc
Pepperdoc  (Level: 152.5 - Posts: 4286)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:39 AM

That was a FAB puzzle! Thanks for the insight.

sandracam
Sandracam  (Level: 149.3 - Posts: 4190)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:50 AM

Interesting and timely!

collioure
Collioure  (Level: 104.6 - Posts: 9952)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 8:31 AM

Fascinating puzzle. I remember my dad talking about the retread tires from that era.

collioure
Collioure  (Level: 104.6 - Posts: 9952)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 8:32 AM

Actually he probably swore about them.

lodi
Lodi  (Level: 98.6 - Posts: 2144)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 8:38 AM

I really liked this puzzle. It was fascinating and I was sorry it ended. I wish I could have seen all ten. My dad was a WWII vet and I used to love to listen to his stories.

Thanks.

lynnm
Lynnm  (Level: 226.1 - Posts: 1947)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 9:33 AM

I'm with Lodi - as a history buff and daughter of a WWII soldier I'd love to see all 10 phrases. Congrats on an excellent puzzle.

m48ortal
M48ortal  (Level: 251.1 - Posts: 3742)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 11:32 AM

To all of you whose parents are of the WW II/Great Depression era. If your parents are still alive, please ask them (or help them) to write down their memories of their youth. You will value it later.

My brother and I kept asking Dad to do this, and once he got started, he became the historian for his veterans' group. Smoe of his stories were printed in our hometown newspaper, where he was given credit as a 'contributing columnist' (no pay, but recognition). As his health began to fail, he compiled them into a book, alternating chapters of growing up in east KY with articles of his military experiences. On Thursday, September 6, 2007, he handed me the final proofs of his book, to be returned to the printer for publication. The next morning he fell with a heart attack, dead before he hit the floor. Dad was my hero, and a stubborn old man. Too stubborn to let go until he had finished his work here. My advice to you is to keep them writing for as long as you can. It may just give them a reason to live. I now have Mom writing hers, but we won't publish that book until she's gone.

And if your parents are WW II era, you're getting old enough to start writing down your memories for your kids. We need to do this while we can still remember them also.

And hug your folks fo me please.

daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 253.9 - Posts: 1636)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 1:23 PM

Thanks to Sploofishy for a great WP, and thanks to M48ortal for a very important comment. My WWII vet dad passed away last year, and he wasn't the type to write things down. But he did tell incredible stories and I intend to pass those on to whoever will listen. (A favorite: as a motor pool sergeant in the Philipines, his crew was responsible was for driving all of the vehicles over a cliff and into the ocean at the end of the war--the army didn't want to bother with the expense of shipping them back.)

salzypat
Salzypat  (Level: 156.1 - Posts: 5313)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 1:31 PM

my ex-husband tells the same stories from the Korean War. Bulldozers, all kinds of heavy equipment was dumped rather than ship them back to the U.S. or run the risk of them falling into enemy hands. He also told about all of the orange juice and other foods he saw dumped overboard on the ships going to and coming back from Korea. Coming from a poor background where you made do or did without, I think the wasted food probably angered him as much as anything - plus remembering seeing all the little ones starving on the streets in Korea.

I guess it all made economic sense at the time.

marynuala
Marynuala  (Level: 133.4 - Posts: 994)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 1:35 PM

Just to add my praise Sploofishy, for a fascinating and unusual WP as well as the additional information you provided in this Forum.

lodi
Lodi  (Level: 98.6 - Posts: 2144)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 4:57 PM

My dad was in the navy and was the range finder, which meant he trained the big guns on the target planes. One day, a plane flew over, the Captain (or whatever he was) gave the command to fire and when my dad looked again, he saw that it was one of our planes so he skewed the guns and yelled "Its one of ours." He got in deep doo doo over that - almost court-martialed. They made him run through a bunch of pictures of all the planes, etc. and he didn't get in trouble, but later, the Captain told him that if he gave the command to fire, then he will fire no matter what. My dad replied with, "Yes Sir! But if its one of ours, I promise you will never hit it."

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 5:33 PM

Thanks for the stories Lodi, Michael, Dave and Pat. Keep them coming!

So many guys will only tell you their unit history, which is fine, but which you can get from books or documentaries. It's the personal stories that really put you there and make it real.

Speaking of which, I'm going to post each of the phrases and mention who the information came from.

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 5:50 PM

("Because of very low rescue odds") many bomber crews in the pacific did not bother packing parachutes

("Key moment in U.S. history") soldiers drove congressman back to washington to pass g i bill by one vote

These both came from my father, a navigator on a B-24 who flew most of his 30 combat missions over Iwo Jima. The first one he mentioned to explain why it was necessary to take Iwo Jima in the first place. B-29s leaving from Tinian and bombing Japan were failing to return at an alarming rate because the range was too great even with the planes stripped down to bare essentials. Few crews of the ocean ditched planes were ever rescued. In one month over 300 men were lost at sea. The crews adopted a philosophy "better to die quick than to linger for days without hope", so why bother with parachutes?

The second one was a story he read in one of his magazines which made him realize how close the G I Bill had come to defeat. He knows the bill changed not only his life, but the lives of many veterans and also the lives of their children. He went from being the son of a milkman to a college graduate and eventually a history teacher, junior high school principal and father of 7 children who likewise all graduated from college and became a preschool teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, a nurse, an environmental biologist, a mechanical/computer engineer and me the youngest and also the black sheep of the family.

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 5:53 PM

("Rarely mentioned army unit") mosquito reduction squads in the pacific islands tried to control malaria

This came from a man who was part of one unit that spent a couple years island hopping before being sent to the Philippines. He described their various techniques, including making sure no standing water was left in any area they were working on. This meant having to cut up palm fronds lying on the ground into little pieces because the water they collected was enough for mosquitoes to lay eggs in.

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 5:55 PM

("Long before MacArthur returned") soldiers who escaped bataan organized large filipino guerrilla units

This came from Robert Lapham, who I was fortunate enough to track down an interview done a few years before his death.

He actually has a wiki article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lapham



Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 5:59 PM

("Who were the WASP?") women pilots who shuttled all kinds of planes all across the country

The mother of a friend of mine was a WASP - Women Airforce Service Pilots. Because of their service, they freed up hundreds of male pilots for combat duty. Sadly, the women were not given the respect they deserved for their duty.

madamec8
Madamec8  (Level: 82.4 - Posts: 891)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:04 PM

WHAT? How did I miss this one? I would have loved it. This is MY era. Darn.

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:05 PM

("A very odd scrap drive") collecting kitchen fat proved very useful in making high explosives

("1 chemist I met informed me") while making nitroglycerin he was alone in the lab in case of explosion

These came from a husband and wife who had both been chemists working for the government during the war. They started out at a gun cotton lab in Oklahoma, then he was assigned to the Manhattan Project (though he did not know anything about it except the small piece he was working on) and finally he ended up making nitroglycerin in a small factory in New Jersey. The whole nitro lab was build over a tank of water. Somehow this was supposed to minimize damage in case of explosion and fire.

The wife was quite a pistol and had a lot of great stories. He had had a stroke, but packed a lot into the words he was able to speak.


Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:11 PM

("Fact kept secret long after war") breaking the japanese weather code gave the allies vital information

This came from a woman who was an Aerographer (weather collection specialist). She actually did not want to discuss exactly what secret project that she worked on in Washington D.C. because she never received anything releasing her from her oath of secrecy. I did finally find out that President Carter had declassified the information, but unfortunately she died before I found the proof. I was able to basically piece together what she had been working on, but it would have been great to hear it from her - reinforcing M48ortal's point above.

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:13 PM

("The crucial rubber game") gasoline rationing was more to decrease wear on tires than to save fuel

This came from a woman who worked at the local rationing coupon distribution office. On weekends, she and her friends often pooled their coupons to drive to the large military hospital that was an hour north.

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:26 PM

("Rarely mentioned medication") front line troops given pills called blue eighty eights to keep them awake

This came from Fred D., an infantry soldier with the 104th Division.

This is the one that the wiki article seems to contradict, since it says "Blue 88 was a blue colored pill that was a mix of calming drugs, mainly barbiturates such as sodium amytal, used to treat American Soldiers in the Second World War who suffered from battle fatigue. In most cases it was used to induce sleep."

So, it's possible that Fred got the nicknames of a couple different drugs mixed up or, as I was thinking last night, the officers could have been giving them this in lower doses to help prevent battle fatigue/shell shock and just told them that the pills were to help keep them awake. Anyway, he did say they took them with a pot of coffee before going out on patrol. He said they were always pushing the troops to drink constantly, because when you have to go to the bathroom it's harder to fall asleep.

Anyway, whatever the case on that, Fred could very well be in the background of the picture at the top of this article - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mittelbau - because he was there, forcing the citizens of Nordhausen to bury the dead from the camp they liberated in early April, 1945.

m48ortal
M48ortal  (Level: 251.1 - Posts: 3742)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 6:58 PM

Thank you. One of the most informative WPs ever.

There are many heroes whose families do not even know their story because they find it to traumatic to talk about. That's why I encourage veterans to write it down. Dad was unable to talk about much of his military action, but I've seen him writing into the wee hours on his yellow legal pad so my mom, the typist of the family, could transcribe it into a series of computers. Occasionally, his writing would be smeared where a tear fell on the page. Even so, the writing was cathartic for him, as I feel it could be for anybody who has unspoken demons.

The last few years of his life, I drove for Dad and Mom when he attended his military divisions reunions in the spring and fall. Only when he was with his comrades could he openly discuss their experiences, and even then, they tended to focus on the humorous or incidental. There was almost no bragging or retelling of personal heroics. More than one of his friends told me that when you heard someone bragging about the stuff he'd done, chances were good that the braggart was lying. The heroes stories were often told by others, all too often as a eulogy. When Dad died, we were attending one of his reunions, actually in the museum dedicated to his unit. I wrote the epilogue to his book, and we had it printed. My brother played Amazing Grace on his bagpipes at his funeral, and a local veterans group gave him a military farewell.
Thank you. And if you are a veteran, Bless you.
Mike

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 7:19 PM

What unit was your father in? And where is the museum?

I recently went to a reunion at Selman Field in Monroe LA for what may be the last gathering of the veterans of the flight navigation school there. It was the largest such school in the country. Three of my sisters and one of my brothers attended as well. My father spoke one of the nights - it was very moving. My dad does sort of have one of those heroic stories, but in it he plays second fiddle. I'll post it later tonight, cause I'm making supper at the moment.

They have a museum there in Monroe dedicated to the navigation school as well as General Chennault of the Flying Tigers (who lived in a town not too far away). I took my mini digital audio recorder everywhere and got a lot of nice audio of my dad describing how all the navigation equipment was used. Also there that day was General Chennault's only surviving daughter and I did a nice interview with her. Her daughter is the museum director now.

Now I have edit everything down to about a half and hour for inclusion in my series for my hometown public radio series. I'm waiting until the kids are back in school, cause audio editing is not something that can be done with three kids running around.

lamizell
Lamizell  (Level: 108.2 - Posts: 441)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 7:20 PM

It's not just the veterans who have interesting stories, but the people left behind who had to carry on -- the women who entered the workforce, the mothers who managed birthday cakes in the face of strict rationing, the folks who patrolled the beaches and encountered more enemy soldiers than most people realize. There are lots of small factoids, too: For example, material was in such demand that women's hemlines rose dramatically, and it was against the law to produce cloth-covered buttons.

sandracam
Sandracam  (Level: 149.3 - Posts: 4190)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 7:29 PM

Great posts, M48 and Lamizell! My family farmed in Indiana, and so were needed at home. Seems that there were important jobs for everyone during that era.

m48ortal
M48ortal  (Level: 251.1 - Posts: 3742)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 7:45 PM

Dad was with the 36th Division, called the Texas Division. Their national reunions are held in Texas, but Dad was proud that the members came from almost every state, and usually outnumbered the Texans present at each reunion. The museum is at Fort Mabry, in Austin.

I didn't mean to imply that those who kept the home front safe were less important. If anyone took it that way I apologize. It's just that in our family, we could see that Dad's health was in greater jeopardy than Mom's, due in large part to the wounds and other injuries he suffered in France. I gave Mom a blank journal a couple of years ago, with the wish that each birthday or Christmas, she will have added more of her life story to it. They were engaged when Dad shipped out, and she was teaching on an emergency certificate before she turned 18, with 68 college hours already behind her. One of her stories told of her premonition that Dad had been wounded, verified by the official notification the next week. Her premonition happened shortly after the actual incident, 4000 miles away.

lodi
Lodi  (Level: 98.6 - Posts: 2144)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 7:49 PM

My mom and dad only knew each other a few weeks when they got married. It turns out that she was engaged to another guy, who went off to war and she never heard from him again. She thought he had spurned her so she quickly married my father out of spite. She immediately became pregnant and was very large with child when her original fiance came home after being rescued as a POW. Both were devastated.

My parents never really got along.

sandracam
Sandracam  (Level: 149.3 - Posts: 4190)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 7:51 PM

OMG Lodi. That's such a sad story...

garrybl
Garrybl  (Level: 279.5 - Posts: 6639)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 10:09 PM

This might be the best thread I've read for years; keep em coming!

sargon
Sargon  (Level: 112.0 - Posts: 1256)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 10:14 PM

My Dad was on a transport as part of the troops that would invade Japan. During the trip the bomb was dropped and the war came to an end. But the troops were not told the war was over until they reached Japan. The officers were afraid that the troops would demand to turn the ship around if they knew the invasion was off.

My uncle fought his way across the Pacific and ended up as part of the occupation of Japan. He and two other soldiers were put in a Japanese village, They sandbagged themselves in a jail cell with a machine gun. I was told that the Japanese police kept them safe.

daveguth
Daveguth  (Level: 253.9 - Posts: 1636)
Wed, 2nd Sep '09 11:24 PM

OK, given Barry's encouragement, I'll try one more.

After an evening of carousing and embibing (wherever one did that in wartime Philippines), my Dad and buddies were heading home in a Jeep. Spotting a carabao (water buffalo) by the side of the road, my Dad decided to slap it in the rear end as they drove by. As any sober person would guess, this broke his hand in several places. (My Dad's only "war injury"!) The army, being who they are, decided to try an experimental treatment for repairing/stablizing his hand. It was this weird combination of pins, tape, rubber bands, and probably spit. They took dozens of pictures, so about half of my Dad's wartime photo album are closeups of his hand. He had the silly setup on his hand for months, and apparently it didn't heal right. So they broke it again, put it in a cast, and my Dad (surprisingly) had little trouble with the hand in his later years.

salzypat
Salzypat  (Level: 156.1 - Posts: 5313)
Thu, 3rd Sep '09 12:58 AM

Any of you who still have family alive who served in WWII, please ask them if they ever stopped in North Platte, Nebraska.

Here's a video that explains it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07DGeLvDw8I

Bob Greene also wrote a book about it "Once Upon A Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."

Women came from 125 communities, some from Colorado and Kansas, to help serve these men and women.

Remember, sugar was rationed, as was gas and tires. It was a true miracle that the people were able to make this happen.

lodi
Lodi  (Level: 98.6 - Posts: 2144)
Thu, 3rd Sep '09 1:12 AM

Another story that stuck with me from my childhood: My dad said the destroyer he was on often sailed out in a fleet of some kind, in formation. That particular day, the sea was really rough and a big wave came over the deck and knocked out a good portion of their electrical system. My dad's ship had to go back to port for repairs, and another took its place. He said they all waved as they passed each other.

When they got back to port, they found out that the ship that replaced them had been sunk by a kamikaze pilot. He said the ship was eerily silent for several hours.

m48ortal
M48ortal  (Level: 251.1 - Posts: 3742)
Thu, 3rd Sep '09 7:52 AM

Dad was the bazooka man in his unit until his ammo carrier was wounded. Instead of giving him a new ammo carrier, they gave him a rifle. The men on the front line were rotated back to rest camp periodically, and it was the ammo carrier's turn to go. Since he had been evacuated to a hospital, that moved Dad up in the rotation. Hot food, warm water, a chance to sleep on a mattress for three days. While he was at rest camp, the worst snowstorm in years hit the area, and no trucks could leave camp for three more days. When he returned to the front, he asked where his squad was.

Nowhere.

During his absence, his entire squad had been killed or captured, and he was listed as MIA, through a paperwork foulup.

His guardian angel probably need some rest camp now.

garrybl
Garrybl  (Level: 279.5 - Posts: 6639)
Thu, 3rd Sep '09 7:53 AM

salzypat; the North Platte link is not only complete news to me and very infrmative but also entertaining and emotional.
Many thanks -some one should write a quiz about it!

salzypat
Salzypat  (Level: 156.1 - Posts: 5313)
Thu, 3rd Sep '09 9:18 AM

Gee, Barry, talk about the obvious!

Sploofus Editor
Sploofishy (Editor)  
Thu, 3rd Sep '09 1:19 PM

Very neat short documentary. Thanks Pat.

The thing that I find endlessly fascinating about the period is that there is always some new dimension to be uncovered and there are no easy answers. Even in America, where it is referred to as "The Good War" (doubt many in Europe call it that), it changed the lives of everyone, sometimes for the better, but often not.

My original thought in producing the audio series (currently 8 hours in length), was to look at how the war took the citizens of this community in the middle of nowhere and flung them literally to all parts of the globe - and then how, somehow, they came back and tried to put their lives and the community back together again.

However, it didn't quite work out that way. I decided to just let the people tell their stories with as light an editorial hand as possible and let people draw their own conclusions.


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