Thursday, March 12, 2015

From The Air

Prior to the close of WWII, the American industrial complex had produced the war machine.  Tanks, trucks, ships, arms, planes, and all kinds of war materials were made at remarkable speed.  What happened at the end of WWII to all this stuff.   The planes remaining in Germany were blown up all in a row. 

My Dad participated in these activities as part of the Army of Occupation, Germany.  He states that Germany POW's [prisoner of war ] were driven to the air field each day.  They were given TNT in square blocks (about the size of a shoe) that were placed on the wings of a plane.  This was after each plane was stripped of any usable parts. [Platinum from the engines were the major item.]  The following picture shows such a plane as it was ready to blow.


Not much is left to see.  Dad was responsible for setting off the charges some 100 yards from the explosion.

To get a scope of the extent of this process, the following picture was taken from the air.  It shows the field as it stood in 1946.


Planes, planes, and more planes, all lined up in a row, waiting for their final destination.  What a picture from the air it is.  To have survived the war and be blown apart at the end.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Two Days Away

Post cards from friends are a delight.  Here a friend of my Dad mails this in 1945:


The battleship "U.S.S. West Virginia" is shown.  It was mailed from the "Great Lakes Naval Training Center" to "Pvt. Henry E. Jones, 15364821, 3704th A.A.F. Bu, Sqdn. V Class 236, Kesler Field, Miss."  What an address it is.  A name, and a number of numbers, could be difficult to keep straight.

The message on the back is shown:

A "Forgetful buddy" my Dad was.  "Look what you're missing not being in the Navy" it reads.  Check the post mark as it is stamped..."May 6, 10:30 AM, 1945".  Two friends, one in the Navy, and one in the Army Air Force, both just completing their training...two days before Victory in Europe was declared. [May 8th, 1945]  What would it have been like during WWII just two days away from victory in Europe.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Spitfire

Perhaps no other aircraft in the history of air war is as recognizable as the British Spitfire.  Its graceful  lines, near perfect handling, and eight-gun punch made its mark during the summer of 1940.  Its engine [1 x 1,150 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin], its speed [357 mph], and its range [500 miles] made it one of the most remarkable aircraft of WWII.  The Spitfire remains the symbol of the Battle of Britain.


It was 1946, and here my Dad sits in a Spitfire.  He was among the crews who were responsible for the destruction of many of the aircraft no longer needed for the war effort.  It was post war Germany, and here is a Spitfire sitting on German soil.  What a symbol it is.

Information is taken from: Great Campaigns of World War II, by Longmeadow Press, 1988. [Co-ordinating editor: J.B. Davies]  The picture is taken from a family shoe box full of memories!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Watersheds


There it stands.   Strikingly beautiful or impressive it is.  Some consider it the most spectacular isolated mountain in the world all 14,691 feet (4,478 meters).  Part of the Alps' (which serve as the European watershed) it stands proudly.   In 1946 my Dad took this picture.  The Matterhord it is called.   As part of the Army of Occupation, he was given the keys to a dark room where he spent time developing his own pictures.   The keys were to be passed on to another when his own time was completed.   Such is the picture above. 


 Here he stands most likely on the same day he took the picture of the Matterhorn.  A camera case hangs from his right shoulder.  A snow ball in his left hand. [He is left-handed]  A watershed of his own I imagine.  After this time as one in the Army of Occupation what will life hold for me?  Do I throw this snowball, or do I just let it melt in my hand?   Hum...questions of life are often watersheds.  In 1946, the world had just finished its own watershed.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Untouched

Pictures from my Dad's collection contained many from his experiences in Germany following WWII.  The following picture has written on the back:  "Inside of the Red Cross at Stuttgart.  A large Opera House at one time - about the only building untouched in Stuttgart."


Untouched after the War in Germany.  A opera house it is.  The Red Cross was using this building to work from in 1946.  "Die Staatstheater" (the opera house) in downtown Stuttgart as it is called today.  A famous historical building as it stands in the middle of town.

A second picture was taken this day in 1946 which has been shown in a previous post.  "Angle of Peace" it is called by my Dad as written on the back.

After some internet searching, I found that the statue stands in front of the Opera House (Die Staatstheater).  The tree line as been removed, but it clearly is the same statue.  It must have been that my Dad took these pictures at the same visit to this untouched building.


The hand writing on the back of each picture is shown above.  Untouched from the time they were placed in the box of pictures.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Say what?

Say what?  Are you kidding me?  Come on...stop pulling my leg.  Nonsense.  You don't really mean it?   Give me a break.  That's stretching it.  I've heard that before...a tall one...like the fish that got away?  Are you serious?  Your joshing.  What a wives' tell... certainly a tall one.   What in the world?  Too much to drink?  Are you sure?  Bull....!  Just kidding.  What have you been smoking?  Unreal...like smoke and mirrors. Well slap my face.  I wouldn't kid you. You're crazy!  A cock and bull story.  Say what?

P.S.  All sayings are from my white, Anglo-Saxon (Celtic), Protestant upbringing.  Are there any left out?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Calm Before the Storm

Sitting still for very long was not one of my favorite things.  You had to be ahead of the pack at Granny Ewen's since there were many first cousins to contend.  This must be one of those pictures of the "the calm" before "the storm".




 It was taken at Granny Ewen's house when she and Grandad lived in Lexington, KY.  My can't wait to get going look is clearly present.  Just inside the front door was this large, comfortable chair with a pillow, and Granny Ewen's crochet underneath. [crochet = needlework consisting of the interlocking of looped stitches formed with a single thread and a hooked needle.]  She did a lot of this crochet, and I have a number of her hand sown pieces.  At any rate, my white shirt is neatly in place, along with my belt and suspenders.  An ash-tray stand is to my left, and a newspaper rack is full of the days information.  I would call it "the calm".

Moving on along the days adventures is the following picture taken pretty much in the same location.


You can see that Granny Ewen had stopped the day's proceedings.  My usual condition is shown, with a great big smile, shirt hanging out, and only one suspender still hanging.  She is holding down my first cousin's hands, and my brother is standing innocent looking to his left, with some sort of object held in his mouth.  I was holding high something that must have been the prize of the day since my cousin seems unhappy that I am holding it.  What else is waiting I must be thinking.  To the next prize of the day...no more calm before the next storm... I still have one suspender to go.