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Women Warriors of the Philippines – WWII Heroines Helped Liberate Their Country

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H/T War History OnLine.

The story of these valiant women must to told.

Filipina Soldiers in WWII

War History Online proudly presents this Guest Piece from Pacificatrocities.org

The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th of 1941 represented the initial step of the Japanese military onslaught of Southeast Asia.  The following day, the Japanese continued their aggressive military strategy in the Pacific, targeting American and European holdings in Southeast Asia.

From December 8th, 1941, to May of 1942, the Japanese campaign in the Philippines resulted in both the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands and the ultimate surrender of both Filipino and American troops[2].  It is estimated that 80,000 Filipino and American soldiers were forced to relocate and enter POW camps throughout the island of Luzon – if they survived the horrors of the Bataan Death March.

U.S. and Filipino soldiers and sailors surrendering to Japanese forces at Corregidor

The Japanese maltreatment of the Filipino and American POWs was visible to Philippine citizens, who witnessed first hand the Bataan Death March as it passed them by. The Philippine civilians who witnessed the brutality and killing of POWs as they marched to the prison camps were themselves vulnerable to the merciless cruelty of the Japanese military. Filipino men and women who attempted to give food or water to the marchers were wounded or killed – usually bayoneted – as a result of their actions.

American and Filipino troops surrendering at Bataan, Luzon, Philippines, 9 April 1942.

The Bataan Death March would serve as the precursor to the Japanese Imperial Military’s brutal treatment of the Philippine citizenry throughout the islands.  The visible signs of maltreatment, the aggressive removal of civil liberties, the torture and capture of Filipino citizens who sympathized with the Allies, and the immediate severing of foreign relations and aide would spur a grassroots movement to resist the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands.

Japanese Military Strategy in the Pacific 1941-1942.

The roots of the Philippine Resistance represented the cultural and socio-economic diversity of the Philippine Islands.  From socialist peasant farmers, middle school teachers, ROTC youths, to Moro (Philippine Muslim) warriors, the range and inclusivity of the men and women who participated in the struggle against the Japanese Imperial Army was seemingly inexhaustible.

Women guerrilla fighters especially made major contributions to the liberation of the Philippines, but unfortunately, similar to the guerrilla fighters from the Islands’ ethnic minorities, have received less acknowledgment and discussion in the history of the Pacific Theater during World War II.

WAS founder, Josefa Capistrano.

The Philippines, during the early half of the twentieth century, witnessed few advances in women’s rights.  But with the threat of war and the encroachment of the Japanese Imperial Army, the patriarchal and religiously conservative culture of the Philippines could not afford to maintain its traditional standards regarding gender.

The grassroots resistance drew heavily on the patriotic fervor of many Filipinas who saw the guerrilla resistance as an opportunity to liberate their homeland as well as prove the capabilities of their sex.

Their guerrilla efforts proved women were more than capable of taking on numerous roles: soldiers, leaders, activists, journalists, nurses, doctors, spies, and dedicated patriots.  Filipina guerrillas proved to be a vital aspect of both the soldiering and reconnaissance missions that allowed the Allies an opportunity to retake the Philippines.

Captain Pajota’s guerrillas at Cabanatuan

Historians estimate that for every ten male guerrillas, one Filipina guerrilla served in the underground resistance.  Over 260,000 male Filipino guerrillas served the resistance effort.  This number reflects how Filipinas have been neglected in the history of the war, or who, because of their status as women, were not officially counted as serving, and that female guerrillas represented possibly more than 10% of the resistance force.

Propaganda poster depicting the Philippine resistance movement.

These statistics, given the few surviving resources available regarding Filipina guerrilla efforts, brings to light the missing narratives of a traditionally very American-centered written history on the liberation of the Philippines of World War II.  The wartime experiences of women of color in the Pacific provide opportunities to address the various contributions, struggles, and cultural diversity that aided and represented the Allied front of the Pacific.

Captain Nieves Fernandez with her husband 1944. A former school teacher, she would lead a resistance group throughout the Japanese occupation. – JollyJoker83 CC BY-SA 4.0

Filipina guerrillas, similar to their male peers, were aware of the risks and the ultimate sacrifice they would have to make in their efforts to push the Japanese Imperial Army out of their homeland.  One of the added fears and risks that Filipinas shared that their male peers did not was the threat of rape and being forcibly used as ‘comfort’ women (sex slaves) for the Japanese Imperial Army.

Despite the risks of death, torture, and rape, the Filipina guerrillas of the Philippine Resistance gave themselves selflessly and heroicly to the cause of both the liberation of their people from the Japanese imperial regime and to the progress of women’s rights in Southeast Asia.

Captains Jimmy Fisher and Robert Prince and several Filipino guerrillas a few hours before the start of a raid.

Filipina guerrillas took on various roles.  Many served as medical aides or nurses.  The late Dorothy Dowlen, a Filipina mestiza (mixed ancestry of Philippine and European heritage) born and raised in Mindanao, served as a medical aide helping Allied soldiers and guerrilla fighters while helping her own family escape the brutalities of the Japanese invasion.

Filipina nurses provided the much needed medical help for struggling American soldiers who escaped the POW camps throughout the Philippine Islands.  Filipina nurses and doctors such as Bruna Calvan, Carmen Lanot, and Dr. Guedelia Pablan would continue to help civilians, soldiers, and POWs in the region surrounding Bataan despite the loss of their hospital and lack of supplies and food.

Risking their lives to smuggle medicine into POW camps and maintain their self-built health centers (nipa huts), Filipina guerrillas and female resistance supporters helped not only to physically heal the wounded but strengthened community and soldier morale to better fight the Japanese invaders.

Bicycle-mounted Japanese Troops during the Battle of the Philippines (1941-42)

Often, Filipina nurses used their medical training to assist other guerrilla groups such as the WAS (Women’s Auxiliary Service), led and founded by Josefa Capistrano. Josefa Capistrano, a Chinese-Filipina mestiza would be one of the first Filipinas to establish and train women as soldiers, nurses, and spies, schooling them in methods of reconnaissance and the use of firearms and self-defense.

Capistrano’s female troops served under the tenth military district in Mindanao and would also supply the guerrillas and local communities with food, medical, and military supplies.  In 1963, the WAS would be renamed the WAC (Women’s Auxiliary Corps) and would become an official military branch of the Philippine Army managed by women for women.

Other Filipina guerrillas undertook reconnaissance missions, establishing guerrilla networks throughout the Philippine archipelago, maintaining contact with the Allied forces, and thwarting Japanese propaganda efforts (film, radio broadcasts, newspapers, pamphlets) seeking to win over the Philippine people’s support. Filipina guerrillas like Colonel Yay Panlilio served as a radio and newspaper journalist while fighting alongside and leading her very own unit of male guerrillas under the Markings Guerrilla troops on the island of Luzon.

U.S. troops fighting in the Walled City, Manila, 27 February 1945

Panlilio used her journalist skills to cleverly hide resistance messages in public radio announcements. She also documented and maintained guerrilla activities, relaying information to the Allied forces and to other guerrilla organizations. Panlilio also routed out undercover Filipino collaborators (makapili) who sought to paint the Philippine Resistance as detrimental to Imperial Japan’s efforts to absorb the Philippines into a “friendly” pan-Asia.

These courageous women broke their society’s gender norms while playing a central role in ultimately liberating their homeland from Japanese imperialism.   And they did so while promoting the abilities, talents, and skillsets women were capable of in a male-centered society. Through their sacrifices, Filipina resistance fighters like Josefa Capistrano championed gender and racial equality as one of the goals for their resistance efforts.

Capistrano would not accept honorable mentions or awards for her efforts until the Philippine government recognized the WAC as an official branch of the military. Most importantly, their contributions in the Pacific Theater demonstrated the many strengths of past colonial territories who were undoubtedly deserving and capable of self-governance in the post-war era.

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12 Facts About Japanese Internment in the United States

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H/T Mental  Floss.

This shameful event in American history was brought to you by the DemocRat party.

The same party that today wants to void the Second Amendment and would put gun owners and Conservatives in internment camps if they could.

Portrait of internee Tom Kobayashi at Manzanar War Relocation Center, Owens Valley, California, 1943
ANSEL ADAMS, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PUBLIC DOMAIN, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which sanctioned the removal of Japanese immigrants and Americans of Japanese heritage from their homes to be imprisoned in internment camps throughout the country.

At the time, it was sold to the public as a strategic military necessity. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the government argued that it was impossible to know where the loyalties of Japanese-Americans rested.

Between 110,000 and 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were relocated to internment camps along the West Coast and as far east as Louisiana. Here are 12 facts about what former first lady Laura Bush has recently described as “one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.”

1. THE GOVERNMENT WAS ALREADY DISCUSSING DETAINING PEOPLE BEFORE THE PEARL HARBOR ATTACK.

In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt—who was concerned about Japan’s growing military might—instructed William H. Standley, his chief of naval operations, to clandestinely monitor “every Japanese citizen or non-citizen on the island of Oahu who meets these Japanese ships [arriving in Hawaii] or has any connection with their officers or men” and to secretly place their names “on a special list of those who would be the first to be placed in a concentration camp in the event of trouble.”

This sentiment helped lead to the creation of the Custodial Detention List, which would later guide the U.S. in detaining 31,899 Japanese, German, and Italian nationals, separate from the 110,000-plus later interred, without charging them with a crime or offering them any access to legal counsel.

2. INITIAL STUDIES OF THE “JAPANESE PROBLEM” PROVED THAT THERE WASN’T ONE.

In early 1941, Curtis Munson, a special representative of the State Department, was tasked with interviewing West Coast-based Japanese-Americans to gauge their loyalty levels in coordination with the FBI and the Office of Naval Intelligence. Munson reported that there was extraordinary patriotism among Japanese immigrants, saying that “90 percent like our way best,” and that they were “extremely good citizen[s]” who were “straining every nerve to show their loyalty.” Lieutenant Commander K.D. Ringle’s follow-up report showed the same findings and argued against internment because only a small percentage of the community posed a threat, and most of those individuals were already in custody.

3. THE GENERAL IN CHARGE OF WESTERN DEFENSE COMMAND TOOK NOTHING HAPPENING AFTER PEARL HARBOR AS PROOF THAT SOMETHING WOULD HAPPEN.

Minidoka Relocation Center. Community Store in block 30

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AT COLLEGE PARK, CC BY 3.0, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Despite both Munson and Ringle debunking the concept of internment as a strategic necessity, the plan moved ahead—spurred largely by Western Defense Command head General John L. DeWitt. One month after Pearl Harbor, DeWitt created the central ground for mass incarceration by declaring: “The fact that nothing has happened so far is more or less … ominous in that I feel that in view of the fact that we have had no sporadic attempts at sabotage that there is a control being exercised and when we have it, it will be on a mass basis.”

DeWitt, whose ancestors were Dutch, didn’t want anyone of Japanese descent on the West Coast, stating that “American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty.”

4. ALMOST NO ONE PROTESTED INTERNMENT.

Alongside General DeWitt, Wartime Civil Control Administration director Colonel Karl Bendetsen avowed that anyone with even “one drop of Japanese blood” should be incarcerated, and the country generally went along with that assessment. Some newspapers ran op-eds opposing the policy, and the American Baptist Home Mission Societies created pamphlets to push back, but as historian Eric Foner wrote in The Story of American Freedom, “One searches the wartime record in vain for public protests among non-Japanese.” Senator Robert Taft was the only congressperson to condemn the policy.

5. SUPPORTING OR OPPOSING INTERNMENT WERE BOTH MATTERS OF ECONOMICS.

White farmers and landowners on the West Coast had great economic incentives to get rid of Japanese farmers who had come to the area only decades before and found success with new irrigation methods. They fomented deep hatred for their Japanese neighbors and publicly advocated for internment, which is one reason so many of the more than 110,000 Japanese individuals sent to camps came from the West Coast. In Hawaii, it was a different story. White business owners opposed internment, but not for noble reasons: They feared losing their workforce. Thus, only between 1200 and 1800 Japanese-Americans from Hawaii were sent to internment camps.

6. PEOPLE WERE TAGGED FOR IDENTIFICATION.

Children in a drawing class at Minidoka Relocation Center

BY NATIONAL ARCHIVES AT COLLEGE PARK, CC BY 3.0, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Moving entire communities of people to camps in California, Colorado, Texas, and beyond was a gargantuan logistical task. The military assigned tags with ID numbers to families, including the children, to ensure they would be transferred to the correct camp. In 2012, artist Wendy Maruyama recreated thousands of these tags for an art exhibition she titled “The Tag Project.”

“The process of replicating these tags using government databases, writing thousands of names, numbers, and camp locations became a meditative process,” Maruyama told Voices of San Diego. “And for the hundreds of volunteers, they could, for a minute or two as they wrote the names, contemplate and wonder what this person was thinking as he or she was being moved from the comforts of home to the spare and bare prisons placed in the foreboding deserts and wastelands of America. And could it happen again?”

7. NOT EVERYONE WENT QUIETLY.

Directly combatting the image of the “polite” Japanese-Americans who acquiesced to internment without protest, collections of resistance stories paint a disruptive picture of those who refused to go to the camps or made trouble once inside. Among those who were considered “problematic” were individuals who refused to register for the compulsory loyalty questionnaire, which asked questions about whether the person was a registered voter and with which party, as well as marital status and “citizenship of wife” and “race of wife.”

“A broadly understood notion of resistance represents a more complete picture of what happened during World War II,” David Yoo, a professor of Asian American Studies and History and vice provost at UCLA’s Institute of American Cultures, told NBC News about collecting these resistance stories. “Because these stories touch upon human rights, they are important for all peoples.”

8. THE GOVERNMENT CONVERTED UNUSED BUILDINGS INTO CAMP FACILITIES.

For the most part, camps were set against desert scrub land or infertile Ozark hills bordered with barbed wire. Before getting on buses to be transported to their new “homes,” detainees had to go through processing centers housed in converted racetracks and fairgrounds, where they might stay for several months. The largest and most noteworthy center was Santa Anita Park, a racetrack in Arcadia, California, which was shut down so that makeshift barracks could be assembled and horse stables could be used for sleeping quarters.

9. ANSEL ADAMS TOOK HUNDREDS OF PHOTOGRAPHS INSIDE THE MOST FAMOUS CAMP, AS DID AN INTERNEE WITH A SMUGGLED CAMERA.

Wooden sign at entrance to the Manzanar War Relocation Center with a car at the gatehouse in the background

ANSEL ADAMS, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PUBLIC DOMAIN, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Approximately 200 miles north of Santa Anita Park, at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, was Manzanar—which, with its 11,000 internees, was perhaps the most famous of America’s 10 relocation centers. It was also the most photographed facility. In the fall of 1942, famed photographer Ansel Adams—who was personally outraged by the situation when a family friend was taken from his home and moved halfway across the country—shot more than 200 images of the camp. In a letter to a friend about a book being made of the photos, Adams wrote that, “Through the pictures the reader will be introduced to perhaps 20 individuals … loyal American citizens who are anxious to get back into the stream of life and contribute to our victory.”

While Adams may have successfully offered a small glimpse at life inside Manzanar, Tōyō Miyatake—a photographer and detainee who managed to smuggle a lens and film into the camp, which he later fashioned into a makeshift camera—produced a series of photos that offered a much more intimate depiction of what everyday life was like for the individuals who were imprisoned there between 1942 and 1945. Today, Manzanar is a National Historic Site.

10. DETAINEES WERE TOLD THEY WERE IN CAMPS FOR THEIR OWN PROTECTION.

Japanese-Hawaiian hula dancers on an improvised stage during one of the frequent talent shows at Santa Anita (California) Assembly Center

U.S. SIGNAL CORPS, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PUBLIC DOMAIN, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Just as the justification for internment was an erroneous belief in mass disloyalty among a single racial group, the argument given to those incarcerated was that they were better off inside the barbed wire compounds than back in their own homes, where racist neighbors could assault them. When presented with that logic, one detainee rebutted, “If we were put there for our protection, why were the guns at the guard towers pointed inward, instead of outward?”

11. INTERNEES EXPERIENCED LONG-TERM HEALTH PROBLEMS BECAUSE OF THE CAMPS, AND CHILDREN HAD IT THE WORST.

Internment officially lasted through 1944, with the last camp closing in early 1946. In those years, Japanese-Americans did their best to make lives for themselves on the inside. That included jobs and governance, as well as concerts, religion, and sports teams. Children went to school, but there were also dances and comic books to keep them occupied. But the effects of their internment were long-lasting.

There have been multiple studies of the physical and psychological health of former internees. They found those placed in camps had a greater risk for cardiovascular disease and death, as well as traumatic stress. Younger internees experienced low self-esteem, as well as psychological trauma that led many to shed their Japanese culture and language. Gwendolyn M. Jensen’s The Experience of Injustice: Health Consequences of the Japanese American Internment found that younger internees “reported more post-traumatic stress symptoms of unexpected and disturbing flashback experiences than those who were older at the time of incarceration.”

12. A CONGRESSIONAL PANEL CALLED IT A “GRAVE INJUSTICE” … 40 YEARS LATER.

Japanese Americans going to Manzanar gather around a baggage car at the old Santa Fe Station. (April 1942)

RUSSELL LEE, LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, PUBLIC DOMAIN, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

It wasn’t until 1983 that a special Congressional commission determined that the mass internment was a matter of racism and not of military strategy. Calling the incarceration a “grave injustice,” the panel cited the ignored Munson and Ringle reports, the absence of any documented acts of espionage, and delays in shutting down the camps due to weak political leadership from President Roosevelt on down as factors in its conclusion. The commission paved the way for President Reagan to sign the Civil Liberties Act, which gave each surviving internee $20,000 and officially apologized. Approximately two-thirds of the more than 110,000 people detained were U.S. citizens.

 

 

President Trump presents Medal of Honor to widow of World War II veteran Garlin Murl Conner

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H/T Fox News.

R.I.P. 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner June 2,1919-November 5,1998.

This honor is long overdue.

For Pauline Conner, Tuesday is a day she wasn’t sure would ever come.

The widow of 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner waged a 22-year campaign to get his Distinguished Service Cross – which he was awarded for his actions on Jan. 24, 1945 in France – upgraded to a Medal of Honor, as his World War II battalion commander had wanted back then.

“After all these years it really is and truly is an honor,” the 89-year-old widow said Monday at the Pentagon. “I had really and truly given up on it. I just didn’t think it would ever happen. But he has a [combat] record that speaks for itself. I don’t have to tell it.”

President Donald Trump awarded the nation’s highest military decoration to Pauline in a White House ceremony honoring a remarkable moment of heroism from Conner’s 28-month combat career, which took him to North Africa and Europe.

MOH

President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to the widow of 1st Lt. Garlin Murl Conner, above, at the White House on Tuesday.  (U.S. Army)

“Today we tell the story about an incredible hero,” Trump said during the ceremony. “Although he died 20 years ago today he takes his rightful place in the eternal chronicle of American valor.”

The Medal of Honor makes Conner the second-most decorated soldier of World War II, according to the Army, surpassed only by legendary 1st Lt. Audie Murphy.

As it turns out, the veteran’s upgrade needed eyewitness accounts, which were finally found by Kentucky Congressman Ed Whitfield, who sent a staff member to the National Archives where the necessary documentation was discovered.

army medal

 (U.S. Army )

His widow spoke about the toll his tour of duty, which included being wounded seven times, had on her husband – who she married at the age of 16.

“You know, in World War II and Korea, they didn’t recognize PTSD like they did in Vietnam,” Pauline said at the Pentagon. “But I’ve always said if anybody ever had PTSD, he did. Because many of the times, he’d wake up in the night, you know, with nightmares. And after I would wake him up, and he would go outside, sit on the porch, smoke cigarettes for hours at a time.”

However, her husband still never spoke about what happened to him overseas.

On Jan. 24, 1945, Conner’s soldiers – 7th Infantry, 3rd Battalion – were facing a counterattack from 600 German troops armed with tank destroyers. Instead of retreating, he chose to run forward into enemy fire with a telephone in order to direct artillery fire in hopes of ending end the attack. He stayed in an irrigation ditch for three hours until the battle was won as swarms of German soldiers moved toward his battalion.

“He’d just come back from being wounded. He wasn’t even supposed to be there,” said Erik Villard, digital military historian from the Army Center of Military. “But he came back to his unit and ran forward and volunteered the mission, and did what he did.”

“Today we pay tribute to this Kentucky farm boy who stared
down evil,” Trump said. “He was indeed a giant, larger than life, he will never ever be forgotten.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, spoke about Conner’s sacrifice on the floor of the senate Tuesday

“I’m proud to congratulate Pauline and her family today. And I would like to thank her, for giving our nation the opportunity to salute First Lieutenant Garlin Murl Conner,” McConnell said in a statement. “He embodied the highest values of our Commonwealth and our nation. But this humble man never called himself a hero. So, it’s incumbent upon us to do just that.”

Conner’s Army record during the war included four Silver Stars, French valor awards and three Purple Hearts. He earned the decorations in savage battles between October 1942 and March 1945 as his 3rd Infantry Division unit pushed from Morocco, across Tunisia into Italy, across France and into Germany.

“My husband was a very humble man, and I’m honored to represent him. It’s—it’s not about me; it’s about him. And he was my hero. He was for 53 years, and he still is since he’s been gone 20 years.

 

These Jewish Resistance Volunteers Parachuted into Nazi-Occupied Europe

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H/T History.com.

The story of these brave men and women story needs to be told and their memory honored.

Parachutes landing in positions against Nazi armed forces. (Credit: Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images)

Haviva Reik looked out over the fields of Slovakia. For the first time in years she was home—or, rather, above home, flying in an English warplane. It was summer 1944. For years, Slovakia had been a Nazi puppet. And now it was time for Reik, a Jew, to jump into enemy territory at the height of the Holocaust.

Just days before, Reik had been told that she couldn’t participate in one of World War II’s most daring missions, a plot in which Jewish parachutists from Palestine would jump into Nazi-occupied countries, infiltrate them, and organize Jewish resistance against the Nazis. But now, after refusing to step down from her task, she had been grudgingly accepted into the mostly-male mission. She was finally ready. She stood at the door of the aircraft and jumped.

Reik was one of over 240 men and women who volunteered for what seemed to be a suicidal mission. Since 1942, when the Nazis exchanged 282 Jewish prisoners for Germans, Jews in Palestine had known what was at stake for their fellow Jews in Europe. As word of the Nazis’ treatment of European Jews spread throughout Palestine, a group of paramilitary fighters from the Haganah, the secret Jewish army in British-occupied Palestine, hatched an ambitious plan to help Jews not through prisoner exchanges or outside pressure, but from the inside.

Haviva Reik

Haviva Reik. (Credit: Public Domain)

It wouldn’t be easy. First, they pressured Great Britain to help them get into Europe. Britain refused the plan—it was too ambitious, and they were focused on tactical objectives that didn’t include saving Jews. Finally, the Haganah managed to convince the British to help them in exchange for assistance locating and helping downed Allies in enemy territory. Great Britain promised Jewish fighters space on British warplanes in exchange for a pledge that military missions would take precedence over saving Jews.

The Haganah now had the ability to get Jews into Europe. Next it needed fighters who were tough enough to head into hostile territory. At the time, the Nazis were deep into the Final Solution, their plan to annihilate all Jews. Much of Europe was in ruins and it would take daring and smarts to infiltrate occupied countries, then help Jews.

Of the 240 people who volunteered for the mission, only 110 were trained. Finally the group was narrowed down to 32. These men and women were mostly from Europe and spoke languages like Romanian and Hungarian fluently. Some were part of the Haganah’s elite fighting force, the Palmach, others were associated with the British army, and others were active in the Zionist youth movement fighting to make Palestine a Jewish state. They gathered in Cairo to train as paratroopers. When they weren’t shooting or practicing jumping from planes, the fighters were given code names, missions and cover stories.

Palmach Haganah

Palmach, the elite fighting force of the Haganah, training in Palestine, 1943. (Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty Images)

Training wasn’t easy. Some fighters, like Surika Braverman, lost their nerve when they got in the air and couldn’t jump. Others, like Yoel Palvi, were shaken by the news from Europe. When he found out that his native Hungary had just been occupied by the Nazis, he despaired. “Our fears have come true,” he wrote. “We’re too late! Now there will be no one to rouse the Jews to resistance. There will be no one to instill in every Jew the knowledge [that they must] drop everything and flee for their lives at all cost.”

Between 1943 and 1945, 32 men and women parachuted into Europe, and five others, including Braverman, snuck into Europe via other countries. They headed to Yugoslavia, Romania, Austria, France, Bulgaria and Hungary with missions to join and create resistance groups, link Allied sympathizers with resources in England, establish partisan camps, and help Jews resist the Nazis.

One group of parachutists helped organize the Slovak Uprising; others served alongside British agents in Yugoslavia, made contact with resistance groups throughout Europe, and helped Allied prisoners of war in Romania.

For seven of the parachutists, the missions were fatal. Hannah Szenes, a Hungarian woman who was approached to serve in the mission, was captured and tortured. Her Hungarian mother was dragged to jail by the Hungarian authorities, too. After a show trial, Szenes refused to beg for her life. She was executed by a firing squad. Her mother survived and then championed her daughter’s legacy, including her poems and plays.

Hannah Szenes

Hannah Szenes greeting her brother Giora on his arrival in Palestine, 1944. (Credit: Beit Hannah Senesh/Museum of Jewish Heritage/Center For Holocaust Studies)

As for Reik, who fought for inclusion in the mission to Slovakia, she was captured in the Slovakia mountains after helping found a Jewish soup kitchen and assisting Allied soldiers stranded in Slovakia. She had refused to leave behind the very old and very young members of the group when they fled a group of Ukrainian collaborators. Reik and the Jews she had helped were murdered in a forest and dumped into a mass grave.

Those who survived became legends in occupied Europe, where their presence gave hope to displaced and hunted Jews. “Every Jewish community heard of the parachutists,” writes Marie Syrkin for Commentary. “Of course all kinds of fairy-tales sprang up around these men and women. Their numbers grew in the popular mind; the nature of their deeds assumed a more spectacular character. This idealization was inevitable. The combination of desperate need and poetic answer was bound to create the myth.”

The surviving parachutists worked their missions until the end of the war; in fact, the last group of parachutists was sent down the day before the war ended in Europe. “These missions were meant to be just the beginning for Jewish groups infiltrating Nazi-occupied Europe,” notes Yad Vashem. Even though their work had been cut short, some parachutists stayed behind in Europe to help POWs and displaced people find housing. Most returned to Palestine and lived out the remainder of their lives in modern-day Israel, where they are revered as heroes today.

“Hero” is a label that many of the parachutists who saw their brave work as part of their duty to other European Jews, struggled with. Their mission may have been treacherous, but the hope they brought to the Holocaust-era Jews made the danger worth it. “We didn’t think they would make us heroes,” Braverman latertold the Jerusalem Post’s Seth J. Frantzman. “We wanted to go to the Jews of Europe and say that we had come to help.”

The Owl-Eagle – 14 Facts About the Heinkel He219 Night Fighter

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H/T War History OnLine.

A look at one of the most successful night fighters or World War II the Heinkel He219 Night Fighter.

Heinkel He219

During the Second World War, night-time bombing raids became common, and both sides of the conflict tried to give their pilots and planes a better chance of survival. The response was inevitable – the creation of night fighters, planes specially built and equipped to identify and attack enemy planes in the dark. One of the most successful models was the German Heinkel He219.

Versatile Beginnings

The plane that would become the Heinkel He219 started out in 1940 as project P.1060, a design for a high-speed aircraft that could be used in multiple roles. It was common for aircraft of the era to be adapted for a range of different roles, with variations in equipment letting them fill different specialties. A plane that could be used in multiple roles increased an air force’s flexibility and created efficiencies in maintenance and training, as the same parts and skills could be used across different versions.

Heinkel He 219 as a night fighter. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

A Neglected Option

Germany was home to several excellent warplane design teams. As a result, the He129 didn’t stand out against the competition. It drew little interest for over a year until the tide of war changed what the Luftwaffe was looking for.

Strategic Bombing Takes its Toll

Renewed interest in the He219 was driven by the achievements of Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF).

Heinkel He219

By late 1941, RAF Bomber Command was launching regular raids against German military and industrial targets. The aim of these attacks was a strategic one – to cripple German’s economy and war machine so that it could not keep up the fight. As the raids started affecting Germany’s military capacity, something had to be done to counter them. The British bomber raids were launched at night. Therefore, effective night fighters were needed to stop them.

As the need to counter the British increased, the authorities asked Ernst Heinkel to revive his neglected design and adapt it as a night fighter.

First Flight

At last, a prototype of the He219 was given its chance to take to the skies. It first flew on the 15th of November 1942.

Heinkel He 219 Uhu, 1:72 Revell plastic model. By xJaM – CC BY-SA 3.0

Combat Trials

A second prototype was built. This one took part in mock combat against other Luftwaffe planes, to see how it would perform. The test was so successful that an order was immediately placed for more of the planes.

A Bird of Prey

The He219 was given the name Uhu, meaning eagle-owl. It was a suitable match for its namesake – a deadly night-time predator that others would rightly fear to face.

Innovations in Aircraft Design

The He219 included several innovative features. It was the first operational Luftwaffe plane equipped with a tricycle undercarriage and the first operational aircraft in the world to include ejector seats. Powered by compressed air, these could eject both crewmen from the aircraft in an emergency.

He 219 Uhu.

Radar Targeting

The He219 used radar to find enemy bombers at night. Radar was one of the technologies that developed quickly over the course of the war, and plane-portable radar devices were critical to the development of effective night fighters. The equipment gave planes such as the He219 a distinctive look, with aerials protruding from the front of the plane.

Heavy Weapons

Along with the radar, the He219 was equipped with heavy weaponry to take out its targets. It carried four 20mm cannons, two under the belly and one near the base of each of its wings. Two larger 30mm cannons were fitted at the rear of the cockpit so that they could fire obliquely forward. The use of cannons was important. By the middle of the war, machine-guns were increasingly being abandoned on planes in favor of cannons, whose greater destructive capacity countered the sturdiness of advanced plane designs.

Slow by Design

Heinkel He 219 A Uhu. Photo: Mark Pellegrini – CC BY-SA 3.0

The He219 was slow for a fighter plane, with a maximum speed of 286 miles per hour. This would have made it useless as a daytime fighter plane, unable to keep up with Allied aircraft. But for a night fighter, relying on the cover of darkness to hide its approach, it was not a problem.

Swiftly Entering Service

This combination of night vision and heavy weaponry hugely impressed the Luftwaffe. They were so keen to get hold of He219s that they put the early prototypes into active service from April 1943, forming a unit in Holland, where they could intercept Allied bombers approaching the continent.

Early Achievements

He219s lived up to expectations, and they quickly started to rack up kills. Their pilots claimed to have destroyed 20 RAF bombers during their first six night missions, an amazing total by the standards of the time. The kills included six de Havilland Mosquitoes, the most versatile planes of the war and far from the lumbering targets some other bombers presented.

One of the most impressive individual achievements was that of Major Werner Streib. In a single sortie on the night of the 11th of June, Streib shot down five RAF Lancaster bombers using his He219.

The He219 had proven not only its own value but the importance of dedicated night fighters in countering bomber fleets.

Profusion Confusion

Still, some officials remained skeptical. To try to prove the value of the plane to them, Heinkel produced a huge number of variants on the He219. These carried different equipment and weapons to show what the aircraft was capable of.

Instead of ensuring the He219’s future, this confusing range of versions prevented the main plane from being produced in sufficient numbers. Germany shifted towards jet production in late 1944, seeking a magic bullet to save the nation from defeat, and the He219 once again lost the attention of the Luftwaffe.

Only One Unit

Individual He219s were attached to several Luftwaffe units, but only one unit was completely outfitted with these planes – 1/NJG 1, based at Venlo in Holland. As a result, the He219 never had the impact its early performance had promised. Let down by the government and Luftwaffe leaders, it became a novelty rather than a serious weapon.

Dogs of War: New Memorial for Unsung Heroes of The Battlefields

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H/T War History OnLine.

The story of these brave animals need to be told and they need to be honored.

Heroes of past wars have contributed significantly to the freedoms we enjoy today. Those that have saved lives by risking their own will never be forgotten. However, one particular hero who ranks near the top of the list is not widely known. He had an unusual name for a hero; his name was Chips.

Chips served in World War II and he was a mutt – part German Shepherd, Collie, and Husky, all mixed in together.

Chips was serving in Sicily when he charged an enemy fireteam that had temporarily immobilized a number of Allied soldiers. He knocked the monstrous gun from its foundation, clamped on to a German soldier’s neck and dragged him out of the pillbox. The other nine soldiers were so shocked and afraid that they merely followed with their hands up.

Chips received a Silver Star, Distinguished Service Cross, and Purpleheart for his service in the war. He was even congratulated in person by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was bitten when he tried to pet him.

General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Chips represents the thousands of courageous canines who have served in wars all over the world. These canine veterans are great trackers, reliable scouts, and loyal protectors. But you don’t have to be a soldier to know that already.

The Highground Veterans Memorial Park in Neillsville, Wisconsin, was founded in 1964 by Marine veteran Tom Miller after his service in the Vietnam War. While holding off Viet Cong forces, his partner, fellow Marine Jack Swender, was shot and died in Miller’s embrace. When Tom returned, he set about creating a memorial for Jack and veterans of all wars; including women, Native Americans and, of course, the dogs.

A United States Coast Guardsman with working dog and Reising SMG during WWII

On June 2, 2018, the park dedicated a new bronze sculpture to pay overdue homage to all the dogs that have served faithfully in all of America’s wars. The life-size statue is of a soldier wearing a “boonie” hat with a rifle slung over one shoulder and holding the harness of a German Shepherd with his other hand. He holds two canteens because a soldier carried food and water for both of them. It is somber sight, indeed.

U.S. Air Force military working dog Jackson sits on a U.S. Army M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle before heading out on a mission in Iraq.

Veteran Mike Voorhies gave the invocation at the unveiling of the statue. Voorhies likes to say, “I have one distinction no other pastor can say. I can say Satan saved my life at least three times,” referring to his unfortunately named service dog. Voorhies handled dogs during the Vietnam War and became a chaplain when he came home.

They earned their place in history

Michael Martine of La Crosse was awarded the commission for the sculpture after submitting drawings and bringing in a model. The ceremony drew a full park of military dog handlers, law enforcement handlers with their K-9s, other veterans, dog trainers, and dog lovers.

During Highground’s Dedication Ceremony, the Quilts of Valor honored Vietnam dog handlers with special dog blankets. A local handler, Erling Anderson from Eau Claire, who was killed in the Vietnam War, was singled out for special appreciation.

War Dog Memorial Vietnam Museum in New Jersey, USA.

After the ceremony, a State Police K-9 Unit put on a performance that almost hypnotized the entire crowd. There is nothing more beautiful to a dog lover than watching a dog work—the run across the field, the leap into the air and clench an arm that cannot be shaken off.

They were loved and cared for.

An attack dog transforms instantly from a stately ‘sit’ to a ferocious opponent and instantly back with one brief command. The memorial honors all working dogs who save and improve lives every day in the form of service dogs and companions.

Great Female Aviators – WASPs of WWII

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H/T War History OnLine.

These women deserve a special place in history and need to be honored more than they have been.

WASPs on runway

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention, and when the United States faced a pilot shortage in 1942, they freed up male pilots for overseas combat duty by training women to fly military aircraft.  Hence, WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots, was born.

Despite the usual sexist comments and concerns about women being able to fly in challenging conditions at the time, the women did just fine.  More than 1,100 young women signed up to fly every type of military aircraft, including both the B-26 and B-29 bomber.

Frances Green, Margaret (Peg) Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn leaving their plane, “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” at the four-engine school at Lockbourne AAF, Ohio, during WASP ferry training B-17 Flying Fortress.

Their tasks included ferrying planes long distance to and from military bases and departure points.  The expectation was that they would see full military service, but instead, they were canceled after two years.  The WASP wouldn’t see military status until the 1970s. Then, 65 years overdue, they received the highest civilian honor by the U.S. Congress.  Further, President Obama granted the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama signs S.614 in the Oval Office July 1 at the White House. The bill awards a Congressional Gold Medal to Women Airforce Service Pilots. The WASP program was established during World War II, and from 1942 to 1943, more than 1,000 women joined, flying 60 million miles of noncombat military missions. Of the women who received their wings as Women Airforce Service Pilots, approximately 300 are living today. (Official White House photo/Pete Souza)

Jacqueline Cochran was the head of the WASP program.  She was not only an experienced pilot but a pioneer in the field, who would later go on to be the first woman to break the sound barrier.  Her goal was to train women to fly for the army, not just a few dozen that would be integrated into the men’s program.

She wanted the formation of a separate organization with militarization to follow in the wake of her success.  In the end, she was successful.  The women’s safety records weren’t just comparable, they were often excellent, even surpassing the men doing the same jobs.

Pioneer American aviator Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran in the cockpit of a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter plane.

The WASP training included nineteen groups of women.  First and foremost is the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) who were an experienced group of pilots, and second, Jacqueline Cochran’s Guinea Pigs – eighteen classes of female pilots.  They charged through primary, basic and advanced training courses the same as male Army Air Corps pilots, and plenty went on to specialized flight training.

By 1944, there was a significant amount of controversy regarding women piloting aircraft, and the debate raged about whether it was even required.  By the summer of that year, the war was winding down and with it flight training programs, and that meant that the male civilian instructors were losing their jobs, so rather than end up in the common draft they lobbied to take the women’s jobs.

Jackie Cochran (center) with WASP trainees.

The idea that men could somehow be replaced by women was unthinkable and unacceptable, and so the program was disbanded in December 1944.  The final class graduated after training was disbanded.  The Lost Last Class, as they were called, served for two and a half weeks before going home on December 20th.

After being told to go home, they went on with their lives, but the former WASP servicewomen were definitely stung by this news.  Many of the former WASPs got jobs in aviation, but not for any major airlines, and disappointingly, considering their level of expertise, as airline stewardesses.

However, they didn’t take this lying down, and instead used the fact that the WASP had been forgotten as a uniting force.  First, they lobbied Congress to be militarized, even persuading Senator Barry Goldwater to help them.  Then, in 1977, as a result of their efforts, the WASP were granted military status.

World War II Victory Medal

After that, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation indicating that service as a WASP would be considered “active duty” and therefore be subject to all the rules, regulations, and benefits that applied to any other serviceman.  Honorable Discharge certificates were henceforth issued in 1979 to former WASP members, and in 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal.

Focke-Wulf Fw190 – 13 Facts

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H/T War History OnLine.

A look at the Focke-Wulf Fw190 considered by many as the best fighter plane of Luftwaffe during World War II.

Many consider the Focke-Wulf Fw190 to be the best Luftwaffe fighter plane of the Second World War. It was rightly one of the most famous and feared aircraft of the war.

Just in Time for War

The Fw190 was designed just as war was about to break out. The first flight by one of these fighters took place on the 1st of June 1939, three months before the German invasion of Poland triggered the war in Europe. It would go on to become a vital part of the Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force.

Entering the Fray

The Fw190 first appeared in combat in September 1941. Launched into the fighting in the skies above France, it provided a shock to the Allied airmen facing it.

A German Focke-Wulf Fw 190.

Challenging the Spitfire

The Royal Air Force (RAF) Spitfire V had dominated aerial combat since it first entered the fighting in February 1941. With its speed and maneuverability, it had become a menace that the Luftwaffe could not match.

Supermarine Spitfire Mk V

The arrival of the Fw190 turned things around. The Fw190 was faster than the Spitfire V and more maneuverable in every way except its turning circle. Fw190s shot down three Spitfires during their first appearance, transforming the dynamic of the air war. They continued to dominate until June 1942, when the Mark IX Spitfire arrived, once again tipping the balance in the RAF’s favor.

Radial Engine

Fighters of the era were powered by two types of engines – air-cooled radials and in-line engines. Radials were generally simpler, more reliable, and less vulnerable to overheating caused by battle damage. But they suffered from greater drag and struggled to reach the same power output as in-lines while being more likely to obstruct a pilot’s view.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190, 1942. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

The Fw190 had an air-cooled radial engine. It proved that, in the right plane, such an engine could still outperform in-lines despite its drawbacks.

Arrival of the Model A

In February 1942, the second version of the Fw190 entered service – the Fw190A.

Fw 190A-3 in the Netherlands, summer 1942. By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

The Fw190A’s first task was the defense of a naval battlegroup retreating to German ports. The battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the heavy cruiser Prince Eugen made a dash up the Channel, pursued by Britain’s Royal Navy and the RAF. Hundreds of bombers targeted the ships as Britain tried to destroy them.

Fw190As played an important part in the fighting. In one engagement, they destroyed a group of six Fairey Swordfish torpedo planes. The confrontation ended with the German ships returning to port, battered but still afloat.

Fighting at Dieppe

On the 19th of August 1942, the Allies launched a raid on the occupied French port of Dieppe. One of the purposes of this raid was to draw out the Luftwaffe based in northern France and do it significant damage.

Ariel view of the Dieppe raid.

Fw190s played a major part in the aerial battle over Dieppe. Their performance ensured that the RAF didn’t get its victory. While the amphibious landings turned into a disaster, the fighting in the air became an indecisive confrontation with disputed results, despite huge Allied efforts.

Fw190 pilots claimed 97 kills that day.

Dozens of Variants

Many different versions of the Fw190 were produced – over 30 of the Fw190A alone. These varied from torpedo carriers to night fighters.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190G fighter-bomber.

Home Defense

The Fw190 became the standard fighter defending Germany in the later years of the war. Some of these home defense fighters were fitted with rockets that could be used to inflict serious damage on defensive formations of enemy planes. This made them especially effective against the Allied bomber fleets.

One example of this took place on the 17th of August 1943. A force of over 300 Fw190As confronted a massive US bomber force. The Fw190As destroyed 60 bombers and damaged another 100.

Night Fighting

In June 1943, the Luftwaffe created a force of Fw190A night fighters. They weren’t fitted with radar, as the more advanced night fighters of the time were. Instead, they relied on attacking bombers as they reached their targets. There, the searchlights, flares, and fires on the ground would make the enemy visible even in the depths of night. The unit destroyed over 200 RAF heavy bombers in this way.

Giving the Game Away

Focke Wulf Fw 190A-3, Werk Nr. 313, at RAF Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, after being mistakenly landed there by its German pilot, Oberleutnant Armin Faber, the Gruppenadjutant of III/JG2, on 23 June 1942. IWM

In June 1942, a Fw190A-3 accidentally landed in the United Kingdom. This allowed British scientists and engineers to examine the plane, telling them everything they needed to know about the plane and so to counter it.

D for Dora

During 1943, it became apparent that Germany faced a problem with high-altitude Allied bombers. Most current fighters weren’t up to the task of reaching and destroying these aircraft.

In response, Focke-Wulf developed a new version of the Fw190 – the Fw190D, known as Dora. This long-nosed plane was the first Fw190 to feature a liquid-cooled rather than an air-cooled engine.

DAYTON, Ohio — Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The Dora was an excellent interceptor that could match the Spitfire Mark XIV and reach heights well beyond the limits of the Fw190A.

Dora Goes to War

Fw 190 D-13/R11, Champlin Fighter Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.

The Fw190D went into production in the summer of 1944 and the first models reached fighting units in August that year. 3/JG 54 became the first Luftwaffe group to convert to the Dora. Its first mission was providing cover for new jet fighters during their vulnerable take-off.

Diverse Weapons

The weaponry of a Fw190 varied with its role, but it was capable of packing quite a punch. The Fw190D, the first D model to enter the war, carried two 13mm machine guns, two 20mm cannons, and a 500kg bomb.

D-Day – First radio bulletin on NBC

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  The day when the world was saved. June 6, 1944, 3:30 am Eastern War Time, NBC radio.       

First CBS report of the D-Day Invasion

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      Breaking news: Robert Trout announces unconfirmed reports coming out of Berlin about an Allied invasion of France.       

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