Category Archives: WWII

One More Veteran’s Day Post

Watch this.  I dare ya!  If you don’t lose it by the time the dog appears,  you have no soul!

100 Years Ago – a War that Never Ended

Who’s ready for a long rambling post?  In 12 minutes Alaska time (as I start typing this),  we mark the official ending of The Great War – the War to End All Wars.  It didn’t end anything.  Didn’t solve anything and didn’t prove anything.  As part of my hangar tours,  I say that there really wasn’t two separate world wars.  Just one conflict between mostly the same belligerents with a 13 or so year armistice in the middle.  (WWII began in 1931 with Japan’s invasion of Manchuria,  not in Euro-centric 1939…)

On 11/11/1918,  most soldiers on both sides had no idea what was happening.  3,000 servicemen died on the morning of November 11th,  as the Americans crossed the Meuse River,  leaving the bodies of Marines behind as they pushed through the fire of the German Maxim guns.  The Americans were seizing the high ground,  pushing the Germans back toward their homeland.  Then everything went silent.  Orders came forward from General Lejeune that our men were to retreat to the position they held at 11 o’clock.  Retreat to a position with our backs against the river with no escape,  should this prove to be just another rumor.  Back – past the piles of bodies,  who until moments ago had been their fellow marines,  friends,  brothers.  All killed AFTER the armistice.

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A 1917 Bond Drive poster from our collection

Japan and England were allies in WWI.  England asked them to strike Germany’s colonial outposts in the far east.  Japan wondered why they were doing this for England and not for themselves…  They spent the next 13 years reorganizing their society and building an army and navy capable of taking over half the world.  Italy too changed sides,  joining Germany and Japan,  after being on the side of France,  England,  Russia and the United States in the Great War.  An end to active fighting on 11/11 didn’t end the anger,  hatred,  jealousy,  coveting and desire for revenge.  Another 100 years passing hasn’t changed that either.

As part of our WWII hangar tour,  I show two infantry rifles from our collection.  One is a Japanese Koishilawa rifle made around 1927 or 1928.  The Japanese stopped making these in 1929.  The other rifle was actually my dad’s hunting rifle.  It is a Smith Corona 30.06.  I call it my “typewriter”,  because it was made by the Smith Corona typewriter company.  These two artifacts together really illustrate the difference in preparedness between Japan and the United States at the start of WWII.  Japan thought they were so well-prepared for their global conquest that they literally stopped making these infantry rifles in 1929!  The US was so ill-prepared,  we had to have typewriter companies like Smith Corona and IBM make WWI-era rifles for our soldiers to carry.

LaborDeptPropaganda1918

Um…  we had a US Department of Labor CHILDREN’S BUREAU in 1918???

Our two Coastal Defense cannons on Cannon Beach are WWI guns.  They were supposed to be installed on a new battleship in 1919,  but after signing the Naval Agreement,  the size of everyone’s navies (except Germany and Japan apparently) was restricted.  The new ship was scrapped and the guns placed in storage.  In early 1942,  these guns were pulled out and shipped throughout Alaska.  WWI supplying the defense of Alaska in WWII.

If you go to the Aviation Museum in Anchorage,  look for two framed pieces of WWI aircraft skin on display.  They come from the aircraft of Charles H Russell,  a member of the Lafayette Escadrille in France during WWI.  The Lafayette Escadrille (originally called the American Escadrille,  but the Germans complained and so they changed the name…) consisted of a group of American volunteers flying for France prior to the United States’ direct involvement in WWI.  Basically an all American “French Foreign Legion” group of pilots.  A wonderful book that covers the Lafayette Escadrille (along with Manfred von Richthofen,  Pershing,  Patton) is To the Last Man,  by Jeff Shaara.  The Russells are a very prominent family in Yakutat,  since Charles H’s son moved here about 60-70years ago.

At the end of WWI,  we all held hands and signed treaties to reduce our military effectiveness voluntarily.  We didn’t change human nature.  We deliberately weakened ourselves,  making us vulnerable to aggressive psychos who’s goal was/is to subjugate and dominate the world.  Those people haven’t disappeared after 100 years.  They are still looking-hoping for a weakness to exploit.  Our only defense is a military so strong and deadly that the world fears a conflict with it.  And to keep our own aggressive psychos in check,  an armed populace to strong and deadly that our government fears a conflict with it.

And a hope that we never have to use either.  Thank you to all our veterans on this and EVERY day.

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This 1917 Navy recruiting poster with “Christy Girl” is our most valuable propaganda poster in the collection (so far)

Veterans Day Tomorrow

A friend sent me a link to an NBC story about a batch of war propaganda posters discovered in a New Hampshire library recently.  Here is the link:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/trove-war-posters-discovered-new-hampshire-library-n934816

Just to point out the kind of collection we have here (but unfortunately can’t display yet,  till we get more of the building heated and dry),  of the 4 posters they have in the two photos for the story…  we have all 4 of them.  Plus most of the ones they describe (like the Nazi fist stabbing the bible),  we have those too.  Their collection consists of 190 posters.  We have over 400…  I don’t have most of the collection photographed yet,  but here are some of the ones they feature…

The poster in the guy’s hand and the one on the table…

 

Here is the Nurse Cadet Corps poster on the left.  I don’t have the “can” rationing photographed,  but here is another in the same rationing series about rationing meat…  We have the whole series.

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“This is the Enemy”…

And the article talks about posters that look like Norman Rockwell painted them…  That’s because he did illustrate many government propaganda posters,  like these illustrating FDR’s “Four Freedoms”…  By the way,  we don’t have “freedom of worship”,  we have freedom of religion.  The effort to change it to “worship” comes straight out of the Soviet constitution.  They had the freedom to worship the government approved religion,  not a freedom to worship any religion.  Big distinction!  The “Freedom of Speech” image is a cool duel self-portrait of the ender Rockwell looking up at the young Rockwell.  And what the hell does “Freedom from Want” even mean?  I want a B-17.  And an SBD Dauntless.  And a P-51 Mustang with duel controls.  Come on Government,  satisfy my “want”…  Unfortunately we seem to be raising a generation of Americans who expect the government to satisfy their wants – let alone their needs

May the sacrifices of our veterans to keep our world free not be wasted by our current and future generations.

DC-4 Follow-up

My uncle sent me an e-mail after I posted the DC-4 photos:

Saw your Blog on the DC4. Your Dad was a crew chief on DC4s in Germany. Talked to childhood neighbor Bill Peterson last week. He said that Doug told him that the DC4s still had coal dust from the Berlin Airlift.

I wasn’t sure what aircraft my dad was in in these photos,  but now I know it is a DC-4.

My dad passed away when I was 17.  As a punk kid,  I had no interest in history,  so I never ever asked him about his time in the Air Force.  Bummer,  since now I’m the president of a WWII museum (in the making).  Nice to get little glimpses into the past now,  since I missed my real opportunity to learn more.  Thank you Ron,  for sending me neat info like this.

Through this terrible sockeye season,  I had more hangar tours than fishing customers through the shop.  I had been hoping to get our DC-3 airworthy again in time for the 75th Anniversary of D-Day next June,  but it is looking like I’m about a year behind in doing that.  Oh well.  She is a D-Day survivor and deserves to be airborne for that.  Maybe the 76th instead…

Visitor Today

The weather lightened up today,  making it possible for Alaska Air Fuel to fly in and take on a load of diesel for Icy Bay.  They parked in front of the hangar while Delta Western pumped fuel into their big internal bladder.

A gorgeous classic Douglas DC-4,  N96358 was built in 1944 and delivered to the USAAF in WWII.  Couldn’t really glean too much about her history on my brief search,  other than she used to serve as a fire bomber/tanker in Utah.  A real beautiful plane!

And here is a DC-4 in Yakutat during the war…  Probably 1943 or 44.

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Back when I was a kid,  they would occasionally bring in a DC-4 to Dry Bay to fly fish out to market.  Usually a DC-3,  but on rare occasions a DC-4.  My memory seems to think it would have been mid to late 1970’s.  My DC-3 came to Yakutat in 1982 to fly fish out of Dry Bay.

The Ambulance

As we approach Independence Day this week,  maybe it is a good time to reflect on the miracle of being born in this country and the freedom espoused in the Declaration of Independence.  And of the debt owed to so many who have fought so that that freedom remains after more than 200 year.

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From our propaganda collection

 

Sitting out in front of the hangar in our parking lot is an Army ambulance.  Not WWII era,  but rather a 1967 Viet Nam-era vehicle.  This ambulance came to Yakutat as surplus and served as our first official EMS vehicle.  As a kid,  I remember it parked in the brush just about 100 yards from where it sits now.  It unfortunately rotted away in the weeds for a long time and is far too gone to be restored.  Although it is a neat decoration for the hangar,  she is in a real sorry shape.

Last year,  there was a huge armory auction down in California.  Among the various Shermans and artillery was a 1967 Army ambulance exactly like ours.  They had estimated its value to be between $5,000 and $10,000.  I fantasized about buying it and secretly one night swapping it out with our derelict version and then wait to see how long it would take anyone to notice.  Unfortunately,  the bidding got out of hand and it ended up selling for a whopping $65,000!  Oh well.

Today,  I stumbled upon a find…  A nice drivable 1967 Army ambulance.  Not restored,  but preserved in relatively good shape.  It is OUR ambulance!  The seller wants $14,750 for it.  No idea how to get it from Virginia to Seattle for the barge trip to Yakutat…  Would make for a fun road trip and there are “bunks” in the back you can sleep in!

https://classiccars.com/listings/view/1083719/1967-jeep-military-for-sale-in-lynchburg-virginia-24501

Unfortunately this isn’t to be…  We’re still trying to get out from under the fuel facility debt,  so this year doesn’t have any extra cash for artifacts,  no matter how cool they may be.  Oh well.  Maybe the 3rd time will be the charm.  Although if anyone out there needs a tax deductible donation for their taxes…

Here are a few more of our original propaganda posters…  Tried to give you a variety…

A Wonderful Life

We have so many blessings to be thankful for.  2017 was a tough year for us,  but as we see the year come to a close,  we are reminded of the wonderful friendships we have through the shop and the blog and our vast extended family.  Thank you all.  I certainly have a big backlog of things to say and I always promise to spill all and end up too busy to do it.  Just know how much you are in our thoughts,  prayers and hopes for the coming year.

Last night (as we always do on Christmas Eve),  we watched the greatest Christmas movie of all again…  A very good friend of ours is actually Frank Capra’s grandson,  which is a wonderful connection to my all-time favorite Hollywood director.  Every time we watch a Capra movie,  we stuff a dollar into a jar to pay for the lapsed copyrights on Frank’s film catalog.  The jar is overflowing and someday will go to the family for keeping his legacy alive (we watch these things a LOT).  It may not amount to much and won’t save the historic family cabin in the Sierras,  but…  Someday when we have the museum done and have our theater,  I want to have a Frank Capra marathon,  see if one of the movie channels would coordinate with it,  have the family here to talk about the moves for our very own special features documentaries and commentaries,  etc.  With historic artifacts on display like his three Best Director Oscars,  etc.

Lots of online articles featuring It’s a Wonderful Life today – including some idiotic feminazi claiming the movie is sexist and pushes a misogynist message to oppress women.  Such a ridiculous claim because in reality it is Mary who is the strong rock and hero of the picture…  Not the troubled lead character contemplating suicide…  An article written by a truly sexist idiot who can’t see an unconventional heroin by modern standards save the life and soul of a man (she goes on to say men should stop acting in lead roles altogether – way to go CNN,  you beclown yourselves again-I’m not linking to it because you really don’t need to read this crap).  But most of the other articles respectfully proclaim the movie to be the treasure it is.  And several that delve deeply into the troubled actor Colonel James Stewart who struggled in his post-WWII civilian role as so many war veterans did and still do today.  I urge you to read Jimmy Stewart – Bomber Pilot

I’ll end my babble quoting one of the articles and a long quote from the director himself,  on why be made the film and attitudes that shaped most of his successful career:

“I didn’t give a film-clip whether critics hailed or hooted Wonderful Life. I thought it was the greatest film I had ever made. Better yet, I thought it was the greatest film anybody ever made. It wasn’t made for the oh-so-bore critics, or the oh-so-jaded literati. It was my kind of film for my kind of people. …

A film to tell the weary, the disheartened and the disillusioned; the wino, the junkie, the prostitute; those behind prison walls and those behind Iron Curtains, that no man is a failure!

To show those born slow of foot or slow of mind, those oldest sisters condemned to spinsterhood, and those oldest sons condemned to unschooled toil, that each man’s life touches so many other lives. And that if he wasn’t around it would leave an awful hole.

A film that said to the downtrodden, the pushed-around, the pauper, “Heads up, fella. No man is poor who has one friend. Three friends and you’re filthy rich.”

A film that expressed its love for the homeless and the loveless; for her whose cross is heavy and him whose touch is ashes; for the Magdalenes stoned by hypocrites and the afflicted Lazaruses with only dogs to lick their sores.

I wanted it to shout to the abandoned grandfathers staring vacantly in nursing homes, to the always-interviewed but seldom-adopted half-breed orphans, to the paupers who refuse to die while medical vultures wait to snatch their hearts and livers, and to those who take cobalt treatments and whistle — I wanted to shout, “You are the salt of the earth. And It’s a Wonderful Life is my memorial to you!”

From the article:
https://stream.org/frank-capra-wonderful-life/