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  1. #1
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    The World War II Thread

    Here we can discuss World War II history, weapons, equipment, share maps, photos, artwork and personal stories.

    Have a relative who fought in this war? Please tell us all about it!

    I've had a passionate interest in this subject for about forty years and have studied the Pacific Theater (PTO), European Theater (ETO) and Atlantic, the China/Burma/India theater (CBI), obscure battles in South America, Central and South Africa, and the Middle East, the Holocaust, homefronts, interwar years and causes of the conflict, and alternate histories ("what if's").
    Last edited by L.M.; 03-29-2020 at 11:13 AM.
    Superbowl 50 MVP Von Miller on February 7th, 2016

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbodog View Post
    Great minds think alike. Exactly the first thing I thought of when I read the thread title.

    For those who don't know what the video clip is....it's from the 1975? movie "Midway" showing a Japanese naval aircraft carrier commander commenting to other officers on the bridge about their attack at Pearl Harbor Hawaii, 7 December 1941. Classic line!
    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. View Post
    It's from the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! and that's So Yamamura playing Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto who (reluctantly) planned the attack on Pearl Harbor on Tojo's orders. That's a true quote too.
    Quote Originally Posted by samparnell View Post
    Yamamoto wanted to catch our flattops at Pearl, but they were out. Given that, wonder why he thought they'd be in Pearl when he attacked Midway?
    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. View Post
    Because after Manila and Guam fell, Pearl was the only forward US naval base left and it was extremely well-protected with increased flak batteries and more land-based fighters so a second Japanese aerial strike there would have been suicidal. Admiral Nimitz HQ was also there. The carriers were at Pearl until they got that vital intel on Japanese plans and then they redeployed NE of Midway. The Yorktown was making repairs at Pearl from damage suffered at Coral Sea. The Japanese mistakenly believed that she was actually sunk and only factored two enemy carriers into their plans, not three (technically, the US had four as Midway Island itself was effectively an unsinkable carrier). Yamamoto's plan was to lure the American carriers out to defend Midway after it had been attacked and neutralized.
    Quote Originally Posted by samparnell View Post
    The story of Yorktown making it back to Pearl from Coral Sea, getting underway in three days to join Enterprise and Hornet, and then doing major damage control again after getting bombed during the battle is truly epic. The crew would have saved her had a Japanese sub not slipped through the screen. A destroyer was sunk by one of the torpedoes intended for Yorktown. CV-10, one of the Essex Class carriers, was named Yorktown to carry on the tradition established by CV-5.
    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. View Post
    Yorktown definitely helped to tip the scales in that fight as her dive bombers destroyed the Sōryū. In 1998, Robert Ballard (who found the Titanic and Bismarck) found the old Yorktown wreck three miles deep.

    The Hornet CV-8 was sunk about five months later in the contest for the Solomons which was the true turning point of the Pacific War (though Midway is often cited as such), and like the Yorktown, she was reincarnated as an Essex class carrier CV-12 in 1943. The old Hornet wreck was found last year by Paul Allen -the cofounder of Microsoft- who has been spending some of his fortune locating WW2 wrecks. His research vessel the RV Petrel found the Lexington in the Coral Sea in 2018, and the Kaga and Akagi near Midway last year. The Hiryū and Sōryū are still lost. The Enterprise survived WW2 intact and was decommissioned in 1947, then reincarnated as the first nuclear-powered carrier CVN-65 in 1958.
    Quote Originally Posted by samparnell View Post
    Lt.Cdr. Dick Best, SBD squadron commander from Enterprise, scored hits on Akagi and Hiryu. His OBA malfunctioned and he inhaled caustic soda fumes which caused latent TB to go active. The last day he flew was 4 June 1942. What a day. Denver area residents might be interested to know that Best was sent to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora (NW quadrant of East Colfax and Peoria) to rest, recuperate and receive treatment in a better climate for his condition. ⚓🇺🇸
    Quote Originally Posted by jazzbodog View Post
    Wow! You and LM are impressing the heck out of me with your WWII Pacific theater knowledge. Over the decades I've focused more on WWII European combat theater. That's due to me falling in love with the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress when I was a youngster in the late 1950's. I was fortunate to fly in the B-17G "Liberty Belle" May 7th 2011 here in Salt Lake City. It was an incredible "bucket list" dream come true.

    Thanks again my Bronco brothers for the info.
    I'm very envious -I love this plane too (and most WW2 aircraft, honestly). I would assume you've seen the 1990 film Memphis Belle? I used to know a guy who flew one over Germany in WW2.

    Quote Originally Posted by samparnell View Post
    The contest for the Solomon Islands included the First Marine Division on Guadalcanal commanded by Gen. A.A. Vandegrift. That was another epic struggle. JFK's saga on PT-109 also took place in the Solomon Islands during that campaign (the message on the coconut). The plane carrying Admiral Yamamoto in the Solomons, was shot down by USAAF P-38s, who had been sent there as a result of more codebreaking, which resulted in his death thus depriving the Japanese of their best commander.
    I would guess you are familiar with the HBO series The Pacific? If not I recommend it, it's well done. The first two episodes cover the Marines at Guadalcanal based on the memoirs of Harold Leckie who wrote Helmet For My Pillow as well as accounts of John Basilone, the hero of that battle who won the medal of honor and then later died on Iwo Jima. The series is also about Eugene Sledge who wrote With the Old Breed.

    The film The Thin Red Line is also about the U.S. Army at Guadalcanal (after the Marines had pulled out) and sports an all-star cast. It was nominated for best picture but lost to Saving Private Ryan (one of my favorites).

    I also recommend a great Japanese film called Isoroku Yamamoto made in 2011 if you can find it. The FX aren't as good as the recent Midway film but they are decent. Here's the trailer:

    Superbowl 50 MVP Von Miller on February 7th, 2016

  3. #3
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    My Dad was drafted about a week before Pearl Harbor a month before his 21st birthday. He wanted to fly, but had to wait for that assignment. Before going to flight training in Arkansas (where he met my mother) he trained at Fort Logan, Colorado (where his ashes are now) He ferried different kinds of aircraft (including B-17) in the USAAF and ended up in China flying Curtiss C-46s over The Hump. After WWII, he joined the new USAF and went to fly in the Korean War right after my birth. I grew up on Air Force bases and love airplanes especially WWII ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lumiere View Post
    Love that quote.

    Yamamoto had studied in the United States and understood that if the U.S. fully mobilized, Japan stood no chance at victory.

    "In the first six to twelve months of a war with the United States and Great Britain I will run wild and win victory upon victory. But then, if the war continues after that, I have no expectation of success."

    I wonder if that timeline factored in the breaking of the JN25 cipher?
    Probably not but they indeed ran amok for six months seizing Guam, Wake, the Philippines, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, New Britain (with its base at Rabaul), half of New Guinea, half of Burma, and half of the Solomons chain.

    The Japanese militarist clique suffered from the same problem as the other two main Axis powers -- arrogance, hubris, and ignorance. All of them gravely miscalculated the strength of the Allies (well, except France), especially the industrial capacity and advanced technology of the U.S.A. Yamamoto knew but was not heeded because of the rivalry between the IJA and the IJN and the Army was calling the shots!
    Last edited by L.M.; 03-26-2020 at 11:55 AM.
    Superbowl 50 MVP Von Miller on February 7th, 2016

  5. #5
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    My Grandfather served aboard the USS Astoria (CA-34). His ship saw action in the Battle of Coral Sea, the Battle of Midway, and the Guadalcanal campaign. She was sunk in the Battle of Savo Island after being ambushed at night by four Japanese cruisers (Aoba, Kinugasa, Kako, and Chōkai). Getting hit by at least 65 shells at point blank range from their 20 cm (eight inch) guns, until the ship was completely battered and engulfed in flames.

    He was the only man to survive from the engine room, miraculously, but suffered devastating shrapnel injuries. He was saved by his shipmates, and thrown overboard, but had to float in the ocean alone, away from the other survivors due to the blood loss from his injuries attracting sharks. He survived the war, recovering in New Zealand for about three months, but would struggle with his injuries for the remainder of his life.

    His war stories were legendary, and from a young age, we understood the sacrifices born of so many, for the freedoms often taken for granted by so many more.

    In 2015, the shipwreck of the USS Astoria was discovered by Paul Allen resting in a previously unmapped region of Iron Bottom Sound. These images were haunting.







    Those who have served have my eternal respect.
    To infinity...and beyond.

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    Quote Originally Posted by samparnell View Post
    My Dad was drafted about a week before Pearl Harbor a month before his 21st birthday. He wanted to fly, but had to wait for that assignment. Before going to flight training in Arkansas (where he met my mother) he trained at Fort Logan, Colorado (where his ashes are now) He ferried different kinds of aircraft (including B-17) in the USAAF and ended up in China flying Curtiss C-46s over The Hump. After WWII, he joined the new USAF and went to fly in the Korean War right after my birth. I grew up on Air Force bases and love airplanes especially WWII ones.
    To infinity...and beyond.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.M. View Post
    Probably not but they indeed ran amok for six months seizing Guam, Wake, the Philippines, Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Borneo, New Britain (with its base at Rabaul), half of New Guinea, half of Burma, and half of the Solomons chain.

    The Japanese militarist clique suffered from the same problem as the other two main Axis powers -- arrogance, hubris, and ignorance. All of them gravely miscalculated the strength of the Allies (well, except France), especially the industrial capacity and advanced technology of the U.S.A. Yamamoto knew but was not heeded because of the rivalry between the IJA and the IJN and the Army was calling the shots!
    Arrogance, hubris, and ignorance, indeed.
    To infinity...and beyond.

  8. #8
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    Thank you for bringing the conversation here and leaving the other one to football.

    Thank you also for keeping politics and racism out. Past discussions (in another forum) had gotten ugly.

    I was born in Tokyo, so I probably had relatives that were in the war. It was a subject that was never brought up.

    My main interest in WWII is with the MIS and the 100th Battalion / 442d Regimental Combat Team. For 12 years or so, I've met a few of the vets at the Sakura Maturi in DC (unfortunately, there were no vets last year). I have autographed books that I treasure and always made sure I took pictures.

    I also have an interest in the Occupation.
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    My grandfather was an Army medic. He took some shrapnel in his abdomen, and lost about half of one of his fingers. His whole family served. A couple of his brothers were KIA. The other side of my family, all I got is Korea. I bring that up though, because there's a cool story. A collector actually gave me my great uncle's Ka Bar. He found it at a local auction, and figured I'd want it since it had my last name engraved on it. I looked at the initials stamped on it and knew exactly who it belonged to. I offered to pay the guy for it, and he gave it to me. I have it sitting in a cabinet next to mine, and I'm thinking I'll pass them on to my kids.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peanut View Post
    Thank you for bringing the conversation here and leaving the other one to football.

    Thank you also for keeping politics and racism out. Past discussions (in another forum) had gotten ugly.

    I was born in Tokyo, so I probably had relatives that were in the war. It was a subject that was never brought up.

    My main interest in WWII is with the MIS and the 100th Battalion / 442d Regimental Combat Team. For 12 years or so, I've met a few of the vets at the Sakura Maturi in DC (unfortunately, there were no vets last year). I have autographed books that I treasure and always made sure I took pictures.

    I also have an interest in the Occupation.
    The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is the most decorated unit in the Army, but I'm sure you knew. "Go For Broke!"

  11. #11
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    My Dad was born in WWI. Though born in Canada, he was raised in Italy. But he and his brother returned as young men, to establish their lives in this country. In WWII he was stationed and prepared to take part in battle, but never got the call so to speak. When I drove by the location of where he was stationed it made me proud. This Italian kid and his brother prepared to do whatever his new home country asked of them. Like so many others back in those days. Brave, strong, loyal people. Those folks worked so hard, expected so little, and are missed.


  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spice 1 View Post
    My grandfather was an Army medic. He took some shrapnel in his abdomen, and lost about half of one of his fingers. His whole family served. A couple of his brothers were KIA. The other side of my family, all I got is Korea. I bring that up though, because there's a cool story. A collector actually gave me my great uncle's Ka Bar. He found it at a local auction, and figured I'd want it since it had my last name engraved on it. I looked at the initials stamped on it and knew exactly who it belonged to. I offered to pay the guy for it, and he gave it to me. I have it sitting in a cabinet next to mine, and I'm thinking I'll pass them on to my kids.
    Love stories like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by samparnell View Post
    The 442nd Regimental Combat Team is the most decorated unit in the Army, but I'm sure you knew. "Go For Broke!"
    Yes, I did.

    They had something to prove.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peanut View Post
    Love stories like that.

    Yes, I did.

    They had something to prove.
    Some other units that probably felt they had something to prove were the 761st Tank Battalion, the 332nd Fighter Group and most of the guys in the Red Ball Express.

    There were Native Code Talkers from several nations in WWI and WWII. The most famous ones of WWII and probably the most numerous were the Navajo Code Talkers in the USMC. I don't know if they felt they necessarily had something to prove because that doesn't seem to be their style, but they are quite proud of their service. About four are still living including former tribal chairman, Peter MacDonald. Some of the Navajo Code Talkers are buried at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe and some are in the Veterans Navajos Cemetery in Fort Defiance, AZ. If any were traditional, their bodies may have been buried according to Navajo/Dine tradition.
    "Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes." ~ Publilius Syrus

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by samparnell View Post
    Some other units that probably felt they had something to prove were the 761st Tank Battalion, the 332nd Fighter Group and most of the guys in the Red Ball Express.

    There were Native Code Talkers from several nations in WWI and WWII. The most famous ones of WWII and probably the most numerous were the Navajo Code Talkers in the USMC. I don't know if they felt they necessarily had something to prove because that doesn't seem to be their style, but they are quite proud of their service. About four are still living including former tribal chairman, Peter MacDonald. Some of the Navajo Code Talkers are buried at the National Cemetery in Santa Fe and some are in the Veterans Navajos Cemetery in Fort Defiance, AZ. If any were traditional, their bodies may have been buried according to Navajo/Dine tradition.
    Sworn to secrecy for a period of time, there were invaluable Cree Code Talkers as well, from Canada, who served a very important role in communications during WWII. Their specialized service and other involvement helped to protect Western Allies and to win the war. While many Navajo code talkers in the American military were serving in the Pacific theatre of war (as I read), there seems to have been a void for speakers of other Indigenous languages to fill in the European theatre of war. The fact that many Cree soldiers were fluent in other languages such as English and French also seems to have been an advantage in their specific mission. In fact, Canadian Indigenous people were very actively involved in support of the country, with a significant number of recruits.

    So, between the Navajo and Cree (possibly others), Code Talking was of huge importance!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by CanDB View Post
    My Dad was born in WWI. Though born in Canada, he was raised in Italy. But he and his brother returned as young men, to establish their lives in this country. In WWII he was stationed and prepared to take part in battle, but never got the call so to speak. When I drove by the location of where he was stationed it made me proud. This Italian kid and his brother prepared to do whatever his new home country asked of them. Like so many others back in those days. Brave, strong, loyal people. Those folks worked so hard, expected so little, and are missed.

    Many Americans do not fully appreciate Canada's contribution to the effort in WWI and WWII. The US was involved in WWI in 1917 and 1918 while Canada had participated starting in 1914. The US was in WWII from 1942 through 1945 while Canada's participation began in at least 1940. George Beurling, the Falcon of Malta, was one of the leading aces in WWII and invented the deflection shot.

    Great Britain was saved by contributions from their empire. Had it not been for help from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, India and others, I don't know if UK would have held out during the years before the US entered the war.
    "Stultum est timere quod vitare non potes." ~ Publilius Syrus

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