Tag: World War II

Please Share Your Stories (odds & ends 2)

A lot of us have many stories told to us by our parents or grandparents.  These are priceless and should be saved for future generations.  If someone in your family, or a friend, told stories about World War II, please share them here.  I welcome all comments, any length, with personal accounts from your relatives, or friends.  These could be stories from any of the war theatres.  They are all relevant to this blog.

I also welcome dialogue, back and forth, about these stories and about any of the information posted on this website.  I will answer all comments.

If you have photos to share, please email them to: gigi94127@yahoo.com.  I’ll be happy to post all photos received.  Please include information, of any length, about the content of the photo.

It is my intention to make this blog an ongoing record of the World War II experience, in addition to providing background and information about my novel The Burma Road.  Thank you in advance for your contribution, your input is priceless and greatly valued!

 

Entertainment During World War II (trivia 1)

The need for a long-range penetration unit in Burma impelled the activation of the Mars Task Force at Camp Gruber in December of 1943.  On the same day, December 17th, President Roosevelt announced that the airplane the Wright Brothers had first flown forty years earlier would be brought back to the United States.  It had been in storage in England, but Roosevelt wanted to donate it to the Smithsonian Institution in honor of the anniversary of this aerial innovation.

Meanwhile, wars in Europe and the Pacific were in full swing, and I am certain the absence of an entire population of young men was felt by everyone, but stateside life carried on. Folks at home were forced to make daily sacrifices with the rationing of gasoline, butter, and other commodities, so they turned to much-needed distractions from entertainment.  

Americans were listening to their radios, and “Paper Doll” by the Mills Brothers, which was #1 on the Hit Parade as of December 13th of that year was soon replaced by the Andrews Sisters’ “Shoo Shoo Baby”.  The other top songs Americans loved were: “Pistol Packin’ Mama” by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters; “People Will Say We’re In Love” by Bing Crosby and Trudy Erwin; and “My Heart Tells Me” by Frank Sinatra.

Americans were avid readers, buying best sellers such as: The Apostle by Sholem Asch, So Little Time by John Marquand, and The Robe by Lloyd Douglas. (1)

The average cost of a movie was 29 cents (2), and people bought tickets to see Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon in Madame Curie, (3) or lined up for The Song of Bernadette with Jennifer Jones and Charles Bickford. (4)

Time Magazine honored Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall for its Man of the Year cover, and people were still singing Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, which debuted a year earlier. (5)

In San Francisco, Jack Holloway’s folks might have gone to dinner at the prestigious Cliff House and bought a salmon steak for 65 cents a plate, or had a tenderloin steak for $1.40. (6) After dinner, they might have strolled down the street to the provocative Playland-at-the-Beach where they could enjoy the Bob Sled Dipper, Shoot-the-Chutes, or The Whip.  They might have bought tickets to go inside the popular Funhouse to enjoy more rides and attractions. (7)  These interests occupied their minds, temporarily relieving them from worry about loved ones overseas.

During the war, entertainment was also important for the morale of the soldiers who saw the shows put on by the United Service Organization (USO); they also saw Hollywood movies at theatres in their camps. In some cases, the movie screen was made out of parachutes. 

In my research of this era, I’ve come to realize that entertainment has always been important to us. The human mind is always alive, creating.  We find new ways to express our complex emotions and entertain ourselves in the process.  We design, we choreograph, and we orchestrate our visions, redefining the human experience with fresh new language, in hopes that our work will serve mankind. The cultural heritage coming out of World War II suggests this is so.

 

Footnotes:

(1)  Time Passages, 1943 Commemorative Yearbook, Robert Burtt & Bill Main, 1999, Hourglass Publishing Company, Inc., Section: “December 1943”

(2)  “What Did It Cost? A Look Back”, Dave Manual.com, Printed 8-27-19.  https://www.davemanuel.com/whatitcost.php

(3) Time Passages, Ibid.

(4)  “The Numbers, Where Data and the Movies Meet”, Annual Movie Chart – 1943 Market Charts.

Printed 8-27-19. https://www.the-numbers.com/market/1943/top-grossing-movies

(5)  Time Passages, Ibid.

(6)  ebay, Shop by Category. Collectibles > Paper > Menus

Printed 8-27-19. https://www.ebay.com/itm/362581740716

(7)  Wikipedia.org, Playland (San Francisco), Printed 8-27-19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playland_(San_Francisco)

 

© 2019 Jeanne M. Halloran, all rights reserved

No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or use of any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the author.

 

PFC Thomas Carr, Mars Task Force (photo 7)

PFC Ronald Knuth, Battery C 612 Field Artillery Battalion, Gun Crewman T4 took this photo.  This is PFC Thomas Carr.  I’ve met Tom at the 2016 and 2017 Mars Task Force Reunions, and he has wonderful stories to tell and great photos of his own.

This photo is by courtesy of Ronald Knuth’s daughter, Sue Knuth Bailey, and is gratefully received.

29 Tom Carr

 

This must have been taken in Burma, but I wonder if this is the Burma Road?  Or, it could be the Ledo Road.  Would love to know.  

The Men in the Cover Photo, Mars Task Force (photo 4)

cropped-burma-road-2-1-2.jpg

PFC Ronald Knuth, Battery C 612 Field Artillery Battalion, Gun Crewman T4 took this photo.  The men in the photo are: Stefanie, Tappe, and Godkin.  This was written on the back of the photo, but we don’t know which soldier was which.  

This photo is by courtesy of Ronald Knuth’s daughter, Sue Knuth Bailey, and is gratefully received.

 

Silencing The Mules, Mars Task Force (history 2)

In continuing my research into the mules who assisted the men of the Mars Task Force, I came across an interesting website.  This is Le Minh Khai’s:SEAsian History Blog.  I liked the post about mules dated October 14, 2014, titled: “The Silenced Mules of World War II Burma”.  In this article, a doctor, A. J. Moffett, is reported to have developed a procedure to cut off the mule’s vocal chords in order to silence them.  This procedure prevented the mules from braying, which was dangerous during the war as it alerted the enemy to the soldiers’ presence. 

Le Minh Khai states that it was Colonel Orde Wingate, a senior British Army officer,  who was looking into ways to silence the mules.  His First Chindit Force fought the Japanese in Burma during 1942 to 1943.  This was before the Mars Task Force came onto the scene.  I don’t know if this procedure was still in effect when the Marsmen arrived with their mules in 1944.  (1)

I will check this detail out with the veterans I am still in touch with.  (2)  But parts of my novel, The Burma Road, might have to be revised depending upon what I learn.  I am not sure how I will proceed if revisions are in order, I’ll decide later.

Emotionally, I have difficulty accepting that these officers mutilated the animals, although I understand the need for military maneuvers to be carried out in secret.  But as a pet owner and lover of all four-legged critters, I don’t like to read that their vocal chords were cut, no matter how good the reasoning was.  But war is harsh medicine that we take to cure a world without peace, yet the very words “war” and “peace” are contradictions.  Still, there are times when the unthinkable must be done, whether or not it is morally acceptable, in attempts to achieve a higher goal.  These are the moments when an officer must make difficult decisions—choosing one “wrong’ in order to prevent another.  If the mules needed to lose their vocal chords in order for the Allies to win against the Japanese, this might have been one of those times.

At any rate, Le Minh Khai’s article gives the mules back their voice.  It is well worth reading, being both informative and interesting.  Please check out the blog, details are in the footnote below. 

 

Footnote:

(1) Details about silencing the mules from an internet article:

“The Silenced Mules of World War II Burma” by Le Minh Khai, article on website dated 10-14-14, “SEAsian History Blog”.

Printed 8-23-19. https://leminhkhai.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/the-silenced-mules-of-world-war-ii-burma/.

(2) According to PFC Ken Laabs (as passed on to me through his wife, Beulah Bennett-Vernon) the mules never brayed.  He did not know for certain, but he thought they must have had the surgery to remove their vocal chords.  I have not decided whether nor not to revise my chapter, “Bye, Bye Lucky”, as the animal’s braying is an important aspect of the chapter, and contributes to Jack’s grief.  I’ll consider this, and decide later, before I publish.  Having the facts correct is important, but it might not be vital to the overall message of the book to have this detail included.

 

© 2019 Jeanne M. Halloran, all rights reserved

No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or use of any information storage and retrieval system, without express written permission from the author.