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Military HistoryMilitary History

Military History May 2018

Military History is the nation’s oldest and most popular war magazine devoted to the history of warfare. Topics include naval history, army, infantry and foot soldiers from all branches of the military.

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WASP Stung The interview of Jane Doyle [“Recognizing WASPs,” November 2017] really struck a raw nerve for me. Before World War II the U.S. Army Air Corps, anticipating a need for pilots and pilot training, obtained authorization to establish a program commonly known as Civilian Pilot Volunteers. This included recruitment of experienced older pilots to fly transports and cargo planes, deliver new aircraft and train pilots, thereby freeing pilots under age 30 for combat. By 1943 there were 93,000 men in the pipeline. My father, Ralph Rich, began flying at age 15 in 1924, obtaining his pilot license in 1925. He volunteered to serve immediately after Pearl Harbor. While the much-vaunted WASPs did the job my father and his unit were recruited to do, the men of the Civilian Pilot Volunteers were left idle…

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found: uss   ward,   first to fire u.s. shots in pacific

A research team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen [paulallen.com] has pinpointed the wreck of USS Ward, the destroyer that fired the United States’ opening shots in the Pacific Theater of World War II. At 6:45 a.m. on Dec. 7, 1941, after sighting the periscope of what turned out to be a Japanese midget submarine at the entrance to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Ward shelled and sank the enemy contact. The Japanese attack came an hour later. Three years to the day after that engagement Ward itself was lost in action off the Philippines. Allen’s research vessel, RV Petrel, located the wreck in 650 feet of water off Leyte. Although the United States officially declared war on Japan on Dec. 8, 1941, Ward is credited with the opening salvo in the Pacific,…

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navy honors hawaii heroes

Last December the U.S. Navy [navy.mil] posthumously honored two World War II sailors for their valor during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Navy brass presented the Silver Star to the family of Chaplain (Lt. j.g.) Aloysius Schmitt (above), who died saving shipmates aboard USS Oklahoma. Officials presented the Bronze Star to the family of Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joseph George of the repair ship USS Vestal, who helped six sailors escape USS Arizona.…

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d-day relics to be restored

The Texas-based Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is restoring to flying condition That’s All, Brother, the Douglas C-47 Skytrain that led Allied airborne operations during the June 6, 1944, invasion of Normandy, France, and whose very name was a taunt aimed at Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler. CAF purchased the historic plane from an aircraft boneyard in 2015 and intends to return it to Normandy in 2019 to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. To donate to the effort, visit the group online [commemorativeairforce.org]. Meanwhile, the D-Day Museum [ddaymuseum.co.uk] in Portsmouth, England, is using a grant from Britain’s Heritage Lottery Fund to renovate LCT 7074, the last surviving tank landing craft from the Normandy invasion. Officials there also hope to have it on display in time for the 75th anniversary commemoration.…

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caesar landed here

On discovery of a 1st-century defensive base in coastal Kent, archaeologists from the University of Leicester [le.ac.uk] have identified Pegwell Bay as the probable landing site of Roman general Julius Caesar’s 54 BC invasion fleet from Gaul (present-day France). The 50-acre fortification in Ebbsfleet, near Ramsgate, likely sheltered the 800 ships the Romans beached for repairs after a storm battered the anchored vessels. Researchers also unearthed battle-scarred bones and iron weapons, including a Roman pilum, or javelin. Pegwell Bay offered ample space for the fleet, while its broad beach provided an ideal staging ground for Caesar’s 20,000-plus soldiers and 2,000 horses.…

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war record

April 26, 1937 Amid the Spanish Civil War, Nationalist Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s German and Italian allies bomb Republican-held Guernica (P. 22). Upward of 200 civilians die in the attack. May 1861 American-born Foreign Army Corps commander Frederick Townsend Ward (P. 62) leads a third failed assault on Taiping rebel–held Chingpu, China. May 1, 1946 Kurt “Panzer” Meyer, wartime commander of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, arrives at Dorchester Penitentiary in Canada. He serves eight years in all for his role in the murder of Canadian POWs in the June 1944 Ardenne Abbey massacre (P. 40). May 10, 1940 Germany invades France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the starting gun of an occupation that lasts through 1944. The Wehrmacht sets up its Western HQ in the Parisian suburb of Saint- Germain-en-Laye (P. 56). May 26, 1917 Secretary of War…