by Dick Martin
JOE UKEN JR may have been the luckiest man in the United States Navy during WWII. He was transferred from two submarines that were shortly thereafter sunk with all aboard lost. He later was on the crew of the submarine Darter, the submarine that before running aground located the Japanese fleet, sank two Japanese ships and became one of the most important parts of maybe the most decisive naval battle in the Pacific War, the allied victory in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
by Dick Martin
Bob Slade spent three months on Luzon Island in early 1945 as part of the liberation of the Philippine Islands. One of his unit’s assignments was to trek into the mountains to dig out the Japanese who were known not to surrender. While investigating a cave, Bob and another soldier came upon bags and bags of Japanese Yen, which was going to be used to pay the Japanese soldiers. Since the Japanese were losing the war, Bob figured the Yen was worthless, so he kept a few bills for souvenirs and burned the rest. When the war ended, Bob was deployed into Japan as part of the occupational force where he found that the currency they had found was legal tender.
By Dick Martin
Enigma Cypher Machine – is an encryption device developed and used in the early – to mid-20th Century. As used in practice, the Enigma encryption was broken from 1932 by crypt analytic attacks from the Polish Cipher Bureau, which passed its info to the Allies.
Germany believed that its secret codes for radio messages were indecipherable. However, the meticulous work of code breakers based at Britain’s Bletchley Park cracked the secrets of German wartime communications, and played a crucial role in the final defeat of Germany.
Magic – was set up to combine the US government’s cryptologic capabilities in one organization dubbed the Research Bureau. Intelligence officers from the Army and Navy (and later civilian experts and technicians) were all under one roof. Although they worked on a series of codes and cyphers, their most important successes involved RED, BLUE, and PURPLE.
RED - In 1923, a US Navy Officer acquired a stolen copy of the Secret Operating Code code book used by the Japanese Navy during World War I. Photographs of the code book were given to the crypt analysis at the Research Desk and the processed code was kept in red-colored folders (to indicate its Top-Secret classification) The code was called “RED.”
BLUE – In 1930, the Japanese government created a more complex code that was code named BLUE, although RED was still being used for low-level communications. It was quickly broken by the Research Desk no later than 1932. US Military Intelligence COMINT listening stations began monitoring command-to-fleet, ship-to-ship and land-based communications using the code.
PURPLE - After Japan’s ally Germany declared war in the fall of 1939, the German government began sending technical assistance to upgrade their communication and cryptography capabilities. One part was to send them modified Enigma machines to secure Japan’s high-level communications with Germany. The new code, code named PURPLE (from the color obtained by mixing red and blue), was baffling.
ULTRA – was the designation adopted by British Military Intelligence in June 1941 for wartime signals intelligence obtained by breaking high-level encrypted enemy radio and teleprinter communications at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park.
The decisive or turning point battles were at Midway Island and Guadalcanal Island. Because we had broken the Jap code, we were waiting in ambush for them as they arrived at Midway. Later in the war, we were able to find Admiral Yamamoto and shoot down the plane he was in.
If the codes had not been as successful in breaking the Axis’s code in transmitting messages as they were, some experts think the war could have gone on for a bloody three more years.
Taken from information found on Wikipedia and John Costelo’s book “The Pacific War.”
by Dick Martin
Anyone who has been in the military knows how important the “luck of the draw” is during their service. It appeared John Palsma had won the lottery and would spend the war in Corsica, South Dakota, 47 miles from Springfield. A closer look at his orders, however, revealed John wasn’t so lucky because it was the island of Corsica in the Mediterranean Sea, 5500 miles from Springfield, that he was headed for.
Movie in the Jungle!
Submitted by Dick Martin
Excerpt from letter dated June 24, 1944 from Lieutenant Jack Martin to his uncles in Springfield:
“I just got back from the show. It was “Song of Bernadette”. I wonder if that’s been to Springfield yet. If you folks haven’t seen it and it comes within driving distance – that must be on your must list. If you can visualize an outdoor theater with a broken down screen, and a sound system in which you could hear a word every now and then. Plus a battalion of soldiers sits in a hushed silence strains patiently for two and a half hours to hear what they could and when it was all over leaving without a word being said. That was “Song of Bernadette”.
We’re coming along O.K. working pretty hard as usual but that’s only to be expected. The war seems to be coming fine on all fronts. We don’t have any radios. But have to wait for the daily communiques which don’t arrive every day unfortunately.”
by Dick Martin
When reading about WWII, it is easy to forget what the veteran’s loved ones were enduring back on the home front, constantly aware of their family member in harm’s way in a far off land.. Gertrude Namminga Ludens, wife of Clarence Ludens, had a penchant for recording in writing what she was experiencing and thinking while her husband was away. Following is an excerpt from her writings that will give one and idea of what a family member was experiencing and thinking while her loved one was away at war.
“After coming home (from seeing her husband off to the Pacific) more and more 18 year olds were called up and sent to camps for training. Jake (brother), received his notice and left just shortly before Dad. I vividly remember the morning Jake left. My dad sat in his usual place by the window in his favorite chair. He was crying.
Shortly after Dad (Clarence) left for training in Texas, I was staying with my folks. One morning the telephone rang; word had just come that Allen Palsma had been killed on a ship in the Pacific. The ship had been torpedoed. It was the last week in May 1945. He was Jake’s age and we were stunned. Everyone grieved with the families when such news came but life just had to go on. After a period of time the casket arrived and the funeral service was held.
There were many others who served, some in very dangerous situations. I think of Lawrence (brother) fighting in the Battle of the Bulge as a forward observer for the artillery, Phil Odens, Bernard Kastein, Tom Ruppelt, Ode Odens, and John Palsma. There were many more and it seemed as though every family was touched. Another thing comes to mind so clearly; a memorial service for Jake Den Ouden, who was killed in Europe. Since he was buried over there, there was no casket, just a large picture of him placed on the communion table.
Life continued on and as Dad settled into the routine at camp he started writing letters and we were able to write him. After his furlough there were times he was not able to let us know where he was and he did not get our letters either. These were some of the hard times. At home we settled into a routine. It seemed to me life became a little easier because there were jobs and so more money. Crops were better and we got better prices for them and best of all there were no dust storms and no grasshoppers. Oh, we still needed ration cards for gas, tires, some food items such as sugar and coffee. Good meat was sometimes hard to come by. Oh yes, we did a lot of substituting and many cakes were made with corn syrup, though not always successfully. But by making adjustments we usually managed to get by.”
Gertrude Namminga Ludens
By Dick Martin
FRED C HORNSTRA may have been the luckiest man in the United States Army during WWII. As Fred and the 11th Calvary put the finishing touches on the German Wehrmacht in Germany near the end of the war, Fred had the misfortune of having one of the German's famous 88 artillery rounds land near him, which is not a good thing. However, the round was a dud, still blowing Fred off his feet, causing injuries that Fred, under the circumstances, was willing to accept. Fred acknowledged that he may owe his life to an anonymous Jew who was busy sabotaging the ammunition the German’s were forcing him to make in the work camps.
Springfield has plenty of veterans with military service worthy of a motion picture. In fact, Springfield has a veteran who was part of a small force in the Philippine Islands whose heroics were depicted in the motion picture “They Were Expendable” starring John Wayne. The individual was Grover DeLong, Springfield native and 1937 graduate of the Naval Academy. Grover got caught right in the middle of the darkest period for the United States in the Pacific war. After Pearl Harbor, the Japanese turned their attention to the Philippine Islands where they systematically pushed the American contingent down the Bataan Peninsula to the island of Corregidor. During the first six months, Grover DeLong skippered his Torpedo boat as it harassed the advancing Japanese. The exploits of the DeLong and the Motor Torpedo Squadron Three would be depicted in the movie “They were Expendable.” DeLong was eventually captured by the Japanese and executed.
By Dick Martin
By Dick Martin
Nazi doctrine pigeonholed their women as obedient mothers and wives, but a cadre of strong female supporters aided the rise of the Fuhrer and some of his most trusted men.
Hitler’s always spoke of his mother, Klara, as a saintly figure, whose major accomplishment was having him as a son. She was born on August 12, 1860 and died in 1907 at the age of 47. She was a simple woman whose birthday was designated as a “day of honor” for the German mothers.
Hitler’s broader message for German women was to serve their husbands and raise children leaving nearly everything else to men. Specifically, they were to raise sons who would become warriors and daughters to become mothers of future warriors. As a reward for having many children, the Nazis handed out the Cross of Honor of the German Mother – a bronze one for four or five children, silver for six or seven, and gold for eight or more.
From his earliest days in Munich, Hitler recognized the importance of appealing to women and remained a bachelor to exude what he thought was a sexually charged magnetism. In his early rallies, he even placed women in the front rows to exploit their enthusiasm. They persuaded their husbands to join Hitler and they devoted themselves utterly and selflessly to the Nazi Party’s interests.
Throughout his reign, women taught Hitler the social graces he lacked, provided a maternal influence, and the funds and connections to mix it up with the German elite. Other than Eva Braun, three women would significantly influence Hitler: Winifred Wagner, Helene Beckstein, and Elsa Bruckmann.
Despite all this, Hitler was thought to be impotent, a neuter! Two women who would probably know are his mistresses, Eva Braun and Geli Raubal, both victims of suicide.
Hitler’s women never abandoned their self-justifying fantasies, thus demonstrating the Fuhrer’s continued power over them-even after he had perished along with his millions of victims.
Taken and edited from a piece by Andrew Nagorski in the April 2020 edition of WWII magazine
By Dick Martin
Do you remember what you were doing one week after your 19th birthday? Charles (Chuck) Dawes does! In a scene you won’t see in the movies, Chuck and 65 of his colleagues were surrendering to the German Army in a farmhouse in France in November of 1944, less than a month after entering WWII at Marseilles, France. After days of being subjected to artillery fire, Chuck and his unit and some medical personnel found a farmhouse to take refuge for the night. During the night, Chuck and his colleagues were taken prisoner by the German Army. Were they the survivors of a frontal assault by the German Army on the farmhouse or were Chuck’s guards overwhelmed by the Germans. No, a polite German officer knocked on the farmhouse door, where the Americans were sleeping and asked them to surrender or he threatened to grenade the farmhouse. At that point Chuck and the rest of the group were lined up and marched to a German prison camp.