USCG Patrolling Coast on Horseback World War Two

posted by author Charles McCain


USCG patrol WW Two Official

US Coast Guard had among its duties in World War Two patrolling all beaches in the US. Dogs and their beach patrol handlers leap into action from a surfboat during a landing exercise along the coast of South Carolina, circa 1943. 


“In September 1942, horses were authorized for use by the beach patrol. The mounted portion soon became the largest segment of the patrol. For example, one year after orders were given to use horses, there were 3,222 of the animals assigned to the Coast Guard. All came from the Army. The Army Remount Service provided all the riding gear required, while the Coast Guard provided the uniforms for the riders. A call went out for personnel and a mixed bag of people responded. Polo players, cowboys, former sheriffs, horse trainers, Army Reserve cavalrymen, jockeys, farm boys, rodeo riders and stunt men applied. Much of the mounted training took place at Elkins Park Training Station and Hilton Head, the sites of the dog training schools.”

Photos and captions from USCG.

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Spanish Diplomats Use Diplomatic Pouch To Make Money


posted by author Charles McCain



Spanish Fascist dictator France exchanging a warm handshake with the Fuhrer circa 1942.

9 Diplomats Remit Entire Salaries To Their Bank Accounts In Spain

Spanish diplomats in Nazi Germany were keen participants in the black market in Berlin. As World War Two continued year after bloody year, three items, easily and cheaply purchased in Spain, commanded huge sums in the Third Reich: coffee, cigarettes, and cognac.

While on leave in Spain, the diplomats loaded up with these commodities or simply imported them through the diplomatic pouch. A “pouch” can actually be as big as a shipping container. If marked as diplomatic mail, it cannot be opened for inspection.

So Spanish diplomats made quite a lot of ready cash by legally importing very scarce and desirable items to Berlin and selling them on the black market–which was illegal. However, diplomats have diplomatic immunity and can’t be arrested except under certain circumstances.

Source: Spaniards and Nazi Germany: Collaboration in the New Order by Wayne H. Bowen, University of Missouri Press, 2000.

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Battleship USS Washington and the Royal Navy

Posted by author Charles McCain



Washington (BB56) 29 May 1941 shortly after commissioning 

(photo courtesy of US National Archives)


British naval losses had become so heavy by the spring of 1942, that they requested assistance from the US Navy to help escort the infamous convoy PQ 17 to the Soviet Union. The Royal Navy was waiting for newly commissioned ships or about to be commissioned ships to “work up.”

In April 1942, the battleship USS Washington along with the cruisers USS Tuscaloosa and USS Wichita were sent to the Home Fleet anchorage at Scapa Flow and came under the command of Admiral Tovey, C-in-C Home Fleet.



USS Washington (BB-56) off New York City, New York, 21 August 1942. Note barge alongside amidships and OS2U floatplane afloat off her stern.

(photo and caption courtesy of US Navy History and Heritage Command)

In July 1942, after the disaster of PQ 17, the American ships were no longer needed and were withdrawn by the US Navy. This was one of the few times when American naval forces served in the European theater.

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Posted by on March 25, 2015 in News

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Badly Wounded Often Exchanged in World War Two


Churchill tank of 7th Royal Tank Regiment, 31st Tank Brigade, supporting infantry of 8th Royal Scots during Operation ‘Epsom’, 28 June 1944. (photo courtesy Imperial War Museum)

Excerpts from account of wounding and repatriation by Bill Williams of 50th Royal Tank Regiment from the BBC.

“At the end of the action (during which his tank was destroyed in an attack in Sicily July, 1943), I was collected by the German troops with one other survivor. They called, ‘Come, Tommy’… I could not raise my left arm and shouted ‘Wounded!’, which fortunately is similar to the German word and we were taken in to their lines.The soldiers were quite friendly… and took me to the dressing station where my wounds were treated….”

(Fast forward 18 months to January of 1945)

“I was sent to an assembly area for repatriation, where I found quite a lot of Americans and Commonwealth troops.. After a few days we were loaded on to a train which took us through Germany to the Swiss border…. When we reached the border, a train the other direction with German wounded crossed the border at the same time.

Our guards were taken off and replaced by Swiss nurses who looked after us until we reached Marseilles where a hospital ship was waiting to take us to England. We landed at Liverpool and trained to a hospital at Loch Neigh which was rather a gloomy old place but it was home!”

The entire piece is here.


Below is an account from a British Merchant Marine officer about his wartime voyage through German waters to Sweden.



SS Arundel Castle which sailed from time to time during World War Two from Liverpool with her British merchant crew through the Baltic to Sweden to embark badly wounded British soldiers.

It seems odd that in the middle of total war between the Allies and Nazi Germany, that such formalities as exchanging badly wounded prisoners-of-war were not only negotiated but carried out. British Merchant Marine officer Peter Guy, cited in Convoy: Merchant Sailors At War 1939-1945 by P. Kaplan and J. Currie , describes an exchange which occurred in the late December of 1944.

He was aboard the British merchant ship Arundel Castle and their destination was Goteborg, in neutral Sweden where the exchange would take place.

“We were granted safe passage, and it was a treat to have portholes open and lights showing. On Christmas Eve 1944, we lay off Gibraltar after embarking the Germans at Marseilles, and everyone who was able gathered on the deck to sing a grand selection of carols….Later we passed through a narrow channel in the Skaggerak into the Baltic, and we could see the faces of the German gunners looking down on us from their gun positions. They weren’t impressed when some of our crew gave the V-sign. Arriving at Goteborg, we were surprised to get a welcome from a German brass band playing on the quayside…The saddest part was when close on a hundred of our lads who had lost their sight were led up the gangway. The exchange was all over in about three hours and we sailed home to Liverpool.”

It is important to note that both Norway and Denmark were occupied by the Germans at this time so the German gunners he refers to are stationed in those countries.


[Images courtesy of Wikimedia and Wayne Ray & the Windfield Photographic Collection and Archives) 

posted by author and historian Charles McCain



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Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Europe Theater, News

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Jul 20, 1944 – Operation Valkyrie

Jul 20, 1944 – Operation Valkyrie – A group of German Army generals plot and execute a plan to assassinate Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair in Rastenburg, East Prussia. The bomb planted by Claus Von Stauffenberg goes off, but fails to kill the Nazi leaders as planned.

Assassination Attempt on Hitler - 20 July 1944

Assassination Attempt on Hitler – 20 July 1944

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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Europe Theater, Images, Today

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Giveaway – Making Light in Terezin DVD

Enter Here

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Posted by on April 10, 2014 in News

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The Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen

Tuskegee AirmenMembers of the Tuskegee Airmen were the first black pilots to serve in the American military. The name comes from the location of where they were trained, much of which occurred on airfields around Tuskegee, Alabama. Morton Field was where they received their primary training, much of which occurred in biplanes. Several miles away at Tuskegee Army Air Field the airmen undertook basic and advanced flight training.

In March 1941 the first black flying unit, the 99th Fighter Squadron, was activated. It wasn’t until the spring of 1943 that the 99th deployed to North Africa and entered combat. They flew P-40s for the Twelfth Air Force while being attached to various white fighter groups. While with the 12th, the Tuskegee Airmen of the 99th shared two Distinguished Unit Citations with the group it was attached to. Later in the spring of 1943 they moved from North Africa to Italy. In January 1944 the 99th shot down 13 enemy aircraft over Anzio in two days.

Meanwhile, after completing training, the 332nd Fighter Group, which consisted of three fighter squadrons, also deployed to Italy in January 1944 where it flew P-39s for the 12th. It flew its first combat mission a month later. The 332nd was later moved to Ramitelli Airfield in Italy and transferred to the 15th Air Force. There they traded up for P-51 Mustangs and began escorting heavy bombers well into enemy territory, including Germany. In July of 1944 the 99th Fighter Squadron joined the 332nd, upgraded to P-51s and also ran bomber escort missions. At this time all four black fighter squadrons were together.

Each fighter group had its own unique tail markings. The 332nd had a solid red tail, and thus became known as the “Red Tails.” Between June 1944 and April 1945 the Red Tails flew over 311 combat missions. This included 179 bomber escort missions, where they lost a total of 27 escorted bombers. The number of bombers lost to the other fighter groups averaged 46.

All told, the Tuskegee Airmen shot down a total of 112 enemy aircraft. None of the pilots accrued five kills which would have made them aces, but 95 of them earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. On their most famous combat mission they escorted B-17 bombers to Berlin. Three of the pilots shot down German jet planes during that mission, earning the 332nd Fighter Group a Distinguished Unit citation.

The most famous Tuskegee Airman was Colonel Benjamin O. Davis, Jr., a graduate of West Point. During the war Davis commanded the 99th Fighter Squadron and then later the 332nd Fighter Group.

Although challenged as to their abilities to successfully perform combat missions, the Tuskegee Airmen proved themselves able combat pilots and led the way for others of their race to pursue careers as combat aviators. In large part due to the Red Tails, the US Air Force, formed in 1947, became the first of the American armed forces to integrate.

Alan Carr enjoys writing on all things relating to aviation. Presently he writes for

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Posted by on November 13, 2013 in Air, Images, Media

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South From Corregidor

South From Corregidor

Manila Bay – On the evening of 6 May, 1942, hours after US Army General Jonathan Wainwright surrendered all US and Filipino forces on the island of Corregidor and other fortified islands in Manila Bay to the Imperial Japanese Army, 18 US Navy sailors from USS Quail (AM-15) began their daring escape to freedom. Using a 36 foot motor launch, the 18 sailors, led by Lieutenant Commander John Morrill began their 2000 mile journey through Japanese infested waters.

The story of their escape, is told in a book titled, South From Corregidor. It was written by Lieutenant Commander Morrill less than a year after the escape.

South from Corregidor is a true story of great audacity, where the generosity and bravery of the Filipino people, along with sheer luck played an integral role in the outcome of events.

Boat Crew USS Quail

Boat Crew USS Quail

After a two year effort, my brother and I, with the help of the last surviving member of the boat crew (as they called themselves) and the Admiral’s (Morrill retired an Admiral) daughters, republished South From Corregidor. It is as Lieutenant Commander Morrill wrote it. Thirty-nine maps have been added to help show their journey, as well as six illustrations that were part of a Saturday Evening Post article written about the escape in December 1942 and January 1943. In addition, an Addendum is included that tells what happened to the 18 sailors.

Thank you,


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Posted by on August 1, 2013 in Images, Media, Pacific Theater

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WWII Events Today, May 23

WWII Events Today, May 23

WWII Events Today, May 23

USS New Jersey (BB-62)

USS New Jersey (BB-62)

May 23, 1939 USS Squalus (SS-192) suffered a catastrophic main induction valve failure during a test dive off the New Hampshire coast and partially flooded. The submarine sank to the bottom and came to rest keel down in over 200 feet of water. 26 lives were lost.

May 23, 1942 Plan of attack on Midway and Aleutians known, extent of forces not known.

May 23, 1943 USS New Jersey (BB 62) was commissioned. During WWII, she participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, Battle of the Leyte Gulf and supported the Iwo Jima and the Okinawa Campaigns in the Pacific theatre. Decommissioned in 1948, she was recommissioned for the Korean War and served until 1957. Recommissioned for the Vietnam War in April 1968, she provided gunfire support until decommissioned the following year. New Jersey was then recommissioned in 1982 and served until Sep 1991. New Jersey currently serves as a museum ship at Camden, New Jersey.

May 23, 1944 The tempo of the Allied air blitz is up with a record 1,045 heavy bombers striking targets across Western Europe. Escort is provided by 96 P-38s, 142 P-47 Thunderbolts and 324 P-51 Mustangs.

May 23, 1944 – May 26, 1944 USS Brooklyn (CL 40), USS Ericsson (DD 440) and USS Kearny (DD 432) shelled enemy positions in vicinity of Ardea, Italy, with good results. The three ships repeated bombardment of troop concentrations and supply dumps on 24 and 26 May with equal success.

May 23, 1944 While continuing to work down the “NA” cordon, USS England (DE 635) sank RO 104, 250 miles north-northwest of Kavieng, New Ireland.

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WWII Events Today, December 7

WWII Events Today, December 7
The 70th anniversary of the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor and other areas of the Pacific region.

Dec 07, 1941 03:42 Minesweeper CONDOR sights periscope off Honolulu Harbor, notifies patrol destroyer WARD to investigate.
Dec 07, 1941 04:58 Minesweeper CROSSBILL and CONDOR enter Pearl Harbor, defective submarine net remains open.
Dec 07, 1941 06:00 200 miles south of Oahu carrier ENTERPRISE launches 18 aircraft to scout ahead. then to land at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. ETA 0800.
Dec 07, 1941 06:10 220 miles north of Oahu Admiral Nagumo orders launching of 1st wave of 183 aircraft off three carriers. 2 are lost during takeoff.
Dec 07, 1941 06:30 Destroyer WARD again notified of submarine sighting this time by supply ship ANTARES off Pearl Harbor entrance. Navy patrol plane (PBY) dispatched to the scene.
Dec 07, 1941 06:45 WARD opens fire on target hitting conning tower. as she closes in drops depth charges..air attack by PBY follows.
Dec 07, 1941 06:53 WARD’S commander Captain Outerbridge sends message to Commandant 14th Naval District: “We have attacked, fired upon and dropped depth charges upon submarine operating in defensive sea area”.
Dec 07, 1941 07:00 Commander Fuchida flying towards Oahu directs his pilots to home in on local radio station.
Dec 07, 1941 07:02 Private’s Lockhard and Elliott of Opana Radar Station pick up what appears to be a flight of unidentified aircraft bearing in 132 miles north of Oahu. discussion follows.
Dec 07, 1941 07:06 Private Elliott phones switchboard operator Joseph McDonald at Information Center, Ft. Shafter, telling of a large formation of aircraft approaching the Island.
Dec 07, 1941 07:15 Capt. Outerbridge’s attack message, delayed in decoding is delivered to duty officer, 14th Naval District, and to Admiral Kimmel’s duty officer. Japanese launch 2nd wave of 168 assault aircraft.
Dec 07, 1941 07:20 Joseph McDonald finding Lt. Tyler in Information Center, calls Opana and patches Lt. Tyler thru to Private Lockard who describes the large flight picked up on radar and is told, “Well don’t worry about it.”
Dec 07, 1941 07:33 Important message from Gen Marshall from Washington to Short received via RCA in Honolulu. cablegram has no indication of priority. messenger Tadao Fuchikami proceeds on normal route.
Dec 07, 1941 07:35 Reconnaissance plane from cruiser CHIKUMA reports main fleet in Pearl Harbor.
Dec 07, 1941 07:39 Opana Station loses aircraft on radar 20 miles off coast of Oahu due to “dead zone” caused by surrounding hills.
Dec 07, 1941 07:40 1st wave sights North Shore of Oahu. deployment for attack begins.
Dec 07, 1941 07:49 Commander Fuchida orders attack. all pilots to begin assault on military bases on Oahu.
Dec 07, 1941 07:53 Fuchida radios code to entire Japanese Navy “TORA TORA TORA” indicating success, maximum strategic surprise. Pearl Harbor caught unaware.
Dec 07, 1941 07:55 Along Battleship Row, battlewagons feel the sting of the newly perfected torpedoes specifically designed for the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor
Dec 07, 1941 07:55 At 1010 dock violent explosions rock light cruiser HELENA on her starboard side crippling both her and minelayer OGLALA moored beside her.
Dec 07, 1941 07:55 Island wide attack begins. Japanese dive bombers to strike airfields Kaneohe, Ford Island, Hickam, Bellows, Wheeler, Ewa. Aerial torpedo planes begin their run on ships in Pearl Harbor.
Dec 07, 1941 07:55 On the other side of Battleship row, Ford Island, target ship UTAH also feels the sting of the torpedoes. and like the battleship OKLAHOMA begins to capsize.
Dec 07, 1941 08:00 B-17’s from the mainland reach Oahu after 14 hour flight. Aircraft from carrier ENTERPRISE arrive Ford Island. both caught between enemy and friendly fire.
Dec 07, 1941 08:00 Light cruiser RALEIGH moored ahead of the UTAH takes measures to prevent capsizing.
Dec 07, 1941 08:01 Commander Logan Ramsey of Ford Island Command Center sends out message for all radiomen on duty to send out in plain English “AIR RAID PEARL HARBOR THIS IS NO DRILL”.
Dec 07, 1941 08:01 Simultaneously the call for General Quarters echos throughout Pearl Harbor.
Dec 07, 1941 08:02 Machine guns on battleship NEVADA open fire on torpedo planes approaching her port beam. two planes hit. however one missile tears huge hole in ship’s port bow.
Dec 07, 1941 08:05 Admiral Kimmel arrives CINCPAC headquarters.
Dec 07, 1941 08:05 Battleship CALIFORNIA receives second torpedo “portside at frame 110″. Prompt action directed by Ensign Edgar M. Fain prevents ship from capsizing.
Dec 07, 1941 08:05 High level bombers begin their run “on both bows” of battleship row.
Dec 07, 1941 08:05 Repair ship VESTAL moored outboard of battleship ARIZONA opens fire.
Dec 07, 1941 08:08 High level bombers unleash armour piercing, delayed action bombs from altitude of 10,000 feet scoring hits on battleships.
Dec 07, 1941 08:08 KGMB radio interrupts music calling for: “All Army, Navy, and Marine personnel to report to duty”.
Dec 07, 1941 08:10 Forward magazines on battleship ARIZONA suddenly ignite resulting in a tremendous explosion and huge fireball sinking the battleship within nine minutes. Concussion of explosion blows men off repair ship VESTAL.
Dec 07, 1941 08:12 General Short advises entire Pacific Fleet and Washington, “Hostilities with Japan commenced with air raid on Pearl Harbor”
Dec 07, 1941 08:15 2nd dispatch orders all patrol planes to seek out enemy.
Dec 07, 1941 08:15 KGMB interrupts music with 2nd call ordering all military personnel to report for duty.
Dec 07, 1941 08:17 USS HELM first of several destroyers to clear Pearl Harbor spots a midget submarine struggling to enter harbor. shots fired misses target. sub frees itself from reef and submerges.
Dec 07, 1941 08:25 Using a Browning Automatic Rifle Lt. Stephen Saltzman and Sgt. Lowell Klatt shot down enemy plane making strafing run on Schofield Barracks.
Dec 07, 1941 08:26 Honolulu Fire Department responds to call for assistance from Hickam Field. 3 firemen killed. 6 wounded.
Dec 07, 1941 08:30 3rd call out for military via local radio stations.
Dec 07, 1941 08:35 Tanker NEOSHO half loaded with high octane aviation fuel moves clear of Battleship Row and oil tanks on Ford Island. Damage reported in city. Police warn civilians to leave streets and return to their homes.
Dec 07, 1941 08:39 Seaplane tender CURTISS sights midget sub in harbor and commences to fire..Destroyer MONAGHAN heads for intruder at ramming speed.
Dec 07, 1941 08:40 Submarine surfaces after sustaining damage. MONAGHAN hits sub and drops depth charges as she passes. 1st explanation over local radio stations. “A sporadic air attack. rising sun sighted on wing tips”.
Dec 07, 1941 08:50 Lt. Commander Shimazaki orders deployment of 2nd wave over military bases on Oahu.
Dec 07, 1941 08:54 Attack run begins. 54 high-level bombers hit Naval air stations, 78 dive bombers hit ships in Pearl, 36 fighters circle over harbor to maintain air control.
Dec 07, 1941 09:00 Crew of the Dutch liner JAGERSFONTEIN opens up with her guns, the first Allies to join the fight. Radios throughout the island crack out urgent messages “Get off roads and stay off.. Don’t block traffic. Stay at home. This is the real McCoy”.
Dec 07, 1941 09:15 – In a note delivered to Secretary Hull at 2:15 PM (EST) in Washington, the Japanese said, “Obviously it is the intention of the American Government to conspire with Great Britain and other countries to obstruct Japan’s efforts toward the establishment of peace through the creation of a new order in East Asia, and especially to preserve Anglo-American rights and interests by keeping Japan and China at war.” This declaration of war notice was delivered over an hour after the attack had begun.
Dec 07, 1941 09:30 Tremendous explosions rocks destroyer SHAW sending debris everywhere. bomb falls near Governor’s home.
Dec 07, 1941 10:00 First wave arrives back on carriers, 190 miles north of Oahu.
Dec 07, 1941 10:05 Governor Poindexter calls local papers announcing state of emergency for entire territory of Hawaii
Dec 07, 1941 10:30 Mayor’s Major Disaster Council meets at city hall. Reports from local hospitals pour in listing civilian casualties.
Dec 07, 1941 11:00 Commander Fuchida circles over Pearl Harbor. assesses damage then returns to carrier task force. All schools on Oahu ordered to close.
Dec 07, 1941 11:15 State of emergency announced over radio by Governor Poindexter.
Dec 07, 1941 11:42 As per orders by Army local stations go off the air. General short confers with Governor regarding martial law.
Dec 07, 1941 11:46 First report of many false sightings of enemy troops landing on Oahu.
Dec 07, 1941 12:10 American planes fly north in search for enemy with negative results.
Dec 07, 1941 12:30 Honolulu police raid Japanese embassy. find them burning documents. Blackout to begin at night ordered by Army.
Dec 07, 1941 12:40 Governor confers with President Roosevelt regarding martial law. both agree it necessary that the military take over the civilian government.
Dec 07, 1941 13:00 Commander Fuchida lands on board carrier AKAGI. discussion follows with Admiral Nagumo and staff concerning feasibility of launching 3rd wave.
Dec 07, 1941 13:30 Signal flags on carrier AKAGI orders Japanese task force to withdraw. Territorial director of civil defense orders blackout every night until further notice.
Dec 07, 1941 14:58 Tadao Fuchikami delivers message from Washington. message decoded and given to General Short regarding ultimatum from Japan to be given at 1300 Washington time. “Just what significance the hour set may have we do not know, but be on the alert accordingly”.
Dec 07, 1941 16:25 Governor signs Proclamation. martial law put into effect.
Dec 07, 1941 Air raids on Singapore, Guam, Wake, Philippines
Dec 07, 1941 Costa Rica declared war on Japan.
Dec 07, 1941 Hitler issues an order known as the “Night and Fog Decree” directing German authorities in western European occupation areas to eliminate those individuals “endangering German security.” They were to be disposed of in a discreet manner, to “disappear” into the night and fog so that even their relatives would never know what happened to them.
Dec 07, 1941 Japanese attack Pearl Harbor
Dec 07, 1941 Japanese invasion of Malaya.
Dec 07, 1941 Just before 8 a.m., Honolulu time, 360 Japanese planes attack Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military base on the Hawiian island of Oahu. The attack cripples the U.S. Pacific fleet, and kills more than 2,300 American soldiers, sailors, and civilians. The attack precedes Japan’s formal declaration of war, which is delivered by the Japanese foreign minister to the U.S. embassy in Tokyo more than seven hours later.
Dec 07, 1941 Two Japanese destroyers shell Midway.

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