History Podcasts

6 June 1941

6 June 1941

A British force named "Mercol" leaves Habbaniya to attack Iraqi guerillas under Fawzi el-Qawujki, defeating them at Abu Kemal

Foreign ships in American ports requisitioned.

Traditional Enemies - Britain's War with Vichy France 1940-1942, John D Grainger. Looks at the series of battles between Vichy France and Britain between the fall of France in 1940 and Operation Torch at the end of 1942. Politically well balanced, acknowledging the genuine motives behind each British attack and the difficult balancing act the Vichy government was attempting but failing to pull off, and with good accounts of the military actions. [read full review]


The Road to D-Day

Geoffrey Warner looks at the reasons for the delay in opening a second Allied Front.

'Our country is waging a war of liberation single-handed', complained Stalin in 1941. But it was not until June 6th, 1944, that the Allies opened 'a second front' in Europe with the invasion of Normandy.

During the First World War the Germans had failed to defeat the French and expel their British allies from the mainland of Europe, so that when the Americans entered the war in 1917 they were able to reinforce an already existing front in western Europe. The position in the Second World War was quite different. The fall of France and the evacuation from Dunkirk in 1940 meant that the British and the Americans had to recreate a front in western Europe by means of an amphibious invasion before they could even get to grips with the main body of the German armed forces, let alone defeat them. Even after their sensational victories of 1940 the Germans had felt unable to launch an invasion of the British Isles. To mount an operation in the opposite direction was no less fraught with difficulties.

It seemed to many, especially in Britain, that this point was not sufficiently appreciated by the third partner in the coalition against Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union. Despite repeated warnings, the German invasion of the USSR on June 22nd, 1941, had caught the Russians almost completely by surprise, and as the Red Army reeled before the onslaught the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, sent an urgent appeal for help on July 18th to the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. 'It seems to me, Stalin wrote, . that the military position of the Soviet Union, and by the same token that of Great Britain, would improve substantially if a front were established against Hitler in the West (Northern France) and the North (Arctic).' Churchill replied that while he would do 'anything sensible and effective' to help the Russians, an invasion of France was out of the question. 'To attempt a landing in force', he wrote, 'would be to encounter a bloody repulse, and petty raids would only lead to fiascos, doing far more harm than good to both of us.' He promised, however, to consider aero-naval operations in the Arctic. Stalin was not satisfied. He returned to the charge in further private communications in September and then, on November 6th, 1941, proclaimed his dissatisfaction to the world in a speech in Moscow. 'One of the reasons for the reverses of the Red Army', he declared, 'is the absence of a second front in Europe against the German fascist troops. The situation at present is such that our country is waging a war of liberation single-handed, without military help from anyone . '

A month later the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Hitler's subsequent declaration of war brought the United States into the conflict. British and American military planners had already agreed that if and when the United States came into the war the defeat of Germany should receive a higher priority than that of Japan, and this principle was reaffirmed at an Anglo-American summit conference in Washington at the end of 1941. It was also agreed that a large-scale land offensive against Germany in 1942 was unlikely, except on the Russian front, but that 'in 1943 the way may be clear for a return to the Continent, via the Scandinavian Peninsula, across the Mediterranean, from Turkey into the Balkans, or by simultaneous landings in several of the occupied countries of Northwestern Europe.'

This agreement reflected British rather than American views. In a strategy paper which he had drafted on his way to Washington, Churchill had argued that the 'main offensive effort' in the west in 1942 should be 'the occupation and control by Great Britain and the United States of the whole of the North and West African possessions of France, and the further control by Britain of the whole North African shore from Tunis to Egypt, thus giving, if the naval situation allows, free passage through the Mediterranean to the Levant and the Suez Canal.' Already engaged against the Germans and their Italian allies in North Africa, the British saw the opportunity to drive them out of the area and to attack Nazi-controlled Europe through its weakest link, Fascist Italy.

The Americans were never happy with this strategy. They felt that a cross-Channel invasion was the only effective way of beating the Germans and that the sooner it was mounted the better. Britain's advocacy of operations in the Mediterranean, they believed, was largely motivated by its political interests in the Middle East. In April 1942 the US army persuaded President Franklin D. Roosevelt to adopt a three-part plan for a cross-Channel attack. The first part, codenamed BOLERO, was for a build-up of American forces in the British Isles. The second, code-named ROUNDUP, was for a large-scale invasion of France in the spring of 1943, while the third, codenamed SLEDGEHAMMER, was for an emergency landing in France in September 1942 in the event of a sudden German collapse or, more likely, a crisis on the Russian front. Apart from the strategic considerations mentioned above, there were a number of reasons why this plan appealed to the President and the US army. On grounds of domestic politics it was important to find a means of involving American troops in the war against Germany as soon as possible. There was also a strong desire to do something to help the Russians, not only to prevent a possible military collapse on their part, but also to offset American unwillingness at this early stage in the war to agree to the Soviet Union's request for certain post-war territorial changes in Eastern Europe. Finally, there was a need to forestall the US navy's incessant pressure in favour of shifting the emphasis of American effort to the Pacific.

Roosevelt sent a high-level mission to London to persuade the British to accept BOLERO, ROUNDUP and SLEDGEHAMMER. They did so in principle, but entertained all kinds of reservations in practice, especially as regards SLEDGEHAMMER. Churchill, who still hankered after his North African operation, subsequently wrote of SLEDGEHAMMER, 'I was almost certain the more it was looked at the less it would be liked.' When the Soviet foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, visited London and Washington in May and June 1942, he was told by Roosevelt 'to inform Mr Stalin that we expect the formation of a second front this year', but by Churchill that 'we can. give no promise in the matter.'

Britain's lack of enthusiasm for SLEDGEHAMMER, which Roosevelt's military advisers had come to regard as more and more desirable, so exasperated the latter that they proposed retaliation in the form of accepting the navy's policy of concentrating American strength against Japan, thereby overturning the agreed basis of allied strategy. The President vetoed this suggestion, however, and sent another mission to London in July instead with instructions to reach agreement on some operation which would mean American troops fighting Germans in 1942. Since the only operation which the British would agree to was in North Africa, this was reluctantly accepted. It was codenamed TORCH.

In August 1942 Churchill flew to Moscow to break the news to Stalin. The Soviet leader was not at all pleased. He accused the British and Americans of breaking their promises and said that if the British army had been fighting the Germans as much as the Red Army it would not be so frightened of them. At the same time he professed to see some merit in the TORCH operation, which Churchill explained to him by means of his famous crocodile analogy as the prelude to a simultaneous assault upon Hitler's Europe in 1943 via the 'hard snout' (northern France) and the 'soft belly' (Italy). 'May God prosper this undertaking', remarked the ex-seminary student who now ruled Russia in the name of an atheistic creed. The British Prime Minister left Moscow convinced that despite the initial bad feeling he had 'established a personal relationship which will be helpful.' Unfortunately, this was based upon the assumption that if there was to be no cross-Channel invasion in 1942, it would most assuredly take place in 1943. Churchill almost certainly believed this himself, but both British and American military planners thought that TORCH had probably ruled it out.

The TORCH landings took place in French North Africa in November 1942. At an Anglo-American summit conference in Casablanca in January 1943, it was agreed. that once the Germans and Italians had been driven out of North Africa the allies should press on into Sicily. The Americans had been uneasy about further operations in the Mediterranean, but once again the British got their way. As one American planner ruefully commented, 'We came, we listened and we were conquered.'

Although Churchill's military advisers were now certain that a cross-Channel attack in 1943 was impossible, the Prime Minister still appeared to believe that it was not. Moreover, he communicated this view to Stalin. 'We are. pushing preparations to the limit of our resources for a cross-Channel operation in August', he wrote to the Soviet leader on February 12th, 1943. '. If the operation is delayed by the weather or other reasons, it will be prepared with stronger forces for September.' Sooner or later, however, reality was bound to triumph, and at the Anglo-American summit conference in Washington in May it was finally agreed that the invasion of France, soon to be given the new code-name of OVERLORD, could not take place before May 1st, 1944. When Stalin was informed of this decision, relations between the USSR and its allies plummeted to new depths. 'You say that you "quite understand" my disappointment', the Soviet leader wrote bitterly to Churchill on June 24th, 1943. 'I must tell you that the point here is not just the disappointment of the Soviet government but the preservation of its confidence in its allies, a confidence which is being subjected to severe stress.' To mark their displeasure, the Russians went so far as to recall their ambassadors from both London and Washington.

Paradoxically, during the autumn of 1943, the Americans thought that the British might be able to secure a further postponement of the cross-Channel invasion as a result of Russian support. Following a decision taken at the Anglo-American summit conference in Quebec in August 1943, British and American forces had invaded the mainland of Italy in September. Mussolini's regime had been overthrown in July and its successor not only surrendered to the allies, but joined them against Germany in October. The Germans were determined to hold out in Italy for as long as possible, however, and it soon became clear that far from being a 'soft belly', the country was an exceedingly tough nut. At a conference of the American, British and Soviet foreign ministers in Moscow in October 1943, the situation was explained to Stalin by the British Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden. Stalin asked point-blank whether this meant a postponement of OVERLORD and did not seem to take offence when told that it might. Moreover, the Russians had expressed a strong interest at the conference in persuading the Turks to enter the war and thereby open up some sort of front in the Balkans. This fitted in with Churchill's ideas of mopping up German-controlled islands in the Aegean and extending help to resistance forces in Greece and Yugoslavia. The head of the US military mission in Moscow reported to his superiors in November that the Russians might attach less importance to OVERLORD than they had done hitherto and that they could even propose action in Italy and the Balkans at its expense.

The issue was settled at the first meeting of the three heads of government at Teheran on November 28th, 1943, when Stalin made it clear that the Russians had not changed their minds about the second front. 'They did not consider that Italy was a suitable place from which to attack Germany proper', he said. '. The best method in the Soviet opinion was getting at the heart of Germany with an attack through northern or northwestern France and even through southern France.' While it would be 'helpful' if Turkey entered the war, the Soviet leader added, 'the Balkans were far from the heart of Germany, and while with Turkish participation operations there would be useful, northern France was still the best.' Faced with a united Russo-American front, the British had no alternative but to give way. The May 1944 date for OVERLORD was reaffirmed and Roosevelt promised to nominate a Commander-in-Chief for the operation within the next few days. As if to symbolise the growing predominance of American military power over that of Britain, he was to come from the United States: General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

OVERLORD was launched on June 6th, 1944, a little later than the original target date, but not enough to make any significant difference. Anglo-American disagreements over strategy continued: first between Churchill and Roosevelt over whether OVERLORD should be accompanied by an invasion of southem France (as the President wanted) or by a drive into Yugoslavia and Austria through the Ljubljana Gap (as the Prime Minister wanted) and later between General Eisenhower and Field-Marshal Montgomery over the relative merits of a broad-fronted assault on Germany (favoured by the American) and a concentrated thrust (favoured by the Briton). On both occasions the American point of view prevailed. Having defied Nazi Germany single-handed in 1940-41, Britain was now very much the junior partner in the alliance which finally brought the Third Reich to its knees.

As the archives were opened, first to the official historians and then to the rest of the academic community, we were able to see the arguments over the second front in a clearer perspective. It was soon conceded, for example, that the British had never been totally opposed to a cross-Channel invasion, as some of their American counterparts had suspected, and that many of the reasons they put forward for its postponement – e.g. the shortage of landing craft – were perfectly genuine. It was not that the British did not want OVERLORD they wanted to ensure that it was a complete success.

By the same token, arguments advanced in the years immediately after the war by such commentators as Hanson Baldwin and Chester Wilmot to the effect that British proposals for operations in the Mediterranean and the Balkans reflected great political sophistication in that they were designed to forestall the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe did not survive the cold light of scholarship. Not only did the British never advocate major operations in the Balkans, but their strategy was not motivated by anti-Soviet considerations, except in the solitary case of Churchill's call for a drive through the Ljubljana Gap in the summer of 1944. Even then he was not supported by his senior military advisers. Moreover, the American insistence upon an early cross-Channel invasion was not as politically naive as these early commentators supposed. The American historian Mark Stoler has shown convincingly that, far from failing to perceive the political consequences of a Soviet military victory, US army planners were well aware of what might happen and argued that the sooner a cross-Channel attack took place, the more chance there would be of preserving some sort of balance of power in post-war Europe.

What of the effects of the dispute over the second front on the Soviet Union? There is no doubt that, from a purely military point of view, the Russians had considerable cause for complaint. Anglo-American operations in northern Africa and Italy were sideshows compared to the cataclysmic struggle taking place on the eastern front. There is no doubt, too, that the Russians were misled by British and American promises about a second front, and it is likely that the repeated postponement of the cross-Channel invasion fed Soviet suspicions that the capitalist powers wanted to see Germans and Russians fight each other to a standstill. As a relatively unknown American senator from Missouri, Harry S. Truman, had put it at the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, 'If we see that Germany is winning we ought to help Russia and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany and that way let them kill as many as possible. ' But even if these Soviet suspicions were correct – and there is no evidence to support them – did they have any moral right to complain? After all, the Soviet Union itself had hoped to benefit from a similar stalemate between Britain, France and Germany in 1939. Privately, the Soviet foreign ministry even justified the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact of August 1939, which had freed Hitler to invade both Poland and western Europe, by 'the need for a war in Europe.' Unfortunately for the Russian people, things did not turn out quite as their leaders had intended.

Geoffrey Warner is Professor of European Humanities at the Open University.


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Midway: Legend & Fact

Halsey followed his instructions to perfection. The next day - May 15, 1942 - an enemy "snooper" appeared on Enterprise's radar, 70 miles out. The plane was allowed to approach. In a short while, Enterprise's intelligence unit overheard a contact report sent by the snooper. Fighters were scrambled, but were unable to intercept the first snooper, nor the several that soon arrived to radio contact reports of their own. Sure that Task Force 16 - and the two carriers - had been sighted and reported, Halsey turned his force due east. The next day, Task Force 16 was ordered to "expedite return" to Pearl Harbor . and to avoid being sighted again.

This ploy, and overly optimistic assessments of Coral Sea, led Japanese intelligence to conclude that three US fleet carriers, at most, were operating in the Pacific: Enterprise, Hornet, and possibly Wasp CV-7. By allowing Halsey's force to be sighted on May 15, Nimitz intended to convince the Japanese that Enterprise and Hornet were deep in the south Pacific, and forestall any operation in that area that Japan might have planned. This, in turn, freed Nimitz to commit both carriers to operations in the north Pacific, over two thousand miles away.

In total, three US carriers stood off Midway on June 4: Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown. (Midway was the first and only battle where the three Yorktown-class carriers fought together.) Halsey and Task Force 16 arrived in Pearl Harbor on May 26, where the ships reprovisioned hurriedly and sortied on May 28 for the north Pacific. Yorktown limped into Pearl on May 27, entering Dry Dock #1 the next day. Nimitz himself personally inspected the weary carrier before telling the yard manager, "We must have this ship back in three days." She was. Early May 30, battered, patched, but battleworthy, Yorktown stood out of Pearl Harbor, bringing up the rear of Task Force 17, RADM Fletcher commanding.

Task Forces 16 and 17 rendezvoused on June 2 northeast of Midway, at a spot of empty ocean optimistically designated "Point Luck". At that time, RADM Fletcher assumed tactical command of the combined force, for VADM Halsey, Fletcher's senior and normally commander of Task Force 16, was ill. Unrelenting stress and sweltering days in the south Pacific had given Halsey a severe case of dermatitis. Gaunt and sleep-deprived, Halsey had been admitted to the hospital, but not before recommending his own replacement: Rear Admiral Raymond Ames Spruance.

Halsey and Spruance had little in common. Halsey wore aviator's wings, Spruance was strictly a surface sailor. Halsey commanded a carrier force, Spruance commanded cruisers. Halsey was a fiery, aggressive leader, Spruance cool and reserved. But Halsey respected Spruance's judgement, and Spruance's cruisers had operated closely with Halsey's carriers for months. Moreover, Spruance "inherited" most of Halsey's able staff, including CDR Miles Browning: arguably the most aggressive carrier tactician in the Pacific at that time. At Midway, Spruance, commanding TF-16, was formally subordinate to RADM Fletcher. As events transpired, however, with few exceptions Spruance called the shots.

"The enemy is not aware of our plans." - VADM Chuichi Nagumo
"I anticipate that first contact will be made by our search planes out of Midway at 0600 Midway time, 4 June, 325 degrees northwest at a distance of 175 miles." - Captain Edwin T. Layton

In the days before June 4, evidence grew that Pacific Fleet Intelligence had pulled off a major intelligence coupe. Though the Kido Butai - Japan's "Carrier Striking Force" - had not yet been located, Midway-based planes had made numerous contacts with other Japanese units, including transports approaching from the southeast. Midway PBYs had even scored a torpedo hit on one of the transports shortly before 0200 June 4 (Midway time) [1] . And as predicted, the Japanese had struck at Dutch Harbor and other points in the Aleutian islands on June 3, a diversion intended to draw the American fleet out of Pearl Harbor.

Expecting four or five Japanese carriers to close Midway from the northwest, Nimitz's Operations Plan 29-42 - detailing the defense of Midway - directed Fletcher and Spruance to operate northeast of Midway, on the flank of the anticipated enemy thrust. Fletcher and Spruance were to avoid placing themselves between the enemy and Midway, and instead "inflict maximum damage on enemy by employing strong attrition tactics." In a separate letter, Nimitz continued: "You will be governed by the principle of calculated risk, which you shall interpret to mean the avoidance of exposure of your force to attack by superior enemy forces without good prospect of inflicting . greater damage on the enemy."

Dawn on the fourth of June found RADM Fletcher concerned by the lack of information about the enemy's disposition. That an attack on Midway was imminent there was no doubt, but the whereabouts of the enemy's carriers remained unknown. With battle expected, Enterprise's crews had awakened at 0130, taking breakfast between 0300 and 0400, before the pilots and airmen settled in their ready rooms to await instruction. Shortly before dawn, Yorktown launched ten VS-5 [2] SBD-3s to search north of the US fleet, to a distance of 100 miles. While the Japanese were expected to approach Midway from the northwest, Fletcher wanted to be sure his own flanks were secure. Operating some 200 miles north-northeast of Midway, Fletcher was confident the Japanese could not be to the south, nor did he expect them to launch a strike against Midway from more than 300 miles out: i.e., 100 miles north of his own force.

Fletcher was not alone in searching for the Japanese that morning. On Midway, sixteen B-17s had taken off at 0415 to attack enemy transports approaching from the west, and 22 PBYs had set out to find the Japanese carriers. Those carriers, in turn, were now just 240 miles northwest of the atoll - 215 miles west of Task Forces 16 and 17 - and readying their first strike. Under the command of Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, Kaga, Akagi, Soryu and Hiryu prepared 108 planes for launch: 36 Type 99 dive bombers (later known as "Vals"), 36 Type 97 level bombers ("Kates"), and 36 Type 00 fighters ("Zeroes") as escort. Their target was Midway: their mission to soften the atoll's defenses and eliminate its air strength. The planes were in the air by 0440, when work immediately began on arming an additional 105 aircraft, to strike any American ships that might interfere. Cruisers Tone and Chikuma, and battleship Haruna launched float planes to search for an enemy task force. No naval opposition was expected, however.


Midway Atoll, looking west, November 1941. Eastern Island is in the foreground, Sand Island is behind.

For the pilots in the ready rooms of Enterprise and her sister ships, time seemed to slow to a crawl as they awaited word of the enemy carriers. An hour had passed since Yorktown had launched her SBDs when Task Force 16 intercepted a brief, electrifying message from a Midway PBY at 0534: "Enemy carriers." Long minutes passed without amplification. At 0553, a second PBY radioed "Many planes heading Midway". Clearly the Japanese were out there, but where? Finally, at 0603, nearly half an hour after the original message, a solid contact report was received: "2 carriers and battleships bearing 320° distance 180 course 135 speed 25."

Quick calculations placed the Japanese 175 miles west-southwest from the US task forces. (In fact, the PBY report was in error: the Kido Butai was nearly 200 miles distant.) In Yorktown, Fletcher wondered where the other enemy carriers might be. If he tipped his hand now, launching a full strike against the two carriers the PBY had spotted, he left himself vulnerable to a counterstrike from the other carriers he suspected were out there. Instead, Fletcher decided to hold Yorktown in reserve, and at 0607 instructed Spruance's Task Force 16: "Proceed southwesterly and attack enemy carriers as soon as definitely located."

[1] All times in this article are Midway time: GMT minus 12 hours.

[2] Yorktown's original VS-5 (Scouting Five) had been relieved after Coral Sea. Immediately before Midway, VB-5 (Bombing Five) was redesignated VS-5, and Saratoga's VB-3 took VB-5's place.


THIS IS SARNIA

THE BIG thing about the small city of Sarnia, Ontario, is its astonishing versatility. The population of the city proper is about 18,500. Point Edward, an adjoining suburb, adds another 1,200. The Dominion census of 1931 ranked Sarnia eighteenth among Ontario’s twenty-eight cities, tucking it in snugly between Stratford (17,742) and Sudbury (18,518). Yet this seemingly unimpressive community is a leading lake port, an oil depot of importance not only to the Dominion but to the Empire, a tourist gateway for all midland Canada, a main railroad divisional point, a large producer of salt and salt derivatives, and a valuable farm market. Sarnia has brass and iron foundries, an agricultural machinery factory, a structural steel mill and a huge grain elevator. Plainly the magnitude and diversity of its activities raise Sarnia to a position of consequence far above its population rating.

Geography has had a great deal to do with this city’s heterogeneous development. Sarnia sits at the southernmost tip of Lake Huron where the lake waters flow swiftly into the St. Clair river. It is a border city, with Port Huron, metropolis of that northward reaching section of the state of Michigan called by its people “The Thumb,” as its opposite number. The relationship of Sarnia to Port Huron is similar to that of Windsor to Detroit. Like Windsor, Sarnia has a famous bridge linking the Canadian and the United States communities. Also like Windsor, a railroad tunnel beneath the river carries passenger and freight traffic across the border. Sarnia has no vehicular tunnel, nor is there any particular need for one. The Blue Water Bridge takes care of all the surface travel—and there’s a lot of it—with room to spare.

Further than this, north of Sarnia the Lake Huron shoreline on the Canadian side stretches for more than two hundred miles to Tobermory and Flower Pot Island National Park, at the peak of the Bruce Peninsula between the lake and the Georgian Bay. This is a grand vacation land containing such famed summer resorts as Forest, Grand Bend, Goderich, Kincardine, Southampton, Wiarton and Owen Sound. Attractive, safe bathing beaches abound. Every style of fishing for almost every fresh-water fish found in Canadian lakes and streams is easily available lake trout, salmon trout, speckled trout and brown trout bass, perch and pike. In the fall the country is equally prolific in hunting opportunities. There’s a golf course every few miles.

Most of the scenery is well worth looking at for a long time. Geological marvels excite scientists and cause laymen to marvel. At Kettle Point, a few miles above Sarnia, large numbers of almost perfectly spherical rocks of calcite are imbedded in light shale. Nobody seems to know exactly how the “kettles” came there, or when. Around Tobermory high and turbulent waters over the centuries have undercut rock formations to create fantastic “flower pots.” Similar processes on the east shore of the peninsula have carved the “lion’s head” that gives its name to a village.

It is easy to see why tourists encouraged by urbane and persuasive advertising swarm through Sarnia into Canada from practically every state in the union, during the season, and why hundreds of American families own or rent summer cottages in the Sarnia district.

The city’s location at the border and on a main railway line linking Montreal and Toronto with Detroit and Chicago also is responsible for the presence in Sarnia of important Canadian National Railways shops and yards employing something like a thousand men the year round. Again the lake-water route from ports on lakes Superior and Huron to Erie and Ontario follow the St. Clair river, so pass Sarnia. Passenger and freight ships dock and load at this

port as long as navigation remains open. Salt, coal, petroleum and lumber are transshipped east and west. Grain is broken out at Sarnia for forwarding by rail and lower lakes steamers. Waterfront activities employ many hundreds.

ANOTHER factor contributing to the growth and aspect of Sarnia is the unusual soil and subsoil conditions found in the district, especially on the east and northeast. Here is flat country, easy to cultivate and peculiarly adapted to the growing of root crops and green vegetables, especially celery. Under the top soil great salt beds stretch along the river bank from above Sarnia to below Windsor. Market gardening therefore has been built into one major

industry, while salt production and refining has grown into another.

And near by is oil—or rather, near by there used to be oil. Petrolia. Oil City, Oil Springs and Wyoming, all of them famous oil camps in the middle of the nineteenth century, lie grouped together in Lambton County within a few miles of Sarnia. The oil-bearing sands of this area have long since been depleted, but there was production from open pits, and an oil well had been drilled at Oil Springs, before the celebrated Drake well was struck in Pennsylvania, and for many years the oil boom caused roaring, rowdy camps to spring up in overnight mushroom growths populated by rugged individualistsprospectors, drillers, mechanics, promoters. Some of them were honest working men, others were roistering buccaneers.

From such hybrid beginnings the Canadian oil industry grew up, organized itself, and put on the garments of respectability. In 1880, seven independent oil producing concerns operating in the Petrolia district were amalgamated in the first Imperial Oil Company. Included in the merger were J. S. Englehart and Company, F. A. Fitzgerald and Company, W. Spencer and Sons, Waterman Brothers, Geary, Minhennick and Company, T. D. and E. Hod gins and Walker and Smallman. F. A. Fitzgerald was the first president of the new company, J. S. Englehart was vice-president and W. M. Spencer secretary. The paid up capital was recorded as the modest sum of $500,000.

By this time it was apparent that there was little oil left in “them thar’ sands,” and headquarters of the company was established at Sarnia because of the port facilities there offered. Today, after sixty years of operation, Imperial Oil's largest refinery is still at Sarnia, and it is ranked as the biggest in the British Empire. The plant covers a score of acres, employs something like 1,600 workers the year round. Imperial’s main pipe line from U. S. oil fields comes into the city underneath the St. Clair river. The refinery has the capacity to process 33,000 barrels of crude oil daily, while its tanks, the largest ones holding as much as 84,000 barrels each, can handle a combined total of 4,(XX),000 barrels. There never was a producing oil well in Sarnia, but here again the city’s fortuitous geographical location has operated to drop an industry of major importance into its lap.

Tourists, shipping, oil refining and the railroad shops, then, constitute Sarnia’s chief commercial interests but the industrial roll call does not stop there by any means. Several branches of leading United States firms flourish in Sarnia—geography again. There is a Sarnia plant of Mueller, Limited, an internationally famous brass and copper foundry. Electric Auto-Lite, Canadian offspring of a Toledo, Ohio, parent, employs around three hundred and fifty workers at Sarnia the year round. The John Goodison Thresher plant is at Sarnia, and so is the LaidlawBelton Lumber Company. The Union Gas Company sells natural gas and its by-products. The Holmes Foundry Company is a busy iron works, and the Sarnia Bridge Company produces structural steel. Dominion Salt finds regular employment for seventy-five workers. Other leading industries include the H. H. Robertson Company, Doherty Manufacturing Company, Superior Products. Limited, and the Mac Craft Corporation. Between them the Sarnia Hydro-Electric System, the Hydro-Electric Power Commission of Ontario and the Rural Power System, keep about sixty men and women at work.

The face of Sarnia as a stranger first sees it may be attractive or otherwise, depending largely upon the method of that stranger’s approach. When, in the 1860’s, the old Great Western Railway extended its tracks from Ixmdon to the St. Clair river, Sarnia was hardly more than a market town and a ferry crossing. The surveyors placed the railway station at a point convenient for the farmers and the produce shippers. Since then the city has grown away from the station, spreading itself out north and west along the river bank. So it has come about that trains of the Canadian National Railways, today set down their passengers in what at first sight appears to be the middle of an open prairie. One peers around and sees first a slice of Imperial Oil’s broad acreage in front of the platform and the C.N.R. shops, yard, and roundhouse at the western end of the station. Beyond these prosaic examples of industrial architecture there is nothing in sight but a few straggling streets of scattered small houses, mostly of frame construction. A man of morose mind might well say to himself, after one shuddering look at the drab picture: “So this is

Sarnia!” and hasten to catch the next train back to the place from whence he came.

It takes a drive of about a mile and a half to bring the visitor from Sarnia railway station into downtown Sarnia. A much better way to enter is over Highway Twenty-two, known locally as the London Road. This route carries one directly to the heart of the city through one of the older residential districts, where prosperous homes and stately trees line broad streets. A new express highway—Number Seven—now under construction will some day link Toronto and Hamilton directly with the Sarnia entrance to the Blue Water Bridge by way of London, but as things are now, Twenty-two is first choice.

Visitors from the U.S. have the best of the deal. They come in high over the city by way of the bridge and all the bustling waterfront activities are spread beneath them. The bridge entrance is attractively landscaped with brilliant flowerbeds. You are in Sarnia almost before you know it, chatting with neat, courteous young guides at the information booths.

Physically, Sarnia is a mixture of natural beauty and a rather dreary materialism. It has lovely parks—a hundred and seventy-five acres of them—especially the really beautiful Canatara Park, located on Lake Huron just beyond Point Edward. There are twenty miles of white sandy beaches along the lakeshore and a number of fine residences. The Sarnia Yacht Club is a thriving institution and a popular anchorage for sail and power boats of both nations. The waters of Lake Huron really are blue, far more so than those of Ontario and Erie, and strong currents running deep below the surface keep the water clear.

As well as the older residential sections of the London Road, North Vidal and North Brock streets, a new development in the Watson Road area offers numerous examples of smart, modern home construction.

The strictly commercial and business aspects of Sarnia are less comely. The downtown retail section is lively enough. Christina and Front streets and their connecting blocks, Cromwell and I^ochiel, are gay with jaunty garnishes of neon lights and colored glass fronts. All the big chains are represented here, together with flourishing local department stores. Specialty shops offer as complete a range of jewelry, leather goods, English china and suchlike tourist lures as may be found anywhere in the country and there are very, very few vacant business places. But the community is not so happy in the matter of its public buildings. Sarnia’s city hall is a square gaunt structure of dull redbrick, with no architectural charm. The post-office is only slightly better, since it is an old stone building in the heavily ornamented style favored by designers of governmental pantheons forty years ago.

Nor has the city a thoroughly modern hotel. There are half a dozen good, substantially-comfortable hostelries in Sarnia. They serve excellent meals and some of them have had recent additions, but no completely new hotel has been built in the community since the days when every bedroom was equipped with a rope fire escape, by law. The big industrial plants are scattered, some in the south end of the city, others in the north. You may walk two or three blocks from the best residential sections and bump your surprised nose against a factory wall.

The most shapely piece of important construction at Sarnia is the Blue Water Bridge the most solidly imposing, the huge concrete grain elevator. It is as though the community had long ago determined that it was to be a utilitarian city as though the earlier residents who built the place had said: “Nature has surrounded us with

beauty. So far as this town is concerned we are strictly business. No fancy stuff.”

Present-day Sarnians freely confess these shortcomings. They intend, as soon as circumstances are favorable, to do something about them. At the moment, like the rest of us, they are concerned chiefly with getting on with the war but there is ample evidence in the sum of Sarnia’s accomplishments during the past few years to justify the confident prediction that when the right moment arrives the city will do what has to be done to modernize its public buildings. A more thoroughly community-conscious population does not exist in the Dominion.

/V CONSPICUOUS example of Sarnia’s strong community spirit is the Blue Water Highway Association, twenty-one years old this summer. The original idea sprang from the alert mind of the late George France, a former secretary of the Sarnia Chamber of Commerce. Mr. France must have been a man of exceptional prescience, for he anticipated a large volume of tourist traffic from the United States long before anyone else seems to have figured it out.

The Blue Water Highway Association was formed in 1920, with Johnston MacAdams as president and George France as secretary. This was the first tourist association in Canada and its initial publication, called “Motoramble”—France seems to have had a special aptitude for names—was tne first tourist booklet, addressed exclusively to the automobile trade, issued in this country. During the 1920 season something like 3,500 cars crossed the St. Clair river to Sarnia on the ferries. In 1939 more than 60,000 cars entered Canada over the Blue Water Bridge, with a declared intention of remaining for thirty days or more. Guests of Canada were checked at Sarnia from thirty-eight of the forty-eight states in the Union, all of them carrying Blue Water Highway publications they had received in their home towns. Seventy-one per cent of the cars bore Michigan licenses. Other leading contributors were New York, Illinois, Ohio, and California, in that order.

For nineteen years Colonel C. S. Woodrow, of Sarnia, was president of the Blue Water Highway Association, and for ten years of that period, W. D. Ferguson, also of Sarnia, was secretary-treasurer. Both now occupy honorary positions. The 1941 president is Mr. G. L. Parsons, of Goderich, the secretary-treasurer Mr. Carl Manore, of Sarnia. Membership in the Association is now held by municipalities as far east as Orillia.

Representing, as it does, so many associated but separate municipalities covering so large a territory, the Blue Water organization is able to obtain special consideration from the provincial government. Several small provincial parks and park sites have been established along the Blue Water Highway, offering tourists who feel like playing gypsy convenient and pleasant picnic grounds in the open air. At Ipperwash Beach, a provincial park a few miles north of Sarnia that is also an Indian reservation, the government has obligingly established an eight mile patrolled speedway over hard packed sand

providing a novel attraction for car owners who feel the urge to find out just how fast the old bus really can travel a sort of vest-pocket Daytona Beach.

Canatara Park affords yet another instance of Sarnia’s strong community spirit, although in this case the special significance lies in the generosity of a Sarnia resident rather than in any concerted movement on the part of associated interests. To a large degree Samians owe the existence of this particular beauty spot on their western borders to Mrs. W. J. Hanna, widow of the Hon. W. J. Hanna, who was Dominion Food Controller during the first Great War, a former Ontario cabinet minister and one time president of the Imperial Oil Company. Some years ago Mrs. Hanna offered to share equally with the municipality in the purchase of the land now occupied by Canatara Park. The offer was accepted then the city purchased other land adjoining the original gift in order to extend the park’s boundaries. Again Mrs. Hanna shared the cost with the city. Later, when still more acreage in the park district came on the market, Mrs. Hanna bought that also and gave it to the community. Heavily wooded, with a 3,000-foot frontage on the lake, fine beach, a pavilion, picnic and playground facilities, Canatara now is a resort famous for miles around. Every summer thousands of Americans cross the bridge from Port Huron for a day’s relaxation in Sarnia’s finest public park.

The three-million-bushel grain elevator that is so prominent a landmark on

Sarnia’s waterfront is, in a way, a community enterprise and a tribute to the city’s faith in its own future. The structure was built at a cost of $1,000,000 by the Sarnia Elevator Company, but the city issued the bonds to help finance the venture and has agreed to shoulder any charges above earnings that come up against it. Sarnia folks wanted a grain elevator, so they went out and got themselves a grain elevator. Like that. With recent additions and equipment, it is one of the most complete units of its kind in the country, has corn drying facilities, and can handle efficiently all types of grain.

"K /TOST impressive of all the community enterprises to be found at Sarnia is the Blue Water Bridge, a four-way community undertaking on an international scale. The Dominion of Canada, the United States, the Province of Ontario and the State of Michigan all contributed toward the construction of this imposing link between the two nations. It is a steeland-concrete cantilever structure, more than 8,000 feet long—or about a mile and a half—with a main central span 1,576 feet in overall length, and 150 feet above the water. The bridge, begun in June, 1937, saw its opening ceremony with high dignitaries of both countries in attendance, drums beating and banners flying, on October 10, 1938. It is a toll bridge maintained and operated, under a stateprovincial agreement, by the State Bridge Commission of Michigan.

Before the bridge was there, folks in Port Huron who wished to go to Sarnia and folks in Sarnia who wished to go to Port Huron had to take a ferry, unless they owned a yacht, a motorboat, or were exceptionally strong swimmers. The coming of the bridge has brought about a much closer relationship between the two neighbors, and it has to be admitted that Sarnia has probably benefited to a greater degree than Port Huron, since the bulk of the travel originates on the U. S. side. Seventy-four per cent of the bridge tolls are paid by Americans, twenty-six per cent by Canadians. Those were the figures for the summer of 1939, under normal conditions, before war was declared. In the first two years of operation more than 2,000,000 persons used the bridge. July, 1939, showed the biggest flood of traffic in a single month, with 59,976 cars crossing. The Bridge Commission operates ’a bus service between the two cities. The ferries have been discontinued. Bridge traffic now exceeds the ferry traffic of the old days by sixty per cent.

Compared with some cities in other sections of Ontario, Sarnia is not old. This part of the province was off the main Indian trails, and the fur trade went to Detroit. Although Huron encampments undoubtedly existed in the district before the white man came—there is still an Indian reservation adjacent to the city’s southern boundary line, besides the one at Ipperwash Beach—few colonists settled in Sarnia until about the middle of the nine-

teenth century. The community has grown slowly, the nearest thing to a boom in its history coming with the discovery of oil in the Petrolia area. As late as 1911 the population was less than 10,000 people. Sarnia has come along with its industries, with the development of railroad and lake steamship traffic and especially, in recent years, with the arrival of the automobile and the consequent construction of modern highway networks.

The municipal administiation is made up of a mayor and eight aldermen. The present mayor, serving his second term, is John T. Bames, a foreman with the Sarnia Bridge Company. They take their local politics seriously in Sarnia. Three former mayors are at present serving the city as aldermen. Civic departments are managed by committees, and since there are just about as many committees as there are aldermen, each alderman gets a department of his own to supervise as chairman of a committee. There is a separate hospital commission with municipal representation, but beyond city hall control.

Notable among Sarnia’s permanent

civic officials is Miss M. D. Stewart, the city clerk, who probably knows more about municipal affairs than any mere man

connected with them, and with good

reason. More than twenty years ago Miss Stewart’s father was city clerk. It was his custom to take his daughter down to the city hall and show her the wheels going round. Later she became a sort of volunteer helper, then a paid assistant. By the time City Clerk Stewart was ready to retire it was obvious to all that no one was so well fitted to succeed him as his daughter, and she was appointed by acclamation, amid loud applause. She

has been there ever since, working loyally in that woefully unattractive city hall on behalf of her fellow Sarnians. The community spirit again.

FINANCIALLY, Sarnia is able to state proudly that it is as sound as a good red apple. Since 1935 the city’s debenture debt has been reduced each year, while cash reserves have shown a corresponding increase. Results, for the five-year period: Debenture debt decrease, $876,928 cash reserve increase, $187,478. Additionally, it should be recorded that of the $1,094,438 present debenture debt total, $474,061 is self-liquidating and not a charge on the taxpayers.

Naturally the tax rate has decreased. It was 40.5 mills in 1935. In 1940 it was 34 mills.

Biggest Sarnia overhead expenditure last year was $15,000 for paving, paid out of current taxes. There is little unemployment, and relief costs—also paid out of current taxes—are greatly reduced, City Treasurer W. W. Simpson states.

Veteran head of the Sarnia police department is Chief W. J. Lannin. John Anderson is chief of the fire department. Everybody calls John Anderson “Jake.” Public schools in Sarnia have an enrolment of better than 2,500 pupils in all grades. The Sarnia Collegiate and Technical Institute has around 1,300 students in its classrooms.

Another municipally sponsored and financed enterprise Sarnians enjoy talking about is their water supply system, and here again the city’s geographical situation has worked to its eminent advantage. Pure water is pumped from the main deep stream of Lake Huron at the point where it flows into the St. Clair river. Here the current runs swiftly at five miles an hour. The intake is fifty feet below the surface, the supply inexhaustible. Water is sold on a sliding scale basis, beginning at sixteen cents per thousand gallons for the first 25,000 gallons and dropping to the minimum of six cents for 2,000,000 gallons and up. The low rates and assured volume are especially attractive to industries requiring large quantities of water.

Hydro-electric power, too, is cheap in

Sarnia. Because of the load at this point rates are appreciably less than those prevailing in other communities in the hydro district, of comparable size.

Sarnia’s population is predominantly British or British Canadian, although there is a larger proportion of foreign-born residents than might be found in some other cities, drawn to Sarnia by its heavy industries. Beverage rooms in the city prominently display notices like this:

The Management prohibits the use of any language other than

ENGLISH and FRENCH on the Premises God Save the King

In these difficult times such a warning may well be no more than a wise precaution.

There’s plenty of work in Sarnia. A bulletin issued last October reported that four hundred more people were engaged in industry than on the same date in 1939, and indicated that one hundred more would be added to industrial payrolls before the end of the year. It is an openshop town, but labor disputes are of rare occurrence and the labor market is exceptionally stable.

Sarnia possesses an alert Chamber of Commerce organization of which J. A. Smith is president, and Homer Lockhart, a real-estate and insurance agent is secretary-manager. On a directorate of twelve, six serve for two-year terms. The Chamber has special functions making it slightly different from most other similar civic bodies. It is, of course, an enthusiastic collaborator with the Blue Water Highway Association and a persistent cheer leader for the tourist trade but it is also—and this is unusual—the official agency for issuing automobile licenses in Lambton County. More unusual still, the Sarnia Chamber of Commerce has a net surplus of assets over liabilities, and money in the bank. The car licenses largely account for this happy state of affairs. In 1939, commissions from this source brought $2,275 into the Chamber’s treasury, and that was just $205 more than the receipts from membership fees. A perfect friendship exists between the Chamber of Commerce and the municipal authorities. "We get one hundred per cent co-operation from the city hall,” Homer Lockhart told us. Mr. Lockhart himself was Mayor of Sarnia in 1933.

SARNIA folks are not afraid to experiment. Five years ago the local building trades were in the deep dumps. Nobody was thinking about putting up so much as a woodshed. The Chamber of Commerce took matters in hand, made plans for a Builders’ Show and invited Sarnia contractors and supply firms to exhibit. Everything that goes into the construction of a modern home or business premises was on hand for the public to look at. Bricklayers laid brick, concrete mixers poured concrete insulation, heating refrigeration, air-conditioning and decorating experts did their stuff before admiring audiences. The undertaking was so successful that it became an annual winter-season feature. There have been an average of fifty new houses a year built in Sarnia during the past four years. Homer Lockhart admits that maybe the Builders’ Show has had something to do with this.

For its local news Sarnia depends upon the admirable Canadian Observer, an afternoon daily evolved from two or three amalgamations. It is no easy matter to publish a daily newspaper successfully in territory wide open to competition from such cities as Ixrndon, Hamilton, Toronto and Detroit. Across the river there is the Port Huron Times Herald. The two seem to get along amiably. When the Canadian Observer goes to press with a special edition there will be a fair representation of Port Huron firms among its advertisers, and Sarnia merchants buy space in the Times

Herald. It’s all very nice and neighborly.

Band music is popular in Sarnia. The Pressy Band, sponsored by a local transport company, has earned a province-wide reputation, winning medals and cups at most of the big band festivals, including the Canadian National Exhibition. There is also a City Band, now doing duty as a military organization. Petrolia, too, has an excellent band of its own that makes trips into Sarnia when there are doings calling for martial airs.

The city possesses the usual complement of motion-picture houses, the more modern ones air-conditioned, and an assortment of dance pavilions, out of doors for summer, enclosed in winter. There are riding stables, tennis, bowling and badminton clubs, a private eighteen-hole golf course and two pay-as-you-play courses. The most popular winter sport is curling with skating second. Sarnia lacks an enclosed hockey rink, so there is no Sarnia entry in the Ontario Hockey Association, and that seems a pity because it is a good sport town. Smaller communities have produced championship teams.

On the playing fields Sarnia is nationally renowned for her football teams, first sponsored some years back by Imperial Oil Employees Social and Athletic Association. The Sarnia Football Club for many seasons held a prominent place in eastern Canadian football. They had great teams, skilfully coached, and they won Ontario Rugby Football Union championships with almost monotonous regularity. They picked off several Eastern Canadian championships, too, for good measure. Last season, because of the stress of war conditions, the Imperial Oil people withdrew their support, at least temporarily, and many of the more experienced players were not available. Undismayed, Sarnia entered a Sarnia Battery, C.A.S.F. team in the O.R.F.U., and although the Battery fumbled its try for a title, the boys made a most creditable showing. Make no mistake about it, there’ll be another Sarnia football club plunging through to championships as soon as the more pressing business immediately on hand is successfully disposed of.

Actually, there is a great deal more to Sarnia than a casual inspection would reveal. The community has proved that, when challenged, it is capable of doing really big things. An Imperial Oil man told us about a Sarnia football fan back in the days when the Sarnia team was new and the haughty older clubs were disposed to rate it as merely a freshman outfit. Sarnia played an exhibition game with Montreal—and won it handily. As the final whistle blew the man from Sarnia, bursting with civic pride, rose to his feet and, turning to face the crowded stands held up both arms for attention:

"Think of it,” he bellowed. “Think of it. A little town of eighteen thousand whamming the tar out of a great. . .big . . . metter-op-olis.”

That’s the old Sarnia spirit.

"CMELLING SALTS are returning to

& favor” is the word from perfumers. Actually, smelling salts have never gone out of favor. Because the nerves in the nose are the most sensitive of the entire body, smelling salts have a definitely beneficial neurological and physiological effect. Smelling salts are merely a combination of ammonia salts, ammonia, and lavender scent. You don’t have to use a lavender scent, but it’s the most popular. A faint tincture of kerosene would do just as well, if you preferred !

A large manufacturer of smelling salts conducted a test sales campaign not long ago, and discovered that their greatest sales appeal was for headache relief close behind was the appeal to sleepy drivers trying to stay awake, and to the average working girl who suffers from "three o’clock fatigue.”—Parade.


Kyiv. June 22, 1941

Seventy years later, the most significant events of the World War II, traditionally extolled by Soviet propaganda emerge in a different light. Today, one can repeat propaganda adages, as well as come up with new data, making it public knowledge, offering one’s concepts. Undoubtedly, some — stubborn, Soviet brainwashed — individuals will be outraged by any such expose. Below I will try to describe only several days of the Ukrainian capital’s life at the time, relying on official documents, memoirs, and my family recollections.

On the evening of June 21, 1941, Lieutenant General Maksim Purkaiev, chief of staff, Kyiv Special Military District, called Georgy Zhukov, chief of General Staff of the Workers and Peasants’ Red Army, reporting that a defector, a Feldwebel of the Wehrmacht, had given himself up to a Red Army border guard outpost and informed that German troops were in position to invade Soviet territory on the morning of June 22.

That same night, the Soviet military districts received Directive No.1. In compliance therewith, at 03.00 a.m., the antiaircraft artillery pieces and [truck-mounted] Maxim quad machineguns, serving as small-caliber antiaircraft weapons, were manned by crews of the Third Antiaircraft Division. At 03.10 a.m., Kyiv-based night fighters were on red alert. At dawn, the commanders of the 2nd and 43rd Fighter Regiments ordered a squadron airborne each on blue alert missions. The civilian population, of course, didn’t have the slightest idea about what was happening. People were sleeping in their homes, knowing that the following day they would attend the ceremony of opening the Nikita Khrushchev Stadium (currently the Olympic Complex to host 2012 soccer events).

As reinforcements for the aircraft already airborne, six Polikarpov-1-16 fighters of the 255th Fighter Regiment and five Chaika-1-153 ones of the 2nd Fighter Regiment took off from the airfield in Borodianka. Six rivercraft of the Pinsk Flotilla, deployed on the Dnipro near Kyiv, received battle stations orders.

Unlike the frontier military districts, where a number of Red Army officers were confused by contradictory prewar directives and, fearing purges, hesitated before giving combat orders, the artillery guns in Kyiv opened fire at the sight of the aggressor.

On the morning of June 22, 1941, the aircraft of the 4th Luftwaffe Fleet hit Target No. 12, Kyiv, dropping bombs on peaceful city districts, production and military facilities, including the NKVD barracks, the military college in the Pechersk downtown district, Bilshovyk Engineering Works, power plants, Aircraft Plant No. 43, railroad station, the airfields at Boryspil, Hoholiv, Hostomel, Zhuliany, and Kyiv Airport in Brovary (destroying the main building).

Red Army pilots reported large groups of enemy aircraft scattered by fighter attacks and antiaircraft fire, so that only separate enemy planes actually hit the target.

I was four years old at the time. My parents and my elder brother Hryhorii were awakened by unusual sounds and watched from a window of a high-rise apartment building at 14 Kruhlouniversytetska St. all those Chaika 1-153 biplanes fly with AAA shells exploding all around them. This made my father assume it was a dress rehearsal of the sports event (traditionally every such event was largely a military show) scheduled for June 22. But then the phone rang. It was my father’s friend who lived in Podil. “It’s war! They’re bombing Podil!” he shouted.

According to official statistics, 22 people were killed and 76 wounded that morning in Kyiv. Among those killed were Bilshovyk workers, as one of the bombs hit the iron foundry. The next day the engineering plant witnessed a rally of mourning and patriotism and then 17 coffins were carried to a civilian cemetery in the Lukianivka city district. During the burial the lid on one of the coffin suddenly moved. Foundry worker Ivan Makhynia, presumed dead, turned out to be severely concussed and came to moments before being buried alive.

That morning bombs also exploded on Kozlovska St. and my brother went there to watch ruined buildings, huge bomb craters, with feathers from ripped pillows still flying around. Eyewitness accounts mention other bombing sites on the first day of the war in Kyiv: near the underground headquarters of the KyUR (acronym for the Kyiv Fortified Area) in Sviatoshyn and on Povitroflotske Shose Avenue, where presumably the Kyiv Special Military District Command (KSMDC) HQ was located in a basement of the Engineering Construction Institute.

There are stories about a Luftwaffe plane shot down over the Grave of Askold and that the pilot parachuted, was captured and brought to the KSMDC HQ at 11 Bankova St. This is hearsay, considering that the first German plane, a Ju-88, was shot out of the sky with the first round from a 76.2 mm AAA gun on board the monitor Verny. What was left of the plane was photographed by war correspondents. These photos were carried by many periodicals and are now history textbook illustrations.

The official radio announcement alerting the population to the beginning of war came at noon, eight hours after the German invasion. It was made by People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov in Moscow. He said, in part: “German troops attacked our country, attacked our borders at many points and bombed from their airplanes our cities: Zhytomyr, Kyiv, Sevastopol, Kaunas and some others, killing and wounding over two hundred persons.” Over two hundred. Exactly how many?

“The dawn of June 22, 1941, brought what the Soviet people were scared even to ponder – the beginning of a great war and great suffering. The stunning news… split up national history into three epochs, the prewar, wartime, and postwar ones,” writes the historian, Mykhailo Koval.

Rumored at first as some large-scale military exercise, the harsh reality dawned on people long before the official announcement.

Fedir Khudiakov, a resident of Kyiv, recalls hearing a peasant woman say at a bazaar that morning: “That’s no military exercise, that’s war! We were on the train passing through Post-Volynsky and we saw those planes dropping bombs, I saw them explode and watched killed and wounded people being carried on stretchers.”

Koval quotes from Olena Skriabyna’s diary: “Molotov’s speech sounded hesitant, with pauses, then he would speak quickly as though short of breath. His encouraging words sounded absolutely empty. The instant impression was that a huge monster was slowly approaching you, paralyzing everyone with fear. After hearing it I ran out on the street. The city was panic-stricken. People would meet, exchange a few words and then rush to the nearest store to buy everything they could lay their hands on. People were running up and down the streets. Many dashed to the local savings bank offices to draw everything they had on their accounts, but payments had been suspended. Then by the evening everything became unnaturally quiet, as though everyone had hidden from the terrifying reality.”

Toward the end of that day Zhukov was in Kyiv, visiting Khrushchev on Mykhailivska Square, where the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine was then located. The Kyiv Special Military District was reorganized as the Southwestern Front and placed under the command of Colonel General Mykhailo Kyrponos. Its headquarters was in Ternopil.

On June 23, Pravda carried the program article “The Great Patriotic War” by Yemelian Yaroslavsky (Minei Gubelman). From then on this would be the official Soviet appellation of the war between Germany and the Soviet Union. The article appeared in other newspapers that came off the presses on Tuesday, June 24 (Pravda was the only one to be published on Mondays, with all the others having a day off). All newspapers carried the front-page Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on mobilization binding on “all citizens liable for call-up, born in 1905 through 1918.” June 23, 1941, became the first mobilization day.

Although the decree clearly stated the military age, my father (born in 1902) was drafted on June 23, as were some of our relatives born in 1901, even in 1898. Our family archives that survived the Nazi occupation show that on Monday, June 23, 1941, my father was issued a certificate at his place of work to the effect that he was relieved of his job owing to enrollment in “a course of training with the Workers and Peasants’ Red Army,” and that he had received severance pay in full and issued government bonds and his record of employment. That same day he went to the local recruiting office at a secondary school at 1 Darwin St., where he presented the certificate.

There is also a certificate my mother received from the Lenin District Military Registration and Enlistment Office, dated July 10, 1941, to the effect that her husband “Comrade V.F. Malakov, army officer in reserve with the Lenin District MREO, has been drafted into the WPRA under the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR of June 23, 1941.” On the reverse side, head of the MREO finance department, wrote: “Paid 250 rubles for three dependents for July, as per Order No. 242 of the People’s Commissariat of Defense.” The same sum was paid in June when the term “dependent” was no longer used.

Such official documents show how older men were mobilized under the pretext of military training courses. That time 200,000 residents of Kyiv were called up. Far from all were destined to return home… Fortunately, my father was. He returned in 1945, holding the rank of senior lieutenant, with a Medal for Combat Service. Later, he was conferred one “For the Defense of Kyiv.”

Getting back to the subject, on June 24, 1941, Izvestia published Vasilii Lebedev-Kumach’s poem “The Sacred War.” As soon as the composer, Aleksandr Aleksandrov, wrote the music, it was played on the radio and turned into a patriotic anthem of sorts, a song that gives one an idea about the beginning of that war. And I mean the beginning because the subsequent course of that war gives rise to different emotions and recollections. Back in 1941, the aggressor’s “darkened wings” flew “over Motherland” at will, just as the enemy was free to tramp its “spacious fields” [an allusion to these lines from the lyrics: “We will not let the darkened wings / Fly over Motherland… The native country spacious fields / Are not for fiend’s extend.” – Ed.]. In 1942 this song didn’t stir up as many emotions as in 1941, and even less in 1943 and in the remaining years of the war. Like I said, it is a reminder of the start of the war.

This song is also a code word of sorts to the year 1941, considering that other, simpler, less awe-inspiring lyrics — for example, “The Blue Handkerchief” with music by Jerzy Petersburski, composer and artistic director of a Polish jazz band — remain implanted in the memory of several generations. In fact, the “Handkerchief” quickly became a hit, to be performed for years after the war, after Petersburski’s orchestra was “liberated” in 1939 in Bialystok (as the city was annexed by the USSR). However, since the start of the war the original lyrics were changed as follows:

“At dawn on June twenty-second,
At four a.m. on the dot,
Kyiv was bombed and then we were told
About the start of the war.
Came to an end our peacetime,
Now it is time for good-byes.
I have to leave, but my promise stays:
I’ll always be faithful to you.”

As all popular Soviet songs, the “Handkerchief” had several sets of lyrics composed by anonymous authors, so the Kyiv version dating to 1941 remained known only with these first two couplets. The rest is known under a different title: “Seeing Off.” It has these lines:

“Darling, don’t play with my feelings,
Come see me off to the front.
Boys say good-bye
to their sweethearts,
They’re on their way to the war.
All girls are crying,
hiding the tears,
They stay and’ll help in the rear.
Clickety-clack sing the wheels,
Racing away is the train,
I’m on board, you’re
on platform,
Waving a shaky good-bye.”

By the way, at the time they waved moving a palm up and down. It was in the 1950s that we borrowed from the West the habit of waving good-bye moving a palm left to right.

Years, decades after WW II new publications shed a new light on all those official accounts of feats of arms that were actually legends composed to uphold morale. One such legend is about the first ramming a la Nesterov in a dogfight over Kyiv, performed by Dmitri Zaitsev of the 43rd Fighter Regiment.

Dmitri Panov (1910-94), ex-fighter, veteran of air battles in China in 1939, then during the defense of Kyiv in 1941, wrote: “On the first day of the war Dmitri Zaitsev, formerly a pilot of my flight, then with the 2nd Air Regiment, whose squadron relieved us on June 22 over Kyiv, engaged enemy bombers in the second half of The Day and did the first ramming at the Southwest Front. The official account has it that Zaitsev — a snub-nosed Russian fellow — cold-bloodedly cut off a Junkers’ tail unit with the propeller blades of his Polikarpov-1-16, whereupon he had to do a forced landing. The Junkers fell near Radomyshl, along the route of the Luftwaffe bombers. The German pilots’ blood-covered flight suits and onboard machineguns were brought to our airfield, apparently to lift the morale. According to Zaitsev (then still to be made Hero of the Soviet Union and entered into the official good books), what actually happened was that, after sideslipping to increase speed, having done this rather effectively, he caught up with a Luftwaffe bomber that had fallen behind formation after a left turn and opened fire with all four Shpytalny machineguns (each with what was then an excellent rate of fire: 1,300 rounds per min.). However, after long bursts this machinegun tended to jam and had to be reloaded by pulling the rings at the pilot’s feet, attached to the thin cables leading from the cockpit to the gun. The attack proved good as the bomber’s rear gunner was apparently dead, the barrel of his machinegun facing skyward and immobile. The other gunner up front had also ceased fire. However, the Junkers had a sturdy hull and the Soviet small caliber rounds couldn’t do any serious damage. To make things worse, all four machineguns did jam in the end. Zaitsev bent down and started jerking at the rings, thus losing sight of where the plane was headed. While he was fumbling with the rings, the fighter caught up with the Junkers in several seconds and its propeller cut into the tail unit. As often happens in life, he would have hardly pulled off a stunt like that, had he meant to. But then the propeller blades cut off the rudder and the elevator. The bomber immediately dipped and went into a deadly spin.

“After landing, Zaitsev found himself in the right place at the right time. Several days later a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR conferred on him the title ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’ along with the Gold Star Medal and Order of Lenin, in recognition of his feat of arms. This made headlines, the propaganda machine had a field day, and it was instantly clear that flying and fighting, risking one’s life, didn’t fit into such a hero’s image. He had to be made invulnerable to the Nazi aces. Zaitsev was promptly appointed as commander of an air defense fighter regiment in the city of Gorky where Luftwaffe aircraft could be seen probably only on red-letter days and where he stayed until the end of the war, drinking vodka and enjoying the traditional Russian bania sauna.

“Our situation, in contrast, left much to be desired. On the very first day of the war we had to fly three missions to keep Kyiv covered. We patrolled at three-four thousand meters and it was a tiring and nerve-wrecking job, for we expected to engage the enemy any moment, with the incessant noise of the engine. Also, we had to keep watching the ground below. Near the Chain Bridge (a motor transport bridge in place of the current Metro Bridge and Hidropark. – Author) was a huge T-shaped sign with countless small branch pieces and a large white linen arrow. Depending on the position of these signs we determined the enemy approaches to the city because our powerful industry had failed to secure reliable radio communications before the war.”

Today’s reader, who never parts with a cell phone, will find it hard to picture the conditions in which combat operations had to be carried out at the time. Well, that was reality and, although the subject of this article is the first day of the war, I can’t help quoting from Panov further:

“Clearly, our planes were no match for the quick and powerful aluminum covered Junkers that entered Kyiv air space with impunity at an altitude of up to 3,000 meters. Each time we would strain our plywood Chaikas to catch up with them, invariably ending up dragging behind them. The Germans acted as though we simply weren’t there.

“I remember the start of the war as a wild bloodletting Theater of the Absurd with drunk yelling idiots in power taking turns jumping out on stage, where everything is done assbackwards, where our people seem to be trying to outdo each other with acts of stupidity and slovenliness. I must admit that the Germans did only half of the job beating us the other half we did ourselves. Here is an example: during peacetime, when on night training missions, the airfield would be lit by several searchlights, but as the war began, they all disappeared, being taken away somewhere (we were told they were brought to Moscow to reinforce its defenses). So what about Kyiv? There were several searchlights left making up the huge city’s air defense, including one at the Darnytsia railroad station. They made little sense. Even if a searchlight caught an enemy aircraft in its beam there was no way we could fly up and intercept it because we couldn’t land on an airfield without searchlights. As usual, Moscow came first, the only place where, so the Muscovites believed, something serious was happening, meaning the rest had to rely on their own resources.” Well, the situation doesn’t seem to have changed much since then.

Further on it is also clear that not all of Kyiv AAA crews knew to tell a friendly from an enemy aircraft. Apparently they had no access to the Moscow-published album “Warplanes of the USSR” (1940) with each aircraft presented in three projections and at eight photo angles, airborne and on the airfield. The foreword reads: “This album is intended as a reference source, so the contours of the USSR warplanes can be correctly identified, while airborne, by Red Army ground troops, VNOS (Russ. acronym for air defense monitoring, early warning and communication) stations, and by Red Army aircraft crews while airborne.” This album was signed for publication on October 4, 1940, so in all likelihood its copies hadn’t reached all the addressees before the start of the war.

Getting back to what was happening in the sky over Kyiv in the summer of 1941. Here is what Panov has to say on coordination between the air defense units.

On July 22, three Ju 88 nine-aircraft formations flew in from the south to bomb-raid Kyiv bridges across the Dnipro. They were challenged by a flight of Chaikas led by Panov and forced to drop the bombs on a ravine known as Telychka, instead. The Luftwaffe aircraft immediately flew west while the Chaikas found themselves amidst friendly AAA barrage flaks. The artillery crews down on the ground had to identify friendly aircraft immediately, because [the Soviet plywood] biplanes were so different from Luftwaffe [aluminum] monoplanes, the more so that they had seen such biplanes patrol the city from day one of the war. Also, the Chaikas waggled their wings as a signal of being friendly aircraft. As it was, they sustained four AAA salvos before landing.

Panov wrote: “Friendly fire, unlike enemy fire, proved far more effective.” A shell fragment punctured his oil tank, splattering hot oil over the cockpit, smearing his goggles. The engine started overheating, doing so quick enough to make forced landing the only option. He managed to land in a wood-cutting area on the Left Bank without releasing the undercarriage. The plane caught on a tree stump and the pilot survived by sheer miracle. The next day Panov visited Kyiv’s AAA crews to “thank” them for their performance and warn that if his Chaikas were shot at again, his plane crews would also get confused and launch a series of jet-propelled projectiles at the AAA positions. Fortunately, no such occasion proved forthcoming.

Out of many public events scheduled for June 22 in Kyiv, only the ceremony of opening the Khrushchev Stadium was canceled, along with a Kyiv Dynamo vs. Moscow CDKA (Central Red Army House) soccer match. No drama plays or movie screenings were canceled on June 22-23 — and this despite the decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR imposing martial law, as of June 22, on almost the whole European part of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine! Soviet society, lullabied by official propaganda reiterating that the nonaggression agreement (subsequently to become known as the Motolov-Ribbentrop Pact) was mutually advantageous and inviolable, must have failed to fully grasp the scale of the imminent threat.

Kyiv production facilities, research centers, higher educational establishments, government institutions started being evacuated, along with staff members and their families, on June 29. A total of 325,000 Kyivites traveled east, deep behind the Soviet rear lines. On July 11, advance units of the Sixth Wehrmacht Army approached the river Irpin marking a direct approach to Kyiv. Thus started the heroic and tragic defense of the Ukrainian capital that would last for 70 days and nights and save Moscow from being seized by the Wehrmacht before the coming of winter — which is a different story.


Last Days of High School: Mansfield, Ohio, 1941

This hayride and class picnic took place at novelist Louis Bromfield’s farm three days before commencement. The seniors contributed 25 cents each toward the cost of food. Later in the evening, Bromfield threw them a barn dance.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Written By: Liz Ronk

Ask ten people what their high school years were like, and you’ll probably get one of two answers: Best years of my life, or, Worst years of my life. But even those who hated high school probably recall their graduation and the days around it as significant.

In 1941, LIFE magazine paid tribute to the rite of spring in a series of photographs that the great Alfred Eisenstaedt made that year at and around graduation in the town of Mansfield, in north-central Ohio. More than seven decades later, Eisenstaedt’s warm, empathetic pictures convey the strangely mixed emotions that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever donned a cap and gown and walked across a stage to shake hands and receive a diploma: anxiety, pride, relief, excitement and, for most of us, not a little melancholy. This is, after all, the real and true end of something, even as it’s the beginning of something wholly new.

As LIFE put it in the magazine’s June 30, 1941, issue—less than six months, it’s worth noting, before Pearl Harbor and America’s sudden entry into World War II:

In the momentary dignity of caps and gowns, the 17-and-18-year-olds are going through one of the most exciting periods of their lives. This June, Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School graduated 283 of the year’s total of some 1,300,000 U.S. high-school graduates.

Mansfield graduates began their sad leave-taking on Class Day, listening to their class song, class poem, and class “will.” Their officers sat stiffly before a backdrop representing the graduation theme: the “Friendship,” an imaginary superliner in which graduates were supposed top take off into the future. Later in the week came a baccalaureate service, a class picnic, a formal dinner and dance, finally the climactic event of the commencement. In the outdoor stadium proud parents looked on nostalgically while the new graduates switched their tassels of their mortarboards from left to right, sign for over half the class that their formal education was finished.

To Mansfield this was only another commencement, in spite of the lengthening shadow of war. Though a girl’s class poem had sympathized with “our ill-starred cousins” in England and given thanks for “our native land,” a poll showed that only 9.2 percent of the class believed that the U.S. should fight in the war. If on its outcome depended the survival of their system of free public education in the pleasant security of central Ohio, Mansfield’s seniors were only aware that, in their own slang, graduation had been “superslubgupious,” or in other words, wonderful.

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The last class in Economics was held outdoors on this long flight of stone steps in Middle Park.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Patricia Ann Bancroft practiced a Class Day poem in a three-room apartment where she lived with brother and widowed mother, a schoolteacher. The following year the Bancrofts planned to double up with relatives to save money so that Pat could go to college.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Pat’s graduation presents were a suitcase, slippers, stockings, pin and a $25 check from a relative. Pat planned to use the money to buy a typewriter.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Pat was tapped for the National Honor Society award for scholarship and leadership.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

At Class Day.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

At the baccalaureate service in a Lutheran church, seniors were exhorted to “render service to society.”

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

At the top left is the school valedictorian, Julia Loraine Fishback, who earned a scholarship to Swarthmore, where she planned to study occupational therapy. Top right: Lillian Art, voted ‘Prettiest Girl in the Class’ her widowed mother worked for Mansfield’s largest industry, Westinghouse Electric, and she planned to become a secretary. The students in the lower left and right photos were unidentified.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Jim Gorman’s graduation present was this second-hand Ford, piled high with friends in front of high school. Jim’s father was a well-to-do manufacturer, and Jim was planning to attend Lehigh University.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

This hayride and class picnic took place at novelist Louis Bromfield’s farm three days before commencement. The seniors contributed 25 cents each toward the cost of food. Later in the evening, Bromfield threw them a barn dance.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

High school seniors nearing graduation, Mansfield, Ohio, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

At the class dinner and dance the next night, the kids dressed up in their formalwear. Reportedly, no one spiked the punch.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Mansfield, Ohio, Senior High School graduation, 1941.

Alfred Eisenstaedt/Life Pictures/Getty Images


Emmett Louis Till (1941-1955)

Emmett Till was a fourteen year-old African American boy who was tortured and killed in Money, Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly insulting a white woman. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Till lived with his mother, Mamie Till. His father, Louis Till, died while serving in the U.S. Army in Italy in 1945. In the summer of 1955, Till went to visit with his 64-year-old great-uncle Mose Wright and family. Before leaving home, Till’s mother instructed him to follow Southern customs and mind his manners, but having grown up in a Northern city like Chicago, Till was unaware of the legacy of lynching and the rigid social caste system in the South.

On August 24, 1955, while at a local grocery store with his cousins, Till reportedly left the store whistling at the white female clerk, Carolyn Bryant. Soon after the incident, Roy Bryant, the clerk’s 24-year-old husband, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, appeared at Mose Wright’s cabin around 2:30 a.m. The armed men kidnapped Till, slashed out one of his eyes, and tied a 100-pound cotton gin fan around his neck with barbed wire. Till was severely beaten, shot in the head, and thrown into the Tallahatchie River. Two fishermen found Till’s mutilated and unrecognizable corpse three days later. Mamie Till-Bradley (In 1951 Till briefly married “Pink” Bradley in Detroit, Michigan) immediately requested her son’s bloated, mutilated body be returned to Chicago and displayed in an open casket funeral at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ. She proclaimed, “I wanted the world to see what they did to my son.” Tens of thousands of people lined up to view the body at the mortuary and over 50,000 mourners attended the funeral services days later.

Till’s murder symbolized for many African Americans the inherent racism and disparity of justice they continued to face in the aftermath of World War II. Because of the media and particularly the coverage by the African American press, the murder gained national and international attention that prompted public discourse on segregation, racial violence, and social, political, and economic equality.

In September, Mamie Till-Bradley came to Mississippi for the trial under heavy protection from advisors and relatives. A number of prominent outside observers attended as well including Michigan Congressman Charles Diggs, Jr. Till-Bradley and Mose Wright testified in court, but soon had to leave afterwards for fear of their lives. To discredit the powerful testimony of a black grieving mother, the defense argued that Mamie Till-Bradley took out an insurance policy on her son and sent him to Mississippi to be killed and that the body found was a cadaver planted by the NAACP. Historically no jury in the State of Mississippi had ever convicted a white person for killing a black person if the crime involved sexual aggressions towards a white woman. The all-white, male jury deliberated for only sixty-seven minutes before acquitting the two men. Four months later, Bryant and Milam admitted to the murder to journalist William Bradford Huie for an article that appeared in Look magazine. They received $4,000 for their interview. Many grassroots and local activists, thereafter, saw Till’s murder and trial as a call to action that helped galvanize the Modern Civil Rights Movement.

Emmett Till was buried on September 6, 1955 at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. His mother continued to seek justice and educate the world of her son’s murder and the proceedings of the trial until her death in 2003.


June 22, 1941, Kyiv on fire: the occupation сhronicles

After German troops occupied the territory of Smolensk, Hitler decided to attack Kyiv, to conquer all the Ukrainian lands. He wanted to occupy Ukraine because of its rich coal deposits. Hitler believed that it would provide German troops with warmth and food, so that they could continue to fight against the Soviet Union.

The defense of Kyiv in 1941 has become a very difficult period for the Red Army and the citizens. Despite the unequal forces, the soldiers stood to the last breath in order to stop the German troops. Most of the units of the Red Army have lost contact with the higher command, as well as with neighboring units. Many of them were surrounded and could not escape from it. Most of the soldiers died or fell into captivity.

The first battles demonstrated a noticeable lack of weapons and ammunition. More than 200,000 residents of Kyiv went to fight on the front voluntarily.

July 11, German troops tried to break into Kyiv, but steady defense and counterattacks of the Red Army did not let to occupy the city instantly. Then the enemy decided to bypass Kyiv on both sides, and fighting resumed on July 30.

August 7th Airborne Brigade held a counterattack. This helped to stabilize the situation, but only for a short time. The Soviet command decided to form new divisions, and this has help to avoid a catastrophic situation.

By August 10, the enemy managed to break through to the south-western suburb, but here they suffered a setback: the heroic resistance of 37 th Army forced the German troops to stop again. July-September 1941 was a very difficult period because the enemy continued to attack and destroy the Red Army.

Red Army troops persistently and courageously resisted, but Hitler decided to turn south his troops, which headed to the Moscow area. Some German troops broke through to Dnipro from the south. However, in late August, the enemy troops crossed the river (north of Kyiv) and in the area Chernihiv they joined with their units, which attacked from the north.

Despite the fact that there was a threat of being trapped, Stalin decided to continue the defense of the capital.

September 9, German troops entered Kyiv and surrounded it. Despite the fact that the soldiers were almost broken, they still made some desperate attempts to break through.

Historian Anatoly Tchaikovsky assures that the losses of Kyiv, especially the armed forces, would be much lower if the decision to retreat troops was made in time. According to him, the commanders wanted to show the strength of the army, which did not leave the important area. "This political decision caused the defeat of the Soviet army in Kyiv," sums up the expert.

According to Dmytro Malakov, an eyewitness of the events of September 19, 1941, Kyiv was left to its fate. People were left without electricity, water, and food.

"With the beginning of the war, 200 thousand Kyivers went to the front, 325,000 were evacuated. 400 thousand inhabitants remained in the city without fuel or grain. Water supply was switched off, as well as electricity," says Dmytro Malakov. All it was accompanied by violent punitive measures of the Nazi authorities against ordinary people. During five days they registered the residents. So they got an opportunity to identify communists and NKVD employees, who later were shot dead.

Ukrainian intelligentsia and patriots have assumed all the obligations to protect citizens and fight against the occupational regime. The dual power was established: German Commissariat and civilian authorities, established with the support of the urban intelligentsia. Thus were created unofficial orphanages where children without parents got a chance to survive. In 1942, the invaders began to organize mass roundups. Of 400,000 residents who remained in Kyiv, about 100 thousand people were tortured in Babyn Yar.

The shops were working only for the Germans local population survived only because of the marketplaces.

As for the light, people in Kyiv initially used kerosene lamps, kerosene, but when they have run out of the kerosene, they were forced to go to bed just after the sunset. From 6 pm to 5 am the curfew has been in force. Those who dared to disobey were shot without talking.

During the occupation, there was a big problem with the transport only a tram was working. All the buses were taken for the army, and trolleybuses did not operate without electricity. The vast majority of people walked on foot, even for the long distances. In general, the residents tried not to show up in the streets without necessity they were afraid of the raids.

Despite all this, the life continued. Opera, theatre, Ukrainian Choir, Bandurist choir, musical comedy, variety shows, Puppet Theater, Conservatory, two choreographic and musical schools operated in Kyiv. The zoo and botanical garden were also opened for the visitors. In 1943, there were two art shows, which exhibited the works of 216 artists. Germans were almost the only buyers.

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Trump and Military Service: A 100 Year Family History (June 6, 2016)

We have just celebrated Memorial Day for 2016, so military service to our country is freshly relevant.* In honoring America’s war dead on Memorial Day, we also honor the service of recent veterans and our family members who served to ensure freedom and liberty for all of us. Sort of a family investment in America. Trump has continued to make support for veteran’s a prime topic in the political debate.

Grandfather Frederick, though an immigrant from Germany, was an American citizen in 1898. There was no draft imposed for the Spanish American War, but we have some guidance from the Civil War draft and World War I draft standards to judge his eligibility for service, if not a strict obligation. In 1898 he was 29 years old, single, unmarried, with no dependents, not engaged in any critical war related occupation, and with no religious objections. Thus, he was a prime candidate for service, or induction had there been a draft.

In the spring of 1898 he moved to Canada (until 1901), when he returned briefly to Germany and married in 1902, and then returned to NY. When he attempted to return to Germany on a permanent basis again in 1904, he was expelled from the country because of an official finding that he had evaded his military service obligation (active to age 35) when he originally left the country in 1885. He did not serve in the military in either country. He had no legal military service obligation in the US, but was found to be in violation of his mandatory German 3-year military service duty.

Father Fred was born in 1905. At the time of World War II and the imposition of a draft in 1940, at age 35 he was married and had 2 small children. He was subject to the draft. He was not engaged in any occupation subject to service exemption, such as war related production, public health and safety jobs, or agricultural employment. In truth, even with the expansive induction criteria in 1942, he still would have been lower on the priority list of men to be drafted because of his marriage and 3 dependent children. By 1943 he would have aged out of the high risk draft pool. He was subject to the draft in World War II, but was never called to serve.

In 1964 Donald turned 18 and had to register. He was unmarried, with no dependents, and not engaged in any employment which carried occupational exemptions (war related work, health and safety occupations, farm work). He was prime draft material during the years from 1964-1972. He had typical college student deferments from 1964-1968, but they expired on graduation. He was then classified as 1-A, then 1-Y, and finally 4-F. His high lottery number (.350) was for 1970. So, from June1968 until January 1970 (18 months) he was at high risk to be drafted. He obtained a medical deferment (1-Y) for a minor condition (except in wartime), which was later converted to a permanently disqualifying illness in 1971.

There is another special feature in Donald’s draft history. He graduated high school from the New York Military Academy in 1964, and while a cadet there was an officer in an official established junior R.O.T.C. command. As such, he would have received special considerations had he volunteered for military service (choice of military specialty, officer training school). He declined to take advantage.

For three generations, Trump’s paternal line has not offered or performed any military service for America, voluntary or through the draft. His father and grandfather played by the rules in America, but Donald bent them to advantage.

The Trump men were all eligible for military service to America. Millions of their fellow Americans volunteered or were drafted into service for their country during wartime. The Trumps all chose not to contribute in the most personal way one can to defend America’s freedom of speech, and to preserve the bounties of our economic and political system. They didn’t think the discounted value of their American citizenship, and the bounties our country provides, were worth enough to merit Trump military service.

What they did is not illegal, but it is not admirable or generous. Not even once in 100 years (1885-1980). Through five major military conflicts: Spanish American, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and Viet Nam (which were contested for 30 years of that time period).

Why does this family history (or, rather lack thereof) matter? Because it means that Trump has no personal experience to learn from and appreciate military sacrifice, and no authentic family history stories to share with the tens of millions of family members of proud Veterans, living and dead who served their country honorably in times of war during the past century.

What Trump Doesn’t Have for Veterans: A Short Catalogue

No personal experience and no family history to share.

Trump doesn’t know about the Veterans Administration National Cemeteries and the millions of Veterans, who served honorably, buried there (nearly 4 million).

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Cemetery Administration maintains 134 national cemeteries in 40 states (and Puerto Rico) as well as 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites. NCA maintains approximately 3.4 million gravesites.

Arlington National Cemetery Rows of Markers Memorial Day Remembrance

Trump doesn’t know about the Beverly National Cemetery in New Jersey (1864).

Beverly National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery located in the city of Beverly, in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 64.6 acres (26.1 ha), and as of the end of 2008, had over 49,000 interments.

This is where my grandfather (Spanish American War Veteran) and my grandmother are buried among 49,000 others (2008).

Trump doesn’t know about the Riverside National Cemetery in California (1976).

RNC was established in 1976 through the transfer of 740 acres (300 ha) from March Air Force Base, a section that during World War II was called Camp Haan. The site was selected in 1976 to provide full burial options for Southern California veterans and their families by President Ford’s Commission for National Cemeteries and Monuments. An additional 181 acres (73 ha) was transferred by the U.S. Air Force in 2003.

Military funeral honors are provided for eligible veterans by military honor guards from each branch of service, by the California National Guard, and by several volunteer teams collectively known as the Memorial Honor Detail or MHD upon request of family members through their funeral home.

My father and 228,000 other souls lie buried here. Those interred include Medal of Honor recipients and seven Tuskegee Airmen. My father received military honors at his burial, with an honor guard, three-volley salute, a bugler, and a U.S. burial flag presented to the family. even though he served as an ordinary soldier (World War II, 1940-1946) and airman (Korea, 1952-1954), with no extraordinary rank or achievement.

Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of the Unknowns

Trump doesn’t know about Arlington National Cemetery where 400,000 are buried.

“United States national cemetery” is a designation for 147 [sic] nationally important cemeteries in the United States. A national cemetery is generally a military cemetery containing the graves of U.S. military personnel, veterans and their spouses, but not exclusively so. There are also state veteran cemeteries.

The best known national cemetery is Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.

Some national cemeteries, especially Arlington, contain the graves of important civilian leaders and other important national figures. Some national cemeteries also contain sections for Confederate soldiers.

The National Cemetery Administration of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs maintains 131 of the 147 [sic] national cemeteries.** The Department of the Army maintains two national cemeteries, Arlington National Cemetery and United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. The National Park Service (NPS) maintains 14 cemeteries associated with historic sites and battlefields.

The American Battle Monuments Commission, an independent agency, maintains 24 American military cemeteries and other memorials outside of the United States.

The first national cemeteries were set up after the United States Civil War by Edmund Burke Whitman. Congress passed a law to establish and protect national cemeteries in 1867.

Trump doesn’t know about the Veterans Administration Hospitals and Clinics where millions of Veterans receive care for service-related and other medical conditions. There were 9.1 million Veterans enrolled in VA health care and 5.99 million used the medical and other services in 2014. A total of 21.6 million Veterans are eligible to enroll. Trump doesn’t know that in 2014 there were 92.4 million outpatient VA visits, and 707 thousand hospital admissions among enrolled Veterans.

Trump doesn’t know about VA-funded long-term care facilities and community nursing homes where elderly and disabled Veterans are cared for, with reduced or no financial cost, when they can no longer care for themselves.

Trump doesn’t know about the G.I. bill benefits which have put million through college:

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944—commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights

Before the war, college and homeownership were, for the most part, unreachable dreams for the average American. Thanks to the GI Bill, millions who would have flooded the job market instead opted for education. In the peak year of 1947, Veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions. By the time the original GI Bill ended on July 25, 1956, 7.8 million of 16 million World War II Veterans had participated in an education or training program.

My father was among them. The G.I. bill paid for him to attend college at U.S.C. after he was honorably discharged in 1946.

Trump doesn’t know about the VA loan program that helps millions of Vets afford to buy a house with a low down payment.

Millions also took advantage of the GI Bill’s home loan guaranty. From 1944 to 1952, VA backed nearly 2.4 million home loans for World War II Veterans.

From President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Statement on Signing the G.I. Bill, June 22, 1944:

This bill, which I have signed today, substantially carries out most of the recommendations made by me in a speech on July 28, 1943, and more specifically in messages to the Congress dated October 27, 1943, and November 23, 1943:

It gives servicemen and women the opportunity of resuming their education or technical training after discharge, or of taking a refresher or retrainer course, not only without tuition charge up to $500 per school year, but with the right to receive a monthly living allowance while pursuing their studies.

It makes provision for the guarantee by the Federal Government of not to exceed 50 percent of certain loans made to veterans for the purchase or construction of homes, farms, and business properties.

Trump doesn’t know about Veterans pensions which ease the financial burdens of retirement in some circumstances.

Pension benefits are needs-based and your “countable” family income must fall below the yearly limit set by law. Veterans must have at least 90 days of active duty, including one day during a wartime period. If the active duty occurred after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called up (with some exceptions). You must also be:

Age 65 or older with limited or no income, OR

Totally and permanently disabled, OR

A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR

Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR

Receiving Supplemental Security Income

My father and grandfather were both eligible and received small Veterans pensions, after retirement based on their wartime military service.

Trump doesn’t know about Veterans burial benefits which offer succor to bereaved families.

For Burial in a National Cemetery

Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of our 134 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.

Trump doesn’t know about the Veterans hiring preference that gives Veterans a boost when competing for government jobs, as a small reward for their honorable service.

Trump doesn’t know about the American Legion and its 2.3 million members (2013).

  • World War I (April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918) were also eligible the last such member of that group died in 2011.
  • World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946 (except that for the U.S. Merchant Marine eligibility dates are December 7, 1941 to August 16, 1945)
  • Korean War: June 25, 1950 to January 31, 1955
  • Vietnam War: February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975
  • Lebanon and Grenada: August 24, 1982 to July 31, 1984
  • Panama: December 20, 1989 to January 31, 1990
  • Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism: August 2, 1990 to present

At the state level, the American Legion is organized into “departments”, which run annual civic training events for high school juniors called Boys State. Two members from each Boys State are selected for Boys Nation. The American Legion Auxiliary runs Girls State and Girls Nation. In addition to Boys State, the American Legion features numerous programs including American Legion Baseball, Scouting, Oratorical Contests, Junior Shooting Sports, Youth Alumni, Sons of the American Legion, American Legion Riders, and Scholarships at every level of the organization.

Ten presidents from Truman to Bush II were (are) members of the American Legion. So were, General MacArthur, General Patton, Sergeant Alvin York, and actors Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable. Trump can’t join them he has no active military service.

Trump doesn’t know about the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and its 1.3 million members.

The objects of the VFW are to: Speed rehabilitation of the nation’s disabled and needy veterans, assist veterans’ widows and orphans and the dependents of needy or disabled veterans, and promote Americanism by means of education in patriotism and by constructive service to local communities. The organization maintains both its legislative service and central office of its national rehabilitation service in Washington. The latter nationwide program serves disabled veterans of all wars, members and nonmembers alike, in matters of government compensation and pension claims, hospitalization, civil-service employment preference, and etc.”

Membership in the VFW is restricted to any active or honorably discharged officer or enlisted person who is a citizen of the United States and who has served in its armed forces “in any foreign war, insurrection or expedition, which service shall be recognized by the authorization or the issuance of a military campaign medal”.

Trump doesn’t know about the American Veterans (AMVETS) and their 200,000 members (2014).

The American Veterans, Inc. (AMVETS) is a volunteer-led organization formed by World War II veterans of the United States. It advocates for its members as well as for causes that it deems helpful to the nation at large. The group holds a Federal charter under Title 36 of the United States Code. It is a 501(c)19 organization.

AMVETS is active in U.S. politics. Its primary political activity is lobbying for the interests of veterans, including support for veteran’s benefits such as pensions and the Veterans Affairs hospital system in addition, it has promoted other causes such as support for a Flag Burning Amendment.

The AMVETS Silver Helmet Award is an annual award to “recognize excellence and achievement in Americanism, defense, rehabilitation, congressional service and other fields.” Sometimes called the “Veterans Oscar,” the award is shaped like a small, silver replica of a World War II helmet. Recipients have included Edmund Muskie, Lyndon B. Johnson, Lee Greenwood, and Jack Quinn.

Trump has no personal experience and no family history to contribute to the shared sacrifice of these veterans organizations and their families. He is not eligible to join with their 4 million military Veteran members.

What Trump doesn’t know about or have any personal knowledge or experience to inform his views about Veterans issues, their impact on families, and the multiplied social consequences would fill a very thick book indeed.

Trump and 9/11

Trump has extolled the contributions of the first responders (firemen, police, EMTs, paramedics) and recovery workers in New York during the 9?11 tragedy that marked the start of America’s Irregular War on Terror, in numerous TV appearances and debates. What about his personal contribution to this effort?

His first visit to the World Trade Center ruins took place two days later to stand four blocks away, with the disaster wreckage in the background, for a television interview with a German language reporter (Trump was interpreted in German to the audience, since he doesn’t speak the language). Trump was not there as someone who had experienced the events personally, nor as an elected official, nor as any sort of a public spokesman, nor on behalf of any victims. He spoke for himself and the publicity.

When the site was cleared and a national memorial (The National September 11 Memorial & Museum) was designed and built from 2006-2011, Trump did not contribute money, or staffing, or supplies, or serve on the board, or as a fund raiser for wealthy business owners.

After the museum opened in 2011 he did not participate in the ceremonies, or visit the memorial a single time during the next five years. He did not donate money for the operating costs, like Mike Bloomberg his fellow New York billionaire who gave $15 million dollars to the cause. Not even at the paltry (for him) $10,000 level. Check it out.

After Trump decided to run for President in June 2015, he determined to make a pilgrimage some day. On Saturday April 9, 2016 he made an unscheduled 30-minute visit to the museum with his wife, reporters and cameras trailing, and did not take questions. He announced publicly that he was giving a check for $100,000 to the museum, as a token of his generous interest and support.

So he ignored the memorial and museum effort for 15 years, did not support the building fund (though he was asked to contribute often), didn’t visit for 4 1/2 years after it opened, and then 1 week before the N.Y Republican primary, made a very public display with an ostentatious check. A typical Trump flourish, the miserly billionaire flashing a small part of his wad of riches for the plebes. He gave a total of 1/100,000 th of his wealth with full public notice to mark his respect and his magnanimity. The optics are stunning.

There is no record of Trump’s support for the long-term survivors of the rescue and recovery efforts. No charity golf events, no complimentary hotel stays, no Trump hats, no medical expenses donations, or research funding.

Trump and The Veterans Fundraiser: January 2016

In January, as the primary campaign was heating up, Trump decided to duck the second Fox News moderated debate on very short notice, because that woman with her wherever was scheduled to be there. To fill the dead time, Trump organized a counter programming event in Dubuque, Iowa billed as a Veteran’s Charity fundraiser, to compete head to head with the Fox debate.

Way back in January, Donald Trump got himself a ton of prime publicity on the backs of veterans. He organized a benefit that he said was for them. But really he did it because he didn’t feel like debating other GOP presidential candidates that night.

At the event, he boasted that he’d raised $6 million, including $1 million that would come from his own pocket. Not too shabby, as he would say. But when reporters asked him later where the money went, including whether Donald had, indeed, donated $1 million, he told them he didn’t have to account for the funds.

At the fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28, Trump announced to the crowd, “We just cracked $6 million! Right? $6 million.” That included his gift. He told the gathering, “I don’t want to be called a politician. All talk, no action – I refuse to be called a politician. Donald Trump gave $1 million. Okay?” That made it sound like he’d already written the check.

But he hadn’t.

In May, Trump told a Washington Post reporter asking for an accounting of the money, “Why should I give you records? I don’t have to give you records.”

In May, Trump told a Washington Post reporter asking for an accounting of the money, “Why should I give you records? I don’t have to give you records.”

That was followed by Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski lying about it, telling the Washington Post that Trump had ponied up his share.

“The money is fully spent. Mr. Trump’s money is fully spent,” Lewandowski told the Post on May 21. Though, Lewandowski added, only $4.5 million, not the promised $6 million, was raised.

Ok, fine. But where did all that money go, the Post wanted to know. Lewandowski said that was nobody’s business.

“He’s not going to share that information,” the campaign manager said.

Unable to find veterans groups that received the money, the Post took to Twitter to seek them out. The question, basically, was: Did any veteran, anywhere get a dime from that fundraiser that Donald used to envelop himself in all that big, beautiful publicity?

Twitterazzi Trump took that goad. That very evening, four months after the fundraiser, he called a veterans group that had given him an award and promised them his $1 million. The Trump check is dated the next day, May 24, when he held a press conference to attack reporters who had tried to hold the candidate accountable for distributing to veterans the money he promised them.

Trump contradicted his own campaign manager who said $4.5 million was raised, contending it was $5.6 million. And he contended that he never promised $6 million.

“I didn’t say six,” he asserted, despite video evidence in which he clearly says $6 million.

Whatever his aspirations or intentions, Trump lost the ratings war to Fox News and their Trumpless debate (12.5 million to 2.7 million), but garnered substantial free coverage everywhere else for several days as he proudly proclaimed before the cameras he had raised $6 million dollars, including $1 million of his own personal funds. He has continued to tout his fervent and generous support of Veteran’s as a campaign theme since.

There was some initial confusion about the funds raised and their dispersal. The fundraiser website, hastily assembled, directed all public donations to the Trump Foundation, not to any recognized Veterans groups. The Washington Post, in particular, continued to try and follow-up on the receipt and dispersal of funds in March and April with vague and incomplete responses from the campaign.

Finally in mid-May, campaign manager Cory Lewandowski tried to quell the controversy by stating that it wasn’t $6 million, but $4.5 million, and some donors were late sending in their money, though not Mr. Trump. Trump decided to angrily contradict his spokesman and declare all the funds had already been received and disbursed, and that he never actually promised $6 million. Faced with clear video evidence to the contrary, he didn’t remember saying it.

The Washington Post persisted in their inquiries, and published a story on May 21 that only 3.1 million could be accounted for by the veterans groups the campaign had listed. A Twitter inquiry by The Washington Post followed on May 23. The same day in a late night phone call, Trump gave $1 million to a single Veterans group (Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation), finally making good on his overdue pledge of 4 months earlier. In other words, he was shamed in meeting his voluntary obligation after a high wattage mega -spotlight was turned on his conduct.

On the Tuesday after Veterans Day, Trump held another press conference to provide the final accounting of disbursed funds, which totaled $5.5 million, not more than $6 million. None of the reported facts were shown to be inaccurate or mistaken. Trump used the occasion of the press conference to whine that rather than offer effusive praise for his exceptional generosity, instead the Press quibbled in an unseemly way about delays and misstatements and asked very nasty, unfair questions.

Trump made a unsought, voluntary commitment nobody had asked him for, and then dragged his feet for months keeping hold of the money. He and his campaign lied about the facts to cover up their malperformance, and then tried to assume the role of victim in a mess entirely of their own making.

This is not support for Veterans causes, this is self-aggrandizement in the extreme lane, and poor me to the bitter end.

Trump and Rolling Thunder Memorial Weekend 2016

Trump flew into to Washington on Memorial Day weekend to try and take over the Rolling Thunder Run that has been a non-partisan, charitable event for 29 years (28 sans Trump), and turn it into a political dog and pony show. He gave his standard political hack stump speech.

The Rolling Thunder event is organized to draw attention to veterans’ issues and dedicated to remembering prisoners of war and service members missing in action.

“We’re with you 100 percent,” Trump told the crowd.

Trump, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president, angered veterans last year when he said he liked “people who weren’t captured” in wars. That had been a dig at Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party’s 2008 nominee, who had been captured and held for more than five years during the Vietnam War after his plane was shot down. Trump claimed that McCain was a “war hero because he was captured.”

Trump quickly tried to walk back the comment but has refused to apologize to McCain. Many veterans groups were furious, but since then Trump has worked to try to repair the damage. He frequently honors veterans at his rallies, and he has come out with a plan to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs. He also held a fundraiser for veterans’ causes in place of an Iowa debate that he skipped.

Rolling Thunder spokeswoman Nancy Regg estimated Sunday’s event drew about 5,000 people — smaller than the crowds Trump typically attracts. The large plaza between the Lincoln Memorial and the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall had large, empty pockets with no long lines for security, despite the thousands of bikers in town for the group’s ride from the Pentagon and through the streets of Washington.

Trump, who frequently boasts about his crowd size, however, claimed that 600,000 people were outside trying to get in.

“I thought this would be like Dr. Martin Luther King, where the people would be lined up from here all the way to the Washington monument, right? Unfortunately, they don’t allow ’em to come in,” Trump complained as he finished up his speech.

Trump appears to be suffering some sort of visual hallucination on this subject. He was so intent on headlining a mass event with the grandeur of MLK’s magnificent “I Have a Dream” speech of August 28, 1963, that Trump saw in his mind’s eye a vast crowd of 600,000 before him, when the Rally Organizer could find only 5,000.

D-Day June 6, 1944 The Normandy Landings

Today, June 6 marks the 72nd anniversary of D-Day (June 6, 1944), the start of the most significant battle in World War II, when 156,000 Allied forces landed on the beaches of France and began the final campaign to defeat Hitler and the Nazis in Europe. Thousands of Americans and other Allied troops died (4,414) on these beaches to preserve our freedoms. They offered their lives as a payment and sacrifice for all of us.

Trump’s 70th birthday is less than 10 days away. He carefully avoided his own opportunity to serve his country in the military, as did two generations of his family before him. He ignored the sacrifice of the 9/11 responders in any way but yapping on TV for 15 years. He broke his promise to Veterans about the money he raised for them in a poorly planned and executed TV stunt meant to distract viewers from his ducking out of a debate (because of the female moderator’s tough questions). He hijacked a real charitable event for Veterans on Memorial Day Sunday, just a week ago, in order to preach partisan political division.

Americans don’t need any more false support, camaraderie, and charity teases from a publicity black hole who walked away from his own service obligation and now tries to cover himself in the borrowed honor and genuine service of those who did their duty.

This is personal for Veterans. Leave them and their families and their descendants unto the third generation out of your cheap Trump theatrics. Stop insulting America’s K.I.As., M.I.A.s, and the P.O.W.s who have returned to us.*** Veterans who pay their fair share of taxes, honor their promises, and get along with their next-door neighbors peaceably, even when they don’t agree with them, deserve respite from Trump’s outrageous slurs on combat veterans, his racist diatribes, his religious bigotry, and his flimsy cardboard promises.

Let Trump stay indoors on June 6 th , and leave commemoration of D-Day to those who appreciate what happened, understand the bravery and sacrifice of our soldiers and sailors there, and what a precious gift they gave to all who live in America, every one of us, even Mexicans and Muslims and Unruly Womenfolk.

Go hijack a casino in Macau, you draft-avoiding, deceiving, hypocritical, gold spray painted poseur-in-chief.

Final Note On D-Day 2016

Leave it to Trump to bungle even a 140-character tweet for this day. While posting his personal congratulations to the fallen heroes of D-Day, he and his crackerjack staff of incompetent (no doubt non-Veteran) assistants, used a photo from 1943. Anyone who has read a book, or watched movies, or knows a little history would see this photo is very off. The Allies committed 156,000 air, sea and land forces against the beaches on June 6, 1944. They suffered more than 10,000 casualties. Was this picture, shot from ahead, of the four LCVPs****, filled with, oh gosh, a couple hundred troops standing straight up, advancing against no enemy fortifications, with no smoke and fire, and no wounded, dead or dying men littering the beach, perhaps taken during the morning coffee break while the Germans sat on their helmets and had tea and a snack?

Trump’s Dumbo D-Day Tweet (2016) An Insult to Those Who Fought

Take a look at the drill sergeant (right foreground), hands on hips, facing away from the beach, towards the oncoming soldiers, who appears to be wearing a soft campaign cover as well. What a bunch of ignorant, unobservant sad sacks in Trump’s operation!

Who is Trump going to fire over this SNAFU mess?

Another example of why he should leave military stuff to serious people. On further reflection, maybe it is better Trump skated on his military service. It might well have posed a lethal danger to his fellow soldiers to let him fool around with a military grade weapon and live ammunition in combat.

Peace to you, Donald. Just go away and leave us be.

*The difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day:

Memorial Day, which is observed on the last Monday of May, commemorates the men and women who died while in the military service. In observance of the holiday, many people visit cemeteries and memorials, and volunteers often place American flags on each grave site at national cemeteries. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time.

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemetery . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

**Three new National Cemeteries have been established since 2010: Miramar (San Diego CA, 2012), Louisiana (Zachary LA, 2012), and Yellowstone (Laurel MT, 2014).

P.O.W. M.I.A. Memorial Riverside National Cemetery

***Trump cravenly and outrageously defamed a decorated combat pilot who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, was shot down in wartime over Viet Nam, survived 6 years of torture and imprisonment, refused an offer to return home before his comrades, has permanent physical impairments from his war wounds, later was elected by all the citizens of Arizona to the U.S. House (1982) and then the U.S. Senate (1986-present), ran as the Republican nominee for President in 2008, and comes from a family with three generations of full-time military service (his father and grandfather were both four star Admirals) in 2015. Not content with the inconsequential drivel of his attack on McCain, Trump had the bald effrontery to claim he had suffered through his own personal Viet Nam trying to avoid catching an STD, while he partied non-stop in Manhattan from 1968-1975, chasing women, and acting like a spoiled rich kid. Veterans should be ashamed to be ‘honored’ by such an amoral loser, and man of shockingly low character.

****Landing craft of all sorts played a critical role in the Allied victories in Europe, North Africa, and the Pacific. None more so than the LCVP on D-Day at Normandy.

U.S. Army Signal Corps Photo: D-Day Landing (June 6,1944)

The Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) or Higgins Boat (as we prefer) was proudly designed and built in Louisiana (1941-1945) by Andrew Higgins. His company delivered 20,000 of these critical war vessels. They were made largely of plywood with a shallow draft and squared front, inspired by boats used in Louisiana’s swamps and marshlands, adapted for open water use. 36 feet long, they could hold a platoon of 36 men, and disembark its entire load of men and equipment on the beach and begin to return to the mother ship in 3-4 minutes.

No less an authority than the supreme Allied commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower, declared the Higgins boat to have been crucial to the Allied victory on the European Western Front and the previous fighting in North Africa and Italy:

Andrew Higgins … is the man who won the war for us. … If Higgins had not designed and built those LCVPs, we never could have landed over an open beach. The whole strategy of the war would have been different.

Around here, we call that Cajun Engineering of the highest caliber. No gold plating, either.

The National WW II Museum is located in New Orleans. Why? Because of Andrew Higgins. In 2015 the Museum is undergoing a $300 million expansion. There are 500 thousand visitors each year. There is a fenuine Higgins LCVP on display. Y’all come down to visit, hear?

The National WWII Museum, formerly known as the D-Day Museum, is a military history museum located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, on Andrew Higgins Drive between Camp Street and Magazine Street. The museum focuses on the contribution made by the United States to Allied victory in World War II. Founded in 2000, it was later designated by the U.S. Congress as America’s official National World War II Museum in 2003. The Museum maintains an affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution. The mission statement of the Museum emphasizes the American experience in World War II.

To finish on a lighter note, listen here to Bill Monroe’s (1911-1996) bluegrass classic “Y’all Come” (1954). The good old days, before Trump pollution. From the chorus:

Y’all come! (Y’all come!)

Y’all come! (Y’all come!)

Well, you all come to see us now and then

Y’all come! (Y’all come!)

Y’all come! (Y’all come!)

Well, you all come to see us when you can

List of site sources >>>


Watch the video: 1941. Серия 6 2009 @ Русские сериалы (January 2022).