b-blog

Today in World War II History—January 13, 1940 & 1945

80 Years Ago—January 13, 1940: Belgium orders military mobilization; the Netherlands cancels all Army leaves.

75 Years Ago—Jan. 13, 1945: German Army Group E completes withdrawal from Greece and Albania.

Japanese make last kamikaze attack in the Philippines, damaging escort carrier USS Salamaua.

Today in World War II History—January 12, 1940 & 1945

TBM-1C Avengers of Torpedo Squadron 4 from carrier USS Essex crossing the Indochinese coast on their way to bomb shipping at Saigon, 12 Jan 1945 (US Navy photo: 80-G-300673)

TBM-1C Avengers of Torpedo Squadron 4 from carrier USS Essex crossing the Indochinese coast on their way to bomb shipping at Saigon, 12 Jan 1945 (US Navy photo: 80-G-300673)

80 Years Ago—January 12, 1940: US Interior Department motorship North Star reaches Bay of Whales, Antarctica to establish West Base for expedition under Adm. Richard Byrd.

Movie premiere of The Shop Around the Corner, starring Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan.

British 3rd Commando Brigade landing in Arakan, Burma, Jan 1945 (Imperial War Museum)

British 3rd Commando Brigade landing in Arakan, Burma, Jan 1945 (Imperial War Museum)

75 Years Ago—Jan. 12, 1945: Soviets launch offensive across Vistula River in Poland.

US Task Force 38 aircraft attack Japanese shipping off Indochina, sinking 44 ships and destroying 99 planes.

British Royal Marine Commandos land on the Arakan Peninsula in Burma at Myebon.

Today in World War II History—January 11, 1940 & 1945

Women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in flying kit at Hatfield, 10 Jan 1940 (Imperial War Museum: C 381)

Women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in flying kit at Hatfield, 10 Jan 1940 (Imperial War Museum: C 381)

80 Years Ago—January 11, 1940: British Women’s Section Air Transport Auxiliary delivers first plane in ferrying operations; during WWII, 166 women will fly for ATA, one-eighth of all ATA pilots, and 15 will die in service.

Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet premieres in Leningrad.

Movie premiere of comedy His Girl Friday, starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

Kaiten Type 1 test launch from Japanese cruiser Kitakami, 28 Feb 1945 (Imperial Japanese Navy)

Kaiten Type 1 test launch from Japanese cruiser Kitakami, 28 Feb 1945 (Imperial Japanese Navy)

75 Years Ago—Jan. 11, 1945: Japanese submarines begin operation Kongo, employing suicide torpedoes (kaiten) at Ulithi Atoll, damaging two American ships.

On Luzon, Filipino guerrillas take Aguilar and Santa Barbara, linking with US troops.

Today in World War II History—January 10, 1940 & 1945

Japanese bomb-carrying balloon reinflated at Moffett Field, CA after it had been shot down by a US Navy aircraft January 10, 1945 (US Army photo)

Japanese bomb-carrying balloon reinflated at Moffett Field, CA after it had been shot down by a US Navy aircraft January 10, 1945 (US Army photo)

80 Years Ago—January 10, 1940: A Luftwaffe officer mistakenly lands in Belgium carrying plans for the German invasion of the west scheduled to start on January 17; Germans are forced to make new plans.

75 Years Ago—Jan. 10, 1945: A Japanese balloon bomb is shot down by a US P-38 Lightning near Tule Lake Detention Center, an internment camp for Japanese-Americans in CA.

Today in World War II History—January 9, 1940 & 1945

US landing barges carrying invasion troops in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, 9 Jan 1945 (US National Archives: 26-G-3856)

US landing barges carrying invasion troops in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, 9 Jan 1945 (US National Archives: 26-G-3856)

80 Years Ago—January 9, 1940: Australian Comforts Fund is reestablished, for women to send care packages to soldiers.

Movie premiere of The Green Hornet serial, starring Gordon Jones.

75 Years Ago—Jan. 9, 1945: US Sixth Army lands at Lingayen Gulf on Luzon in the Philippines; beachhead is established as Japanese have withdrawn inland.

Seaman Leon LeRoy, returning home to Antioch, CA to comfort his recently widowed mother, and two other servicemen are bumped off their flight by a dog belonging to Col. Elliott Roosevelt, son of the president. Read more: “A Dog, the President’s Son, and a Grieving Sailor.”

A Dog, the President’s Son, and a Grieving Sailor

A Dog, the President's Son, and a Grieving Sailor, an Incredible Story from World War IISometimes historical research is dry, but often it brings up fascinating stories. While reading excerpts from 1945 issues of Time Magazine, a story grabbed my attention. It involved Antioch, California—the small (at the time) town I used as the hometown for the heroes in my Wings of Glory series. A bit of time over microfiche copies of the Antioch Ledger pulled the details together.

Like many good stories, this involves an unlikely assortment of characters.

The President’s Son and a Hollywood Actress

Brig. Gen. Elliott Roosevelt, Commander, 325th Photographic Wing, 1945 (US government photo)

Brig. Gen. Elliott Roosevelt, Commander, 325th Photographic Wing, 1945 (US government photo)

Col. Elliott Roosevelt, second son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, served in the US Eighth Air Force based in England as a pilot and a commander of a reconnaissance wing. On December 3, 1944, he married glamorous film star Faye Emerson at the Grand Canyon. This was his third marriage.

Publicity still of actress Faye Emerson, 1943 (public domain via Warner Bros. Studio)

Publicity still of actress Faye Emerson, 1943 (public domain via Warner Bros. Studio)

A Small-Town Police Chief

In an entirely different world, Al LeRoy served as police chief in Antioch, California, population 7250. With his wife—also named Faye—he raised two stepsons and his son, Leon. At seventeen, Leon joined the US Navy and was assigned as a gunner on a tanker. Chief Al LeRoy was an upstanding member of the community—a World War I veteran and a member of multiple civic organizations. On December 6, 1944 he died of a heart attack at age 44. At sea, his 18-year-old son Leon was unaware of his father’s death.

A Dog Named Blaze

Back in England, Colonel Roosevelt bought a 130-pound bull mastiff named Blaze for his bride, and he had it shipped to her Hollywood home.

A Grieving Sailor

US poster, WWII

US poster, WWII

On January 4, 1945, Seaman 1/C Leon LeRoy’s ship docked in New York City. There he received a pile of letters—and he finally learned of his father’s death. He received a furlough to go home and visit his mother.

During the war, the transportation system was strained by the competing needs of civilian and military transport. Military travel took priority, but even in the military, priorities were assigned. Seaman LeRoy had “C” priority.

Bumped by a Dog

Douglas C-47 Skytrain of US Air Transport Command, 1940s (US Air Force photo)

Douglas C-47 Skytrain of US Air Transport Command, 1940s (US Air Force photo)

On January 9, 1945, the C-47 transport plane carrying Seaman 1/C Leon LeRoy landed in Memphis, Tennessee. Cargo was loaded carrying an “A” priority label, meaning it was “required by an emergency so acute that precedence should be given over all other traffic.” This crucial cargo was a large crate carrying Blaze the bull mastiff. To make room, Seaman LeRoy was bumped from the flight, along with a Seabee and Army T/Sgt. Dave Aks, home for the first time in thirty-one months to visit his critically ill wife in Riverside, California. Hitchhiking part of the way to Antioch, LeRoy wouldn’t arrive until January 16, leaving him only three days to stay at home.

National Scandal

The Antioch Ledger published the story on January 16, 1945. It was picked up by the UP on January 17, and the story made the January 29 issue of Time Magazine. The public was incensed, and the US Senate formed a committee to investigate the matter. Colonel Roosevelt had been due to receive a promotion to brigadier general on January 17, but this was held up until January 22 during the investigation.

Colonel Roosevelt stated he had never requested top-priority transport for his dog, and his wife hadn’t even known the dog was coming. Fingers were pointed, even to the president’s daughter, Anna, for arranging the transport. In the end, it was most likely a low-level bureaucratic error.

Justice

Seaman LeRoy’s furlough was extended an additional five days to January 27. In a nice twist, Lt. Harriet Ainsworth, a WAVE serving with the Naval Air Transport Service, arranged a priority Navy Transport Command flight for his return to New York City on January 26.

After the war, LeRoy returned to Antioch, where he served as a police sergeant for many years. In 1970, he co-founded the REACH Program, a youth counseling program still active in Northern California.

Today in World War II History—January 8, 1940 & 1945

British ration book, WWII. (National Archives UK)

80 Years Ago—January 8, 1940: Britain begins food rationing—each person to receive 4 oz of bacon or ham, 8 oz of butter, 12 oz of sugar, and one egg weekly.

75 Years Ago—Jan. 8, 1945: Germans demolish floodgates on the Ruhr River, flooding the area west of Cologne.

Japanese execute Filipino resistance leader Col. Pastor Martelino.

In Placer County, CA, the home of a recently returned Japanese-American family is attacked (shed burned and shots fired), the first of 30 similar incidents on the West Coast.

Today in World War II History—January 7, 1940 & 1945

Finnish troops inspecting destroyed Soviet vehicles, Finland, 17 Jan 1940 (US Library of Congress)

Finnish troops inspecting destroyed Soviet vehicles, Finland, 17 Jan 1940 (US Library of Congress)

80 Years Ago—January 7, 1940: Battle of Raate Road ends in Finnish victory; over 10,000 have been killed in the Soviet 44th Division.

In Britain, “BBC Forces Programme” premieres, a second nationwide service (radio channel) with dance music and variety shows meant to appeal to servicemen.

In US, “Gene Autry’s Melody Ranch” premieres on CBS radio and runs through 1956.

75 Years Ago—Jan. 7, 1945: German Navy begins evacuating troops trapped by the Soviet advance along the Baltic in Lithuania.

Off Manila Bay, US destroyers Charles Ausburne, Braine, Russell, and Shaw sink Japanese destroyer Hinoki in the last surface naval engagement of the Pacific war.

Pre-Order The Land Beneath Us – And Receive Goodies!

The Land Beneath Us is coming February 4, 2020! My publisher, Revell Books, and I have put together a fun package of goodies for everyone who pre-orders a copy (or has already done so) and enters by February 3, 2020!

You can pre-order at your local bookstore or online (find links here). Any version counts, including e-books and audio books!

As my thanks to you for pre-ordering The Land Beneath Us (Book 3 in the Sunrise at Normandy Series), you will receive:

  • The Land Beneath Us zipper pouch! (ONLY for the first 100 people who enter!) NOTE: As of January 7 at 9 am, ALL have been spoken for! So sorry! But the remaining goodies are still available…
  • A downloadable map showing the sites in the Sunrise at Normandy series.
  • A downloadable poster of a poem written by Leah Jones, the book’s heroine!
  • Downloadable bookmarks with bookish quotes from The Land Beneath Us!
  • A signed customized bookplate
  • The Land Beneath Us Bookmarks
  • Postcards

Pre-order goodies for The Land Beneath Us! (Zipper pouches already all gone!)

To receive your goodies, pre-order your copy of The Land Beneath Us—or find your confirmation number if you’ve already done so! Then contact me at sarahsundin10@sbcglobal.net with the following information (you can copy & paste this list into your email):

  1. Name:
  2. Mailing address:
  3. Where did you pre-order The Land Beneath Us?
  4. Order confirmation number:
  5. Would you like bookmarks? How many?
  6. Would you like postcards? How many?
  7. Would you like signed bookplates? To whom would you like them autographed?

Note: I reserve the right to limit quantities of bookmarks & postcards mailed to addresses outside the US.

Offer ends February 3, 2020, so don’t wait! By pre-ordering, you’ll receive the book first—and you create interest in bookstores that helps the book succeed.

Today in World War II History—January 6, 1940 & 1945

WAVES Yeoman 3rd Class Margaret Jean Fusco photographing friends by King Kamehameha's statue in Honolulu, US Territory of Hawaii, spring 1945 (US National Archives: 80-G-K-5568)

WAVES Yeoman 3rd Class Margaret Jean Fusco photographing friends by King Kamehameha’s statue in Honolulu, US Territory of Hawaii, spring 1945 (US National Archives: 80-G-K-5568)

80 Years Ago—January 6, 1940: Britain declares German ships may not use Norwegian waters; Sweden and Norway deny a British request to operate in their waters.

Norway and Sweden forbid Allied troops from crossing their territory to aid Finland.

US Navy pilot Lt. George H.W. Bush, WWII (US Navy photo)

US Navy pilot Lt. George H.W. Bush, WWII (US Navy photo)

75 Years Ago—Jan. 6, 1945: Edith Frank, mother of Anne, dies in Auschwitz.

Future president Lt. (j.g.) George H.W. Bush marries Barbara Pierce in Rye, NY, just a few weeks after his return from the Pacific.

First contingent of WAVES arrives in Hawaii; 4000 will serve there.