Precious metals, paintings, and other loot hidden by Germans in a salt mine near Merkers, Germany, photographed 15 Apr 1945 (US National Archives: 239-PA-6-34-2)
80 Years Ago—April 7, 1940: Booker T. Washington becomes first African-American man to appear on a US postage stamp.
Battleship Yamato under aerial attack in the East China Sea, 7 Apr 1945 (US National Archives)
75 Years Ago—Apr. 7, 1945: The world’s largest battleship, Japan’s Yamato, on a suicide mission, is sunk by US Navy Task Force 58 planes off Okinawa (3055 killed).
US Third Army finds Nazi art and gold stash in salt mine in Merkers worth $500 million.
P-51 Mustang fighter planes based on Iwo Jima escort B-29 Superfortress bombers over Japan for the first time.
British poster, 1940 (Imperial War Museum)
80 Years Ago—April 6, 1940: British Ministry of Food announces “Kitchen Front” campaign to save food.
Germany recalls all 1, 2, 5, and 10-Pfennig coins to reclaim copper and bronze; will use zinc instead.
75 Years Ago—Apr. 6, 1945: Japanese launch air counterattack on Okinawa: over 400 planes, including kamikazes, strike US naval and ground forces; 300 shot down.
Yugoslavian Partisans liberate Sarajevo.
Destruction in Würzburg, Germany, April 1945 (US Army Center of Military History)
80 Years Ago—April 5, 1940: Turkey orders girls 11-16 to obtain military training—sharpshooting, first aid.
75 Years Ago—Apr. 5, 1945: USSR denounces the five-year neutrality pact signed with Japan in April 1941.
US Seventh Army takes Würzburg, Germany after heavy fighting.
French troops enter Germany’s Black Forest.
“Freeman Field Mutiny” begins as African-American officers of the 447th Bomb Group attempt to integrate the all-white officers’ club at Freeman Army Air Field, IN; 61 will be arrested in the 2-day nonviolent protest.
American ships unloading supplies on the beach of Okinawa, Japan, 4 Apr 1945 (US Army photo)
80 Years Ago—April 4, 1940: In France, spreading communist or antiwar propaganda is declared a capital offense.
75 Years Ago—Apr. 4, 1945: US Third Army liberates Ohrdruf concentration camp, the first liberated by US troops.
US Tenth Army encounters first strong resistance on Okinawa.
Soviet 2nd & 3rd Ukrainian Fronts finish occupation of all of Hungary.
US Marine Corps Commandant Alexander Vandegrift is promoted to general and US Coast Guard Commandant Russell Waesche is promoted to admiral; both men are the first in their service to attain four-star rank.
‘Fantails’ or Buffalo amphibians transport German prisoners through a flooded landscape south of Comacchio Lagoon, Italy, 11 April 1945 (Imperial War Museum: NA 23992)
80 Years Ago—April 3, 1940: Soviets begin massacre of 20,000 Polish officers in Katyn Forest.
US Congress cuts military spending 10 percent and refuses to fund heavy bombers as “aggressive weapons.”
75 Years Ago—Apr. 3, 1945: Soviet 2nd Ukrainian Front takes Wiener Neustadt, Austria.
British commandos & Italian partisans secure islands in Comacchio Lagoon, Italy.
US Army XXIV Corps on Okinawa, April 1945 (US Army Center of Military History)
75 Years Ago—April 2, 1945: US Tenth Army reaches the east coast on Okinawa, dividing the island.
On Okinawa, US opens Yontan and Kadena airfields for emergency and reconnaissance use; first aircraft lands at Yontan, a Marine Corps OY observation aircraft.
Poster for the 1940 US Census
80 Years Ago—April 1, 1940: US 1940 Census taken: population 131,669,000, a 7.2% increase since 1930.
British Ministry of Food announces Dig for Victory campaign to encourage growing food at home.
Men of the US Tenth Army landing on Okinawa, Japan, 1 Apr 1945 (US National Archives: 39573-FMC)
75 Years Ago—Apr. 1, 1945: US Tenth Army and Marines invade Okinawa; 60,000 troops land by nightfall.
US First and Ninth Armies meet at Lippstadt, Germany, encircling the industrial Ruhr Valley and 500,000 German soldiers in Army Group B.
German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis (United Kingdom government photo, public domain)
80 Years Ago—March 31, 1940: German auxiliary cruiser Atlantis sets sail; will sink 22 ships before being sunk on 22 November 1941.
75 Years Ago—March 31, 1945: Free French Army crosses the Rhine near Speyer, Germany, the first French troops to cross the Rhine since Napoleon.
Sisters Meg and Sylvie Townsend would be perfectly happy running the family bookstore in Chicago if only their father were his old self. Stephen Townsend came home from the Civil War a changed man, forever pacing the roof and creating a mock-up of the Andersonville prison camp. Meg does what she can to make him happy.
When the Great Fire of Chicago strikes, Meg and Sylvie just manage to escape the flames with the help of reporter Nate Pierce – but they’re separated from Stephen. After the smoke clears, a family friend is found murdered, and Stephen is charged with the crime – and sent to the insane asylum. If Meg and Nate can’t find the real murderer, Stephen will be lost to them forever.
Rich in historical detail, Veiled in Smoke casts light on a significant event and also on “soldier’s heart,” what we now know as PTSD. Meg and Sylvie are appealing heroines, as they struggle with their father’s condition and with their losses from the fire, each in her own way. Both sisters have to confront errors in thinking that have created a wedge between them, and their journey is realistic and touching. Once again, Jocelyn Green has penned a must-read novel.
Wang Jingwei and military officers at the ceremony establishing a Japanese government in Nanjing, China, 30 Mar 1940 (public domain via WW2 Database)
80 Years Ago—March 30, 1940: Japanese establish puppet Reorganized National Government of the Republic of China in Nanjing under president Wang Jingwei.
Soviet M-17 vehicles in Danzig, late-Mar 1945 (public domain via WW2 Database)
75 Years Ago—March 30, 1945: Soviets enter Austria.
Soviets take Danzig.
Allies get first close-up look at a German Me 262 jet fighter when a defecting pilot delivers one to American forces.
British and Chinese secure northern Burma.
Last German V-1 flying bomb reaches England and is shot down by an antiaircraft gunner; in the V-weapon campaign, V-1s have killed 6284, V-2s have killed 2754.