In Memory of the Valor and the Sacrifices which Hallow this soil.

thank you

Only a few days ago we celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day. People often forget that D-Day did not mark the end of WWII, it merely marked the beginning of the end.

So many sacrifices were still made in the days and months following D-Day. Thousands and thousands of mainly young men, some the same age as my own 2 sons, gave their lives for the freedom of strangers. Most of them did not know the people they were fighting for, all they knew is that an evil regime had to be beaten.

The title of this blog is a quote which engraved in the Marble reception hall of the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial  in Margraten in the Netherlands.

The cemetery was created in October 1944 under the leadership of Joseph Shomon of the 611th Graves Registration Company, as the Ninth United States Army pushed into the Netherlands from France and Belgium. American casualties from the area, and also those that fell in Germany were buried here (as Americans could not be buried permanently in enemy territory)

Margraten 1940s

Currently 8,301 souls are buried here.Stretching along the sides of the court are Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded 1,722 names. Totaling 10,023 souls remembered here. I could write pages and pages on honouting these men but there is only one word that really describes each single one of them-Heroes-.

Below are just some impression of this most hallow of places. Let us never forget.

US FLAG

Flag

FLOWERS

ROSENKRANTZ

In this world where the greatest generation often gets disrespected, I am proud to see that there is still so much respect for the men and remembered here. The sight of 8301 pure white marble graves, is awesome,saddening and eerie at the same time, but these hallow soils are treated with the utmost respect.

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Sources

Own archive

Beeldbank WO2

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The young people who fought back.

 

I have many weaknesses ,one of them is that I have a very low tolerance or even no tolerance for people who have a warped sense of entitlement. I know I shouldn’t be intolerant and just rise above it , but I find that very hard at times.

Especially when it comes to the snowflake generation or millennials. A millennial is described  as “a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.Or people born between the years of 1981 to 1998. I have to say not all of these people do have that sense of entitlement, there are many very decent people among them. It is only a minority of millennials but is a very vocal minority, They appear to have a problem for every solution. Generally they have not experienced any hardships but yet they claim their lives are much worse then that of the generation before them.

Then I come across stories of extremely brave young people like Mordechai Anielewicz,Mira Fuchrer and Rachel (Sarenka) Zylberberg(all pictured above)zob

These 3 young people ,who were in the same age bracket as the millenials, all died this day 76 years ago in Warsaw, May 8,1943. They were all members of the  Jewish Combat Organizationor ZOB in Polish), a resistance movement in occupied Poland, which was instrumental in engineering the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

 

The youth groups that were instrumental in forming the ŻOB had anticipated German intentions to annihilate Warsaw Jewry and began to shift from an educational and cultural focus to self-defense and eventual armed struggle

Their headquarters  was a bunker based on Ulica Miła 18 (or 18 Pleasant Street in English)

I am not going too much into the details of the group. I leave that up to all of you to do the homework on that, Because there is so much information on them.

Suffice to say that Mordechai Anielewicz was the leader of the ZOB and Mira Fuchrer was his girlfiend. Together with their friend Rachel  Zylberberg they played a pivotal role in the uprising at the cost of their lives.

On the 8th of May they were in the bunker with a group of about 120 fighters, when the bunker was discovered.s They were surrounded by the Nazis but the young resistance  fighters refused to surrender. Many of them committed suicide.

bunker

These heroes should never be forgotten.

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A sad but brave farewell letter- Young love destroyed.

bob

Operation Frankton was a British WWII commando raid on shipping in the German occupied French port of Bordeaux in southwest France.

The plan was for six kayaks  to be taken to the area of the Gironde estuary by submarine. The twelve men would then paddle by night to Bordeaux. The operation was carried out between 7-12 December 1942.

The best way to describe the mission is a suicide mission. Of the 12 men involved in the operation only 4 survived.

One of the marines  21 year old Robert “Bobby” Ewart knew the dangers involved and wrote a farewell letter to his 16 year old Girlfriend Heather Powell.

Below is the text of the letter.

“Dear Heather, I trust it won’t be necessary to have this sent to you but since I don’t know the outcome of this little adventure, I thought I’d leave this note behind.

I couldn’t help but love you Heather, although you were so young. I will always love you, as I know you do me.

That alone should get me through this, but one never knows the turns of fate. One thing I ask of you, Heather, is not to take it too hard. You have yet your life to live.

“Think of me as a good friend and keep your chin up. Some lucky fellow will find you who has more sense than I had and who can get you what you deserve.

Yours for ever, Bob, chin up Sweetheart.”

Bob Ewart was captured on December 10 1942 and executed. After Heather received the news of Bob’s death she got ill, she contracted tuberculosis and died heartbroken shortly before she turned 17.

 

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8301

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8301, not just a number or mathematical equation.

8301 sacrifices made for the freedom of others.

8301 young lives ended by violence

8301 heroes

8301 reasons why we should never forget what hate,ignorance and intolerance can do.

8301. although a large number it is only a small percentage of the overall sacrifices made.

8301 men whose future was taken.

8301 who found their final resting place in Margraten,the Netherlands.

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Sgt Rosenkrantz

I started this website and my blogs to find answers. Answers to how exactly my paternal Grandfather died. all I know is that he died during WWII when he was serving with the Dutch military and that he died early om in the war. But the circumstances how he died are somewhat vague,so I have resigned to the fact that I probably will never find out exactly what happened, for all those who could shed some light on it are now also gone. But I will learn how to live with that.

That’s why this brings so much joy in my heart. Last Saturday,my siblings and  I visited the American War Cemetery in Margraten in the Netherlands. It is a place of contrast because it is both a very sad place but also in equal measures a beautiful place. It is surrounded by a beautiful hilly country side, and the cemetery is extremely well maintained.

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8,301 souls are buried here.Stretching along the sides of the court are Tablets of the Missing on which are recorded 1,722 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since recovered and identified.

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All of these 10,023 men are not just names on a cross or star, or a name carved in a wall, they are all heroes, each with a separate story to tell.

As is the story of Sgt David Rosenkrantz.

On 28 September 1944, Rosenkrantz an his platoon was occupying a farm, near Groesbeek, the Netherlands, when they were attacked by an overwhelming force. The isolated paratroopers hid among sparse trees and buildings. As Rosenkrantz rose from his position, enemy gunfire erupted and killed him. Due to enemy fire and the proximity of enemy troops, his remains could not be recovered.

It took decades before the family could have closure in 2012  Sgt David Rosenkrantz’s dog tags were found and only in February 2018 where his remains finally found.

He now no longer is a name on the wall for those who are missing in action. The final chapter of the book of his life was closed.

https://www.adoptiegraven-margraten.nl/en/

 

 

 

Medical Heroes

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The one group that often gets overseen in WWII stories are the medics. There are some books and movies about them, but if you put in the bigger scheme of WWII things it is a small percentage.

Yet they are the ones who would run into the battlefield, sometimes unarmed, to pick up the wounded.

1944-rescue

combat-medics

They were also the ones who, after the dust cleared, had to deal with the aftermath of battle. It is one thing seeing your brother in arms being blown to smithereens, but due to the adrenaline and the instinct to survive, it keeps the other emotions at check. You just get on with it, but afterwards when things have settled the emotions start flowing. The medical teams had to deal with these emotions and at the same time try to save lives.

Like here where surgeons work on the leg amputation of an injured solider at 46th Portable Surgical Hospital in Tinkhawk Sakan, Burma during World War II. 1944.

amputation.jpg

Sometimes in makeshift field hospitals  Like in the picture below where an American Army doctor operates in an underground bunker surgery room behind the front lines in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea during World War II. The injured soldier had been wounded by a Japanese sniper. 1943.

surgery

It wasn’t only men ,Navy Flight Nurse Jane Kendiegh feeds an injured solider on a return trip from the battle of Iwo Jima.

flight-nurse

An American medic works with two Army nurses to administer blood plasma to a patient who was critically wounded by shell fragments at the Battle of Anzio in Italy

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American Captain Clarence Brott applies a cast to the leg of a soldier with a deep wound in his thigh inflicted by a shell fragment.

soldier-cast

 

Picture source: National Library of Medicine and National Archives

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The Leica Freedom Train

LeicaFreedomTrain

When the Nazis came to power in Germany there were plenty of business men and women who saw opportunities.

Some of them saw opportunities in exploiting the environment created by the NSDAP, especially in relation to the ‘Jewish Question’ they would actively help the Nazis for their own betterment.

On the other hand there were those who saw opportunities to do good and help those most affected by the Nazi regime. Ernst Leitz II and his family  were among those who used their influence and contacts to do good.

ernst-leitz-leica

Ernst Leitz’s optics company, founded in Wetzlar in 1869, had a tradition of enlightened behavior toward its workers. Pensions, sick leave, health insurance — all were instituted early on at Leitz, which depended for its work force upon generations of skilled employees, many of whom were Jewish.

Ernst Leitz GmbH, is now three companies: Leica Camera AG, Leica Geosystems AG, and Leica Microsystems GmbH. known for the Leica cameras.

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When Ernst Leitz sr. died in 1920, his son, Ernst Leitz II, took over, leading the company through the war years, as well as the introduction of the Leica 35mm camera in 1925. When Adolf Hitler became the German Chancellor in 1933, the younger Leitz almost immediately started receiving frantic calls and letters from Jewish associates, asking for the nearly impossible– help getting them and their families out of Germany. Since the Leitz family was not Jewish, they were not subject to Nazi Germany’s Nuremberg Laws, which– among other things– greatly restricted where Jews could and could not live, as well as limiting and scrutinizing their professional and civic activities.

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In order to help, Leitz quietly embarked on what history would later dub the Leica Freedom Train. The plan seemed simple enough, but could yield dire consequences for all concerned if ever discovered. The plan helped Jews leave the country covertly, under the pretense of Leitz employees being transferred to work overseas.

Employees, retailers, family members, and sometimes even friends of family members were “assigned” to Leitz sales offices, primarily in the United States, but also in France, England, and even Hong Kong. Efforts intensified after Kristallnacht— Crystal Night– in November of 1938, during which Jews were beaten and killed while their buildings, shops, and synagogues were vandalized and burned all across Germany.

Employees arriving in New York were met at the pier and taken to the Leitz Manhattan offices and showroom on 5th Avenue, where they received help finding jobs, homes, and anything else they needed to embark on their new lives.

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The refugees were given a living allowance if finding work proved to be difficult. Each was also given a Leica camera– not because they needed new cameras, but because they were easily exchangeable for cash if necessary. Many among this wave of employees became product designers, repair technicians, sales people, marketers, and even writers in the photography industry.

The Leica Freedom Train was operating at its height in 1938, and into early 1939, dropping off groups of refugees around the world every few weeks. It was not until the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939 that the country’s borders were officially closed and Leitz’s rescue operation came to an unfortunate end.

Leitz’s daughter, Elsie Kuhn-Leitz, elsie-3_480was imprisoned by the Gestapo after she was caught at the border, helping Jewish women cross into Switzerland. She eventually was freed but endured rough treatment in the course of questioning. She also fell under suspicion when she attempted to improve the living conditions of 700 to 800 Ukrainian slave laborers, all of them women, who had been assigned to work in the plant during the 1940s

The company did produce rangefinders and other optics for the German military. Other Nazi officials especially propaganda experts believed strongly in the Leica cameras as a propaganda tool. That;s why it is believed that some local Nazi officials turned a blind eye to the exploits of the Leitz family.

This entire affair may have never come to light, had it not been for the dedicated research of a California-born rabbi living in England. Written by Frank Dabba Smith and published in 2002 by the American Photographic Historical Society, “The Greatest Invention of the Leitz Family: The Leica Freedom Train” details the family’s efforts to quietly intervene in one of history’s greatest injustices. When Ernst Leitz II was posthumously honored by the Anti-Defamation League with the Courage to Care Award in 2007.The rabbi of the Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue in northwest London and a Leica enthusiast, has reconstructed their stories through photographs, documents and letters of thanks from survivors and their families

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“Under considerable risk and in defiance of Nazi policy, Ernst Leitz took valiant steps to transport his Jewish employees and others out of harm’s way,” said Abraham Foxman, director of ADL. “If only there had been more Oskar Schindlers, more Ernst Leitzs, then less Jews would have perished.”

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Many thanks to Norman Stone for drawing my attention to the Leica Freedom train story.

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Colonel Francis Fenton’s hardest battle.

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No parent should ever have to bury any of their children,unfortunately it does happen, During war time it just happens too much as was the case during WWII

Michael James “Mike” Fenton was the son of Colonel  Francis Fenton.

While Colonel Fenton advanced to higher command, his younger son, Michael, enlisted in the Marine Corps on August 17, 1943, and joined B Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division – the same division in which his father commanded the engineers. Reportedly turning down a commission so he could fight at the front, Michael served as a scout-sniper on Okinawa.

Landing On Okinawa

Father and son met once during the fighting when their paths crossed at a partially destroyed Okinawan farmhouse. After exchanging news from home, including information on Michael’s older brother, Francis, Jr., who had been commissioned a Marine officer in 1941, the two family members returned to their work.

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They would never talk again.

On May 7, 1945, while beating back a Japanese counterattack not far from Sugar Loaf, 19-year-old Pfc. Michael Fenton was killed. When his father received the bitter news, he traveled to the site of his son’s death and knelt down to pray over the flag draped body.

Colonel_Francis_Fenton_and_his_son

Upon arising, Colonel Fenton stared at the bodies of other Marine dead and said: “Those poor souls. They didn’t have their fathers here”.

After the burial, Colonel Fenton returned to his headquarters and wrote a brief note to his wife, Mary, in San Diego. The soldier then resurfaced. Fenton fixed his attention on a large map hanging in his headquarters, studied it closely for a time, then said to his subordinate, “We’d better double the guard around No. 5 bridge. The Nips may try to blow it”. The war was back on.

Mary Fenton learned of her son’s death before receiving her husband’s letter. In fact, she experienced a bittersweet two days when, on Wednesday, a telegram arrived from the Marine Corps Commandant informing her of Michael’s death. The very next day came news that her husband had been awarded a second Bronze Star.

Mrs. Fenton told reporters she was proud that Michael had done his duty as a Marine. She quoted a recent letter from him in which the youth wrote that he ‘dedicated my life to my country’ and that he was ‘prepared to die”. Both Colonel Fenton and his older son survived the war. Mike’s body was later exhumed from his temporary grave and is now resting in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

RIP

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Brothers in Arms-Friends in life and death.

 

Angelo P. Marcaletti and Charles James Jr, who were they?

To be honest I don’t know who they were. However I do know they both lived in New Philadelphia,Ohio, and they both had attended the Dover High school in Tuscarawas County,Ohio.

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I also know they were buddies when they both were inducted to the US Army on October 27th 1942.

And I know they were still friends when they were killed on April 7 1944.

The question really shouldn’t be who they were but what they were. That is an easier question to answer for they both were Heroes. Heroes who sacrificed their lives to afford me the freedom to live my life any which way I wish.

Dear Sirs, I salute you.

Angelo P. Marcaletti

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Angelo P. Marcaletti entered the Army from Ohio. He married Vera Dindo on 18 December 1943 at the Sacred Heart church.

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He was stationed at  Camp Breckinridge in Kentucky at the time of his marriage.His parents and his brother were immigrants from Italy.

Charles James Jr.

Charles James.

Charles James Jr. was a veteran of the US 9th Army’s campaigns in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

He had been awarded the Infantry Man’s medal and the Good Conduct medal. He was born and raises in New Philadelphia, Ohio.

Prior to joining  the US  Army he had been employed at the Robinson Clay Products Co. at Parral.

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He graduated from High school in 1939 and was a member of the Catholic Church.He married Louise Martinelli in June 1942.

Both Angelo and James were killed when a land mine exploded under them while they were laying communication lines.

They are both buried in the American War Cemetery,Margraten in the Netherlands.

 

 

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Heroes of Pearl Harbor

attack_on_pearl_harbor

2,335 service men & 68 civilians killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Those two numbers,2,335 & 68, are just statistics and mean nothing without the stories behind them.

For none of these casualties were just numbers. They were someone’s son,father,husband,wife, daughter and sister each of them heroes. These are just the stories of 2 of those heroes.

Robert R. Scott

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Robert Raymond Scott was born in Massillon, Ohio on July 13, 1915 and enlisted in the United States Navy on April 18, 1938. Machinist’s Mate First Class Scott was assigned to USS California when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941.

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At the age of 26, Robert Raymond Scott went down in history as an American hero, having served aboard the California when the Japanese fighters bombed Battleship Row. Like many of the soldiers that morning, Scott didn’t waiver in his duty as a sailor of the United States Navy. Even as chaos erupted around him, as battleships nearby were struck time and time again by incoming enemy fire, as his own vessel took multiple hits, he remained dedicated to the cause he’d signed up for: to protect his country and fight alongside his Navy brothers.

It was this dedication to service that cost Robert Scott his life,

During the incoming fire, the California took a direct torpedo hit, which caused flooding in the compartment where Scott was stationed. It was his duty to attend to the air compressor, to ensure the California received the air it needed for a variety of functions. While the rest of the crew stationed along with him evacuated, the determined sailor stayed behind.

“This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going,” Scott Moh_rightexclaimed to those who implored him to evacuate. Knowing the danger this decision posed to his life, he stayed behind, and that was the last time Robert R. Scott would be seen.

He was posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his heroism.”For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. The compartment, in the U.S.S. California, in which the air compressor, to which Scott was assigned as his battle station, was flooded as the result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated that compartment but Scott refused to leave.”

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Born in St. Lucas, Iowa, Schmitt studied at Columbia College (now Loras College) in Dubuque, Iowa and graduated in 1932. He then studied in Rome for the priesthood. He was ordained on December 8, 1935. Father Schmitt was first assigned as an associate at Saint Mary’s Church in Dubuque. He was also assigned to St. Mary’s Cathedral in Cheyenne, Wyoming. After four years, he received permission to become a chaplain, and joined the United States Navy. He was appointed Acting Chaplain with rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG) on June 28, 1939.

On December 7th, 1941, Fr. Schmitt was serving on board the battleship, USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

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He had just finished saying Mass when the call went out for “general quarters”. A Japanese hit caused the ship to capsize. A number of sailors, including Fr. Schmitt, were trapped in a compartment with only a small porthole as the means of escape. Fr. Schmitt helped a number of men through this porthole. When it came his time to leave, he declined and helped more men to escape. In total, he helped 12 men to escape.

Fr. Schmitt died on board the Oklahoma. He was the first chaplain of any faith to have died in World War II. His example inspired a number of other priests to become chaplains.

He was honored posthumously by the U.S. government when it awarded him the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on 23 October 1942 for “distinguished heroism and sublime devotion to his fellow man.” He also received the Purple Heart.

father-schmitt

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