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WORLD WAR 2
#1
The so-called 'good' war. Personally, I would call it the necessary war. One of few.

Use this thread to discuss anything about the war. Family stories, tales or for very old Chewers personal experiences.

Thought I'd kick this off with an article by noted war journalist Ernie Pyle. this one is called 'Killing is all that matters': Links to others above the title:

http://journalism.indiana.edu/resour...-that-matters/

The American soldier is quick in adapting himself to a new mode of living. Outfits which have been here only three days have dug vast networks of ditches three feet deep in the bare brown earth. They have rigged up a light here and there with a storage battery. They have gathered boards and made floors and sideboards for their tents to keep out the wind and sand. They have hung out their washing, and painted their names over the tent flaps. You even see a soldier sitting on his "front step" of an evening playing a violin.
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#2
Great idea for a thread.

I have a collection of unfinished memoirs left behind by my grandfather about his journeys during the war. He was a communications specialist in the Pacific theatre; if anyone's interested I'll transcribe some of it.
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#3
One of my Grandfathers was a radio operator on a Submarine and the other spent the war in Africa, both very rarely talked about it which leads me to belive the saw some horrible things.
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#4
My grandfather, who I never really knew aside from the fact he was an MIT grad who worked for NASA during the Space Race, also left behind a bunch of his journals. I've never had the opportunity to read them, but they start with him on his last evening before shipping out, which he spent going to the movies, and hitting on the ticket taker girl. That's only a slight exaggeration.
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#5
When my Nan died recently, we cleared out her house and found her Ration Book, Medical journal and Drivers licence - She was an Ambulance Driver/Nurse during the war. They were one of the few keepsakes I took because they were from a part of her life I didn't know much about.
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#6
I'm definitely interested. I started this thread as I recently found online my grandfather's service record. He fought for the Australian army.
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#7
My grandad, who I never met, was a Desert Rat and fought all over North Africa, Italy, Normandy and Holland. Unfortunately, he kept no diaries that I know of which is a shame as the second hand stories my dad has told me are fascinating. All I've seen of him is a picture of him sitting on a tank in the desert.
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#8
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ken Savage
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One of my Grandfathers was a radio operator on a Submarine and the other spent the war in Africa, both very rarely talked about it which leads me to belive the saw some horrible things.

Similar story here. My grandfather was a bomber in B-17s and never talked about it...ever. My grandmother mentioned it a few times but he wouldn't even talk it about it with her. He was a first generation American of German descent so I bet that had a lot to do with it.
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#9
I have a few grandfathers, thanks to a Brady Bunch experience when I was very young. I am certain three of them served in WWII.

My father's father was in his 30s for the war, enlisted in the U.S. Army, and served in Europe. For a brief period of time, he was GEN Patton's driver.

My mother's father was in his 20s, and served in the U.S. Army in Europe in combat operations.

My birthmother's father was a young Marine in his 20s, and did a lot of the island hopping in the Pacific. Not content with that, he served as a Marine NCO in Korea. Not content with that, he was a senior enlisted Marine in Vietnam. He is the only one of my grandparents still alive now. Go figure.

All were very sweet men from very different backgrounds.

From a soldier's perspective, the inherent "goodness", "necessity" or "morality" of a war is a pedantic exercise. In WWII, horrific atrocities were committed. In the darkest days of Vietnam, there were acts of breathless courage and humanity.
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#10
My grandfather was stationed in Italy and drove a truck. I have a cool picture of him in uniform with a puppy.
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#11
My Grand Uncle was stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked. He said it was total chaos and madness and his only thought was of staying alive.

My Grandfather-in-law stormed the beach at Normandy. Actually, he was part of the second wave. He served two tours in Europe and was about to ship out to the Pacific when Japan surrendered. He never talked about his experiences.

My dad served during the Korean war, but he was in the Navy band.
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#12
Just wanted to say that I am willing to take any (serious) questions the board may have and pose them to my dad, so I can report back with his answers
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#13
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ken Savage
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One of my Grandfathers was a radio operator on a Submarine and the other spent the war in Africa, both very rarely talked about it which leads me to belive the saw some horrible things.

Both my grandfathers served and I KNOW at least one of them saw some horrible things. As in a commanding officer coming up to his unit and telling them, "Just so you know, we don't have enough supplies to feed you AND the prisoners." And then he just walked away and left them to figure it out in their own.

My other grandfather was in a tank battalion and saw action in North Africa and Europe, and considering what death traps tanks were back then, he must have seen some bad stuff. I had a bunch of his medals and mementos when I was a kid; I think my nephew has them now. He died about two weeks after I was born, on Christmas Eve of 1968, and it's always been one of my biggest regrets that I never got to know him.
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#14
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Originally Posted by Princess Kate
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Just wanted to say that I am willing to take any (serious) questions the board may have and pose them to my dad, so I can report back with his answers

What are his thoughts on "the gathering"?
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#15
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Originally Posted by JudgeSmails
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My grandfather was a bomber in B-17s

Same here. He was shot down over Italy, captured, and placed in a camp for the remaining year or so. Weighed roughly 85 lbs standing 6'3 when he was rescued.

He died when I was 7 so I didnt get a chance to know all of this, but apparently he pulled some legitimate Eraser shit. As his plane disintegrated around him, he had the good sense to actually float over towards a falling parachute and put it on, which obviously saved his life. He left a collection of 6 or 7 medals he was awarded that my cousin and I are sure to fight over after my grandma passes. Havent been a lot of them as she keeps them under lock and key in his old office.
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#16
Quote:

Originally Posted by Alex Augustine
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What are his thoughts on "the gathering"?

I don't know what that is but I suspect it is not a serious question

My offer was real. If anyone has any unique questions that only a vet of WW2 could answer, I am willing to ask them to my dad and make his answers available as a resource

Or not, if the only interest is of the snarky variety. Up to you
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#17
My grandfather served in the mountain artillery in the Albanian front. Lost a couple of toes to frostbite. Weird thing about him. In his life he became a refugee twice, lost two young children to epidemics and fought in a world war and a civil war and I never remember him once complaining about his life. Or doing any of the cliche "Do you know how hard we had it back in my day?" I never remember him raise his voice in anger. Or ever speak ill of anyone.Or ever be anything other than calm and laid back. There isn't a single person that has shaped, in my eyes, the way a man is actually supposed to behave than him. An impossibly stoic man. Out of all the family I've lost, he's the one I miss.
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#18
When I was younger I always made my grandmother tell stories from WWII.

One of the more exciting stories was when a German train going past my great-grand parents farm was attacked by british fighter-bombers. They strafed the plane while it was passing the farm and a few minutes later most of the train exploded when a fuel tank ignited. All the while my grandmother hid under a kitchen table with her sister. Had that happened outside their farm they would have been killed. 2 of their cows apparently died of fright and their barn was hit with bullets or shrapnel. That was about as close as the war ever came to my family.
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#19
Quote:

Originally Posted by Princess Kate
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I don't know what that is but I suspect it is not a serious question

My offer was real. If anyone has any unique questions that only a vet of WW2 could answer, I am willing to ask them to my dad and make his answers available as a resource

Or not, if the only interest is of the snarky variety. Up to you

You should be asking these things yourself, he's your Dad, you should know his life.
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#20
My Grandfather served during WWII but he was stationed in Hawaii (post Pearl Harbor) and never saw any action.

I never spoke with him much about his Army days (we usually only talked about baseball) but after he died, I found a bunch of his letters home as well as his service record when I was cleaning out his old house. I've been thinking about putting something together that traces his war experience in relation to the war in general.
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#21
My grandfather fought all over: Africa, Asia, Greece.
Once, in Africa I believe, he was shot in the chest. The bullet was on target for his heart. It went right through the album in his breast pocket containing photos of my mum and grandma. Why didn't he die? There was a metal whisky flask in his pocket behind the album.
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#22
Maternal grandpa's status during WWII unknown (no living member of my family ever spoke to him, or was willing to discuss him). Paternal grandpa fled Germany a year before war broke out and lived in Colombia for a few years until the U.S. let him in. Maternal grandmother was living here the entire time.

My paternal grandmother lost her entire immediate family in the concentration camps. Parents, brother, uncles, aunts, and cousins. She was first sent to a labor camp, then later, towards the end of the war, a death camp. She was one of the prisoners involved in the Mengele-sponsored experiments, specifically: radiation poisoning to see if humans could be rendered infertile from doses of radiation. The experiment failed.

She was rescued during the final days of WWII basically in the nick of time, while German commanders who must have known the war was lost were executing people in her camp as fast as they could. Taken to Switzerland to recuperate, as she had lost half her body weight and was suffering from pneumonia along with catastrophic malnutrition. Survived to emigrate to Colombia. Married my grandfather, went to the United States with him.

The only family member she remained uncertain about throughout the years was her younger brother, as he hadn't been taken to what she later learned were the killing chambers. Did not reach closure that her younger brother had actually been killed until two years before her passing in June of this year.

I'm glad she had a chance to tell her story for the Holocaust Museum. Humanity is capable of incomprehensible evil, and it shouldn't be forgotten.
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#23
See, and here I was all about to make a "Kate's Dad Punching Hitler" joke, but after that post, I'd just feel bad.

Hey Kate, what was your dad's favorite top 40 hit from back home when he was in the military? I want to know.
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#24
My grandfather fought in Kokoda, the defining battle for Australians in WW2. He never spoke of it, refused to until the day he died - he was far too traumatised by the experience.
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#25
Wow, I've never heard of that before, thanks RD. Will have to see if there's a book or two about it.

I know that this is mainly for people's personal experiences with relatives who fought over there, but I'd also be interested in hearing theories on alternate outcomes of the war. Is there a concievable scenario where Hitler beats the Allies to a stalemate and the Nazis continue to occupy Germany/Europe, or was he too power-mad to stop at just the West?
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#26
Quote:

Originally Posted by Eileen
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I've always wondered what would have happened if England fell.

I'd guess nothing much. The English would probably have had a government similar to the Vichy system in France (probably more lenient, given that the English were more Aryan than the French given our Mongrel background).

The Nazi War machine would have come unstuck in Russia anyways and the American forces would have started with a ground war in Asia rather than Europe.
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#27
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Originally Posted by RathBandu
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Wow, I've never heard of that before, thanks RD. Will have to see if there's a book or two about it.

I know that this is mainly for people's personal experiences with relatives who fought over there, but I'd also be interested in hearing theories on alternate outcomes of the war. Is there a concievable scenario where Hitler beats the Allies to a stalemate and the Nazis continue to occupy Germany/Europe, or was he too power-mad to stop at just the West?

If you can get it over in the US Rath, KOKODA by Peter Fitzsimons is considered pretty definitive these days.

It was very much the 'Gallipolli of WW2' for Australians as far as being a part of the public consciousness goes - with the added importance that it really was the last theatre of war Australians could defend before a full scale Japanese invasion.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Eileen
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I've always wondered what would have happened if England fell.

I've always been just as fascinated as to what would have happened had Hitler maintained his pact with Stalin and not tried to conduct a war on two fronts at once.
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#28
From what I've read I don't think Hitler's ideology would have allowed him to maintain a pact with Russia, as he viewed them as subhuman and perceived their society as built on shaky easily defeatable foundations. I believe the larger plan was for German colonies in Russia, not to conquer the people and assimilate them.
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#29
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jack Dnim
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From what I've read I don't think Hitler's ideology would have allowed him to maintain a pact with Russia, as he viewed them as subhuman and perceived their society as built on shaky easily defeatable foundations. I believe the larger plan was for German colonies in Russia, not to conquer the people and assimilate them.

Oh for sure, I just meant more if he'd waited until he'd gotten his business finished in western Europe before turning his forces towards the East - and maybe tried to do that in summer time.
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#30
My grandfather on the Irish side of my family was a veteran of the European theater of the war--he was on the frontlines of the Battle of the Bulge--and that is my most personal connection to the war. The dude kept a lot of "trophies" from the war in the home in which my father and three aunts were raised. I always thought that was super creepy. That and the stories he'd tell from the war, like how his best friend in his outfit literally lost his head to a mortar shell during a card game.
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#31
Discussion: World War 2 is the only war with a traditional Hollywood three-act structure, at least as far as the U.S. is concerned.

Act 1: Poland thru Pearl Harbor
Act 2: Pearl Harbor thru D-Day
Act 3: D-Day thru Hiroshima/VJ Day.

Simplistic, yes, but does this work?
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#32
I think Robert Harris's FATHERLAND has the most realistic "What If D-Day Failed?" scenario. Hitler eventually KO's Britain (with the royal family and Churchill fleeing to Canada), USA drops the bomb on Japan, ending the Pacific War, and the US and Germany mutually agree to end hostilities. The Holocaust ended after some time, and the concentration camps were eventually dismantled to keep it secret.

Germany and Russia fight on to a virtual stalemate for twenty years. I can even buy some of the crazier predictions, like Stalin still being alive in the early 60s, and the US being led by appeaser turned political superstar Joe Kennedy.
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#33
Quote:

Originally Posted by Princess Kate
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If anyone has any unique questions that only a vet of WW2 could answer, I am willing to ask them to my dad and make his answers available as a resource

Did your dad actually punch Hitler?
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#34
Don't be that guy, Spook.
And this thread is all encompassing, I created it to discuss anything WW2
related.
As for alternative outcomes, I recommend reading VIRTUAL HISTORY by Niall Ferguson. A collection of speculations. The WW2 ones are 'What if Germany had invaded England in 1940', by Ferguson, and 'What if Nazi Germany had defeated the Soviet Union'.
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#35
I've read that it's pretty commonly accepted that Operation Sealion (the Nazi plan to invade England) wouldn't have worked, and that Germany had no real shot at invading the British mainland.
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