It remains the single-worst atrocity against Australians at war. Yet many Australians have probably never heard of Sandakan. So few men returned from the Japanese prisoner of war camp on the island of Borneo after World War II it has become a neglected chapter in Australia’s wartime history.
In fact 2,000 Australians spent time as POWs at Sandakan. And of the nearly 1,800 still captive there at the end of the war, only six men survived.
All of which makes Sydney man Billy Young rare indeed. He spent three years as a POW under the Japanese.
He is the only surviving rank and file Australian soldier who spent time at Sandakan. And he is the only POW still alive who was imprisoned at Outram Road Jail in Singapore.
Now aged 90, he has written a book about his inspiring story. “Billy: My…
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Three young siblings sit at a fountain. Two girls in matching dresses and white, floppy bonnets; a lad in a schoolboy’s jacket and shorts. Their smiles are subdued. The children are long-term guests at the compound of one of Palm Beach’s more famed denizens, Charles Merrill.
Across the sea, their mother pines for her son and two daughters. But she knows they are safer in America than they would be in England. Night after night, the full fury of the Nazi war machine bombs their homeland. “This photo shows Alistair, Anne and Jean Eliot one Sunday at a church in Palm Beach called Bethesda,” poet and writer Alistair Eliot, now 84, recalled. [Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. Anne on the left; Jean in the middle.]
Their emergency host being Charles Merrill, founder of the world’s largest brokerage firm. Alistair knows little about his family’s connections to…
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The folks at A Star and Stripes Flag Corporation made this handy guide:
The American flag has played a huge part in the lives of Americans. Betsy Ross sewed the first flag in May 1776, and Congress adopted the stars and stripes as the American flag on June 14, 1777. The red coloring on the flag symbolizes hardiness and valor; white symbolizes purity and innocence; and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. If the flag is dirty or soiled, it may be washed or dry-cleaned. If the flag can no longer be repaired or used, it must be destroyed in a dignified matter. One thing many people don’t realize is that there are designated days to fly the American flag. The American flag should be displayed properly on all days when weather permits, especially on the following designated flag flying days. Properly flying the American flag is one of many great ways to show support to those who are serving — or have served — our country.
Allen Dale Olson
In the fall of 1944 gas rationing had become so restrictive that our rural township high school proposed cancelling its basketball season, which, for Indiana kids, would be the supreme sacrifice, especially in Portage Township where Porter County conference championships had become the norm. In 1941 we had gone undefeated until annihilation occurred at the hands of Hammond High in the state tournament.
The school board had a long-standing war effort policy of not using township busses except for daily transportation to and from school –except for the basketball team. (We did not have a football team.) But in August of 1944, even the hoopsters were facing a gameless basketball season. I still do not know how other schools in the county were dealing with gas rationing other than parents pooling their rations to drive to away games. In those days, teams did not travel far, seldom more than 20 or 25 miles to away games.
Portage Township was a farming county. Farmers had special gasoline privileges to assure their tractors and farm machinery could remain productive in the war effort. As word spread through the communities about the basketball plight, a few farmers came up with a proposal. For six of our nine away games, the farmers would pool their gas stamps so that one of them could hitch a tractor to a long trailer covered with a tarp and drive us at about 25 mph to the schools in small towns, and the Board agreed to let the school busses take us to the three games in urban schools. The trailer was heated with two kerosene portable heaters, not very effective in sub-freezing temperatures for an hour’s drive. A surprising number of fans were also willing to share gas ration stamps to car-pool to games. (more…)
Once upon a battlefield
I stood where heroes fell,
where brothers, sons and lovers paused
to hear death’s tolling knell.
Once upon an open sea
I sailed where deep remain
the bodies of courageous men
who, by war were sadly slain.
Once upon the azure blue
I drifted through the crimson cloud
where valiant fighters dealt with death
to die alone in sullen shroud.
I’ve felt the moments summoned.
I’ve seen the grave despair.
I’ve witnessed every breath so gained
and every soul laid bare.
I’ve shed a tear not meant for me,
but for the uncaressed
that ne’er again felt warmth of love
before their final rest.
To their souls my prayer,
my honor and my truth,
that they be blessed eternal,
and blessed in memory’s youth!
by Allen Olson
His apartment looks like an aviation museum. And why shouldn’t it? More than 40 years of flying, 26 of them on missions over Germany, the South Pacific, and Korea, followed by 15 more years of commercial airline service made him comfortable around airplanes and what they do.
Jet (his real name is Harold, but he doesn’t like it) Jetter will be 96 next month, but you’d think he’d been chasing submarines for the 29th Bomber Squadron from the Galapagos to Panama just yesterday. One of his walls is covered by a map showing the route he and his squadron followed across the South Pacific.
Familiar Air Force names roll off his tongue: Barksdale; Sculthorpe; Hickham; McClellan followed by Japan, Ecuador, Honduras, and “The Rock” (Galapagos) about which he showed me a report by Eleanor Roosevelt to those islands.
Jet is especially proud of an aviation museum he helped curate in Ottumwa, Iowa. (By the way, he keeps a notebook listing every aviation-related museum in the country.) Proudly, he and some of his WWII comrades created a 29th Bomber Squadron in the museum originally established for the 6th Air Force. On display there are two signed photographs of movie stars June Allyson and Gloria de Haven, both wishing good luck to the “Boys of the 29th.” And, oh yes, Jet boasts, “we even hung some pin up girl posters.”
He has already identified the museums where he wants his artifacts and military documents sent, and we are privileged to be among them. In recalling his 60 years of marriage to Alice, who died in 2012, he says family support for military members is vital. He is pleased that the Museum of the American Military Family is independent, tied to all branches of service, and that there will be a memorial dedicated to military families going up on the National Guard complex in Santa Fe.
Jet has lost none of his sense of humor and still laughs at a sign taken from The Rock to Ottumwa. It is a stack of arrows pointing the way to London – 6,402 miles; Chicago – 3,058 miles; Tokyo – 8,649 miles; Latrine – 1,240 steps. He has kept some of the navigation charts of his crew during their submarine pursuits, and can run his finger down each entry as if he was reporting for the first time.
Almost 70 years later, Jet can describe the differences between flying a B-24 and a C-47, what it’s like to fly a B-29, a B-52 and aircraft by Beechcraft and Boeing. His mother signed for him to enlist in the Army Air Corps at age 15, and he never looked back. After one successful mission, he was promoted on the spot from Captain to Major, and he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Today he pushes himself around in a wheelchair as if it’s a fighter jet, and the nursing home activities directors all go out of their way to give him hugs. He looks out of his third-floor apartment as if he’s selecting a landing site and admits that he’s ready for whatever comes next, which is why he is deciding where to send his vast collections of military memories.
1 November – Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean […]
Board Member Ole represented MAMF at an organizational meeting on March 30 to plan the 2018 Run for the Fallen (RFTF) across New Mexico. George Lutz, a Gold Star father who created RFTF, told the dozen or so attendees that RFTF is to create a “comprehensive tribute trail across the country” to honor all service members who have been killed or who died in “the War on Terror” since October 12, 2000. That date he said, was the attack on the USS Cole, considered the very first assault on America in that war.
Next year’s Run will “start at Fort Erwin in California on April 7 and end at Arlington Cemetery on August 5.” He said it will pass through 19 states and cover 6,000 miles. “We’ll be in New Mexico about ten days, from May 11th to 20th,” he said. “The final version of the New Mexico stretch will go from Four Corners to Albuquerque then south and northeast enroute to Amarillo.
Runners will do ten miles a day, stopping every mile at a pre-placed “Heroes Marker” to come to attention to read names of the fallen and greet any Gold Star families who may be present at the Marker. After distributing flags, the runners will continue to the next Marker.
Lutz said the Run “is well timed. Runners need to be capable of an eight or nine-minute mile.” Each Marker will bear a sign indicating the date and time the runners will arrive.
“All this means,” he added, “that we have a lot of organizing to do.” What the Run requires is a state coordinator and volunteers who will manage each day’s activities. “There will be a need for meals, lodging, and for making contact with community members to let them know about the Markers and the ceremonies taking place.”
RFTF has a data base which tells the name and date of death of every service member since October 12, 2000, and relates that member to specific locations. Lutz said that adds up to about “20,000 Hero deaths and some 500 unique days of death.”
Daily needs are for 20 overnight rooms, meals for about 30 people, and coordination with law enforcement officials. RFTF provides two RVs, a paramedic, and a supply truck. Some communities may wish to add a chase car.
New Mexicans interested in volunteering for or in donating to Run for the Fallen can do so on the RFTF website – http://runforthefallen.org
Museum of the American Military Family To Publish Korean War Novel
At its March Open House, The Museum of The American Military Family announced the acquisition of the novel, Battle Songs: A Story of the Korean War in Four Movements. Written by Author in Residence Paul Zolbrod, a retired Allegheny College English Professor now living in New Mexico, it will be published by the newly established MAMF Press this spring. It follows four draftees inducted from mining and farming communities in rural Western Pennsylvania to fight in Korea in the early nineteen fifties. There each must each must confront the absurdity of combat within the framework of hisown identity to understand a war that remains unresolved to this day.
Copies are expected to go on sale by early April, with all proceeds slated to help underwrite routine Museum operating expenses. This book comes on the heels of an earlier Museum publication, From the Frontlines to the Home Front, an anthology of reflections of deployment edited by Zolbrod and written by veterans themselves, as well as family members of those who served over a period covering World War II through the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Copies are being distributed without charge by way of a series of open discussions sponsored by the Museum thanks to a New Mexico Humanities Council grant. Or they will be available directly from the Museum in exchange for a donation.
Plans are underway for another Museum anthology, War Child: Lessons Learned from Growing Up in War, again, with a family perspective in keeping with the Museum’s mission. Those wishing to contribute a story of their own are invited to do so. It should express a child’s point of view but from all perspectives–service members who were still teen-agers when deployed; adults who as children grew up in a war zone; or children who had a parent or sibling serving in war. Submissions can be about the recent campaigns, Vietnam, the Korean War era, World War II, and all conflicts in between. All pieces should be from a child’s perspective and, if applicable, include a reflection or lesson learned from the experience.
The Museum would especially like to include stories from children and young adults whose parents are currently serving. A story can be as long or as short as the writer chooses. Just make it heartfelt, honest, and interesting. We are looking for stories of trial and triumph and loss–stories that illustrate the variety of events that impact on day-to-day family life in war times. Potential writers do not have to consider themselves accomplished writers to participate. Editorial services will be available to sharpen contributions when needed. Stories can be submitted online to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Museum of the American Military family is a non-profit organization with a national outreach headquartered in Tijeras, New Mexico.
Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall – WASP
One benefit of interviewing World War II veterans is the opportunity to develop friendships. My husband and I consider Marty Wyall a friend. Below is a shortened version of her story from my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans. You can hear Marty speak about her World War II experiences here. She’s still a spunky gal!
Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall of Fort Wayne learned about the WASP program from a magazine ad while studying bacteriology at DePauw University in 1942. The idea of flying intrigued her. “There was a war on and I wanted to help my country,” she said.
Her family was not keen on the idea. “Mother thought it was morally wrong for me to join the WASP,” she said. “She came from the Victorian era. I told her she would have to accept it…
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