Posts Tagged With: WWII

Louisiana….WWII vehicles, planes may be in containers buried under Kisatchie National Forest…


A conversation 34 years ago convinced Morton Hurston Jr. there is buried treasure in Central Louisiana, and he thinks he’s found it. One thing stands in the way of him finding out for sure: government permission.

 Under the yellow clay soil of the Kisatchie National Forest, Hurston said he believes, is all manner of World War II equipment — tanks, half-track vehicles, trucks, jeeps and even P-40 fighter planes packed in their original shipping crates.

Hurston, of Baton Rouge, calls this a virtual gold mine of a time capsule, a potential source of exhibits for museums and other military displays. The P-40s, packed in corrosion preventative, might be in mint condition.

“There are only six P-40s flying in the world,” he said. “This could be a very significant historic site.”

Hurston believes the equipment was buried in 1943 at Camp Claiborne, an Army facility north of Forest Hill in Rapides Parish used during World War II, mostly for basic training and artillery practice. Camp Claiborne closed in 1948 and, except for signs on La. 112, little of it remains today.

In 1981, Hurston, an Army veteran of the Vietnam War and then an East Baton Rouge sheriff’s reserve deputy, met Jackie Peters, then a full-time deputy. Peters told him that his brother’s father-in-law, Sam Rathburn, of Baker, had described how he was a heavy equipment operator who helped dig three long trenches. A railroad spur was built, and the equipment was brought to the site, driven into the trenches, then covered with the soil, forming three berms.

Why?

Neither Hurston nor Peters, who also has tried to investigate the site, has found any paperwork acknowledging the equipment burial. Peters said he thinks the equipment, which was no longer state-of-the-art, had been sold to China, but it couldn’t be delivered because Japanese forces had cut off land access to that country. So, it was buried to prevent sabotage and, it seems, forgotten.

But not by Peters or Hurston.

When Peters was in the Navy Reserves in the 1980s, he knew men in an antisubmarine squadron who had an aerial magnetometer. He asked them if they could explore the area.

“They flew over and did a magnetometer sweep,” Peters said. “They said there was so much junk down there, ‘we couldn’t tell what was down there. It just blew us off the screen.’”

Peters also enlisted the help of helicopter pilot Reggie Fontenot, who approached Forest Service officials in Louisiana roughly 10 years ago about conducting an exploratory dig.

“They flatly said no, no way,” Fontenot said. “These are people that I knew and worked with, and they said they weren’t even going to entertain the thought of a request on it. … They said they didn’t see it as in the interest of the federal government.”

Unbeknownst to Peters, Hurston also has visited the site several times, and, in the past two years, he intensified his efforts. Remembering what Peters had told him about the site’s location, Hurston found three long, elevated areas on a topographical map and discovered berms, or small hills, overgrown with pine trees and bushes.

In 2014, Hurston spoke to U.S. Forest Service archeologist Velicia Bergstrom, who said she had never heard of such a site. Hurston hired a Houston firm, Ground Penetrating Radar Systems, to see if the berms covered anything unusual. Because he had to clear brush for the electromagnetic imaging equipment to work, there was time to survey only 100 feet of one berm. The equipment detected five objects at least the size of an automobile, Hurston said. Surveys of the ground adjacent to the berm turned up nothing.

So, Hurston said, something is definitely down there.

“We think that many items could be restorable because the compacted clay, according to my geologist friends and according to the … archaeologists, compacted clay forms like an impermeable membrane,” he said. “It can encase like concrete to prevent air and water intrusion that causes oxidation. Specifically, we believe that if, in fact, those aircraft are there … that they can be in good condition for restoration.”

Hurston wants to do a more detailed electromagnetic survey and, if that shows promise, do an exploratory dig to determine exactly what is buried. To break ground, he needs Forest Service permission. That’s where things have stalled.

He has gone up the Forest Service hierarchy through to Michael Kaczor, federal preservation officer in Washington, D.C., who referred him to Jim Caldwell, public affairs officer for Kisatchie National Forest. They spoke last week, and Caldwell directed him to District Ranger Lisa Lewis.

“I think it’s very interesting what might be out there,” Caldwell said. “The more knowledge we can gather, the better. If there’s really something out there, wouldn’t it be something if we had a hand in getting it to a museum so everybody could see it?”

That’s what Hurston wants.

“That is our (the public’s) stuff,” he said. “The Forest Service does not own that. They manage the surface area of the forest. That’s their job: to keep that managed. They don’t own that stuff.”

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Italy’s bloody secret…..


They were always portrayed as victims of fascism, but Mussolini’s soldiers committed atrocities which for 60 years have gone unpunished. Now the conspiracy of silence is at last starting to unravel.

The footnotes of Italian history record Giovanni Ravalli waging war on criminals. He was a police prefect who kept the streets safe and pursued gangs such as the one which stole Caravaggio’s The Nativity from a Palermo church in 1969. An adviser to the prime minister, a man of the establishment, he retired on a generous pension to his home at 179 Via Cristoforo Colombo, south Rome, to tend his plants and admire the view. He died on April 30 1998, aged 89.

The footnotes do not record a Greek policeman called Isaac Sinanoglu who was tortured to death over several days in 1941. His teeth were extracted with pliers and he was dragged by the tail of a galloping horse. Nor do they mention the rapes, or the order to pour boiling oil over 70 prisoners.

After the war Ravalli, a lieutenant in the Italian army’s Pinerolo division, was caught by the Greeks and sentenced to death for these crimes. The Italian government saved him by threatening to withhold reparations unless he was released. Ravalli returned home to a meteoric career that was questioned only once: in 1992 an American historian, Michael Palumbo, exposed his atrocities in a book but Ravalli, backed by powerful friends, threatened to sue and it was never published.

His secrets remained safe, just as Italy’s secrets remained safe. An audacious deception has allowed the country to evade blame for massive atrocities committed before and during the second world war and to protect the individuals responsible, some almost certainly still alive. Of more than 1,200 Italians sought for war crimes in Africa and the Balkans, not one has faced justice. Webs of denial spun by the state, academe and the media have re-invented Italy as a victim, gulling the rest of the world into acclaiming the Good Italian long before Captain Corelli strummed a mandolin.

In reality Benito Mussolini’s invading soldiers murdered many thousands of civilians, bombed the Red Cross, dropped poison gas, starved infants in concentration camps and tried to annihilate cultures deemed inferior. “There has been little or no coming to terms with fascist crimes comparable to the French concern with Vichy or even the Japanese recognition of its wartime and prewar responsibilities,” says James Walston, a historian at the American University of Rome.

The cover-up lasts to this day but its genesis is now unravelling. Filippo Focardi, a historian at Rome’s German Historical Institute, has found foreign ministry documents and diplomatic cables showing how the lie was constructed. In 1946 the new republic, legitimised by anti-fascists who had fought with the allies against Mussolini, pledged to extradite suspected war criminals: there was a commission of inquiry, denunciations, lists of names, arrest warrants. It was a charade. Extraditions would anger voters who still revered the military and erode efforts to portray Italy as a victim of fascism. Focardi’s research shows that civil servants were told in blunt language to fake the quest for justice. A typical instruction from the prime minister, Alcide De Gasperi, on January 19 1948 reads: “Try to gain time, avoid answering requests.”

Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Ethiopia and Libya protested to no avail. “It was an elaborate going through the motions. They had no intention of handing over anybody,” says Focardi. Germans suspected of murdering Italians – including those on Cephalonia, Corelli’s island – were not pursued lest a “boomerang effect” threaten Italians wanted abroad: their files turned up decades later in a justice ministry cupboard in Rome.

Britain and the US, fearful of bolstering communists in Italy and Yugoslavia, collaborated in the deception. “Justice requires the handing over of these people but expediency, I fear, militates against it,” wrote a Foreign Office mandarin. The conspiracy succeeded in frustrating the United Nations war crimes investigation. There was no Nuremberg for Italian criminals.

Given the evidence against them, it must rank as one of the great escapes. General Pietro Badoglio’s planes dropped 280kg bombs of mustard gas over Ethiopian villages and strafed Red Cross camps. He died of old age in his bed, was buried with full military honours and had his home town named after him. General Rudolfo Graziani, aka the butcher of Libya, massacred entire communities; his crimes included an infamous assault on the sick and elderly of Addis Ababa. His men posed for photographs holding severed heads. General Mario Roatta, known to his men as the black beast, killed tens of thousands of Yugoslav civilians in reprisals and herded thousands more to their deaths in concentration camps lacking water, food and medicine. One of his soldiers wrote home on July 1 1942: “We have destroyed everything from top to bottom without sparing the innocent. We kill entire families every night, beating them to death or shooting them.”

Italy’s atrocities did not match Germany’s or Japan’s in scale and savagery, and it is no myth that Italian soldiers saved Jews and occasionally fraternised with civilians. Glows of humanity amid the darkness; yet over time they have suffused the historic memory with blinding light.

The distortion can partly be blamed on British prejudices about Italian soldiers being soft and essentially harmless, says Nic Fields, a military historian at the University of Edinburgh: “Many British historians liked to focus on the luxury items found in Italian barracks. It reinforced the image of opera buffoons. Your average Tommy tended to caricature the Italians as poor sods caught up in the war.”

The crimes have been chronicled in specialist journals but never became part of general knowledge. Ask an Italian about his country’s role in the war and he will talk about partisans fighting the Ger mans or helping Jews. Ask about atrocities and he will talk about Tito’s troops hurling Italians into ravines. Unlike France, which has deconstructed resistance mythology to explore Vichy, Italy’s awareness has evolved little since two film-makers were jailed in the 1950s for straying off-message in depicting the occupation of Greece.

When Japanese or Austrians try to gloss over their shame there is an outcry, but the Italians get away with it. The 1991 film Mediterraneo, about occupiers playing football, sipping ouzo and flirting with the locals on a Greek island, was critically acclaimed. Captain Corelli’s sanctification of Italian martyrdom was not challenged. Ken Kirby’s 1989 BBC Timewatch documentary, Fascist Legacy, detailing Italian crimes in Africa and the Balkans and the allies’ involvement in the cover-up, provoked furious complaints from Italy’s ambassador in London. The Italian state broadcaster, Rai, agreed to buy the two one-hour programmes, but executives got cold feet and for 11 years it has sat in a vault in Rome, too controversial to broadcast. “It’s the only time I can remember a client shelving a programme after buying it,” says a BBC executive.

Kirby did manage to show it at a film festival in Florence. The reaction was toxic. “They put security on me. After the first reel the audience turned around and looked at me, thinking ‘what a bastard’.”

A brief storm of publicity engulfed Michael Palumbo, the documentary’s historical consultant. “I was practically assaulted by several Italian journalists. There was a sackful of death threats, some from former soldiers.”

The documentary gave a voice to Italian historians such as Giorgio Rochat, who have provoked disapproval from colleagues by attacking the myth. “There remains in Italian culture and public opinion the idea that basically we were colonialists with a human face.”

Another historian, Angelo Del Boca, says those guilty of genocide were honoured. “A process of rehabilitation is being organised for some of them by sympathetic or supportive biographers.” He says that for decades his research was obstructed – an accusation echoed by Focardi. Vital documents are “mislaid” or perpetually out on loan. Just one example: 11 years ago a German researcher found documents and photographs of Italian atrocities in Yugoslavia in the central state archive, a fascist-built marble hulk south of Rome. No one has been able to gain access to them since.

Such scholars are few, but thanks to their work a tentative reappraisal may be under way. While paying homage last march to the Italian troops massacred by Germans on Cephalonia, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, noting that Italy invaded Greece, asked forgiveness. Newspapers such as La Stampa and Manifesto have reported new research, and a weekly magazine, Panorama, confronted Ravalli before he died. But Italy remains entranced by its victimhood. Television commentary for a military parade in Rome earlier this month hummed the glory and sacrifice of the armed forces. Newspapers splashed on the possibility that a 92-year-old former Nazi SS officer living in Hamburg, Friedrich Engel, may be prosecuted for crimes in Genoa. Other former Nazis accused of murdering Italians are being pursued now that the fear of a “boomerang” effect against Italian criminals has evaporated.

Last month workers digging in northern Ethiopia stumbled on yet another Italian arms depot suspected of containing mustard gas. Addis Ababa asked Rome to respect an international weapons treaty by revealing the location of stockpiles and helping to clear them. Like all other requests over past decades, it was rebuffed. “All efforts on Ethiopia’s side to convince Italy to live up to its responsibilities have failed,” lamented the government.

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Parrot laughs like a super villain…


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Nazis Were Fueled by Crystal Meth, New Book Shows……


Nazis Were Fueled by Crystal Meth, New Book Shows

The abominable actions of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi soldiers were fueled by meth, records show. A new book, Der Totale Rausch (The Total Rush), by German writer Norman Ohler, will profile the rampant drug use after years of researching both German and U.S. records. Ohler, whose research shocked him mostly because of Hitler’s drug use, said the drugs are what helped, “maintain his delusion until the end.”

Nazis took to Pervitin: a pill-like crystal meth. At first it was an over-the-counter drug sold in European pharmacies guaranteeing alertness. According to Ohler, one pill was enough to keep the Nazis awake for hours—and allowed them to hike almost 36 miles in a day—making Nazis think of it like coffee. Once the effects wore off Nazis were became short-tempered and angry. 

A 2005 Der Spiegel report explained how Pervitin made its way into the hands of German soldiers citing a military doctor’s experiment of it on 90 college students where the doctor said the pill would  “help win the war.” Not even six months later and millions of the drug were flown to the Nazis where they were handed out before invasions. Ohler said Pervitin was specifically used for Blitzkriegs like the invasion of Sudetenland, Poland, and France.

Hitler, who famously used heroin, doping agents, and other hard drugs, according to his physician Dr. Theodor Morrell’s notes, may or may have not used Pervitin. If he did, it would’ve made for a dangerous combination since long-term meth use can have neurological effects causing aggressive behavior and psychosis, while long-term heroin use effects decision-making and causes irrational behavior when stressed.

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Japanese Unearth Remains, and Their Nation’s Past, on Guadalcanal……


GUADALCANAL, Solomon Islands — Using a trowel to dig into the shadowy floor of the rain forest, pausing only to wipe away sweat and malaria-carrying mosquitoes, Atsushi Maeda holds up what he has traveled so far, to this South Pacific island, to find: a human bone, turned orange-brown with age.

Mr. Maeda, 21, was looking for the remains of missing Japanese soldiers at the site of one ofWorld War II’s most ferocious battles. Others have done this work before him, mostly aging veterans or bereaved relatives. But he was with a group of mostly university students and young professionals, nearly all of them under 40 and without a direct connection to the soldiers killed here.

They had come to honor their countrymen, many of whom were no older than they are when they fell on the battlefield. The group was also searching for answers. “These young men who died here believed they were defending their family and loved ones,” said Mr. Maeda, a university junior in religious studies. “We need to rediscover their sacrifices and learn from them.”

READ MORE:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/30/world/japanese-unearth-remains-and-their-nations-past-on-guadalcanal.html?_r=1

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Remembering the last of the original Navajo Code Talkers……


Marine veteran Michael Smith wept Wednesday when he heard about the death of Chester Nez, the last of the original Navajo Code Talkers.

Smith, from Window Rock, who had met Nez several times, described him as a “quiet, humble” Navajo Marine.

Smith said that the passing of Nez — the last of the first 29 Navajo men who created a code from their language that stumped the Japanese in World War II — marked the closure of a chapter in the story of a special group of veterans.

Nez died Wednesday morning in Albuquerque, where he lived with his son Michael. He was 93. His family said he died of kidney failure.

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/arizona/2014/06/04/arizona-navajo-code-talker-dies-nez/9965201/

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German probe finds 20 former death camp guards…..


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Around 20 former guards at the Majdanek death camp could face charges in Germany, following a widespread probe of the Nazi SS men and women who served there during World War II, war crimes investigators said Tuesday.

Federal prosecutor Kurt Schrimm, who heads Germany’s special Nazi war crimes office, said he expects to turn the cases over to state investigators within two weeks for them to pursue accessory to murder charges. Schrimm’s office has no power to file charges itself.

Lead investigator Thomas Will told The Associated Press that about 30 suspects were identified and located, but around ten had already died. The remaining 20 men and women all live in Germany, he said, but refused to elaborate further.

Some 220 others are still being investigated for possible charges but have not been located.

The Majdanek probe is the second major review of death camp guards undertaken after Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk in 2011 became the first person to be convicted in Germany solely for serving as a camp guard, with no evidence of involvement in a specific killing.

Though Demjanjuk always denied serving at the death camp and died before his appeal could be heard, Schrimm’s office in September recommended that state prosecutors pursue charges against 30 former Auschwitz guards based on his case.

The office then started investigating about 1,000 former guards at Majdanek — another death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where some 360,000 Jews and others were killed.

While Majdanek was also used as a labor camp — meaning guards theoretically could have worked there at certain times and not been involved in the Nazi genocide — prosecutors focused on guards allegedly present during the killings.

The Auschwitz investigation also continues and Schrimm said he expects more suspects will be announced “in the coming months.”

Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, urged state prosecutors to prioritize the new cases, given the advanced age of the suspects.

“We are very hopeful that the work will be expedited so as many people as possible can be brought to justice,” he said.

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A final reunion for vets of WWII Doolittle raid…..


For Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot, taking off from an aircraft carrier, flying hundreds of miles and bombing Japan was the easy part of the daring 1942 American air raid on Tokyo.

The worst moment came hours later, when he had to parachute out of his B-25 bomber over China in the middle of a heavy storm.

“That was the scariest time,” said Richard Cole, now 98 years old.

“There you are in an airplane over a land you are not familiar with, under a big weather front, very active with lots of rain, with thunderstorms and lots of lightning and you are going to jump out,” he said.

“There are lots of questions that are going through your mind.”

Out of the 80 men who took part in the storied Doolittle raid that boosted America’s morale in the early days of World War II, only four are still alive.

Cole and two of his fellow veterans, also in their nineties, attended a “final reunion” Saturday at the US Air Force’s National Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

In a ceremony webcast live and attended by family and dignitaries, the three elderly men toasted comrades who have died since the raid, as well as the five airmen who perished in the operation.

“Gentlemen, I propose a toast to those we lost on the mission, and those who have passed away since: thank you very much and may they rest in peace,” Cole said, as he and his fellow veterans raised goblets of cognac.

The Doolittle crews “inspired a nation,” Air Force chief General Mark Welsh told the veterans, and “you turned the tide of a war.”

The raid has been immortalized on screen and in numerous books, but Cole said he never expected the operation would take on so much importance.

“I never dreamed this thing would last so long and that so many people would be interested in it,” he said in a telephone interview with AFP.

The bold operation was led by Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, who became an American hero after 16 B-25 bombers under his command struck Tokyo five months after the Japanese decimated the US Navy at Pearl Harbor.

When he volunteered for the top-secret mission, Cole knew it would be dangerous but he only learned of the target aboard the carrier USS Hornet in the Pacific Ocean.

Once the crews were told they would be attacking Japan, there was “a lot of jubilation,” he said. “But then it became kind of quiet because people were realizing what they were going to be doing.”

The assault was close to a suicide mission.

The plan called for the aircraft — which had never seen combat — to fly over Japan with no fighter escorts and then head towards eastern China, where homing beacons would supposedly guide them in for a landing.

After their carrier was spotted by a Japanese vessel, Doolittle decided to launch the raid immediately, 10 hours earlier than scheduled and 650 nautical miles (1,200 kilometers) from Japan.

The aircraft took off on April 18, and arrived over Japan six hours later, achieving total surprise.

“We were not jumped by any kind of a fighter or other airplane,” Cole said. “We went across at Japan at low altitude. We could see planes above us and apparently they couldn’t see us.”

After a bombing run that lasted only a few minutes, the B-25s got “the heck out of there.”

As they flew toward China, the navigator passed a note up to the cold, noisy cockpit. They would run out of fuel 180 miles (290 kilometers) short of their destination, the note said, meaning the plane would have to be ditched at sea.

A strong tail wind, however, “pushed us all the way to China,” Cole said.

They arrived on the coast at dusk, but a planned homing signal to help them land never appeared.

So they flew until their fuel tanks were empty and parachuted out.

Cole’s chute got caught in a tree. In darkness and pouring rain, he opted to stay atop the tree until daylight.

“After that, I climbed down and started walking west with my compass.

“And after walking all day, I came on to a paramilitary compound and was taken in by the Chinese, who were very helpful.”

He and his crewmates were eventually reunited and flown out on a US aircraft. But all the B-25s were lost in the raid, and Doolittle worried he would be court-martialed.

Although the bombing caused only modest damage in Tokyo and elsewhere, the attack’s psychological effect — in Japan and the United States — was dramatic.

Americans felt they had scored a counter-punch, and an embarrassed Japan soon launched an unsuccessful naval attack at the Midway Atoll that proved a turning point in the war.

It would be more than two years before US aircraft bombed Japan again.doo

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“The History of Camp Bowie”, Brownwood, TX


Camp Bowie, located in Central Texas, was a military training center during World War II. The campsite was one and one half miles south and southwest of the city limits of Brownwood, Texas. During the years of 1940-1946 it grew to be one of the largest training centers in Texas, through which a quarter of a million men passed.

In 1940, the war situation in Europe caused the U. S. Congress to determine that it was time to strengthen the defense system. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was given the power to mobilize the National Guard units. The 36th Division of the Texas National Guard unit arrived at Camp Bowie in mid-December for their year’s training. Before the year of training ended, war had been declared.

On September 19, 1940 the War Department announced that a camp would be built at Brownwood. Work began at the campsite on September 27, 1940. The Camp was the first major defense project in the state and there was no scarcity of labor when the building work began. At one time more than 15,000 men were employed on the project.

The land was to be leased from the land owners but this proved to be unsatisfactory. On October 1, 1942 the War Department became the owner of 123,000 acres of land in Brown and Mills Counties. The original plan was for a 2,000 acre campsite, 8,000 acres for the infantry training, 28,000 acres for maneuvers grounds and 23,000 acres for artillery range. Before the War ended the campsite encompassed 5,000 acres, and approximately 118,000 acres was used as the training grounds.

When someone mentions the construction of Camp Bowie, one event will be mentioned in the course of the conversation, the rains that fell from October, 1940 to June, 1941. The official rain totaled 19.50 inches. With the sixty miles of dirt roads built and the laying of utilities lines along these roads the soil became very soft. The slow rain that fell over a period of days resulted in the camp grounds being very muddy. “Camp Gooie”, so named by the workers, was an appropriate name for the Camp Bowie.

The expansion of Bowie began in 1940 and lasted until 1945. The Pyramidal tents were the vogue the first year and a half. At one time there were 6,072 pyramidal and 910 wall tents at Bowie. Each cabin or tent was the home of five enlisted men.

While the living quarters were being built, larger buildings were going up all over the campsite. On March 1, 1941, it was reported that 213 mess halls and 224 bathhouses had been built. The men enjoyed sports and entertainment at the 22 recreation centers. There was one post exchange with 27 branches, three libraries, one 18 hole golf course, a veterinary clinic, three dental clinics and two Red Cross buildings. When completed, the hospital could take care of 2,000 patients. The fourteen chapels broke the monotony of the buildings with the steeples reaching toward the sky. There were numerous other buildings constructed at the campsite.

Atop the highest and most Olympian hill in Camp Bowie was the Headquarters. Krueger Hill was the hub of the Camp’s activities. General Walter Krueger, formerly the commander of the VIII Corps, was stationed on the hill and his home was built nearby the headquarters. The hill was named for the man who led the Sixth Army in the Pacific.

There were five commanders at Bowie. Brigadier-General K.L. Berry commanded from November 18 to December 14, 1940 and again from July 29, 1941 to October 25, 1941. Major-General Claude V. Birkhead commanded from December 14, 1941 to July 29, 1941. Colonel Frank E. Bonney took command on November 18, 1941 and left the Camp June 20, 1944. Colonel Alfred G. Brown took command on June 10, 1944 and stayed until January 11, 1946. Colonel K. F. Hunt took command on January 1946 and remained until the Camp closed on October 1, 1946.

The original plan was a temporary training camp for the 36th Texas National Guard Division. When War was declared the plans changed. Many of the men stationed at Camp Bowie were from Brown and the adjacent counties, arriving in mid-December and departing for Camp Blanding, Florida on February 15, 1942. Soldiers of the Texas Division splashed ashore on the beaches of Salerno on September 9, 1943, to become the first allied soldiers to crack Hitler’s Europe fortress from the west. According to the Camp Bowie Blade, printed on September 14, 1946, the Division suffered 27,343 casualties, including 3,974 killed, 19,052 wounded and 4,317 missing in action. The official figures were 19,466 casualties, including 3,717 killed in action, 12,685 wounded and 3,064 missing in action.

Finally, in December 1945 the 36th came home as a unit to be discharged. The Division was demobilized on Christmas Day.

There were eight divisions trained at Bowie, and many other battalions, regiments, and companies came for a short time to use the training grounds. Medical companies, MP companies, and others were here to learn how to survive during the War. During the War Days at least 30,000 men were at Bowie for training and at one time the population was 60,000 men.

Living quarters for these men and their families was a problem. Men stayed at the camp, lived off the campsite or in tents out in the training grounds. Every available room in Brown County and surrounding counties were rented to the men’s families.

The first Women’s Army Corps, officially arrived on November 16, 1943 to take over jobs to free the men for overseas duties.

There were two prisons in Bowie. The Rehabilitation Center that restored men back to duty and the German Prisoner of War Camp.

The Rehabilitation Center was opened on December 1, 1942. From that date until 1946 there were 2,294 men restored back to active duty. Only 12 percent could not be restored.

The first German Prisoners of War arrived at Bowie in August of 1943. Most of the men were members of Field Marshall Erwin Rommell’s one proud Afrika Corps. When they got settled at Camp Bowie the 2,700 men were well behaved. The men worked at jobs on the Camp and became day laborers for the farmers and ranchers in Central Texas. They raised their own vegetables and had their own burial grounds near the Jordan Springs Cemetery.

Dogs were another resident of the Camp. They were loved and well fed by the men. The Camp Veterinarians rounded them up once a year to register and vaccinate them. Flea baths came more often.

On October 1, 1946 the U. S. Flag came down for the last time. On August 1, 1946 the War Department notified Texas members of Congress that the Camp had been declared “surplus”. The Civilian War Assets Administration was to take charge and began the distribution of the land and buildings.

Today, 1997, there are few things at the Campsite to remind us of the Camp Bowie Days. The campsite has become a medical center, complete with a hospital and other medical buildings. Many industries have built in the area. The site has become a place where people can gather to enjoy entertainments at the parks, the municipal swimming pool, and the football and baseball sports complex. There are now homes and businesses in the area.”

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I was Hitler’s food taster…..


Margot Woelk tells for the first time how she was forced to eat the Fuhrer’s vegetarian meals to make sure they weren’t poisoned
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For more than two years Margot Woelk had to taste Hitler’s food to ensure it was not poisoned.
She feasted on fresh fruit and vegetables including asparagus, peppers and peas, while her fellow Germans were being rationed.
Mrs Woelk, now 95, was one of a dozen women the Fuhrer used to protect himself at his Eastern front HQ known as the Wolf’s Lair.
She was taken there in 1942 when she was evacuated from Berlin to the East Prussian village of Gross Partsch – Parcz in modern-day Poland – after her flat was bombed.
Her husband had gone off to the fighting and her mother-in-law offered her a house in the countryside.
But the SS picked her up soon after she arrived and took her to meet the unwilling tasters.
Mrs Woelk told the Times: ”Of course I was afraid. If it [the food] had been poisoned I would not be here today. We were forced to eat it, we had no choice.
‘Between 11 and 12 o’clock, we had to taste the food, and only after all 15 of us had tried it was it was driven to the headquarters by the SS.
‘It was all vegetarian, the most delicious fresh things, from asparagus to peppers and peas, served with rice, and salads. It was all arranged on one plate, just as it was served to him.’
She did not recall tasting any meat or fish and did not have to try out drinks.
There was always an hour’s delay before Hitler tucked into his meal so that any effects of the food on the women could be seen.
Mrs Woelk had to report every day, but was only used when Hitler’s personal train was in the station.
She lived with her mother-in-law outside the HQ until the unsuccessful assassination attempt on Hitler’s life by Claus von Stauffenberg with a briefcase bomb in July 1944.
From that moment she was confined to a school building and could only see her mother-in-law at weekends watched by the SS.
When Hitler abandoned the lair after 800 days in November 1944, a senior officer helped her escape back to Berlin by smuggling her on board Joseph Goebbels’ train.
She believes the other tasters were shot by the advancing Russians.
In 1946 she was reunited with her husband who she had presumed dead. The couple lived together until he died in 1990.

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