Bravery at Pearl Harbor

Since today, December 7th, is the 80th Remembrance of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, I wanted to share this brief family connection.

My adoptive grandmother’s nephew, Richard Allen James (1921-1972), was serving in the Army at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, during the time of the attack.

My featured postcard is a Kodak Real Photo Postcard, with a listed number on the front S-643 and is titled “Hula Dancers – Hawaiian Islands”. The card was sent to my mom from Richard while he was stationed in Hawaii. I cannot make out the postmark but since it was addressed to Harris Avenue and not Fairview Avenue, I would date it most likely just after Christmas of 1941.

The handwritten message reads:

Dear Cousin Marian,

Just a few lines to let you know I’m all right and I hope you are the same. The reason I didn’t write sooner was because I’ve been pretty busy. I’m going to write your mother a few lines. Thanks a lot for the Xmas card.

P.F.C. Richard James

Richard Allen James was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His parents were Howard A. (1894-1963) and Mary (Dempsey) James. Howard was a brother to my adoptive grandmother Bertha L. James (also known in my blog as Gra Gra).

Mary Dempsey was second wife to Howard and according to the Family Bible they were married in January of 1924. Howard had first been married to Alfreda Tedford and they had one son together, Howard Tedford James (1917-1956).

The following children were born to Howard and Mary (Resource: Family Bible):

Richard Allen James (1921-1972)

John (1924-1964)
Virginia (1926-1999)
Margaret B. (1927-1930)
Florence (1929-2008)
Robert D. (1933-1996)
Howard A. Jr. (1935-2005)

According to his WWII draft registration, Richard had blue eyes, was living in West Warwick and was unemployed at that time. Richard had enlisted in 1939 at the age of 18. His brother John had enlisted in the Navy at age 17.

In the Family Bible, the newspaper article (shown below) has been kept for many years.

In the above article it refers to an “Evening Bulletin” reporter. Apparently, this piece ran in both The Evening Bulletin which was the evening edition and The Providence Journal the morning edition (only the morning edition remains in the present day), both were generated from the same company.

The clipped article that I have in my possession was undated and upon an online search I was able to find the ProJo version with a slightly different title but the write up was the same. “Recognized for Bravery…” was the start of the title article that appeared in April of 1942 in The Providence Journal.

This article explains that Private 1st Class Richard Allen James was one of seven men to receive the commendation for bravery in action. In an effort to reach his post during the attack on that day December 7, 1941, he had to pass through heavy fire.

His mother, Aunt Mary, explained in the article that Richard had always been an active boy and enjoyed football and baseball.

During my online search I was able to find another article from The Providence Journal, edition of June 7, 1945. The article explained that Richard was one of eight Rhode Island soldiers who were returning from the Pacific Theater by way of San Francisco. They were being discharged from the Army under the point system and were the first group to be discharged.

In future blogs, I hope to explore other family-related service connections.

Until next time…

Related Previous blogs:

Dad’s 461st Air Service Squadron

My Dad: A Soldier of World War II

Uncle Lionel: Fort Greble, RI; Vet of WWI

Dad’s 461st Air Service Squadron

Last spring, I started reviewing some of my dad’s personal military items of record and some of the other documents that I have from the reunions his service group held for several years. My original intention was to compile a full outline of their reunions to publish in a blog at the end of May. Due to various circumstances at the time, I was not able to complete the project as intended.

So, this being Veterans Day, I wanted to give a bit of recognition to my dad and this group who served during the second world war. However, I have curbed my original plan. Instead of this blog showing a complete outline of the reunions, it will be more of a review of their service and include just a little information about their reunions. Mostly, because I have been considering putting together a more complete information into a book of some kind that will serve as a historical and memorable documentation. Whether I actually see that to fruition remains to be seen.

In a previous blog posting, I did highlight some of my dad’s service experience which you could connect to via the following link: My Dad: A Soldier of World War II. This current post may contain some repeat of his service highlights. Please note, that all of my source information listed here is being taken from papers or records that I hold in my personal possession. In addition to having my dad’s records and items he saved from the war, I have all the group correspondence and reunion meeting agenda’s that my parents had saved.

My Dad reported for duty on October 13, 1942, at 21 years of age. After serving overseas in the European Theatre, he returned back to the US on October 12, 1945. His military separation was official on October 20, 1945.

First, my dad was sent to Ft. Devens, in Massachusetts, for ten days, then on to Atlantic City for Technical Training School and boot camp. He stayed at one of the big hotels on the boardwalk. He spent twenty days at that location.

While my dad was in Atlantic City, he sent the postcard that I have shown as my featured image. I chose to highlight the handwritten message, back side of the card, but will show the front side image toward the end of this blog.

My dad sent the card on October 29, 1942, from Atlantic City to Mr. Paul A. Kenworthy; however, I am unclear if the card ever reached Paul or whether it was sent back to my dad when he was at mechanic school in Goldsboro, NC, which was the last entry on the address side. I do not know Paul’s story, but I am assuming perhaps my dad had met him at Camp Devens–I do know that Paul did not serve in the same service group with my dad.

Looking at my dad’s handwritten message you can see his location was Atlantic City for Technical School. His message to Paul reads: “Please excuse the time from the time you left until you receive this card. I have been very busy. I will write you more as soon as I get your address. Earl.”

My dad changed posts on November 11, 1942 to Seymour Johnson Field, in North Carolina. It had actually been an error because they had been put on the wrong train heading in the wrong direction. They were supposed to be sent to New York–maybe a blessing in disguise.

He started Airplane Mechanics school and served ten months in the US as an Airplane and Engine Mechanic prior to being sent overseas. He achieved the rank of Corporal.

My dad was assigned to the 461st Service Squadron.

SERVICE GROUP TIMELINE

The 461st Service Squadron was part of the 326th Service Group assigned to the 354th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force. They were activated from Hunter Field, in Savannah, Georgia, on March 6, 1943 and later the group was renamed the 461st Air Service Squadron.

The group remained at Hunter Field until May 22, 1943 and then followed the timeline, as listed below:

Venice, Florida – May 24 to August 2
Waycross, Georgia – August 3 to October 19
Camp Kilmer, New Jersey; October 21 to November 2
Queen Elizabeth, November 2 to November 9
Station 469 – Ramsbury, England – November 10 to November 19
Station 150 – Boxted, Essex, England – November 19 to ?

As you see in the timeline, they had sailed to Ramsbury, Wilshire, England on the Queen Elizabeth arriving on Nov. 10, 1943. They served in four areas of Europe (Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France, Germany) over the course of 23 months (in my dad’s case).

My dad inspected, maintained and repaired wooden aircraft parts on assemblies of the fighter planes, primarily the Fighting Mustang P-51.

Soon after my dad’s 461st Air Service Squadron arrived in England, they became the nucleus of Team “B” of the 326th Service Group. They were assigned for service to the 354th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force.

At the time of the Normandy Beach Invasion (France), also known as D-Day, the group was stationed in Kent, England. The Invasion covered five sections of the beach, taking place from June 6 to 25, in 1944 (not just one day). By the end of that month, my dad’s group had been moved to an air station in Cricqueville, France. During a speech made on the 50th anniversary of this Invasion (June 1994) it was said that the Normandy Invasion was the “Price of Freedom”. In this place, thousands of Allies gave their lives as represented by the lines of white crosses that remain there along the coastline.

By late August of 1944, celebration parades and 15 miles of Paris streets were lined with cheering people, marking their Liberation from German occupation, as can be seen from the postcard pictured above.

The regime would fall in Germany on May 7, 1945 which followed the advancement of Allied forces into that area.

On October 12th, 1945, my dad arrived back on US soil to Fort Monmouth, in New Jersey and headed for home on October 20th.

He went on to graduate from the New England Aircraft School where he obtained knowledge of engine construction, inspection, maintenance and repair. He graduated on September 12, 1947.

My dad received the following service medals: the European Theatre of Operations Service Medal, four bronze battle Stars, the Good Conduct Medal and the Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty, which was received posthumously.

461st REUNIONS

The first Reunion of the 461st Air Service Squadron, 9th Air Force was held in 1980. The group’s members were scattered across the country. Each reunion that was held by the group included a business meeting, a memorials recognition, group visits to local sites, a banquet, and breakfast on the final morning.

My parents were not able to attend until the 4th Reunion which was held in 1984, from October 4-7, in Philadelphia, PA. The mailing list that was handed out at that 1984 meeting listed 82 members living and 18 known deceased.

The 5th Reunion was held in North Hollywood, Calif., in 1985; from October 17-20. The picture shown above is my dad in the dark shirt with his buddy Warren Morey. They went on a tour of the Queen Mary which you can see in the background. They went to a lot of places like Disneyland and Universal backlots, etc. After this reunion my mom wrote a letter to other wives with words of encouragement to attend the reunions. She spoke of how she never expected to see the state of California and that my parents had saved all year to be able to go. They came home with great memories, that no one can take away.

My parents continued to attend many of the annually held reunions of this service group, but I am not going to list them all at this time. So, I will continue with the 15th Reunion, with details below.

The 15th Reunion was held in Savannah, Georgia, back to where the group had been activated in 1943. The picture above shows the waterfront area in Savannah and the picture below shows the group going on a carriage ride. It was the last reunion my dad was able to attend and was held in 1995, from October 11-14 with 21 men present. They toured Fort Stewart and Hunter Field. My dad was having a lot of physical struggles at that time but was determined to go. My parents had gone down by train and they extended their visit from October 10 to 17. A few weeks after returning home my dad took a fall and was never quite able to walk more than a step or two again.

My dad died in March of 1997.

My parents were not able to attend the 16th Reunion due to my dad’s health. However, my mom continued to attend the next two gatherings held at New York and Florida.

The 17th Reunion was held at Bayside, New York from September 17-20, 1997 with 9 men and 16 women present. They determined this year that eligibility for membership be expanded beyond the original 461st members to immediate family, widows and friends of originals.

My mom’s last attendance was to the 18th Reunion held in Tallahassee, Florida, in 1998. It was hosted by one of the original members and his daughters.

I am uncertain if there were any other Reunions held after 1998, my mom’s health was failing at that point and no longer able to attend.

Cambridge American Cemetery & Memorial

My parents took a trip to England in 1987 and during their visit they went to the Cambridge American Military Cemetery & Memorial, located in Coton, Cambridgeshire, England.

The following information was taken from a handout from the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The site was first established on December 7th, 1943 as a permanent American Military Cemetery and covers 30.5 acres and was donated by the University of Cambridge. The cemetery and memorial were completed in 1956.

In the cemetery are buried 3,811 Americans arranged in fan-shaped graves in quarter circles and the headstones are aligned like the spokes of a wheel.

There is a Wall of the Missing which is 472 feet long, built of Portland stone, a limestone quarried from the south coast of England. On the wall is recorded the names of 5,125 of our Missing. Along the wall are four statues: a Soldier, a Sailor, an Airman, and a Coast Guardsman.

There is also a memorial building, built of Portland stone, that is 85 feet long, 30 feet wide and 28 feet high. On the North side of the memorial are five pylons, each are inscribed with a date representing the five years from 1941 through 1945 in which the United States participated in the war.

The beautiful main doors of the memorial building are made of teakwood, and have bronze models of the military equipment and naval vessels.

Front Side of Dad’s Postcard

The pictured image on the front side of the postcard that my dad had mailed is of St. Peter’s Catholic Church, West Atlantic City. I believe it is a linen card and includes images of a St. Thomas More statue and the Wayside Shrine.

The postcard was published by the E. C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Until next time…

One Postcard Saturdays: Naval Station, Newport

Today, I am starting a new series called “One Postcard Saturdays!“. My plan is to share with you special weekly postings, on Saturdays, highlighting just one postcard. These Saturday posts will be quite brief in comparison to my usual lengthy ones–which will continue as time allows.

This series of postcards will span multi-generations and may cover any number of subjects, places or holidays–in no particular order. I will try to list any known information such as the postmark (if readable), the publisher, the sender, the receiver, as well as, any message on the card.

I am starting the series with a 1942, World War II era, linen postcard. This card was sent to my dad, an aircraft mechanic during the war. You can learn more about his military service from my blog posting: My Dad: A Soldier of World War II

The sender of this card was Fred Martin AMM 3/c (Aviation Machinist’s Mate, Third Class) Co- 1014 Newport Training St., in Newport, RI and it was postmarked on November 24, 1942, from Newport, RI.

Fred’s message to my dad reads: Hi Earl, This is really the first time I have had to write. It’s a great life in the Navy, last night I went swimming in a pool and roller skating and tonight I’m going to a movie. Write you later, Fred

The card had first been addressed to Pvt. Earl Lindall, in Atlantic City but the address was crossed out and changed to Airplane Mechanic School, Goldsboro, N.C. My dad had been in Atlantic City prior to being transferred. There is a purple stamp on the back from the Army Directory Service, who perhaps had made the address correction update.

The front side of this linen postcard shows “Bag Inspection” at the U.S. Naval Training Station, Newport, RI.

The postcard was published by the U.S. Naval Training Station, Ship’s Service Dept., Newport, RI

Until next time…

Uncle Lionel: Fort Greble, RI; Vet of WWI

Some of my fondest memories of Uncle Lionel are centered around his visits, when I was a young child, to the small summer cottage my parents owned in Charlestown, Rhode Island–about a mile from the water. They had built the two-room cottage themselves, around the 1950 mark, with family members pitching in to help. Every year, with the exception of one, my whole summer was spent at the cottage location and it was always a special day when Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth would drive down for a visit. Generally, they would bring Gra Gra down with them, too. If you would like to learn a bit more about Gra Gra, please see my previous post: Intro to Gra Gra & Volunteering at Kent Hospital

Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth, in 1962, visiting with us at the cottage in Charlestown.

Lionel Henry James was born on September 7th, 1892, in Providence, RI. He was brother to Bertha (Gra Gra) and Howard Allen James (1894-1963).

Their parents were George L. P. James and Martha Ella (Carr) James Cady. Their younger siblings, Vincent and Lester, were born of George’s second wife Susan Henrich. Although I still have research to do on the Henrich family, you could read a little more about them from my previous post: What’s in a Name, Lena Henrich?

My thoughts have been focused a lot on Uncle Lionel in recent weeks, with all the talk about the first World War ending 100 years ago and my remembering having knowledge of his military service, during that era. Fortunately, I found a couple of the postcards that he wrote during the war–I know there are others.

The featured postcard, shown again below of both the front and back side, was sent by Uncle Lionel and postmarked July 20, 1915 from Fort Greble, R.I. The card was sent to his sister Mrs. William Watts (Gra Gra), in Riverpoint, R.I.

Postcard from Fort Greble in 1915, showing the 14th Co. Barrack on lower left and the 109th Co. Barrack on the lower right. The fort hospital is the top photo.

Looking first at his message, I was able to learn a few details of his service. At the time of his writing, in 1915, he was of the rank Quartermaster Sergeant, serving in the 11th Co., C.A.C., R.I. N.J., stationed at Fort Greble, R.I. According to Wikipedia, the C.A.C. stands for the U.S. Army, Coast Artillery Corps which served coastal, harbor defense from 1901 to 1950.

The publisher of this postcard was Bobbe Litho Co., from New York City.

Fort Greble was on Dutch Island, which is located mid-way from Saunderstown (on the mainland) to Jamestown (Conanicut Island), and is part of the town of Jamestown, Rhode Island. According to Preservation RI, the island contains approximately 110-acres. The island was acquired by the federal government during the Civil War to serve as a coastal defense site.

In 1872-73, a barracks for government workers was built. On that featured postcard is shown pictures of two barrack buildings and a hospital.

During 1897-98, Battery Hale was constructed in honor of Captain Nathan Hale, of the Revolutionary War era. The battery had positions for three 10-inch guns with disappearing carriages.

The postcard, shown above, shows one of the 10″ guns from Fort Greble. This card was sent by Uncle Howard, it was postmarked on July 20, 1915 from Fort Greble, and was sent to Mr. & Mrs. T. W. Watts (Gra Gra and Pop Pop), in Riverpoint, R.I.

From this postcard, I was able to learn that Uncle Howard served during the first World War at Fort Greble, along with Uncle Lionel. The handwritten message from Howard reads: Dear Brother and Sister, Having a fine time, hope to see you Friday. Howard xxxxx.

Fort Greble operated from 1898 to 1947 and was named in honor of 1st Lt. John Trout Greble, 2nd Artillery–who was killed in the Civil War.

During the early 1900s, Battery Hale served in protection of the western entrance to Narragansett Bay, along with Fort Getty, in Jamestown and Fort Kearny, in Saunderstown (now the site of URI school of oceanography)–Narragansett Bay Harbor Defense System.

During the first World War, Fort Greble housed 14 companies of RI National Guardsmen, in a circa 1900 enlisted mens’ barracks near the northeastern end of the island. The batteries of Fort Greble were disarmed between 1917 and 1943 and use of the fort facility was ended in 1947. In 1958, Dutch Island was given to the state for conservation use.

This is a real photo postcard during the first World War and Uncle Lionel is second from the right side of the card. It appears he was the only one looking directly at the camera while the picture was taken.

During my research, for this blog posting, I was able to locate the World War I Draft Registration card records for both Lionel and Howard. In addition, I was able to find one for their cousin Clifford Foster James, born Aug, 29, 1885. He was the son of William and Mabel (Dollof) James–they lived for many years in Hyde Park, Mass. William was brother to George L. P. James, the father of Lionel and Howard.

Below are two pictures; one is of Clifford in 1937 and the other includes Clifford standing on the far right, with his Uncle Martin and his dad William (I believe William is the one standing in the middle).

Clifford Foster James

According to Clifford’s WWI Draft Registration from 1917, his nearest relative was Mabel Alice James, with address listed as: 52 Cleveland St, in Hyde Park. His occupation was listed as a painter for Farnum & Nelson, 1822 Aboretum, in Roslindale, Mass.

The date of the WWI Draft Registration for Lionel was June 5, 1917. It listed previous military service as six years and rank as QM Serg. (Quartermaster Sergeant). His address at that time was listed as: 52 Cleveland Street, Hyde Park, Boston, Mass. This was the same address as was listed on Clifford’s record, which would lead me to believe that Uncle Lionel was living with his Uncle William and Aunt Mabel during that time in 1917. His occupation was listed as wood finisher for John T. Robinson & Co, in Hyde Park. This company manufactured fine paper box and card cutting machinery.

In future blog stories, I hope to explore the family of William and Mabel James a bit further and this Hyde Park area, which is located on the outskirts of Boston. In the meantime, below are shown three unposted postcards of places located in Hyde Park. They were published by Herbert W. Rhodes of Norwood, Mass. They would date to 1907 or earlier, since they each have undivided backs. These cards were part of Aunt Etta’s collection, learn more about her in my previous post: Intro to Aunt Etta And Her Great Adventures.

This is an old postcard showing the Public Library at Hyde Park, Mass.

High School, Hyde Park, Mass.

Y.M.C.A. Building, Hyde Park, Mass.

I was able to find Uncle Howard’s WWI Draft Registration, dated June 5, 1917 and his address was listed as: 141 Lynnfield St., in Peabody, Mass. He was 22 years old and his occupation was listed as Shipping Clerk for Densten Hair Co., in Peabody, Mass., located off of Lynnfield Street. At that time, he was married to his first wife, Alfreda (Tedford) James. The card lists his Military service Rank as: 1st Class Gunner Sergeant, Coast Artillery, for one year, in Rhode Island. There is a question on the card saying: Has person lost arm, leg, hand, foot or both eyes, or is he otherwise disabled? The answer said: First finger, left hand, disfigured. This injury is something I never knew or heard about and I have to wonder if he received the injury during his service at Fort Greble.

Unfortunately, I am unable to locate a photo of Uncle Howard at this time. I am sure that I must have one in the large volume of pictures that have passed down to me but it will have to wait until a future story.

Since Uncle Howard died in 1963, I did not have the pleasure of knowing him as well as Uncle Lionel. I can remember his first wife, Aunt Freda, visiting on several occasions to Gra Gra’s house while I was there on a weekend or school vacation week. I do remember that she drove down from Massachusetts, so I believe she remained living in the Peabody area after they divorced.

According to Gra Gra’s family bible records, Uncle Howard married a second time to Mary E. Dempsey, in January of 1924. I do remember Aunt Mary fairly well and she lived nearby. Since the primary focus of this blog post is on Uncle Lionel, I will save Howard’s family details for a future post.

In November of 1917, Uncle Lionel married Mary Elizabeth Whitney, they had ten children–two of whom are still living and are in their late 80’s.

I found record of Uncle Lionel’s World War II Old Man’s Draft Registration, which was dated April 27, 1942. This registration was required for men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before Feb. 16, 1897. On this 1942 record, his address was listed as: 239 Bayview Avenue, in Cranston, RI. His employer was listed as Oscar Leach, Leach England Works, Charles Street, in Providence, RI.

In later years, Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth moved to West Warwick and lived for a time in a multi-family home on Youngs Avenue, which was the next street over from Gra’s Gra’s house on South Street.

Music was, and still is, an important element in the James family. My great-grandfather, George L. P. James, was a banjo player–known for playing throughout the Pawtuxet Valley area during the early 1900’s. According to a handwritten record by George, he states that his grandfather, William James, was said to have given music lessons, in Providence.

Gra Gra played the piano, the ukulele and the Hawaiian Guitar. I remember that Uncle Lionel played the banjo but I am not sure if he played any other instruments. I do believe all of his son’s played instruments: drums, banjo, guitar, piano and at one time they had a band.

Below are two pictures of the apartment where Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth lived during the early 1960’s, it was located on Youngs Ave., in West Warwick, R.I.

Photo from 1962, Gra Gra at the piano and Uncle Lionel watching from the couch, taken at his Youngs Avenue apartment.

Another photo of Uncle Lionel at the Youngs Avenue apartment.

My grandmother relied on her brother Lionel when she needed help with “handy” things and I guess that would include snow-shoveling. Apparently, there was a big snowstorm during 1963 and I found three pictures of Uncle Lionel in the snow.

Uncle Lionel, in 1963, in the snow with his car. It looks like he is parked outside Gra Gra’s on South Street at the bend which would mean the house in the background would be up on Greene Street.

Uncle Lionel on the steps of Gra Gra’s house on South Street.

Uncle Lionel and his snow shovel making a path in Gra Gra’s backyard on South Street, in West Warwick, RI.

During 1964, the town constructed their first elderly residence facility, the West Warwick Manor, and Uncle Lionel and Aunt Elizabeth were part of the first residents to live there. In 1967, they celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary and there was a big party (I think it was a surprise) for them in the recreation hall of the manor. It was a great time and there was a honky-tonk band which kept everyone on their feet, including me–dancing and dancing along with my cousin Kim. It is one of my greatest memories.

Around that timeframe, Uncle Lionel was beginning to have some serious health issues and I can remember he was in and out of the hospital a few times. One of the things I loved most about him was his great sense of humor. Although his failing health was no joke he would try to make light of it by telling stories of the hospital nurses giving him the nickname “Old Ironsides”.

His body rebounded on several occasions, even though fighting a tough battle. However, his fight ended on January 19th, 1969. I can still remember that I had to bring a note into school for permission to be released early in order to attend his visiting hours. I was in sixth grade, at the time, and we were in Science lesson when I had to leave for the day. I do not remember going to the actual funeral, only the visiting hours, so I think my mom did not have me attend it.

Aunt Elizabeth was then alone to finish her journey in life, until I believe 1971. I am not positive on the year and I made an effort to find that information to be sure. I did find an entry in the family Bible of February 13th but there was no year listed. I remember her as having a huge heart. She treated everyone in a kind manner and seemed to have boundless energy. I can remember many events at church with her always being there–lending a helping hand.

Below is a picture of Aunt Elizabeth taken at Gra Gra’s house (I recognize the chair) and it may be one of the last pictures of her.

It was my intention to complete this posting sooner, closer to Veteran’s Day, but clearly that did not happen. I wish that I had thought about the first World War family connection sooner in order to allow for me to complete it in time. However, it is always nice to learn a little more about family history and how it ties into local locations. I really did not know much about Fort Greble prior to conducting some research for putting this piece together.

With the clues provided by the family postcards it really helps to serve as a base to learning more about history–events, places and people.

Until next time…

My Dad: A Soldier of World War II

Normally, my focus is on my maternal James family and their connections via postal history by exploring the postcard collections that have been passed down to me from this line. My intro posting outlines the normal focus of this blog and can be viewed at Intro to my blog.

Today, being Veteran’s Day, my focus turns to my paternal side as I honor my dad’s memory and his service during World War II.

My featured postcard is a print made of an original painting by V. Mundorff, Chemnitz, No. 102 Nachrichten, published Berlin-Charlottenburg.

Humble Beginnings

My dad was a very humble guy. Growing up, I was well-aware of his service in the great war but never heard many details. In later years, my parents were fortunate enough to attend several reunions held by his service unit from which I would hear various stories upon their return. Sadly, it was not until he was gone that I would really learn the details of his service. Furthermore, I learned he was a great track star in high school, having earned several awards and ribbons for longer distance and hurdles–these I stumbled upon while sorting through old things.

My dad at age 14.

My dad, Earl Francis Lindall (1921-1997) was a son of James (1898-1972) and Alice (Holden) Lindall (1901-1985). My grandfather’s family first came to this country in the early 1600’s and were early settlers in the areas of Salem and Boston, Massachusetts.

Jim and Alice 1964

 

My grandfather was the son of William and Elnora (Bennett) Lindall. He grew up in the town of Coventry, Rhode Island. After he married my grandmother, they lived in various areas of Warwick, including Oakland Beach, Pontiac and Greenwood. In the photos below, the one on the left is of Elnora and the picture on the right is Jim with his sister Claudia and their father William.

My grandmother, Alice, was a daughter of John and Elizabeth (Wilde) Holden. My great-grandfather, John, was born in England 1866 and died on November 17, 1942 while a resident of 159 Knight Street, in the Pontiac section of Warwick, RI. In earlier years, he resided in Providence and was employed as a loomfixer and watchman at various times in the Atlantic Mills and Riverside Mills, in the Olneyville section of Providence. In later years, he worked as watchman at the B.B. & R. Knight Bleachery, in Pontiac. My great-grandmother, Elizabeth, was born in England 1865 and died prior to 1942. She married John, in England, on July 26, 1885.

The picture shown below is of John and Elizabeth Holden taken in 1924.

Reporting for Duty

The date of October 13, 1942 was the day my father became an active-duty soldier reporting for duty to Fort Devens.

Grammy had always kept a journal, and her first service related entry was dated September 1942:

Earl’s Army Life in World War II…Earl Francis Lindall started on his way to become a soldier in Uncle Sam’s Army…We went with him to Union Station. He didn’t seem to mind going and away he went to Fort Devens to report for duty…after 10 days he left for a new post…That being Atlantic City to attend Technical Training School and taking boot training. He resided in one of the big hotels on the boardwalk.

This postcard (shown below) of the Atlantic City Auditorium and Convention Hall is one my dad wrote to his grandfather (John Holden), while he was attending the service technical school.

This postcard was published by the Jersey Supply Company, Atlantic City, N.J. and is a genuine Curteich-Chicago “C.T. Art-Colortone” post card.

It seems John died soon after my dad had written this postcard, and it was likely the last contact he had with him.

Grammy’s journal went on to say:

He spoke of the good time they had walking or marching along by the water singing songs. He spent much of his spare time on the boardwalk by the water. Of course there are not many hours off duty in the Army…He spent 20 days here of his basic training.

He changed posts again on Nov. 11. He spent the night on the train which landed him in North Carolina now to be stationed at Seymour Johnson Field. He found out sometime later, they were put on the wrong train headed in the wrong direction and their destination should have been New York. But they had to find a place for them there.

He started in school to learn Airplane Mechanics…He had a large picture taken and sent home three, one for Marian (my mom), one for Rosie’s store and one for his mother.

He spent his first Christmas away from home but if he had known beforehand he might not have been able to get home.

According to military records, my dad achieved the rank of Corporal. He spent 10 months in the U.S. as an airplane and engine mechanic. He was assigned to the 461st Service Squadron (later renamed to the 461st Air Service Squadron) of the 9th Air Force, activated from Hunter Field, in Savannah, Ga.

“I have gotten as far as the Psalms in my Bible now,” said one of my dad’s journal entries. At the time I first read this, it gave me greater understanding of his Faith, which must have served as a source of strength in order to endure the face of battle.

My dad sailed across the Atlantic on the Queen Elizabeth to the shores of Britain, arriving in Ramsbury, Wilshire, England on Nov. 10, 1943. He served in the European Theatre for 23 months, seeing battle in four locations: Central Europe, Normandy, Northern France and Rhineland (Germany).

His title was Woodworker and according to military papers, he inspected, maintained and repaired wooden aircraft parts on fighter planes and worked long hours under  “adverse conditions”.

A detailed account written by my dad’s unit commander, said they spent the first nine days in England getting used to the money, the customs and the blackout. The unit soon became the nucleus of Team “B” of the 326th Service Group and were assigned for service to the 354th Fighter Group of the 9th Air Force.

During the Invasion of Normandy on D-Day, they were stationed in Kent, England. Allied soldiers invaded five sections of the beach at Normandy, France from June 6 to 25, 1944. After numerous battles, my dad’s group had been reassigned to an air station, Strip A-2, in Cricqueville, France.

A great celebration erupted in the Parisian streets in late August, 1944, marking their liberation from four years of German occupation. There were great parades in the streets including American military marching to the German border. Cheering people lined the Paris streets for 15 miles. Allied forces drove into Germany, leading to the fall of the Nazi regime on May 7, 1945.

My mom and dad

My dad arrived back in the U.S. on Oct. 12, 1945, with his separation from the military taking place at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, on Oct. 20. According to his enlisted record, the U.S. Army decorated my dad with the European Theatre of Operations Service Medal, with four bronze battle stars, and the Good Conduct Medal.

Soon before my dad died, there was a letter and information received about the Regional Council of Lower Normandy offering the Medal of the Jubilee of Liberty. This was a Commemorative Medal, issued by the government of France in June of 1994, upon the 50th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy. In an effort to get this medal awarded to my dad, a gentleman in his Senior Citizen bowling league wrote a personal letter to Senator Jack Reed, of Rhode Island. Senator Reed, in turn, wrote a personal letter to the French representative in Boston at the time, and he forwarded my dad’s medal application and documents to the necessary officials in France.

As a result, French officials posthumously awarded my dad this medal, received in December of 1997. When officials sent the medal to my mom, she also received a copy of the speech that was delivered on site, in Normandy, June 1994. The unknown speaker represented President Rene Garrec, of France. He spoke of Normandy as being “The Price of Freedom”. He also spoke about the lines of white crosses on their coastlines, “they show the terrible fights in which thousands of Allies gave their lives”.

“Normandy wants to take advantage of the Jubilee of 1944 to pay tribute to the Sacrifices of men who died so that their children live in a free country,” the spokesperson said, “…and at the same time transform this event in a Message of Peace…a place where the memory of future generations is cultivated so that freedom is not in danger anymore.”

Below is a slide show of several of the postcards that my dad brought back with him from Europe. Those cards in color are published Les Editions d’ Art “Yvon” Paris and the black and white “Escaliers” stairs published Editions Mireille, Ets G. Gandini, Marseille, are all images from Marseille, a port city in southern France. A couple of the other black and white postcards are from LIGNY-en-Barrois, a town in the northeast of France, published by Gourzon, Librairie. Also, there are a few real photo postcards from the Liberation of France, in Paris, including pictures of General de Gaulle and General Bradley. The last postcard is similar to the featured postcard and is a print of an original painting by V. Mundorff, Chemnitz, No. 109 Artillerie published by Berlin-Charlottenburg.

On this Veteran’s Day, we are reminded of those who have served for our freedom. Thank you, to those who currently serve and to those who have served in the past, such as my dad. Take time to listen to their stories. If they are no longer with us, take some time to learn about the details of their service.

Until next time…