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6 June 1942
War in the Air
The Luftwaffe bombs Canterbury
The RAF bombs Emden
What Happened in June 1942
Jun 4 "Mrs Miniver" based on the novel by Jan Struther, directed by William Wyler and starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon is released in the US (Best Picture 1943)
- British offensive in North Africa under General Ritchie An explosion at the Joliet Army Ammunition Plant kills 48 people USA declares war on Bulgaria, Hungary & Romania 1st nylon parachute jump (Hartford Ct-Adeline Gray)
Event of Interest
Jun 6 74th Belmont: Eddie Arcaro aboard Shut Out wins in 2:29.2
- Japanese forces retreat, ending Battle of Midway Japanese troop land on Kiska, Aleutians USS Yorktown sinks near Midway Island
Victory in Battle
Jun 7 Battle of Midway ends: Admiral Chester Nimitz wins 1st World War II naval defeat of Japan
- Adipatie Ario Soejono becomes minister in Gerbrandy government German-Netherlands press reports, 3 million Dutch sent to East-Europe
Jun 10 Nazis kill all inhabitants of Lidice, Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia (now Czech Republic) which had been implicated in the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Nazi controller of Bohemia and Moravia, to “teach the Czechs a final lesson of subservience and humility” over 170 adult men were executed by firing squad on site, women and children were sent to concentration camp gas chambers, and the village was burned down and plowed under
Event of Interest
Jun 12 Anne Frank gets her diary as a birthday present in Amsterdam
Event of Interest
Jun 12 Hitler orders enslavement of Slavic peoples
- Tornado kills 35 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 1st V-2 rocket launch, Peenemunde, Germany reached 1.3 km Germany lands 4 saboteurs on Long Island US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) formed The United States opens its Office of War Information, with Elmer Davis as head 1st bazooka rocket gun produced (Bridgeport, Connecticut) Anne Frank begins her diary French government of Reynaud resigns Bernard W Robinson, becomes 1st African American ensign in US Navy Eric Nessler of France stays aloft in a glider for 38h21m Paul Waner is 7th to get 3,000 baseball hits
'The Banality of Evil'
Jun 20 Adolf Eichmann proclaims deportation of Dutch Jews
Event of Interest
Jun 21 US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrive in Washington, D.C.
Event of Interest
Jun 21 Germany's Panzer Army led by Erwin Rommel takes Tobruk in Libya, North Africa
- Anneliese Seinheuer throws female world record spear (47.24m) Japanese submarine in mouth of Columbia River, Oregon Jewish Brigade attached by British Army in WW II, forms
Jun 22 European broadcast première of Dmitri Shostakovich's 7th Symphony in London conducted by Sir Henry J. Wood and the London Philharmonic Orchestra
- World War II: Germany's latest fighter, a Focke-Wulf FW190 is captured intact when it mistakenly lands at RAF Pembrey in Wales US Admiral Ernest King orders Tulagi (Solomon Island) reconquered Africa Korps invades Egypt Village of Ležáky, Czechoslovakia destroyed by Nazis after Gestapo finds a radio transmitter believed to have been involved coordinating the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, 33 adults were executed by firing squad on site, and children were sent to concentration camp gas chambers, and the village was burned down and plowed under British RAF stages a 1,000 bomb raid on Bremen, Germany (WWII) British premier Winston Churchill travels from US to London
Event of Interest
Jun 25 Major General Dwight Eisenhower appointed commander of US forces in Europe
- German assault on British at Mersa Matruh FBI captures 8 Nazi saboteurs from a sub off NY's Long Island PQ-17 convoy leaves Iceland for Archangelsk Col-gen Von Hoth' 6th Pantser enters Voronezj Col-general Von Paul's 6th Army enters Ukraine US Mint in New Orleans ceases operation US bombs Celebes and Timor U-boats sink and damage 146 allied ships this month (700,227 tons)
6 June 1942 - History
SHOP FOR ARMY AVIATION [PILOT / AIRCREW] APPAREL & GIFTS:
Army Aviation became a separate branch on April 12, 1983, but soldiers had been taking to the air since the days of the observation balloon. Aviation is one of the combat arms branches today, but in the beginning flying was just a method of observation and scouting. During the American Civil War both the North and the South used balloons to direct artillery fire and observe enemy dispositions. This marked the beginning of aerial support for ground forces. The United States also used balloons during the Spanish American War and WWI. However, soon after the first powered flight the airplane quickly replaced balloons for all military purposes.
The Wright brothers flew the first heavier-than-air, engine powered, full size airplane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. Within a few years, the leadership of the Army began to run tests of the new invention to see if it had any military benefits. During one of these tests, Lt. Thomas Selfridge became the first U.S. soldier killed in an airplane crash. He had been flying with Orville Wright on September 17, 1908 when the mishap occurred. The following year, the Army accepted delivery of "U.S. Army Aeroplane No. 1," built to specification by the Wright brothers, on August 2, 1909. The subsequent October 26 saw the designation of the first two Army aviators, Lieutenants Frederic E. Humphreys and Frank P. Lahm, when each completed their first solo flight.
With approval of Congress, an Aviation Section was created under the U.S. Army Signal Corps on July 18, 1914. The Punitive Expedition to Mexico saw the first tactical usage of Army airplanes when General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing used them for scouting while the expedition chased Pancho Villa's forces in northern Mexico. Nevertheless, the Army only had a few dozen aircraft in the inventory when the First World War began. During WWI, the number of Army aircraft grew to more than 11,000 planes with more than 190,000 aviation personnel in the Army Air Service, created in May 1918.
After WWI, the leadership of the Army Air Service, particularly General William "Billy" Mitchell, argued forcefully for the creating of an independent air force, separate from the ground forces of the Army. That argument was rejected at the time, but it was evident that aviation needed to be considered a combat arm unto itself. Again with the required action of Congress, the Army Air Service was changed to the Army Air Corps on July 1, 1926, with a newly designated "Secretary of War for Air" to manage it. This action put the Air Corps in an equal status with the infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
During the 1930s the top leadership of the Army Air Corps was focusing on the potential for air power to be employed as a strategic asset (in other words, bombing major targets rather than supporting ground units). This concerned ground forces commanders, particularly in the artillery branch that benefited from using light observation aircraft for adjustment of indirect fire. The Army experimented with organic light aircraft in artillery units during maneuvers in 1940 and 1941. The tests of these "Grasshoppers," as the light planes were called, were very successful. Their performance was better than the larger Air Corps planes that had been used previously.
In the meantime, the advance of technology marched on. In January 1938 the War Department disbursed $2 million for research into the possibility of developing rotary wing aircraft. The Army acquired its first real helicopter on November 1, 1941, a Sikorsky YR-4.
On June 6, 1942 the Air Corps was elevated to the Army Air Forces (AAF), which put that component of the Army on the same level with Army Ground Forces. The Field Artillery branch was allowed to keep "organic army aviation" under their control. This meant that light observation aircraft like the L-4 Grasshopper and the L-5 Sentinel and their personnel organic to the artillery battalions and brigades that they worked for. The Department of Air Training was established at the Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. This date, June 6, 1942 is recognized as the birth date of Army Aviation.
Organic Army Aviation first participated in combat during Operation Torch in November 1942 in North Africa. While the original function of organic Army Aviation was to adjust artillery, during the course of the war, it expanded. During World War II, L-4 Grasshoppers and a few larger L-5 Sentinels were used to adjust artillery fire, gather intelligence, support naval gunfire, conduct medical evacuations (MEDEVAC), and perform other functions like command and control. The expanding mission and close coordination with ground forces was primarily because the aircraft were available to - and often under the command of - the commander on the ground, where the assets of the Army Air Forces were not.
The difference in need, mission, priorities, and philosophy as to the employment of aviation assets caused a great deal of friction between the leaders of the Army Air Forces and Army Ground Forces. It was time to separate the two. The United States Air Force (USAF) became its own branch of service, separate from the United States Army, on September 18, 1947. There continued to be a great deal of friction between the services with suspicion of overlapping areas of responsibility and competition for precious funding. On April 21, 1948, President Eisenhower signed the "Key West Agreement" that provided for the division of assets between the Armed Services. Under the agreement, the Air Force would have control of all strategic air assets as well as most tactical aviation and logistic functions. The Army was allowed to retain aviation assets to be used for reconnaissance and medical evacuation purposes. The Navy could have their own combat air arm to support naval operations, which included combat aircraft to support the Marine Corps. After the adoption of the Key West Agreement, the Army continued to develop its light planes and rotary wing aircraft to support its ground operations. In 1949 the Army established the Warrant Officer Pilot Program to fly new cargo helicopters it was fielding.
The Korean War saw a leap forward in Army Aviation. On January 3, 1951, the first combat medical evacuation by helicopter was conducted - in Korea by 1LT Willis G. Strawn and 1LT Joseph L. Bowler. The H-13 Sioux rotary wing aircraft had been fielded since 1947 and was used for MEDEVAC and command and control operations. The helicopter proved its worth in the rugged terrain of Korea. This recognition of the capabilities of rotary wing aircraft increased the demand for machines and pilots. In 1951 the Army began organizing helicopter transport companies and the fielding of H-19 Chickasaw, albeit in limited numbers due to the competition for the aircraft from the Air Force.
Forward thinking leaders in the Army saw the potential of rotary wing aviation. General James Gavin published an article in April of 1954 titled "Cavalry, and I Don't Mean Horses." In this influential article, Gavin called for the use of helicopters in cavalry operations that would provide the mobility that the Army had lacked in Korea due to the terrain. This was an indicator of a doctrinal push that rapidly expanded Army Aviation into the combat arm it is today. On November 1, 1954 the Army Aviation School was moved from Fort Sill to Fort Rucker, Alabama. The United States Army Aviation Center (USAAVNC) was established there in March 1955.
Under this new doctrine of "air cavalry" the Army saw the need to mount weapons on helicopters to serve as a kind of "aerial artillery." The French Army had seen some success mounting rocket launchers and 20-mm cannon on helicopters during the Algerian War of 1954-1962. Based on this example, the Army began running tests on armament systems for rotary wing aircraft in 1956. Primarily, Colonel Jay D. Vanderpool directed these combat development experiments. Vanderpool also wrote the first doctrinal manuals. This research and development was conducted while the Air Force still theoretically had exclusive responsibility for aerial fire support. Nevertheless, Army commanders felt that the Air Force was not doing enough to prepare to support ground forces and under the Key West Agreement were not allowed to arm their fixed wing aircraft. Therefore, it would seem that competition between the services actually led to the development of armament systems for Army helicopters.
An armed helicopter company was activated in Okinawa in 1962 and later deployed to Thailand and then Vietnam. In Vietnam the new helicopter company flew escort for lift helicopters. There were no mission restrictions on the army aircraft enforced by the Department of Defense, thereby giving implied permission to deploy armed rotary wing aircraft. Also in 1962 the Tactical Mobility Requirements Board was formed. Commonly known as "The Howze Board," this group had been established to develop and test the concept of air mobility. After test exercises, war games, and concentrated study and analysis, the Howze Board recommended that the Army commit itself to organic air mobility through the extensive use of helicopters. The 11th Air Assault Division (Test) put the Board's recommendations into testing from 1963 to 1965. Beginning with their deployment to Vietnam in 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) repeatedly demonstrated the validity of the airmobile concept in combat. On April 6, 1966, the Johnson-McConnell agreement was signed between the Army and the Air Force. The Army gave up its fixed wing tactical airlift aircraft (primarily the DHC-4 Caribou) in exchange for the Air Force relinquishing its claim to most forms of rotary wing aircraft.
Vietnam was truly America's "Helicopter War." The United States' involvement in Vietnam began with Army Aviation operating a fleet of reciprocating engine aircraft. In the early days of the development of air mobility, the UH-1 Iroquois, or Huey was introduced, a modern turbine-powered aircraft with both troop carrier and gunship versions developed specifically with deployment to southeast Asia in mind. Before the end of the Vietnam War, more than 5,000 of these truly versatile aircraft were sent overseas. Also during Vietnam, the OH-6 Cayuse (the "Loach") and the OH-58 Kiowa were fielded as scout aircraft, replacing the OH-13. In 1967, the AH-1G Cobra came online to begin replacing the Huey gunships as an attack aircraft. The U.S. Army's heavy lift helicopter in Vietnam (and ever since) was the tandem rotor Boeing CH-47 Chinook, introduced in 1962. The OV-1 Mohawk and U-21 Ute (Beechcraft King Air) were part of the small fixed wing aircraft inventory flown by the Army.
After United States combat forces left Vietnam, Army Aviation continued to develop and pass major milestones. On June 4, 1974, Fort Rucker graduated the first female Army aviator, 2LT Sally D. Woolfolk (Murphy) from Rotary Wing Flight School. NASA chose Major Robert L. Stewart to be the first Army aviator to become an astronaut in January 1978. The aircraft inventory began to enter the modern era with the delivery of the first UH-60 Blackhawk to Fort Rucker on April 1, 1979. In recognition of the demonstrated increasing importance of aviation in Army doctrine and operations, Aviation became the fifteenth basic branch of the Army on April 12, 1983. Since then, commissioned officer pilots would be branched aviation, fully dedicated to learning its operations and tactics, rather than being temporarily detailed from another branch. The Army began to field the AH-64 Apache in 1984. On May 16, 1990, the 160th Aviation Battalion was reorganized and designated the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). The unit was assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and signaled the arrival of dedicated aviation assets to special operations.
Since Vietnam and during operations in Grenada, Panama, and the Persian Gulf Army Aviation has played a major role in combat and support operations. An Army aviator fired the first shot of Operation Desert Storm from an Army helicopter. Within a few minutes, two teams of Apaches destroyed two Iraqi radar stations on January 17, 1991. During the next 100 hours of ground combat, Army aviation dominated night operations. The Army can be justly proud of the performance of its aviation assets and personnel during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
In April 1993, attack pilot positions were opened to female aviators. Another milestone was reached when Lieutenant Colonel Nancy J. Currie (formerly Nancy Sherlock), the first female Army aviator to become an astronaut, made her first space flight on June 23, 1993. By 1998 the AH-64D Longbow was arriving at Fort Hood, Texas. In December 2006 the Army accepted its first UH-72A Lakota, a twin-engine light utility helicopter long overdue in the inventory.
The mission of Army Aviation is to find, fix, and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver and to provide combat, combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) in coordinated operations as an integral member of the combined arms team. Army Aviation has the organic flexibility, versatility, and assets to fulfill a variety of maneuver, CS, and CSS roles and functions. These cover the spectrum of combined arms operations. Aviation can accomplish each of these roles during offensive or defensive operations and also for joint, combined, contingency, or special operations. Since its inception over one hundred years ago, Army Aviation has continued to modernize. With the integration of the AH-64D Longbow, MH-47E, MH-60K, and the UH-72A Lakota, Army Aviation stands on the threshold of a new century more mission capable than ever.
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PDF Ebook A Glorious Page in Our History: The Battle of Midway, 4-6 June 1942, by Robert J. Cressman
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- Sales Rank: #947507 in Books
- Published on: 1990-06
- Original language: English
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 11.00" h x 8.50" w x .75" l,
- Binding: Perfect Paperback
- 226 pages
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful.
By Robert A., Shoaf
This book may be the most comprehensive and detailed account of this seminal battle, despite being extensively illustrated with black & white photos. It also provides a fine summary of events on both sides, leading up the carrier clash near Midway Island.
As others have stated, numerous personal accounts, primarily American, add to the human side of this engagement.
I have read, I believe, most of the published accounts of this battle, including "Miracle at Midway", "Incredible Victory", and others. To me, this book, along with the brilliant "Shattered Sword", are the essential accounts of this famous naval clash.
41 of 41 people found the following review helpful.
Battle of Midway researchers: start here.
By R. W. Russell
. This is THE definitive work on the Battle of Midway. It accurately provides the detail that most of the others omit or get wrong, and it corrects all of the popular myths about the battle that some of the others perpetuate, i.e. the controversial flight of the USS Hornet's air group on the morning of 4 June 1942, and the "Midway is short of water" ruse pulled off by the signal intelligence wizards at Pearl Harbor.
. You have to be very familiar with the events and personnel involved in the battle to find even a minor flaw in this book. This reviewer knows of only two (in the 4th printing, March '98) one photo caption cites the wrong PBY squadron and another has the wrong names for an SBD aircrew. Beyond that sort of miniscule nitpicking that very few would notice, "A Glorious Page" can be relied upon as meticulously thorough and accurate to a level that no other volume on the Battle of Midway approaches.
. If you are researching the battle, start here. And if you can only afford one book on the Battle of Midway, this is the one you want. (Reviewed by R. W. Russell, Battle of Midway Roundtable, [. ])
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful.
Alert! 2008 Edition is now available!
This will make an excellent addition to your Midway collection. Although the authors state that the book is primarily a photographic history, the text is also excellent and very detailed. It really brings the Battle of Midway to life. There is also a good deal on the history and development of the island and the historical context of the battle itself. As the others reviewers have ably described, this is an excellent book so I won't get too detailed on that part. But what I really wanted to point out is that the 2008 edition is out! No need to pay $50 or $100 or more (just a few months ago). I bought my brand new copy for list price (I think it was about $17) from Historic Aviation (I swear, i don't work for them). There are probably other stores where it is available as well. Now there is no excuse not to have this on your bookshelf. Go get it!
See all 17 customer reviews.
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Frank Jack Fletcher Got a Bum Rap, Part One
In the period immediately following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher faced a series of challenges new to naval warfare. Although he was not an aviator, he found himself commanding the aircraft carriers in the U.S. Pacific Fleet as they tried to arrest the momentum of the Japanese onslaught. He spent all but 51 of the first 289 days of the Pacific War (7 December 1941 to 21 September 1942) at sea, most of that time in or near enemy-controlled waters. Relative to the Allies, the Imperial Japanese Navy was never so strong or threatening as in those perilous first ten months, when it rampaged from Pearl Harbor to the Indian Ocean and back to Midway. Fletcher fought and won the first three carrier battles in history—Coral Sea (4-8 May 1942), Midway (4-6 June 1942), and Eastern Solomons (24 August 1942)-which cost Japan six carriers for the loss of two U.S. flattops.
With these victories the Allies blunted the Japanese advance and seized the initiative in the Pacific. Yet for all of his hard-won accomplishments, Fletcher is treated harshly in most naval histories and popular accounts. Setting the tone immediately after the end of the war were three volumes of Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison's "semi-official" History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. They appeared in rapid succession: Volume III, The Rising Sun in the Pacific (Boston, 1948) Volume IV, Coral Sea, Midway, and Submarine Actions (1949), and Volume V, The Struggle for Guadalcanal (1950). Taken together, they present Fletcher as a timid bungler, either not sufficiently aggressive to seek combat or too concerned about his fuel situation to act decisively. Two episodes in particular mar his image: the Wake Island relief attempt in December 1941 and his handling of the carriers in August 1942 off Guadalcanal during the first Allied counteroffensive of the war. In both instances his supposedly craven performance also earned the unyielding ire of the Marine Corps.
In writing his history so soon after the actual events he described, Morison derived much information from interviews of participants (never Fletcher, however) and preliminary study of the documents available to him and his research team. Important sources for several of Fletcher's battles were three detailed Naval War College analyses on Coral Sea, Midway, and Savo Island. Their principal function, through an elaborate use of hindsight, was to derive specific battle lessons from bitterly won experience. This differentiated them from conventional history. Morison's work features all the strengths and drawbacks of near contemporary history. Unfortunately, he adopted the biases of his particular informants.
The unfavorable portrait of Fletcher that largely endures to this day has resulted mainly from an acceptance of Morison's interpretations without much questioning or deeper analysis. In the opinion of this writer, most of the criticisms of Fletcher do not stand up because they originated largely from ignorance of the total picture, arrogant hindsight, or simply outright prejudice. Fletcher seems to have had a multitude of enemies, many of whom were not Japanese. Often what is particularly interesting about the historiography of Frank Jack Fletcher is not only what has been said or written about him, but why.
Born in 1885 in Iowa, Fletcher came from a naval family two uncles were naval officers. He graduated from the Naval Academy 21st out of 116 members of the class of 1906. His classmates included Robert L. Ghormley, Leigh Noyes, John S. McCain, and Aubrey W. Fitch, all of whom would play prominent roles in the 1942 campaigns, as well as John H. Towers, one of the pioneer U.S. aviators.
Learning his trade, Fletcher steadily advanced through a normal succession of duty assignments afloat and ashore, with much experience in destroyers (skipper of a destroyer during World War I) and battleships. Yet, unlike the average officer, the personable and well-connected Fletcher seemed to have had ready access to the centers of power and maintained a high profile. In April 1914, while serving as an aide to his uncle, Rear Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher, he earned the Medal of Honor during the landings at Vera Cruz, Mexico. In 1930-31 he studied at the Naval War College and the Army War College, and from 1933 to 1936 was Aide to Claude A. Swanson, the Secretary of the Navy. After command of the battleship New Mexico (BB-40), Fletcher served as Assistant Chief in the Bureau of Navigation under rear admirals James O. Richardson and Chester W. Nimitz.
Promoted to flag rank in November 1939, Fletcher proceeded to the Pacific first to command a division of four old light cruisers and later the four heavies of Cruiser Division Six his flagship was the Minneapolis (CA-36). By December 1941 he became one of the senior cruiser commanders in the Pacific Fleet, deemed able and ready to command a task force on an independent mission. In the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, assigned Fletcher to deliver reinforcements to beleaguered Wake Island. Another carrier force was to raid the Marshall Islands as a diversion, while a third was to be in support near Midway.
To relieve the Wake garrison, Fletcher received Task Force 14: the Saratoga (CV-3), with a Marine fighting squadron on board three heavy cruisers eight destroyers the seaplane tender Tangier (AV-8), loaded with troops and supplies and the elderly oiler Neches (AO-5), which had a maximum speed of 12.75 knots. Coordinating the operations of the three carrier task forces, Kimmel set the date of Task Force 14's arrival at Wake as 24 December, local time. Fletcher proceeded westward and held to the schedule despite fueling on 22 December and early on the 23rd. Unfortunately for the relief forces, the Japanese— supported by the carriers Soryu and Hiryu—hadinvadedWake early on the morning of 23 December. Kimmel's interim successor, Vice Admiral William S. Pye, decided not to risk a battle between the Saratoga and possibly superior forces and recalled all his forces to Pearl.
Among the earliest and most influential treatments of Wake Island, Morison's The Rising Sun in the Pacific declared in biting terms the "failure to relieve Wake resulted from poor seamanship and a want of decisive action, both on Fletcher's part and on Pye's." For the actual relief attempt, Morison castigated Fletcher for fueling when he did. The historian counted the number of gallons of fuel oil on hand and loftily declared refueling to be unnecessary. He quoted an unnamed naval officer who blasted Fletcher for not disobeying Pye's categorical orders and rushing ahead on his own in a Nelsonian gesture to attack the Japanese. This was brave talk indeed for a naval historian.
In the case of the Wake relief attempt, Morison accepted the opinions expressed by some of Kimmel's disappointed staff members, including Captain Charles H. "Soc" McMorris, the war plans officer, and Lieutenant Commander Edwin T. Layton, the fleet intelligence officer. In their loyalty to their disgraced boss and their great dismay over the Pearl Harbor surprise, they entertained exaggerated notions of the real possibility of victory off Wake. Kimmel's original Wake Island relief plan, a complicated effort by three widely separated single carrier task forces, was designed to "lure the Japanese into a trap."
The morning of Wake's fall, McMorris passionately argued for sending in the Saratoga to "ambush" Japanese forces off Wake. In his memoirs, Layton referred to "springing the trap" against the Soryu and Hiryu. Success there might "redeem Admiral Kimmel's damaged reputation" and revenge Pearl Harbor. Layton broadly hinted that Fletcher's supposedly laggardly advance was not due to the slow oiler or the need to fuel just outside enemy air search range, but deliberate malingering that resulted from a "yellow streak down his back." Actually, Fletcher was right where Pye expected him to be.
In his recent book, War Plan Orange, Edward S. Miller expertly deduced and described in detail Kimmel's actual war plan, WPPac-46. A product of the so-called strategic "thrusters," it involved using the carriers to entice the Japanese into a general fleet action off Wake Island, to take place about "D16J," or the 16th day of the war. Its principal creator was none other than Soc McMorris, who remained its chief advocate. His hastily conceived plan for the Wake Island relief appears nothing more than a watered-down rehash of WPPac-46. How bitter must it have been to him on the real Day 16 of the war, or 22 December (23 December, Wake local time), when Pye recalled Task Force 14. How convenient to use Fletcher, who only followed orders, as a scapegoat for the bitter disappointment.
With obvious recourse to hindsight, Morison also decried Fletcher's lack of aviation experience and condemned Kimmel even for giving him the carrier task force instead of passing him over in favor of Rear Admiral Aubrey Fitch, Commander Canier Division One on board the Saratoga, but junior to Fletcher. Interestingly, Morison never made such a recommendation when dealing with other non-aviators who commanded carrier forces in 1941-42, i.e., Vice Admiral Wilson Brown, Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, and Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid. His treatment of them is far more favorable. In fact, Kimmel (a "black-shoe" to the bottom of his soles), and even his successor Chester Nimitz, did not believe an admiral had to be an aviator to command carrier task forces.
In this case Morison revealed another phalanx of Fletcher's enemies, the aviators, who strongly disagreed with that particular naval policy. Led by Rear Admiral Jack Towers, then Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, they insisted that only aviators should ever command carrier task forces. The problem in 1941-42 was the lack of admirals or even senior captains wearing the golden wings. Most who did had become enmeshed in administering the massively expanding naval aviation establishment they labored so long to create. They were disgusted that Fletcher—and not one of them—happened to be the man on the spot. In their critical eyes, he could do nothing correctly he became a convenient scapegoat to be ridiculed. A former member of Nimitz's staff described Fletcher to Gordon Prange as "a big, nice, wonderful guy who didn't know his butt from third base." Prange did not name that individual, but the evidence strongly points to Captain Arthur C. Davis, in 1941 the only aviator on the Pacific Fleet staff. At any rate, the quote sums up perfectly the attitude of the aviators toward Fletcher.
To point out the enmity of the aviators does not deny the justice of their viewpoint. Aviation knowledge, if not through personal experience but through the presence of sound advisers, was absolutely essential for a carrier task force commander. Fletcher evidently had not worked closely with a carrier force before December 1941, and it showed during the relief attempt. He flew his flag from the heavy cruiser Astoria (CA-34) rather than the Saratoga. Commander Alfred M. Pride, Saratoga's executive officer in late 1941, described Task Force 14's westward advance to Wake. He said Fletcher would not turn the screen to conform to the carrier's movements whenever she swung around into the prevailing northeasterly wind to handle aircraft. In his eagerness to get to Wake (something Layton and Morison certainly failed to credit), Fletcher repeatedly left the carrier behind and exposed her to possible submarine attack. Consequently, according to Pride, "the cruisers and our screen of destroyers would go over the horizon and we would be out of formation for hours catching up." In his next assignment, Fletcher transferred his flag to the Yorktown (CV-5) and set about consulting closely with her aviators. The record shows he learned quickly.
Incidentally, in later editions of The Rising Sun in the Pacific, Morison amended his verdict toward Fletcher's performance during the abortive Wake relief. He changed the quotation cited above (note 3) to read: "the failure to relieve Wake resulted from Admiral Pye's decision not to risk the loss of any of his three precious carriers, and not from any lack [on Fletcher's part] of aviation knowledge." Few took notice of Morison's changes, however, and the initial dismal impression remained of Fletcher as the one who abandoned the Marines at Wake.
By the end of December 1941 two officers with dramatically different attitudes toward Fletcher took command. Admiral Ernest J. King, the new Commander-in-Chief U.S. Fleet (CominCh), was Fletcher's nemesis, while Admiral Chester Nimitz, the new Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet, was his strongest advocate. The available sources do not reveal specific reasons for King's strong animosity toward Fletcher, but there are hints. Proud of earning his wings at age 48, and rising to the senior prewar carrier command, King looked down on non-aviators in his former domain. Ironically, the "true" naval aviators, headed by Towers, did not think all that much of King's aviation expertise. King's principal beef, however, more likely arose from Fletcher's choice prewar tours of duty in Washington, hobnobbing with the luminaries. Certainly King strongly distrusted Nimitz and others from the Bureau of Navigation, whom he characterized as "fixers," string pullers, and purveyors of favoritism. Fletcher would certainly draw his ire. Conversely, Nimitz had served with Fletcher and appreciated his qualities for high command.
Given command in January 1942 of Task Force 17 with the Yorktown, Fletcher escorted transports to Samoa and then participated, under Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., in the first carrier raid of the Pacific War. On 1 February, while Halsey's Task Force 8 with the Enterprise (CV-6) battered the northern Marshalls, weather and the lack of targets rendered the Yorktown's air strikes on the southern Marshalls and the Gilberts largely ineffective.
The raid spawned another calumny against Fletcher. Captain Joseph J. "Jocko" Clark, another vehement aviator and former Yorktown executive officer, accused Fletcher of deliberately abandoning the crew of a torpedo plane that ditched 20 miles astern, supposedly despite his repeated pleas. Clark related, "When later in Washington I told this story to Ernie King and Jack Towers, they both agreed that the rescue should have been effected." In fact, Fletcher was deeply concerned about his pilots. The morning of 1 February he had immediately detached three destroyers to look for the downed air crews, lost in the midst of severe rain squalls. They diligently searched the area, endured attack by an enemy flying boat, but found no trace of the aviators. For another example of Fletcher's efforts, 4 May 1942 in the Coral Sea, even Morison accords him "great credit for initiating efforts to rescue aviators downed in combat."
After a rest at Pearl Harbor, Fletcher's Task Force 17 headed to the South Pacific. There, on 10 March, under Wilson Brown's command, the Lexington (CV-2) and the Yorktown launched a big air strike against Japanese invasion forces off Lae and Salamaua. Brown returned to Pearl, leaving Fletcher and Task Force 17 to patrol the Coral Sea under the direct oversight of the distant CominCh in Washington. The Japanese gradually reinforced their bastion of Rabaul on New Britain, but made no large-scale advances to the south. On 29 March, U.S. Army aviators reported sighting 30 transports at Rabaul and placed Task Force 17 only 228 miles south of there.
Both reports were grossly in error enemy forces were small, and Task Force 17 was actually more than 800 miles southeast of Rabaul. The next day Fletcher radioed his real position, reiterated he was heading to Noumea to reprovision, and added that if the enemy indeed moved south, he would return north to deal with them. On the 31st, the imperious CominCh, totally misunderstanding the situation, responded with a sharp message implying Fletcher was fleeing from the combat. Yet there was no enemy. Angered, Rear Admiral William W. Smith, Task Force 17 cruiser commander, signaled to Fletcher, "That is the stinkingest message I have ever read," to which Fletcher replied, "I am not perturbed." Smith said such calm restraint revealed Fletcher's "strength of character." Search reports soon showed that the enemy threat never existed, and Fletcher later explained his position. The incident, however, left suspicious King with still more unfounded doubts about Fletcher's aggressiveness, which he voiced during his next meeting with Nimitz (25 April 1942).
It is not possible here to go into detail into the complicated Battle of the Coral Sea, the first carrier-versus-carrier duel in history. Despite losing the Lexington, a fleet oiler, and a destroyer, Task Force 17 repulsed the enemy advance on Port Moresby, sank the light carrier Shoho, and so roughed up the big carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku that neither participated in the upcoming Midway offensive. Fletcher's men provided the Allies their first strategic victory of the Pacific War. Morison chronicled a list of Fletcher's supposed shortcomings and lapses of judgment and condescendingly referred to the action as the "Battle of the Naval Errors." He felt it fortunate the Japanese committed more of them. Subsequently, a great deal of new information on radio intelligence, from personal recollections of and papers by participants, and from Japanese sources has largely superseded Morison's initial treatment of that complex series of actions.
Ironically, some of the criticisms leveled at Fletcher after the battle did not concern carrier aviation at all, but his real expertise: surface warfare. On 11 May King questioned whether Fletcher should have used his destroyers in night attacks against the Japanese carrier force. On the 16th, Fletcher replied at length explaining the circumstances—mainly unfavorable opportunities and too few ships—as to why he did not turn loose his screening ships the nights of 7 and 8 May. Besides, he reported that on the morning of 7 May he did detach his Support Group (three cruisers and three destroyers and Rear Admiral John G. Crace, Royal Navy) to go after the Japanese transports in Jomard Passage.
Following the lead of the Naval War College analysts, Morison criticized Fletcher's decision to send Crace on ahead, sarcastically dubbing the event "Crace's Chase," which "may have served no useful purpose."16 Fletcher felt the impending air battle might bloody both contending carrier forces and wanted another force to bar the way to Port Moresby. Learning of Crace's force JOO miles ahead, the Japanese convoy commander reversed course to await the results of the carrier duel. Crace's force accomplished its mission, but drew Japanese search planes like a magnet and (fortunately for Task Force 17) monopolized their attention. Acutely aware of the lack of air cover, Crace skillfully avoided damage that afternoon from two land-based air attacks. Fletcher had intended to follow and render support, but events forced him to hang back. When asked in 1957 by British official historians, Crace agreed with Fletcher's decision to detach his force and noted that the "advantage to be gained by possibly catching the Moresby Invasion Group in the Jomard Passage far outweighed that gained by increasing the anti-aircraft screen [of the U.S. carriers] by the ships of my force."
At Nimitz's order, Fletcher returned the battered Yorktown to Pearl Harbor after a cruise of 101 days. There she was hurriedly patched up and sent out again on 30 May, this time to Midway. Nimitz had intended for Bill Halsey to command the carrier striking force built around the Enterprise, Hornet (CV-8), and Fletcher's Yorktown. Halsey's sudden illness, however, compelled the Pacific Fleet Commander-in-Chief to look to Fletcher to exercise command. Nimitz discussed with Fletcher his previous operations and brought up the questions raised by King. The fleet commander's support was unequivocal. To King he wrote on 29 May: "Fletcher did a fine job and exercised superior judgment in his recent cruise to the Coral Sea. He is an excellent, seagoing, fighting naval officer." Nimitz again recommended his promotion to vice admiral and award of the Distinguished Service Medal. King chose not to act immediately on the two requests.
Fletcher's role in the Midway victory is greatly eclipsed by the acclaim accorded Ray Spruance, who brilliantly commanded Task Force 16's two carriers. Most accounts wrongly assign Spruance almost complete freedom of action from the very beginning. 19 At Nimitz's orders, Fletcher positioned the carriers northeast of Midway. He directed that Spruance operate ten miles from Task Force 17. Task Force 16's two air groups constituted the main air striking force to be unleashed at his order when the Japanese carriers turned up. The Yorktown provided searches when needed and acted as strike reserve. In an epic, but costly, engagement on 4 June, aircraft from the Hornet, Enterprise, and Yorktown attacked the Japanese carriers and mortally damaged the Akagi, Kaga, and Soryu.
The Hiryu soon retaliated against the Yorktown with three bomb hits and later two torpedoes which left her without power and listing 23 degrees. To save the crew from what appeared to be imminent capsizing, Captain Elliott Buckmaster ordered abandon ship. Meanwhile, the Yorktown search astutely sent out by Fletcher located the Hiryu, and Spruance loosed a combined Enterprise-Yorktown strike that knocked the last enemy carrier out of the battle. Worried about powerful enemy forces less than 100 miles away, Fletcher's Task Force 17, loaded with Yorktown survivors, closed Task Force 16 to the southeast. Expecting the gallant carrier to roll over and sink, he detached a destroyer to stand guard. As Fletcher approached Task Force 16, Spruance requested orders. In an act of what one author rightly called "selfless integrity and patriotism in action," Fletcher turned over tactical command to Spruance.
Fletcher and Buckmaster endured strong disapprobation for not sticking by the stricken Yorktown and organizing immediate salvage.At the same time, Spruance is justly given credit for withdrawing Task Force 16 the night of 4 June to avoid possible contact with enemy warships. Yet critics state that Fletcher should have stayed with the Yorktown, which was considerably closer to the enemy than Task Force 16! On 5 June Buckmaster managed to get together a party of salvagers and returned to the Yorktown early on the next morning. A Japanese submarine torpedoed her that afternoon, and she sank early on the 7th. Her loss, severe as it was, paid benefits when Pacific Fleet trained special salvage teams prepared to initiate immediate action to keep their damaged ships afloat.
With the victory at Midway, the mostly defensive phase of the war was over. Fletcher's performance in the Guadalcanal campaign, for which he has received the greatest censure, will be covered in part two of this article. In assessing his role in the preceding months—the immediate aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor—we must place his actions into a broader context. In war those commanders who happen to be among the first to fight, particularly when using new technology, are in a perilous position. Peacetime doctrine must be adapted to totally new situations. Often these trailblazers do not last long, leaving others to benefit from their accomplishments or learn from their inevitable errors. Those who must start on the defensive with inferior strength—especially after sudden, stunning defeats—face additional trials, often simply the survival of their forces. For one commander to reverse the strategic situation through a series of victories is highly unusual and worthy of particular attention. That was the achievement of Frank Jack Fletcher, an officer who deserves far more acclaim than he has so far received.
John B. Lundstrom is on the staff of the Milwaukee Public Museum and is a widely recognized expert on naval aviation operations in the early part of World War II. He is the author of the acclaimed books The First South Pacific Campaign: Pacific Fleet Strategy December 1941-June 1942 and The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway. His next book, to be published by the Naval Institute Press, will be a detailed study of Japanese and American air operations in the Guadalcanal campaign.
Today in World War II History—June 6, 1942
75 Years Ago—June 6, 1942: In Battle of Midway, SBDs from US carriers Enterprise and Hornet sink Japanese heavy cruiser Mikuma.
Japanese occupy Kiska in the Aleutians.
Movie premiere of Yankee Doodle Dandy, starring James Cagney as songwriter George M. Cohan.
2 Responses to “Today in World War II History—June 6, 1942”
My Dad was European Theater WWII, presumably with the 49th Field Hospital. Looking for any info.
Hi Bill! Thanks for stopping by. A good place to start would be with the official Army medical history of the ETO: Cosmas, Graham A. & Cowdrey, Albert E. The Medical Department: Medical Service in the European Theater of Operations. United States Army Center of Medical History, Washington, DC. 1992. It’s in the public domain and available for free download on the Army Medical Dept. website here: http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/010/10-23/index.html
This book details the work of the different hospitals. It won’t give you information on individuals, however. Have you tried Googling th Field Hospital.” Sometimes you find interesting bits. It can be difficult to find information on support units rather than combat units. Most medical personnel didn’t consider themselves “heroes” and haven’t documented their work as thoroughly. In my opinion, they’re some of the greatest heroes!
PICTURES FROM HISTORY: Rare Images Of War, History , WW2, Nazi Germany
Battle of Midway in brief
(June 3 – 6, 1942) Major World War II naval battle between the U.S. and Japan. Japanese naval forces under Yamamoto Isoroku sought to seize Midway Island by engaging the numerically inferior U.S. Pacific fleet. U.S. intelligence had broken the Japanese naval code, and the U.S. prepared for the assault by mobilizing about 115 land-based aircraft as well as three aircraft carriers. On June 3 its bombers began striking Japan's carrier force. Japan was unable to match the U.S. air power and, after heavy losses, abandoned efforts to land on Midway. The battle brought the Pacific naval forces of Japan and the U.S. to approximate parity and marked the turning point of the war between the two countries.
USS Yorktown is hit on the port side by a Japanese aerial torpedo during the mid-afternoon attack by planes from the carrier Hiryu, 4 June 1942.
Alerted of Japanese plans through intercepted messages, an American Task Force awaited the enemy steaming towards Midway. The Japanese struck first with an attack on the island. The Americans located the Japanese fleet in the early morning and commenced a costly air strike that only 6 of the attacking 41 torpedo bombers survived. Mitsuo Fuchida witnessed the battle from the deck of the aircraft carrier Akagi:
"The first enemy carrier planes to attack were 15 torpedo bombers. When first spotted by our screening ships and combat air patrol, they were still not visible from the carriers, but they soon appeared as tiny dark specks in the blue sky, a little above the horizon, on Akagi's starboard bow. The distant wings flashed in the sun. Occasionally one of the specks burst into a spark of flame and trailed black smoke as it fell into the water. Our fighters were on the job, and the enemy again seemed to be without fighter protection.
Presently a report came in from a Zero group leader: 'All 15 enemy torpedo bombers shot down.' Nearly 50 Zeros had gone to intercept the unprotected enemy formation! Small wonder that it did not get through.
Again at 0930 a lookout atop the bridge yelled: 'Enemy torpedo bombers, 30 degrees to starboard, coming in low!' This was followed by another cry from a port lookout forward: 'Enemy torpedo planes approaching 40 degrees to port!'
The raiders closed in from both sides, barely skimming over the water. Flying in single columns, they were within five miles and seemed to be aiming straight for Akagi. I watched in breathless suspense, thinking how impossible it would be to dodge all their torpedoes. But these raiders, too, without protective escorts, were already being engaged by our fighters. On Akagi's flight deck all attention was fixed on the dramatic scene unfolding before us, and there was wild cheering and whistling as the raiders went down one after another.
Of the 14 enemy torpedo bombers which came in from starboard, half were shot down, and only 5 remained of the original 12 planes to port. The survivors kept charging in as Akagi's opened fire with antiaircraft machine guns.
Both enemy groups reached their release points, and we watched for the splash of torpedoes aimed at Akagi. But, to our surprise, no drops were made. At the last moment the planes appeared to forsake Akagi, zoomed overhead, and made for Hiryu to port and astern of us. As the enemy planes passed Akagi, her gunners regained their composure and opened a sweeping fire, in which Hiryu joined. Through all this deadly gunfire the Zeros kept after the Americans, continually reducing their number.
Seven enemy planes finally succeeded in launching their torpedoes at Hiryu, five from her starboard side and two from port. Our Zeros tenaciously pursued the retiring attackers as far as they could. Hiryu turned sharply to starboard to evade the torpedoes, and we watched anxiously to see if any would find their mark. A deep sigh of relief went up when no explosion occurred, and Hiryu soon turned her head to port and resumed her original course. A total of more than 40 enemy torpedo planes had been thrown against us in these attacks, but only seven American planes had survived long enough to release their missiles, and not a single hit had been scored. Nearly all of the raiding enemy planes were brought down."
Oil tanks burn on Midway after a Japanese attack. June 4, 1942
The Japanese were now caught in a logistical nightmare. Wanting to follow up on their earlier attack on Midway, they armed their bombers with bombs. However, in the midst of battle, scouts spotted the American Fleet, so the bombers were ordered refitted with torpedoes. Simultaneously, the Zeros defending the Fleet returned to their carriers for rearming and refueling. At this moment, more American attackers appeared, Commander Fuchida continues his story:
"Preparations for a counter-strike against the enemy had continued on board our four carriers throughout the enemy torpedo attacks. One after another, planes were hoisted from the hangar and quickly arranged on the flight deck. There was no time to lose. At 1020 Admiral Nagumo gave the order to launch when ready. On Akagi's flight deck all planes were in position with engines warming up. The big ship began turning into the wind. Within five minutes all her planes would be launched.
Five minutes! Who would have dreamed that the tide of battle would shift completely in that brief interval of time?
Visibility was good. Clouds were gathering at about 3,000 meters, however, and though there were occasional breaks, they afforded good concealment for approaching enemy planes. At 1024 the order to start launching came from the bridge by voice-tube. The Air Officer flapped a white flag, and the first Zero fighter gathered speed and whizzed off the deck. At that instant a lookout screamed: 'Hell-divers!' I looked up to see three black enemy planes plummeting toward our ship. Some of our machine guns managed to fire a few frantic bursts at them, but it was too late. The plump silhouettes of the American 'Dauntless' dive-bombers quickly grew larger, and then a number of black objects suddenly floated eerily from their wings. Bombs! Down they came straight toward me! I fell intuitively to the deck and crawled behind a command post mantelet [rolled mattresses providing protection from shrapnel].
The terrifying scream of the dive-bombers reached me first, followed by the crashing explosion of a direct hit. There was a blinding flash and then a second explosion, much louder than the first. I was shaken by a weird blast of warm air. There was still another shock, but less severe, apparently a near miss. Then followed a startling quiet as the barking of guns suddenly ceased. I got up and looked at the sky. The enemy planes were already gone from sight.
The attackers had gotten in unimpeded because our fighters, which had engaged the preceding wave of torpedo planes only a few moments earlier, had not yet had time to regain altitude.
Consequently, it may be said that the American dive-bombers' success was made possible by the earlier martyrdom of their torpedo planes. Also, our carriers had no time to evade because clouds hid the enemy's approach until he dove down to the attack. We had been caught flatfooted in the most vulnerable condition possible - decks loaded with planes armed and fueled for attack.
Looking about, I was horrified at the destruction that had been wrought in a matter of seconds. There was a huge hole in the flight deck just behind the amidship elevator. The elevator itself, twisted like molten glass, was drooping into the hangar. Deck plates reeled upward in grotesque configurations. Planes stood tail up, belching livid flame and jet-black smoke. Reluctant tears streamed down my cheeks as I watched the fires spread, and I was terrified at the prospect of induced explosions which would surely doom the ship."
Damaged and partially disassembled F4F-3 Wildcat on Sand Island, Midway, June 1942
SOME FACTS ABOUT BATTLE OF MIDWAY
- The first attack on 4 June, took place when the four night-flying PBYs attacked the Japanese transports northwest of Midway with one PBY torpedoing fleet tanker Akebono Maru.
- During the battle, Japanese destroyers had picked up three U.S. naval aviators from the water. After interrogation, however, all three Americans were executed.
- The last air attacks of the battle took place on 6 June when dive-bombers from Enterprise and Hornet bombed and sank heavy cruiser Mikuma.
- It ended Japan's dominant naval power over the U.S. The balance of sea power in the Pacific shifted from the Japan to equity between America and Japan, and soon after the U.S. and their allies took sole control of the waters in the mid Pacific.
- Although the performance of the three American carrier air groups would later be considered uneven, their pilots and crew had won the day through courage, determination, and heroic sacrifice.
DESCENDANTS OF WWII RANGERS, INC
Sixty years ago on June 19 1942, the 1st Ranger Battalion was officially activated. The two men most noted with this anniversary are General Truscott and then Captain William Darby.
(US Army Photos Public Domain)
"It was therefore fitting that the organization that was destined to be the first of the American Ground Forces to battle Germans on the European continent should be called Rangers in compliment to those in American history who exemplified the high standards of courage, initiative, determination and ruggedness, fighting ability and achievement."
- General Truscott
William Orlando Darby
(US Army Photos Public Domain) William Orlando Darby was a graduate of West Point, he was the founder and leader of the Original American Rangers. He screened hundreds of applicants (Rangers were strictly volunteer) and organized the 1st Battalion in North Ireland. He was the head of the 34th Infantry Division in Ireland at the time and was chosen by Truscott to create the first Ranger Battalion.
He toured many training camps in the area and with the help of a handful of carefully chosen officers, chose the facility at Achnacarry Scotland. A group of approximately 500 volunteers was chosen from units training in Ireland at the time. The majority of this first Battalion was from the five state area of MN, IA, WI, ND, and SD. The heaviest concentration of living Rangers from the 1st Battalion, still resides in this area.
These early Rangers were put through grueling training and 25 mile speed marches every morning. Many Rangers were injured and one was killed in training so realistic, they actually used live ammunition. Of the 600 chosen and trained, 500 remained after their experience at Achnacarry.
The museum noted in the left margin is in memory of this infamous group of men officially activated 19 June 42. There will be a wreath laying ceremony at Carrickfergus 12 June 2002 to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the activation of the 1st Ranger Battalion. (There is no explanation for the discrepancy in the date.)
Did you know there is a US Rangers Centre located in the garden of the Andrew Jackson Centre in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland?
The US Rangers exhibition is dedicated to the volunteer soldiers of the First US Ranger Battalions, which were activated in Carrickfergus on 19 June 1942.
The collection was donated to the town and contains personal material including photographs, documents, and uniforms.
Andrew Jackson Centre
Carrickfergus BT38 7DG
June 6, 1944 – Anne Frank
Anne Frank kept a diary from June 12th, 1942 to August 1st, 1944. During this time, her family was sequestered in a secret annex made up of a few small attic rooms located at 263 Prinsengracht in Amsterdam. These rooms were in the same building as Otto Frank’s business, which continued to operate in his absence. Since the building was in use during the daytime hours, the hiders had to be very still and quiet so that they would not be discovered. Though they were unable to move about freely, they were not entirely cut off from the outside world. They had non-Jewish helpers who brought supplies and information on a regular basis. During the night, when the building was empty, they could also listen to the radio in the office. Through radio broadcasts from Great Britain, the Franks were able to stay informed about the progress of the war.
“But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”
On June 6th, 1944, Anne recorded the most momentous news she and her family had heard in years. She wrote, “’This is D Day,’ the BBC announced at twelve. ‘This is the day.’ The invasion has begun.” Her reaction to the news was jubilant, but tinged with disbelief. “Is this really the beginning of the long-awaited liberation? The liberation we’ve all talked so much about, which still seems too good, too much of a fairy tale ever to come true? Will this year, 1944, bring us victory? We don’t know yet. But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.” Anne knew that the Allied landings would not immediately bring liberation and freedom. She wrote realistically about the fears, hardships, and sufferings still to come, but now hoped the end was in sight. Tragically, Anne did not experience the liberation for which she longed so fervently. Her family’s hiding place was betrayed to the Nazis and she did not survive her imprisonment. Her diary entry for June 6, 1944 proves, however, that she had not given up hope.
June 12, 1942 – Anne Frank
On June 12, 1942, a 13 year old girl in the Netherlands received one of the most famous birthday gifts of all time. The young girl was Anne Frank and the gift was her beloved red and white checkered diary that she wrote in while hiding from the Nazis during the Holocaust.
ANNE’S FIRST ENTRY
In her first entry, Anne wrote to her diary as if it was a personal friend “I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.”
Anne was right. Writing was a source of comfort and support, but it was also much more. It was the process by which she sought to understand the complex world. It gave her a voice to express hope, vent frustration, and protest injustice. Over the course of her two years in hiding, it also revealed her growing intelligence and maturity. In the last few months, Anne began to rewrite her diary. She was preparing it for eventual publication. She was responding to an appeal for first hand accounts of the German occupation issued by the Dutch government-in-exile. The decisions she made in editing her work showed how much she had grown as a writer and as a person.
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl is one of the most widely published books in the world. Often, Anne’s words are the first ones read by young people learning about the Holocaust era. For a person who dreamed of being a professional writer, this is a fitting tribute.