Archive for the ‘WWII’ Category

Two Women and WWII: U.S. and Europe, Civilian and Military

February 22, 2016

img010.jpg
LEFT: Clomanza Sells.

RIGHT: Virginia Shenowski (phonetic spelling from Clomanza’s memory)

Undated WWII era photo when Clomanza and Virginia were working together in Detroit in war industries.

(Photo processed by Geoff Baker.)


Clomanza (Sells) Shook is Cheryl A. Robinson’s step-grandmother, her maternal grandfather Charles Mitchell’s second wife.

Ninety-four year old Clomanza shared with Cheryl and me the details of her friendship with Virginia Shenowski (phonetic spelling from Clomanza’s memory) in Detroit during WWII.


Clomanza and Virginia met while working in factories producing war related material.

Clomanza described their work including at the U.S. Rubber plant.

She assembled parts for Boeing aircraft.

She trimmed rubber from gears.She built gauges.

She made self sealing fuel tanks.

She described gluing three layers of rubber onto the fuel tanks.

Virginia and her worked together at some of the plants.


I told Clomanza that her work on the self sealing fuel tanks saved the lives of our air crews and gave our aircrews an advantage over our enemies.

When fuel tanks on Japanese aircraft, which were not self sealing, were hit often their planes would burst into flames.

When our self sealing tanks were hit, her work not only prevented our planes from bursting but also prevented loss of fuel allowing our the crews of our damaged planes to safely return to base.


Polish-American Virginia Shenowski went to Europe to volunteer to serve in one of the women’s units in the Polish armed forces in the Allied armies.


Polish women were eligible for all roles including combat but did not serve in combat.

Over 6,000 Polish women served in 45 military occupation including aircraft mechanics and armourers, intelligence, administration, domestic, clerical, medical and other technical services.

In non-combat roles transporting aircraft 257 served as pilots, 55 as navigators, 59 as radio operators and 25 as flight engineers.


polish_women-crop2

Unidentified Polish woman in combat training at Gullane, Scotland

Fair use of still from the short film “Polish Girls in Action” of Polish women in combat training in Scotland.


Virginia and Clomanza corresponded.

Clomanza does not know in what role Virginia served.

Virginia’s letters to Clomanza have been lost.

Clomanza lost touch with Virginia.


This blog post is a tribute to Virginia’s and Clomanza’s lives, honors their service, and keeps their stories from being lost to history.

This is another moment when our families’ lives touched history.


More information on Polish Women in WWII

Polish Women at War

Polish women soldiers in Gullane (Scotland)


Minor revision: March 2, 2016

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-J1

 

70 Years Ago Felix and the 45th Signal Company Cross the Rhine

March 24, 2015

Gorak_crossRhine1[1]

DUKW (amphibious 2½ ton truck) transporting a 105mm howitzer and men of the 158th Field Artillery Battalion, 45th Infantry Division over the Rhine. (See glossary below for meaning of DUKW.)

This may have been about the same place where the 45th Signal Company crossed and some of the DUKWs that transported them

No photos have been found of the 45th Signal Company crossing the Rhine.

Fair use of photo from the collection of Edwin Gorak

On March 25, 1945 the 45th Signal Company received a DUKW to use in the laying of communication cables across the Rhine.

Early on the morning of March 26 the construction section laid two cables across the Rhine. The telephone section crossed and established switching central on the east bank of the Rhine.

The conditions under which the men of the 45th Signal Company laid those cables were life threatening.

While the ground fighting had moved east, the Nazis were still firing artillery and rockets and launching air attacks at the Rhine crossings.

Along with the risk of drowning they also risked hypothermia, frostbite, or immersion (trench) foot. The water temperature was probably 32° F (0° C) and the March air temperature averaged about 41° F (5° C).  My late father Felix A. Cizewski would have been very aware of that as he had just returned to duty after recovering from severe frostbite 3 months earlier.

On March 27, the rest of the 45th Signal Company crossed the Rhine and set up the normal Command Post communications systems in Zwingenberg.

Several Nazi soldiers surrendered to members of the company.

The company reported that their trucks and other vehicles were in bad shape because of constant use. A jeep threw a rod.

I do not know in which section of the 45th Signal Company my late father Felix A. Cizewski served so I do not know if he crossed the Rhine on March 26 or 27.


Glossary:

What does DUKW mean?

D = built in 1942

U = amphibious 2½  ton truck

K = front wheel drive

W = rear wheel drive


Acknowledgements:

The detailed information about the 45th Signal Company’s crossing of the Rhine is from the March, 1945 Company History which Dave Kerr obtained from the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.

A discussion with free lance writer Anne Gafiuk resulted in the addition of details of the life threatening conditions under which the 45th Signal Company worked.

The details with links about DUKWs was in response to a question from Jeff Spitzer-Resnick.


Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski and the Central Europe Campaign


Revised: March 26, 2015

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-Ho

An Open Letter to Professor Waclaw Szybalski

March 2, 2015

WSzybalski1_thumb.jpg

Professor Waclaw Szybalski D.Sc. Professor Emeritus of Oncology


Anna Ferens’ documentary on the life of University of Wisconsin Professor Emeritus Waclaw Szybalski premiered in Madison, Wisconsin.

Professor Szybalski’s research contributed to an understanding of the genetic basis of drug resistant bacterial infections and the development of multiple drug therapies. His DNA research is used in the development of cancer treatments.

Both the film and discussion included Professor Szybalski’s life in Poland. He shared his love of his home of Lvov, Poland which before WWII was a diverse city with a Slavic and Jewish Polish majority along with Ukrainians and others. He spoke of the Nazis’ extermination the Jews of Lvov then the Soviets’ ethnically cleansing Lvov of Slavic Poles by expulsions and murder. Lvov is now the almost 100% Ukrainian city of Lviv, Ukraine.

Professor Szybalski participated in the resistance. The Soviets were allied with the Nazis from 1939 to 1941 and occupied about 1/2 of Poland. Trains crossed occupied Poland with Soviet supplies essential for their Nazi allies to wage war. On their return trip, the trains were often filled with anti-Soviet Poles being deported to Siberia. Among the earliest acts of resistance were attacks on those trains.

He also participated in resistance against the Holocaust which moved me to write this open letter.


Dear Professor Szybalski:

During the questions and answers after the December 8, 2014 premier of “The Essence of Life”, you shared how you helped gather information on the location and layout of one of the extermination camps. That information was smuggled out to the Allies with a plea to bomb the camps and their rail lines.

The Allies did not bomb the camps for reasons unrelated to the information you and others supplied.

The Nazi’s and Soviet’s conquests of Poland placed most of the victims of the Holocaust beyond the reach of rescue by military action for most of the war. After 1939, about the victims’ only hope was for the Allies to militarily defeat the Nazis as quickly as possible.

At great personal risk you succeeded in gathering intelligence on the Holocaust and sharing that with the world.

Professor Szybalski, you did not fail.

Yours, Leonard H. Cizewski


Links, sources, and more information:

WACLAW SZYBALSKI:  

soon“The Essence of Life” Trailer

McCardle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health:

50 years of gene therapy: the contribution of Professor Wacław Szybalski to science and humanity, Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences

HOLOCAUST:

Martin Gilbert, Auschwitz and the Allies: A Devastating Account of How the Allies Responded to the News of Hitler’s Mass Murder

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Virginia Holocaust Museum

Assessing Atrocity


Acknowledgements:

My nephew-in-law Marshall Begel was my editor for my open letter. He reviewed this for accuracy and clarity along with spelling and grammar.


In depth historical background and context are occasional features of my family history blog.


Revised: September 7, 2015

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-Ha

More D-Days 70 Years Ago: Ralph Robinson, Landing Ship Medium 34 and the Campaigns to Liberate the Philippines

January 29, 2015


Below deck on Landing Ship Medium 34
probably somewhere in the Philippines.

Date and sailors unidentified.


70 years ago after Ralph E. Robinsson and Landing Ship Medium participated in that other major D-Day, the landings at Leyte in the Philippines, they continued to serve in the campaigns to liberate the Philippines.

Ralph’s account from October, 1944 to January 1945 (Editing details in note at the end.):

1944

OCTOBER

On October 23, 1944 we saw the first Japanese dive-bomber. It dropped its bomb and missed. A few seconds later, it was hit by anti-aircraft and its engines began burning. Seeing that he was going down, he headed for an Landing Craft Infantry (LCI) with a Wildcat right on his tail, but nothing could stop him. He crashed right into the LCI which immediately burst into flame. It burned for about an hour and a half, rolled over and sank.

That gave us an awfully queer feeling. It was the first ship we had ever seen going down and we hoped it was the last.

After that day, it was one raid after another–morning, noon and night. There were certain things that stood out more though.

On the night of the first sea Battle of the Philippines, one of our light carriers was sunk.

(Ralph is referring to the three sea battles of the Battle For Leyte Gulf from October 23 to 27, 1944: Battle Of Surigao Strait, Battle Off Samar, and Battle Off Cape Engano (East Of Luzon).

It was about nine PM when the radio message came in that around twenty-four Wildcats would be landing on the unfinished air strips at Tacloban. At this time we had no land-based planes in the Philippines. The particulars were that we could identify them as they would have their landing lights on. In a short while they began coming in, landing one after another. We were not more than a mile off shore. We could watch everything that was going on.

As the last plane was coming in, he suddenly zoomed up and there was a large explosion in the center of the air strip. Immediately all the guns around opened up on him, and they shot him down back over the island.

That was one of the Japanese. They picked up our message immediately, sent out one of their own planes to follow our own planes in under cover of the darkness to join our planes, turn on her running lights and bomb our air strip that we were trying to build as quickly as we could. I could go on telling these things by the hour, but writing them all down would become very tiresome and lengthy.

NOVEMBER

All through the month of November we continued to unload Liberty Ships and weather out the air raids.


Landing Ship Medium 34.

Date, place and sailors unidentified.


DECEMBER

About the first of December we loaded up with army engineers and equipment and prepared to leave for the invasion of Mindoro, but about then the second sea battle of the Philippines started. This blocked our passage to Mindoro, so we unloaded, and on the third of December prepared for another mission.

The Japanese were reinforcing their troops in Leyte through Ormoc on the other side of the island, so we were to take reinforcements to Bay Bay about forty miles below Ormoc.

The trip around the island was uneventful, but on landing we found that our navigation had been faulty. We had landed about Bay Bay, almost on the Japanese beach.

We landed about one AM and it was very dark that morning on the fifth of December.

The Army told us that we would have to pull off and rebeach at Bay Bay. Our commander told them that either we unloaded there or were taking our loads back to Dulag. We unloaded.

Kamikaze Attacks

About ten AM we were rounding the bottom of the island, and I was sitting topside leisurely watching our small convoy–three destroys, six LCIs and 12 LSMs. There was a spotty covering of clouds and the day was bright and hot. I happened to glance back and saw a plane diving at top speed not five hundred feet above a destroyer. It was Kamikaze. The destroyer never altered course or fired a shot as it all happened too quickly, but the plane exploded in the water, missing its target by at least a hundred feet.

Our GQ (General Quarters) buzzer sounded and then all hell broke loose.

Two planes headed for us almost at the same time.

Our guns got one about fifty feet from the starboard side of our ship.

The second one exploded and crashed a few yards from our bow. Gasoline, water and parts of planes were flying all over the place.

Then a third came in straight for our conn (area of the ship where steering and engine orders are given) from the starboard side. The skipper had stopped, and the Japanese shot in from our conn down over the lifelines on the port side, into the water and exploded. The ship lurched the other way.

This all happened in about five minutes, but it was almost lifetime. The attack continued on furiously. A plane had crashed into the stern of the LSM 20 and she was taking on more water than she could stand. A plane had crashed into the radio shack of the LSM 23, and she was burning from the splattered gasoline.

In about twenty minutes, the 20 began going down stern first. We began picking up survivors s and the planes were still coming in. Our ship picked up three men, two badly burned, and the third unharmed. They were blown off a destroyer by an explosion.

We had several other raids before the day was over. They hit two of the destroyers, one just behind the conn, and flame shot up the ship all the way to the bow. The second, at just about dark, was hit by two bombs midship, and we ended up towing that destroyer for four hours until she got one of her engines fixed.

Upon arriving at Dulag, we loaded again and left again, only this time for the invasion of Ormoc. We went out with twelve LCIs, four APDs (World War I destroyed converted to carry troops and land them, with attack boats that they launch), three destroyers, six LSTs and twelve LSMs. If those aren’t the exact numbers, it is close and to the best of my memory.

The morning of December seventh, we hit Ormoc with little opposition on the beach.

Only a few snipers were there, but while pulling off the beach, a few planes came over and one hit an APDs. It began burning badly. They had to abandon it and our destroyers sank it.

We found out then that when we were pulling in, three Japanese transports and three Japanese destroyers had been coming in. The were only about twenty miles away when we landed, but our planes went out and sank them all that day. We had been just in time.

We pulled out about ten leaving three LSMs and 1 LCI stuck on the beach Two of the LSMs and the LCI came back. The third LSM was sunk that day.

We had plenty of excitement that day, but we had better cover of our own planes. Out of sixty planes that the Japanese sent for us, forty were shot down by our planes, mostly P38’s. They kept coming in the rest of the day. Every twenty to thirty minutes we could expect three or four of them the rest of the afternoon. The sank one destroyer and hit an LSTs with little damage.

However, after those exciting times in such a short number of days, our ship had not been hit. No one was hurt on our ship so they decided we were ready to go on the invasion they had listed us for a week before.

Our fleet had chased the remainder of the Japanese fleet away and our way to Mindoro was clear.

This was a much longer convoy with several cruisers and aircraft carriers along. This was a much longer convoy with several cruisers and aircraft carriers along.

On the way up, two Japanese planes hit the cruiser Nashville. They had one hundred twenty-some killed and over two hundred injured.

Rescue Operations

Nothing else happened until D Day, December fifteenth. When, just as we were pulling off the beach, five Japanese planes came over and hit two LST (Landing Ship Tanks).

They started burning badly. As the LSMs started warming up to pull out, we got a call from the Admiral in charge to pick up survivors from one of the LSTs so we headed for her.

The ammunition on her began going off by then, and it looked like regular fireworks. The tracers shot out in all directions and splashed in the water. There were little streaks of fire all over the where oil and gasoline had poured out. The water was filled with men in life jackets, both Army and Navy.

We opened our bow doors and lowered our ramp and began picking up men from the water and PT boats.

In about an hour, the well deck was full of wet and frightened men.

Just as we began picking up the men, the “T” blew straight up with a huge explosion blowing a big black rolling smoke ring into the air about a thousand feet. It looked as though any men left on the ship when it exploded would be gone. But, I talked with many men afterward that were on her then and were not even bruised.

We picked up about five hundred men, mostly Army. We put all the Army men that could walk off on PT boats, and they were taken ashore as our troops hadn’t even met any Japanese on the beach yet.

We had ten casualties, aboard, nine Army and one Navy. They were all badly burned, and one had a broken back and almost died. We had most of the ship’s crew aboard and some were aboard a destroyer. The Navy men got their heads together, and as far as they could tell, none had been killed. The planes hit midship where she was loaded with eight hundred Air Force ground crew, aviation gasoline and five hundred pound aerial bombs–a hot load.

When we finally left, the convoy had been gone about two hours and we were all alone. It didn’t make us feel so good as we knew there was a continual threat of air attack. One lonely LSM wouldn’t be able to do much about it so we took out at flank speed, cutting all the corners the convoy had taken. The engineers put screw drivers in the governors and held them down. We caught up to the convoy without seeing another planes, and we felt greatly relieved. Our navigator figured we made seventeen knots, as far as I know, it is still the record for LSMs. That thirty-six hundred horsepower did its job.

The trip back to Leyte was quiet, and we were glad to be back. Even though they were still having air raids every day, the planes were more interested in the air strip and the larger ships than us.

We were still in Leyte at Christmastime . Christmas Eve we had a movie in the aft troop compartment.  It was the first movie I had seen since we had left Manus.  There was an air raid that night, but we did not go to General Quarters (GQ) as the planes were a long way off.  We never went to GQ any more unless it looked as though the planes were coming close to us.

Christmas Day was a day we had looked forward to for a long time like a bunch of kids waiting to open their packages.  To build up the feeling of surprise, the deck force, the ship’s control and the engineering force had each separately planned a program for entertainment of the rest of the crew.  A prize was to be given for the best program.  It wasn’t really much, but it was something to keep our minds off the Japanese, if that were really possible.

After a wonderful meal of turkey, sweet potatoes, ice cream, pie, and all the extras such as nuts, celery and cranberry sauce, we put on the program.  (I ate so much that I was uncomfortable for the rest of the day).  The program was really funny-one of our fellows sang a song that he had made up about the ship, another did a southern shuffle.  Between singing songs and imitating our engineering officer going to GQ loaded down with life jacket, two rifles, two forty-fives, a pair of binoculars, and a trench knife, the show was a success.

That night we had the usual air raid.

1945

JANUARY

New Years (1945), we were still in Leyte Gulf, but we were getting restless, and the day was rather dull.  Although we had another big meal and the day off, the coming of the New Year didn’t seem much to look forward to.  It was just a time to rest and think about the last year and how much longer the war would last.

On January we left on a long, rough and tedious trip to Lingayen Gulf in a large convoy made up mostly of LSTs.  Our average speed was from three to five knots.  The LSTs were towing LCMs which took a terrible beating.  One lost its ramp and had to get underway under its own power and pull out.  Another, that had a LCM loaded in her, was swept by a big wave.  The LCM, including a truck that was in her, was swept out to sea.

Note on editing:

As are almost all wars, WWII was racially charged. My late father-in-law’s original language reflected that.

The Ralph I knew and loved valued civility and politeness. He strove never to hurt or offend.

To respect that and to avoid outmoded language from distracting from his story, I have made slight edits.

An unedited edition is on our family history web site at:

Philippines


Photos by Ralph E. Robinson © The Robinson Family

Ralph E. Robinson is Cheryl A. Robinson’s late father and my father-in-law.


Links, sources, and more information:

Animated map of the naval battles of Leyte Gulf. The U.S. Invasion Fleet off Letye first appears in slide 12. Ralph and Landing Ship 34 are in the U.S. Invasion Fleet.

Battles that changed the course of history, Part 2. Filipino journalist Ignacio Bunye‘s account of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, January 11, 2015.

Ralph E. Robinson and LSM 34 in WWII


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-GD

70 and 150 Years Ago: Two Promotions

January 26, 2015

70 years ago on January 1, 1945, Felix A. Cizewski, was promoted to Private First Class.

He was serving in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces in Paris. He was in a hospital recovering from frostbite.

He is my late father.


munichapriljuly45 1jan45promotion

LEFT: Private Felix A. Cizewski on

occupation duty in Munich between

April and July, 1945.

From the collection of Felix A. Cizewski

© Leonard H. Cizewski

RIGHT: Unit Morning Report recording

his promotion.

Public domain image

150 years ago on January 26, 1865, Anson Croman was promoted to corporal.

He served in Company F, 20th Michigan Infantry Regiment, Second Brigade, First Division,  IX Corps, Army of the Potomac. At that time the 20th Michigan was part of the Union siege of Petersburg  near Battery Nine just south of the the Appomattox River on the northeast edge of the city.

Anson Croman is Cheryl A. Robinson’s 2nd great-grandfather and my 2nd great-grandfather-in-law.


croman Promotion rotated 90 degress

LEFT: Corporal Anson Croman

© The descendants of Anson Croman

RIGHT: Official certificate of promotion.

Public domain image

Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski and WWII

Anson Croman and the Civil War


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-Gs

70 Years Ago: Felix Assigned to the 45th Signal Company

January 25, 2015

70 years ago on January 16, 1945 my late father Felix A. Cizewski had recovered from frostbite to his hands and feet.

During WWII, while recovering from wounds, injuries, or illnesses, soldiers were removed from their units so replacement could be assigned to fill their place.

After recovery they were not returned to their units and instead reassigned to other units.

After Felix was discharged from an Army hospital in the Paris area he was reassigned to the 3rd Reinforcement Battalion, 16th Reinforcement Depot.

In late January, 1945, the 45th Infantry Division was taken off the front line.

1,000 replacements were assigned to the 45th.

Among them was Felix who on January 29th was transferred from the 3d Replacement Battalion to the 45th Signal Company in bivouac at  Petersbach, France.


Petersbachcropped
“Petersbach, France”
in Felix’s handwriting
on the back.

GIs in the background.

From the collection of Felix A. Cizewski
© Leonard H. Cizewski

The 45th Signal Company was responsible for connecting 45th with its Corps and connections between Division Command Post and all of the support units that were part of the division headquarters such as medical, engineers, and quartermaster.


Links, sources, and more information:

Felix A. Cizewski & the WWII Rhineland Campaign


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-G8

Putin, the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Soviet Complicity in the Holocaust

January 15, 2015

Russian President Vladimir Putin will not be attending the January 27, 2015 ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation by Soviet troops of Nazi German extermination and concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.


Soviet troops assisting survivors of the Nazi German Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and extermination camp.

Fair use of photo from: Meczenstwo Walka, Zaglada Zydów Polsce 1939-1945. Poland. No. 538.


Russia has yet to acknowledge Soviet complicity in the Holocaust. Without that acknowledgement, President Putin’s absence is appropriate.

The history of Auschwitz-Birkenau is also the history of Soviet complicity in the Holocaust:

Prior to Soviet-Nazi military alliance, the Soviet Union provided the Nazis with the material assistance to wage aggressive wars of conquests and genocide:

  • The treaties that ended WWI prohibited German rearmament. The Soviets assisted the Nazis to evade their treaty obligations by allowing the Nazis to secretly develop and test their new weapons on Soviet territory.
  • The manganese in the steel the Nazis used to construct their military vehicles, weapons, and ammunition was supplied by the Soviets.
  • Nazi vehicles were fueled with Soviet oil.
  • Nazi troops were fed with Soviet grain.
  • Nazi horses, which made up 90% of Nazi military transportation, were fed with Soviet fodder.

In August, 1939, the Nazis and Soviets upgraded their relationship to include a military alliance:

  • The Soviets guaranteed that when the Nazis attacked Poland, the Nazis would not face a two front war as in WWI. The Nazis would only face the alliance of Poland, France, and Britain.
  • While Slavic and Jewish Polish troops were defending Poland against Nazi aggression from the west, the Soviets attacked Poland from the east.
  • The defeat of Poland by the Soviets and Nazis resulted in the Nazi capture of most of the Polish Jews along with Auschwitz-Birkenau and other sites where they constructed extermination and concentration camps.
  • From August, 1939 until June, 1941, the Soviet controlled Communist International (Comintern) ordered pro-Soviet Communist Parties, including the Communist Party USA, to support the Soviet-Nazi alliance, to oppose the war against the Nazis, and to oppose U.S. entry into the war. That is among many reasons the U.S. delayed entry into WWII.

By end of 1941 when the U.S. entered the war, Holocaust victims were beyond the reach of military rescue. The death camps and their rail lines were beyond the range of Allied bombers.

In January, 1945 when the Soviets finally reached Auschwitz-Birkenau, they found about 7,000 survivors.

So few were liberated because almost all the victims of the Holocaust were already dead and most of the other survivors had been evacuated to Nazi Germany.


Just as the post-war democratic state of Germany inherited the responsibility for the crimes of its predecessor state of Nazi Germany, Russia inherited the responsibility for the WWII crimes of the Soviet Union.

The obligation for acceptance of responsibility will not go away with the passage of time.

Acknowledging such histories is part of the process of a state maturing to a full member of the family of civilized nations.

The Russian people deserve such actions from their leaders such as President Putin.


In public consciousness and popular culture among the most common questions are why the Allies did not do more to stop the Holocaust such as attempting to rescue victims and bomb the death camps and their rail lines.

Similar questions about the Soviet Union’s conduct are rarely asked.

That may because of a very successful Cold War era propaganda campaign to promote questions about the Allies and divert attention from the complicity in the Holocaust of the Soviets and their allied Communist Parties.

Now that the Cold War is over the time has come to seek information about the Soviet Union’s Holocaust complicity to make WWII history more complete and accurate.


Links with sources and for more information:

The Buildup of the German War Economy: The Importance of the Nazi-Soviet Economic Agreements of 1939 and 1940 By Samantha Carl.

70th anniversary of liberation of the Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau – January 27, 2015 The official 70th anniversary site.

Putin Won’t Attend Commemoration of Auschwitz Liberation New York Times.

Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Virginia Holocaust Museum

Assessing Atrocity


In depth historical background and context: An occasional feature of my family history blog.


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-FM

Paris 1944: Felix Hospitalized With Frostbite

December 4, 2014

Seventy years ago on about December 10, 1944, Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, was admitted to a U.S. Army hospital in Paris with severe frostbite to his hands and feet.

In his letters Ray Davidson of Company A, 3110th Signal Service Battalion reports increasing rain and dropping temperatures in Paris.

In Citizen SoldiersStephen Ambrose  reports “It was Northern Europe’s coldest winter in forty years…”


FROSTBITE RISK

These photos are from the about same time and near place as Felix and Company C served

None of these photos are of Felix A. Cizewski or Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion.

The following two illustrate the type of work that Felix and Company C, the Open Wire Repair Section of the 3110th Signal Service Battalion, were doing when Felix suffered frostbite.

frostbitecroppedbfw

Signal lineman repairs wire in the Ardennes.

Public Domain photo from The Signal Corps: The Outcome (Mid-1943 through 1945),  p. 160.

splicecroppedbfw

European Theatre of Operations, December, 1944. Soldier traces a broken field wire for splicing.

Public domain U.S. Army photo from: The story of the U.S. Army Signal Corps between pages 114 & 115.

TRENCH (IMMERSION) FOOT RISK

 riverbfw

During cold weather Signal Corps personnel needed to work in and around water such as swimming wire across the Moselle River.

Public domain photo from:  The Signal Corps: The Outcome (Mid-1943 through 1945),  p. 132.

britishsignals

British or Canadian Signalmen using amphibious DUKWs and Weasels to work in areas flooded when the Germans blew up nearby dykes.

Early February, 1945, in the Netherlands along the Nijmegen-Cleve road near the German border town of Kranenburg

Imperial War Museum photo from The Rhineland 1945: the final push into Germany (Praeger illustration military history), Ford, Ken, 2004, Osprey Publishing, p. 48.


Felix said that the Army doctors told him that they might need to amputate part of all of his hands and feet.

However, night after night, after the American doctors had gone, a captured German doctor working in the American hospital massaged Felix’s hands and feet with a special salve.

Eventually Felix healed enough to avoid amputations and return to be reassigned to the 45th Signal Company.

A captured American soldier with “frozen feet” reported that from German medical supplies, the German guard gave him “something that looked like axle grease…which we rubbed on our feet.” (From Alex Kershaw in The Longest Winter, Da Capo Press, 2004, page 168.) Could this be the special salve Felix described that the German POW doctor used?


coldinjurybfw

Medic treating GI with trench foot and cold injuries to his hands and face. This illustrates what Felix might have suffered and the treatment with a salve.

Diorama in the Truschbaum Museum, Camp Elsenborn, Belgium. (Photo used by permission.)


FELIX’S POST FROSTBITE RAYNAUD”S SYNDROME SYMPTOMS

Felix’s wife  reports that the skin on his feet were fragile and tender for several years after the war.

For the rest of his life, he suffered from a post frost bite syndrome with symptoms that resemble Raynaud’s Syndrome.

The circulation shut down in his hands and feet whenever the weather turned slightly cold but painless. I remember in the winter his hands up to his wrists were cold, cyanotic with poor skin turgor.

R. Richard Kingsbury in his autobiography, The Eighteen-Year-Old Replacement: Facing Combat in Patton’s Third Army describes suffering cold injuries, possibly trench foot. After the war, the VA paid him two 10% disability for the permanent damage to his legs and feet. (Page xiii.)

Felix was an unrecognized and uncompensated disabled veteran.

At a minimum, that is what I believe Felix also deserved if not more as his hands were also permanently damaged.


Links, sources, and more information:

3110th in Paris

Signal Corps personnel and cold injuries

Trench (Immersion) Foot

Felix A. Cizewski: An Unrecognized and Uncompensated Disabled Veteran?


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-EP

The 3110th in Paris

December 3, 2014

Seventy years ago sometime prior to December 10, 1944, the detached unit of Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion left Cherbourg for Paris and rejoined the rest of the battalion.


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1944 or 1945:

The only photo of Felix A. Cizewski in Paris.

He is standing in front of a building below a Salle de Réunion sign (meeting rooms for rent) with security gates over its windows.

Date and unit are unknown.

Felix was in Paris in the late fall of 1944 with the 3110th and in March, 1945 while on leave from the 45th Signal Company.

Photo © the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and Leonard H. Cizewski


Corporal Ray Davidson of Company A reports that the 3110th worked from a building near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

They were first housed in a hotel near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Their hotel had electricity only a few minutes per day and no hot water.


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June, 2014:

Seventy years later. Felix’s son Leonard on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées near where Felix served.

Since the exact building that the 3110th used may are not known, I decided that the best I could do was to stand under a sign on the Avenue.

Photo by Cheryl A. Robinson


Later the 3110th moved to a school near a race track. Hotels near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées were needed for combat troops on leave.

Corporal Davidson reported that the public transportation system was not working and bicycles were the main means of transportation.

Goods were scarce.

Sidewalks cafes were open but not night clubs or movies theatres. A couple of theatres were showing news reels.

He reports that after they first arrived they had to wait in long lines for their meals and the meals were initially “skimpy”. Their meals improved when the battalion was assigned a restaurant with French cooks.


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October, 1944:

The the only documented photo of the 3110th in Paris.

Corporal Ray Davidson of Company A in Paris.

Photo © Charles N. Davidson


Links, sources, and more information:

3110th in Paris

The WWII Letters of Ray Davidson were compiled by his nephew Charles N. Davidson. Charles privately published them for his family and families of the 3110th.


Another post in an ongoing series about our trip to France for the the memorial in Tamerville, part of the observance of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of France.

My late father Felix A. Cizewski served in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion in Tamerville, Cherbourg, Paris providing communications and logistical support for the liberation of Normandy in 1944.


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-EL

1943 Thanksgiving at Camp Crowder

November 25, 2014

71 years ago on November 25, 1943 Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, celebrated Thanksgiving with his unit, Company E, 840th Signal Training Battalion, at Camp Crowder, Missouri.

This was an especially profound observance as they knew they were at the end of their training and about to be assigned to a unit and deployed out of the country, probably to Europe.


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Cover of Company E, 840th Signal Training Battalion November 25, 1943 Thanksgiving Program.

Included a Thanksgiving message from their commander, the menu, and unit roster.

Larger and complete six page program is at:

Thanksgiving Menu and Roster


In December, 1943 they were transferred to Camp Wood, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey  and assigned to the 3110th Signal Service Battalion.

In February, 1944 they boarded a ship to Great Britain.

Six months later in July, 1944 Company C deployed to Normandy followed by the rest of the battalion in August.


Links with sources and for more information:

Camp Crowder, Missouri

Felix A Cizewski:

At Camp Crowder

Deployment to England


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-Ev


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