Sunday, September 26, 2010
“It was scary,” the 92-year-old Ashokan resident said while sitting in a room at the Kingston Holiday Inn, surrounded by other former members of the 460th Bombardment Group.
Chase, who was in his mid-20s when he served the United States during World War II, is among veterans from across the country who have gathered for a reunion this weekend in Kingston.
“I enjoy touching base with these people and sharing this very strenuous, remarkable experience,” Chase said.
The reunion was arranged by Chase’s daughter, Helen Chase, also of Ashokan. For years, the group routinely held reunions in different places, but there have been no gatherings the past three years.
This year, Chase said, about a dozen veterans of the 460th Bombardment Group came to the four-day reunion in Kingston. They were to spend their time together dining out, taking a Hudson River cruise, having a barbeque and taking in an air show at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Northern Dutchess.
Helen Chase said the group dined Thursday night at the Hoffman House in Uptown Kingston and that someone paid for the entire meal without telling anyone.
“What a remarkable honor this was by some very thoughtful person for these men and their family members who were present,” Chase said in an e-mail.
The 460th Bombardment Group was made up of hundreds of soldiers who were part of crews that flew B-24s during America’s involvement in World War II.
One of the group’s missions was to bomb oil refineries used by the Germans in Ploesti, Romania. The group flew out of Spinnazola, Italy, near the port of Bari on the Adriatic Sea, in 1944 and 1945.
Chase, who was a navigator, flew in five bombing missions over Ploesti.
“It was a unique experience,” Chase said.
One of the veterans in town this weekend, 85-year-old Jerry Conlon of Roaring Spring, Pa., spent some time during the past week looking for relatives of a crew member who died in combat.
Conlon was a bombardier. His plane crashed in Hungry in 1944, and five men were killed. He and other surviving members of his crew were taken prisoner.
Conlon recalled the Hungarians took care to bury the dead.
Dick Foley, 88, of Whiting, N.J., said the group’s surviving members share a bond.
“There is a lot of camaraderie here,” he said.
Joseph Sanfili, 90, of Allen Park, Mich., said getting together with other members of the 460th Bombardment Group every so often is refreshing.
“We get together and shoot the breeze,” he said.
From The Daily Freeman
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The tank was restored for free by an engineering firm in Wakefield
A tank which fought with Nottinghamshire's Sherwood Rangers in one of the biggest battles of the Second World War has been restored.
The 30-tonne Sherman tank named Robin Hood was used during 1944's Operation Market Garden.
It will go on display at the Dutch National Liberation Museum for the battle's 66th anniversary in September.
Seven Sherwood Rangers veterans, all over 80, plan to travel to the Netherlands to see the tank.
Martin Kerry from the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Association said: "This tank is very important historically."
The Sherman took part in what is considered to be one of the most audacious of the Allied offensives of World War Two.
Operation Market Garden, which took place between 17 and 25 September 1944, saw 86,000 paratroopers, air and ground units involved in a daring mission to seize control of bridges and river crossings in the Netherlands and Germany.
Initially successful, it ended in defeat with thousands of Allied troops killed and many more injured or taken prisoner.
The operation was immortalised in the legendary war film A Bridge Too Far.
The Sherwood Rangers' tank survived, however, and 25 years ago it was donated to the Dutch National Liberation Museum where, Martin Kerry said, it slowly fell into decline.
He explained: "It was offered as a gesture to the people and to add something to the museum. The tank itself was put on a plinth with a plaque.
"Unfortunately, it suffered from a bit of age-related wear and tear and a tiny bit of vandalism, which is slightly disappointing but it happens all over.
The veterans all wanted to climb in and have a drive. These guys are all in their mid- to late 80s!
Martin Kerry, Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Assocation
"Also, the museum had been painting it year by year but all they had been doing was painting over rust.
"Eventually, it would probably have got into a state where it would be unusable."
It was at that point that the apprentices at TEi engineering in Wakefield stepped in to try and save the historic vehicle, literally, from the scrapheap.
Martin said: "The firm generously offered to do this work for nothing, which completely restores your faith in the British spirit.
"We hadn't had any relationship with them but they decided to take this vehicle as a project.
The Wakefield engineering apprentices did their bit during the summer of 2010 and completed their work in time for the 66th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
Before the Sherman tank set off on perhaps its final journey back to the Netherlands a few members of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry Regimental Association were given a sneak preview of the restored vehicle.
Martin Kerry explained: "We took some of our veterans to Wakefield a couple of weeks ago for a viewing of the tank in a stripped-down form.
The tank was brought to Wakefield on a lorry - and is now heading back
"The engineers had taken the turret and the tracks off and removed all the corroded parts.
"The veterans all wanted to climb in and have a drive. These guys are all in their mid- to late 80s!"
Several veterans will be travelling to the Netherlands for the 66th anniversary of Operation Market Garden.
Martin Kerry said it will be an emotional experience for them to see the tank in pride of place at the Dutch National Liberation Museum.
He said: "We've got seven ex-tank drivers going over, including a 90-year-old gentleman called Arthur Hinitt. He's never been back before.
"He doesn't quite know how he's going to feel and is unsure about going back. But I think, after a little trepidation, he'll be looking forward to it."
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Sworld wielded by Napolean's personal guard auctions in Italy
WIth a five figure estimate, this bayonet used to protected Emperor Napoleon III is for sale at Czerny
Italian auction house Czerny is auctioning a wealth of historic militaria, including weaponry, at its October 2 sale.
Among the auction's highlights is a rare bayonet for the French Cent Gardes - the elite squadron of one-hundred horse guards which personally protected Emperor Napoleon III.
The sword bears the mark of the imperial manufacturer, Chatellerault, and the date 1814. Its blade is straight, widely-grooved and single-edged.
Other design features of the sword include a brass, slightly curved flat cross-guard that has a round hole, two parallel breaks and is slightly thickened at the border.
According to Czerny, the sword is in "good" condition and it was apparently once used with a 1854 model Treuille de Beaulieu musket.
Appearing for sale complete with its iron scabbard and two rings, this rare and historic bayonet carries a pre-sale estimate of €5,500 or more.
Czerny's impressive sale will offer almost 1,500 lots, and takes place in Sarzana, Italy.
From Paul Fraser
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Beating Big Auction Houses At Their Own Game
When Sotheby's shied away from the sports-collectibles business, Leila Dunbar went after it on her own.
As a top lieutenant at Sotheby's ( BID - news - people ) for nine years, Leila Dunbar sold $75 million worth of collectibles from the worlds of sports, entertainment and art. Big-ticket items included the 20-by-20-foot center-court panel of the Boston Garden's parquet floor, complete with the famous leprechaun image (sold for $331,000); the bat Babe Ruth swung when he hit the first home run at Yankee Stadium ($1.25 million); and the Volkswagen ( VLKAF.PK - news - people ) Beetle convertible known as the "Shag Mobile" in the first Austin Powers movie.
When the economy went south in 2008 Sotheby's shrank Dunbar's merchandise portfolio and slashed her department from 16 people to 2. Meanwhile, sports and pop-culture memorabilia remained a roughly $1 billion business annually. It also was drawing more scrutiny from the IRS--good news for someone with Dunbar's skills. "Defending your number is the most crucial part of an appraisal," says Dunbar, 48. "It's more complex today than it's ever been."
Her response: go solo. At $250 to $350 an hour Dunbar has been called on to appraise Floyd Mayweather's gloves, the late country singer Tammy Wynette's costumes and awards, $12 million worth of memorabilia on display at Yankee Stadium's museum, and Bobby Jones' old one-iron for the United States Golf Association. In 2009 Leila Dunbar LLC pulled in roughly $200,000 in revenue, and Dunbar claims to be "well ahead" of that pace for 2010.
Dunbar runs lean. She works out of her one-bedroom apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side and has no staff, no website and no advertising budget. Her biggest expense: travel. Planes, trains and hotels eat up about $30,000 a year. This year Dunbar has hauled herself to California, Colorado, Florida, Washington, D.C., Iowa and Arizona, among other stops, mixing client visits with lectures, benefit auctioneering and periodic appearances on the television hit Antiques Roadshow. "I've spent less than half my nights at home this year," she says. "All I need is a laptop, a camera and a phone."
Dunbar got hooked on collecting as a child in Milford, Mass., where her father ran a junkyard and amassed artifacts like signs for Chevrolet and Tower Root Beer on the side. "My dad would buy them for 50 cents and then found he could sell them for five or ten dollars," she says. Eventually the family formed a company to trade everything from antique toys to Harley-Davidson ( HOG - news - people ) motorcycle parts, and after graduating from the University of North Carolina Dunbar came home to run it. Her degree in journalism helped: Selling memorabilia is "about being able to tell the stories of the products," she says. Later she added absentee auctions (in which buyers responded to newspaper postings by phoning or faxing in their bids) and a printed catalog mailed out prior to each auction.
In 1995 Antiques Roadshow asked Dunbar to be an on-air appraiser for its first episode in Concord, Mass. When the second season kicked off in Pittsburgh more than 4,000 people were lined up outside the studio to have their knickknacks evaluated. The show caught the eye of Sotheby's execs, who were looking to jump-start the company's absentee auction business. Dunbar joined in 1999 and within six months had risen to senior vice president in charge of the collectibles business.
Dunbar says working on her own gives her an edge on large auction houses that have to navigate the inherent conflict of interest that comes with appraising collections that the same companies might also want to purchase. As for her smaller competitors, most concentrate on big-ticket items like art and antique furniture, not golf clubs and comic books. Says Dunbar: "I'm lucky because I have a niche in pop culture." Lucky enough to make a good living walking down memory lane.
Thursday, September 09, 2010
So, keep checking the website; the stuff should start to make it on by the beginning of next week.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
£50,000 for SAS founder member Jack Byrne's WWII medal group
The Distinguished Conduct Medal group of the legendary soldier and agent leads a London sale
Dix Noonan Webb never fails to offer a truly exceptional range of fine, rare gallantry medals and militaria at their auctions, and this month's sale is no exception.
One of the sections is, of course, a selection of Second World War medals, and two of the very best items on offer are medal groups associated with the Dieppe Raid.
The first of these belonged to Boatswain P J Allsebrook of the Royal Navy, and is based around an extremely rare Second World War landing craft operations DSC (Distinguished Service Cross) as well as a submariner's Distinguished Service Medal.
The group of six is particularly unusual as only 11 DSC and DSM combinations were awarded during the 1939-45 War.
Allsebrook's citation for the DSC in the London Gazette in 1943 read as follows:
"While in charge of L.C.S. No. 3, he rendered invaluable service in the salvage of stranded landing craft. His untiring devotion to duty and good seamanship were responsible for 26 craft being salved and the majority replaced in service, thereby notably contributing to the success of the operation." whilst his DCM recommendation of November 1940read simply:
"For high example set to the crew as Coxswain, contributing to the general efficiency of the submarine."
He also won a 'mention' for his gallant work in the Dieppe Raid: "For courage and skill in supporting the landing on "White" beach in command of Glengyle's Landing Craft Support." His group is expected to sell for £6,000-8,000.
Lieutenant-Commander A J Lee's group of nine medals is expected to bring £12,000-15,000 and is based around a DSC won for his actions at Dieppe, specifically:
"...his gallant work in saving the destroyer H.M.S. Brocklesby after she had run aground, under point blank fire, off "White Beach": by then nearly 50 years of age, he had already been recommended for an immediate D.S.C. for his part in the St. Nazaire Raid."
However, neither of these is expected to be the top lot in the sale. That honour is likely to go to the WWII DCM group of eight awarded to SAS Sergeant Jack Byrne (pictured above).
Only 12 Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to the SAS in the 1939-45 War, and Byrne's was one of only five given to a member of the original 'L Detachment' from which the organisation developed.
Byrne survived the detachment's first disastrous parachute drop in which 22 men were killed, and went on to be a part of several notable desert raids, notably the raid on Agedabia airfield. Byrne recalled:
"Whilst Bill and I were running hard towards the fighters, I squeezed the time-pencils of two of the bombs and for good measure jerked the pull-switches; the bombs should now explode in fourteen seconds. It took only a moment to place a bomb on each plane - all ME 109 Fs, apparently brand new, each one having a canvas-type horse-blanket strapped around its fuselage.
"Bill stood watch at the wingtip of each plane whilst I placed the bombs. Twice he held out a hand to take the tommy-gun from me but I pretended not to notice. When we got to the seventh fighter, I ran straight past it, putting the last bomb on the eighth whilst Bill remained standing by the seventh fighter, shouting his head off until I displayed an empty hand.
"As we turned to run back to the others, the first four of the fighters went up in flames almost together, and within seconds all eight were burning fiercely, the planes being so close together that one well-placed bomb in the centre of the row would probably have destroyed the lot."
Following the raids, Byrne was captured, but escaped from Germany, before completing an equally gallant D-Day Commando raid. His group is listed at £40,000-£50,000 in the auction which will take place in London on September 16-17. Online bidding is available.
By Paul Fraser
Sunday, September 05, 2010
Poems and messages from injured WW1 soldiers emerge after 92 years
A pocket book which was passed between injured soliders to record their poems and messages by a First World War nurse has emerged after 92 years.
Published: 7:30AM BST 06 Sep 2010
The unknown nurse kept the book on her uniform while she worked in auxiliary hospitals in England throughout the conflict.
As she built up a bed-side relationship with the soldiers she treated, the unnamed nurse asked them to write their thoughts down in the little book.
Some of them expressed their gratitude to her and her colleagues while others wrote short poems about war.
Almost all logged their name, regiment and wounds they had suffered.
One entry by a Private Albert Brown, of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment, read: "Wounded in the face by shrapnel at Ypres - but still alive and kicking."
Sapper J Gray, of the Royal Engineers, dedicated a moving poem to his colleagues who died in battle.
It read: "Let them rest quietly there on the field, where they fell fighting but never would yield. While their great spirits heard heaven's great call, bravely to conquer on, bravely to fall."
Private Charles Housley, of the East Lancashire Regiment, wrote: "Wounded at Ypres Nov 11th 1914.
"Bullet wound in left breast through the lungs. Shattered ribs, shrapnel wounds in the back. One of the best."
And a Private Wright managed to write his salutations from his bed despite having his left leg amputated after being hit by shrapnel at Ypres in 1914.
Frustratingly, the owner of the book remains a mystery as her name is not mentioned anywhere in the book.
The only clues as to her identity is a note at the front of it which reads: "A birthday wish, good luck and good health."
It was signed by a L Brown on May 22, 1911.
The nurse also appears to have lived along the south coast as two of the auxiliary hospitals mentioned in the book were Friar Mayne in Dorchester and Berry Court in Bournemouth.
The book has been in the hands of a private collector for many years and has now been put up for sale by a company that collects military memorabilia.
Peter James, of Militaria Rarities based in Stoke-on-Trent, said: "It is a very poignant book."
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
..."There are people being overlooked [for Purple Hearts] because of the criteria being so vague," Pascrell said. "We have let too many of our soldiers fall through the cracks and it’s not acceptable."...
Soldiers have had to battle for months and sometimes years to prove that these injuries, also called mild traumatic brain injuries, merit the honor, our reporting showed. Commanders turned down some soldiers despite well-documented blast wounds that wrenched their minds, altered their lives and wracked their families.
The Army twice denied a Purple Heart for Sgt. Nathan Scheller, though the aftereffects from two roadside explosions in Iraq have left him with lasting cognitive problems, according to the Army's own records.
The 29-year-old former tank commander navigated an M1A1 Abrams through Baghdad's urban battlefield of bomb-strewn highways and sniper-filled alleys. Now he gets lost driving familiar routes around his home. An honor student in high school, he can no longer concentrate enough to read the adventure novels he once loved.
"I don't see how somebody else can tell me that I don't deserve one," Scheller said of the Purple Heart. "I may not have wounds on the outside. But I have wounds on the inside."
The denials of Purple Hearts reflect a broader skepticism within the military over the severity of mild traumatic brain injury, often described as one of the signature wounds of the conflicts, according to interviews, documents and internal emails obtained by NPR and ProPublica.
High-level medical officials in the Army debated whether head traumas that are difficult to detect — often leaving no visible signs of damage — warrant the award, the emails show. Most people who sustain such blows, also known as concussions, recover on their own, but studies show 5 percent to 15 percent may have long-term impairments.
In 2008, Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho, then the top medical commander in Iraq, issued a policy blocking medical providers from even discussing the Purple Heart with soldiers who suffered mild traumatic brain injuries. Doctors were not barred from discussing the award with soldiers who have other injuries.
"In many cases," Caravalho wrote that concussions with "minimum medical intervention will not warrant this award."
His policy appears to contradict Army rules governing the Purple Heart.
Army regulations say that a soldier is entitled to the Purple Heart if injured by hostile action. The soldier must require treatment — no matter how minimal — by a medical officer, and the injury must be documented. Medical officers can offer advice on whether an injury merits recognition. The soldiers' commanding general typically makes the final decision to award or deny a Purple Heart.
The Army's official list of wounds that "clearly justify" the award includes, "Concussion injuries caused as a result of enemy generated explosions."
In an emailed response, Caravalho, who now commands one of the Army's top hospitals, said he was trying to help medical personnel understand some of the complexities involved in the diagnosis and treatment of mild traumatic brain injuries. He did not specifically address whether his order created new restrictions on the award of the medal.
"I was trying to make the point that medical providers in the field needed to ensure they documented the event, the findings and the treatment rendered," wrote Caravalho. "Without this corroborating documentation, I felt it would be increasingly difficult to support a Purple Heart request based solely on subjective, and potentially temporary symptoms."
Army regulations say that a soldier is entitled to the Purple Heart if injured by hostile action. The soldier must require treatment — no matter how minimal — by a medical officer, and the injury must be documented.
Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army's second in command, said it is "very, very clear" that soldiers who have sustained documented concussions from enemy action should receive the Purple Heart. He said he was not aware of Caravalho's order until NPR and ProPublica brought it to his attention.
"This is a good catch," he said, saying he had asked Army lawyers to review the policy to see whether it should be changed. A Chiarelli spokesman said Wednesday that the review was continuing.
Chiarelli, the Army's point man on the treatment of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress, acknowledged there is ongoing resistance to awarding the Purple Heart for so-called "invisible" wounds.
He saw it firsthand when he served as commander in Baghdad from 2004 to 2005 and said he overturned many denials for the medal stemming from concussion injuries. There has been progress since then, he said, but more work remains.
"There still are some commanders, okay, who — and there may be some doctors, too — who don't feel that a concussion should entitle somebody for a Purple Heart," Chiarelli said. "But we have far more commanders that understand that the concussion is a real injury today than we had in 2004 and 2005."