Assigned to bomb Hiroshima — the day after the A-bomb

FATEFUL DAY *** WWII airman recalls mission to Hiroshima, NagasakiStan Shaw holds a photo taken of him in a bomber cockpit during World War II. (Photo by Patrick Dennis, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

By George Morris

On Aug. 7, 1945, Stan Shaw was like any other airman on a combat mission — prepared, yet wondering what to expect. Certainly, Shaw didn’t expect what he saw when his bomber arrived at its primary target.

For all practical purposes, it wasn’t there, replaced by a rust-colored stain — Hiroshima, Japan, a day after the first atomic bomb attack.

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Growing up in occupied France

JordaJones.050615 35.jpgSiblings Marie Jorda Jones and Gerald Jorda saw their country, France, occupied then liberated during World War II. (Photo by Travis Spradling, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

By George Morris

When anniversaries of the end of World War II in Europe — or V-E Day — come around, it’s an abstraction for most Americans. Not for Baton Rouge, Louisiana, siblings Marie Jorda Jones and Gerard Jorda.

Both were teens in northern France when the war came to their country in 1940. By the time it ended, Marie was engaged to an American. In between, they endured an occupation that turned them into refugees for more than two years.

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Taking care of the wounded

Irma Darphin... 05/28/04Irma Darphin served as a nurse in Europe after the Normandy Invasion. (Photo used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.)

By George Morris

The smell of cordite no longer hung in the air when Lt. Irma Darphin came ashore on Utah Beach in 1944. Six weeks had passed since D-Day, and shells no longer fell, bullets no longer flew and the groans of the wounded no longer sounded along the Normandy coast.

But there was no shortage of wounded soldiers in France, and Darphin was on her way to help them.

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A tough way to enter Europe

SartainDday159.jpg Lenton Sartain, part of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 319th Glider Field Artiller Battalion (Photo by Patrick Dennis, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

By George Morris

In his first two years in the Army, C. Lenton Sartain Jr., of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, qualified as a paratrooper, served in North Africa, fought in Italy and trained endlessly with his unit.

But nothing was like D-Day.

When American, British and Canadian forces invaded German-held France on June 6, 1944, no one had it easy. But Sartain, then a lieutenant known to his men as Charlie, may have had one of the most dangerous ways of getting into Fortress Europe.

Sartain was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 319th Glider Field Artillery Battalion. While most of the soldiers arrived by boat or parachute, Sartain was among those who came on clumsy aircraft ill-suited for this occasion.

Regardless, those aboard them helped begin the eastward push that ended in Germany’s surrender 11 months later.

“The glider landing in Normandy was very crucial, but it was very costly,” said Sartain. “We lost a lot of people just by Normandy having such small fields. … It was a touch-and-go situation there for a while.”

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V-E Day was a time to celebrate — for some

Ike, V-E DayGen. Dwight Eisenhower celebrates the end of World War II in Europe  by holding the pens used to sign the surrender document. (Public domain, National Archives)

By George Morris

May 8, 1945. A historic day. An exciting day. An unforgettable day.

In New York, a quarter-million people jammed Times Square. In thousands of towns, smaller celebrations erupted.

In England, hundreds of strangers packed a church as an American soldier took a British bride.

In Austria, women fired artillery at U.S. Army soldiers — and danced with them that night.

On a Pacific island, grim-faced faced Marines just hoped they’d live long enough to celebrate, too.

A joyous day. A prayerful day. A glorious day.

V-E Day.

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A German girl’s view of World War II

EvaBardsley.adv
Eva Bardsley holds a photo of herself when she was 14 years old. She was 12 years old when World War II began, lived through relentless Allied bombings of Berlin, captivity by the Russians and the desperate poverty of postwar Germany. (Photo by Bill Feig, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

By George Morris

Most Americans remember World War II through the eyes of veterans who fought, families who awaited their return, or from movies produced from the victors’ point of view.

Eva Rieseler Bardsley had a different vantage point.

Bardsley grew up in Berlin and was 12 years old when Germany’s surrender in 1945 ended the war in Europe. She saw her city turned to rubble, was bombed out of her home three times and separated from her family for more than a year. She struggled to avoid starvation and rape in the chaos of war’s end.

“I should have folded up,” said Bardsley, a longtime Watson, Louisiana, resident. “But I really had a good outlook on life, and even those times as a little girl, I always hoped and prayed there was a better time coming.”

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Liberating a childhood friend

MedineRuiz.adv s090.jpgNolan Ruiz, left, and Mervin Medine knew each other in elementary school, and it was Medine’s unit that liberated Ruiz from captivity near the end of World War II. (Photo by Travis Spradling, used by permission of The Advocate, Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

By George Morris

When the story of how Nolan Ruiz was shot down and captured in World War II and endured a horrific, weeks-long march was told in Baton Rouge’s daily newspaper, he heard from a lot of his friends. The story, however, connected him with someone else from his past.

It was Mervin Medine — who not only knew Ruiz in elementary school 80 earlier near Plaquemine, Louisiana, but was part of the military unit that liberated him.

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