WWII Aerial Recon Photo: Burning German Convoy During Battle of the Bulge


alvaalegre059In a follow up to the popularity of my last post (see here), I’ve decided to begin scanning my collection of large format 12×12 inch aerial photos taken during the Battle of the Bulge.  In this first post, we see a German motorized transport convoy in ruins following a strafing attack by P-47’s of the XAX Tactical Air Command (TAC) on January 23rd, 1945.  I acquired a large set of these original 12×12 inch prints (complete with pencil notes on the back) on eBay a few years ago directly from the estate of a 9th Air Force photo tech who apparently saved hundreds of original flyovers like this.  He saved duplicates as well!  This is one of those duplicates.

I’ve taken the time to crop the shot for close up views below.  With some luck, followers of this page may be able to track down the exact location of this image!  Good luck guys!

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January 23rd, 1945

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Rare Aerial Photo of Gliders Taken After Operation Varsity, March 1945


Taken on March 25th, 1945, this image was snapped by a low-flying P-38 or P-51 of the 363rd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron.  I acquired a large set of these original 12×12 inch prints (complete with pencil notes on the back) on eBay a few years ago directly from the estate of a 9th Air Force photo tech who apparently saved hundreds of original flyovers like this.  He saved duplicates as well!  This is one of those duplicates.

This large format photo, taken a day after the strategic landing of two airborne divisions on the eastern bank of the Rhine River near the village of Hamminkeln and the Town of Wesel, Germany.  Know as Operation Varsity, the landing is regarded by many historians as the most successful airborne landing carried out during WWII.  Although I tend to argue such facts, the point is that the landing led to the quickening of the end of the war.

This series of photos provides an incredibly detailed view of the aftermath of the glider landings and a general layout of trenches, hedgerows and landscape features that may be obfuscated today.  These images can be found in many books and through government archives but may be of lesser quality due to multiple reproductions.  Enjoy!

 

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Large Format Aerial Photo Showing Airborne Gliders, March 25th, 1945

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Thanksgiving in the First World War: U.S.Base Hospital #6 Holiday Menu Card


I’ve been lucky in the past few years to pick up some fun WWI shots of US female nurses and auxiliary service members photographed while serving overseas in 1918 and 1919.  US women in France were vastly outnumbered by their male counterparts, and to be able to positively identify a nurse is a fun way to learn about female service roles during the war.  In this case, I was able to purchase a small group of photos and a Thanksgiving menu from a woman in Base Hospital #6 stationed in Bordeaux, France during the war.  The standing studio portrait was identified on the reverse as H.K. Judd of Base Hospital 6.  On a whim I searched for Helen K. Judd (thinking that Helen was a likely candidate for H) and came up with a positive hit on a woman named Helen K. Judd from Southhampton, Mass.  I cross referenced with the digitized passport records from 1917 and 1918 and had a positive match.  Luckily the passport applications come with little snapshots of the applicants.   The amount of material available to identify WWI photos is incredible.

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Base Hospital #6 Thanksgiving Menu

So what was served up on Thanksgiving, 1918? 

Given the recent cessation of hostilities on November 11th, the nurses and ailing soldiers of the AEF had a lot to be thankful for in 1918.  How did they celebrate?

US Dietician Ellen W. Wells was someone who likely put together the well-rounded meal seen in the above menu.  With appetizers of celery and olives, the nurses, doctors and assorted hospital staff and wounded next moved to a main course of roast stuffed turkey, apple sauce, mashed potatoes, green peas and creamed onions.  For desert they gorged on mince pie and an oddity in Europe, pumpkin pie.  After dinner snacks included fruit, nuts, raisins, bon-bons and coffee.  And to top it all off, the men and women were provided with cigars.  What a meal!

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Helen K. Judd in France, 1918

WWII Color Photo Post: An Unopened Box of Developed WWII Kodak Color Slides!


Many of my followers know that I actively collect WWII color slides, predominantly those developed by the Eastman Kodak Company.  These Kodachrome slides are typically regarded in the field of vintage color photo collecting as the crème de la crème of vintage color.  Taken at a time of incredible social and political upheaval, these images capture an era that will never be seen in the same light or colors again. With the small percentage of the world populace that used color photography, an even smaller percentage of the slides have been passed down or purchased by people with the ability to scan and post them to the internet.

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In this rare case, I was able to purchase a large set of Kodachrome slides taken by a US serviceman before he shipped off to war.  One box of the Kodak-developed slides were unopened.  I took a photo of the seal, opened the box and immediately scanned them!  Please enjoy the following 12 slides that are only seeing the light of day 70+ years later….

Taken in Fort Benning, GA, these slides were shipped home in January of 1945 to only be opened in 2016! Enjoy.

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WWII Photo: American Medics in the Battle of the Bulge – 4th Infantry Division


Captured on medium format film by US Army Photographer Cpl. Edward Belfer, this image comes from my extensive collection of US WWII photography and depicts a group of US medics pushing a metal pontoon boat along the snowy streets of Bettendorf, Luxembourg on January 19th, 1945.  The boat, loaded with medical supplies, is headed towards the Sure River.  An oddball detail in this shot include a theater-made snow camouflage helmet covers with the fronts cut out to reveal the medical cross beneath.

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A Scottish Terrier Goes to War: 744th Light Tank Battalion’s Mascot Dog BLACKOUT


Followers of PortraitofWar will likely remember that I have a penchant for stories related to unit and individual mascots during wartime. I have a soft spot for small dogs and particularly enjoy tracking down photos of dogs acting as needed companions during the boredom and contrasting hellish days of war.  Cats are cool too……. I guess….

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Tonight’s post was submitted by a WWII buff I tracked down online who was generous enough to share the incredibly endearing story of his father’s WWII mascot who eventually made it stateside to live an additional thirteen years as the family pet until passing away in 1958.  The incredible story of Blackout takes us from a small town in England, to the shores of Normandy and across continental Europe as the German war machine is beaten into submission.  The following post was submitted by Rick Hunter:

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My father, Bill Hunter volunteered for the U.S. Army in 1940.  After training which included participation in the Louisiana maneuvers, he was assigned to the 744th Light Tank Battalion as initial cadre when it was formed at Camp Bowie, TX.  By January, 1944 he was a Master Sergeant in the service company of the 744th Light Tank Battalion, and the unit was in England training in preparation for D-Day.  Dad’s job was to supervise the maintenance of the Battalion’s vehicles and the recovery and repair of battle-damaged vehicles.  Light tank battalions were “separate battalions” that were typically attached to infantry units on an “as-needed” basis and as such they moved around a lot.  The service company was usually located somewhat to the rear of the front lines and Dad’s position gave him a bit of flexibility and was not as dangerous as those of many soldiers.  Perhaps for these reasons and his love of dogs, Dad bought a young female Scottie from a lady in nearby Manchester.  He named the dog Blackout.

Although against regulations, Blackout was apparently a hit within the unit and the leadership turned a blind-eye towards her.  She even received a coat crafted from an army blanket complete with sergeant’s stripes and the unit patch.  Blackout and my Dad went ashore with the Battalion at Utah Beach about 3 weeks after D-Day and the unit fought through France and Belgium and into the Netherlands.  They were camped near Geleen in the Netherlands for several weeks in October, 1944.

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Blackout in Geleen, Netherlands

The Dutch had been starved by the Germans and were in a desperate plight.  Attracted to Blackout, a 13 year-old boy and his 5 year-old sister from the town would make daily visits to see the dog.  My Dad began to give the children food and candy and made them some small wooden toys.  In 2008, my brother vacationed in the Netherlands and met those two children.  The girl, then in her 70’s, showed my brother those toys which she still treasured.

The tank battalion crossed into Germany in January, 1945.  They fought into Germany and participated in the post-war occupation of the town of Olpe before catching a crowded troop ship back to the U.S.  Dad was not about to leave Blackout behind and he smuggled her onto the troop ship.  Because there were many different units on the ship, it is difficult to imagine how he could have avoided detection, and in fact he did not.  Upon arrival in the U.S., the soldiers were subjected to a muster to verify all were present.  The officer in charge (not from my Dad’s unit) announced to the formation “Will the individual with the dog step forward?”  My Dad did not move.  The officer then said “Will the master sergeant with the dog step forward?”  My Dad did not move.  Finally the officer said “Do we have to call you by name?”  My Dad stepped forward.  The officer then announced “We just wanted you to know that we were aware of it all the time.”  Nothing more was said or done and over the next few weeks Dad and Blackout processed out of the Army and returned to civilian life in Tulsa.

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Blackout’s jacket patch

My Dad had 4 brothers and all 5 boys served during World War II and returned safely.  Their mother was proud of her sons and displayed a Blue Star Mother banner with 5 stars in her front window.  The Tulsa World published an article about the family in late 1945 that included the attached picture of the boys with their mother and Blackout shortly after their return.

In the picture and starting from the right, the boy in civilian clothing served on a ship in the Pacific and refused to wear his Navy uniform after discharge.  Next is my Dad and the boy next to him was a navigator.  I believe he stayed in the States as an instructor.  Left of him is the youngest boy who had completed a pilot training program but I have little additional information.  The boy on the far left was in Iran and is wearing a Persian Gulf Command shoulder patch.

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Hunter boys with Blackout, 1945

WWII USMC Marine Portrait Photo – Dominick Salvetti, 12th Anti-Aircraft Battalion, 1st Marine Division


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1942-1944, I MEF/1st Marine Division
From Month/Year
January / 1942
To Month/Year
January / 1944
Unit
1st Marine Division Unit Page
Rank
Corporal
MOS
Not Specified
Location
Not Specified
Country/State
Not Specified
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 I MEF/1st Marine Division Details
I MEF/1st Marine Division
Type
Combat – Ground Unit
Existing/Disbanded
Existing
Parent Unit
I MEF
Strength
Division
Created/Owned By
Not Specified

Christmas Mass During the Battle of the Bulge – Liege, Belgium 1944


Attempting to track down new material for a fresh blog post is not an easy task…… Especially when my material has generally been languishing unseen in a shoe box since 1945.  But occasionally I will come across a photo that I’ve neglected to bring to the light of the internet since it crossed my scanner’s bed.  In today’s post, I will dissect a photo taken on Christmas  of 1944 in the small town of Neuville en Condroz, Belgium. This is a small village near Liege, Wallone, Belgium and was occupied at the time by an anti-aircraft unit on the front lines of the Bulge. Interestingly, the hood of the Chaplain’s Jeep served as an alter.

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Christmas Mass in Neuville-en-Condroz Belgium, 1944

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To see the area today check out the link below:

Neuville-en-Condroz Map

 

WWII Snapshot – Female Photographer Pauses for the Camera


 

A female US service member rocks a summer dress and snaps a shot of the photographer; what more can you ask for from a blog dedicated to obscure vernacular snapshots taken during wartime?   Originally digitally cropped down from a slightly larger print, this shot exudes the youthful demeanor of downtime during WWII. The taut, braced legs also hint to a slightly posed sexualized snapshot….

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Kent, CT High School’s First Baseball Team – A Waterbury, VT Flea Market Find


I apologize to Portrait of War’s dedicated followers for this brief divergence from the military-related post norm.  A recent flea market find has been screaming to me from my pile of “to research” photos and I can’t resist any longer; this photo has a lot going for it.  Crisp details, a fully identified roster, and a historically significant moment in Kent, CT’s town history have been captured in this 1931 photograph of the seminal baseball team of Kent High School.

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1931 Kent High School Baseball Team

Being a CT prep school alumni myself, I instantly recalled battles on the pitch against Kent School, the private college prep school located in Kent, Litchfield County, CT.  Although I don’t have access to the school records, I’m guessing their baseball team started significantly earlier than the 1931 date inscribed on the photo.  With that in mind, I came to the conclusion that the image likely depicts the public Kent High School.   This makes the research process much easier.  Prep schools of the time were typically filled with students from around the country, often from larger American cities and/or England/Canada.  In summary, my next avenue of research involves searching keying in every name inscribed on the reverse using on ancestry.com.  Doing some quick math (not my strong suit) I searched in the 1910-1920 range based on average high school ages from the time period. It turns out that most of the boys in the photo were born between 1915 and 1918.

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Cropped Version

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“First Baseball Team in Kent High”

With all the information listed above, I took some time after work this week to research each and every one of the legible names in hopes of finding a living ’31 Kent player…. to no avail.  Below are my results.  This post was made in order to link future family researchers with crisp photos of their “starting nine” relations.

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John E. Austin – Captain

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1920 Kent Census Listing

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Charles F. Taylor

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Charles F. Taylor’s 1940 Census Record

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George C. Page in 1931

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George Charles Page’s 1920 Census Record

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George Charles Page’s 1998 Death Record

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Charles W. Stone in 1931

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Charles Stone’s 1940 Census Record

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Charles W. Stone’s 1997 Death Record

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Charles W. Stones WWII Record Information

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Paul M. Richards in 1931

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Paul M. Richards’ Census Record

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Paul M. Richard’s 1998 Death Record

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Walter Pacocha in 1931

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Walter Pacocha 1930 Census Record

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Walter Pacocha’s 1981 Death Record

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Carlos Jennings in 1931

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Carlos Jennings’ 1930 Census Record

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Carlos Jennings’ 2000 Death Record