WWI Panoramic Photo – Bumpkin Island Boston Harbor, Massachusetts Navy Training Center 1917 (LARGE PHOTO – BEWARE)


Bumpkin Island 1917

Bumpkin Island 1917

 

I love digitizing WWI panoramic photos and the photo found above is a great example of an interesting panoramic with some good New England history behind it.  The image was shot in front of Burrage Hospital on Bumpkin Island, one of the Boston Harbor islands.  The camp was used by the U.S. Navy as a training camp.

The Burrage Hospital originally comprised a main hospital building measuring 175’ x 160’, two large covered open-air play houses, a bathing pavilion and a dock. The hospital is near the center of the island, about 80’ above the low water mark and faces south. Its general plan is that of a widened letter “H,” with an extension from the middle of the building back and contained three stories and a basement.

According to David J. Russo:

On the north side of the building, the basement was above ground because of the grading of the island. The south side contained two solariums on both the first and second floors (one set each for boys and girls) and the administrative offices. The two wings of the building contained the hospital wards and measured 25’ x 105.’

Along the front of the building and partly around the sides, ran a porch ten feet wide.

On the interior was a series of ramps between floors to make it easier for those who could not climb stairs, either due to disability or because confinement to wheelchair. This is likely one of the first uses of such ramps in a hospital setting.

The first floor contained an entry vestibule, reception room, matron’s room, matron’s bedroom, nurses room, pharmacy, doctors’ office, doctors’ bedrooms, four large wards, two small wards, two lavatories, four ward bathrooms, clothes storage room, two sewing rooms, linen closet, dining room, administration room, scullery and storage room.

The second floor was divided into four principal large wards, seven small wards, library, suite of three rooms, students’ room, three lavatories, four bathrooms, six bedrooms for hospital staff, operating room, sterilizing room, surgeons’ room, bandage room, etherizing room, and recovery room.

The attic held five dormitories, six closets and bathrooms. In the basement were two mens’ rooms, four lavatories, two furnace rooms, store rooms, play rooms, coal room, laundry room, drying room, cold storage room and ice room.

The exterior was composed of yellow brick, terra cotta, Indiana limestone trim and a green slate roof. Overall, the building took on the form of a seaside cottage, complete with symmetrical gables and ample porches.

During WWI, the island was taken over for use as a U.S. Naval Training camp, with the hospital serving as the Administration Building. The camp was dismantled after the war. The hospital reopened briefly in about 1940 for polio patients but closed during WWII, and burned in 1946.

 

 

 

 

WWII Marine SBD Dive Bomber Pilot Color Photo Identified – Lt. Francis. A Watrous


I recently started researching my collection of 100+ images from a Marine SBD Dive Bomber unit and came across an awesome database that helped clear up a  lot of questions regarding identification of some of the pilots who posed for the camera.  Luckily, the men were wearing leather name tags which allowed for a partial identification.  Recently I discovered the Marine Corps Muster Role section of ancestry.com.  This allowed for a full identification of all the men that served with Lt. Walter Huff, the original owner of the collection.  With this in hand I was able to track down the names of a few pilots who served with Walter.

Lt. Francis Allen Watrous

I always knew that the last name of the man in the slide was Watrous, but had nothing else to work from.  Having discovered the muster role of the 332nd, I easily scrolled to the last section of the Lieutenants and found Mr. Francis A. Watrous listed.

Marine Muster Role – National Archives

From there I did a quick google search and found an obituary with a reference to Mr. Watrous.  The obituary was for his wife, who passed away in 2010, but referred to her first husband:

“……….. was predeceased by two husbands, Francis Allen Watrous, who was a U.S. Marine dive bomber pilot in World War II and was killed in a plane crash in 1947″

After a search through 1947 newspapers I was able to come up with an article explaining the sad death of Mr. Watrous.

Francis and his brother Arthur worked for Fleetwing Air Cargo Co. as deliverymen of baby chicks.  The brothers crashed on an overcast morning in July of 1947 while delivering 7,000 baby chicks from Wallingford, CT to Newmarket, VA.

And a recent addition to the post from the relative of Mr. Watrous (Thanks to Chris S.):

Francis Poses for the Camera

Francis Poses for the Camera

Fran and Lareine Pose in a Photobooth

Fran and Lareine Pose in a Photobooth

Francis and his Dive Bomber

Francis and his Dive Bomber

VMSB 332 on Midway

VMSB 332 on Midway

VSMB back 001

WWII Color Photo – USMC Marine SBD Bilot Walter A. Huff Poses in Hawaii – Vibrant Color


 

A member of VSMB-332, Walter A. Huff poses for the camera.  Luckily a roll of 35mm color Kodachrome was ready for shooting!

From a  continuation of a series of 60+ slids/color photos from this collection, this image captures the virginal quality of the Marine (USMC) aviator.  Prepped for war on the SBD/ Marine Douglas SBD Douglas Fighter/Bomber, the Dauntless was a key implement of many Pacific battles.

Looking towards an uncertain future, Walter  Huff grins and bares the inevitable future as a Marine dive bomber pilot!

WWII Nose Art – Hal Olsen, the Last Living WWII Nose Artist


I recently had the esteemed pleasure of acquiring five nose art photos of PB4Y-2 airplanes.  Using the power of the internet, I was able to look up four of the  planes, the Green Cherries, and the Lady Luck II.  With a bit of luck I tracked down the name of the original artist.  Hal Olsen painted over 100 nose art pin-up ladies on various planes in the PTO during his stint with the US Navy during WWII.  He charged $50 per painting and eventually used the money to enter formal art school and travel with his wife.  He is considered the last living nose art painter of WWII.    Having tracked him down, I wrote him a nice letter asking for his autograph and promising that I would send along some copies of my photos. He graciously signed all of my photos and added an inspiring letter with the group.  Thanks Hal!  You’re one for the story books.

Thanks Hal!

Lady Luck II
Green Cherries

Hal’s Autograph
"Gear Down and Locked Up" - an image shot by Lt. Theodore Rowcliffe, USNR before the plane was shot down in August of 1945Special thanks to Dave Rowcliffe for providing this image watermark free!

“Gear Down and Locked ” – an image shot by Lt. Theodore Rowcliffe, USNR before the plane was shot down in August of 1945
Special thanks to Dave Rowcliffe for providing this image watermark free!

WWII in Color – Color Kodachrome Slides – 1944 SBD Dauntless Marine Dive Bombers VMSB-332 w/ Aircraft


The color of WWII is something lost on our generation; WWII has been a war fought in black and white for everyone but actual WWII veterans who witnessed it firsthand.  One of my goals here at PortraitsofWar is to collect color slides from WWII and make them accessible to those who don’t know it exists.  Yes, color film was shot in 35mm(and sometimes larger format) and was used on a somewhat regular basis by shutterbug soldiers during WWII. My collection is roughly 500:1, black and white : color.    To find a complete collection of color slides is like hitting the WWII photography jackpot.  In this case, I was able to pick up a small selection of color slides from a Marine dive bomber.  Although I was only able to snag 7 from a grouping of nearly 200, I am still happy to pass along the images to interested parties.

 

 

From the collection of Walter Huff.

Please enjoy the colors of WWII as they were meant to be seen! 

WWII USMC Marine Corps SBD Dauntless VMSB-231 Pilot and Dive Bomber on Majuro, Marshall Islands


An eBay seller recently posted an anomalous grouping of negatives online.  The photos were reportedly from the collection of a US ETO fighter pilot, but were clearly taken in a tropical location.  My BS radar went off, and I placed a single bid on one of the “better” images.  After the negative arrived (2.5 by 3.5 in original glassine envelope), I was able to extract a bit more info; although the man posed in the photo is still a mystery.  His name appears to be Jud – and I’ve narrowed down the unit info to place him as a pilot with the VMSB-231 station on Majuro in the Marshall Islands in 1944.  I’ve contacted the seller to track down more shots from this historic grouping.

The VMSB-231 stands for Marine Scout Bombing Squadron # 231.  They were known as the “Ace of Spades” and can sometimes be seen sporting spade insignia on their planes.  The unit was responsible for dive bombing Japanese shipping and freight.  The SBD was a radial engined dive-bomber that was extensively used in the early portion of the US involvement in the PTO.  Here’s a good site regarding the SBD: http://science.howstuffworks.com/douglas-sbd-dauntless.htm

 

 

Some technical data on the SBD:

Douglas SBD Dauntless Specifications

Wingspan: 41 ft. 6-1/2 in.

Length: 33 ft. 1-1/2 in.

Height: 13 ft. 7 in.

Empty Weight: 6,500 lbs

Gross Weight: 10,700 lbs

Top Speed: 252 mph

Service Ceiling: 26,100 ft.

Range: 1,100 miles

Engine/Horsepower: One Wright R-1820/1200

Crew: 2

Armament: Two .50-inch Browning machine guns in the nose; two .50-inch Browning machine guns flexibly mounted in the rear cockpit; 1,600 lbs of bombs under fuselage; 650 lbs under the wing

Korean War Original Kodachrome Color Slide Photo – Below Deck on the USS Philippine Sea


We’ve all seen shots of aircraft carrier decks, festooned with waving lights, landing planes, crewmen and the excitement of an aircraft launch, but how often do we get to see below deck?  In this rare color slide we get a colorful glimpse into the underbelly of the beast, complete with oil drums, fork lift, and extra propellers.  This color slide is from a set of shots taken by a crew member on board the USS Philippine Sea during while the VF-114 “Executioners”, a Corsair unit, was flying missions over Korea in 1950/51.  For other shots from this set, make sure to search for VF-114 in the search menu.

WWII Original VF-17 “Jolly Rogers” F4U Corsair Pilot Photo Grouping


 

One of my favorite avenues of collecting has to be Marine or Navy photographs related to aviation.  The Corsair pilots of the Pacific were certainly some of the toughest pilots of the war!  I’ve read numerous articles, books, and publications related to the VF-17 and finally had the opportunity to purchase some original snapshots from the unit.  Although they were a bit expensive, they now have a solid place in my collection.  These were taken on Bougainville, likely at Torokina airfield.  Identified pilots include Lemuel D. Cooke, Doug Gutenkunst, Windy Hill, John Orrin Ellsworth (Fatso) and Robert R.  Hogan.

 

VF-17 Mechanics

 

VF-17 Unit Insignia

 

Inscription on Reverse

 

Doug Gutenkunst, Bob Hogan, and Lem Cooke

 

 

 

Windy Hill and Fatso

 

 

Windy Hill Bougainville

Windy Hill Bougainville (Source)

The above photo shows Corsair pilot Robert “Windy” Hill posing near the Bougainville scoreboard and was taken by U.S Navy photographer Charles Fenno Jacobs (1904-1975).  Jacobs was known for capturing the melancholy side of the war in the Pacific.  For more info on Jacobs and his wartime work, please check out the National Archives website. 

 

Korean War Corsair Fighter Pilot of the Navy VF-114 “Executioners” on Deck – Color Kodachrome 1950 USS Philippine Sea


Here’s a set of shots I recently picked off eBay.  They were taken on the deck of the USS Philippine Sea, and show Corsairs of the VF-114.  I particularly like the vibrant reds and yellows of the Kodachrome film.  What a treat!

A quick snippit from the wikipedia page for the unit:

“VF-114 was established as VBF-19 (Bombing/Fighter squadron) on January 20, 1945 at NAS Alameda, California. Soon thereafter, VBF-19 moved to NAS North Island, California, where it first flew the Grumman F6F Hellcat and then the Vought F4U-4 Corsair. As with many squadrons after World War II, VBF-19 made several designation changes. The first change was two years later, on 24 August 1948 when it became VF-192, and its final change was on 15 February 1950 when it became VF-114. At this time, VF-114 was known as the “Executioners”.

VF-114 participated in the Korean War deployed on the USS Philippine Sea (CV-47) on July 5, 1950. It flew its Corsairs for several months and conducted over 1,100 strikes against North Korean and Chinese forces. After its return from Korea, VF-114 moved from propeller aircraft to jets, first flying the Grumman F9F Panther. This was soon followed by the McDonnell F2H Banshee and in 1957 VF-114 transitioned to the McDonnell F3H Demon, the first jet operated by the squadron able to carry air-to-air missiles. Now based at NAS Miramar, California, VF-114 made two cruises with the Demon from USS Shangri-La (CVA-38) and one cruise with the Demon from USS Hancock (CVA-19). In 1961, VF-114 transitioned to the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, becoming the first deployable Pacific Fleet fighter squadron to do so. At this point, VF-114 also changed its name and insignia to an Aardvark, apparently inspired by the resemblance between the F-4 and the cartoon character Aardvark in the “B.C.” comic strip. This change became official in 1963.”

Original Never-Before-Seen WWII D-Day Landing Photos on Omaha Beach – LCT-535


Preparing the 535

Half the fun of winning a new group of WWII photos on eBay lies in the research and presentation of the material.  After recently having placed the winning bid on a set of 50

or so WWII photos of what appeared to be some sort of beach landing, I quickly realized that I had something more important in my possession.

After asking the gracious seller a little bit of info about the provenience of the lot, I soon found out that the photos came from the estate of a deceased WWII veteran from Santa Rosa, CA.  Al Pellegrini was the skipper of the LCT-535 during the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach, and either snapped, or was given these photos as a memento of his time aboard the 535.

According to a 1994 article by Gaye LeBaron of the Press Democrat,

“Ensign Albert J. Pellegrini of Santa Rosa, California, came early to the invasion of Normandy.  He landed his LCT 535 about 10 minutes ahead of H-Hour on the sands of Omaha Beach, earning the distinction of being the skipper of the first American vessel to land on the French coast on June 6th, 1944.”

Wow!  What did I stumble across with this innocuous looking eBay listing?  I hope to present these photos to show the world the faces of the first men to land on Omaha Beach on that fateful day nearly 70 years ago.

3rd Trip on June 6th - Dropping off Field Hospital

Many more photos to come!