WWI Photo – Wounded 32nd Division Captain Poses in Paris Studio on Christmas 1918

Wounded soldier photos are some of the hardest photos to find in the collecting field.  Often times a collector will come across a photo of a veteran wearing a wound chevron, or occasionally a shot of a soldier with a cane.  In this case, I was able to pick up a grouping of photos taken at a Paris photo studio showing an assortment of wounded vets who recently were treated at a local Paris hospital.  They hobbled over to a studio on Christmas day of 1918 to have their photos taken.  These shots were some of the most expensive I’ve ever purchased, but they were well worth the investment.  This is the more subdued of the four photos, but took me a long time to research and I wanted to post it for the internet community.

Albert E. Haan poses on Christmas Day 1918

Albert E. Haan poses on Christmas Day 1918

I was tipped off by a Dutch friend of mine (thanks Rogier!) that his photo may be of a Dutch-American given his last name of Haan.  Starting with the basic ancestry.com search of a name and hometown I was able to find a few bits of info.  His name was Albert Haan and was born in 1893.  I had to search a bit to find the census records for him, as they were listed under a misinterpreted/transcribed name of Hoan.  Anyway it appears that Albert became an Army informant for the Veterans Association after the war.  He is listed in a 1922 court case where he (and another veteran from my photo grouping) is listed as an informant.  Anway, he is listed as being employed by the US Army in the 1920 Census and is shown as having a wife named Frances L and a daughter named Frances L.  His daughter was only 2 months old at the time of the census.  His wife appear to have been born around the turn of the century.  He is listed as having been born in Holland in his earlier census entry, but mysteriously switched his place of birth to Michigan in the 1910 and 1920 census.  He must’ve been able to hide his accent!

His Veterans Affairs death file lists the following:

Name: Albert Haan
Gender: Male
Birth Date: 12 Mar 1893
Death Date: 30 Nov 1986
SSN: 234014340
Enlistment Date 1: 13 May 1910
Release Date 1: 12 Mar 1914
Enlistment Date 2: 15 Jul 1917
Release Date 2: 24 May 1920

Sounds like he served early in 1910 and was released in 1914.  He likely served with the Michigan National Guard at this point.  He re-enlisted in 1917 and served until may of 1920 with the Army.

He had one daughter named Frances who was born in Washington D.C. in 1920.  Albert was shipped back to the States in 1919 and was busy rehabilitating at Walter Reed Hospital between 1919 and 1920.  Sounds like he had at least one “special visit”.  He also had a son named Carl in 1922 while living in Washington D.C.

At some point the family moved from Washington D.C. to West Virgina where they apparently spent the rest of their lives.  The daughter, Frances Louise Haan appears in the 1939 and  1940 University of West Virginia yearbooks and can be seen below. Quite the stunner for 1940!

1940 UWV Morgantown

1940 UWV Morgantown

Frances Haan 1939

Frances Haan 1939

Frances Haan

Frances Haan 1940


I wonder if Frances is still alive?  I can’t find any info on her past 1941.  Ancestry.com has no information regarding her marriage or future life. She may still be alive and may be able to shed some light onto her father’s war service.  I hope a family member finds this post!

Carl J Haan is harder to track down.  I do know he enlisted for the US Army in July of 1942.  He was surprisingly listed as an actor as a profession!  This is the first time I’ve seen this!

Name: Carl J Haan
Birth Year: 1922
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Dist of Columbia
State of Residence: West Virginia
County or City: Kanawha
Enlistment Date: 1 Jul 1942
Enlistment State: Kentucky
Enlistment City: Fort Thomas Newport
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Army of the United States – includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of
Source: Civil Life
Education: 2 years of college
Civil Occupation: Actors and actresses
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Height: 70
Weight: 168


Amazingly he served in the US Army Air Force in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam!  Quite the lineage!  This family continues to surprise me.  Sadly he passed away on March 22nd, 2000 and is buried in Cameron Memory Gardens in Cameron, MO.  His wife Eleanor passed away in 2002.

Name: Carl J. Haan
SSN: 232-24-6283
Last Residence: 64469  Maysville, Dekalb, Missouri, United States of America
Born: 4 Apr 1922
Died: 22 Mar 2000
State (Year) SSN issued: North Carolina or West Virginia (Before 1951)


WWII Pacific Theater of War in Color: Curtiss SC Seahawk Scout seaplane in Vibrant Color! 1944


The Curtis SC Seahawk was a scout aircraft designed by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company for use in the Pacific Theater of Operations in 1944.  Only 577 were built and these planes are rarely seen in color, especially while stationed overseas.  Some experts argue that this was the best US float plane used during WWII.


This photo was snapped by a Navy fighter pilot in 1945 on Guam.  The original color slide is now in my collection. A rare addition!




Here are some internet facts I found about the SC-1:http://www.usslittlerock.org/Armament/SC-1_Aircraft.html

The Aircraft
The Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk was designed to meet the need for a reconnaissance seaplane that could be launched from US Navy battleships and cruisers. Designed as a single-seat aircraft the SC-1 could theoretically hold its’ own against enemy fighters.

The SC-1 was the last of the scout observation types and was the most highly developed with vastly improved performance over earlier types. Power, range and armament had doubled its usefulness. It was highly maneuverable, had two forward firing .50 cal. guns, large flaps and automatic leading edge slats for improved slow speed characteristics, and radar carried on the underside of the starboard wing proved highly successful during search missions. Space needed aboard ship was minimized by folding the wings back manually, making the overall width equal to the span of the horizontal tail surfaces.

Built in Columbus, Ohio, the SC-1 was initially fitted out with a fixed wheel undercarriage, then was ferried to Naval bases, where floats were attached.

The SC-1 was liked by some pilots and disliked by others, but generally well accepted. It could out climb an F6F “Hellcat” to 6,000 ft. and out-turn the F8F “Bearcat”.

Losses with the “Seahawk” were high, caused mostly by the extremely hazardous conditions in which they operated. With too hard a water landing the engine would drop, the propeller cutting through the float. Several mishaps occurred due to a faulty auto-pilot system. Aircraft and pilots were lost due to unknown landing accidents. It wasn’t until one pilot “walked away”, that it was discovered that the auto-pilot was taking over on landings. As a result, all automatic pilot systems were made inoperative on all SC’s. (For more information see U.S.S. Little Rock “Collision at Sea and other Underway Hazardspage.)

During the height of their career, crews aboard ship looked with pleasure at the “Seahawks” aft on the catapults as their “Quarterdeck Messerschmitts”.

The SC-1 first flew in February 1944 and 950 were ordered, later decreased to 566 because of the Victory in the Pacific. It continued in service for a number of years after the war as trainers, eventually being replaced by helicopters.

Curtiss SC-1 Profile Drawing

(Click drawing for a larger view)

Sidney Kotler: A WWII Artist in the China Burma India Theater – Ilustrator of the Stilwell Road Booklet

WWII Booklets are one of my favorite avenues of military ephemera collecting.  The small print runs, unique artwork, and theater-made feel make them a fun and easy collectible.  I picked up a copy of Stilwell Road: Story of the Ledo Lifeline this past week on eBay and was excited to leaf through the pages looking for possible research/blogpost material.  Immediately impressed by the artwork and layout, I decided to do a little sleuthing into the identity of the artist. Luckily, his name was printed in the back of the booklet.  Corporal Sidney Kotler obviously had an eye for illustration and technical art.  In my typical fashion, I plowed ahead with some research!

After searching around google and ancestry.com I was able to find that Mr. Kotler passed away in 1999.  This is sadly becoming the norm when researching viable identified WWII material.  Luckily, I was able to track down the daughter of Mr. Kotler and uncover a wealth of material about his life and war service.

The following is from Mr. Kotlers daughter:

Sidney Kotler was born in Berdichev, Ukraine in the winter of 1912 into dire poverty.  His brother Shlomo died of dysentery in bed next to him at the age of ten.  His uncle was abducted by the Czar’s army.  His family decided to take no chances in the politically embroiled Ukraine.  Every time a militia came into town, his mother  would hide the children under the floorboards of her house.  One of Sidney’s brothers, Dave, told the story about a Cossack who found the boys hiding.  He told them to keep quiet and put the floor boards back in place.  They were saved!
After several attempts, Sidney, his mother and 3 brother made it across the Polish border and managed to slip into England and eventually “over the pond” to the USA.  In 1927 the family came to St. Louis Missouri where his father Isaac had preceded them.  “Sid” attended art school at Washington University in the early 1930s and did some apprenticing on the side to help bolster his portfolio.  He found a job after his WU classes as a commercial artist working with the St. Louis Dispatch and Globe Democrat Newspapers, where he worked on advertising for newspapers, magazines, and other illustrative ventures.  After the war, he worked with the Ford Motor Company art department in the Dearborn, Michigan headquarters.

WWII, Sidney Kotler in the middle with a moustache

Sid was proud of his army service. It made him feel like the true American that he fought hard to become.  By pulling himself up from the bootstraps, he was able to attain the American Dream.   His service in the China/Burma/India theater was not easy; he was on the first convoy over the Burma Road with the 18th Battalion.  The construction of the road was an arduous job, and Sid played his part without an utterance of frustration.  Besides his field duty, he was the unit artist, sketching hundreds of illustrations for the unit publications as well as the Stars and Stripes CBI newsletter.  He kept in touch with his army buddies most of his life.   Sid’s children fondly remember visiting one family in particular:  the Buchanans.

WWII, Sidney Kotler and buddy

In 1946 Sid married Elsie Fleishman.  The had four children two girls and two boys.  In 1952 the moved to Detroit where Sid began working as a graphic artist for Ford Motor Company.  He inspired me to study painting. After his retirement from Ford he continued painting.  His incredible artwork festoons his family’s homes;  magnificent landscapes and portraits dot the walls of his daughter Shira’s walls.   Sidney’s descendants include 9 bright and beautiful grandchildren.  Sid lived his life like a true patriot; he served his country, raised a stellar family, and left a legacy that will live for generations to come.
A special thanks goes out to Shira Chai and Mark Kotler for sharing the preceding passages as well as all the wonderful photos and illustrations.  Your father was a wonderful artist, and helped play an important part in American history!

WWII, Sidney Kotler and art work

WWII, Sidney Kotler, Easter Card

WWII, Sidney Kotler, Christmas card

WWII, Sidney Kotler, pin up girl

First Convoy on the Ledo Road

First Convoy Illustration

WWII Marine Nightfighter Unit – VMA-542 – Identified Photo! – Henry H. Thellman of Beaver Falls, PA

A recent eBay purchase turned out to be from an obscure Marine Nightfighter (airplanes) unit stationed in the PTO during the tail end of WWII.  Included in the album are many shots of planes, tropical scenes, buildings, trucks and veteran “buddies”.  I always try to do research on name in the hopes of tracking down a living veteran.  I’ve succeeded on a number of occasions, but the search usually ends unfulfilled.  In this case, I was able to successfully track down the veteran.  Sadly, he passed way a few months back, but I’m hoping to contact one of the living relatives.

Here’s a copy of the obituary which I found on a public website:


Posted: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 4:00 am

Henry H. ‘Heinie’ Thellman, 85, of Tampa, Florida, peacefully passed away on Thursday, January 26, 2012 in the University Hospital of Tampa. Born February 21, 1926 in West Mayfield, he was the son of Daniel and Regina (Untch) Thellman.

He served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. He had been employed by the Kohlmann Bottling Co. and Babcock & Wilcox Co. He was a member of the Beaver Falls Owls Club where he was steward for many years.

Preceding him in death were his parents; his beloved wife, Pauline (Frier) Thellman; a daughter, Tammy; his son, Mark, and three brothers, Steve, Daniel and Richard.

He will be dearly missed by a daughter, Paula (Jeff) Jones, and three grandchildren, Megan Jones, Lauren and Alex Thellman, all of Tampa, Florida. Also surviving are his sister, Regina (Jennie) Karczewski, Chippewa Twp.; a brother, Michael Thellman, West Mayfield; sisters-in-law, Loretta Thellman, West Mayfield, and Margaret Thellman of East Palestine, OH; a brother-in-law, Walter (Dutch) Frier and his wife Betty, and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial will be held at a later date.

Without a doubt the same veteran.  Maybe the family would like to see photos from the album?

Henry H. Thellman of Beaver Falls, PA

Further research shows that Henry was one of four brothers who all served in the Marines during WWII. What a family!


WWII PTO Color Kodachrome Slide – Tire Transport Truck on Guam in Vivid Color

I was able to pick up an additional 40+ color slides taken on Guam, Tinian, and Siapan during WWII.  Pacific Theater color shots are hard to come by due to the high temperatures and scarcity of color film in the far reaching islands of the Pacific.  By my estimation, PTO color slides are outnumbered 2:1 by ETO shots.

Here’s a stunning example of a heavy truck carrying wheels and tires.  Enjoy!

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! 

Post-WWII Photo Negative – 82nd Division Paratroopers in Downtown Fayetteville, NC

A series of post-WWII negatives from the 82nd Airborne Division is keeping me busy at the V700 Scanner!  Nearly 200 superb images of life in and around Fort Bragg in the years between 1943 and 1948 keep me clicking the SCAN button.  These photos were taken in a downtown Fayetteville diner in 1947.  Love the stereotypical activity in the background. Check out the prices on the sandwiches – Twenty cents?   WHAT?  Also, apparently everyone drank coffee upside down in the 1940s……………….

WWII German Snapshot Photo – RAF Gravestones in Germany 1939 – 1st Australian Soldier Killed in Action

Today’s post comes from a loyal PortraitsofWar follower from the Netherlands.  He recently stumbled across a single snapshot at a Dutch flea market and did some savvy investigative work to tease out the historical significance.  Thanks Werner!

Wartime German Snapshot of the Graves

Begraafplaats Engelse Vliegeniers

By: Werner Peters

Here we have a photo taken by a German soldier depicting the graves of three Allied airmen who lost their lives in the skies over Germany.  These soldiers were likely recovered from their crashed plane and buried with full military honors by their German adversaries.  A Nazi laurel wreath can be seen in the left corner of the photo.

At the time, two of the airmen could be positively identified by the Germans; one body was unidentifiable.  One the left side of the burial plot lies Mr.Hammond whose RAF identification number was 562535RAF.  On the right side of the grave lies J. MCI. Cameron, Offr res 24225RAF.  The middle marker merely says , Engl. Flieger(English Airman).  On all three grave posts is written “Hier ruht ein Engl. Flieger – im luftkampf gefallen 28.9.1939 Vorden” – which translates as “here rests an English airman who died in aerial combat on 28.9.1939 Vorden(?)”.

With a little research it turns out that this crew belonged to the 110th RAF squadron.  They were flying a Bristol Blenheim type IV, number N6212 which crashed on September 28th, 1939 during a recon mission over Munster in the neighborhood of Kiel, Germany.  They were shot down by a German pilot named Klaus Faber, a feldwebel of the Ersten Abiteilung.  Jagdgeschwader Eins (1st Section of the 1st Fighter Group).

It turns out that the man buried on the right is wing commander Ivan McLoed Cameron, an Australian who, in fact, is the first Australian to die in action during WWII. The man to the left is Thomas Cecil Hammond, an Irishman.  The last grave belongs to Thomas Fullerton.

For more information regarding the crash, please check out the following website: http://ww2chat.com/biographies/5839-raf-australians-wing-commander-ivan-mcleod-cameron.html

After researching the photograph, Werner visited the current grave site in Kleve, Germany where the three men were reburied after the war.  He snapped some great photos and generously allowed for them to be posted here at PortraitsofWar.

Thanks Werner!

Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Gates

The Three Graves

Cameron's Headstone