Harry C. Kolacinski of Milwaukee, WI: WWII Identified Studio Portrait


eBay has been a consistent source of fantastic portraiture for PortraitsofWar for over five years.  The material that pops up on the web is easy to acquire and makes for a fun and interesting research project.  In this case, I was able to track down an identified photo of a US airman wearing a brim-up cap and sporting a light beard.   The photo is identified on the reverse as a Harry Kolacinski.

Harry Kolacinski in WWII

Harry Kolacinski in WWII

 

Harry was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI.   His major biographical information can be found below:

 

Army Record

Army Record

 

Harry’s 1936 Yearbook

HighSchoolYearBook

Harry in 1936

Harry in 1936

harry1936

Harry passed away in 1986

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WWII Photo – Lancaster, PA WWII Veteran Portrait Photos on Display, 1944


Straight from the dusty PortraitsofWar archives comes an incredibly unique 8×10 photo of a window display in Lancaster, Pennsylvania during World War Two.   I typically shy away from purchasing and posting “press photos” taken during the war, but this shot has so much potential research  that I felt it deserved to be digitized.

Lancaster, PA WWII Portrait Photo Display

Lancaster, PA WWII Portrait Photo Display

 

I purchased this photo while visiting a friend in the Philadelphia area.  The reverse side of the photo identifies the photo as the F.W. Woolworth building in Lancaster, PA.  The store identity is confirmed in the image; the tiled entrance and gilded placard identify the establishment as such.  The date of the photo wasn’t noted, but the presence of the 4th Liberty Loan Bond dates the image to 1944.

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4th War Loan Drive Poster, ca. 1944

My guess is that the store asked for portrait photos of local veterans to post in the storefront.  A rough estimate puts the number at 100 portraits visible in the window.  The shots runt he gamut of WWII service branches, including the Marine leathernecks, Army Air Force pilots, female WAC and Waves, Navy Sailors as well as regular Army soldiers.

 

4th Loan Poster

4th Loan Poster

I plan on contacting a number of Lancaster, PA historical societies, veteran groups and newspapers in hopes of identifying a few of the veterans posed in the Woolworth’s window.

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Moving WWII Candid Snapshot – The FFI Free French and Captured Female German Collaborators


This incredibly moving snapshot from my WWII collection captures a wide range of emotions.  The only identification I have for the photo is that it was taken in a town/village/city named Poules during the tail end of the war. A US GI followed a joyous parade of French citizens and Free French (FFI) underground soldiers as they proudly walk down the streets of their newly liberated city. It’s a photo that speaks volumes.

German Collaborator Parade

German Collaborator Parade

After nearly four years of German occupation, a contingent of the French population were eager to fight back against the oppressive rule of their German visitors. In this post’s main photo we see a young, attractive female underground soldier causally smoking a cigarette, toting German “potato masher” stick grenades while holding a captured German rifle and briefcase.  To her left we see a group of young French women who have been publicly shamed.  Their shaved heads were shaped to show a swastika.  A joyous moment for the FFI, yet a horrible moment for the women who were caught up in the frenzy of the German occupation.  This photo has never been digitized for display on the web. You’re the first to see it!

Collaborator Parade

Collaborator Parade

FFI Female Underground Soldier

FFI Female Underground Fighter

US Signal Corps Footage of Collaborator Hair Cuts

Similar Photos From the Web

Another hero of the French Resistance during World War II and decorated for saving the lives of U.S. soldiers shot down behind enemy lines was Micheline Blum-Picard. Only eighteen-years-old when she first became involved in the Resistance, Blum-Picard started by carrying messages taped to her back and then progressed to photographing inside factories damaged by bombing raids By D-Day, however, she was carrying a rifle, a pistol, and a hand grenade wherever she went.

Another hero of the French Resistance during World War II and decorated for saving the lives of U.S. soldiers shot down behind enemy lines was Micheline Blum-Picard. Only eighteen-years-old when she first became involved in the Resistance, Blum-Picard started by carrying messages taped to her back and then progressed to photographing inside factories damaged by bombing raids By D-Day, however, she was carrying a rifle, a pistol, and a hand grenade wherever she went. inyourfacewomen.blogspot.com

Female French Resistance

Female French Resistance

World War II resistant woman fighter - Paris,1940s photograph the New York Public Library Picture Collection

World War II resistant woman fighter – Paris,1940s photograph the New York Public Library Picture Collection

Member of the French resistance with German tunic and thompson machine gun by Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse, via Flickr

Member of the French resistance with German tunic and thompson machine gun by Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse, via Flickr

A French woman has her head shaved by civilians as a penalty for having consorted with German troops, 1944 2

A French woman has her head shaved by civilians as a penalty for having consorted with German troops, 1944 4

A French woman has her head shaved by civilians as a penalty for having consorted with German troops, 1944 5

A French woman has her head shaved by civilians as a penalty for having consorted with German troops, 1944 6

A French woman has her head shaved by civilians as a penalty for having consorted with German troops, 1944

My 200,000th Viewer Post! – Remembering My Grandfather, Ambrose R. Canty, 777th Tank Battalion, 69th Division


Today I quietly celebrated my 200,000th blog view from my desk at work.  I knew the number was coming, and with nearly 300 views a day I was able to predict that the 200k plateau would be reached this week.  What should I write about on this momentous day?  I thought back to all my favorite posts…….

Ambrose R. Canty ca. 1944

Ambrose R. Canty ca. 1944

 

 

With all those topics in mind I kept coming back to the one man who “brought me into the fold” of researching WWII history.  My grandfather.  Ambrose R. Canty taught me from a young age that you should respect your elders, listen to their stories, as well as how to play poker, pitch, bridge, rummy and pocketknife baseball.   He also told me stories of his experiences during the second world war.  Stories that would be gradually elaborated on as I grew older.  Having spent the majority of my youth with him, I was able to learn a lot about the 69th Infantry Regiment and specifically the 777th Tank Battalion.

Ambrose on Furlough, 1944

Ambrose on Furlough, 1944

My interest in WWII history started with my grandfather, and I feel that on my 200,000th view that I should post a rememberance post to him.  Although he passed away nearly five years ago, I still feel a connection with him.  My early interaction with him live on through this website, and I hope I’m able to help pass on the passion Amby imbued in me at a young age.

Amby (second from right) Holds a Captured German Flag in Leipzig

Amby (second from right) Holds a Captured German Flag in Leipzig

Grampy, thanks for everything.

 

Ambrose Washing in His Helmet, Germany 1945

Ambrose Washing his Mess Kit, Germany 1945

777th Reproduction WWII Patch

777th Reproduction WWII Patch

 

And his 2009 Obituary:

telegram.com

Ambrose “Amby” Richard Canty

Published Tuesday September 1, 2009 at 12:01 am

Ambrose �Amby� Richard Canty of 26 Roosevelt Dr. in Southbridge, died Sunday, August 30th, 2009, at home in the company of his family.

He leaves his wife of 55 years, Mary J. (Damian) Canty; 7 children: Ambrose �Amby� R. Canty Jr. and his wife Sandra of Davenport, IA, Anne P. Canty of Port Orange, FL, Jane E. Gauthier and her husband Richard of Southbridge, Joan R. Murphy and her husband Donald of Worcester, MaryLynne Deshaies and her husband Gerald of Sturbridge, John D. Canty and his wife Kimberly of Webster, and Kathryn M. Canty of Redondo Beach, CA; 12 grandchildren: Adam, Matthew, David, and Tom Canty of Davenport IA, Christhanha Canty of Port Orange FL, Brennan and Connor Gauthier of Southbridge, Maria and Anna Murphy of Worcester, Cailyn, Ryan and Kelsey Canty of Webster, MA; and many nieces, nephews and great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his 6 brothers and 7 sisters.

He was born in Webster, one of fourteen children of Patrick and Anne (McCauley) Canty. He lived in Webster and Southbridge all his life. He graduated from Saint Louis High School in Webster, was a graduate of Holy Cross College in Worcester, and received a Masters Degree in Social Work Administration from Boston College. He was an accomplished athlete lettering in 3 varsity sports at St. Louis High School: Basketball, Baseball and Track. He also played semi-pro football for the Webster Colonials, and refereed and coached basketball teams at various levels for many years, including a championship basketball team with 5 of his daughters and several nieces.

He proudly served in World War II as a member of the United States Army�s 69th Infantry Division from 1944 to 1946. The division rescued a sub-camp of the Buchenwald concentration camp in Leipzig, Germany and is recognized as a �Liberating Unit� by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. He was a member of the Webster-Dudley American Legion Post # 184.

Ambrose served as the Webster Public Welfare Director for 16 years and the Massachusetts Director of Public Welfare in Worcester for 20 years before retiring. He was a member of St. Mary�s Parish in Southbridge and a member of the Webster-Dudley Knights of Columbus. He also served on the Massachusetts Mental Retardation Board, and as a member of the Tri-Area Fresh Air Program.

The funeral, with full military honors, will be held on Friday, September 4th with a Mass at 12:00 PM at St. Mary�s Church, 263 Hamilton St., Southbridge. The burial will be at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Southbridge. The Webster-Dudley Veterans Council will perform military honors. There will be no calling hours. Following the burial, the family will receive friends and relatives at the �12 Crane St.� banquet facility in Southbridge. Funeral arrangements are under the direction of Daniel T. Morrill Funeral Home in Southbridge.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the St. Mary�s Parish Ministry Center Completion Campaign, 263 Hamilton St. Southbridge, MA 01550.

morrillfuneralhome.com

http://www.telegram.com/article/20090901/OBIT/909010312

WWII Identified Portrait Photo – Roxbury, MA and Rockland, TX Veteran Ernest Chekoulias 295th Engineer Battalion


 

Ernest "Chick" Chekoulias

Ernest “Chick” Chekoulias

A recent eBay purchase has landed me with a fantastic group of WWII portrait photos all identified to members of Company A of the 295th Engineer Battalion, a unit that landed on the Normandy beaches only two weeks after the infamous June 6th, 1944 D-Day landings.  Here’s an excerpt from the unit history that described that fateful day:

The Big Moment did come at last; actually there were lots of big moments.  The battalion was divided up into three serials, and each serial was on two or more boats.  The first wave started from Hindon a little after midnight on 13 June.  There was battalion headquarters, parts of each line company, and the medical detachment. They all reached the marshaling area in Winchester at 0830 that morning.  Before dawn two days later, half of them were awakened a few hours later and they too reached another set of docks at that port.  They all sweated out a day and a night, sleeping on the quayside, before they got on the boats.  The first half, after burstmoving into the Channel, had to return to port because their ship’s anti-mine apparatus was not working.  The second half joined their convoy, stayed the night off the Isle of Wight, and then started off for France.  They saw the coast at about noon on 18 June.  They surveyed the coast defenses, and the wreckage, and the boats sunk near the shore.  It all looked very grim.  That night the skyline glowed with glare  of fires and bursting shells, and they were still on the boats in the Channel………”

 

 

The photo I’ve selected for this post was initially partially identified as an Ernest Chek…… of 9 Mt. Pleasant Ave, Roxbury, Massachusetts.  I eventually tracked down a unit roster for the 295th Engineers that lists a Sgt. Ernest Chekoulias, serial number 31301800 from Roxbury, MA.  It’s clearly a hit and a cross reference with his obituary confirms that this is indeed the same soldier.  Sgt. Chekoulias is listed in the unit history as having been awarded the Bronze Star for Heroic Achievement.  His obituary page confirms this.

 

Unit History Bronze Star Info

Unit History Bronze Star Info

 

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Ernest Chekoulias was born in Boston, MA on  January 21st, 1923 and passed away in Rockland, TX on December 17th, 2008 at the age of 85.   His obituary reads:

Amphib084 copy

Mr. Ernest Chekoulias 85, of Rockland, died Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in his home, after an illness of several months. He was born in Boston on January 21, 1923, the son of the late Theodore and Pauline Zerolis Chekoulias. He was raised and educated in Boston Schools, and has lived in Rockland for 55 years. He was the Founder and President of Star Litho, Inc. in Weymouth. Mr. Chekoulias served in the Army during WWII, and saw service in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star. Husband of the late Dorothy T. McEnrue Chekoulias, he is survived by 1 son, E. Scott Chekoulias of Hanover, 4 daughters, Judith Chekoulias of Rockland, Jane S. Leonard of Hubbardston, Cynthia M. Chekoulias of Pembroke and Anita L. Drapeau of Kingston, 5 grandchildren, Daniel Leonard, David Leonard, Alissa Leonard, Kathryn Drapeau and Michael Drapeau, 2 sisters, Vera Marziarz of Southington, CT and Katherine Atherton of Bernardston, and sister-in-law, Mary M. Manley of Rockland. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 9 AM in Holy Family Church, 403 Union Street, in Rockland. Interment will be in Holy Family Cemetery in Rockland. Visiting hours in the Sullivan Funeral Home, 45 East Water Street in ROCKLAND on Monday from 4-7 PM.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the late Ernest “Chick” Chekoulis for his service with the 295th Engineers during WWII.  This post is for you!

 

 

WWII War Orphans Pose in Germany – Barefooted German Children in Crisp B/W


Digging through backlogged collections is fun.  I always seen to unearth a photo, negative or slide that eluded my initial passover.  In this case, I found a poignant negative from 1945-1947 showing two barefoot children who survived the war somewhere near Munich.  The photographer (unknown) had quite the eye for detail as evidenced in his 400+ negatives in my collection.

 

Bare Feet on Cobble

Bare Feet on Cobble

WWII Photography in the PTO: The 8th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron


I’ve always noticed the vast difference in quality between the typical ETO snapshot and it’s Pacific counterpart.  The European snapshots typically are printed on better paper and of much higher quality.  In this case, I was able able to purchase a pair of Pacific theater photos taken by an artist with the 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron.  The first photograph shows a US Jeep painted up with a cartoonesque rendition of the squadron name complete with shadow effects and 8 ball logo.   The same artist also designed the unit insignia seen below.

Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0892010975

Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0892010975

8th Photo Recon Squadron Jeep

8th Photo Recon Squadron Jeep

And I was also fortunate to win an Easter card designed by the same artist.  The card is folded in four sections and was made from a single cut sheet of photo paper printed with a special design created specifically for the 1945 Easter season.  A unique piece!  I wasn’t able to win anything else from the auction – many of the sales were in the triple digits and well out of my comfort zone for an obscure topic.

1945 Easter Card

1945 Easter Card

I hope to pick up a copy of a fantastic tome put out a few years back to help my future research in the unit.  http://www.adastron.com/lockheed/lightning/8prs.htm

Also

For those interested in some great footage of the 8th Photo Recon Squadron, please check out the links below:

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675059603_A-2-intelligence-officer_Rabaul-prints_looking-through-lens_5th-Bomber-Command

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675059599_8th-Photographic-Reconnaissance-Squadron_drying-prints_washing-prints_Rabaul-negative

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675077240_8th-Photographic-Reconnaissance-Squadron_Rabaul-prints_prints-are-dried_sorting-prints

http://www.criticalpast.com/video/65675077238_8th-Photographic-Reconnaissance-Squadron_Operations-Officer_Engineering-Officer_status-board

WWII Identified Photo – Lt. Peter Figler of the 45th Division in Northern France, 1944


Lt. Peter Figler

Lt. Peter Figler

eBay listings can be a treasure chest of great genealogical and WWII material.  My favorite photos are ones that can be linked to a direct individual in a combat unit serving overseas in WWII.  In this case, I was able to purchase a signal corps shot taken by the well-known combat photographer Irving Katz.  His last name is mentioned on the reverse side of the image.  Luckily, I’m familiar with Katz’s work from my familiarity with the Smithsonian article about the famous discovery of the Rothschild furniture in a German warehouse.  More on that in a later post.  Also, I’m friendly with a 196th Signal Corps photographer who lives locally. The 163rd and 196th served together in similar capacities in Italy and Southern France.

(August 25th, 2017 UPDATE)

I was just informed that this photo was taken by a different Katz that served in the same unit. Irving didn’t make it to the continent until January, 1945. Thanks to Barry S. for clearing this up!

 

45th Division Insignia

45th Division Insignia

Back to the identification portion of the blog post.  Lt. Peter Figler posed for his snapshot while holding a French fire helmet next to a fire engine in the Northeastern French town of Brouvelieures.  Figler was a Lieutenant with B Battery of the 160th Field Artillery of the 45th Division when they participated in the Vosges Mountain Campaign.  The photo is dated October 23rd, 1944 which places it in the early portion of the campaign.

The reverse caption identifies Lt. Figler as being from the Pennsylvania town of Larksville.  With a name and town I was able to easily identify him and track down some basic info on him from ancestry.com.  He was born on September 28th, 1919 and enlisted on June 16th, 1941, well before Pearl Harbor. That would likely account for his status as a Lieutenant in 1944.  Sadly, he passed away in 2006.  I’ve attached his obituary at the bottom of the post in hopes of connecting with his family.  I love to reconnect family members with images of their relatives and provide unwatermarked photos for them.

1940 Census Record

1940 Census Record

French Brass Fire Helmet

French Brass Fire Helmet

WWII249

2006 Obituary

PETER FIGLER Peter Figler, 86, of Colonial Park, Harrisburg, formerly of Larksville, passed away Monday, June 26, 2006 at Community General Osteopathic Hospital in Harrisburg. He was preceded in death by his wife of 55 years, Eleanor (Sheridan) Figler, Jan. 11, 2002. Born Sept. 28, 1919, he was a son of the late Peter and Eva (Yasenchak) Figler. He graduated from Larksville High School. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he served his country in World War II. The Army took him to numerous countries including Germany, Italy, France, Africa and Austria. He received the Bronze Star Medal for Heroic Achievement in Action, in France, in September, 1944. He worked for the United States Postal Service, retiring after more than 30 years. His family says he will be remembered for his strong family values. Mr. Figler was an active, founding member of St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church in Colonial Park, Harrisburg and the former president of the Holy Name Society. During the early part of his retirement, he enjoyed traveling with his wife to Florida, Canada and Cape May, NJ. He was a former member of the ABC North Senior Bowling League. Surviving are his two daughters, Margaret Wolfe and her husband, Robert, of Lansdale and Elaine Witmer and her husband, Jonathan, of Harrisburg; four grandchildren, Pamela, Michael and his wife, Kim, Robert and his wife, Janelle, and Karen and her husband, Pietro; six great-grandchildren, Devon, Camron, Brandon, Elizabeth, Adriana and Arden; a sister, Helen Zalora of Wilkes-Barre; a brother, Paul Figler of Shavertown; and numerous nephews and nieces. Friends will be received from 6 to 8 PM, Sunday, July 2 at Neill Funeral Home, 3501 Derry St., Harrisburg. Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at 11:30 AM, Monday, July 3 at St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church, 5408 Locust Lane, Harrisburg, PA 17109, officiated by Father Michael Shear. Burial with military honors will be at Resurrection Cemetery, Harrisburg. Memorials in Peters memory may be made to St. Anns Byzantine Catholic Church, at the above address.

WWII Photo Grouping – Men of the 31st Signal Company, 31st “Dixie” Division Portrait Photos


One of my favorite neighbors growing up was a member of the 31st Dixie Division and always took time to tell me about his experiences during the war.  As I grew older, he told me some of the more intense stories of his time on Mindanao and of his being wounded while attacking a Japanese airport.  Those memories have always stuck with me, and with those memories come an attachment to photographs from the 31st Division.  It’s one of the hardest divisions to find on eBay and I was especially excited to find this set of 8 images listed as “(8) Vintage WWII photos / Happy American GI Soldiers with Names – Old Snapshots”.

My WWII patch radar went off when I recognized a portion of a 31st Division patch in one of the shots.  I did quick searches on each of the soldiers and found a website for Mr. Fred B. Kearney of Kokomo, Indiana.  The name matched with the town on the reverse of the photo and the writeup mentioned his service with the 31st Signal Company of the 31st Division during WWII.  Bingo, my hunch was correct that this group was a portrait collection of soldiers of the Dixie Division.

 

Company members identified in the images include:

 

Fred Kearney of Kokomo, Indiana

Fred Kearney in 1944

Fred Kearney in 1944

31st077

 

Jack Parsons of 905 Kramer Ave, Lawrenceburg, TN31st074 31st075

 

Joseph Kalmiski (sp) of 26 Willow Street, Plymouth, PA31st078 31st079

Edwin Wilson of Oakwood, MO31st080 31st081

“Shaw” of 220 N. Lewis Street, Staunton, VA31st082 31st083

 

Merrell Warren of Box 84 Bowdon, GA31st084 31st085

 

Eugene W. Carroll (identified through draft records) of 3140 Long Blvd., Nashville, TN31st086 31st087

 

Unidentified – Possibly “Curly”31st088

A Voice From the Past – WWII ” Letter on a Record” Digitized!


WWII USO "letter on record"

WWII USO “letter on record”

I have to admit that this is a first for me.  99% of my posts have been dedicated to photos mixed with the occasional letter and/or youtube video.  This is the first time I’ve digitized a WWII record! The process was incredibly laborious and the results were scratchy and hard to listen to.  Given the condition of the record as well as the limited audio digitization available, I think I did a decent job.

Here’s the story – I purchased a set of WWII “Letter on Record” wax and paper records produced by the USO in WWII.  They were put out by the USO in affiliation with organizations such as the National Catholic Community Service.  According to my research, over 350 recording booths were available during the war with a total production of 350,000 +/-.  They were printed on wax and paper records using a recording booth where the sitter would talk while the machine “cut” their voice into the record.  They were then sent home to be listened to by loved ones.  I can’t imagine they were made to survive 70 years, but these two copies remain in decent condition.  I purchased them for $1.50 each at a local flea market.

The discs were recorded by a Eugene “Gene” Daly who was stationed at an Army Air Corps base in Charleston, SC during the war.  He was a member of Crew 620 of Sub Unit E.  I’m not entirely sure what this group did but it may have to do with sub patrol on the East Coast.  It was sent to Bunny Echenique of 122 Bedford Ave, Grant City, Staten Island, NY in February of 1945.

I played the disc on my record player at 33 speed and held my iPhone up to the speaker and recorded what played.  I could hear a slowed down version of human speech so I knew that the process was working.  From there I sent the audio file to my computer where I fiddled with Audacity to tweak the speed.  I was able to speed up the voice by 1.6X.  A voice from 70 years ago played on my speakers.  From there I created a video with the actual record as the visual and posted it to youtube.  Listen for yourself!  I still have a few additional sides to record, but this one gives you the general feeling of Gene Daly’s “letter on a record”.

Envelope details

Envelope details