Tag Archive | World War II

U-Boat Survivors Added to POW Camp Rosters

German prisoners of war.

German prisoners in batches of 1,000 arriving at a prisoners of war cage. the Library of Congress.

On May 9, 1942, the U.S. Coast Guard sank German U-boat 352 off the Outer Banks.

Thirteen German sailors died and 33 were plucked from the water. They were taken to Fort Bragg and confined as prisoners of war. During the course of the war thousands of POWs—mostly Germans and Italians—were captured and sent to camps in North Carolina.

Most POWs were brought to North Carolina from abroad. Fritz Teichmann was a member of the German Luftwaffe (the air corps) and was captured in Sicily in July 1943. He was held as a POW at Camp Butner in Granville County. Giuseppe Pagliarulo, a soldier in Benito Mussolini’s Italian army, was captured in Tunisia in North Africa in May 1943 and held at Camp Sutton in Monroe.

So many POWs were brought to the state that men were sent from larger military bases to smaller branch camps. These smaller camps housed up to 500 men each and were located in 16 communities around the Tar Heel state, including Whiteville, Roanoke Rapids, Williamston and Hendersonville.

From there, they were placed on compulsory work details and sent out to cut pulpwood, dig ditches, wash dishes and pick apples. Their employers—farmers, loggers and restaurant owners—knew of the camps but otherwise their presence was relatively secret.

Visit: The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras interprets the shipwreck history of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

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Medal of Honor Winner Rufus Herring of Sampson County

Image from the U.S. Navy.

On February 17, 1945, Roseboro native Rufus G. Herring captained Gunboat 449 into the bay at Iwo Jima two days before the American invasion of the Japanese-held island. Herring’s mission, along with that of six other landing craft infantry units, was to provide covering fire for an Underwater Demolition Team as they conducted reconnaissance of the beach.

On entering the bay, Herring’s ship bore the brunt of the Japanese artillery fire, and two “serious fires” temporarily disabled it. All officers on board except the engineer were killed, wounded or missing.

Herring himself was seriously wounded and began losing strength due to severe bleeding. Despite his critical condition, he continued to maintain command of the ship, providing cover for the recon team and eventually steering the crippled ship back to safety. For “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty,” Herring was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in September 1945.

Life magazine later reported that Herring fell in love with his nurse while recuperating in a naval hospital. The couple married and returned to Roseboro where he ran a farm and lumber business.

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Camp Lejeune and Females in the U.S. Marine Corps

Female soldiers during World War II. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

Female soldiers during World War II. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On February 13, 1943, the first women to sign up for non-clerical duties enlisted in the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

The Women’s Reserve was formed in 1942 when plans were put in place to build a women’s area at Camp Lejeune, consisting of several barracks, mess halls and other support facilities. Unlike other branches of the military, the Marine Corps did not drastically relax its training regimen or admissions policies for females.

About 3,000 women trained elsewhere while facilities were being prepared at Camp Lejeune. The base remained the primary source of female Marines during World War II. During the course of the war, more than 23,000 women enlisted and nearly 1,000 held commissions. By the war’s end, almost 18,000 women who trained at Camp Lejeune were on duty, including Eugenia Lejeune, daughter of the general for whom the base is named.

Enlistees were inducted into specialties ranging from cooks and clerks to transport personnel and mechanics. One-third of the women served in aviation-related fields, especially at the nearby Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point. After the war, female Marines were considered expendable and scheduled for elimination. The women’s schools were disbanded in September 1945 and the entire reserve was discharged in March 1946.

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Oil Transport Torpedoed by German U-boat, 1942

On January 18, 1942, the Standard Oil tanker Allan Jackson was torpedoed by a German submarine 70 miles off the coast of Cape Hatteras.

The vessel, transporting oil from Colombia to New York, was struck by two torpedoes. The second blast split the ship in two, spilling 7.5 million gallons of oil. Of the 35 crew members, 22 perished. The survivors told harrowing tales of clinging to scattered pieces of wreckage and trying to avoid the burning oil.

During World War II, German U-boats were a very real threat to vessels along the coast of North America. Survivors from one merchant vessel said that enemy submarines were “almost as thick as catfish” in the waters where they were attacked. In 1941 and 1942 about 100 ships were sunk at Diamond Shoals, off the coast of the Outer Banks, in what became known as the “Battle of Torpedo Junction.”

Coast Guard patrol planes, the Civil Air Patrol, antisubmarine vessels and underwater mine fields eventually brought an end to the menacing U-boat presence in North Carolina’s waters.

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No Parade as Duke Lost Rose Bowl Game in Durham, 1942

Duke Stadium during 1942 Rose Bowl. Image from the Duke University Archives.

On January 1, 1942, the Rose Bowl was played in Durham—the only time the game has not been played in Pasadena, California. Since America had just joined World War II, there was concern about holding the game, or, indeed, any large public gathering, on the West Coast for fear of attack from the Japanese. The Duke University Blue Devils, Oregon State University Beavers and all of their fans would potentially be in great danger if the game was played in California, organizers reasoned.

Before the Tournament of Roses Committee officially called the game off, Duke football coach Wallace Wade offered to host the game in the Bull City. The city of Durham and Duke University only had about two weeks to prepare for the festivities, and during that time, they managed to increase the capacity of the Blue Devils’ football stadium from 34,000 to 56,000 seats by borrowing bleachers from neighboring UNC and N.C. State. Tickets for the history-making game sold out in three days.  The face value of tickets for bleacher seats was $4.40, though scalpers offered tickets for as much as $25.

Duke was the clear favorite to win the hastily relocated bowl game. Wade had led the Blue Devils to an unbeaten and untied season in 1941. The game, however, was a major upset.  Oregon State won, 20 to 16.

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Greensboro Hosted Base Vital to World War II Allied Effort

A circa 1943-45 aerial view of the O.R.D. Image from the Greensboro Historical Museum.

A circa 1943-45 aerial view of the O.R.D. Image from the Greensboro Historical Museum.

On September 15, 1946, the massive Greensboro Overseas Replacement Depot closed its doors.

The O.R.D., as it was known, originally operated as a training base, buy by May 1944, the Air Force had reached its projected capacity and the facility became the primary point in the eastern U.S. where soldiers were prepared and processed for overseas duty. In February 1945, the O.R.D. took on added duties as a redistribution station, working to place about 31,000 troops in the Far East, as the focus of fighting shifted. In September 1945, the station began processing personnel for separation from duty. Thus, during its period of service, the Greensboro depot provided a wide range of services to the military. More 330,000 troops were processed in or out of service or redistributed to another location through the center.

Eating in one of the O.R.D.'s dining halls, circa 1943-45. Image from the Greensboro Historical Association

Eating in one of the O.R.D.’s dining halls, circa 1943-45. Image from the Greensboro Historical Museum.

The base was truly massive. At 652 acres in size, it was the largest base in America located within the boundaries of a city, and as many as 40,000 soldiers were stationed at the Greensboro facility at any given time.

Spread over nearly 1,000 buildings, the base included 500 barracks, 14 mess halls, 55 recreation rooms, four movie theaters, ten post exchanges, five chapels, three libraries, thee gyms and a hospital. The base even had its own newspaper and radio station to keep the troops entertained.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Couple Immortalized on V-J Day

V-J Day in Times Square. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

V-J Day in Times Square. Photo by
Alfred Eisenstaedt/Pix Inc./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

On August 14, 1945, Life magazine photographer Albert Eisenstaedt captured the spirit of celebration of the United States’ victory over Japan in World War II in an iconic photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square.

The sailor had been running down the street kissing random women when he was spotted by Eisenstaedt, who snapped a few quick pictures when he grabbed a nurse in white nearby. Because of the chaos in the streets Eisenstaedt did not have time to get the names of the couple.

Many people have claimed to be the sailor or the nurse over the years, but North Carolina native Glenn McDuffie went to lengths to prove that he was the kissing sailor. Tired of disputes as to the sailor’s identity, McDuffie asked Lois Gibson, a forensic artist with Houston Police Department, whether she could make a positive identification.

Glenn McDuffie with a Navy photo of himself during World War II and V-J Day in Times Square

In 2007, Gibson, who also compared the photo with those of several other kisser-claimants, reported that McDuffie’s features were an exact match to those of the sailor in the photograph. He enjoyed several years of celebrity, being invited to fundraisers and veterans’ events.

Born in Kannapolis in 1927, McDuffie was 15 years old when he forged documents to join the Navy. He died in 2014 in Texas.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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