I READ WITH GREAT INTEREST your article “Revolt…and Betrayal” in the May/June issue. My in-laws are Polish and I have heard stories about the Resistance and the August Rising for many years; my mother-in-law was a courier, and was wounded and captured in that fight. My father-in-law was in an artillery unit with the Polish Army in Scotland after serving in the army during 1939 and escaping capture along with many other brave young men. My in-laws met in the spring of 1945 in Germany, at the POW camp where my mother-in-law had been transported after her capture. They went to England after the war and eventually came to the United States (fortunately for me).
My mother-in-law gives you a great compliment: she says your description of that terrible fight is the most accurate she has ever read. Thank you for the hard work that went into telling the true story about how the Polish Home Army was sacrificed for political reasons.
IN HIS “WHAT IF” column in the May/ June issue, Mark Grimsley approvingly cites author Patrick Buchanan’s conclusion that if Churchill had not backed Poland against Nazi attack, Hitler would have conquered Poland and then gone on to attack the Soviet Union, not Western Europe.
This conclusion totally ignores the Non Aggression Pact between Hitler and Stalin. In reality, Hitler did pretty much what he had planned to do: he conquered all of continental Europe, and then, in June 1941, attacked the Soviet Union. He foolishly left England unconquered before doing so, then declared war on the U.S. following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
YOUR “WHAT IF” article draws conclusions from Churchill’s dogged response to Hitler that are historically incorrect. The article implies that if Churchill had been more “cold and calculating” in his approach to Nazi Germany, then England could have retained its empire after the war. This ignores the fact that all postwar countries lost their prewar colonies. France lost Vietnam, Belgium lost the Congo, the U.S. lost the Philippines, and England would lose India regardless of Churchill’s approach to Germany before World War II.
The article also implies that Poland should have avoided Churchill’s stubborn approach to Germany and avoided war by playing nice with Hitler longer. This ignores the fact that most of Hitler’s neighbors did play nice longer. Norway was happy to give Hitler all the iron ore that he wanted. Did this save Norway? No. Did playing nice with Hitler save Denmark, the Netherlands, or Belgium? No. Hitler was obsessed with Lebensraum (living space) obtained from the conquest of countries to the east. Nothing could have saved Poland short of joining Germany, or a massive prewar military buildup.
“PLOT AGAINST A PILOT” in the May/ June issue states that there were more than 11,000 German Americans and German aliens interned by the FBI during World War II. Really? Did we miss something, or is this one of the best-kept secrets of the war?
BEV E. BROWN
Yes, really. The prewar activities of Nazi sympathizer groups and the espionage activities of a handful of German Americans led the FBI to gather some 11,000 German Americans from the West Coast, Great Lakes region, and other areas deemed militarily sensitive, and intern them at places that included Ellis Island, New York, Seagoville, Texas, and Fort Lincoln, North Dakota. They were compelled to sign pledges of secrecy upon release so, yes, it was a rather well-kept secret.
I HAVE ENJOYED your excellent magazine for some time now, but never so much as when I saw the May/June table of contents photo. The B-17G in the foreground is “Patches,” flown by Everett Worrell and his co-pilot Alex Strohmeyer. Patches also graced a “Famous Aircraft” postage stamp issued a few years ago.
Stories From a Lifetime
I WAS SURPRISED TO SEE Robert Capa’s photograph of the 16th Infantry Regiment leaving the English port of Weymouth for the D-Day invasion in the May/June “Story of a Lifetime.” My brother was in that unit. I didn’t know that Capa’s film was ruined; now I understand why we didn’t see many of our GIs landing that day.
But it’s the cover of the May/June issue that inspired me to write. There is a 90- year-old World War II vet named John Kalamaroff who lives in my building. He was a member of the 261st Medical Battalion, attached to the First Amphibious Engineers, which landed on Utah Beach on D-Day plus one. We have had many conversations about his experiences in the four-plus years I’ve known him. My parents also served; my dad was in the navy and my mother was a WAAC (she used to let me wear her hat when I played soldier). I’m writing this as a way of letting Mr. Kalamaroff know how much I admire and respect him, my own family, and all veterans—not only of World War II, but throughout history.
ROBERT R. REED
Doing Hard Time
IN THE MAY/JUNE issue,“Hard Time on the Rock” by Bill Sloan has a couple of errors. A picture caption identifies Ed Whitcomb as a private. According to his book On Celestial Wings, he completed navigator training in November 1940, and would have been commissioned a second lieutenant over a year before he was on Corregidor. During his Army Air Corps training he would have been classified as a cadet. Also, the story relates that,“By dusk that first evening, Whitcomb found himself in charge of a Filipino crew and an antique wooden-wheeled 75mm gun, situated on a desolate corner of the island’s south coast called Monkey Point.” Whitcomb’s book says he was not given command of the gun until after breakfast on his second day there.
It’s also worth mentioning that Ed Whitcomb was a member of the first class of Army Air Corps navigators trained by Pan American Airways. His book is very informative and a great read.
BILL SLOAN STATED that Corregidor’s defenders had “mainly bolt-action 1903- model Springfields or old British Enfields.” The Filipino forces were actually armed with the M1917 U.S. Enfield, which was derived from the British Pattern 14 rifle manufactured in the U.S. by Remington, Winchester, and Eddystone. When the U.S. entered World War I, the Pattern 14 was modified to take the .30-06 round and was named the Pattern 17, or Model 1917. More U.S. Enfields were produced during World War I than the “standard” Spring fields. It is highly unlikely that any British SMLEs were on Corregidor.
I WAS PLEASANTLY surprised when I reached pages 48 and 49 of the May/June issue and discovered the M2A1 105mm howitzer. My military organization was the 283rd Field Artillery Battalion and our weapon was the M2A1. We entered Normandy as a “Theater Artillery” battal ion—we would be assigned to an infantry division on the front lines where artillery need was the greatest. We traveled a total of 4,241 miles in combat and fired 45,361 rounds. So, you could say I had more than a casual acquaintance with this cannon.
I won’t argue the fire rate of “10 rounds per minute,” or one round every 6 seconds, but the “sustained rate of 3 rounds per minute” is a round every 20 seconds. Hell! If an exhausted gun crew had a 20-second interval between rounds, they would have taken naps during the lulls. When in a “rapid fire”mode, as we often were, we fired a round every 3 seconds. We took pride in this; when multiple guns were involved, you were harassed unmercifully if your gun fired the last round. I heard several German POWs say that they thought our howitzers had automatic firing.
My only complaint about World War II magazine: On May 1, I turned 87 years old. I would like to see many more issues than what I’m destined to see at a bi-monthly publication rate.
Complements for the Captain
I READ WITH GREAT interest and enjoyment the article “A U-boat Commander Shares Memories of His Captor—And Friend” in the May/June issue. It’s obvious from Commander Gunter Leopold’s letter that he and Captain George Hoffman were both extraordinary men who rose above the insanity of war to create a unique, incredible, and lifelong friendship. My uncle Auvergne Breault, torpedoman second class, served on the Corry under Captain Hoffman and was aboard when Leopold was rescued. Sadly, I never got to hear the story from my uncle himself. He was one of the missing when the Corry sank on D-Day. I like to think he was one of the sailors who “showered masses of chocolates, cigarettes, and chewing gum and other goodies” on Leopold and his crew.
DENISE A. BREAULT
INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, MINN.
The Reising M55 was .45-caliber, not .30. “Republic of Ireland” did not become an official term until 1949. The USS Corry sank Gunter Leopold’s U-boat on March 17, not March 19 when Leopold was pulled from the water. Williams Field is in Mesa, Arizona, not Yuma.
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.