Sunday, July 10, 2016

WW2 | July 10–Battle of Britain Begins

RAF pilots scrambling. My uncle Willem was an
RAF pilot. He was shot down over Laval, France
 on June 10, 1944 and is buried there.
This day in 1940, the Germans began bombing Britain, the beginning of the "Battle of Britain" that lasted three and a half months.

It was a significant turning point of World War II, as at the end of the bombing, Germany’s Luftwaffe failed to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force.

As Prime Minister Winston Churchill said: "Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few."

Britain’s decisive victory saved the country from a ground invasion and possible occupation by German forces and showed that air power alone could be used to win a major battle.

On the first day, 120 German bombers and fighters struck a British shipping convoy in the Channel, while 70 more attacked dockyards in South Wales. Britain had only 600 fighters while the Germans had 1,300. But:
  • Britain had an an effective radar system.
  • Spitfires could make tighter turns Germany’s ME109s, enabling it to elude pursuers and come up behind them. 
  • The British Hurricanes could carry 40mm cannon. These planes shot down, with American Browning machine guns, more than 1,500 Luftwaffe planes. 
  • The German single-engine fighters had limited flight radius and their bombers lacked bomb-load capacity to cause permanent damage. 
  • Britain had the advantage of a unified command, while German infighting was weakened by poor timing and intelligence. 
  • The British people were undaunted. When the government asked for all available aluminum to the brought to he Ministry of Aircraft Production to turn into airplanes, the public responded.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

JOE MCCARTHY | June 9–Squelched by Welch

Sen. Joseph McCarthy
This day in 1954, Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wisc.) confronted Joseph N. Welch, special counsel for the Army. McCarthy claimed that a young associate in Hall & Dorr, Welch's law firm, had been a long-time member of an organization that was a “legal arm of the Communist Party.” Welch was stunned and said, famously:
Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? 
A few minutes later, the audience burst into applause. It marked the end of McCarthy’s power, which had steadily risen from his February 1950 claim that “hundreds” of “known Communists” were in the Department of State.

McCarthy led the Red Scare, convincing millions of Americans that communists had infiltrated America. Behind closed doors,  the McCarthy hearings smeared a wide swath of civil servants and private citizens, destroying many careers. Prior to 1953, the Republican Party tolerated him because his attacks were directed at Democrats, especially Harry S. Truman. When Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower entered the White House in 1953, however, McCarthy continued his increasingly erratic charges. This became unacceptable to his President and Party. Rather than taking on McCarthy directly, which might have backfired, Ike undermined the senator behind the scenes.

McCarthy was annoyed that the U.S. Army was taking away one of his staff members, who worked with Roy Cohn. So he charged in early 1954 that the U.S. Army was “soft” on communism. As Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, he opened hearings on this subject. Joseph Welch, an outside lawyer from Hale & Dorr in Washington, represented the Army–and the President as well, since Ike had a special affection for the Army. During the hearings, Welch responded to all of McCarthy’s charges. The senator became bellicose, shouting “point of order, point of order”. He said that one highly decorated general was a “disgrace” to his uniform. Welch responded with the comment at the end of the first paragraph above.

One week later, the hearings closed. McCarthy was condemned by the Senate for contempt of his colleagues in December 1954. During the next two-and-a-half years, McCarthy succumbed to alcoholism and in 1957 died, at 48, in office.


Alexander Forest was hired by General Eisenhower to work on the Nuremberg trials and then on the McCarthy Hearings. His skill with both German and Russian as well as English made him valuable in dealing with international issues. His birth name was Goldberg and he took the surname Forest when he came to the United States, probably before the outbreak of war in 1939.

His sister Anya Goldberg (Anna Ormont after she emigrated to Canada) remained in Holland and was sheltered by Bob Boissevain and his family along with her parents. The Boissevains were given a Yad Vashem award after the war; the father of the family died in concentration camp but his guests all survived. The wartime story is told here.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

BLOG VIEWS | 30K–Most-Read Posts

John Tepper Marlin in NYC. Photo
by Alice Tepper Marlin.
June 2016 – This blog, Warriors-Families, has just passed 30,000 page views. I try to post on this blog when the stories are about military or peace issues, but everything overlaps with everything else... 

Page views of my blogs on together are now past the  1.1 million mark.

Thank you for reading!

Here are the most-read posts for the month of May 2016. I am continuing to update the first on the list based on new information. When you see a June 2016 or later update in the subject line, it will be up to date. The Boer War post, #3, mentioning Charles Boissevain, was added only yesterday and will surely rise to #1 in a few days.

WW2 | 8. Hiding Jews in Holland–Bob Boissevain (Up...
Dec 2, 2014, 1 comment
US NAVY | Oct. 13–Navy's 240th Birthday
Oct 12, 2015
BOER WAR | May 31–Peace Treaty Signed
Jun 1, 2016
R.I.P. | Michael Intriligator, Peace and Security ...
Jul 8, 2014
FRANCE | June 10–Remembering Airmen Downed 70 Year...
Jun 13, 2014
VETS 3 | VA Loans–NYC Issues
Jun 11, 2013
VET STORY 2 | Franklin D'Olier, Founded American L...
Sep 17, 2013
WW2 | 12. Holland after the War (Updated Feb. 16, ...
Nov 2, 2014
VET STORY 8 | Edgar Jadwin, Author, "From a Milita...
Mar 5, 2016
ART BIZ | "Hope", Museum of Visionary Art - Yanni ...
Nov 6, 2015

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

BOER WAR | May 31–Peace Treaty Signed

New Edition (2013) of an
old book (1899-1900) by
Charles Boissevain.
This day in 1902, in Pretoria, representatives of Great Britain and the Boer states signed the Treaty of Vereeniging, officially bringing to an end the second Boer War in South Africa.

The Boers, which means farmers in Dutch, are also known as Afrikaners. They descended from the original Dutch settlers of southern Africa who came to South Africa to obtain land to farm on, in a period when imperialism was in the air in Europe and Europeans patriotically traveled to other countries to help plant their national flags.

The Dutch became well established in what we call today Indonesia (which they called India), the Caribbean, and in South Africa. However, Britain occupied the Dutch Cape Colony in 1806 during the Napoleonic wars. The Boers did not like being under British rule and in 1833 began an exodus into African tribal territory, where they founded the republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State.

The two new republics lived peaceably with their British neighbors until 1867, when the discovery of diamonds and gold in the Dutch region attracted the envy of British empire-builders.  Preeminent among them was Cecil Rhodes, who coveted a British empire stretching "from Cape Town to Cairo"–a vision that he helped make a reality.

The first major discovery was on the Orange Free State farm of Boers named de Beer, who gave their name to a diamond-selling company created by Cecil Rhodes; the original de Beers did not profit from the diamonds that were found on their property. The de Beer company still controls one-third of the diamond market. Another diamond discovery occurred in the Transvaal near Pretoria, creating a rival diamond company controlled by the Oppenheimer family until the de Beers company absorbed it.

The first Boer War with Britain began as skirmishes in the 1890s. In 1899 this erupted into a full-scale war. Cecil Rhodes used his influence to ensure that his mines were protected and in return his company did everything it could to assist in the war on the Boers.

Resources came from throughout the British Empire to crush the Boers–Canada's Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier authorized a contingent to go to South Africa despite opposition from Quebec's French Canadians led by Henri Bourassa, who saw an ominous precedent (ironically, the next major military effort from Canada would be on behalf of France). Canada sent more than 7,000 troops.

By mid-June 1900, British forces had captured most major Boer cities and formally annexed their territories. Like the Scots fighting against Edwards I-III, the Boers launched a guerrilla war that frustrated the British occupiers. Beginning in 1901, the British began a strategy of fencing off areas with barbed wire, setting fire to the farms inside, and then systematically searching out and killing the guerrilla units. The families of displaced Boers were herded into concentration camps that famously became a precedent for the Nazi concentration camps, although the high death rate in the South African camps was a byproduct of the climate and isolation rather than being premeditated genocide.

Second letter to "An
American Lady", 1900.
Among the few voices in Europe speaking up for the desperate Boers was Charles Boissevain (my mother's grandfather). He famously wrote in December 1899 an Open Letter to the Duke of Devonshire making the case for the Boers and observing that war was being waged on farming "peasants" for one purpose only–to enable squalid British financial interests. The letter was published in 1900 by Boissevain's newspaper, the Algemeen Handelsblad and is available free as a Google eBook. It was also republished as a properly edited book in 2013 along with a second Open Letter to an American Lady.

By early 1902, the British had crushed Boer resistance, and on May 31 the Peace of Vereeniging was signed, recognizing British military administration over Transvaal and the Orange Free State, and in return authorizing a general amnesty for Boer forces. Cecil Rhodes died the same year, his wished-for empire largely in place.

In 1910, the autonomous Union of South Africa was established by the British, taking in Transvaal, the Orange Free State and Natal as provinces along with the original Cape of Good Hope.

While South Africa has since remained in the British Commonwealth, and the Springboks were formidable entrants in the British sport of Rugby,  Afrikaners took back South Africa at the ballot box–so long as voting was restricted to whites (and, for a time, "Cape coloreds").

Afrikaner control, however, depended on restricting the ability of non-whites to vote, which was at the heart of the policy of apartheid. Late in the 20th century, when universal adult suffrage was instituted and black Africans participated in the vote, Afrikaners again became a minority, and British South Africans an even smaller minority.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

JOBS | Veterans' Unemployment Fell in 2015

Young veterans have an easier time getting a civilian
 job than older ones.
March 22, 2016–The BLS announced this morning that the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans has fallen to 5.8 percent in 2015, a drop of 1.4 percentage points from 2014.

Gulf War-era II veterans are defined as those who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001.

For all veterans, the unemployment rate also fell.

Differences by Gender, Age, State

The unemployment rate for all male veterans in 2015 fell to 4.5 percent, lower than the rate for female veterans of 5.4 percent, which changed little from 2014. This is in Table A of the report.

Younger veterans have an easier time getting a civilian job than older ones. Of 495,000 unemployed veterans in 2015,
  • 57 percent were age 45 and over,
  • 37 percent were age 25-44, and 
  • 5 percent were age 18-24. (See Table 2A.)
In 2015, the unemployment rate of veterans ranged from 1.9 percent of those resident in Iowa to 7.7 percent of those resident in the District of Columbia. The rate was 3.7 percent in New York State and 5.4 percent in New Jersey. (See Table 6A.)

Veterans with Disabilities

One-third of Gulf War-era II veterans reported having a service-connected disability in August 2015, compared with 20 percent of all veterans. Veterans with a service-connected disability had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in August 2015, not statistically different from veterans with no disability. (See Table 7.) More than 1 in 3 employed veterans with a service-connected disability worked in the public sector in August 2015, more than the 1 in 5 veterans with no disability. (See Table 8.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BIRTH | Mar. 16–West Point

U.S. Military Academy, West Point
This day in 1802 Congress created the United States Military Academy, which was the first U.S. military academy.  It is located on the Hudson at a town called West Point that was the location of a fort to defend the Hudson Valley against the Redcoats.

In 1780, the West Point fort commander was Gen. Benedict Arnold, who had served the Continental Army well up to then, having captured Fort Ticonderoga.

Gen. Arnold agreed to surrender the fort for £6,000, but his plan was outed. He fled to the Brits and retired in Britain, but his name has ever since been associated with treason.

Ten years after the formation of the Academy, Congress responded to threat of  war with Britain by expanding West Point. From 1817, it was reorganized by superintendent Sylvanus Thayer, called the “father of West Point”.

West Point became a source of high-quality civil engineers, harking back to the first U.S. general, George Washington, who was a trained surveyor in his private life. It is appropriate that Edgar Jadwin, who graduated first in his class from West Point, would become Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers in 1926-29. A new self-published book has appeared, written by Jadwin's grandson, also named Edgar, about his distinguished military family.

During the Mexican-American War, West Point graduates filled the officer corps of the victorious U.S. forces, and with the outbreak of the Civil War former West Point classmates regretfully lined up against one another in the defense of their states.

In 1870, the first African-American cadet was admitted into the U.S. Military Academy, and in 1976, the first female cadets. The academy now has more than 4,000 students and is under the direction and supervision of the department of the U.S. Army.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

CRYPTOGRAPHY | Americans at Bletchley Park

We have just heard that General Dwight Eisenhower expressed his deep gratitude to the Bletchley Park codebreakers soon after the Nazis surrendered. The letter has been kept under wraps all these 70 years.

It might be a good time for Bletchley Park to acknowledge more completely the role of Americans in assisting with their work. I am thinking of the shipment of the Dragon 1 computer to Bletchley, for example. My neighbor Capt. Tom Collins was selected from his life's work with Western Electric and given special training to accompany the computer. He spent a year helping the Bletchley team make use of it.  James Brady wrote in Forbes Magazine how proud Tom was of his wartime role.

The full story of the use of the American code-breaking equipment has not been told.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

VET STORY 8 | Edgar Jadwin, "From a Military Life..." (Updated July 21, 2016)

Edgar Jadwin telling the story of his book to the Writers'
"GIG" at the Indian River Genealogical Society, Vero
Beach, Fla. Photo by JT Marlin.
I have been attending the Writers' GIG (Genealogical Interest Group) of the Indian River Genealogical Association, which meets at the Indian River County Main Library in Vero Beach, Fla.

At the February meeting, Edgar Jadwin presented his memoirs, which were worked on in previous meetings of the Writers' GIG.

The Indian River Genealogical Society is a remarkably healthy organization I went to the annual meeting in February in Vero Beach and I was astounded at the large number of people in attendance–I estimated 150.

At the meeting I signed up as a member and I found out about the Writers' Genealogical Interest Group, or "GIG". The subject of that meeting was the family history written by Jadwin, who turns 90 in September of this year. He is a proud Army "Brat", the child of a military officer–a group that is proud of its nickname and should not be underestimated. I have written about Brats elsewhere.

Jadwin comes from a distinguished military family. He writes about some of the officers who served their country:
Edgar Jadwin (L) with Mary Mitchell, who guides
the Writers' GIG at the Genealogical Society.
  • His grandfather, Lt. Gen. Edgar Jadwin (1865-1931), who graduated first in his class from West Point in 1890 and rose to become Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers in 1926-29.
  • His second cousin once removed, Flight Commander David Mckelvey Peterson (1895-1919), who graduated from Lehigh in 1915 and became a World War I flying ace with six victories, one in the Lafayette Escadrille and five with the U.S. Army Air Service. He was awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses. He died in an aviation accident after World War I.
  • His uncle Maj. Gen. Thomas (Long John) Hearn (1890-1980), a graduate of the West Point Class of 1915 that included Bradley, Eisenhower and other generals. He got his name from the fact that he was 6'5" tall. He served as Gen. Stilwell's chief of staff in the China/Burma/India march of 1944.
  • His first cousin by marriage, Maj. Gen. Charles R. Sniffen (Ret. 1981), born 1924. who participated in actions in Italy in World War II, in Korea, and in the Vietnam War. His awards are numerous, including the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with One Oak Leaf Cluster. Two sons followed him into the military. One is Charles (Chip) Sniffen, a 1979 West Point graduate who served in Korea, with many merit awards to his credit, and is now at the Department of Defense serving the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The other is Chaplain (rank of Colonel) Peter R. Sniffen, born in 1962, earned his BA from VMI and his Master's degree in Divinity from Westminster Theological Seminary. He has served as chaplain in Germany and Afghanistan. In 2015 he was appointed Commander of the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, S.C.
  • His father, Col. Cornelius Comegys Jadwin II (1896-1982), graduated from West Point in 1918. His father's story is told through the eyes of his son, who traveled around the world with him. In the Army, Col. Jadwin mastered the equestrian arts and taught them to other army personnel. He was a member of the Army Polo Team. (It may be hard to remember this in 2016, but until World War II when tank technology was taken by the Wehrmacht to a new level, horses were still thought of as a basic unit of military warfare. Police forces still find them useful for crowd control.)
Edgar Jadwin, Author.
Photo by JT Marlin.
Some of the highlights of the book include his time at Hotchkiss (shortened by one year by the war), his application to Princeton and his acceptance and deferral, his military train and wartime service in North Africa, his study at Princeton with other G.I.s after the war, and his business career.

Jadwin is excited to have finished his book, which took him many years to write. He is extravagant in thanking the people who worked with him on finishing the 140-page family history–the Writer's GIG, Mary Mitchell in particular; his editor, who did not charge him for his help; and the printer who put it all together.

Clearly, the book was a meaningful exercise for him and his work would be justified on that basis alone. It is a valuable resource for other people in his family. It should be of value in helping to tie together individuals in the military and in other institutions that Jadwin was associated with. I believe that it could have a wider audience if it were given a further edit with an eye to what would interest people outside his own family. The material is there and just needs the edge that a professional writer or editor can give it, answering questions like:
  • What are the hallmarks of a Welsh heritage (the Jadwin name is Welsh)? How was it revealed in the lives of the people in the book?
  • How are "Brats" similar? (I am a U.N. Brat and I can see some commonalities.)
  • Where are all the places in the book located? How about a map or two? etc.
Jadwin (L) and your blogger.
Photo by Mary Mitchell.
Also, the book could be much improved if the photographs were larger and better reproduced. They also require more conventional captions.

Jadwin is too modest to charge for his book and he is giving it away. I think he should do this only in return for getting feedback on the book or promotion of it, with the idea of doing another edition. At any rate, I have tried to provide what I recommend he ask for. 

His family has served their country well and they deserve the best. Meanwhile, he shouldn't have to make his book a gift. He should put a proper price on it and give it away only to people like me who write it up and help promote it, or who return his favor by giving him comments!

Friday, January 15, 2016

HERALDRY | Eagle in the Great Seal of USA (Updated July 21, 2016)

Thomson's design of the Great Seal of the USA, 1782.
January 15, 2016–George Washington presented the Stars and Stripes to the Continental Congress saying that the stars represented "a new constellation".

In the canton of the flag that had previously been used to represent the new nation, the Union Jack was replaced by a solid dark blue background or field, with 13 white stars on it, representing the 13 states.

Congress voted to accept the new design of the flag on June 14, 1777, and June 14 is now designated Flag Day.

Five years later, Congress asked 53-year-old Charles Thomson to design America’s Great Seal based on reports and drawings of the three committees that had looked into it.

Thomson had served the previous eight years as Secretary of the Continental Congress. He had previously been a Latin master at an academy in Philadelphia.

His sketch of a design is shown above. His description of it shows he has in mind the 13 original colonies leaning into one another to make the red-and-white chevron or upside-down V. This substitutes for the stripes on the flag, or the bars on the Washington shield.

The Great Seal looks a lot like the one the White House uses today. The bird, stars and stripes on the seal includes the major elements of the Washington coat of arms. The bird on the seal has morphed into the American bald eagle and two main additions have been made:
  • In the eagle’s beak, Thomson placed a scroll with the first committee’s motto: E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One).
  • The eagle is now facing the olive branch in one talon instead of the bundle of arrows in the other. In the sketch, Thomson has the eagle's head looking in the direction of peace. This was reversed in the final version, perhaps to make the eagle look more threatening to a possible invader. Britain did try to retake their colonies in 1812 and were fighting again here until January 1815, although a peace treaty was signed in Ghent a month before. The direction that the eagle faces was reversed again after World War II.
Several different reasons, not necessarily contradictory, have been advanced for the post-World War II change in the direction faced by the eagle:
So we now have at least three people (FDR, Elsey and Truman) to credit with the post-WW2 change, and at least three good reasons for making it.

Friday, January 8, 2016

R.I.P. | Natalie Wales Douglas-Hamilton

Working on Bundles for Britain.
Natalie Wales Douglas-Hamilton, also known by her husband's first name as Lady Malcolm, passed away on January 14, 2013 at 103.

Born Natalie Scarritt Wales in 1909, she grew up in Boston and New York City, where she attended Nightingale School, graduating in 1928, and then Columbia University. She became an American Florence Nightingale, aggregating volunteer help and money to assist those suffering in World War II.

She was first married to Kenelm Winslow in 1928, and with him gave birth to Natalie Wales Mead (1930-1988), known as Bubbles, and Mary-Chilton Winslow Mead (1934-2014), known as Mimi, who also attended Nightingale before going on to Brearley and then Radcliffe.

Natalie divorced Winslow and remarried in 1937. In 1939, soon after Britain declared war on Germany, when she was known as Natalie Latham, she asked the British Ambassador to the United States what Britain needed that ordinary Americans could supply.
The answer: knitted caps for sailors. So she got to work, building a national organization with nearly 2,000 branches and over 1.5 million volunteers working to send to Britain not only knitted items but also X-ray machines, ambulances, children‘s cots, surgical instruments and more, all labeled “From your American friends.” 
She enlisted the help of Joan Crawford, Clementine Churchill, Janet Murrow, Louise Carnegie and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. For her services in WWII, she was named the first non-British woman to be named an honorary Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E.) by King George VI in 1946. Bundles for Britain was just the first of many organizations she founded. At the request of the White House, she created a related group, Bundles for America, to aid Americans during the war. In 1947 she established Common Cause, an anticommunist group, and thereby met her third husband, Edward Bragg Paine. Among other things, the organization shipped food during the Berlin airlift and sheltered refugees (sometimes in her own home).

After the death of her third husband, Natalie met Lord Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton, and they married in 1953. Together, they started the American-Scottish Foundation to strengthen ties between Scotland and the United States. After Lord Malcolm‘s tragic death in a plane crash in 1964, Lady Malcolm continued to devote herself to the foundation, organizing “Scotland Week” in New York City and creating the annual Scottish Ball fundraiser. She also established the Wallace Award, celebrating an individual's contribution to American-Scottish relations, as well as Scotland House, a gathering place for those with Scottish roots and a center for Scottish culture. [Sources: the Nightingale-Bamford School, The Blue Doors, Fall 2013; the Boston Globe; and the New York Times.]

Saturday, January 2, 2016

R.I.P. | Edward B. McMenamin (1912-1994), Economist, Columbia Provost

Edward B. McMenamin was born in 1912 in Portland, Me., and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1933 with a degree in economics. [He started his career in the FDR administration in the same office as Spike Marlin, who was born three years earlier than McMenamin and died eight months later in 1994.]

During World War II, he served with the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific Theater, and later was in government service in Washington and abroad as an administrator with international economic cooperation programs such as the Marshall Plan, the Mutual Security Agency in Paris and the International Cooperation Administration.

After he retired from civil service and came to Columbia University as associate provost 1957-61 and then director of personnel from 1959 on, and secretary of the University from 1961 until his retirement in 1972.  After retiring from Columbia, he continued to work as a consultant to the federal government, the city of Boston, the Aspen Institute and several environmental agencies. He also worked for St Bernard's School.

He died Apr. 18, 1994 at a Manhattan apartment where he and his wife were staying. He had been in declining health for three years. He lived in Bridgehampton, L.I.  He is survived by his wife, Joan Stitt McMenamin, who at the time was Head Mistress of the Nightingale-Bamford School.

I attended his 1994 memorial service, which was well attended thanks in part to the participation of many Nightingale students. Mrs. McMenamin died in 2004. Sources include Columbia University Record (19:26), April 29, 1994; New York Times obit.