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The Annihilation of Lidice
From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 25, 22 June 1942, p.ك.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
In further reprisal for the assassination of the unlamented Reinhard Heydrich, the whole Czech town of Lidice was wiped out by the Nazis in one ruthless stroke of violence.
All the men were shot. All the women were sent to concentration camps or other dreadful fate. All the children were taken to “educational institutions,” Nazi style. The town itself was “levelled to the ground.” The job of extermination was complete: The Berlin radio reported that “the name of the community was extinguished.”
The front pages of the daily press featured this frightful news and people reading shuddered at this additional act of Nazi terror. The horror of annihilating a whole town – its families and its homes – and leaving nothing but emptiness is indeed more shocking even than the cold-blooded execution in larger cities of individuals en masse – which is also a well known Nazi custom.
But such foul acts against humankind, such businesslike extermination of all opposition or suspected opposition, was not instituted by the Nazis nor is it only a Nazi custom.
For instance, the British imperialists are also well acquainted with such inhuman practices. Once upon a time – but not so long ago that the Hindus do not remember – entire villages in India were snuffed out because their inhabitants stood in the path of British imperialism, just as today a Czech town meets the same fate at the hands of the Nazis and for the same reason.
For instance, the “gentle” Belgian imperialists are likewise not strangers to the murderous methods of imperialist conquest. Native villages in Africa were inundated by the blood of the natives who were bold enough to oppose the white invaders of their land. Many an African village went up in smoke as did the Czech town of Lidice and for the same reason.
Instances can be multiplied to show that the imperialist record of the United Nations is also red with the blood of conquered peoples and black with the smoke of burned villages. Definitely imperialist terror is not solely a Nazi custom. It is a universal imperialist custom.
To label the arsenic in one bottle “poison” and the same deadly stuff in another bottle “tonic” is undeniably dangerous to human life. Similarly is it dangerous to the future of humanity to make false distinctions between the imperialist nations.
That is why the class conscious worker – wherever he is and whatever the color of his skin – looks on the Nazi extermination of the Czech town of Lidice as a symbol of international imperialist brutality. The class conscious worker responds by gritting his teeth, clenching his fists and pledging himself to the cause of world socialism.
Dependents Get Handout
From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 25, 22 June 1942, pp.ف &ق.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The military pay allotment bill approved by the Senate and sent to the House is as good as passed. It makes at least one thing certain in this world of uncertainties:
While the men in arms will be fighting in foreign lands supposedly for the “four freedoms” – one of which is stated to be freedom from want – their families will be engaged in the centuries-old fight of the poor to keep the wolf away from the door, provided there is a door. For it is going to be as impossible for families to pay for rent, food and clothing out of the flagrantly low allowances for soldiers’ dependents as to get an elephant into a dog house.
A woman with two children will have to get along on $72 a month or $16 a week for all three. This drop in the bucket, even in peacetime before the cost of living rose to its present levels, meant a sub-subsistence standard of living. Today it means a sub-sub-subsistence level of existence. Tomorrow – when prices climb higher, as they are already doing in spite of the farcical ceilings – the only thing $16 a week will buy for three people is starvation.
To call this travesty “support of the dependents” of the men in arms is – to say the least – a misnomer. To call a spade a spade, Congress is passing a bill to force women into industry. For no mother will sit by and see her children “supported” in starvation. Small children certainly need a mother’s personal care and attention, but first they need bread, shoes and a roof. Women will have no alternative except to go to work. So the “preservation of the home” – which is supposed to be another war aim – will be put in dead storage by this very “generous” bill that Congress is passing.
The old and feeble will also suffer. A soldier’s mother and father without support will be allowed $47 a month, or about $10 a week for both. Figure that out in terms of shelter, food and clothing. And these will be the lucky parents whose sons are not married. Dependent parents whose sons are married will have bestowed on them the still more “bounteous” sum of $30 a month, or $7.00 a week, for both.
Other provisions of the bill are even more niggardly than the above – hard as this may be to believe. For instance, if an unmarried soldier has one parent and one sister dependent on him, they will be allowed $42 a month, or about $9.00 a week. If the soldier is married, then a dependent parent and sister will “wallow in the good things of life” at the rate of $25 a month, or about $6 a week for both. If, however, there is a second dependent sister of either the unmarried or the married soldier, the poor girl will be “smothered in luxuries” costing $1.00 a week – for that is all the additional allowance made for her.
These allowances, picayune as they are will not be paid by the government. The soldier’s contribution will, be out of all proportion to his pay. Every married and unmarried soldier with dependent will have to turn in $22 a month. If a married soldier also has parents or sisters or brothers dependent on him, he will have to plunk down $27 every month.
What then becomes of the increase in soldier’s pay voted by Congress recently? The rise from $21 to $50 is all but eaten up by deductions for dependents. It is a case of giving with the right hand and taking away with the left.
If you scrape the camouflage off this military pay allotment bill and see it as above analyzed, it becomes another illustration of the fact that the little people are paying for the big war.
Women, children and old folks will not have enough money for even their most elementary needs. Soldiers will be deprived of their very inadequate pay increases. But war profits will bulge the pockets of the industrial big-wigs for whom a war is a bonanza – and just when this bill soaking the poor is being passed in Congress the luscious quarterly dividend checks again come in to swell still further the bursting bank accounts of the parasites.
So again, Labor Action calls for the confiscation of all war profits to pay for the imperialist war. And if those are not enough, how about the ill-gotten fortunes of the “Sixty Families”! Let the rich pay for the war for which their class is responsible.
East Boston Airport – June 22, 1942
On June 22, 1942, 2nd Lt. Malcolm A. McNall, Jr., was piloting a Curtiss P-40E, (Ser. No. 40-390) over Boston Harbor towing a gunnery target, as part of a target practice mission. At about 2:00 p.m. he was attempting to return to East Boston Airport when he discovered that he was unable to release the target.
After trying five times to do so, he radioed East Boston tower of his situation, and was advised to fly low over the water at the north end of the field so that the target would get caught in the water and tear away form the plane. Following instructions, Lt. McNall came in low over the water, but when the target dug in to the water, it didn’t tear free as expected. Instead, the target pulled the aircraft down into the water. Fortunately Lt. McNall wasn’t seriously injured.
The accident investigation committee blamed poor aircraft maintenance by maintenance personnel.
At the time of the accident Lt. McNall was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.
June 18th, 1942 is a Thursday. It is the 169th day of the year, and in the 25th week of the year (assuming each week starts on a Monday), or the 2nd quarter of the year. There are 30 days in this month. 1942 is not a leap year, so there are 365 days in this year. The short form for this date used in the United States is 6/18/1942, and almost everywhere else in the world it's 18/6/1942.
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All of the main learning materials on The Holocaust Explained have been designed to be accessible to learners from the age of thirteen to eighteen. We know that different people learn at very different speeds and also in quite different ways. That is why we have added advanced content aimed at people who feel they already have achieved a good basic understanding of a topic, but who wish to explore in greater depth.
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The history of the Holocaust is complex and vast. While The Holocaust Explained is not able to cover every aspect of Holocaust history, it does seek to aid understanding and help learners to navigate through the sequence of events.
For this reason, we have included a timeline of important events in the history of the Holocaust.
What happened in June
On 22 June 1933, the Nazis banned the Social Democratic Party of Germany.
On 30 June 1934, the Night of Long Knives, a purge of the Nazi leadership by Hitler, took place.
On 28 June 1935, Paragraph 175 of the German Criminal Code was revised. This heightened the persecution of gay men.
On 22 June 1941, the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union.
On 9 June 1942, the Nazis liquidated the Czech village of Lidice in response to the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague.
On 6 June 1944, British, Canadian, French and US troops landed on the beaches of German-occupied France. This became known as D-Day.
Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race
These historical photographs depict the forearms of human test subjects after being exposed to nitrogen mustard and lewisite agents in World War II experiments conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of the Naval Research Laboratory hide caption
As a young U.S. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.
When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn't complain. None of them did. Then, a mixture of mustard gas and a similar agent called lewisite was piped inside.
"It felt like you were on fire," recalls Edwards, now 93 years old. "Guys started screaming and hollering and trying to break out. And then some of the guys fainted. And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape."
About This Investigation
This is Part 1 of a two-part investigation on mustard gas testing conducted by the U.S. military during World War II. The second story in this report examines failures by the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide benefits to those injured by military mustard gas experiments.
NPR News Investigations
The VA's Broken Promise To Thousands Of Vets Exposed To Mustard Gas
Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.
"They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins," Edwards says.
An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards' experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.
For the first time, NPR tracked down some of the men used in the race-based experiments. And it wasn't just African-Americans. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Puerto Rican soldiers were also singled out.
Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Courtesy of Rollins Edwards hide caption
Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines.
Courtesy of Rollins Edwards
White enlisted men were used as scientific control groups. Their reactions were used to establish what was "normal," and then compared to the minority troops.
All of the World War II experiments with mustard gas were done in secret and weren't recorded on the subjects' official military records. Most do not have proof of what they went through. They received no follow-up health care or monitoring of any kind. And they were sworn to secrecy about the tests under threat of dishonorable discharge and military prison time, leaving some unable to receive adequate medical treatment for their injuries, because they couldn't tell doctors what happened to them.
Army Col. Steve Warren, director of press operations at the Pentagon, acknowledged NPR's findings and was quick to put distance between today's military and the World War II experiments.
"The first thing to be very clear about is that the Department of Defense does not conduct chemical weapons testing any longer," he says. "And I think we have probably come as far as any institution in America on race. . So I think particularly for us in uniform, to hear and see something like this, it's stark. It's even a little bit jarring."
NPR shared the findings of this investigation with Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who sits on a House subcommittee for veterans affairs. She points to similarities between these tests and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where U.S. government scientists withheld treatment from black sharecroppers in Alabama to observe the disease's progression.
"I'm angry. I'm very sad," Lee says. "I guess I shouldn't be shocked when you look at the syphilis studies and all the other very terrible experiments that have taken place as it relates to African-Americans and people of color. But I guess I'm still shocked that, here we go again."
Segregated troops practice movement in protective gear at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland in the early 1940s. Army Signal Corps via National Archives hide caption
Lee says the U.S. government needs to recognize the men who were used as test subjects while it can still reach some, who are now in their 80s and 90s.
"We owe them a huge debt, first of all. And I'm not sure how you repay such a debt," she says.
Mustard gas damages DNA within seconds of making contact. It causes painful skin blisters and burns, and it can lead to serious, and sometimes life-threatening illnesses including leukemia, skin cancer, emphysema and asthma.
In 1991, federal officials for the first time admitted that the military conducted mustard gas experiments on enlisted men during World War II.
According to declassified records and reports published soon after, three types of experiments were done: Patch tests, where liquid mustard gas was applied directly onto test subjects' skin field tests, where subjects were exposed to gas outdoors in simulated combat settings and chamber tests, where men were locked inside gas chambers while mustard gas was piped inside.
Even once the program was declassified, however, the race-based experiments remained largely a secret until a researcher in Canada disclosed some of the details in 2008. Susan Smith, a medical historian at the University of Alberta in Canada, published an article in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.
U.S. troops in Panama participate in a chemical warfare training exercise with smoke during World War II. Howard R. Wilson/Courtesy of Gregory A. Wilson hide caption
U.S. troops in Panama participate in a chemical warfare training exercise with smoke during World War II.
Howard R. Wilson/Courtesy of Gregory A. Wilson
In it, she suggested that black and Puerto Rican troops were tested in search of an "ideal chemical soldier." If they were more resistant, they could be used on the front lines while white soldiers stayed back, protected from the gas.
The article received little media attention at the time, and the Department of Defense didn't respond.
Despite months of federal records requests, NPR still hasn't been given access to hundreds of pages of documents related to the experiments, which could provide confirmation of the motivations behind them. Much of what we know about the experiments has been provided by the remaining living test subjects.
Juan Lopez Negron, who's Puerto Rican, says he was involved in experiments known as the San Jose Project.
Military documents show more than 100 experiments took place on the Panamanian island, chosen for its climate, which is similar to islands in the Pacific. Its main function, according to military documents obtained by NPR, was to gather data on "the behavior of lethal chemical agents."
One of the studies uncovered by NPR through the Freedom of Information Act was conducted in the Spring 1944. It describes how researchers exposed 39 Japanese American soldiers and 40 white soldiers to mustard and lewisite agents over the course of 20 days. Read the study.
Lopez Negron, now 95 years old, says he and other test subjects were sent out to the jungle and bombarded with mustard gas sprayed from U.S. military planes flying overhead.
"We had uniforms on to protect ourselves, but the animals didn't," he says. "There were rabbits. They all died."
Lopez Negron says he and the other soldiers were burned and felt sick almost immediately.
"I spent three weeks in the hospital with a bad fever. Almost all of us got sick," he says.
Edwards says that crawling through fields saturated with mustard gas day after day as a young soldier took a toll on his body.
Rollins Edwards, who lives in Summerville, S.C., shows one of his many scars from exposure to mustard gas in World War II military experiments. More than 70 years after the exposure, his skin still falls off in flakes. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him. Amelia Phillips Hale for NPR hide caption
"It took all the skin off your hands. Your hands just rotted," he says. He never refused or questioned the experiments as they were occurring. Defiance was unthinkable, he says, especially for black soldiers.
"You do what they tell you to do and you ask no questions," he says.
Edwards constantly scratches at the skin on his arms and legs, which still break out in rashes in the places he was burned by chemical weapons more than 70 years ago.
During outbreaks, his skin falls off in flakes that pile up on the floor. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what he went through.
But while Edwards wanted people to know what happened to him, others — like Louis Bessho — didn't like to talk about it.
His son, David Bessho, first learned about his father's participation as a teenager. One evening, sitting in the living room, David Bessho asked his dad about an Army commendation hanging on the wall. David Bessho, who's now retired from the Army, says the award stood out from several others displayed beside it.
"Generally, they're just kind of generic about doing a good job," he says. "But this one was a bit unusual."
The commendation, presented by the Office of the Army's Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service, says: "These men participated beyond the call of duty by subjecting themselves to pain, discomfort, and possible permanent injury for the advancement of research in protection of our armed forces."
Attached was a long list of names. Where Louis Bessho's name appears on Page 10, the list begins to take on a curious similarity. Names like Tanamachi, Kawasaki, Higashi, Sasaki. More than three dozen Japanese-American names in a row.
"They were interested in seeing if chemical weapons would have the same effect on Japanese as they did on white people," Bessho says his father told him that evening. "I guess they were contemplating having to use them on the Japanese."
(Left) A portrait of Louis Bessho from 1969. (Right) Military orders from April 1944 for Japanese-American soldiers, including Bessho, who were part of the military's mustard gas testing at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland. Left: Courtesy of David Bessho / Right: Army Service Forces, Headquarters Camp Wolters Texas, Courtesy of Marc Bessho hide caption
Documents that were released by the Department of Defense in the 1990s show the military developed at least one secret plan to use mustard gas offensively against the Japanese. The plan, which was approved by the Army's highest chemical warfare officer, could have "easily kill[ed] 5 million people."
Japanese-American, African-American and Puerto Rican troops were confined to segregated units during World War II. They were considered less capable than their white counterparts, and most were assigned jobs accordingly, such as cooking and driving dump trucks.
Susan Matsumoto says her husband, Tom, who died in 2004 of pneumonia, told his wife that he was OK with the testing because he felt it would help "prove he was a good United States citizen."
Matsumoto remembers FBI agents coming to her family's home during the war, forcing them to burn their Japanese books and music to prove their loyalty to the U.S. Later, they were sent to live at an internment camp in Arkansas.
Matsumoto says her husband faced similar scrutiny in the military, but despite that, he was a proud American.
"He always loved his country," Matsumoto says. "He said, 'Where else can you find this kind of place where you have all this freedom?' "
NPR Investigations Research Librarian Barbara Van Woerkom contributed reporting and research to this investigation. NPR Photo Editor Ariel Zambelich and reporters Jani Actman and Lydia Emmanouilidou also contributed to this story.
Dangerous Duty in the North Atlantic
On 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland, and only two days later, the German submarine U-30 sank the British ocean liner SS Athenia off the Irish coast. Of the 1,103 passengers on board, 118 men, women, and children—including 28 Americans—were killed. An American freighter, the SS City of Flint, reached the scene the next morning, joining the Norwegian freighter Knut and the Swedish yacht Southern Cross. City of Flint's crew picked up 238 survivors, some of whom had been wounded in the attack or were suffering from exposure.
The U.S. Coast Guard, hearing of the disaster and the City of Flint's need for medical help, immediately dispatched two of its 327-foot Secretary-class cutters: the Bibb (WPG-31) from Boston and Campbell (WPG-32) from Halifax, Nova Scotia. After the three ships met at night on 9 September, the cutters helped care for and transport the survivors back to the United States.
World War II was only days old, but the Coast Guard's "327s" had already answered the call of duty in what would come to be known as the Battle of the Atlantic. Over the next 3?? years the big cutters would play a key role in the United States' efforts to patrol the Atlantic Ocean, escort convoys, and sink U-boats.
On 5 September, as Bibb and Campbell raced toward their rendezvous, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had declared a Neutrality Zone along the East Coast of the United States. Initially it was a 300-mile-wide strip of ocean bounded on the north by Canadian territorial waters then running south through the Caribbean. The U.S. Navy was to patrol this expanse to report on belligerent activity and prevent British, French, and German warships from attacking merchant ships within the zone's boundaries. The Navy, however, did not have enough ships to watch the vast area effectively and immediately asked for Coast Guard assistance.
The Coast Guard assigned numerous vessels, including six of the seven Secretary- (or Treasury-) class cutters—the Bibb, Campbell, Duane (WPG-33), Alexander Hamilton (WPG-34), Ingham (WPG-35), and Spencer (WPG-36)—to the force. (The seventh, the Taney [WPG-37], would spend most of World War II in the Pacific.) Named after secretaries of the Treasury, the ships were roomy but relatively slow (19.5 knots maximum speed). After the Coast Guard commissioned them in 1936 and '37, one of their main prewar roles had been high-seas search and rescue, and at one time each housed a floatplane in a main-deck hangar.
Beginning in the fall of 1939, the large white-hulled cutters were assigned the outer limits of the Neutrality Zone. As well as other tasks, most of the ships served on weather station patrols, monitoring conditions in specific areas of the Atlantic. Meanwhile, medium-size Coast Guard cutters and U.S. Navy destroyers covered waters closer inshore. To prevent anyone mistaking their identity at night, the cutters steamed with all lights on and each flew a large American flag illuminated by a spotlight.
In 1941, as U-boat attacks on British and Canadian convoys in the central Atlantic increased, the United States was drawn into a more active role in the conflict. Early that summer, President Roosevelt agreed to protect Iceland, and U.S. Marines replaced a British occupying force on the island. Several months later, the President also ordered the U.S. Navy to help escort Allied convoys.
Faced with a shortage of escort ships, the Navy requested on 31 October that all Coast Guard cutters be transferred to its control. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau argued that turning over just the ships would result in logistical and administrative chaos. Consequently, later that day, Roosevelt signed an order transferring the entire Coast Guard to the Navy. With that change came the order to paint the gleaming white cutter hulls regulation Navy haze gray. In addition, the Coast Guard ships' commissioning pennants were replaced with the Navy flags. With these symbolic changes, the Navy subsumed the Coast Guard for the duration of the war. Less than six weeks after the transfer, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States formally entered World War II.
"327s" Become Escorts
The Alexander Hamilton was one of the first cutters actively engaged in convoy escort duty. Following a tumultuous eastbound Atlantic crossing as part of the escort group for Convoy HX-170, she was detached to take in tow the Navy storeship Yukon (AF-9), which was disabled 600 miles southeast of Iceland. For six days the ships battled heavy seas. As they neared Reykjavik on 29 January 1942, the Hamilton turned the tow over to a British tug. Shortly thereafter, at 1313, a torpedo fired by U-132 ripped into the cutter's starboard side, exploding between the boiler and engine rooms and rupturing steam pipes. Twenty of the 21 men in those spaces were instantly killed. The next day the Alexander Hamilton capsized and was sunk by destroyer gunfire, the only Secretary-class cutter lost during the war.
By February, organization of the ocean escorts had been formalized into American, British, and Canadian groups. The Royal Navy primarily covered the western approaches to England, the U.S. Navy protected the mid-Atlantic from its bases in Newfoundland and Iceland, while the Royal Canadian Navy protected the convoys as they departed or arrived off Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
Also in early 1942, Secretary cutters began running a convoy shuttle as part of U.S. Navy Task Force 24. Based at Hvalfjordur, Iceland, the Bibb, Duane, and Ingham covered small convoys out from Reykjavik that were joining westbound ON convoys. The cutters would then usually escort fully loaded ships from either an SC or HX convoy back to Iceland.
The Campbell and Spencer, meanwhile, worked out of Argentia, Newfoundland. They would pick up an eastbound convoy from a Canadian escort group, protect it through storms and U-boats, and then turn it over to a British escort group off Ireland. The American ships then headed to Londonderry, Northern Ireland, for supplies, training, and, hopefully, liberty. From there, they picked up an outbound convoy and battered their way west to Newfoundland.
By the autumn of 1942, the main U-boat menace had moved from the U.S. East Coast back to the North Atlantic. Allied long-range shore-based aircraft extended their patrols as far as 600 miles, but there remained a significant gap in their coverage. This area—known as the Devil's Gorge, the Black Hole, or Torpedo Junction—was a prime hunting ground for U-boats. By December, at least six convoys were simultaneously in the North Atlantic, and the available escort ships were not enough to stop the U-boats' slaughter.
The Ingham Records a Kill
On 17 December, the Ingham was on the western edge of the air gap, sweeping ahead of eastbound Convoy SC-112. Two days earlier, while helping escort eight ships from Iceland to a rendezvous with westbound ONS-152, the cutter had dropped a single 600-pound depth charge on a sound contact. On the night of the 17th, the Ingham's sonar was turned off and her sonarman, Mike Sasso, was listening for screw noise with the hydrophones. The ship's CO, Commander George McCabe, knew from hard experience that the sonar's pinging could be heard by a U-boat beyond the range an escort could detect the sub.
Suddenly, at 2315, Sasso heard the screw beats of a U-boat only 1,200 yards ahead. "The contact was fast there was a lot of motion, a lot of movement," he recalled. As the cutter neared the target, however, Sasso lost the contact. The officer of the deck, Lieutenant Ed Osborne nevertheless ordered a depth charge dropped. "It was a shallow charge, and as that thing exploded, the ship quivered, really quivered," Sasso said. Two more depth charges were quickly dropped, and at full speed the Ingham turned and headed back to make another attack.
With the active sonar switch on, Sasso again picked up the U-boat: "It was beautiful, a metallic sound, real clear." But suddenly, there was no movement from the boat, and the Ingham passed over her without dropping any charges. But on her third pass, the cutter again attacked, dropping 5,000 pounds worth of explosives. A subsequent sonar sweep failed to find a contact, and with the convoy approaching the area, McCabe broke off the search.
While Commander McCabe was certain he had sunk a U-boat, the Navy was not convinced. But after a postwar examination of German records, the Navy and British Admiralty credited the Ingham's single 15 December depth charge with sinking U-626. The Coast Guard, however, maintains that the cutter's attacks two days later destroyed the same U-boat.
The Campbell's Night Encounter
The winter of 1942-43 would be the Battle of the Atlantic's most bitterly fought season. The mid-ocean U.S. escort groups were built around either the Campbell or Spencer, supported by a few U.S. Navy destroyers and corvettes from the Canadian, Free Polish, and/or Free French navies. The Bibb, Duane, and Ingham were also still operating from Iceland.
On 21 February, the Campbell was on her way to rejoin Convoy ON-166 after rescuing 50 survivors of the torpedoed Norwegian freighter Nielson Alonso. At 1955 her radar picked up the convoy about 16,000 yards ahead. Fifteen minutes later, however, the radarman reported a contact at only 4,600 yards on a bearing well clear of the convoy. It soon became clear that it was traveling in the opposite direction of the convoy. Commander James A. Hirschfield, the cutter's skipper, believed the target might be a submarine that had run between ON-166's columns of merchant ships, firing torpedoes at the vessels, and was now making her escape on the surface. In fact, U-606 had torpedoed three of the convoy's ships, but the Polish destroyer Berza counterattacked with depth charges, driving her down to dangerous depths, more than 750 feet, and causing extensive external and internal damage. Shortly after the U-boat surfaced, the Campbell's radar found her.
The night was overcast with the seas running six to eight feet as the Campbell went to general quarters. By the time her gun crews saw U-606 to starboard, the submarine was so close the 5-inch guns could not be depressed enough to fire at her. The ship's 20-mm guns and aft starboard 3-incher, however, took her in their sights and opened up. Full right rudder was ordered, and the cutter closed to ram the submarine. Instead, she struck a glancing blow and the U-boat's hydroplane opened a large gash in the Campbell's hull. As U-606 cleared her stern, the cutter dropped two depth charges set at 50 feet. Their detonations practically lifted the U-boat out of the water and badly shook the cutter, which was rapidly losing speed.
While the vessels drifted clear of each other, the Campbell's 20-mm and 3-inch guns raked the U-boat's conning tower and deck. The gunfire continued for about 10 minutes until a German sailor flashed a distress signal. Twelve members of the U-boat's 47-man crew were rescued by the Campbell and Burza. At 0420 the next day, the wrecked and scuttled U-606 disappeared beneath the waves. The disabled cutter, meanwhile, was towed to Newfoundland for repairs.
The Spencer's Lopsided Fight
The last significant encounter between U-boats and 327s took place on 17 April, as the Spencer and Duane were escorting Convoy HX-233. Just before 1100, one of the Spencer's sonarmen detected a U-boat attempting to slip past the convoy's escort screen. Commander Harold S. Berdine, the cutter's commanding officer, ordered a barrage of 11 depth charges set to explode at only 50 to 100 feet. U-175 was 65 feet deep when the explosions cracked and twisted her pressure hull. The boat began an uncontrolled dive, and when her skipper, Lieutenant Heinrich Bruns, and crew were able to bring her under control, another barrage of Spencer depth charges caused further damage. Battery containers were smashed, releasing toxic chlorine gas, and two of the bow torpedoes began hot runs but could not be fired because of the sub's depth. Without waiting for Bruns' order, the U-boat's engineer gave the command to surface.
At 1138, U-175 popped up 2,500 yards from the Spencer, and the cutter's gunners opened fire. Lieutenant Bruns was one of the first killed as the U-boat crew began climbing out of the sub and attempted to abandon ship. None of the Germans hoisted a white flag, and the one-sided close-range battle continued. Earl Skinner, a crewman in the Spencer, observed a 5-inch shell hit the conning tower of the surfaced U-boat as survivors jumped into the water. "The periscope had probably been knocked off," he recalled. "The tower was a mass of twisted steel."
The Duane soon joined in, firing all her gun batteries. Simultaneously, Armed Guard gunners on merchant vessels in the rear columns of the convoy also opened fire. A member of the Duane's crew, Victor Bogard, remembered that "Whenever a shell exploded on the German submarine, many crew members would shout and cheer. . . . When thinking about it at a later date, you wonder how a human can cheer at the sight of another person being killed. But the rules of warfare are: Kill or be killed."
After seven minutes, the ships ceased firing and a Coast Guard boarding party from the Spencer headed for the smoking U-boat. By the time it reached the submarine, she was quickly sinking and boarding her was too dangerous. Instead, the party began picking up German survivors. Along with the Duane, the Spencer rescued 41 of U-175's 54-man crew.
In April, the British and Canadians assumed full responsibility for escorting the North Atlantic convoys, while the U.S. Navy took control of the transatlantic route between the United States and the Mediterranean. Also at this time, long-awaited American destroyer escorts (DEs) and patrol frigates (PFs) appeared in significant numbers, augmenting or replacing older cutters and destroyers. The Coast Guard would man 30 DEs, organized in five escort divisions, and 74 PFs, primarily assigned to weather-station duty.
The valuable wartime contributions of the Bibb, Campbell, Duane, Ingham, and Spencer, however, did not end when they were relieved of North Atlantic convoy duty. The 327s were later converted to amphibious-force flagships and served in the Pacific theater. After the war, the ships reverted to Coast Guard control and were reconfigured as peacetime cutters.
Arnold Hague, The Allied Convoy System 1939-1945 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000).
Reg Ingraham, First Fleet (Cornwall, NY: Bobbs-Merill Company, 1944).
Arch A. Mercey and Lee Grove, eds., Sea, Surf and Hell (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1946).
Jurgen Rohwer and Gerhard Hummelchen, The Chronology of the War at Sea, 1939-1945, rev. ed. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1992).
Robert L. Scheina, U.S. Coast Guard Cutters & Craft of World War II (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1982).
U.S. Coast Guard Public Information Division, The Coast Guard at War: Transports and Escorts V, Vol. 1 (Washington, DC, 1949).
Dan Van der Vat, The Atlantic Campaign (New York: Harper & Row, 1988).
CAPT John M. Waters, USCG (Ret.), Bloody Winter, rev. ed. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1987).
Ships' logs, war diaries, and after-action reports for the Coast Guard cutters: USS Bibb, Campbell, Duane, Alexander Hamilton, Ingham, and Spencer National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, MD (hereinafter cited as NARA).
End of the War Looms
President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away on April 12, 1945 leaving Harry S. Truman in the presidency during the second world war. By the end of the month Mussolini would be killed by Italian Partisans and Adolph Hitler would commit suicide.
On May 8, 1945 the Allied Powers accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
In early August under President Truman's orders, the United States Enola Gay dropped Atomic Weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. On August 15 Emperor Hirohito announced over the radio to the Japanese people that Japan would accept the terms that the Allies had set forth at the Potsdam Conference. The formal surrender took place on September 2 on board the USS Missouri.
22 June 1942 - History
HOPL IV will be held Sunday, June 20, through Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
To attend HOPL IV, visit the main page for PLDI 2021 and follow the instructions there (register if you have not already done so once you are registered, click the button that says “ Virtual Conference Site ” and then click “Sign Up” to create a password for attending).
Register to attend HOPL IV
HOPL IV will be held Sunday, June 20, through Tuesday, June 22, 2021.
To register for HOPL IV, visit the registration page for PLDI 2021.
Your single conference registration there includes access to all three days of HOPL IV, all three days of PLDI, and all other colocated conferences, workshops, and tutorials.
The main PLDI conference will be Wednesday, June 23, through Friday, June 25. For other affiliated events, see the PLDI 2021 website.
Still current! (13 Sep 2020) HOPL IV will be virtual, co-located with PLDI 2021
Since HOPL IV was postponed from its originally planned dates in June 2020, we have worked with SIGPLAN to co-locate HOPL IV with PLDI 2021. However, because of the continuing COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, SIGPLAN has now determined that there will not be a physical meeting for HOPL or PLDI in June 2021 both conferences will be virtual, held online.
HOPL IV will be held Sunday, June 20, through Tuesday, June 22, 2021. The main PLDI conference will be Wednesday, June 23, through Friday, June 25. For other affiliated events, see the PLDI 2021 website.
We will post additional information here after more details have been worked out.
HOPL IV, like PLDI, follows the ACM Policy Against Harassment at ACM Activities. Please familiarize yourself with the policy and guide for reporting unacceptable behavior.
We thank everyone who has contributed so far to HOPL IV by submitting papers, reviewing and shepherding them, and preparing them for publication, and we also thank our amazing sponsors for their support.
Still current! (12 Jun 2020) HOPL IV papers are now available
All 19 HOPL IV papers, as well as an Editorial Message and Appendices explaining the HOPL IV reviewing process, have been published and are now available in the ACM Digital Library as the June 2020 issue of PACMPL.
All PACMPL papers—and therefore all HOPL IV papers—are published Open Access, thus making them freely accessible for all through the ACM Digital Library.
Guy Steele and Richard Gabriel, Co-chairs, HOPL IV
The History of Programming Languages conference series produces accurate historical records and descriptions of programming language design, development, and philosophy. It is infrequently held: the first three were in 1978, 1993, and 2007. It’s now time for HOPL IV.
OLD! (12 Jun 2020) HOPL IV will be postponed Because of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation, SIGPLAN has determined that there will not be a physical meeting for HOPL or PLDI in June. HOPL IV will be postponed PLDI 2020 will be a virtual conference. We are working with SIGPLAN to identify a new time and place for the physical HOPL meeting, probably in the first half of 2021. We will post additional information here once the details have been worked out. We thank everyone who has contributed so far to HOPL IV by submitting papers, reviewing and shepherding them, and preparing them for publication, and we also thank our amazing sponsors for their support.
OLD! (28 Feb 2020) We are pleased to announce the List of Accepted Papers. These are the nineteen papers that will be presented in London in June. The complete conference schedule will be posted soon, and conference registration will open in mid-March.
OLD! (22 Feb 2019) Now posted for the benefit of authors (as well as anyone else who cares to look) are two documents that have been used to guide the work of the HOPL IV program committee: HOPL IV Reviewing Principles (a guide for those reviewing HOPL papers, with comments on how HOPL differs from other SIGPLAN conferences) and HOPL Shepherding (a guide for program committee members serving as shepherds).
OLD! (3 May 2018) The submissions website for HOPL IV at hopl4.hotcrp.com is now open. See the updated Call for Papers for detailed instructions on how and when to submit an abstract and then a full paper. Abstracts are due by 31 July 2018 first drafts of full papers are due by 31 August 2018.
OLD! (13 Feb 2018) We have now completed and posted all four sets of Questions for Authors, addressing Early History of a specific language, later Evolution of a specific language, cross-language examination of a specific Feature or Concept, and consideration of a Class of Languages having a common theme or purpose. Authors please see the Content Guidelines for Authors for a description of how to use these questions while preparing a paper.