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Major Kermit Roosevelt_One of Teddy’s Military Sons

I received a bonus when I purchased an old copy of Foreign Service Magazine dated July, 1943.

The feature article detailed the role of the U.S. Coast Guard during World War Two and I wrote about that at this link, Global Warfare with the U.S. Coast Guard, 1943.

In paging through the rest of the magazine I came across the obituary of Major Kermit Roosevelt who died June 4th, 1943 at age 53 in Alaska where he was posted.

Major Roosevelt was the son of Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and the 26th President of the United States. President Roosevelt had become a member of the V.F.W. in 1907 when the organization was known as American Veterans of Foreign Service. The organization changed its name in 1913 to become the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars of the United States. Major Roosevelt was eligible to the V.F. W. because of his service in World War One and World War Two.

Scanned from the July, 1943 issue of Foreign Service Magazine. Major Kermit Roosevelt.

Scanned from the July, 1943 issue of Foreign Service Magazine. Major Kermit Roosevelt.

Major Kermit Roosevelt had a very interesting wartime service record.

The magazine obituary states the following…

“In June 1917, he was commissioned a Captain in the British Army, serving with the Motor Machine Guns in Mesopotamia until June, 1918, when he was transferred to the Seventh Field Artillery, First Division, U.S. Army.

In 1939. Colonel Roosevelt was commissioned a Major in the Middlesex Regiment of the British Army. A year later, as a Colonel with the Finnish Army, he raised volunteers in England for the Finnish Campaign (against Russia); then participated in the Norwegian Campaign (against Germany) from March to June, 1940 with the British Army. after serving in Egypt in August, 1940, he was invalided to England in December, 1940, and returned to the United States in June, 1941. He wore the British Military Cross and the Montenegrin War Cross.”

According to WIKI Colonel Roosevelt battled depression and alcoholism and that led to his suicide in June, 1943. The obituary I just quoted from in the magazine did not mention how the colonel died.

The Wiki article adds a great deal of detail to Major Roosevelt’s life such as how he came to be an officer in the British Army and why his suicide was reported as a heart aliment. I recommend the link to learn more about Major Roosevelt’s life as a writer, businessman and officer in three armies.

Kermit Roosevelt had two brothers who also died on active service with the US military.

Quentin Roosevelt, one of Kermit’s younger brothers was a fighter pilot in World War One. He was killed in action in July, 1918.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was Kermit’s older brother. Theodore Roosevelt the second is perhaps the best known of the President’s sons. “Ted” as he was known was one of the first general officers ashore on Utah Beach during the Normandy landings despite the fact he suffered from crippling arthritis and needed a cane as well as a heart condition that would kill him 36 days after the landing.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. with his cane. His jeep was named "Rough Rider, after his father's regiment during the Spanish American War.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. with his cane. His jeep was named “Rough Rider, after his father’s regiment during the Spanish-American War.

Theodore Roosevelt Jr. was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on D-Day.

It can be said that “Teddy’s” three sons followed in the military foot steps of their patriotic father.

 

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They Never Came Home: A Story of Three Brothers Who Fought in the Civil War

They Never Came Home: A Story of Three Brothers Who Fought in the Civil War.

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Global Warfare with the US Coast Guard 1943

Growing up in the sixties it seemed I was surrounded by World War 2 veterans. Pogo lived down the street from us. His dad was a veteran of the US Navy. My dad was an Army veteran and served post-war (45-46) as a Military Policeman in Cologne and Geissen, Germany. My my uncle was an army veteran who fought in Italy as part of the 10th Mountain Division. My dad’s fishing buddy was a B-24 pilot based in Italy during the war. It seemed that every male I had contact with saw some service in World War 2.

The one I found the most unusual was my friend Peter’s dad. It seemed that everyone’s dad was either in the Marines, Army, (or Army Air Corp as it was called in WW2), or the Navy, Peter’s dad was in the Coast Guard. As a ten-year-old I had no idea what the Coast Guard was and automatically thought it was a “lesser” kind of Navy.

I remember my friend Gary telling me that his dad’s service had something to do with small boats and guarding our coasts from Nazi submarines. That was cool anyway!

All this came to mind on a rummage\antique excursion my wife and I took last year. I scored big and for a few dollars snagged a copy of Foreign Service Magazine dated July, 1943. The featured article was titled, Global Warfare with the U.S. Coast Guard by Vice Admiral Russell R. Waesche.

Foreign Service Mag Coast Guard

Foreign Service Magazine was published monthly by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Today the magazine is called VFW Magazine and is for members of that organization.

The admiral’s article is a two page account of the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard was established in 1915 when the US Revenue Cutter Service was combined with the US Life Saving Service. During wartime the Coast Guard becomes part of the Navy and its duties expanded.

In addition to the Coast Guard’s peacetime duties like ice breaking, maintaining shore stations, being an aid to navigation and patrolling (these days chasing down drug runners) the wartime Coast Guard assisted with naval landings of marines and army troops, escorting transports and hunting down Japanese and German submarines.

The cover of this issue is interesting. It features the crew of a cutter (small warship) with one guardsman preparing a depth charge while the other is ready to engage an enemy sub with a Lewis Gun of World War One vintage. The American flag is prominently displayed lending patriotism to a dramatic piece of wartime art. The art work seems to portray a couple of historical examples from the Second World War that the admiral uses.

One notable story is about the Cutter Campbell a 327 cutter that engaged six German submarines. Five of the subs were engaged with depth charges while the sixth was rammed and then sunk with gunfire from the Campbell (pictured below in 1940)! The Campbell was badly damaged in the fight and finally reached port after being towed 800 miles through waters still patrolled by German U-boats.

"USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) at New York Navy Yard 1940" by USCG - U.S. Coast Guard [1] photo [2]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USCGC_Campbell_(WPG-32)_at_New_York_Navy_Yard_1940.jpg#/media/File:USCGC_Campbell_(WPG-32)_at_New_York_Navy_Yard_1940.jpg

“USCGC Campbell (WPG-32) at New York Navy Yard 1940” by USCG – U.S. Coast Guard [1] photo [2]. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:USCGC_Campbell_(WPG-32)_at_New_York_Navy_Yard_1940.jpg#/media/File:USCGC_Campbell_(WPG-32)_at_New_York_Navy_Yard_1940.jpg Full history of the wartime history of the Campbell can be read at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USCGC_Campbell_(WPG-32).

The article goes on to say how the Coast Guard was performing a vital role in keeping the transatlantic supply lines open.

In July 1943 the Allied Armies had just won the North African Campaign (concluded May, 1943) and had invaded Sicily, the first step in taking Italy out of the war. The Coast Guard escorted thousands of transports with men and supplies to the fighting fronts keeping the vast majority safe from submarines.

At the time of article’s writing the Coast Guard had recently assisted the Navy in landing US Marines on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands on the other side of the world. Eventually (shown below) the Marines on Guadalcanal would be replaced by US Army troops.

The U.S. Coast Guard though small performed vital service during World War Two and in continues to do so today.

When I was about 16 a co-worker of my mom’s who I kind of knew joined the Coast Guard. He encouraged me to do so when I turned 18 like he had just done.

At the time the Vietnam War and the draft were still in full swing.  The Coast Guard with an opportunity to possibly serve on the Great Lakes (we lived in Milwaukee on the shores of L. Michigan) seemed attractive for more reason than one.

Shortly after my mom’s co-worker sales pitch my uncle Bill came to visit my mom, his sister. I had admired Uncle Bill, a career Navy man since I was in diapers. I told Uncle Bill that I was thinking of joining the Coast Guard rather than “his” Navy. With a wry smile on his face he asked me why would I want to do that when the Coast Guard only went into the water up to their knees. Typical inter-service rivalry I suppose.

Frankly, I think I would have been happy to be in either service given my fascination with war ships.

 

 

 

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D-Day

Nice remembrance from the Pacific Paratrooper blog.

Pacific Paratrooper

D-Day from Dixon

Announcement
(By The Associated Press)

A dramatic 10-second interval preceded the official announcement today that the invasion had begun.

Over a trans-Atlantic radio-telephone hookup direct from supreme headquarters, allied expeditionary force, to all major press services, and broadcasting networks in the United States came the voice of Col. R. Ernest Dupuy, Gen. Eisenhower’s public relations officer.

“This is supreme headquarters, allied expeditionary force,” Dupuy said. “The text of communique No. 1 will be released to the press and radio of the United States in 10 seconds.”

Then the seconds were counted off — one, two, three . . . and finally ten.

“Under the command of General Eisenhower,” slowly read Col. Dupuy, “allied naval forces supported by strong air forces began landing allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France.”

Thus, officially, the world was told the news which it had been awaiting…

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British WW1 Cannon

There is a World War One British cannon on display in a small park in Wabasha, MN.

photo 1

Side view British 60pdr, Wabasha, MN

photo 2

Loading view British 60pdr, Wabasha MN. A 60pdr is equivalent to a 127mm or 5″ gun in American terms.

photo 3

Front view, British 60pdr Wabasha, MN

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ID plate British 60pdr Wabasha MN. Another damaged plate identified the gun as being manufactured by Armstrong/Whitworth.

 

The only information as to how and why a British canon became part of park in Wabasha is this:

This park features a prominent WW1 cannon from the early 1900’s. The cannon was almost salvaged but, thanks to community members, was placed in the park and has become a landmark near the middle of town.–

The canon is a British 60pdr or a five inch gun (127mm). It was the standard heavy gun that served in the British and Canadian armies during World War One.

According to Wiki the US acquired a few batteries of 60pdrs for evaluation purposes after WW1 but never adopted it for US service. Presumably, the gun in Wabasha was one of the these guns and the good citizens of Wabasha rescued the damaged gun from the scrap heap.

Since there isn’t a plaque in Canon Park commemorating US involvement in WW1 I’m guessing that the citizens just wanted a canon in the park to commemorate Minnesota’s involvement in all US wars.

The gun is marked as being produced by Armstrong, the main supplier of the weapon to the British Army.

Guns of this nature were combined into batteries and used to shell the enemy trench lines prior to an infantry attack. World War One is known as the war of artillery once the armies bogged down into trench warfare. If an artillery bombardment could suppress the enemy machine guns and infantry then one’s own infantry could attack and carry the enemies’ trench line. This was rarely the case but all participants used the tactic in the hopes of achieving a breakthrough that would end the bloodshed.

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If Wishes Came True

Below is one of my recent World War One era postcards finds:

If  Wishes Came True

If Wishes Came True

The card is post marked from Rockford, IL and dated November 20, 1917. World War One would have one more year to go before the brutal fighting would be over. The US declared war on Germany in April of 1917 and was well on its way to mobilizing the National Guard and implementing the draft. I imagine that the sender of this card was a member of the National Guard or a recent draftee.

The Wisconsin National Guard was ordered into federal service on July 15th, 1917 about 3 months after the US declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. The organization of the Wisconsin Guard can be found here: Wisconsin National Guard, July 1917

The theme of the card reflects a common theme that soldiers and sailors from all countries involved in war express-the missing of sweethearts, wives and often children.

The soldier in this case appears to be a typical “doughboy” wearing the distinctive campaign hat. He is dreaming of his sweetheart and imagining the two of them together again. She appears in a rather ghostly type image and together they look like they are in a park. The scene seems to remind them of a time when war did not interrupt their plans of being together.

The painting is signed by Archie Gunn a well-known painter and illustrator during the period.

The card is addressed to Miss Bertha Nelson of Briggsville, Wis[consin] RR#1. RR stands for Rural Route. Briggsville is a small rural community in the Wisconsin Dells area.

If Wishes Came True

If Wishes Came True

A quick Google search for Bertha Nelson turned up quite a few hits but none that seemed to match the approximate age of the name on the card in 1917. Perhaps someone doing genealogy will find this post and recognize Miss Bertha Nelson.

The card is from “Walter.” My wife translated his writing into something legible. This is what he had to say:

Dear Bertha: Recd your letter and pictures. Thank you for them. Am well and hope this finds you all the same. Forty of our men left for Arkansas Saturday. Walter P. and Soren had to go. They say they were not so well fit for the artillery. I think they go in infantry. That’s what we hear anyway. I don’t think there was anything wrong with Soren or Walter. But we have to do what they say and not what we want about all the friends we made are gone but I know most all the rest and hope we stick together. With love, Walter.

Judging from what Walter has to say here he is most likely assigned to an Artillery Regiment. If it’s the Wisconsin National Guard unit mentioned above it would be The First Wisconsin Field Artillery Regiment.

My research on the Wisconsin soldiers of the National Guard seem to verify the Walter was a member of the First Wisconsin Field Artillery Regiment because after mobilization they were sent to Camp Grant,  Rockford, IL. The Wisconsin National Guard was combined with the Michigan National Guard to form the 32nd Infantry Division known as the “Red Arrow” Division which saw service in both World Wars.

Monument to the 32nd Infantry Division in my area.

Monument to the 32nd Infantry Division in my area.

This is a wonderful addition to my small collection of post cards. I hope a relative of Miss Bertha Nelson finds this on the INET. I’d be happy to donate it to an appreciative family member.

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Honey, Don’t Go_pre-WW1 postcard by De Witt

Recently my wife and I had lunch at the Sprecher Restaurant in Lake Geneva, WI. If you are ever in the area it is certainly worth the stop. The food is excellent and they serve an excellent variety of craft beers.

After lunch we pursued our hobby of visiting the local antique stores (or rummage sales since we are not all that picky). There is what I would call a high-end antique store in Lake Geneva that features some of the finest antique furniture around. Usually, an antique store like that does not profit from us for a host of reasons but sometimes I find something small that fits into one of my niche hobbies-in this case, a pre-World War One postcard.

An officer reviews his command while his wife or sweetheart seems to hold him back.

For old Glory and you my honey
I go with the fellows in blue

The postcard is not addressed and there isn’t any message on the back. It asks for a one-cent stamp and was made in Germany and that’s about all the useful information that was on the back.

It reads in the lower right Photo only Copyright 1907 De Witt C. Wheeler.

A quick INET search turned up some information on Mr. Wheeler and a series of postcards known as the illustrated song series. (Link-The New Found Photography)

My find is apparently from the illustrated song series. In our post-modern culture it seems corny or dated or both to think of love, romance and family life in such a traditional way. In the case above De Witt links the above themes with pre-World War patriotism.

The subject matter features a unit of U.S. Cavalry headed in one direction and a column of U.S. Infantry in the back ground headed in another. The cavalrymen appear to be looking at the couple and in the direction of the camera while the doughboys (slang for WWI American Infantry) are oblivious to the posed drama being played out.

The date on the card is 1907 or ten years prior to the US entry into World War One, The soldiers wear the distinctive campaign hat that was a feature of the American Army well into World War 2. When I was in the Army in the early seventies our drill instructors still wore them and for all I know still do.

The uniforms the soldiers wear are khaki despite the reference in the song to the “fellows in blue.”

US Soldiers in the Spanish-American War fought in the blue uniforms as illustrated by this print from Brassey’s.

The uniform of American soldiers in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

The uniform of American soldiers in the Spanish-American War of 1898.

It was however a period of transition between the traditional blue and khaki. It is possible that De Witt colorized the blue from the Spanish-American War to the post-war khaki.

For three bucks the card is a nice addition to my small collection of cards.

 

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