Monday, April 17, 2017

Great Blunders of WWII: Japan's Mistakes at Midway 7

This is one of a series of movies about blunders made in WWII.  This deals with the Japanese blunders at Midway.  The idea of Midway was a very good idea.  The Americans would have to defend Midway, and Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto was hoping to eliminate the rest of the U.S. Navy in the Pacific.  However his superiors decided to eXpand the operation.  They added an attack on the Aleutians, with the logic the U.S. fleet would have to defend and be more scattered.  The other addition was a sea attack on Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.  In this way they could threaten Australia.  they committed three carriers to this operation.  Even though in the Battle of Coral Sea which took place as a result, they damaged Yorktown and sunk Lexington, for their own part, one carrier was sunk, another badly damaged, and a third lost most of its planes.  This left only four carriers for Midway.  The Japanese assumed Yorktown had been sunk.  The U.S. had a repaired Yorktown available, as well as Enterprise and Hornet.  Yamamoto felt these carriers were in Hawaii, but had not confirmed this.  However, due to cracking of the Japanese code system, the U.S. knew that Midway was the major focus of the Japanese attack.  The carriers were ready and waiting.  The U.S. also had a landing strip and planes on Midway Island, including high flying B-17 bombers.  The first wave against Midway caused considerable damage, but the run way remained serviceable, and many planes were spared.  As the Japanese prepared for a second assault against Midway, his ships were attacked, and three carriers sunk.  The fourth counter-attacked against Yorktown, causing serious damage.  Eventually Yorktown was sunk by submarine torpedoes.  This fourth carrier was itself counter attacked and destroyed.  The end result, over three thousand Japanese dead, four carriers, and one cruisers sunk, another cruiser damaged.  On the American side over three hundred dead, one carrier lost and one destroyer sunk.

Memphis Belle: The Story Of A Flying Fortress (1944)

This is the WWII documentary from William Wyler.  This film documented the day in the life of B-17 bombers, and particularly the Memphis Belle, which completed its 25th and last bombing mission.  After this mission, the crew was retired to teaching other aviators, and the plane was also retired and is in the Smithsonian today.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Battlefield: S1 E3: The battle of Midway

The most decisive Naval battle of WWII changed the course of the war.  This is a very good day by day and blow by blow description of the battle, including the battle of Coral Sea which took place shortly before, and had influence on the Battle of Midway.  A single day changed the course of the war, and Japan went from the offense to defense.
Carriers lost at the Battle of Midway.  the Japanese lost over 3000 men, and all the planes and most of the pilots involved.  The pilots were mostly killed in their planes on the decks of the carriers.  The United States lost over 300 men, and two thirds of the aircraft involved.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Battle of Midway — A John Ford Documentary Masterpiece

This is the documentary movie John Ford made from the footage he took during the battle of Midway.  He selected a raised area on Midway Island from which to film, and was actually wounded in the endeavour.  You can see in the film where this happens with the close bombing.  the most important news was what came at the end, the report of the turn in the war as Japan lost four carriers.  Though early in the war, this proved to be a turning point.  

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Documentary Review: Five Came Back (2017)

This is a made for Netflix documentary.  It presents the stories of five movie makers, big Hollywood directors, who took time away from their Hollywood careers, to serve in the military and document the war.  they could be called propagandists.  A part of their effort was to encourage the buying of war bonds.  On occasion, the documentaries were released for presentation in theaters.  However most often they were used as shorts before movies.
The five directors chronicled are William Wyler, John Huston, John Ford, George Stevens and Frank Capra.
Capra provided a very big service.  He director "Why we Fight" films.  this included "Prelude to War" which at first was not allowed to be shown because it was felt to be too negative towards the Germans.  However it was shown by Capra to win an Oscar.  Capra also produced training films for the service men.  The first movie he made after the war is "Its a  Wonderful Life" a box office disaster, but a classic in the long run.
John Huston was first a writer, but then started directing to better control his work.  He had made "Maltese Falcon" before the war.  The biggest movie he made during the war was "Let There Be Light" a look at the effects of war fatigue on soldiers.  Today we call this PTSD.  He also worked on documenting the war in the Aleutian Islands.  His first film after the war was "Treasure of the Sierra Madre."
John Ford was already a big name director before the war.  He had made "Stage Coach," "Young Mr. Lincoln" and :The Grapes of Wrath."  His first success during the war was "The Battle of Midway," in which he was wounded.  This movie won as Oscar as well.  He was with the troops in North Africa and also made a film there.  He went back and made a movie about Pearl Harbor as well.  After the war, his first film was "They Were Expendable" telling the story of the PT Boats.
George Stevens was a director of comedies before the war.  However he never went back to this.  As part of his duties, he documented the atrocities in "Nazi Concentration Camps."  Much of his work was used in the war crimes trials after the war.  His most important work after the war was "Diary of Anne Frank."
William Wyler won the Oscar for best director for his last film before the war.  Mrs. Miniver told the story of a British family and the effects the war was having on them.  By the time it was released the Americans were at war as well.  During the war he documented the Memphis Belle in "The Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress."  He remained close to the men of the Memphis Belle his entire life.  After the war his first film was "The Best years of Our Lives" which dealt with Post traumatic Stress of three veterans, including one who lost his hands.  This movie won several Oscars and was a box office success.  He would later make the movie Ben Hur.
Commentators included Steven Spielberg and Guillermo Del Toro.
These men all risked their lives during the war.  They were some of the over 5000 movie people who joined the war effort.  they were all changed for their experience.  It was a sacrifice to leave their careers, but after returning their movie making seemed even better.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sagwitch, Shoshone Chieftan, Mormon Elder 1822-1887

This brief article is from Legacy: International Society: Daughters of Utah Pioneers
few People know or remember that some very important Shoshone Native American men were prominent leaders in the early days of the Mormon Church.
Chief Sagwitch of the Northwestern Shoshone tribe lived on the lower Bear River and was wounded at the Bear River Massacre January 29, 1863.  Many of his family were killed.  Nevertheless, during the years immediately following the massacre, the chief and his band came to know the Mormon residents of Brigham City and he joined the Mormon Church under the tutelage of Mormon missionary George Washington Hill and followed the steps of the Priesthood to become an Elder.
Sagwitch homesteaded land near Portage, Utah and also at Washakie, a small Mormon-sponsored Indian community in Box Elder County.  It is recorded that he helped build the Temple in Logan, Utah.  He experienced the traditional Indian patterns of hunting and gathering to the adjustment of adapting successfully to both EuroAmerican and religious influences.
His descendant included Moroni Timbimboo, the first native American Bishop in the Mormon Church and Bruce Parry, for many years director of Utah's Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The DUP Camp in Paradise, Utah was named in honor of Chief Sagwitch as well as two mountain peaks and a basin between the Cache and Ogden valleys.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Book review: Nettie's Trip South

Nettie's Trip South by Ann Turner, illustrated by Ronald Himler, Alladin Paperbacks,  New York, 1987.
This is actual a book of fiction, describing a trip South just before the Cicil War.  The author says this of the book, "This story is inspired by my great grandmother Henrietta
'a [Nettie's] diary of her trip South, taken in 1859 when she was a young woman.  there, she witnessed a slave auction and returned home a committed abolitionist.  As she said in her own words, 'All I have heard of slaver seemed unreal until now that I see for myself.'"
The story of this book is a young woman, traveling South with her older brother and sister, just before the Civil.  Her brother was determined to see conditions, and to see a slave auction.  It appears he was writing a paper.  It describes the auction, and the slaves being required to jump when told to do so.  They slaves did not have last names, just their first.  Families meant nothing to the overseer, so without a last name they could removed easily from relatives.  The story tells of two siblings being separated.  It also confronts the idea of three fifths of a person according to the constitution, because all the people for full people.
The story tells of the profound effect on the author, who now has nightmares.
Slavery was a nightmare for our country, and lead to inevitable results to get rid of it.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Article Review: Exotic WWI Spy Mata Hari

Utah State Magazine Spring 2017, article by Janelle Hyatt.
This article is based on an interview with Tammy Proctor, who was recently interviewed as an expert for a featured BBC documentary about Mata Hari, the spy that was executed by the French during WWI.  The French government said her actions lead to the deaths of thousands of men, as many as 750,000 by some acounts.  Mata Hari was a woman who had survived childhood abuse, and then spousal abuse.  She was left on her own with no means of support, and she needed money to get her who she had been forced to leave when she left her husband.   She was of Dutch descent living in France.  She finally found she could make a living as an exotic dancer.  However when the WWI all her assets were frozen, because she was Dutch.  Then she became a spy.  Mata Hari was a double agent, a spy for the French who was also spying for the Germans.  The legend has her as a seductress, who was able to get information from men when they were the most vulnerable, in bed.  However Proctor contends she wasn't even a very good spy.  She was not responsible for so much destruction. The myth around her actual does a disservice to those women who were actual spies during the time.   MI-5 actually employed 800 female spies during the war.  I may well have been the Mata Hari was set up with fabricated evidence.  She was shot on October 15, 1917.  She refused a blindfold.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Chapter Review: Did Pocahontas Save John Smith?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
About the only source that Pocahontas saved John Smith from her father, Powhatan, comes from John Smith himself.  There are no other first party corroborating statements.  The statement wasn't released until some years after the events.  there was a great age difference between Smith and Pocahontas.  However Smith never claimed the relationship was romantic.  It seems Pocahontas helped many with her influence and generosity.  However parts the the story don't make sense.  The author draws the conclusion that to Smith, maybe things appeared like Pocahontas saved him, while instead it may have been part of an adoption into the tribe ritual.  That Smith needed a sponsor.  This would have been a traditional death and rebirth ritual.  Smith would have felt intimidated by Powhatan, and grateful to Pocahontas.  
As for me, I accept the story as written by Smith, because I like the story, and I don't want to take away from the bravery of Pocahontas. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Chapter Review: What Happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History by Paul Aron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
The Roanoke colonist predated the Jamestown colony of British settlers in America.  Roanoke Island is off the coast of North Carolina.  This was 20 years before the Jamestown.  the governor of the colony, John White, only stayed a short time.  His daughter gave birth to the first English baby born in America, Virginia Dare.  He then returned to England to negotiate for more supplies and support.  He returned three years later, and the colony had disappeared.  they left carved in a tree the word, Croatan.  Perhaps the left and joined the Native American on Croatoan Island.  However they had been told to go north, and the island was south.  
Sir Walter raleigh was the money behind the project.  However he fell out of favor with the queen, and was off on other adventures.  the colony was somewhat forgotten.  
There in fact was even an earlier colony by two years.  However this colony faded into the mist as well.  However this colony was rescued just in time.  they had alienated the locals, and were short on food.  Sir Walter raleigh appeared with ships, and took them aboard, making room by leaving some slaves and Indians who had been rescued from the Spanish.  Those left also disappeared.  
With regards to the lost colony, it is generally felt the majority went north, and were killed when they allied themselves with the Chesapeake Indians.  This group was wiped out by Powhatan.  A for the few who had been left to guard the original settlement, it is believed the did go to Croatoan and mixed in with the Native Americans.  
the governor of the colony, though not much of a governor (he left) he was an artist, and consequently we have from him the first pictures by and Englishman of Native Americans.  these were painted in 1585.