Was Wehrmacht Inside Abbey?
In the interview with German paratrooper Werner Kurkowski (World War II, November 2006), it was written that the Germans occupied positions around, but not inside, the Italian monastery during the Battle of Monte Cassino. Researchers and historians may have concluded that the Germans didn’t use the abbey as an observation post, but Lieutenant Jake Keller always disputed that. During the battle, Keller — from Company G, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Division — led an eight-man patrol that almost reached the abbey before being driven back by intense small-arms fire that killed five of his men. Until his death in October 2003, Keller insisted that the fire had come from inside the abbey and not outside it.
Blood for Dignity Revisited
David P. Colley’s article on the integration of the U.S. Army in World War II, “Blood for Dignity” (November 2006), inspired me to write about the integrated company in which I served from June 1943 through April 1944, one of the first of its kind to that point. It was an Army Specialized Training Program language company at the University of Michigan. The company had about 40 African Americans, which must have been quite a revelation to the captain from Texas when he began that assignment. We had no problems, however. We even thought about going to Detroit during the race riots in the summer of 1943 to take care of the troublemakers who had come up to cause friction, but cooler heads prevailed.
Later in the war, I spent time in Okinawa working with the 314th Headquarters Intelligence Detachment of the 96th Infantry Division. These were the little-recognized nisei interpreters, who helped us interrogate enemy combatants. Some 4,000 or more of them served in the Pacific while their fellow Japanese Americans served in Europe in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. The nisei with us interpreted Japanese documents, interrogated prisoners and tried their best to get the enemy soldiers and Okinawan civilians to surrender.
Lloyd M. Pierson
In the article “Blood for Dignity,” Edwin F. Parker, commanding general of the 78th Infantry Division, was identified as a brigadier general. Parker was a major general from the time he took command of the 78th on August 15, 1942, when it was activated, until the end of the war.
The article also points out that Edward Carter Jr. received a posthumous Medal of Honor five decades after earning the Distinguished Service Cross. He was one of a number of individuals who was decorated for an act of heroism and was later given an upgraded medal for the same act.
U.S. Army regulations state, “Only one decoration will be awarded to an individual for the same act, achievement or period of meritorious service.” What, if anything, was done about the previous awards to those who later received an upgraded medal?
Stanley F. Polny, Historian
78th Division Veterans’ Association
McKees Rock, Pa.
Remembering Sassoon’s Shanghai
I read with great interest the article on Sir Victor Sassoon (“A Tycoon Triumphs Over the Emperor”) in the September 2006 issue and his involvement with the International Settlement. I lived as a boy in Shanghai from 1939 until the end of 1946, and your article brought back some vivid memories.
There was another foreign enclave in Shanghai during that period, the French Concession. It was a little smaller than the International Settlement but, in its own way, was just as glamorous. It had the same fashionable apartment buildings, schools and shops. In fact, if my memory serves me right, the Shanghai American School was in the French Concession.
My family lived initially in an apartment building at 400 Avenue Haig in the International Settlement until we were evicted by the Japanese military in 1945. I think they were going to use it as a hospital. After the war, we lived on Avenue Joffre in the French Concession until we left Shanghai on December 31, 1946.
As noted in the article, both international areas were extraterritorial — with their own laws, police forces, court systems — and not subject to Chinese law. This all changed, of course, once the Japanese took over. U.S. forces finally liberated us in August 1945.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Ship’s Flag in Good Hands
The Stars and Stripes flown by USS Mississippi at the Battle of Surigao Strait, described in your September 2006 issue, is in the possession of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and was recently on display at the Old Capital Museum in Jackson. It is quite torn and tattered, covered mostly with smoky residue from the battle. Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Katrina damage at the museum, no visitors are currently allowed to see the flag. Hopefully by the time this issue goes to press, that will no longer be the case.
R. Lloyd Arnold
In the photo portfolio on pages 32-33 of the December 2006 World War II, the photos of the binoculars and the women’s underwear were provided courtesy of the Museum of World War II.
Send letters to World War II Editor, World History Group, 741 Miller Drive, S.E., Suite D-2, Leesburg, VA 20175, or e-mail to WorldWarII@weiderhistorygroup.com. Please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited. World War II welcomes editorial submissions but assumes no responsibility for the loss or damage of unsolicited material.Material to be returned should be accompanied by a self- addressed, stamped envelope.