Fond Memories of a Fallen Hero

Your article “The Horticulturalist Who Got the Best of Bombs” (January/February 2010) brought back memories of my youth and stories I had heard from my family about the war.

In the 1920s my uncle—my mother’s brother—was a saxophonist who played with the well-known Savoy Orpheans at the Savoy Hotel in London. He played with them for about a decade. One summer, he brought my mother to London, where he introduced her to a close friend of his who frequented the dance floor at the Savoy Hotel. That man was Charles Howard, the Earl of Suffolk, and my mother danced with him several times during her stay in London.

My uncle returned to America when bronchial asthma ended his music career. In the summer of 1941, when I was nine years old, I stayed with him in New York, on the East Side. One night he told me he had just learned that Charles Howard had been killed in London while defusing an unexploded bomb. He was so saddened by the news, and told me about his long friendship with the Earl of Suffolk.

I was reminded of this many years later, when I read Winston Churchill’s The Second World War, in which he reported that the earl—an expert in bomb disposal who worked alongside his secretary and chauffeur—had successfully defused 34 bombs, when, as he worked on his 35th, his luck ran out and he was killed.



Cruel Math

I ’ve been amazed by some of your articles about the Holocaust—I didn’t expect that level of depth. I expected stories about battles and personalities only.

It’s asinine to say, and believe, the Allies couldn’t have slowed—perhaps dramatically—the rate of the murders at the concentration camps (“What If…The Allies Had Bombed Auschwitz?” January/ February 2010). The Nazis were killing thousands of Jews daily at Birkenau. What if 1,000 had been saved—what about 10,000 or 100,000?

People today don’t understand the Allies’ inaction. It’s because we judge them by what we know today. But consider Rwanda and Bosnia: people cringe and look away. Those victims just don’t seem that important to us. While watching the movie Hotel Rwanda [about the Rwandan genocide of 1994] with my son Gus, I said, “We could have helicoptered some marines in and stopped the killing pronto.” He replied, “Would it be worth a marine’s life? What if the marine were me or my brother Jeremy?” I cringed and looked away.



Ace of Aces

Gentlemen, I enjoyed the and pictures in the January/February U-564 article 2010 issue. However, though U-boat ace Otto Kretschmer was the most successful sub commander in World War II, he wasn’t the best in history. My great-uncle, Richard Berger, sailed under Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière’s command on the U-35 during the First World War. In his career Arnaud sank 193 ships (453,368 tons) and 2 warships (2,500 tons), and damaged 7 ships (31,810 tons). Kretschmer was great, but not the greatest!



The Greatest Generation, and a Neglected One

I read “What is Lost?” by Rick Atkinson in your November 2009 issue. I then read the responses to the article in your mail section in the next issue. The responses were good, but I feel a need to give my take on what is really lost when all of the World War II veterans are gone.

My dad was a member of the 3rd Raider Battalion and then the 4th Marine Regiment after the Raiders were disbanded. He served two and a half years in the Pacific, and made landings on Bougainville, Emirau, Guam, Okinawa, and, after the war finally ended, Tokyo. His generation entered the war with the experience of the Great Depression already under their belts. Both events molded them into the adults that I grew up around in the 1950s and beyond.

My father was a general contractor, so I grew up around a lot of blue-collar World War II combat veterans. From my experi ence, what we will really lose when they’re gone is their example. I am talking about the way they looked at life every single morning when they got up to go to work. These were tough, no-nonsense men, who valued personal responsibility, hard work, and respect of others and their property. When you shook hands with one of them, you knew you were doing just exactly that: shaking hands with a man. I really can’t describe it much better than that.

Those of you who lived around these men in their prime will know what I am talking about. The rest of you just missed out. It is their example that we will miss most of all.



I read with much interest your “What is Lost?” article, about the need to hear the stories of our World War II veterans. I totally agree.

My dad, a veteran of the Bulge and Germany, died at 41 years old, and I was too young or not interested enough before his death to ask about his experiences. My two brothers and I regret that to this day.

However, there is another story that is being lost just as rapidly. I realize that your magazine is dedicated to the Second World War, but we are beginning to lose our Korean War veterans just as we have lost many World War II survivors. When I was younger, I was guilty of minimizing that war, but in recent years I’ve read many books about that brutal conflict. The soldiers in those battles experienced and suffered as much as those in any other war. They don’t, as far as I know, have a magazine to report on their war, but we can and should listen to their stories and honor these vets as we have those from other wars.



Letter of Commendation

It’s about time I commented on your new format, which—I’ve been subscribing since 1992—is still new to me. The magazine has improved in every respect, from layout to content. Now it’s in a different class entirely. Gone are the pulpy Sgt. Rock covers, the bullets whizzing by. That phony artwork cheapened the mag azine and made it look like a comic book. It’s been replaced by real photos of a real war. And all the new sections (“Weapons Manual,” “WWII Today”) are a plus.

Somebody behind the wheel has his head on straight. This magazine is serious!




On page 13 of the January/February 2010 issue, we referred to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as the Queen Mother of England. She did not become the Queen Mother until 1952, when her husband King George VI died and Elizabeth II was crowned.

Our Reading List caricatures are not intended to be perfect facsimiles of the people who have so generously provided lists of the books they are reading. Even so, we did get that of World War II historian Donald Miller in our March/April 2010 issue wrong; to most of Miller’s friends, our portrait was unrecognizable. So we’ve given it another go.


Originally published in the June 2010 issue of World War II Magazine. To subscribe, click here.