2.from Normandy To Grenada

A veteran reporter looks back to a time when the stakes were really high—and vet military men actually trusted newsmen.

One week in August 1942 several stories on the British war effort appeared on the wires of the Associated Press, written by an AP reporter based in London named Drew Middleton.

What the readers did not know was that Middleton had spent part of that week not in England but under enemy fire in a boat off the coast of France, watching an Allied commando raid on a German strongpoint.

The Germans didn’t know either, which was the point. Read more »

The Last Days Of The Third Reich

Forty years ago, a tangle of chaotic events led to the death of Hitler, the surrender of the Nazis, and the end of World War II in Europe

The last time Grand Adm. Karl Doenitz saw his Führer was on April 20, 1945, Adolf Hitler’s fifty-sixth birthday. The celebration, held in the Führerbunker , a dank catacomb buried deep beneath the Reich chancellery, twenty feet lower than Berlin’s sewer system, was hardly festive. Read more »

The Battle Of Athens

The GIs came home to find that a political machine had taken over their Tennessee county. What they did about it astounded the nation.

In McMinn County, Tennessee, in the early 1940s, the question was not if you farmed, but where you farmed. Athens, the county seat, lay between Knoxville and Chattanooga along U.S. Highway 11, which wound its way through eastern Tennessee. This was the meeting place for farmers from all the surrounding communities. Traveling along narrow roads planted with signs urging them to “See Rock City” and “Get Right with God,” they would gather on Saturdays beneath the courthouse elms to discuss politics and crops.Read more »

What Happened Off Devon

On the eve of the Normandy invasion, a training mission in the English Channel came apart in fire and horror. For years, the grim story was suppressed.

Ralph Greene was in the lab of the 228th Station Hospital processing some routine tests when he got the order to report immediately to the hospital’s recreation room. It was early in the afternoon of April 28, 1944, and for Greene, a captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, the day had begun like every other for the past several months—handling sick call, checking on soldiers with such unmartial ailments as chicken pox and measles, tending to the victims of minor training mishaps.Read more »

Cantaloupes And Atom Bombs

HISTORIANS GOT THEIR instructions early. In the second century B.C. the Roman historian Polybius issued these orders: “Directly a man assumes the moral attitude of an historian he ought to forget all considerations, such as the love of one’s friends, hatred of one’s enemies.Read more »

Good Neighbors

Forty years ago it was Nazis, not communists, we wanted to keep out of Latin America. A veteran of that propaganda war recalls our efforts to bring American values to a bewildered Ecuador.

BECAUSE THE Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, I found myself soon after flying down with a technical mission to the province of El Oro in Ecuador, a province I had never before heard of, in a land of which I knew nothing, except that it straddled the equator, for which it was named. Read more »

Rosie The Riveter Remembers

For millions of women, consciousness raising didn’t start in the 1960s. It started when they helped win World War II.

DURING THE FIRST three years of World War II, five million women covered their hair, put on “slacks,” and at the government’s urging went to work in defense plants. They did every kind of job, but the largest single need was for riveters. In song, story, and film, the female patriot, “Rosie the Riveter,” was born. Many of the new recruits had worked in service trades—as maids, cooks, or waitresses. Many more had never worked at any paying job. Practically none of them had ever made as much money.Read more »

Benét And The Ensign From Alabama

THE BOOK reached me in Argentia, Newfoundland, where my squadron, VP-84, was on antisubmarine patrol. The inscription, “To Ev—this incontestable evidence of performance,” had a special impact, as my brother knew it would. Aircraft performance, along with flying ability and luck, are what a pilot lives by in war. But it was a different performance, the kind evident on every page of Stephen Vincent Benét’s John Brown’s Body , that my brother was referring to in his gift marking my twenty-sixth birthday.Read more »

Churchill’s Dream

The great man’s daughter-in-law draws a portrait of the statesman at the top of his career and at the bottom

FOR A SHORT, fierce time during the war, I knew Winston Churchill very well. After the war and until his death, I saw him less often. But my memories of him at the height of his power have never left me. Winston Churchill was, above all, a romantic whose power lay in his capacity to shape the world to his vision. He led men and women to outdo themselves, to accomplish far more than they had thought they could.Read more »

Ploesti: A Pilot's Diary

A thousand miles behind enemy lines, Liberator bombers struck Hitler’s Rumanian oil refineries, then headed home flying so low that some came back with cornstalks in their bomb bays

Benghazi, Libya, July 23,1943. Something new is in the air! This morning we were introduced to a Major Blank, an expert in low-level bombing, who lectured us on a new bombsight, which was a converted gunsight. He explained how A-20s had been making low-level attacks and that experiments were being made with B-24s. He said that he didn’t know if the new sights would ever be used, but we assumed the Air Force wouldn’t be running experiments that far out in the desert for nothing, so we decided to get interested in low-level bombing.Read more »