Friday, May 29, 2015

Postblogging Technology, April 1945, II: Headaches and Hope

Group Captain R_. C_., RCAFVR, DSO, DFC (Bar),
RAAF Richmond,

Dear Father:

I write you in these sad and trying times from what might as well, for this month at least, be the capital of the world. For tonight I am staying in the Grant Avenue rooms, it being far too late to take the drive down to Santa Clara after being presented in a receiving line to the American delegation. I have taken the liberty of finishing up this letter, as I cannot sleep. 

Thus you know that all of this comes to you from my pen a month after the death of the President, even though that tragic event is in the ambit of this letter, and I am plunged back into my feelings of that time, which I omitted from the last letter, out of some misplaced sense of the historical importance of keeping things in their  place.

Oh, what am I saying? That my last letter was cold because I didn't want to confuse a grandchild reading these letters, as I sometimes read your father's? That this letter comes to you with a month passed, to let the President's death recede in the rear view mirror? That I have some excuse to write of things economical and political and technological, and not simply my feelings? It was so easy to adopt Uncle George's cynicism as an observer of the press's ever so careful handling of the President's health over the last year while he was still with us. Now that he is dead, it is like a death in the family, as so many people have said. It is made the worse for me by his being taken from us by the same illness that took my Mama and left poor Father a widower at 40. 

But enough of this. I am not away from my darlings lightly, as you know, and I was not in the city only to play a second-rate Scarlett O'Hara. The conference is well on, and it has been suggested that we might throw some events in this building as well as at Arcadia. I am ambivalent about this. The Brotherhood can find places for our longterm tenants, I am sure, but they are fragile and old, and lonely. They would not be living here if they had families to take care of them, and any deaths of broken heats would reflect horribly on us in the community. The last thing I want is for Grant Avenue to be angry with us!

I also have to think very carefully about what kind of events I want to stage at a Benevolent Association hall in Chinatown! I have already had to ask the builders to take down the gate at Arcadia. I have a suspicion that we shall have guests at the ball tomorrow night who can not only read the legend, but make the connection between世外桃源 and "Arcadia." I'm being paranoid in thinking that this will be enough to lead to the leap of associations with Shugborough, but there are enough navy men around the city that stories of Jame's parentage might be heard 

Appearing out of thin air is the Rose of Allandale, which has made harbour at Oakland instead of San Diego due to engine trouble. I am told that Du's men were not aboard, however. I might even look into it on my way back to Santa Clara tomorrow, as I have promised to stop in at Uncle Henry's. He is in a sulk, as he had promised someone that he would have the Engineer as a "get," and now the blasted man has decided to spend the season in New York, giving the Conference the shoulder and besieging the White House for attention.

(It has also not escaped my attention that after a . . .vigorous. . . interview with Father, Mr. Donald has accompanied some officers of MacArthur's family to New York.)

To be fair, he is not a black-hearted man, and that, combined with his natural conceit, probably has him thinking that he is just the fellow to feed the  hungry of Europe again, no UNRRA needed. He has left his (favoured) son in charge. Which reminds me that he apparently telephoned the ranch house this morning looking for me. The housekeeper tells me that he sounded agitated, but wouldn't leave a message. 

I hope that it wasn't about our "anthropology" ball.  

And with that I must put this to rest, as it is late, and I must leave early tomorrow, and be up very late indeed. Wong Lee's black bag operation is going to very extended, and he has repeatedly urged me to have an iron-clad alibi from its first minute to its last, and I really should listen to the voice of cautious experience. The "naval" GRU is apparently very amateurish, but it would be arrogant to underestimate them. And I certainly want to be fresh for the party. 


Time, 16 April 1945


Senator Vandenberg writes about what Moscow is writing about him. He is rubber, and Moscow is glue. Arthur Dinwiddie joins in with a poem about how the Soviet Communists are terrible. Private Robert Lee Lambert writes to suggest that every battle is tough to the men who fought them, and not just Iwo Jima. Silly man. He’s obviously no Marine. (Because he’s still alive!) An emergency "women are reading the paper" bulletin has apparently gone out to three readers, who respond manfully. (Manfully!) Ernest Rastall writes to make a crude joke about artificial insemination to the effect that if it takes off, Frank Sinatra will be the father of every baby in America.   Cecile Boisclair keeps the “Is Greer Garson bowlegged” controversy alive.Lachesis B. Muta writes that the Reverend Douglas Hamilton Priest’s letter about Mediterranean women are ugly is wrong. Actually, English women are ugly.

I don't know if you've noticed, but the Forties were kind of sexist.


Mrs. Martha Johnson of Washington named her twin babies “Iwo” and “Jima.”


General Eisenhower’s letter from the front suggests that the war might not end in a clear-cut way.

“Three to One” America will not fight Russia’s demand for votes in the assembly for Belorussia and the Ukraine. Trusteeships for international territories; possibility of revisions of the Dumbarton Oaks agreement floated by Republican members of American delegation. But it’s the Russians who are making trouble, because they are upset that the Engineer is upset about the conference.

“Command” The question of who will be in command in the Pacific, MacArthur or Nimitz, has been decided. It will be neither, but remote committee control by the Combined Chiefs of Staff. (General Arnold will be as important as MacArthur and Nimitz, because aircraft will be involved.) Britain, America and France can agree on a Supreme Commander, but the Army and Navy? It’s asking too much.

“War Scars” Philippine sugar plantations are overgrown and, like the mines, are stripped of equipment. The Manila stock exchange is pessimistic. All is doom and gloom as far as the eye can see. Unless the Philippines get a preferential tariff.

“These Island Harbours” The Navy wants to keep all the islands it kept, in case World War II happens again.

“So Sorry, Mr. Sato” The Soviet-Japanese neutrality pact is denounced more.

“Nothing But Force” Let’s talk about Dumbarton Oaks some more? (Communism is bad.)

“Eggs for D.Ps.” “Displaced Persons,” or “D.P.s,” are all over Germany. They have “long, cheerless months ahead of them” before they are settled. In lighter news, all the POW labourers in the neighbourhood have shut the Count and Countess Wolf v. Metternich in their Westphalian castle and eaten all their eggs
“Gertie and the GIs” U.S. soldiers in Paris are still recovering from their encounter with Gertrude Stein, who is a terrible harridan bluestocking.

“No Secret, No Weapon” Not only has an intact V-2  been captured, but so have their launching positions in Holland.

“Vienna’s Turn” The Viennese are apparently not eager to die in a mass resistance movement of total war. Rumours from the city report that the garrison commander, Sepp Dietrich, has been assassinated by anti-Nazi fighters. All along the Eastern Front, the Russians are getting ready for their “last strong heave.”

You can see the Turks Russians from the steeple! ("Wien - Stephansdom (1)" by Bwag - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

“Politics and War” Russia might attack in Manchuria, resuming the war from before the War. At one point, there were 800,000 Russian troops, one million Japanese. The numbers are completely different now, but they're the ones we have.

“Play That Failed” The Japanese naval sortie failed. Yamato is sunk more. Yamato’s 16” guns were fired at aircraft? Does that make any sense? Also, there were kamikazes, which sank 3 destroyers, amongst other things, but no big deal. Robert Sherrod watched one of them miss! B-29s escorted by P-51s raided Japanese cities by day last week. Tens, no, wait, hundreds, no, wait, thousands of Japanese interceptors were shot down. Five B-29s were lost, and some P-51s.

“Buck’s Battle” Army Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., is in command of 10th Army at Okinawa with Marine III Corps under Major-General Roy S. Geiger under his headquarters, fights for Okinawa, “which spells death in any language.” The Japanese are fighting fanatically, and General Buckner’s father was named after the liberator of South America, fought for the Confederacy, owned a 1000 acre plantation in Kentucky, was a Governor of Kentucky, and fathered the General at 62 by a 28-year-old bride. There’s hope for Uncle George yet, if he should find the inclination! General Buckner graduated 57th of 107 in his class, although brother officers say that he has “too much surface brilliance.” He commanded in Alaska from 1940—2, a little too late to likely have any of our money in his pocket, but on the other hand his family is in San Francisco, he has bought a farm in Alaska and he is in the Ryukyus. Something to explore, I think. . .

“General’s Indictment” Clare Chennault is upset about pilfering in the Chinese theatre. The paper blames individual Chinese, who are poor because of inflation and banditry, two odd things that are happening for no reason at all, and which are certainly not Chungking’s fault.

“Chaos and Comforts” Apart from the fact that most of the cities have been levelled, Germany is in quite a nice condition. The Germans are in an ivory tower, unaware of all the bad things that happened, or, at least, unwilling to talk about them. Meanwhile, Bishop v.Galens, fearless critic of the Nazis, wants everyone to know that he is a good, patriotic German, and that the main threat now is Communism. 
One of the confusing things about looking up Graf Clemens, Bishop v. Galens is distinguishing him from all the other members of his family who have been Westphalian bishops. Ah, aristocracy. 

All the slaves and skeletons might as well be in another world, as far as the comfortable, well-fed Germans are concerned. And the soldiers who report discovering an insane asylum where "only the healthy were killed," while screaming maniacs and raving dwarfs were left to haunt the catacombs under the building. On the other hand, the unions are reforming and demanding the 8 hour day and the right to strike. Also, the Werewolves might be loose, says the Vatican, and it should know?

“What to do with ‘Itler” The Evening Standard is running a contest or something.

“The Two Mrs. Meeses” My brush fails me.

“Thaw” The Swedes are being less neutral, and might even declare war on Germany. That’ll be the final straw, I think.

“M. Pleven Takes His Turn” “Economists, like other theologians, are intolerant.” Mendes-France is out, and M. Pleven, advocate of controlled inflation, is in.

Greeks, Czechs, Latins and Poles are excitable. Mexico’s illegal opium harvest is headed for the US underworld, unless the Federales, assisted by Treasury Department detectives, can stop it. A pound of opium is worth $700 on the American market. Almost makes me regret Great Uncle’s fit of patriotism when he got us out of opium.

“Weakest Yet” Baron Suzuki, Japan’s latest wartime premier, is old and weak. Or maybe it is that his cabinet has the fewest military men yet, and is weak in that sense. (Five of fourteen, and four Navy to one Army.) “Developments do not warrant optimism,” he told the country in his inaugural address.


“War and the Working Class” The manpower bill has been defeated some more.

“The Hard Life” It was a hamless Easter in many cities in the Eastern Seaboard, but German POWs in local camps got ham, while Italian “co-belligerent prisoners” were denied the five most popular brands of cigarets due to the shortage.

“After Many a Year” Jimmy Byrne is out at the Office of War Mobilisation, Judge Vinson is in. It’s because he’s too old, and because he didn’t get the Vice-Presidential nod, and because he couldn’t get a friend a job, and not because of the total hash made of reconversion in the last six months.

“Paying Proposition” Seattle’s “paunchy, cigar-smoking Promoter  Arthur J. Richie” is trying to organise a Japanese Exclusion League, which charges a $10 memberhip and $1/month membership fee. Also in race news, it continues to be impossible for Coloureds to register and vote in Atlanta, and the movie Brewster’s Millions was banned in Memphis because Eddie Anderson “has an important role and has too familiar a way about him,” and because the movie “presents too much social equality and racial mixture.”

“The Admiral Stands His Ground” Admiral King still won’t promote air officers ahead of surface officers on the seniority list, and the paper continues to cover it like John Towers’ personal publicity agent.

“Easy Way Out” Four Coloured WACs convicted of disobeying a senior officer at Lovell Hospital, Fort Devens, Mass, and sentenced to a dishonourable discharge and one year at hard labour, have aroused the attention of the “Negro press and Negro and radical leaders,” and the judgements have been stayed on a  technicality.

“The Soldiers Think of Home” A commissioned poll shows that soldiers have various ideas about what their wives and what they should be doing, mostly positive.
“Chief Clerk” The paper reports that Alger Hiss, one of the State Department’s brighter young men, is to be the Secretary-General of the San Francisco conference. A student of Felix Frankfurter who clerked for Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, he has been in the Administration since 1933, and was with the President in Yalta. Also in San Francisco, as some kind of shadow to Mr. Hiss, I suppose, is  John Foster Dulles. I met both in the receiving line at the reception, but I only remember them because I ws trying very hard to remember everyone. I've never been a hostess before, and I can barely remember watching Mama do it.


“Battle of Germany” One US officer told the paper that the fanatical Germans will fight to the last. Not anywhere that the Allies have actually reached, mind you. There, they just put up the white flag, In the “core” of the Nazi Reich, which is still further east. Or South, or north, or somewhere around here. Meanwhile, the Alpine redoubt Is apparently cut off behind a line of Himmler’s “blackshirts.” I thought those were Italians?

“Disintegration” And on the other hand, this story points out that the German armny is disintegrating, with 189,000 prisoners taken in 6 days. US armour is within 140 miles of  Berlin in the west.

“Salted Gold” American troops found the Germans’ gold and currency reserves in a salt mine in Merkers, south of Eisenach in the “middle of Germnany.” (But not as middle as the core.) It contained 100 tons of gold, three billion paper Reichsmarks, great stacks of 2 million US dollars, 110,000 British pounds, 1 million francs, leswser amounts of Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish money, lots of crated Art. The money might be the most important capture, since the German printing presses have all been bombed out, and they have no other Reichmarks with which to meet the Wehrmacht payroll.

“Sore Spot” One Major v. Lambert fanatically defended the town of Aschaffenberg from the 45th Division until a daylight heavy bomber raid was laid on. Then he surrendered, but only after hanging a lieutenant for suggesting that he do so earlier.

“Thorny Package” German Fifteenth Army, First Parachute Army and Fifth Panzer Army have  been encircled in the Ruhr, but have not yet surrendered. Meanwhile, although the exact number is censored, the Allies now have nine more bridges across the Rhine than the Germans had a year ago, and the first railway bridge, at Wesel, was built in only ten days.
Wesel Bridge


“The Road to Peace” The latest reconversion plan is out, so many factories winding down so many percent or up or sideways so many percent and you’ve been patient but where are our cars? “WPBoss Krugg kept mum” on reports that industry had beengiven the go-ahead for 250,000 cars on the fourth quarter of 1945. Others say, about four months after VE Day. Meanwhile, March was the most expensive month in the history of the US government, with the Treasury dispensing $9,4332,699,330. “The stratospheric public debt as of March 31st 1945: $235,093,833,965.”GM has sold its share of Detroit’s National Bank, held since 1933, because the emergency is over. I’ll say! The Supreme Court has okayed the Federal Pricing Commission which sets natural gas rates. The industry hope is that the New Deal majority on the Court will soon crack,however.

Science, Medicine, Education, Etc.

Drs.. Arthur Blackmore of Columbia and Jere Lord of Cornell have found a new way of“welding” a severed artery together with a piece of vein stretched over a  vitallium frame.Meanwhile, now that he is a member of the school board, Janitor Frank P. Nagel, of Haney Technical High School in St. Louis, will be known as a “custodian,” instead. In his time, Custodian Nagel, we are told, has worked a part-time job as  a masseur at the local Turkish baths.
“Talking Mosquitoes” Three researchers at Cornell were able to amplify and pick out mosquito mating calls. British psychologist H. J. Eysenck has proven scientifically that there are not distinct national senses of humour, although British subjects thought that Americans are funnier.

DDT Dangers” The more entomologists study the new wonder insecticide, the more concerned they are that it is a double-edged sword. It kills friendly insects as well as unfriendly (bees, for example), and also a variety of other small animals, when applied indiscriminately, can be toxic even to humans. It is not considered safe for general use yet.

Art, Literature, Radio, Etc.

The US Army has a special team of “Venus Fixers” taking care of all the monuments and art we blew up in Europe. The University of Chicago’s new prize, the Encyclopedia Britannica, which was turned over to them by Sears, Roebuck in 1943, is now sponsoring an art exhibit to be more profitable? I think? Is that a thing that the University of Chicago would do?

All the big networks have sent teams to San Francisco to cover the conference. William Shirer, Eric Sevareid, Upton Close, Walter Winchell, Drew Pearson, just some of the names I recognise. Bernard Baruch gave an exclusive London park-bench interview to Stars and Stripes, which was nearly spiked for bad language. Sidney Olsen had great difficulties catching up with General Patton for last week’s interview. Marshal Field III poses with a rifle to make the point that his “anti-authoritarian” PM magazine can’t be gentlemanly, because it has too many people in its sights.  The paper says that he is a “Johnny Come Lately” to social problems, albeit nice and humble about it.

The Ringling Brothers are playing Broadway again, but may not be out under canvas this year because of the Hartford disaster. “Winged Victory” is winding up its tour.

The paper liked The Enchanted Cottage. The “tearjerking is extremely efficient.” Molly and Me, Gracie Field’s latest, is “touchingly old-fashioned, neglible sort of silliness you might run across in a second-hand bookstore.” It notices The Silver Fleet.

Gerald Kersh’s Sergeant Nelson of the Guards is a war book that the paper likes, and not something about a Mountie in the Coldstream Guards. 

Flight, 19 April 1945


“In the Pursuit” The Germans are running away. Aircraft are involved.

“Essen at Last” We can’t blow up Essen any more now that we have it.

“President Roosevelt” What can I say that I haven’t already said?

War in the Air

The paper struggles to say something that’s not anticlimactic about the rapid collapse of the German army, something that doesn’t leave the paper feeling its age. (I make fun, but in the next edition, the editor reminices about something that happened in 1890!)  Admiral Scheer has been sunk  at Kiel. The paper struggles to find some strategic relevance (it can’t operate off Norway any more!), but it seems like vandalism at this point. U-boat centres are being attacked, too. They could, after all, come back, and resume sinking our ships, so I suppose I approve. The paper reports that the Germans had underground factories, which, “it is definitively stated” were built to avoid Allied bombing. Also, the Germans made guns, which, it is finally definitely stated, were for shooting things. Wellingtons are withdrawn from the Mediterranean theatre more. The aircraft carriers of the British Pacific Fleet are in action off Okinawa. The French Army is on the attack in the Black Forest and against the German garrison of Bordeaux. Americans find some oil tanks to bomb. It was nice in England on the weekend, but cloudy in the morning in Germany, so fighters weren’t involved until the afternoon. Lancasters bomb Potsdam, which reminds the paper of that time when he was young when Lord Roberts sent a letter to the Indian Army. They had good letters in those days, not like the ones nowadays, all full of the slang the young people like. I had a nice letter from Lavinia. It's here somewhere.

Has anyone seen my glasses?

Here and There

A new version of the P-47 is faster and has a longer range. Major the Hon. Quintin Hogg, M. P., has been appointed the new joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Air in succession to the late Commander Brabner, whose cause of death cannot be mentioned lest it end commercial aviation forever. The RAF is dropping more and more bombs. A Southeast Asian theatre PR Mosquito flown by Flt. Lt. Robin Sinclair, son of the Secreatry of State for Air,  has set a distance record of 2,490 miles in 8 hr 40  min. The United States has delivered the first 10 of 50 Mustangs being sold to Sweden. De Havilland wants to remind us that, besides jet engines, it has a new series of Gipsy engines available. It is the Indian Air Force’s twelfth birthday. Just to remind everyone, it doesn’t want a cowboy on its cake. Trigger would be fine. USAAF generals Hoyt Vanderberg, Harold Lee George and John K. Cannon have been promoted. The French Air Force is using German types built in France. The Air Ministry allows that the wartime ban on kite flying might soon be lifted.  The Soviet Ambassador to Mexico has asked Mexico to conduct an other inquiry into the air crash that killed ambassador M. Constantine Oumansky, as “rumours of sabotage o have reached Moscow.” Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Stuart Burnett died in hospital last week at the age of 63. Yet another man struck down in what should be his golden years by overwork, at least in my imagination, as my worries about Uncle George and yourself revive.  David Brown and Company acquire the business of the Coventry Gear Cutting Company of Mr. F. G. Wells, who will continue as a consultant.

“No. 2 Group’s Share: Work of the Medium Bombers: Interdiction by Day and Night: Variety of Targets” John Yoxall visits the medium bomber squadrons which do not fly Mosquitoes. The boring old Mitchells are controlled from the ground by squadron radio, and assisted in the air by the Mark XIV bombsight and the “Gen box,” which makes instrument flying so much easier and more accurate, and the radio altimeter for height-keeping. Like Mosquito crews, Mitchell radar operators are second-tour men, in spite of the great surplus of aircrew. This is because their experience is so important to effective operations.

“Portrait Galley” Here are pictures of many RAF and FAA men!

“Birth of a Ministry” The enabling act for the creation of the new Civil Aviation Ministry was a celebration for parliamentarians who wanted to talk about talking about civil aviation.  And who doesn’t? Unless it is about airay ashcrays. The consensus is that there is something wrong with British civil aviation, and it only remains to discover what it might be.

Fairey Firefly: First Structural Details of the Navy’s Latest Fighter-Reconnaissance Type: Difficult Specification Cleverly Fulfilled”  “Some” structural details of the Firefly have been cleared for publication! Very strong and heavy rollings, extrusions, forgings etc are dovetailed together like so much fancy furniture to make a plane that –folds up and out in every direction like fancy furniture. I suppose the question is to what extent this is the future of navy fighters. The more complicated and the less “hot” they are, the more  thedrivers have to be engineers instead of race car drivers.

“V-2 Rockets Capture: They Are now Undergoing Examination by Experts” Some V-2s were captured by the American Army recently in a camouflaged goods train near Bromskirchen. Even though the V-2s were expensive and unreliable, they should not be dismissed out of hand. If the Germans had finished their launching site on a mountain near Oslo, they would have been more effective, because they would have been launched from a greater altitude. It is reported that V1s destroyed 24,000 houses, rendered 60,000 uninhabitable, and damaged 700,000; the 2000 V-2s did undisclosed damage, but it may suffice to say that 6000 people were killed in the 9 months of the V-1 campaign, and 2400 “subsequently.” “A mass attack by long-range missiles on an unprepared or unsuspecting community is a grim prospect. Realistically, however, the problem must be faced.” The French want a revision to the Dumbaton Oaks charter to allow them to strike pre-emptively against an imminent rocket attack, and the British service ministries are adamant that industrial dispersion is the only answer to surprise rocket attacks. Rockets are more or less dangerous depending on how much you want to do something that can be justified as being about them?

“A.I.R.O.H.” The aircraft industry has been recruited to making prefabricated houses “was announced in the general Press recently.” You do not say!

“Air Cargoes to U.S.” 7,133,000lbs of strategic cargo were flown into the U.S. last year, up 166,000lbs from the year before. 33 million lbs were flown out of China over the hump and sent on to the US, United Kingdom and Soviet Union.

“Sintox in the War” “Some time ago we referred to the tribute paid by the late President Roosevelt to the part played in the war by British sparking plugs. It is now possible to refer to one feature. . .” Specifically, they used a better kind of mica, which is the part we’re allowed to talk about, except that we won’t, because advances in pottery science are BORING.


J. C. Matthews asks questions about airscrew braking. A. V. Cleaver, Chief Engineer (Airscrews) of de Havilland, writes as an expert to say that the idea that only wooden blades can be used in contrarotating propeller installations has been scientifically proven to be poppycock. For various other reasons, aluminum blades are actually better. “Small Four” writes that a better small, light engine is possible, and might well have all pneumatics-operated auxiliaries. Write now for his free brochure! Jack Mead thinks that retractile undercarriages are safer than fixed.

Time, 23 April 1945

The President is on the cover, and, oh, drat it, I’m crying again. Death comes to us all, amd I said that I would say no more, so why am I so –Never mind.


Leonard P. Jenkins had a home-cooked meal in Antwerp while V-1s,2s and perhaps more rained down around his ears. Therefore, people at home can’t complain. On the other hand, "Housewife in Indianopolis" refuses to tighten her children’s belts to feed Europe. Because Hitler is their fault. Margaret C. Rowntree, Edward H. Kelly and Sarah F. Kuiper disagree. Chester Morris writes the paper to offer the Duke of Windsor an acting job in Hollywood. Anne Y. Copeland writes to relate a story about corresponding with the author of Alice. F. R. Fisher writes to point out that W. H. Donald did not, in fact, assume a pseudonym while interned by the Japanese. They simply did not bother him for some reason.


“Economics” The money captured last week is being held subject to various claims on the Reich. Not including the Italians, who have no legal claim on the 119 tons the Germans took out of Rome with them. Because collapsing Italian governments and Fascist takeovers are always fun!

 “When?” The rapid pursuit across Germany is beginning to strain Allied supply lines. Germans resisted fanatically in Leipzig, gave up peaceably in Weimar. A counterattack from Berlin checked the “Hell on Wheels” Division, while Ninth Army easily held its bridgeheads over the Elbe to the south. When will a victory declaration be justified? Scheer is sunk, hundreds of German planes are destroyed, the Ruhr pocket is reduced, the Netherlands have fallen, the Poles are on the outskirts of Emden. The paper’s senior military correspondent, Charles Christian Wertenbaker cables that Eisenhower and Bradley are very busy visiting concentration camps and gold stores, while General Patton had undressed for bed before hearing that the President had died.

“The Final Flood” The Russians are flooding in, General Lasch surrendered the fortress city of Koenigsburg, and Berlin Radio sentenced him to death, holding his family “responsible.” In Italy, our neighbour, Eighth Army, has launched a grand offensive. So have the Americans, of course, but their General Truscott isn’t a neighbour!

Koenigsburg after bombing (Source)

Okinawa is horrible. Most of the rumours about the Kamikaze Corps aren’t true. Fort Drum has fallen. General Yamashita, according to reports, has fled his command and returned to Japan as  the mopping-up operation continues. 
Fleeing your beleaguered troops in the Philippines? Doesn't sound like something a general would do, although it does remind me of something.

Japanese jet fighters are reported to have attacked B-29s on a night raid. German concentration camps are horrible. Franz v Papen, Paul Hinkler, Field Marshal v. Mackensen, Dr. Manfred Zapp, Alfred v. Krupp, and Prince August v. Hohenzollern have all been captured. Krupp wants to rebuild Essen. A random German civilian interviewed by the paper’s correspondent, Percy Knauth, says the same. “We must become a nation of ants.”

“A Million Slaves?” France wants its share of German labour.

Spain is absolutely not Fascist in any way whatsoever. Jugoslavia and Russia, sitting in a tree. . . The Italian royal family is horrible.


“A Soldier Died Today” the paper is . . . well, coverage of the death of the President starts in early dawn in Chungking! The conceit is that we follow the news around the globe, so that the scene now moves to "the fresh daylight of Okinawa, to the darkened restaurants and shuttered night clubs, closed stores and the unbroken 85-hour dirge on the nation’s radio. 
On the bright side, the new President has promised to keep up the good work, and Jimmy Byrnes has been recalled. Much more dramatic changes in the cabinet are likely, but this is not the week to talk about the speculation, however well-founded. The one thing we do know is that the new President will not be coming to San Francisco, which is unfortunate, but as the two premiers can’t be here, perhaps for the best.

The market is up, then down, then up again. Reasons include “VE Day jitters,” the President’s death, and demonic possession, for all I know. The paper does, though. Pan Am’s attempt to get an overseas monopoly continues to be heard in the Senate, because it cannot grasp just how bad this looks for it, and how unlikely it is to work.

Avery Sewell has released a letter to the press accusing a major put in charge of his department store in Jamaica, L.I of being a lecherous drunk –just the kind of thing that a gentleman releases to the press. More about the railcar shortage, rotting grain, meat shortage. Cows up, hogs down, meat down, cattle prices too low –what Ladd Haystead has said.

“Transition” There seems to be a new Army-Navy competition, this one over who can cancel the most contracts fastest to free factories for civilian production. “Plans for twelve tank production plants in Detroit have been junked.” Twelve new plants? How was that ever a serious “plan?”

Science, Medicine, Education, Etc.

Cerebral Hemorrhage” The terrible headache which felled the President is explained. I didn’t really need an explanation, but it occurs that I’m not the only one to read the paper.

“Heart Repair” War surgeons are doing operations on hearts now. Major Dwight Emery Harken, 47, formerly of Harvard Medical School, now of the Army’s 160th General Hospital in England, has given the dreaded x-ray diagnosis “foreign body in the heart” 328 times, and saved all of them!

“The Pale Horseman” Trying to head off pestilence in Europe, the UNRRA has introduced mass delousing and anti-typhus inoculations in the German camps.

“Bone for Bone” Toronto's Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Douglas Gordon, 43, has developed a kind of cement of bone, “cancellous bone,” with which to reconstruct soldier’s skulls, using material from the hip bone.

The International Correspondence School enrolled its 500,000th student this week, a sailor somewhere in the Pacific taking a course in practical electricity. And the United Negro College Fund kicked off its annual fund-raising drive by suggesting that not all Negro colleges are worthy of funding.

“Cosmic Error?” Harvard Professor Harlow Shapley disagrees with Sir James Jeans about the age of the Milky Way galaxy. Jeans says that it is old; Professor Sharpley thinks that it is young.
". . . [H]e referred to the danger of the "genius maniac" and proposed the elimination of "all primates that show any evidence of signs of genius or even talent".Other global threats he listed were: drugs that suppressed the desire for sex; boredom; world war with weapons of mass destruction; a plague epidemic."

“Freudian on Murder” Dr. Theodor Reik, a Freudian psychoanalyst, has a book out, The Unknown Murderer. He has theories.

Art, Literature, Press, Etc.

 The Glass Menagerie has won a prize for its author, 31-year-old Tennessee Williams. Confusingly, he was born in Mississippi.

It’s in the Bag is a Fred Allen production which is too tame to be as funny as Allen is on the radio.

Also in the news is the “sexy” advertisement for the decidedly unsexy Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. 

Apparently, the Food and Drugs Act regulates this kind of thing in other industries(!!) The paper suggests that the market will sort it out, or something of the sort, since the kind of people who are attracted by the ad will be disappointed by the picture.

George Santayana has a book out, the second volume of his autobiography, The Middle Stand. The paper gives it a page, mainly, I think (the good Heaven knows I’m not going to read the review) because Mr. Santayana has opinions about former students such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Green and Cameron Forbes. If you'd like to have opinions about these very important people who had this teacher, read this review!

“Childhood in China” Of course the paper reviews John Espey’s Minor Heresies. It’s a Church Lady kind of book. The paper also revisits the “Robinson Crusoe, USN” story, as implausible as ever.


Viscount Wavell has published an anthology of poetry, because what does a Viceroy of India do, anyway? Shirley Temple is engaged. Leopold Stokowski and Gloria Vanderbilt are, too, apparently, subject to Mrs. Vanderbilt’s Reno divorce going through. Paul McNutt, War Manpower Commissioner has suggested that the Japanese be exterminated, because “he knows the Japanese people.” That's one way to extend your job, Mr. McNutt. Harry Hopkins has been given a pay raise from $10,000 to $15,000 for some reason. Barbara Hutton Grant, estranged wife of Cary Grant, threw a surprise party for her newly wed personal maid and chauffeur, then retired to do the dishes with her houseguest, the Baroness de Rothschild. Sari Gabor is divorcing Conrad Hilton. Westbrook Pegler is selling his 35 acre estate in Connecticut and moving to Arizona. Gloria Dickson has died at 27.

Flight, 26 April 1945


Luftwaffe Slaughter” Attacks on German oil have been more effective than attacks on aircraft factories, as the Germans have 4000 a/c, but cannot fly them. On April 16th, Allied long-range fighter bombers destroyed 1000 of them on the ground, while the Russians captured Zisterdorf, the last oil production centre left to the Germans. The Germans seem to be fighting harder in the East than in the West, probably because they are afraid of what is coming to them.

“Stalling” It’s the last month of the war, so why not fill some pages with an article on high-speed stalls, a new and fresh problem that we’ve only faced since WWI or thenabouts? Why, when I was your age, we didn’t have high speed stalls because our planes couldn’t go at high speeds. Then came the Gnome et Rhone, and wasn’t that an engine. Why, I remember going out on a fine spring day with a Gnome et Rhone, or was that Lavinia? I gently kid the paper. There is some relevance, in that the FAA in the United States has just made anti-stall indicators mandatory.

“Aircraft or Battleships?” Speaking of controversies of days gone by? Just to make sure that everyone understands that this is irrelevant to all modern concerns, the paper commissions an article from B. J, Hurren.

War in the Air
We are running out of places to bomb, so we bomb Heligoland. The paper remembers a cartoon in Punch about Lord Salisbury giving it back to Germany in the first place back in 1890. Fifty-five years ago! You were 10! I was minus-30! I swear that I already had a strong sense that the man behind the typewriter at Flight these days is far too old for the work, but I take this as confirmation that the vague sense I am getting in the papers of overstretch in London is a real thing, that far too many far-too old men are working far too hard there, in this spring of 1945. And if you take that as a gentle hint that you should take the first chance to leave your organisation and come home to your grandchildrenl, it is very definitely that. 

The dim-out is over. We bombed the railway yards at Nuremberg. Thr Ruhr pocket has been liquidated. The paper is alarmed to hear about this Redoubt in the Alps thing that the young folk today are talking about. Why, in its day, the Alps were for cuckoo clocks and chalets! The dim-out is over, because people have noticed that V-weapons cannot see. Dr. Goebbels said something silly on the radio. Berlin will soon fall to the Russians, as General Eisenhower has decided not to capture it, because it is merely geography. The Germans are in full retreat in Italy. The pocket battleship Lützow has been sunk by enormous bombs dropped by Lancasters. The paper notices this new Japanese thing, “kamikazes.” It notes that this started out as the “Divine Wind,” a form of human sacrifice, and that the pilots dress in “flowing silk robes, which must have been highly inconvenient in an aircraft.”  In spite of the long sleeves getting caught on knobs and pedals and jamming throttles, it was so satisfactory that the Japanese formed a new Kamikaze Corps which dispensed with the robes. (I suppose that these are the rumours which Time has dismissed.) “Off Okinawa they succeeded in sinking 15 ships, the largest of which was a destroyer. . .” In Burma, RAF Liberators severely damaged the power plant in Bangkok.

Here and There

The paper notices that 7,053 aircraft were built in the United States in March. The Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Mr. A. M. Burden, forecast that within ten years there will be 400,000 privately-owned aircraft in the United States. Everyone was delighted to hear of Wing Commander Douglas Bader’s rescue from a German prisoner of war camp. 

Christ, what an asshole.

Chislov, the “ace” Soviet polar pilot, is reported by Reuter to have flown within 180 miles of the North Pole during a “reconnaissance raid.” Meteorological flying? The latest diplomatic flight from Moscow to Washington was made in less than 50 hours. The paper notices that the “February issue of . . . Automobile Topics” mentioned the Air Position Indicator, “which over here is on the secret list.” The RAAF expects to receive its first Australian-made Mustang soon. A successful ornithopter test flight is reported in “the American journal, Gliding.” ‘The American journal. . “ is the paper’s code for ‘tommyrot.’ Shell Union has a jet fuel development lab in operation. Sir Roy Dobson of Avro reports that a new Avro bomber, bigger than the Lancaster, is being built primarily for attacks on Japan. “Like the Lancaster and the York,” it will be named after a city in northern England, but the exact identity of the town cannot be published. Tremble, Tokyo, before the might of the Avro Berwick-upon-Tweed! Spain has banned German aircraft, perhaps for fear of receiving German emigres who might set back its progamme of Being Not Fascist At All In Any Way. Air Commodore W. E. G. “Pedro” Mann, formerly Tedder’s Chief Signals Officer, has been made head of civil aviation signals in the Middle East.  Some Northern Irish are refusing to talk about talking about civil aviation! American Thunderbolts are using an aerial version of a flamethrower. Air Commodore Leslie Millington has been made controller of technical servicecs with the British Air Commission in Washington, making him one of James’ bosses, effective whenever James runs out of kamikaze-dented aircraft carriers.

“Recce Wing: Bringing in the “Gen”: Moonlight Reconnaissance and Night Photography: An Unarmed Operation” John Yoxall visits your old customers from before radio-interception days. John apologises for the small size of the RAF’s one-million candlepower flash bomb compared with the American twelve-million candlepower device, and relates the story of a photo-reconnaissance Spitfire “downing” an Me 163 by inducing it to dive into the ground, Boy’s Own Annual-style.

Civil Aviation News

Instead of 400,000, perhaps there will be 200,000 civil aircraft operating in America in 1955, in any case an eight-fold increase over 1941. There is much talking about talking about civil aviation, some new airfields, for example, one in Portugal, and Trans-Canada might add a South American service to its overseas list, which is now basically Montreal-London.

“Australian Liberators”`

A New South Wales training station operates Liberators to train RAAF aircrew to fly Liberators in the Pacific. Or did, before it turned out that it had more aircrew than planes.

G. Geoffrey Smith, “Our Future in the Air: Widening the Public Interest in the New Era of Commercial Aviation: Exhibitions and Films Desirable” There cannot be too much talking about talking about civil aviation.

The Fairchild AT-21 Gunner” Is a new five-seater advanced gunnery crew trainer built by Fairchild, Bellanca and McDonnell, because why not give aircraft production contracts to even more companies?

S. Sipowicz, “Dangers in Turning: High-Speed Stalled Turns: Need for a Stall-Warning Device: Gyroscopic Effect of Airscrews” The paper regrets dropping this interesting paper from the November 11th, 1918 number because of urgent news.

B. J. Hurren, “Air Arm Paradox: The Bomb vs. Battleship Controversy: Pendulum of Opinion: Vindication of the Aircraft Carrier: Rise in Status of the Naval Air Arm” Ironically, Commander Hurren now owes the editor so much money that the only way he can expect to be repaid is by sending work to B. J. 1917, Trenchard, 1923, Ramsay MacDonald, Fairey Flycatcher, Nimrod, Sea Gladiator. Well, that’s the first page! Page 2, Cinderella Service, Italians, biplanes, Pearl Harbour, Midway, escort carriers, “action at Luzon,” “myth of land-based air superiority.” Aircraft carriers!

I think that Hurren would prefer that the question not to be "bombers versus battleships," but rather "bombers versus aircraft carriers."

“Private Flying” Look! Another way of talking about talking about civil aviation!


A.A. Bage of Percival Aircraft waxes sarcastic about Miles Aircraft’s claims for the M. 48. E. A. Turner writes to suggest that battleships are not obsolete after all. J. Barnett writes that England is very sleepy, so what it needs is more talking about talking about civil aviation. S. W. H. Prince writes to show that the fuel consumption of a jet engine at high speed can be calculated to be 2.5 times that of a piston engine, an “acceptable figure at the present stage of development.”

Aero Digest, April 1945

 It really seems as though the paper gets Aviation's leavings. This month's number repeats the stories about the Atlantic ferry and the Arctic rescue services, has a review of P-47 maintenance in the field, and discusses "Technical articles as a duty of the engineer," all things already aired in Aviation. 

The Engineering section, similarly, discusses helicopters, including the "helicospeeder,"  the "luxury" Model 37, the proposed Hughes feeder airliner, the P-80, and design details of the Avenger TBM-3. 
Articles on side forces from propellers and on boundary layer characteristics and control of jet aircraft remind me that there really is a need for an outlet for the technical papers along with the weak-as-ditchwater promotional material. 

300mph! Soon....

 The news is all last month's or worse. (The new Helldiver is in action "against Tokyo!" The manpower bill is a reaction to aircraft production shortfalls!)

But because the paper is the paper, we get "Blind Bombing with Radar" The "Gen Box" is a "black box," which is a form of radar, which supports blind bombing. It works by sends radio waves out at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second, don't you know!), which impinge on the ground, are reflected, and show up on a flourescent screen aboard the plane as identifiable ground water features.  It is typical of the paper that it manages to reveal unbelievable technological departures in such a juvenile way that I didn't even realise what I was reading until halfway through. i) There are cathode ray tube displays compact and efficient enough to work on aircraft now (which I knew from being told, but certainly not through the press); and emitters that act at high enough frequency that the conductivity differences between water and land can be picked up in these displays, which is new to me. It doesn't strike me that you would get the sensitivity to pick this up with less than a decimetric generator. Now, I might have noticed a solid, drilled-out block of multiple 3 inch cavities in a radar emitter while being squired around the water by Bill and David last year and know perfectly well how this is being achieved, but I certainly didn't read about it! 

Had I not, well, all of this would be completely new to me, and I would have been perfectly well justified in wasting my time on Aero Digest this month. Again. Remarkable. Just remarkable what our future has in store for us.

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