This story is in recognition of Dutch citizens who helped the Allies in WWII.
The United States (US) Army 24th Evacuation Hospital landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on June 12, 1944, six days after D-Day. The unit followed Allied military operations through France, Belgium, and then to Holland in support of Operation Market Garden in September of 1944.
From October 28 to December 2, 1944, the 24th Evacuation Hospital occupied the Saint Maarten Kliniek (Clinic) in Nijmegen, Holland. This was their first hospital set up in an already existing building. Prior to that the unit worked in a tent hospital setting. The Kliniek had been used by the Germans when they occupied Holland.
The Saint Maarten Kliniek is where this story takes place.
In a 2011 oral history interview 24th Evacuation Hospital nurse Lieutenant Josephine Pescatore Reaves tells of meeting Sister Emeldine and other nuns who cared for patients at the Kliniek.
Josephine shared a story in her interview about a US Army 101st Airborne Division soldier who was dying. His name was John Kublinski. She, Sister Emeldine, and a Catholic priest endangered their lives to grant John’s last request.
If the families of those lost in WWII had known that their loved ones did not die alone but were in the hands of caring people, it may have offered them some solace in their grief.
John Kublinski and Nick Patino were buried in US Temporary Cemetery 4655 at Molenhoek, Holland. Their bodies were repatriated to the US after WWII ended.
Unfortunately I could not find further information about Sister Emeldine. She did survive WWII as is attested by the 1946 photograph of her above.
Efforts have been unsuccessful in trying to locate the three sons of John Kublinski to share this remembrance of their father.
On November 19, 1944, a German shell hit the hospital. US Army physician Guy A. Myers and nurse First Lieutenant Katherine L. Foster were seriously wounded.
The photographs in this story are used with the permission of Josephine Pescatore Reaves. The oral history video is used with the permission of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.
On a 2005 WWII in the Pacific cruise I met many WWII veterans who shared their personal experiences in conversations, lectures, and veteran round table discussions. The trip began in Honolulu, Hawaii, made stops at Midway Island, Majuro, Guadalcanal, Rabaul, Guam, Saipan, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Nagasaki, and ended in China. This post is about one of the WWII veterans I met on that trip.
James Donald “Don” Jones was born in Eastland County, Texas, on November 14, 1923. He enlisted in the United States (US) Marine Corps days after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. By the end of WWII Don was a veteran of Tulagi (August 7- 9, 1942), Guadalcanal (August 7, 1942 – February 9, 1943), Tarawa (November 20-23, 1943), Saipan (June 15 – July 9, 1944), and Tinian (July 24 – August 1, 1944).
These are some of the stories Don shared on the trip.
Tulagi, Guadalcanal, and Savo Island, Solomon Islands
Background. On August 9, 1942, in the aftermath of the catastrophic defeat of the US Navy at the Battle of Savo Island, US transport ships carrying men, rations, ammunition, gasoline, and other supplies left for safer waters to protect US carriers. Supply lines to US troops on Guadalcanal were cut off for months as a result.
After first landing on the island of Tulagi, Don and the 2nd Marine Division were sent to Guadalcanal to defend a ridge perimeter around the airfield.
Don spoke of the hardships on Guadalcanal due to malaria, dysentery, tropical diseases, jungle rot, and malnutrition. The Marines nicknamed the island “Survival Island.” Before US supplies began arriving again, they were surviving on rice stolen from the Japanese and native island food sources such as heart of palm. Don said he never ate heart of palm again after that.
Don spent much of his time on Guadalcanal in a foxhole on Bloody Ridge (also known as Edson’s Ridge) overlooking the airfield (Henderson Field). The extreme heat and humidity resulted in leather boots rotting off the feet of some Marines. While in his foxhole Don made a promise to himself; if he lived through the war, one day he would return to Guadalcanal and smoke a cigar on Bloody Ridge.
Saipan, Mariana Islands
On June 15, 1944, Don landed with the 2ndMarine Division on “Green Beach” along the southwest coast of Saipan.
When moving up the west side of the island, while crawling on his stomach across a field, Don found a watermelon. He ate the entire thing while bullets flew overhead. His thought at the time was, “Nothing ever tasted so good.”
Continuing north Don saw the overwhelming aftermath of the largest Japanese Banzai charge (suicide attack) of WWII on July 7, 1944. He said there were thousands of dead Japanese soldiers. The flies there were so thick that a plane had to spray DDT over the area.
On the northern tip of Saipan at Marpi Point Don witnessed civilian men, women, and children commit suicide jumping off the cliffs.
Tinian, Mariana Islands
The island of Tinian is visible from Saipan. Don landed there in July 1944.
When Don landed on Tinian, he had three 2nd Marine Divisionreplacements with him. He told them, “Don’t get out of the sugar cane. Cross the field in the cane.” Two of the replacements were killed by Japanese machine gun fire when they stepped out on a road. At a Marine reunion years later the third replacement told Don, “For days I only followed you. You knew what to do.”
Don was wounded on Tinian and evacuated to a battalion aid station. He said the flies were so bad there that he asked to return to the front lines.
By the time Don left Saipan and Tinian, he had seen civilians jump to their deaths on both the northern cliffs of Saipan and the southern cliffs of Tinian.
Back in the US
After three years in the Pacific Theater, Don was stationed in Washington, DC, standing guard outside the office of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, Chief of Naval Operations in WWII. Don was in Washington, DC, when the war ended.
Nancy, Don’s daughter, wrote, “James D. Jones was discharged in October 1945. On his way to the bus stop he nearly cried. He had only been a Marine. For the last four years it wasn’t easy, but everything you needed, they provided. He had a wife and baby waiting in Texas. What would he do now?” It was a shared sentiment felt by many who survived the war and were returning to the challenge of reentering civilian life.
A Last Tour in the Pacific
Don Jones went on a second WWII in the Pacific cruise in 2008 with his son-in-law, Joe. Nancy wrote, “For my dad it is more a matter of saying goodbye this time to memories he has lived with for 60 years. Last time it was an emotional reliving of his war experiences.”
James Donald “Don” Jones died in 2008 and is buried in his hometown of Eastland, Texas. He was a proud Marine his entire life.
Sara Elizabeth Clarke Anderson, known to family and friends as Betty, was 22 years old when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941.
Betty was working as a photographer’s model for a modeling agency in Chicago, Illinois, and was featured in advertisements for companies such as Sears, Roebuck, and Company and Folgers Coffee. She posed for the cover of several detective magazines of the day and for one cover she told of being photographed in the Chicago River pretending she was about to drown. She was also involved in radio and television broadcast media in Chicago. Betty worked at radio station WAAF which broadcast from the top floor of the Palmer House. On Mondays at 2 pm she had her own radio show and sang songs. Her beauty and talent opened the door for her early television work at Zenith Experimental Studios. She appeared in various television productions.
During WWII new product development was limited, and rationing affected product availability. When the use of advertising and broadcast media temporarily changed its focus during wartime, Betty moved to Arkansas and was employed at the Arkansas Ordnance Plant (AOP) as an Inspector. Her starting salary was 56 cents an hour.
The AOP was located in Jacksonville, Arkansas. In 1942 the contract to build and operate the plant was awarded to Ford, Bacon, and Davis of New York. The plant was one of the first of its kind in the United States (US). It assembled military munitions fuses, boosters, detonators, and primers. The first assembly line was completed in March of 1942 and approximately 75% of the employees were women.
Betty worked in the Percussion Element Division and made relay and delay fuses for bombs. Components of the fuses included the potentially unstable elements of lead azide and mercury fulminate. She told of assembly line workers taking extra precautions as fuses were moved within the AOP as it was thought even human body heat may cause a fuse to explode.
The AOP shut down production in August of 1945 a few weeks after the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. WWII was over.
After WWII, those on the Homefront and veterans returning home from the war started a new chapter in their life. Betty married “the love of her life” E. M. (Tex) Anderson and raised six children. She had a lifelong interest in broadcast media. Betty became a television personality for San Antonio, Texas, public television station KLRN and was elected to the Alamo Public Telecommunications Council.
Betty passed away on January 16, 2016, at the age of 96. Her love for her family and her contribution to her country, her community, and her work in broadcasting will be remembered.
Betty’s son, Jeffrey, found this AOP employee award card among her belongings after her death.
In November 2010 I did an oral history interview with Betty for the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas. She was representative of the citizens on the Homefront during WWII who wanted to “do their bit” and were themselves sometimes placed in potentially dangerous jobs.
I knew Betty for over 20 years. She was a “classy lady.” I will miss her friendship.
Photographs for this story are used with the permission of the Anderson family.
On August 17, 1944, Italian partisans killed 16 German soldiers who had been in the area of San Terenzo, Italy, requisitioning food from the local populace. The Germans ordered civilian reprisals which were carried out by the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division between August 17 and August 19, 1944. One hundred and fifty-nine Italian civilian men, women, and children from the San Terenzo Monti, Bardine, and Valla area were killed.*
In 2012 I went on a tour, “World War II in the Mediterranean: The Italian and French Campaigns,” which was sponsored by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. One of the locales we visited was the San Terenzo area of Tuscany.
At the Historical Museum Massacre of San Terenzo and Bardine, we saw pictures on the wall of many of the victims. I was drawn to the picture of a baby named Flavio Terenzoni. His happy, laughing face, before tragedy struck, touched my heart. Flavio died on August 19, 1944, as did Maria Cecchini, the young woman in the picture with him. Flavio would have been two years old on August 28, 1944.
While we were at the museum, Italians from the local area joined us and shared the stories of what happened. They worried that the world would forget about the tragedy that occurred there.
For this story, I chose Flavio Terenzoni to represent all the lives and innocence lost as seen in the “pictures on the wall.”
To the people of San Terenzo, your story has not been forgotten.
Another WWII story from this part of Italy:
The United States (US) 442nd Regimental Combat Team, composed mostly of second generation Japanese Americans, fought along the Gothic Line in the area of Colle Musatello, a ridge near San Terenzo. One of the officers in that unit was Lieutenant Daniel Inouye. He was seriously wounded in the battle for the ridge and lost his right arm. For his extraordinary heroism on April 21, 1945, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).
In 1963 Daniel Inouye became a US Senator from Hawaii.
Senator Inouye’s award of the DSC was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
*SS Major Walter Reder of the 16th SS Panzergrenadier Division was tried for war crimes in an Italian military court in Bologna, Italy, and sentenced to life in prison in 1951. He was released in 1985.
The number of Germans and Italian civilians killed may vary depending on different accounts of the incident.