#ASMSG Journalist Eric Sevareid’s career nearly ended in the Burmese jungle of the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II.

Eric Sevareid was one of the most prominent journalists of the 20th century. He was born Arnold Eric Sevareid in Velda, North Dakota on November 26, 1912. He began working as a reporter for the Minnesota Star while a student at The University of Minnesota in 1931 and ended his career with CBS in 1977. He received many honors during his career including 3 Peabody Awards and 2 Emmy Awards. In 2008, he was one of five journalists honored by the U.S. Postal Service with a first class postage stamp.

Sevareid

After graduating from college, Mr. Sevareid continued his studies in Europe and became a reporter for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune in 1938. In 1939 he was recruited by Edward R. Murrow to join CBS radio. He was the last correspondent to broadcast from Paris before the city fell to the Nazis.  He returned to the CBS Washington Bureau in 1940 where he remained until 1943. Mr. Sevareid wanted to cover the war up close and this desire led him to the CBI Theater where his career nearly ended.

In August of 1943, Mr. Sevareid and 19 other passengers departed from India aboard an army C-46 for a flight over the Hump to China. Among the passengers were high-ranking Chinese army officers and John Paton Davies, an American diplomat with intimate knowledge of Allied plans for war in northern Burma. Somewhere over Burma the C-46 developed engine troubles and the pilot ordered everyone aboard to bail out before it crashed.  None of the passengers had ever used a parachute before, and there was a great deal of hesitation about jumping out of the airplane.  As the senior official aboard, Mr. Davies jumped first with his attaché case stuffed inside his shirt. The crew and passengers soon found themselves in the jungle behind Japanese lines. It was common knowledge that many downed fliers died in the Burmese jungle. Bodies were often found covered by crawling ants. Those that were lucky enough to survive were sometimes captured by the enemy.

Sevareid and the other men found themselves in a very hostile environment and it wasn’t long before they were discovered by a tribe of Naga headhunters.  The Naga tribesmen were not always friendly toward downed Allied airmen, and often turned them over to the Japanese in exchange for a bounty. Because of his diplomatic training, Mr. Davies was chosen to negotiate with the Nagas. With the help of the tribesmen, the group began a long and torturous hike that lasted nearly a month. During their ordeal, they suffered from the heat and rain and were never sure they would get out of the jungle mountains. They were plagued by thirst and hunger as they climbed the steep mountain slopes and trudged through thick jungle. Fear of Japanese patrols was their constant companion, and at one point, they were informed by the Nagas that an enemy patrol was not far away. They prepared to fight, but to their great relief, went undetected by the patrol.

Search aircraft eventually located the struggling group, and a mission was mounted to rescue them. Medical supplies, food equipment were assembled and a group of volunteers were recruited to parachute into the jungle to aid the downed men. The rescue mission was a great success and the men were led safely out of the jungle. The Air Force Air Rescue Service was later founded and modeled after this mission.

On a later flight to China, Eric Sevareid encountered trouble again. The C-87 he was riding in encountered dense fog over their intended airport in China and circled for an hour and a half. During this time, another aircraft circling with them ran out of gas and the crew had to bail out. A Lt. Colonel sitting next to Sevareid joked that if he had to bail out again, Eric’s reputation would be ruined because CBS would think he was in a rut.

Eric Sevareid survived his experiences in World War II and went on to a successful career. He died on July 9, 1992 of stomach cancer. He was 79 years old.

Additional stories of men who survived the jungles of Burma can be read in my book Kicker which can be found at the links below.

Amazon http://amzn.to/W7XiUd

Barnes and Nobel  http://bit.ly/WHvcVO

BURMA – 20 venerable WWII Spitfire fighter planes may soon return to the skies

The British press has recently reported the discovery in Myanmar (Burma) of 20 buried Spitfire fighter planes. An agreement has supposedly been reached for the recovery and return of the aircraft to the UK.

This is a significant event in the history of the Spitfire which played a pivotal role in the Second World War and especially the Battle of Britain. Of the 20,351 Spitfires that were produced during the war, only about 40 are now operational anywhere in the world. The addition of 20 more of these splendid planes will be a boon to collectors and ensure the legacy of the Spitfire will not be lost.

Read more about this evolving story at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/artic…

More information about the aircraft used in Burma during World War II and the men and women who fought there can be found in my book Kicker. Amazon http://amzn.to/W7XiUd

Barnes and Nobel  http://bit.ly/WHvcVO

 

#ASMSG A tribute to British General Orde Wingate, a most unorthodox soldier and heroic leader during World War II.

GENERAL ORDE WINGATE

Orde Charles Wingate was born in India to a military family on 26 February 1903. He spent his childhood in England where he received a very religious upbringing and was subjected, by his father, to intensive days of reading and memorizing the Old Testament. Later in his military career his quotes from the Bible earned him the nickname “Old Sword and Bible”.

One of seven children, Wingate’s strict parents raised him in a manner that encouraged independence, initiative and self-reliance. These were qualities that served him well in an incident where he got in trouble at the Royal Military Academy and was subjected to a punishment called “running”.  The punishment consisted of the offender being stripped and forced to run a gauntlet of senior students wielding knotted towels and then being thrown into the cold waters of a cistern. When it was Wingate’s time to be punished for reportedly returning a horse late to the stables, he stood before the senior at the head of the gauntlet and dared him to strike. When the senior refused, he walked to the next senior in line and repeated his dare. When that senior also refused to strike, he repeated his dare before the remaining seniors in the line, and all refused to deliver a blow. At the end of the gauntlet, Wingate calmly walked to the cistern and dived into the cold water.

Throughout his military career, General Wingate was known for his eccentricities. He often wore an alarm clock around his wrist and ate raw onions for snacks. To the consternation of his superiors and the surprise of his subordinates, he often walked about and conducted meetings in the nude. Below medium height, Wingate was sturdily built and had deep set eyes that most men described as having a hard expression, and by the power of his scorn, he was able to make people feel smaller than he was.

General Wingate

General Wingate

At the beginning of World War II Wingate repeatedly proposed the creation of a Jewish army in Palestine to rule over the area on behalf of the British government. Eventually he was sent to the Sudan to begin operations against Italian forces in Ethiopia. In the Sudan, he created the Gideon Force, a small guerrilla force made up of British, Sudanese and Ethiopian soldiers.  The force began operations in February 1941 and harassed Italian forts and supply lines. The Gideon Force, with around 1,700 men, accounted for 40,000 Italian troops killed or captured. For his exploits in Ethiopia, Wingate was awarded his second Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

WINGATE’S FIRST LONG-RANGE JUNGLE PENETRATION MISSION

Wingate arrived in India in 1942, and despite his prior successes, was not highly regarded by many of his superiors in India. They thought of him as a crackpot and called him “Tarzan”. He was appointed by General Wavell to organize guerrilla units to fight behind Japanese lines. However, the rout of Allied forces in Burma in early 1942 stopped further planning. In April of 1942, Wingate began to promote his idea for long-range jungle penetration units. Interested by Wingate’s theories, General Wavell gave him a brigade of troops from which he created a long-range jungle penetration unit. The unit became known as the Chindits, a corrupted version of the name of a mythical Burmese lion, the chinthe.

On the 12th of February 1943, Operation Longcloth began with Wingate leading his Chindit units across the Chindwin River into Burma. The force was initially successful in putting one of the main railways in Burma out of action, but when they crossed the Irrawaddy River, the terrain changed along with their fortunes. The Japanese were able to disrupt the Wingate’s supply drops and the Chindits began to suffer from exhaustion and shortages of food and water. On 22 March, Wingate was ordered to withdraw his units back to India. Continuous harassment by the Japanese forced the Chindits to return to India by various routes during the spring of 1943. Their casualties were high and the force lost approximately one-third of its men during their 1,000 mile trek into and out of Burma.

Even with disastrous losses, the Chindit’s exploits were viewed as a success by the folks back home. They had proven that British troops could successfully operate in the jungle against experienced Japanese forces. Wingate was subsequently able to persuade Allied leaders to approve larger scale deep-penetration attacks into Burma. However, Operation Longcloth turned out to be a double edged sword because the Japanese also learned that it was possible for large ground forces to penetrate the jungle between India and Burma, a fete they previously thought impossible.

SECOND LONG-RANGE JUNGLE PENETRATION MISSION

A new long-range jungle penetration operation was planned using six brigades of troops assigned to General Wingate. The new operation was to be a coordinated effort with a regular army offensive against northern Burma. However, the army offensive was cancelled leaving Wingate with no means of transporting his Chindits into Burma.

General Wingate was bitter with the cancellation and voiced his disappointment to anyone who would listen. One of the Allied commanders who listened was Colonel Phil Cochran of the 1st Air Commando Group. This is the same Phil Cochran that was mentioned in my previous blog as being the inspiration for Milt Caniff’s character Flip Corkin in the popular Terry and the Pirates comic strip. Colonel Cochran told Wingate that his long-range mission need not be cancelled and explained that the 1st Air Commando had 150 gliders capable of hauling supplies and moving a sizable force of troops. With this new glider landing option, Wingate decided to proceed into Burma and Operation Broadway was born.

On 6 March 1944, Operation Broadway began. The Chindits under General Wingate arrived in Burma by parachute and glider and established base areas and drop zones behind Japanese lines. Jackie Coogan, famous child star and actor who starred as Uncle Fester in the TV show the Addams Family, was one of the glider pilots for this mission. Wingate’s timing was perfect. The Japanese launched an invasion of India around the same time and the Chindits were able to disrupt the Japanese offensive, diverting troops from the battles in India.

GENERAL WINGATE’S DEATH

On 24 March 1944, Wingate flew to Burma to assess the situation of three Chindit bases. On his return to India, the U.S. Army Air Force B-25 in which he was flying crashed into the jungle in northeast India. All ten men aboard perished.  Wingate and the nine other victims were buried in a common grave close to the crash site. Their bodies were charred beyond recognition. Since seven of the ten crash victims, including both pilots, were Americans, all ten bodies were eventually exhumed and reburied in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. The reburial was possible courtesy of an amicable three-way agreement between the governments of India, Britain and the US, and in accordance with the families’ wishes.

After General Wingate’s death, the strongholds and landing fields of Operation Broadway were abandoned and the Chindits were assigned to other fighting forces in Burma.

General Orde Charles Wingate was a man for his time. He was a tough, self-reliant, eccentric soldier, and he personified the indomitable will of the English people as they fought successfully to defend their homeland and preserve  their freedom.

More information about the men and women who fought in Burma and India during World War II can be read in my book Kicker which can be found at the links below.

Amazon http://amzn.to/W7XiUd

Barnes and Nobel  http://bit.ly/WHvcVO

#ASMSG Read the true story of the connection between famous cartoonist Milton Caniff’s comic strip Terry and the Pirates and an Army Air Force hero who fought in the China Burma India theater of World War II and proposed to the indomitable actress Betty White.

Milton Caniff was called “The Rembrandt of Comics”.  He was born in Ohio in 1907 and became famous for his comic strips Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. Starting in 1932, Milt drew the comic strips Dickie Dare, The Gay Thirties, and Mister Gilfeather  for the Associated Press. Then  in 1934, he was hired by the New York Daily News and started producing Terry and the Pirates, the strip which made him  famous.

Terry and the Pirates told the story of the adventures of a teenager, Terry Lee, as he grew to manhood seeking a lost gold mine in China. During World War II, Terry matures and joins the U.S. Army Air Force to become a pilot, and this is where the strips connection with a true war hero begins. Terry’s Air Force flight instructor was Major Flip Corkin who Americans came to know as a dashing but modest hero. Milt Caniff based his Flip Corkin character on the real life Army Air Force pilot Colonel Phil Cochran.

Colonel Cochran was born in Pennsylvania and had an interest in aviation at an early age. He attended Ohio State University where he met Milt Caniff and joined the ROTC. When war broke out he joined the Army Air Force and trained as a fighter pilot. Because of his leadership and organizational abilities, Cochran became the leader of a P-40 squadron that became legendary in the fighting in North Africa. Colonel Cochran went on to become the commander of the 1st Air Commando Group in India and Burma. As described in one of my previous blogs, Jackie Coogan was a glider pilot with this group. Under Colonel Cochran’s command, 1st Air Commando aircraft towed the gliders of Operation Broadway during the invasion of Burma by General Wingate’s Chindit forces.  Colonel Cochran’s men also perfected the tactic of extracting gliders from small jungle clearings by snatching them from the ground using nylon ropes attached to the gliders and stretched between two poles. News of the evacuation of wounded men using this technique greatly increased the morale of the soldiers fighting in the jungles of Burma.

After an illustrious military career, Colonel Cochran retired from the Air Force and returned home to Erie, Pennsylvania where he joined his brother’s company, Lyons Transportation Lines where he eventually became Chairman of the Board. Another interesting note about the Colonel was that he dated Betty White during the early 1960s and proposed to her. Betty declined his marriage proposal and eventually married Allen Ludden.

Phil Cochran died August 26, 1979, but he will not be forgotten by those of us who remember the comic strip Terry and the Pirates.

More information about the men and women who fought in Burma and India during World War II can be found in my book Kicker which can be found at the links below.

Amazon http://amzn.to/W7XiUd

Barnes and Nobel  http://bit.ly/WHvcVO

#ASMSG Cowboy Superstar Gene Autry in the CBI Theater

Most people remember Gene Autry as the singing cowboy who became famous for his work on the radio, television and in the movies. However, few people know he piloted C47 cargo planes during World War II and flew over the hump in the CBI Theater.

Gene Autry was born Orvon Grover Autry near Tioga, Texas in 1907. It’s hard to believe the outlaws in his western movies would have taken anyone with the name Orvon seriously, so it’s understandable that he changed his name. Gene started his entertainment career in 1928 and became known as the Singing Cowboy. He attained superstar status in a career that included  records, radio, television, live stage and the movies. By the time he retired from show business 1964, he had starred in almost 100 films and made over 640 records. His records sold more than 100 million copies, including the first record ever certified gold. Gene Autry is the only person to have five stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one in each of the five categories maintained by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. He was also a Freemason and became a 33rd degree Master Mason.

In response to the many young people aspiring to emulate him, Mr. Autry created the Cowboy Code, or Ten Cowboy Commandments. The code consisted of the following tenets:

1.   The Cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

2.   He must never go back on his word, or a trust confided in him.

3.   He must always tell the truth.

4.   He must be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals.

5.   He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.

6.   He must help people in distress.

7.   He must be a good worker.

8.   He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action, and personal habits.

9.   He must respect women, parents, and his nation’s laws.

10. The Cowboy is a patriot.

The code reflected his personal philosophies and he proved his patriotism during WWII. He interrupted his flourishing career in 1942 and joined the Army Air Corps. He was sworn into the Army on the air during a broadcast of “Melody Ranch”. Gene entered the army as a tech sergeant and was accepted for flight training. On completion of his training, he was promoted to Flight Officer and was assigned to the Air Transport Command. He was on flight status from June, 1944 until June 1945 and flew C47s carrying fuel, ammunition and arms over the hump in the China-Burma-India theater of war. The hump was a hazardous air route over the Himalayan mountains that became known as the Aluminum Trail due to the scattered wreckage of the numerous planes that went down due to extreme weather and enemy action. Gene Autry served his country as a beloved superstar and a brave pilot during WWII.

If you would like to read more about the brave men who fought in the CBI Theater, you can find their stories in my book “Kicker” which can be found at the following sites:

http://www.kicker-cbi.com/

http://www.amazon.com/KICKER-ebook/dp/B008U6YYGC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1348940894&sr=1-1&keywords=KICKER

#ASMSG Book Signing and Launch Party

                                                 http://www.kicker-cbi.com/

BOOK SIGNING & LAUNCH PARTY BY LOCAL AUTHOR

OSCEOLA MILLS COMMUNITY LIBRARY

SEPTEMBER 22, 2012  10:00A.M. to 2:00P.M.

MEET THE AUTHOR AND ENJOY FREE REFRESHMENTS

PERCENTAGE OF SALES TO BENEFIT THE LIBRARY

          

Historical Novel Showcases the Bravery of a local soldier in WWII

Author Ron Hoover brings to life the untold stories of his highly decorated father who fought in WWII

OSCEOLA MILLS, PA. – Based on the actual experiences of a local soldier during World War II, KICKER features the stories of those who fought in the China, Burma and India Theatre, also known as CBI. This book showcases one of the most unheard of forces that fought in conjunction with British and Chinese Allied air and land forces during the Second World War.

Compelling, insightful and moving, this book tells the story of an Osceola Mills family caught in the throes of war. It pays tribute to the bravery of a family with a 165 year tradition of service to their country. It reenacts the understated heroism of valiant men who were sent fourteen thousand miles from their homeland to battle the harsh elements of nature and the life-threatening attacks of hostile enemy forces. In the hopes of reminiscing his family’s life in WWII, Ron writes this historical novel to bring to light the significant efforts of veterans and families whose struggles may not have been recognized. The author’s father was one of those veterans. In his effort to bring life to his father’s accomplishments not only as a soldier, but also as a family man, his story is told in this powerful work that will inevitably stir readers.

KICKER inspires readers to appreciate and honor the courage, strength and endurance of war veterans who risked their lives and the welfare of their families in order to fight for the very freedom that is now being enjoyed by millions.

About the Author

Ron Hoover is an Air Force veteran who was born and raised in Osceola Mills where this historical novel begins and ends. The novel is based on the actual experiences of his father and other veterans in the CBI theater of World War II.

Contact the author at  WWW.rgreyhoover@gmail.com

http://www.kicker-cbi.com/

Kicker Press Release RT #ASMSG

 Historical Novel Showcases the Bravery of Unsung Heroes in the Forgotten Front

Author R Grey Hoover brings to life the untold stories of his father who fought in the China, Burma and India Theatre

OSCEOLA MILLS, Penn. – Based on the actual experiences of American soldiers during World War II, KICKER features the lives of those who fought in the China, Burma and India Theatre, also known as CBI. Written by R Grey Hoover, this book showcases one of the most unheard of forces that fought in conjunction with British and Chinese Allied air and land forces during the Second World War.

Compelling, insightful and moving, this book tells the story of a family caught in the throes of war. It pays tribute to the bravery of a family with a 165 year tradition of service to their country. It reenacts the understated heroism of valiant men who were sent off fourteen thousand miles from their homeland to battle all the harsh elements of nature and the life-threatening attacks of hostile enemy forces. In the hopes of reminiscing his father’s life in the military, Grey writes this historical novel to bring to light the significant efforts of war veterans whose struggles may not have been recognized by many.

Little is known about the CBI Theatre. This was even referred to as the Forgotten Front due mainly to the fact that the men who fought in this zone had received very little amount of supplies and support from the government. The soldiers did not have enough provisions and had limited supply of rations. A man named Sam Huber was a part of this group. In his son’s effort to bring to life his father’s accomplishments not only as a soldier, but also as a family man, Sam’s story is told in this powerful work that will inevitably stir readers.

KICKER inspires readers to appreciate and honor the courage, strength and endurance of war veterans who risked their lives and the welfare of their families in order to fight for the very freedom that is now being enjoyed by millions.

About the Author

R Grey Hoover is an Air Force veteran who was born and raised in the wooded hills of Pennsylvania where this historical novel begins and ends. The novel is based on the actual experiences of his father and other veterans in the CBI theater of World War II.

KICKER * by R Grey Hoover

 

Available at Amazon.com

 

http://www.amazon.com/KICKER-ebook/dp/B008U6YYGC/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1344953471&sr=1-2&keywords=kicker