WWII Digitized 8mm Color Footage – Early War Marines Horse Around on Beach 1941


Private WWII color footage is one of the hardest avenues of militaria collecting to break into.  Reels of film are often tossed away after estates sales, never viewed for their content.   It’s a rare occasion to find a small piece of WWII history tucked away in a film collection, undigitized and likely unviewed for decades.

In this case, I was able to acquire a quick 1:28 film shot by a group of buddies on the beaches of a training camp somewhere on the Pacific during WWII.  This educated guess is based on the early field gear pictured in the film which includes the shortly-used M1917A helmet.  The hand cranked radio generator, the pith helmet as well as the offshore battleships point towards an early film. Sadly, the color of the footage wasn’t really picked up during the digitization.  Each frame is scannable with my Epson V700, but the color was lost during the professional digitization.  Enjoy!

 

The Hawaiian music was added by the digitization company.

 

Film After Processing

Film After Processing

Opening Clip Cells

Opening Clip Cells

Scanned Cells Showing Color

Scanned Cells Showing Color

 

Crank Radio Cells

Crank Radio Cells

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WWII 3rd Armored Division Snapshot – Tanker John F. Housman of Braceville, IL in France


WWII Snapshots are easy to come across.  They appear in bundles at flea markets and yard sales.  It’s very uncommon to be able to positively identify a US soldier in a snapshot – let alone one that has relatives actively seeking information on ancestry.com.  Please see below for a step-by-step breakdown of my research on this photo.

Step 1: Purchase of Photo

A $12 eBay Purchase

A $12 eBay Purchase

 

With the purchase made, I had to wait a week for the photo to arrive without any research potential on the photo.  All I knew was that the shot was of a tanker with sand/dust goggles standing in front of a Sherman tank in France.  An interesting shot, albeit sleightly out of focus…..

 

John Housman Jr.

John Housman Jr.

 

Step 2: Research Photo

 

Researching photos can be a daunting task without a proper research database at hand.  Luckily, I subscribe to ancestry.com as well as a number of other databases. In this case, I was able to make the proper ID with the US census record combined with the WWII draft record. What do we know from the photo?  It turns out that the photo arrived with an ID on the reverse:  Johnny Housman-Tanker  of Braceville, Illinois.  It’s a great starting place and provided the key to the unlocking of the positive ID of the photo.

John Housman Jr. WWII from Braceville, IL

John Housman Jr. WWII from Braceville, IL

 

With the info at hand I was able to make an easy identification using the tools at hand.   A quick search yielded the following info:

John F. Housman Social Security Number 358-05-2949  Born 10/11/1918 Died 9/17/1992

John F. Housman Social Security Number 358-05-2949
Born 10/11/1918
Died 9/17/1992

 

And his enlistment which appears to be off be off by a year:

 

WWI Draft Registry

WWI Draft Registry

 

I’m sure the family of John Housman Jr. will find this site and I hope they will share some info on their father/relative.  I’m more than happy to send the original to an identified member of the family.  I know you’re out there !

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WWI Photo Identification: The Mysterious Misidentification of Peter Pizzolongo


 

 

Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

Misidentified  Peter Pizzolongo and Friend

From time to time I update certain posts to reflect recent research discoveries or to bring an interesting post back from obscurity.  In this case, the family member of a WWI veteran discussed in my post was able to discover my site and find a “photo” (please see below) of her grandfather.  Back in 2013 I posted a well-researched photo of a pair of doughboys wearing gasmasks and helmets posed overseas in 1918.  After extensive research on the gasmask of the soldier, I was able to track down a bit of info on him.  That’s what I thought!

Gas Mask Identification

Gas Mask Identification

This is an example of one of those rare occasions of an identification made without a 100% cross referenced identification photo.  It turns out that the soldier was merely borrowing the gasmask of Peter Pizzolongo.  I assumed that the wearer was indeed Pizzolongo; but his great niece found the photo, passed it around the family email chain and determined that it didn’t actually depict Peter.  She graciously sent me a wartime shot of Peter in his gasmask, helmet and uniforn; the photo is was likely taken at the same time as the original image, but was redone in a larger format with a blurred backdrop.  The reversed collar insignia, gasmask strap and shoulder patch point towards a reverse-image process to reproduce a larger format photo.

Peter Pizzolongo in 1918

Peter Pizzolongo in 1918

Peter Pizzolongo

“Fake” Peter Pizzolongo

 

Luckily my original post was 100% accurate in the historical documentation of Peter and his early life.  Here’s a recap:

 

Peter was born in 1896 in Larino Campobasso, Italy and came over to the US in the early 1900s.  What’s funny is that I can’t find his immigration records online but did find that he traveled back from Italy in 1955 on board the S.S. Independence along with his wife, Ida.

 

1955 Italy Trip

1955 Italy Trip

Of interest to me is his WWI service record.  His draft card gives his exact birthdate – June 29th, 1895.  His listed profession at the time was Piano Maker; his Italian hometown matches perfectly with his WWI service record, so we know it’s accurate.  As of June, 1917 he worked with a company named Ricca & Son at 89 Southern Boulvard, Bronx, NY.  At the time he lived at 425 East 116th Street in Manhattan and wasn’t legally registered as an American citizen.  He initially signed up with the 165th Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Division.  It makes sense given his NY area residency at the time.  He was they transferred over to the 305th Infantry Regiment of the 77th Division.  He made it overseas on April 16th, 1918 and served overseas for an entire year before leaving on April 24th, 1919.  He was gassed once on August 15th, 1918 during the Battle of the Marne at Fismes.  Please see a quick excerpt from the official 305th Infantry Regiment unit history here: 305th History

 

August, 1918

August, 1918

We know from his records that he was out of commission for 8 days before returning to his unit on August 23rd.  He became sick (unknown reason, likely gas related) on September 5th, 1918. He rejoined the unit on the 16th after being in the hospital for 11 days.  What a trooper! I’ve attached a few of the web-based documents I’ve found through my search. Hopefully his family will one day find this site and learn a little more about their WWI relative!

WWI Service Record

WWI Service Record

WWI Draft Card

WWI Draft Card

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Kathleen Passfield and the end of the Zeppelin menace


Originally posted on Great War London:

Women in the Great War could not play an active role in fighting the Germans, but they could be important in supporting the war effort. The most direct way was in munitions factories, making ammunition to help the armed forces win the war. Kathleen Passfield worked in a factory with a more immediate war purpose – to bring down the Zeppelins spreading terror across London.

Zeppelin-inspired recruiting poster, 1915

Zeppelin-inspired recruiting poster, 1915

Kathleen Hamilton Devonald was born in 1897 in New Cross (also known as Hatcham New Cross), the eldest of five children of crane driver William James Passfield and his wife Ellen. The family lived in Edmonton, with William’s mother Sophia; in 1911 they were living at 6 Exeter Road.

In May 1915, the German aerial campaign against Britain began with Zeppelins dropping bombs with apparent impunity. Londoners suffered air raids for more than a year without seeing one of these huge cigar-shaped…

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The Korean War in Color – Wartime Tank Action 89th Tank Battalion


This will be a constantly updated theme here at Portraits of War so please check back often.

Today’s posts are from the 89th Medium Tank Battalion taken in 1952 during the middle of the Korean War.

The 89th TB ……………………….

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WWII Portrait Photo – Redheaded Poster Pinup Mystery! Help Needed


 

The vast majority of material posted here on PortraitsofWar has been painstakingly identified through dedicated research and a little bit of luck.  In this case, I’ve been stumped!  I need YOUR help to figure this one out.  Here’s what we know:

1.  The photo was taken by a Des Moines, Iowa photographer.  I purchased a series of original 4×5 negatives from an eBay dealer.  All showed Des Moines area veterans taken between 1944 and 1946.

2.  The photo depicts an attractive redhead (see poster below) WAVE volunteer.  WAVE stands for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

3.  The poster in the image was designed by John Falter in 1943.  “She’s helping to win….. how about you?”

Mystery WAVE

Mystery WAVE

Was she a Des Moines native?  Or was she merely in Des Moines during the war?  It would be great to track her down and I need your help.  Any ideas?

 

Color Image of Poster

Color Image of Poster(source)

 

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WWII Identified Portrait Photo – Roxbury, MA and Rockland, TX Veteran Ernest Chekoulias 295th Engineer Battalion


 

Ernest "Chick" Chekoulias

Ernest “Chick” Chekoulias

A recent eBay purchase has landed me with a fantastic group of WWII portrait photos all identified to members of Company A of the 295th Engineer Battalion, a unit that landed on the Normandy beaches only two weeks after the infamous June 6th, 1944 D-Day landings.  Here’s an excerpt from the unit history that described that fateful day:

The Big Moment did come at last; actually there were lots of big moments.  The battalion was divided up into three serials, and each serial was on two or more boats.  The first wave started from Hindon a little after midnight on 13 June.  There was battalion headquarters, parts of each line company, and the medical detachment. They all reached the marshaling area in Winchester at 0830 that morning.  Before dawn two days later, half of them were awakened a few hours later and they too reached another set of docks at that port.  They all sweated out a day and a night, sleeping on the quayside, before they got on the boats.  The first half, after burstmoving into the Channel, had to return to port because their ship’s anti-mine apparatus was not working.  The second half joined their convoy, stayed the night off the Isle of Wight, and then started off for France.  They saw the coast at about noon on 18 June.  They surveyed the coast defenses, and the wreckage, and the boats sunk near the shore.  It all looked very grim.  That night the skyline glowed with glare  of fires and bursting shells, and they were still on the boats in the Channel………”

 

 

The photo I’ve selected for this post was initially partially identified as an Ernest Chek…… of 9 Mt. Pleasant Ave, Roxbury, Massachusetts.  I eventually tracked down a unit roster for the 295th Engineers that lists a Sgt. Ernest Chekoulias, serial number 31301800 from Roxbury, MA.  It’s clearly a hit and a cross reference with his obituary confirms that this is indeed the same soldier.  Sgt. Chekoulias is listed in the unit history as having been awarded the Bronze Star for Heroic Achievement.  His obituary page confirms this.

 

Unit History Bronze Star Info

Unit History Bronze Star Info

 

chekbronzestar

 

Ernest Chekoulias was born in Boston, MA on  January 21st, 1923 and passed away in Rockland, TX on December 17th, 2008 at the age of 85.   His obituary reads:

Amphib084 copy

Mr. Ernest Chekoulias 85, of Rockland, died Wednesday, December 17, 2008 in his home, after an illness of several months. He was born in Boston on January 21, 1923, the son of the late Theodore and Pauline Zerolis Chekoulias. He was raised and educated in Boston Schools, and has lived in Rockland for 55 years. He was the Founder and President of Star Litho, Inc. in Weymouth. Mr. Chekoulias served in the Army during WWII, and saw service in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. He was the recipient of the Bronze Star. Husband of the late Dorothy T. McEnrue Chekoulias, he is survived by 1 son, E. Scott Chekoulias of Hanover, 4 daughters, Judith Chekoulias of Rockland, Jane S. Leonard of Hubbardston, Cynthia M. Chekoulias of Pembroke and Anita L. Drapeau of Kingston, 5 grandchildren, Daniel Leonard, David Leonard, Alissa Leonard, Kathryn Drapeau and Michael Drapeau, 2 sisters, Vera Marziarz of Southington, CT and Katherine Atherton of Bernardston, and sister-in-law, Mary M. Manley of Rockland. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, December 23, 2008 at 9 AM in Holy Family Church, 403 Union Street, in Rockland. Interment will be in Holy Family Cemetery in Rockland. Visiting hours in the Sullivan Funeral Home, 45 East Water Street in ROCKLAND on Monday from 4-7 PM.

 

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the late Ernest “Chick” Chekoulis for his service with the 295th Engineers during WWII.  This post is for you!

 

 

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