Remember the badass dude posted below? My first post on him can be found here. 2nd Lt. Robert Duffy has an incredible WWII story, nearly seven years before these phtoto were taken……..
On July 27th 1944, an American fighter plane crashed in flames in a field belonging to the Laurent family in the hamlet of the Scellerie… The battle was raging and the inhabitants of Le Mesnilbus had several days past received the order to evacuate. Returning from the exodus, they found the wreckage of the war strewn across the countryside, but they had to pick up their lives, to repair the damage as best they could…they had many worries! A half century has quickly passed…and now Michael Rainfroy, impassioned by the history of lost aircraft, has brought back from oblivion and the earth the American aircraft…a Thunderbolt P-47. Thanks to the records of the American Army, they found that it was a plane from the 404th Fighter Group. Then they discovered the name of the pilot and with the help of the “Poop Sheet” of former American pilots, they found our pilot alive and well and living in Colorado! That was Robert Lee Duffy who had successfully parachuted near the village of Cambernon. This memorial, erected in his honor, will keep alive the memories of the sacrifices of all the fighters and of this page of local history.
Robert Duffy in the Korean War
Check out the squint in those eyes……… he’s seen some combat and is more than likely glad to be in a maintenance squadron during the Korean War. The funny thing is that he didn’t resist the urge to fly and test out the recently rehabbed fighters. In the shot below, never before seen, we can see Lt. Duffy testing out the recently installed rudder of a Korean War P-51. Shot with 35mm color Kodachrome film by his wing man, this photo is an incredible snapshot for the family and friends of the Duffy’s.
Testing Out a P-51 Rudder
More to come…………………………
The elusive artist and photographer, Alva V. Alegre, is still making waves here at PortraitsofWar. Two recent visitors to the site have been able to shed some light on his work. I’m posting the first here for followers of Alva’s work to see before I set into the newly acquired info regarding his background.
The following shot was sent to me by an art collector on the East Coast who luckily had the painting conserved and removed from a foamcore backing after finding the work in a Virginia antique shop. The style is quintessential Alegre and incorporates the scantily clad and thin wasted figure so often depicted in his WWII work.
Newly Discovered Alegre Artwork
If you have an Alegre painting in your collection, please come forward with a photograph. His work has been coming out of the woodwork in the past six years, and the story of his life is quickly unraveling. A special thanks to Scott for his generous photograph of his prized Alegre work of art.
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
Opening Clip Cells
Scanned Cells Showing Color
Crank Radio Cells
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
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.
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
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
And his enlistment which appears to be off be off by a year:
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 !
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
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
“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
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
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 Draft Card
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
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…
View original 866 more words
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 ……………………….