Monday, May 11, 2015

The spring of 1945

Once upon a time in Europe
The seventieth anniversary to the end of World War II in Europe -- VE Day -- has come and gone. For some reason, I thought that struggle ended in April rather than on May 8 of 1945. I must have gotten it mixed up with the date of Herr Hitler's demise. Hmmmm .... I am beginning to drift off topic ....
Anyway .... while going through some boxes of family memorabilia in my renewed effort to pack up and (hopefully) to push off from this location in the not too distant future, I came across a few photographs from that era and decided to include two of them in a post.
Although it is difficult to determine in the photograph with the two men, their heads are emerging from a partially snow-covered and camouflaged M4 Sherman tank. The time was late March 1945 and the location was near Mainz, Germany. The tank and its crew were part of General George Patton's Third Army on its dash to and through Germany.
As for the photograph with four men, almost certainly you have seen war films in which someone uses grenades to fish: The concussion effect from the explosion in the water stuns or kills the fish, which float to the surface, ready to serve up as culinary delights for soldiers accustomed to the mundane U.S. Army K-rations of the period. Such tales arise from facts. The man on the left holds a grenade in each hand, the next man has the cooking gear and the third and fourth men hold some trophies from their "fishing excursion." This photograph was taken around mid-May in what was then known as Czechoslovakia.
Not very sporting as fishing goes, but extremely efficient ....

Between the time the two photographs were taken, these tankers had been present when the first Nazi concentration camp -- Ohrdruf -- was discovered and liberated, and they had drank a bit too much Russian vodka when they came in contact with Soviet forces at the Elbe River.

It must have been quite a ride .... I sort of envy them ....
Upon a painted ocean

It would seem the doldrums stay with me in several forms. A few gray and rainy days add to my melancholy mood. In the words of William Taylor Coleridge:
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

As for the music, think of it in the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and in the sense of lives and loves in other times:

And (kisses) sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
O Death in Life, the days that are no more.



ANITA said...

Lovely post Fram although itz about war time..I hate wars.

Fascinating photo the first one..In a way the man thats not waving looks very familiar to fact it could be one of my relatives heheh

So when you are into 2 WW i am into Misisippi Burning with Gene Hackman.A movie that says much about the hatr of the colours.Ku Klux Klan and even draws links to our present time..

I wish you a great weekend and thanx for showing this great post.

Fram Actual said...

I think I might be up all night this night, Anita .... I am on a run, in a manner of speaking ....

There are war lovers, that is true. And, there are powerful people who encourage war for their own purposes -- greed, envy and more power. I believe there always have been such people and always will be such people.

There are those, possibly the majority, usually liberals, often religious, mostly people concerned with their personal lives above all else, who wait until the devil is at their doorstep and it is too late to react. This is what happened to the Jewish people in the 1930s. I think it is what is happening to at least one-half the population in the United States right now under the quasi-dictatorship of a NPD disorder individual (put simply, a psychiatric) named Barack Obama.

Then, there are those who believe in freedom and independence and who would rather die fighting tooth and nail than surrender to live in tyranny or to wait until they are lined up in front of a ditch in Poland or Russia, or along an ocean beach in Libya, and executed. I do not understand the meek and the mild and the liberal who are content to have their lives dictated by others.

I guess I am turning this into a campaign speech without a campaign, but just imagine where the world might be today without Americans like those in the photographs and others willing to fight and to die to keep countries like Norway and France and England free to go their own way. Just imagine the world a few years from now if the Middle East continues to degenerate into absolute madness. That is why there must be war at times and people must decide which is the right and the wrong of it.

Anyway .... it is nice to see you here, Anita, and thank you, for your comment. So, you think one of the men looks like your relatives .... are you speaking about your mother's side or on your father's side? I am curious.

Take care, and I hope all is going well for you, for Alexander and for his father.

victoria said...

Ahí se le vé contentos amigo Frank pero cuanto tuvieron que pasar

Tengo un albún que me regalo mi abuelo

le llamo el álbun de la guerra civil de España

Fotos sonriendo y muchas dolorosas,,el me contaba aunque somos de Canarias fué destinado a Cuenca Badajoz y Barcelona ect

No tenia realmente un lugar fijo y se alimentaba de raices,,muchas cosas duras pero al termino regreso gracias a Dios si no yo no estubiese contandote esto

Con cariño Victoria

Fram Actual said...

I recall reading a few books about the Spanish Civil War, Victoria. "The Spanish Tragedy," by Raymond Carr and "The Spanish Civil War," by Antony Beevor are two I remember. Then, too, being a great fan of Ernest Hemingway, I have read his play, "The Fifth Column," and the four short stories he wrote about that conflict, as well as a number of his newspaper dispatches from Spain which were republished in the book, "By-Line: Ernest Hemingway."

This has been the long way of saying that I am aware of the suffering incurred within Spain during the 1930s -- as much as any number of other European countries did during World War II from having death and destruction rage within its own borders. Add to that the fact civil wars often are more violent, more bloody, with more atrocities, and can pit neighbor against neighbor and even family against family. It makes me sad, and I can imagine it might have had a personal impact on your parents and grandparents.

I have only been in Spain once, and it was brief, flying in and boarding a ship at Barcelona for a few weeks of cruising in and about the Mediterranean Sea. I hope to visit there again sometime in the future.

Thank you, Victoria, for coming to visit me and for your comment.

ANITA said...

Hi Fram.Just a short visit.The man on the photo.My fathers clan.

about Usa.Terrible politics.all of it.Dont like HillaryHillar Clinton-
So many people in America and yet no one is fit to be a president?Strange!I quess they dont have the million dollars for the campain.

I like your answer to me.Will read it again.

Ok I will go now.Very tired. Alex father is still totally lame .Yet as strange as it may be..Very inntelligent.Even more than before..

i quess when you loose one part..another part becomes stronger.anyway.he wants to starve himselv to death.What can i say?45 years and games over.

Alex is very good.Doing good at school,Very good.
Thanx for reply Fram.See you when iam not so tired.It is a hell of a time.


Fram Actual said...

In regard to the man in the photograph, Anita, I thought your father's side most likely was the case. The tanker does have a bit of a Spanish look to him, a sort of a Mediterranean impression, I think. Someday, I might say more about the men in the two photographs, but that is all for now.

As for the political landscape in the United States, it seems to me it is almost like a mob mentality or an infectious disease, that the Democratic Party is hell-bent on having Hillary Clinton as its candidate. As I wrote in a previous post, I think James Webb could handle the task well among potential Democrat possibles. On the Republican Party side, I think there are three or four who would be well suited to face the challenges of the presidency. The problem with the American election process is the availability of too much money. And, the joke is that the money supporting any and all of these contenders has the real value of monopoly money; the entire world functions on the availability of commodities and credit.

The attitude of Alex's father is interesting to me. While watching my mother live a life of bed to wheelchair to bed again for a number of months between the time of her stroke and when she died, I thought about what I would prefer/would do if I should ever be in such a situation. Of course, a person never knows with certainty unless he finds himself in such a position, but my instinct is that I would go "stark, raving mad," as people sometimes say, within a matter of weeks. So, I have contingency plans should such a thing happen to me to ensure that I am "gone" before my mind has a meltdown.

But, who can say? I knew a man who lived for eighteen years in a world of bed to wheelchair to bed again and, to further complicate his existence, he also had lost his ability to speak. His truly was instantaneous metamorphosis even beyond Franz Kafka's nightmare. I do not understand how any man could accept living in such a world, but, again, who can say? Life means different things to different people.

I am glad Alexander is doing well, especially under the circumstances of his father's health. Besides the natural advantage of being young and having a limitless future ahead of him to look forward to, he has a bright and brave mother to give him support when he needs it.

So, thank you, for thinking of me and for coming to visit me during this time of trial and tribulation for you, Anita. Be sure you take good care of yourself, too.

A Cuban In London said...

Mate, those are not just two photos you have posted tonight but two valuable pieces of history. Sometimes I wonder if future generations will remember and appreciate what we risked during those years. I might not be European or might not have been born twenty or thirty years before WW2. the better to have experienced it first-hand, but I know that many of the freedoms I enjoy in the UK today I owe them to many of these soldiers. Great photos and background story.

Greetings from London.

Fram Actual said...

As often is the penalty for living a semi-nomadic lifestyle, personal possessions are sometimes lost or misplaced, possibly even for years. That was the case with the photographs in this group, CiL. And, as often is the case with me, I stumble onto misplaced items while rummaging through boxes looking for something else. I never did find the photographs I actually was looking for at the time I discovered these.

This particular crew, you might note, is composed of men who could no longer be considered "boys." They are, in fact, all around thirty years of age. The "young men" had pretty much been shot to pieces by late 1944 / early 1945, and the "old timers" were departing from the States to fill the front-line gaps. These tankers had arrived in France in September 1944, about three months after the D-Day landings at Normandy, and raced as hard as their Shermans could move to catch up with George Patton's Third Army. The Shermans, by the way, were considered death traps when they encountered German tanks -- Tigers, Panzers and Panthers -- but Patton loved them because of their significant rate of speed.

It is nice to see you here, CiL, and I appreciate your words. History lives as long as memory exists. Thank you.

Boris Estebitan said...

Esa forma de pescar, no deportiva pero eficiente, en tiempos de guerra todo se vale, hasta los inocentes peces la sufren.

Fram Actual said...

Your comment gave me a chuckle, Boris.

Although I am not so sure there is any such thing as an innocent fish, it could be that a grenade is a more merciful way to gather them than are hooks or gill nets. You might also note that all four of the fishermen in the photograph are very slim and slender. After nearly a year of living on Army K-rations, I am sure they would have fired a couple of rounds from their tank into the water to collect a few fish had grenades not been handy. Anything for a good meal !!

Thank you, Boris. I am glad you came to visit me today and to leave a comment.

Smareis said...

Finalizaste sua postagem com um
excelente vídeo Fram, gosto muito de Eric Clapton,(Maravilhosa essa noite- Wonderful Tonight). Uma bonita apresentação, guitarra e piano maravilhosa. É sempre bom ouvir essa linda Musica... Obrigada!

Até Fram!

Fram Actual said...

Yes, truly this is a beautiful rendition of "Wonderful Tonight," and having you appear after a lengthy absence from the sea of blogs makes the day wonderful for me, Smareis.

Eric Clapton is someone whose music I always have enjoyed, no matter if he were part of a heavy-duty group like Cream or Derek and the Dominos, or performing independently. Some of his songs, no doubt, will be around for "sort of forever."

Thank you, Smareis, for coming here and for writing a comment. I appreciate your presence.

Something special ....