Polly Lipscomb served as an Army Nurse in WWII

My book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans, contains five stories of female veterans who served during World War II. It’s not easy finding women veterans to interview as they were fewer in number than men. But the stories I’ve heard were all amazing. These gals were plucky to serve in ‘a man’s war’.

One of the oldest veterans I’ve ever interviewed was Mary ‘Polly’ Adelaide Woodhull Lipscomb of Fort Wayne. Polly as we called her lived in the same senior retirement home as my mother. Polly was 101-years-old at the time of our interview with two of her children present. But she was full of life and excitement at the idea of talking about her life in World War II as an Army nurse, which included being married in an old English church! The photo below shows Polly standing with her son and daughter, all of them holding items that were significant to Polly during her war years of service.

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Here are excerpts from her story in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans:

Born in 1913 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Lipscomb earned a nursing degree from Methodist Hospital in Fort Wayne. She enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in August 1942. With a desperate need for nurses, the Army quickly assigned First Lieutenant Lipscomb a place aboard the Queen Elizabeth, a former luxury ship converted for troops.

Taunton was located about 100 miles west of London. When Lipscomb arrived, the wards were already full of wounded British, Canadian and American soldiers.

Many patients suffered from what was termed ‘shell shock’. Since Lipscomb had worked with psychiatric patients in the States, she was assigned to that ward.

Some patients found comfort in doing simple crafts like weaving and often presented Lipscomb with their completed creations. “I treasured their gifts,” she said, including a placemat and brightly colored orange scarf.

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What made including Polly’s story in my book a clincher was the photo album she had put together during her war years and allowed me to view.

I love looking at old photos, especially when I’ve met people in them.

Polly died in 2016. I wish she could have seen this book, but at least her family members will have it to remember her by. They plan to attend my book launch on Saturday, Nov 4, 2017, from 1-3pm at Allen Co Public Library in downtown Fort Wayne, meeting room C. The public is encouraged to meet and thank these veterans who fought in the biggest conflict the world has ever known.

If you know of a World War II veteran who would like to be interviewed, please let me know via the contact page at this website.

 

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans is Hot Off the Press!

Wow! It’s done! My second book of World War II interviews is done!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans contains 34 stories of men/women who served in every branch from 1941-1946. The war ended in 1945, but many continued serving during the occupation period in Japan and Europe.

The book is available on Amazon —

BUT…

Since you’re good enough to read this post, I’ll tell you it will be offered at a sale price starting Friday, September 29 for one week only until Friday, October 6. The sale price will be listed at Amazon on Friday, September 29. This will only be available for one week so be sure to make your purchase then.

Hint: It might be wise to purchase your book on Amazon rather than at the book launch as then you can immediately begin talking to the vets. Of course, I’ll be sure to sign your book that day as well!

If you can’t find the book on Amazon, search under my name. Some of you might be surprised to find I’ve also written children’s books for traditional publishers!

I’m preparing a book launch event – dare I say party? The best part is several of the vets from the book have agreed to attend as our guests of honor! This is one who will be there — Al Lefevra served in the Navy in the Pacific. He picked up this great hula skirt along the way and loves to model it!

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Yes, something could prevent them from being able to be there, but as of today, about a dozen of them will be at the downtown public library in Ft Wayne, Indiana, on Saturday, Nov 4, from 1-3pm in Meeting Room C.

They will greet the public and sign books which will be available for purchase. These are some of our nation’s oldest vets, having served 70+ years ago. I’m proud to know each one as they are humble people who obeyed orders and loved their country and its people enough to often put their lives in danger.

A couple of vets who are deceased will have family members representing them.

I’d recommend arriving early to be sure to get an opportunity to meet with them.

This is a unique opportunity! Be sure to put it on your calendar. Bring young people to enable them to experience this once-in-a-lifetime gathering!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans releases this week!

It’s Time to Get Excited!

The book that’s been a year in the making is just about ready to be released. Just a few more days and I can’t wait!

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans has been a labor of love, but I’m thrilled with the 34 stories of men & women from every branch of the military, including Merchant Marine and Coast Guard.

There’s a story of a soldier who helped take more than 150 German soldiers prisoner at one time during the Battle of the Bulge. A sailor helped to sink the last German U-boat during the war. That’s just 2 of the 34 stories that are more exciting than fiction!

This is my second book of stories. My first book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast Indiana Veterans, was published in 2014. It is available for purchase at this site and on Amazon. I’ve now interviewed nearly 200 WWII vets, some 100 years old! Each one is a joy to know.

Lefevra crew dog

Maybe you’d rather look at photos than read. That’s ok as there are dozens of never-before-published photos of veterans from their days in uniform to the present.

The book has extra features of war-related photos, military lingo, and an index to look up battles, ships and units.

They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans is a highly educational, entertaining, patriotic treasure of stories.

Nothing like tooting my own horn, is there?

I admit I’m proud because I’m proud of the people who allowed me to write their stories. They have all agreed to be in the book and signed off on their stories.

In addition, several are planning to participate in my book launch party on Saturday, November 4, 2017, at downtown Allen County Public Library from 1-3pm in meeting room C. They have agreed to sign copies of the book which will be available for purchase at the event.

Be sure to put this event on your calendar as it will be a rare opportunity to meet some of our nation’s oldest veterans who served one of the biggest conflicts in world history. I’m sorry to say but they won’t be around much longer.

I’ll let you know in a few days when the book will be available on Amazon and my website.

I hope this book will enforce patriotism in each reader as hearing the stories first-hand has done for me. I love America and the men and women who have served to keep her safe as well as the people around the world who need us.

Tell a veteran today thank you for his/ her service!

The Bridge Worth its Weight in Gold

I had heard about the battle for Remagen Bridge from several World War II veterans during interviews, but it was entirely different being there in person.

Our tour group left the Belgium Ardennes area and continued east through the Eifel Mountains. We followed the advance of the US 1st Army through to the Remagen Bridge that once spanned the River Rhine.

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Note: Our guide pronounced it ‘RAY-ma-gen’, rather than the way my veterans who served there pronounced it with accent on the second syllable. No matter.

Having listened to my veterans and watched the 1969 movie, The Bridge at Remagen, I knew a little about what had gone on there between the Allies and Germans.

In March 1945, the American forces had just ended a victorious, but ferocious fight in the Ardennes region that had raged since mid-December.

In December 1944 the Nazis had assertively pushed into the territory of the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. The intense conflict which occurred during one of the worst winters on record became known as the Battle of the Bulge.

Like most Allied soldiers, Max Whiteleather (below) fought at the Bulge while living in fox holes filled with snow. When clouds finally cleared around Christmas, help arrived in the form of the Army Air Corps which dropped much-needed supplies.

aWhiteleather old standing

As the Allies proceeded to advance into the heart of Germany, they were ordered to advance on Remagen. The bridge was crucial to gain a toehold into enemy territory. It had to be taken intact.

German armed forces tried unsuccessfully to defend the town and the nearby bridge across the Rhine.

Aware that the Rhine River posed the last major geographic obstacle to Allied troops, Hitler had ordered that the bridge over the river be destroyed rather than lost to the Allies.

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Thankfully, members of the 9th US Armored Division disengaged explosives set to destroy the bridge and the plans were foiled. Allied troops reached the bridge and captured it intact on March 7, 1945, enabling 8,000 Allied troops to cross it.

George Buhler (below), a veteran whose story is recorded in my first book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans, fought at Remagen. He recalled how the fighting was fierce. “The Germans shot 18-inch shells at us from railroad cars,” he said.

Buhler MP uni

Max Whiteleather had fought at D-Day on the beach of Normandy in June 1944. When his unit — 820th Engineer Aviation Battalion, Co A – was sent to Remagen, they were ordered to build an additional bridge– pontoon — across the Rhine following the Allies’ conquest.

As dozens of Allied vehicles lined up, waiting to cross, Max Whiteleather’s outfit set to work. The additional crossing helped the Allies gain the advantage needed to overcome the German Army.

Unfortunately, although the Army Corps of Engineers worked to reinforce the original bridge, which had been damaged during the conflict, on March 17 the bridge collapsed, killing 28 American soldiers.

Today, not much is left of the bridge, except its original basalt foundations and a museum about the bridge. Basalt is black stone native to Germany.

The quote in the title is by General Dwight D. Eisenhower upon learning that the Remagen Bridge had been taken intact.

For a relatively small bridge — you can see the distance in the photo — it’s amazing to think how much fighting occurred there. But as we learned on our tour of European World War II battlefields, bridges were a common place of conflict.

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Max’s story is included in my second book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. It contains 34 stories of men/women of every branch- Army, Navy, Army Air Corps, Marines, Merchant Marines, Coast Guard.

I’m excited to say it will be available in August 2017! Stay tuned here for more information!

Thank a veteran today for his/her service!

 

 

 

 

 

Sneak Peak – They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans

I’m putting finishing touches on my second book of World War II stories — They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. It contains 34 stories of men/women of every branch- Army, Navy, Army Air Corps, Marines, Merchant Marines, Coast Guard. It will be available for purchase by the end of summer. I’ll announce its completion at that time.

A major book launch party is being planned that will be unique and patriotic. Details to follow!

Leading up to the book’s release and book launch, I’ll give a sneak peak of the stories included inside. Today we’ll begin with a particularly amazing story. I met Mr. James ‘Andy’ Anderson last year at a friend’s recommendation. This is the only story of its kind that I’ve heard from a World War II veteran. It’s pretty astounding, don’t you think?

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In June 1943, Private First Class James ‘Andy’ Anderson was assigned a secret mission.

Anderson, a graduate of Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis, had been drafted and assigned to the 94th Medical Gas Treatment Battalion, Third US Army. After completing basic training at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Anderson had trained as a medic at Camp Grant and Camp Ellis in Illinois. “We learned how to give shots and dress wounds on a battlefield,” he said.

At Camp Sibert in Alabama, Anderson and others in his outfit learned how to treat injuries of a chemical nature and disengage chemical warfare weapons.

Upon being sent to Bushnell Army Air Field (AAF) in Bushnell, Florida, 50 miles north of Tampa, Anderson and other GIs volunteered to participate in experiments conducted by the US Army Chemical Warfare Service. “Fourteen guys in my group went through simulations to see the effects of mustard gas to learn about advanced chemical warfare,” he said.

**

The story goes on to relate how Andy survived the testing (some soldiers did not!) and later served in Europe as a medic in some of the war’s worst battles.

Please let me know if you’d like me to add your name to my email newsletter with updates about the book’s contents, book launch party and my speaking engagements. I’ll post about the first one I’ve given since returning from our World War II trip to Europe.

During my 1-hour talk with PowerPoint presentation, I show foxholes where soldiers would have stood during the Battle of the Bulge, the Architect of Triumph in Paris where American troops would have paraded around during their liberation of that city in summer 1944.

I also describe what it was like to meet a British World War II veteran and witness an historic event that will never happen again.

This is an appropriate talk for history groups, schools, civic and churches. Contact me at the form on this site.

Thank a veteran today for his/her service!

Historic Ceremony Witnessed at Pegasus Bridge –Part 1

Tomorrow is our nation’s birthday. I’m so proud to be part of America and it’s glorious history and fantastic citizens. We’re not perfect but I’d still rather live here than anywhere else. Celebrate by thanking a vet for his/her service!

This photo was taken of a young girl awaiting arrival of Honor Flight of Northeast IN to the airport so she could thank the 85 WWII vets for their service!

2 flags in girls hair

The rest of this post is about an event from our recent WWII trip to Europe.

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Pegasus Bridge.

The name meant nothing to me before our fantastic 2 week trip to Europe in early June. Now it is the highlight of our trip and I want to learn everything about it!

I plan to watch the American movie, The Longest Day, which tells about several facets of D-Day. I’ve also checked out several books from my library on the topic.

Here is a little background about Pegasus Bridge and how it figured at D-Day:

Pegasus curr br boat

This little bridge in Normandy France was part of the D-Day invasion in the early hours of June 6, 1944. It was undertaken by the British and called Operation Tonga.

British glider crews were instructed to land at their target—beside the Caen Canal close to the Juno/ Sword beaches that would be invaded in less than six hours.

Could the British glider crews land safely (gliders were notorious for ‘crash-landings’!), do a surprise attack on the Germans guarding the bridge and secure it so Allied troops could use it to push into France?

Miraculously, they did all of that! Not to minimize those who lost their lives and were injured in the least, I’ll mention that we checked out the respectful memorials that are placed where the gliders would have landed in honor of those men who sacrificed their lives for this endeavor.

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The bridge was nicknamed ‘Pegasus’ for the patch with a winged horse that the British troops wore who secured the bridge.

When our motor coach pulled up to the current Pegasus Bridge (the original has been replaced but is still on site for viewing), the signal was on for us to halt. The cantilever bridge was in the process of preparing to rise. A boat was needing to go through.

Since our bus could not move, our guide had us disembark the bus to visit the museum on the other side of the canal before the bridge was completely inaccessible.

Bailey bridge

We enjoyed seeing a beautiful, modern museum, a Bailey Bridge (above, a US design that could be easily assembled by troops for hauling men and equipment).

aPegasus glider

The replica of the gliders used for the Operation Tonga was much bigger than I expected.

When we started to walk back to the bus, we were hindered by a great crowd of people. It was a Bank Holiday and hundreds of people had assembled for some outdoor event to honor the Pegasus Bridge.

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I regretted that we could not stay to watch, especially when we saw dozens of black London taxi cabs pulling up to the curb of the museum. It turned out there were 90 cabs—they made an impressive long line that stretched for what looked like miles.

‘Must be some big officials in them’, I thought.

There were special people inside each cab!

Someone told us that an organization called the London Taxi Benevolent Association for the War Disabled had organized the event to pick up 90 British World War II veterans in London, bring them across the English Channel on a ferry and transport them to Pegasus Bridge for the ceremony.

Whoa!

Veterans are the reason I got interested in World War II in the first place.

As respectfully as I could manage in my excitement, I leaned inside 1 cab and told the driver I was an American and would it be ok if I told the veteran in the back seat thanks for his service?

The driver said sure and then I proceeded to tell them thank you. I did this for five cabs, then a guilty conscience told me I had to get back to the bus!

What happened next was the cherry on top of the cake!

Since this post is already pretty long, I’ll save that story for the next post! Stay tuned!

 

Bucket List: Take WWII Tour of Europe– Done!

My husband and I just returned from a 2-week World War II tour of Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Germany! The photo of my husband and me is on the patio of the ‘Eagle’s Nest’, Hitler’s retreat center, above the village of Berchtesgaden, Germany.

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We went with a group of 29 Americans and 3 Australians and one Chinese woman as part of World War II Tours of Europe. This photo is at the Mardasson Memorial at Bastogne, Belgium.

Talk about a whirlwind trip! Our guide, Dennis Ross, was experienced and so organized which made the trip enjoyable. We covered 2,000 km and five countries via a luxurious motor coach with a great driver named Gundolph.

It was exhausting, but so informational and fascinating. My husband has been interested in World War II for decades. I’ve only become interested since I started interviewing veterans in 2012. Put us together and we can usually spout some piece of knowledge about events in Europe and even the Pacific.

BUT…

This trip showed us how much we didn’t know. We soaked it all in, despite minds/bodies that were recovering from a six-hour time difference and 12-hour days on the road.

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This photo was taken on June 6, 2017, at La Fiere Bridge in Normandy (France) region as a tribute from French people to the efforts of American troops 70+ years ago. These and other memorials showed us how much the European Allied countries continue to demonstrate their appreciation for our efforts on their behalf during their occupation by Nazis.

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Photo: Museum at Compiegne Forest (France) where armistice was signed 1918, ending WWI with Germany’s defeat.

We visited the usual tourist sites like museums and had guided tours of Paris, Dachau, Nuremberg, Luxembourg, all of which was just up our alley (I was usually near the front to be sure to hear every word!)

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We stood in an actual foxhole in a woods in Bastogne where troops would have sought shelter from freezing weather and enemy troops.

We stood in the war room of Bastogne where in December 1944 General Anthony McAuliffe declared “Nuts!” to the Nazis’ demands that he surrender the 101st Airborne and its attached troops. Gen. McAuliffe and his troops held off the siege until reinforcements arrived from Allied troops.

Many of these and other examples of courage and determination during that mighty war that raged from 1939 when Hitler invaded Poland until 1945 when Axis forces surrendered were new to me. It was a pleasure to learn more about them in person!

 

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One of my favorite events was thanking British World War II veterans for their service. This photo was shot during an event honoring these vets on June 5 at Pegasus Bridge. I’ll save details for a later post.

It was great to get home and realize yet again what a great country we have – not perfect but pretty close in terms of helping oppressed countries in so many ways for decades.

I’ll be sharing more information about the trip here in future posts with photos (I shot 800+ and my husband took 350+).

I plan to give PowerPoint presentations on what we saw and learned, implementing quotes from veterans I’ve interviewed where appropriate. Many stories about these sites can be found in my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans.

If you know of a group that would be interested in having me speak on this topic, please contact me via this site’s Contact form.

And if you’ve not already done so, please subscribe to this blog to continue to receive my posts that cover WWII and other stories about American military vets.

Remember to thank a veteran today for his/her service. They deserve our appreciation!