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14 September 1943

14 September 1943

14 September 1943

September 1943

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British troops occupy Kos

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US troops capture the Japanese barge base at Horainu, on the north-east coast of Vella Lavella.



Today in World War II History—September 14, 1939 & 1944

80 Years Ago—September 14, 1939: Off the Hebrides, German submarine U-39 attacks carrier HMS Ark Royal but misses and is sunk by British destroyers Faulknor, Foxhound, and Firedrake, the first U-boat sunk in WWII.

Germans take Gdynia, the only remaining Polish port.

75 Years Ago—Sept. 14, 1944: Operation Dragoon, the Allied “Champagne Campaign” in southern France, concludes: 131,000 German POWs have been taken, 40% of Army Group G.

Mutiny trial begins for 50 Port Chicago sailors at Treasure Island, CA (Read more: “The Port Chicago Disaster—The Mutiny Trial”) .

Great Atlantic Hurricane kills 390 from North Carolina to New England, and sinks 2 US Coast Guard cutters.


Today in World War II History—September 14, 1939 & 1944

80 Years Ago—September 14, 1939: Off the Hebrides, German submarine U-39 attacks carrier HMS Ark Royal but misses and is sunk by British destroyers Faulknor, Foxhound, and Firedrake, the first U-boat sunk in WWII.

Germans take Gdynia, the only remaining Polish port.

75 Years Ago—Sept. 14, 1944: Operation Dragoon, the Allied “Champagne Campaign” in southern France, concludes: 131,000 German POWs have been taken, 40% of Army Group G.

Mutiny trial begins for 50 Port Chicago sailors at Treasure Island, CA (Read more: “The Port Chicago Disaster—The Mutiny Trial”) .

Great Atlantic Hurricane kills 390 from North Carolina to New England, and sinks 2 US Coast Guard cutters.


14 September 1943 - History

Whereas in consequence of an armistice dated September 3rd, 1943, between the United States and the United Kingdom Governments on the one hand and the Italian Government on the other hand, hostilities were suspended between Italy and the United Nations on certain terms of a military nature

And whereas in addition to those terms it was also provided in the said Armistice that the Italian Government bound themselves to comply with other conditions of a political, economic and financial nature to be transmitted later

The following together with the terms of the Armistice of September 3rd, 1943, are the terms on which the United States and United Kingdom Governments acting on behalf of the United Nations are prepared to suspend hostilities against Italy so long as their military operations against Germany and her Allies are not obstructed and Italy does not assist these Powers in any way and complies with the requirements of these Governments.

(A) The Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces wherever located, hereby surrender unconditionally.

(B) Italian participation in the war in all Theaters will cease immediately. There will be no opposition to landings, movements or other operations of the Land, Sea and Air Forces of the United Nations. Accordingly, the Italian Supreme Command will order the immediate cessation of hostilities of any kind against the Forces of the United Nations and will direct the Italian Navy, Military and Air Force authorities in all Theaters to issue forthwith the appropriate instructions to those under their Command.

(C) The Italian Supreme Command will further order all Italian Naval, Military and Air Forces or authorities and personnel to refrain immediately from destruction of or damage to any real or personal property, whether public or private.

The Italian Supreme Command will give full information concerning the disposition and condition of all Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces, wherever they are situated and of all such forces of Italy's Allies as are situated in Italian or Italian occupied territory.

The Italian Supreme Command will take the necessary measures to secure airfields, port facilities, and all other installations against seizure or attack by any of Italy's Allies. The Italian Supreme Command will take the necessary measures to insure Law and Order, and to use its available armed forces to insure prompt and exact compliance with all the provisions of the present instrument. Subject to such use of Italian troops for the above purposes, as may be sanctioned by the Allied Commander-in-Chief, all other Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces will proceed to and remain in their barracks, camps or ships pending directions from the United Nations as to their future status and disposal. Exceptionally such Naval personnel shall proceed to shore establishments as the United Nations may direct.

Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces will within the periods to be laid down by the United Nations withdraw from all areas outside Italian territory notified to the Italian Government by the United Nations and proceed to areas to be specified by the United Nations. Such movement of Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces will be carried out in conditions to be laid down by the United Nations and in accordance with the orders to be issued by them. All Italian officials will similarly leave the areas notified except any who may be permitted to remain by the United Nations. Those permitted to remain will comply with the instructions of the Allied Commander-in-Chief.

No requisitioning, seizures or other coercive measures shall be effected by Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces or officials in regard to persons or property in the areas notified under Article 4.

The demobilization of Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces in excess of such establishments as shall be notified will take place as prescribed by the Allied Commander-in-Chief.

Italian warships of all descriptions, auxiliaries and transports will be assembled as directed in ports to be specified by the Allied Commander-inChief and will be dealt with as prescribed by the Allied Commander-in-Chief. ( Note. If at the date of the Armistice the whole of the Italian Fleet has been assembled in Allied ports, this article would run-"Italian warships of all descriptions, auxiliaries, and transports will remain until further notice in the ports where they are at present assembled, and will be dealt with as prescribed by the Allied Commander-in-Chief." )

Italian aircraft of all kinds will not leave the ground or water or ships, except as directed by the Allied Commander-in-Chief.

Without prejudice to the provisions 14, 15 and 28 (A) and (D) below, all merchant ships, fishing or other craft of whatever flag, all aircraft and inland transport of whatever nationality in Italian or Italian-occupied territory or waters will, pending verification of their identity and status, be prevented from leaving.

The Italian Supreme Command will make available all information about naval, military and air devices, installations, and defences, about all transport and inter-communication systems established by Italy or her allies on Italian territory or in the approaches thereto, about minefields or other obstacles to movement by land, sea or air and such other particulars as the United Nations may require in connection with the use of Italian bases, or with the operations, security, or welfare of the United Nations Land, Sea or Air Forces. Italian forces and equipment will be made available as required by the United Nations for the removal of the above mentioned obstacles.

The Italian Government will furnish forthwith lists of quantities of all war material showing the location of the same. Subject to such use as the Allied Commander-in-Chief may make of it, the war material will be placed in store under such control as he may direct. The ultimate disposal of war material will be prescribed by the United Nations.

There will be no destruction of nor damage to nor except as authorized or directed by the United Nations any removal of war material, wireless, radio location or meteorological stations, railroad, port or other installations or in general, public or private utilities or property of any kind, wherever situated, and the necessary maintenance and repair will be the responsibility of the Italian authorities.

The manufacture, production and construction of war material and its import, export and transit is prohibited, except as directed by the United Nations. The Italian Government will comply with any directions given by the United Nations for the manufacture, production or construction and the import, export or transit of war material.

(A) All Italian merchant shipping and fishing and other craft, wherever they may be, and any constructed or completed during the period of the present instrument will be made available in good repair and in seaworthy condition by the competent Italian authorities at such places and for such purposes and periods as the United Nations may prescribe. Transfer to enemy or neutral flags is prohibited. Crews will remain on board pending further instructions regarding their continued employment or dispersal. Any existing options to repurchase or re-acquire or to resume control of Italian or former Italian vessels sold or otherwise transferred or chartered during the war will forthwith be exercised and the above provisions will apply to all such vessels and their crews.

(B) All Italian inland transport and all port equipment will be held at the disposal of the United Nations for such purposes as they may direct.

United Nations merchant ships, fishing and other craft in Italian hands wherever they may be (including for this purpose those of any country which has broken off diplomatic relations with Italy) whether or not the title has been transferred as the result of prize court proceedings or otherwise, will be surrendered to the United Nations and will be assembled in ports to be specified by the United Nations for disposal as directed by them. The Italian Government will take all such steps as may be required to secure any necessary transfers of title. Any neutral merchant ship, fishing or other craft under Italian operation or control will be assembled in the same manner pending arrangements for their ultimate disposal. Any necessary repairs to any of the above mentioned vessels will be effected by the Italian Government, if required, at their expense. The Italian Government will take the necessary measures to insure that the vessels and their cargo are not damaged.

No radio or telecommunication installations or other forms of intercommunication, shore or afloat, under Italian control whether belonging to Italy or any nation other than the United Nations will transmit until directions for the control of these installations have been prescribed by the Allied Commander-in-Chief. The Italian authorities will conform to such measures for control and censorship of press and of other publications, of theatrical and cinematograph performances, of broadcasting, and also of all forms of intercommunication as the Allied Commander-in-Chief may direct. The Allied Commander-in-Chief may, at his discretion, take over radio, cable and other communication stations.

The warships, auxiliaries, transports and merchant and other vessels and aircraft in the service of the United Nations will have the right freely to use the territorial waters around and the air over Italian territory.

The forces of the United Nations will require to occupy certain parts of Italian territory. The territories or areas concerned will from time to time be notified by the United Nations and all Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces will thereupon withdraw from such territories or areas in accordance with the instructions issued by the Allied Commander-in-Chief. The provisions of this article are without prejudice to those of article 4 above. The Italian Supreme Command will guarantee immediate use and access to the Allies of all airfields and Naval ports in Italy under their control.

In the territories or areas referred to in article 18 all Naval, Military and Air installations, power stations, oil refineries, public utility services, all ports and harbors, all transport and all intercommunication installations, facilities and equipment and such other installations or facilities and all such stocks as may be required by the United Nations will be made available in good condition by the competent Italian authorities with the personnel required for working them. The Italian Government will make available such other local resources or services as the United Nations may require.

Without prejudice to the provisions of the present instrument the United Nations will exercise all the rights of an occupying power throughout the territories or areas referred to in article 18, the administration of which will be provided for by the issue of proclamations, orders or regulations. Personnel of the Italian administrative, judicial and public services will carry out their functions under the control of the Allied Commander-in-Chief unless otherwise directed.

In addition to the rights in respect of occupied Italian territories described in articles 18 to 20,

(A) Members of the Land, Sea or Air Forces and officials of the United Nations will have the right of passage in or over non-occupied Italian territory and will be afforded all the necessary facilities and assistance in performing their functions.

(B) The Italian authorities will make available on non-occupied Italian territory all transport facilities required by the United Nations including free transit for their war material and supplies, and will comply with instructions issued by the Allied Commander-in-Chief regarding the use and control of airfields, ports, shipping, inland transport systems and vehicles, intercommunication systems, power stations and public utility services, oil refineries, stocks, and such other fuel and power supplies and means of producing same, as United Nations may specify, together with connected repair and construction facilities.

The Italian Government and people will abstain from all action detrimental to the interests of the United Nations and will carry out promptly and efficiently all orders given by the United Nations.

The Italian Government will make available such Italian currency as the United Nations may require. The Italian Government will withdraw and redeem in Italian currency within such time limits and on such terms as the United Nations may specify all holdings in Italian territory of currencies issued by the United Nations during military operations or occupation and will hand over the currencies withdrawn free of cost to the United Nations. The Italian Government will take such measures as may be required by the United Nations for the control of banks and business in Italian territory, for the control of foreign exchange and foreign commercial and financial transactions and for the regulation of trade and production and will comply with any instructions issued by the United Nations regarding these and similar matters.

There shall be no financial, commercial or other intercourse with or dealings with or for the benefit of countries at war with any of the United Nations or territories occupied by such countries or any other foreign country except under authorisation of the Allied Commander-in-Chief or designated officials.

(A) Relations with countries at war with any of the United Nations, or occupied by any such country, will be broken off. Italian diplomatic, consular and other officials and members of the Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces accredited to or serving on missions with any such country or in any other territory specified by the United Nations will be recalled. Diplomatic and consular officials of such countries will be dealt with as the United Nations may prescribe.

(B) The United Nations reserve the right to require the withdrawal of neutral diplomatic and consular officers from occupied Italian territory and to prescribe and lay down regulations governing the procedure for the methods of communication between the Italian Government and its representatives in neutral countries and regarding communications emanating from or destined for the representatives of neutral countries in Italian territory.

Italian subjects will pending further instructions be prevented from leaving Italian territory except as authorised by the Allied Commander-in-Chief and will not in any event take service with any of the countries or in any of the territories referred to in article 25 (A) nor will they proceed to any place for the purpose of undertaking work for any such country. Those at present so serving or working will be recalled as directed by the Allied Commander-in-Chief.

The Military, Naval and Air personnel and material and the merchant shipping, fishing and other craft and the aircraft, vehicles and other transport equipment of any country against which any of the United Nations is carrying on hostilities or which is occupied by any such country, remain liable to attack or seizure wherever found in or over Italian territory or waters.

(A) The warships, auxiliaries and transports of any such country or occupied country referred to in article 27 in Italian or Italian-occupied ports and waters and the aircraft, vehicles and other transport equipment of such countries in or over Italian or Italian-occupied territory will, pending further instructions, be prevented from leaving.

(B) The Military, Naval and Air personnel and the civilian nationals of any such country or occupied country in Italian or Italian-occupied territory will be prevented from leaving and will be interned further instructions.

(C) All property in Italian territory belonging to any such country or occupied country or its nationals will be impounded and kept in custody pending further instructions.

(D) The Italian Government will comply with any instructions given by the Allied Commander-in-Chief concerning the internment, custody or subsequent disposal, utilisation or employment of any of the above mentioned persons, vessels, aircraft, material or property.

Benito Mussolini, his Chief Fascist associates and all persons suspected of having committed war crimes or analogous offenses whose names appear on lists to be communicated by the United Nations will forthwith be apprehended and surrendered into the hands of the United Nations. Any instructions given by the United Nations for this purpose will be complied with.

All Fascist organizations, including all branches of the Fascist Militia (MVSN), the Secret Police (OVRA), all Fascist youth organizations will insofar as this is not already accomplished be disbanded in accordance with the directions of the Allied Commander-in-Chief. The Italian Government will comply with all such further directions as the United Nations may give for abolition of Fascist institutions, the dismissal and internment of Fascist personnel, the control of Fascist funds, the suppression of Fascist ideology and teaching.

All Italian laws involving discrimination on grounds of race, color, creed or political opinions will insofar as this is not already accomplished be rescinded, and persons detained on such grounds will, as directed by the United Nations, be released and relieved from all legal disabilities to which they have been subjected. The Italian Government will comply with all such further directions as the Allied Commander-in-Chief may give for repeal of Fascist legislation and removal of any disabilities or prohibitions resulting therefrom.

(A) Prisoners of war belonging to the forces of or specified by the United Nations and any nationals of the United Nations, including Abyssinian subjects, confined, interned, or otherwise under restraint in Italian or Italian-occupied territory will not be removed and will forthwith be handed over to representatives of the United Nations or otherwise dealt with as the United Nations may direct. Any removal during the period between the presentation and the signature of the present instrument will be regarded as a breach of its terms.

(B) Persons of whatever nationality who have been placed under restriction, detention or sentence (including sentences in absentia) on account of their dealings or sympathies with the United Nations will be released under the direction of the United Nations and relieved from all legal disabilities to which they have been subjected.

(C) The Italian Government will take such steps as the United Nations may direct to safeguard the persons of foreign nationals and property of foreign nationals and property of foreign states and nationals.

(A) The Italian Government will comply with such directions as the United Nations may prescribe regarding restitution, deliveries, services or payments by way of reparation and payment of the costs of occupation during the period of the present instrument.

(B) The Italian Government will give to the Allied Commander-in-Chief such information as may be prescribed regarding the assets, whether inside or outside Italian territory, of the Italian state, the Bank of Italy, any Italian state or semi-state institutions or Fascist organizations or residents in Italian territory and will not dispose or allow the disposal, outside Italian territory of any such assets except with the permission of the United Nations.

The Italian Government will carry out during the period of the present instrument such measures of disarmament, demobilization and demilitarisation as may be prescribed by the Allied Commander-in-Chief.

The Italian Government will supply all information and provide all documents required by the United Nations. There shall be no destruction or concealment of archives, records, plans or any other documents or information.

The Italian Government will take and enforce such legislative and other measures as may be necessary for the execution of the present instrument. Italian military and civil authorities will comply with any instructions issued by the Allied Commander-in-Chief for the same purpose.

There will be appointed a Control Commission representative of the United Nations charged with regulating and executing this instrument under the orders and general directions of the Allied Commander-in-Chief.

(A) The term "United Nations" in the present instrument includes the Allied Commander-in-Chief, the Control Commission and any other authority which the United Nations may designate.

(B) The term "Allied Commander-in-Chief" in the present instrument includes the Control Commission and such other officers and representatives as the Commander-in-Chief may designate.

Reference to Italian Land, Sea and Air Forces in the present instrument shall be deemed to include Fascist Militia and all such other military or pare-military units, formations or bodies as the Allied Commander-in-Chief may prescribe.

The term "War Material" in the present instrument denotes all material specified in such lists or definitions as may from time to time be issued by the Control Commission.

The term "Italian Territory" includes all Italian colonies and dependencies and shall for the purposes of the present instrument (but without prejudice to the question of sovereignty) be deemed to include Albania. Provided however that except in such cases and to such extent as the United Nations may direct the provisions of the present instrument shall not apply in or affect the administration of any Italian colony or dependency already occupied by the United Nations or the rights or powers therein possessed or exercised by them.

The Italian Government will send a delegation to the Headquarters of the Control Commission to represent Italian interests and to transmit the orders of the Control Commission to the competent Italian authorities.

The present instrument shall enter into force at once. It will remain in operation until superseded by any other arrangements or until the voting into force of the peace treaty with Italy.

The present instrument may be denounced by the United Nations with immediate effect if Italian obligations thereunder are not fulfilled or, as an alternative, the United Nations may penalize contravention of it by measures appropriate to the circumstances such as the extension of the areas of military occupation or air or other punitive action.

The present instrument is drawn up in English and Italian, the English text being authentic, and in case of any dispute regarding its interpretation, the decision of the Control Commission will prevail.

Signed at Malta on the 29 day of September, 1943.

Marshal PIETRO BADOGLIO
Head of the Italian Government

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
General, United States Army,
Commander-in-Chief, Allied Force


British Line of Succession on 27 January 1933

Age 67 (born 3 June 1865, will die on 20 January 1936)
Sovereign since 6 May 1910 (22 years, 8 months)

    (King Edward VIII)
    Age 38 (born 23 June 1894, will die on 28 May 1972),
    Son of the sovereign (King George VI)
    Age 37 (born 14 December 1895, will die on 6 February 1952),
    Son of the sovereign (Queen Elizabeth II)
    Age 6 (born 21 April 1926),
    Granddaughter of the sovereign (The Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon)
    Age 2 (born 21 August 1930, will die on 9 February 2002),
    Granddaughter of the sovereign
    Age 32 (born 31 March 1900, will die on 10 June 1974),
    Son of the sovereign (The Prince George, Duke of Kent)
    Age 30 (born 20 December 1902, will die on 25 August 1942),
    Son of the sovereign
    Age 35 (born 25 April 1897, will die on 25 March 1965),
    Daughter of the sovereign (George Lascelles, The 7th Earl of Harewood)
    Age 9 (born 23 February 1923, will die on 11 July 2011),
    Grandson of the sovereign
    Age 8 (born 21 August 1924, will die on 27 February 1998),
    Grandson of the sovereign
    Age 41 (born 17 May 1891, will die on 26 February 1959),
    Niece of the sovereign
    Age 18 (born 9 August 1914, will die on 26 April 1943),
    Great nephew of the sovereign
    Age 39 (born 3 April 1893, will die on 14 December 1945),
    Niece of the sovereign
    Age 3 (born 23 September 1929, will die on 22 June 2015),
    Great nephew of the sovereign
    Age 64 (born 6 July 1868, will die on 3 December 1935),
    Sister of the sovereign
    Age 63 (born 26 November 1869, will die on 20 November 1938),
    Sister of the sovereign
    Age 29 (born 2 July 1903, will die on 17 January 1991),
    Nephew of the sovereign
    Age 2 (born 9 June 1930, will die on 16 September 2012),
    Great niece of the sovereign
    Age 11 months (born 12 February 1932),
    Great niece of the sovereign
    Age 57 (born 29 October 1875, will die on 18 July 1938),
    First cousin of the sovereign
    Age 39 (born 15 October 1893, will die on 4 April 1953),
    First cousin once removed of the sovereign
    Age 12 (born 8 August 1920, will die on 27 January 2006),
    First cousin twice removed of the sovereign
    Age 11 (born 25 October 1921, will die on 5 December 2017),
    First cousin twice removed of the sovereign
    Age 29 (born 5 August 1903, will die on 9 June 1978),
    First cousin once removed of the sovereign
    Age 38 (born 12 October 1894, will die on 14 November 1956),
    First cousin once removed of the sovereign
    Age 33 (born 6 January 1900, will die on 22 June 1961),
    First cousin once removed of the sovereign
    Age 9 (born 6 September 1923, will die on 3 November 1970),
    First cousin twice removed of the sovereign
    Age 5 (born 19 January 1928, will die on 12 July 2000),
    First cousin twice removed of the sovereign
    Age 3 (born 28 June 1929, will die on 7 May 1990),
    First cousin twice removed of the sovereign
    Age 24 (born 5 January 1909, will die on 21 January 1991),
    First cousin once removed of the sovereign
    Age 5 months (born 5 August 1932, will die on 12 November 1998),
    First cousin twice removed of the sovereign

Choose a date from the date-picker above or from the "interesting dates" menu to see the line of succession to the British throne on that date.


The Plan

Sasha knew that any plan would be far-fetched. Even though the prisoners outnumbered the guards, the guards had machine guns and could call for back-up.

The first plan was to dig a tunnel. They started digging the tunnel at the beginning of October. Originating in the carpentry shop, the tunnel had to be dug under the perimeter fence and then under the minefields. On October 7, Sasha voiced his fears about this plan — the hours at night were not sufficient to allow the entire camp population to crawl through the tunnel and fights were likely to flare up between prisoners waiting to crawl through. These problems were never encountered because the tunnel was ruined from heavy rains on October 8 and 9.

Sasha began working on another plan. This time it was not just a mass escape, it was a revolt.

Sasha asked that members of the Underground start preparing weapons in the prisoner workshops — they began to make both knives and hatchets. Although the Underground had already learned that the camp commandant, SS Haupsturmführer Franz Reichleitner and SS Oberscharführer Hubert Gomerski had gone on vacation, on October 12 they saw SS Oberscharführer Gustav Wagner leaving the camp with his suitcases. With Wagner gone, many felt the opportunity ripe for the revolt. As Toivi Blatt describes Wagner:

On the nights of October 11 and 12, Sasha told the Underground the complete plans for the revolt. The Soviet prisoners of war were to be dispersed to different workshops around the camp. The SS would be individually lured to the various workshops either by appointments to pick up finished products they had ordered like boots or by individual items that attracted their greed like a newly arrived leather coat.

The planning took into consideration the Germans' brashness and power-hungry mistreatment of the seemingly subdued Jews, their consistent and systematic daily routine, their unfaltering punctuality, and their greed.

Each SS man would be killed in the workshops. It was important that the SS did not cry out when being killed nor any of the guards alerted that something unusual was happening in the camps.

Then, all the prisoners would report as usual to the roll call square and then walk out together through the front gate. It was hoped that once the SS had been eliminated, the Ukrainian guards, who had a small supply of ammunition, would acquiesce to the revolting prisoners. The phone lines were to be cut early in the revolt so that the escapees would have several hours of fleeing time under the cover of darkness before back-up could be notified.

Significant to the plan was that only a very small group of the prisoners even knew of the revolt. It was to be a surprise to the general camp population at roll call.

It was decided that the following day, October 13, would be the day of revolt.


September 27, 1943 The Waving Girl

Legends grew up around her, over the years. She had fallen in love with a sailor. She wanted him to find her when he returned. He’d been lost at sea. The bittersweet truth is less dramatic.

Following the War of 1812, President James Madison ordered a series of coastal fortifications to be built, to protect the young nation from foreign invasion. Fort Pulaski, located on Cockspur Island between Savannah and Tybee Island, Georgia, is one of them.

Florence Margaret Martus was born there in 1868, where her father was an ordnance sergeant. She spent her childhood on the south channel of the Savannah River, moving in with her brother, keeper of the Cockspur Island Lighthouse, when she was 17.

Sometime around 1887 while still a young girl, Florence began waving at ships passing in the river. She’d use a lantern by night and a white handkerchief by day.

It started with friends, working the river. Harbor masters, bar pilots and tugboat captains. Before long, “the waving girl” and her collie were familiar figures, greeting every ship that came or left the port of Savannah. Sailors would look for her and salute in return. Vessels would blow their horns, but few ever met her in person.

The Waving Girl Statue

Legends grew up around her, over the years. She had fallen in love with a sailor. She wanted him to find her when he returned. He’d been lost at sea.

The bittersweet truth is less dramatic. She later said, “That’s a nice story. But what got me started – I was young and it was sort of lonely on the island for a girl. At first I would run out to wave at my friends passing, and I was so tickled when they blew the whistle back at me“.

And so, Miss Martus would take out her handkerchief by day or light her lantern by night, and she would greet every vessel that came or went from the Port of Savannah. Every one of them. Some 50,000, over 44 years.

Florence Margaret Martus

In 1893, Martus and her brother braved hurricane conditions, rowing out to save several men from a sinking boat.

She waved an American flag at the troop ship St. Mihiel after WWI, on its return to Savannah carrying the United States Army of the Rhine.

“The Waving Girl” had taken it upon herself to greet every single ship entering and leaving the Port of Savannah, from young womanhood until old age.

She stopped only when she was forced to do so when her brother, then 70, had to leave his lighthouse job and the home which went with it.

All that time she kept a careful record of every ship: name, date, where it was from and type of vessel. It must have broken her heart to move, because she burned the entire record. 44-years’ worth. WWII-era reporter Ernie Pyle lamented “The daily record for forty-four years, one of the most legendary figures of the Seven Seas, kept in her own hand, gone up in smoke in two minutes”.

Martus never reconciled herself to the move, saying, “It’s just like trying to dig up that big oak tree and get it to take root someplace else.”

The artist Felix de Weldon, who sculpted the United States Marine Corps Memorial outside Arlington National Cemetery, erected a statue of the Waving Girl and her collie. You can see it in Morrell Park, on the west bank of the Savannah River.

Florence Martus passed away on February 8, 1943, following a brief bout with bronchial pneumonia. One of the Liberty ships built in Savannah during World War II, was named in her honor. The SS Florence Martus was officially christened seven months later, September 27, 1943.


HistoryLink.org

On the home front during World War II (1941-1945), knitting to help the war effort and to keep American soldiers warm was a major preoccupation of Americans, particularly women. The November 24, 1941, cover story of the popular weekly magazine Life explained “How To Knit.” Along with basic instructions and a pattern for a simple knitted vest, the article advised, “To the great American question ‘What can I do to help the war effort?’ the commonest answer yet found is ‘Knit.’" The article pointed out that hand-knitters were turning out garments for soldiers despite the fact that machine-knitting was more efficient. Knitting gave people at home a way to help. The article noted that a volunteer group, Citizens for the Army and Navy, were campaigning to get one million standard-Army sweaters by Christmas. Two weeks later, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and America entered World War II. At home, more and more Americans picked up their needles to knit socks, mufflers, and sweaters to keep American soldiers warm.

Before Pearl Harbor, Americans had already been knitting and preparing care packages of food and clothes called “Bundles for Britain” to help besieged Londoners. Other efforts and committees -- American-French War Relief, Finnish Relief, Polish Women’s Relief Committee, and A Bit For Belgium -- soon followed. And American troops had been steadily increasing in number since Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.

Grab Your Yarn

Many of the earliest knitters for World War II had knit for Victory as children or young adults during World War I. Knitting was for them a natural and immediate response to war. “The men hardly have time to grab their guns before their wives and sweethearts grab their needles and yarn,” claimed Time on July 21, 1940. Knitting provided warmth and comfort for the soldier and therapeutic distraction for the knitter.

Although knitting was only one of many, many ways civilians participated in the Home Front, it was pervasive and emblematic of what General Dwight Eisenhower would later call “the friendly hand of this nation, reaching across the sea to sustain its fighting men” (Eisenhower address to Congress, June 18, 1945). Factory work, childcare, nursing the sick: all had stretches of down time. On the bus going to work the assembly line at the Boeing Co. or at the Pacific Car factory, in the mid-day hours between all-night nursing shifts, in the evening listening to war news on the radio, idle hands were turned to service as Americans once again knit for victory.

First Lady of Knitting

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was often photographed knitting for the war effort or at least carrying her voluminous knitting bag. She effectively launched the World War II knitting effort at a Knit for Defense tea held at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on September 31, 1941. Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s daughter Anna Roosevelt Boettiger, who wrote for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and was married to its publisher John Boettiger, lived in Seattle from 1936 to 1943. The so-called First Knitter of the Land was a frequent visitor.

The question of why garments should be knit by hand sometimes arose during the early months of the war. Knitters countered with the fact that donated hand-knits cost the military nothing, were produced without expense and machine wear and tear, and that hand-knit socks outlasted machine-knit socks. Most importantly, “The propaganda effect of hand knitting cannot be estimated in terms of hard cash, but it is considerable. A sweater for a bluejacket. A helmet for a flying cadet, made by some devoted woman in a small town far from the war, is sure to arouse interest in the navy or Air Force among the friends of the woman doing the knitting. And she herself feels that she has an active part in this vast conflict she is not useless, although she can do nothing else to help win the war” (The New York Times, January 22, 1942).

The American Red Cross

World War II war-effort knitting took place almost entirely under the auspices of the American Red Cross. In January 1942 the War Production Board designated the Red Cross as the single clearing agency for all knitting, and the War Production Board granted them priority status for receiving wool. Knitting was one of the services of the Production Corps, the largest of the Volunteer Special Services. Many women also knit for Victory in one of the many auxiliary units to the Red Cross. For example, Seattle’s chapter of the American Red Cross had formed in 1898 to provide war relief during the Spanish American War, and had remained active. Seattle-area residents had produced hundreds of thousands of knitted garments for the World War I war effort.

Like meat, fats, sugar, and gasoline, wool was in very short supply during World War II. The war interrupted wool production worldwide. Wool produced was difficult to ship. The War Production Board set strict quotas on how the available wool could be sold and on what could be made from it.

The Seattle Red Cross responded to the yarn shortage ingeniously: “Red Cross leaders are being trained at Lowell School in the old-fashioned arts of carding and spinning yarn from wool … enabling the workers to produce articles for the fighting forces at a savings of more than $3.00 a pound in original cost of wool. Arts and Crafts leaders from the Works Projects Administration at the school are teaching the Red Cross workers the technique of spinning” (The Seattle Times, June 3, 1942).

The Red Cross supplied patterns for sweaters, socks, mufflers, fingerless mitts (which allowed soldiers to keep their hands warm while shooting), toe covers (for use with a cast), stump covers, and other garments. These were to be knitted in olive drab or navy blue wool yarn. A label indicating which chapter of the Red Cross had provided the garment was sewn into each piece. Surviving patterns show that these knitting patterns were typed and retyped with carbon-paper copies and shared among the knitters. Many knitters chose to knit the same item in the same size again and again so that they could memorize the pattern and produce pieces more quickly. The knitted garments were “for American soldiers and sailors assigned to posts where General Winter is an added enemy” (The New York Times, January 30, 1942).

Knitters also produced 15-20 foot stretch bandages. The bandages were knit with 100 percent cotton yarn in garter stitch. Garter stitch (all stitches knit, none purled) produces a stretchy fabric that lies flat on the edges. The finished bandages were sterilized and shipped to medical units worldwide.

Unlike many other metal items, steel knitting needles were too immediately useful to be melted down for scrap for the war effort. Wood, celluloid (an early plastic), and (less commonly) bone and ivory needles were also used during World War II.

Mary Barclay Broderick served as Seattle Red Cross knitting chairman for the area.

Purl Harder

In the Puget Sound region the call was out: “CAN YOU KNIT? There are two thousand knitted helmets that are waiting to be made to cover the heads and ears of the many gallant soldiers who are guarding Seattle these cold nights from enemy planes and sabotage, WHILE YOU AND YOU are sleeping in warm beds … they are needed NOW not tomorrow. If these soldiers put off the task of guarding Seattle, how long would we last?” (Seattle Northwest Veteran, January 3, 1942).

These wool helmets were intended for the soldiers who manned the anti-aircraft guns being installed at high points throughout the Puget Sound region in January 1942. The guns were installed on sandbagged platforms ringed with powerful listening devices. They were maintained around the clock throughout the war. The knitted helmets fit under the Army-issue hard-shelled helmet. “Yarn can be purchased at Rhodes Department Store, the Bon-Marche, Sears-Roebuck, Frederick and Nelson, McDougall’s and Penney’s. Approximate cost per four-ounce skein is seventy-five cents. Ask for khaki yarn for soldier helmets . Average knitting time for one helmet is four hours” (Seattle Northwest Veteran, January 3, 1942) The prospect of cold-eared soldiers dropping their anti-aircraft guns for want of wool helmets may have been exaggerated, but Seattle’s vulnerable coastal position created palpable fear of imminent attack among local residents.

Seattle-area knitters jumped to action. By early January 1942, less than a month after Pearl Harbor, the Ravenna/Greenlake/Roosevelt area alone had 15 different groups churning out knitwear. Numbers were similar across the city. Civic pride increased exponentially as various auxiliary groups vied with each other to prove who could knit the most, the fastest. The Naval Officers Wives’ Club knit in a Victory Work Center at the Washington Athletic Club. “The Navy needs men, but it also needs knitters” (Northwest Veteran, January 3, 1942). Church basements, school lunchrooms, and members-only societies all had knitters busily clicking their needles. “Red Cross sewing and knitting should be part of every woman’s life” (Bellevue American, January 8, 1942).

These groups produced a prodigious output of knitted goods. In Enumclaw a group of knitters met from 1 o'clock to 4 o'clock each Tuesday afternoon. After fortifying themselves with light refreshments they picked up their needles. Between January 1, 1943, and March 9, 1944, this group knitted 65 sleeveless army vests, 19 women’s service sweaters, 25 army helmets, 3 navy helmets, 1 navy vest, 4 army scarves, 10 heavy coat sweaters, 4 afghans, 56 children’s sweaters, 8 turtleneck sweaters, 5 pairs navy gloves and 1 navy scarf. The children’s garments and afghans were for citizens in war torn countries.

The Burien City Press reported that Three Tree Point Knitters (Three Tree Point, Gregory Heights, Seahurst, and Burien) had “thirty knitters knitting all the time” (March 23, 1944). In three months this group made 244 knitted garments, representing 4,290 work hours. In Renton, Kirkland, Snoqualmie, and beyond, knitters followed the advice to “Remember Pearl Harbor -- Purl Harder” (Works Projects Administration poster, 1942). Knit and purl are the two basic stitches used to produce knitwear.

Anyone who took home Red Cross yarn and then procrastinated was quickly brought into line. “Red Cross Knitting Must Be Turned In Now,” trumpeted the Vashon News-Record (March 2, 1944).

Local newspapers carried advertisements with the legend “The Red Cross is at his side, and the Red Cross is you” (Harold’s Jewelers advertisement, March 9, 1944). The Red Cross supplied the war effort with knitting but also with blood, surgical supplies, medical personnel, and comfort bags for soldiers. The organization also raised money for the Red Cross War Fund.

Holey Socks

As during World War I, the need for socks was paramount. Cold, wet, sore feet were the enemy as surely as German or Japanese troops. Socks wore out much faster than sweaters, and needed changing many times more frequently. The need for socks was so great that captured American soldiers held prisoner in Germany sometimes unraveled their American Red Cross-provided sweaters and re-knit the yarn into socks themselves, using straightened pointed barbed wire as improvised needles.

Few at home thought to knit for the women who served as WAVES (Women Accepted For Volunteer Emergency Service), WACS (Women’s Army Corps), and WASPS (Women Airforce Service Pilots). They were not actively fighting and they were women, so it was assumed by many knitters that if they needed knitwear they could knit it themselves. The push was knitting for “The Boys,” the men on active duty.

The Seattle Times interviewed Mrs. Ella V. Martin, an 87-year old Seattle knitter, “one of the champion knitters in the University Presbyterian Church Red Cross group, having completed 64 sweaters and 17 pairs of socks since the beginning of the Second World War. . She is knitting because she has a nephew in the Seebees, and because of ‘all the boys out there fighting’ ” (March 22, 1944).

In addition to hand-knits, the Army and Navy relied heavily on machine-knit wool socks. For much of the War the machines that produced these socks were commandeered and used strictly for military use. Civilian socks became scarce. Seattleites who knit for the soldiers may have done so wearing their own holey socks.

Unlike the World War I period in which many Seattle schoolchildren knit for the war effort, during World War II children were more occupied with growing Victory Gardens, collecting scrap metal, and collecting funds for the Red Cross. Many of these children also shouldered more self-care as their mothers took on war-effort work on local assembly lines.

WAVES, WACS, and LARCS

University of Washington co-eds had knit for Sammy (the soldiers) during World War I. By World War II, University women were taking on factory work, shouldering a wide variety of jobs suddenly vacant when men went to war, or joining up themselves as WACS, WAVES, or nurses. By the spring of 1944 more than 2,000 University of Washington faculty and students were serving in the military. University of Washington women did knit for World War II, but only as part of a wide variety of war effort work. Most held full-time or part-time jobs in addition to their classes, and the need to fill those jobs increased steadily as the war dragged on.

Within one month of Pearl Harbor, University students had organized a Red Cross Auxiliary unit on campus. Called the LARCS (Ladies’ Auxiliary for Red Cross Service) they wore white pinafores and navy blouses. “No matter what your talents are, we have a job for you,” Mrs. Eric Barr told the University of Washington Daily on January 7, 1941. One week later they opened a workroom dedicated to knitting, sewing, and bandage making in the basement of Condon Hall.

Madigan Medical Center, formerly the Fort Lewis Station Hospital, treated hundreds of thousands of wounded soldiers. It was the largest army hospital in the United States, with beds to accommodate 3,806 patients. Thirty-six thousand wounded soldiers a month were being shipped back from overseas, many destined for Madigan. The Red Cross supplied knitted comfort items for these soldiers, who were also encouraged to knit as occupational therapy.

With Wool and Needles

Red Cross knitting continued unabated throughout the war, a homespun production line that stretched from house to house, and from Seattle to the soldiers fighting overseas. With wool and needles, Washington knitters did what they could, knitting their bit for Victory. Their handiwork was destined to warm and protect, and fated to suffer with the soldiers. Knitters held the knowledge that their carefully crafted socks and sweaters might be part of a soldier’s final garments and end with him, bloodstained and far from home.

Germany surrendered to the Allies on May 7, 1945, and Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945. On September 2, 1945, Japan signed formal surrender papers. The war was over. Washington service personnel streamed home, troop ships docking in Seattle.

After the war ended, some knitters dropped their needles for good. Others joined the rage for knitting complicated argyle patterns in a wide variety of colors -- anything, many swore, but Army-issued khaki or navy blue.

Life cover on knitting, November 24, 1941

World War II knitting poster

Sheet music for "Knit One, Purl Two, ca. 1944

Courtesy No Idle Hands

University of Washington Kappa Delta members knitting for soldiers, 1944


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Featured Collections

Miné Okubo Collection

(2007.62) This online collection of 197 drawings by artist Mine Okubo (1912–2001) illustrates her life in the Tanforan assembly center in San Bruno, CA and the Topaz concentration camp in Utah during World War II. Okubo’s drawings served as the basis for her renowned book, Citizen 13660, which was printed in 1946 and was the first personal account published on the camp experience.

Image: Gift of Mine Okubo Estate (2007.62.23)

Jack Iwata Collection

(93.102) The online collection of photographer Jack Iwata includes 166 photographs and copy negatives taken at Manzanar and Tule Lake concentration camps between 1942 and 1945.

Image: Gift of Jack and Peggy Iwata (93.102.159)

Clara Breed Collection

(93.75.31) The online collection of Clara Breed, or "Miss Breed" as she was known by her young library patrons, includes over 300 letters and cards received by Breed from Japanese American children and young adults during their World War II incarceration.

Items in this collection were featured in the exhibition Dear Miss Breed: Letters from Camp.

Image: Gift of Elizabeth Y. Yamada (93.75.31AD)

Sakamoto-Sasano Collection

(2018.10) This collection contains documents, objects, and ephemera from the Sakamoto-Sasano family. The belongings of matriarch Taye Sakamoto Sasano, her sister Chiyoko Sakamoto Takahashi, and her two daughters Louise Sasano Yoshida and Frances Sasano make up the bulk of the collection. Yearbooks, school notebooks, scrapbooks, diaries, and notes from friends characterize Frances and Louise's lives as teens and young adults experiencing incarceration. Photos, citizenship documents, business cards, and letters characterize lives of familial support and financial success and after being released from camp.