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Farewell to Old Soldiers - 2018

Military History

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Jan 9, 10:14am Top

Gen. Anna Mae Hayes died January 7 at the age of 97. She was the first female General in U.S. military history. She began her career as an army nurse in the Burma theater during WWII. She established the first military hospital in the Korean War at Inchon and became the Chief of the Army Nurses Corps in Vietnam. An interesting lady. RIP. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/anna-mae-hays-nurse-who-became-us-militarys-first-female-general-dies-at-97/2018/01/08/276de52e-f48d-11e7-b34a-b85626af34ef_story.html?utm_term=.91c26cc0c090

Jan 23, 12:38pm Top

Although she wasn't a soldier, a sailor or an airman, many of their lives depended on her. Naomi Parker Fraley, the real Rosie the Riveter, is gone. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42787869

Edited: Jan 31, 7:53am Top

The Royal Navy's surgeon Captain Rick Jolly died January 13 at the age of 71. A few of his books include Jackspeak: A Guide to British Naval Slang and Usage and The Red and Green Life Machine: Diary of the Falklands Field Hospital. He was honored by both the British and the Argentinians for his life saving efforts during the Falklands War. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jan/24/surgeon-captain-rick-jolly-obituary

Edited: Mar 14, 9:02am Top

Former Secretary of the U.S. Army, Togo D. West, Jr., died March 8 at the age of 75. He served in a transitional time during which roles of women in the military were significantly expanded. His earlier military career included serving as a second Lieutenant in the Army Field Artillery Corps, and rising to the rank of Captain in the Judge Advocate General's Corp. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/13/obituaries/togo-west-jr-75-dies-army-secretary-in-time-of-transition.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries&action=click&contentCollection=obituaries&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

Edited: Mar 18, 1:18am Top

Millie Dunn Veasey, pioneering sergeant turned rights activist (BBC)

When Millie Dunn Veasey joined the US military it wasn't the most auspicious of starts. "I didn't weigh more than 102 pounds (46kg) and didn't know how to tie my tie," she later recalled. But she was making history: it was 1942 and she would go on to serve in the only all-female, all-black unit in World War Two. After that, she would return to her native North Carolina and play a leading role in the burgeoning civil rights movement. Dunn Veasey died on Friday, 9 March, a little more than a month after her 100th birthday. She was one of the last surviving African-American women to have served in WW2...

Mar 28, 2:49am Top

Obituary: Sir William McAlpine, businessman and rail enthusiast who saved The Flying Scotsman for the nation (The Scotsman)

My interest in McAlpine is primarily his role in heritage railways, as highlighted in the obituary headline, but reading it through, he was also an old soldier:

two years’ National Service with the Life Guards

It should be remembered that the UK had conscription for National Service until 1960, so many of the generation who might be expected to die of old age and natural causes these days are in fact old soldiers.

Mar 30, 1:24am Top

Obituary: Johan van Hulst, the teacher who saved Jewish children (BBC)

Maybe not a soldier in the technical sense of the word, but an active member of the resistance in the Netherlands during World War II who fought not by killing but by saving more than 600 children.

Apr 10, 3:18pm Top

Leonard King flew a Mosquito with RAF No 23 squadron during WWII. He died in a care home in Southend aged 94 on 11 March 2018.

Southend pilot: Hundreds mourn veteran with no family (BBC)

Jun 18, 12:01pm Top

German submarine commander in WWII, Reinhard Hardegen died June 9 at the age of 105. He was tasked with disrupting shipments from the U.S. to Britain during operation Paukenschlaug. At one point in 1942, he sailed close enough to New York harbor that he could see the lights of the city from his bridge. Because of his marauding, the U.S. Army ordered that lights along the east coast be doused. This story was told by Michael Gannon in Operation Drumbeat. Hardegen published a war memoir in 1943, which has no link on LT. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/17/obituaries/reinhard-hardegen-who-led-u-boats-to-americas-shore-dies-at-105.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries&action=click&contentCollection=obituaries&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

Edited: Jul 10, 1:08pm Top

G. I. battlefield cantor Mordecai "Max" Fuchs died July 3 at the age of 96. He was a rifleman with the First Infantry Division when he came ashore on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. Four months later he fought in the Battle of Aachen and afterwords sang for the first Jewish Sabbath service to be broadcast in Germany since the rise of Hitler. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/04/obituaries/max-fuchs-gi-cantor-dead.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries&action=click&contentCollection=obituaries&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=4&pgtype=sectionfront

Edited: Jul 12, 6:44pm Top

Lord Carrington died 9th July aged 99. He was best known as a politician - he was the last survivor of Winston Churchill's government, and later served as Foreign Secretary, and secretary general of NATO. However in WWII he was a major in the Grenadier Guards and won a Military Cross at Nijmegen.

Jul 20, 11:38am Top

UK Major General Corran Purdon died June 27 at the age of 97. In 1942, he led a huge raid on St. Nazaire after which he was captured. After escaping from Spangenberg Prison he was recaptured. When he was found to be tunnelling out he was transferred to Colditz (the escape-proof prison) until liberation. His memoir was called List the Bugle: Reminiscences of an Irish Soldier. Read more about his very interesting military career here. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/16/maj-gen-corran-purdon-obituary

Edited: Jul 20, 7:04pm Top

Battle of Britain RAF squadron leader Geoffrey Wellum died July 18 at the age of 96. He wrote First Light.

Jul 28, 3:09am Top

Second world war pilot Mary Ellis dies aged 101 (Guardian)

Ellis joined Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941 and flew 1,000 planes in four years...including 400 Spitfires and 47 Wellington bombers...

Ellis shared her thoughts about the Spitfire. She described it as her favourite aircraft at her 100th birthday celebrations last year, saying: “I think it’s a symbol of freedom”

Aug 6, 7:39am Top

Arsène Tchakarian: French Resistance fighter dies aged 101 (BBC)

The last member of an immigrant group who fought the Nazis for the French...

Edited: Aug 7, 9:33am Top


Tuskegee airman Robert Martin died July 36 at the age of 99. He liked to joke that he flew 63 1/2 missions. On the 64th he was shot down and spent months trying to get back to base in Italy with the assistance of Tito’s Yugoslav partisans.

Edited: Aug 26, 11:07am Top

I'm a little surprised that I'm the first to add John McCain to this list. Truly an old soldier, and one who will be very much missed from the current political scene.

Edited: Aug 26, 12:13pm Top

Thanks for the save John. I had John McCain over in the Literary Cemetery group. Of his numerous books the one that best describes his captivity in the Hanoi Hilton was probably Faith of my Fathers: A Family Memoir. A tremendous loss.

Aug 31, 12:41pm Top

Though I never voted for John McCain, he served as my US Senator for over 30 years.

Only in the last few years of his life did he finally modify his strong opposition to many liberal social issues. Perhaps he knew his 2016 re-election to the Senate would be his last term ... which probably served to liberate him from the need to compromise his principles in order to get elected to office in the almost violently politically conservative State of Arizona.

As such, I'm grateful to the man. I only wish his purported "maverick" streak might not have been quite so timidly expressed at times.

Sep 18, 11:33pm Top

Denis Norden, TV presenter and comedy writer, dies aged 96 (Guardian)

"He served in the RAF in the second world war with such other future famous names as Eric Sykes and Bill Fraser, and wrote shows to entertain the troops – and get off guard duty..."

Sep 21, 1:14am Top

Human rights pioneer Louis Blom-Cooper dies aged 92 (Guardian)

Lawyer and prisoners’ rights champion was key in Amnesty International’s formation

Sir Louis Blom-Cooper obituary (Guardian)

Trailblazing lawyer who was a champion of prison reform and a fearless campaigner against the death penalty...

joined the East Yorkshire Regiment towards the end of the second world war (1944-47)...

Edited: Sep 23, 1:52am Top

‘Her war never stopped’: the Dutch teenager who resisted the Nazis (Guardian)

Freddie Oversteegen, who has died at 93, waged a campaign of killing and sabotage – but struggled to adapt to peacetime

Oct 9, 10:30am Top

Retired US Army Lt. Col. William Baker died September 24 at the age of 86. He was the recipient of the Legion of Merit and two Bronze Stars. The Secretary of the Army awarded him the Pace Award in 1973 for his efforts to overturn a 1906 incident in Brownsville, Texas in which twenty African-American soldiers were convicted under false charges and received dishonorable discharges. He wrote The Role of Cost Discounting in Weapons systems Evaluations. http://www.gettysburgtimes.com/obituaries/article_76bc2222-f3f5-5103-b229-d8ade9...

Oct 13, 8:52pm Top

Edited: Oct 18, 9:03am Top

Felix Smith was recruited by Claire Chennault to fly covert missions in Asia during the Cold War under the guise of the Civil Air Transport. He was initially rejected by the military because of poor eye sight, but got in on appeal. He was awarded the DFC and the Air Medal. He died on October 3 at the age of 100. He wrote China pilot : flying for Chiang and Chennault. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/obituaries/felix-smith-dead.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fobituaries&action=click&contentCollection=obituaries&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

Edited: Oct 20, 10:43am Top

Sudan: former President Abdulrahman Siwar al-Dahab dies aged 83 (Al Jazeera)

He was a former military officer, who served as defence minister before he led the removal of Gaafar Nimeiry...

In 1985, popular demonstrations erupted, calling for the end of the Nimeiry regime; Siwar al-Dahab, along with a group of senior military officers, removed Nimeiry and declared the Transitional Military Council which undertook to steer Sudan's transitional period. Siwar al-Dahab promised to hold elections in a year's time, a pledge few believed in a country exhausted by civil war. However, the following year, he handed power over to a newly elected government headed by then Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Siwar al-Dahab then resigned from the political arena, devoting himself entirely to religious issues...

I was in Khartoum in 1985 during the popular uprising (intifada) which overthrew Nimeiri, and there was great rejoicing and relief when the army refused to fire on civilians and Abdulrahman Siwar al-Dahab took over as transitional president. There was perhaps even more relief when he held true to his promise to hand power to a democratically elected government after one year.

Oct 21, 12:09pm Top

Norway: 99 year old Joachim Ronneberg: 1919-21 October 2018 ... the man who lead the 1943 attack on the Nazi Heavy Water plant in Norway



Oct 29, 12:46am Top

I hope it is not inappropriate to post this here, but as we remember the centenary of the end of World War I, this struck me as being a way of saying farewell to those soldiers from the British Empire who also fought and died:

Campaign launched to recognise Muslims and other faiths who fought in first world war (Guardian)

A campaign to recognise the people from different faiths and ethnic backgrounds who fought for Britain in the first world war, including 400,000 Muslim soldiers, has been launched ahead of the armistice centenary.

Politicians from all parties, faith leaders, former military chiefs and charities are supporting Remember Together, an initiative to highlight the often forgotten service and contribution of Muslims and other faiths...

Oct 29, 8:57am Top

I think it's absolutely appropriate. I would encourage any LTers who had family that fought in the Great War to remember them here. These coming weeks would be an excellent time to remember men who may not be famous, but served nonetheless. Many fought in little known battles or units that are worth pointing out. Off to research my Grandpa's unit and their actions in France.

Edited: Nov 3, 12:50am Top

Armistice: two men separated by four years of war and a few yards of turf (Guardian)

The graves of the first and last British soldiers to die in the first world war face each other in a Belgian cemetery

Nov 6, 10:28am Top

Untold history: The WWI battles that levelled East Africa (Al Jazeera)

In WWI, British Empire soldiers fought a four-year guerrilla campaign against a small German force in East Africa.

Nov 6, 11:49pm Top

Unknown soldiers laid to rest as 'war detectives' puzzle over identities (guardian)

Member of Lancashire Fusiliers and two Australian men buried a century after they fell in Belgium

Edited: Nov 9, 3:31pm Top

As we discussed above, this special weekend is a good time to mention our own old soldiers who fought in the Great War. Below is my grandfather Robert Carswell who fought in France. This was a photo he had made into a postcard to send home. He didn't enlist until August 2018, but they didn't waste any time shipping them over, so he still managed to see some action. He was with a Pioneer Unit of the US Army from North Carolina. I'll be back with the correct name later. He never talked about it much. When my mother was a child her siblings used to chase each other around wearing his gas mask until they tore it apart. He was gassed with mustard gas which caused him lifelong breathing problems. Prior to that he was on guard post duty, was wounded and separated from his unit during an attack. A German farm family took him in and looked after him until he was well enough to go back to his unit. That probably explains why as a very old man he still talked about how beautiful the German girls were with their blue eyes and blond hair. He didn't have anything to say about the French or English girls.

eta - He had photos he took of various landmarks, churches, bridges, etc. My uncle (his son) photographed the same landmarks when he fought over the same ground in WWII.

Nov 9, 6:32pm Top

Fascinating story, Varielle, but does anyone know where the German family lived? Somewhere in Alsace-Lorraine perhaps? It's rather remarkable they didn't turn him in ... as they might have been prosecuted for harbouring a member of an enemy army.

Nov 10, 11:09am Top

Not sure. Unfortunately there was a massive fire some years ago that burned many military records from both world wars and the Korean War. That included my father’s and grandfather’s. I would love to find out.

Nov 10, 12:48pm Top

Hmm..... the fire destoryed my records, too, from the period just prior to Vietnam

Nov 17, 11:43pm Top

BBC newsreader Richard Baker dies aged 93 (Guardian)

His undergraduate years were interrupted by the second world war, when he served on a minesweeper with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve...

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