The Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation visited the Museum for a tour on Wednesday and graciously donated priceless artifacts from Ella’s archives to our collection— items including sheet music, concert programs, and music albums. For example, pictured below is a piece of sheet music from Ella’s collection for the popular wartime song “Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer” (an audience favorite for the Victory Belles in their recent “Songs that Won the War” revue). The Foundation made an additional contribution that will help fund school Title 1 field trips to the Museum.
WWII-era sheet music donated in memory of Miss Ella Fitzgerald from the Estate of Ella Fitzgerald.
While on campus, the group visited an item related to Fitzgerald, “First Lady of Song,” displayed in BB’s Stage Door Canteen, the Museum’s tribute to wartime USO entertainment venues. Pictured at the M-1 helmet liner, worn by Fitzgerald at a USO camp show, are (left to right), Richard Rosman, Fran Morris Rosman, Randal Rosman, and Irene Romero.
Pictured at the M-1 helmet liner, worn by Fitzgerald at a USO camp show, are (left to right), Richard Rosman, Fran Morris Rosman, Randal Rosman, and Irene Romero.
Ella Fitzgerald’s voice is featured prominently on the 1940s musical soundtrack heard throughout the Museum, as befits one of the superstars of the era and an all-time music great. As Bing Crosby— a pretty good singer himself— once said: “Man, woman or child, Ella is the greatest of them all.”
M-1helmet worn by Ella Fitzgerald on display in BB’s Stage Door Canteen at The National WWII Museum.
Founded by the singer in 1993, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation is dedicated “to use the fruits of her success to help people of all races, cultures and beliefs,” according to the foundation’s website. “Ella hoped to make their lives more rewarding, and she wanted to foster a love of reading, as well as a love of music. In addition, she hoped to provide assistance to the at-risk and disadvantaged members of our communities—assistance that would enable them to achieve a better quality of life.”
Thanks for visiting, foundation friends, and thanks for your generous support!
One of the newest collections at The National WWII Museum, received just today, is from the service of WAC Mary Margaret Owen. Seventy years ago, on December 27, 1946, Mary Margaret Owen was discharged from the Women’s Army Corps. In her three years of service, she saw much of the country in training and at various posts. She wrote her family during training, “It is our job to receive reports on all aircraft flying and see that no enemy planes surprise us–with us on the job they won’t!!” Mary spent the later part of her service at Fort Indiantown Gap, overseeing a typing pool processing records and demobilizing those returning from the European Theater. Over 150,000 women served in the Women’s Army Corps in WWII. Thank you to these groundbreaking women and to Mary’s daughters for contributing this material to the Museum. Learn more about women in WWII in our Focus On gallery.
Gift in Memory of Mary Margaret Owen (McArtor), 2016
Post by Assistant Director for Curatorial Services Kimberly Guise.
On December 25, 1944, Carroll Sammetinger began his Christmas postcard to his parents, “Am Safe, A Prisoner of War in Germany; do not worry.” Thousands of Americans were captured during the Battle of the Bulge and ended up spending Christmas 1944, as prisoners of war. Lieutenant Carroll Sammetinger, from Lima, Ohio, served with the 46th Armored Infantry Battalion, 5th Armored Division. He was captured December 20, 1944, and was sent first to Stalag XIB and then to Oflag 79, where he stayed until being liberated on April 12, 1945.
In Sammetinger’s journal, he wrote about his experiences, about foods he wants to remember (ice cream with Baby Ruth bars!) and recorded addresses of fellow POWs. Sammetinger’s collection—which includes his handwritten diary, numerous telegrams and letters, two hand-carved cigarette boxes, and German insignia gathered as souvenirs—is one of many treasured collections received by The National WWII Museum in 2016.
Thank you to Sammetinger’s daughter, Sara Hammond, for sharing these pieces with the Museum and the world. They are powerful reminders of the separation, distance, and uncertainty experienced by many Americans during World War II.
Post by Assistant Director for Curatorial Services Kimberly Guise.
One of the final touches to the restoration of PT-305 is a fresh coat of paint. But this isn’t just a fresh coat—it is the camouflage pattern applied to PT-305 in November 1944, called “Measure 32 modified.”
During World War II, US Navy ships were rarely painted gray. There were a large and diverse number of camouflage schemes for a number of tactical situations. Generally speaking, camouflage is not intended to make a ship disappear, but rather to make a vessel’s course, speed, and class difficult to determine. For large vessels, the Navy issued specifically designed camouflage patterns. For PT boats, official designs set a general standard but the camouflage patterns of individual boats were ultimately determined by squadron commanders.
“Measure 32 modified” was an experimental pattern intended specifically for making torpedo attacks. The “Thayer blue” on the forward part of the hull made the vessel more difficult to see from a distance at night when approaching a target head-on during the initial stages of a torpedo attack. The color transitions to a “deck blue” on the aft part of the boat to aid in the retreat from a torpedo attack.
Up close, darker blues are more difficult to see, making class and course more difficult to determine. “Deck blue” also reduces visible shadows from concentrated light sources, such as searchlights and star shells, making it more difficult to determine the boat’s location.
The blue painted on the deck was intended to reduce visibility of the vessel when viewed from aircraft.
In addition to the three shades of blue on the boat, PT-305 also carried aircraft recognition coloration. “Insignia yellow” was painted on the bow, “insignia red” across the stern, and a large red-and-yellow star was painted on top of the radar dome. This was intended to make PT boats in the Mediterranean easily identifiable to Allied aircraft.
More than a year of research using photographs and period documents went into determining the camouflage pattern applied to PT-305. The re-creation of the “Measure 32 modified” applied to PT-305 has restored her unique identity and highlights her combat history.
In honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day, we’d like to offer a glimpse of one recent addition to our collection. Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Bernard Deleman served on the submarine, USS Perch (SS-176) in the Pacific and was captured by the Japanese in March 1942. He was held as a POW until his 25th birthday on September 15, 1945. When he arrived at home, he was welcomed at the train station in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania by a parade of high school bands, city officials, firemen, policemen, and clergy. In this photo, one sees Bernard stepping off of the train. Over 120,000 Americans were prisoners of war during World War II. Bernard Deleman was one of 27,465 American POWs in the Pacific.
Gift in Memory of Bernard Deleman, 2016
Posted by Assistant Director for Curatorial Services Kimberly Guise.
Novelty items lampooning our enemies were popular in wartime America. Banks, hardware stores and restaurants used this material to advertise their services. This matchbook features the menu for Mandell’s Restaurant on Baltimore Street at Calvert in Baltimore, Maryland. The back cover features cartoon of Hitler with striking pad on his trousers. The front cover bears inscription “Strike at the seat of trouble. Buy war bonds.” Mandell’s offered a “whole half of crispy crunchy fried chicken served unjointed without silverware, gobs of shoestring potatoes, hot buttered rolls.” Yum!
This month we’ve received many special donations, including a welder’s mask used at Higgins Industries by welder Edna Marie Bougon Rushing. The mask was donated by her daughter Ina Rae Whitlow during a visit to the Museum. Edna is on the right in the center photo and far left in the photo on the right. Edna Bougon Rushing was one of roughly 25,000 employed by Higgins Industries in the New Orleans area. Thank you to Mrs. Whitlow and to all of our artifact donors for helping us tell the story of American experience in WWII!
In 1938, when Czech Jew Ela Stein Weissberger was eight years old, her family fled their home near the Czech-German border to Prague. Her father was in the porcelain business and her mother’s family owned a glass factory. They lost everything. Her father was arrested by the Gestapo and never seen again. Ela, her mother, sister, and grandmother were on one of the first transports to Terezin (Theresienstadt) Concentration Camp, arriving in February 1942.
Roughly 150,000 people were held in Theresienstadt, mostly Czech Jews like Ela Stein Weissberger. The camp became a propoganda tool for the Nazis most notably when the Nazis allowed entry to the camp by Danish Red Cross and International Red Cross delegates in June 1944. These visits occured after a long period of adjustments to and deportations from the camp to give the appearance of relatively comfortable living conditions. While there, the delegates viewed a performance of the children’s opera Brundibár, composed by Czech Jewish composer Hans Krasa in 1938 and first performed in the camp on September 23, 1943 under the watchful eyes of Nazi guards. The role of the Cat in the Brundibar Opera was performed by Ela Stein Weissberger. She appeared in the 1944 performance for the International Red Cross delegation that visited Terezin and also in the German propaganda film, Der Führer schenkt die Juden eine Stadt (The Fuhrer gives the Jews a city). The opera would have 55 performances at Theresienstadt in total and became a symbol of hope for the Jews in the camp.
Roughly 34,000 people died in Theresienstadt and another 87,000 were transported to death camps before the camp was liberated by the Soviets on May 8, 1945. Ela Stein Weissberger survived and after liberation, moved to Israel and joined the Israeli Army and then the Israeli Navy. She then moved to America with her husband in 1958. Ela has dedicated much of her life to traveling around the world educating the public about the Holocaust.
Ela Stein Weissberger saved this Fünf Kronen (five crowns) note from her time in Theresienstadt. She gave the note to Museum Historian Hannah Dailey when Dailey recorded an oral history interview of Weissberger’s wartime experiences. The currency, designed in 1942 and distributed first in May 1943 was used mainly for sham purposes, but also to create a semblance of normalcy within the camp. Inmates could purchase supplies from stores, stocked from the plundered belongings of other inmates. Inmates were also required to pay postal taxes and receipt taxes on mail and parcels sent and received. These notes were saved by survivors and by collectors and they stand today as evidence of the extent of the bureaucratic landscape of the Nazi camp system.
Three performances of Brundibár will take place in May 2016 at The National WWII Museum’s US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. Ela Weissberger, the sole surviving member of the Brundibár cast at Theresienstadt, will be the Guest of Honor at each performance. To purchase tickets for theBrundibár performances at the Museum on May 14-15, 2016, click here.
On April 9th, National Former POW Recognition Day, we remember the American men and women held captive during war. Over 120,000 Americans were held as POWs during WWII. 12,228 died in captivity. National Former POW Recognition Day, as designated by Congress, falls on the anniversary of the United States’ surrender on the Bataan Peninsula, beginning the Bataan Death March.
Pfc Jack W. Grady was captured in the Philippines and survived the Bataan Death March and captivity as a POW in Japan. The Museum recently received a collection of material from Grady’s daughter. This material includes over 60 postcards and letters send across North America to Grady’s parents after hearing a shortwave Radio Tokyo broadcast that Grady participated in while a prisoner. Also included are the short notes that Grady was allowed to send to his family, letting them know that he was still alive. In the postcard pictured above, Grady mentions not having received word from his family for over a year. This was all too common in the case of Pacific Theater POWs, whose average length of captivity was over three years.
Many of the collections in our holdings relate not to battlefield maneuvers or combat tactics, but are very personal in nature. Some collections are so personal you feel like you’re invited to share in a very private moment, being let in on a secret. This is the case with the collection from Raymond Snelting and Anna Mae Milazzo Oertel Snelting.
Raymond was one of seven children from the rural community of St. Charles, Illinois. He left school to join the Civilian Conservation Corps to earn a living. Ray joined the Army when the war began and was assigned to a Signal Corps unit and underwent basic training at Fort Polk in Louisiana before being transferred to Camp Plauche in New Orleans. While here he fulfilled a variety of different roles, including trips to the Caribbean and South American observing weather patterns. In New Orleans, Ray worked in the motor pool, as an MP, and as a telegrapher, and teletype repairman. Because of one particular teletype repair call, Raymond met Anna Mae Milazzo Oertel, a young teletype operator and widowed mother of two children.
Anna Mae married Carl Jacob Oertel and had two children, Carol Ann and Carl Jacob. On October 16, 1939, Carl was in an automobile accident and suffered a spinal cord fracture, from which he died two days later. Anna and the children moved in with her parents. With the help of lessons from her uncle, a teletype operator, she translated her skills as a pianist (she graduated from the Southern College of Music) to a teletype job at the Port of Embarkation.
Ray was welcomed for Sunday dinner with Southern hospitality in the Milazzo home. And because her mother did not approve, Ray courted Anna Mae secretly. They fell in love despite their very different backgrounds. They were married on April 16, 1944 in a simple ceremony at the Post Chapel at Camp Plauche. Carol Ann and Carl Jacob now had a “Daddy Ray.” On September 1, 1950, the couple had a daughter, Carla Rae Snelting. Carla Rae shared a collection of her parents’ memorabilia with the Museum. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we are pleased to share this story of wartime romance and a happily ever after, just one example of the tender moments our artifact donors bring to us daily.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today - so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.