WWII's 16th Photo Tech: A Project. By Theresa Everline.

December 1, 2009

A Snoopy digression (and who doesn’t like a Snoopy digression!)

Filed under: Military reconnaissance — Theresa Everline @ 3:37 pm

In the third chapter of Unarmed and Unafraid (see post below), regarding aerial reconnaissance in World War I, there’s a passing reference to Manfred von Richthofen, a.k.a. the Red Baron, as one of the fighter pilots that the recon planes had to contend with. This caused a quick mental slide to Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel. I was a huge Peanuts fan as a child and I owned dozens of the paperback Peanuts books. Somehow I picked up on Snoopy’s imaginary scenario here of WWI flying ace. It’s an interesting cultural reference for Charles Schultz to use in the ’60s and ’70s (consider: another Snoopy alter-ego was the hipster Joe Cool).

Anything that causes me to think of Peanuts cartoons makes me happy.

November 30, 2009

Aerial reconnaissance history: A good find

Filed under: Military reconnaissance — Theresa Everline @ 1:19 pm

I’ve started to read Unarmed and Unafraid: The First Complete History of the Men, Missions, Training and Techniques of Aerial Reconnaissance, a 1970 book by Glenn Infield. Check out my Military Reconnaissance page to read about the Wile E. Coyote-esque attempts by balloonists to to useful during the Civil War.

October 5, 2009

About this project

Filed under: Military reconnaissance, The squadron — Theresa Everline @ 2:41 pm

See the man circled in the photo below? I want to learn about him. In World War II he toiled away alongside 84 other soldiers performing a lowly but utterly vital task. As the members of the 16th Photographic Technical Unit, they developed aerial reconnaissance photographs using mobile processing labs in the battlefield, thus contributing to one of the primary sources of intelligence for winning the war. An army was nearly helpless without photos and maps of enemy territory, but we often don’t think of how those aids are created.

This man pictured here is part of a unit whose history has been forgotten. He was also my father.

I remember from my childhood seeing the unofficial commemorative book my father Robert received from the 16th Photo Tech. Titled “Blue Train in Europe,” the book tells the history of and facts about the unit, such as how many photos they developed: a total of nearly 4.5 million between July 1944 and April 1945.

With my father’s passing on Jan. 20, 2009, I now have “Blue Train,” and it has set me on a journey to learn more. I want to see what I can discover about the 16th Photo Tech Unit and what it tells me about (1) an overlooked aspect of WWII (what it took to develop photos in the battlefield), (2) the interplay between technology and warfare, and (3) my dad’s relationship to all this.

A list of the members of the 16th Photo Tech is here. If you knew any of these men, please contact me.

On this page I’m trying to piece together the unit’s 1944-45 journey, as they moved all their equipment through war-torn Western Europe as part of the invasion force.

Some highlights of my research about military reconnaissance are here. Cool stuff.

You can learn about more aspects of this project by clicking on the other pages listed at the top right.

Pictured in the “Blue Train” book are men my father possibly considered friends when he was in his early 20s. Possibly. He was a remote and uncommunicative man, and spent most of the time I knew him (I was born in 1966, when he was 45) talking to as few people as he could generally manage. How did this man with an anxious temperament, who sharply clung to routine and never traveled anywhere once my sisters and I left home, deal with being in a war in several European countries? And how did he raise a daughter (me) who once said to an airline agent, “I’d like a one-way ticket to Jordan”?

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