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

December 15, 2009

WWII: Different reconnaissance in the Pacific

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theresa Everline @ 4:27 pm

The Unarmed and Unafraid book notes that in World War II “Very few of the reconnaissance aircraft flying over Europe were armed.” In the Pacific theater, on the other hand, “the distances were much too great for this and consequently most of the patrolling and reconnaissance aircraft were armed or loaded with bombs.”

It occurs to me that this would be the first step toward things like Predator drones, that do surveillance and fire missiles.

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.

November 19, 2009

This was intelligence work, after all

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theresa Everline @ 2:51 pm

Yesterday when I spoke with the daughter and son-in-law of Raymond Adamus, they reminded me that the members were not allowed to disclose their location when writing letters home and so forth. Apparently some came up with code ways of doing so, anyway.

November 10, 2009

Locating the Members

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theresa Everline @ 3:46 pm

This blog post will be regularly updated as I search for the members of the 16th PTU, alphabetically.

Raymond A. Adamus, East Orange, NJ: “Adamus” is a fairly unique name, but a Google search of the full name in quotation marks turns up just one URL from ancestry.com, and I can’t access the page itself because it’s a fee service. But WhitePages.com has two New Jersey addresses for Raymond Adamus, North Plainfield and Watchung! [10Nov09] Located! Yesterday I spoke with his daughter and son-in-law in Jersey! [19Nov09]

John P. Andolina, Rochester, NY: Located online a mailing address for a John P. Andolina Jr. in Rochester. Will send a letter. [19Nov09]

Harry C. Asbury, Keene, NH: A website of “Keene NH Vital Statistics” gives me a record of Asbury’s marriage (on June 5, 1937, at age 20, to June Weatherbee). And a 2001 obituary for Mildred Aiken, 85, of Tampa says she’s survived by a brother, Harry C. Asbury, of Tampa, and two nephews, Robert Asbury of Massachusetts and Roger Asbury of Arizona. Having a difficult time narrowing down the right person here. [17Nov09]

Golden G. Bader, Great Bend, KS: No matches found anywhere. [19Nov09]

Joseph A. Bajek, Ambrige, PA: Probably should be “Ambridge.” Can’t find any matches except for a Joe Bajek who works in healthcare IT in Colorado. [19Nov09]

Maurice I. Barstow, St. Petersburg, FL: Can’t pinpoint a likely candidate.

William C. Bartlett, Springfield, VT: In 1967 a William C. Bartlett of Rutland, VT, was the president of the Professional Photographers Association of New England. It’s an awfully common name, though — I’m finding William Bartletts who fought in the Battle of Springfield in 1780. [19Nov09]

November 6, 2009

National Archives: No 16th PTU Records. Nothin’.

Filed under: The squadron — Theresa Everline @ 11:11 am

Yesterday I received an email response to an inquiry I made to the National Archives and Records Administration. I asked if they had anything on the 16th Photo Tech Unit and noted that the unit was attached to the 67th Tactical Recon Group. This is what they said:

“We have searched our available finding aids for the records of the 16th Photographic Technical Unit without success. There are some reports from the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Group among our Records of the Army Air Forces (Record Group 18), WW II Mission Reports. Attached is a folder list.”

The document they attached lists 15 folders pertaining to the 67th Tactical Recon Group, most of them monthly “Operations Reports” for the period between June 1944 and May 1945. There are also two folders of “Field Orders.” I can see the records if I go to their research room in College Park, Md.

Looks like it’s road trip time!

November 2, 2009

Reconnaissance then and now: first thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theresa Everline @ 12:12 pm

On the “Technology and Its Effects” page I’ve posted links to stories in the LA Times and The New Yorker about the current unmanned aircraft that do surveillance (not to mention air strikes). The hovering drones supply live video feed as opposed to the stills developed by WWII photo labs. Live video feed allows for targeted bombing of people. The daily stills were used, I believe, to monitor significant facilities, infrastructure, and troop movements. These things, obviously, continue to be watched (and thwarted: see “North Korea, Iran, nuclear plants”) — but the WWII photo reconnaissance was mainly about large-scale destruction. “Targeted” seems to have meant something different.

October 28, 2009

“Blue Train” defined

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theresa Everline @ 12:26 pm

Rich Faulkner of the 34th Photo Recon Squadron site was particularly intrigued that my father’s book was called “Blue Train in Europe.” He wrote to me:

“Blue Train is a name that resonates for many in the photo recon community who served in the ETO and a bit of a mystery to many.”

So the book’s name itself is worthy of investigation. A website devoted to the 33rd Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron provides an answer:

A “Blue Train” was an automated photographic processing unit designed to help the US 9th Air Force provide “rapid photo intelligence” to the armies of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe. An automated Photo Tech Unit was officially described as follows:

Each of the automatic teams were equipped with a Multi-printer trailer, a continuous processing trailer and an office trailer; these three units comprised a British Blue Train. The term Blue Train was give [sic] these trailers because they were originally painted blue; but the terminology also was used by the British to designate field operations and means “out of the blue”; this contributed much to the confusion which was to follow.

My “Blue Train” book includes a photograph captioned “The Blue Train alongside a hedgerow near Le Molay, France. The foxholes are on the other side.” Sadly, (1) the photo is (of course) in black and white, and (2) there’s no corresponding photo of those foxholes.

First connection: “a never-ending task”!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theresa Everline @ 12:13 pm

When I began thinking about this attempt to track down a WWII unit’s history, I figured there would be WWII enthusiasts out there who could give me some guidance. Well, I shot my first little e-mail arrow out into the cyberspace dark, and I managed to hit an amazing target: Richard Faulkner, who maintains a website devoted to the 34th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron.

The website has a section that helped military-illiterate me better understand some of the basic background and terminology (like a reminder that during WWII there was no Dept. of Defense and no U.S. Air Force; a definition of a squandron; all sorts of stuff).

Rich himself responded right away to my email, and we talked on the phone for about an hour and have exchanged several more emails. I feel a bit of vertigo, like I’m falling down a rabbit hole of military research (not a subject I thought I’d be paying much attention to). Rich called it “a never-ending task.” That sounds like it could be either very fun or very intimidating.

It’s a big puzzle. Full of military acronyms.

October 23, 2009

The Puzzles of “Blue Train”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Theresa Everline @ 12:51 pm

While the author of “Blue Train in Europe,” the commemorative book that launched this project, can be painstakingly detailed about the numbers of photographs developed during several periods of 1944-45, he’s also maddeningly vague about the unit’s itinerary, place names, and so forth. For example, the “history” section notes when the group left Belgium. But he forgot to mention going to Belgium in the first place. (Also, are there really two men with the name “Willian” — with an N at the end — as are listed? Seems unlikely. What else in the book is marred by small mistakes?)

Here’s a terrific photo from the book:

finishing_room

What exactly were theĀ  “early days,” as mentioned in the hand-written caption? Where was this photo taken? The book’s author chooses some facts as important (the output worthy of a finely honed assembly line) and others as unnecessary.

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.