Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

June 4, 2014

Friday June 6 is the 70th anniversary of D-Day when 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France and successfully began to turn the tide of World War II against Nazi Germany. The World War II generation is aging and passing on and with them goes a first-hand account of history. Soon, we will have to rely on books, documentaries, and other secondary sources as the official account of history. Luckily, the federal government is a repository of information with publications relating to World War II. Commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day with these federal titles:

D-Day The 6th of June PosterD-Day: The 6th of June: A commemorative two-sided, full color historical map/poster with accompanying graphics and chronology of the World War II Normandy Invasion on the coast of France on June 6, 1944 from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Normandy Air Campaign Historical MapNormandy Air Campaign: Historical Map: A colored map of fighter patrol areas on D-Day featuring the assault area and the main shipping route in Normandy, France from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Omaha BeachheadOmaha Beachhead (June 6-13, 1944): A historical narrative focusing on American military operations in France during the month of June 1944 including D-Day in Normandy from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces in Action Series.

Normandy The US Army Campaigns of WWIINormandy: The U. S. Army Campaigns of World War II: Part of a series of 40 illustrated brochures that describe campaigns the U.S. Army troops participated in during the war with a focus on strategic setting, tracing the operations of the major American units involved, and analyzing the impact of the campaign on future operations from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces.

United States Army in World War II European Theater of Operations Cross-Channel AttackUnited States Army in World War II: European Theater of Operations, Cross-Channel Attack: The first volume of the European Theater of Operations set covering the prelude to the June 6, 1944 assault and combat operations of the First U.S. Army in Normandy until July 1, 1944 from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces.

Command DecisionsCommand Decisions: A book analyzing decisions reached by chiefs of state and their military subordinates during World War II with a focus on important political, strategic, tactical, and logistical questions, including the invasion Normandy as well as the use of the atomic bomb, the capture of Rome, the campaigns in the western Pacific, and the internment of Japanese-Americans from the Department of Defense Center of Military History Armed Forces.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THESE PUBLICATIONS?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these and other publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for these in a nearby Federal depository library.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Emma Wojtowicz, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Office of Public Affairs.


Fighting Enemies or Disease, Asian Americans Offer a Rich Heritage

May 1, 2013

As Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month kicks off, and the anniversary of WWII’s VE (Victory in Europe) Day approaches (May 8), it’s a good time to talk about a major contribution of Asian and Pacific-Islander Americans.

Japanese Americans’ Battle of Wits with the Japanese in WW II

Nisei-Linguists-CMH_70-99-1The book Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII published by the Army’s Center of Military History is an excellent starting point to examine that history. When the United States entered WWII in 1941, the War Department knew that their intelligence efforts would not be successful without understanding of Japanese language and culture. However, few Americans other than the 300,000 or so Japanese Americans living mainly on the West Coast and Hawaii had such knowledge.

The War Department tapped the talents and skills of the second generation (Nisei) Japanese Americans. The Western Defense Command chose sixty Nisei soldiers for Japanese language training at the Fourth Army Intelligence School at the Presidio in San Francisco. The school moved to the Midwest after Pearl Harbor, first locating it in Camp Savage and later in Fort Snelling. The program, renamed the Military Intelligence Service Language School, ran until 1946. Nearly six thousand military linguists graduated from the school to enter the Military Intelligence Service (MIS).

MISCrissyField

Image: Nisei linguists undergoing training at MIS Crissy Field.

In addition to telling the story of the program and school, the book also describes how the Nisei served with every major unit and headquarters in the Pacific theater. It is testimony to the Nisei’s loyalty and smarts that it took the War Department only two years to get the Nisei military intelligence program up and running. The Nisei braved considerable prejudice to work for U.S. military intelligence, and there is no doubt their participation in American intelligence efforts made the war end earlier.

No one told the story of these linguists for years after WWII, and it was not until the 1980s and 1990s that people began to talk about their experiences with the program. Finally in 1994, Senator Daniel K. Akaka and some other Congressional members asked the Secretary of the Army to publish an official history of the Nisei linguists. This book is the result of that request.

Learn more about the Nisei language intelligence program by picking up a copy of this fascinating volume at the GPO Online Bookstore in Paperback edition or as an eBook.

Asian Americans Battle Disease Today

Epidemiologic-Profile-2010-Asians_coverHaving turned our thoughts to how Asian-Americans contributed to the care of our nation, it’s also a good time to think about how we care for the Asian-American and Pacific-Islander American portion of the United States population. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just published Epidemiologic Profile 2010: Asians and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders.

According to the CDC, “This Epidemiologic Profile is the first compilation of infectious disease-specific data in a single report that focuses on two racial groups in the United States: the Asian population and the Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander population.” The volume includes a chapter in which the Census Bureau contributes to the description of the Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander populations who reside in the United States.

The report tracks the involvement of Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders in cases of endemic disease. Asians, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders make up a disproportionately large number of cases in some diseases (tuberculosis and hepatitis B), and in others, a smaller percentage of cases than their representation in the U.S. population (STDs and HIV). The report examines specific disease statistics, the challenges of public health education, treatment and disease risk factor mitigation for these populations.

Any public health official, student, social worker, or government employee who works with these populations would definitely want to read this book.

GPO has cataloged a record for the FREE electronic version that Federal depository libraries got in the April 2013 record load.

How can I access the records to both these publications?

How can I purchase Nisei Linguists: Japanese Americans in the Military Intelligence Service During WWII?

Our guest blogger is Jennifer K. Davis from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management Division that supports the Federal Depository Libraries Program (FDLP). (Article is adapted from an original  post in the FDLP Community site.)


GPO, FDR, and The Malta Citation

March 4, 2011

On March 4, 1861 – exactly 150 years ago today – the United States Government Printing Office opened for business. On such an auspicious occasion, Government Book Talk examines a unique Federal Government document. Ordered by the President on the tightest possible deadline for a purpose of international importance, only one copy was created by GPO. It is also, as far as I know, the only GPO product ever reproduced in its entirety on a postage stamp. Here’s the story of the Malta Citation.

From 1940 to 1943, the British Crown Colony of Malta endured prolonged and brutal air attacks launched by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The Axis was determined to bomb or starve the people of Malta into submission  to deprive Great Britain of a vital naval base and, in so doing, dominate the Mediterranean. Despite saturation bombing and near starvation conditions caused by submarine attacks on British supply convoys, the Maltese people carried on with exemplary courage until the Allied invasions of North Africa and Sicily ended this threat. To honor their resistance to Nazi aggression, King George VI awarded the George Cross to Malta and its people in recognition of an entire nation’s collective valor. In November 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt decided that America also should salute the people of Malta. He decided to visit the islands after the “Big Three” conference with Churchill and Stalin in Teheran and present the Maltese people with a citation that expressed the sentiments that Malta’s defense had inspired in the American people. The text was composed at the White House, but it fell to GPO to transform that text into an appropriate form.

The order for the Malta Citation was forwarded to GPO from the White House on November 15. Delivery was required not later than 3 p.m. on November 24 to meet the deadline for transport halfway around the world. The President suggested that the citation should be about 16 by 24 inches with lettering resembling that of medieval illuminated manuscripts. The details of color and design were left up to GPO. A complicating factor was secrecy. For reasons of security, the President’s visit to Malta could not be allowed to leak out. This combined need for speed, secrecy, and artistic excellence made the Malta Citation one of GPO’s most exacting and unusual wartime assignments.

The Malta project was assigned to GPO’s Division of Typography and Design. Its Director, Frank H. Mortimer, was given complete responsibility for the design and execution of the Citation. Because of the need for secrecy, and because only one copy was required, Mortimer decided to do the job by hand rather than experiment with type faces. He chose to work with genuine sheepskin parchment, feeling that its qualities of endurance and its capacity to retain freshness of lettering in both black and colored inks made it the most logical choice. He used steel and crow quill pens, drawing letters in the gothic style he had selected. Two sketches were prepared and submitted to the President, who chose the simpler version. Once the design was approved, Mortimer set to work. He used red and black inks for the 1-page text, with initials illuminated in blue, red, and gold. Pure gold leaf was used in the surrounding border, along with two fine lines of blue and red on the outside. An ornamental design consisting of the shield of Malta with the flags of the United States and Great Britain, all superimposed upon an aerial contour map of the main island, was placed above the text.

 To house the Citation, GPO’s Carpenter and Paint Shop produced a specially constructed case of solid, highly polished walnut, lined with royal blue plush. It was designed so that the right half contained the text while the left served as a cover. A weight to hold the parchment flat when the case was closed was placed inside the left half. This was produced in the GPO Bindery and consisted of laminated wood covered with dark blue morocco leather trimmed with lines in gold leaf and faced with the shield of Malta. Public Printer Augustus E. Giegengack personally delivered the completed citation in its case to the White House at 2:45 p.m. on November 24, beating the deadline by 15 minutes. On December 18 he received a letter from the President containing this tribute: “I wish to congratulate you and your craftsmen on the splendid workmanship displayed on the scroll which was presented by me to the people of the Island of Malta. It was very beautifully done, and I am sure we can all be proud of this product of our Government Printing Office.”

And the postage stamp? In 1956, Malta issued a stamp (left) that reproduced the Citation’s text, documenting  its importance to the Maltese and serving as a reminder of the huge variety and high quality of work that GPO has produced for the last century and a half. Happy birthday, GPO!


On the Greenland Patrol

September 10, 2010

A few posts back I blogged about a booklet that told the story of the U.S. Coast Guard beach patrol and corsair fleet during World War II. The Coast Guard and the Greenland Patrol, another booklet in the same series, recounts another forgotten episode that pitted the Coast Guard against the perils of the Arctic and marked the only U.S. capture of a German surface vessel during the war.

When the German Army occupied Denmark in 1940, the fate of Greenland, a Danish possession, loomed large in American strategy. Greenland was a major source of cryolite, a mineral used in the extraction of aluminum, its largely frozen land mass lay athwart a major air route used to ferry Lend-Lease aircraft to Great Britain, and was of great value in establishing weather stations. Two Coast Guard cutters equipped as icebreakers, the Northland and the Modoc, conducted a lengthy survey of Greenland’s coastal waters in early 1941, in the course of which the Modoc stumbled into a British air attack on the German battleship Bismarck!

Although the U.S. and Germany were not yet at war, tensions were high as America moved aggressively to defend the hemisphere. During June and July 1941, the Northland and the Modoc, joined by other Coast Guard and Navy vessels, were organized into the Greenland Patrol with the missions of supporting the Army in establishing bases in Greenland, defending Greenland from Germany, and preventing German operations in northeast Greenland.

The first mission involved escorting troop and supply ships, breaking the ice to get them to port, and, especially after the declaration of war against Germany, defending them against attacks by U-boats. The duty included “cold weather, ice, fog, snowstorms, and plenty of hard work…cooped up in that little tub month after month, in bad weather, wet to their skins…” It was tough and unglamorous, but vital in keeping the northern sea and air lanes open.

On several occasions, Coast Guard cutters captured German ground personnel and vessels intent on establishing clandestine radio stations in northeast Greenland. One German trawler scuttled itself after a lengthy pursuit, while another, the Externsteine (left), surrendered after the new Coast Guard icebreaker Eastwind fired three salvoes alongside its icebound hull – the only American capture of a German surface ship in the course of the war.

As you can tell, I’m totally taken with this fascinating story – Arctic gales, secret enemy weather stations, and “snow ice cream” (“Take two bowlfuls of snow, add sugar to taste, then throw in a dash of fruit juice or extract for flavor. The result isn’t bad.”). You can read all about it here or find it in a library here.


War on the Beaches

August 23, 2010

Spending time at the Jersey shore, as I have since I was a kid, always conjures up my parents and the things they talked about back then. For example, they remembered walking on the beach during the early days of World War II and seeing Coast Guardsmen on patrol amidst the debris of torpedoed ships. I think of those men often when I walk the beach, especially at night, when it’s easier to imagine the cold, loneliness, and boredom they endured as part of their contribution to the war effort.

After Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard continued its pre-war beach patrols – usually one man armed only with flares – to spot enemy submarines and watch for saboteurs who might be landing from those subs. All of that changed after June 13, 1942, when Seaman 2nd Class John C. Cullen was approached by a stranger on the beach near Amagansett, Long Island. The men and his companions were Nazi agents (an extremely incompetent group, fortunately) freshly landed from the German sub U-584. Their discovery and subsequent capture turned the Coast Guard beach patrol into an armed force that used men, dogs and horses (left) to patrol America’s shoreline for the balance of the war.

The Beach Patrol and Corsair Fleet, one of a number of booklets produced by the Coast Guard to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II, tells the little-known story of this aspect of the war. Although saboteurs never amounted to much of a problem, the patrol performed its most important service in its traditional role of lifesaving. A particularly dramatic rescue occurred off the coast of Washington State in 1943, when the Soviet freighter Lamut struck the rocky ground below a sheer cliff near Teahwhit Beach. Guardsmen hurled a makeshift heaving line from the cliff top to the freighter so the crewmen could ascend hand over hand, “Hanging between the black clouds above and the snarling, crashing breakers below…One slip on the wet line would have meant instant death.” Wow!

The Corsair Fleet, complete with a Donald Duck logo (left), was a motley conglomeration of yachts and smaller craft offered to the U.S. Navy by the Cruising Club of America for emergency U-Boat spotting off the East Coast in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The Navy refused the offer until an avalanche of bad publicity forced its hand and it gave the Coast Guard permission to organize the Coastal Picket Patrol, more commonly known as the Corsair Fleet. During much of 1942, these ships and their amateur crews patrolled in all kinds of weather and spotted a few U-Boats before being eliminated as an economy measure in 1943. Shades of Ernest Hemingway’s private submarine patrols off Key West!

You can read this fascinating little booklet here or find it in a library here.


Prisoner Interrogation in Three Wars

June 3, 2010

Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq is an absolutely fascinating read. This book from the National Defense Intelligence College takes both an historical and policy-oriented view of prisoner of war interrogations in three wars. The World War II section examines the Army’s use of Japanese Americans – Nisei – as interrogators in the Pacific, along with incisive discussions of why Japanese soldiers seldom were taken prisoners, why a relatively high percentage of such POWs cooperated with their interrogators, and why they furnished such a significant amount of intelligence to their captors (the Japanese military hierarchy assumed that their men would not become prisoners and so did not indoctrinate them about the importance of not giving up information if they were.) This part of the book also analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the Army and Navy Japanese language training  provided during the war.

The Vietnam section focuses on profiles of the most able interrogators in World War II (the wonderfully named R.W. G. “Tin Eye” Stephens for the British and Hans Scharff for the Germans) and a number of successful American officers during the Vietnam conflict. Throughout the book, the authors make the point that linguistic ability, a deep understanding of the captives’ culture and worldview, and a perception that torture or other violent methods were useless in soliciting information of value are the hallmarks of a successful interrogator of prisoners. This part of the book also describes these individuals’ occasional conflicts with the military bureaucracy, such as Sedgwick Tourison’s experience in reporting more information about the Tonkin Gulf incident than his superiors wanted to hear.

The final section, on Iraq, focuses on policy issues – specifically, whether Army doctrine should permit Special Operations personnel to interrogate prisoners. Again, real-world examples from personal experience provide a study that is both gripping and insightful.

Interrogation: World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq is a thoughtful and provocative analysis of what any army confronts in war – the need to gather intelligence from prisoners, the most effective way to do that, and the ineffectiveness of “harsh methods” in delivering useful information.

You can read the book here or get a copy from GPO here.  To find it in a library, search here.


“Now, when I was in Baghdad” – A Short Guide to Iraq

May 11, 2010

One of my first posts on this blog concerned a World War II booklet illustrated by Dr. Seuss. It was one of a cache of such booklets that had belonged to one of my uncles during his wartime service as a Navy pilot. Although not collector’s items, these little guides to China, India, Burma, West Africa, and even New Caledonia, fascinated me as a kid. As an adult, both before and after my discovery that the Dr. Seuss booklet was a collector’s item, I didn’t give them much thought.

Several years ago, though, they were brought to mind by a call from the person who was then in charge of GPO’s public relations office. Every so often we get calls about long out of print Government publications, and this was one of them. A reporter was asking about A Short Guide to Iraq and did I have any information about it? “Well, yes. Oddly enough, I own a copy.” I explained the background and said I’d rummage around at home and find it.

Within a few hours, I was in her office doing a telephone interview with a wire service reporter with a British accent. She seemed fascinated by how I had come to own a copy of the booklet she was seeking. As far as I know, the story never went anywhere, but I’m still amazed at how much excitement these old documents can stir up.

As for A Short Guide to Iraq, what seems to engage people is that American troops were sent to Iraq during the Second World War and that so much of the advice it provides seems relevant even today. A university press has reprinted a facsimile under the title “Instructions for American Servicemen in Iraq during World War II” (the cover looks different but it’s basically the same book). It’s a quick read and very well done for its purpose, which was to give a quick overview of Iraq and its people for the average GI or sailor. It’s similar in intent, although less elaborate in execution, to the Afghanistan and Pakistan Smart Books I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Click here to read this neat little booklet.


Nothing but Praise: A History of the 1321st Engineer General Service Regiment

April 12, 2010

When I drew up a list of possible blog topics, this new book from the Army Corps of Engineers was an obvious choice for someone like me, who likes to investigate less well- known historical subjects. There were three reasons for me to be interested. Although key to the success of any army, Engineer units tend to labor in the shade of more “glamorous” branches. Also, even though African-Americans made up the bulk of enlisted personnel in World War II-era engineer outfits, their accomplishments are even less well-known that those of the Corps overall. Finally, Nothing but Praise was written by the 1321st’s commanding officer, Aldo H. Bagnulo. It consists of his unpublished history of the unit, a diary he kept during the war, and an extensive array of photographs of  unit personnel and activities. (The book was carefully edited and annotated by Corps historian Michael J. Brodhead).

The 1321st was an Engineer General Service regiment, which means that its personnel were well-trained in the various building and engineering trades before deployment overseas. The regiment’s job was to build and maintain bridges, roads, and various structures needed to keep wartime supplies stored and supply lines moving. In the course of its service in France and Germany, from December 1944 until several months after Germany’s surrender, the 1321st worked diligently and well in all kinds of weather and quasi-combat conditions in highly creditable fashion, as documented by the receipt of the Bronze Star by six officers and nine enlisted men. Viewed from this perspective, Bagnulo sheds welcome light on the crucial but often neglected role of the Army Corps of Engineers in supporting the logistics of war.

Bagnulo’s treatment of the racial aspects of his command is intriguing. His unpublished manuscript never refers to race at all. Reading it out of the context of this published edition makes it sound like every other small military unit – the rigors of training, the weeding out of the less fit, the occasional wild party, terrible weather, back-breaking work, intense fear, and finally a feeling of accomplishment duly rewarded by official recognition of a job well done.

In his diary, Bagnulo does mention race a few times. It’s clear that, although a man of his time, he made a conscious effort to eschew prejudice. One issue he cites as productive of tension after V-E Day sprang from his African-American officers’ concern about fairness in promotion; Bagnulo strongly endorsed merit promotion in two meetings with them, which he seemed to think was helpful. He was clearly comfortable with addressing such issues head-on, which must have been unusual in those days.

In mid-1945, the 1321st shipped out to the Pacific theater, didn’t get there before the surrender of Japan, and spent several months building roads and bridges in Korea before demobilization. Afterward, Bagnulo had a long career in the Army and at NASA before retiring.

The verdict: A valuable read for anyone interested in the sinews of war and the story of  race relations in America. Nothing but Praise is available from GPO.

For more about the creation of Nothing but Praise, check out this Army Corps of Engineers video. Note: GPO’s Creative Services organization did a great job in designing this book.


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