Join us at Harry’s Hofbrau in Redwood City, 11:30 on Tuesday, May 17. See the MEETING INFO menu item for specific times and directions. This month’s topic is
Joan Larrabee on “Lt. Vincent Scally’s WWII Memoirs of China-Burma-India”
Vincent Scally Sr. was born in 1916 in Honolulu, Hawaii, into a military family. He saw his first airplane as a child at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and knew that someday he too would fly. He enlisted as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces in October, 1941. He served as a B-25 Navigator in the China-Burma-India Theater from June, 1942, until October, 1943. He flew “The Hump” several times. The B-25 “The Spirit of ’76” carried a crew of four and flew two missions a day, providing there were sufficient bombs and fuel.
While he was in China, Vincent’s wife Betty kept a scrapbook of news articles, telegrams, photographs, and other materials. In later life Vince wrote about his World War II experiences in a memoir entitled “Hurry Up and Wait.” His experiences in China as a young man in his 20s were to have a profound impression on him and was to affect him and his family his entire life.
Joan Scally Larrabee sailing west up the Yangtze River to Chungking
Vince’s Number One Daughter, Joan Scally Larrabee, was born while he served in China. She grew up in Massachusetts, North Carolina, California, England, Georgia, Alabama, and Guam while her father continued his service in the US Air Force. She earned an A.B. Degree in history at Stanford University and a Masters in Urban Planning at San Jose State University. She began her career at the City of San Jose in 1974 at the San Jose Historical Museum (now History San Jose), and later worked for the City in the fields of community services and transportation. Joan first visited China in 1980 and again in 2000. Using her father’s memoir and her mother’s collection of historical materials, Joan presents a program on his WW II experiences.
Dana Lombardy on “1914: Firepower and Maneuver in the West”
Could Germany have won the Great War in 1914 or was their strategic plan doomed to failure?
The popular impressions of World War One on the Western Front are usually of the stalemate of trench warfare. But it did not start that way. There was open warfare for the first two months, with German armies nearly reaching Paris before they were stopped. Trench warfare also earned more than one general the sobriquet of “donkey” who led lions, but in 1914 about one-third of the French and German generals were replaced or fired for failing to meet expectations. Why did the German armies nearly win, and why did they ultimately lose in 1914? Dana Lombardy presented a new look at the critical first 45 days of the war in the West.
Dana Lombardy was an Associate Online Editor for Armchair General magazine and now does research, writing and design through Lombardy Studios. Dana is best known for his nearly twenty television appearances, including multiple episodes of The History Channel’s “Tales of the Gun” series. He has contributed as an editor, cartographer, graphic artist and designer on many books, games, and magazines, and was Publisher of Napoleon Journal from 1996 to 2000.
Jack Mather on “Exorcising Demons”
Jack presented a wide-ranging look at the issues of U.S. History and the teaching of same, starting with Parsin Weems, then Charles and Mary Beard, and ending with James McPherson and the Texas Board of Education. Jack will include themes such as “manifest destiny,” “no frontier,” “the melting pot,” “courses and results of the civil war,” and more.
Current issues include removal of statues, renaming of buildings, and activism on the college campus.
BYOB (bring your own bias!)
Meg Groeling on “My Spirit Passing By: Sullivan Ballou’s Story”
Meg told the story of Ballou’s personal aftermath of the First Battle of Bull Run.
Meg Groeling currently teaches math at Brownell Middle School, named for E. E. Brownell, a California educator who was named for Colonel Elmer Ellsworth and is related to Corporal Francis Brownell, the man who shot the man who killed Ellsworth. She has also taught at other public schools in California and Maryland. She contributes to World At War and Strategy and Tactics, history and war-gaming magazines. Her undergraduate degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in American History was from California State University, Long Beach, and she will receive her Masters degree in History, with a Civil War emphasis, in January 2016.
Savas Beatie published her first book, The Aftermath of Battle: The Burial of the Civil War Dead, in the fall of 2015. This is a volume in the Emerging Civil War Series, although it differs from the others in that it takes on a much broader range of subjects. The book has received excellent reviews.
She has also written First Fallen: the Life and Times of Colonel Elmer Ellsworth, the only biography written about Ellsworth since Ruth Painter Randall’s, published in 1960. In it, she challenges some of the assumptions made about Ellsworth and uses his life as a lens through which to view the attitudes and events of the urban North prior to the Civil War. Southern Illinois Press has picked it for publication sometime within the next two years.
She is a regular contributor to the blog Emerging Civil War, exploring subjects beyond the battlefield such as personalities, politics, and practices that affected the men who did the fighting.
Chris Palmer on “Ten Crucial Days: The Trenton–Princeton Campaign, December 25, 1776–January 4, 1777”
After the Battles of Long Island and White Plains and losses of Forts Washington and Lee, Washington retreated south. The British army pursued and the Revolution appeared to be lost. Washington made it across the Delaware but General Lee dallied and was captured. Washington was trying to pull together other retreating army units to Pennsylvania and regroup. Many American enlistments would end on December 31 and the situation was dire. The British were issuing citizen pardons in New York and New Jersey, Loyalists rejoiced and sent peace feelers to end the conflict. Howe was becoming certain it would end and went into winter quarters in New York and Cornwallis prepared to go home on leave. Washington decided to strike before the end of the year at the Trenton, New Jersey garrison of British and Hessian troops. The campaign over the next ten days turned the Revolution around and both sides knew a long conflict would follow.
Chris Palmer is a professional geologist with emphasis on hydrogeology and engineering geology. His geologic practice is throughout the greater Bay Area with occasional work in other states, mostly in groundwater production and contaminant assessment. Originally an east coast native (New Jersey), Chris has lived in California for nearly 43 years. While his profession is geology, his avocation is history. As a life-long history student he is especially interested in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, history of science, and general historical topics. He is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution Silicon Valley Chapter and is the color guard commander, showing color at various parades and supporting veteran groups in the Bay Area.
Charlie Sweeny on “World War II Submarine Appendectomies”
Undersea warfare has many inherent dangers beyond those provided by the enemy. Among these are the high probability of a life threatening disease, injury or medical conditions. Submarines face an additional hazard in that they typically operate far from hospitals or large surface ships and the WWII boats had low submerged speeds. Each vessel must be capable of operating on its own.
Charlie Sweeny has not only Navy Medical experience as a Corpsman, but made a civilian career of hospital administration.
Jack Mather on “What Happens to the Generals When the War is Over?”
Jack’s presentation looked at the post war experiences of John B. Gordon, Joseph Wheeler, Jubal Early, William Rosecrans, Oliver O. Howard, and Benjamin Butler.
Jack Mather is a long-time member of the PCWRT and is well read on broad historical topics. Jack is a retired teacher of history at both the high school and college level.
The annual West Coast conference will be held in Tulare, California, November 13–15, 2015. Information about the schedule and hotel, and a registration form, are available at sjvcwrt.com/conference.html
Chris Palmer on “Bleeding Kansas: A Brief look at the Struggle for Kansas Statehood and the First(?) Battles of the Civil War”
1855 Free-State poster in Kansas Territory, calling for action against slavery supporters and slavery-supporting laws (Wikipedia)
The Kansas–Nebraska Act was passed in 1854 and settlers started to move into the new territory. Neighboring Missouri was a slave state since 1820 and realized a “threat” to their possible slave expansion west. A part of the Kansas–Nebraska Act was popular sovereignty where residents could vote for or against slavery. Missouri did not want a neighboring free state and flooded Kansas to get political control of the territorial legislature. “North and South Rights” are debated for free men to vote their fate while property rights slave holders see their liberty intruded upon. If Kansas is admitted slave, slavery may expand throughout the US rendering the Missouri Compromise of 1820 moot. Things escalated as political forces built on Free-State and Border Ruffian sides with voting problems, intimidation, beatings, theft, and general mayhem. As a shooting conflict starts in 1856, will Kansas enter as a free or slave state?
David Moore on “William S. Rosecrans and the Union Victory”
David described how General Rosecrans fought in our theaters of the war: West Virginia 1861, Northeast Mississippi 1862, Tennessee 1863, and Missouri 1864. He explained why relatively few people today know much about him and about the political machinations that caused him to be removed from command four times. He raised the question of whether Rosecrans deserves to be more remembered today and what should be done to achieve that. David also touched on the general’s personality. He has been called the only general of genius on the Union side and his interests ranged from engineering to theology.
David Moore has been a history guide on the east coast with a particular concentration in his native Washington DC/mid-Atlantic region for more than 35 years. He accidentally came upon the story of General Rosecrans while looking for the grave of Mary Surratt, and has spent more than 20 years researching and writing his book.