Dear Editor,

I enjoyed Flint Whitlock’s article on the film stars in WWII, but I think you forgot one. Lew Ayres (All Quiet on the Western Front and others) served as a medic in the Philippines in 1944-1945. Check it out, as my memory is not always correct. (I am 90 and was in the Pacific in WWII.) Otherwise, OK.

Walter Huecker
Portland, Oregon

You are right. Ayres, who was a major star by the 1940s, was a conscientious objector who served in the Medical Corps in the Pacific.

Dear Editor,

Flint Whitlock’s article, in your November 2006 issue, concerning the WWII service and efforts by many of our movie stars was great. Despite the much-touted personal views of the present Hollywood gang, it is good to know we still have many patriots to look up to.

I did notice some inaccuracies that may have resulted from Mr. Whitlock’s research or your staff’s editing. The article states that Jimmy Stewart was qualified to fly B-17s. He actually was an instructor on B-17s but transferred to a B-24 squadron to qualify for combat. All of his combat service was in the Consolidated B-24. Your photo of Henry Fonda identifies his Navy rank as “Captain” which equates to an Army colonel (O-6). Wrong. As the photo shows, he attained the rank of “Lieutenant” (O-3). His biography only gives his rank as “Lieutenant Junior Grade” (O-2) but the photo proves he was promoted. The photo of Ronald Reagan states he was in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Wrong. The Air Corps was redesignated the U.S. Army Air Force in 1941, and Reagan is pictured wearing the crossed sabers of the U.S. Army Calvary although he was transferred to the USAAF due to his hearing loss. Clark Gable is identified as a “Major” while wearing Army “Captain” insignia. Glenn Ford was identified as serving in the Navy but he actually served in the Marines. Other than that, I can only wish Mr. Whitlock had expanded his article and revealed the military service of more stars. Keep up the good work.

Roy E. Billet, Jr.
Springfield, Virginia

Dear Editor,

Once again Flint Whitlock outdoes himself by, this time, taking on the daunting task of covering Hollywood in WWII. No small task! Great article! Although there’ll never be enough room to cover all the celebs who participated in this conflict, I thought I’d add to Flint’s comments regarding actor Werner (Colonel Klink of Hogan’s Heroes) Klemperer and his part in the conflict. Other members of the Hogan’s Heroes cast were likewise “cast” in various roles in the big one.

John (Sergeant Shultz) Banner emmigrated to the U.S. in 1938 and wound up in the USAAC as a tech sergeant between 1943 and 1945 … he also became a “poster boy” for the recruiting department!

Leon (General Burkhalter) Askin, after being beaten by the Gestapo, emigrated to Paris from Vienna and then to the U.S. in 1940. He was drafted into the USAAC and wound up a tech sergeant, specializing in linguistics. Robert (Le Beau) Clary, while not in the military during the war, wound up in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. He was the only member of his family to survive incarceration. Bernard (Colonel Crittendon) Fox spent the war as a rating in the Royal Navy.

As one final aside, it may interest readers to know that the series Hogan’s Heroes, obviously fiction in its purist form, actually was “based” on a real location. One need only read of the flawed effort to rescue Lt. Col. John Waters (son-in-law of George Patton) in 1945. Waters and numerous other POWs were held in prison camp Oflag 13B (think stalag) near the town of Hammelburg. Hogan’s Heroes series took place in Stalag 13 near the town of Hammelburg. Nawwww, just a coincidence!

Robert Hill
via e-mail
USS Coolidge

Dear Editor,

I recently read an article by Charles E. Heller in the May 2006 issue of WWII History regarding the sinking of USS Coolidge. I was aboard as a member of U.S. Army Combat Company A, 172nd Infantry, 43rd Division en route to Guadalcanal to relieve the Marines. Little was said about it at the time because a mistake in signaling caused the ship to strike our own mine field at the entrance to the harbor. Fortunately, it was the two mines closest to the island, allowing Captain Nelson to beach the ship on the island of Espiritu Santo, where it lies today. The captain was flown back to Washington for a hearing in which he was acquitted of any fault. The ability to successfully evacuate all troops with the loss of two men is to the credit of those who efficiently directed the order to abandon ship. After receiving new equipment, we arrived on Guadalcanal in February 1943 and prepared for the New George Campaign with a landing on Rendova Island, June 30, 1943.

Wilbur O. Root
Mechanicville, New York
Baker Sings for Troops

Dear Editor,

I found the article by Flint Whitlock to be very interesting. His comment about Josephine Baker caught my attention. He mentions that Baker “remained in France after the Nazi takeover and worked as a spy providing intelligence information to the Allies.” I am presently writing a WWII book using letters sent by my uncle, James G Delaney, as the primary source. I thought Mr. Whitlock would enjoy the following section about Josephine Baker taken from a June 1943 letter to my grandparents from their son Corporal James G. Delaney, stationed in North Africa:

Dear Mother and Dad, At our last station we were fortunate enough to have quite a bit of entertainment. We were only there a week but there was a movie about every other night and there were two stage shows. The first stage show was put on by a group of French actors and actresses—a varied program and a good one. The second was a band of boys from the 41st Engineers, and they were really good. The best we have heard since we left the States. They were accompanied by Josephine Baker, a Blues singer, who was the rage in Paris for quite some time. The program was well received. I imagine it’s the last entertainment we will have for a while.

Maura Bridget Delaney
Dorchester, Massachusetts

Note: Opinions expressed in “Dispatches” do not represent the opinions of the writers, editors, or staff of WWII History or Sovereign Media.

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