Photos from the Vault

Island invasions, general killed in Normandy; World War II week by week

American forces had been stalled at San Lo, a new method of attack, massive air bombardment, was launched. Though the goal of disrupting German forces was achieved, over 100 Americans were killed including Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair who had inspected Camp San Luis Obispo. July 27, 1944 front page of the Telegram-Tribune.
American forces had been stalled at San Lo, a new method of attack, massive air bombardment, was launched. Though the goal of disrupting German forces was achieved, over 100 Americans were killed including Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair who had inspected Camp San Luis Obispo. July 27, 1944 front page of the Telegram-Tribune.

July 24, 1944

Marine assault forces tightened their control of the southern Marianas Islands with an invasion of Tinian. They had already taken Saipan, and three days earlier had come ashore in Guam.

Resistance on Tinian was called "light." Saipan had claimed 15,053 Americans killed, wounded or missing.

Saipan would become a bomber base, and Tinian would be the base that the atomic bomb attacks were launched from.

Two high-ranking generals on the German staff died of injuries in the bomb attempt on Hitler's life. Suspected traitors would be rounded up and given summary trials.

The suspicion and mistrust that Hitler held for his generals was amplified in the wake of the attack.

Lt. Daniel Bushnell, 25, formerly of Santa Margarita, piloted a B-17 to Russia as part of an attack on Nazi forces in Romania. It was an unusual mission — the Soviets rarely worked closely with allies. Soviet dictator Stalin feared cooperation between allied generals and even between his own generals.

Stalin rarely authorized missions like these; he even restricted the number of radios in his own tanks and aircraft for fear they might be turned against him.

The mission to land in Russia made sense from an American standpoint because it confused Nazi air defenses.

    

San Luis Obispo County purchased 2,550 lots of the failed development called La Grande for $631 at a tax sale. Harold E. Guiton of Oceano purchased 110 lots for $98.68. Earlier the county had purchased 5,000 lots from Bank of America. It was expected to become the core of a State Park that would include camping, boating, barbecue pits and restrooms.

    

Thousands of misguided Japanese soldiers were told by officers that they were fighting in California when actually they were in New Guinea. This according to Lt. Col. Richard J. Havesey and Cpl. Winston C. Briggs, army men at home on furlough.

July 27, 1944

Manuel Sarmento, 333 Branch St., received a telegram: "Deeply regret to inform you that your son Pfc. Harold G. Sarmento, USMC, was killed in action in the performance of the duty and service of this country." A recent letter from a cousin said that they had been stationed at Saipan Island.

    

Lt. Gen. Lesley J. McNair, 61 was killed on an inspection tour on the front in Normandy, one of the highest-ranking deaths in the war. McNair had been one of the key leaders building the U.S. Army from 1,500,000 to 7,700,000.

He had visited Camp San Luis Obispo on an inspection tour as recently as May 5. According to the article McNair was known as a sparkplug leader who inspired units to improve.

Articles on the web say McNair was an advocate of traditional infantry and artillery rather than the new emphasis on coordinating air and tank power. Ironically it was air power that killed him.

Heavy bombers were asked to provide close support to ground troops, a new mission for this branch.

The general was carpet bombed and killed along with over 100 other Americans when Army Air Corps bombers released 5,000 tons of high explosive and napalm. Some of the bombs fell short on the American positions.

The bombing also decimated the German side of the front and contributed to a rapid breakout of stalled American forces.

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