Photos from the Vault

American tanks in France; World War II week by week

Telegram-Tribune front page from Aug. 5, 1944 said that Paso Robles might be a new home for the county fair.
Telegram-Tribune front page from Aug. 5, 1944 said that Paso Robles might be a new home for the county fair.

Aug. 4, 1944

Sen. Harry S. Truman, a Democrat from Missouri, resigned from as chairman of the Senate War Investigating Committee. He was turning his full attention to campaigning as President Franklin Roosevelt's running mate. The would-be vice president had investigated claims of cost overruns and war profiteering. At one point, when heavy rain had run up construction costs at Camp San Luis Obispo and Camp Roberts, the committee had turned their attention to the Central Coast.

Labor shortages in war production were making the labor market adjust by offering better health care benefits and hiring women and minorities to do work that had been closed to them in the past.

The Union Sugar Company in Betteravia was expected to produce 450,000 hundred-pound bags of sugar. Prices were up, and the plant office manager R.R. Hardy anticipated 100 days of operation on a 24-hour basis. This would be the third year that 90 percent of the employees were women, and "they are doing a fine job."

U.S. Marines and Army troops on Guam had trapped the Japanese in a 7-by-10-mile northern end of the island.

Cal Poly student Lt. j.g. William Himmelmann was on a 10-day leave visiting his family in San Luis Obispo. Himmelmann had made national headlines about a year ago when he was thrown from a plane while on a training flight. When the pilot was flying upside down, Himmelmann's seat was accidentally released. Unfortunately the student's parachute lines were entangled in the seat as he plummeted to earth. After he disengaged the 'chute from the seat, it opened and he landed safely.

German civilians in East Prussia began evacuating in the face of Red Army advances in that sector.

Adolf Hitler ordered a "ruthless purge" of the German Army as a result of the attempt on Der Fuhrer's life last month. At least 24 ranking officers had been expelled or executed or had deserted or committed suicide. It was little safer at the front. Fighter aircraft in the West had been strafing German army cars and troop trains on the way back from escorting bombers. Post-war studies would show one of the top causes of death would be attacks like these forcing Axis generals to wait for dark before getting into a conspicuous staff car. Field Marshall Erwin Rommel was recovering from wounds from a July 17 strafing attack. Rommel had been in charge of defenses in France. In October Rommell would ordered to take poison so that Hitler would avoid the embarrassment having the Gestapo kill him. The propaganda ministry said the Field Marshall died from his wounds and was given a full state funeral.

American tanks were slashing across Brittany but leaders were cautioning that the spectacular gains over the last 10 days would strain supply and reinforcement lines. The article credited armored forces under Gen. Omar Bradley. The name Patton was not mentioned; he had been passed over for promotion after slapping and cursing incidents with shell-shocked soldiers in the hospital. Gen. George Patton had been very publicly linked to a paper army in England that the Germans expected to land soon in another location. German leadership feared Patton and had held back reserves to protect against the threat. The ruse would soon be over as tanks tore through the German defenses.

Aug. 5, 1944

The city of Paso Robles was asked to contribute $5,000 to establishing the 16th District fair site in town. A.E. Snyder with the state board of fairs and expositions spoke at a dinner hosted by the Paso Robles Chamber of Commerce.

Juvenile delinquency more than doubled in San Luis Obispo County during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1944. In the annual report filed by E.G. McWilliams, county probation officer, he said there were 184 petitions filed, an increase from 82 in the previous 12-month period. Reasons included: begging, unfit homes, refusal to obey parents, idle, lewd or dissolute lives.

British progress in France was called "steady if not spectacular." Meanwhile American tanks were slashing to isolate German forces in Brittany and submarine bases in Brest.

Almost 2,000 bombers were flying day-after-day over Europe, attacking rail nodes that supported Nazi defenses. Other targets included rocket bases and war industries and the U-boat bases in Brest.

The San Luis Obispo parents of S-Sgt. Robert N. Marcum received a telegram reporting their son missing in action over Germany. The 23-year-old was a crewman on a B-24 Liberator with the 15th Air Force based in Italy. The armorer gunner was stationed in the nose of the bomber and had been credited with shooting down a German plane over France and had completed over 25 missions. He had recently received an Air Medal and a Purple Heart for arm wounds.

Soviet tanks in Poland were 80 miles from the border of Germany.