Photos from the Vault

Two Arroyo Grande men killed in action, World War II week by week

Front page of the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune Oct. 17, 1944 included news from Formosa and Aachen.
Front page of the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune Oct. 17, 1944 included news from Formosa and Aachen.

Oct. 12, 1944

Five hundred farmers and civic leaders gathered in Shandon for a re-election campaign barbecue honoring Rep. George Outland of the 11th Congressional District. The event was given by the McMillan brothers, Don and Ian, of Shandon.

Two Arroyo Grande valley servicemen were reported killed in action in Europe. S-Sgt Harry J. Chapek, 31, died in Germany fighting with the 5th Armored Division. He had been employed at Briscoe construction. Lt. Francis Eberding, paratrooper, was killed in action over Holland. He was a 1937 Arroyo Grande High School graduate. Both left widows and parents; Eberding had a 9-month-old son.

A new war bond drive was underway.

In 1943 San Luis Obispo County produced $1,037,062 in minerals. The State Division of Mines reported the value of county production was ranked 29th among the 58 in the state. Among the eight minerals extracted were quicksilver, manganese, chrome and petroleum. Los Angeles County was the leader with a $100,688,245 valuation for 18 minerals.

Thousands of bobby sox-wearing fans of Frank (The Voice) Sinatra caused a near riot in New York's Times Square when he made the first personal appearance after becoming a Hollywood star. More than 100 patrol and mounted police were called in to restore order.

In a Columbus Day address, President Franklin Roosevelt asked Latin American diplomats to assist in forming an international peace organization. He said, "The charter of the United Nations must not be static and inflexible, but must be adaptable to the changing conditions of progress — social, economic and political — all over the world."

A more than eight-hour-long attack on Formosa, suspected refuge for the Japanese fleet, was underway. It was the largest naval base outside of the Japanese home islands.

In Europe, troops under Lt. Gen. Courtney Hodges were fighting a street battle in Aachen. Bitter fighting was also taking place in the foothills of the Appennines of Northern Italy.

Oct. 17, 1944

The Japanese fleet had been driven from the Formosa area. It was estimated that 870 enemy planes and 73 ships were destroyed. This cleared the path to the nearby Philippine Islands. Radio Berlin said that the Japanese took comfort in the good luck omen of a flight of cranes over the Imperial palace in Tokyo.

The Soviet Army in the Balkan states was assisted by Marshal Tito's Partisan forces. The corridor to Greece and Albania was cut off, and the cities of Sarajevo and Zagreb were threatened.

Street fighting continued in Aachen, but it appeared that Nazi command had written off the city as counter-attacks were abandoned. Rain was turning the nearby battle-churned fields into swamplands.

Gov. Thomas Dewey accused the Roosevelt administration of failure. He said, "For 12 years the New Deal has treated us to constant bickering, quarreling and back-biting by the most spectacular collection of incompetent people who ever held office. We must not trust our future to such people as Harry Hopkins, Madame Perkins and Harold L. Ickes. Certainly American can do better. I propose that we will do better." Dewey argued that the New Deal had been taken over by communists and big-city bosses.

The British Expeditionary Force was moving into Athens as Soviet troops menaced their escape routes. When the Iron Curtain fell (phrase in a 1946 Churchill speech) Churchill would be proven right on his decision to invade. Stalin would not be managed into offering compromise on freedoms after he had the Red Army on the ground. Roosevelt would not survive to see cold reality of the post-war era unfold.

Melbourne T. "Rocky" Dana wrote a long letter to Jean Paulson, publisher of the Telegram-Tribune. Earlier in the war the carpenter's Mate 3-c had been in the icy Bering Sea. "As I sit here in the grounds of the picturesque Royal Hawaiian hotel, I can't help recall a year ago when I stood high atop a peak on Kiska and watched a storm brewing in the distance. It is indeed a far cry from the fur-lined parka and foul-weather gear I wore then to the comfortable whites I am wearing today."

The county Board of Supervisors approved reopening the Pozo-Arroyo Grande road closed as a Civilian Defense measure. Right-of-way deeds for the road in Tassajara Canyon were accepted. Richard S. Otto of Hollywood requested abandonment of a right-of-way across the mouth of Los Osos Creek where a 1934 bridge had been planned but never built.

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