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San Luis Obispo population balloons, World War II week by week

The war on clichés was carried to a new level as airmen from the 5th Army Air Force dropped a kitchen sink, and bombs on Japanese forces.
The war on clichés was carried to a new level as airmen from the 5th Army Air Force dropped a kitchen sink, and bombs on Japanese forces.

Here's a look at some Telegram-Tribune stories from 70 years ago.

Oct. 26, 1944

Details of the massive naval battle in the Philippines were starting to emerge. The U.S. Navy was calling it the greatest and most decisive naval battles of the war. Nine enemy ships were known to be sunk, three probably sunk and 18 damaged. Troops on shore under Gen. Douglas MacArthur had captured six airfields.

In Germany, United Press correspondent Walter Cronkite reported from the Dutch front that German lines were showing signs of cracking. Allied forces were attempting to open the way to the port of Antwerp.

Lt. Ralph Jensen of Cambria was reported alive in a German prison camp. He had earlier been reported missing in action.

A unit of the Civil Air Patrol was being organized by M.C. Martinsen, head of the aeronautics department at California Polytechnic college. An earlier attempt stalled due to war flight restrictions and potential members being drafted.

The Sixth War Loan bond drive was about to begin, a meeting was held at the Masonic Temple.

Oct. 27, 1944

Glen E. Mallory announced his intention to close Paso Robles Community Hospital. He stated that ill health, worry and inability to obtain qualified workers weighed in the decision.

The second fire in two weeks damaged the kitchen at the Paso Robles Inn. The grease fire started in the kitchen and spread from the vent to the walls. The cocktail lounge had been damaged in the previous fire.

Pfc. Angelo H. Bernardasci of San Luis Obispo was reported killed in action Sept. 28 on Palau Island. He had been a brakeman on the Southern Pacific Railroad and had been with the "Wildcat" Division at Camp San Luis Obispo.

An unnamed American soldier was in a hospital cot in Tacloban, Leyte, after a 500-pound bomb ripped the helmet off his head. "I was standing on a little knoll above the beach when these planes came over," the soldier said. "I looked up and saw the bombs come out of the planes' bellies and then I got sort of paralyzed. I just couldn't move." The bomb glanced off his helmet, bounced once and exploded 100 yards away killing three men and injuring five. His five injured comrades confirmed the story.

Army and Navy aircraft carried out assaults on the Kuriles, northeast of the Japanese main islands and on a tiny volcanic island called Iwo Jima.

Oct. 30, 1944

Figures in the San Luis Obispo census show a total of 11,504 as the special count was being wrapped up. The town was funding a special count because the war growth had stretched resources to the breaking point. The city population had ballooned by almost one-third in the four years since the 1940 census counted 8,881. These numbers did not include the massive growth of Camp San Luis Obispo.

Maj. Richard Bong, 23, America's leading fighter pilot, reported the downing of his 32nd and 33rd enemy aircraft. He had two encounters with the enemy while on patrol and had to limp back to base.

Mrs. Carrie Mosqueda of San Luis Obispo received the telegram every parent dreads. "The Secretary of War desires me to express his deep regret that your son, Pfc. Eddie G. Mosqueda, was killed in action on Oct. 1 in Holland."

A former Telegram-Tribune reporter, 1st Lt. Norman P. Spicer, was serving with the 8th Air Force in England. The fighter training station squadron adjutant graduated Paso Robles Union High School in 1935, and San Francisco State college with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 1941. He was the son of Mrs. Edna S. Phillips.

Airmen from the 5th Army Air Force dropped a cliché on Japanese forces. They loaded a kitchen sink aboard a B-25 and dropped it through the bomb bay doors as part of the war on boring writing. The sink carried scribbled greetings, and writers would be forced to say in the future that "everything including the kitchen sink" was dropped on the enemy.

Further details emerged of the naval battle of the Leyte Gulf. An estimated 62 to 64 Japanese ships were sunk or damaged according to Adm. William F. Halsey's office. Japanese propaganda broadcasts said "the battle for the Philippines is about to begin in earnest"; the headline over the story mocked that point of view: "Japanese Radio Busy Sinking U.S. Fleet Again."

Ground troops under Gen. MacArthur were now in control of two-thirds of Leyte, 10 days into the invasion. A number of Filipino men from Arroyo Grande were in the fight, including Cpl. Floro Bolivar, Sgt. Pete Guion and Cpl. C. Susbilla.

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