Photos from the Vault

Casualties mount, World War II week by week

The battle for Iwo Jima was declared over and Americans trapped the German forces in this March 16, 1945 Telegram-Tribune front page.
The battle for Iwo Jima was declared over and Americans trapped the German forces in this March 16, 1945 Telegram-Tribune front page.

March 9, 1945

California State Assemblyman Augustus Hawkins introduced a bill outlawing wage inequalities between men and women. The committee also endorsed a bill to protect women from the hazard of lifting heavy objects.

March 12, 1945

American war casualties were averaging 20,000 a week at current rates. To date there were 800,000 casualties reported, including 173,000 killed, 461,000 wounded, 64,000 prisoners of war and 102,000 missing in action. These figures did not include the bloody battles of Iwo Jima or the stepped-up offensive in Germany. Military officials warned the public that worse was coming as troops drove deep into Axis homelands. Great Britain had recorded over 1 million military casualties in December and an additional 150,000 civilians. The Allies, including Chinese and Soviet troops, brought the total to 10.5 million. Medicine had improved, and wounded men died at a lower rate than in World War I.

March 14, 1945

Nazi radio claimed the destruction of the Remagen bridge, but American troops had already crossed the river and established a control before the damaged bridge fell. They had also built a pontoon bridge, and the Allied pocket was expanding.

It was estimated that American fire-bombing raids on Japan had torched 24 square miles of three cities, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. It had only taken 96 hours to destroy an area greater than all of New York’s Manhattan Island or Jersey City. Osaka was said to be the most densely-populated city in Japan with 600,000 residents in the target area.

Plans were being made to revive Poly Royal. Events were set for May 5 and included a stock show, judging contest, parade and dance. The event was expected to conclude with a patriotic auction to support war bonds.

A 27-year-old chemist was arrested in Los Angeles for grand theft. John Leybrand was accused of stealing a car and equipping it with a long hose and pump to steal gasoline from service stations during a 10,000 mile joy ride.

Sgt. Donald Dawson of San Luis Obispo wrote from “somewhere in the Marianas.” “The kids from Iwo Jima are now in our care and more to come.” “Last night (March 4, 1945) four corp-men and myself helped unload those kids and get them into clean beds, the first they’ve had in days. Most of them weren’t a very pleasant sight, bloody, dirty, wounded and shocked. They had been hit that morning and brought by plane to the hospital, which is equipped with the most modern equipment and a fine staff of doctors and nursed besides trained corps-men. “We cut their clothes off, many of them with the sands of Iwo Jima in them. Talk about being brave! None can top those Marines!” “Their stories were more than the papers can publish and it makes us want to do more than we are doing when we see these kids. Our hospital is full and we need more nurses badly.” “We have had very little sleep for days.”

March 13, 1945

The third massive air attack on Japan’s largest industrial cities involved 300 Super-Fortress bombers dropping 2,300 tons of fire bombs on Osaka. Bombers launched from Guam, Tinian and Saipan. Soon returning crippled bombers would be able to make emergency landings at Iwo Jima.

Remnants of a fleeing German convoy were halfway across the Kron Prinz Bridge on the Rhine River when their own SS troops blew up the bridge. Horses screamed, and soldiers were thrown into the air into the swift river. Riflemen from the SS picked off survivors with rifles. There were 26 survivors, including 22 Ukrainians who independently confirmed the story. “The SS saved their own skins and then murdered our comrades for attempting to do the same,” one prisoner said. So much German equipment was destroyed on the approach that Americans named it the “Little Falaise.”

Cal Poly enrollment for spring was at 299 students. Naval Unit students made up 218 of the number, and 81 were civilians. A quarter of the civilians were veterans.

March 16, 1945

American troops broke over the Rhine River, opening the way for an armored sweep down the six-lane highway into the industrial Ruhr Valley. The Third and Seventh Armies were said to be engaged in a “nutcracker” offensive to cut off a key German manufacturing center. Word came from Stockholm that Nazi leaders had put out peace feelers dismissed in London. It was seen as an effort to sow dissention between the Allies.

Heavy fighting was reported in Indo-China (Vietnam) between French troops and Japanese army garrisons.

The battle of Iwo Jima was declared over. In 26 days of fighting, the U.S. Marines had 19,938 casualties, including 4,189 dead, the highest toll thus far in the Pacific.

Lt. George W. Elliott was home in San Luis Obispo after spending seven months aboard an escort carrier. The former Telegram-Tribune sports editor was serving as communications officer aboard a “baby flattop.” He had been involved in support of battles at Palau and others leading up to the invasion of the Philippines. Elliott was a graduate of San Luis Obispo schools and was scheduled to return to further duty at the termination of leave.

Lt. John R. (Dick) Short, U.S. Army, brother of Mrs. Dave Horner, was a platoon leader with the 701st Tank Destroyer Battalion in Italy. He had been in combat almost 500 days.

Cpl. William Ernest Irwin, U.S. Army Air Corps was killed when his plane overshot a runway in West Virginia. He was survived by his mother, the former Maude Cheda of San Luis Obispo.

Lt. Col. John T. Malloy, 37, of Paso Robles was wounded by enemy shell fragments in Philippsburg, France. The West Point graduate was a veteran of the Solomon Islands campaign in the Pacific as well.

San Luis Obispo residents were recycling paper with the help of Boy Scouts. Residents were asked to tie bundles with cord and leave them at the curb for pickup. The boys were to meet at the Southern Pacific station at 8 a.m. and fan out over the city with trucks driven by Camp San Luis Obispo troops. The gathered paper would be loaded onto freight cars and recycled into vital war materials like supply drop parachutes or invasion maps.

A conspiracy against the Fulgencio Bautista regime in Cuba was put down the Presidential Palace announced. The government said 80 had been arrested and the revolt “broken.”