Photos from the Vault

Rats in San Luis Obispo, World War II week by week

A Santa Maria air base  P-38 pilot was missing after a mid air collision over Soda Lake. March 21, 1945 Telegram-Tribune
A Santa Maria air base P-38 pilot was missing after a mid air collision over Soda Lake. March 21, 1945 Telegram-Tribune

March 17, 1945

Kobe was the next Japanese city targeted by fleets of American bombers. Fires were visible 100 miles at sea, and according to Maj. Gen Curtis LeMay, commander of the 21t Bomber Command, at least nine solid square miles were burning or in ashes immediately surrounding the five-square mile target area. The city was a key port.

Forty-five percent of the Marines who landed on Iwo Jima were killed or wounded in the 26-day campaign. American casualties totaled 19,938, or one every two minutes of the battle. The toll included 4,189 killed, 15,308 wounded and 441 missing. The Japanese had an estimated 21,000 killed. The losses were significant; only the three-day battle for Tarawa had higher daily casualties. Still more casualties of Iwo were expected as the last few enemy survivors were discovered in isolated caves. It gave commanders pause — this was the first territory Japan considered home ground.

A list of 110 names was certified for jury duty in the second trial of a rancher charged with possession of a still on his Pozo ranch. The Telegram-Tribune printed all the names of potential jurors.

In San Luis Obispo, a rat infestation led to a three-day survey at the request of the Chamber of Commerce. The rat population was heavy in downtown businesses and along the creeks, especially where residents had chickens, birds or rabbits. The consultants from Paramount Pest Control recommended hiring a "trained operator, well acquainted in rat lore" to carry out monthly pest treatments with traps, poison and fumigants.

A rainfall table showed 17.75 inches of rain through March 16 for the current rain season. The total stood at 20.11 inches for the previous year on the same date.

March 21, 1945

Sheriff Murray Hathway was the first principal witness called in the second trial of a Pozo rancher charged with possession of a still. The first trial of Roy Vincent ended in a hung jury.

John Adrian Verduin, 70, a retired construction engineer, died at his San Luis Obispo home. He had been responsible for the construction of all buildings at Cal Poly except the most recent and had also built bridges with the State Highway Division.

Sgt. Ed Allen of Paso Robles was reported wounded at Iwo Jima and was in a naval hospital. The Marine had been involved in the invasions of Namur, Kwajalein, Saipan and Tinian.

Pilot Lt. Robert Shropshire of Nocona, Texas, was missing after a collision. He was attempting to return his crippled P-38 to the Santa Maria Air Base after a mid-air collision with another fighter near Soda Lake. The other pilot bailed out safely, but Shropshire parachuted over the ocean near Point Sal. A search was underway.

Capt. Howard Kirtland Jr. wrote to his parents in San Luis Obispo. He was serving as medical officer with a battalion of 240 mm guns attached to the 9th Army in Germany under Gen. Simpson. He said it was the first time in a week that he had been able to sleep. He said the German houses have more central heating than all the English houses. He said that Russian girls had been treated as slave labor in the farmland where he was staying.

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