The Year of 1944 (I was 17 years old)
What was happening in the world:
- The Russian Armies drive the Germans back into Poland and the Balkan Countries, then secretly begin to set up their communist regimes.
- June 6th was D-Day, when the allied forces invaded Normandy.
- Churchill says, "it is the beginning of the end" for Hitler.
- After a failed attempt to assassinate Hitler, Rommel, one of Germany's greatest generals, commits suicide.
- Germany begins its last-ditch effort - V-2 Rocket attacks on London.
What was happening in the USA:
- One after one (and with heavy losses) the US Marines begin to retake the islands of the Pacific from Japan: Tarawa-Eniwetok, Iwo Jima, and Guam.
- The US Navy crushes the Japanese fleet in two major victories (at the Marshall Islands, and in the Leyte Gulf).
- MacArthur returns to the Philippines. I didn't know it at the time, but one year later I would be in the Philippines as a soldier in the US Army.
- US Forces, under General Patton, drive across Southern France and liberate Paris.
- US B-29 bombers are now regularly bombing all major Japanese cities. FDR with Truman as his V.P. wins a record 4th term as president.
What was happening in sports:
- In the Rose Bowl, it was USC 29 - Washington 0.
- In the World Series, it was the St. Louis Cardinals over St. Louis Browns 4 games to 2 games.
- In the NFL Championship game it was Green Bay 14 - NY Giants 7.
- The Heisman Trophy went to Les Horvath of Ohio State.
- The national champion of College Basketball was Utah.
- The national champion of College Football was Army – all the best men were there.
What was happening at the movies:
- Best movie was Going My Way
- Best actor was Bing Crosby in Going my Wa
- Best actress was Ingrid Bergmann in Gaslight
- Other great movies were:
- Arsenic and Old Lace (Cary Grant - in my opinion his best)
- Meet Me in St. Louis (Judy Garland)
- Bataan (Robert Taylor)
- Esther Williams wins the title of US Bathing-suit Queen
- Abbott and Costello are the number one radio show
Memorable songs were:
- You'll Never Know Just How Much I Love You
- Harbor Lights
- Paper Dolls (Mills Bros)
- I'll Be Seeing You in All the Old Familiar Places
What was happening in my life:
- I was 17 and in my senior year at Fremont. Although it was great to see that we were now winning the war in both the Pacific and in Europe, it was a depressing year for me. While still in school, I had my pre-induction physical and was classified 1-A. This meant that unless the war ended very soon, I would be drafted in the near future - probably right after my graduation. For the first time in my life, I lost most of my interest in school.
- Bill was in France - Hank was also in Europe - and Van was stationed at the Alameda Naval Air Station. For a kid who had never been away from home for even one night, being drafted was definitely NOT something I looked forward to.
- My older sister Pat and Bob made a trip from San Diego to Oakland riding on a motorcycle. This was the time when we had sleeping bags all over the house to provide beds for everyone.
What was happening in 1945 ---- >
Pat and Bob on a visit from San Diego
It was my final year at Fremont and had already been classified as 1-A in the draft. Tom was 2 years old.
Bill Morris in the Army (left arrow) and Bill Cullen in the Navy (right arrow)
The latter was killed in the Pacific.
Van putting in a victory garden
He and Dot lived with us while he was stationed at the Alameda Naval Air Station.
Dad and Bob Cullen discussing our old DeSoto
Note the "Flying Tiger" Jalopy that belonged to the Ornellas boys next door.
Hank on Leave from Texas with my sister Eleanor (left)
He was sent to Europe as a fighter pilot and did not return until 1947.
An extraordinary collection of photographs
Fishing Baja 2000
Fishing the Sea of Cortez off Cerralvo Island
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