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The entrance to the site of the former American cemetery at Lisnabreeny

The entrance to the site of the former American cemetery at Lisnabreeny

For years, many people in Northern Ireland felt that a proper memorial should be built on the site of the former temporary cemetery at Lisnabreeny. In 2012, the Castlereagh Borough Council decided that the time had finally come to do just that. At the dedication ceremony in the fall of 2013, a crowd of people–including dignitaries from Ireland and the United States–prayed together and watched as wreaths were laid at the memorial. The ceremony concluded with the singing of the British and U.S. national anthems and a flyover by a restored B-17 plane.

Also in 2013, a pretty memorial garden was completed at the entrance of Lisnabreeny. The garden contains a granite monument, on three sides of which are etched the names of all the American personnel temporarily buried in the cemetery.  A flagpole also stands prominently in the garden. On certain days, the Stars and Stripes proudly waves over this lovely piece of land, which is so much a part of World War II history–and an important reminder of ultimate sacrifices made during that war.

It’s good to know that the Americans who came to help the British in Northern Ireland will be forever remembered.

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Swedish soldiers at ease prior to the religious ceremony

Swedish soldiers at ease prior to the religious ceremony

In May 1948, my father was scheduled to attend an AGRC meeting and a religious service at the temporary American Cemetery at Malmo, Sweden. Several AGRC people flew with him in a C-47 from Paris to Copenhagen, and then to Stockholm–including my mother and me. He explained to me that the American military attaché in Sweden was responsible for overseeing the search and recovery of American airmen and was being assisted by ordinary Swedish citizens. The following quotes are from my book A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham:

“An example of this aid occurred in 1943, when a fisherman in Sweden’s waters found the body of an American. The airman was later identified as Vincent A. White of New Jersey, who was killed in action in October 1943, along with other members of his crew. He was buried in the American cemetery in Malmo, Sweden. The respectful fisherman later made a personal visit to the fallen airman’s grieving family in the United States.”

When we left Stockholm early on the morning of Tuesday, May 11, we motored south to Malmo, arriving at about noon. After driving past the historic buildings of the city’s old streets, we arrived at a cemetery where a large area had been set aside for the burial of American airmen.

“Here we watched helmeted Swedish soldiers stand quietly at attention before bowing our heads while Chaplain Pfeiffer, an AGRC colonel, led us in prayer. Howard Peckham then delivered a speech describing the heroism of the airmen buried here, whose planes had crash-landed either on Swedish soil or in Swedish waters during World War II. On each grave was a marker, in front of which was a petite bouquet of simple and colorful wildflowers. The decorations mirrored the Scandinavian disdain for ostentatiousness, but the tribute seemed very impressive nevertheless.That ceremony concluded our trip, and we returned to Paris.”

In a future post, I’ll provide information about some of the other airmen buried at Malmo. I’ll also explain what the former temporary site looks like today.

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The following is an overview of my book, A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham. As my valentine to you, from February 10 through February 17,2014, it will be selling on Amazon at the reduced price of $3.99:

After transferring from the Corps of Engineers to the Quartermaster Corps in 1942 and receiving a promotion to brigadier general, my father went to Washington, where he directed the Fuels and Lubricants Division of the Quartermaster General’s Office. During those years, he served concurrently on the Army-Navy Petroleum Board (ANPB) and occasionally testified before Congress about the U.S. Army’s petroleum needs. He worked diligently to procure oil and gasoline and then allocate them to American troops worldwide.

His hard work paid off well. For meritoriously procuring fuels and lubricants and then allocating them to the military forces of the United States during the period October 1943 to September 1945, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal. His division had efficiently allocated petrol, oil, and lubricants (POL) to all the theaters of operation, thus helping them to secure victory.

A descendant of Revolutionary War heroes and a graduate of West Point, Dad felt a sense of patriotism early in life. My book traces his idyllic childhood in Norwich, Connecticut, to his retirement years in Washington, DC. One chapter describes his engineering assignments during the Great Depression, such as serving as Deputy Administrator of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in New York City, and three chapters about his postwar work as head of the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) in Paris. The responsible service he performed in command positions after receiving his second star in 1952 is also described, as is his post-retirement job (1957-1958) as a consultant for the Free Europe Committee (FEC).

For my research, I examined government documents, my father’s diaries and letters, and numerous other sources. The book’s many photographs help to back up the veracity of its historical content.

One image in the book will undoubtedly linger in the reader’s mind longer than the others, in view of America’s ongoing search for energy resources. It shows military vehicles arriving on boats and rolling onto shore the day after D-Day. As noted in Fuels for Global Conflict by Erna Risch, before any vehicle was transported to Omaha and Utah Beaches in Normandy, it was filled with a full tank of gas and carried an extra supply of gas in five-gallon cans. For that foresightedness, and for other expert planning, America can thank the Fuels and Lubricants Division and its commander, Howard Louis Peckham.

 

 

 

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The temporary American Cemetery at Lisnabreeny, Northern Ireland

The temporary American Cemetery at Lisnabreeny, Northern Ireland

Lisnabreeny Temporary American Military Cemetery of World War II (1943-1948)

The following is a quote from my book, A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham: 

Graves registration activities of the Quartermaster Corps in the European Theater began in December 1941, when the United States asked the British War Office about burial facilities for our military personnel expected to arrive in 1942 in Northern Ireland, where they would aid the British in their defense of that part of Ireland. Sadly, as was expected, American lives were lost after the men arrived. These burials had been in swampy ground in local cemeteries, but the U.S. Army negotiated with the British and secured a plot of land at Lisnabreeny, a suburb of Belfast, where the Americans were reinterred.

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By the end of World War II, 148 American servicemen had been buried in the temporary American cemetery in Lisnabreeny, Northern Ireland. The deceased included U.S. Army Air Force, U.S. Army, and U.S. Navy personnel. When the war ended, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) maintained the cemetery. To enter the site, visitors walked through a red brick entrance. A white gravel driveway lined with cherry trees led to a flagpole, where the American flag was hoisted every day.

The graves were laid out in rows with twenty-five gravesites in each row. Each grave was marked by a wooden cross or Star of David, depending on the religious affiliation of the deceased. Like the other 36 temporary American WWII cemeteries in Europe, the AGRC ensured that the Lisnabreeny cemetery was beautifully maintained: its more than ten acres of grass were regularly cut, and shrubs and trees were kept neatly pruned.

During the period 1947-1950, the AGRC was headed by my father, then-Brigadier General Howard L. Peckham. He was responsible for closing the cemetery in 1948 and for gradually closing the other 36 temporary cemeteries. This was occurring because of documentation signed by President Harry S. Truman stating that the deceased should either be sent home for reburial or reinterred in one of the ten permanent American WWII cemeteries in Europe, which were being constructed under the supervision of the AGRC.

Before they were closed, U.S. Army chaplains were appointed to preside over solemn benediction ceremonies at all of the 37 cemeteries, including Lisnabreeny.

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Here’s an announcement I’m sending out to people who have shown an interest in my book, A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham. The book has been on Amazon’s Kindle since the end of January, 2013, and I am now in the midst of an exciting  promotion. For three days, March 18 through midnight March 20 (Pacific Time) you can download the Kindle e-book FREE. The details are as follows:
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Jean Peckham Kavale, the author of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, has a special surprise for you.  Her book is completely FREE on Kindle, for three days only.  This promotion begins on Monday, March 18, and ends at midnight on Wednesday, March 20 (Pacific Time).

A Salute to Patriotism is more than the biography of a dedicated army officer. It’s also the story of his remarkable family, starting with his ancestors who sailed from England to America in the seventeenth century and their descendants, who bravely served in the Revolutionary War and future wars. It also tells how they dealt with obstacles, tragedy, and success along the highway of life.

Additionally, the author brings well-documented insights into her father’s career and its significant contribution to the military history of the United States.

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Please spread the word about the promotion.

Also, if you enjoyed the book, I would greatly appreciate your adding a short customer review on Amazon. Here’s the link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPK0N5Q/

Many thanks in advance.

Jean

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Happy Fourth of July to you all!

The American flag is proudly waving in front of my house and hundreds of others in my small community.

Yesterday my husband Bob and I enjoyed a great barbecue and saw some spectacular fireworks. We also nourished the patriotism we feel in our hearts about this great country.

While on the subject of patriotism, I want to give you some news concerning the biography I wrote about my dad, published in 2008. The first paperback edition of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, has sold out and is no longer available.

Here’s the good news. The second edition, published in May 2011, is now on Amazon.com. Please take a look inside by clicking on the following link. I think you’ll be glad you did.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0966585550/

Thanks.

Jean

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The following is a press release that was published and widely distributed for my book, A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham. The emphasis in this release is on his World War II work in Washington as head of the Fuels and Lubricants Division.

A New Book Explains How the U.S. Army Procured Fuels during World War II and Efficiently Allocated Them

During World War II, securing enough oil and gasoline for American troops overseas and properly allocating these fuels was a tremendous task. This important job fell into the capable hands of the Fuels and Lubricants Division of the Quartermaster General’s Office. A new biography, A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, describes the difficult work of the Division during the war and the dedicated army career of the man who headed it.

Manteca, CA (PRWEB) February 15, 2009 — Many books have been written about the famous U.S. generals of World War II, such as George S. Patton Jr. and Omar N. Bradley. That’s why A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, a 402-page biography published in 2008, is a much-needed addition to that war’s literary history. It follows the career of a man whose name is not widely known, but who made a big contribution towards the victory of the Allies over the Axis forces during World War II.

After transferring from the Corps of Engineers to the Quartermaster Corp in 1942 and receiving a promotion to brigadier general, Howard Louis Peckham went to Washington, where he directed the Fuels and Lubricants Division of the Quartermaster General’s Office. During those years, he served concurrently on the Army-Navy Petroleum Board (ANPB) and occasionally testified before Congress about army petroleum needs. The necessity of adequate oil and gasoline for American troops was always on his mind, and he worked hard to obtain them.

His hard work paid off handsomely. For meritoriously procuring fuels and lubricants and then allocating them to the military forces of the United States during the period October 1943 to September 1945, he was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal. His division had efficiently allocated petrol, oil, and lubricants (POL) to all the theaters of operation, thus helping them to secure victory.

A descendant of Revolutionary War heroes and a graduate of West Point, Howard Peckham felt a sense of patriotism early in his life. The author traces her father’s career from his early childhood in Norwich, Connecticut, to his retirement years in Washington, DC. She includes one chapter about his engineering assignments during the Great Depression, such as serving as Deputy Administrator of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in New York City, and three chapters about his postwar work as head of the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) in Paris. The responsible service he performed in command positions after receiving his second star in 1952 is also described, as is his post-retirement job (1957-1958) as a consultant for the Free Europe Committee (FEC).

For her research, the author examined government documents, her father’s diaries and letters, and numerous other sources. The book’s photographs, which number more than 150, also back up the veracity of the book’s historical content.

One image in the book will undoubtedly linger in the reader’s mind longer than the others, in view of America’s current search for energy resources. It shows military vehicles arriving on boats and rolling onto shore the day after D-Day. As noted in Fuels for Global Conflict by Erna Risch, before any vehicle was transported to Omaha and Utah Beaches in Normandy, it was filled with a full tank of gas and carried an extra supply of gas in five-gallon cans. For that foresightedness, and for other expert planning, America can thank Howard L. Peckham and the Fuels and Lubricants Division.

For additional information on the news in this release, or to purchase a copy of A Salute to Patriotism, contact Cypress Publishing at http://www.cypresspublishingsaratoga.com. You can also send an email to Jean Peckham Kavale, the author, at cypresstree123 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

About Cypress Publishing

This independent publisher has been in business in California for more than ten years. Formerly located in Saratoga, it is now situated in the Central Valley city of Manteca.

 

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Like many other Americans, I turned on the TV this past Saturday and watched–with fascination and sorrow–as the Kennedy family journeyed to Arlington Cemetery to bury another esteemed member of their clan–Ted Kennedy, the beloved senator from Massachusetts.

Watching the ceremony brought back memories of my own visits to Arlington, the beautiful and sacred grounds where at least seven members of my family are buried, including my parents and maternal grandparents.

The following excerpts from my book, A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, describe a visit I made to Arlington many years ago with my father:

       I will never forget the summer day a few years after my mother’s death in 1963 when my father and I visited her gravesite. While we were walking down one of the many pathways, he pointed out the names of a few of his friends, whose names were neatly carved in the granite stones. These men were members of his generation and, like him, had served in the army during World War II. A few were West Point classmates of his, joined by wives who either predeceased them or died after they did. Those men had always seen him as a leader. When they were cadets, Howard Peckham was selected as first captain of his class, the highest rank in the cadet chain of command. The title gave him the privilege of speaking to the administration on their behalf and directing their training.

There was a matter-of-fact tone in my father’s voice as he spoke their names—nothing forlorn. He was well aware of his own mortality and knew that one day, maybe not too far in the future, he would be laid to rest on those same hallowed grounds. Although Howard Peckham was a realist in regard to his inevitable demise, he was also optimistic. Ever since his boyhood years, he maintained a strong religious faith and a belief in an afterlife. He was convinced that he would one day see his deceased family members and good friends again.

           Howard Peckham and his army compatriots would see each other at different places over the years and during changing circumstances. They would meet during catastrophic wartimes that shook America like ponderous earthquakes—World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. During those dark days, my father and his army friends resembled ships that pass each other in the bleak nighttime of world conflict. All of those wars affected them in one way or another, especially those men who came through World War II unscathed but who lost sons in the fighting in Korea or Vietnam.

When the storm clouds of war finally drifted away, and tranquility again temporarily hovered over our land, the men resembled travelers who greet each other during the bright daylight of peace. Those are the days they especially treasured.

       Ever since the end of the Vietnam War, which is the last major conflict discussed in A Salute to Patriotism, the drumbeat of United States Army history has continued to move steadily forward, and other soldiers have answered the call to duty and country in faraway, dangerous lands.

In 2008, as I complete my writing of this book, American young people are stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping to keep us free.  A Salute to Patriotism is dedicated to them.

Note: A Salute to Patriotism is available on Amazon. com. Click this link to look inside the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0966585550/

 

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BIG NEWS: The ebook version of A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham, published in January 2013, has been accepted into nomination by the Global Ebook Awards. It’s currently selling at the special price of only $3.99 on Amazon. Click here for more information:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPK0N5Q/

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July is an especially patriotic month for the citizens of two countries–the United States and France.  That’s when both countries celebrate their freedom and independence, each in its own unique and joyful way.

For the French, it all began on July 14, 1789, when a mob of downtrodden French people stormed the Bastille, a fortress-like Paris prison. Soon afterwards, the fearful Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette escaped to Versailles while angry mobs destroyed homes of the nobility in Paris. To the French, Bastille Day signifies the end of an oppressive monarchy and the beginning of a free republic.

Excerpts from Chapter 12, “Meetings in France, Germany, and Italy,” of  A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0966585550/):

        As his days in France were drawing to a close, my father expressed more and more his appreciation to the French for having cooperated well with his command, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC). He personally thanked many people who had visited American cemeteries, such as Épinal, to honor our fallen soldiers by reciting prayers in churches near the cemeteries and by placing bouquets of flowers near the gravesites.

The French of course admired their own military heroes, those presently serving in their army and those lost in battle. This pride seemed most evident on Bastille Day, which commemorates the storming of the Bastille prison by livid French citizens and the start of the French Revolution.

        The biggest Bastille Day celebration since the beginning of World War II was held on July 14, 1949, and it bounded into the city like a jolly traveling circus. On the preceding evening, people already started celebrating. Beginning at around six o’clock, Paris took on the atmosphere of a country festival. Lanterns and flags hung gaily on apartment balconies and from windows. On the outside of nearly all the corner cafés, orchestra stands seemed to jump onto the pavement. At seven o’clock, the city fathers marched—along with columns of Paris police and Republican Guards—to the Arc de Triomphe, where they laid a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. By nine o’clock, tables at cafés that provided live music were fully occupied.  Street dancing went on until dawn.

I didn’t dance until dawn, but I did watch the parade as it traveled down the Champs Élysées the following day. These are only a few of the words I wrote in my diary: “The parade was really spectacular. I especially liked the Moroccan troops who, dressed in white turbans and capes, rode by on horseback, blowing trumpets.”

        The fountains and edifices were beautifully lighted that night, and the fireworks cascaded magnificently across the summer sky with rainbow-hued streaks of light. I remember skipping and dancing on the cobblestone streets of the Left Bank until two o’clock in the morning with a group of American college students. Hundreds of Parisians were doing the same thing, perhaps for the second night in a row. They wanted to enjoy every minute of this day, the biggest and happiest Bastille Day since the end of the war.

The French joyfully welcomed this long-anticipated celebration partly because their defeat in World War II had been so humiliating. A teacher of mine at the American Community School, Madame Marguerite Dubus, didn’t let her class forget how well trained her country’s soldiers were, in spite of their capitulation. “Our soldiers got good training and fought well. They didn’t have all the good equipment the Americans had,” she reminded us.

         She was basically correct, especially about that last part. France didn’t have the economic advantages of the United States, which placed that country in a defensive rather than offensive position at the beginning of the war. Later, the Germans destroyed much of their best equipment.

Even if they sometimes envied American military might and economic prosperity, the French people my parents met seemed eager to maintain a good relationship with the Americans who lived in France and with American citizens in the United States who had sent them food, clothing, and other gifts after the war.

        Their appreciation was visibly demonstrated in Paris on January 7, 1949, when a train composed of forty-nine small boxcars left the city. The cars were filled with such items as cheeses, fruits, vases, works of art, books, and various items the French people themselves had made. After a band played The Star-Spangled Banner and the Marseillaise, a young girl blew the departure whistle, and the train went on its way. The boxcars were shipped from Le Havre to the United States, where they were greeted happily by the states through which they traveled.

[As reported by The Stars and Stripes on January 8, 1949, my father was one of the officials who gave the train, called the Merci Train, a big send-off.]

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Who among us can forget seeing row after row of marble headstones at Normandy Cemetery, overlooking Omaha Beach? We saw them a few years ago in the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan, a highly rated movie starring Tom Hanks.Just recently we saw them on TV when President Obama of the United States came to France to commemorate the 65th anniversary of D-Day and to give an inspiring speech. We were glad that President Sarkozy of France, Prince Charles of Great Britain, World War II veterans, and many other guests (including Tom Hanks) were also there.

What many people watching the D-Day commemoration on TV don’t know is that the ground on which Normandy Cemetery is situated was once a temporary cemetery, one of the 37 temporary cemeteries that were scattered throughout Europe until 1947. In that year, my father (Howard L. Peckham) was appointed the job of returning the war dead of the European Theater to the United States. The temporary cemetery in Normandy came into existence only a couple of days after D-Day. Its name was St. Laurent, or, to be more precise, St. Laurent Sur Mer.

MEMORIAL DAY SPECIAL THROUGH MAY 30, 2014: Click this link to download the Kindle ebook version AT ONLY $3.99 of >A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BPK0N5Q/

The following paragraphs describe the difficult work of the American Graves Registration Command in Europe (AGRC-EA) in the grading and construction of St. Laurent, in order  to transform it into one of the ten permanent cemeteries of the European Theater. The paragraphs are excerpts from the biography I wrote about Dad, A Salute to Patriotism, but with the addition of comments in brackets.

Excerpts from Chapter 10, “Life in Postwar Paris,” from A Salute to Patriotism: The Life and Work of Major General Howard L. Peckham:

        On March 31, 1948, my parents and I stopped briefly at St. Laurent Cemetery after saying goodbye to Colonel Stevenson, the Quartermaster Corps officer in charge of AGRC activities in Normandy.

The colonel had given Mother and me an interesting tour of the Beach. Because of Dad’s work and the need for him to make frequent inspections at the cemeteries, he had already visited that part of Normandy several times.

        My father and Colonel Stevenson had carefully examined the cemetery’s final layout plan, completed in February 1948 by the architectural firm selected by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). Selecting architects for the layout of  the ten permanent cemeteries of the European Theater was one of that agency’s jobs, not the army’s.

There was much discussion between my father and the ABMC, which also had an office in Paris, about this matter and several others. Dad was always grateful for the cooperation that existed between them.

        AGRC engineers also had copies of the layout in their hands so they could make detailed plans for grading and construction. After those plans were completed, a contracting firm was selected from among the French firms that had been invited to present bids. The successful bidder could not begin work until right of entry from the French Government was received, however, and that took longer than expected. Geography also caused a delay. Grading and construction began in June 1948, but because of St. Laurent’s proximity to the English Channel, that work was extremely hard. “AGRC engineers often had to trudge through thick mud, and workmen frequently had to move their heavy equipment along in clay-like soil,” my father explained to Mother and me later.

He sounded sympathetic, probably because he had spent twenty years in the Corps of Engineers, where walking in muddy terrain was a common occurrence on his inspection trips.

Below is a paragraph, plus footnotes, from Final Disposition of World War II Dead: 1945-1951. It provides further details about the information I have written in this post. It also appears in A Salute to Patriotism:

Information from Engneer Files About the Work at St. Laurent Cemetery

        In spite of these delays, my father was pleased that grading and construction of the permanent cemetery (still called St. Laurent at that time) ended early in November 1948. Considering its D-Day significance, the results were well worth the painstaking efforts made by AGRC personnel.

[After the cemetery was transferred from the AGRC to the ABMC in early 1951, the name was changed to Normandy Cemetery. The ABMC also replaced the army's simple wooden crosses and stars with those of marble and erected additional structures.]

[Note: Clergymen assigned to AGRC-EA performed benediction ceremonies at St. Laurent and other temporary American cemeteries when they were closed. During the construction phases, the deceased soldiers who were to be reinterred were placed in temporary storage facilities.]

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