Here are some of the significant things that happened in late August: Japan surrendered, thus ending WWII—as Germany had surrendered the previous May. During the War of 1812 the USS Constitution sunk the British HMS Guerriere gaining a huge victory for our nation. The International Red Cross was founded, especially to help troops wounded in war.
On 15 August 1945, after enduring two atomic bombs dropped on their nation, the Japanese government agreed to surrender. This ended the fighting. Because of the time zone differences, this was 14 Aug in the US. “The formal surrender took place on September 2nd on the Battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. VJ Day, which stands for “Victory over Japan” is celebrated by some on the 14th of August, some on the 15th, and some on Sept 2nd. But the war was over
On 15 Aug 1945, WWII gasoline rationing in America ended. Rationing was just one of the special measures taken in the US during wartime. Civilian auto production virtually ceased after Pearl Harbor, as the US automotive industry turned to war production. Automotive firms made almost $29 billion worth of military materials between 1940 and 1945, including jeeps, trucks, machine guns, carbines, tanks, helmets, and aerial bombs. After the war, rationing ended, and the auto industry boomed.
On 15 Aug 1961, two days after sealing off free passage between East and West Berlin with barbed wire, East German authorities begin building a wall–the Berlin Wall–to permanently close off access to the West. For the next 28 years, the heavily fortified Berlin Wall stood as the most tangible symbol of the Cold War–a literal “iron curtain” dividing Europe. The end of WWII in 1945 saw Germany divided into four Allied occupation zones. Berlin, the German capital, was likewise divided into occupation sectors, even though it was located deep within the Soviet zone. The future of Germany and Berlin was a major sticking point in postwar treaty talks, and tensions grew when the US, Britain, and France moved in 1948 to unite their occupation zones into a single autonomous entity–the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). In response, the USSR launched a land blockade of West Berlin in an effort to force the West to abandon the city. However, a massive airlift by Britain and the US kept West Berlin supplied with food and fuel, and in May 1949 the Soviets ended the blockade. In November, 1989, East German border guards opened the borders. Jubilant Berliners climbed on top of the Berlin Wall, painted graffiti on it, and removed fragments as souvenirs. East German troops began dismantling the wall. In 1990, East and West Germany were formally reunited.
On 16 Aug 1945, Lt. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, was freed by Russian forces from a POW camp in Manchuria, China. When President Franklin Roosevelt transferred Gen. Douglas MacArthur from his command in the Philippines to Australia in March 1942, Gen. Wainwright, assumed command of all Philippine forces. He moved his troops to the fortified garrison at Corregidor where, once attacked, they held out for a month. They surrendered on May 6. Wainwright spent the next three and a half years as a POW in Luzon, Formosa, and Manchuria. The man who had been nicknamed “Skinny” was now emaciated. He was also depressed, believing he would be blamed for the loss of the Philippines. When Wainwright arrived in Yokohama, Japan, to attend the formal surrender ceremony, Gen. MacArthur, his former commander, was stunned at his appearance. Wainwright was given a hero’s welcome upon returning to America, promoted to full general, and awarded the Medal of Honor.
17 Aug 1943, General George Patton and his 7th Army arrived in Messina, Sicily, several hours before British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and his 8th Army, winning the unofficial “Race to Messina” and completing the Allied conquest of Sicily. In 1944, Patton commanded the US 3rd Army in the invasion of France, and in December of that year his expertise in military movement and tank warfare helped crush the German counteroffensive in the Ardennes. During one of his many successful campaigns, General Patton was said to have declared, “Compared to war, all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance.” On December 21, 1945, he died in a hospital in Germany from injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Mannheim.
On 18 Aug 1812, during the War of 1812, returning from a cruise into Canadian waters Captain Isaac Hull’s USS Constitution of the fledgling US Navy encountered British Captain Richard Dacre’s HMS Guerriere about 750 miles out of Boston. After a frenzied 55-minute battle that left 101 dead, Guerriere rolled helplessly in the water, smashed beyond salvage. Dacre struck his colors and surrendered to Hull’s boarding party. In contrast, Constitution suffered little damage and only 14 casualties. The fight’s outcome shocked the British Admiralty while it heartened America through the dark days of the War of 1812.
On 18 Aug 1965, during the Vietnam War, after a deserter from the First Vietcong Regiment had revealed that an attack was imminent against the US base at Chu Lai, our Marines launched Operation Starlite in the Van Tuong peninsula in Quang Ngai Province. In this, the first major US ground battle of the Vietnam War, 5,500 Marines destroyed a Viet Cong stronghold, scoring a resounding victory. During the operation, which lasted six days, ground forces, artillery, close air support, and naval gunfire combined to kill nearly 700 Vietcong soldiers. US losses included 45 Marines dead and over 200 wounded.
On 23 Aug 1864, during our Civil War, the Geneva Convention of 1864 for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick of Armies in the Field was adopted by 12 nations meeting in Geneva. The agreement, advocated by Swiss humanitarian Jean-Henri Dunant, called for nonpartisan care to the sick and wounded in times of war and provided for the neutrality of medical personnel. It also proposed the use of an international emblem to mark medical personnel and supplies. In honor of Dunant’s nationality, a red cross on a white background–the Swiss flag in reverse–was chosen. In 1901, Dunant was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize. In 1881, American humanitarians Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons founded the American National Red Cross, an organization designed to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters in congruence with the International Red Cross.
On 24 Aug 1814, during the War of 1812, British forces under General Robert Ross overwhelmed American militiamen at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland, and marched unopposed into Washington, DC. Most congressmen and officials fled the nation’s capital as soon as word came of the American defeat, but President James Madison and his wife, Dolley, escaped just before the invaders arrived. Earlier in the day, President Madison had been present at the Battle of Bladensburg and had at one point actually taken command of one of the few remaining American batteries, thus becoming the first and only president to exercise in actual battle his authority as commander in chief.
On 25 Aug 1944, during WWII, after over four years of Nazi occupation, Paris was liberated by the French 2nd Armored Division and the US 4th Infantry Division. German resistance was light, and General Dietrich von Choltitz, commander of the German garrison, defied an order by Adolf Hitler to blow up Paris’ landmarks and burn the city to the ground before its liberation. Choltitz signed a formal surrender that afternoon, and on August 26, Free French General Charles de Gaulle led a joyous liberation march down the Champs d’Elysees.
On 27 Aug 1901, Havana, Cuba, Army physician James Carroll allowed an infected mosquito to feed on him in an attempt to isolate the means of transmission of yellow fever. Days later, Carroll developed a severe case of yellow fever, helping his colleague, Army doc Walter Reed, prove that mosquitoes can transmit the sometimes deadly disease.
On 27 Aug 1945, the Allied fleets anchored in Tokyo Bay. Admiral Halsey, commander of the US 3rd Fleet, was present for what was probably the greatest display of naval might in history. The armada included 23 aircraft carriers, 12 battleships, 26 cruisers, 116 destroyers and escorts, 12 submarines and 185 other vessels. In addition to the American and British ships, there were ships from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
On 29 Aug 1916, Congress provided for the first time the mobilization of the Lighthouse Service in time of war by authorizing the President, “…whenever in his judgment a sufficient national emergency exists, to transfer to the service and jurisdiction of the Navy Department, or of the War Department, such vessels, equipment, stations and personnel of the Lighthouse Service as he may deem to the best interest of the country.”
Some “Old Age” quotes:
“To get back to my youth I would do anything in the world, except exercise, get up early, or be respectable.” – Oscar Wild
”The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.” – Will Rogers
”We must recognize that, as we grow older, we become like old cars – more and more repairs and replacements are necessary.” – C.S. Lewis
“Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what happened.” – Jennifer Yane
”Old age is like a plane flying through a storm. Once you are aboard there is nothing you can do about it.” – Golda Meir
”I’m so old that my blood type is discontinued.” – Bill Dane
”The older I get, the more clearly I remember things that never happened. – Mark Twain
”Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes, age just shows up all by itself.” – Tom Wilson
”Always be nice to your children because they are the ones who will choose your retirement home.”- Phyllis Diller
”I don’t plan to grow old gracefully. I plan to have face-lifts until my ears meet.” – Rita Rudney
”I’m at that age where my back goes out more than I do.” – Phyllis Diller
The Frontlines of Freedom Newsletter is published twice monthly; the dates of publication each month depend on the events and history of that month.