Monday, July 06, 2015

France - Lorient - We Spent A Night In The Home Of The Nazis Wolf Pack Sub Pens

From 1940 to 1945 - most of France was occupied by the Nazis. Hitler planned to rule the world for one thousand years and it appears that he planned to do much of it from France. He heavily fortified the entire French Coast.

The subs rode these trolleys into the sub pens in K1 and K2.

Thanks to the UBoat fleet - Hitler very nearly won the war in 1942. He had built a series of fortified submarine pens along the coast at Brest - St Nazaire - Bordeaux - etc. The Uboats could sail into the underground pens undetected - where they could be refurbished  and reloaded. The pens were self-sufficient. They had their own supplies of fuel - electricity - water - and food. As a matter of fact - when the Nazis surrendered in Reims - the troops in the submarine pens refused to come out. The Allies solved that problem by completely leveling the city of Lorient - nothing was left standing. The base would have nothing to support it. 

Saturday, July 04, 2015

July 4th - 1942 - the USS Norlandia was sunk by a German Uboat

Here are some random notes I found out about the ship my grandfather died on in World War II.
ex- Lake Galata 1926 purchased from US Shipping Board renamed Wyoming 1941 chartered to Norgulf renamed Norlandia 1942 torpedoed and sunk off Dominican Republic
2689 July 4
Crew 9 died
July 3 - Unarmed U.S. freighter Norlandia steaming from San Juan Puerto Rico to Nuevitas Cuba is torpedoed and sunk by German submarine U-575 at 19°33'N 68°39'W; nine crewmen lose their lives. U-575's commanding officer Kapitanleutnant Gunther Heydemann apparently genuinely solicitous of the needs of those whose ship he has just torpedoed gives them a bottle of brandy before the boat departs (see 4 and 5 July).
July 4 - Fourteen survivors from U.S. freighter Norlandia sunk by German submarine U-575 the previous day reaches Samana  Dominican Republic (see 5 July).
July 5 - Seven survivors from U.S. freighter Norlandia  sunk by German submarine U-575 on 3 July  reaches Samana  Dominican Republic.

At 03.38 hours on 4 Jul  1942  the unescorted and unarmed Norlandia (Master Herbert Elvin Callis) was torpedoed by U-575 about 25 miles northeast of Cape Samana  San Domingo. The torpedo struck on the starboard side between the engine room and the #3 hatch. The explosion tore up the deck  destroyed the radio room  jammed the machinery and caused the ship to flood rapidly  sinking by the stern after 15 minutes. The 21 survivors among the crew of eight officers and 22 crewmen abandoned ship in two lifeboats and were later questioned by Heydemann  who expressed regret at having to sink an American ship and gave them a bottle of German brandy before leaving. He reported the ship erroneously as the Panamanian steam merchant Portland. One boat with 14 survivors landed after 18 hours at Saman√°  Dominican Republic  while the other boat arrived 12 hours later.

U-575 - Type VIIC
Commissioned: Jun 19 1941 Fate: Sunk Date: Mar 13 1944
Sunk 13 March, 1944 in the north Atlantic north of the Azores, in position 46.18N, 27.34W, by depth charges from the Canadian frigate HMCS Prince Rupert, the US destroyer USS Hobson, the US destroyer escort USS Haverfield, and by depth charges from a British Wellington and Fortress aircraft (Sqdn. 172/B and 206/R and 220/J) and Avenger aircraft of the US escort carrier USS Bogue. 18 dead and 37 survivors.

Lorient - Sunday We Go To Lorient - France

Lulu pretty well has the rest of our tour penciled in.

After Lulu's convention in the Netherlands - we are vagabonding across Europe using Eurail Passes. They are deeply discounted first class train tickets that Americans must buy before they get to Europe. We are spending July 2 to 11 - on trains seeing things we have never seen before. Today it was Reims - tomorrow it is Lorient.

Lorient was my choice. It is on the Northwest Atlantic Coast of France. The Nazis build giant concrete pens for their Uboats there. Some consider them one of the wonders of the world. The roofs are 40 feet of poured concrete - the allies hit them with our best bombs and could not damage them. We eventually chose to burn the city and starve them out. This was one of the holdouts after the Nazis surrendered. 

The Nazis ruled over France from 1940 to 1945. I am surprised that the French have allowed these pens to survive - they are a glaring example of how the Nazis reigned over the French.

My grandfather - Roy Shartle Everhart - was killed by a Nazi Uboat - U575. It sailed out of Lorient. It sunk my grandfather's freighter (USS Norlandia) on July 4th 1942 - 73 years ago TODAY. U575 never made it back to Lorient - it was sunk 3 months later. 

Our train from Reims to Lorient takes over 6 hours. We did not want to go back through Paris but it is much quicker that way. Lulu got us a hotel on Priceline in Lorient for 56 euros. It is called Hotel Escale Oceania.

REIMS - France - World War II Ended Here

Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims. They are doing repair work.
It is called learning readiness - I never heard of Reims before. The word just blended into the background of world news for me. When Lulu said she wanted to see Reims - I said what the heck. 

Reims sits about 80 miles northeast of Paris. It is the capital of champagne country. Just south of town is Epernay which Don Perginon Champagne is bottled. 

This is the Reims Opera House from the second floor of McDonalds. You can see the Notre Dame Cathedral sticking out over the roof.

The Notre Dame Cathedral was the site of many of the French coronations. Louis XIV was crowned here. The cathedral was started in 1210. It was damaged in both World Wars. Imagine - this church has been standing 800 years.
This is the east side - or back - of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims.

We missed Our Train To Reims - So We Spent Thursday Night in Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Our train from Maastricht via Liege and Brussels got into Paris too late to catch our next train to Reims. So Lulu found us a nice room at the Hotel Appia near the station. We cleaned up and took the subway to the Seine River. We walked the river form the Notre Dame Cathedral almost to the Eiffel Tower. Paris is called the City of Lights - and we enjoyed looking at them as we walked. Before we knew it - it was time to go back to ur hotel. It was about 2 AM when we hit the sack. In the morning we caught the train to Reims. 

Lulu at Notre Dame
The Louvre on the Seine - looking west to east. The Louve was at one time the palace of Louis XIV -  but he built Versaille and moved the government there for much of his 70 year reign.
This little electric Renault - called a Twingo was parked on the sidewalk west of the Louvre. 

There was a big carnival west of the Louvre. Lulu got freshly made cotton candy there for 2 euros - then they shut down the machine for the night. It is sorta like closing down a bar.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Just Arrived in Reims From Paris

We are at our hotel in Reims - our home for 2 nights. 

We left Paris at 1 PM and were here before 2 PM - in our hotel at 2:05 PM. We are waiting for our room to be ready at 3 PM - we have free wifi. I am surprised how nice the hotel is for 61 euros including tax. It is right downtown on a main square. 

It is hot here - 92 - but not as humid as Tallahassee. They do not keep the AC down as low as we are used to  :-) Spoiled Americans. 

Reims is much quieter than Paris - much less traffic.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Maastricht - Netherlands - Last Night in Town

Robert C Everhart killed fighting the Nazis. 

Is is 9:30 PM - our last evening in Maastricht. The sun is still out. Lulu has one meeting tomorrow - then the rest of the trip is for us. It is sort of like the bombers flying over Germany in WWII - the first half of their trip was for the motherland - the second half was for themselves.

Today I did 3 important things. First - I did the laundry. One of the ways to pack a small bag is to wear things at least 3 times. We got 7 days out of the first session - now we are fresh for another 7 days. 

Second - I visited the little mountain resort town of Valkenberg. It was here that Beatrice of Falkenburg grew up, who, in 1269 at the age of 15, married 60-year old Richard of Cornwallking of the Holy Roman Empire. I can relate to these guys.  There is also a Casino here. 

Finally - I visited the American Cemetery of the Netherlands. It is about 10 miles east of Maastricht. Here there are 8301 Americans who died nearby fighting the Nazis. I found the grave of one Robert C Everhart.  I did a little research about him. He was 30 - not married - has 2 brothers and 2 sisters. He got killed in an ambush. His birthday is August 9th. He lived in Ohio. 

Everhart is buried at the American Cemetery near Maastricht

John J Cox is also buried here.

Melissa Johnston Pressenting at the IASL Convention in The Netherlands

Melissa Johnston is a professor at the University of Alabama. She was one of Lulu's doctoral students at Florida State University. She is doing several presentations at this International Association of School Librarians Convention. 

The group meets around the world. So far - Lulu has attended their conference in Malmo in Sweden - Hong Kong in China - and now Maastricht in the Netherlands.