Welcome to This Week’s CANAV Books Blog — CANAV Books Blog

Air Force One Spotters + Canada Post on the Rampage Again + The Fabulous Lockheed Twins + The “Air Transport in Canada” book deal of the decade + The Great Janusz Zurakowski’s Autobiography + Air-Britain and the Nastiest of Nasty Book Reviews Good day to all CANAV fans and I hope that your summer is […]

Welcome to This Week’s CANAV Books Blog — CANAV Books Blog

December 7, 1941 USS Oklahoma

December 7, 1941 USS Oklahoma

December 7, 1941 – USS Oklahoma

Today in History

It was literally “out of the blue” when the first wave of enemy aircraft arrived at 7:48 am local time, December 7, 1941. 353 Imperial Japanese warplanes approached in two waves out of the southeast, fighters, bombers, and torpedo aircraft.  Across Hickam Field and over the still waters of Pearl Harbor. Tied in place and immobile, the eight vessels moored at “Battleship Row” were easy targets.

In the center of the Japanese flight path, sailors and Marines aboard the USS Oklahoma fought back furiously. She didn’t have a chance. Holes as wide as 40-feet were torn into her side in the first ten minutes of the assault. Eight torpedoes smashed into her port side, each striking higher on the hull as the great Battleship began to roll.


Bilge inspection plates had been removed for a scheduled inspection the following day, making counter-flooding to prevent capsize, impossible. The ninth torpedo slammed…

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Pearl Harbor Day

More about December 6, 1941

PT Boat Red

David Russell, Pearl Harbor survivor, 101 years old

On December 7, 1941, David Russell was a young sailor assigned to the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. As the surprise attack overwhelmed the American ships, young Russell made a split second decision not to go below deck on his ship. Trained as an ammunition loader for anti-aircraft guns, the Seaman First Class opted to stay on deck and find a gunner to assist. His decision to stay on deck that morning is probably the reason Russell survived.

As the USS Oklahoma was hit by multiple torpedo bombs dropped by the planes of Imperial Japan, the battleship would eventually capsize. Over 400 sailors and Marines below deck were killed. Seaman Russell knew he had to get off the Oklahoma. He could see the oily water burning all around his battleship which was being repeatedly hit. Jumping into the flaming water was…

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A Pearl Harbor radar man returns to Hawaii

December 7, 1941…

David Venditta

Dick Schimmel last month at the Lehigh Valley Veterans History Project Roundtable

Pearl Harbor survivor Dick Schimmel was a familiar sight at the Allentown YMCA when I was going there to swim. I remember thinking, here’s an old guy who’s taking care of himself, staying fit.

That was two decades ago. Schimmel is ninety-nine now and spry as ever. He’s in Hawaii with his grandson Mark for ceremonies marking the eightieth anniversary of the Japanese attack that yanked the U.S. into World War II.

Though I knew about Schimmel from the Y as we entered the new millennium, it was years before I interviewed him, not until 2007. That’s when I wrote an “in their own words” war story about his experience on December 7, 1941. He was with the Army’s new radar unit, which had early warning of a large number of planes heading for Oahu. Stationed at Fort…

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Remembering Flight Lieutenant George Wallace Varley DFC

My new blog. This one is about remembering RAF 222 ‘Treble Two’ Squadron.

RAF 222 Squadron

George Wallace Varley 222 Squadron

George Wallace Varley was born on 11th May 1921 and joined the RAFVR about June 1939 as an Airman u/t (under training) Pilot. Called up on 1st September 1939, he completed his training at 15 FTS Brize Norton, was commissioned and arrived at 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 22nd September 1940.

After converting to Hurricanes Varley was posted to 79 Squadron at Pembrey on 5th October. He moved to 247 Squadron at Roborough on the 26th.

In mid-1941 Varley was with the MSFU at Speke. On 1st November he was launched from the Empire Foam on an Atlantic crossing. A Fw200 Condor was sighted as Varley became airborne. Sighting the Hurricane, the German pilot broke away, went down to sea level and then escaped into a cloud.

Varley returned to circle the convoy and after patrolling for an hour spotted another four-engined aircraft ahead of the convoy. It turned out…

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How a WWII Bomber Crash in Colorado Hit Home


B-24 trainees (from left) bombardier Leonard A. Kuther, navigator Billy G. Adams, co-pilot Robert E. Cockrell, pilot Charles H. Everett, air engineer Furnifeld M. Simmons, nose gunner Arthur E. Nixon, top turret gunner Dale M. Baird, radio operator John D. DiMarino, and ball turret gunner John L. Weidrick. The photo was taken February 25, 1944, at Peterson Field in Colorado Springs, Colorado.