Monday, August 26

Movie Stars from WWII: Part 2

Her fur coat and outfit helped point me in the right dircetion

This is a follow up to an earlier post, which I’ll be referring to with the assumption that you’ve read it. If you haven’t, go here to get caught up. Then come on back for the surprising conclusion!

    After David (of The Errol Flynn Blog) confirmed that it was indeed Flynn, Martha O’Driscoll and Olivia De Havilland in the photos I sent to him, it was time to figure out where the pictures had been taken. In addition to those names, I also took clues from the land in the pictures. It was rocky, barren and coastal. And by looking at the heavy, fur coat Ms. De Havilland is wearing in her photo, it’s clear that it was also a cold place.

These four look dressed for cold weather as well

    My guess was somewhere in Alaska since it fit the physical description and I knew there were bases there during the war. So I searched for “Errol Flynn Martha O’Driscoll Alaska” and was happy to discover that the two had visited Dutch Harbor, Alaska on December 4th, 1943. 

    But that wasn’t enough to confirm anything conclusively. To do that, I searched for “Olivia De Havilland Dutch Harbor”. My thought process being that if I could prove that Ms. De Havilland had also visited Dutch Harbor sometime during the war, then it was most likely that these photos were also taken at the base. It wouldn’t be 100% conclusive but good enough. Turns out, it didn’t matter. The second link in my search results led me to photos of Ms. De Havilland visiting Dutch Harbor on March 3rd, 1944. More importantly though, she is wearing the exact same outfit as the one she has on in the picture above. The soldier who took these photos had been stationed at Dutch Harbor.

Standing at attention in Dutch Harbor
    Located off of Amaknak Island, next to the town of Unalaska, Alaska, Dutch Harbor is no longer home to a military base. Today it is the busiest international fishing port in the United States and home to the fishing boats featured on the TV show "Deadliest Catch." However, during the war the joint Naval/Army base housed at Dutch Harbor was one of the few places on U.S. soil (not named Pearl Harbor) to be attacked by enemy combatants.
    The Battle of Dutch Harbor began on the 3rd of June, 1942, one day before the Battle of Midway, and concluded a day later on the 4th. The area is now part of a National Historic Area run by the National Parks Service, here's how they describe the attack...
    Six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese aircraft struck at U.S. Army and Navy installations at Dutch Harbor on Amaknak Island. In the evening on June 3, 1942, Kate bombers from the carriers Junyo and Ryujo descended from a heavily overcast sky to find Dutch Harbor in the eye of the storm, an ripe target from the suddenly clear sky. To the shock of the pilots, the air filled with anti-aircraft fire - a secret Japanese message warning of the attack had been intercepted three weeks before, and since late May the installation had been on high alert. Finding neither an airfield nor a carrier fleet at Dutch (as they had expected) the Japanese pilots turned to secondary targets, and unleashed their loads on the Margaret Bay Naval barracks, killing 25 servicemen.
    Having seen photos of the aftermath of the attack, I was reminded of another picture in my collection. I hadn't given it much thought up to that point because it had literally fallen to pieces inside the plastic bag. But when I reassembled the fragmented image (at least as best I could), I was flabbergasted to see this…

A soldier (left foreground) observes the aftermath from the Battle of Dutch Harbor

No comments:

Post a Comment