We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

Weekend Wanderings, 9 July 2011

As the weather gets hot, one can always sit in a cool air-conditioned room and revel in the vast expanse of knowledge that sits out there on the Internet, begging to be found. Here are a few tibdits I found this week that interested me.

  • Barbara Whitaker blogged about her father-in-law’s servicein the 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, seeing action during the Bulge, crossing the Rhine and within Germany.

    Barb's Father-in-Law's M7

  • Beanandgone is a humorous blog by a young Australian woman who loves her coffee and her travels. She was recently in Berlin and notes some of the funny things as well as some of the horrifying ones.
  • As a historian, I tend to visit a fair number of museums when I travel and it sounds like we all ought to visit the National World War II Museum. The even have an annual Family Overnight (yes, it was last night, so you missed it this year!) The capstone, however, appears to be the Victory Theatre’s “Beyond the Boundaries”.
  • Courtesy of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, you can also move around inside The Secret Annex and experience The Diary of Anne Frank in a completely different way – virtually in 3D, with stories and videos. Hat tip to musingmk for these two.
  • I finished reading Wukovitz’ book on Boyington today and thought a fair amount about Afroxander’s blog entry on Hemingway’s suicide. In reading Hemingway as a young man, I wanted to be him. To have grand adventures, to cheat death, to drink “manly” drinks and to truly “sieze the day”. With Boyington, his alcoholism was fueled by doubt and discomfort. With Hemingway, I wonder if it was all just from boredom. Perhaps he just kept searching for elusive happiness in bigger and bolder things until he finally despaired. I’ll be honest, if a bit brutal, but the Hemingway who zipped around France during WWII strikes me as a comical figure, trying to act the part of a war hero while others actually fought it. Kind of like John Wayne’s and Humphrey Bogart’s experience on USO Tours – the tough guys were the ones in the audience, not the ones on stage, but at least Wayne and Bogart realized that.

Captain Reginald Augustine answers his last tattoo
7 July 2011, 21:13
Filed under: Officers, Veterans, WWII | Tags: , ,

On occasion, I read the obituaries in the Washington Post and I always find someone interesting. The sad thing is, if they’re commemorated there, I’ll never get to meet them. Today’s obituary for Reginald Augustine made me wish that I had met him.

Augustine served as a Captain in the US Army at the end of World War II, racing around France and Germany, securing both scientists and nuclear materials. While searching a warehouse near Toulouse in southern France, Augustine found 31 tons that made the Geiger counter spike. He participated in Operation Epsilon, escorting several German physicists seized near Stuttgart to American territory. After the war, he had a career in operations for CIA, including time in Germany and a post in Saigon in 1968.

What makes Augustine truly interesting is his adventurous youth. After he garduated from Northwestern with a degree in Latin (minoring in German and studying Greek), he spent 16 months touring Europe on a Harley. That included ‘a Nazi party rally in Heidelberg that he later described as akin to a “Fourth of July” celebration with scarlet swastika banners and leather-booted storm troopers.’ While Augustine may not have been able to talk about his post-war career, I’m guessing there were a barrel of stories about traveling footloose and fancy-free in mid-1930s Europe. One wonders if he crossed paths with Hemingway.

%d bloggers like this: