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                 AUGUST, 2009

      Charles Hansen, Editor

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  Pantelleria
  — by Charles Hansen

        The Sunday May 26, 2009 newspaper had an obit for John Cassidy, not a relative but the last survivor of my dad's unit from WWII who lived in Spokane. There are a few members of his unit scattered all over the USA, but they are dieing off fairly fast now. A couple of sentences in John's obit caught my attention:  The squadron then landed on Pantelleria - an island in the Mediterranean near Sicily, which was an Italian air base. After bombing Pantelleria for 17 days, John was the 6th Allied soldier to set foot on Axis European territory. Pop had told me his unit got to Pantelleria Island before the army and it was just a big rock in the Mediterranean with rows and rows of grape vines. The bombers taking off from the islands air strip would drop half way to the Mediterranean before they got up enough speed to begin climbing.

        The September 2009 issue of World War II magazine has an article called the, The Big Bang, Eisenhower's plan to conquer the Mediterranean in 1943 hinged on a bold, unproven strategic bombing campaign by Lawrence Spinetta. The Americans and British wanted to take Pantelleria and the islands of Lampione, Lampedusa and Linosa close by. All had been heavily fortified by the Italians and Churchill called them a thorn in our side . The plan was to bomb the island into surrender, and with the help of the navy blockading the island and air superiority and 17 days of bombing the Italians surrendered, and then the air corp turned its bombers to Lampione, Lampedusa and Linosa and soon those surrendered also. Eisenhower and Churchill were both elated, they had taken these islands with only a few aircraft lost and one soldier killed.

        Churchill and Eisenhower then concluded that an all out bombing of Germany would get similar results, so the bombing raids on Europe started. Pop never knew he was part of an important battle in WWII, his unit was not a combat unit, just a service squadron that serviced the B17s and B24s. The article goes on to say this was really a flawed conclusion, since Pantelleria was an isolated island blockaded by the navy and short of supplies, while Germany still had a lot of resources. History goes on to show that the bombing raids did help bring Germany to surrender, but it was a long hard struggle that cost a lot of lives.

        Genealogy always makes history more personal, a lot of kids I knew in school hated history thinking it was boring, but I think if they found ancestors in historical settings they might have been a lot more interested in history. Knowing history also helps you research your ancestors, so does your genealogy make history more exciting?






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