LI bunkers to bomber jackets: 26 relics from WWII

+-

Seventy years have passed since World War II came to an end in 1945. Though the war is long over, the impact of those events changed the world and left a lasting impression on many Long Islanders who fought overseas and on the home front.

Some Long Island veterans decided to hold on to their spoils of war -- pieces of their shot-up airplanes, sword marked with symbol of long-lost enemies, badges of honor -- testaments to their lives in service.

Featured below is our growing collection of relics from World War II, featuring items from Long Island and New York residents, historical societies and museums.

If you, or someone you know has an item to share -- a story to tell -- contact Amy Onorato at amy.onorato@newsday.com

Sweetheart jewelry

During World War II, many soldiers overseas would
(Credit: Amy Onorato / Special Collections LI Studies Institute)

During World War II, many soldiers overseas would have pins, bracelets and other personalized items made especially for their loved ones back at home. These trinkets, like the ones shown above, became known as "sweetheart jewelry," and were sometimes made from spoils of war.

"Some men would take pieces of steel or glass from crashed airplanes and have them melted into jewelry for their girlfriends," Geri Solomon, assistant dean of LI Studies Institute's special collections, said. "It was a very romantic gesture."

Newsday ads

During World War II Long Island businesses curbed

During World War II Long Island businesses curbed their advertising to cater to a war-obsessed audience -- like this ad for Gutowitz optometrists, which was placed in Newsday in 1943.

An army footlocker

During World War II, soldiers stowed their uniforms
(Credit: Amy Onorato / Long Island Institute at Hofstra University)

During World War II, soldiers stowed their uniforms and other personal belongings in a large wooden crate at the far end of their bunks. The piece of luggage eventually earned the name footlocker, because they were typically stored near the foot of soldiers' beds. This particular footlocker belonged to a Edward J. Emmerman, whose name is printed in red block letters on the top of the box.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE

It's time for Mass somewhere

Pocket-size prayer booklets were given to every soldier
(Credit: Amy Onorato / Long Island Institute at Hofstra University)

Pocket-size prayer booklets were given to every soldier enlisted in the U.S. service, complete with lists of standard prayers and a printed rosary for those who wanted to partake in religious services while on the go.

Since the booklets were distributed en masse, the booklet provided a handy "mass clock" so soldiers could pray at the same time no matter what time zone they were in, along with a special set of prayers for the occasion.

Scouting for planes

This is a wheel detailing different types of
(Credit: Amy Onorato; Oysterponds Historical Society)

This is a wheel detailing different types of enemy planes from Germany, Italy and Japan, given to U.S. Army Air Force personnel and volunteers living on the shores of the East End of Long Island during World War II. Users would turn the wheel to reveal different plane specifics, like wing shape, nose and tail type to help them identify planes correctly if they ever saw one flying overhead.

Lost in Normandy

Getting around in a foreign country isn't
(Credit: Amy Onorato)

Getting around in a foreign country isn't always easy, especially during the days before GPS.

According to Oysterponds Historical Society collections manager Amy Kasuga Folk, this World War II-era map of Rouen -- an area of Normandy, France -- once belonged to East End resident Douglass Robinson. Robinson bought the map, seen at the historial society, as a soldier when he arrived in the area because he was so foreign to the region that he could not properly navigate where he was going.

Heading home with honors

World War II veteran Joseph LaBarbera's honorable discharge
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

World War II veteran Joseph LaBarbera's honorable discharge certificate. LaBarbera, 95, of Smithtown, was one of William Orlando Darby's Rangers, the first U.S. Army Ranger unit of the modern era.

Abandoned bunkers

Camp Hero, located in Montauk, served as an
(Credit: Newsday / Mia Aigotti)

Camp Hero, located in Montauk, served as an active military base during World War II. The Battery 112 bunker, built on the grounds in 1944, was constructed by the Long Island Sound Harbor Defense to camouflage 1-16 inch guns. The bunker was declared inactive in 1947, two years after the end of the war. Camp Hero now serves as a 415-acre state park, as seen on June 18, 2003.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE

The flower of war

Japanese swords from the World War II era,
(Credit: Amy Onorato)

Japanese swords from the World War II era, like the bayonet and Katana featured above, as seen at the Oysterponds Historical Society, are highly recognizable due to the iconic chrysanthemum insignia carved on their weaponry. According to the society collections curator Amy Kasuga Folk, these weapons were acquired by American soldiers as spoils of war, or taken from Japanese POWs after being captured.

Proud volunteers

During World War II, the U.S. Army Air
(Credit: Amy Onorato)

During World War II, the U.S. Army Air Force recruited Long Islanders living along the shores of the East End to be volunteer aircraft observers, scanning the skies for the possibility of enemy planes circling overhead. Gertrude Reeves, of Orient, worked as a volunteer observer, and wore this sash, seen at the Oysterponds Historical Society, when she was on the job at Fort Terry on Plum Island. Reeves died in 2012 at age 99.

War spoils, refashioned

Nick Nudo Jr., of Patchogue, was a paratrooper

Nick Nudo Jr., of Patchogue, was a paratrooper and machine-gunner in the Pacific theater during World War II. After returning from the war, Nudo fashioned his spoils in a more unconventional way -- having his fiance, Marjorie Savoia, sew her wedding dress our of the silk from the Japanese parachutes he had taken home with him. The couple was married in 1946, exactly a year after V-J Day. Nudo died in 2000 at age 76.

A veteran's cap

Joseph LaBarbera, now 95 and a Smithtown resident,
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

Joseph LaBarbera, now 95 and a Smithtown resident, was a member of the Army's Darby's Rangers. LaBarbera was left for dead by German soldiers fighting near Monte Cassino, Italy in 1944 -- and eventually made his way back to the American lines.

"I hid in the bushes, and Germans who were on patrol walked right past me,? he said. "I could hear them speaking German, but I didn't move and they never saw me."

An identification badge

Like many women during wartime in New York
(Credit: Brooklyn Historical Society)

Like many women during wartime in New York City, Lucille Gewirtz found a job at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in 1942, where the U.S. Navy produced battleships. Gewirtz was trained as a ship fitter. While employed there, she married Alfred Kolkin, who would later ship off to the Pacific on the U.S.S. Patroclus as a radio technician. The couple exchanged letters throughout the war, she sharing details about what it was like to work in the Navy, he regaling her with tales of his travels.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISE HERE

Underage heroes

This is a medal Lewis Cianca received from
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

This is a medal Lewis Cianca received from the Navy for being underage when enlisting into the service, shown at his Westbury home on May 12, 2015. Tens of thousands of children were among World War II's combatants, including Cianca, who enlisted just before his 16th birthday.

A Brooks Brothers coat

This wool officer's coat produced by Brooks Brothers
(Credit: New-York Historical Society)

This wool officer's coat produced by Brooks Brothers on Madison Avenue was worn by Lt. Colonel Paul H. Downing of the Air Corps. The sharply designed coat features buttons cast with the words "E PLURIBUS UNUM" ("one out of many").

Rationing gas

With the nation at war in 1942, many

With the nation at war in 1942, many on Long Island made sacrifices, including Leonard Witham of Oceanside. He used this ration card during World War II, when gasoline's scarcity meant that cars were used only when needed.

A ration book

By 1943, rationing became a reality as wartime
(Credit: New-York Historical Society)

By 1943, rationing became a reality as wartime made some essentials scarce. Ration books, like this one issued to Juan A. Castellanos of West 89th Street, were packed with stamps that could be traded for consumer goods based on a complicated point system. For example, a sirloin steak that was worth 11 points might cost 53 cents per pound and would require two 10-point red stamps. Mayor La Guardia would announce shortages over the radio.

Millions of bandages for soldiers

In 1942, the New-York Historical Society invited the
(Credit: New-York Historical Society)

In 1942, the New-York Historical Society invited the American Red Cross to set up surgical dressing stations in the first two floors of its Manhattan building. An all-women force of approximately 100 worked producing four million 4 X 8 inch dressings, which were shipped overseas and sterilized for hospital use. "The splendid surgiccal sponges prepared by you actually have gone to war," the Army Medical Corps wrote to the unit.

A broken plane

A mangled section of a B-29 bomber, seen
(Credit: Amy Onorato; Cradle of Aviation Museum)

A mangled section of a B-29 bomber, seen at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, once flown by World War II veteran Walter Jorgensen, of Freeport, is battered and ripped from the consequences of war. Jorgensen was a member of the U.S. Army, 29th Bomb Group, and participated in World War II's Eastern theater.

"When people bring home spoils from war, you don't usually expect something like this," Joshua Stoff, curator for the Cradle of the Aviation Museum, where the artifact now lives, said. "That airplane really must have meant something to him."

Keeping track

A bomber jacket worn by World War II
(Credit: Amy Onorato)

A bomber jacket worn by World War II veteran Walter Jorgensen, of Freeport, is now kept by the Cradle of Aviation museum. It is emblazoned with individual tributes to each B-29 mission he completed in Japan during the war. Each of the white bomb-shaped tributes features the name of the city Jorgensen flew over -- with 34 in total.

A way to relax

Many Long Islanders did their part fighting World
(Credit: Amy Onorato)

Many Long Islanders did their part fighting World War II on the home front as a member of the island's illustrious aerospace industry. The Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp., now known as Northrop-Grumman, employed many Long Island men and women to help build airplanes to send off to war. In order to keep workers relaxed, Grumman actively encouraged recreation during break time, and even issued their own board games, like the checkerboard featured above, as seen at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, for workers to use in between shifts.

From soldier, to artist

A selection of watercolors painted by Stan Brodsky,
(Credit: John Dunn)

A selection of watercolors painted by Stan Brodsky, of Huntington, while he was a soldier in France and Germany during World War II are displayed on his kitchen table March 19, 2010, in Huntington. Brodsky found the watercolor set in an abandoned house in France.

You can see more of Brodsky's images here.

Bearer of bad news

Not all soldiers who served in World War
(Credit: Amy Onorato)

Not all soldiers who served in World War II got the chance to come back home, or were seriously injured while on the battlefield. Many families received letter informing them of their loved one's condition, like this one sent to the family of U.S. Army Air Corps bomber Matthew Nathan, of Baldwin.

The card, as seen at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, reads: "Regret to inform you your son, Second Lieutenant Matthew Nathan was on 29, January seriously wounded in action over Frankfurt, Germany, Mall address follows. You will be advised as reports of his condition are received."

Reminders on the homefront

On the home front during World War II,
(Credit: Amy Onorato)

On the home front during World War II, posters, such as this one at the Oysterpond Historical Society, advocating fuel conservation were commonly seen in local stores, buildings and public spaces during the winter months, urging Long Islanders to save energy in a time when resources were scarce due to wartime efforts.

Keeping warm

This is the winter hat Irving Greger wore
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

This is the winter hat Irving Greger wore under his helmet during World War II, shown at his Plainview home April 24, 2015.

Back to the basics

This is the handbook Irving Greger recieved after
(Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.)

This is the handbook Irving Greger recieved after finishing basic training received after finishing basic training, shown at his Plainview home April 24, 2015.

Greger, a graduate of Erasmus Hall, arrived in Europe on Thanksgiving Day, 1944, amid the human stream of replacement troops that poured onto the continent to fill the shoes of men who had been killed or wounded. Assigned as a tank commander, he was so green that he was put under the command of a more seasoned sergeant for his first weeks in combat. Later after taking command of a tank platoon, he said he lost tanks and men in battle.

Get the Newsday Now newsletter!

The best of Newsday every day in your inbox.

Sign up

By clicking Sign up, you agree to our privacy policy.

Related Media

Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs Japanese Instrument World War II timeline James Eudy, who served with the 66th Infantry NYers who died in World War II Front to rear are Emanuel, David and Jacob LI remembers WWII

Comments

Newsday.com now uses Facebook for our comment boards. Please read our guidelines and connect your Facebook account to comment.

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy policy.

OK
Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to Newsday is free for Optimum customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.

LOGIN SUBSCRIBE