Luella Hamilton's Scrapbook of World War II Photos
Contributed by Gerry Lynn Hamilton

Scrapbook Index | Go To Main PHGS WW II Index

Introduction and Comments from Gerry

By Gerry Lynn Hamilton
Feb. 10, 2016

Luella Mae (Mitchell) Hamilton (1917-2010) had a lifelong scrapbook hobby. She was my mother, and when she died, I inherited a dozen scrapbooks and photo albums along with hundreds of loose clippings and pictures.

Luella and Jake Hamilton - 1946

Luella and Gerry Hamilton - 2008

One of those scrapbooks contained 83 pages of newspaper clippings about the Potter County men and women who served in uniform in World War II. The clippings tell a story that ranges from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to battles in North Africa, Europe, Burma and the Pacific. Those pages are reproduced here.

Following are some highlights with links to the scrapbook pages, which are my main source of information. To fill in a few details or just to satisfy my curiosity, I also checked information available on the Internet, including records available through a subscription to Ancestry. com. [Brackets indicate my comments.]

Pearl Harbor

Many Potter County citizens were already in the service before the war started. At least five of them where serving in the Territory of Hawaii (not yet a state) when the Japanese attacked.

U.S. Navy Seaman Raymond Lyle Richar (Galeton) was a crewman aboard the Battleship Arizona when Japanese planes sank the ship. The Potter Enterprise reported Richar was the first man from Potter County to die in the war. Pg 13, Pg 60

U.S. Navy Seaman William E. Kimball (Roulette) was aboard the "ill-fated Dawns". [Perhaps the destroyer USS Downes, which was destroyed by fire in drydock.] Kimball survived. Pg 5 Pg 35

U.S. Army Corporal Richard Michelfelder (Harrison Valley) was serving at Hickam Field, a large air base near Pearl Harbor. Hickam Field was a target of the Japanese attack. Michelfelder survived. Pg 8

Private Paul Golden (Coudersport) was serving in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He was in his bunk at the Kaneohe Naval Air Station nearly 30 miles from Pearl Harbor when he heard the drone of low-flying planes. During the attack his unit was strafed, but there were no casualties. When Golden came home from Pearl Harbor, he was a corporal, and he talked about his experience. Pg 19, Pg 45

Private Clarence Jefferson Walker (Galeton, Austin, Wharton), served in the Army Corps of Engineers, and he was at Schofield Barracks, Honolulu, T.H. Pg 9. Japanese planes strafed Schofield, but the facility was not a main target. Nearby Wheeler Army Airfield was a target. Walker was not injured.

A Global War

Men served around the globe, including some out-of-the-way places.

Sergeant Joseph H. Schaner (Germania, Galeton) was serving with the U.S. Army Aviation Engineers. He was a member of a task force that landed on an island off Yugoslavia to build an airstrip in 10 days. Pg 66

U.S. Army Private Clarence J. Stearns (Oswayo) served with the legendary Merrill's Marauders behind Japanese lines in northern Burma Pg 66. The Marauders were commanded by Brigadier General Frank Merrill. [Every member of the unit received a Bronze Star. (Source:]

Men fought and died in land combat in North Africa and Europe Pg 29, Pg 60, Pg 62, Pg 72 on one side of the globe and Pacific islands Pg 16 Pg 60 on the other side. Some are buried in Italy, France, England, and the Philippines.

Men in the U.S. Army Air Force fought and died while flying missions over many lands: missing over Romania Pg 58, missing over Austria Pg 75, shot down over France Pg 75.

For Lieutenant Wade Avery Carpenter (Coudersport, Oswayo) the first headline read that he was missing on a mission over France. That was March 3. His fiancé Joan Bensel was visiting Coudersport when the bad news arrived. Then on April 17, the family received a telegram that Carpenter was a POW. The news had come through the International Red Cross. Pg 13, Pg 50, Pg 52 [Carpenter survived the war.]

Lieutenant Stanley Johnson (Coudersport), a P-38 fighter pilot, was shot down over France on Aug. 22, 1944, and captured by the enemy. On April 30, 1945, he was freed by the Russians. That was a few days before the war ended in Europe – Victory in Europe Day, May 8, 1945. Johnson survived the war. In the course of the war, he was awarded the Air Medal with five Oak Leaf Clusters and the European Theatre of Operations Ribbon with four Bronze Service Stars. Pg 71. See Notes 1 and 2

Lieutenant William B. “Bill Kenealy (Coudersport; Wellsville, NY), enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force March 24, 1942. The Enterprise said Kenealy was serving as a bomber co-pilot in the Southwest Pacific. His wife Rose (Masolotte) Kenealy received a War Department telegram with the bad news that her husband was missing in action. Later it was learned that he was flying a bombing mission from a base in New Guinea when the crew had to bail out over the jungle. He was lost in the jungle for five days. A native helped him reach other Americans. His brother Lawrence Kenealy (Coudersport) enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the same time Bill did. Both survived the war and returned home with the rank of captain. Both received the Air Medal with an Oak Leaf Cluster. See Note 1. Pg 12, Pg 45, Pg 81.

Radio Operator First Class Francis Arden Broslet (Coudersport), serving in the U.S. Merchant Marine, was among those who died at sea. He was reported missing March 26, 1943. Pg 23, Pg 50

[The United States Merchant Marine provided the greatest sealift in history between the production army at home and the fighting forces scattered around the globe in World War II. Mariners serving aboard merchant ships during the war suffered a greater percentage of war-related deaths than all other U.S. services. Source:]

Technical Sergeant John B. 'Ben' Tilburg (Coudersport) was aboard a troop ship that was sunk in heavy seas by enemy action in the European Theatre of Operations [Nov. 27, 1943.] His family received a long letter from the War Department. About half of those on the troop ship were rescued, there were still about 1,000 American soldiers missing. Pg 52 Tilburg remained among the missing.

U.S. Navy Gunner Third Class Jack F. Crosby was serving aboard the destroyer USS Bristol. His parents heard the news from a radio broadcast Nov. 17, 1943, that the Bristol was lost. On Nov. 28, the family received a cablegram from Jack. He was safe and well. Pg 31 [The Bristol was on convoy escort duty in the Mediterranean, when a single torpedo tore the ship in half on Oct. 13, 1943. Fifty-two crew members were lost.]

Military Awards

See Notes 1 and 2.

Some men were recognized for heroism and extraordinary achievement.

Private 1st Class George W. Truax (Ulysses) was serving in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. His unit came under heavy artillery fire. During the attack, he risked his life when he went to a burning gun position to rescue a seriously wounded soldier. He was awarded a Silver Star. Pg 71

Technician 5th Grade Leroy L. Lambert (Coudersport) rode a burning truck loaded with ammunition and helped along with others to prevent a damaging explosion. He was awarded a Bronze Star. Pg 57

First Lieutenant James Lunn (Emporium, Shinglehouse) was a machine gun platoon leader with the 85th Mountain Regiment of the 10th Mountain Division. He played a key role as his company withstood four heavy counterattacks during 11 days of fighting on a mountain peak. Lieutenant Lunn was awarded a Bronze Star for heroic achievement in combat. Pg 74

Corporal Morton R. Lilly (Coudersport) was awarded a Bronze Star “for meritorious services in combat during the Tunisian and Italian Campaigns. Pg 81

Lieutenant Darwin L. Franke (Coudersport) completed 30 B-25 bombing missions over enemy positions in Burma. He was awarded the Air Medal. Before the war, Lunn was a clerk for the J.C. Penney Co. Pg 81

Staff Sergeant Lester B. Watson (Borie) served for seven months as an armor gunner on a B-17. He was on 25 bombing missions over enemy territory. During that time he received the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters and three Gold Stars. Pg 68

Service Women

Luella Hamilton's scrapbook includes clippings for 16 women. Many of them were registered nurses. Rose G. Knowlton, RN, (Roulette) volunteered Feb. 5 [probably 1942]. The Enterprise reported that 2nd Lieutenant Knowlton was the first Potter County woman to receive a commission. Pg 10

Most of the women were assigned to duty stations in the United States. At least one registered nurse was awaiting orders for an overseas assignment. She was Jessie L. Austin (Austin). Pg 14

A number of women served in the WAVES, the women's branch of the Naval Reserve. [The acronym stood for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.]

WAVES were trained as yeomen (enlisted sailors handling administrative and clerical work), parachute riggers and aviation machinist mates. Potter County women filled all of those roles.

They included Yeoman Betty Grover Benn (Coudersport) Pg 48, Yeoman Isabelle H. Casbeer (Coudersport) Pg 72, and Seaman Second Class Kathleen June Haskins (Coudersport) Pg 65, who was an aviation machinist mate.

Women served in other branches of the service.

Corporal Thelma N. Geer (Austin) served in the Marine Corps women's reserve. She completed boot training at Camp LeJeune, N.C., and trained as a parachute rigger. Pg 41

Seaman Second Class Laverna Stone (Ulysses) served in the U.S. Coast Guard. Pg 63

Private Jessie M. Palmatier (Coudersport) enlisted in the Women's Army Corps (WAC). Pg 63

Married Couples

The scrapbook includes clippings for three married couples in uniform.

U.S. Army Private Charles W. Booth (Coudersport) was inducted March 24, 1943. June D. Booth, his wife, enlisted in the WAVES later that year. He was stationed at Camp Ellis, Ill. Her duty station was Arlington, Va. Pg 40

U.S. Army Private Ronald A. Bartoo was inducted in April 1943 and went to England by November. Mary Bartoo, his wife, enlisted in the WAVES in May 1943. Pg 40

Staff Sergeant Gerald Weaver (Eldred, Coudersport) enlisted in January 1941. Mrs. Weaver was serving in Canada in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Pg 22

Stories Behind the News Clippings

Luella Hamilton's World War II scrapbook does not include all of the Potter County men and women who served, and the clippings provide only a limited view of the global saga of World War II. [Note: the PHGS main WW II index contains almost 3000 names, including these names.]

There are many unpublished stories behind the clippings. Consider for example, a routine news item about five Potter County men who enlisted in the U.S. Marines on May 31, 1944. Pg 71 Wayne Knowlton Jr. clipping

Four of the men were assigned to the 4th Division. All four fought in only one battle – Iwo Jima, the bloodiest battle in Marine Corps history. The 4th Division was one of three reinforced Marine divisions that invaded the island on Feb. 19, 1945. Almost half of the men in the 4th Division were killed or wounded during the 26-day battle on an island which an aerial reconnaissance photo described as “8 square miles of hell. (Source: The 4th Marine Division in World War II © 1946 by Infantry Journal Inc.)

All four Potter County men were among the wounded.

  • Private Jake Hamilton (Coudersport), a mortar crewman. He suffered a shrapnel wound to the mouth on Feb. 25. He was lucky. The wound was minor, but he was treated for 10 days before he was returned to combat. Jake was my father. After the war, he did not have any visible scars, but he did lose a tooth that he replaced with a gold one. (Jake died Feb. 6, 1953.)
  • Private First Class Melvin Jay Setzer (Coudersport), who carried a bazooka, which meant he was always near the front of the fighting. Melvin was seriously wounded by shrapnel from an enemy mortar shell on March 2. He was returned to his unit after 87 days of treatment and rehab. In 2008, I visited with Melvin, an old family friend. His Marine uniform was hanging neatly in a bedroom closet.
  • Private Wayne 'Red' Knowlton Jr. (Roulette), who talked about his experience when I visited with Wayne and his wife Mildred in 2008. Wayne said that in one fight the Marines and Japanese were throwing grenades at each other like baseballs. He had taken cover in a shell crater when a Japanese grenade landed in his crater. He scrambled out of that crater and took cover in another. There was a live grenade already in the second crater. Wayne desperately tried to get out, but the grenade exploded before he could get away. Wayne was seriously wounded, but he survived. (Wayne died Dec. 26, 2013.)
  • Private First Class Richard James 'Dick' Foley (Ulysses). I don't have much information about him. He may have been a mortar crewman. He was wounded in action on Iwo Jima. He was born July 18, 1920, in Ulysses. He was a son of Casper Colar Foley and Vinnie F. Kephart. (Richard died March 23, 1973, and he is buried in Soldier's Circle, Morningside Cemetery, Dubois, Pa.)
  • The fifth man to enlist in the Marines on May 31, 1944, really didn't intend to join the Marines. Ward Elliot Schoonover (Galeton) had intended to join the Navy. However, the Marine Corps apparently had first choice, and Ward was assigned to the Marines. [The Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.] Ward served in the 1st Division, and he participated in the invasion of Okinawa on April 1, 1945. He was a corporal when he came home from the war. In 2015, I had conversations with Ward's son Ward Elliot Schoonover Jr. and son-in-law Paul T. Morgan. (Ward died Feb. 11, 2013, in Newport News City, Va. He had retired from a long NASA career.)

Wind-powered washing machine on Maui
Melvin Jay Setzer (Coudersport) said, "This is a contraption some of the boys made to wash their clothes." He identified the men (from left) BACK Guy R. Haskell (Vermont), Richard J. “Dick” Foley (Ulysses), Melvin; FRONT Jake Hamilton (Coudersport), unknown Brehm. All were members of the 4th Division, U.S. Marine Corps. The division was based on Maui between battles on Pacific islands. (Photo provided by Melvin Jay Setzer.)

Mortar Training.
Jake Hamilton (right) and Richard J. “Dick” Foley (second from right) and their buddies pose with a 60mm mortar. Both men served in the 4th Division, U.S. Marine Corps. Jake (Coudersport) was assigned to a mortar crew during the battle of Iwo Jima. Dick (Ulysses) may have been a mortar crewman also. (Photo from Luella Hamilton’s photo albums.)

Extraordinary Story Behind One Clipping

The Enterprise published a brief and cryptic news item about Lieutenant Colonel William G. Benn (Coudersport) Pg 43. Benn was heralded for his work in refining a technique of skip bombing, and he was presumed to have been lost.

There is much more to this extraordinary story. Note 3.

In 1942, William Grover “Bill Benn was serving as the aide to General George Kenney, the commanding general of the 5th U.S. Army Air Force based in Australia. Benn developed a technique to improve the success rate when bombing enemy ships.

The problem: High-level bombing was not effective, because enemy ships had time to maneuver away from the falling bombs. The solution: Low-level bombing, but that carried higher risks for air crews.

Benn, a major by this time, came up with the idea to bomb ships from the side by using low-level bomb runs to skip bombs across the water like skipping stones across a pond. The Royal British Air Force had experimented with the technique, but determined it was too dangerous.

Benn was given command of a bomber squadron with authorization to develop the skip bombing technique. The bombs would be equipped with delayed fuses to account for the skipping time. Bomb sights were a problem, because they were not designed for use with this bombing technique. Eventually, bomb sights were disregarded, electrical tape was used to make cross hairs on the Plexiglas nose of an aircraft, and the plane itself was used to aim the bombs.

At one point, skip-bombing called for a plane to fly at night toward an enemy ship at about 200 mph and about 200 feet above the ocean and release bombs about 300 hundred yards away from a target. This was tricky and dangerous business, which required practice.

Benn's squadron perfected the technique, and skip bombing improved the success rate for bombing enemy ships in the Pacific from 5 percent to 70 percent.

Benn was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest military award for a member of the U.S. Army. 

As for the missing Benn. He was piloting a B-25 Mitchell bomber on a routine reconnaissance mission when his aircraft disappeared over the New Guinea jungle on Jan. 18, 1943. Ironically, Time Magazine came out that day with a cover story that included information about Benn and skip bombing.

In 1957, an Australian survey team discovered the wreckage of Benn's aircraft. U.S. authorities recovered the crew's bodies. The plane had crashed into a mountain during a storm.

[Benn was posthumously promoted to lieutenant colonel.] (Betty Grover Benn Pg 48 serving in the WAVES was his sister.)

There are many stories for every man and woman who serves our country. We can never know all of the stories, but we can remember the veterans and their families. We must honor their service.

Note 1: Medals

Criteria for the Air Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross varied during World War II. In general, consideration was given to number of combat missions and enemy airplanes destroyed. Oak Leaf Clusters and Gold Stars represent additional awards of a medal, and these devices are worn on the military ribbons that accompany the medals.

Note 2: Service Stars

Bronze Service Stars and Silver Service Stars are often mistaken for the Bronze Star Medals and Silver Star Medals, which are awarded for valor. This was a common issue in news clippings during World War II. The clipping about Stanley Johnson is an example. Pg 75 This is also a common issue in obituaries today as the World War II veterans pass away. To avoid confusion, the phrase Bronze Service Star should be used rather than Bronze Star.

Service Stars, sometimes called battle stars, are tiny devices that are affixed to military campaign ribbons.

Campaign ribbons are awarded to all servicemen and servicewomen who participate in at least one battle of a military campaign, such as the European Theatre of Operations.

A Bronze Service Star is awarded for participation in a subsequent battle in the same campaign. A Silver Service Star represents five battles and is meant to replace five Bronze Service Stars.

Different rules applied after World War II as the nature of warfare has evolved.

Note 3: William G. Benn Story

Details for this story came mainly from the following sources:

  • A Footnote to History by Jim Ignasher, posted March 15, 2015, at The article provides a longer and more detailed version of the story. It is a good read.
  • B-25 Down: Hunt for a Hero, a documentary aired by The History Channel in 2003. (The program is available through the video-sharing website YouTube.)
  • General Kenney Reports, A Personal History of the Pacific War, by George C. Kenney. In August 1942, he took command of all U.S. Army and Allied air forces in the Southwest Pacific Area. A PDF version of the report is available online

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