STAMPS : The Picture Points the Way
By BARTH HEALEY
Published: November 13, 1988
LEAD: WORLD War II did not end on Aug. 29, 1944, when the United States Army paraded through Paris, past the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysees.
WORLD War II did not end on Aug. 29, 1944, when the United States Army paraded through Paris, past the Arc de Triomphe and down the Champs Elysees.
But for the millions of Americans who saw the Associated Press photograph of the march, that day in Paris was the emotional conclusion of the greatest conflict ever, a conclusion that was sealed with surrenders signed in Europe on May 7, 1945 and in Japan on Sept. 2, 1945.
The photograph was the basis for the design of a United States stamp, the Army issue of 1945, in a series marking the end of World War II.
Veterans Day calls to mind extraordinary research on this stamp, spanning more than four decades.
The six designs in the series, honoring the Marines, the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine and women in the services, were based in part on classic war-time photographs.
When the Army issue was released, the researchers set out to identify as many of those soldiers as possible.
To date, a remarkable number -27 - have been named. The most recent compilation was made by Albro T. Gaul in the November 1986 issue of The American Philatelist. He also offered an extensive review of the historical sources, and several hobbyists amplified and corrected some of his information in subsequent issues.
The men in the march were from the 28th Infantry Division, with the 112th Regiment on the right and the 110th on the left. Behind them came men of the 109th Regiment.
The first man to be identified was found on the day the stamp was issued, Sept. 28, 1945.
Three wounded veterans hospitalized at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington had been invited to the first-day ceremonies at the Pentagon, and when they returned to the hospital a resident internist, Dr. P. A. Linguiti, asked to see the stamps.
He found himself, center-left in the front row, wearing a Red Cross armband. Dr. Linguiti had been the medic for the 112th Regiment and won the Silver Star.
In following months three others were identified, and one of the Walter Reed patients, Pvt. Charles Biddle, joined with a colleague at the Department of the Interior, Joseph C. Jerome, to track down as many soldiers as they could.
The initial research began not with the stamp but with the photograph, which was taken by Dan Grossi of The Associated Press. The photograph did not include the planes that appear on the stamp, which were added at the insistence of the Army Air Corps; the planes are hybrids, neither B-29's (there were none in Europe) nor B-17's (which had a different wing-to-stabilizer ratio).
One of the first men identified, Lieut. James Ruby, in the center-front, looking left, was the commanding officer, C Company, 112th Regiment. He was able to name eight more, bringing the total to 12, and Mr. Jerome determined to gather all their stories in ''The History of the U.S. Army 3-Cent Commemorative.''
As the net spread, more soldiers recalled who had marched next to them through Paris, and each survivor was asked to write of his experiences during and after the war.
Some did not survive.
Capt. Howard E. Ludwick, in front on the far right, was killed two days after he marched through Paris, in Criel, France. His mother wrote his story.
Lieut. Ralph W. Spaans, facing front just to the left of Dr. Linguiti, was killed on Nov. 2, 1944, in the Hurtgen Forest in Germany. His mother wrote his story, too.
In the second row and beyond, Mr. Gaul listed the identities - in some case only partial identities - of 23 other soldiers: Tech. Sgt. Bernard John Burns. Sgt. William Donaldson. Staff Sgt. Merle E. Dutchess. Pfc. Lawrence J. Friel. Sgt. Peter Friscan. Sergeant Fritchie. Sgt. Robert Hutson. Sgt. Stephen Jaros. Sgt. Charley Jordan. Sgt. Joseph Kowalski. Pfc. Walter B. May Sgt. Jackson L. Morrow Jr. Lieutentant Schmidt. Tech. Sgt. Edward F. Schroder. Robert F. Sessons. Pvt. Bernard E. Shannon Lieut. James C. Sharpe. Staff Sgt. Robert L. Smith. Pvt. Eugene Spinlar. Sgt. Homer L. Terry. Lieut. George W. Thoemke. Lieut. Walter E. Tobler. Robert H. Whitesell.
One small oddity, when one considers the almost universal view that this march through Paris was a victory celebration: the ''parade'' was a strategic necessity.
As the Allied troops approached Paris from the west, German troops fled north from Paris, their retreat unhindered by the Allies. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower was faced with the need to move a large number of troops to the eastern and northern edges of Paris quickly. The Champs Elysees and the other boulevards of Paris were the most direct route.
Frédéric - co-administrateur du site et forum "Picardie 1939 - 1945"
Président association "Picardie 1939 - 1945"