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 Brothers in Arms

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PostSubject: Brothers in Arms   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 15:42

I'm sure we've all seen Steven Speiberg's film Saving Private Ryan, about the efforts to save the only brother of four who was still alive. In part, the film was based on the Niland Brothers and on the Sullivan Brothers.

This is a letter written by the eldest Sullivan just after the attack on Pearl Harbor;

Quote :

Dear Sir:
I have four brothers and 2 buddies from my Motorcycle club. I talked them into going into the U.S Navy for the U.S.A. As a bunch, there is no-body that can beat us. There is nothing that can back us up. I had 4 years training in the Navy and four in the National Guards. My brother had four years in the Navy and a couple years military training. Otherwise, anyone of our brothers which there are 5 of us and our 2 buddies would like to stick together. We would all do our best to be as good as any other sailors in the Navy. We would appreciate it very much if you could, if possible keep us together. We will all leave for enlistment Jan 2, 1942. I think we will go to the Great Lakes Training Center near Chicago Illinois we would appreciate it very much if you could keep our 5 brothers and their 2 buddies together.
Our names are.
G.T Sullivan
F.H Sullivan
J.E Sullivan
M.P Sullivan
A.L Sullivan

Five brothers and 2 buddies
Arnie Ray
Eddie Fuer.

We Will Make a team Together that can't be beat. I have qualified as a First Class Gun Captain before I left the Navy and I know I can make a first class team out of them. I thank you dearly. We had 5 buddies killed in Hawaii. Help us.

G.T Sullivan
formerly U.S.S Hovey


about a year later:

Quote :

Dear Sirs:
I am writing to you in regard to a rumor going around that my five sons were killed in action in November. A mother from here came and told me she got a letter from her son and he heard my five sons were killed.
It is all over town now, and I am so worried. My five sons joined the Navy together a year ago, Jan. 3, 1942. They are on the cruiser, U.S.S JUNEAU. The last I heard from them was Nov. 8th. That is, it was dated Nov 8th, U.S. Navy.
Their names are, George T., Francis Henry, Joseph E., Madison A., and Albert L. If it is so, please let me know the truth. I am to christen the U.S.S. TAWASA, Feb. 12th at Portland, Oregon. If anything has happened to my five sons, I will still christen the ship as it was their will that I do so. I hated to bother you, but it has worried me so that I wanted to know if it was true. So please tell me. It was hard to give five sons all at once to the Navy, but I am proud of my boys that they can serve and help protect their country. George and Francis served four years on the U.S.S HOVEY, and I had the pleasure to go aboard their ship in 1937.
I am so happy the Navy has bestowed the honor on me to christen the U.S.S. TAWASA. My husband an daughter are going to Portland with me. I remain,

Sincerely,
Mrs. Alleta Sullivan
98 Adams Street
Waterloo, Iowa
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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 15:47

By an odd coincidence, USS Juneau had also been the ship of four Rogers Brothers from Connecticut. Unlike the Sullivans, two of the Rogers boys had transferred to a supply ship shortly before Juneau was sunk, and both survived the war.

Joe Rogers

Also killed onboard Juneau were two brothers named Coombs ( Charles & Russell)

USS Juneau in February 1942;

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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 16:38

In the RN at that time it was accepted practice that an elder (or rather longer-serving) brother could request his sibling(s) to be drafted to his ship. Suspect that would not include a shore billet, but not entirely sure.



USS The Sullivans (2nd of name)


Last edited by Gilgamesh of Uruk on Wed 03 Feb 2016, 16:52; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Wed 03 Feb 2016, 16:51

I am almost certain that there was a film made called " The Sullivan Brothers"

It showed their younger years , enlisting and the death in action of the Sullivan brothers.
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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Thu 04 Feb 2016, 08:45

Although it's not exactly the same situation as the Sullivan brothers ... but the problem of putting friends and family into the same unit was well known from the experience so-called Pals' Battalions of WW1, when the British Army, at least initially, deliberately encouraged men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, to be assigned to the same unit, rather than being arbitrarily assigned units. Accordingly there were battalions comprised wholly of men from the same factory, the same football club, the same few adjacent streets, the same village, etc ... and so often comprising men from a few closely related families.

Inevitably during a war of attrition like WW1, certain units were almost completely wiped out (such as during the 1916 Somme offensive). Accordingly instead of casualties being distributed throughout a city or county (bad as that is), sometimes it was a case that every single male under arms from the same family or the same street being killed at the same time, with a disasterous effect on local civillian morale. After the Somme the practice of recruiting Pals' Battalions ceased (and in any case conscription had by then been introduced), and any such existing units were disbanded and their men reassigned.


btw welcome aboard Dirk Marinus  Cheers ... weren't you once a regular contributor on the old, now defunct history message board, or is that just a coincidence of names?
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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Thu 04 Feb 2016, 09:28

I didn't know about the RN's policy, Gil, thanks for that.

Hi Dirk and welcome to the boards. Yes, there was a film made about the Sullivan Brothers in 1944. According to the narrative on the DVD cover, the film was withdrawn on its' original release due to audience reaction ( it doesn't say what the reaction was, presumably audiences were upset at the deaths of the 5 brothers)

Meles, yes the load of telegrams arriving in a single street or village at the one time was something to be avoided.
I remember reading in Castles of Steel, that a similar thing happened with the old ships of the Reserve Fleet in the 1914-18 War, as many of the ships' crews were drawn from the same area. The Estuary towns of Kent were hard hit at the time of the sinking of the cruisers Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy and some of the crew of the Monmouth were fishermen and coastguards from the Western Isles.

Which, reminds me; the sinking of the Iolaire after the war was over and only yards from home:

HMY Iolaire
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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Thu 04 Feb 2016, 09:39

The crews of Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy also contained a large number of officer cadets, some as young as 15 years of age, which was well below the age limit for entry into the army, and originally was below the age at which naval cadets could go to sea on active warships, but Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty had argued for an exception as it was wartime ... for which he was severely criticised after the Hogue, Aboukir, Cressy disaster. The policy however wasn't changed and at least one young cadet who'd survived the sinking of HMS Hogue later went down with HMS Irresistible during the Dardanelles campaign, still under age.

But that's a digression.
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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Thu 04 Feb 2016, 11:25

@Meles meles wrote:
The crews of Hogue, Aboukir and Cressy also contained a large number of officer cadets, some as young as 15 years of age, which was well below the age limit for entry into the army, and originally was below the age at which naval cadets could go to sea on active warships, but Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty had argued for an exception as it was wartime ... for which he was severely criticised after the Hogue, Aboukir, Cressy disaster. The policy however wasn't changed and at least one young cadet who'd survived the sinking of HMS Hogue later went down with HMS Irresistible during the Dardanelles campaign, still under age.

But that's a digression.
The crew of Monmouth, sunk at the battle of Coronel, were also largely fishermen reserves and many officer cadets were lost with her. This seems to have been a result , not only of Churchill's meddling in things he didn't understand (apparently his triumphant signal "Winston is back" was greeted with trepidation by those who remembered his performance as 1st Lord in WW1), but also a consequence of the "all over by Xmas" feeling on the outbreak of war (Good Hope and Monmouth were lost in large part because of his misleading signals and misguided disposition of forces - Battenberg was under such pressure that he let Churchill have his head. Never a wise course of action. Antwerp anyone? Ever heard of Gallipoli?
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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Thu 04 Feb 2016, 11:56

Facsimile of the Bixby Letter, sent by President Lincoln to Mrs Bixby of Massachusetts in November 1864.

It turns out the letter was somewhat premature as at least two and possibly three of Mrs Bixby's sons survived the war;

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PostSubject: Re: Brothers in Arms   Thu 04 Feb 2016, 12:02

The German version of Band of Brothers, three von Blucher brothers, all paratroopers, and all killed on 21 May 1941 during the Invasion of Crete;

von Blucher brothers

the fourth was sent home from the Navy but was killed in a hunting accident in 1944. (Final Destination rather than Saving Private Ryan)
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