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Genealogy Blog

6 April 2010

John H. Lauten Dies At 96; Army Captain Helped Plan Invasion Of Normandy

John H. Lauten, a lawyer who helped plan the invasion of Normandy as an Army captain during World War II and later became the first non-engineer to oversee the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, has died. He was 96.

Lauten died of natural causes March 22 at an assisted-living facility in Simi Valley, his family said.

For heroism during the D-day invasion, Lauten was awarded a Silver Star. He already had received a Bronze Star for heroic action in Algeria in 1942.

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28 February 2010

Canada's Last WWI Vet Honoured In U.S.

John Babcock, Canada's last known First World War veteran, was being honoured Saturday in a memorial service in his adopted hometown in Washington state.

Babcock died earlier this month in his home in Spokane at the age of 109.

Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn and General Walter Natynczyk, Canada's chief of defence staff, were attending the service in Spokane.

Blackburn was to present Babcock's widow with the flag that flew over Parliament on Feb. 18, the day he died.

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25 February 2010

German Officer Who Helped Save Bordeaux's Port From Destruction By Nazi Forces In World War II Has Died

A former German officer who helped save Bordeaux's port from destruction by Nazi forces in World War II has died.

Henri Salmide, born Heinz Stahlschmidt, died Tuesday at the age of 92, Alain Moga, the deputy mayor of Bordeaux, said.

The Germans had a plan to blow up the Bordeaux port before they retreated toward the end of the war.

Approximately 4,000 fuses needed for the plan were stored in the Mediterranean city's munitions depot. Salmide, then a junior officer in the German navy, defied his superiors and blew up the depot, rendering the fuses useless and saving the port, Moga said.

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19 February 2010

Final Canadian WWI Veteran Dies

The last Canadian veteran of World War I has died at the age of 109.

John Babcock enlisted at the age of 15 after lying about his age. He trained in Canada and England but the war ended before he reached the French frontline.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Mr Babcock was Canada's last living link to the Great War.

Just two other veterans of World War I remain alive: American Frank Buckles, also aged 109, and British-born Australian Claude Choules, who is 108.

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17 February 2010

Red Army Soldier Who Helped Raise Russian Flag Over Hitler's Reichstag Dies

A Red Army soldier who appeared in an iconic photograph of a Soviet flag flying from the ruins of Hitler’s Reichstag has died, aged 93.

Abdulkhakim Ismailov had fought all the way to Berlin from the Battle of Stalingrad three years earlier, where the destruction of the German Sixth Army turned the tide against the Nazi regime in the Second World War.

But he was only recognised half a century later as one of three soldiers raising the Hammer and Sickle flag in a picture that was staged by the Tass photographer Yevgeny Khaldei in May 1945, three days after Berlin fell to the Soviet Army.

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5 February 2010

Last Speaker Of Ancient Language Of Bo Dies In India

The last speaker of an ancient language in India's Andaman Islands has died at the age of about 85, a leading linguist has told the BBC.

Professor Anvita Abbi said that the death of Boa Sr was highly significant because one of the world's oldest languages - Bo - had come to an end.

She said that India had lost an irreplaceable part of its heritage.

Languages in the Andamans are thought to originate from Africa. Some may be 70,000 years old.

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12 January 2010

Anne Frank Diary Guardian Miep Gies Dies Aged 100

Miep Gies, the last surviving member of the group who helped protect Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis, has died in the Netherlands aged 100.

She and other employees of Anne Frank's father Otto supplied food to the family as they hid in a secret annex above the business premises in Amsterdam.

Anne's diary of their life in hiding, which ended in betrayal, is one of the most famous records of the Holocaust.

It was rescued by Mrs Gies, who kept it safe until after the war.

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6 January 2010

Hiroshima, Nagasaki Survivor Dies at 93

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person officially recognized as a survivor of both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings at the end of World War II, has died at age 93.

Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip for his shipbuilding company on Aug. 6, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city.

He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki, about 300 kilometers (190 miles) to the southwest, which suffered a second U.S. atomic bomb attack three days later.

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21 October 2009

WWII 'Lady of the Air Force' Dies

A Tasmanian woman whose portrait remains in the Australian War Memorial's collection as an official image of the Women's Auxiliary Australian Air Force (WAAAF) in World War II has passed away.

Gloria Gwendolyn Grace served as a corporal in the Second World War after enlisting in New Norfolk in 1943.

Ms Grace died in her aged care home in Melbourne on Tuesday, at the age of 88.

Family friend, Tasmanian Ron Ruthven, says official Australian war artist Harold Freedman went to great lengths to find Ms Grace to paint her. Mr Ruthven says Freedman passed her in a train station and decided she would become the face of the WAAAF.

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6 October 2009

Edgar Allan Poe Finally Getting Proper Funeral

For Edgar Allan Poe, 2009 has been a better year than 1849. After dozens of events in several cities to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth, he's about to get the grand funeral that a writer of his stature should have received when he died.

One hundred sixty years ago, the beleaguered, impoverished Poe was found, delirious and in distress outside a Baltimore tavern. He was never coherent enough to explain what had befallen him since leaving Richmond, Va., a week earlier. He spent four days in a hospital before he died at age 40.

Poe's cousin, Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly. Fewer than 10 people attended the hasty funeral for one of the 19th century's greatest writers. And the injustices piled on. Poe's tombstone was destroyed before it could be installed, when a train derailed and crashed into a stonecutter's yard.

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3 October 2009

Marek Edelman, Last Surviving Leader of WWII Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Dies at 90

Marek Edelman, the last surviving leader of the ill-fated 1943 Warsaw ghetto revolt against the Nazis, died Friday at the age of 90. Edelman died of old age at the family home of his friend Paula Sawicka, where he had lived for the past two years.

Edelman was born Jan. 1, 1919 in Homel, which was then in eastern Poland and is now in Belarus. His family soon moved to Warsaw.

When the Nazis invaded Poland on Sept.1, 1939, Edelman was member of Bund, a Jewish socialist organization that later masterminded plans for resistance against the occupying Germans.

The Nazis "wanted to destroy the people and we fought to protect the people in the ghetto, to extend their lives by a day, or two or five," Edelman said.

The ghetto fighters inflicted heavy losses on the Germans, but eventually succumbed. More than 55,000 people were killed or deported to Nazi concentration camps when the uprising failed.

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12 September 2009

Gertrude Noone Dies At 110; World's Oldest Known Living Military Veteran

Gertrude Noone was a 44-year-old insurance policy clerk for Travelers in Hartford, Conn., in 1943 when she enlisted in the Women's Army Corps.

When she died peacefully Thursday morning at age 110 at an assisted-living facility in Milford, Conn., she was the oldest known living military veteran in the world -- a fact that made her proud.

Noone, who rose to the rank of sergeant first class, was chief clerk of the large dispensary at Ft. Myer, Va., by the time she left the Army in 1949. She then worked as an administrative assistant at a private psychiatric hospital in Stamford, Conn., until retiring in 1962.

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11 September 2009

World's Oldest Person Dies In Los Angeles At 115

Gertrude Baines, who lived to be the world's oldest person on a steady diet of crispy bacon, fried chicken and ice cream, died Friday at a nursing home. She was 115.

Baines, who remarked last year that she enjoyed life so much she wouldn't mind living another 100 years, died in her sleep, said Emma Camanag, administrator at Western Convalescent Hospital.

The centenarian likely suffered a heart attack, said her longtime physician, Dr. Charles Witt. An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death.

"I saw her two days ago, and she was just doing fine," Witt told The Associated Press. "She was in excellent shape. She was mentally alert. She smiled frequently."

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1 September 2009

One Half Of Britain's Longest Married Couple Has Died

One half of Britain's longest married couple has died at the Plymouth residential home where he lived with his wife of 81 years.

Frank Milford met Anita, both 101, at a YMCA dance in Plymouth, Devon, in 1926 and they married two years later.

The couple said the secret of their marriage was "give and take" and making up after rows with a kiss and cuddle.

Mr Milford's 76-year-old son, who is also called Frank, said his mother was holding his father's hand when he died.

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7 August 2009

Thousands Mourn Britain’s Oldest Warrior

Harry Patch was past his 100th birthday before he began speaking out about the horrors he endured as a machine gunner in Flanders in World War I, when he survived the fighting at Ypres that was among the bloodiest in a war that took the lives of nearly 900,000 men from Britain and its colonies.

When Mr. Patch finally broke 80 years of silence, in the final decade of a life that was honored by thousands of mourners who gathered at his funeral on Thursday in this quiet cathedral town set in rolling green hills 140 miles west of London, his message was not the traditional story of valor and patriotism under fire. Rather, he took as his central themes the futility of war and the common humanity of soldiers who meet as enemies on the battlefield.

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