D-Day in Da Paper 6-June-1944

D-Day in Da Paper 6-June-1944

D-Day in Da Paper greeted New Orleans on the morning of the invasion.

d-day

D-Day in Da Paper

When New Orleans woke up on June 6, 1944, the Times-Picayune headline reported German accounts that the invasion was underway. Those reports were unconfirmed by Eisenhower’s HQ in London. Most of the reporting reflects the basic strategy. Analysts in the US spoke in general terms, mainly because they didn’t know exactly what was happening. The conventional wisdom in 1944 was that the Allies would take the shortest trip across the English Channel, Dover to Pas-de-Calais in France. The initial accounts report Allied bombing in and around Le Harve. The initial airborne drops in Normandy were considered staging for other operations:

“Anglo American parachute troops are bailing out on the northern tip of the Normandy peninsula to capture several airfields in order to make room for further landings of parachute troops.”

So, this reflected the German belief (specifically, Rommel’s belief) that the Normandy operations were a feint, or support for the full invasion at Calais. Not sure exactly what was happening, Rommel hesitated on moving into Normandy:

In an amphibious operation of such a gigantic size and complexity, it has been expected that the Germans would hold their main forces in reserve until it was determined where the major Allied strike would fall.

Ike’s gamble on Rommel’s plan worked.

EXTRA!

d-day

Later in the day, when official news arrived across the Atlantic, Da Paper published an eight-page EXTRA with a lot more detail. While the morning edition reported the German’s announcements, updates came in as New Orleans had its morning coffee:

The invasion, which Eisenhower called “a great crusade” was announced at 7:32 a. m. Greenwich mean time. This was 2:32 a. m. Central war time in New Orleans. They labeled the first announcement Communique No. 1.

“Under the command of General Eisenhower, Allied Naval Forces supported by strong air forces began landing Allied armies this morning on the northern coast of France.”

The EXTRA also published Ike’s Order of the Day, addressing the forces under his command.

d-day

It’s important to remember that most of the iconic images from 5-6 June, 1944, didn’t appear in newspapers for quite some time. The T-P printed a photo of Ike at his desk, a fairly benign photo. We wouldn’t see him having a smoke with Airborne troops, etc, until much later.

Be sure to see the whole story at the National World War II Museum.

Lakefront Airport 1945

Lakefront Airport 1945

New Orleans Lakefront Airport (NEW) was the city’s go-to airfield during WWII.

lakefront airport

Lakefront Airport

Postcard of New Orleans Airport (NEW) from the 1930s. The image shows a commercial aircraft parked behind the main terminal building, boarding passengers. Image source unknown–if anyone’s done a deep dive on this one, please let me know. The aircraft appears to be a Douglas DC-3.

Delta Airlines 1945

lakefront airport

Fast forward to 1945. One of the ads I found in the Times-Picayune for 26-December-1945 was for Delta Airlines. The ad caught my eye for two reasons. First, it was Delta to Dallas. Delta ceased nonstops from New Orleans to Dallas in 2003. The airline filed for bankruptcy then and gave up hub operations at DFW. Delta’s headquarters stands off the runway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Delta to Dallas? Thing of the past.

The second thing–the flight time! Modern flights to Dallas, say MSY to Love Field (DAL), maybe an hour and ten minutes. Three hours? Well, yeah, it’s not a jet. But still!

The image in this ad looks like a DC-3 as well. The Douglas DC-4 had four engines, and the illustration looks like a two-engine aircraft. The military used the DC-3 as a sleeper aircraft, with 14 bunks. The Army Air Corps version of the plane, the C-47 transported paratroopers and glider troops to Normandy on D-Day.

Moisant or Lakefront?

A commenter to the ad post on Instagram asked, which airport? Another commenter replied this had to be Lakefront Airport, because MSY didn’t open to commercial aviation until May, 1946. So, New Orleanians hopping a plane to Dallas in 1945 drove out to the lakefront. NEW opened (as Shushan Airport) in 1934. A year later, airlines shifted to Kenner. Lakefront Airport morphed into a general aviation site, with Air National Guard units as well as private aircraft.

Lakefront Airport Today

The gorgeous Art Deco terminal underwent a major renovation in 2012-2013. It’s gorgeous, and merits an article of its own, which we’ll get to at some point.

Eisenhower Commands – Christmas 1943

Eisenhower Commands – Christmas 1943

Eisenhower commands invasion force, Christmas, 1943.

eisenhower commands

click image for full article

Eisenhower Commands, 1943

“Roosevelt Yule Report Bares Plans for New Blows at Nazis” was the subtitle for a page 1 story in the Times-Picayune, Saturday, December 25, 1943. President Roosevelt gave a report on the progress of the war, on Christmas Eve, via radio. In it, he named General Dwight D. Eisenhower as commander, “to blast invasion routes into the continent from the west or north.” Meanwhile, Churchill’s government in London announced the British generals who would join Eisenhower with invasion commands.

It’s difficult to look back now on what families in New Orleans were thinking on Christmas morning in 1943. While the Allies made advances in North Africa, Italy, and on the Eastern Front, there was no movement yet into Northern Europe. Hitler’s “Fortress Europa” was intact. Everything was high-level planning, involving FDR, Churchill, and Stalin.

Office Politics and Drama

As we now know from numerous monographs and movies, there was a lot of behind-the-scenes posturing among the Allied Generals. Churchill’s chose General Sir Henry Maitland Wilson to step into Eisenhower’s command in Italy. Montgomery appears in this announcement, but FDR mentions Americans other than Ike. We know now that Patton angered Ike over his command in Sicily. Thing was, the Germans sincerely believed Patton was the superior commander. The notion that Eisenhower would give command of the invasion to anyone besides Patton never entered into the German high command’s thinking. So, FDR omitting Patton fit the thinking. Why re-state the obvious? The British suffered the drama with Montgomery. The Germans followed Patton’s movements for the next six months, looking for clues.

“All Return Safely, ‘Rocket’ Targets Rumored”

eisenhower commands

click image for full article

The page-one story just to the left of coverage of FDR’s address updates New Orleans on recent activity. The second graf offers insight into invasion planning. The Germans, including the northern commander, Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt, focused on Pas de Calais. Dover to Calais offered the shortest route across the channel.

Another AP story appeared on Page Four of the Christmas edition, reporting on a major Allied air raid. In the story, one pilot summed up the raid:

Lieutenant William S. Breiner of Akron, Ohio, said, “Airplanes were everywhere. I bet they thought the invasion had started.”

The story mentions an Army Air Corps communique stating there was minimal fighter opposition. That would change when Rommel assumed command of the Atlantic Wall in January, 1944. Additionally, the AP reported rumors of German “Rocket Guns,” and the need to destroy possible launch sites. This, of course, became reality, as the Germans launched their V-1 “buzz bombs” and V-2 rockets in 1944.

Homefront Reaction

New Orleans fully supported the war effort. Manufacturing facilities, Andrew Jackson Higgins’ landing craft, major military hospitals, and shipbuilding kept the city busy. Retailers like the Krauss Corporation did everything they could to promote the sale of war bonds. Good news about air attacks and planning for the Summer of 1944 enabled New Orleans to have a cautious but happy holiday season.

Twelve Months New Orleans July

Twelve Months New Orleans July

Twelve Months New Orleans July, continuing the series by Enrique Alferez

twelve months new orleans july

Twelve Months New Orleans July

This image is the seventh in a series of images by Enrique Alferez, published by Michael Higgins as “The Twelve Months of New Orleans.” Higgins published the illustrations in 1940. The image features an outdoor procession, part of the celebration of the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi.

Enrique Alferez

Alferez was born in Northern Mexico on May 4, 1901. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1927 to 1929. He came to New Orleans in 1929. Alferez made New Orleans his home. He took advantage of various Works Progress Administration grants in the late 1930s. Alferez created a number of sculptures in the metro area, particularly in New Orleans City Park. Additionally, he designed the large fountain in front of Shushan Airport (now New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

Alferez drew and painted, as well as sculpting. So, he included many New Orleans landmarks in the “Twelve Months” booklet.

Twelve Months

Twelve Months New Orleans January

The title/cover page of the booklet says:

The
Twelve Months
of
New Orleans

A set of 12 Romantic
Lithographic Prints
In COLORS
Displaying 60 local subjects
drawn direct on the plate
with pen, brush, and crayon
by
Enrique Alferez

Printed and published by Michael Higgins
at 303 North Peters St
NEW ORLEANS

July’s Lithograph

Independence Day and flags are the themes of July’s illustration.

The Flags

While the lithographs in this series so far feature a main drawing in the center, and smaller ones in each corner, the Ten Flags line up in two vertical rows for July. The flags are (text from the litho in bold):

  1. Castile and Leon, carried by De Soto. In the course of his westward explorations, Hernando De Soto reached the Mississippi River on 8-May-1541.
  2. Royal France, planted by La Salle, 1682. This flag symbolized the rule of France over Colonial Louisiana until the Seven Year’s War.
  3. Bourbon Spain, 1769. France ceded Louisiana to Spain, to avoid having to surrender the territory to the British. This arguably should be 1762, but Spain didn’t immediately send a governor.
  4. British Union Jack, 1763. The British briefly occupied Baton Rouge, until Spanish Governor Galvez dislodged them. This date is incorrect, as Galvez did not become governor until 1777, and this incident took place in 1779.
  5. US takes over, 1803. Louisiana becomes the twelfth state in 1812.
  6. Lone Star of West Florida, 1810. Americans seized Baton Rouge from a British encampment, declaring the “Florida Parishes” independend. US President James Madison annexed the territory in 1810, adding it to the overall Louisiana Territory.
  7. National flag of Louisiana, 1861. Flag flown in Louisiana after secession and before joining the CSA.
  8. Confederate Naval Jack. This flag flew over Louisiana (other than New Orleans) from 1861 to 1865. Its use in New Orleans ended on May 1, 1862.

Flags 9 and 10 are those of the French Republic and the United States. The flag of France briefly flew over New Orleans, during the transition from Spanish control back to the French, as part of the Louisiana Purchase process. The American flag shown is the 48-star version, from 1940.

Independence Day

The central component of the litho is a sword, wrapped in a banner that says, “The Twelve Months of New Orleans – July – The Ten Flags.

See you for the eighth image in August.

 

Twelve Months New Orleans June

Twelve Months New Orleans June

Twelve Months New Orleans June, continuing the series by Enrique Alferez

twelve months new orleans june

Twelve Months New Orleans June

This image is the sixth in a series of images by Enrique Alferez, published by Michael Higgins as “The Twelve Months of New Orleans.” Higgins published the illustrations in 1940. The image features an outdoor procession, part of the celebration of the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi.

Enrique Alferez

Alferez was born in Northern Mexico on May 4, 1901. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1927 to 1929. He came to New Orleans in 1929. Alferez made New Orleans his home. He took advantage of various Works Progress Administration grants in the late 1930s. Alferez created a number of sculptures in the metro area, particularly in New Orleans City Park. Additionally, he designed the large fountain in front of Shushan Airport (now New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

Alferez drew and painted, as well as sculpting. So, he included many New Orleans landmarks in the “Twelve Months” booklet.

Twelve Months

Twelve Months New Orleans January

The title/cover page of the booklet says:

The
Twelve Months
of
New Orleans

A set of 12 Romantic
Lithographic Prints
In COLORS
Displaying 60 local subjects
drawn direct on the plate
with pen, brush, and crayon
by
Enrique Alferez

Printed and published by Michael Higgins
at 303 North Peters St
NEW ORLEANS

June’s Lithograph

Summertime/outdoor activities and are the themes for June.

The Corners

Top Left: Voodoo. June 23 is St. John’s Eve, the day before the Feast of St. John, on the Catholic Church’s liturgical calendar. St. John’s Eve is a significant night for practitioners of Voudon. The Voudon would go out to Bayou St. John and the lake, performing rituals and asking favor of the Loa, beginning at sunset. Additionally, modern Wiccans and other Pagans mark St. John’s Eve, as part of their Midsummer rituals.

Top Right: Lee Memorial

The Lost Cause of the Confederacy remained a significant part of the culture of New Orleans as late as the 1940s. While there’s no one particular event related to Lee or the (now-removed) monument in June, Lee Circle served as an escape. Downtown residents and workers sought refuge and relaxation in the green space of the circle.

Bottom Left: Jefferson Davis, only President of the Confederate States of America, was born on 3-June-1808. So, New Orleans marked the occasion with a ceremony. The illustration features the location of that ceremony, the Davis statue, formerly located on the corner of Canal Street and Jefferson Davis Parkway. The city re-named that parkway in 2021, for Dr. Norman C. Francis.

Bottom Right: “Lakeshore Lilies” – not flowers, but rather young ladies enjoying the sea breeze along Lakeshore Drive.

Summer Observances

The Catholic Church is fond of large, outdoor celebrations, in the 18th and 19th Centuries. While earlier processions wound around entire towns, parishes with long French or Spanish traditions, continued those outdoor celebrations.

The Feast of Corpus Christi began in Belgium in the 13th Century. Priests paraded the Eucharist around the town in a grand procession. Popes endorsed and encouraged this feast day. Naturally, the tradition carried over to French-Spanish Colonial New Orleans. By the mid-20th Century, the processions were no longer citywide. Parishes processed the Eucharist around their own neighborhoods.

The drawing shows a large Corpus Christi procession. So, a bishop (perhaps the archbishop?) carries the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance. The monstrance is a large gold receptacle for the consecrated host. Additionally, he is accompanied by acolytes carrying a canopy. That canopy protects both bishop and Eucharist. Two men, dressed in Colonial-style costume, observe the procession from horseback. The caption reads, simply, “Corpus Christi Procession.”

See you for the seventh image in July.

 

Cabildo Courtyard 1940

Cabildo Courtyard 1940

Cabildo courtyard, captured in a 1940 postcard.

Cabildo courtyard

“Courtyard and Prison Rooms in the Cabildo.” This postcard, from the Curt Teich Postcard Archives Digital Collection at the Newberry Library, University of Illinois, is from a photo by Bill Leeper. It features the Cabildo, the building that housed the seat of the Spanish Colonial government in New Orleans. While the original government building was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1788, this building replaced it. The Spanish government completed the Cabildo in 1799. The United States took ownership of the Cabildo in 1803, as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

Louisiana State Museum

After serving as the seat of the Louisiana Supreme Court, the Cabildo became the home of the Louisiana State Museum in 1911. As such, the building housed a number of exhibits. Since the Cabildo is an exhibit in itself, there’s usually some sort of display/exhibition that brings visitors back to the Colonial period. The courtyard played that role in 1940.

The courtyard and the “prison”

This postcard captures the courtyard behind the Cabildo. Outdoor space is a common feature in the architecture of Spanish Colonial buildings. Homes were built around a central courtyard. The open space allowed heat to rise out through the central space, and let the breeze come in.

The courtyard at the Cabildo differs from others in the Vieux Carré. It appears to be open space surrounded by the Cabildo, but it’s really two buildings. The structure in the rear of the photo is the Louisiana State Armory, commonly known as the Arsenal. The Spanish built their arsenal on this spot. In addition to holding weapons and ammunition, the Arsenal included jail cells. So, that’s how the postcard gets its title. The Americans remodeled the Arsenal in 1839. The street entrance on St. Peter Street received a Greek Revival entrance, but the interior retained the Spanish style.

Friends of the Cabildo

The Louisiana State Museum uses the Arsenal as an extension of the Cabildo’s museum space. There’s a large meeting room on the second floor. This morning, I had the privilege of speaking to the Tour Guides of the Friends of the Cabildo, at their monthly meeting. The meeting was via Zoom. Before the pandemic, the tour guides met on the second floor of the Arsenal. I look forward to my next talk to the group, back in this wonderful building.