I suppose the best place to look for information on family history would be within the family itself. Last week I posted about a packet of old photographs that my grandfather had ordered from a photographer after World War II. These photos astonished me. I was so interested in them that I flipped through the large stack several times and every time I looked at them, I noticed something new. The qualities of the pictures are fabulous. They have been very well taken care of for the last 60 years, even though the manila envelope they are stored in has worn with age.
As promised, here is the second half of “War in Photos”. I will conclude this portion of the posting with more information about my grandfather, Norman David Ferguson, and the part he played in the war. I’ve tried doing as much research on him as possible to follow up on this post. Sometimes it seems that the more recent the death, the less information is available on things like ancestry. I have stumbled across some of his muster sheets and pension files. Maybe that is what I should research for a future post…how to research more recent family members without having to shell out money to vital statistics for current records! All though I don’t think I would complain about a trip to Richmond, Virginia for a day.
My grandfather, Norman David Ferguson, was born on March 31, 1925 in Gibsonia, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Donald Ferguson and Mabel Sandman. They remained in Allegheny, Pennsylvania for the better part of Norman’s childhood and according to census records lived in Hampton, Rural Allegheny, Shaler and Glenshaw.
Norman attended Shaler High School in Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. From ancestry, I found this yearbook photo circa 1941.
According to a Veteran Compensation Application file, Norman entered the service on August 12, 1942. That would make him about 17 years old.
From what I found on his muster sheets, he was in the Navy and part of the LST 291 and the LST 344 crews. I didn’t find too much on the internet about the LST 291 but I did find something on LST 344. It was named the USS Blanco. It was commissioned in January of 1943 and was named for Blanco County, Texas.
It served during the Invasion of Italy (1943-44), arriving in Algeria in May and began making preparations for the Invasion of Sicily.
The ship arrived off Gela in early July . During this time in Gela, she was under attack from several German Bf 109 fighter bombers. After entering the causeway, several shore batteries tried to attack as well but didn’t cause any major damage. They managed to unload and went seaward.
Later she headed for Bizerte to begin reinforcement shuttles between North Africa and Sicily.
In September she was a part of the assault at Salerno. They remained off shore and were parry to sporadic German air attacks.
In November, they arrived in Plymouth, England to make preparations for the Normandy Invasion. For several months they participated in training exercises throughout the British Isles.
On D-Day, June 6th, she disembarked troops and unloaded equipment at Omaha Beach. The ship helped ward off an attack by Junkers Ju 88 bombers and returned safely to Southampton on June 7th.
For the next 10 months the ship shuttled back and forth across the English Channel helping French Channel ports after they had been captured and reopened and also began first to many invasion beaches.
Before returning to the US in 1945-46, the ship visited Falmouth, England as well as Belfast, Ireland. She departed from Ireland and returned home to Norfolk, Virginia in May and decommissioned in June 1946.
All of these places described are exactly what was photographed by Stan Barish during the war. I am proud that my grandfather was a part of the efforts! I hope that you have enjoyed this post to complete the two part series “War in Photos”.
After the war, my grandfather remained in Allison Park, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. He married Doris Jean Lightener and together they had four children; my father, being the first. He later worked as a painter, painting cars for a local company in Norfolk, Virginia. I don’t have very many memories of my grandfather. Most of my time spent with him was when I was a child. I do remember that he loved to watch the airplanes take off from the airport that was down the street from their house in Azalea Gardens. He would come back with pizza for us when we spent the night with our grandparents. I also remember his humor. He always told us if we weren’t quiet after lights out, he would put us in the shed. This was all because my cousins and I would sit in the room next to him giggling until all hours of the night. Those were the days.
Norman “Pee Wee” David Ferguson Sr., passed away on March 10, 2002 in his home at the age of 76. Even though it has been several years since he passing, he is still remembered thanks to things like these photos. This, to me, is why genealogy is such an important part of history. You must remember your ancestors and where you come from, for whom else will?
Thanks for reading