70th anniversary of the premier of the movie CASABLANCA: Rembering my dad on what was Thanksgiving Day in 1942:
Monday, 26 November 2012
JAG HUNTER here:
Only eighteen days following the start of OPERATION TORCH, whereupon my dad–Navy Doctor, Lieutenant Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, Jr. and his shipmates in USS COLE (DD – 155) survived a suicide amphibious assault into the French Moroccan city of Safi, the movie CASABLANCA splashed on to the silver screen for the first time.
“CASABLANCA, which was rushed out several months before its originally planned 1943 release, premiered in New York City on Thanksgiving Day, 1942. The Hollywood reporter raved: ‘Here is a drama that lifts you right out of your seat.’ The New York Times called it ‘highly entertaining and inspiring…a picture which makes the spine tingle and the heart leap.’
“As near and dear to the heart as CASABLANCA is today, audiences in ’42 had an especially unique perspective. The world was embroiled in desperate conflict as the Nazi regime spread its savage poison across Europe, and the events on the screen mirrored events on the global stage. As Variety noted: ‘By curious quirk of fortune, history-making caught up to this picture set against a background of French Morocco, and its timeliness assures big box-office reception. Only a few days ago, world interest rested in the town of Casablanca, with the landing of Allied forces there and bare mention of the name still excites the imagination.’ “
(Courtesy of MGM and Turner Entertainment)
26 November 1942 Thanksgiving Day Menu aboard
USS AUGUSTA (CA – 31)
(Assigned to OPERATION TORCH with USS COLE and USS BERNADOU)
Cream of Tomato Soup a la Casablanca Fruit Cocktail Saltines Chicken and Turkey en Casserole a la Hewitt Baked Spiced Spam a la Capitaine de Vaisseau Giblet Gravy Cherry Dressing Buttered Asparagus Tips a la Fedala Chantilly Potatoes a la Patton Buttered June Peas de Safi Scalloped Tomatoes Cranberry Sauce Hot Parker Rolls du Lyautey Butter Jam Apple Pie a la Michelier Strawberry Ice Cream Mixed Nuts du Jean Bart Sweet Pickles Ripe Olives Cigars Cigarettes Cafe Noir
THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the PRESIDENTIAL UNIT CITATION to the
UNITED STATES SHIP COLE
for service as set forth in the following
“For outstanding performance as guide for the first wave of landing boats in the attack on Safi, French Morocco, November 8, 1942. Under crossfire from enemy coast defense batteries and machine gun emplacements, the COLE, proceeding through a narrow harbor entrance in total darkness, effectively countered hostile opposition, disembarked a company of U. S. Army assault troops, and supported their attack by accurate fire from her main battery. Her distinctive fulfillment of a difficult and hazardous mission contributed materially to the victorious achievement of the Southern Attack Group.”
For the President
/s/ Frank Knox
Secretary of the Navy
One sailor in USS COLE was shot through the lungs during the assault. My dad stitched up and treated his wounded shipmate who survived to enjoy his 1942 Thanksgiving dinner. The man reported to full shipboard duty a month later.
Commander Greg Palmer, my dad’s skipper, was awarded the Navy Cross for his performance of duty during OPERATION TORCH.
My dad was awarded the Bronze Star with with a Combat “V” for valor; the highest combination for valor awarded to medical officers performing as doctors under fire while engaged with an enemy force.