Tonawanda II AN-89 - History

Tonawanda II AN-89 - History


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Tonawanda II
(AN-89: dp. 775 (tl.); 1. 168'6", b. 33'10", dr. 10'10"
(f.); s. 12.3 k. (tl.); cpl. 46; a. 1 3"; cl. Cohoes)

The second Tonawanda (AN-89) was laid down on 12 September 1944 at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., by the Leathem D. Smith Shipbuilding Co.; launched on 14 November 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Charles N. Barnum; and commissioned on 9 May 1945, Lt. Edward F. McLaughlin in command.

The net laying ship departed Sturgeon Bay on 19 May and, after a voyage across the Great Lakes and down the St. Lawrence River, arrived in Boston, Mass., on 4 June. After a short availability, she moved to Melville, R.I., on the 19th for shakedown training and daily net laying drills in Narragansett Bay. Tonawanda stood out of Boston harbor again on 18 July and shaped a course south to Key West and thence to the Panama Canal. She transited the canal on 2 and 3 August and continued her voyage to San Pedro, Calif. where she arrived on 16 August, the day after hostilities in the

Pacific ceased. She reported for duty in the 11th Naval District and, for the next 10 weeks, Tonawanda operated in the 11th Naval District at San Pedro, Seal Beach, Long Beach, and Port Hueneme, disposing of nets and salvaging net buoys. On 27 November, the ship stood out of San Pedro Bay and headed back to the Panama Canal which she transited on the 8th. Continuing north, Tonawanda arrived in Norfolk, Va., on 19 November and reported for duty with the Service Force, Atlantic Fleet.

On 3 January 1946, she received orders to duty in the 7th Naval District and, on the 4th, stood out of the Chesapeake Bay and turned south. She reached Miami, Fla., on 7 January and began assisting in hydrographic triangulation surveys in the Florida-Cuba-Bahamas area. That duty lasted until 7 April when the net laying ship departed Miami in company with Marietta (AN82) for New Orleans. Tonwanda remained in New Orleans from 25 April to 11 May, when she shifted to Orange, Tex., to prepare for inactivation. Tonawanda was decommissioned on 9 August 1946 and berthed at Orange.

On 18 March 1952, after almost six years in reserve, Tonawanda was recommissioned at Orange, Lt. Clarence A. Tennehill in command. After trials off Sabine Pass, Tex., she departed the Texas coast on 21 March bound for New England duty in the 1st Naval District. The ship arrived in Boston on 1 April and entered the Bethlehem Simpson Shipyard to complete outfitting. On 10 June, she moved to the Net Depot at Melville, R.1:., where she began seven years of experimental net installation duties in the vicinity of Melville and Boston. Periodically, she departed the New England coast to conduct underway training and mine warfare tactics exercises in the Chesapeake Bay and off the Virginia capes. On two occasions, from 28 August to 21 October 1955 and from 2 May to 30 June 1956, temporary duty with the Mine Warfare Evaluation Detachment, Key West, interrupted her routine along the New England coast. During those two periods, she assisted other ships assigned to the detachment in experiments in mine planting, testing, recovery, and in overall mine warfare tactics development. After each of these tours, she resumed normal operations out of Melville and Boston.

On 16 November 1959, Tonawanda departed Boston and headed for Bayonne, N.J., to prepare once more for inactivation. On 18 December 1959, Tonawanda was decommissioned at Bayonne and assigned to the New York Group, Atlantic Reserve Fleet. She remained there until 25 May 1960 when she was leased to the government of Haiti under the terms of the Military Assistance Program. As of late 1979, she was still serving the Haitian government as Jean Jacques Dessalines (MH-10) when she was disposed of by sale by the United States.


1960s Buffalo in Glorious Color

eBay user soon2bexpat has a treasure trove of more than 300 vintage color slides posted for sale today, and many of them are from Buffalo and Western New York.

Glorious, full-color glimpses of the way life used to be around here, mostly from the late 1950s through the early 70s.

Many are labelled as from Buffalo, but many more are apparently snapshots of day-to-day life on the Niagara Frontier in a bygone era.

All of the “certain” and a good number of the “safe to assume” Buffalo images follow. As of print time, many of these remain for sale from soon2bexpat if you are interested.

If you can help better identify any of the people or places in any of these images, please drop me an email: [email protected]

One of several shots taken in various Buffalo basement bars… Genesee and Iroquois lights hang on the wall on this one, pointing to a pretty clear Buffalo connection.

A similar-but-different bar features cans of Buffalo-brewed Stein’s beer stacked.

Beers in the basement.

Church hall? VFW? One thing is sure, that’s Buffalo’s own Simon Pure beer in the can to the left.

The only thing more Buffalo than sitting in the garage drinking a beer, is sitting in the garage drinking a beer while your friend plays the accordion. Extra points for white belt and argyle socks with shorts.

This could be a Polish-American wedding anywhere given the accordion player, but since the slides were mostly from Buffalo, I’ll guess that we can claim this one, too.

This one looks like a more honest-to-goodness gin mill, with at least four Iroquois signs on the wall.

I don’t know if her name is Mabel, but she quite clearly likes her Black Label.

There were several Purina mills and elevators in Western New Yoek, including one in The Valley. Can’t say for sure if this is one of them or not.

Again, it’s likely a Buffalo image, but I can’t say for sure. I can say it’s a Lehigh Valley snow plow…
UB playing at Rotary Field on Bailey Avenue. That’s the VA Hospital in the background.

The Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks at Memorial Auditorium. Number 3 for the Sabres is Mike Robitaille.

This Sabres line is the French Connection– Rick Martin, Gil Perreault, and Rick Martin. The defenseman, number 2, is Tim Horton.

It’s a New York plate, so Buffalo is a good guess. It’s a great car either way.

A different New York plate– a different great car. This could be any one of a dozen neighborhoods in Cheektowaga.

The Daughters of Charity were responsible for the operation of Sisters’ Hospital. It appears that they are in a ballroom at the Statler Hilton.

The Isle View has been a Tonawanda landmark since Prohibition, and still is to this day– Doesn’t look too much different, either.

Wanda & Stephanie– Buffalo’s famous Mother/Daughter polka duo, were known as “America’s Polka Sweethearts.”

Random scene: Could be WNY or not…

Location not clear, but could be a lake boat…

Burger Basket, Sweeney & Payne in North Tonawanda. Home of the 39¢ Mr. Big.

Fire at Ann’s Restaurant. Almost certainly in Western New York with the Rich’s Ice Cream sign… There was an Ann’s Restaurant at the corner of Main and Virginia– it’s now a parking lot. Could be this place…

A possible Western New York storefront…

A ship docking in Toronto…

Firemen’s parade, downtown Buffalo

A cardinal sits among bishops in a City of Buffalo (CHESTER KOWAL, MAYOR) parade shelter

A Buffalo Police captain, as priests look on…

A parade in front of Lakeshore Tire…

St. Patrick’s Day on Main Street in Buffalo in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

If you can provide any more information on any of these photos, feel free to email me: [email protected]


Elmlawn Memorial Park and Crematory, a not-for-profit organization, was first established in 1901. Today, the cemetery consists of 100 developed acres with over 70,000 burials and mausoleum entombments. An additional 45 acres exists for future expansion.

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Several sections within Elmlawn Memorial Park are dedicated to U.S. Veterans. Memorials have been placed for Veterans of World War I, World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Redisover History

Learn and visit historic memorials. Elmlawn is the final resting place of area leaders, legends and loved ones whose lives have touched our own. The memorials represent the some of the finest funerary art in New York and is only part of what Elmlawn offers our community.


Mac's Motor City Garage

Disowned by General Motors before it ever raced, the Chevy 427 Mystery engine became a legend in its own time. Here’s the story behind the story of this almost mythical V8.

As you know, here at Mac’s Motor City Garage we’re big fans of the mighty American V8s that supplied much of the muscle for the golden age of motorsports. In our features on the SOHC Ford Cammer V8, the Mickey Thompson 427 Ford Hemi, and the Buick Nailhead V8, we celebrate these legendary engines, while also doing our best to separate the fact from the fiction. Now we focus on an engine of downright mythical status, the 󈨃 Chevy 427 NASCAR Mystery engine. Let’s dive straight in.

This is not a Mystery V8, but we’re including it anyway to clear up a frequent misconception. This is the engine most commonly confused with the Mystery motor: the RPO Z11 427 CID V8. Chevrolet produced two different 427 CID racing engines for 1963, and this one, the Z11, was essentially an enlarged, enhanced version of the famed 409 CID V8, with a .15-inch longer stroke and detail improvements. Note the scalloped, inverted-W valve covers, common to the 348/409 W-series engine family and dictated by the distinctive staggered valve layout. Experts believe that 57 vehicles were produced with the Z11 427 V8.

The Z11 was developed strictly for drag racing, while the V8 that became known as the Mystery engine was intended solely for NASCAR. And while the two engines are very different animals, they share some common background and features, as we will see.

This is the real deal: an original 427 Chevrolet Mark II V8, the Mystery engine of song and story. This example is installed in the Ray Fox-prepared 󈨃 Impala driven by Junior Johnson in the 1963 NASCAR season, an amazing time-capsule car that survives today in near-original condition. By the way, the cowl-induction intake system was a Chevrolet innovation, and NASCAR racers use a similar setup to this day.

Chevy enthusiasts will note that the Mark II V8 bears a strong resemblance to the familiar 396/427 CID Mark IV V8 (aka big-block Chevy) introduced in 1965-66—especially around the valve covers. Indeed, many have regarded the Mystery V8 as a prototype or version 1.0 of the big-block V8, but that’s not quite accurate. For one thing, no major components interchange. Meanwhile, the Mystery motor has also been described as an improved version of the 409 built on the same block, but that’s not accurate, either.

Probably the best way to regard the Mystery V8 is as a missing link between the 348/409 and big-block Chevy engine families, sharing aspects of both. The man responsible for the Mark II’s design is Richard L. Keinath, a key figure in the successful development of several Chevrolet V8s.

On the Mark II aka Mystery V8, the intake and exhaust valves are staggered, like on the 348/409, but also canted or tipped relative to the cylinder bores, a feature shared with the Mark IV V8. The bore and stroke are 4.3125 by 3.65 inches, identical to the Z11 V8, and the crankshafts are similar, sharing the same 2.500-in. and 2.200-in. main and rod journal diameters. (In comparison, the Mark IV 427 production engine employed a different bore/stroke combo, 4.251 by 3.76 inches, and larger 2.75-in. main bearings.)

However, the Mystery V8 required a totally different block casting with conventional, 90-degree cylinder decks. The decks on the Z11, as with all members of the 348/409 family, were cambered 16 degrees to provide a combustion volume in the cylinder rather than in the head—a brief fad in engine design also adopted by Ford and some industrial engine makers. The Mark II engine abandoned this unusual feature in favor of a traditional kidney-shaped closed chamber contained in the cylinder head.

Initial design work began in 1960, and by November of 1962 the Mark II V8 was ready for high-speed durability testing at GM’s Mesa, Arizona proving ground. Shown here are driver Rex White, 1960 NASCAR Grand National champion, and (standing) Louis Clements, his crew chief. Reportedly, the red 󈨃 Impala test mule pictured here is the same car that was raced in the 1963 Daytona 500 by Johnny Rutherford, repainted in Smokey Yunick’s familiar black-and-gold livery.

A closeup view of the Mark II cylinder head and its canted valve layout shows plenty of similarity with the later big-block Chevy V8, but there are some obvious departures as well. Note the unique valve cover mounting pattern, the cast-iron pushrod guides, and the stamped aluminum heat shields protecting the spark plugs and wires.

Intake valves are 2.19 in. in diameter, exhausts are 1.72 in, and per NASCAR practice circa 1963, the exhaust manifolds are cast iron. Another key dimension worth noting: As with the 348/409 W-series family, the bore spacing on the Mark II V8 is 4.84 in., and the production Mark IV V8 was built on 4.84-in. bore centers as well. Three displacement combinations were tested: 409, 427, and 396 cubic inches, and four dual-plane intake manifold designs were tried in combination with the single Holley four-barrel carburetor.

In February at Daytona, the Mark II engine was an absolute sensation, as Junior Johnson and NASCAR rookie Johnny Rutherford each ran away with their respective qualifying races, and Rutherford (above) threw down a lap of 165.183 mph, a closed-course speed record. The new Chevrolet was in a class of its own. Claims of 600 hp and more have been made over the years, but reliable sources inside the program peg the engine at around 530-540 hp—a respectable figure in 1963. Extremely respectable.

On race day the new engine suffered the usual teething problems, while Rutherford made a rookie error and spun out, losing a lap and a shot at victory. Still, it was a highly promising start for the Mark II V8. Except for this: On January 21, the day before the qualifying races, GM chairman Fred Donner issued an edict banishing the automaker from all organized racing activities, effective immediately. It was over, just like that. The Mark II V8 was a lame duck in NASCAR before it ever turned a lap.

In this article by Ray Brock in the May, 1963 issue of Hot Rod magazine, the Mark II V8 was tagged with the Mystery name for posterity. But by this time, the engine was already fading into history. The operations supplied with Mark II engines by Chevrolet—Ray Fox, Rex White, and Smokey Yunick—were permitted to keep the equipment and finish out the season. But without funding or factory technical support, their efforts were doomed. One issue was with the block itself: The initial run of castings suffered core shift and other defects.

According to GM sources, it appears that components for as many as 60 engines were produced before chairman Bonner dropped the bomb. However, it is unclear how many engines actually made it into competition estimates range from 16 to 48. Barely a handful are in circulation today, so if you happen to see one of these rare, rare engines in a museum or at a car show, be sure to give it a careful inspection. It’s a special engine—the stuff legends are made of.


The Niland Boys

One of the most poignant stories of Canisius' involvement in World War II is that of the Niland family. Edward, Preston, Robert, and Frederick were the sons of Michael and Augusta Niland. The four brothers, who lived in Tonawanda, NY, a town north of Buffalo, all went to Canisius College except for Preston who attended the University of Buffalo. Thomas and Joseph Niland, their cousins, also attended Canisius. Thomas was in the same grade as Frederick while Joseph was a year ahead.

Before the United States entered the war in Europe, Preston and Robert enlisted in the service. Edward and Fredrick (also known as "Fritz") followed after volunteering in November 1942. Because of the famous 1942 Sullivan case in which five brothers had been killed when their ship was sunk, the new army rule mandated that immediate family members could not serve together. As a result, each brother served in a different unit: Technical Sergeant Edward Niland as a pilot in the Army Air Force, Technical Sergeant Robert Niland with the 82nd Airborne Division (505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Company D), Lieutenant Preston Niland with the 4th Infantry Division (22nd Infantry Regiment), and Sergeant Frederick Niland as a member of the 101st Airborne's 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment. The brothers' cousins also joined - Thomas Niland also served in the 101st Airborne Division but in a different unit than Fritz while Joseph Niland was in the 20th armored tank division.

Tragedy Strikes

On May 16, 1944, Michael and Augusta received the first bad news that their son Edward, 31 at the time, had been shot down over Burma and was missing. Soon afterwards on June 6, 1944, the Allied forces began their costly invasion of Nazis-controlled Europe. Preston, 29, Robert, 25, Fritz, 24, and Thomas Niland, 24, all took part in the first waves of the invasion. Robert was killed on D-day while manning his machine-gun post in Neuville, a city not far from the beaches. Preston was killed the next day near Omaha Beach. Fritz, meanwhile, had been dropped between Omaha and Utah beaches while Thomas was involved in a glider unit that landed in France. Joseph, 25, was not involved with the invasion.

When the Army heard of the tragic story, they determined that the Nilands would not suffer the death of their last child. Fr. Francis Sampson, the chaplain of the 501st Regiment, found Fritz and began the paperwork necessary for his return home. Fritz stayed with his men a few more days until he was shipped back to England and, finally, to the U.S. where he served as an MP in New York until the completion of the war.

From August 1942 to April 1946, Fr. Murray, a philosophy professor, compiled a scrapbook of local newspaper articles that mentioned any of Canisius's "boys at arms." Listed here are the articles directly related to the story of the Niland family.

**Courier Express, no longer in press

The Followup

Robert and Preston Niland were buried at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France.

After more than a year of presuming the death of their son Edward, the Nilands happily learned that he was still alive in a Burmese POW camp. Edward had parachuted from his plane and wandered the jungles before being captured. The POW camp had taken a severe physical toll on Edward who weighed only 80 pounds (from his original 170) when he returned to the U.S. Edward lived in Tonawanda until his death in 1984 at the age of 72.

Fritz Niland went on to earn a degree in dentistry at Georgetown University and worked for a year at a government dental program on Guam. Afterwards, he returned to Tonawanda and set up his own dental practice in Niagara Falls. Fritz was awarded a Bronze Star for his service. He died in 1983 in San Francisco at the age of 63.

Like Fritz, Tom Niland also went back to school and completed his degree at Canisius in 1947. Tom then served as Le Moyne College's first basketball coach and athletic director until his retirement in 1990. He was awarded a Silver Star for his actions in the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne. He died March 16, 2004 at the age of 83.

Joseph Niland's tank division became known as the Liberators after freeing the Dachau concentration camp. He eventually returned to Tonawanda where he finished his degree at Canisius in 1946 and continued pursuing his love of sports as a well known and respected coach of the Canisius basketball team. Niland posted the second-highest winning percentage in school history. After his years at Canisius, Joseph Niland also served as a basketball coach at local high schools and as a scout for such teams as baseball's Cincinnati Reds and basketball's Buffalo Braves. He was also an aide for the general manager of the Buffalo Bills.

The gravesites of Robert and Preston Niland in Normandy, France.

The story of the Niland family still inspires and even influenced the writing of Stephen Spielberg's 1998 movie "Saving Private Ryan." Although a unique story in its tragedy, the Niland family was only one of many families in which several children simultaneously served for their country. Listed here are several articles pulled from Canisius's WWII Scrapbook that recount other local Canisius families and their stories.


The Buffalo History Gazette

*Quarterly of the National Fire Protection Association, Vol., 36, No. 2, October 1942, pp. 137-138.
"When the plane crashed through the roof, gasoline released from the fuselage tank caused an extremely hot fire. Plant employees immediately sounded the alarm over three private fire alarm boxes and 90 members of the plant fire brigade responded and did excellent work in extinguishing the fire. They were aided by the operation of 208 automatic sprinkler heads on a wet-pipe system. Fortunately, the falling plane had not seriously damaged the sprinkler piping, although a 174-inch sprinkler pipe and a 6-inch commercial water service line suspended from the ceiling were ruptured. These pipes released considerable quantities of water, which flooded a large area.
The plant engineer on duty upon hearing the crash immediately consulted the water pressure gauge and noticed that the pressure had dropped to twenty pounds. He started the 1500 g.p.m. electrically driven fire pump and started to warm up the 1500 g.p.m. steam turbine pump which was placed in operation. A pressure of 75 pounds per square inch was maintained at both pumps.
The prompt application of the foam and carbon dioxide was helpful in preventing the gasoline burning on the surface of the water from spreading the fire. It is estimated that the fire was under control in 15 minutes and was completely out in 30 minutes.
“The fall of the blazing plane was observed by members of Engine Co. 7 of the Buffalo Fire Department, stationed at the Buffalo Airport. This company, assuming that the plane would fall in a field beyond the building, responded at 5:15 P.M. with a crash truck equipped with foam and carbon dioxide equipment, and with a 1000-gallon pumper. Neither piece of apparatus was used, but the fire company rendered valuable service in manning one of the private standpipe hose streams, removing the injured to the first aid station, pumping out the flooded area below the ground level, and in covering the damaged roof….” (Wright. NFPA Quarterly, Oct. 1942, 137.)

Management Statement: "Concerning the heroism of the Curtiss workers--I cannot say enough. Many risked injury and even their lives in rescuing their fellow employees from the flames that followed the crash. Some of the rescuers are among those now in hospitals." "Curtiss guards, members of the volunteer fire-fighting and air raid precaution units and individuals from office and factory staffs, performed these extra duties without once hesitating to reckon the cost or to think of their personal danger.
"All other workers in the plant at the time, who may not have participated directly, showed their mettle by their calmness and by the manner in which they remained at their work. I would like to express the heartfelt thanks of the management to all, including the outside agencies that so readily volunteered their help. It is a great tribute to those on the battlefront, that those on production front are carrying on normally today with true American fighting spirit."


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Tonawanda II AN-89 - History

For an outline of the Divisions's Organization please go to Division Organization

History of the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion

A short history of the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion.

941st Field Artillery

A short history of the 941st which was attached to the 89th after the end of the war.

Often the first to make contact with the enemy, the history of the 89th Recon Troop

History of the 354th Infantry Regiment in Europe


The History of the 354th Regiment of the 89th Infantry Division. From Camp Lucky Strike to the Rhine River to Central Germany.


Company I, 355th Infantry Regiment: A History of Events

The day to day history of Company I of the 355. This includes lists of all medal winners and a company roster.


BTRY B, 340TH Field Artillery BN, Unit Timeline

Hailing from Camp Forrest, Tennessee and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, a cadre of sixteen enlisted men (Stromer, Jennrich, Weightman, Dorigan, DeRosa, Maloney, Coulter, Crammer, HohI, Arie, Nadell, Aldridge, Sajak, Schaefer, Bolden and King) arrived at Camp Carson, Colorado to form the nucleus for Battery "B", 340th Field Artillery Battalion, 89th Infantry Division. The date of their arrival was the fifteenth day of June 1942.


Watch the video: I drove through the WORST parts of Buffalo, New York. This is what I saw.