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This Day in WWII 1 March 1940 - 1945


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1024.jpg?md=1330597959000 U.S. Army Recruiting Service Ad - March 1944

1940: The US secretary of state, Sumner Wells arrives in Berlin at the start of a peace tour of the belligerent countries.

1940: The Soviet Unions peace ultimatum to Finland expires.

lynnebaggett.jpg *Lynne Baggett

1941: Bulgaria finally joins the Tripartite pact after the discovery of a planned pro-British coup.

1941: Italian civilian rations are halved in order to allow food exports to Germany.

lynnebaggett3.jpg Lynne Baggett

1941: Himmler makes his first visit to Auschwitz, during which he orders Kommandant Höss to begin massive expansion, including a new compound to be built at nearby Birkenau that can hold 100,000 prisoners.

1941: The 11th African Division begins a lighting pursuit of the retreating Italian forces north from Mogadishu, towards the Ogaden Plateau.

lynnebaggett2.jpg Lynne Baggett

1942: A US Hudson of squadron VP-82 which is based at Argentia, Newfoundland sinks U-656 off Cape Race.

1942: The heavy cruiser USS Houston and light cruiser HMAS Perth, along with 1 British, 1 Dutch and 2 US destroyers, fleeing from the debacle at the Battle of Java Sea, surprise an IJN landing force at Bantam Bay near the Sundra Strait, and are sunk by torpedoes and gunfire. The Japanese force, comprising 2 heavy cruisers, one light cruiser, 9 destroyers, and various transports, manage to sink a minesweeper and a transport of their own, and seriously damage 3 more transports, through the unprecedented firing of 87 torpedoes.

1024.jpg?md=1330598958000 Burma-Shave Ad - March 1944

1943: The British RAF conducts strategic bombing raids on all European railway lines.

1943: The Russians announce that new offensive to the South of Leningrad and led by Timoshenko, 'has made considerable gains'. German troops begin the evacuation of the Rzhev area.

1943: In New York, American Jews hold a mass rally at Madison Square Garden to pressure the U.S. government into helping the Jews of Europe.

lynnebaggett4.jpg Lynne Baggett

1944: Wing Commander John Cunningham, now on 20 'kills', gets the 2nd bar to his DSO, the first pilot to receive this triple honour.

1944: Both German and Russian forces in the Baltic region go on the defensive.

1944: The 'Chindits' cross the Chindwin in Burma.

lynnebaggett6.jpg Lynne Baggett

1945: The US Ninth Army captures München-Gladbach and Rheydt west of the Rhine.

1945: Units of Army group Centre recapture Lauban in lower Silesia.

1945: A U.S. submarine sinks a Japanese merchant ship loaded with supplies for Allied POWs, resulting in a court martial for the captain of the submarine, since the ship had been granted safe passage by the U.S. government.

lynnebaggett5.jpg Lynne Baggett

*Lynne Baggett was born on May 10, 1923 in Wichita Falls, Texas. Better known for her volatile marriage to film producer Sam Spiegel than for her many walk-ons in World War II films, brunette Lynne Baggett played a waitress in "Mildred Pierce" (1945). She played many other waitresses, hostesses, nurses, and chorus girls but her screen time was invariably brief. Her marriage to Spiegel lasted from 1948 to 1955 but was fraught with newspaper headlines. Lynne appeared in 24 movies during her short career.

On the night/early morning of July 6/7 1954 Lynne is on her way home from a party given by British actor Arthur Treacher, the car she is driving slams into a station wagon filled with boys returning from summer camp. Four are injured; one, nine-year-old Los Angeles boy Joel Watnick, is killed. Lynne fails to report the accident, and after a two-day search she's brought in for questioning by the police. Her car is traced to actor George Tobias. He tells the police he had loaned the car to Lynne the day of the crash. Witnesses say they saw a woman get out of the car after the crash, look at the boy and then drive off.

1024.jpg?md=1330598627000 Lynne Baggett

On July 9th, 1954 as Lynn Spiegel, she is arrested in Los Angeles. She says "I'm very sorry. I'm not permitted to talk on instructions from my attorney." Her car is found at a Tarzana automobile repair. Her $10,000 bail is reduced, and finally she is released on $5,250 bond. Spiegel, who is staying at the Connaught Hotel in London, immediately arranges her $5,000 bail.

July 10th, 1954 is ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing on manslaughter and hit-and-run driving charges. Tobias and her attorney, Sam Barchas, are with her.

July 14th, 1954 is named in a $50,700 civil damage suit filed by Joel's mother, Mrs. Lillian Watnick. Other defendants include Spiegel and Tobias.

July 17th, 1954 in her preliminary hearing at Los Angeles Municipal Court, two witnesses testify that her wagon was travelling 40 to 50 mph. Her attorney, Grant B. Cooper, moves unsuccessfully for dismissal of the manslaughter count she faces in addition to a felony hit-and-run charge.

July 31st, 1954 is arraigned in Los Angeles Superior Court and ordered to return August 12 to enter a plea before Superior Judge Harold W. Schweitzer.

August 18th, 1954 fails in an attempt to get a felony hit-and-run charge against her reduced to a lesser charge.

October ? 1954 she and Cooper appear in court in Los Angeles. Her attorney says, "We will show that Miss Baggett did not intentionally leave the scene."

October 19th, 1954 is convicted by a jury on a felony charge of hit-and-run driving but is acquitted of a second felony count of manslaughter. The first charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $6,000 fine. She claims she "blacked out" after the collision.

October 29th, 1954 is acquitted of manslaughter and serves a 50-day sentence for hit-and-run.

December 1st, 1954 is sentenced to 60-days in county jail and is placed on three years probation. Her driver's license is revoked for one year. Superior Judge Mildred Lillie comments: "I cannot accept her story of a blackout and the jury couldn't believe it, either. She was extremely rational soon after the accident, and from then until she was arrested two days later she used every resource at her command to get her car repaired and to conceal her identity." Her mother, Ruth Simmons / Baggett, faints in the courtroom and has to be comforted by her daughter.

December 2nd, 1954 starts her 60-day sentence for hit-and-run driving at the Los Angeles County jail.

January 20th 1955 is out of jail after 50 days - getting 10 days off for good behavior - and hugs her mother. "This was sort of my college. I learned so much about life." She spent her time in jail mopping floors, waiting on tables and washing dishes. Now she wants to return to the movies "if anyone will take me."

Feb or March, 1955 has to pay almost $40,000 in litigation fees for a series of six civil suits, which are settled out of court.

Feb and March, 1955 Spiegel's friends, Walter Reisch and Bill Blowitz, look out for Lynne while Spiegel courts his third wife-to-be, beautiful 24-year-old Betty Benson.

March 31st, 1955 her divorce becomes final. A marital settlement is made at the court in Santa Monica. Lynne will receive $25,000 on the spot and $66,000 in the coming months. She says: "He said I made him nervous and he asked me to leave."

May 1955 Lynne rides around Beverly Hills on a bicycle.

1024.jpg?md=1330598632000 Lynne Baggett

On June 7th, 1959 she takes an overdose of sleeping pills and is found in bed at her Beverly Hills home. Before losing consciousness, she called a telephone operator and asked for help. The police have to break down the locked door to rescue her. She is taken to a hospital where attendants say her condition is serious.

On August 24th, 1959 Lynne is found by a friend in her apartment. She claims she was trapped six days under her foldaway bed without food or water. She slipped and fell halfway under the bed, hurt her back, and couldn't move or reach her telephone. She suffered a small face cut and had to be rescued by firemen. She's kept in hospital for treatment on malnutrition. She is partially paralyzed from drug addiction and diagnosed as a chronic depressed neurotic.

As Lynne B. Spiegel, she is found dead at age 35 in her bed at her Hollywood apartment by Darlene Jones, her nurse. She is clad in a pink shorty nightgown and white panties. Released from a private sanitarium only six weeks ago and under a doctor's care for peripheral neuritis, she was paralyzed from her knees down and took an overdose of barbiturates. She had been dead about 12 hours. Darlene Jones tells police that the actress had asked her not to come to her Hollywood apartment until late Tuesday because "she wanted to get a lot of rest."

1024.jpg?md=1330597952000 U.S. Army Recruiting Service Ad - March 1944

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