Author Topic: It Started With a War  (Read 5416 times)

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Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« on: May 24, 09, 02:20:18 PM »
On December 8, 1941, one day following the attack on Pearl Habor, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered the Declaration of War against the Empire of Japan. Soon, almost every able-bodied male in the nation stepped into the conflict. The arrival of World War II changed everyone’s way of life in the nation. From the desert to the mountains, civilian groups formed air-warning units. Wrightwood’s was located at Clyde Ranch...it was the only ranch with a telephone.

Each “observer” was issued aircraft spotting cards to help identify possible enemy aircraft. The Wrightwood Lodge practically became home for officers and service men from the newly form George AFB. The gated forest roads were are closed and locked and snow plow only cleaned the road in Wrightwood. The only way to get to the forest, specifically Big Pines, was by ski, dog sled or snowshoes. Howard Rowe, the only forest ranger at Big Pines during this time, patrolled the roads, trails and water supply for possible tampering by the enemy.

Many Wrightwood resident men would take part in World War II; Col Jim Weeks, Lt. Col.Harry Krig and Richard Homes...both experiencing the hellish Battle of the Bulge, C. Lovers, one of his assigments was working a security attachment in the north Pacific during Operation Crossroad...the testing of the Bomb, and John C. Graham...who lied about his age and was in the Navy as a UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) and who would later go to Korea as part of Seal Team Two.  Not to mention the late John Hamilton Stevens, survivor of the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands of the Pacific.There were others, many of them who stood  role call at the Wrightwood dedication of the World War II memorial on May 23, 2009. This Memorial Day we think of, and praise, our military men and women; specially during World War II, where over 400,000 service personnel were killed. During the war of WWII, gunfire could also be heard coming from a quaint German Village, just outside of Wrightwood...a place called Annadorf.

Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 09, 02:29:04 PM »

-American troops in the 1943 German Village of Annadorf; located in the Angeles National Forest, about 12 miles west of Wrightwood, California-

It’s a hot day in October of 1943 and the freshness of a new German village was being dusted up by convoys of U.S. Army supply and troop vehicles that had slipped through the mountain community of Wrightwood, traveled through Forest Service controlled Big Pines Park and turned northeastward on what we shall call Franbach Road, for the original homesteaders in that area. The winding and spine jarring dirt road led through portions of Big John Flat. To the southeast was situated the German village.


-Annadorf-

The village was said to be occupied by the dreaded Nazi and the information was apparently corrected. Four machine gun nests were positioned in points on the outskirts of the village, to the southwest, a guard tower was partially concealed by scrub oak, pine and pinon trees and a Nazi flag flapped in a canyon breeze. Curiously enough, only a short distance away was a guard post...and above it flew Old Glory. The convoy was stopped by two armed American soldiers and a lieutenant from the point vehicle exited to give the soldiers paper orders. With a snappy salute, one guard stood at the ready with his M1 rifle, while the second raised the heavy guard gate. On the gate were the English words, “Restricted-Training Facility.” As the vehicles entered the area, someone mumbled, “Leaving friendly soil, now entering enemy territory.”  Indeed...looking out the rear of the troop transport, one noticed that the reverse part of the gate sign said, “stoppen oder werden erschossen”...stop or be shot!


Things got a little more unnerving as you arrived on Main Street and noticed a white church and an adjacent graveyard, and overhead, the flapping Nazi flag got bigger and bigger as you got closer and closer. Welcome to the legendary Anndorf.                            
Lucky this wasn’t the real thing... This quiet German village called Annadorf was a mock German village; its mission was to train American GI’s for battle in war torn Europe during World War 2.


This board mock-up of Annadorf showed the idea behind the unique German village...shaping a realistic training ground to train American troops to fight in the real battleground.

Long range view of Annadorf

Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 09, 02:33:55 PM »

According to the memories of the late Major L. Roy Smillie of the 2nd Ordinance Battalion at Camp Santa Ana, California during World War II, the building of Annadorf stated in summer of 1943 and was completed in fall of that same year. This site, along with another in the Angeles Forest, was selected for training purposes after the Battalion was sent out to find such an area. But, the site at Big John Flat offered a different type of possibility than the other camp; room to build a complete village to conduct hands-on warfare in an environment similar to the European theater across seas. Brigadier General Bethel W. Simpson appointed Major Smille to make it happen: make a small village into what is called today as a “Hogan’s Alley,” outfitted with booby traps, buildings used for forced entry exercises and on-the -run target shooting...on both stationary and moving targets. Oh, and a bomb planted here and there would be nice, too. Thank you very much. The Major started to work, and to run the unique creation the  mock German village was Sgt. Arto Monaco of the Army Signal Corp.
-Cinderella’s (Disney’s) Castle at Disneyland, one of Arto Monaco’s designs-

Arto Monaco was born in Au Sable Forks, upper state New York,  in 1913 and also seemed to dabble in art...something that caught many people’s attention. Despite his lack of formal training or even a high school diploma, Arto entered Pratt Art School in New York, under the encouragement of famous artist Rockwell Kent He was prepared to make the most of it.

Arto brought confidence and a thirst for new experiences, traits his father, Louis Monaco, cultivated in him. Through family connection, and Mr. Kent, Arto Monaco met film director Lewis Milestone and writer Donald Ogden Stewart...soon Arto Monaco was in California, applying his artful trade at MGM, Warner’s and Paramount (1941). He even worked for Walt Disney, where he designed and built Cinderella’s Castle at Disneyland (1953).


It was 1941 and war was coming. It was inevitable that the Untied States would become involved with World War II. Arto Monaco joined up and found himself at the Aberdeen Training Center , in Maryland ..“I feel embarrassed sometimes,” Monaco says, “when I think how most soldiers lived. I knew there were a lot of fellows overseas fighting. I was lucky.”

-Above photo- First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visits the Aberdeen Training Center during World War 2. On the board behind the seated service men are 3D displays of artillery. This display was the first of its kind...and many others followed afterward. They effectively showed how each piece of weaponry and each piece of military equipment worked, how it can be used and how it can be repaired. To this day, this effective training tool is used in most trade schools and colleges. It was the brainchild of Arto Monaco and the rest of his unit during the 1940s-

Arto Monaco beginnings in his incredible role in the service started innocent enough. One morning an officer asked if anybody could paint signs. Monaco raised his hand. What was needed, it turned out, was a notice that said “Don’t throw cigarette butts in the urinal.” After carefully lettering that important message, Monaco made a name plate for the sergeant’s desk. The next thing he knew, he was on his way to see Lieutenant Churchill. “There’s a war coming,” the lieutenant explained, “and we’re sure as hell going to get into it. We’re going to need to train a lot of men. Isn’t there a way to make a chart of, say, a pistol, so we can train a hundred men at once rather than twenty-five?”

Monaco saw immediately that Churchill was right. He recruited a childhood friend, and soon he took charge of an interesting training division. Arto Monaco found some wrapping paper and black paint, and got to work. “There was no such thing as an art department,” he remembered, “no supplies, no place to work, no allocations.” In an empty barracks, on picnic tables, they began making charts of everything. Monaco’s officers were pleased, and soon their group grew to three, then four men. Having no budget, the crew scrounged wrapping paper and tape from Baltimore department stores, telling the clerks to charge the order to the Army. Their general was sympathetic, but he couldn’t single-handedly allocate money.

Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 09, 02:38:36 PM »
“We were a conniving outfit,” Monaco remembered with a laugh. “We invited some Congressmen up from Washington for a visit. We took a two-thousand-seat theater, filled the place with soldiers, and showed the Congressmen how we used to do training—a little diagram and one guy lecturing. Then we brought out a great big howitzer, all made of wood, and took it apart. We promised the guys in the commissary that we’d make them name plates if they supplied good food. They gave us everything: cakes, cookies, whiskey.” After the visit, Congress voted a budget of fifty thousand dollars! The Training Aids Division quickly grew to about a hundred enlisted men and eighty civilian women, then doubled in size when Sergeant Monaco took half the staff and established a second unit on the West Coast, at Santa Anita Racetrack.


-World War 2 War Bond Poster-

“The training division also stated a program for a War Bonds fund-raiser, Monaco called on skills he learned in the film industry and contacts in the Warner Brothers props department to create a tropical island in the Los Angeles Coliseum. “The show began with music and soldiers in close-order drill,” he says, “then all hell broke loose. It was supposed to be a Japanese invasion.” For explosions, they couldn’t get a hold of the stage dirt typically used for special effects, so they set charges under piles of paint powder, which burst dramatically in bright clouds of green, pink and yellow. What they didn’t know was that the explosives crew, unaccustomed to creating movie effects, used half-sticks rather than quarter-sticks of dynamite. “It was terrible,” Arto recalls. “People got their glasses broken, their clothes burned. We were in trouble, all right, but they didn’t shut us down.”

Monaco made realistic corpses from latex rubber, using Warner Brothers’ molds, then added movie blood and pig innards. The city of Pasadena complained about the smell, but the Army was satisfied enough to adopt the concept for training courses across the country.


The mock German Village of Annadorf did not take long to build, but the lessons learned on its streets and within the storefront buildings lasted those who trained here a lifetime-
-Below photo; Looking west through Annadorf, three vehicles can be seen in the background. These vehicles were pulled by cable to give the illusion that enemy troops were driving them. U.S. troops were to enter this location (called Range 1) to kill the enemy and secure the vehicles. The funnel-shape of this particular area provided a realistic training scenario of soldiers being bottled-up in a hot-fire zone-


Arto Monaco’s outstanding achievement was the construction of the complete German village that once existed near Big John Flats in the Angeles Forest, just twelve miles northwest of Wrightwood. Dubbed "Annadorf," this unique mock German Village became a facility to train soldiers in infiltration and street fighting. Houses, school, church, shops—all were outfitted with furniture, curtains, German-language signs. All were booby-trapped. Bottles were made of wax to prevent flying glass, and walls were designed to prevent ricochets in exercises using live ammunition. To make it look like a battle zone, Monaco arranged wrecked Jeeps and other equipment along the roads. By the use of cable and pulley, some vehicles and targets were rigged to move to allow for more realistic live ammo training.

Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 09, 02:49:45 PM »

The property where Annadorf was constructed once belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Fingal C. Orr, they owned it for a decade and abandoned it in the late 1930s. While their own small rock and wood cabin was a little further to the southwest of this small valley, they constructed two outbuildings at this location; one was destroyed by weather, the other (pictured here) was enlarged into a movie prop and called Grimy Gulch. The Army enlarged it further to make it a part of Annadorf-

The construction of the German village of Annadorf started in earnest in the summer of 1943, but fall of that same year, the facility was opened for training. The foundations of most of the buildings were made of native rock and slate, and the wood was brought in by military transports. In a few short months, over twenty five structures were erected...a few of them were fully operational, while the others were simply storefront props.

The dirt road that led into the area was first graded by the Franbach homesteaders in the area, the army later greatly improved the road and built the branch of it that led to the little valley where Annadorf was constructed. The entire facility had over 100 "problems" for the trainees to address, which included insertions into an enemy-held village, building entry, avoidance of explosives and locating and killing the enemy.

Diligently the crews worked on the mock German Village, they bivouacked in the area, and the residents of Wrightwood knew something was going on as military convoys carrying building supplies passed through town, through Big Pines Park and unto Big John Flat. In about 90 days, the facility was up and running.

The Annadorf Facility trained a company of men for one week per training. If weather permitted, this schedule was followed for as long as the mock German town was opened. The Army trainees were camped near Jackson Lake, where they stayed in tents and lived off sea-rations. Many of the officers frequented the old Wrightwood Lodge in town. Anndorf's supplies came from Camp Santa Ana via Wrightwood.





Above, overhead view of U.S. Army training Annadorf. Each area included exercises on both the north and south sides of main street and each outbuildings within specific “Range Area.” Below, possible locations of main structures within the training area. Note: 1-3 were approx. locations of mock residences.

From start to finish...

One of Sgt. Arto Monacos' crew puts on some finishing touches.

Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 09, 03:02:15 PM »

The weather at Annadorf became strangely like that of Europe. Ironically, that was where the troops were being trained to go. In the winter of 1944, Annadorf began getting battered by storms and freezing temperatures. From Feb. 25-March 1, 1944, a massive storm dumped almost 15 feet of snow in Big Pines! Big John Flats and Annadorf received between 6-7 feet! To make matter worse, an avalanche destroyed the Cedar Bridge below Big Pines, erasing the supply route from Wrightwood and Annadorf. While Camp Santa Ana Major J. Shellcross put together a rescue mission to get Annadorf back into operation, the soldiers at the mock German town ran out of rations and had to resort to machine gunning deer in the area. Deer meat was on the menu at Annadorf for the next following weeks.

In the early 1930s-‘40s, Jackson Lake was well used by local camps... and the U. S. Army.-

 Annadorf remained in operation through 1944. Military convoys, loaded with troops and supplies, came from Camp Santa Ana, through the Antelope Valley, into Valyermo and up to Annadorf on a regular basis. By 1945, the mock German village of Annadorf was closed and abandoned. As years went by, storm, weathers and vandals destroyed most of it. In November of 1952, the Canyon Fire spread from nearby Mescal Canyon and burned the rest to the ground.

Images of War

The training at Annadorf not only included combat tactics...it covered some book learning. Sgt. Monaco and others fashioned training aids to assist the troops in learning the parts of weapons, how to use them and how to keep them in proper working order.


Farmer Franbach works with his stock while “hostilities” occur just over the ridge. Encircled is the faint outline of the Nazi guard tower of Annadorf. This tower served two functions: an observation post for training and security reasons and a training “program” to elude/silence an enemy lookout.


The main street of Annadorf during exercises in 1943

The main street of the mock German town of Annadorf brought a realism to combat training that was never introduced until this time in 1943. Several of these buildings contained booby traps, while on the ground, hidden cables moved targets and vehicles. At the top of the street sat an innocent-looking church...next to it a foreboding graveyard. The American troop's job was to infiltrate the village, go building to building to find and kill the enemy, and reach the church in one piece; where the rest of the Nazis sat at the ready to kill and stuff the dead troops in the graveyard.


The Annadorf back lots were used to store the mechanics that operated the small village as a full scale training facility and shooting range.

Annadorf Church was Range 7 in the live round and “dummy round” exercise of the Annadorf training facility-circ 1943


Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 09, 03:18:55 PM »

Above and below...Welcome to the Annadorf bar and eatery. German furnishing and wall decorations gave of the impression that the place was a welcoming place in Europe...it was only an illusion. Nazis could be hiding in the back kitchen. Don't pick up the wrong things...specially the beer bottles. They're booby trapped!


In war, ordinary places like the bar and eaters provided more death traps than good customer service. The training at Annadorf prepared soldiers to address this sad truth that existed in times of war.


Two range masters walk the main street of Annadorf, checking the correct positioning of troops concealed in the alleyway as they learn the proper way to enter building search for the enemy.


With their objective before them in the Annadorf church up the street, American soldiers prepare to advance on a Nazi stronghold. To the right of the church, the white gravestones seemed to mock them.

This photo, looking down from the rooftop of the town hall, shows main street...a perfect advantage sniper point. Perhaps that’s what it was, for it was located within Range 5.  The mock German Village of Annadorf was sectioned off into seven different stages of training: They were identified as Range 1 through Range 7.

After the gunfire quiets, troopers gave a smoke and a chance to relax in the mock German village of Annadorf. After this break, training for these boys, and many after them, will continue. The more they sweat it out at Annadorf, the better chance they had in making it when they faced actual battle in Europe. Annadorf was credited for saving many American lives during World War Two.

The main street of Annadorf, once located in the Angeles National Forest, echoed with gunfire as American soldiers advanced on a Nazi position.

Stationed and ready to make the last advancement as the enemy is found and then dealt with.

Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 09, 03:30:59 PM »
Aftermath

The Annadorf training facility was closed down in the first part of 1945...

After the battle of Annadorf, the neighboring Cash family play among the ruins of Annadorf. Notice the store front set of the training facility behind them. -circ 1945.

Annadorf, the mock German town that helped train U.S troops to fight the enemy in Germany, was gone. From it’s closure in 1945 and till 1950, the village of Annadorf would be visited by Wrightwoodians young adults...it was the place to go to hand out, and it became a playground for the neighboring Cash and Farnbach families.  Sgt. Arto Monaco also visited the sight, his faced lined with sorrow as he viewed the rundown condition of the German village; caused by harsh weather, time and the heavy vandalism of thoughtless hikers and forest visitors. In 1952, angry desert winds pushed the Canyon Fire over the ridge of Mescal Canyon and into the east portion of Big John Flats. Annadorf was erased from existence. The only thing left in present day is a cable hanging from a tree-a cable that once anchored a guard tower, and an old machine gun nest protected by old barbed wire and covered by brush and a mound of dirt. Only a soft canyon wind greets the visitor who walks in the quiet area. The quiet little valley that once echoed with the sounds of war.

Because of Arto Monaco dedication to the training of U.S. Service men in war time, he and his division saved countless lives in the battle field across the seas. Monaco was awarded the Army's Legion of Merit, which was awarded to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who has distinguished himself or herself by exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.


Arto Monaco at his Land of Makebelieve.

-Below, Arto Monaco’s Cactus Flats in upper state New York. Each of his theme parks were exclusively for children. Each of them, Santa’s Village, Land of Makebelieve and its Cactus Flat, were scaled to size to accommodate  “the small ones.”Much more interesting material can be read about Arto Monaco over the worldwide web. After his time in the Army, Mr. Monaco went on to created amusement parks in Jay, New York; including Santa’s Workshop and the Land of MakeBelieve.

“For 25 years, the Land of Makebelieve was a favorite place for the children of northern New York to visit. However, in 1979, due to the flooding of the AuSable River, the Land of Makebelieve was forced to close. Over the previous 25 years, the park had flooded 11 times, but the last one was the most damaging. The fairytale houses that weren’t ruined by the flood have since moved to the Great Escape, an amusement park in Lake George, New York.
After the closure of the Land of Makebelieve, Monaco did not sit back and relax. In addition to illustrating 17 children’s books, he made many toys and games for children across the North Country. He was a terrific talent and a very humble man and never exploited his talent financially as much as he could have. He was a man of complete honesty.”-All Points North Publication, Summer 2006

On November 21, 2003, Arto Monaco passed away at the age of 90 in Saranac Lake, New York.

Hardly an record exists on the goings-on at Annadorf, just memories of those American service men who were assigned there or bivouacked near there for training during World War 2. For the Army, it was just one of the thousands of training facilities that once exists...for those of us living in the area, it was a unique part in local history.

Photo tour of Annadorf


Sgt Monaco’s crew apply slate to an outbuilding at Annadorf. This structure was thought to be the armory. This was within the area known as Range 1-

Below-Looking east into Annadorf. after its closure-


Looking west into Annadorf after its closure. Note the guard tower in the backfield.







Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 09, 03:45:33 PM »

Annadorf School

Above and below...The Nazi jail in the German Village of Annadorf was located northwest of the church and graveyard. Above it fluttered the Nazi flag, which continued to fly years after Annadorf closed. The jail was fully operational, from its iron barred cells, to the wooden control desks and the German language wanted posters on the wall. In 2008, electrical wiring were found on this site. Was the electric current used to power the radio communications or something more sinister?



It’s 1:17 pm on a sunny day sometime in 1950. Here, where days were once filled with guns and war, laughter fills the air as Skip, Esther and Darlene Cash play in front of the Annadorf Church. Below, the neighboring Cash and Farnbach family prowl the streets of Annadorf and checked out the hotel services at Annadorf’s Gusthaus.




Rathaus is German for ‘council house,’ ‘city hall’ or town hall.’

The Annadorf Inn with adjacent shops and bakery.


Near the center of town was the town water fountain. Did it provide fresh water or poisoned water? Did the fountain provide a good place to sit and relax, or was it a place already targeted by a nearby enemy sniper? It was within Range 2.

Below; a portion of the Annadorf Bar and eatery.. Did they provide good food and drink...or a good death trap?


Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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It Started With a War
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 09, 04:10:05 PM »
Annadorf Residences


The dressmaker's residence


This small residence was used by Annadorf personell



Part of Annadorf business district is seen here in an old Phelan-newsplus photo; it was an eye glass store and “Piekarnia,” German for bakery. This was the only structure that had a great amount of stone masonry taken from the area of Big John Flat. It included slate cobblestones for its sidewalk.


More Annadorf businesses. Notice the Joshua trees in the background...their not exactly native in Europe. The electric wiring in front of the structures were used to operate lights within them, and also street lights.


In the late 1940s, Sgt Arto Monaco and others visited Annadorf, they were surprised and hurt to see all their hard work run down by weather and vandals. But the early 1950s, the German village of Annadorf was on it's last legs, sort to speak.

 Just a small piece of history in Big John Flat was found in 1994, in the form of machine gun mounts and barbed wire obstructions. A few shell casing were policed up; as late as 2007, bits and pieces of water fountain/building plaster molding were found. Now, the buildings are gone, their impression in the hillside covered by years of plant growth and weather. Annadorf is barely a memory...except to the men who were trained here to survive the hell of war.


....
Photos: from the collection of Donna and Darrel Farnbach
Annadorf armory and baker...Sue Gates, Newplus, Phelan newspaper publication; Wrightwood Historical Society

Offline ChrisLynnet

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Re: It Started With a War
« Reply #10 on: Jun 03, 09, 07:12:03 AM »
WOW. As usual, your research and the photos you share are amazing! Thank you so much!

Offline RennMan

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Re: It Started With a War
« Reply #11 on: Jun 07, 11, 01:05:14 PM »
I was discussing Annadorf with some friends over the weekend, and while searching for more information it, I came across these videos on YouTube.

The first one is a silent (8MM?) movie of the building of Annadorf, and at the the end, some footage of the ruins:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSWSR5p0lMI

The second one is a WWII newsreel about Arto Monaco, the visionary behind Annadorf:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qniTM02_s9M&feature=related

These videos were posted in 2009 by Robert Monaco, a relative of Arto.

Peace

Offline BostonBob

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Re: It Started With a War
« Reply #12 on: Jun 07, 11, 02:20:18 PM »
Nice find RennMan!
Very cool to watch it on film.

Offline GRAHAM_RANCH

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Re: It Started With a War
« Reply #13 on: Jun 24, 11, 11:16:05 AM »
Very nice video...I put a copy of both of them in the museum files two years ago...all very good footage. Especailly the YouTube one. Good find!!

Offline RobertW

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Re: It Started With a War
« Reply #14 on: Jul 29, 11, 08:18:22 PM »
Here is the location of Annadorf, a special part of Wrightwood's history: