Here are some more memories of Henry Shapiro exploits as captured by the late Dick Harnett of San Francisco, founder of the Downhold listserv: made."
In 1943 the Russians began a counter-attack against German forces near Stalingrad. One morning The New York Times had a front page story about Soviet troops making a 100-mile advance in one night. There was a map graphic showing it. It was a United Press story.
The next day The Times learned that it was erroneous and told UP there would be no stories from our service on their front page for a long long time.
What happened was that our desk in New York had received from Henry Shapiro in Moscow the Russian communique on the battle. It said Soviet troops had advanced to Iganovrov and Petrovka. Someone one the New York cables desk, perhaps Harrison Salisbury himself, had, on our war map, found two towns by those names about 100 miles from where the Russians were the day before. To reach them overnight would mean that German tanks were being routed. Our story, under a Moscow dateline, so reported.
The fact was that in Russia, Iganovrov and Petrovka are town names like "Washington," and "Jefferson" in the United States. There are Washingtons and Jeffersons in nearly every state. We had the wrong Iganovrov and Petrovka in Russia.
The above story was told me Saturday on March 21, 1998, by Bill Mandel, who was hired the next day by New York night manager Peg Vaughn as a part time employee. Mandel said he sat with whoever was doing the Russian war lead to advise on geography in the crucial German/Russian war. Mandel said he was paid $5 an hour for two hours a day, which he said was more than anyone else in the bureau was paid. He was dismissed on VE day.
Mandel was a staff member of the Russian American Institute, for which he had done a study of Russian transport highways, rails, rivers etc. He is now retired. Lives in Berkeley, Calif.