Olympiad – Military style

Attempting to get a coal-burning auto moving

Attempting to get a coal-burning auto moving

While some of the troopers continued to await the arrival of the good ole’ American jeeps to replace the coal-burning vehicles in Japan, General Swing was striving to make the occupation as bearable as possible. They had endured some horrendous hardships and accomplished more than anyone expected from them and he felt they deserved whatever he could provide. On his orders, a Japanese auditorium was transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Aside from the sports theme, the coliseum contained a Special Services office, a snack bar, a Red Cross office and a library. I can just picture my father spending some off-duty time in the poolroom or bowling alley. When I was growing up, we had a pool table in the basement and Smitty would teach me how every shot was related to angles and geometry. My aim improved – once I figured it out.

The NCO Club

The NCO Club

In the fall of 1945, an Olympiad was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Matsushima Park Hotel

Matsushima Park Hotel

On the reverse side of the photo seen above, Smitty wrote, “This is the hotel where we are now staying. That dot in the driveway is me.” The 11th A/B commander had made his home here on 16 September. After the occupation, it re-opened for business as a hotel, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire on 2 March 1969.

The division had a reputation for mission accomplishment despite being nearly half the size of other divisions. This was often attributed to their somewhat unorthodox methods. This carried over into their occupation of Japan. General Swing converted an old Japanese factory and had it turning out American-style furniture for the troops. General Headquarters wasn’t very happy about the project because they wanted the Japanese to build furniture for the entire command. But Swing was not one to wait for all the red tape. After General Eichelberger inspected the better-than-GHQ- standard brick barracks under construction, he said to Swing, “Joe, I don’t know whether to court-martial you or commend you.” (Later on, he was commended Swing.)

Occupation 1945 - Everett Smith on far right

Occupation 1945 – Everett Smith on far right

Resources: “Rakkasans” and “The Angels: A history of the 11th Airborne Division” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Everett’s scrapbook; Wikipedia

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 6, 2013, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. I love those old picture.

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  2. Crash MacDuff

    Reblogged this on rxmacduff.

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  3. The story was so amusing and provided a sense of Occupied Japan. And the precious photos! I do wonder who the kimono-clad ladies were. No, they are proper ladies and they appear to have financial backing… But it is so amazing to see 11th Airborne troops alongside Japanese (albeit female) so amicably when they were in a vicious war just months earlier.

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  4. Hooray for the troops!! They deserved every luxury they could get. And hats off to General Swing for standing by them.

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    • He was one of the guys, dad said – unless orders had to be given. The entire division would have died for him. In the 11th A/B Association, nothing but wonderful stories about the man are told.

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  5. How interesting. I have enjoyed my visits to Japan, the last one about seven years ago. My son was in the U.S. Navy, and home ported in Yokosuka. He met and married my daughter-in-law, a Japanese native. I have an 18-year old grandson, born there. They now live in Tokyo.

    I love the photographs…such a treasure…so meaningful. I treasure my father photographs of him in uniform during WWII.

    Thanks for the visit…

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  6. Wow, great photos. I had never heard of a coal-operated car. Those guys look like they could just pick up that car and carry it to wherever they were going!

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    • LOL, I agree. I don’t think that small a car was made again until the electric car (or maybe the Henry J).

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      • You know, I had tried to research that Japanese car after seeing it on the internet before but never could find anything. The only thing I could somewhat reason is that it was during the early days of the Occupation given they are shouldering carbines. Did you find anything out?

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        • Not a clue. Since the Japanese had to convert their gas engines to coal, maybe the vehicle is a composite of more than one car.?

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          • Who knows. The only “car” I’ve come across frequently was “Kurogane” with a gasoline powered motor. Kuroganes did not have suicide doors. When the Occupation Force came across such abandoned vehicles, they also found that diesel-fueled powerplants had difficulty running on Allied diesel. I forgot the reason why.

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            • All I kept finding was that almost everything the Americans came across had been converted to coal or wood. The stores of fuel buried below ground were being saved for the Allied invasion.

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  7. This was very interesting. Another aspect of the war that I had no idea had occurred. I love the top photo and the last photo…superior!

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  8. The “Angels” must have been quite a bunch. Love hearing – reading – their stories.

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    • Yes they were and being the first of their kind, plus having a general that the big brass liked and admired – they got away with it all.

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  9. Interesting, as always. Why did they use a German name for the camp? I make that, roughly translated, as Camp mouldy penny… Though my dictionary says that as well as meaning mildew, Schimmel can mean white horse.

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  10. So interesting learning about the time of occupation.

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  11. Pierre Lagacé

    I love your father’s pictures.

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  12. Amazing work as always

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