April 1942 (3)

Equipment set ablaze before retreating from the Japanese, Tenangyaung, 16 April 1942

Equipment set ablaze before retreating from the Japanese, Tenangyaung, 16 April 1942

23 April – troops of the Chinese Expeditionary Force held off the Japanese advances around Twingon, Burma, which allowed thousands of Allied troops into the area of Tenangyaung to escape the enemy’s surrounding net.  But, six days later, when the Chinese 55th Division were defeated in the northern zone, the Japanese forces reunited and together the divisions successfully cut the Burma Road.  On the 30th, General Stilwell, who was appalled by the Chinese leader’s corruption, dubbed Chiang Kai-shek “Peanut” for his do-nothing attitude, received permission to withdraw his troops to India.

"Daily Mirror" headlines of 29 April '42, Lashio-Mandalay Railway in danger, enemy 110 miles away!

“Daily Mirror” headlines of 29 April ’42, Lashio-Mandalay Railway in danger, enemy 110 miles away!

New Caledonia 1942

New Caledonia 1942

25 April – US troops landed on the Free French colony of New Caledonia.  The island’s capital, Nouméa became a major US naval base. [The “Boomer” generation might recall this island as the naval base where “McHale’s Navy” was stationed.  For the younger readers, this was a very popular sit-com about a bunch of misfit sailors during the war, staring Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway.)

McHale's_Navy

30 April – during the heavy bombing and artillery fire transpiring on Corregidor, P.I., incredibly, 2 Navy PBY flying boats managed to land and take off again.  They were able to evacuate 50 people from ‘The Rock’, mostly from the female nursing staff.

Some nurses of Corregidor

Some nurses of Corregidor

To sum up April 1942: Doolittle’s Raid caused the Japanese Navy to overreact and deploy nearly every warship in the Imperial Combined Fleet.  They dispersed into far too many different operations over too great a distance.  One of the major objectives was their vital plan to sever the American sea route to Australia and allow the capture of Port Moresby, New Guinea.  The US Naval fleet and Admiral Nimitz, despite being aware that they lacked the strength of the Japanese, felt they could use their military intelligence against the enemy.

0426-occupy2

Japanese Admiral Inouye developed a series of complex operations for both sides of the Coral Sea. [the US sea route].  This plan was virtually dependent on the element of surprise, but this major factor was foiled by the Australian Coastal Watching Service, when the radio outposts reported spotting the enemy in the upper Solomons.

Another mistake was made on the part of the Combined Fleet’s eagerness to disperse.  Their wide distribution and speed resulted in the failure to change their signalling codes.  Hence, intelligence outposts from Alaska to Australia were able to pick-up and de-code Japan’s messages, (code-named JN 25).  This uncovered every move the enemy made during the Second Operational Phase.

Military communiques of the world

Military communiques of the world

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –  the Old and the New

mzFwsECNt82sRYPsyCorX-Q

The 5 Most Dangerous Things

comical-military-cartoon-commander-pointing-gun-in-his-eye-telling-sergeant-swell-work-c-1942

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Farewell Salutes – border

William Ackerman – Granite Ridge, CAN; RC Navy

Edward Brooke III – Washington DC; US Army, WWII

Stanley Butlin – Birmington, UK; RAF, radio telecommunications 4rz348

Erland Coombs – Scarborough, ME; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Noel Ford – Christchurch, NZ; LAC No. 5 SU Air Force # 439576, WWII

Henry Guardino – El Centro, CA; USMC, Korea, radio operator

David Joy – Connerville, IN; USMC, Vietnam / US Army (15 years)

Helen McKinley – Jupiter, FL; civilian, Secretary to the Red Cross Field Director, WWII

Kenneth Staples – Stroudesburg, PA; UA Army Air Corps, WWII, F/187th/11th A/B

Fernand Tremblay Sr. – Meriden, CT; US Army, WWII, Sgt., Silver Star

Woody Whigam – Folkston, GA; US Army, WWII

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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 January 12, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 75 Comments.

  1. Enjoyed your tribute to your father. My Dad was in the 26th infantry, landed at Utah Beach, and fought in the Ardennes and the Battle of the Bulge, etc. I’m glad to see people like you offering tribute to our nation’s heroes. I’ll be adding a post on my father soon. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m very glad you enjoyed the post and hope we will see more of you. We have a terrific bunch of people contributing or just reading. I’m looking forward to seeing your father’s info.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just put up excerpt 3 of a German War Bride letter to her soldier husband. It was also in 1942 of January though. So interestting to read this which was close to the same time.

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  3. Fascinating as always and I’d love to learn more about coastal watchers – are there any books you can recommend? Along with code breakers they played such a critical role. Seems like the contribution of code breakers is far more recognized though.

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    • Frankly, not any one particular book. There were watchers from Australia, New Zealand, the US, and the natives from these islands. So, pretty much every WWII book has info on them and there are different books on the specific groups. I have one post from the beginning portion of this blog, but that is quite weak in its data, so I’ve been accumulating info for a couple more posts on them.

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  4. Thanks for the nostalgia on McHales Navy. If memory serves me it was on right after either Combat or the Gallant Men. I had to bust my butt to get my homework done in order to watch these shows.

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  5. Thanks gpcox for the reminder of how dire was the situation for the Allies in April-May 1942.General Stillwell was remarkable for providing a worthy response to the Japanese advances in Burma . General Wingate for his resistance and counterattacks in Burma and China. The Allies in the pacific at the Coral Sea , showed that the Japanese were not invincible.

    Ron

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  6. I remember watching McHale’s Navy!

    Thank you for your educational blog on WWII. This was my father’s history. He would not talk much about it himself.

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    • Anything you might remember him saying or data you discover on him, feel free to put it here in the comments. Thanks for stopping in.

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      • There is one story I recall. I don’t know where he was at the time, but he and a bunch of other men were hunkered down with a lone sniper firing at them. The was a soldier with him who was known as “Chicken Neck”, or something to that effect. Chicken Neck would pop up now and then and taunt the sniper, who eventually blew himself up out of frustration for continuing to miss. Whether he made this story up for us kids or whether it was real is unknown

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        • I would venture to say that the sniper either saved his last bullet for himself or someone, somewhere finally got him. No dad is going to tell his daughter the truth about suicide – not like that anyway. Good story. If any more pop into your head, you know where to find us. Thanks Lavinia.

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  7. Sobering, as always, but great cartoons.

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  8. Hi, I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. You can see it on my blog at https://thewallgalleryblog.wordpress.com with the instructions. This award is any easy one to follow. I have really enjoyed your blog and hope you accept the challenge. Thanks and keep up the great work!! Kirt Tisdale

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  9. Interesting to read the input coast watchers had in various aspects of the war, I recall reading somewhere that many were killed by the Japanese, I also believe that many of our Aboriginals were seconded to coast watch duty, mainly because of their ability to access and live in extreme coastal locations, dont quote me on that one gp, cant recall its source.
    Regards
    Ian

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    • I do know the natives of many of the islands were “enlisted” into service and helped conceal the watchers, acted as bearers, etc. Many were killed by the enemy too. I did a post on the Coastwatchers a while back and will be doing another fairly soon – a brave bunch!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Always great information here. My wife’s father was in Iwo Jima in WWII. It is ashame that he did not chronicle more of the information. He evidently manned the radar and was in the Airforce…and I believe back then they had not yet created the official Airforce but were categorized Army. Incredible times…thanks for saving the history!

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    • Wish I knew what unit your father-in-law was in, I might be able to help with some info. Most of the men felt that no one would be interested – I know my father Smitty felt that way. And you are correct – they were the Army Air Corps. Thank you for your interest.

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  11. When you think of the atrocities that were committed, it was a miracle the nurses were able to escape. They would have likely faced a very vile end.

    You report on the coast watchers – they were indispensable. To have been able to elude the Japanese and survive on those stinkin’ islands took not only courage but a miracle.

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  12. Those coastal watchers were amazing.

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  13. Of course, I remember McHale’s Navy. The code-breakers are very interesting to me as I have a friend who did that immediately after WWII. He has attempted to explain their difficult code-breaking techniques. Seems to me they had to be an intelligent group of young men.

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  14. Funny that you mention ” McHale’s Navy ” . My dad was aboard ship out there and he loved that dumb show . Reminded him of how the navy did business , I guess .

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    • I understand quite a bit of the show’s episodes was suggested by ex-Navy just as M*A*S*H* had Army vets writing in with incidents that occurred to their units in Korea. Any stories from your Dad, Dan? You know I’m always asking for them.

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  15. Though I remember watching the show I had no idea the island was real. I thought it was part of a set.

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    • Yes, the actors were on a studio set, but the island does exist and was a major naval base where the support troops you rarely hear about handle the supplies, equipment and materiel needed distributed at the other islands. They had the hospitals [not as one we would call a hospital], but nurses, doctors and medical for the wounded and rest for the battle-weary. All part a part of a great link in an enormous chain….

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  16. FASCINATED….I mean spellbound! Phil

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  17. What a interesting article. I remember “McHale’s Navy” well so that makes me a old-timer..lol 🙂 Found the signalling very interesting and how they were able to de-code the messages. Thanks Everett!

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  18. Amazing history, as usual. Also the picture of our warrior kneeling in front of the flag. I respect the humility and am awed they can even walk with that much on their backs.

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  19. My grandpa mailed letters and pictures home from New Caledonia during the war (he was a Marine). Looked fairly pleasant, but I know he was also trying to reassure my great grandparents.

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  20. Another very informative post. Thanks a lot. But just how clever did you have to be to decode Japanese?

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    • Very clever back then, John. Anglos and Americans knew close to nothing about the people, language, etc. Even the decoding machine took a long time – it didn’t just pop out the translation and decoding like we have today with computers; but that is an excellent question – I’ll bet not many people even thought about it.

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    • In summary, the Japanese diplomatic code was broken in 1939 by the US Army’s top secret cryptanalysis group called “Signal Intelligence Service”, or SIS. It focused their energies on the Japanese diplomatic code. The group was headed up by William F. Friedman.

      As for JN-25 – knowing they were heading to war against the US – the Japanese Navy prudently changed their code. The US Navy had their own cryptonanalysts: OP-20-G. While the Japanese navy changed their code along the way (which had been completely broken), OP-20-G had little difficulty breaking those, too… until late in 1940. Knowing they were headed to war with the US, the Japanese navy prudently introduced an entirely new code, the JN-25. It was much, much more complex than its predecessor. It proved difficult to crack but they had made progress when… the Japanese navy once again made amendments to JN-25 immediately before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

      The US Navy, therefore, was pretty much “blind” intel-wise for pretty much a week before Pearl Harbor. It would not be completely broken until March 13, 1942 but enough could be read to be valuable.

      Both groups were kept under a top secret umbrella code called MAGIC.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Excellent synopsis of the Intel codes used by the Japanese, Koji, thank you. I would not have been able to spell it out so clearly. BTW -if you have the time, please come back to read Gypsy Bev’s comment – her friend/your father – do you think they knew each other?

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        • I don’t think so. Dad was not in code breaking… Just translating for the war crimes trials and captured enemy documents. I forgot to mention each of the two code breaking groups had several key Caucasian men; all had been either born in Japan or had lived there likely through religious or embassiorial ties.

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          • Good to know, thanks, Koji. I know your Dad was a translator. I don’t think the other reader knew the extent of work that went into decoding and translating and thought it would be rather simple.

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  21. It’s interesting to read about the way small decisions combined to affect the war one way or the other. Thanks again for finding the little details.

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    • And there is so much more, Dan. What went on, in Australia for example, is better described in the “Great Betrayal” by David Day. [Churchill double-talking Australia – we can better understand it as FDR abandoning Corregidor.] But I try to give the gist of the events. Thanks for reading.

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  22. Love the Peanut anecdote.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank goodness for code-breakers in both theatres of action.

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  24. Another informative post, GP. It sets up the background for the mobilization of US troops sent to the CIB theatre–including my father. There’s a picture, in one of my posts, with Gen. Stilwell, Chiang Kai-shek & Mme. Chiang Kai-shek–the three of them are laughing.

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