December 1942 (2)

Soputa, New Guinea officer's mess

Soputa, New Guinea officer’s mess

8-19 December – after Buna and Gona, on New Guinea, were finally taken, the Allies knew that at least 7,000 Japanese might be defending Sanananda.  So, it came as quite a surprise to generals Vassey and Eichelberger when MacArthur released his communiqué, “The Papuan Campaign is in its closing phase.”  It would be another 2 weeks before the last enemy soldier left his bunker [where evidence of cannibalism was found].  The close quarter battles killed about 630 of the enemy, but the 530 Australian casualties were a heavy price to pay.

002 (800x583)

Replacements and supplies arrive.

On Guadalcanal, the Japanese had suffered, at this point, about 23,000 casualties; more from disease and starvation than combat, out of 40,000 men.  They lost 2 battleships, 3 cruisers, 12 destroyers, 16 transports and many hundreds of planes.  Adm. Tanaka would later say, “There is no question that Japan’s doom was sealed with the closing struggle for Guadalcanal.”  He went on to conclude that Japan’s lack of planning spelled her defeat.

Americal force cmdr. MGen. Alexander Patch

Americal force cmdr. MGen. Alexander Patch

9 December – MGen. Alexander M. Patch replaced Vandergrift as the commander of the Guadalcanal forces.  The 1st Marine Division left the island as their replacements arrived.  During December, as many as 58,000 US troops were on the island verses 20,000 poorly equipped Japanese.

Transport ship 'President Coolidge'

Transport ship ‘President Coolidge’

12 December – the President Coolidge had hit a mine while bearing troops from New Caledonia to Espiritu Santo Island in the New Hebrides.  Capt. Henry Nelson rammed the sinking ship onto a coral reef.  She slid off that reef, turned turtle and sank, but as a result of the captain’s swift action, only 5 lives were lost out of the 5,050 on board.  The picture above shows the troops scrambling down the cargo nets.

17-31 December – the 14th Indian Division began to work their way back into Burma.  They crossed the border of India and advanced 150 miles (241 km) to positions just north of the Maungdau-Butnidaung line.  Their goal was to reach Akyab, 60 miles (96 km) south.  They were initially halted by the Japanese 55th Division.  Then, Allied forces continued southward and by the end of the month, they took Rathedaung.

Burma combat map from 1942

Burma combat map from 1942

During the closing hours of 1942, Adm. Yamamoto wrote, “How splendid the first stage of our operation was!  But how unsuccessfully we have fought since the defeat of Midway.”  (The Admiral had predicted in 1940 that Japan would have her way for 6 months, but after that would be a hostage to the fortune that haunted her leaders.)

26-31 December, on Guadalcanal, the US XIV Corps battled a desperate Japanese force.  Although they were half-starved and so many stricken with malaria, the enemy proved to be tenacious.  However the Imperial General Staff would order an abandonment of the island and for their troops on New Guinea to retreat to Giruwa, disguised publicly as a “strategic withdrawal.”

During December, 700,000 tons of US shipping was supplied to Guadalcanal.  This proved to be beyond the Japanese capacity to compete with.

Click on images to enlarge.

################################################################################

Military Humor – from Bill Mauldin – 002 (629x800)

001 (621x800)

#################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Austin – Benton, AR; US Army, WWII

Henry Benvenuti – Boynton Bch., FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Personnel Sgt. Major

James Davis – Oso, WA; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea, Purple HeartKXAC000A

John HIggins – Boise, ID; US Navy (Ret.), Vietnam, fighter pilot, Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Christopher Lee – Chelsea, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, No. 269 Sq. & w/ Gurkhas/8th Indian Inf. Reg, (beloved actor)

Colin Maultsby Jr. – Raleigh, NC; US Army, Korea

Stanley Ribee – UK & CAN; British Merchant Service, WWII

Ed Simolo – Merrill, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 457th Artillery

William Spornitz – Sioux City, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th A/B Div.

Merlin Twogood – Woonsocket, SD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511th/11th Airborne

Walter Wilke – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4211605/ RNZ Army # 631267, WWII

##################################################################################

Advertisements

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 June 11, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 55 Comments.

  1. “…700,000 tons of US shipping was supplied to Guadalcanal. This proved to be beyond the Japanese capacity to compete with.”

    Logistics – always the game changer, I reckon.

    Like

  2. Can’t wait for part 3

    Like

  3. It is what war does to people…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That first paragraph where you mentioned evidence of cannibalism in the bunkers gave me chills. There was so much more happening than met the eye, especially of those back home.

    Like

    • Too much was going on at any given moment, simply everywhere. We are almost at the Intermission between 1942-43, so we’ll have stories of home front too.

      Like

  5. I have to join everyone else in admiring the Coolidge photo.The officer’s mess is a gem too. It really is a mess (of a place). 😉

    Like

  6. I think we have to recognize the lack of familiarity with these Pacific places even as the planning went on . Unfortunately the combat troops paid the price , as always , for weak plans , at times, and miscalculations , at times . Maulden’s cartoon nails it .

    Like

    • True on all counts, Dan, and thank you for bringing those points up. Mauldin – he usually nailed it, especially since he was out with the men himself; he nailed it so well some times that the big brass would call him on it!

      Like

  7. The close up shot of the men scrambling on the nets of the Coolidge is fantastic, could only have been photographed from another craft, outstanding effort really, considering five lost out of 5050.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wasn’t that something else!! I’ve received the most response because of that picture and I almost missed it myself. It was in a book I almost forgot I had!! [Jeez I’m getting OLD !!!]

      Liked by 3 people

  8. I’ve dived the Coolidge twice: first time in 1985, second time in 2011. It’s a huge wreck, you only get to do small sections at a time, but I’ve been down to where the screw was (I finned under the rudder – it’s gigantic!). Only two died, by the way, in what was a monumental effort by the captain to get everyone off in time. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The photo of the troops abandoning Coolidge is really dramatic, GC. It’s amazing that only five lives were lost. –Curt

    Like

  10. I would love to have witnessed that decision by another naval hero Nelson! Cool thinking, which seems to have paid off.
    That ‘strategic withdrawal’ was way overdue. As in other battles, they were dead but wouldn’t lie down.

    Like

  11. Unbelievable the conditions they went through, Everett. Such bravery. Also when you wrote ” During December, 700,000 tons of US shipping was supplied to Guadalcanal. This proved to be beyond the Japanese capacity to compete with.” Just incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for that tidbit on the USS President Coolidge. An amazing feat in seamanship in the midst of battle. Of course, if that were to happen today, the media bozos would look for an error to beat into the minds of their misguided viewership. I will stop! You got me going again…

    While supplies, of course, play a major role, sheer luck plays another… like passing a spot a split second earlier or later would mean a bullet.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I found that pix just in time for this post, exactly what happened with the pix of the officer’s mess. The “Coolidge” I found in a book that I almost forgot I had and the mess was found while researching something else. On these search engines [old-fashioned term – I know!!] you only have to change one word and a whole new set of websites pop up – amazing technology these days!!
      And – don’t get ME started on media bozos either!! Things have been peaceful today – I don’t want to start ranting!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post and photos. Sounds like disease and starvation (sadly) were our Allies in defeating the Japanese. How awful to think they had to resort to cannibalism. What inhuman behavior we inflict.

    Like

  14. I love how, even in war, there’s an officer’s mess (in that first picture).

    Like

  15. Love stopping by here and reading your posts. December 42 was the month my father was ordered to report to the induction center and my uncle, who’d been stationed in San Francisco with the National Guard, received orders to join a regular army unit head for the South Pacific.

    Like

  16. Another interesting account of the Pacific War. Thank you.

    Like

  17. Reblogged this on Janet’s thread and commented:
    Graphic account of World War II in the Pacific.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hurray for Capt. Henry Nelson. Hitting a mine and then having the wherewithal to save most all on board.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Another really interesting article. The Japanese seem to waste men’s lives as if they could just build some more in a factory somewhere!

    Like

    • The Navy was destroying their supply convoys, officers got the best of what did get thru and this was how they had fought in the past – only it worked then… Japan meant more to them than their own lives and their leaders wanted power. [sounds familiar, doesn’t it?]

      Like

  20. The officers’ Mess is a stunning image of the conditions on that island. Yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. The sheer industrial capacity of the USA simply overwhelmed the Japanese, that’s for sure. But it still needed a man and a rifle on the ground, to defeat them on that island.
    More stories of bravery and determination. Thanks GP.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, every man had a story – getting it from him is another struggle, but beyond a doubt – this island took bravery and determination indeed. Thanks for coming by, Pete.

      Like

  22. Father Paul Lemmen

    Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: