December 1942 (3)

"Extraordinary Incident" by Roy Hodgkins, 1943

“Extraordinary Incident” by Roy Hodgkins, 1943

NEW GUINEA

The Wirraway, an Aboriginal word meaning ‘challenge’, was a trainer designed aircraft classified as ‘general purpose’ and was equipped with machine guns and bomb racks.  The Commonwealth Aircraft Corp.’s plant at Fisherman’s Bend in Victoria produced 755 of these planes.  They were most successful as army cooperation aircraft during the Papua New Guinea campaign.

Archer and Coulston

Archer and Coulston

On 26 December 1942, Pilot Officer John Archer, 4 Squadron RAAF, shot down a Japanese fighter, believed at the time to be a Mitsubishi ‘Zero’  from his Wirraway.  As soon as he landed at Popondetta airstrip in Papua on 12 December, Archer jumped from his Wirraway A20-103 to tell the Control Officer that he had shot down an enemy plane.

Archer and Coulston

Archer and Coulston

Despite the Control Officer’s disbelief, Archer described the incident and soon phone calls from observers all around the Gona area confirmed that story.  He and his observer, Sgt. J.F. Coulston, had been flying a tactical reconnaissance mission over a Japanese ship which had been wrecked in the sea off Gona.  When they sighted the ‘Zero’ 1,000 feet below, Archer dove on the Japanese aircraft and fired a long burst from the Wirraway’s 2 Vickers .303 machine-guns.  The Zero crashed into the sea.

PO John Archer receives US Silver Star from Gen. Whitehead, 1943

PO John Archer receives US Silver Star from Gen. Whitehead, 1943

For his actions, John Archer received the US Silver Star from BGen. Ennis C. Whitehead, the Commanding General of Allied Air Forces in New Guinea in a ceremony performed at Buna in 1943.  Archer’s Wirraway is now in the Bradbury Aircraft Hall at the Australian War Memorial.

Information taken from WW2 Australia.gov.au

Click on images to enlarge.

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MTB RON 3, 1942

MTB RON 3, 1942

GUADALCANAL

PT Boat activity report for the evening of 11/12 December 1942 –

Radio intelligence issued a warning that detailed the composition, timing and destination of tonight’s Express, along with a possible submarine off Kamimbo Bay.  As Tanaka’s Reinforcement Unit completed dropping 1,200 drums of supplies into the sea, PTs 40,45 & 59 attacked the Japanese ships.  One torpedo from Lt. Gamble’s PT-45 ripped into flagship Teruzuki, killing 9 men, crippling the ship, wounding Tanaka and forcing the enemy to abandon and scuttle the destroyer 3 hours later.

IJN Teruzuki

IJN Teruzuki

 PT-44 & 109 both attempted torpedo runs on a group of Japanese ships, but shells from the Kawakaze and Suzukaze destroyed the 44 boat and forced PT-109 to run behind a smoke screen.  Two officers and seven enlisted men were KIA in 44’s destruction; one officer and 1 other crewman survived.  Of the 1,200 drums of supplies, only 220 reached Japanese hands.  When this fact was reported to VAdm. Matome Ugaki, Chief of Staff of the Combined Fleet, the admiral privately questioned whether or not the 17th Army was hoarding supplies.

Resouce: PT King. gdine.com

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Military Humor – 

talent-bikini-flight-school

army-of-one

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bligh – Oneonta, NY & FL; US Navy, USS Forestal

Abraham Bookman – Ottawa, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Glenn Crockett – Ft. Worth, TX; US Army, Korea, 187th RCTEagles with bowed heads

Martin Hambright – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Kalivoda – Freeport, IL; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Patricia Lukin – W.AUS; AWAS, WWII, gunner

Alan Murray – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 439935, WWII

Pierre Simon – Gibson, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, HQS/675th Artillery

Ronald Spicer – Havertown, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 1th A/B Band

Gordon Torgerson – Maddock, ND; US Army, WWII, Military Police

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Personal Note – For the following few weeks we will be having posts that I call Intermission Stories.  It is to give the reader a break from the month-by-month war report and spotlight on other issues, such as the home front.  When we return to enter 1943, there will be more about Everett “Smitty” Smith and the 11th Airborne Division that is honored here at this website.

11th A/B Div. 1943 Yearbook

11th A/B Div. 1943 Yearbook

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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 June 15, 2015, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 50 Comments.

  1. Great piece of historical info gp, enjoy the story’s of the gallantry of our Wirraway pilots and crew, also the observations recorded by coast watchers and others, many accounts were only confirmed by the observations of coast watchers.
    Cheers.

    Like

    • Very true. I did a post or two on these men and I do mention them when possible – but another spotlight post will be coming along. Thanks for you loyal interest here, Ian – you’re a good friend [mate?].

      Liked by 1 person

  2. GP, I want to thank you for all the amazing stories you post. I am always thrilled when you mention the Australian Army, Navy or AirForce as you did today. Very often when we look at movies it seems that there were only the Yanks who fought. But lets look at a few stats. Australia had a population of about 7 million back then . The USA had about 130 mil or nearly 20 times that. The Aust Army had 730,000 enlistees. the Yanks about 17million. So about 9% v about 7% Pretty much the same. I’m not complaining. What I am saying is your blog gives the Aussies plenty of mentions. But we (the Aussies) want to be given all the glory. So, thanks GP. Your blog is balanced and I love it. I imagine that Canadian bloke understands where I’m coming from.

    Like

    • I try to give as many credit as I can – as you will see in today’s post. Unfortunately, the Canadians were mainly in the ETO. I will be able to include them when we go back to Alaska, but I mentioned them as much as I could locate when I covered the Korean War. I’m very glad you approve.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi GP – do I have some Wirraway info and photos for you!!! Are you interested??? If so, it might be better to set it up off-line rather than filling up your comments box. cheers from Garrulous
    gwil7 at optusnet dot com dot au

    Like

  4. I don’t know how agile the Wirraway was – but to best a Zero – that must been something. Thank you for this story.

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  5. What an interesting bit of trivia on the Australian training plane incident. And with .303 rounds! I hope both survived the war…

    Looking forward to more stuff on your pop! And have you written about Rod Serling?

    Like

    • I believe I mentioned him at some point. Being as he was with the 511th, the rest of the 11th felt they were “the darlings.” They had a bit of an ‘I’m better than the rest of the division’ attitude that used to burn Smitty to no end; but he did like Serling’s TV show.

      Like

  6. Glad someone gave him a medal, we don’t hand them out very often 😛

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  7. I have not seen the tank flipped up side down as such. That must be very horribly disappointed.

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  8. When i read your posts I am always disappointed when I get to the end. Your posts are always worth reading, man are they ever. I thought that I had seen photos of every plane flown in WWII, I found out when reading your post that I did not until today………………..i think.Your writing is incredibly good!

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  9. I continue to enjoy reading your posts, this one being no exception. It showed how a bit of extra initiative and independent action can have great results in winning a war. To fly a reconnaissance general purpose plane would have been excuse enough NOT to launch a daring attack. Thank you for sharing these little known stories with us, GP!

    Like

    • I appreciate your comments, Peter. I do try to make this site an interesting place to learn history, hear little know stories and for remembering the troops that were part of it. I also enjoy when the readers begin to have their own discussions between themselves. Sometimes I can’t help myself and I add in my own ‘beeswax’ but – what the heck!! Glad you like the site.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great story about John Archer. Proves once again that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’.

    Like

  11. What bravery, Everett!

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  12. I’ve never heard about that plane. Thanks for showing it.
    Have a great day,
    Pit

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    • Not many have heard of it. As John Knifton said, the Boomerang took it’s place rather early in the war, so a story like this would mainly only be known to the Australians interested in history.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I’d hoard supplies, especially if I thought it was all that was between me and starvation. Or I might drop then off where I thought they could best be used on the thought that it was better to be ‘lost’ feeding hungry soldiers than ‘lost’ feeding hungry admirals.:) –Curt

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  14. Awesome Post GP. I have been wanting to read and learn more about the PT boat campaigns in the Pacific for some time, please do more on that subject if you can.

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  15. Thank you for the history. I really love the painting “Extraordinary Incident”. Beautiful!

    Like

  16. A really interesting post about the Wirraway, an aircraft that is not frequently mentioned nowadays. As a youngster I made the model kit of its successor, the Boomerang, and I think it must be that emergency fighter that never ever shot down a hostile aircraft. A quick look at Wikipedia doesn’t seem to mention that it ever shot anything down. I think the first decent aircraft to be used must have been the P-40s and any Spitfires or Hurricanes that were sent out there.

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  17. What a victory this was for the Wirraway pilots! Seems like a bit of surprise and disbelief from both sides of the war. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Since they were ‘general purpose’ aircraft, normally used for training purposes – it WAS a surprise for everybody! Good point, Mrs P. and thank you for dropping in today.

      Like

  18. The Wirraway and Boomerang were wonderful aircraft. Borne out of the desperation and desire to fight and survive. I think in many ways, they are respected aircraft nowadays, certainly the crews that flew them deserve our thanks and admiration. Thank you for another great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. The Aussie air gunner was lucky to shoot down that Zero!
    The PT-109 mentioned was I presume, JFK’s boat? Two more tales of courage from the Pacific GP. Many thanks.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

    • It is the same boat, but JFK was NOT the commander, Lt. Searles commanded the PT-109. Lt.(jumior grade) Kennedy would not arrive at Tulagi until April 1943.

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  20. Thank you for sharing the memory of these men!!

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  1. Pingback: The CAC Wirraway and its cousins – a photo story | The Reluctant Retiree

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