Monthly Archives: September 2015

Dowsett’s War, Part 5 – New Guinea

Papua, New Guinea, WWII

Papua, New Guinea, WWII

Additional information on the actions and struggles of the Australian troops in New Guinea.

The Rant Foundry

“Festering swamp and sodden jungle, snakes, crocodiles, myriads of scorpions, centipedes, ants, leeches, typhus bearing mites, malaria; this stone age land of
tropical diseases and appalling climate was the setting for a campaign that would cost the Japanese 100,000 lives. And it was the Japanese who chose to campaign there.”

From New Guinea – The Tide is Stemmed by John Vader.

AWM 014001 1943-01-02. Papua, Giropa Point. Australian manned M3 General Stuart tanks attacking Japanese pillboxes in the final assault on Buna. Men of D Company, 2/12th Battalion, fire on 25 Japanese defenders (not seen), using Bren Mk 1 machine guns and SMLE No. 1 Mk 3 rifles, who are fleeing from a wrecked pillbox 150 metres away. The pillbox was destroyed by the General Stuart tank also seen here. In the foreground in the heat of battle are Private J. Searle and Corporal G. G. Fletcher. This photograph was taken by…

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March 1943 (2)

Indian troops, Arakan Peninsula, Burma

Indian troops, Arakan Peninsula, Burma

17-31 March – The Japanese 55th Division and other units launched a 3-pronged attack on the Arakan Peninsula in Burma.  The Indian troops pulled back and discontinued their offensive.  The Chindits were defeated by massive enemy fighting and this set off an epic journey of 1,000 miles (1600 km) through Burma for the men to reach safety.

Wingate’s retreat, 150 miles of which was in the Irrawaddy, a heavily patrolled area by the 15th Japanese Army under Lt.Gen. Renya Mutaguchi.  The Chindits would lose approximately 500 men during this march.  Gen. Slim called the entire operation “an expensive failure” but the British press dubbed Wingate a hero and calling him the “Clive of Burma.”

Aleutians_Map

27 March – in the Bering Sea, Adm. Hosogaya Boshiro’s escort force of 4 cruisers and 4 destroyers attempted to run reinforcements to the Aleutian Islands.  The Naval Intelligence failed to notify Adm. Charlie “Socrates” McMorris of the enemy’s strength.  McMorris sailed and engaged the Japanese with 2 cruisers and 4 destroyers in a 4 hours battle, 1000 miles south of the Komandorski Islands.  The American ships were older and outgunned, but the Japanese admiral made the error of being overly protective of the transports and both sides lost one destroyer.  The enemy withdrew, apparently low on fuel and ammunition.  The results of the Battle of Komandorski Islands was deemed inconclusive.

The Japanese Imperial Staff in Tokyo was in dispute at this time and New Guinea was chosen as their prime target.  Gen. Imamura at Rabaul and Adm. Yamamoto at Truk were notified of this decision.  The responsibility of clearing the skies of the US 5th Air Force fell upon the Imperial Navy.  Yamamoto and his staff prepared the “Operation I-Go” plan to reinforce their 11th Fleet.

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28 March – at the Casablanca Conference, the strategic priorities were finalized.  The “Germany First” policy remained set in stone and the Pacific commanders could expect all resources after Europe was taken.  Until that time, they would receive approximately 15% of the resources produced.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – today is Gold Star Mother’s Day

To view my past post for the Gold Star Mothers – click HERE!

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Military Humor – Military_Humor_27

Military-Humor

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charlie Bostwick – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Tommy Crews – Independence, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBIMissing MAn (800x583)

John Demski – Coeur, IL; US Army Air Corps, 221st Medical/11th A/B

Stanley Konefal – Medford, MA; US Army, Medical Corps, surgeon

Gerald Griffin – San Angelo, LA; US Air Force (ret. 21 years), Korea, Vietnam, TSgt. E-6

Donald Paton – Taukau, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4313922, WWII

Richard Sheaffer Jr. – Harrisburg, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, KIA

Charles Strong – Suffolk, VA; USMC, Afghanistan, Spec Forces

John Terrell – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, gunner, 301 Heavy Bombardment Group, Korea

Koyle Wells – Boise, ID; US Army, WWII

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Tragedy Above the Bismarck Sea

More info on the Battle of the Bismark Sea from the IHRA website.

IHRA

On February 26, 1943, a Japanese convoy was spotted by Allied forces at Rabaul. At this point in the war, the Japanese were trying to build up their strength in New Guinea after losing control of the Solomon Islands. Fifth Air Force would try to keep a close eye on this convoy, but due to the weather, could not watch it for two days. On March 1st, the weather finally cleared up enough for a 90th Bomb Group crew to see the convoy on its way from Rabaul to Lae. The crew immediately reported the situation as well as the size of the convoy. With six troop transports, two vessels carrying aviation fuel, a boat full of Japanese marines, eight destroyer escorts, and 100 fighter planes, this was not a target to be missed. B-17s from the 63rd Squadron were soon sent to bomb the convoy, but were thwarted by…

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March 1943

2-4 March – a Japanese convoy was headed for the Lae-Salamaua area of New Guinea.  The Allied ULTRA intelligence knew their course and that they were carrying nearly 7,000 men of the 51st Division.  Australian Capt. W.H. Garing convinced US Gen. Kenney to use a massive co-ordinated attack against them.   From the US 5th Air Force Mitchells, Bostons, and Liberators, with the Royal Australian Air Force adding 11 Catalinas, 22 Bostons, 30 Beaufighters and 100 Beauforts,(totaling 355 aircraft), including US torpedo boats, devastated the convoy in constant waves of attack.  This would become known as the Battle of the Bismark Sea.

W.H. Garing

W.H. Garing

__________ALLIES____________JAPANESE

Battle of the Bismark Sea

Battle of the Bismark Sea

Strength
39 heavy bombers;
41 medium bombers;
34 light bombers;
54 fighters
10 torpedo boats
8 destroyers,
8 troop transports,
100 aircraft
Casualties and losses
2 bombers,
4 fighters destroyed
13 killed[1]
8 transports,
5 destroyers sunk
20 fighters destroyed,
2,890+ dead

The enemy was subjected to repeated dive-bombing, skip-bombing, torpedo runs and strafing attacks with true accuracy not only on the convoy, but shipping and Lae airfield.  Only approximately 950 to 1,200 Japanese made it to shore at Lae and about 2,700 Japanese soldiers were picked up and returned to Rabaul.  As another 1,000 of the enemy were adrift, the PT boats attacked.  IJN rescue vessels, including I-17 and I-26 picked up about another 170 survivors.

RAAF Bostons, No. 22 Squadron

RAAF Bostons, No. 22 Squadron

3-6 March – the Chindits in Burma were continuing to advance and successfully blow up enemy railroad lines and bridges.  But, each column was receiving heavy resistance and high casualties.  Four and Two Column became dispersed after one particularly bloody battle.

6 March, the Munda and Vila airfields in the Solomons were given heavy fire from the US Navy.  During this action, 2 Japanese destroyers were sunk.

8-13 March – the Japanese in China renewed their offensive against the weak Nationalist forces, but their advance was halted at the Yangste River.  On the 10th, to expand air cover for the Burma campaign and eastern Pacific, the US 14th Army Air Force was created under MGen. Claire Chennault, and based in China.

Washington D.C., March 1943

Washington D.C., March 1943

12 March – representatives of MacArthur and Nimitz met in Washington DC for the ‘Pacific Military Conference’.  The Army and Navy immediately became locked in a stalemate.  FDR ordered Gen. Marshall to have MacArthur prepare for the “ultimate seizure of the Bismark Archipelago.”  This left Halsey restricted to advancing up the Solomons. [Being as more and more ships were being lost in the ETO, that meant even fewer replacement ships would be sent to the Pacific.]  This also meant that it would be nearly 3 months before an Allied offensive plan could begin to move forward again in the PTO.

Some of the Australian data was acquired through the assistance of Robert Kingsley @ Java Gold Blog

Following video is from IHRA’s comment

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

Highest ranking officer still listed as MIA to receive honors in NM

 By RUSSELL CONTRERAS

Associated Press
Published: September 18, 2015
BGen. Kenneth Walker

BGen. Kenneth Walker

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More than 70 years after a mysterious World War II disappearance, the nation’s highest ranking military officer listed as missing in action is receiving honors in his birth state of New Mexico as the search continues for his body.

Brig. Gen. Kenneth Walker, a Medal of Honor recipient who helped create an air plan to defeat Hitler in World War II, will be celebrated starting Friday in the city of Roswell where a now-closed based once carried his name. The city will have a Walker Air Force Base Historic Marker thanks to the New Mexico Department of Transportation.

Story excerpt from Stars & Stripes.

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Military Humor – Bridge

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“I feel like an important island in the Pacific”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lawrence ‘Yogi’ Berra – The Hill, MO; US Navy, WWII, ETO, USS Bayfield, gunners mate [MLB catcher]

Bob Egan – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, Sgt. 1st Class

Charles Goodson – WPalm Beach, FL, US Air ForceWWII Memorial poem at Arlington Cemetery

Samuel Hairston – Houston, TX; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt.

Michael Incognito  – Wood Ridge, NJ; US Navy

James Mandell – Darien, CT & FL; US Air Force (Ret. 21 yrs), pilot

Dickie Moore – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII [child actor]

Robert Phillips – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Army # 436394, WWII

Albert Pregont – Weston, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO,

Peter Veltmeijer – Caloundra, AUS; RA Army, Vietnam

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Airborne & Camp MacKall

Camp MacKall

Camp MacKall

THIS POST FOR SMITTY AND THE 11TH AIRBORNE DIVISION HAS BEEN EDITED AND UPDATED.

Pacific Paratrooper

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National POW/MIA Recognition Day (2)

NEVER FORGET!

Pacific Paratrooper

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FOR ALL THOSE WHO BORE THE TRIALS – PAST AND PRESENT – MAY THEY ALWAYS COME HOME!

To view last years POW/MIA Day post click HERE

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POW/MIA

by: Abe Jones

For as long as we have Wars
And we send our Young to fight
We’ll have Those who are Missing
And the P.O.W.’s plight.
 
All People of this Nation
Have this Duty to fulfill,
We must keep Them in our thoughts
And, We must have the Will
 
To bring every One home
And those POW/MIAs
And leave NO Souls behind.
 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Pamela Brement – Tucson, AZ; civilian internee, WWII, Philippinespowmia

John Gulberanson – Roveville, MN; US navy, WWII, POW Santo Tomas, Philippines; Korea

Richard Klema – Wilson, KS & Morro Bay, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Buel Knight – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army, ETO, POW / USMC, Korea, Vietnam

Bruno Lombardi…

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US Air Force Birthday

Happy Birthday to all our Flyboys!!

Pacific Paratrooper

Thunderbird pilots w/ their planes Thunderbird pilots w/ their planes

The official birthday for the US Air Force is 18 September 1947 as enacted under the National Security Act of 1947.

Animated-Happy-Birthday-banner-spinning

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See the video for the US Air Force 67th Birthday right  Here!

HIGH FLIGHT

by: John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed
and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – 
Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.
Hovering there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flug
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delicious burning blue
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put…

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Featherston, NZ – POW Camp

Featherston, NZ

Featherston, NZ

During WWI, Featherston was the largest military training camp in New Zealand, housing 7500 men.  It was dismantled after the war ended.  In September 1942, the US requested that it be re-opened as a prisoner of war camp for the captured Japanese troops of Guadalcanal.

Approximately 900 Japanese and Korean men were housed in the camp with the senior Japanese officer being Lt. S. Kamikubo of the Imperial Japanese Navy.  The prisoners consisted of Koreans and labor units who had worked on Henderson Field and about 250 Japanese, at the time of the POW uprising.  Lt.Colonel D.H. Donaldson was the camp’s commandant.

The Japanese prisoners were from the army, navy and air force with the majority of them from the cruiser IJN Furutaka, which was sunk during the Battle of Cape Esperance.  The remaining 19 men were the extent of the surviving crew from the destroyer, Akatsuki.  It was this group that refused to assist in the work parties and staged a sit-in on 22 February 1943.

Japanese POWs

Japanese POWs

A guard fired a warning shot, which appeared to have injured Lt. Adachi Toshio.  This led to an apparent charge by 250 rock-throwing prisoners.  The guards opened fire with rifles and sub-machine-guns.  Forty-eight POWs and one New Zealand guard were killed.

An official inquiry cleared the guards of wrongdoing by judging that they acted in self-defense. It blamed the incident on cultural differences worsened by a language barrier.  Among the issues was the Japanese being unaware that under the 1929 Geneva Convention, compulsory work by the prisoners was allowed.  The Japanese government rejected the court’s findings.

Pvt. Walter Pevin, NZ POW guard

Pvt. Walter Pevin, NZ POW guard

In September 1945, the prisoners told a neutral inspector that they were concerned about repatriation as honorable citizens; provisions would be necessary or they should be given asylum on a Pacific island.  They feared a mass suicide might result otherwise.  The POWs also worried about the treatment in New Zealand when news of the conditions in the Japanese POW camps holding their men was released.

Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania) 3 March 1943

Examiner (Launceston, Tasmania) 3 March 1943

The prisoners were transported in two trains from Featherston to Wellington and embarked on 30 December upon two large American tank landing vessels, LST 273 and LST 275, under Lt.Comdr, R.P. Rudolph, for Japan.

The Featherston uprising would inadvertently be one of the reasons for the Cowra POW camp incident in August 1944, to be posted later in this series.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – everyone’s favorite soldier….

SadSack36

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Farewell Salutes – 

Brian Arsenault -Northborough, MA; US Army, Afghanistan, 82nd A/B

Eric Bradshaw – Wandoan, AUS; RA Air Force # 124491

Wayne Dyer – Detroit, MI; US Navy 21_gun_salute

Harold Greene – Schenectady, NY; US Army, Afghanistan, Major

Dean Jones – Decatur, IL; US Navy, Korea (beloved actor)

Jerome LaVatch – Rutland, VT; US Navy, WWII

Brian Maples – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Army # 207340, Canterbury Regiment

Robert Oliphant – Bryant, AR; US Army, WWII, WTO, 8th Infantry Division

Billy Stevens – Bullhead City, AZ; UA Army (Ret. 26 years), Korea, Vietnam, Sgt. Major

Edward VanNordheim – Licoln, NE; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

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February 1943 (2)

"Warm Reception" by Jim Dietz of the Guadalcanal Cactus Air Force.

“Warm Reception” by Jim Dietz of the Guadalcanal Cactus Air Force.

7-18 February – Chiang Kai-shek agreed to use his forces in the Burma campaign, but as usual, this was in exchange for a promise of even more US financial aid.  Mahatma Gandhi started his 21-day hunger strike in India in his non-violent opposition to British policies in his country.

Chindits 1943

Chindits 1943

The 47th and 55th Indian Brigades were beaten back at Donbaik in the Arakan peninsula.  The Chindits opposed the enemy for the first time on the 18th in Burma and advanced.  They managed to cut the Japanese railroad line between Mandalay and Myitkyina.

New Guinea

New Guinea

12 February – the Allies initiated the Elkton Plan; a campaign designed by MacArthur to eject the Japanese from New Guinea, New Britain and the Solomons.  This would isolate the enemy headquarters at Rabaul.  (The original plan included capturing Rabaul, but was scrapped due to D.C.’s Casablanca decisions.)  In response to their loss of Guadalcanal, the Japanese began to pour reinforcements onto New Guinea, including the 18th Army, under LtGen. Adachi Hatazo, and the 4th Air Army.

Solomon Islands and surrounding area.

Solomon Islands and surrounding area.

21 February – Operation Cleanslate began as an effort to reclaim the Solomons.  US assault battalions took Russell Island, NW of Guadalcanal.  This was the first operation as part of a larger plan – Operation Cartwheel, working up from the south and east to re-capture the Pacific.  This plan was the coordinated strategy of MacArthur and Adm. Nimitz.

22 February – a serious POW incident occurred at Featherston, New Zealand.  With thanks  to a lead from Ian at the Aussie  Emu, an article on this event will be the subject of the following post.

Jeep convoy on the Burma Road

Jeep convoy on the Burma Road

28 February – a new Burma Road was completed, which allowed supplies to be transported by land to the Chinese forces in Burma rather than air dropped.  The road ran 300 miles (428 km) from Ledo to southern China.  It was constructed by US Army Engineers and 14,000 laborers.

By the end of February, Gen. Wavell’s staff at New Delhi, India Headquarters decided the Arakan expedition should be halted, but Churchill wouldn’t hear of it.  The Prime Minister continued to feel that the Japanese were a “numerically insignificant opposition.”  It was later discovered that the troops were staying on the roads, thereby making themselves easy targets for the enemy.  This strategy was revised.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Sad Sack cast….

Sad Sack and cast

Sad Sack and cast

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eric Bradshaw – Wandoan, AUS; RA Air Force # 124491

Leroy Dunn – Wilmington, NC; USMC, WWII, PTO11986973_1183822258300441_3544440820007753006_n.jpgfrom, Falling with Hale

Howard Greenberg – Bay Village, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 221st Medical/11th A/B

Herbert Hart – Arlington, VA; USMC, Korea, Vietnam, Middle East, Captain, 2 Purple Hearts

Gilbert Lysaker – Fargo, ND; US Army, WWII, ETO, 82nd A/B, 2 Purple Hearts, Bronze Star

Leo Monahan – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Bobby Plaster – Huntington, WVA; USMC, WWII

Joshua Stevens – Dagsbord, DE; US Army Air Corps, Korea, 187th RCT

Barrie Tarr – Thames, NZ; RNZ Navy # NZ125539, Korea

Andrew Weathers – DeRidder, LA; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 7th Special Forces A/B

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Mary Bingham

recruitingposter8

Another tribute to the women of WWII.

Hinges of History


WAVE Mary Bingham talks about enlisting in the WAVES and serving in the Navy.

Her story is part of our month of video countdown to the home video release of Homefront Heroines: The WAVES of World War II.

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