February 1943 (1)

Tulagi PT base

Tulagi PT base

PT Report:

1/2 February – This was the last fight between the Tokyo Express and the PT’s at Guadalcanal and it was the most violent.  Three boats were sunk – the 37, 111 and 123, with a total of 6 enlisted men killed, 3 officers killed, 6 enlisted missing and 6 others wounded.  Five PTs fired 19 torpedoes, claiming 2 destroyers sunk and 2 damaged.

The Makigumo was either damaged by the PTs or by one of the 300 mines laid that day.  Two more Japanese evacuation trips were made on 4/5 and 7/8, but the boats did not attempt to intercept.  During this time, Japanese Gen. Hyakutake and his remaining troops were ferried off Guadalcanal 6 months after the US troops arrived on the island.

IJN Makigumo

IJN Makigumo

In the Bismark Sea, the 5th Air Force spotted a convoy and performed the first “skip-bombing” technique.  Mitchell bombers went at the enemy transports mast-high and the bombs skimmed like stones on a pond with the accuracy of torpedoes.  Eight transports and 4 destroyers were sunk.  During aerial combat, 60 Japanese aircraft were downed at the cost of 4 US fighters.  As the sun set, the enemy lifeboats were attacked by PT boats.  Gen. Hatazo Aidichi and only 2,000 of his men made it to shore on New Guinea.

example of skip-bombing

example of skip-bombing

MacArthur used the Bismark victory to request 5 more divisions; 1,800 aircraft and more naval forces including carriers for his “Elkton” plan.  But due to the decisions made at Casablanca, Gen. Marshall could not comply.  Rather than cable his response, Gen. Wedemeyer was sent to the Pacific to render an explanation to Mac.

A furious MacArthur cabled Washington D.C. that the New Guinea campaign would be cancelled due to the lack of resources.  In turn, Mac, Nimitz and Halsey were ordered to send representatives to Washington for a “Pacific Military Conference” to be held in March.

Two weary Chindits with their mule

Two weary Chindits with their mule

1-15 February – the British offensive in the Arakan peninsula in Burma ended without success.  The Japanese continued to hold on to their strong defensive positions.  Gen. Orde Wingate and his newly formed 3,000-man 77th Indian Brigade (aka “Chindits”) entered Burma to go behind enemy lines.  Their mission was to disrupt the Japanese communications and tactical deployments.

6 February – the Allies began to show their superiority in the skies of New Guinea when 37 fighters shot down 26 Japanese aircraft out of their raiding party of 70 planes.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – the Navy’s answer to Sad Sack…..2162288699_642f660297_o

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Merchant Navy Day – New Zealand – 3 September

Capt. Inkster

The men and boys of the New Zealand Merchant Navy had one of the most perilous wartime occupations as they carried supplies to the troops and wounded to safety.  Their virtually unarmed ships were sitting ducks for the enemy.  Hundreds of mines were laid by German raiders in the early years of the war and several vessels were sunk, including the minesweeper, Puriri, May 1941 off Whangarei, NZ.

Around 130 New Zealand seafarers lost their lives and around 140 were taken prisoner.  Captain Inkster, pictured above, served for 60 years, including all six years of WWII.  Let’s join them this today in honoring these civilians who put their lives on the line for the Allied troops!

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Bradley Jr. – Fairfield, AL; USMC, WWII

Graham Carkeek – NZ; RNZ Navy # NZ6315, WWII

Ernest Fox – CAN & TX; RC Air Force, WWII228685_214560631902034_100000442955388_742352_2701778_n

Roy Griffin – Sacramento, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 20th Army Air Force

Charles Hill – Stanley, NC; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

Martin Johnson – Boise, ID; US Army, Vietnam

Matthew Leggett – Ruskin, FL; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt.

Franklin Slack – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO,b CO/188th/11th Airborne

Peter Veltmeijer – Caloundra, AUS; RA Army, Vietnam

Richard Votava – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

R. Eugen Wolford – US Army, WWII, 10th Mountain Division

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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 September 3, 2015, in WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 85 Comments.

  1. Couldn’t find a reply button so adding my pennyworth here—at one time they were wrapping gun barrels with cordite string, and when iced up they hit the button to shatter the ice away instantly.

    As for shooting up the enemy’s lifeboats … not considered ‘good form’ by some (and possibly grounds for complaint—the land versions of such actions got a few eyebrows raised; especially at the Bulge) but if the name of the game is kill the other guy then him being helpless in a lifeboat—hell, it just doesn’t come any better than that.
    Reminds me a bit of that Noel Coward movie ‘In Which We Serve’ (horribly dated now, but still a classic).

    Like

  2. First time I’ve heard of Gabby Gob! Cool! And as I’ve remarked before, why are so many Japanese flags held upside down? 🙂 I did love the mosquito boat symbol above the sailors.

    The book, “They Were Expendable”, did much to generate enlistments in 1942. It later became a classic John Wayne movie in 1945 as you know.

    Just as a matter of opinion, these tight knit crews who lived on the boats 24/7 were gritty and tough. Initial attempts to use these PT boats against larger ships like destroyers early on led to chaos and ineffective results… but they learned. Heavier armaments like Bofors and 50 cals began to adorn the wooden decks and horrid WWI torpedo tubes were finally replaced with more reliable tubes and Mark 8s. Still, some captains removed a couple of tubes and replaced them with heavier armaments. (Some had mortars!) Illness and stressful night patrols took their toll but they bravely carried on.

    But by the Battle of Surigao Straights in October 1944, these gritty crews were effective. 39 PT boats, for example, laid havoc to Japanese shipping during that battle. In other actions, they were effective in attacking barges and transports and otherwise harassing the enemy. Because their ships were small and cramped, they had no room for prisoners.

    Anyways, just my thoughts on this heroic chapter in US Naval history…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Remembering the War in the Pacific – I was bought up with films including; Tora! Tora! Tora! Bataan (and Back To Bataan) Hell in The Pacific, Battle Cry, The Halls of Montezuma, The Sands of Iwo Jima and many others. I reckon I could get to thirty before even starting on the movies after 1970. So in our household it’s Semper fidelis

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    • Glad to hear it, but please remember that they are made in Hollywood. Many facts are altered so the movie will be dramatic and sell. Like John Wayne climbing Mount Suribachi amidst bullets and bombs. In reality, not one shot was fired at the Marines when they climbed it. The napalm had sucked the oxygen out of the caves, leaving the enemy either dead or in a stupor-like state. Thanks for coming by, Gustav.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. There’s always something to learn in your posts gp, Skip bombing sounds like the same technique used by the Dam Busters, not sure who used it first, the statement, the enemy lifeboats were attacked by PT boats, leaves me perplexed, who actually attacked the lifeboats, the enemy attacking their own doesn’t sound right.
    Cheers.

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  5. It’s amazing what I glean when reading the “untold” or “forgotten” efforts of so many.

    Also, my admiration to the gentleman that gave 60 years of service to his country. Now that is AMAZING!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Gabby Gob comic book made me smile. Never saw it before!

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  7. I had an uncle who served on Biak , an island near New Guinea , with MacArthur’s troops . The family story is that he went over with black hair and came back with white hair .

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    • Believe it or not, my father told me about that happening during the war. Those islands had to be beyond our comprehension to fight in. Thanks for sharing part of your uncle’s story, Dan.

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  8. Very interesting! Learning something new everytime I read your blog. 🙂

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  9. Interesting post and once again learned something new.

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  10. About the B-25 photo, it’s a 405th Bomb Squadron plane from the 38th Bomb Group. Anyway, both B-25 and A-20 crews put the skip-bombing technique to use during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. One man aboard a 43rd Bomb Group B-17 wrote a bit about watching the crews below: “it was the greatest show I ever hope to see … The sky was full of planes. I saw one A-20 or B-25 strafe the deck of a destroyer [and] cause an explosion on the stern which sent doughnut like billows of smoke a thousand feet into the air. When I left for home, at least 10 of the boats were sinking or burning and a lot of our planes [were] still there …”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for shedding light, yet again, on a theatre of war that is very little known over here in Europe. Eight transports, 4 destroyers and 60 Japanese aircraft is a very impressive tally for one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That sentence about PT boats attacking enemy lifeboats as the sun set was chilling. A too-stark reminder of how savage the fighting has to be in order to defeat certain enemies. ‘Kill or be killed’ cannot be understood by those who never are in that situation. No wonder our men and women are haunted by dreams when they return to ‘normal’ lives. God Bless us all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But you have to remember who is writing the history. When the Japanese strafed our unarmed men in lifeboats – they were murdering monsters. When our troops strafed them – they were doing what was right to defeat the enemy. It’s all a matter of perspective, which is why I try to keep my own feelings on the data separate from the articles.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Absolutely. I’ve come to learn that ‘history’ is written by those with agendas who can just as easily manipulate facts as they can tell the ‘truth’.

        Whose truth? Has become my new mantra in our hyper-politically-correctness.

        God willing, our troops deserve a Commander In Chief who understands the necessity for a strong, well-trained military. It’s been too long.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Wonderful history and photos as usual. But.. as a collector of comics I’m shocked that I have never heard of Gabby Gob. This is awful. I feel so deficient. I must find one. (joke)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Had not know Merchant Marines were civilians.

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  15. Violent warfare in a tropical, paradise-like setting seems incongruous to me. But the warm weather makes me wonder if it was better to serve in the Pacific Theater, rather than the European. No freezing your butt off in the Ardennes, and all that.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve said it before, but I appreciate reading about the war in the Pacific. It wasn’t discussed much, even as I was growing up because most of my relatives had served in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. The merchant did their bit I reckon, one of my relatives was on the North Atlantic convoys, I read about it some years ago (cannot remember the title) tough conditions..

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  18. These posts on the Pacific theater is great not many remember too much about the war there….thanx for keeping their memories alive….chuq

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Another period of fierce fighting that went almost unnoticed, due to the campaign in Europe. The guys in those PT boats showed great nerve, in difficult conditions.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I learn something new every day with your blog.
    The PT boats actions needed to be known.

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: My Article Read (9-3-2015) | My Daily Musing

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