Monthly Archives: January 2016

August 1943 (2)

During WWII Unalaska had all its native Alaskans removed from the island and there was a great military buildup to protect its Ice free, deep water port. The island was bombed by the Japanese and had a plane crash on the island.

During WWII Unalaska had all its native Alaskans removed from the island and there was a great military buildup to protect its Ice free, deep water port. The island was bombed by the Japanese and had a plane crash on the island.

Jon Sund’s blog and further current pictures of the Alaskan WWII relics, CLICK HERE!

15 August – On the island of Kiska in the Aleutians Islands of Alaska, weeks of air and naval bombardment rained down on Japanese installations.  The 1st Special Service Force, the “Devil’s Brigade”, both American and Canadian troops, made an amphibious landing.  Neither landing site received resistance from the enemy, as the Japanese had left 28 July.  Kiska was deserted and only 2 wild dogs were found.

Vella Lavella, WWII

Vella Lavella, WWII

PT boat reconnaissance confirmed that there were few Japanese on Vella Lavella in the Solomons.  Operation Goodtime lived up to its name when the US 25th Army Division and the Fiji/New Zealand commanders (South Seas Scouts) landed.  They only found enemy survivors of the Tokyo Express convoy that had recently been in a naval battle.  So, the men proceeded to build a new airstrip.  About 390 more Japanese landed on the island, which together with the 200 stragglers would cause fighting, but this move isolated the heavily defended Kolombangara  Island, General Sasaki and his troops.

17 August – this was “Black Day” for Japan – ~ 200 US planes, from Gen. George Kenney’s command, raided the Japanese 4th Air Army base at Wewak on the northern coast of New Guinea.  The enemy was taken completely by surprise since they believed themselves to be out of range of any US aircraft.  However, the engineers had constructed an airfield west of Lae, which put them 400 miles (640 km) away.  Three-fourths of the enemy base was rendered unusable and only 38 planes operational. [another source states 24 planes remained].  MacArthur was thinking of his own aircraft in the Philippines at the start of the war when he made the remark, “Nothing so helpless as an airplane on the ground.”

19 August – 4 Australian divisions and one American division started a major offensive up through the northern coast of New Guinea.  Since the success of the air raid, enemy air attacks on the ground forces was greatly reduced.  Mount Tambu, the Japanese fortified stronghold,  was taken.

25 August – Operation Toenails was officially ended as all enemy resistance on New Georgia ceased.  The campaign had required approximately 3-times the men (~ 45,000) than first estimated to complete; 1,136 had been killed in action.

Nanumea airfield, 1943

Nanumea airfield, 1943

28 August – US forces landed on Nanumea in the Ellice Island group.  The campaign started by penetrating into the south-eastern corner of the enemy held island.

August 1943 saw a lot of action with the 5th Air Force hammering away from their new airstrip in the Trobriand Islands.  The US and Australian airmen scoured New Guinea’s Huon Peninsula, the Bismark Sea and the waters off New Britain.  They made signs of enemy reinforcements and/or supplies their major priority and over 150 barges were sunk.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

"Let us rise men and say Grace over this Thanksgiving dinner... after which, we will carve the turkey."

“Let us rise men and say Grace over this Thanksgiving dinner… after which, we will carve the turkey.”

"Did you walk in her without help? - Fine - You're  1-A.

“Did you walk in here without help? – Fine – You’re 1-A.

 

 

Actual envelopes sent home – from the Cpl. Regis Dinkel # 33421270 collection.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Trevor Andrews – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Army # 23358, WWII, Cpl., Ordnance Corps

Sidney Booth – Rockledge, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Iowawpid-20b396344abfbc2aaf8553562b9bb75a

Jason Lee Dunham – Scio, NY; USMC, Syria/Iraq; 7th Marines, Cpl., KIA, Medal of Honor

Leon Hughes – Florence, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 221st Medical/11th Airborne

Harry Irish – Cleveland Hgts., OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Borum

Frank Johnson – Leominister, CA; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Buddy Miccio – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII,

Wayne Rogers – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, [M*A*S*H* actor]

Oscar Sainz – Yuma, AZ; US Army, WWII

Herbert Young – Nashua, NH; US Army, WWII

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The Ultimate Sacrifice

For our return to the Pacific War and August 1943….

IHRA

Art print of Ralph Cheli's B-25 going down over New Guinea. Painted by Steve Ferguson, sold by IHRA

On August 18, 1943, Maj. Ralph Cheli led a strike group from the 38th Bomb Group in an attack against the Japanese airstrip at Dagua, New Guinea, as a part of an all-out low-level B-25 strafer attack against the four airfields in the Wewak complex. Already fighting bad weather across the northern coast of New Guinea, Maj. Cheli’s unit was attacked by roughly ten 59 Sentai Oscars. Soon thereafter, one of the fighters made a five o’clock pass at the lead B-25, its fire ripping into the right engine. Maj. Cheli’s wing burst into flames and he rapidly began losing power as black smoke poured from the engine nacelle and wing. Despite a severely damaged aircraft, Cheli selflessly refused to relinquish leadership of the formation, and continuing his attack across the target, strafing and dispersing his load of parafrag bombs as he went. Only when the attack run was well…

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