Los Negros – 29 February 1944 – Eye Witness Account !

Eye Witness Account of the landing at Los Negros Island, 29 February 1944

by: a Yank Magazine correspondent

The weather on 29 February 1944 was overcast with a low cloud ceiling that prevented most of the planned air strike. Only three B-24’s and nine B-25’s found the target. The naval bombardment was therefore extended for another 15 minutes.  Each APD lowered four LCPR’s (Landing Craft, Personnel, Ramped). Each LCPR carried its maximum load of 37 men, who boarded by climbing over the APDs’ sides and down cargo nets.  The unarmored LCPRs were still used because davits had not been strengthened to carry the heavier, armored LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel).

Officer in raincoat shakes hand of soldier wearing steel helmet and waterproof poncho while other similarly attired soldiers look on.

Admiralty Islands, 29 February 1944. General Douglas MacArthur decorates the first man ashore, 2nd Lieutenant Marvin J. Henshaw, with the Distinguished Service Cross.

The first wave landed without casualties at 08:17, but once the bombardment lifted the Japanese emerged from their dugouts and machine guns and shore batteries began firing. The landing craft, on returning, came under crossfire from enemy machine guns on both sides of the harbor. The fire became so heavy the second wave was forced to reverse course until the enemy fire was suppressed by destroyers. The third and fourth waves also came under fire.

As we neared the channel, the Navy men in the bow hollered to us to keep our heads down or we’d get them blown off. We crouched lower, swearing, and waited. It came with a crack; machine-gun fire over our heads. Our light landing craft shuddered as the Navy gunners hammered back and answered with the .30 calibers mounted on both sides of the barge. As we made the turn for the beach, something solid plugged into us.

“They got one of our guns or something,” one GI said. There was a splinter the size of a half dollar on the pack of the man in front of me. Up front a hole gaped in the middle of the landing ramp and there were no men where there had been four. Our barge headed back toward the destroyer that had carried us to the Admiralties. White splashes of water were plunging through the six-inch gap in the wooden gate. William Siebieda, of Wheeling, W. VA. ducked from his position at the starboard gun and slammed his hip against the hole to plug it. He was firing a tommy gun at the shore as fast as wounded soldiers could pass him loaded clips. The water sloshed around him, running down his legs and washing the blood of the wounded into a pink frappe.

Four of the twelve LCPRs had been damaged. Three were soon repaired, but they could not be risked further, for without them, the reconnaissance force could not be evacuated. Over the next four hours, the boats continued to make trips to the beach, but only when it was believed destroyers had suppressed enemy fire. Heavy rain made it safer by reducing visibility. The last destroyer was unloaded at 12:50. By this time, the navy had lost two men dead and three wounded.

Yank Magazine, March 1944

Yank Magazine, March 1944

For the moment it was safer ashore. The cavalrymen overran the airstrip. Sporadic opposition allowed them to set up the antiaircraft machine guns on the beach, unload supplies, and patrol inland. Two soldiers were killed and three wounded. At 16:00, General MacArthur and Admiral Kinkaid came ashore. The general inspected the position.  A lieutenant warned him a Japanese sniper had been killed in the vicinity just a few minutes before. “That’s the best thing to do with them,” the General replied.  He decided to stay, ordering Chase to hold his position until the follow-up force arrived, then returned to the Phoenix. Fechteler’s force departed at 17:29, the transports having unloaded and most of the bombardment force having exhausted its ammunition. Bush and Stockton remained to provide on-call naval fire support.

A Wikipedia story (condensed).

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Military Humor – (on envelopes going home) – 

Pict0027

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Farewell Salutes –

Clayton Alberton – Morristown, TN; US Army, WWII, Korea

David Barnes – Greerton, NZ; RNZ Navy # PJX415185, WWII, ETO  & CBI21_gun_salute

Cleveland Michaels – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII

Thomas Noojin – Roanoke, VA; US Army, Korea, 187th Regiment, (Ret. 20 years)

Robert Owensby – Springfield, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, 4th Marine Div., Purple Heart

Mildred Page – Huntington, WV; US Army WACS, WWII, TSgt.

Irving Sands – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, CPL.

Sydney Schanberg – Clinton, MA; Vietnam correspondent (NY Times); “The Killing Fields”

Brian St.Germain – W.Warwick, RI; USMC, Iraq, KIA

Geoffrey Tallents – Kempsey, AUS; RA Air Force # 418901, 460 Squadron

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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 July 18, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 57 Comments.

  1. Excellent first hand account from the Landing craft.
    The Destroyer bombardments were vital to the success of the beach landings, wonder if those who manned the Destroyer Guns really appreciated the importance of their work.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • With the eruption those guns made, I’m sure they must have known how much damage they were inflicting on their target – efficiency, I don’t know. Good to see you, Ian!

      Like

  2. A vivid account of the action … and I liked the postcard humour.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A great read, what those guys went through as they approached the shore was incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Overcast with a low cloud ceiling” – that pulled me right in –
    And the envelopes are wonderful – makes you think of someone treasuring a good ink pen….
    When my children were little they used to make envelope art and they remind me of those seasons – and the soldier envelope art also reminded me how inddividual soldiers passed the time and used their skills in different ways. Maybe envelopes were made on some of those waiting times on overcast days.
    ❤️

    Like

  5. Oh dear … your non-PC cartoons might get you scragged by irate moderns …

    Like

    • The world wasn’t PC back then, and strange – it hasn’t seemed to slow down our choice of war as our solution to everything. With everyone being PC-orientated, everyone watches every word they say or cut out communicating altogether!! So, the ‘moderns’ don’t have the answer either – do they?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Regardless, I still like pretty girls—and it’s amazing how ‘standards’ slip to earthy realities when one is in the firing line. (Generally the further removed from Reality, the more the PC …)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks, GP.Always enjoy MacArthur’s comments. The envelopes were great.

    Like

  7. As always, great one, GP! Could you help me locate your blogs on the old TV series: Combat? Old friend of mine was reminiscing snd i promised him i’d send him your blog. Couldn’t find it yet.

    Like

  8. I really like it when words do such a good job of capturing a moment, GP… whatever the source. The soldier in the act of jumping forward to stop the leak really showed his heroism.
    And the envelopes. Such a treasure. The person who drew them was quite talented. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Curt. I like to find stories like these from those that were there. And the envelopes seem to me, to be just like eye-witness accounts of what the men are thinking, just as Bill Mauldin did with his cartoons.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sounds like a hard fight in miserable conditions. Smiling at the art!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. That is a wonderful first hand account. Just tell it like it is. There’s no need to add anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s always interesting to read what we (the Imperial We) go through to fight a war. So much problem solving!

    Like

  12. This men has a hard life

    Like

  13. “The water sloshed around him, running down his legs and washing the blood of the wounded into a pink frappe.” What imagery!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I always enjoy the first-hand accounts. I had to shake my head when I read: “Heavy rain made it safer by reducing visibility.” Being thankful for what must have been miserable conditions…

    BTW, I found a class photo with my dad. He would have just been 19 at the time it was taken.

    Mid-West Motive Trades Institute
    Platoon 24 A
    4/6/43 Bloomington, IL

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Interesting information! I like the pictures with the two envelopes, especially the “passed by US Army” red stamp. Regards, Catalin

    Like

  16. Lighter casualties this time, GP, but still a hard fight, by the sound of it.
    I loved the art on the envelopes. That must have cheered up Mr and Mrs Dinkel!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Like

    • I understand this art was quite common, but I’m having a little trouble finding very many of them. IMO – it’s like an eye witness account of what the men are thinking, only in picture form. Sort of like Bill Mauldin cartoons.

      Like

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