May 1944 (2)

Fuel drums being unloaded on Biak

Fuel drums being unloaded on Biak

9 May – per a request from MacArthur, Gen. Kenney went to Finschaven for a conference with the the 6th Army, 7th Fleet and Allied Air Forces to discuss Biak, New Guinea.  It became a bit heated when the 6th Army’s supply staff said that making Biak an objective was impractical and there was no way of getting matériel ashore.  Kenney replied that the Japanese had put 8-10,000 troops and equipment for 3 airfields.  Adm. Flechtler said he wasn’t worried about getting everything ashore. Kenney reminded Gen. Krueger that Mac got them together to decide how to carry out the operation, not when or if they should.

Maffin Bay and airfield

Maffin Bay and airfield

16-17 May – The US Army’s 41st and 6th divisions landed on northern New Guinea in the Wadke-Toem area with Kenney’s 5th Air Force giving support.  These operations went so successfully, MacArthur decided to put the “Tornado Task Force/163rd RCT into Maffin Bay to take an airfield.  Another unit would take the airfield at Wadke.  The Army Intelligence crew kept the general informed of the enemy’s weaknesses in up-to-the-minute detail which aided their success.

Simultaneously, US carrier aircraft attacked Soerabaja, Java.  At least 10 Japanese ships were damaged, 26 enemy aircraft destroyed and ground installations were crushed.  The destroyers were sent to bombard Maloelap.

Soerabaja, Java, 17 May 1944

Soerabaja, Java, 17 May 1944

19-20 May – US carrier aircraft spent these 2 days bombing and strafing Marcus Island.  Cruisers and destroyers bombarded enemy positions in the Shortland Islands, south of Bougainville.

21-26 May – Heavy bombardments continued in the Pacific: Land-based aircraft hit Wotje in the Marshalls; the following day destroyers also hit Wotje and the carrier aircraft bombed Mille. (as per the US Naval Dept. report).

27 May – after a week of bombing, the US Army 158th, 162nd and 186th Infantry Regiments invaded Biak Island, off New Guinea as part of the Cartwheel Operations.  They were supported by shelling from the 7th Fleet.  Biak is 45 miles long and 20 mile wide.  It held 3 airstrips that were defended by 10,000 Japanese.

Troops approaching barrtle, Sherman tank visible.

Troops approaching battle on Biak, Sherman tank visible.

The landing was unopposed, by as the troops neared the airstrip at Mokner, the enemy sprang from caves and camouflaged areas with machine-gun, artillery and mortar fire from cliff-side positions.  A huge fire-fight ensued.  The US and Japanese troops also engaged in their first tank battle of the Pacific and ended in a Japanese defeat.  Biak is only 80 miles from Davao in the Philippines.

29 May – Medina, on the northern coast of New Ireland, was bombarded by Pacific Fleet destroyers, yet no invasion was planned.  This was merely a preliminary for what was to come.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Atkins – Walbridge, OH; US Army, MPwp-1473294032699

Max Clark – No. Huntington, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Victor Davis Sr. – Decatur, TN; US Army, WWII

Elwood Euart – Field Artillery, RI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Captain, KIA

Frank George – Broad Channel, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Bob Hill – Eugene, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, 11th, 82nd & 101st A/B Div., 4 Purple Hearts

Tom Jarvis – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Navy, USS Yancey

Noel Peacock – Tuggeranong, AUS; RA Air Force & RA Navy

Maxine Priest – Newton, KS; ‘Harvey Girl’ for troop trains

Milton Schwartz – Bronx, NY; US Army, Korea

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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 26, 2016, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 67 Comments.

  1. I’ve been meaning to send you a picture of the handmade flag that my dad brought home from the Philippines after WWII. It has the name of his A Battery and 52 Battalion 24 Division. It was signed by the guys in the division and where they were from. It’s such a treasure sine my dad’s been gone since 99. I wished I would have asked him more about the flag.

    I can’t figure out how to send you a picture of it. I can’t seem to copy it and put on here. I think you’d think its cool too.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had an uncle in Army intelligence who was on Biak . My dad said his brother went over there with black hair and came back with white hair .

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Being a WWII history buff, I enjoyed reading this!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You need nerves of steel to pose like that on the back of a plane, looks like a Caribou to me.

    Liked by 3 people


  5. Liebe Grüße von mir Gislinde

    Liked by 2 people

  6. thnak you so much for sharing us somethig new as always
    kisses

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I love your blog! This section of history is fascinating!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The Twentysomething Social Recluse

    I learn something new every time I check out your blog. Thank you for sharing these important stories!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I am learning a lot from your posts. Can’t believe I knew nothing of this. All the best.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Bob Hill from Oregon was a glutton for punishment .

    Four Purple Hearts?Yes!

    Kept on going back for more, couldn’t get enough action?

    His story would make interesting reading methinks!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I was using ‘Opera’ to read your post, but it wouldn’t let me ‘like’ it — so had to switch to Safari, then went through with no trouble. Weird …

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m afraid I don’t know what they are. I’m quite computer illiterate you might say. Are they comparable to Google Chrome or Explorer?

      Like

      • Variations on a theme; each has its advantages and disadvantages. Safari is (I believe) a Mac product that works for all, Opera and Firefox are both independents but gorgeous (produced by many people, much like Wiki). Free to to download and use.

        I haven’t yet tried Chrome, must do so …

        Opera is effectively advert free, but if you save something it saves the ‘files’ in a separate folder but shows both in the list.
        So I choose Opera for usage, but if I want to save something I bring it in again with Safari, and save it as such.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Love that ‘tank’ ~!

    Funny, when you read Japanese literature on the war they confess in retrospect that they too were scared shitless …

    Liked by 3 people

    • As I explained to John, they were in a controlled state, media, schools, upbringing, etc. The citizens only knew what the government told them, no internet to discover the outside world, no contact with relatives in other countries. They simply tried to survive a war that basically stated many years before Pearl Harbor and FDR made their life worse with his “choke-chain” strategy of freezing assets.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Interesting to read this post. I’m reading the book, “The 100 Best True Stories of WW II” and the pacific is covered in about the first 1/3 of the book. I’d never heard of some of these battles before.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are not alone, Rose Mary. I’ve been interested in this part of the war ever since I found my father’s scrapbook and yet my research continued to take me to pieces of coral jutting out of the Pacific where someone had to fight. The Pacific War was so huge, I still have trouble comprehending its size. I thank you very much for your interest.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I wonder if at any point the Japanese thought that what they had done at Pearl Harbor had been the catastrophic mistake it undoubtedly was.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Japanese were like every other nation in that not everyone agreed with the government. They continually were faced with being raised to respect and obey the Emperor, follow orders of an elder or superior and they were [by the time of Pearl Harbor] in a controlled state. Media was operated by the government, schools taught as they were ordered. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. Yet, as far as we know, Tojo believed in it all to the end, and HE was the power, not the Emperor.

      Like

    • @jfwknifton,

      Well, at least one Japanese Admiral fully realized the giant mistake they had made when they attacked Pearl Harbor, I’m sure it became clear to many others soon thereafter.

      As carrier launched Japanese fighter/bombers began to return from the attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Marshal Admiral and the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet during World War II) stated; “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

      Even well before the attack on Pearl Harbor Yamamoto had warned the Japanese Prime Minister (Fumimaro Konoye) “If we are ordered to do it, then I can guarantee to put up a tough fight for the first six months, but I have absolutely no confidence as to what would happen if it went on for two or three years.”

      Unlike the Japanese press and the Japanese military, Yamamoto well knew the risks and limitations of the Japanese war plan. Only 7 months after the Pearl Harbor attack, the IJN (Imperial Japanese Navy) fleet was decimated at the “Battle of Midway”. Thus began the beginning of the end of the Japanese war machine.

      Liked by 3 people

  15. The men keeping our freedom have my heart. So many places mentioned, I want to see, but my spoiled heart wants to walk off of a cruise ship or out of a Limo My mind sank into the troop’s hearts and souls for a time while reading.The thoughts have lingered and so I am back telling you in a comment that I appreciate this walk into History.
    S.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. This information is so important to share. This history should never be forgotten. For many, it is only being revealed for the FIRST TIME. Your work is so important!

    Liked by 3 people

  17. I also didn’t realize just how many islands there is till I read some of your posts!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. I noticed that Maxine Priest, “a Harvey Girl for troop trains,” had passed on in your salutes, GP. What a job that must have been. –Curt

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I like how that strategic conference went on 9 May. The top brass wasn’t going accept bullshit from anyone, apparently.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. For those of you wanting to read some excellent books on the Pacific Campaign there are Three recently published that re in my cart:

    The Conquering Tide by Ian Toll
    Storm over Leyte by John Prados
    The Fleet at Flood Tide by James Hornfischer (set to be released 10/25)

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I am always left thinking about, how even though the tide had turned, the Japanese fought on for every piece of ground.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I know I often say this, but I have never heard of even a fraction of these places where so many men fought and died. The Pacific seems to have countless islands, and so many needed to be taken. It’s exhausting to read, let alone imagine having to achieve it.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

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