Monthly Archives: October 2016

New Guinea ~ situation while Smitty was there

New Guinea, WWII

New Guinea, WWII

Smitty always made mention of how hard the soldiers before him had to struggle.  He noticed that no matter how hard people or nature tried to disguise their surroundings, the scars of war were everywhere.  In New Guinea, my father had a clear view of the battle remnants of General Robert Eichelberger’s Australian and American troops from when they fought on a similar terrain and in battles as fiercely intense as Guadalcanal – on each island the territories had to be taken inch by inch.

Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, Chief of Allied Air Forces, in the southwest Pacific sent his complaints to the War Dept.  and Gen. “Hap” Arnold, head of the U.S. Army Air Forces to explain just that in 1942:

General Kenney

General Kenney

“… The Japanese is still being underrated.  There is no question of our being able to defeat him, but the time, effort, blood and money required to do the job may run to proportions beyond all conception, particularly if the devil is allowed to develop the resources he is now holding.

“Look at us in Buna.  There are hundreds of Buna ahead for us.  The Japanese there has been in a hopeless position for months.  He has been outnumbered heavily throughout the show.  His garrison has been whittled down to a handful by bombing and strafing.  He has no air support and his own Navy has not been able to get passed our air blockade to help him.  He has seen lots of Japs sunk off shore a few miles away.  He has been short on rations and has had to conserve his ammunition, as his replenishment from submarines and small boats working down from Lae at night and once by parachute from airplanes has been precarious, to say the least.  The Emperor told them to hold, and believe me, they have held!  As to their morale — they still yell out to our troops, “What’s the matter, Yanks?  Are you yellow?  Why don’t you come in and fight?”  A few snipers, asked to surrender after being surrounded, called back, “If you bastards think you are good enough, come and get us!”

“…I’m afraid that a lot of people, who think this Jap is a “pushover” as soon as Germany falls, are due for a rude awakening.  We will have to call on all our patriotism, stamina, guts and maybe some crusading spirit or religious fervor thrown in to beat him.  No amateur team will take this boy out.  We have got to turn professional.  Another thing: there are no quiet sectors in which troops get started off gradually, as in the last war.  There are no breathers on this schedule.  You take on Notre Dame every time you play!”

According to Gen. Kenney’s reports, the last 2 weeks of June saw the last of the enemy air force, at least as far as New Guinea was concerned, and ports for re-supplying their troops were being repeatedly hit.  Babo, Manokwari and Sorong saw 10,000 tons of shipping go to the the bottom in these series of attacks.  By the end of the month, airdromes were mere burned out shells of buildings and cratered runways.

Here is where the specialized training for the 11th A/B began and the War Dept. also saw the need for improved weapons for this “new type of war.”   Under the direction of Colonel William Borden this effort resulted in: 105-mm and 155-mm mortars, flamethrowers, ground rockets, colored smoke grenades and the skidpans for towing heavy artillery in muddy terrains.

General Eichelberger

But – still at this point – only about 15% of the Allied resources were going to the Pacific.

(These two photographs are courtesy of the World War II Database. ww2db.com)

damaged Zero planes near Lae, New Guinea

damaged Zero planes near Lae, New Guinea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Military Humor –

 

"Ya might haveta catch a boat.  One of them kids you chased off the field was the pilot."

“Ya might hafta catch a boat. One of them kids you chased off the field was the pilot.”

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Farewell Salutes –

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Fort Rosecrans Cemetery, San Diego, CA

John Chrenka – Berwyn, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Silver Star

Dominic DeSorbo – Hartford, CT; US Navy, WWII, 6th Fleet, USS Lake Champlain

Kenneth Ernst – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, Korea

Ike Farrar – Bedford County, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C-46 pilot

Richard Jennings – Flint, MI; US Navy, WWII

Dick Leabo – Walcott, IA, US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘Flying Tigers’

Charles McCready – Montreal, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, pilot

Charles Mitchell – Richmond, CA & Ontario, CAN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., Pvt. /US Air Force (Ret. 30 yrs), Chaplin, Col.

Harold Rothbard – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

Donald Wachter – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, 7th Infantry Division

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The Firebombing of Tokyo – Part 2

As fighting on Saipan continued, other units of the Allied forces were busy elsewhere. Mustang Koji’s posts offer an insight from both sides.

Masako and Spam Musubi

Fifi 1 Fifi – the last flying B-29 Superfortress in the world. Taken by me flying over my house on November 13, 2010. Copyright Koji D. Kanemoto

Superfortress.

Or the “Superfort”.

That’s what we called them here in the States; nicknames for the Boeing B-29 bomber.

My aunt called them “地獄からのトンボ” or dragonfly from hell.

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Development

The development of the B-29 actually started before WWII began for the US – in 1939.  Perhaps there were some shenanigans back then but Boeing had engineered a pressurized cockpit for their B-17 Flying Fortress (from whence the nickname Superfortress hailed from) for the USAAF.  Conveniently, the USAAF put together in 1939 a call for a new bomber capable of 400 mph while carrying a 20,000 pound payload.  The B-29 was born.

frye Destroyed Frye Packing Plant. Boeing archives.

Her development was not smooth.  Indeed, it was the most advanced aircraft design of its time with…

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June 1944 (4)

Tanapag, Saipan, June 1944. Image by Life photographer W. Eugene Smith

Tanapag, Saipan, June 1944. Image by Life photographer W. Eugene Smith

19-20 June – the second stage of the naval battle in the Philippine Sea, the Japanese fleet finally had come within range of Adm. Spruance and his carrier aircraft went airborne. [between the Spruance fleet and Mitscher’s, there were 956 aircraft]  Even as the enemy retreated, the aircraft, running low on fuel, engaged in an even larger “turkey shoot”. [differences claim conflicting numbers, but to estimate: Japan had 450 carrier planes and 300 land based – with a loss of 550-645.  The US lost 123].  The Japanese carrier IJN Hiyo sank after 2 torpedo hits and bombs damaged the Zuikaku and the Chiyoda.  Night rescues for US aircraft crews went out for the survivors.

Battle of Saipan, June 1944

Battle of Saipan, June 1944

A third wave of attacks caused more losses for the enemy and on the fourth wave Adm. Ozawa barely had over a hundred aircraft remaining.  Many of were diverted due to a false sighting over Guam and were caught on the ground as they were ordered to refuel.  The Japanese admiral dictated a letter of resignation to Adm. Toyoda, who refused to read it, instead, he took complete responsibility for the defeat.

20-30 June – a bitter dispute arose between the US Army and Marine brass when the Army’s 27th became stalled at “Death Valley” on Saipan, but the Marines were at a standstill as well.   Marine General Holland Smith, unsatisfied with the performance of the 27th Division, relieved its commander, Army Major General Ralph C. Smith. However, General Holland Smith had not inspected the terrain over which the 27th was to advance. Essentially, it was a valley surrounded by hills and cliffs under Japanese control.

Tanapag, Saipan, June '44. by W.Eugene Smith

Medic seeing to wounded while GI in background foxhole continues to fight. Tanapag, Saipan, June ’44. by W.Eugene Smith

The 27th took heavy casualties and eventually, under a plan developed by General Ralph Smith and implemented after his relief, had one battalion hold the area while two other battalions successfully flanked the Japanese.  With what remained of the Imperial Combined Fleet heading back to Okinawa, Gen. Saito issued orders for a suicidal defense.  This caused the US troops more and more resistance as they pushed north on the island.

The Marines eventually broke through and took Mount Tapotchau and the 27th entered Death Valley.  General Saito, with only about 1,200 men and 3 tanks remaining of their ground force, radioed out that Saipan could not be held.

An investigation ensued after the Saipan defeat by the Japanese General Staff’s Conduct of War Section.  Col. Sei Matsutani concluded: “…now there is no hope for Japan to reverse the unfavorable war situation.  The state of Germany today is about the same as Japan’s and grows gradually worse.  It is time for us to end the war.”  The General Staff agreed with the findings, but forbade the colonel from presenting the case to the Prime Minister Tojo.  The outspoken officer did so despite the warning and found himself transferred to China.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Try to say something funny, Joe.

Try to say something funny, Joe.

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Farewell Salutes – 

George Anfang – Maplewood, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Gettysburg Cemetery

Gettysburg Cemetery

Joseph Cooley Jr. – Waynesboro, GA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Louis Gust – Chicago, IL; US Coast Guard, WWII

Raymond Haerry – W.Warwick, RI; US Navy, WWII, USS Ranger & Arizona, Pearl Harbor survivor

Donn Fendler – Rye, NY; US Navy, WWII / US Army Special Forces, Vietnam

Steven Loy Jr. – Houston, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, 1st Lt.

Kenneth McCurdy – Lloydminster, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Eric Roediger (106) – W. AUS; RA Army, WWII, 2/3 Machine-Gun Batt., POW, Death Railroad survivor

Robert Ricci – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, USS Baker, Franklin Bell Tolovana

Richard Sheerer – Kansas City, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, 83rd Infantry Division

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Smitty ~ Letter VIII

Troopers of the 11th Airborne heading out for a jump

Troopers of the 11th Airborne heading out for a jump

At this point in time, the jungle war training for the 11th Airborne Division had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.  Yet, Smitty still does not mention any of this in his letters home.

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the Pyramidal tent

the Pyramidal tent

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Letter VIII                                G.I. Labor                                         6/17/44

Dear Mom,

Work!  Work!  And more work.  After a week here, we still can’t figure when it is all going to end.  We put tents up, then take them down.  That is our biggest problem — tents.

The War Department in Washington has its offices in a large air-conditioned building costing hundreds of thousands of the taxpayer’s money.  In this building, they have all the inventing geniuses of the land.  All they do is design equipment and little what-nots for us.  After that, it is submitted to the boards of Strategy, Health, Welfare, etc.

Now, some poor weak underfed inventor designed in a moment of frenzy and excitement, the Pyramidal Tent number M.6606.  It passed everything and every board with flying colors — until finally — we got hold of it.  We put them up with the loss of tons of perspiration and energy, only to find out later that someone, someplace around here didn’t like the way they looked.  That job of putting the tents up was simple and much too easy.  They sent down a set of blue prints that reminded me of the Empire State Building with the Holland Tunnel thrown in.

Well, next day, bright and early we arose wearily to find that we were to be split up into different sections such as log cutters, tent putter-uppers, log setters and log finders.  We, the pole setter-uppers, sat down and pondered over the blue prints.  We had to raise the center pole 16 inches, while on the four corners erect eight-foot poles.  Then, connecting these  poles at the top of 16-foot logs.

Sounds very easy, but for some reason or other, the trees grew in the jungle across a stream which all in all made log cutting and finding an exasperating business.  Undaunted though, the men went in laden down with axes, saws and prismatic and soon logs were being cut — also fingers, arms and legs.  It wasn’t long before we had the amount of lumber necessary to start work on the first domicile, house or tent.  We were all set and ready, four men were holding up the corner poles and one man steadied the center pole.  The whistle blows for us to fall in and be counted.  We fall in, the corners fall out and the blame tent fell down.  Oh Well!!  What the heck, tomorrow’s another day and after all, the boys that belonged in that tent can sleep out.

This routine kept up for days until finally all our tents were erected and set.  “Looks good,” we all said and good it was, but not to some of the higher-ups who again decided the tents were now too high and would we please, under threat of court-martial, lower the 4 corner posts to 5 feet.  (Oh death, where is thy sting?)  Upon completing this last detail, they then decided the tents should all be moved and then lined up on a new line.  This has been going on for so long that each morning we have to stop, think and hold ourselves in check, for a few times we caught men automatically tearing down tents or putting up poles where there wasn’t anything to put up.

“The heat!” they said, and then gave us half a day off, only to try to squeeze it out of us the next afternoon.  Well, maybe they can get blood out of a stone.

“Well, that’s all for that in this letter as I don’t want to tire you out completely listening to some of our other minor details that are stuck in here and there, such as digging latrine holes, building officer’s tents and officer knickknacks, polishing up, which we are experts at, K.P. duty, inspections, washing clothes and at night making little things for ourselves such as tables, desks, clothes racks, rings out of coins, wristwatch bands and loads of other do-dads.  I guess though the hardest thing is trying all day not to do all this work and go on the gold-bricking standard.  That last line would be understood by any buck private or G.I. as absolute fact and truth.

Wearily I end this letter and sleepily say regards to all. 

With love and kisses,  Everett

 

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Military Humor –

JOIN THE ARMY THEY SAID... SEE THE WORLD, THEY SAID...

JOIN THE ARMY THEY SAID… SEE THE WORLD, THEY SAID…

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Farewell Salutes –

Missing Man formation

Missing Man formation

Clinton Anderson – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO

Mariano Berona – Santa Ilocos Sur, PI; Philippine Scouts US Army, WWII, Sgt. (Ret. 22 years), POW, Bronze Star

Gideon “Indian” Checote – Okmulgee, OK; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Navy Chief (Ret.)

Bobby Davis – Dallas, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, pharmacist’s mate

Milton ‘Snow’ Fairclough – Perth, AUS, RA Army, WWII, ETO & CBI, 2/3 Machine Gun Batt., POW, Death Railroad survivor

Albin Hammond – Polson, MT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

George Kahan – Fort William, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, HMCS Oakville

Earl ‘Bud’ Moore – Springfield, MA; US Army, Vietnam, LT

Milford Ort – N.Tonawanda, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Wayne Williams – Nashville, TN; US Army, WWII & Korea, Purple Heart

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Baker Company Portrait

So that we will remember!

First Battalion, 24th Marines

baker_groupshot

Photo Source: Martindale Family Tree, uploaded by user “plaxamate1”

A neat souvenir photo of four Baker Company Marines, probably taken late in 1943, and a good representation of the casualties suffered by 1/24 during the war. None of these four men was in combat for more than five cumulative days, yet two were killed and the other two received crippling wounds.

Standing at left is Edward Duclos of West Springfield, Massachusetts. PFC Duclos was killed on Saipan, June 16 1944.

Beside him is Homer L. “Drummer” Hager. Hager, a bazooka man, was wounded in action on Namur, February 1 1944. He returned to the company as a bazooka team leader in a demolitions squad, but was hit a second time, also on June 16, and was permanently removed from combat.

Squatting at left is Ellis Thomas. “Wiley” Thomas, a rifleman, was promoted to corporal following the…

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June 1944 (3)

Saipan landing

Saipan landing

15-20 June – H-hour for the landing on Saipan was 0840 hours.  A protective reef, some distance offshore made it necessary to use amphibian tractors (amtracs), for the landing.  The US Army 534th and 773rd Amphibian Tractor battalions, along with the Marine amtracs (making it 350 vehicles), put 4,000 4th Marines ashore in the first 20 minutes.  The US Army 708th Armored Amphibian Battalion spearheaded the landing and blasted a path to a ridge-line running parallel to the shoreline.  Gen. Saito’s 43rd Division was not prepared for all this.

LVT's attacking Saipan, 1944

LVT’s attacking Saipan, 1944

When opposition did come it was artillery fire from Hill 500 on the slopes of Mount Tapotchau and heavy casualties resulted.  At 0300, the evening of 15-16 June, about 1,000 of the enemy came charging down the hill with 36 tanks.  Gen. Saito sent a signal to Tokyo announcing his counterattack to “annihilate the enemy in one swoop.”  But the US destroyers delivered such accurate shell fire, the assault was halted and 15 Japanese aircraft were shot down as they attempted to hit the ships.  Saito decided to await assistance from the Imperial Navy before taking on another offensive.  On the 16th, the US Army 27th Infantry Division landed.

Red Beach 2, Saipan

Red Beach 2, Saipan

Aslito airfield when it was still in Japanese hands, 1944

Aslito airfield when it was still in Japanese hands, 1944

Despite serious opposition, the US troops captured the Aslito airfield in the southern area (later called Iseley).  Adm. Spruance sailed to join up with Lee’s battleships and the returning TF-58.  As the 5th Fleet Commander, he radioed out: “OUR AIR WILL FIRST KNOCK OUT ENEMY CARRIERS… THEN WILL ATTACK ENEMY BATTLESHIPS AND CRUISERS… LEE’S BATTLE LINE WILL DESTROY ENEMY FLEET… ACTION AGAINST A RETREATING ENEMY MUST BE PUSHED BY ALL HANDS…”

Radio direction findings spotted the Japanese force 600 miles west of Guam heading straight for the patrol line of 6 US submarines.  Their orders came directing from CINCPAC: “SHOOT FIRST AND REPORT LATER.”  During the battle, the USS Albacore torpedoed the largest carrier of the Imperial Navy, the IJN Taiko.  One hit caused gas fumes to build up like a bomb.  The Taiko would continue to sail for 3½ hours, then she blew apart.  The second torpedo was spotted by Warrant Officer, Akio Komatsu, who dove his plane into it.

The submarine USS Cavalla, under Commander Herman Kessler, moved in on the IJN Shokaku and released six torpedoes – 3 of which hit.

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Adm. Ozawa believed his battle plan would be supported by 500 land-based aircraft, when in fact, Adm. Kurita had sent his planes out to dispense any diversionary attacks.  US Adm. Mitscher’s TF-58 Hellcats and Avengers hit Guam in what would be labeled by the pilots as “The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.”

Fighter plane contrails, Great Marianas Turkey Shoot

Fighter plane contrails, Great Marianas Turkey Shoot

US aircraft had shot down 25 of the enemy force of 68 before they reached the fleet.  Those 43 that did get through were met by hellish anti-aircraft fire and only 27 escaped.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 10917034_508938132578654_4177597521600009923_n-577x640

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Farewell Salutes – 

Russell ‘Buck’ Adkins – Sweetland, WV; US Army, WWII, PTO, Engineers

Anthony Baldino – Dania, FL; US Navy, WWIImm105-3

William Bolin Crow – Abilene, TX; US Army, Korea, 1st Sgt., 187th RCT

John Eresman – Fox Valley, CAN; RC Army, WWII, Prince of Wales Rangers

Nona Gabriel – St. John, KY; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO,  11th Field Hosp., nurse

James Hankins – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, USS Bradford

Donnie Hendrickson – Janesville, WI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

Richard Pittman – Stockton, CA; USMC, Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret. 21 years), Medal of Honor

Victor VanFleet – Kalamazoo, MI; US Navy, WWII

Burton Wallace – Plymouth, IN; US Army, WWII, medic

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Smitty and the 11th Airborne Division

The origin of the nickname, “Angels” for the 11th Airborne has always been up for debate.  At Dobodura, New Guinea, while unloading the supplies off the ships that were constantly pulling into port, it became well-known that the troopers of the 11th A/B were a bit more light-fingered than the other units.  The distribution of the food and war materiel was severely unbalanced, with the bulk of it going to the troopers.  It was definitely at this time that they acquired the title of “Swing and his 8,000 Thieves.”  My father and many other troopers believe that the title remained with them up until the release of the internees at Los Baños prison on Luzon, when a nun looked up and said that the parachutists looked like “angels sent to save us.”

One other theory I found, while still on New Guinea, a senior officers questioned General Swing about the uneven delivery of supplies.  Swing , with a rather tongue-in-cheek attitude, replied that it could not possibly be due to his “angels.”

And yet, there is another idea on the subject.  The troopers, with their antics, were often in trouble.  After a rather rough weekend, a senior officer asked just how many of the 11th airborne’s “little angels” were in the stockade.  The reply, of course,  was, “none of my angels are.”

No matter what the reason or nickname, this undermanned and under-equipped division trudged on.

Dobodura, New Guinea, 11th A/B

Dobodura, New Guinea, 11th A/B

You may notice in Smitty’s letters that he will not mention his rigorous training or even combat in his later ones.  I am unaware as to whether it was concern for his mother’s feelings or censorship restrictions.  As a child I asked if I would ever catch him in one of the old news reels and he said that he surely doubted it.  He made a point to avoid any photographers in the event his mother caught sight of the pictures of him in combat.  No matter how hard things had become, he found something else to talk about, but he did have a tongue-in-cheek humor that could both amuse someone even while he was complaining.

At this point in time, the jungle war training had live firing and everything was becoming a bit clearer, a bit more realistic.

Major Burgess left the units temporarily to set up a jump school.  This would give the glidermen and Burgess himself an opportunity to qualify as paratroopers.  The parachutists began their glider training at Soputa airstrip that was no longer in regular use.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

glider_infantry_poster

Okay - so now we go to Plan-B.....

Okay – so now we go to Plan-B…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Bolton – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Navy # N455266, WWII031%20fallen%20soldiers%20memorial%20old%20north%20church

Carl E. Clark – Columbus, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th A/B Div. & Korea, Sgt., 187th RCT

Elizabeth Dow Crawford (101) – Tomahawk, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

James Elwood – Wichita, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Richard Gamlen – San Francisco, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, MSgt.

Peter Kizer – Princeton, IL; US Air Force

Albert Movitz – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, WWII

Peter Raymond – Norristown, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Herbert Stone – Pine Bluff, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Lee Travelstead – Holland, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st & 82nd A/B, Silver Star

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Saipan Beach H-Hour, in Color

Pacific Paratrooper has reached the H-Hour of the Saipan invasion and nothing tells the story better than this post and the short film included by John R. Bruning!

Being as some people have been unable to see the video, I have included another.


The American Warrior

USMC Series WWII Saipan 1st wave hits beach LVT 061544  (1 of 1)In just two hours on June 15, 1944, three hundred amphibious tractors (LVT’s) carried over eight thousand heavily armed U.S. Marines onto Saipan Island in the Marianas Chain. It was a masterful display of amphibious warfare tactics and doctrine, but it also set the stage for a brutal, close range battle for control of Saipan’s sandy west coast. In places, the Marines found themselves pinned down by intense mortar, artillery and automatic weapons fire, and it took hours just to claw a foothold ashore. But by nightfall, the Marines had established themselves enough to repel the first of many Japanese counter-attacks.Marines struggling on the beach at saipan 5x7

This short film clip is raw footage shot by one of the Marine combat cameramen who went ashore with one of the first waves. It is silent, as was most of the footage shot, but that only adds to the poignancy of these scenes. The images are striking, not only…

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June 1944 (2)

USS California damaged at Pearl Harbor

USS California damaged at Pearl Harbor

12-13 June – the US TF-58 intercepted a Japanese convoy of 20 ships fleeing the Mariana Islands.  Most of the ships were sunk or heavily damaged  The USS California and Braine were damaged by enemy coastal guns.  Another Japanese convoy of 6 vessels was also attacked west of Guam.  The Marianas continued to be bombed by air, battleships and destroyers.

The same was done at Matsuwa in the Kuriles by the 20th Air Force.  B-29’s carried out the first air raid  against Japan since Doolittle’s attack in April of ’42.  They bombed the Imperial Iron and Steel Works at Yawata.

geography-of-northern-marianas0

The Marianas campaign expanded United States Army operations in a theater commanded by the U.S. Navy. Admiral Nimitz assigned overall campaign responsibility to Vice Adm. Raymond A. Spruance’s Fifth Fleet. Vice Adm. Richmond Kelly Turner would command the Joint Expeditionary Force charged with the amphibious assault. Turner himself would also command directly a Northern Attack Force against Saipan and Tinian, while a Southern Attack Force under Rear Adm. Richard L. Conolly would assault Guam. Vice Adm. Marc A. Mitscher’s Fast Carrier Task Force and Vice Adm. Charles A. Lockwood’s Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, would cover all landings.

Lt. Gen. Holland M. Smith, USMC, Commanding General, V Amphibious Corps, would control the Marianas amphibious forces as each left U.S. Navy control at the water’s edge. Three Marine Corps general officers would command the landing forces on the targeted islands: Holland Smith on Saipan, Harry Schmidt on Tinian, and Roy S. Geiger on Guam. Amphibious units assigned to the Marianas included the 2d’ 3d’ and 4th Marine Divisions and a separate Marine brigade. Three major Army units-the 27th and 77th Infantry Divisions and XXIV Corps Artillery-were assigned from U.S. Army Forces in the Central Pacific Area, commanded by Lt. Gen. Robert C. Richardson, Jr. Army and Marine Corps units totaled 106,000 men. Naval support for this huge force included 110 transport vessels and auxiliaries and 88 fire support ships, from rocket gunboats to aircraft carriers.

14 June – Adm. Mitscher’s carriers, after a 200-bomber strike, left the Japanese airfields in ruins and over 100 of their aircraft destroyed.  As the huge armada readied for their D-Day on Saipan, Gen. Holland Smith, aboard the USS Rocky Mount, said, “We are through with the flat atolls now.  We learned how to pulverize the atolls, but now we are up against mountains and caves where the Japanese can dig in.  A week from now there will be a lot of dead Marines.”

Japanese bunkers on Biak

Japanese bunkers on Biak

Ground fighting continued on Biak as the enemy aircraft also attacked the Allied troops and the offshore shipping.  A squadron from the 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group moved from Saidor to Biak with their P-39’s.  Over 100 aircraft of the 5th Air Force hit Wewak.

During the 3-day bombardment of Saipan, it was a bitter irony for Japanese Adm. Nagumo, relegated to command his tiny flotilla, to be on the receiving end of shells fired from 3 of the battleships his pilots had hit at Pearl Harbor.  The US Navy UDT (Underwater Demolition Team) went in to Saipan, but found no mines or obstacles.

The broadcast from Tokyo Rose: “I’ve got some swell recordings for you, just in from the States.  You’d better enjoy them while you can, because tomorrow at oh-six-hundred you’re hitting Saipan… and we’re ready for you.  So, while you’re still alive, let’s listen to…”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

Why the Services can't work together...

Why the Services can’t work together…

b5d6d4cb2f7c51579330df1f2883a16f

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ben Barnes – Miller, SD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st LT., pilot

John Groh – Knoxville, TN; US Army, LT., Transportation Unitth-jpg1

Victor Hickox – Paragould, AR; US Army, Company A/674th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

William Korn Sr. – Newark, NJ; US Army, WWII

Francis Macri – Rome, NY; US Army, WWII

Nevin Roth – Ormond, PA; US Navy, WWII

Gerrit Scholten – Boyden, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 pilot

Victor VanFleet – Kalamazoo, MI; US Navy, WWII

Andrzej Wajda – Suwalki, POL; Polish Army, WWII

Edmond Zawalich – Dorchester, MA; US Army, WWII

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Smitty ~ Letter VII ~ New Guinea

Smitty reclining in fron, on the far right, with the HQ Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne

Smitty reclining in front row, on the far right, with the HQ Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne

For a period of five months the 11th Airborne Division would receive jungle warfare and intensified combat unit ground training in the primitive land of jungles and mountains and thatched huts and the native population fondly called, Fuzzy Wuzzies.  The Papua brigades and Allied forces, that fought in what constituted the Cartwheel Operations before the troopers arrived, made this landing possible.

The Dobodura area that the 11th A/B would make their home was inherited from the 5th Air Force.  The first order of business was for the 408th Quartermaster trucks to deliver the pyramidal tents.

Pvt. Arthur Ristinen of Menagha, Minn., and Pfc. John Weinzinger of Phillips, Wisconsin, 186th Inf. Reg., 41st Inf. Div., relax in front of Warisota Plantation sawmill run by men of the 186th. Sawmill was used to obtain lumber for bridge construction on the new Oro Bay Dobodura road, New Guinea. (5 May 43) Signal Corps Photo: GHQ SWPA SC 43 5816 (T/4 Harold Newman)

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Letter VII                                                           Land                                                                                          6/8/44          

Dear Mom,    

Well, here we are on the island of New Guinea.  From what we can see if it so far, I know we’ll never go hungry as the coconut trees are as thick as a swarm of bees.

We started for our area in trucks after all the rumors said we’d walk and we “Oh!” and Ah’d” all throughout the trip.  Not wanting to show the natives here how smart we are, the driver proceeded on his own when lo and behold — where were we?  I don’t know, no one knows, so right away we all knew that wherever we were — that wasn’t where we were supposed to be. 

Now, of course, we weren’t to blame, as after all, this is a strange and new place to us and they didn’t give us a Socony road map or a compass reading, so no matter — drive on — come what may.  Of course, some large and strange appearing trees which grew in the road had different ideas and no matter how hard we hit them, they consistently set us back.  How they ever managed to find a road to grow in is beyond me, but then they were here before us.  Naturally, after the way they treated our truck, we gave them a wide berth, eventually leaving the road al together.

When after what seemed like hours, we finally found our area, much to the delight of the lower hind part of our anatomy.  Then, our shoulders and backs had to haul our bags around until we found our tents.  This was done very systematically: someone had the idea of first asking the captain just where we belonged and he proceeded to take us there.  We could see at once that this place was no place for us and got right down to thinking up goldbricking alibis.

Work here is the main word we soon found out, and might I add we are all still trying to duck, but it seems that as soon as one finds a spot in the woods, oops I mean jungle, the tree-chopper-downers come along and there you are not only up to your neck in work, but also find out that now your haven is so exposed as to make it useless again as a hideout.

You might wonder what all this labor is about and also expect to find out in this chapter or letter, but no, it shall never be.  I’m saving that for the next installment, which I’m sure you will be breathlessly awaiting.  Regards to all.

Love, Your son,  Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

jonesy-lo-res

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Farewell Salutes –

Robert Blagrove – NZ; RNZ Army # 64946, WWII, 24th Battalion, POW

Ernest Fowler – El Dorado, KS; USMC, WWII, PTO

The Big Picture...

The Big Picture…

Faustino Gonzalez – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Paul Lemire – Sturgeon Falls, CAN; RC Air Force, Alouettes’ tail gunner

Warren Nelson – Lakota, SD; USMC, WWII, PTO, E/2/8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Brian Rix – Cottingham, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO

Ivan Smith – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Coast Guard

Adam Thomas – Tacoma Park, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, SSgt., B/2/10th Special Forces Group, A/B, KIA

Martin ‘Skip’ Urso – Knoxville, TN; USMC; Vietnam, Bronze Star

Edward Zalewski – Jersey City, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO

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