August 1944 (1)

Cowra POW Camp, Sydney, Australia

Cowra POW Camp, Sydney, Australia

1 August – it was announced that the Japanese resistance on Tinian had ceased.  This came after costing the enemy 9,000 troops in its defense.  This island would provide the Allies with an air base for long-range bombings in Japan.

On Guam, the US troops, in the midst of heavy combat, occupied Utano, Pado, Pulan and Matte.  The aircraft bombings preceded them in the north to ease the men’s advance.  This fighting had resulted in 1,022 KIA and 4,926 WIA.  By the following day, half of the island was in US hands.

Myitkyina, Burma, mid-1944

Myitkyina, Burma, mid-1944

1-3 August – while the Nationalist Chinese territory was being reduced by the enemy in China, the Burma results were quite the opposite.  After an 11-week blockade, the Japanese withdrew from Myitkyina and the US/Chinese troops moved in to occupy it.  The Japanese commanding general of the 14th Army committed suicide as the surviving enemy soldiers retreated toward Mandalay.

This development shortened the Hump route into China and the supplies being air-lifted doubled.  Generals Wingate and Stilwell viewed this as vindication for their-range penetration operations. [Between 26 May and 1 August 1944, the US 14th Air Force had carried out 4,454 missions in support of the Chinese forces in central China.]

japan_map_political

Bonin and Volcano Islands’ locale

From the INCPAC communiqué No. 106 –

“Air and surface units of a fast carrier task force on 3 August (West longitude dates), virtually wiped out a Japanese convoy and raided airfield, towns and ground installations in the Bonin and Volcano Island groups.  Our planes sank 4 cargo ships of approximately 4,000 tons each, 3 escorting destroyers or escort destroyers and 4 barges.  Our surface vessels sank one large destroyer, one cargo ship, one small oiler and several barges.  One damaged vessel escaped.

“4 August our forces continued the sweep.  In the attack on ground installations, our surface craft shelled shipping and shore facilities at Chichi lima.  Omura Town on Chichi Jima was destroyed.  At Iwo Jima, 6 airborne enemy planes were shot down and 6 others were destroyed and 5 others damaged on the ground.  We lost 16 planes and 19 flight personnel to enemy antiaircraft fire.”

newspaper

5 August – Japanese POWs attempted a massive break-out from Cowra POW Camp in Sydney, Australia.  About 334 escaped and 3 Australian guards were killed.  Machine-gun fire killed 234 inmates and injured 108 others.

8 August – a US submarine sank the enemy escort carrier IJN Oraka off the coast of Luzon.  The USS Seawolf landed men on Palawan, P.I.

9-10 August – Japanese General Obata radioed Tokyo from Guam: “THE HOLDING OF GUAM HAS BECOME HOPELESS.  I WILL ENGAGE THE ENEMY IN THE LAST BATTLE TOMORROW.”  The following day, he committed suicide.

The RNZAF, despite political misunderstandings and red tape between governments, continued to be involved in the Pacific theater that was quite disproportionate to the nation’s size.  At this point in the war, they had 7 squadrons on garrison duty in the Pacific while also supporting the European theater.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

military-humor-army-grenades

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their Naafi break.

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their Naafi break.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas H. Armstrong – Pittsburgh, PA; UA Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Betty DeAngelo – Garza, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, teletype operator

William Foreman – Ashland, OH; US Navy, WWII. UDT (Underwater Demolition Team)06062012_AP120606024194-600

Robert Hecht Sr. Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Lt.Commander

Kenneth Holmes – Invercargill, NZ; Green Howards # 14217181, WWII, POW # 142987

Lucas M. Lowe – Hardin, TX; US National Guard, aircraft maintenance

Wayne Minard – Furley, KS; US Army, Korea, Co. C/1st/9th/2nd Infantry Div., Cpl

Dustin L. Morteson – League City, TX; US National Guard, Chief Warrant Officer

Lee Thompson – Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Paul Walter – Redstone, CO; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

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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 January 2, 2017, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 63 Comments.

  1. Thanks for this post gp, the Cowra break is still well remembered in Australia, a sad Australian legacy.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gosh. Am only just catching up with your posts of the last month, and I didn’t realise you touched on the Cowra outbreak. I was tempted to reply to various comments already mentioned here, but that would take ages. I just spent a good hour trolling through all the photos stored on my laptop looking for photos of how it looks now, but I couldn’t find them. It’s been a while, and I can’t find a post either, so perhaps my last visit was before I started blogging. Yes, there certainly was a mass breakout, and you can imagine the confusion of the local people as it is a farming district several hundred kilometres from Sydney. It’s kind of a major rural district now, but small, around 10,000 people. You can imagine how sleepy and isolated it was in 1944. I have a tenuous personal link as the father-in-law of one of my neighbours served there, and she asked me to help find his military history. He was born in England, served in the English army, migrated to Australia, then re-enlisted in WWII. On account of his age, he was not sent overseas,and that is how he wound up in Cowra, and was present for the outbreak. One theory as to why they chose that moment to break out was that they were advised they were to be moved to another camp, at Hay. Whether they feared being shot, or thought it was too far from Sydney to escape, or whether it was something to do with honour, not surrendering to their fate, etc, etc – for whatever reason, they armed themselves and stormed the fences. Ultimately all who survived were re-captured.
    For the true enthusiasts, here is a link to the official documentation:
    http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs198.aspx

    Today the site contains a memorial, elsewhere, Cowra maintains a Japanese cemetery, and there is a beautiful commemorative Japanese garden.

    The event has been recorded in books and film. Here I copy and paste from Wikipedia for convenience:
    1. Dead Men Rising, (1975), Angus & Robertson, ISBN 0-207-12654-2): a novel by Seaforth Mackenzie, who was stationed at Cowra during the breakout.
    2. Die like the Carp: The Story of the Greatest Prison Escape Ever, (1978), Corgi Books, ISBN 0-7269-3243-4) by Harry Gordon.
    3. The Cowra Breakout (1984): a critically acclaimed 4½-hour television miniseries, written by Margaret Kelly and Chris Noonan, and directed by Noonan and Phillip Noyce.
    4. On That Day, Our Lives Are Lighter Than The Toilet Paper: The Great Cowra Breakout (English translation) あの日、僕らの命はトイレットペーパーよりも軽かった -カウラ捕虜収容所からの大脱走 (2008): a 2-hour TV-movie produced by Nippon Television as a 55th-anniversary special.
    5. Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms, (2016), Simon & Schuster Australia, ISBN 9781925184846): an historical fiction by Dr Anita Heiss based on an escapee that hid in the nearby Aboriginal mission until the end of the war.

    In response to growing up in the atomic age. Two grandchildren were here for a visit this week. The twelve year old has night terrors, and often slips into bed with his two years older sister. He fears a world catastrophe and is scared Trump will push the button. I tried to reason with him, explaining that, while this once was a fear that Lavinia Ross refers to, there is no valid reason for an Australian child today to be consumed with the same terror. I tried to console him that Trump cannot get the “code” all by himself, etc, etc. I even tried explaining the difference between a child growing up in Australia versus Syria, contrasting how we went about our daily lives. He wouldn’t be persuaded. Finally, all I could say was, stop using your Playstation!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much for all your additional information on Cowra – It is great to have an informed person and data handy for those interested in learning more. I appreciate you taking the time to bring this knowledge here for us!
      Please assure your grandchildren that there are many checks and balances in play for the a-codes. They thought of those scenarios long ago. Remind them that Hillary supporters are acting like children in a temper tantrum and the media is enjoying reporting it all. And yes – Get out of the Playstation and take a hike in that magnificent country of yours!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you again for all these posts, GP. Learning more here than I did in school.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually sorry to hear that. If this was a just world, it would merely be a rehashing of what you were already taught. Hopefully tis site will outlive me and people will continue to learn? At least Michael’s tree will be standing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for keeping history alive, GP. We all need to know our history and we should never forget all of the sacrifices made. Love those snowmen! Happy 2017 to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am about to review WWII with a section of Recent World History students of mine before we jump into the Cold War. I feel like I’m negligent with the Pacific theater. This article is fascinating. Any ideas or suggestions for me to get a condensed history but more than an overview of Australia and the Pacific fleet in general? I could pull and create something if not now, then in the spring when our US History students will be exposed to WWII. You know so much more than I and I’d love to share your wealth of knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are many Australians who know nothing about the Cowra breakout. Thanks again for the great year of fascinating stories and remembrances.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are more than welcome. I just hope the WWII generation continue to be in the hearts and minds of the young ones coming up for a long time coming. Being as schools teach even less about it these days, I doubt that.

      Like

  7. I think people never learn a lesson out the war. That’s the reason we must tell all the horror again and again in respect of all the death soldiers all over the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The Twentysomething Social Recluse

    Very sad to think about all of the men away from their families at Christmas time. Also, happy new year to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I was caught by your mention of the Seawolf. It made me curious, and I went looking for some history about our nearby Seawolf Park. It was named after a U.S. sub mistakenly sunk during WWII — could it have been the Seawolf you mentioned here?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I didn’t realise that Japanese prisoners ever escaped in Australia. I just read a book about German POWs in Britain and there were one or two escapes, although the most striking thing about the camps in Britain is how the Nazis persisted with their looney tunes beliefs to the point of having kangaroo courts and executing their fellow prisoners. Hopefully, the Japanese escapers in Australia were caught eventually. They are not still out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s amazing to read of the heavy toll the war was taking and then to realize we were a year away from its end. Thanks for continuing to bring us the stories from this tragic time and place.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are very welcome, Dan. I’m hoping the readers realize i am trying to explain how awful war is and all steps should be taken to avoid it. I want them to learn what it took to keep so many of us free and remember the generation that helped to change the world.
      I have recently seen a post by someone who feels I’m re-hashing ancient history, but all history (IMO) needs to be learned and remembered.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Considering that we only “learned” about the major battles and the stuff that the could make movies about, I’d say you’re doing a great service.

        People forget that by the time most baby-boomers were in school, we were more focused on the cold war than WWII. For the most part, we didn’t even learn about Korea. I doubt we would have learned anything about Viet Nam if so many friends and family members weren’t getting drafted. We came very close to losing the freedom we cherish, and people should be reminded of that and how high very high a price that freedom cost. Most people only view history through Hollywood, and that’s a badly distorted view.

        The TV shows of the 60s made WWII look like fun and games. One of the reasons I like the Twilight Zone is that Serling tried to tell/show the truth about war and about that war in particular.

        Sorry for a blog-length comment, but…

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Heavy casualty especially with the massive breakout. Interesting post!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You present us some great looking snow men, GP Cox! 🙂
    A big hug coming your way with the best wishes for 2017! x

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks for keeping this history alive and recorded for generations to come. I’m a peaceful soul so all these ceaseless wars sadden me. But it is still important to hear true stories of what happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Another very interesting roundup, GP. I had never heard of that Australian POW camp break.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Happy New Year! Looking forward to another year of Pacific Paratrooper!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Apparently, officers didn’t get demoted in the Japanese military. They just committed suicide.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Very interesting. My uncle, even though he is Vietnamese, fought as a tank commander for the Nationalist Chinese in Burma. He survived, but we don’t know what happened to him after the Chinese Communists took over the country.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Reading this, it’s hard to believe it took another year for the war to end.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Happy New Year to you and yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Thank you for sharing this post with your readers.

    Like

  22. It is great that you made a home front connection with this site and I greatly appreciate the shout out!

    Like

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