Monthly Archives: March 2017

Landing the 11th Airborne Division

Medic on Leyte

As General Eichelberger said more than once: “The 11th Airborne Division are the fightingest men I’ve ever seen.” And the largest and most violent armed conflict in history was about to start for these men.

November of 1944 arrived and with that came packing up for the next destination, Leyte, Philippines. It also meant the arrival of the rains, an understatement to say the least. Such downpours are alien to those who do not live in the tropics. Even the darkness is unique when it arrives in a flash and the blackness envelops everything like a sweeping shroud. A man’s eyes can no longer be trusted; he stands as though blindfolded.

11 November – 9 APA’s (naval transport ships designed to attack) and AKA’s (cargo ships designed to attack) would be required to carry the 11th A/B on to their target from Oro Bay with an escort of 9 US destroyers. Due to the constant barrage of weather, the journey lasted from Nov. 11 until the 18th. The Battle of Leyte was officially code-named “King II Operation.”

The division’s historian noted, “Fortunately, the trip was made in Navy-manned ships.  It was fortunate because the food we had was the best we had eaten since Camp Stoneman, California…  As far as we were able to determine, the trip was uneventful – with one exception.  One sub did venture within detecting range, we were immediately sent to out emergency positions.  But a DE took off after the Jap craft and the alert was called off.

“Aboard ship, troops spent their time talking endlessly about the immediate and post-war future.  Some gambled the days away… Now we had time to ponder and we found ourselves ready for combat.  We didn’t know then – no one knew – how soon we were to be committed; but it came sooner than any of us anticipated.  The Angels were about to make some fighting history.”

Activity map

When the 11th airborne landed at Bito Beach, Leyte, they immediately began to unload the ships.  The troopers worked around the clock, even as the tail end of the convoy was being attacked by Zeros.  (The Japanese most certainly had other planes, but the G.I.s tended to call them all Zeros.)  The beach gradually became an ammo dump as Bito Beach was surrounded by water on three sides and a swamp covered the fourth, it was technically an island and therefore they were unable to move the crates out until the engineers built them some bridges.  Throughout all this, air raids were being called which impeded progress all the more.

19 November 1944 – a kamikaze sank one of the transport ships only 1,500 yards offshore.  It was left where it sank, sticking partway out of the water.  The men used it as a sight to adjust the artillery aimed at the sea.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

Cecil Hotel, Westminster, RAF’s 1st HQ

A reminder that Britain’s Royal Air Force will celebrate their 99th Birthday, having been formed 1 April 1918.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Blair Cummings – Scarbourgh, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hilary P. Jones

Frank Dallas – Fayetteville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/11th Airborne Division (Ret. 27 years)

Robert Glade – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Korea

Iris Hunter – Warwickshire, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emmett Kirkpatrick – Roanoke, VA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Robert Lilley – Ft. Gratlot, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Arthur McNamara – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Richard Morgan – Rollings, MT; US Army, Korea, A Co/187th RCT

Gale Tedball – Eugene, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Detroit

William Young – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force #  4310091, WWII

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Smitty’s Letter XIV – “On the Move Again”

 

Letter XIV                                    “On the Move” (again)                        undated due to censorship

Dear Mom,  We have been at sea now for three days heading toward someplace the Land and the great white father in Washington only knows.

As I sit here writing this, I just can’t help but feel like a very small insignificant part of something so vast that the mind can’t in any way begin to comprehend what it is all about.  Here I am on a ship heading out to something, someplace, and it was all planned probably months ago, miles and miles away from anywheres near here.  Suddenly it all takes form.  Transports and other ships stream into the harbor and just as quickly and quietly we are made loose and moving out.  It all happens so fast and so smoothly that you can’t help but admire it all.

Of course, as serious as it all is, the army just can’t help but be the cause of many amusing incidents.  When we first landed in New Guinea we got lost looking for our camp and coming down to the boats, the trucks again got lost and so we had to travel up and down the beach until finally, instead of us finding the boats — the boats found us.  Climbing up the gangplank with our packs and duffel bags always provide an amusing incident or two, but at the time seem pretty damn dangerous.

On board ship, we are once again packed in like sardines down in the hold.  Once shown our bunk, we proceed at once to get rid of our equipment and dash up on deck to pick out some spot where we can spend the night,  It isn’t long after this that the details are handed out — and so — what could have been a very pleasant voyage soon turns out to be anything else but.  I was lucky in that I was handed a detail that only worked for an hour each day, but the poor guys that hit the broom detail were at it all day long.  All we could hear, all day long, over the speaker system was: “Army broom detail, moping and brooms, clean sweep down forward aft, all decks.”  They kept it up all the time until soon one of the fellas made up a little ditty about it and sang it every time we saw a broom coming down the deck.

The food was excellent and really worth talking about.  On the first trip coming over from the states, we dreaded the thought of eating, but on this ship, it was more than a welcome thought.  Generally, when you go to a movie there are news reel pictures of convoys of ships and the men aboard.  They always try to show you a few playing cards or joking and say that this is how the boys relieve the tension they are under.  Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.

Of course, it was a strange sight to see the boys at night line up at the side scanning the sky and distant horizon.  This was generally though at night and early dawn.  What we expected to see, I don’t know and what our reaction would be, if we did see something — I hesitate to predict.  It won’t be long after this letter is written that we will land or at least sight our destination, so wishing  to be wide-awake when we do, I’ll close this letter now and hit the hay hoping I sleep an uninterrupted sleep.

Till next time, “Good night and pleasant dreams.”                          Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – For those of you who will be in the Fredricksburg, Texas area…..

http://www.pacificwarmuseum.org/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joan Abery – Darley Dale, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emil Adams – brn: Slovakia/US; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Annapolis graduate

David Altop – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO, radio operator

George E. Bria (101) – brn: Rome, ITAL/Waterbury, CT; AP war correspondent, ETO

Otis ‘Roger’ Humphrey – Montpelier, IN; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Charles Johnson – Wichita, KA; US Navy, WWII

Lucien Legault – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Mumford – St. Petersburg, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 318/325/15th Air Force, KIA

Marion “Flee” Pettygrove – CA; USMC Women’s Corps, WWII

James Summitt – Des Moines, IA; US Navy, WWII, radioman

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Prelude to Smitty’s Combat

Jungle training for the Second World War was held for the benefit of the soldier’s immediate situation, but its effectual results led into the establishment of the Special Forces. This is typified by the creation of the Recon Platoon of the 11th Airborne Division and the Alamo Scouts. Out of these units we witnessed the outstanding operations of today’s special troops. In New Guinea and further combat experience, what these men learned went on to be vital assets for the future generations of soldiers.

The advantage of being acclimated to a different climate and acquainted with the strange terrain served to aid them in their survival and the success of their missions.

New Guinea, just before Leyte

Although the 11th A/B was small in size and short of arms and staff, they accepted orders normally issued to full size divisions. At this time, many people believed that MacArthur was obsessed with recovering the Philippines from the Japanese and perhaps he was, and with good reason. FDR had promised him serious military assistance in 1942, but it never arrived. As a direct result, MacArthur was ordered by his president to abandon his men on the islands and escape to Australia. The Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. had not only lied to one of his generals, but caused the forced surrender of American and Filipino citizens and military personnel. The infamous Bataan Death March and ultimate fall of the Philippines into Japanese control was the end result.

But here — the invasion of Leyte — would be, by far, the greatest operation of the Pacific. For the first time, the combined forces of MacArthur and the overseas bomber commands would be joined with the vast armada of Admiral Nimitz. Land and sea would simultaneously explode into action. The Japanese government also knew in their heart of hearts that the battles fought over the Philippine islands would decide the outcome of the war.  Unfortunately, intentionally or not, FDR not only found a way to leak the plans of Leyte’s attack, but diplomatic sources in the Kremlin gave the Japanese a forewarning and the the enemy became determined to make the Philippines an all-out effort.

Certain matters would need to be dealt with by the soldiers, Allied and Japanese alike. For the Japanese, the concept of using retreat as a strategic tactic was confusing and unheard of by their standard of protocol. The very thought of retreat was a disgrace and therefore forbidden. The American G.I. was equally befuddled by hara Kiri and kamikaze techniques. The purpose that suicide accomplished in a battlefield was beyond their comprehension – yet these and many more differences had to be confronted. (The official name of kamikaze was Tokubetsu Kogekitai and was not quite as popular in Japan as some have been led to believe.)

Gilliam-class APA

Many historians , looking back on the naval battles we recently discussed, compared the forces of Nimitz with throwing a right cross and MacArthur’s troops following through with the left punch – the enemy did not stand a chance.

As General Eichelberger said more than once: “The 11th Airborne Division are the fightingest men I’ve ever seen.” And the largest and most violent armed conflict in history was about to start for these men.

November of 1944 arrived and with that came packing up for the next destination, Leyte, Philippines. It also meant the arrival of the rains, an understatement to say the least. Such downpours are alien to those who do not live in the tropics. Even the darkness is unique when it arrives in a flash and the blackness envelops everything like a sweeping shroud. A man’s eyes can no longer be trusted; he stands as though blindfolded.

Nine APA’s (naval transport ships designed to attack) and AKA’s (cargo ships designed to attack) would be required to carry the 11th A/B on to their target. Due to the constant barrage of weather, the journey lasted from Nov. 11 until the 18th. The Battle of Leyte was officially code-named “King II Operation.”

 

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ernest Nernhoft Jr. – Memphis, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, ‘The Hump’

Ronald Blackham – Weaverham, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, Cpl., 3rd Batt. ‘Coldstream Guards’, KIA

Murray Goff – Bellingham, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aerial photographer

Standing Guard

Maxx Hammer Jr. – Carbondale, Il; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, pilot, ‘Flying Tiger’, KIA

Jules Hauterman Jr. – Hampton, MA; US Army, Korea, medic, Cpl., KIA

Henry Jennings – Newburg, OR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Ed Murray – Ridgefield, WA; US Army, WWII, CBI

Mark Pedone – Garfield, NJ; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Marine Division

Donald ‘Butch’ Russell – Newark, DE; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, MSgt.

Robert Shearer – Hawera, NZ; 2NZEF # 022982, WWII

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November 1944 (1)

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay, FEAF, by Steve Ferguson, and can be purchased here…

https://irandpcorp.com/products/ordeal-at-ormoc-bay/

3 November – When the Japanese 57th Regiment arrived at Limon, Gen. Krueger’s 24th Division was on the other side of the mountain range.  Rather than attack the lightly defended enemy positions, he halted his troops.  For some reason, he was expecting a possible enemy amphibious landing and the US attack would not begin for 2 more days.

5→10 November – in the 19th year of Showa, for the Japanese, the G.I. mortar and machine-gun fire seemed to nearly wipe out the squad scaling the ridge.  As the brush caught fire, the Americans of I Company/3rd Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment/ 24th Division, attacked and charged over the ridge until the enemy’s big guns opened up.  Another Japanese force arrived and the US troops retreated.  This would be known as Breakneck Ridge [Yahiro Hill to the Japanese].

Leyte activity map

Even with the support of the 1st Cavalry, the soldiers were pushed back, but they would return on the 8th.  They then proceeded to continually hit the ridge until the 10th, when the Japanese 3rd Battalion was ordered to tenshin. (which means to turn around and advance).  The few survivors remaining did make it back to their supply depot.

6 November – Japanese convoy MA-TA 31 escorted by 2 cruisers and other escorting vessels was attacked by a wolfpack of US submarines, Batfish, Ray, Raton, Bream and Guitarro at Luzon.  The Ray fired 6 rear torpedoes at the enemy cruiser  Kumano and destroyed her bow.

US Hellcat fighters and bombers with Avenger torpedo planes attacked enemy airfields and shipping installations throughout southern Luzon.  The US aircraft were intercepted by about 80 Japanese fighters and a dogfight ensued over Clark Field.  The enemy lost 58 planes and 25 more later in the day.  More than 100 Japanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  One cruiser sank in Manila Harbor and 10 other vessels were heavily damaged.

10→11 November – Another Japanese convoy, carrying 10,000 reinforcements for Leyte, escorted by 4 destroyers, a minesweeper and a submarine chaser.  They were screened by 3 other destroyers, but were intercepted by the US 10th Fleet aircraft as they made their turn into Ormoc Bay.  Before they could reach the harbor, the TF-38 aircraft attacked.  The first wave aimed at the transports.  The second wave hit the destroyers and third wave strafed the beaches and the burning destroyers.  Nine of the ships sank and 13 enemy planes providing air cover were shot down.

The FEAF (Far East Air Force, the 5th A.F.) used 24 B-24’s to hit Dumaguerte Airfield on Negros Island in the P.I. and fighter-bombers were sent to the Palompon area on Leyte.  Targets of opportunity were hit on Mindanao.  Fighter-bombers and B-25s hit shipping and Namlea Airfield, and P-38s hit Kendari Airfield on Celebes Island while B-24a bombed the Nimring River area.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Teamwork, Beetle-style!!

cover for Beetle Bailey comic book

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Farewell Salutes – 

Sverre Alvestad – Norway/Glen Oaks, CAN; Royal Norwegian Navy, WWII, ace pilot

Charles Cawthorn – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Lancaster pilot (Ret. 30 yrs.), 61st Squadron, POW

Lou Duva – Paterson, NJ; US Army, WWII

Howard Engh – Gig Harbor, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lawrence Hanson – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, WWII (Ret. 26 years)

Kenneth Lawson – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Spitfire pilot

Paul Pavlus – Panama City, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne / USAF, 82nd Airborne, MSgt.

Joe Rogers – Jackson, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, flight instructor

Albert Schlegel – Cleveland, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Capt. Pilot, KIA

Francis Took – AUS; RA Navy # 37327

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Liberty Belle’s Last Flight

A survival story for heroes in October 1944.

IHRA

Balikpapan. A Japanese stronghold in the earlier part of the Pacific war. At the time, it was heavily defended by some of Japan’s best pilots, and the Allies hoped to change that soon. General George C. Kenney in particular felt that if Fifth Air Force was to destroy the oil refineries on the island, it would be a huge setback in Japan’s attempt to hold onto its position in the southwest Pacific. Over the summer, Kenney directed the 380th Bomb Group to bomb several refineries in the area, with little success, though they were a factor in some fuel shortages. By September, he was eager to send his forces back to Balikpapan. There were a few missions flown by the Thirteenth Air Force and the 90th Bomb Group, however, approximately 40% of the planes flown on these mission were either lost or too damaged to be put back in service…

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Flying The Hump

To honor the men who flew to support the men on the ground….

The Java Gold's Blog

The first massive airlift in history

One of the chapters in ‘The Java Gold’  is dedicated to ‘…flying the Hump…’as the ‘air bridge’ into China across the Himalayas soon became known. ‘It was the first massive airlift in history.

image The Himalayas as seen after take off from a field in Assam

‘The Hump’  started early in 1942, initially with just a handful of aircrew and airplanes. Most of these planes were hastily ‘converted’ civilian DC-3’s that had been ferried across the Atlantic, Africa and India by a Pan American subsidiary. Often the former civilian owner’s logo and lettering couldstill be seen shining through the hastily applied olive drab army paint.
The US 10th Air Force, ATC and CNAC attempted to carry 10.000 tons of cargo each month into the beleaguered Kunming area that was isolated after the loss of the Burma Road.

image Chabua airfield in 1944, with a view of…

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October 1944 (7)

Chiang Kai-shek and Gen. Stilwell

2 October – Lord Mountbatten, Commander of the SEAC, continued issuing pressure on the Japanese 15th Army in Burma.  The British IV and XXXIII Corps pursued the enemy even throughout the monsoon season.

6 October – FDR relieved Gen. Joseph Stilwell of his post as Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek in an effort to appease the Nationalist leader.  [Chiang wanted to withdraw his Y Force, the Chinese Nationalist Revolutionary Army) from Burma, but when Stilwell notified FDR of his plans, he lost his patience.  FDR had tried to put Stilwell in charge of the Y Force so it could be reenforced, but Chiang became offended and the President made an about-face.

Gen. Stilwell in the field

Stilwell’s domain was split into two parts.  MGen. Albert C. Wedermeyer became Chiang’s new Chief of Staff and Chief of the China Theater.  Lt.Gen. Daniel Sultan, and engineer officer and Stilwell’s CBI deputy, now took over the India-Burma Theater.

10 October – The oil refineries at Balikpapen were devastated by a US raid using B-24 bombers in North Borneo.  Being as this area was producing 40% of Japan’s oil imports at this stage, the attack greatly affected the enemy’s resources.

As the British XV Corps prepared to advance down the Burma coastline, Gen. Sultan could now call on one British and 5 Chinese divisions, as well as a new long-range penetration group, the 532nd Brigade, known as the Mars Task Force.  This brigade-size unit consisted of the 475th infantry, containing survivors of Operation Galahad and the recently dismounted 124th Cavalry of the Texas National Guard.  A detailed account of their movements can be found HERE!

The Allies possessed nearly complete command of the air and an Allied victory in Burma was only a matter of time.  The CBI’s logistics apparatus was well established as their advance continued in 2 stages.

The suicide kamikaze attacks increased around Leyte.  The destroyer, the USS Abner Road, was sunk.  The US Vessels, Anderson, Claxton, Ammen and two other destroyers received damage.

“Burma Peacock” salvage boys shown in this photo are: W/O Herbert Carr, Capt. Charles A. Herzog, S/Sgt. Don Hall, M/Sgt. Irving C. Sallette, Pfc. Ernest Luzier, Sgts. Roland Wechsler and Clifford Baumgart.

CBI Roundup – October 26, 1944 –  “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” they’re beginning to call Chief W.O. Herbert W. Carr of this Air Service Group’s reclamation detachment. Carr makes a specialty of going into jungle or rice paddies or the mountain country in search of crashed airplanes; of bringing out those ships whole or in “complete pieces;” and recently he climaxed all his previous Frank-Buck exploits.
He took a crew behind Jap lines, and brought back a C-47 which had crashed into a crater hole – the location being behind the known perimeter of the Jap knees.
According to the commander of Carr’s outfit, the “Burma Peacock’s,” the opportunity to attempt reclamation came by merest chance, when a liaison airplane reported having seen a mired C-47 on the ground.
The party was flown into the area by Capt. Charles A. Herzog, on a UC-64 light cargo ship.  Equipment consisted of two five-gallon cans of drinking water, K-rations, 180 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of tea, and 20 pounds of sugar, in addition to kits of tools, a chain hoist, axe and other items for the job. The rice, tea and sugar were for such coolie helpers as they hoped to impress from neighboring jungle settlements.
For the next six days the men fumed and tussled in the hot sun; gradually jacked up and pulled the C-47 from the bottom of a bomb crater; repaired its gear and got its engines going.
At first, no coolies appeared, so a runner was dispatched to try to rent some elephants, when and if the pachyderms could be located. One elephant almost arrived on the job, but unfortunately Dumbo put his foot into a booby trap and plunged, screaming with hurt, through the grass, his body stinging with shrapnel. In a day, the coolies, ever sensing the need for their well-paid services, began to show up.
The extra workmen were sorely needed, according to Carr, who was forced to call off work on the first all-day shift, due to excessive heat and lack of salt to counteract the drain of energy. Eventually, the C-47 was removed from the crater by piece-meal hauling along a fresh-cut incline up the mud slopes.
When the airplane was on dry land again, engines were turned up, and the craft soon was lined up for take-off. However, an overnight wait came into the picture, the ship being absent one pilot. In the morning Combat Cargo Command dropped in with a pilot; the rejuvenated C-47 took off like a breeze, and another craft had been brought back “alive” under the ministrations of “Frank Buck” Carr.
No trouble was caused by Japs during the stay of the mechani-commandos. The Japs had learned from previous experience that Chindits and Chinese-American forces do not allow Nippons to intrude on workers without one hell of a fight.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Round-up style – 

“You Myitkyina boys should have seen the Carolina maneuvers!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack Albert – Charleston, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Medical Corps

Jack Bates – Presque Isle, ME; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ronald Cagle – Palm Beach, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, communications

Dorothy Cook Eierman – Townsend, DE; civilian aircraft spotting station, WWII

painting “Take a Trip With Me” by SFC Peter G. Varisano

Gordon Fowler – Ottawa, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Vernon Galle – San Antonio, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Pres. Jackson

Leslie Langford – Battle Creek, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Eric Mexted – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 242467, WWII, 22nd Battalion

Donald Peterson – Salt Lake City, UT; US Navy, WWII

Marge Tarnowski – Madison, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, radio operator

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October 1944 (6)

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon.  He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting.  But where is Leyte?”  [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island.  But he was overruled.  Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

MacArthur inspecting the beach

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped out.  Parts of Tacloban had been liberated by the US troops and Gen. Makino was now forced to split the remainder of his 16th Div. in half, North and South Defense Forces.

As the ground forces continued fighting, Japanese aircraft from all other bases in the Philippines arrived on Luzon to support the plans for a counteroffensive.

25 October – Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, in charge of defending the Central Philippines, still was receiving inferior or misleading intelligence and remained confident of Japanese victory because:  He still expected support from the Navy; he had glowing reports concerning Formosa; he was told that ALL US carriers had been sunk and no American aircraft were flying over his headquarters on Cebu.  Suzuki told his Chief of Staff, Gen. Tomochika, “…we are about to step on the center of the stage.  There is no greater honor or privilege.”

Two Japanese units were on en-route to Luzon:  the Japanese 1st Division [the Gem Division] to land at Ormoc on the west coast and the 26th Division at Carigara in the north.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The assault continued after a rapid consolidation of the first few days  objectives.  Numerous enemy counterattacks were beaten off in all areas during the next few days as advancing forces reported increased resistance on every front.  By the end of the third day, over 2,000 Japanese had been reported killed…

“On 24 October, elements of the XCorps began a drive up the Leyte side of San Juanico Strait, while farther south other units of the Corps pushed westward.  At the same time, the XXIV Corps directed attacks northward and westward.  The 96th Div., moving inland from Dulag, met heavy opposition from fortified positions on Catmon Hill, a terrain feature dominating the division’s zone of action and giving protection to enemy mortars bobbing shells toward the assault shipping in Leyte Gulf.  Catmon Hill was initially by-passed, then neutralized by naval guns and field artillery and finally cleared of the enemy by 31 October.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

“try to say something funny, Joe”

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Jack Agnew – Hamilton, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Leonard Beford – Falmouth, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Herbert Creacey – Roseburg, OR; US Navy, WWII

Catherine Ewell – Zachary, LA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Herbert Good – Bound Brook, NJ; US Army, WWII

Frank Hill –  Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

Ralph Konze – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Caldon Norman – Mineapolis, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

John S. Powell Jr. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, Korea, Captain

Gerald Shepler – Liberty, IN; US Army, Korea, K/3/187th Airborne RCT, KIA

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October 1944 (5)

 

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At o945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

Gen. MacArthur surveys the beachhead ay Leyte.

Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.

The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

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Military Humor – 

“Cause no one’s going to notice a branch covered moving tank…”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harry Adams Sr. – New Cumberland, PA; US Army, WWII

Robert Clark – Westmoreland, NH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

Cleo Douglas – Berwyn, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Doris Graham – Blanchard, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, Unit 32 nurse

Virgile Green – Paron, AK; US Army, WWII, PTO

Raymond McCormick – E.Greenwich, RI; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin, Alabama & South Dakota

Naomi Oliver – Wanganui, NZ; Women’s Nurse Corps # 816540, WWII

George Psiropoulos – Fon du Lac, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Frank Southern – Dipton, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 272 Squadron navigator, POW

Lester Tenney – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, tank commander, Bataan POW

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International Women’s Day, Veteran of the Day, Violet Gordon

Violet Gordon

Violet Gordon

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Women’s Army Corps Veteran Violet Hill Askins Gordon. Violet served during World War II.

Violet was living in Chicago, Illinois, supervising stenographic pools, bored and restless, when a friend told her about the Women’s Army Corps. Violet enlisted when the first Officer Candidate class for women accepted her application.

At the end of the training period, Violet had earned the rank of Second Commanding Officer and was assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, where the first detachment of African-American women for the WAC were stationed. In an interview with the Veterans History Project, Violet said it was a little nerve-wracking when they arrived. “Of course the male units that were already there knew that we were coming. There was a lot of controversy about women in the services. A lot of rumors, most of them not really very complimentary.” Fortunately, Violet said Army officers always maintained safe and appropriate order within the camps.

After Fort Huachuca, Violet and her unit became the only all African-American female unit to serve overseas in England and France during World War II. Violet believes her experiences in WAC changed her from a shy, introspective person into a leader. Violet left the service as a Captain.

Decades after her retirement, Violet went to the dedication of the Women’s Memorial in Washington, D.C. On the final day, Violet heard somebody say, “Violet?” and turned to see one of her old friends from her unit. “I had no trouble whatsoever recognizing her and obviously she had no trouble recognizing me,” Violet said. Her friend then led Violet to a group of women from her first officer’s class and unit all sitting together. Violet was overjoyed to see her old friends.

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Violet remembers how happy it made her to see the women on active duty at the dedication in D.C. from all branches of the service, representing all colors, all races and all ranks. “It was something that I would have never envisioned in 1942 was right there in front of me.”

This past October, Violet celebrated her 100th birthday in Florida.

Thank you for service, Violet!


Nominate a Veteran for #VeteranOfTheDay

Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? You’re in luck! VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.

It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. All it takes is an email to newmedia@va.gov with as much of the information as you can put together with some good photos. Visit our blog post about nominating for how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Graphic By Kierra Willis: Kierra Willis is a Graphic Communication Major at the University of Maryland University College. She currently has an AAS in Graphic Design and Visual Communications.

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