Smitty’s Letter XV – “Landing”

All ashore that’s going’ ashore…..

November 1944: Two Coast Guard-manned landing ships open their jaws as U.S. soldiers line up to build sandbag piers out to the ramps, on Leyte island, Philippines. (AP Photo)

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans came together.

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

November 1944: U.S. landing ship tanks are seen from above as they pour military equipment onto the shores of Leyte island, to support invading forces in the Philippines. (AP Photo)

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Brown – Alma, MI; US Army, WWII, Military Police

Harold DeRose – Indianmound, TN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Robert Fairbank – Gilbert, AZ; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Boy Scout Farewell Salute

Victor Galletly – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44189, WWII

Zeb Kilpatrick – Hendersonville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leo ‘Bill’ LeFevre – Jamestown, ND; US Army, WWII

David Maxwell – Brisbane, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Jose Ocampo – San Jose, CA; US Navy, WWII

Dick Patterson – Fort Worth, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Anthony Randi – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Cpl.

Donald Thompson – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII

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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 April 3, 2017, in First-hand Accounts, Letters home, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 78 Comments.

  1. Another fine post, GP! It is most enjoyable reading ‘Smitty’s” letters. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent reading gp, Smitty had a very keen eye in documenting his work and environment, those landing craft were amazing, not only that but the efforts of the Soldiers in building a sandbag pier is a feat on it’s own.
    A great read mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seeing all those ships at the shore gives a good magnitude of the men sent ashore.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully written and well executed sir… 🙂 I learn from your post everyday as I truly want to be a better writer. #Salute

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello; I was searching YouTube for a very different song, when -of all 40’s era music- I stumbled on this one. Strange in that I remember it, more strange was that it was recorded on Oct 22nd 1943. While in Australia, Smitty and others might have been able to hear this; the fierce fighting on Leyte was soon to erupt. But it also makes me wonder what the survivors of Black Thursday (the Schweinfurt raid) must have thought that heard it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think you remember the version sung by Frank Ifield in 1962 and made a hit out of it again.

      I know this is the one I recall. I don’t remember dad mentioning this song in particular, but he loved all sorts of music (gave me a well-rounded appreciation of it), and while listening to my stations, he would say when one was a remake of an oldie. Thanks for sending the link, I haven’t heard that song in decades.

      Like

  6. WOW! What a window to a moment in time and what a witness to his character. I am utterly impressed. Thank you!

    Like

  7. Am reading the very enjoyable “K-Rations, Kilroy, KP, & Kaputt ” by Henry K Davis. 1995. He was one to the tens of thousands of servicemen that never left the states or went overseas and never saw combat. Ever changing people, places and things all for seemingly no reason or purpose. He was trained anti aircraft gunner but never got to fire at a real plane,took advantage of being a “soldier tourist” throughout Europe and played the piano at entertainment venues.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I read here today so much things I fifn’t know.Thanks for all those information on your blog

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am struck by how well he manages to relay the details of the environment and surroundings while putting forth such a calm, measured demeanor. These letters to me reflect a maturity and intelligence you would only hope to find in a much older person with more life experience. Fascinating letters GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Another letter filled with humor and descriptions, The island people certainly sounded helpful and not that expensive, when all they wanted for pay was an item of clothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A nice way of reporting the downing of the planes

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I am always struck, as others have mentioned, how calmly he describes the experience while at the same time bombs are dropping. You wonder how different the letters are from the actual events. Or does one really just become that relaxed after the last bomb falls.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My dad was at this battle. I recently found and scanned about 30 letters he had written to his mom during his time at sea. I couldn’t believe he talked so much of normal things when these battles were raging. Guess he didn’t want his mom to fret. I love your blog. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m so happy to hear from another child of the era. I’ve been following your blog and I’m so glad you’re putting your father’s letters on line. The generations following us need to learn who and what it took to give them their freedoms that they take for granted today.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I was struck by the comparison to Penn and Grand Central stations—did your dad grow up in NYC? (I am sure you’ve said, but I also suffer from an unretentive and feeble brain. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha, I call my brain either swiss cheese or the Black Hole (everything goes in, but nothing makes it back out again! 🙂 ) He was from Broad Channel, an island in Jamaica Bay, Queens, NY. Close enough to know Manhattan, but far enough away to still be a small fishing village.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wow, I’ve never heard of Broad Channel–and I grew up in the suburbs of NYC. Sounds great!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I was born there myself. I still have friends made back then and enjoy their calendar of old pictures every year. It has progressed, but I’m assured it is still basically the same as I was last there.
          This link will give you an idea. I don’t expect you to read it all, I’m just sending it for the pictures.
          http://forgotten-ny.com/2016/03/broad-channel-2016/

          Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you for the link! It must have been fun to grow up there—did you feel like part of NYC or did you feel like you were living in a small town? I see the subway is connected there now. Was there a school? High school? on the island, or did you have to go to Queens for school? Fascinating!

            Liked by 1 person

            • It still is a tight knit community, apart from the city. The only school back then was St. Virgilius. My grandmother took the train to and from her job, but dad worked on the island.
              Here is a picture of Smitty’s, of course he had it way before the war, but it is still there today. It was a feature of a movie and a “Law & Order – Criminal Intent” w/ Jeff Goldblum. [the man in the picture is NOT Smitty].

              Liked by 1 person

  15. Oops … Smitty would get growled at—you’re not allowed to say “Japs” today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That was a different world and any PCer who can’t understand that doesn’t understand history. OH, that’s right, they don’t teach much history in school anymore, do they?

      Liked by 5 people

  16. He writes a lovely letter, doesn’t he? Enough detail so that Mom doesn’t think he’s hiding anything, but nothing too terrible so that it upsets her. An excellent balance.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Love Smitty comparing the natives helping with Red Caps at Penn Station. What a great war correspondent. You are so right. His letters belong in a WWII museum. That is after you include all of them in your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. It seems to me that the natives were friendly and helpful not just because they expected something in return, but also they saw the American soldiers as their liberators from the Japanese occupation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure most of them were, but then there were others known as – Makabayang Katipunan ng mga Pilipino ( Patriotic Association of Filipinos), better known as the Makapili, was a militant group formed in the Philippines in 1944 during World War II to give military aid to the Imperial Japanese Army.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I’m sitting here with a major back attack and have enjoyed this letter to immensely thank you for this awesome wonderful experience🌻

    Liked by 1 person

  20. As you know, GP, I find these letters to be touching and fascinating, in turn. If you have enough of them, I am betting they would make an excellent book.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • No, in all, there really aren’t that many or I definitely would have done that. These letters are one of the main reasons I started this blog in the first place. I am the last of his bloodline and the National WWII Museum in New Orleans says they will gladly take them for their Pacific War building – that’s where they’ll be going.
      Thank you,Pete, as always, for taking the time to read here!!

      Liked by 4 people

  21. Once again, Smitty tells the story in such a way that you can feel like your were there with him, minus the scariness of being there. He certainly has a way with words, G. Your family is blessed to have the letters. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I agree, your father is amazingly upbeat in all these letters, in spite of the things he experienced and saw first hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Mom must have loved getting this letter, knowing her son was OK. Loved that line “Japanese planes won’t be flying overhead anymore, at least not the same ones.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • After all that training they received – it’s good to know that it was worth it, eh? Grandma’s “little boy” had been the man of the house for so long, she must have missed him terribly.

      Like

  24. Letters like this are amazing aren’t they to give us an insight into how things were.
    People wrote so eloquently too!
    Thanks for sharing, I hope you’re well 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. He really had a knack for writing. I love reading these letters!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. A little humor goes a long way toward easing a difficult situation, doesn’t it? I noticed his observation that writing about the native people after such short acquaintance might not be the best thing, too. He really was a smart, sensitive guy.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. His letters never cease to amaze me! And yes, always it seems with a touch of mirth.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Pierre Lagacé

    Just can’t get enough of these letters GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. The confidence and upbeat tone, and the humor especially, of the letters is amazing and heartwarming. It must really have put mom’s mind at ease.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Thank you very much.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Smitty’s Letter to Mom, Leyte | Letters Home

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