And so it begins….

11th Airborne Division on Leyte

22 November 1944, the 11th Airborne Division received orders to relieve the 7th Infantry Division along the Burauen-La Pag-Bugho line and destroy all enemy on their way and in that sector.  While the 77th and 32nd divisions converged on the valley, the 11th moved into the central mountain pass from the east.  During this time on Leyte, the 11th A/B was under the command of the Sixth Army.

24 November – General Swing, commander of the 11th Airborne Division, moved his HQ to San Pablo.  To protect the 5th Air Force HQ of Gen. Whitehead he moved the 674th and 675th Glider Artillery Battalions to the mission which instantly made them infantrymen.  Contact patrols went out from the 187th Regiment to keep abreast of the 7th Division’s movements.  Some would witness their first “banzai attack.”

Field Order Number 28 instructed them to continue through a very rough and densely forested area called the Cordillera.   The rainy season dragged on and on and the mud not only caked on their boots (making it difficult to walk), but it ate clear through the footwear within a week.  The uniforms began to rot away.  The men were quickly beginning to realize why the natives wished to be paid in clothing rather than food or cash.

Action map

One part of the Headquarters Company was left guarding the perimeter of Mawala and the remainder of the unit went upstream to Manarawat to defend that perimeter.  The 221st Airborne Medical Company, with two portable surgical hospitals, took nip-thatched huts and lined them with parachutes.  Despite the trials and tribulations of the troopers after they landed between Abuyog and Tarragona just four days previous, they proceeded in their mission to relieve the 24th and 37th infantry divisions.

Considering the advances the U.S. forces had already gained, especially at the ports and airfields, the Japanese Imperial Headquarters sent an edict to their troops demanding the destruction of Dulag and Tacloban airstrips.  Japanese paratroopers immediately set out to jump on the Burauen airstrip; some missed their targets and landed on other airstrips.

Yank magazine

Also on this date, the 5th Air Force (now known as the Far East Air Force, Southwest Pacific Area), sent B-24’s and B-25’s to bomb Bacolod Airfield and Ipil on Negros Island.  They also hit bridges and barges in the Ormoc area.  Sasa Airfield on Mindanao was bombed as well.  All throughout this month, the FEAF and the 7th Air Force made persistent runs on Iwo Jima.

During November alone, 23 inches of rain fell and the battles for Leyte were being won during four typhoons.  Roads began to collapse and wash away, mud slides abounded and distinguishing a rice paddy from a campsite was impossible.  Foxholes were completely flooded.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Curcio – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gasconade

Mark DeAlencar – Edgewood, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, 7th Special Forces, KIA

Stewart Dennis – Port Lincoln, AUS; RA Air Force LAC # 122461

Harold Evans – Spokane, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, E/188th/11th Airborne Division

William Fagan – Bethlehem, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Ralph Harkness – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, ETO, Captain (Ret.)

Robert Milner – Haynesville, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-51 pilot “Little Rebel”

Jeanne Newhouse – San Diego, CA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Fred Otto – Greene, ND; US Navy, WWII,PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Vicksburg

Mary Philpo – Detroit, MI; civilian, B-24 aircraft parts, Willow Run

Vernon Weber – Saint Donatus, IA; US Navy, 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 13, 2017, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 69 Comments.

  1. Uniforms and boots rotting away in that time frame is something that is hard to appreciate without having been there. Many men came back with hard to treat fungal diseases.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is amazing what those troops endured to win that war.
    A fine account of this piece of the action, GP!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It could have been the die in the shoes when wet giving the men an allergic reaction. My Dad got this with a pair of modern shoes, his feet had massive blisters and no one could work out what was wrong until a GP saw the allergy rash along with the blisters was the shoe rim pattern!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. If all the leaders of all the counties in the world had served as foot soldiers for some period in their lives, perhaps they’d think twice – or even three times before they posture and press buttons that spell death, mutilation, deprivation and destruction to thousands of human beings. As explosions get bigger and bigger, so do the casualties and the cost in human misery, not to mention the environment. It is particularly sickening when world leaders pull such tricks out of their war-helmets to promote their sagging personal popularity.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That last paragraph really shows the incredible obstacles of fighting at that time, the inescapable torrential rains from a Typhoon, the after effects of mud everywhere and the never ending efforts to toil and survive. Wars of today bear no resemblance I think.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rain rain go away so we can go outside and slay…

    Wait we’re already outside 🤔

    Great write-up sir!! As always 🙂

    Like

  7. The rotting uniforms is such an amazing image describing the atmospher

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m trying to think where I’ve heard of Japanese paratroopers before, but I think this is a first for me. I don’t think we can imagine the conditions of the jungles od south east Asia. Every soldier, American, British, Australian, talks about how terrible they were, with leeches being a perennial favourite.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those leeches had to be very commonplace. When asked about them, my father would casually say how to get them off. As though it was so common, one didn’t even have to think about what to do.
      Can not picture myself in that situation.

      Like

  9. The cover of Yank magazine is so much fun. The pilgrim shadowing the soldier made me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What conditions! Thanks, GP.

    Like

  11. This is a great post–very educational and informative. Thanks for providing us with such valuable background. Keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Now the report on the rain and mud the soldiers experienced on Leyte gives me somehow some consolation for the never ending (so it seems) drizzle here in British Columbia. In our region it has been the wettest winter on record. I bet the American soldiers would have still found our terrain to fight in preferable over the monsoons on Leyte.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It still baffles my mind how these young men could be convinced to endure all these difficulties for the sake of their country. I appreciate the fact that they did, but don’t understand how they arrived at such great determination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly is a patriotism you don’t see much of these days. That generation grew up having to work hard for most everything they got, there sure weren’t any internet billionaires around then. Thanks for stopping in Bev!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “but it ate clear through the footwear within a week.” Wow, hard to imagine a more miserable experience. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  15. G.P., what deplorable flooding rain & mud conditions for the soldiers. Amazing, the sacrifices they endured. Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Boy, that sounds just miserable. Did your father write letters about the weather conditions?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. That weather sounds miserable and it must have been incredibly difficult to keep morale up.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh dear, this conditions! Thanks for sharing this interesting documentation.

    We hope everything is fine in FL, GP Cox. Happy Easter to you all! 🐣🐰🐣

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I can’t begin to tell you how lucky I am to have found you. I don’t post often but read everything often more than once. My father, 11th Airborne did not speak often of his time served only tiny bits and pieces. I am sure it was something he was proud of doing but wanted to bury the horror of this war. I just read this article and each time I learn more and more and then share with my children/grandchildren so they will know what their grandfather and all the soldiers lived through.

    This passage jumped out to me right away: “The rainy season dragged on and on and the mud not only caked on their boots (making it difficult to walk), but it ate clear through the footwear within a week.” It was one of the few things he shared and he shared if often was the mud, their boots and must encrusted socks. He said it came to the point that they often just did without. I am lucky I have his jump boots and cherish them. Just reading or talking about the horrid conditions that he and the soldiers lived through for their entire tour breaks my heart. Thank you for sharing and keeping the memories and history alive.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am also quite happy you found us. The best thing you could have told me is that you share the information with your children and grandchildren!! So little is taught these days in the school systems, it’s a shame. Too many grow up not knowing what it took to keep this country safe and give them the freedoms they now have. That mud had to be really something! I hear and read about it everywhere! You are very lucky to have your father’s jump boots, pure treasures!! Do you happen to know the regiment your father was in?

      Like

  20. The more I read the more I know they have earned the title The Greatest Generation

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Good post, as usual. Just the right length for my morning cuppa. Love the thumbs up from the swamp, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Another good article. What horrible conditions. Not just clothing, but bodies disintegrate. No wonder there was so much talk of “jungle rot” and fungal infections. I’d read somewhere that in every war throughout U.S. history, a higher % of wounded were saved, but in the WWII Pacific theater, we were back to losing twice as many men to disease, as to battles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do not believe the ratio was quite that high. In addition to dysentery, cholera, hepatitis, malaria, venereal disease, and combat fatigue, common problems for troops in the Southwest Pacific theatre included beriberi, dengue fever, scrub typhus, leishmaniasis, and “jungle rot.” But the development of antibiotics in the ’30’s did a lot to cut down the KIA from wounds and disease and as long as the men took their anti-malarial drugs regularly, they would only contract a mild case of that disease. Thank you for bringing up the subject, Robert.

      Like

  23. I wonder if Gen. Whithead is Native American? Wonderful detail. I love you map illustration. This is real life sacrifice and I honor you sir. 🙏🏼🌼💛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the comments. Whitehead was born on a farm near Westphalia, Kansas, on 3 September 1895, the eldest of three children of J. E. Whitehead, a farmer, and his wife Celia. He was educated at Glenwood District School and Burlington High School. In 1914, he entered the University of Kansas, intending to obtain a law degree. I’m afraid that’s all I know of his family background.
      Please do not be mistaken, I was not in WWII, this is about my father’s unit.
      Thank you for your visit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow so much background I think you did a wonderful job fact collecting.
        I thought it was either you or your father because there is so much detail that history doesn’t record. I love what you are doing. I’m a history buff.
        My Pa was stationed in Germany in 1956. He gave up a full ride voice scholarship to go there. He was a medic so he saw a lot too! He was injured in the line of duty. He never talked much about his time there but I know it was always with him till he passed. He spoke German to us it was interesting when his mind was failing him he still remembered German. You sparked me,oriels foe me too my friend. Wonderful post.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank you, Michelle. As a medic, your father certainly saw more than his fair share. Any stories you remember him telling you, feel free to share them here.

          Like

  24. Pierre Lagacé

    Thanks for preserving the past…

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Despite the good humour in the cartoons, living outside in those conditions must have been close to unbearable. Being wet on the way back from walking Ollie is bad enough. I cannot begin to imagine the discomfort of living like that for a month or more.
    A tribute to both human endurance and the soldiers’ determination.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I noticed Don Rickles in your farewell salutes last week. Nice touch. So many people from all walks of life answered the call.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. 23″ of rain in one month. I lived through 20″ of rain in one December in Seattle, but I was mostly indoors. I thought that was awful. I can’t imagine those conditions.

    Liked by 1 person

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