Eye Witness Account for Leyte

AMTRAC (alligator)

As November 1944 is coming to a close, the 2nd Battalion/187th Regiment/11th Airborne Division moved up from Bito Beach to the mountains just west of Burauen and it’s an eye-opener for the men.  This is the account of CWO William Nelson, personnel officer of the 2nd. wrote:

The Second was literally ferried to the new position in those strange vehicles called amtracs.  Enroute, we stared like yokels at a starlet, as we crossed the coastal plain between Dulag and Burauen, for up to this time, we had no idea of the magnitude of the American effort on Leyte.

Soldiers in a field hospital, P.I., WWII

We passed ammunition dumps by the dozen; 155 batteries; truck battalions; field hospitals and many special-unit headquarters.  Finally, as we neared Burauen, we clanked past airstrips jammed  with P-38’s.  All these installations were literally bogged down in the mud.  In fact, the typhoons of October and the continuing deluge had all but washed out the 6th Army’s Service troops and the 5th Air Force back across the beach.

Arriving at Burauen, the battalion found the dry areas – the relatively dry areas of the town already occupied by an Air Force MP platoon, an Ordnance Battalion and the 44th General Hospital.  The battalion of the 511th we were to relieve was preparing to move out.  A.F. files cheerfully informed us that the Nips bombed away at the strips almost every night, although lately his nightly application had become a bit feeble.  [Similar to what the beach troops had already been through – maybe it was the same pilot?!]

Operations maps 28 November 1944

Down near one of the airstrips was located the headquarters of our division.  This half-flooded landing field had been allotted to the 11th A/B and from it aerial resupply missions were being launched in support of the 511th.  Up on the hill, at the edge of town,was the 5th Air Force Headquarters, where it overlooked the three airstrips of its fighter squadrons.

At any rate, the job of the 2nd battalion was to protect this whole gigantic, and confused, melange, and accordingly, it occupied positions about 800 yards west of the town on a low hill dominating the surrounding flat-land.

These notations made by CWO Nelson were found in “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Lt.General E.M. Flanagan, Jr. US Army (ret. 30 years).  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the general twice.  It will remain as a highlight of my life.

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Personal Note – 

I finally succumbed to an interview request, and you can come and see how good or bad I am at talking about myself!  Come and visit my only attempt at this!!

GP Cox in action…..

https://meetthebloggersblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/pacific-paratrooper-by-gp-cox/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Albright – Stone Ridge, NY; US Army, 188th/11th Airborne Division

Hymie Epstein – NE; US Army, WWII, PTO, Medic, (Buna-Gona) KIA

Michael Galajdik – Elwood, IL; US Navy, WWII, fireman, (Pearl Harbor), KIA

Vernon Grow – Redding, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma,( Pearl Harbor) KIA

Jack Harold – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 4242, WWII, PTO

Jessie Kuster – Hartford, CT/RI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, ETO, Yeoman

Robert Peers – Vancouver, CAN; RC Navy (Ret.), Korea, Captain

Leonard Rood – DePere, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 423rd Bomb Squadron

Louis Sanchez – Witchita, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Melvin VanGundy Jr. – Jacksonville, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot “Little Colonel”, POW

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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 27, 2017, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 97 Comments.

  1. Impressive photo of the Alligator.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GP, Thank you for the “Like” on my latest post! Boy, I had zero knowledge about Bito Beach & Burauen, naturally. God bless the memory of the 2nd Battalion/187th Regiment/11th Airborne Division for all they did. Also, congratulations on your interview!!! I took a look. You did so well. I thought it was going to be a live video to see & hear you!!! Disappointment! Ha! Phil

    Liked by 1 person

    • haha, no live video for me, Phil!! I avoid cameras at all costs, can’t even remember the latest photo ever taken of me. [I think I must take after my dad in that respect.] Besides, nothing in this blog is about me – you know that – it’s about the troops that gave me the right to speak my mind in the comments!! [and today’s post really shows that.] 🙂 But I thank you for saying I did well and for reading about my fathers unit. I truly appreciate your long time friendship.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Only a Soldier could appreciate the image of the infrastructure in place at Leyte, it would have been phenomenal, closest I can come to it was flying in to Tan Son Nhut airfield in Saigon, the ordinance and scene extended for miles upon miles.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Julia C. Tobey

    Loved your interview. So interesting to hear your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve run complicated litigation and overseen litigation on a national scale. But I am in awe of the skills required to plan and execute operations of this kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful interview over at the other site! And this eye-witness account of Leyet is a priceless glimpse into real history. Thank you. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Always love the military humor and your interview was nice. While doing some family tree research I found my great uncle’s WWII draft card.

    Like

    • I’m so glad to hear your family history search provided you with a real treasure from your great-uncle!! With us losing that generation so quickly, I’m afraid too much of these relics will be discarded haphazardly. Thankfully your relative’s card is now in trustworthy hands!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The Twentysomething Social Recluse

    Love the military humour pictures in this post haha! And I really enjoyed the interview. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Another interesting eyewitness account! The 312th landed at San Roque, Leyte on November 19th. Just imagine what it was like to move in such rainy weather! Oh yeah, and getting strafed by Japanese planes while trying to create a ramp because one LST couldn’t reach the beach. The men stayed on Leyte for seven weeks.
    Glad to read your interview as well. You did a great job! The more people that read about the Pacific Theater, the better. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Whatever I read here it’s always very interestingand goed written

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The general’s notations really brought the scene to life.. Wow, you got to meet him too! As for the interview, great answers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on KCJones and commented:
    AMTRAC (alligator) is still with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I feel empowered learning the power, grace and determination of our citizens at war.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Well done as always, GP. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I really liked both the interview and the eye-witness blog. Good work, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Don. Being such an amateur writer, each post is a struggle and the interview – well, I’ve been blogging for 4 1/2 years and this is the first interview I agreed to – CalmKate even had to prod me to advertise it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. The interview, albeit brief, did give some appreciated background.
    In the accounts, here, it is easy to be transported to that world of constant discomfort and danger – quite a relief to stop reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I enjoyed your interview, GP! And I always love these eye-witness accounts.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Can’t imagine all that mud. Also super interview, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I think the Japanese lost the entire war because they didn’t understand the magnitude of the American opposition to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we might have to add that they miscalculated the amount of American concern for the Pacific interests. They knew Europe would our primary objective. Thanks for your view, John and for always finding the time to stop in.

      Like

  20. A Fascinating interview. First hand experiences account for some much!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “He’s behind me….” Don’t we all feel like that on occasion!? 😉 😛

    Wonderful interview, GP! That is so cool! 🙂

    HUGS for Almost-Friday!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Excellent article, but I did get distracted by that final note: a personal interview. I’m headed over now to check it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. GP, I found the interview short, to the point, and informative. Good job and with this post too. I admit I’ve often wondered where you get the list of deceased and now I know. Again good job. ~~dru~~

    Liked by 1 person

  24. You might recall I featured an Alligator (with an SP gun mounted) in my photo posts last year about the Muckleburgh Collection. Very useful vehicles indeed, and easily adapted to many tasks. I am clicking over to read your interview now.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Enjoyed the interview. As I read this post, the men’s capacity for survival astounds me as always. The thought crossed my mind how lucky we are not to have enemy war camps set up all over our country and battles waging daily. I won’t get into the enemy within.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately our men are still risking their lives, but the media tends to concentrate on Trump and nothing else. We actually just had 2 KIA and one WIA last night in Afghanistan. The first thing I saw in my mind was an officer knocking on the parent’s or wife’s door to give them the fateful news.

      Like

  26. The interview answered some of the questions I had as well. Thanks for being willing to do that and maintain this blog. I’ve learned and learn a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve followed this site quite a while now, Mike, so you know my priority is to talk about the troops, but I appreciate you going over to the interview – I’m not the most exciting person to ever give an interview, that’s for certain!!

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Hi GP, loads of fans are reading your interview, well done! One chap made a comment that you might like to answer when you get time? thanks for participating

    Liked by 1 person

  28. GP, you are probably already aware of this book—With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge—but just in case you aren’t, I think it’s right up your alley. I read a review in the April 21, 2017, New York Times. It’s the author’s first hand account of his experiences in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I always enjoy the first hand accounts of the war. Such miserable conditions, ugh.

    I noticed a Hartford, CT native in your Farewell Salutes today. In checking out the life story of Jessie Kuster, I decided to use her story as my contribution to the “We Are The World” blogfest tomorrow. I’ll include a link back to this page.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. That was an interesting interview. Enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I read your interview which is quite interesting. We moved to Oyster Bay in Nassau County 47 years ago just about the time you left it. Thanks for interesting posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Pierre Lagacé

    I hope people start reuniting soon down South before it’s too late.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Pierre Lagacé

    I’m so glad I met you GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Pierre Lagacé

    A+

    Like

  35. Pierre Lagacé

    You have summed it up pretty well in that interview.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Sorry I have been absent but I have busy…hopefully it will slow down and I can get around more…have a good day….chuq

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Wonderful interview! I appreciate all you’re doing, Sir!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Thank you for mentioning me in your research, Dan.

    Like

  39. Thank you for including me on your list. These memories can teach us so much.

    Like

  1. Pingback: The Weekly Headlines – My Daily Musing

  2. Pingback: #WATWB: Jessie Kuster | No Facilities

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