Gen. Kenney on the End of 1944

90st Bombardment Group; 5th Air Force; 319th, B-24s

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

“Just before dark on 26 December, a Navy Reconnaissance plane sighted a Jap naval force of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 6 destroyers about 85 miles NW of Mindoro {Philippines], headed toward San Jose.  We had available on out 2 strips there, 12 B-25s from the 71s Recon Squadron, the 58th Fighter Group (P-47s), the 8th Fighter Group (P-38s and the 110 Tactical Recon Squadron (P-40s).

“Every airplane that could fly took off on the attack, which continued until after midnight.  The Japs kept on coming and the planes kept shuttling back and forth, emptying their bomb racks and ammunition belts and returning for more.  In addition to the difficulty of locating and attacking the Nip vessels in the dark, the enemy made the job still harder by bombing our airdromes at intervals through the night.

Gen. MacArthur & Gen. Kenney

“In order to see what they were bombing and strafing, some of our pilots actually turned their landing lights on the Jap naval vessels.  With neither time nor information for briefings during the operation, it was every man for himself and probably the wildest scramble the Nip or ourselves had ever been in.

“Ar 11:00 P.M. the enemy fleet started shelling our fields and kept it up for an hour.  Fires broke out in our gasoline dumps, airplanes were hit, the runways pitted, but the kids still kept up their attack.  The P-47s couldn’t get at their bomb dump because of the fire, so they simply loaded up with ammunition and strafed the decks of every ship in the Jap force.  They said it was “like flying over a blast furnace, with all those guns firing at us.”

“Shortly after midnight. the Jap fleet turned around and headed north. They had been hurt.  A destroyer had been sunk and a cruiser and 2 destroyers heavily damaged.

“The attack had saved our shipping at San Jose from destruction, but it had cost us something too.  Twenty-five fighter pilots and B-25 crew members missing.  We had lost 2 B-25s and 29 fighter aircraft.  During the next few days we picked up 16 of the kids who were still floating around the China Sea in their life rafts.  I got Gen. MacArthur to approve a citation for each of the units that took part in the show.

Lt. Phyllis Hocking, 36 Evac Hospital, Palo, Leyte at Church of Transfiguration

On the 30th, Lt.Col. Howard S. Ellmore, a likable, happy-go-lucky, little blond boy from Shreveport, LA, leading the 417th Attack Group, the “Sky Lancers” caught a Jap convoy in Lingayen Gulf, off Vigan on the west coast of Luzon.  In a whirlwind low-level attack, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, 2 large freighters and one smaller were sunk.

“It was a fitting climax to 1944, which had been an advance from Finschaven to Mindoro, a distance of 2400 miles, equal to that from Washington to San Francisco.  During that time, my kids had sunk a half million tons of Jap shipping and destroyed 3000 Jap aircraft.  Our losses of aircraft in combat during the year were 818.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hazel Bogaard – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army WAC, WWII, CBI, 142nd General Hospital ship, 2nd Lt.

John S. Czyscon – NY Mills, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 711th Ordnance Co./188th parachute Reg./11th Airborne Div.

A soldier’s death

Norman Fraser Sr. – No. York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Raymond Hall – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4213081, WWII, PTO

Virgil Motsinger – Eugene, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Anzio (CVE-57)

Jack O’Neill – OR & CA; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Robert E. Oxford – Concord, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “The Hump”, 1st Lt., KIA

Bobby Stubbs – Sedalia, MO; Korea & Vietnam, Captain (Ret.)

Adam West – Walla Walla, WA; US Army, American Forces Network, (beloved actor)

Vincent Vann Higginbotham Sr. – Springer, OK; US Merchant Marine, 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 June 12, 2017, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 48 Comments.

  1. Love that B-24 photo! Sky Pirates! Thanks for sharing ..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The way these brave men improvised was never covered by any book written.
    I salute them

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, you are so right. My dad was a good example, but you can also find a lot of their “inventions” when you read up on the Army engineers and Navy SeaBees.

      Like

  3. Love that B-24 photo! Sky Pirates!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There were some heavy losses on that mission. Sounds like it was incredibly chaotic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s the way Kenney described it. Frankly, ‘every man for himself’ doesn’t sound like anything like a situation they were trained for!!
      BTW – the Tag problem is finally fixed. WP Support apologized for overlooking my 3 requests for assistance. [what they did notice was my comment on a thread they were in the process of helping].

      Like

  5. Both cartoons link to the same cartoon~?

    The popular (propagated) myth was that the Japs needed those bottle-bottom spectacles ‘cos they were all almost blind. The discovery was that they could all see in the dark … as always, truth lies where we find it.

    So many untold tales, GP. Thanks again for bringing these out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading here, Argus. And about the cartoons. I thought I had fixed that before publishing – guess I was wrong. Finally got my Tag problem fixed, what glitch is in store for this site now?!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Even as much WWII history as I have read, I continue to marvel at what our troops accomplished to end that epic global conflagration … This post is another example of what those men and women mustered themselves to accomplish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As I have said so often – the more I learn about that generation, the more truly amazed I am by them. From WWI to the Great Depression and slap into WWII… incredible survivors!!

      Like

  7. Amazing spirit. I love how the General referred to these heroes with the term of endearment, ‘kids.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow! What a scary night! 😦

    Thank you for sharing this with us, GP. You take us right into the thick of things and we need to go there…we need to know, and we need to remember. I always think about how many of these MEN were so young…18-20-something.

    So many people these days are whiners and complainers and they have never had to step up and do anything of significance. I wish they could read these important stories you share here on your blog.

    Wow. Adam West “Batman” was in the army. I had noticed a few days ago that he died at age 88. RIP Mr. West

    I hope you have a good week this week!
    (((HUGS))) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, for reading and for having the attitude that you do. The whiners won’t read stories like this, they know they’re lazy and nothing but moochers, but the truth is hard to look at in the eye. We’ll never see another generation like this one!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. “my kids”…it’s quite extraordinary how so many men of such tender years stepped up to the plate when their time came. Quite extraordinary!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This list of heroes are many aren’t they. Thank God for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a story. We just won’t give up, will we?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those “kids”, as Kenney called them, kept their minds on getting the enemy before he got them, racking-up their ‘numbers’ and flight times. Remember at 20 years old – we thought we were invincible too!

      Like

  12. What a hectic battle indeed. Over in Europe, things were also stepping up, as the last year of the war loomed. It was as if they knew, on both sides of the world. That last big push.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Floating around in the ocean, waiting for someone to possibly come by and pick them up, must have left those downed pilots feeling very anxious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In a battle like that, I would imagine so. Often when an aircraft goes down, another will fly past it and let them know they were seen and their location recorded, but during this melee, I doubt anyone was even sure where they were!!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Wow, sounds like one heck of a wild night. 31 planes down, I can see why they talked about flying over a blast furnace.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Just saw where Lt Gen. Sam Wilson, AUS, “Merrill’s Marauders” veteran and a pioneer of Special Operations Warfare passed away at age 93. Truly a distinguished soldier and American patriot.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. GP, I search to see if you have chronicled your experiences and wealth of information in a book but couldn’t find any. That would be a treasure for anyone’s library.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So much for the holidays. It must have been hard for men on both sides. Scary to even think about.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pierre Lagacé

    The war was far from over in the latter part of 1944, both in the Pacific and elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. I’ll be pausing at this point to have the Intermission stories, but so much starts going on now – everywhere – it really is difficult to get even a snippet about it all!!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Pierre Lagacé

    So many unsung heroes…

    Liked by 1 person

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