8th Army – Gearing Up For Luzon

Gen. Eichelberger (C) w/ Gen. Swing (R)

21 January 1945 – Gen. Swing announced to his 11th Airborne Division that he was ordering up a review as they were transferring to the 8th Army and the reviewing officer would be none other than Gen. Robert Eichelberger.  Swing had received Field Order Number 17 which gave him the order to prepare for Luzon.

Luzon was the most populated, most highly developed and the historical island in the archipelago.  It was a land of wild boars, birds, snakes, reptiles, feral dogs, tons of insects and an enemy hiding within the cogon grass at every turn. (the plant had coarse spikes with “silky” hairs that made your skin feel as those hundreds of critters crawled beneath it.)  There was always a threat of dengue fever, that is contracted from a mosquito and if left untreated resulted in bleeding and death, and we can’t forget malaria.

The 6th Army, under Gen. Krueger, was already in the midst of all this trying to reach Manila.  MacArthur had told Eichelberger how upset he was at their slow progress to get to the capital and added, “speed up your ‘palsey-walsey,’ Krueger doesn’t radiate courage.”  Ergo – a rivalry was born and a race between the 6th and 8th Armies would exist – the problem was – the 11th A/B had been given more than one priority as their mission.

As X-Day approached, the pace of activity increased dramatically.  The division’s supply loading plan put the responsibility on the unit commanders.  The G-4, Roy Stout, set up a special section to load the 11th and all ran efficiently despite not knowing what vessels the Navy would be sending.  But on 25 January, most of the supply ships were completely loaded within 24 hours.

The LCI’s (Landing Craft Infantry), arrived at 0700 hours on 27 January and a convoy of almost 100 ships pulled out to sea that afternoon,under the command of Adm. Fechteler, and headed south through Mindanao Sea and then swung north.  The LCI’s were crowded and there were no cooking facilities, the men ate “10-in-1” rations rather than having the customary steak and eggs before a landing.

Most of the sailing days were spent in map study, planning and orientation.  All the troopers would be so well briefed on the terrain from aerial photographs and mock-up reliefs that their landing somehow felt like deja-vu.  Excess baggage was not carried – only what the men could carry on their backs.  Personal baggage would not be seen for 2 months.

General Eichelberger wrote his wife, Miss Em, of the beauty in watching the large naval convoy and he marveled at their expertise.  He noted the Navy’s ability to keep their sense of humor, despite the seriousness of their voyage.  Before landing on 31 January, he heard over the loud speaker system, “Sick call _ all sick, lame and lazy report to sick bay.”  He also commented that Gen. Swing was grand to deal with.

Eichelberger would write in his book, “Now the stage was set for what I regard as one of the most thrilling exploits for the Pacific War – the 11th Airborne’s dash for Manila”

References: “Our Road to Tokyo”, by Gen. Robert Eichelberger; “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division,” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Melton Austin – Live Oak, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Air-Sea Rescue Squad

Dave Barnett – Charlotte, NC; US Army, WWII, PTO

Charles Cooper III – Dover, DE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Capt., USS Hornet, Washington & San Diego

William Darr Jr. – Dyer, AR; US Army, WWII

Mihail Golin – Riga, LAT; US Army, Iran & Afghanistan, Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Jacob Hagopian – Providence, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, Col.(Ret.), 11th A/B & 82nd A/B divisions

Ben Jones – Chestertown, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

Joseph Medina (103) – MN; US Army, WWII, PTO

Chester Roberts Sr. – Coatesville, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Ronald Scott – Claremore, OK; US Air Force, Vietnam, Col., pilot, Silver Star, KIA

Vito Truglio – Staten Island, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Shangri-la

Marjorie Harris White – Creswick, AUS; AWAS # 11483, 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 January 4, 2018, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 96 Comments.

  1. The imagery in that account is unbelievable gp, 100 ships off shore must have been an incredible sight, I often think of war photographer moments when reading your articles, history in the making in real time moments.
    Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to given the photographers loads of credit. Their equipment was heavy, bulky and certainly difficult to use under normal circumstances, yet we now have photos and videos of actual combat – amazing men!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello GP, and Welcome to 2018 – my first visit in the new year. Phew!
    Luzon sounds just awful … even without war.
    Breaks my heart for those soldiers

    Liked by 1 person

    • Welcome to 2018 over here at Pacific Paratrooper, LB!! Hope the holidays treated you well.
      We never realized what our fathers and grandfathers endured over there.

      Like

  3. Cogon grass sounds like its own kind of torture.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “…Memories are made of this…” and we must never forget all those who made the ultimate sacrifice, but the suffering caused by world leaders jumping on their high horses has caused the untimely death of millions throughout history. I wish it were possible to make those leaders punch the hell out of each other before they press their red buttons of whatever size. Thank you for your amazing trips into the past.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Gripping reading – and thanks for liking my post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Screw combat, just going through this place would be hell enough. Amazing what they were able to achieve back in these times and the scope of what they were facing really takes your breath away.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mustang Koji went over there a few years ago to participate in a Japanese ceremony. He had relatives on both sides , plus he took a letter from me to represent my father. He said the same as you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Luzon is a jungle, Japanese soldiers also died of malaria ,dysentery ,starved without foods ,self-determined .
    His Majesty the Emperor visited Philippines in 2017 .
    Japanese soldiers who fought for the independence of Philippines returned home Japan and After there was a warm interaction between Filipino families left in the field and Japanese New families.
    The Emperor heared about it and was pleased.

    On New Year ‘s holidays, I heard various things about ” Tokko “.
    At the Missouri Memorial Hall in Hawaii, I learned that American soldiers showed respect for Japanese soldiers as “the same fighter”.
    I thought that since soldiers who really fought on the battlefield were more aware of each other’s “battle of life and death” than general people like me, they understood truly.

    After All,I like Americans,too.
    I am glad to be able to come this blog.
    Sincerely Dr.GP Cox. :D

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Niet te verwonderen dat er zoveel onheil was met al die gevaarlijke insecten .de militaire humor kan ik wel smaken.

    Like

  9. Boy, that Navy Officer cartoon has got a funny point. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks to our “joint” pilgrimage with Smitty and my uncle in mind, I did get to experience the cogongrass and its irritating rubs on our legs first hand. In certain areas, it was so thick that soldier can be hiding in it and you could pass within a foot without detection.
    https://www.flickr.com/gp/p47koji/536192

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Our dear friend GP Cox
    We wish you a happy new year with lots of great moments and, of course, health and good luck.
    We feel a bit bad as we don’t comment here that much. We always read your blog and learn a lot from it but we don’t really know what to comment. We don’t know enough about the war in the Pacific and about the different armies. It’s like another world for us you make us understand. Nevertheless we want to say we are so happy to learn about this other world and get our eyes 👀 opened up to it. Thank a lot for your brilliant work and being our loyal friend
    The Fab Four of Cley

    Liked by 3 people

    • I can well understand you not commenting about the Pacific, Klausbernd, and no need to apologize. I don’t feel qualified to comment on fiction stories and poetry, but sometimes I’ll put in my 2 cents. It’s hard NOT to comment on your posts, the photography, history of the area, beautiful scenery – a whole different ball of wax.
      I’m happy you learn from the site, as that is my main goal. School systems don’t teach it much any more and I feel that’s the next generation’s loss.
      GP Cox

      Liked by 3 people

  12. This was the big push to get to Manila. I can just imagine what the soldiers had to deal with besides the Japanese – thick jungles with poisonous snakes, wild boars, insects and diseases. I salute them for what they did for the Filipinos.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. “Sick call _ all sick, lame and lazy report to sick bay.”

    And as an adjunct, this came over the speaker:

    “All those whose granduncle died for the eleventh time, no, you’re not getting time off too.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love animals, but not that particular combination!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank-you for sharing these stories with us

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post! I especially like the military humor!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. A propose the hilarious sick parade announcement, my father, who fought from ’39 to ’45 in the northern hemisphere, used to say that if sick parade was big, then morale was poor, and vice versa…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. GP: Todays cartoon crack me up: “He always gives me such a nice wave”…brilliant! Where do you find them…I love them!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I have to admit that one thing I always forget about in this theatre of the war is the prevalence of so many terrible diseases and all of those insects, snakes etc. I for one could not have managed even the spiders let alone the Japanese!!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I loved that sick call announcement. Thanks, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Interesting how the spoken word can set up rivalries or spur activity. The “Sick Call” made me wonder if that was a true call. Did the lazy or weak decide to take sick call rather than put their lives on the line?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure there was a bad apple here and there – there’s always one no matter what the situation, right?! But rest assured, no lazy one got a free ride!!

      Like

  22. Luzon sounds like hell on Earth! How anyone survived there, let alone fought there, is incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

  23. The army was really great vby the time of Luzon!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. GP, shaking my head at the shear horror of the troops dealing with that harsh environment. Our military are the bravest men! Thanks so much for all the war history posts. 📚 Christine

    Liked by 1 person

  25. RT, GP. I am constantly amazed how many stories there are about brave soldiers.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. As several others – including you – commented, it is really amazing they were able to fight as they did when their biggest and most persistent enemy was the climate and topography of the Philippines!

    BTW – I’ve meant to comment previously – I like your sidebar item on how to properly fold the U.S. flag.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to be asked so often if I knew how to fold the flag properly, so I searched around the internet for that graphic – it sure saves on explaining. Thanks for stopping b!

      Like

  27. The race to Manila reminded me of George Patton’s victorious race to Messina, Sicily, when he beat the British in capturing it first.

    Liked by 2 people

    • VERY much the same, Peter! There will also be another reminder for you when the 11th goes into Japan and their band plays for the Cavalry when they storm ashore later!! Human nature is very different from one ocean to another, eh? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Those not-so-subtle hints of competition among men and units were interesting. While competition can get out of control, and mess up even the best of plans, it can be a great motivator, too, and it seems as thogh that happened here.

    I’ve had malaria, and it’s no picnic. But dengue’s another critter altogether. I know a couple of people who’ve had it and survived, but they don’t call it “break bone fever” for nothing. Apparently the pain can be so bad it feels like every bone in your body is breaking.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are correct, Linda. Here the competition got Gen. Kreuger moving and being as the 6th was moving south and the 8th army was going north, they didn’t interfere in each others’ operations – so here it was healthy.
      Smitty had developed a small case of malaria and I witnessed one relapse – if that’s what he considered small, I feel really bad for those who had worse!! Dengue, I’ve never seen or dealt with, so I’ll take your word on it!

      Like

  29. The organisational skills are a wonder!

    Liked by 1 person

  30. When I was stationed in the Philippines, I had a girlfriend from Bataan. I remember taking the Victory Liner from Subic Bay to her village, Lamao, and seeing all the markers–memorials–that marked the long death march and other events. I remember too the warm feeling I had when old Filipinos wanted to shake my hand as if they were touching memories from the past. I wish I had been more aware at the time of just how much war Filipinos experienced. These posts about the battle for the Philippines are wonderful, just as the Filipinos are a wonderful, friendly, open people.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. At times, it seems as if the Japanese were only an incidental enemy. Fighting nature was just as difficult, and caused almost as many casualties too.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I can’t imagine being, let alone fighting in that environment. It’s hard to imagine a place where even the plants seem like they’re out to get you.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. You have given me some insights that are not available elsewhere. Looking at it, I wonder how on earth they all got through, massive task and such risk.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Phyllis Rogers

    Reblogged this on Life On The Lake and commented:
    If you are an history buff, like me, you will like this site. The author, GP Cox does a tremendous job in researching and developing his stories about an era of pride for Americans, when she was going through the battles of WWII. Give it a look. I think you’ll like it.

    Liked by 1 person

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