11th Airborne Division – May 1945 (2)

187th HQ Company, from 11th Airborne Yearbook 1943

After the fall of Mount Macolod, the one remaining Japanese stronghold in the 11th A/B’s area of operation on Luzon was Mount Malepunyo, a welter of conical hills covered with tangled rainforest and bamboo thickets surrounded by slopes and interlaced with sharp ridges.  There were no roads within the 30-square-mile area of the mountain.

Gen. Griswold felt that Malepunyo was such a formidable Japanese bastion that he planned to give Gen. Swing the 1st Cavalry to use along with Swing’s 11th A/B.  But – just before the operation was to take place, Griswold would only attach the 8th Calvary Regiment .

The 187th Regiment of the 11th A/B, shorthanded and weary after fighting for Mt. Macolod, was sent to Tiaong, to prevent enemy escape on the east.  This would put them around the north shore of Lake Taal.  The 188th was moved to Alaminos on the south and kept the 8th Calvary at the “Grand Canyon” at the northeast and the 511th on their right flank.

Gen. Farrell gathered 7 battalions of artillery and spread them out around the foot of the mountain.  When the operation went into affect, fighter-bombers pounded the Japanese strongholds.  The American paratroopers could actually see the enemy race underground and to their positions when they hear the aircraft overhead.

Major Davy Carnahan of the 187th said, “We had ambushes up and down the river for a distance of about 10 miles, endeavoring to cover every possible crossing.  In those ambushes we accounted for some 4 hundred Japanese captured or killed.

About 2400 hrs. one night, movement across the bridges was noticed.  …  The surprise was complete and deadly, some 100 enemy being killed and wounded, including some high-ranking officers.  The strange looking objects seen on the bridge turned out to be sedan chairs that all the Japanese officers were being carried in.”  [The troopers would later discover that Gen. Fujishige’s auto had broken down back in March.  But the general was not being carried, he walked out leading 200 men and was not captured here.]

Carrying out the wounded, 11th Airborne Div.

At the end of May, the 187th was sent to Manila to relieve the 20th infantry.  The city was in dire straits.  Vast areas had been destroyed, industry was non-existent, they had very little in the way of utilities, there was no police force and dance halls were springing up on every corner.

Smitty was not here, but as part of Gen. Swing’s service staff, he would have been with his general.  Plans were heavily into talks about the invasion of Japan.

According to the 11th A/B’s G-4 officer, Major John Conable, “We were to be the lead division of XVIII Airborne Corps under Gen. Ridgeway.  Our division and the 13th Airborne Division were to parachute onto the peninsula forming the east side of Tokyo Bay and establish a beachhead for a couple of armored divisions…. I can remember poring over aerial photographs of the area, trying to find some decent jump fields.  We didn’t find any.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Bond Jr. – Bradford, PA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Brunk – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division, Chaplain

Stanley Chambers – Ipswich, ENG; Royal Air Force, WWII / British Navy, pilot (Ret. 44 y.)

Peter Firmin – Harwich, ENG; British Navy, (artist)

James Furcinito – Syracuse, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Joe Gondarilla – Oxnard, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Kenneth Herrell – Manchester, TN; US Army

Clarence Mayotte – Webster, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 5th Armored Division

Ronald Spetalnick – Far Rockaway, NY; US Air Force, SSgt., Flight Instructor

Arnold Tolbert – Williston, SC; US Air Force

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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 July 6, 2018, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. Your posts really bring the moments to life gp, somewhere there must be great photographs stored that relate to these moments in war.
    Always enjoy reading your posts mate, informative and well recorded.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That means a lot coming from you, Ian. Thank you, I appreciate it. You know, there was a correspondent, Frank Smith, from Chicago, IL that traveled with the 11th Airborne – but I have as yet not been able to find his material, just a photo of him. I know there has to be more documentation.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Always worth a stop-over to read your snippets and glean another piece of worthwhile information.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That photo of the ridgeline of Mount Malepunyo certainly helps to give a sense of what the men were facing. One little detail in the description of Manila did stop me in my tracks: the fact that dance halls were springing up on every corner. Was “dance hall” code for something else, or were they simply a way for a weary and desperate civilian population to find a bit of enjoyment?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Don’t say it enough but love your posts and pics….inspiring is the word I was looking for. What was accomplished in those conditions…amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean, that generation will always astound me!
      [I don’t expect you to comment on each post, Kirt. We have been following each other for quite some time and I understand what it means to have too little time to comment on everyone’s site. It is i who owes you the apology!]

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Officers travelling by sedan chair seems a really nice way to get around. And you’d have the added benefit of it being a fine way to develop the strength of the regimental boxers and other sportsmen. And as they got stronger you could add a little armour plating, day by day a little more, to develop those muscles slowly but surely.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Invading Japan. They – and us – were likely lucky that didn’t manifest.
    Horrific as the bombs were they surely saved more lives and years of warfare.
    My God.

    Liked by 2 people

    • True, but I still have trouble wrapping my head around some other facts. I don’t believe that was why we dropped the bombs, it was just happens to be the result that history shows.

      Like

  7. This is very interesting reading all these stories about battles of the Pacific war.

    Most of the History of the Second World World which is taught in Canadian schools (back in the days when they still taught history in Canadian schools) had to deal with the war in Europe and the Atlantic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As it is in most schools, Christopher. Most of our immigrants were from Europe and it was easier for the US and Canada to associate. In the Pacific, there were islands and nations that very few ever heard of and had no idea where they were.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You have to feel relief for these men that they didn’t have to parachute onto Japan. It woud have been very difficult to survive.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The Japanese had much more in underground reserves than we expected.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That is why all the new wave history types don’t know what they are talking about when the bomb is discussed. Had to have saved millions of lives.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I’m certain it did, John. I just don’t believe that was the reason it was dropped.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Certainly it wasn’t the only reason, but that’s the most credible that published history offers us.
            Either way, I’m very grateful and am sure the ghosts of Pearl Harbor watched with some degree of satisfaction—I certainly would have.
            Innocent civilians? It wasn’t only swabbies and grunts that went under the mallet at PH, so the precedent was set;sow the wind, reap the typhoon.

            The alternative was horrendous—the whole of Japan, Okinawa style defence-in-depth and a conventional invasion against someone with nothing to lose … brrrrrr …

            Liked by 1 person

          • You’ve said a couple of times that you don’t believe that was the reason the bombs were dropped. What do you think was the reason?

            Liked by 1 person

            • As always, Bev – money and a President’s legacy. The Manhattan Project cost 2 Billion dollars, an equivalent of 23 Billion today. It was created without the knowledge of Congress, a completely secret operation despite having 130,000 employees. FDR and Truman (when he finally was told about it) knew eventually that that much money spent would one day be discovered. If the Bomb wasn’t dropped, how would that look and how would they explain spending so much money that could have gone for other war materials?

              Like

  9. Always amazed at the pictures you find, GP. They share almost as much as the words.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. After the heavy fighting at Mt. Macolod, there was no reprieve for the U.S. troops. I learned something new today about Batangas. Interesting to read about the action around Taal Lake. Thanks GP. Another topic I can discuss with Mom if and ever I get back home.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Ik denk dat mensen in gevaarlijke situaties en dat is oorlog ook,in overlevingsmodus gaan.en zich afsluiten voor al de rest.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Do you know why the officers would be allowed to be carried if the general walked?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The thought of being part of a parachute assault on the Japanese mainland must have been a sobering prospect indeed. How fortuitous that they never had to do that.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • After looking into the different planned operations and discovering just how much Japan had stockpiled underground being held in reserve for just such an invasion – is shocking.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I am trying (and failing) to imagine how these men, who were so weary, could somehow carry on.

    Liked by 1 person

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