Monthly Archives: October 2018

CBI – British receive POW’s / Vietnam in the picture

Japanese POWs in Malaya

“From May onwards, prisoners in a terrible state came in daily,” recorded a British gunner unit in Burma, “many of them armed with nothing more dangerous than bamboo spears, trembling with a mixture of malaria and humiliation.”

British soldiers in Burma

But if some proved ready to quit, others did not.  To the end, most Japanese who lost their ships at sea deliberately evaded Allied rescuers.  On the deck of HMS Saumarez, destroyer Captain Martin Power was directing rescue operations after sinking a Japanese convoy off the Nicobars, when he suddenly heard a “clang” against the ship.

Andaman and Nicobars Islands

Peering over the side, he saw a bald, heavily built Japanese man clinging to a scrambling net with one hand, while hammering the nose of a shell against the hull with the other.  Power drew his pistol, leaned over and whacked the man’s head.

“I could not think of anything else to do – I spoke no Japanese.  Blood streaming down his face, he looked up at me, the pistol 6 inches from his eyes, the shell in his hand…  I do not know how long I hung in this ridiculous position, eyeball to eyeball with a fanatical enemy, but it seemed too long at the time.  At last he dropped the shell into the sea, brought up his feet, and pushed off from the ship’s side like an Olympic swimmer, turned on his face and swam away.”

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By this time of the Pacific War, the Vietnam area of Indochina was in dispute.  DeGaulle demanded that the current Vichy government take a firm stand, but this was a disaster.  The Japanese had staged a pre-emptive coup against the Saigon administration.  Frenchmen became POW’s and their future fate would cause Anglo-American arguments.  When US planes arrived from China to carry out evacuations, the French were furious that the aircraft did not bring them cigarettes.

London’s Political Warfare Executive sent a directive to Mountbatten that highlighted the political and cultural complexities of the CBI: “Keep off Russo-Japanese, Russo-Chinese and Sino-Japanese relations except for official statements.  Show that a worse fate awaits Japan if her militarists force her to fight on… Continue to avoid the alleged Japanese peace feelers.”

The Dutch, French and British owners of the old Eastern empires were increasingly preoccupied with regaining their lost territories – and they were conscious that they could expect scant help from the Americans to achieve this.  The British Embassy in Washington told the Foreign Office:

“If we prosecute the Eastern War with might and main, we shall be told by some people that we are really fighting for our colonial possessions the better to exploit them and that American blood is being shed to no better purpose than to help ourselves and Dutch and French to perpetrate our degenerate colonial Empires; while if we are judged not to have gone all out, that is because we are letting America fight her own war with little aid, after having her pull our chestnuts out of the European fire.”

Quotes taken from “Retribution” by Max Hastings

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Bailey – Parma, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt., pilot, KIA

David Cruden – Hurtsville, AUS; RA Air Force # 422443, 460 & 582nd Bomber Command Squadrons

Fred Hermes Jr. – Villas, NJ; US Coast Guard, Academy Grad., Commander (Ret.)

William A. Laux – LaCrosse, WI & Arrow Lakes, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Moore – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, Captain (Ret.)

Ronald S. Richardson – Gisborne, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, Lt. Commander, pilot, KIA

Robert Stoner – Buffalo, NY; US Navy, minesweeper

Harry Thomas – Marlington, WV; US Army, WWII

Michael C. Ukaj – Johnstown, NY; USMC, Iraq (the NY limo crash on his 34th birthday)

Elwood Wells – Epsom, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Captain, 1337 A.F. Base, KIA

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Klandasan July 1st 1945

From Dennis O’Brien, a talented writer and devoted son – he remembers!

dnobrienpoetry

From Syria to Milne Bay,
At Shaggy ridge, the fall of Lae,
Two men had seen each other right,
Now one last battle left to fight.

From landing craft they hit the sand;
At Klandasan the diggers land.
The Alligators roll ahead,
But quiet and still, a man lies dead.

He thought the end within his reach,
But now he sleeps upon this beach.
His blankets are the tropic sands
And at his head his rifle stands

With slouch hat for a digger’s cross,
For those to come, to mark the loss,
As by the grave there stands his mate;
For some the war will end too late.

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Nudge In Rear Came Too Soon, So Mitchell Gunner Bombed Wrong Target In China

b25-12a

B-25, “Ormoc Bay”, by: Jack Fellows from the IHRA

By Sgt. Marion Hargrove

SOMEWHERE IN CHINA–This story has been held back for a while because the fellow was mighty sensitive about it, and he happens to be a tech sergeant, 6 feet 2 and weighing 200 pounds. He’s cooled off a little, so now it can be told.

The tech sergeant is Karl May of Yakima, Wash., an aerial engineer and gunner in one of the local Mitchell B-25 bombers. The tale goes back to the time when he was still a buck private, working as an armorer in his squadron and bucking like hell for a job on a combat crew.

They finally let him go on a few missions to try him out. He got along fine until his third trip. That was the raid on the big Jap base at Hankow, former Chinese capital, on the Yangtze.

There were two minor defects that day in the bomber to  which May was assigned: there were no racks in the ship for fragmentation bombs and the interphones were temporarily out of commission.

Well, they were working the thing out all right without fragracks or interphones. They had Pvt. May squatting by the photo hole with a stack of frag bombs and the understanding that when the turret gunner nudged him in the behind he was to cut loose with all he had.

Fragmentation bomb

It happened that the bomber had a passenger that day–maybe an observer from Washington, maybe a newspaperman, maybe just a sightseer.

This worth person grew unaccustomedly chilly, saw that the draft came from the open photo hole and decided to ask the private beside it to close it. The private – yep, it was May – had his back turned, so the passenger sought to attract his attention with a gentle nudge in the rear.

Pvt. May reacted like the eager beaver he was. He held one frag bomb over the hole and let it drop. Then he turned another loose into thin air. He was preparing to drop every bomb in the ship – until he was rudely and violently stopped. To May’s dismay he learned: 1) that the ship was nowhere near Hankow, 2) that he had been given no signal and, 3) that he had just wasted a couple hundred dollars’ worth of U.S. high explosives.

B-25 dropping frag bombs

The mission proceeded to Hankow, where May dropped the rest of  his bombs through the photo hole, an armful at a time. But his heart was heavy at the thought of having goofed previously.

When the plane returned to its base, there was an intelligence report from the Chinese Army waiting for it.  According to this report, two bombs dropped on a Japanese barge on the Yangtze had scored direct hits, sinking the barge and drowning 160 Japanese soldiers.

T/Sgt. May never tells the story himself and he gets mad when he hears anyone else tell it.  Only those who’ve seen the records will believe it.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wayne Bauer – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, WWII, ATO

Harry Carlsen – Chicago, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, 2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Images is courtesy of:
https://mywarjournals.com/

James Fleischer – Detroit, MI; US Army

John Guice – Greenville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Robert Hegel – IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 15th Air Force, navigator

Claude A. Rowe – Chuka Vista, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Tuskegee

Elizabeth Schwantes – Kaukauna, WI; US Coast Guard, WWII

Leslie Thickpenny – Pukekohe, NZ; NZ Air Force, WWII, flight engineer

Henry Wheeler (100) – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, 12th Army, Intelligence, Bronze Star

Robert Zeigler Jr. – Ft Lauderdale, FL; US Army, Korea

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CBI Theater – 1945

Stilwell Road

Fish Story along the Stillwell Road

ALONG THE STILWELL ROAD – The latest man-bites-dog incident turns out to be a fish story.
S/Sgt. Charles T. Hardin, Trenton, Tenn., power shovel operator for an Engineering Battalion along the Stilwell Road, used the world’s largest fishing tackle to bring in a 100-pound catfish out of the Dihing River.

Hardin, an engineer, was scooping up gravel from the river’s bed, as it had been his custom to do over many months since he has been in ol’ I-BT. He noticed a massive, torpedo-like form wending its way up to the spot where his shovel was operating.

Charles T. Hardin

Giving the controls a quick one-two, Hardin hit the lumbering fish with the big bucket and stunned him into insensibility. Then, skillfully maneuvering the huge snorting shovel, he hauled him in as easily as dipping for a trout.

His piscatorial prize turned out to be a white bellied catfish, measuring almost six feet from tail to teeth. As Hardin put it, “I’ve scooped up a lot of gravel to help build this road, but I never caught anything bigger than a minnow before. This time I hit the jackpot.”

After the fish was hauled off to the company area, the boys began slicing off steaks for a fish fry was contemplated.
A real tribute was paid the Stilwell Road Isaac Walton by one of his buddies, who remarked, “Old Hardin can throw that bucket anywhere he wants!”

 

Poem from CBI WWII

THE DEVIL’S DILEMMA

I met the Devil yesterday beneath a shady tree;
His head within his hand was held, his elbow on his knee.
A frown he wore upon his brow; his horns were dull with dust,
And resting on his arm I saw his pitchfork red with rust.
“Well, ” I said, “what can it be that brings you up from Hell?
From all appearances it seems that things aren’t going well.”
He gazed at me with blood-shot eyes and bade me take a seat,
And so I sat and wondered why his face bore sad defeat.

“O, Mortal, know,” he spoke, “that once I ruled a proud domain;

Within the bowels of Earth I reigned o’er punishment and pains of those were sent to me who’d lived in sin and hate,

To suffer for eternity upon hot Hades grate.
My tortures were most terrible, no others could compare,
I though I had the latest thing in fire and brimstone there
But then came war upon the Earth with tanks and planes and guns,
And implements of war ne’er seen before beneath the sun.
Now all the souls that go below who’ve failed the living test,
No longer fear my kingdom, but go as if to rest!
But I must leave; I’ve dallied long and must be on my way.
I’m off to meet St. Peter and you’ll pardon me, I pray;
I have a plan we must discuss that may unscramble this,
For Earth’s no longer what it was; it’s Hell, that’s what it is.”

 

– BY S/SGT. G. W. HICKOX

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“Okay, now we need to go to Plan B.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard Anglin – AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, P-61’s 426 Night Fighter Squadron

John Bushfield – Boise, ID; US Army, WWII, 10th Mountain Division

Smoke Angel

Virgil DeVine – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-26 tail gunner

Charles Goodwin – Haskell, TX; US Navy, Vietnam, pilot, USS Coral Sea, KIA

Charles Hayden – Vancouver, CA; RC Air Force, WWII, B-17 tail gunner

Jay Kislak – Hoboken, NJ; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Anna Newman – Sarasota, FL; Civilian, WWII,  truck driver, MacDill Air Force Base

Albert Rivoire – Pawling, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 104th Infantry Division, Bronze Star

Robert Seeber – Omaha, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Isley

Geoffrey Wright – Orewa, NZ; British Army # 14418502, WWII, ETO & CBI, Captain

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June to July on Luzon 1945

“Mopping-up”

General MacArthur relieved the headquarters of Sixth Army and I Corps of further operational responsibility on Luzon in order that the two could begin preparations for the invasion of Japan. The headquarters of Eighth Army and of XIV Corps assumed responsibility for the further conduct of operations throughout Luzon, where the only Japanese force still capable of effective, well-organized resistance was the Shobu Group.

For Sixth Army and I Corps, the meeting of the 37th Division and 11th Airborne Division units south of Aparri on 26 June had marked the strategic end of the campaign in northern Luzon. This conclusion attained considerable logic. The juncture had divided the Shobu Group’s remaining forces and had occurred while Yamashita was desperately trying to withdraw all available units into his last-stand area.

Moreover, Sixth Army estimated upon relinquishing control to Eighth Army that no more than 23,000 Japanese were left alive in northern Luzon and that these troops were disorganized and incapable of effective defensive operations. The 6th Army further estimated that only 12,000 of the 23,000 Japanese were located in the Cordillera Central between Routes 4 and 11, the rest in the Sierra Madre east of the Cagayan Valley.

XIV Corps would have under its control the USAFIP(NL), now a seasoned and reasonably well-armed force of 21,000 men supported by two U.S. Army field artillery battalions. Also under XIV Corps was the experienced Buena Vista Regiment, equivalent in size to a U.S. Army infantry regiment less supporting arms and services. All in all, it appeared that XIV Corps would become involved only in relatively easy mopping-up and patrolling operations.

The 6th Army had greatly underestimated the Japanese strength left in northern Luzon, and the 8th Army’s estimates, made upon its assumption of command, were but little closer to fact. Actually, at the end of June, close to 65,000 Japanese remained alive in northern Luzon, 13,000 of them in the Sierra Madre and 52,000 in the last-stand area between Routes 4 and 11.

Caring for injured Filipinos

Although organization, control, and morale were deteriorating, and although most of the troops were ill armed and poorly supplied, the Japanese in the last-stand area were still capable of effective resistance when the occasion demanded. The task confronting the U.S. Army and guerrilla units in northern Luzon was of far greater magnitude than any headquarters estimated at the end of June.  XIV Corps plan for operations against the remainder of the Shobu Group differed only in detail from those I Corps had previously employed.  Reduced to their simplest terms, both sets of plans called for the exertion of unremitting pressure against the Shobu Group wherever Shobu Group troops were to be found.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Anderson – Mackay, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/187th/11th Airborne Division

Francis Beecher – Norristown, PA; US Air Force, radioman

Greater love hath no man

Roy Custer Jr. – Miami, FL; US Air Force, Korea

Joseph Ferraro – Queens, NY; US Navy, WWII

Vincent Johnson – Minneapolis, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Al Kuschner – Great Neck, NY; US Navy, WWII

Carlo Lattinelli – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, Korea

Charles Merritt – San Diego, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Panamint

Allan Redmond – Chicago, IL; US Merchant Marines, WWII, engineer

James Thayer – Carlton, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, General, Bronze Star, Silver Star

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How Phosphorus was Used in the Pacific Theater During World War II

Added information. History is not always an easy subject.

IHRA

In last week’s post, we mentioned the use of white phosphorus bombs by the Japanese. We wanted to take a closer look at this weapon that really gained notoriety during the Vietnam War, what it is and how it was used during World War II. White phosphorus bombs have been in use since World War I. The element phosphorus is highly flammable and toxic, and most notable for spontaneous combustion, meaning it will catch fire if it’s left out in the open. As such, any burning bits of phosphorus are very difficult to fully extinguish. For a visual demonstration of its flammability, take a look at the video below.

The U.S. Army Air Force used white phosphorus a couple of different ways. Because this element reacts when it comes in contact with oxygen, it made an excellent smoke screen for disguising troop movements. Another use was as an incendiary against…

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From a U.S. sailor’s diary (Balikpapan)

USS Montpelier (CL-57)

Wednesday, 27 June 1945:  USS Montpelier 

The bombers started early this morning, it was 7 A.M.  The men on the 5″ and 6″ guns will be glad when we leave here.(Balikpapan).  The past 10 days they have been in those hot steel mounts and turrets passing big shells and powder cases.  They start passing the ammunition at 7:30 AM and don’t stop until 6 PM.  Then they stay up all night standing their usual watches.

James J. Fahey’s secret diary

The Australian cruiser, Hobart, one heavy cruiser and some destroyers came in today, many PT boats and gunboats also came in.  A destroyer pulled alongside with 60 bags of mail.  The air mail was only 16 days old!

The demolition squad returned to our ship this morning, they were soaking wet.  They have a very dangerous job clearing the place of mines and underwater obstacles put there by the Japs, they must have worked all night.  One of our b-25 medium bombers came in so low on a strafing run that it hit some trees and landed in the water.  One of our small boats was sent to pick up the crew, lucky for them no one was hurt.

The Australian soldiers that we have with us are always studying their maps, charts and photos.  These men are special troops and have important jobs to do when they land

War Diary of the USS Montpelier

Thursday, 28 June 1945

All hands got up at 6 AM.  We really opened up on the Japs today and so did the bombers.  When it was all over you could see nothing for miles around but thick black smoke, it rose so high into the sky for miles, it went so high that it was out of sight.  I never saw anything like it before.

There was enough black smoke here to cover many big cities, at the same time it was enough to choke you.  I don’t know how the Japs can stand it.  There were so many huge storage tanks exploding and so many miles of Borneo were blacked out that it looked like the end of the world.

Today while we were covering the demolition crew, the Jap machine-guns opened up on them, they had some casualties.  They had a very rugged job to do, they were in the water near shore and the Japs were looking at them not too far away.

They must have ice water in their veins, no wonder it is such a tough outfit to join.  I can see why they have such heavy casualties.  The Japs gave them a hot time with their machine-guns and mortars.  The demolition crew set off long chains of explosions. They have to clear a path in the water for our landing craft…..

There is a big wall and many steel posts plus mines.  The demolition men can stay under water for a long time, but when they come up, the Japs open up on them.  We fired back and knocked out their guns and crews.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Barton – Streator, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 193rd Ordnance Co./5th Air Force

John Clement – Quantico, VA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Fred Frevert – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 38th Infantry Division

Noel Grimm – Hudson, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., M.P.

Robert Hagan Sr. – PA; US Air Force, Captain, pilot

Frederick Hopkins – New Plymouth, NZ; J Force # 444837, WWII, PTO

Stanly Kretowski – Cobourg, CAN; Canadian Army, WWII, ETO

Vinnie O’Hare – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Charles Slade Jr. – Saginaw, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Jerry A. Williams – Phoenix, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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