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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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 October 1, 2018, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 81 Comments.

  1. Here is the 2nd poem GP

    Battle of Balikpapan

    Was the first of July and the war all but won
    But the foe wouldn’t bow to the bomb or the gun
    So a mighty fleet gathered off Borneo’s coast
    Under Douglas MacArthur – the lord of the host.

    And he knew as he gazed at these ships on the waves
    He was sending survivors at last to their graves
    For these men battle hardened by six years of war
    Were a sacrifice sent in to settle a score.

    In a month would Japan by a maelstrom be lashed
    As its cities to atoms were shattered and smashed,
    But the Empire must burn, the inferno be fanned,
    And the battle be joined, so he gave the command,

    And the land burst to flame like a funeral pyre
    As the rocket ships streamed to the beaches their fire
    And the smoke black and choking rose high in a cloud
    Where it lay o’er the carnage – a simmering shroud.

    As the fleet from their guns sent their salvos to land,
    Where the broadsides spewed skyward the souls and the sand
    And the blasted earth heaved as the very air burned
    As to oil were the guns of the battleships turned.

    And the shells tore and twisted the towering tanks.
    Burning oil spilled and blistered the cowering ranks
    As defenders, defeated, lay dying or dead,
    Shone the sun through the dark of the sky bloody red.

    As the men to their landing craft clambered and fell
    And they braced for the fight as they breasted the swell
    As with rifles bows bristled and shells rent the air
    O’er their heads as they whistled a song of despair,

    As they swiftly surged on through the sea’s salty spray
    To the beach scorched and peppered, a ribbon of grey,
    The defenders’ defiant artillery blazed
    As the troops hit the shore and the Southern Cross raised

    And the Rising Sun rent, but was still much to fight,
    Not so easily quelled was the Emperor’s might
    For each bunker must yield up the mad and the brave
    And the flame throwers make every pillbox a grave.

    And each yard of ground gained did it come at a cost,
    And each hour of each day were so many lives lost,
    For the Japanese fought without care of their life
    But no digger now sought for a widow his wife.

    And the war it was ending, the finish was near,
    But there’s many the soldier would find his rest here,
    For these men of Kokoda, that pitiless track,
    From this last gasp of war, they would never come back.

    D.N. O’Brien

    {In memory of the men of the 7th division AIF and in particular my father,
    Sgt A.N. O’Brien 2nd/31st Battalion
    Also of the U.S. troops who manned the alligators and other landing craft}

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Here is one of the poems GP, as promised – there is another one which I will send a little later.

    Klandasan July 1st 1945

    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.

    D.N. O’Brien

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Informatie uit een dagboen,dichter kan je niet bij de waarheid staan en die zwarte verstikkende rook zal zeker geen lachertje geweest zijn

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love reading these accounts of the war in the Pacific

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Loved to have read those war diaries GP try as I might I just couldn’t get them to enlarge.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Interesting sailor’s view of one of the last battles of WW2 in the Pacific.
    Predominantly carried out by Aussie troops (with a Dutch battalion amongst them), the operation was aimed at ‘preserving’ (read capturing) the Balikpapan refineries more or less intact and to establish a forward airfield.
    It was another hard slogging campaign for the diggers and one of the few carried out on former Dutch territory in the closing days of the Pacific war.
    Excellent post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you. I was glad to see Fahey mention the Australians they had on board ship with them. And I’m thrilled that someone, such as yourself, who knows so much more about this campaign than I,approves of this post. Thank you.

      Like

  7. The real, first hand stories are a history treasure. They are the true meaning behind ‘never forget’. Thank you, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I never heard of this source before and will be able to use it. I appreciate the excerpt!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m glad there were no global warming folks back then. They’d demanded “green” shells and bombs to help the environment… plus banned straws.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think it would have mattered back the, those people were unified with one mission in mind. The this country went into the spending money stage in the ’50’s to sue-happy in the courts in the 70’s & 80’s slap into “what can I be offended with today?” mode. And here we sit, a country about to split down the middle and we don’t know how we got here or why – everyone has a different reason for not agreeing with anyone else.
      Heck, I’m confused enough to give up!!

      Like

  10. We are so used to war films and current carnage that I sometimes have to remind myself, with the aid of such accounts, just how staggering these sights must have been at the time

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “Hook? What hook?”
    HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
    🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Crew on some ships were told not to keep diaries. Fortunately, many sailors did anyway and it is wonderful to read their accounts.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ice water in their veins. Fascinating to see how one soldier felt about what was happening.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. No matter what war we are talking about, those letters from home were of great importance…even if they were slow at getting there.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. It’s always amazing to read about the unsung heroes in these battles.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. BTW, I did not get the email notifying me of this post and your last one. Usually I get it in the morning when I check my email. Nothing last Thursday and today. I know you’re consistent but maybe it’s my computer. I ended up looking at WordPress and check you out. Weird.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Love reading this kind of posts. You got the feel of the place and the minute details of what was going on. Keep it coming GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. It is always good to sprinkle in some eye-witness accounts from ordinary soldiers to get an authentic feel for those difficult times in the Pacific. These stories make your blog so interesting to read, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. These first-person accounts are fascinating, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Great post! War diaries are almost always a great read. I remember reading one years ago called Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis that was really great. I believe it was made required reading for all USMC Officer Candidates at one time.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. The diaries and personal perspectives are always my favourites.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I’m going to look for this book.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Thank you very much GP, for this information. Never heared and seen before about a war diary. Have a nice week ahead. Michael

    Liked by 2 people

    • I spent a week out of town, most of it fun. Then came home to chaos on my computer because it was 6 1/2 years old. So hear I am on a notebook I know little about – wish me luck this week!!!!

      Like

  24. Diaries are the best way of knowing what it was really like for our soldiers. Thank you, GP.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. More great personal recollections of some difficult fighting. It shows the importance of mail from home, that they still shipped it out to vessels in combat.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 4 people

  26. The personal stories are so good. I could read them all.

    Liked by 3 people

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