Monthly Archives: January 2019

The 11th Airborne on Okinawa

C-47’s of the 54th Troop Carrier Group

Saturday, 11 August 1945, top secret orders were delivered to General Swing for the division to be prepared to move to Okinawa at any time. The division G-3, Colonel Quandt, called Colonel Pearson, “This is an Alert. Have your regiment [187th] ready to move out by air forty-eight hours from now.” Commanders throughout the 11th A/B had their men reassembled, even those on weekend passes had been found and brought back to camp.

11th Airborne

The lead elements left Luzon immediately. At 0630 hours on the 13th, trucks brought the 187th to Nichols and Nielson Fields for transport and they landed at 1645 hours that afternoon at Naha, Kadena and Yotan Fields on Okinawa. They would remain on the island for two weeks.

It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted 11,100 men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply. Eighty-six men remained on Luzon long enough to bring the 187th’s organizational equipment to Okinawa by ship.

Jeeps being stored

Okinawa, as one of the islands being “beefed-up” with supplies, men and materiel, quickly became significantly congested; it is only 877 square miles. One day would be unbearably hot and the next would bring the heavy rains that created small rivers running passed their pup tents. The troopers were back to cooking their 10-in-1, ‘C’ or ‘K’ rations on squad cookers or eaten cold.

Okinawa cave (in good weather)

A typhoon crossed the island and the men were forced to live on the sides of hills with their pup tents ballooning like parachutes and taking off in the wind. In the hills were numerous old Okinawan tombs that the Japanese troops had adapted into pillboxes and these helped to protect the men from the storms.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Bickel – Madison, TN; US Army, WWII, 85th Infantry

Douglas Clark – Portland, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Roy Dillon – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

Jonathan R. Farmer – Boynton Beach, FL; US Army, Syria, Chief Warrant Officer, 3/5th Special Forces Group, 2 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart, KIA

Shannon M. Kent – NY; US Navy, Syria, Chief Cryptologic Technician, KIA

Wilsey Lloyd – Florence, CO; US Navy, WWII

Margaret Psaila – Louisville, GA; US Army WAC, WWII

William Schmitt – Anchorage, AK; USMC, WWII & Korea

Arthur Taylor – Mortlake, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, Dunkirk

Scott A. Wirtz – St. Louis, MO; Civilian, Dept. of Defense, Syria, former US Navy SEAL, KIA

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Lady Luck’s Unlucky Day

The 11th Airborne Division need not speculate any longer as the 5th Air Force prepares to move them to Okinawa!

Thanks to the historians of the IHRA, we can now have some answers.

IHRA

After the atomic bombs were dropped, but before a Japanese surrender had been negotiated, V Bomber Command was busy moving troops and equipment to Okinawa. The 22nd and 43rd bomb groups were also enlisted to ferry troops, as all the C-46s and C-47s were already in use. While the B-24’s potential as a troop carrier may have looked good on paper, the logistics behind turning these bombers into transport aircraft subjected passengers to a potentially deadly situation. The ideal location for extra passengers would have been closer to the tail of the aircraft, but that would make the plane much more difficult to fly. Instead, passengers had to ride on precarious wooden seats installed in the bomb bay.

The 11th Airborne Division was selected to drop onto Atsugi Airdrome as part of the Army of Occupation if the Japanese were to surrender. First, though, they had to be moved from…

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11th Airborne Division – rumors fly

11th Airborne Division jump school, Lipa, Luzon, 1945

The intensity of the Air Corps Troops Carrier Group’s training and the establishment of the division’s 3rd parachute school at Lipa, Luzon started many rumors floating about the division area.

The more practical savants had the division jumping ahead of the forces invading Japan; others thought China a more obvious choice; and still other amateur strategists thought that Formosa would make a fine DZ.  But, of course, none of these courses of action was to be.

Gen. Joseph M. Swing

At the end of July, Gen. Swing called John Conable into his makeshift office in a schoolhouse outside Lipa.  Gen. Swing introduced Conable to an Air Corps Major.  The Major asked Conable how many planes it would take to move the division about 800 air miles.  Conable remembers:

I asked General Swing how many units of fire he wanted.  He said figure on a quarter of a unit.  To say that I was surprised is a major understatement.  The Old Man never wanted to go anywhere without at least two units of fire.

Then the General added:  “Be sure to bring the band in one of the early serials.”  The Major and I went back to my desk.  I got out the plans I had for Olympic.

While he was looking at them, I excused myself and went into the map room.  It was just 800 miles from Okinawa to Tokyo!  Both the Major and I were worried about gasoline.  A C-46 or 47 didn’t have enough fuel capacity to make a 1,600 mile round trip.  He left with the number of men, weight, and volume of mortars, jeeps, etc.  No more was said.

But the incident caused Major Conable to consider that there was definitely “something different in the wind.”  And indeed there was!!

The 5th Air Force (FEAF) were operating in both the CBI Theater and still on Luzon to support the ground forces, along with the USMC.  All the existing units of the Air Corps in the Pacific were in motion at this time; moving their bases to more effective locations.

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Military Humor – When the WAC’s took over!       Humor by: Pfc Everett Smith in New Guinea

“TOO MUCH BEER LAST NIGHT, MISS PRINGLE?”

“DAMN THESE G.I. LATRINES!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Matthew Brown – Massapequa, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Co. F/152 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Donald Edge – Fayetteville, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

11th Airborne Memorial at Tagatay, P.I.

Brian Garfield – Tucson, AZ; US Army / author of: “The Thousand-Mile War”

Joe Jackson – Newman, GA; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 32 y.), U-2 pilot, Medal of Honor

Robert Leroy – Langley, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/3/511/11th Airborne Division

Jeremy Nash – ENG; British Navy, WWII, ETO, weapons officer HMS Proteus, Commander (Ret.)

Alfred K. Newman – Bloomfield, NM; USMC, WWII, PTO, Code Talker, 1/21/3rd Marine Division

Elmer Patrick – Monticello, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/188/11th Airborne Division

Clarence Strobel – Stockton, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/ 188th/11th Airborne Division

Michael C. Vasey Sr. – Roseburg, OR; US Army, Vietnam, Military Police, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), 2 Bronze Stars

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August 1945 – James Fahey’ Diary

USS Montpelier

From: The Secret Diary of an American Sailor, Seaman First ClassJames J. Fahey aboard the USS Montpelier :

2 August – All hands rose at 4:30 am because of storm warnings, the ships turned back 110 miles from Shanghai.  A typhoon is heading towards our position.  We will then travel south and patrol around until the danger passes.  The sea was full of enormous swells today.

3 August – It was very chilly on the midnight to 4 am watch.  The sea was very rough.  All hands were up for sunrise General Quarters at 4:30 am.  We were to refuel the destroyers today but could not because of the condition of the ocean.

The radio reported that 820 B-29 super forts hit Japan — 819 planes returned to their home bases.  It was the largest raid in history.  They dropped 6600 tons of bombs.

Clement Attlee defeated Churchill in the election for Prime Minister of England.  The Detroit Tigers are in first place by 3 games in the American League.  A B-25 medium bomber crashed into the Empire State Building in NYC.  Fourteen were killed and many suffered injuries.

The weather cleared and we headed up the China coast again.  Capt. Gorry spoke over the loudspeaker informing us that we were 140 miles from Shanghai.  We will advance north of the mouth of the Yangtze River and then proceed to the one fathom curve.  The battle cruisers, Guam and Alaska will not go up as far as us..  We will return and join the cruiser at approximately 2:30 am.

It will be a very dangerous mission because of the many reefs we could be grounded upon.  I wonder what Fleet Admiral Nimitz has in mind when he made plans to send us up there.  This is a very bold undertaking.

4 August –  We cruised up the Yangtze River in the heart of Jap-held territory.  The only ship we came across was a Chinese fishing schooner.  It was very chilly on watch again.  During the day we patrolled about 150 miles from Shanghai.  We refueled a destroyer in the morning.  In the afternoon we fired at sleeves that were towed by our carrier planes.

5 August – We left the Yangtze River.  Last night we came close to ramming a 1000-pound mine, but we detected it in time.  A destroyer blew it up with machine-gun fire.  The explosion was terrific.

Our practice was interrupted today because of Jap airplanes.  Our CAP combat air patrol planes from our carriers went after them.  The Japs dropped their bombs in the water and ran for home, but our fighters caught up to one and shot it down.  Our fighters shot down a couple more around 4:30.   It must have burned the Japs to see us having practice in their own backyard.  Sunday mass was held in the crew’s lounge.

James Fahey

6 August – The weather was very clear and sunny as we went to General Quarters.  Jap bombers were overhead at 30,000 feet.  We held our fire.  They looked like little white spots in the sky.  It took some time to locate them.  They were directly overhead and remained there for some time.  But as they positioned themselves in formation, they headed away from the fleet.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

“AND WHAT’S MORE, YOU CAN EXPECT A PRETTY STRONG LETTER FROM MY MOTHER, SO THERE!!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Walter Ashley – Bristol, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-26 tail gunner, 320th Bomb Group

Arthur Bleecher – Denver, CO; Merchant Marine, WWII, radio operator / US Army, Korea, Antiaircraft , Bronze Star

Malcolm Foster – Milford, DE; US Army, WWII

Clarence Helgren – Elgin, TX US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co G/511/11th Airborne Division

William Matthews – Brewster, MA; US Navy, WWII

Wendell O’Steen – Meigs, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Interpreter / Korea

William Pollard – Pleasantville, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., antiaircraft

Kenneth Stetson – CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 pilot

Charles Troeller – Lehigh Acres, FL; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Thomas Zinglo – Hollywood, FL; USMC, Korea

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The British Unsung Hero of Burma

Major Hugh Paul Seagrim

Major Hugh Paul Seagrim

For all the heroes that became famous, there are just as many that did heroic deeds which, for them, was their duty. One of them, British Major Hugh Paul Seagrim, dedicated his life to resisting Japanese forces when they invaded Burma.

Seagrim was born in Hampshire, England in 1909. He was schooled at Norwich and then joined the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. In 1929 he obtained a commission in the British Indian army. He was sent to Burma and before long was accepted by the Karens, forming close friendships.

British in Burma

Burma, now called Myanmar, is situated west of Laos and Thailand in Southeast Asia. It was a colony of Great Britain from 1886 until 1948. The different major ethnic groups living in Myanmar are Burmans, Karen, Shan, Chinese, Mon, and Indian.

Most Indonesian countries regarded the British as haughty foreigners, who looked down on the native peoples while exploiting their land. They were pleased to find none of those traits in Seagrim.

He discarded his uniform, grew a beard and due to the sun his skin turned brown. The Major was always identifiable due to his extreme height of six feet four and earned the nickname “Grandfather Longlegs” from his men. He was a calm, grounded man who always put his men first and was kind to everyone.

Stuart tank advancing on Rangoon

In 1940, the Japanese invaded Burma, with their objective being the conquest of India. Over three hundred thousand British soldiers were forced to withdraw. Seagrim, however, stayed and fought.

The Burmans had their own Independent Army, which sided with the Japanese against the Karen, who possessed only crossbows for protection. Seagrim and his men hid in the jungle and obtained food and weapons when they could. Forced to move around to keep out of reach of the Japanese, they slept in crude bamboo huts and often had to eat rats. The Major was a man of faith and held a daily prayer service for those whose families had been converted to Christianity by missionaries in the 1800s.

After about a year of guerrilla warfare, the Japanese were aware of Seagrim and his men. Having by then lost their ability to wage war, they spied on the Japanese and relayed information to the British in India. Seagrim begged for reinforcements but to no avail.

The frustrated Japanese began attacking the Karen villages to flush the Major out of the jungle. One of their victims finally gave in after horrendous torture and revealed the location of the guerrilla army. As many as three hundred Japanese soldiers closed in on the area, but Seagrim and his men escaped.

Japanese firing squad

Rather than put the Karens in any more danger, the Major decided to surrender. He was taken to the “Rangoon Ritz,” a notoriously brutal prison. All through his captivity, the Major kept his poise, good humor and ability to walk with his head held high. He pleaded for the lives of his men, pointing out that he was the spy, not the Karens. When Seagrim refused to do what the guards told him, he did so courteously. He would not bow or show any submission but did so without animosity. Just his presence buoyed the spirits of the other prisoners.

After being sentenced to death by a Japanese tribunal, and ordered to dig their own graves, Seagrim and seven of his men were executed on September 22, 1944, as they were singing a hymn.

Seagrim posthumously received the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; the Distinguished Service Order and the George Cross.

The medals are on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military in the Movies – 

General admission – Private showing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Adams – Cincinnati, OH; US Navy, WWII

John Bauer – Furth, BAV; US Army, WWII, ETO & Nuremberg Trials, MIS Interpreter “Richie Boys”

Harold Dawson – Bartow, FL; US Army, WWII

Allen Glenn – Great Mills, MD; US Navy, ATC, Vietnam, Desert Shield & Desert Storm

Gerard Gorsuch – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Bonnie Jackson – Edgar, AZ; US Army Air Corps,WAC, WWII

Jack Moyers – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Christina Neigel – Verendrye, ND; Civilian, Red Cross, WWII

Robert Sommer – Woodstock, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 gunner

Frederick Wheeler – Concord, MA; Civilian, WWII, ETO, ambulance driver

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Dexter – The Last US Naval Horse

Naval Square, Philadelphia, PA, the 24-acre plot of land on Grays Ferry Avenue has been associated with the Navy since 1827 and has the unusual distinction of being the final resting place of Dexter, the Navy’s last working horse.

The Philadelphia Naval Asylum, a hospital, opened there in 1827.

From 1838 until 1845, the site also served as the precursor to the U.S. Naval Academy, until the officers training school opened in Annapolis with seven instructors, four of them from Philadelphia.

In 1889, its name was changed to the Naval Home to reflect its role as a retirement home for old salts, as they used to call retired sailors.

It was in the service of the Naval Home that Dexter came to Philadelphia.

Originally an Army artillery horse foaled in 1934, Dexter was transferred to the Navy in 1945 to haul a trash cart around the Naval Home.

Despite his lowly duties, the men — only men lived there — loved him.

“That horse was more human than animal,” Edward Pohler, chief of security at the home, told the Inquirer in 1968. “He had the run of the grounds and would come to the door of my office every day to beg for an apple or a lump of sugar.”

The chestnut gelding was retired in 1966 and sent to a farm in Exton, but that did not last long. Naval Home residents who missed him committed to paying the $50 monthly bill for his feed and care.

For two years he grazed on a three-acre field that residents dubbed Dexter Park.

But on July, 11, 1968, Dexter, who had stopped eating and was not responding to medication, died at the age of 34 in his stall with a little human intervention to make it pain-free.

The next day, 400 people, including Navy men in dress uniform, turned out for a burial with full military honors.

Dexter was placed in a casket measuring 9 feet long, 5 feet wide, and 5 feet deep, with an American flag draped on the top. Retired Rear Adm. M.F.D. Flaherty, the home’s governor, offered final words, saying, “Dexter was no ordinary horse.”

As the casket was lowered by a crane into the 15-foot-deep grave, Gilbert Blunt rolled the drum and Jerry Rizzo played “Taps” on his trumpet. Members of the honor guard folded the flag into a triangle of white stars on a blue field and presented it to Albert A. Brenneke, a retired aviation mechanic and former farm boy from Missouri who was Dexter’s groom.

Brenneke recalled Dexter fondly, saying the horse was “very gentle and playful” and “liked to nibble on you,” according to news coverage of the funeral.

No sign exists marking Dexter’s final place.

The pasture, however, did not remain empty for long.

According to the December 1968 issue of the Navy magazine All Hands, a retired 16-year-old Fairmount Park Police horse named Tallyho took up residence at the Naval Home after Dexter’s death.

But, unlike Dexter, Tallyho, a bay gelding, was a gift to the home’s residents and did not receive an official Navy serial number.

“As was the case with Dexter, Tallyho’s only duty will be to contribute to the happiness of the men who share their retirement with him at the U.S. Naval Home,” the magazine said.

What happened to Tallyho after he went to the Naval Home is not clear.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

UH_OH !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard Acord – Frankfort, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, LST-1135

T. Moffit Burris – SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

William Davis – Scottsdale, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lawrence Greenhouse – Syracuse, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Alva Jackson Cremean – Madera, CA; USMC, WWII, KIA (Pearl)

Charlene Kelly – Spokane, WA; Civilian, aircraft dispatcher, Spokane Army Air Field

Willie Lawrence – Camden, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS St. Louis, (Ret. 20 y.)

Joseph Pigeon – Wausau, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 555th Heavy Pontoon Batt/Corps of Engineers

Sheldon ‘Mike’ Rosenkranz – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Dorothy Weichman – Plainfield, NJ; Civilian, Red Cross, WWII

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“Flying Pancake” – Vought V-173

Flying Pancake, V-173

Flying Pancake, V-173

The Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” was an American experimental test aircraft designed by Charles H. Zimmerman and was built as part of the Vought XF5U “Flying Flapjack” World War II United States Navy fighter aircraft program.

Both the V-173 and the XF5U featured a rather unorthodox “all-wing” design consisting of flat, somewhat disk-shaped bodies (hence the name) serving as the lifting surface. Two piston engines buried in the body drove propellers located on the leading edge at the wing tips.

The original prototype, designated the V-173, was built of wood and canvas and featured a regular, fully symmetrical aerofoil section. Designed as a “proof-of-concept” prototype, the initial configuration V-173 was built as a lightweight test model powered by two 80 hp Continental A-80 engines turning F4U Corsair propellers.

These were later replaced by a pair of specially modified 16 ft 6 in three-bladed units. A tall, fixed main undercarriage combined with a small tailwheel gave the aircraft a 22° “nose-high” angle.

Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942
Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942

The disc wing design featured a low aspect ratio that overcame the built-in disadvantages of induced drag created at the wingtips with the large propellers actively cancelling the drag-causing tip vortices.

The propellers were arranged to rotate in the opposite direction to the tip vortices, allowing the aircraft to fly with a much smaller wing area. The small wing provided high maneuverability with greater structural strength.

In January 1942, the Bureau of Aeronautics requested a proposal for two prototype aircraft of an experimental version of the V-173, known as the VS-135.

The development version, the Vought XF5U-1, was a larger aircraft with all-metal construction and was almost five times heavier than the first prototype.

1428_25
Diagram of the complicated powertrain

The first flight of the V-173 was on 23 November 1942 with Vought Chief Test Pilot Boone Guyton at the controls. The aircraft’s most significant problem concerned its complicated gearbox that routed power from the engines to its two long propeller shafts.

The gearbox produced unacceptable amounts of vibration in ground testing, delaying the aircraft’s first test flight for months.

Vought V-173

Vought V-173

Charles Lindbergh piloted the V-173 during this time and found that it was surprisingly easy to handle and exhibited impressive low-speed capabilities.

On one occasion, the V-173 was forced to make an emergency landing on a beach. As the pilot made his final approach, he noticed two bathers directly in his path. The pilot locked the aircraft’s brakes on landing, causing it to flip over onto its back.

Maiden Flight for the V-173

Maiden Flight for the V-173

Remarkably, the airframe proved so strong that neither the plane nor the pilot sustained any significant damage.

The developmental V-173 made its last flight 31 March 1947. In 131.8 hours of flying over 190 flights, Zimmerman’s theory of a near-vertical takeoff and landing-capable fighter had been proven.

The V-173 is now part of the Smithsonian collection at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland.

V-173 on display

V-173 on display

It was restored at the Vought Aircraft plant in Grand Prairie, Texas, as of April 2012 it is on loan to the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas.

This 3-minute video shows the model and actual plane flying.

 

Article is from War History online.

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Military Humor –

funny-speed-enforcement1

Speed limit enforced by aircraft.

Watch out for speed traps !!

Watch out for speed traps !!

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Lee Alexander – Ashton, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Atereiti Blair – NZ; NZ Air Force, WWII, nurse

Rufus Britt – Gassville, AR; US Navy, WWII, electrician, USS O’Toole

John Cotton – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Richard Ennis – WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW

Roland Hayes Jr. – Shelbourne, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Nelon “Tex” LaCount – Syracuse, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, Sgt.

Georges Loinger (108) – Strasbourg, FRA; French Army, POW (escaped), French Resistance

Victor Mellen – W. Pelham, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., navigator

Stephen O’Brien – Dubuque, IA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Doris (Gradwell) Plagenhoef – Scarbourgh, ME; US Army WAC, WWII, PTO, nurse

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