Occupation – Olympiad and Comfort !

11th Airborne troopers attempting to start a coal-burning vehicle.

 

While some of the troopers continued to await the arrival of the good ole’ American jeeps to replace the coal-burning vehicles in Japan, General Swing was striving to make the occupation as bearable as possible. They had endured some horrendous hardships and accomplished more than anyone expected from them and he felt they deserved whatever he could provide. On his orders, a Japanese auditorium was transformed into the 11th Airborne Coliseum. The complex was large enough to hold a theater that would seat 2,500, four basketball courts, a poolroom with 100 tables, a boxing arena that held 4,000 spectators, six bowling alleys and a training room.

Front gate of HQ Camp Schimmelpfennig

Aside from the sports theme, the coliseum contained a Special Services office, a snack bar, a Red Cross office and a library. I can just picture my father spending some off-duty time in the poolroom or bowling alley. When I was growing up, we had a pool table in the basement and Smitty would teach me how every shot was related to angles and geometry. My aim improved – once I figured it out.

NCO Club

In the fall of 1945, an Olympian was held in Tokyo for all the troops stationed in Japan and Korea. Football became the highlighted game. The 11th A/B Division coach, Lt. Eugene Bruce brought them to winning the Japan-Korea championship. They then went on to take the Hawaiian All-Stars in Mejii Stadium with a score of 18-0. This meant that the 11th Airborne Division held the All-Pacific Championship. The troopers went on to win in so many other sports that by the time the finals were held for the boxing tournament at Sendai, the headlines read in the Stars and Stripes sports section:
Ho-Hum, It’s the Angels Again”

Matsushima Park Hotel

On the reverse side of the photo seen above, Smitty wrote, “This is the hotel where we are now staying. That dot in the driveway is me.” The 11th A/B commander had made his home here on 16 September. After the occupation, it re-opened for business as a hotel, but unfortunately was destroyed by fire on 2 March 1969.

Smitty on far right

Smitty on far right

The division had a reputation for mission accomplishment despite being nearly half the size of other divisions. This was often attributed to their somewhat unorthodox methods. This carried over into their occupation of Japan. General Swing converted an old Japanese factory and had it turning out American-style furniture for the troops. General Headquarters wasn’t very happy about the project because they wanted the Japanese to build furniture for the entire command. But Swing was not one to wait for all the red tape. After General Eichelberger inspected the better-than-GHQ- standard brick barracks under construction, he said to Swing, “Joe, I don’t know whether to court-martial you or commend you.” (Later on, he was commending Swing.)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

TO GO BEFORE WE LEFT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Verne Budahn – Mankato, MN; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class, KIA

Harvey Dumsday – Toronto, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO

Edward Fischer – Park Forest, IL; US Navy, WWII, LST Quartermaster

Lyman Hale Jr. – Syracuse, NY; US Army, Korea, Medical Corps

Leo Latlip – Hallowell, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Missouri

Walter McGill Jr. – Norwich, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO / Korea

Ray Rigby – Rexburg, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 Flight Engineer

Clarence Roberts – Brownwood, TX; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin

Philip Schwhitzer – York, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/221/11th Airborne Division

Ebert VanBuren – Monroe, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 96th Infantry 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 July 8, 2019, in SMITTY, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 84 Comments.

  1. I like Swing’s unorthodox methods of getting done what needed to get done.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Don’t know whether to admire that Coliseum gp, or view it as a bit of overkill under the circumstances in a defeated country, then again it demonstrates a military mindset in caring for the soldiers at the time.
    Cheers

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You should compile your posts and publish them into a book!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I really love this blog!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. GP, this is a great R&R post. You hooked me with the caption on the first photo. WWII steampunk! Excellent!
    You do a great job of showing so many different aspects of the era. Hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That’s an extensive set up they had, it would almost make it a pleasure to be there!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This was wonderful! What an amazing thing to do for out troops. I had no idea there were vehicles run on coal. Great post, GP.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Maybe Smitty could have improved my play

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Your dad was lucky to have served under General Swing. He certainly stuck up for his troops and tried to make life a bit more enjoyable for them.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The way I’ve heard him described and how Smitty felt, he was the ideal leader. He brought a large percentage of his men home compared to other generals too – so Yes, I am glad he served under him as well! Thanks, Bev!

      Like

  10. The sport and entertainment program for the troops is incredible; great to learn about it, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I have watched every episode of MASH.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. That must have been a huge auditorium. It must have felt so good to relax after everything they’d been through.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Even with the end of fighting, it is clear there was a lot to do, when they got home they must have gotten used to weariness. But they were an inventive and energised lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. These facilities allowed American soldiers to enjoy the amenities of America at no or low cost to them, and were a welcome service even to this day. My only complaint against them is they also helped create the barracks rat, a person who could be stationed abroad and never take a chance to experience those other cultures.

    One of my roommates in Germany was a barracks rat. He worked as a supply clerk during the day, ate all his meals on the Kaserne, never experienced more of Germany than a bus trip across Kaiserslautern from Kleber Kaserne to Vogelweh on the other side of town, wherre there was an additional larger PX and other servives. What a waste!

    We tried to include him when we went out for a restaurant meal on the economy or day trips to places of nearby interest – Schloss Heidelberg, the Deutsche Weinstrasse, even the nearby Pfaelzerwald, with its pleasant nature walks – but he never joined us, never gave a n reason more than he just didn’t want to!

    Other than a few German nationals working in the company and the guy who collected fares on the city bus, he barely encountered a single German during his entire time in the country.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m sure there were some who just couldn’t adjust to working side by side with someone who used to be the enemy. The only complaints I heard from my father were about the replacements. They had had no experience with respecting the formidable enemy they had been up against. No experience in combat and had very little training. To put it mildly, Smitty had no respect for the way the replacements showing up in Japan acted. He would have wanted them to be barracks rats.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have no problem understanding how those who fought against the Axis soldiers, especially the Germans and Japanese, might have a different attitude about them than replacements who didn’t experience the fight. It must have been especially odd how the Japanese went from being suicidal SOBs to passive little puppies in an instant. Of course, some in the outposts didn’t give up the fight for decades, but mostly the surrender seemd to go without much resistance than one might expect. The US troops who experienced the suicidal SOB’s, reasonably, might question just how pacified they post war Japanese were. The replacement troops would be moire interested in experiencing the geisha houses and the tourist aspects of the occupioed country, I imagine. As for Germany, I think the occupation forces experienced more resistance from former Nazis.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I would agree. The Japanese reversal was odd to some, but those who listened to their superiors trying to explain the culture would grow to understand their obedience to the Emperor – and being as they had been at war far longer than the U.S., they were tired and ready for change. The replacements came in with the attitude that they were conquering race and the Japanese were beneath them, they were arrogant and rude – that did not sit well with Smitty at all.

          Liked by 1 person

          • That’s true! And, of course, MacArthur recognized the importance of leaving the emperor in place, though there was some interests whoi wanted to try him as a war criminal,if I recall my history.

            A friend gave me a LIFE magazine with the same cover date as my day of birth in March 1948. In it, there was a long article about a poetry contest sponsored by Hirohito each year. It was generally positive and respectful. I guess Americans by then were more open to Japan and its culture by then. No more “Jap” this or that. Of course, that was the year the Berlin airlift started, which helped shift the attitude about the Germans toward a more positive place.

            Interesting how the most vicious enemies of that war turned around and became staunch allies in subsequent years, and the Soviet allies became our biggest adversary! Says a lot about the American diplomatic leadership that chose to help our vaquished enemies rebuild instead of approaching the war’s end as a chance to further destroy their economies through decades long occupations, reparations, and confiscations of factories, like the Soviets did on their side of the Iron Curtain.

            Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m old enough to remember the latter year or two of WWII. I much appreciate seeing these recollections.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. What a wonderful thing for the troops over there. I have to say, I am always impressed with the facilities on military bases. El Paso is just amazing–and open to the community. And Okinawa was wonderful. Soldiers get a little bit of home even far away.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I learn things from reading your blog that I could never learn in a history book (maybe a well written historical novel, but..) Have you considered some historical fiction?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. General Swing certainly knew how to take of his troops. Providing decent living conditions, sports and entertainment is the best reward after the job is done. My interest always perks up when you show pictures and tell stories about your dad, GP.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Great memes today GP! The radio one is very relatable!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Swing was a good chap!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. The soldier on the phone with his mom? I am positive that happened!

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Wow, were all those amenities already in the Coliseum or did they have to be added? I wonder how long it took to make all these renovations.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. I remember my father who was in the Eighty First Division mentioning General Swing, but not sure why he did. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • He might have crossed Swing’s path on just about any island the 81st went to. He may have participated in the ‘war games’ in North Carolina or Louisiana. And Swing had commanded quite a few units. I’d have to look into it further to say for certain.

      Like

  24. You don’t read much about what they did after the fighting stopped. Glad to read your account of what accommodations and activities they had during the occupation making them feel at home. Most of them probably just wanted to head home. Love the cartoon with the soldier talking to his mom.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Once again you have unearthed some fascinating and interesting details of their life at the time. Thanks as always.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. It is so interesting to get this insight into the extensive arrangements made for the occupying forces. I had never imagined that the top brass went to so much trouble to make the men feel at home.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

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