Monthly Archives: June 2020

WWII Canine Heroes

Search and Rescue dogs

U.S. Army launches Canine Units

On March 13, 1942, the Quartermaster Corps (QMC) of the United States Army begins training dogs for the newly established War Dog Program, or “K-9 Corps.”

Well over a million dogs served on both sides during WWI, carrying messages along the complex network of trenches and providing some measure of psychological comfort to the soldiers. The most famous dog to emerge from the war was Rin Tin Tin, an abandoned puppy of German war dogs found in France in 1918.

When the country entered WWII in December 1941, the American Kennel Association and a group called Dogs for Defense began a movement to mobilize dog owners to donate healthy and capable animals to the Quartermaster Corps of the U.S. Army. Training began in March 1942, and that fall the QMC was given the task of training dogs for the U.S. Navy, Marines and Coast Guard as well.

The K-9 Corps initially accepted over 30 breeds of dogs, but the list was soon narrowed to seven: German Shepherds, Belgian sheep dogs, Doberman Pinschers, collies, Siberian Huskies, Malumutes and Eskimo dogs. Members of the K-9 Corps were trained for a total of 8 to 12 weeks. After basic obedience training, they were sent through one of four specialized programs to prepare them for work as sentry dogs, scout or patrol dogs, messenger dogs or mine-detection dogs.

The top canine hero of World War II was Chips, a German Shepherd who served with the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division. Trained as a sentry dog, Chips broke away from his handlers and attacked an enemy machine gun nest in Italy, forcing the entire crew to surrender. The wounded Chips was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

U.S. Marine Corps’ War Dogs!

As early as 1935, the Marines were interested in war dogs. They had experienced the enemy’s’ sentry dogs used in Haiti and in the other “Banana Wars” in Central America where dogs staked around guerrilla camps in the jungle sounded the alarm at the approach of the Marines.

The very first Marine War Dog Training School was located at Quantico Bay, Cuba, on January 18, 1943, under the direction of Captain Samuel T. Brick. Fourteen Doberman Pinschers were donated by the Baltimore, Maryland and Canton, Ohio members of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America. An old warehouse served as both headquarters and kennels.

The school’s location was short lived, however. A week later, the War Dog Training Center had been established at Camp Knox, site of a former CCC camp at Camp Lejeune, NC.   They were soon joined by a Boxer named Fritz, the very first dog sworn and signed into the Marine Corp.

Camp leJeune, 1943, Higgins boat training

Dogs For Defense wasn’t the only organization recruiting dogs for the armed services, in 1942 the Doberman Pinscher Club of America was formally approached to procure Dobes for the newly formed Marine Corps War Dog Training Facility at Camp LeJeune, New River, North Carolina.

The Marine dogs were named “Devildogs,” a name, that the Marines earned during WWI, fighting against the Germans. There were also Labs, German Shepherds and other breeds, that were obtained from the Army’s Quartermaster Corps. Actually towards the end of the war, German Shepherds replaced the Dobermans, as the preferred breed. Arriving in Camp LeJeune NC, the new canine recruits were first entered in a forty-page dog service record book. The Marine Corps was the only branch of the service to have such a record for their dogs.

Dobes began their training as Privates. They were promoted on the basis of their length of service. After three months the Dobe became a Private First Class, one year a Corporal, two years a Sergeant, three years a Platoon Sergeant, four years a Gunner Sergeant, and after five years a Master Gunner Sergeant. The Dobes could eventually outrank their handlers.

During World War II, a total of seven Marine War Dog Platoons were trained at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. All of the dog platoons served in the Pacific in the war against the Japanese.

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The First War Dog Platoon, was commanded by Lt. Clyde A. Henderson, and served with the 2nd Raider Battalion on Bougainville. From this and other units, the First Marine Brigade was formed and invaded Guam along with the Third Marine Division and the 77th Army Division.

More units were added to form the 6th Marine Division which invaded Okinawa. The First War Dog Platoon saw action on Bougainville, Guam, and Okinawa. The 2nd, commanded by Lt. William T. Taylor and 3rd War Dog Platoons, commanded by 1st Lt. William W. Putney, saw action on Guam (Lt. Putney was also the vet for both the 2nd and 3rd platoon), Morotai, Guadalcanal, Aitape, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok.

Because of the Dobes’ keen sense of smell and hearing, they could detect the presence of men several hundred yards away. In one instance, the dogs detected the presence of Jap troops one half mile away.

The Dobes’ handlers always had help digging their foxholes, the other Marines always wanted the handler and their dogs nearby.

No unit protected by one of the dogs was ever ambushed by the Japanese or was there ever a case of Japanese infiltration.

Putney War Dog Monument

More than 1,000 dogs had trained as Marine Devil Dogs during World War II. Rolo, one of the first to join the Devil Dogs, was the first Marine dog to be killed in action. 29 war dogs were listed as killed in action, 25 of those deaths occurred on the island of Guam. Today, the U.S. Marine Corp maintains a War Memorial (created by former 1st Lt. William W. Putney, who was the veterinarian for the dogs on Guam; and funded by public donation), on Guam, for those 25 War Dogs that served and died there during WW II.

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Current Military Dog News – 

 Navy working dog donates blood to save Air Force colleague !

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2020/06/25/navy-working-dog-donates-blood-save-air-force-canine-colleague.html

 

For a more modern story, author DC Gilbert recommends: 

No Ordinary Dog: My Partner from the SEAL Teams to the Bin Laden Raid

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John H. Autry IV – Hamlet, NC; US Army, Vietnam, Sgt., 82nd Airborne Division & 75th Rangers, Bronze Star & Purple Heart

Nick Bravo-Regules – Largo, FL; US Army, Jordon, Spc., 2/43/11th ADA Brigade

Okinawa

John Bethea – Sturgis, MS; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division + 173rd A/B Brigade, West Point graduate, Colonel (Ret. 21 y.)

James Cowan – Fort Myers, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Arnold Gittelson – CA; USMC, WWII, 1st Sgt.

John Holmes – Selma, AL; US Army, WWII

Francis Kennedy – Pittston, PA; US Army, Korea, artillery spotter, Silver Star, 2 Purple Hearts

Frank Strahorn – Clinto, MD; USMC, Iraq & Afghanistan

Earl Urish – IL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Phillip “Joe” Woodward – Wabash, IN; US Army, Korea, 37 FAB/2nd Division, 3 Bronze Stars

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Short view of WWII Pacific Army Medicine

Buna casualty arrives at the 171st Station Hospital, at Port Moresby, Papua, Dec 42. This 500-bed Hospital arrived at Port Moresby early December and operated together with the 153d Sta Hosp, the 10th Evac Hosp, and a provisional Battalion of the 135th Med Regt. Because of malaria, those patients who, after treatment, were expected to remain unfit for duty more than 14 days, were usually sent to mainland Australia (Townsville or Brisbane).

Every combat Theater of WW2 had its unique medical history, but nowhere did disease pose a greater threat to the American G.I. and to military operations than in the bitter war against Japan!
US Armed Forces faced the dual challenges of fighting and supporting its troops in primitive, largely tropical environments, burdened by severe logistical problems.

View of one of the early Hospitals, located at the Advance Base, Port Moresby, Papua, Aug 42. As military operations in the region increased, basic medical facilities expanded, and by end of 42, new installations including General Hospitals, Field Hospitals, Portable Surgical Hospitals, and a Medical Supply Depot were built.

The first medical build-up was essentially based on expanding medical facilities and depots, constructing new hospitals, and revising medical contingency plans. The next project called for a more elaborate defense of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, under a new command; the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) under Lt. General Douglas MacArthur.
The war against Japan was fought in an immense area that covered roughly 1/3 of the earth’s surface! Although most of the decisive battles took place on the islands in the Pacific, inevitably bringing American Forces closer the Japanese mainland; fighting also occurred on mainland Asia.

Port Dispensary Tent on Biak Island, New Guinea, Aug 44. The large US Base (Base “H”) opened on Biak in Aug 44 under Col. August W. Splitter, MC. The 28th Hosp Cen operating on the island included 3 Gen Hosp and 1 Sta Hosp. From end Nov 44, evacuation took place by air, and C-54 aircraft carried patients directly to the ZI, via Guadalcanal, Canton Is., and Honolulu.

Distances were enormous, and everything could only be moved by sea or air – climates varied as well as landforms and included cold wind-swept Aleutians, jungle-clad Melanesian islands, palm-fringed Micronesia atolls, damp and tropical heat, volcanic islands, complex landmasses, steep mountain ranges, wooded high plateaus, rain forests, dense jungles – environmental  conditions brought its own characteristic medical consequences involving frostbite, trenchfoot, malaria, fever, and jungle rot … All those elements had to be taken into account by the Medical Department, although none of the diseases were normally fatal, they could nevertheless put soldiers out of action as effectively as combat casualties.

36th Evacuation Hospital, at Palo, Leyte, Philippines, October 44. The 36th Evac Hosp (supporting X Army Corps) was set up in the San Salvador Cathedral. It served, together with the 58th Evac Hosp, in the Leyte and Luzon Campaigns.

Until the very last months of the fighting, the US Medical Department faced immense obstacles – supply lines were tenuous and environmental conditions almost intolerable, malaria epidemics broke out, logistical difficulties beset medical planners, diseases took their toll, medical support often broke down, amphibious medical evacuation had to be revised, and yet altogether death rates from disease were only slightly over 1 / 1000 troops / per year!
New methods of preventive medicine were created, logistics were improved, and recent discoveries were now provided on a large scale, such as Penicillin – Atabrine – and DDT. The ultimate lesson may however lie in the flexibility of spirit and organization shown by medical personnel, who were able to save lives and improve general health conditions during those years of bitter and unrelenting struggle for peace – in those harsh times the Medical Department successfully maintained the ‘fighting strength of the Army’.

View of Seagrave Hospital (formally activated as the 896th Med Clr Co in Oct 44) treating casualties in the open, near Myitkyina, Burma. The Hospital in fact operated like a mobile Evacuation Hospital, and whenever feasible, severe medical cases were either evacuated by rail or by air. During the campaign to capture Myitkyina, the Seagrave Hospital, supported by personnel of the 42d and 58th Ptbl Surg Hosp and a surgical team from the 25th Fld Hosp, treated American, British, Chinese, Indian, and Kachin wounded (and later also Japanese PWs). Dr. Gordon S. Seagrave was an American medical missionary running a Hospital close to the Burma Road and the Chinese border, his wide experience and organization were very much appreciated by both British and US authorities, and he was therefore sworn into the US Army as a Major in the Medical Corps on 21 Apr 42.

General Hospitals

1st GEN HOSP – 23 Dec 41 Philippines (also designated General Hospital No. 1)
2d GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 42 Philippines (also designated General Hospital No. 2)
4th GEN HOSP – 23 Jan 42 Australia (ex-56th GEN HOSP, activated 1 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 12 Oct 43)
8th GEN HOSP – 27 Nov 42 New Caledonia
9th GEN HOSP – 31 Jul 43 Guadalcanal – 45 Papua-New Guinea (activated 15 Jul 42)
13th GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 New Guinea (activated 15 Jan 43)
18th GEN HOSP – 12 Jun 42 N. Zealand – 3 Oct 42 Fiji Islands – Sep 44 Ledo Road (India) – 12 Mar 45 Myitkyina, (Burma) (activated 20 Apr 42) (closed 5 Oct 45) (return to ZI 24 Nov 45)
18th GEN HOSP – 26 May 42 New Zealand – 45 Burma (ex-222d GEN HOSP, activated 16 Jun 41, supplied cadres for other units, 1 Apr 44, redesignated 134th GEN HOSP)
20th GEN HOSP – 19 Jan 43 India – Dec 43 Burma (activated 15 May 42)
27th GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 Australia (activated 15 Jul 42)
29th GEN HOSP – 3 Nov 44 New Caledonia (activated 1 Sep 42)
31st GEN HOSP – 18 Oct 43 Espiritu Santo (activated 1 Jun 43)
35th GEN HOSP – 44 New Guinea – 45 Luzon (activated 21 Mar 43) (inactivated 10 Dec 45 in the Philippines)
39th GEN HOSP – 3 Nov 42 New Zealand – 1 Jan 45 New Caledonia – Jan 45 Saipan (activated 15 Jul 42)
42d GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia (ex-215th GEN HOSP, activated 16 May 41, supplied cadres for other units, 15 Apr 43, disbanded 11 Nov 44)
44th GEN HOSP – 25 Sep 43 Australia (activated 15 Jan 43)
47th GEN HOSP – 11 Jan 44 New Guinea – Burma (activated 10 Jun 43)
49th GEN HOSP – 1 Mar 45 Philippines
51st GEN HOSP – 1 Apr 44 New Guinea
53d GEN HOSP – ETO Sep-Oct 45 embarked for the South Pacific (activated 10 Feb 41, also supplied cadres for other units)
54th GEN HOSP – 30 Jun 44 New Guinea
60th GEN HOSP – 18 Jul 44 New Guinea – 2 Apr 45 Philippines (activated 25 May 43 in the ZI, return to ZI 13 Nov 45)
63d GEN HOSP – (activated 10 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 15 Jan 43)
69th GEN HOSP – 45 Burma
71st GEN HOSP – 5 Jan 44 Australia (activated 10 Jun 43, supplied cadres for other units, 24 Jun 43)
105th GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia (ex-203d GEN HOSP, activated 10 Feb 41, supplied cadres for other units, 29 Dec 43)
118th GEN HOSP – 19 May 42 Australia – 44 Philippines (activated 21 Apr 42)
133d GEN HOSP – 25 Nov 44 Leyte
142d GEN HOSP – 26 May 42 New Zealand – 43 Fiji – Nov 44 India (ex-217th GEN HOSP, activated 1 Jun 41, supplied cadres for other units, 28 Feb 44) (new 142d GEN HOSP activated 20 Apr 42)
147th GEN HOSP – 16 Jun 42 Hawaii – 19 Nov 43 Gilberts – 1 Aug 44 Hawaii (activated 1 May 41)
148th GEN HOSP – 21 Mar 42 Hawaii – 31 May 44 Saipan Is (activated 10 Feb 41)
172d GEN HOSP – 44 India – Burma – 45 China (activated 29 Jul 44) (inactivated 30 Apr 46 in China)
181st GEN HOSP – 43 India
204th GEN HOSP – 8 Apr 42 Hawaii – 28 Dec 44 Guam (activated 10 Feb 41)
204th GEN HOSP – 8 Apr 42 Hawaii (activated 10 Feb 41)
218th GEN HOSP – 8 Jan 42 Panama – 1 Aug 44 Hawaii (activated 6 Jun 41)
232d GEN HOSP – 27 Feb 45 Iwo Jima – Mar 45 Saipan
234th GEN HOSP
247th GEN HOSP – 45 Philippines (activated 15 Oct 44, ex-233d STA HOSP)
263d GEN HOSP – 43 India
307th GEN HOSP

Sternberg GEN HOSP – Philippines
Tripler GEN HOSP – Hawaii
GEN HOSP No. 1 – Limay, Philippines
GEN HOSP No. 2 – Cabcaben, Philippines
Malinta Tunnel GEN HOSP – Corregidor, Philippines

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Current News –   25 June 1950-2020  –  Korean War 70 years ago today

News: Governor David Ige proclaimed June 25, 2020 as “Korean War Remembrance Day”

Remains of 147 South Korean Soldiers From the Korean War Return Home

https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2228429/remains-of-147-south-korean-soldiers-from-the-korean-war-will-return-home/source/GovDelivery/

 

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Military Medical Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo Agnew – Clinton, MA; US Army, Korea, RHQ/187th Reconnaissance Combat Team

Stephen Bertolino – UT; US Army, Iraq, SSgt., KIA (Haditha)

Ian Holm-Goodmayes – ENG; British Army / actor

Korean & Vietnam Wars Memorial, Monroe, MI

Jim Jarvis – Uniontown, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Indianapolis survivor

Carman Kyle – Swathmore, PA; WWII, US Army Air Corps, Co. E/152th Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Dame Vera Lynn – Essex, ENG; Civilian, WWII, ENSA troop entertainer, Egypt & CBI

James L. Quong – OK; US Army, Korea, MSgt., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Charles Ridgley – Baltimore, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, Captain, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA (Nangarhar)

Francis J. Rochon – WI; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. C/1/23/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (Changnyeong, SK)

Woldgang K. Weninger – Concord, OH; USMC, Raider, Sgt.

 

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On VJ Day 74: Letters between the generations

RFHG

On the 74th anniversary of VJ Day, Ashley Prime writes for RFHG about his father, Lance Corporal Ashley Prime – a former prisoner of war in Singapore and Thailand – whose moving post-war letters have been published open access for all to read.

Ashley Prime Lance Corporal Ashley Prime. Courtesy of Ashley Prime

I had of course always known that my father had been a Japanese Prisoner of War. I grew up with that always in our minds in our home, but it was never really seen as a negative. It was just there, and from my childhood, I recall kindly former colleagues of his visiting our home. They were always kind and I never felt any anger in the way they were. At least to me as a small child. 

Later in life, I was living in West Germany in my early twenties, and whilst back in London on holiday, I…

View original post 336 more words

C/O Postmaster – Book Review

Thomas “Ozzie” St. George, a student in the School of Journalism, University of Minnesota, and an athlete, would find himself soon in the U.S. Army as his country entered WWII.  BUT – This is not a war, combat blood ‘n’ guts diary.

St. George sent excerpts of his training, his not-so-glamorous voyage across the Pacific and the year he spent in Australia discovering a new culture, to the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’.

Cpl. St. George numbered his pieces, knowing full-well the difficult route they would travel to get back to the U.S.  These pieces would arrive at the newspaper, with his sketches completely out of order, but the Chronicle printed them and the readers loved them.  One does not even need to “read between the lines” to visualize what this G.I. was trying to say as he learned about fish & chips, unusual pub hours, Australian slang and living a military life.

Dancing with Americans

“Ozzie” and his fellow G.I.s needed to learn the odd hours of the local pubs.  The Australian women were friendly, but not “easy”, as they used to say back then.  Families often invited the soldiers to dinner.  This was an entirely different world than the Americans were accustom – and learn quickly they would have to do!

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As seen with the Army cooks on page 55:

“…we went to breakfast.  Most of us, I’m afraid, were looking forward to large helpings of ham and eggs, our usual reward for a night’s activity.  Instead we had coffee made with chicory (a course kind of gravel) and our first lesson in the anatomy of the sheep, as found in mutton stew.  Thick was this stew, like cold glue, full of unidentifiable vegetables and with all the delicious appeal of a soggy snowbank.”

American G.I.’s w/ koalas

 Should be lucky enough to locate a copy of this book, I know there are chapters you will nod your head in agreement with St. George and you’ll laugh at others.  The sketches will amuse you – no matter what the content.

 

In the words of Corporal Thomas St. George ….

“With most of us, this army career is by far the greatest experience we will ever have.  I only hope that in reading about a few of these experiences you get half the kick out of it that we got when they were happening to us…”

Thomas ‘Ozzie’ St. George

From his obituary:

Thomas Richard “Ozzie” St. George left this earth on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at the age of 94.  Originally with the 32nd Infantry, he soon joined the staff of Yank Magazine and covered the war from Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. While serving in the army, he met his future wife, Staff Sgt. Amelia “Mimi” Vitali of Philadelphia. They married while in the Philippines.

He spent the next 50 years at newspapers in San Diego, Philadelphia, Rochester and St. Paul. He was a reporter, sports editor, cartoonist, copy editor and columnist (“Slice of Wry” – St. Paul Pioneer Press). Ozzie retired from the Pioneer Press in 1994. Two books were written by Ozzie while he was in the Army: “C/O Postmaster,” a Book of the Month Club selection, and “Proceed Without Delay.” Following his retirement, he also self-published the Eddie Devlin Compendium: “Old Tim’s Estate,” “Wildcat Strike,” “The Bloody Wet,” “Bringing Chesty Home,” “Replevy for a Flute,” “Clyde Strikes Back,” “Flacks,” “Deadlines” and “The Survivors.”

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Military Political Cartoons – 

“HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE?”

“GET YOUR DIRTY PAWS OFFA THERE!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth “Kage” Allen – UT; US Air Force, 1st Lt., Air Academy graduate, F-15C pilot, 493rd Fighter Squadron/48th Fighter Wing

Wilton Brown – Avant, MS; US Navy, USS Princeton, / US Air Force, Korea, MSgt. (Ret.)

Wallace Harrelson (100) – Galloway, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Eva Lyons – Scottsdale, AZ; Civilian, WWII, P-38 assembler

Angus McRonald – Petercutter, SCOT, RAF, WWII

Russell Mericle Jr. – Lima, OH; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division, Colonel, West Point graduate

William “Bill” Okamoto (100) – Torrance, CA; US Army, WWII

William Ostrosky – Uniondale, NY; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Pauro – Audubon, NJ; US Navy, WWII, ETO/PTO, Purple Heart

Thomas D. Siefke (100) – Indianapolis, IN; USMC, WWII, Sgt., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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Trinity Beach, Australia

Trinity Beach, 1st Amphibious, Dec. 1, 1944

Trinity Beach was once a World War II training ground, where troops practiced all aspects of amphibious warfare before heading into war zones north of Australia.

Between May 1943 and December 144, thousands of Australian troops were rotated through this area for training in all aspects of beach warfare.  trainees were from the Australian 9th Australian Division which had recently returned from Tobruk and Alamein.  They were followed by members of the 6th and 7th  divisions that had been involved in campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Cyprus, Greece and New Guinea.

Training was a joint Australian-American army-navy exercise.  British ships and Navy personnel were occasionally involved.  Trinity Beach was the HQ for a number of units and the troops camped along Captain Cook Highway, particularly at Deadman’s Gully near Clifton Beach.

Training was intensive and involved both day and nighttime activities.  Troops undertaking this training included infantry, gunners, engineers, mechanics, signalers, ordnance, intelligence and field ambulance personnel.

Trinity Beach training

Trinity Beach had been a place for families during the holidays, this changed when the 532nd Engineer Special Brigade arrived in April 1943.  Troops were rotated between inland jungle training on the Atherton Tableland to amphibious training on the beaches.   This was done prior to embarkation to the front lines in Papua New Guinea.

Assault training was only one aspect of the training activities at Trinity.  Logistics, including load training, was undertaken.  The 1st Australian Corps Combined Operations Amphibious program co-ordinated  by the 6th Australian Div. had 5 key tasks:

1- Delivery of essential supplies from key ports to forward areas, which were close to combat and only accessible by sea

2-Carriage of troops, especially in amphibious assaults.

3- Evacuations of wounded.

4- Local carriage of equipment, stores and salvage.

5-Building of minor port facilities, such as jetties and landing stages.

Trinity Beach, 11 Sept. 1944

During the Pacific War, Cairns became one of Australia’s largest military embarkation ports and the region was dotted with a variety of facilities and camps.

HMAS Kuranda and the RAAF Catalina base were located in north Cairns wharf area and a Catalina slip facility on Admirlty Island in Trinity Inlet.  An American transhipment port was located at the mouth of Smiths Creek.  Aerodomes were established at Mareeba and cairns.  A very large hospital was established at Rocky Creek on the Atherton Tableland, with a second located on the west side of Cairns at Jungara.  A medical research and development unit was based there.  Radar and communications facilities were established throughout this area.

Trinity Beach today

For one and a half frantic years, thousands of troops moved in and out of the Trinity Beach area.  After the training headquarters were shut down, Trinity Beach slipped back into being a place for beach-going weekenders.

Excerpts from: Cairns arts and culture.com.au

This article was suggested by Gallivanta!!  Thank you for the idea, Ann!!

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert S. Chessum – Matamata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4311266, WWII

Joshua Fuller – Orlando, FL; US Navy, Commander, pilot

Murray Hilford – Whangaparaoa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 9474, WWII, ETO, Able Seaman

Enrique Roman-Martinez – Chino, CA; US Army, Spc., HQ Co./37/2/82nd Airborne Division

James Moir – New Town, NZ; RNZ Army # 205256, WWII

Vincent Segars – Valdosta, GA; US Navy, Captain, pilot (30 y.), Bronze Star

Peter B. Sheppard – AUS; Royal Australian Military Hospital, Cpl., # 0708811, Vietnam

Jimmy Sinclair (107) – ENG; British Royal Artillery, WWII, “Desert Rats”

Raymond Tompkins – Salem, OR; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class

Robert J. Wells – Eagle, CO; US Navy, WWII, gunner, USS Cornvallis, Bucknell & Whiteriver

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USS Barb – SS-220

Uss Barb, SS-220, May 1945

This post is in response to a suggestion I received from Pat at e-Quips.

In the closing months of World War II, heavy losses and depleted fuel stocks kept many of Japan’s remaining combat aircraft grounded and warships in port, awaiting an anticipated amphibious invasion. Starting in July 1945, Allied battleships embarked on a series of naval bombardments of coastal cities in Japan in an effort to draw these forces out to battle — with little success.

However, a week before the battleships began lobbing their massive shells, a legendary U.S. submarine toting a rocket launcher began its own campaign of coastal terror that foretold the future of naval warfare — and also engaged in the only Allied ground-combat operation on Japanese home-island soil.

Submarines still made use of deck guns during World War II, most of them ranging between three and five inches in caliber. These were used to finish off unarmed merchant ships or sink smaller vessels that could evade torpedoes, but also were occasionally directed to bombard coastal targets, such as in early-war Japanese raids on the coasts of California and Australia.

Capt. Eugene Fluckey of the Gato-class submarine USS Barb volunteered his boat to try out the experimental rocket launcher in 1945.

Fluckey with the navy Cross

At the time, the Navy was actually testing the weapon’s viability as an anti-kamikaze weapon, but Fluckey managed to cajole the R&D staff into releasing the Mark 51 in time for his patrol, making the Barb the only rocket-launching submarine of the Navy.

The Barb, which displaced 2,400 tons submerged, was one of the top-scoring Allied submarines of World War II. By the most conservative count, she sank 17 ships totaling 97,000 tons of shipping. Other tallies are considerably higher.

In January 1945, on his fourth patrol as commander of the Barb, Fluckey sneaked his boat into the shallow waters off of Namakwan Harbor off the coast of China and torpedoed six ships before hightailing away, an action that earned him the Medal of Honor.

The Barb set sail from her base in Midway on June 8 loaded with 100 rockets. She arrived off the Japanese home islands on June 20.  At 2:30 a.m. on June 22, Barb surfaced off of the town of Shari in northeastern Hokkaido Island, unleashing a volley of 12 rockets into the slumbering community. She then sailed northward to the coast of Southern Sakhalin Island, then known as the Japanese prefecture of Karafuto. (All of Sakhalin is presently administered by Russia.)

Over the following month, the Barb expended 68 rockets on Shikuka. Shoritori and Kashiho, mostly firing late at night at near-maximum range.

When Japanese seaplanes began hunting the sub during the day, Fluckey retaliated with a volley of rockets aimed at the Shikuka military airfield. The Barb’s guns also destroyed more than three dozen civilian sampans, while her homing torpedoes took out local trawlers, tugboats and a few large merchant ships.

The Barb’s most famous exploit did not involve those weapons.

USS Barb, 1944

Observing trains passing along the Japanese coastline, Fluckey hatched a scheme to dispatch a landing party to blow up one of the trains by burying the Barb’s 55-pound scuttling charge — essentially a self-destruct device — under the tracks. Rather than using a timer, the explosives would be jury-rigged only to blow when the pressure of a passing train completed the circuit, a trick Fluckey likened to a childhood walnut-cracking prank.

A landing party of eight was selected on the basis of their unmarried status and membership in the Boy Scouts. Fluckey believed the scouts would have better pathfinding skills.

At midnight on July 23, the Barb slipped up to within a kilometer of the shore, and a landing party commanded by Lt. William Walke paddled quietly to the beach. While three men took up guard positions — they encountered a sleeping Japanese guard in a watchtower, whom they left unharmed — the other five buried the demolition charge and managed not blow themselves up jury-rigging the detonation circuit.

They were furiously rowing back to the Barb when a second train passed.

Fluckey described what happened next in his autobiography , “Thunder Below!”

“The engine’s boilers blew, wreckage flew two hundred feet in the air in a flash of flame and smoke, cars piled up and rolled off the track in a writhing, twisting mass of wreckage.”

USS Barb demolition crew with their battle flag, August 1945

All 61 train cars derailed, killing 150 passengers. The Barb’s crew added a train to the tally of enemy ships sunk on their battle flag. Her landing party had just performed what would be the only U.S. ground operation on the Japanese home islands during World War II.

The Barb’s raids on the Japanese coast — and even those performed by Allied battleships — were premised on the Japanese military’s inability, by 1945, to effectively defend the home-island coastlines, which included a lack of coastal-defense guns.

While the rockets the Barb employed appear to have been effective, it’s not clear that they were superior to having another deck gun. But within a decade of the Barb’s last mission, new rocket-based technologies in the form of guided cruise and ballistic missiles drastically reduced the relevance of big guns on warships or coastal defenses. The new weapons could be launched by a submerged submarine a long distance from the shore, safe from immediate retaliation.

The Barb’s month-long seaside rampage will remain a unique incident for some time to come.

Excerpts from: War Is Boring. com

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Military Humor – 

for you submariners

Young submariners learn quickly to heed all signs!!
SIGN reads: “SECURE! Sanitation tanks under pressure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Natasha R. Aposhian – AZ; US Air Force, 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Bernard Barry – Stanley, AUS; RA Navy, WWII

George Bjork – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class

Stanley De Witt – USA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Medical Detachment/57th FAB/7th Infantry Div., Bronze Star, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Pete Conley – USA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Thomas E. Griffith – USA; US Navy, WWII, radioman, USS  Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Ernestine “Tommy” King – Columbus, GA; Red Cross nurse. WWII

James Thomas Sr. – Montgomery, AL; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Lt. Commander

Julian C. Torres – TX; US Air Force, Airman 1st Class, 319th Security Forces Squadron

Jesse Vincent (100) – Leavenworth, WA; US Navy, WWII

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Shipping Them Home at the End of WWII

Here is a superb article on getting our troops home after the war.

e-Quips

Like to dream, yes, yes
Right between the sound machine
On a cloud of sound, I drift in the night
Any place it goes is right
Goes far, flies near
To the stars away from here
Well, you don’t know what
We can find
Why don’t you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride
Magic Carpet Ride by Steppenwolf

From a forwarded email:

Can you imagine the logistical and administrative challenges involved in this operation?!! And, all before any computers! Staggering! AND, once they were in the US, getting them to out-processing stations and eventually home!

Remember what Eisenhower said at the end of the war, “Take pictures of the dead Holocaust Jewish people, a generation or two will never believe it happened”!!!

 Returning the troops home after WWII was a daunting task….

The Magic Carpet that brought everyone home.

 In 1939, there were 334,000 servicemen…

View original post 911 more words

Edward “Butch” O’Hare

Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, Feb. 1942

On Feb. 20, 1942, the flattop Lexington was steaming toward the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, when it was approached by two enemy flying boats. Their crews managed to signal its coordinates before American fighters flamed the planes, and the Japanese immediately launched an attack against Lexington.

That chance encounter had dire implications for the U.S., which couldn’t afford the loss of a single ship and certainly not a carrier.

American radar picked up two waves of Japanese aircraft. Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” bombers—good planes with experienced pilots.

Six American fighters led by legendary pilot Jimmy Thach intercepted one formation, breaking it up and downing most of the Bettys.

The second wave, however, approached from another direction almost unopposed.

Almost.

Two American fighters were close enough to intercept the second flight of eight bombers. The Navy pilots flew Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, which like most American planes were practically obsolete at the time, certainly inferior to the best Japanese aircraft.

At this point in the war, the Navy had to rely on the men who flew them.

As the Japanese bombers dove from 15,000 feet, the guns jammed on one of the Wildcats, leaving Lexington’s fate in the hands of one young American aviator. Lt. Butch O’Hare —who’d been aboard Saratoga when she was torpedoed—had only enough .50- caliber ammunition for about 34 seconds of sustained firing.

Lt. Edward Butch O’Hare, 1942

And the Bettys were mounted with rear-facing 20mm cannons, a daunting defense.  O’Hare’s aircraft may have been inferior, but his gunnery was excellent.  Diving on the Japanese formation at an angle called for “deflection” shooting, but Thach had taught his men how to lead a target.

O’Hare flamed one Betty on his first pass, then came back in from the other side, picked out another and bored in.

Still too far away to help, Thach observed three flaming Japanese planes in the air at one time.

Betty bomber. Lt. Cmdr. Takuzo Ito first met 20 Feb. 1942

By the end of the action, O’Hare had downed five of the attacking Japanese planes and damaged a sixth, approaching close enough to Lexington that some of its gunners had fired on him.

After landing on the carrier, he approached one sailor and said, “Son, if you don’t stop shooting at me when I’ve got my wheels down, I’m going to report you to the gunnery officer.”

Thach estimated that O’Hare had used a mere 60 rounds for each plane he destroyed. It’s hard to say which was more extraordinary—his courage or his aim. Regardless, he had saved his ship.

On April 21, 1942, at a White House ceremony, Rita O’Hare draped the Medal of Honor around her husband’s neck as President Franklin Roosevelt looked on.  Roosevelt promoted the pilot to lieutenant commander.

Butch & Rita O’Hare as he is awarded the MOH

Later in the war, Butch O’Hare was killed off Tarawa while flying a pioneering night intercept against attacking Japanese torpedo planes —an exceedingly dangerous mission, employing tactics that were in their infancy.

He had volunteered. Aviators throughout the fleet reacted with disbelief at the news that Butch O’Hare was dead.

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There is a surprising footnote to the story.

“O’Hare” resonates with Americans today for the airport in Chicago that bears his name.

Easy Eddie (r) with Al Capone (l)

Ironically, O’Hare’s father had been an associate of Al Capone. On Nov. 8, 1939, “Easy Eddie” O’Hare was gunned down a week before Capone was released from prison, supposedly for helping the government make its case against his former boss.

His son, Butch, was in flight training at the time, learning the skills he would put to use little more than two years later in the South Pacific.

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Military Humor –  (For  Aviators)

“A HAIRY SITUATION!”

“AND ON A WINDY DAY, OH MY!!”

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Warren Bowland – El Paso, TX; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne, Bronze Star, Purple Heart / NASA, Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

Katherine Carson (100) – Boston, MA; WWII, US Coast Guard SPARS

Salvadore Dezio – Bayville, NJ; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

Bill Ham – Topeka, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO

Lois Jemtegaard – Washougal, WA; Civilian, WWII, Kaiser Shipyards welder

Mike Magoulas – Charleston, SC; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, navigator, Citadel alum / US Air Force Major (Ret.)

Alfred Newman Jr. – Cranston, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO / US National Guard, MSgt. (Ret.)

William Palmer Sr. – Monticello, NY; US Army, 503/ 11th Airborne Division

Herbert Stempel – Queens, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 311/78th Infantry Division/counterintelligence

Elmer Umbenhauer – Stony Creek Mills, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Armored Division, Bronze Star

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Madagascar: The British vs Japan & the Vichy French

Newspaper illustration of Madagascar campaign

When most people think of World War II and the wide array of geographical spots the war reached, they don’t generally think of Madagascar. However, this island off of the coast of Africa saw military action too.

The Battle of Madagascar took place there in 1942, and was led by the British, as they tried to capture the area from the French.  The battle heavily revolved around Antsiranana Bay. This important port lies around the northern tip of Madagascar and opens to the east with a pass.

During World War II, as Japan moved west through Asia, they sent out their submarines through the Indian Ocean. This caused British ships to move toward the eastern shore of Africa, out of Southeast Asia. However, being in Africa made the British worry that they would be subject to Japanese attacks based out of Madagascar.

At the time, the Japanese had submarines with a huge range, longer than any other Axis power. They boasted a range of up to 10,000 miles, which could affect Allies all over the Pacific, and into the South Atlantic and the Middle East.

In 1941, the Germans attempted to persuade the Japanese to increase their force in the area, using these submarines to combat Indian Ocean sea routes. They also wanted the Japanese to focus on the Seychelles and Madagascar, rather than Australia. So, the Japanese told the Germans they would send several submarines and two cruisers that way, but wouldn’t release much information regarding their plans for Madagascar.

Meanwhile, the Allies had heard word of these goings on, and the British were worried that perhaps the French government may just give Madagascar to Japan or allow the Japanese to establish navy bases on the island, which would have been very bad news for the British in eastern Africa, as well as any British forces moving through the area to get to Asia. So, the British thought it may be useful to go ahead and occupy Madagascar, just in case.

The leader of the Free French movement, the famous General Charles de Gaulle, sent a letter to Winston Churchill. He wanted to launch a joint Free French-British movement against Madagascar. Churchill did understand that if Japan controlled Madagascar, British shipping would be interrupted and it would give Japan great influence in the Indian Ocean.

Churchill, reading the letter, didn’t really think that the British had the right resources for such an endeavor. He also wasn’t terribly keen to plan a joint operation with Free French forces.

However, after the course of about three months, Churchill was convinced the operation was important. Despite this, the Free French forces weren’t going to be allowed to participate. He wanted it to commence in April; he wanted to move ships from the Mediterranean southward and he wanted 4,000 men to participate.

The British begin their landing.

The forces left Scotland in March and met up with other ships in Sierra Leone, then moved to South Africa, where they were joined by an array of three infantry brigades, a battleship, two carriers, two cruisers, 11 destroyers, six minesweepers and more.

It was hoped the large grouping would be able to succeed with their plan without too much (or any) fighting. This would be the first water assault planned by the British since Dardanelles.

It was planned to take Diego Suarez, the island’s most strategic port. Some thought that alone would not be enough, as other ports on Madagascar may become occupied by the Japanese as well, but Diego Suarez was kept as the only goal, as that’s what the British thought their manpower could handle.

British continue to disembark on Madagascar

The first amphibious landing would take place in May 1942, with troops landing just west of Diego Suarez (also called Antsiranana).  Meanwhile, another attack took place to the east, as a diversion. Air cover attacked the French ships. The French troops that were in French-controlled Madagascar at the time were made up of about 8,000 men, with up to 3,000 there in Diego Suarez.

Apart from this, the French naval and air forces there were pretty light. After some fighting, the French surrendered the port and went to the south.  At one point, the British gave the French an ultimatum to surrender or be bombarded – there was no reply.  Three minutes after the bombardment began – the white flag was spotted.

However, the Japanese arrived later, at the end of May. They sent out torpedoes, critically damaging a British battleship and also sinking an oil tanker. Japanese troops beached a submarine and began to move inward, but the British received word of their arrival and the Japanese troops were killed.

Kings African Rifles’ 25 pdr battery in action against Vichy positions near Ambositra

On a small level, fighting continued. Small clashes occurred, but Allied forces moved slowly on land, as they chased the retreating French. However, after several months, the Allies captured the capital and several important towns. It wasn’t until November that an armistice was signed. In total, the Allies experienced a little over 600 casualties.

Initially, after the British and Allies managed to take the island, a Free French general was the high commissioner over the country. However, Madagascar wanted to become independent following World War II. A revolution occurred in 1947, but was a failure. Then, in 1960, Madagascar received its independence from France.

For detailed information on this battle: http://ww2today.com/5th-may-1942-the-invasion-of-madagascar

WWII History magazine, WWII online.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Idamay Arsenault – Worchester, MA; Civilian, WWII, Red Cross & ship welder

Charles Dilbert – Deerfield Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 187/11th Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Michael Gurr – Elmswell, ENG; RAF officer

Billie Joe Hash – USA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. L/3/110/28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, Germany)

Francis Hayter – North Wooton, ENG; Royal Navy, Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Sam Johnson – Plano, TX; US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Pilot, POW / 30-year Congressman

Warren Miller – Hitchcock, SD; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Clive Naylor – ENG; RAF, Commander (Ret.)

John J. Sitarz – WV; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. L/3/110/28th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen Forest, Germany)

Frederick Zalaznik – Waukegan, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Engineers

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