Manila | February 1945

Flamethrower

While advancing, the 11th Airborne encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father, Smitty, would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on TV.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Every time I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.”

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

Pasig River, before the war

Following the initial American breakthrough on the fourth, fighting raged throughout the city for almost a month. The battle quickly came down to a series of bitter street-to-street and house-to-house struggles. In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support. But massive devastation to the urban area could not be avoided. In the north, General Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River.

Late on the afternoon of 4 February he ordered the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine guns opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As the Americans pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

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Current News – The Legacy continues – 

The 11th Airborne will exist once again!!

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/05/05/army-creating-second-paratrooper-division-service-forges-new-identity-arctic-troops.html?ESRC=eb_220506.nl

5 May 2022

Military.com | By Steve Beynon

Soldiers stationed in Alaska will soon ditch the 25th Infantry Division’s “Tropic Lightning” patch and be re-designated the 11th Airborne Division,

The two existing airborne combat units are the 82nd Airborne Division and  the 101st Airborne, which is airborne in name only; it’s actually an air assault division.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Russell Adams – San Francisco, CA; US Merchant Marines, WWII

Willy J. Cancel – TN; USMC  /  KIA (Ukraine)

Aubrey B. Dale – Lilburn, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Jack W. Harrell – MacClesfield, NC; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Luis Herrera – Marion, NC; US Army, Spec., 82nd Airborne Division

Jack E. Lilley – Waldworth, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc. # 15414336, Truck Driver, HQ Co/34/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Taejon, SK)

Riley D. Mixon – Greenville, SC; US Navy, Vietnam, Desert Shield & Desert Storm, Admiral (Ret. 36 y.) / Exc. Director & Vice Chairman to establishing the USS Midway Museum

Laverne A. Nigg – Browns Valley, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3167440, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Lee R. Peterson – Edmore, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Radioman, USS Estes

William F. Teaff – Akron, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, radioman # 35586750, POW, KIA (Stalag Luft VI)

Chauncey (William) Sharp – Osborn, OH; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co C/1/27/25th Infantry Division, KIA (Hwanggon, SK)

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So… Have a great day!

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About GP

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GP is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on May 9, 2022, in Current News, SMITTY, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 97 Comments.

  1. I got queasy at the flame thrower.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my greatest fears is to be burned to death. I think I would have surrendered.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A flamethrower would probably be on the worst weapons to get hit with.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Duidelijk overzicht van de geschiedenis en
    de strijd .Zo erg dat mensen achtervolgd worden door de oorlogsgruwel

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ik wou dat dat waar was, Mary Lou. Dan hebben we misschien een kans om de oorlog voor altijd te beëindigen. Maar helaas zal de behoefte aan hebzucht en macht zegevieren.

      Like

  5. this is very help full for people..

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Like many others who mentioned Smitty’s comment about that memorable smell, that one jumped out at us as well. The horrors of war.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m so glad the 11th Airborne is back. Your dad certainly would be pleased. Reading about the flamethrowers, it made terrible sense to me that the sight of them could evoke memories of their use. Senses carry memory that are far more than ‘mental.’ When I smell a certain kind of smoke, it takes me back to the Liberian bush, while a different smoke evokes the burning leaves of childhood. It must be so difficult to deal with those other sorts of memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Although in ’68 I went to enlist, Dad made sure THAT didn’t happen. I figure he saved my life, being it was the height of the Vietnam war, but I believe now, he knew more than he would ever tell me. (If you know what I mean.)

      Like

  8. Your dad was right. I can only imagine that smell, and you were lucky he told you his story.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Glad the 11th Airborne is back. Smitty’s reaction to flamethrowers shows why the WWII veterans did not want to talk about their experience during the war. They tried to forget the carnage and destruction they saw.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Most people don’t realize how hard it was to “get the Pacific back”. The Japanese fought so hard, it was basically get it back island by island… Hats down…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am delighted that the 11th Airborne will live on. Smitty will be smiling at that, somewhere.
    Flamethrowers are terrifying, and even handling one must have been scary, as they made you a ‘special target’. I have never been in combat, but have seen many badly burned people when I was an EMT in London. It is an unforgettable injury to deal with, and an appalling one to endure as a sufferer.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Uh, what a remembrance, and having experienced these things with all senses, you will never you will never shake the memory of it. Hurrah, the 11th Airborne is back. But recruited for a different temperature setting. May they never be involved in fightings. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Smitty’s reaction is so telling

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Smitty’s comment about flamethrowers is very poignant.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Your father’s reaction says what we need to be told about the vileness of war….markedly absent from the official histories.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Smitty’s comments about flame throwers immediately brought to mind a conversation I once had with a professor emeritus of music in the ’90s. He was telling me how much he disliked getting gas because every time he smelled diesel fuel, it took him back to Guadalcanal and the smell of burning flesh.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Thank you for the report on Manila, GP. It is sad that your dad had those permanent reminders. I like that Col. Potter meme. So true.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. That memory from your father about flame throwers is very striking. My Dad didn’t have anything like that as far as I remember but such things always ring true. A Holocaust survivor who had been around eight years old when she was in the camp told me that she always reacted very badly to the barking of a dog, because the guards all had a half starved German Shepherd each.
    It seems that memory exists in other senses than just reading about things in a book!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed! That’s what makes the eye-witness accounts to history so important. That young Holocaust survivor had even more years to relive the horrors by. Sad!

      Like

  19. Smitty’s quote speaks mountains about being in combat. Good to see an 11th Airborne patch again.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Your dad’s memory of the flamethrowers evokes a powerful image, G. Also I was impressed with, “In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support.” He may not have succeeded but the mere effort seems memorable for that time, and brings a touch of civilization to it. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

  21. As always, I appreciate your history insights and humorous breaks.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Great job, GP. Smitty’s memories of flame throwers hit home. The Quezon Bridge event shows that, even with good leadership and planning, things can go wrong, and plans have to be changed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have found it amazing that with people today complaining about everything, there are no U.S. federal laws or International laws banning the flamethrower.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Your father’s haunting memory of those smells is so disturbing.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Can’t imagine the way visual images of a flamethrower revives the smells of war. Truly traumatic.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Arctic warfare! — now there’s something I hadn’t thought of —- interesting article.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Wow, GP! This post had everything. Smitty’s quote was very poignant. Thanks for adding Mixson to your Farewell Salutes. Interesting about the re-establishment of the 11th Airborne, I love the ‘toons and have always been a huge M*A*S*H fan. Lots of goose stepping in Moscow today. Goose droppings are slippery devils.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. The Military.com article says, ” It is unclear whether the move would mean the mechanized troops would convert to paratroopers in the future.” Huh? How can you have an airborne division without paratroopers?

    Liked by 3 people

  28. That first sentence makes me realize how horrible it must have been for those men. I can only imagine, and, like your dad, mine stressed that movies couldn’t convey the reality of those battles. So, I guess I can’t even imagine.

    Liked by 5 people

  29. I saved a post but I see you have the news already….but here it is in case you would liike to read it…….https://sof.news/news/11th-airborne-division/ Be well chuq

    Liked by 3 people

  30. What a horrible memory for your father. Smell can be a incredibly powerful memory trigger.

    Liked by 4 people

  31. The addition of your father’s comment brought a dose of reality not generally seen in most reports, e.g. “X division encountered heavy resistance as they moved forward taking Y.”

    Liked by 3 people

  32. Thank you, Ned.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Thank you very much for sharing this episode of history!

    Like

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