Search Results for balloon bomb

Japanese Balloon Bombs hit USA & Canada

Avenging the Doolittle Raids – Project Fugo

November 1944 –  Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream.

A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington.

Three days before the end of World War II in Europe and just three months before the Japanese surrendered, spinning shards of metal ripped into the tall pine trees, burrowing holes into bark and tearing needles from branches outside the tiny logging community of Bly, Oregon. The nerve-shattering echo of an exploding bomb rolled across the mountain landscape. When it was over, a lone figure—Archie Mitchell, a young, bespectacled clergyman—stood over six dead bodies strewn across the scorched earth. One of the victims was Elsie Mitchell, the minister’s pregnant wife. The rest were children. Four of the children—Jay Gifford, Eddie Engen, Dick Patzke, and Sherman Shoeman died instantly; Joan Patzke, 13 years old, initially survived the explosion but succumbed to her injuries shortly afterward.

Rev. Archie Mitchell and his wife, Elsie

Forestry workers were running a grader nearby when the force of the explosion blew one of them off the equipment. Another dashed to the nearby telephone office, where Cora Conner was running the town’s two-line exchange that day. “He had me place a call to the naval base in nearby Lakeview, the closest military installation to our town,” recalls Conner. “He told them that there had been an explosion and people had been killed.”

Within 45 minutes, a government vehicle roared to a stop in front of the telephone shack. A military intelligence officer scrambled out of the car and joined Conner inside. “He warned me not to say anything,” Conner says. “I was not to accept any calls except military ones, nor was I allowed to send out any information.” The rest of the day proved difficult, as Conner struggled with lumber companies and angry locals who had been stripped of their phone privileges without explanation.

The U.S. government immediately shrouded the event in secrecy, labeling the six deaths as occurring from an “unannounced cause.” But in the close-knit atmosphere of Bly, many of the locals had already learned the truth: Elsie Mitchell and the five children were victims of an enemy balloon bomb, held aloft by a gigantic hydrogen-filled sphere and whisked from Japan to the western seaboard of the United States. The contraption had alighted on Gearhart Mountain, where it lay in wait until the fateful day when it found its victims—the only deaths from enemy attack within the continental United States during World War II.

bomb map

To help avoid similar tragedies, the government lifted the media blackout. In late May 1945, the headquarters of Western Defense Command, based at the Presidio in San Francisco, issued a cautious message entitled “Japanese Balloon Information Bulletin No. 1.” In an effort to avoid a media frenzy and quell public paranoia, the document was to be read aloud to small gatherings “such as school children assembled in groups.

Preferably not more than 50 in a group and Boy Scout troops.” The bulletin warned that many hundreds of Japanese balloons were reaching American and Canadian airspace. 

Balloon bombs

 For Archie Mitchell, who lost his wife, unborn child, and five members of his church on that fateful day in 1945, life eventually resumed its course. He remarried and in 1947 moved to Southeast Asia to continue the missionary work that inspired him. Unfortunately, fate would deal him yet another blow. On June 1, 1962, a wire report brought his name back into the news: “Today word came from South Vietnam that three Americans had been kidnapped by Communist guerrillas. One of them is Reverend Archie E. Mitchell, a former pastor at Bly in southeast Oregon.” Mitchell was never heard from again.

Click on images to enlarge.

############################################################################################

Today’s Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How would you finish this caption?

###########################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

J.R. Brown – Henryetta, OK; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 waist gunner, 2nd Bombardment Squadron

Adrian Cronauer – Troutsville, VA; US Air Force, Vietnam, (Armed Forces Radio D.J.), / DOD official

Steve Ditko – Johnstown, PA; US Army, (cartoonist)

Brian Dutton – UK; Royal Navy, Falklands, Lt.Commander, mine clearance expert

Robert Hagan Sr. – PA; US Air Force, Captain, pilot

Homer Myles – Dermott, AR; US Army, WWII & Korea

Paul Racicot – Detroit, MI; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Stanhope – Berlin, NH; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star

James Shaw – Baird, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO, Korea, Major

Dale Wilson – Des moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, LT, B-25 pilot, KIA (MIA)

############################################################################################

Korean War (34)

opposing ridges

opposing ridges

The communists, in spite of the pressure of the Allied air campaigns, remained stubborn in the truce talks.  On 8 October 1952, the UN negotiations at Panmunjom recessed the talks because the Chinese would not agree to non-forced repatriation of prisoners of war.  As winter approached, the UN forces remained mired in conflict and accumulating casualties.

general area of interest

general area of interest

6 October, with the US presidential election in its final stages, the CCF launched their biggest attack since Heartbreak Ridge against the I and IX Corps.  Van Fleet’s response was Operation Showdown on 14 October.   This was also known as the Battle of Triangle Hill, Battle of Hill 598 and/or Sniper Ridge and would last 42 days.

The 187th RCT participated in Operation Feint as a diversion.  They made assorted jumps and then would return and be put in isolation.  On 15 October, the Navy and Air Force, also participating, launched mock amphibious landings to fool the enemy as to where the action would actually take place.  The ruse went as planned.

aerial view

aerial view

The 7th Infantry Division going against the CCF would now be considered the bloodiest of battles on the right side of the Iron Triangle near Kumhwa.  The communists lost 11,500 KIA and the UN troops lost 8,000; this was listed as a failure in the archives.

4b2843a1df78e

22 October, the 40th Infantry Division, assigned to X Corps, moved to relieve the 25th Infantry Division in the center of the sector (Paen-Ihyon-Ni) and defended between Heartbreak Ridge and to the Punch Bowl.  The CCF bugles announced their nightly attacks from the 22nd to the 25th of the month.

4b2845ead61c4

A battle erupted in Wonsan harbor on the same date.  The ROKN AMS 501 and 503 (minesweepers) were fired on by 4 to 6 75/76mm guns from Hapchinni.  The USS Lewis returned fire and the enemy turned their attention to them.  The Lewis was hit in the fire room, disabling the No.1 boiler.  A second shell hit the fantail; 7 men were killed.

Medical corpsmen

Medical corpsmen

26 October – 1 November, the Marine history recorded the Battle for the Hook.  At 1830 hours, the enemy engaged the outpost at “Ronson” and 29 minutes later heavily attacked “Warsaw’s” MLR area;  Charlie Company 1/7.   Within two hours, the enemy succeeded in penetrating the Hook area.  A  Company 1/7 counterattacked with one platoon from Hill 121.  It came down to hand-to-hand combat on the slopes.  The possession of the Hook was restored.  They enemy lost about 532 with 216 WIA.  Air strikes on 27-28 Oct. took out another 70 KIA and 386 WIA. (The Hook area was basically charged in 3 waves of the enemy.  This coverage will be followed up in future posts.)

The Hook, Korean War, Oct. 1952

The Hook, Korean War, Oct. 1952

Attacks on the Reno, Carson and Vegas outposts went on for days.  At the height of the battles, the Reno outpost was almost encircled by the CCF.  The blocking platoon was not detected and the enemy set up right in front of them; the CCF was taken by surprise.  This heavy combat caused 60 more KIA.  The Marines lost 9 men and 49 WIA.  For 3 days, the line of outposts on the left, KMC troops, were subject to continuous shelling of all calibers.

31 October, the CCF, in battalion strength, overran the eastern end of outpost 39 and 31 and reinforcements were sent onto the MLR.  At the same time, Outpost 33 was attacked and sustained heavy casualties.  After a 2nd platoon of reinforcements were added, the enemy finally broke contact just after midnight.  The 4th simultaneous attack was on Outpost 51.  Here, the artillery set up planned fires and ambushes were prepared and after 2½ hours of fighting, the enemy withdrew.  They were pursued by the extremely aggressive company of the KMC (Korean Marine Corps).

Oct. 1952, Korea

Oct. 1952, Korea

During the night, radio intercepts of the enemy transmissions indicated extremely heavy casualties and disorganization.  Thirteen of 15 CCF artillery positions were put out of action, 3 fire tanks were and an artillery ammunition dump of 4000 rounds were destroyed.  In a second intercept, the UN forces learned that the enemy general directing the attack was wounded and his driver killed.  Ten enemy prisoners were captured.

Click on images to enlarge.

##################################################################

11th Airborne Association news – 

The 11th Airborne Division lost both their own Chaplain, Charles A. Bailey (HQ Co 511th Parachute Infantry Regiment, WWII) and his wife, Chaplain Juanita Bailey of the 11th Airborne Angelettes.  They are survived by their son, Chaplain Brigadier General Charles “Ray” Bailey.

##################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Caecar Abate – Sacramento, CA; US Army, WWII 187th Reg. Co.C, PTO

Alton Benson – Portland, OR; US Army, Korea

A face of war

A face of war

Roy Caseley – New Zealand; 1st 5th Welsh Battalion, WWII # 14756316

Alfred Hamlyn – Dargaville, New Zealand; WWII, # 263715

William Leck – Rockville Center, NY; US Air Force, Korea

Walter Morris – Orlando, FL; US Army, Ist Sgt., 2nd Lt., WWII; 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion (1st US Army black enlisted paratrooper) “Triple Nickels” unit assigned to extinguish fires from the Japanese balloon bombs.

Stephen Ptak – Stoneham, MA; US Army, WWII PTO, 11th A/B Div.

Victor Weith – W.Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO

##################################################################

Any advertisements seen on these pages are from WordPress to pay for this web site, and not necessarily endorsed by Pacificparatrooper.

##################################################################

Mainland Attacks – West Coast

Ellwood Field, California

Ellwood Field, California

On the west coast of Canada and the United States during 1941 and 1942, more that 10 Japanese submarines operated in the area attacking ships and successfully sunk ten vessels; including the Russian Navy submarine L-16 on 11 October 1942.  Some of these were in direct sight of California.  The forgotten war of Alaska will be covered by itself in future posts.

 

23 February 1942, the Japanese submarine I-17 attacked the Ellwood Oil Field west of Goleta, California and they hit a pump-house, a catwalk and an oil well.  The captain, Nishino Kozo, radioed back to Tokyo that he left Santa Barbara in flames.  This event is what led the invasion scare on the west coast.  A 70th anniversary of “Avenge Ellwood” was held there last year.

 

7 June 1942, off the coast of Washington, the American merchant vessel SS Coast Trader was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-26.  The ship carried a crew of 101 officers and men; 56 men were eventually saved by the fishing vessel Virginia 1 and the Canadian corvette HMCS Edmunston (K-106).

 

Estevan Point, British Columbia

Estevan Point, British Columbia

20 June 1942, Japanese submarine I-26 fired 25-30 rounds at the Estevan Point lighthouse on Vancouver Island in British Columbia – but missed.  This was the first enemy shelling of Canadian soil since the War of 1812.  There were no casualties, but shipping was severely disrupted when the lights of the outer stations were turned off.

 

Capt. Tagami Meiji

Capt. Tagami Meiji

21-22 June 1942, Japanese submarine I-25 under the command of Tagami Meiji, surfaced near Oregon and fired at Fort Stevens; the only attack of a military installation on the American mainland.  The only damage was to the baseball field’s backstop and telephone lines.  Gunners were refused permission to return fire.  A U.S. bomber out on a training exercise spotted the sub and did fire on it, but the sub escaped.

 

pilot Nobuo Fujita and his "Glen"

pilot Nobuo Fujita and his “Glen”

9 September 1942, Mount Emily in Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest, near Brookings, received the only aerial bombing on American soil by the enemy.  The Japanese Yokosuka E14Y1 “Glen” seaplane dropped two 180 pound incendiary bombs in an attempt to start a forest fire.  The pilot, 31, Nobuo Fujita, had taken off from the Japanese vessel I-25.  He repeated his attempt on the 29th, but again, no official damage was reported after the flames were quickly extinguished.

 

Mitchell Monument

Mitchell Monument


Approximately 9,000 Japanese balloon bombs were launched by the Japanese Navy from November 1944 and April 1945.  About 300 were reported to have reached America.  One incident caused the deaths of 5 children and one woman in Oregon.  A stone monument (Mitchell Monument) was raised at the site.  This subject is further covered in a previous post https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=balloon+bomb

Canadian military reports indicate that the balloons reached as far inland as Manitoba.  A fire at Tillamook Burn was believed caused by a balloon and resulted in the death of a member of the 555 Parachute Infantry Battalion; there were 22 other injuries.

 

Reports, other than these mentioned, have been classified as false alarms.

 

######################################################################

 

Farewell Salute – 

 

Ralph F. DeVito – Tequesta, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII

Dr. Joseph Pollak Jr. – native of Duquense, PA; USMC

Joseph Alper – Haverhill, MA & Boynton Beach, FL; USMC WWII Battle of Okinawa, 2 Purple Hearts; Korean War 1 Purple Heart

Linda T. Mullen – W. Palm Beach; American Red Cross, Emergency Service Case Worker for military families

Roger Kenneth Stockton D.D.S. – born in Chicago, IL; captain US Army WWII, South Pacific

Joseph Samuel Tarascio – Stuart, FL; US Navy, WWII

 

#######################################################################

 

Did you know?

Methamphetamine, or “crystal Meth,” was first mass-produced by a Berlin pharmaceutical maker in 1938 and adopted by the Third Reich’s military as a “miracle drug” to keep weary soldiers and pilots awake.  Millions of tablets were distributed to German soldiers, many of whom became addicted and debilitated – causing the Reich even further problems.

 

########################################################################

 

Resources:  historylink.org; Wikipedia; evbdn.eventbrite.com ; Palm Beach Post; The Week magazine

Pacific Theater continues

The men needed some humor.

The men needed some humor.

amusement park, Conn.

amusement park, Conn.

movie poster

movie poster

600full-first-yank-into-tokyo-photo

While families at home went to the latest movie (either glorifying the war with romance or as an escape from the constant reminders of war), carnivals or to work, the Sixth Australian Division attacked and occupied Wewak, New Guinea. This is relevant because it housed the headquarters of the Japanese Eighteenth Army. A major boon for the PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations).

23 May, at least 65 square miles of Tokyo had been incinerated by bombs and napalm. Later, the same action was taken over Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe. This left over 100 square miles of the principle Japanese cities devastated and one-third of the country’s construction destroyed. Japan’s factories were demolished.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Japanese balloon bomb

Japanese balloon bomb

Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream. A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington. But – 5 May 1945 – near Klamath Falls, Oregon, a pregnant woman, Elyse Mitchell and five students were killed on their way to a picnic. These were the only casualties of the war in the 48 states.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________

[/caption]

Going thru Manila.

Going thru Manila.

The 11th Airborne continued their patrols, moping up details and training at Lipa. General Swing had another jump school built that created 1,000 newly qualified paratroopers. The new glider school concentrated on the “snatch pickup” method, whereby a CG-4A Glider on the ground with a towrope and a C-47 with a hook. As the plane goes overhead at an altitude of 15 feet, it snatches up the glider and brings it to 120 mph in a matter of a few seconds. (The noise from the plane, shock and whiplash must have been overwhelming.) With May drawing to a close and the Japanese Army being pushed to the northeast corner of Luzon, the men of the division began to realize something was up.

Infantry in Manila

Infantry in Manila

Research derived from The Mail Tribune (Oregon newspaper), Film Links 4U. com, the U.S. Army & The Last Great Victory by: Stanely Weintraub.

Arctic Operation Haudegen Dr. Wilhelm Dege

The weather station where 11 German soldiers were trapped, forgotten by the fallen Nazis.

I thank Klausbernd for bringing this story to Pacific Paratrooper about the last German to surrender.  Not wanting any part of war, Dr. Dege became part of Operation Haudegen….

Weather played an important role during the Second World War. It dictated the outcome of Naval battles and decided the routes of military convoys. Weather and visibility affected photographic reconnaissance and bombing raids. Much of D-day planning revolved around the weather, and the landing itself was delayed by 24 hours because of choppy seas. Weather information was so sensitive that it was transmitted encoded from weather stations.

By August 1941, the Allies had captured many weather stations operated by the Germans on Greenland and on Spitsbergen, in the Svalbard Archipelago in Norway. These stations were critical because the air over Svalbard told a lot about what was coming over the North Atlantic and continental Europe.  Svalbard Archipelago lies in the Arctic Ocean about a thousand kilometres from the North Pole. When Norway came under German occupation in 1940, the Nazis took control of the oil fields and the weather stations there. The Germans made many attempts to set up weather stations on Spitsbergen, but all failed or fell to the Allies.

Geologist Wilhelm Dege, head of Operation Haudegen. Photo: From the archive of Wilhelm Dege

In September 1944, the Germans set up their last weather station, code named Operation Haudegen, on Nordaustlandet, one of the most remote and northerly of the main islands in Svalbard.  A U-boat and a supply vessel deposited eleven men, along with equipment, arms, ammunitions and supplies on the island and hurriedly retreated back to Norway before they could be discovered by Allied warships. The men set up the weather station and erected two inconspicuous flat-roofed huts using wooden panels and camouflaged with white nets.

Operation Haudegen started in December 1944. Five times a day, the station transmitted encrypted weather forecasts to the German naval command at Tromsø. In addition, once a week, they sent a hydrogen-filled weather balloon to 8,000 meters to obtain data from the upper atmosphere. The remaining time was spent exploring the island and learning about science, geography, philosophy and mathematics from the leader of the expedition, Dr. Wilhelm Dege. The young men built a sauna and helped themselves to the ample food supplies, enjoying delicacies like reindeer meat which most Germans at that time could only dream of in their bomb cellars.

The approximate location of the weather station of Operation Haudegen. Political map of Svalbard by Peter Hermes Furian/Shutterstock.com

Siegfried Czapka, the 18-year-old radio operator, told the German magazine Der Spiegel in 2010: “It was an unforgettable experience; we had everything but beer.

But of course, life in the Arctic was harsh. Temperatures went well below freezing, there were snow storms and daylight was scarce. Polar bears were another threat. The men had to carry rifles with them every time they went outside. The men had been given rigorous training to deal with the hardship. They learned to ski, rappel down cliffs, build igloos, cook and bake, pull teeth, attend to gunshot wounds, and even amputate frozen limbs.

On May 8, 1945, the men received a message from their commanders in Tromsø that Germany had surrendered and the war was over. They were ordered to dispose of explosives, destroy secret documents and send weather reports unencoded. Then there was complete radio silence. The men tried contacting base but there was no reply. They started transmitting their coordinates on the wave lengths the Allies used but no ship or aircraft appeared. The men had two years worth of ration, but the idea of getting stuck on ice for any amount of time held little appeal. The men worried about their families back in Germany, whether they were still alive or killed by air raids. In desperation, they started transmitting on Allied distress channels.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Towards the end of August, a reply was received. Norwegian authorities assured the stranded men that a ship would set sail for Spitsbergen in early September. Their joy was boundless when on the night of September 3rd and 4th, a vessel arrived in the fjord near the weather station. It was a seal-hunting ship that was chartered by the Norwegian navy in order to pick up the Germans.

The Norwegians came ashore and they all had a big celebratory meal together. Then the commanding officer of the Germans formally surrendered—four months after the war ended—by handing over his service pistol to the Norwegian captain.

“The Norwegian stared at it and asked ‘Can I keep this then?’, recalled Dr. Eckhard Dege, the son of Wilhelm Dege, the commanding officer. “My father explained that he could because they were surrendering.”

The men were taken to Tromsø where they became prisoners of war for three months. In December 1945, they returned to their homes, to a divided country. Some found themselves on East Germany, others on the West. The men of the unit tried to meet each other, but it became impossible due to the tensions between East and West Germany. It was only 60 years after the incident, that two of the survivors were reunited for a trip to the island.

################################################################################################################

Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

################################################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Bernis Allardyce – Beaumont, TX; US Army, Lt.Colonel (Ret. 25 y.)

Willard Alverson – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, Korea, Ranger, Colonel (Ret. 31 y.)

Harold ‘Ron’ Hawkins – Tempe, AZ; US Army, Vietnam, 6th Special Forces, Sgt.

Emil ‘Gene’ Jemail – Newport, RI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division / JAG office Austria

James A. McNeill – Brooklyn, NY; USMC, Afghanistan, SSgt., 3rd Marine Logistics Group, KIA (Okinawa, non-combat)

Mavis Poe – Topeka, KS; Civilian US Navy, WWII, driver

Pleasant Rourke Jr. – Charleston, SC; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Mark Sertich (99) – Duluth, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  world’s oldest ice hockey player

James Weber Jr. – Louisville, KY; US Navy, WWII Corpsman

Catherine Young – Napier, NZ; WRNZ Navy # 234, WWII

################################################################################################################

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.

############################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#############################################################################################

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

############################################################################################

Drones are not a new idea – Intermission Story (28)

The Reaper Global Hawk RQ-4

Unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones, are most often associated with airstrikes in modern warfare, but their history goes much further back than that. While drones came into the spotlight during the early years of the 21st century the idea of a remotely-operated flying machine was developed much earlier. A forerunner of what we consider today to be an unmanned aerial vehicle was an Austrian balloon used during the siege of Venice in 1849.

During WWI many eccentric weapons were developed on all sides of the conflict. One was the pilotless aircraft that operated with the help of Archibald Low’s revolutionary radio controlled techniques.  The Ruston Proctor Aerial Target represented the cutting edge of drone technology in 1916. Low, nicknamed “the father of radio guidance systems,” was happy for the project to be developed further and used in kamikaze-style ramming strikes against Zeppelins.

The Kettering Bug

Another project led the way for further research of UAVs.  The Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, also known as the “Flying Bomb,” or the “Aerial Torpedo,”  went from Britain to the USA in 1917, resulting in an upgraded American version named the Kettering Bug.  Although it was considered to be a large success, the war ended before it could be utilized.

Cruise missiles, which perform under similar principles as unmanned aerial vehicles, are single use weapons. Drones are carriers and users of armament, or other equipment, depending on their given role.

After WWI there was a lot of interest in producing and improving remote-controlled flying weapons. The US Army took the initiative in further exploring such concepts.

RAE Larynx on destroyer HMS Stronghold, July 1927

After the war, three Standard E-1 biplanes were converted into UAVs. While the Americans were laying the groundwork for drones, the British Royal Navy conducted tests of aerial torpedo designs such as the RAE Larynx. In 1927 and 1929 the Larynx was launched from warships under autopilot.

DH-82 Queen Bee

Pilotless aircraft were also made as aerial targets. Among the projects used for target practice was the “DH.82B Queen Bee”. It derived from the De Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer which was adapted to new radio technology.  She was the first returnable and reusable.

The name “Queen Bee” is considered to have introduced the term “drone” into general use. During the 1930s the term specifically referred to radio-controlled aerial targets. Once World War II broke out, it started to represent any remotely-controlled pilotless aerial vehicle.

Reginald Denny Hobby Shop

Reginald Denny went from England to the United States in 1919, intending to become an actor in Hollywood, but he also pursued another dream. Together with his partners, he opened Reginald Denny Industries and a shop that specialized in model planes, called the Reginald Denny Hobby Shops.

OQ-2A Radioplane

The business evolved into the Radioplane Company, and Denny offered his target drones to the military. He believed the drones would be very useful, especially for training anti-aircraft crews. Denny and his company produced 15,000 target drones for the US army just before and during WWII. His most famous model was called Radioplane OQ-2.

Curtis N2C-2 target drone 1938/39

Around the same time, during the late 1930s, the US Navy developed the Curtiss N2C-2. This unmanned aerial vehicle was remotely controlled from another aircraft, which made the design revolutionary. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) also adopted this concept and started improving it. The primary use of the technology was still as target practice for AA gunmen. However, as America was preparing for war, the UAV experiments were being redirected for combat use.

In 1940 the TDN-1 assault drone was capable of carrying a 1,000-pound bomb and was deemed fit for service. It was easy to produce and passed on tests. However, the drone was too hard to control, and as complications were expected once it entered combat conditions it never saw action.

During Operation Aphrodite in 1944, some modified B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were used as enormous aerial torpedoes, but they also failed to see wider service. They proved to be ineffective. One of the reasons why the concept was abandoned was the death of Joseph Kennedy Jr, brother of the future president, who died alongside his crewmember during one of the raids as part of Operation Aphrodite.

Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy

TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]:: ATTEMPTED FIRST APHRODITE ATTACK TWELVE AUGUST WITH ROBOT TAKING OFF FROM FERSFIELD AT ONE EIGHT ZERO FIVE HOURS PD ROBOT EXPLODED IN THE AIR AT APPROXIMATELY TWO THOUSAND FEET EIGHT MILES SOUTHEAST OF HALESWORTH AT ONE EIGHT TWO ZERO HOURS PD WILFORD J. WILLY CMA SR GRADE LIEUTENANT AND JOSEPH P. KENNEDY SR GRADE LIEUTENANT CMA BOTH USNR CMA WERE KILLED PD COMMANDER SMITH CMA IN COMMAND OF THIS UNIT CMA IS MAKING FULL REPORT TO US NAVAL OPERATIONS PD A MORE DETAILED REPORT WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU WHEN INTERROGATION IS COMPLETED :: TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]

The development of pulsejet engines enabled the Germans to produce the fearsome V-1 Flying Bomb which at the time represented the pinnacle of guided missile systems. The Americans also introduced the pulsejet engine during the war, but once again only to produce target drones like the Katydid TD2D/KDD/KDH. The real boom in the UAV industry was yet to come, during the troublesome years of the Cold War.

Sources of information:Fly Historic Wings; Reuters; Nova; War History online; and Ctie.monash.edu.au “The Pioneers”

Click on images to enlarge.

#####################################################################################

Military Humor – 

 

#####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Juan Alvardo – Pawnee, TX; US Army, WWII

Harold Biebel – Belleville, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Frybarger

Arthur Fain – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trinidad Gameroz – Lincoln, NM; US Navy, WWII, ETO

John McNulty – Vancouver, CAN; RC Air Force, helicopter pilot

Donald Percy – Adams, NY; US Navy, radioman

George Purves – W. AUS; RAF; WWII, / RA Air Force, Mid-East & Vietnam

Norman Silveira – Alvarado, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2/187th/11th Airborne Divison

William Walker – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # DJX569685, WWII, ETO

#####################################################################################

November 1944 (2)

1 November –  Young Japanese girls wore headbands that designated them as Special Attack Force members. Daily they would recite the Imperial Precepts for Soldiers and Sailors before they began a twelve-hour shift in a makeshift factory in Kokura, Japan. Here they were producing 40 foot balloons to carry a bomb package across the ocean as they were released to drift on the Pacific jet stream.

A total of approximately 9,300 of these weapons were made and about 342 reached land, some as far east as Ontario, Michigan and Nebraska. Some were shot down or caused minor injuries and one hit a powerline of the nuclear weapons plant at Hanford, Washington. But – 5 May 1945 – near Klamath Falls, Oregon, a pregnant woman, Elyse Mitchell and five students were killed on their way to a picnic. These were the only casualties of the war in the 48 states.

2 November – On Peleliu, the Japanese troops were still holding out on Mount Umurbrogol and causing heavy American casualties.

7→8 November – approximately 200 enemy troops landed on the deserted Ngeregong Island near Peleliu.  American forces immediately created a blockade in the Denges Passage and bombarded the island by sea and air.

11 November – the Japanese launched a new aircraft carrier, the IJN Shinano, a 68,059-ton (69,148-tonne) vessel of steel and purported to be bomb-proof.  However, she proved not to be torpedo-proof and was sunk by the US submarine Archerfish 18 days later as she sailed between shipyards to receive her finishing touches.

12 November –  carrier aircraft attacked enemy shipping in Manila Bay.  This resulted in 1 enemy cruiser, 4 destroyers, 11 cargo ships  and oilers being sunk.  Twenty-eight Japanese aircraft were downed and approximately 130 were strafed and damaged on the ground.

The Japanese cruiser, Kiso was sunk and five destroyers were damaged in Manila Harbor off Luzon, P.I. as US aircraft continued their raids.

Bloody Nose Ridge

13 November – on Peleliu, the last of the Japanese holdouts on Bloody Nose Ridge were wiped out.  The following day, the 81st Infantry Division re-occupied Ngeregong and found no enemy resistance.

17 November – the US submarine,USS  Spadefish, the Japanese escort carrier IJN Shinyō (Divine hawk), in the Yellow Sea as she attempted to reach Singapore.  It was possibly 4 torpedoes that struck and  ignited her fuel tanks.  Only 70 of her crew survived as she went under quickly.

21 November – The enemy battleship IJN Kongō (Indestructable), was attacked by the American sub, USS Sealion and sank in the Formosa Strait.  There were 237 survivors.

24 November – the US Army Air Corps used 11 B-29 Superfortresses for their first long-range bombing mission on Tokyo.  However, only 24 aircraft actually hit their assigned targets.

USS Intrepid

25 November – the increasing use of kamikaze pilots by the Japanese resulted in damage to 4 aircraft carriers near Luzon: Intrepid, Hancock, Essex and Cabot.  The Japanese had the cruiser, Kumano sunk by USS Ticonderoga.

27 November – organized enemy resistance on Peleliu seemed to no longer be present and the battle for the island is considered complete.

29→30 November – US B-24 Liberators and B-25 Mitchell bombers were kept busy hitting the Japanese airfields on Iwo Jima.

####################################################################################

Military Humor –

####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –  

Gilbert Baker – Chanute, KS; US Army

Richard Burkett – Greencastle, IN; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea, Signal Corps, 7th Infantry Division

Jean Cozzens – Bradley Beach, NJ; USO, WWII, singer

Foster Hablin – Millers Creek, KY; USMC, WWII, PTO & Korea

Burial at Sea – USS Intrepid, 26 November 1944

William James Jr. – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, WWII, ETO, 99th Inf. Div., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Robert Nugent – Chester, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, C/13/17th Airborne Division

Joseph Pelletier – Coos, NH; US Army, Korea, HQ/15/2nd Infantry Div., Cpl., Bronze Star, Purple Heart, KIA

Donald Rickles – Jackson Heights, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cyrene (AGP-13)

Mary Schnader – brn: ENG, W,Lawn, PA; British Royal Air Force

Thomas C. Thomas – Bullhead City, AZ; US Army, WWII, APO/ETO, 74th Engineer Corps

#####################################################################################

“This is an Alert”

11th A/B, still battle weary, at Lipa airfield 1945

11th A/B, still battle weary, at Lipa airfield 1945

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. 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.

C-47s of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing  1945

C-47s of the 54th Troop Carrier Wing 1945

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 187ths organizational equipment to Okinawa by ship.

Jeeps on Okinawa

Jeeps on Okinawa

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. 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.

Jeep trailers stocked piled on Okinawa 1945

Jeep trailers stocked piled on Okinawa 1945

I believe it was about this time that Smitty discovered that there was an opening on General Swing’s staff. My father requested the position and happily received it. Swing was not certain how the enemy would take to him and the 187th regiment landing in Japan, so the men were ordered to be combat ready. Besides staying in shape, they spent many an hour listing to numerous lectures on the Japanese culture. The 187th regiment of the 11th Airborne Division would be the first troops to enter Japan, as conquerors, in 2000 years.

Also, on 13 August, two ships, the Pennsylvaniaand the La Grange were hit by kamikaze carrier planes. All ships in Okinawa harbors were shipped out to ensure their safety. Although the Emperor was at this point demanding peace, the complicated arrangement of their government (Emperor, Premier, Cabinet, Privy Seal, etc. etc.) made it difficult for them to answer the Allies immediately. As Soviet forces, hovering at the 1.5 million mark, launched across Manchuria and approximately 1600 U.S. bombers hit Tokyo.

Okinawa cemetery

Okinawa cemetery

14 August, the Emperor made a recording to be played over the Japanese radio stating that their government had surrendered to the Allied powers and to request that his people cooperate with the conquerors. The fanatics, mainly Army officers and also known as die-hards or ultras, attempted to confiscate the prepared discs and claim that the Emperor had been coerced into accepting the Potsdam Declaration. People died in this mini revolution and others committed hara-kiri when it failed. Some enemy pilots continue to fly their Zeros as American planes went over Japan.

Western Electric ad 1945

Western Electric ad 1945

15 August, Washington D.C. received Japan’s acceptance of the terms of surrender. Similar to the Western Electric advertisement pictured, phones and telegraphs buzzed around the world with the news that WWII was over, but reactions varied. Among the men on Okinawa, there was jubilation mixed in with ‘let’s wait and see.” In Japan, most felt relieved, but others committed suicide to fulfill their duty. Russian troops continued to push into Manchuria to get as far into the area as possible before the Allies could stop them. Troops in Europe were elated to hear that they were no longer being transferred to the Pacific. South America began to see the arrival of Nazi escapees and the United States went wild with gratitude.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

Resources: “The Rising Sun” by John Toland; “Rakkassans” and “Angels: History of the 11th Airborne Division” by E.M. Flanagan; “Pacific: Day by Day” by John Davison; The 54th Troop Carrier Wing
___________________________________________________________________________________________

%d bloggers like this: