Category Archives: First-hand Accounts

CBI – British receive POW’s / Vietnam in the picture

Japanese POWs in Malaya

“From May onwards, prisoners in a terrible state came in daily,” recorded a British gunner unit in Burma, “many of them armed with nothing more dangerous than bamboo spears, trembling with a mixture of malaria and humiliation.”

British soldiers in Burma

But if some proved ready to quit, others did not.  To the end, most Japanese who lost their ships at sea deliberately evaded Allied rescuers.  On the deck of HMS Saumarez, destroyer Captain Martin Power was directing rescue operations after sinking a Japanese convoy off the Nicobars, when he suddenly heard a “clang” against the ship.

Andaman and Nicobars Islands

Peering over the side, he saw a bald, heavily built Japanese man clinging to a scrambling net with one hand, while hammering the nose of a shell against the hull with the other.  Power drew his pistol, leaned over and whacked the man’s head.

“I could not think of anything else to do – I spoke no Japanese.  Blood streaming down his face, he looked up at me, the pistol 6 inches from his eyes, the shell in his hand…  I do not know how long I hung in this ridiculous position, eyeball to eyeball with a fanatical enemy, but it seemed too long at the time.  At last he dropped the shell into the sea, brought up his feet, and pushed off from the ship’s side like an Olympic swimmer, turned on his face and swam away.”

*****          *****          *****

By this time of the Pacific War, the Vietnam area of Indochina was in dispute.  DeGaulle demanded that the current Vichy government take a firm stand, but this was a disaster.  The Japanese had staged a pre-emptive coup against the Saigon administration.  Frenchmen became POW’s and their future fate would cause Anglo-American arguments.  When US planes arrived from China to carry out evacuations, the French were furious that the aircraft did not bring them cigarettes.

London’s Political Warfare Executive sent a directive to Mountbatten that highlighted the political and cultural complexities of the CBI: “Keep off Russo-Japanese, Russo-Chinese and Sino-Japanese relations except for official statements.  Show that a worse fate awaits Japan if her militarists force her to fight on… Continue to avoid the alleged Japanese peace feelers.”

The Dutch, French and British owners of the old Eastern empires were increasingly preoccupied with regaining their lost territories – and they were conscious that they could expect scant help from the Americans to achieve this.  The British Embassy in Washington told the Foreign Office:

“If we prosecute the Eastern War with might and main, we shall be told by some people that we are really fighting for our colonial possessions the better to exploit them and that American blood is being shed to no better purpose than to help ourselves and Dutch and French to perpetrate our degenerate colonial Empires; while if we are judged not to have gone all out, that is because we are letting America fight her own war with little aid, after having her pull our chestnuts out of the European fire.”

Quotes taken from “Retribution” by Max Hastings

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Bailey – Parma, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, 2nd Lt., pilot, KIA

David Cruden – Hurtsville, AUS; RA Air Force # 422443, 460 & 582nd Bomber Command Squadrons

Fred Hermes Jr. – Villas, NJ; US Coast Guard, Academy Grad., Commander (Ret.)

William A. Laux – LaCrosse, WI & Arrow Lakes, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Moore – Baltimore, MD; US Navy, WWII, Captain (Ret.)

Ronald S. Richardson – Gisborne, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, Lt. Commander, pilot, KIA

Robert Stoner – Buffalo, NY; US Navy, minesweeper

Harry Thomas – Marlington, WV; US Army, WWII

Michael C. Ukaj – Johnstown, NY; USMC, Iraq (the NY limo crash on his 34th birthday)

Elwood Wells – Epsom, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Captain, 1337 A.F. Base, KIA

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Nudge In Rear Came Too Soon, So Mitchell Gunner Bombed Wrong Target In China

b25-12a

B-25, “Ormoc Bay”, by: Jack Fellows from the IHRA

By Sgt. Marion Hargrove

SOMEWHERE IN CHINA–This story has been held back for a while because the fellow was mighty sensitive about it, and he happens to be a tech sergeant, 6 feet 2 and weighing 200 pounds. He’s cooled off a little, so now it can be told.

The tech sergeant is Karl May of Yakima, Wash., an aerial engineer and gunner in one of the local Mitchell B-25 bombers. The tale goes back to the time when he was still a buck private, working as an armorer in his squadron and bucking like hell for a job on a combat crew.

They finally let him go on a few missions to try him out. He got along fine until his third trip. That was the raid on the big Jap base at Hankow, former Chinese capital, on the Yangtze.

There were two minor defects that day in the bomber to  which May was assigned: there were no racks in the ship for fragmentation bombs and the interphones were temporarily out of commission.

Well, they were working the thing out all right without fragracks or interphones. They had Pvt. May squatting by the photo hole with a stack of frag bombs and the understanding that when the turret gunner nudged him in the behind he was to cut loose with all he had.

Fragmentation bomb

It happened that the bomber had a passenger that day–maybe an observer from Washington, maybe a newspaperman, maybe just a sightseer.

This worth person grew unaccustomedly chilly, saw that the draft came from the open photo hole and decided to ask the private beside it to close it. The private – yep, it was May – had his back turned, so the passenger sought to attract his attention with a gentle nudge in the rear.

Pvt. May reacted like the eager beaver he was. He held one frag bomb over the hole and let it drop. Then he turned another loose into thin air. He was preparing to drop every bomb in the ship – until he was rudely and violently stopped. To May’s dismay he learned: 1) that the ship was nowhere near Hankow, 2) that he had been given no signal and, 3) that he had just wasted a couple hundred dollars’ worth of U.S. high explosives.

B-25 dropping frag bombs

The mission proceeded to Hankow, where May dropped the rest of  his bombs through the photo hole, an armful at a time. But his heart was heavy at the thought of having goofed previously.

When the plane returned to its base, there was an intelligence report from the Chinese Army waiting for it.  According to this report, two bombs dropped on a Japanese barge on the Yangtze had scored direct hits, sinking the barge and drowning 160 Japanese soldiers.

T/Sgt. May never tells the story himself and he gets mad when he hears anyone else tell it.  Only those who’ve seen the records will believe it.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wayne Bauer – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, WWII, ATO

Harry Carlsen – Chicago, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, 2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Images is courtesy of:
https://mywarjournals.com/

James Fleischer – Detroit, MI; US Army

John Guice – Greenville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Robert Hegel – IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 15th Air Force, navigator

Claude A. Rowe – Chuka Vista, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Tuskegee

Elizabeth Schwantes – Kaukauna, WI; US Coast Guard, WWII

Leslie Thickpenny – Pukekohe, NZ; NZ Air Force, WWII, flight engineer

Henry Wheeler (100) – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, 12th Army, Intelligence, Bronze Star

Robert Zeigler Jr. – Ft Lauderdale, FL; US Army, Korea

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From a U.S. sailor’s diary (Balikpapan)

USS Montpelier (CL-57)

Wednesday, 27 June 1945:  USS Montpelier 

The bombers started early this morning, it was 7 A.M.  The men on the 5″ and 6″ guns will be glad when we leave here.(Balikpapan).  The past 10 days they have been in those hot steel mounts and turrets passing big shells and powder cases.  They start passing the ammunition at 7:30 AM and don’t stop until 6 PM.  Then they stay up all night standing their usual watches.

James J. Fahey’s secret diary

The Australian cruiser, Hobart, one heavy cruiser and some destroyers came in today, many PT boats and gunboats also came in.  A destroyer pulled alongside with 60 bags of mail.  The air mail was only 16 days old!

The demolition squad returned to our ship this morning, they were soaking wet.  They have a very dangerous job clearing the place of mines and underwater obstacles put there by the Japs, they must have worked all night.  One of our b-25 medium bombers came in so low on a strafing run that it hit some trees and landed in the water.  One of our small boats was sent to pick up the crew, lucky for them no one was hurt.

The Australian soldiers that we have with us are always studying their maps, charts and photos.  These men are special troops and have important jobs to do when they land

War Diary of the USS Montpelier

Thursday, 28 June 1945

All hands got up at 6 AM.  We really opened up on the Japs today and so did the bombers.  When it was all over you could see nothing for miles around but thick black smoke, it rose so high into the sky for miles, it went so high that it was out of sight.  I never saw anything like it before.

There was enough black smoke here to cover many big cities, at the same time it was enough to choke you.  I don’t know how the Japs can stand it.  There were so many huge storage tanks exploding and so many miles of Borneo were blacked out that it looked like the end of the world.

Today while we were covering the demolition crew, the Jap machine-guns opened up on them, they had some casualties.  They had a very rugged job to do, they were in the water near shore and the Japs were looking at them not too far away.

They must have ice water in their veins, no wonder it is such a tough outfit to join.  I can see why they have such heavy casualties.  The Japs gave them a hot time with their machine-guns and mortars.  The demolition crew set off long chains of explosions. They have to clear a path in the water for our landing craft…..

There is a big wall and many steel posts plus mines.  The demolition men can stay under water for a long time, but when they come up, the Japs open up on them.  We fired back and knocked out their guns and crews.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Barton – Streator, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 193rd Ordnance Co./5th Air Force

John Clement – Quantico, VA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

Fred Frevert – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 38th Infantry Division

Noel Grimm – Hudson, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., M.P.

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

Frederick Hopkins – New Plymouth, NZ; J Force # 444837, WWII, PTO

Stanly Kretowski – Cobourg, CAN; Canadian Army, WWII, ETO

Vinnie O’Hare – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Charles Slade Jr. – Saginaw, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Jerry A. Williams – Phoenix, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

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Japanese Kaiten Torpedo

Kaiten Type-1 Yushukan on display in Tokyo

IJN Navy officers in 1944, were the designers, Lts Hiroshi Kuroki and Sekio Nishina. The pair were killed while testing the weapons.

In the desperate final year of WWII in the Pacific, very few people on both sides knew of the existence of the Japanese kaiten human torpedo. It was a top secret weapon developed by two “Circle 6 metal fitting” and only a few in the Imperial Navy knew what it really was.

The kaiten was the underwater equivalent of the Kamikaze suicide plane. Although the human torpedo pilots did not die in a blaze of glory as their air force counterparts, they all believed in their cause and there was no shortage of volunteers for the top secret program.

The kaiten was powered by a Type 93 “Long Lance” torpedo engine fitted to a long tubular body. The engine was oxygen-powered and had a maximum speed of 30 knots (34.5 mph). The 54-foot weapon packed a 1550 kg (3,420 pound) warhead and was controlled and guided by a human operator. There was a tiny pilot’s compartment which had a periscope and a gyro-compass to guide him to the target. Once launched, the weapon could not be recovered. There was a self-destruct button if the pilot failed to hit his target.

Kaiten Type-10 schematic

To sink a submarine was very difficult. The killing radius of the exploding depth charge, depending on various circumstances such as depth, payload, and strength of the target’s hull, was around 10 to 13 feet. From 26 to 33 feet, serious damage could be inflicted. It took a lucky hit to sink a submarine; most were sunk after being battered continuously until they lost power or air. The US Navy had perfected anti-submarine warfare using high tech equipment and teams of destroyers and destroyer escorts. The danger point for the submariners was about 12 hours without fresh air. By forcing the sub to surface  or preventing it from surfacing for air, its destruction was assured.

Petty Officer Yutaka Yokota, a kaiten pilot on the I-36, recalled: “Then came the depth charges. They felt like a giant pile driver smashing into the side of the I-36. She shook and swerved, throwing me to my knees. The wardroom sofa leaped fully two feet above the deck and toppled over on its side. Every light that I could see went out, and only about half of them came on again.”

USS Sproston

The I-36 was taking a severe beating and there was nothing she could do. It had launched one kaiten, but it still had 5 more strapped to the deck. Sugamasa wanted to dive down to 325 feet, but his cargo prevented him from doing so. To dive deeper meant that he would destroy the kaitens due to heavy underwater pressure.
Oil and debris came bubbling to the surface, but Cdr. Esslinger on the USS Sproston wasn’t falling for that old submariner’s trick. The crew smelled blood in the water and increased their resolve. They had knocked down several Japanese planes, but wanted to add a submarine to their  tally.

LCdr. Sugamasa was running out of options. Then Ensign Minoru Kuge rushed into the con and volunteered to man his kaiten and counter attack. All of the electric rudders on the small crafts were damaged, but they could be steered manually. Petty Officer Hidemasa Yanagiya also insisted to sortie. Sugamasa knew that a counter-attack had little chance of success. These two brave men were going to sacrifice themselves to lure the destroyer away from their submarine so that she could escape.

Yokota’s kaiten was badly damaged. He had sortied twice before, only to be thwarted by mechanical failures in the temperamental kaiten. He was confident that the third sortie would be the charm. Now a bystander, he stood by clutching a vial of cyanide and thought “Once they made their direct hit and water came rushing into our hull, I was going to swallow the container’s contents. I could not bear to think of death by drowning or suffocation.”


Kuge and Yanagiya quickly boarded their kaiten through a tight hatch and were sealed shut. The engines started, the clamps were released, and the two kaitens whirled their way toward the surface. The skipper and his sonarmen listened intently through their earphones. Fifteen minutes later, the first contact was made.
Sproston had spotted a kaiten and made a run towards it. The conning tower and periscope were clearly visible at quite a distance.Then the 5-inch guns opened up. Sugamasa and his sonarmen heard faint explosions. “We made a direct hit!” recalled Roberts. “I saw the small black conning tower go sailing off into the air!” There was wild jubilation! The Sproston had scored.

Down below in the I-36, they later heard a gigantic boom; a kaiten had exploded. But which one, Kuge or Yanagiya? Believing that it had scored a kill, they cheered. But they were wrong. The depth charges kept coming. From noon until night, the destroyer pounded the submarine until their inventory of depth charges was depleted. Finally, the destroyer retired from the scene. The I-36 limped back into port like a beaten dog on 6 July 1945. For Yutaka Yokota, he was unsuccessfully lucky, for he lived to tell about it.


Through the diligent efforts of Don Roberts (Jim’s son), the connection between the Sproston and the I-36 was made. Don located Yutaka Yokota in Tokyo and exchanged letters. The USS Sproston Association invited the former kaiten pilot to their reunion in Orlando, Florida in September 1990. Yokota could not attend due to ill health. The old sailors were looking forward to meeting Yokota at the 1992 reunion in Chicago, but were saddened to learn that he had passed away on 16 March 1991 of cancer at age 65.

Jim Roberts had sent a letter to Yokota prior to his passing. In his letter, Jim wrote: “We tried our best to sink you. But I am glad that we did not do so.” This letter was read at Yokota’s funeral wake. About a hundred of Yokota’s comrades, many of them from the kaiten program and the submarine service, attended his funeral. “I wish we could have met,” sighed Jim. “We had so much to talk about.”
Jim Roberts passed away at his home in Lakewood, CA in 2004.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Glen Azevedo – Riverside, RI; US Coast Guard, Vietnam, Chief Warrant Officer

James Barrett – Palmerston North, NZ; RNZ Army # 33572, WWII, Warrant Officer 1st Class

James Bates – Kimmins, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW / Korea, (Ret. 30 y.), Silver Star, Bronze Stars

William Danner – Elwood, IN; US Army, WWII, 104th Infantry Division, Chief Warrant Officer2 (Ret. 25 y.)

Robert Fitzgerald – Charles City, IA; US Navy, WWII

Melvin Liederman – Hallendale, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Guy Nightingale – Corning, KS; US Navy, WWII

Richard Pride – Hampton, VA; US Army, WWII, Major / NASA engineer

Joseph Rosario – Morristown, NJ; USMC

Fred Segal – Detroit, MI; US Navy, Lt., Taurus Missile System

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Research for Jeff S.

Pictures are larger than shown here.

511th area is indicated within the red circle

The 511th traveled west to Lipa

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Gen. Robert Eichelberger Remembers

Generals Eichelberger & MacArthur

From: “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo”

I remembers a story Bob Shoe told on himself.  During the hottest of the fighting on Negros, he was making a trip to the front to look over the situation.  His jeep passed through a weary column of the 503rd Parachute Regiment which had been relieved after many hours of fighting and was on its way to the rear.

General Shoe is completely free of pretentiousness; he was born honest and friendly.  When he stopped for a drink at a spring, he spoke to a grimy paratrooper.  His question didn’t mean anything; it was merely passing the time of day.

“How are things at the front?” Shoe asked cheerfully.

11th Airborne paradrop

The veteran paratrooper, probably 20 years old, looked at Shoe’s clean uniform and his star and his jeep with elaborate boredom and said nothing.  Shoe went on to the front and was promptly shot.  It was a bloody wound and the stretcher which carried him toward the rear was thoroughly incarnadined.

On the way back, his stretcher was stopped by a military traffic jam, and he found himself again among the walking 503rd.  He asw the same redheaded young Pfc he had encountered back at the spring.  The Pfc was friendly now.  He grinned.  “General,” he said, ” how are things at the front?”

*****          *****          *****

Our Jungle Road to Tokyo”

I took a flying boat to Jolo, Philippines.  The USS Boise dropped anchor in Jolo Harbor and I rejoined General MacArthur, who reported the Borneo expedition completely successful.  After a tour of the island, we went back aboard the Boise and headed for Davao City.  Gen. Kenney, who now commanded both the 5th Air Force and the 13th Air Force, was aboard.  George and I spent 2 hours discussing the Philippines campaign and the problems which lay ahead.

That evening MacArthur talked to us for almost 2 hours about coming events and next morning we landed at Davao City.  We went as far as Mintal, where Jack Clifford and his troops had not yet been able to end their struggle against a stubborn enemy.

But we had reason to observe that massive artillery support – now under command of Hugh Cort – was true, accurate and devastating.  It was then that MacArthur told me he did not believe there were 4,000 Japanese left alive on Mindanao.  The surrender figures at war end were 23,000 enemy soldiers, showed how wrong he was.

*****          *****          *****

Generals Eichelberger & MacArthur

I was proud of the job the 41st Division had accomplished at Zambo when the fighting was done.  They laid down their guns and went to work.  They cut weeds and they cleaned out debris.  They became good neighbors.

The Japanese had refused to allow Catholic Filipinos (and there were a good many in that Moslem area), to worship at the ancient shrine of Bien Bemido al Virgen del Pilar.  The shrine was about the size of an American sandwich shop and was tucked into a space along a section of the Fort Pilar wall which had fallen into ruin.

GIs of the 41st Signal Company went to the work of repair and finally put up a sign welcoming all nationalities to worship there again.  Before long, there were hundreds of burning candles.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Anderson – Fargo, ND; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Air-Sea Rescue

Joseph Bacigalupi – Little Silver, NJ; US Army

Edwin Bullington – Prairies Grove, AR; US Navy, USS Observation Island, photographer

Harry Doty – Milford, IN; US Army, WWII, artillery

Leonard Fenimore – Cabria, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 11th Airborne Division

Aaron Justice – Weirton, WV; US Army, WWII, ETO

David Lessin – Newark, NJ; US Army, Major, Medical Corps

Gerald Rothaermel – Bridgeport, CAN; Canadian Air Force, WWII

Leonard Solomon – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ATO, TSgt., 42nd Coast Artillery of Engineers

Norman Wecker – Chicago Heights, IL; US Navy, WWII, PBY pilot

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The Generals, Australians and Borneo (2)

The Borneo Campaign Map

From: “General Kenney Reports”

[continued from the previous post where the Generals were on the island of Labaun after the Australian troops had landed to take it back from the Japanese.]

We got to the USS Boise and the next morning we all went over to the beach near Brooketon.  Gen. Wooten joined us.  We waded through a half mile of swamp to a road where 6 jeeps picked us up and drove into the town of Brooketon itself.  The place was completely wrecked by bombing.

Australian soldiers firing artillery, Borneo

Wooten said they encountered very little opposition until they got about 10 miles inland, where they were in contact with about 500 Japs who were dug in on a hill commanding the road.  He had radioed for some airplanes from Palawan to blast their artillery out of the hills so he could use the road.

MacArthur, of course, wanted to see what as going on, so we climbed in the jeeps and headed off for more trouble.  About 5 miles down the road we came to an overturned Jap truck.  It seemed that about 2 hours before, the truck with 12 Nips on board, had dashed along the road with the lights turned on, the horns blowing, and the fools all yelling “Banzai”, heading for the Aussies who were marching toward them.  The Aussie machine-gunners had taken care of the truck and all the Japs.

*****          *****          *****

MacArthur on Labaun, Borneo 10 June 1945

From: “The Australian Experience”

The decision to bring forward the OBOE VI operation, on the western side of Borneo, was a strategic surprise to the Japanese. The area around Brunei Bay facilitated rapid deployments and operational maneuver from the sea. General MacArthur set Z-Day as 10 June 1945. Naval and landing force command for the Brunei Bay amphibious assault, landing 33,500 personnel and 49,500 tons of supplies and equipment was delegated to Rear Admiral Royal, and Major General George Wootten, commander of the Australian 9th Division.

The Brunei Bay operation was, according to MacArthur, ‘flawlessly executed’. Between 10 June 1945 and the end of the war, the fighting at Brunei Bay and Labuan led to the loss of 119 Australians killed and a further 221 wounded. At least eight Americans lost their lives and 55 were wounded. The Japanese lost 1,375 and 130 captured during this operation, although guerillas probably killed another 1,800 throughout British Borneo.

Borneo, 1945

The order of battle for the ground forces for the OBOE II is indicative of the Australian Army’s approach. Australians made up 94 per cent of the invasion force. It was built around the Australian 7th Infantry Division. The major Australian contribution, its nine infantry battalions (in three brigades) were central to the activities of the ground force. The Australian artillery and armored units were allocated an infantry support role, and were not well versed in the application of combined arms teams.

The US Army provided the specialist amphibious ship-to-shore units for the Australian division. While the Australian Army was responsible for beach operations, the Navy provided a Beachmaster and the RAN Beach Commandos. The NEI troops did fight but were also employed as interpreters and as security for the Netherland Indies civil affairs organization. The RAAF airfield construction squadrons, which were attached to the ground force commander, were to land early and have an airbase ready for Allied aircraft in just four days.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Atilano ‘Al’ David – Angeles, P.I. & NM; WWII, PTO, Sgt. 31st Regiment Philippine Division, (Bataan Death March survivor)

Harold P. DeMoss – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Ensign, Fighting Squadron 100, KIA

Hubert Fuller – Huntington, WV; US Army, WWII, PTO, 147th Signal/7th Armored/3rd Army

Frank Guerrieri Sr. – Garfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS St. Louis

John Hickman – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14321

Kathy Meinsen – Bastrop, TX; US Army

Gerald Nehring – Hinckley, IL; US Army, WWII, CBI

Thomas Reilly – Scituate, MA; US Coast Guard, Chief Boatswain’s Mate (Ret. 24 y.)

Norman Summers – Auckland, NZ; Royal Navy # MX801257 / RNZ Navy # 12177

Julian Waldman – Oceanside, NY; US Army, WWII

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Personal Note – I have having a little computer trouble.  If I do not answer comments or visit your site, I will do so as soon as possible.   Thank you for your patience.

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Eye Witness Account – Clearing Manila Harbor

RAdm. William A. Sullivan

This is condensed from a story written by Rear Admiral William A. Sullivan and appears in”The Pacific War Remembered” edited by John T. Mason Jr.

ship in Manila Harbor

 

When Captain B.S. Huie had arrived with his men, I put the gang to work on North Harbor.  There turned out to be over 200 wrecks there.  Huie cleaned this up and then work began on the Pasig River.  For some weeks we had 40 to 60 wrecks cleaned up per week, this was around the end of May.

crossing the Pasig River

Our most important job in Manila was the opening of the main harbor entrance.  The Japanese did a perfect job blocking it – far more efficient than any similar job the Germans had done in Europe.  There were 5 ships sunk in a staggered line across the entrance.  Four of them were old inter-island ships and one was the Luzon, flagship of the Yangtze patrol.  I had the steering wheel of the Luzon taken off and sent to the naval Academy Museum.

USS Luzon

About this time, Doc Schlesinger advised me to get the men out of the tents they had been living in and put them in solid buildings before rainy season hit.  Requisitions for lumber were ignored.  The lumber was being unload by the SeaBees to build build a tremendous 7th Fleet Headquarters.

I watched them and every afternoon at 4:00 pm, they knocked off and went back to their billets.  One night a lighter was not properly secured and drifted loose.  I sent our boat over to it.  Just what we needed!  The next morning, the SeaBees returned and went to work as usual.

I turned it all over to our firefighters and the houses got built by mostly Filipino carpenters and guerrillas.  No one in the Navy asked where I got the lumber.  The only who asked was General Casey, MacArthur’s chief engineer.  I told him I stole it from the Navy as the Army was short, so I couldn’t have stolen any from them.

We had a job which received much publicity, the recovery of silver pesos from the waters around Corregidor.  I asked MacArthur about using Army divers, but he didn’t want the job of Manila Bay neglected.  A week or two later, he brought the subject up again.  He said the money had been removed from Manila bank before the Japanese complete take-over.  The money was dumped by barges, something like 13 million dollars worth.  The United States had both a legal and moral obligation to recover it.

I made up a team of divers and gave the CO of the ARS his orders and he left with an Army finance officer and a MP.  They found no silver.   An Army Sgt., Bataan Death March survivor, recently released POW, who had worked on the barges, marked the chart with an X.  He also said the Japanese had recovered some of the silver themselves.

Dive ship in Manila Harbor

Finally after many dives, the wooden boxes were located at 90 →130 feet down, deteriorated and broken apart.  The divers had to sift the silt on their hands and knees.  The recovery of the silver continued through my stay.  When I left the Philippines (August 1945), I believe something like 7 million dollars in pesos had been recovered.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

August Bill – Woodland, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Vella Gulf

Patrick Churchill – Oxfordshire, ENG; Royal Marines, WWII, ETO

Joseph DioGuardi – Mount MOrris, NY; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Gerald Giles – Lowell, MA; US Army, Cpl., medic

Drensel Haws – Emmett, ID; US Navy, WWII

Dick Marshall – Des Moines, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Reith – LA & CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-51 pilot

David South – Bozeman, MT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 85th Div., Silver Star, Bronze Star

Albert Trapanese – Bronx, NY; US Navy, WWII

Charles Wright – Millcreek, UT; USMC, WWII, PTO

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Battle of Sugar Loaf Hill Okinawa

Eye witness account from Okinawa….

Together We Served Voices

By Scott Sumner USMC 1978 – 1984

My uncle James M. Barrett was a World War II Marine. He was born in Nov. 1923 in Minnesota. He had a promising career as a welterweight boxer, 1until his country’s call became too loud. On January 18, 1943 he reported for duty with the United States Marine Corps. He went through recruit training in San Diego, Calif. and on the first of May was sent to Sitka, Alaska and in October to Attu, Alaska. The Army had finished cleaning the Japanese off the island, and he drew guard duty for the winter.

The battles in the Pacific had taken their toll and the Marine Corps needed more men for the fighting. My uncle was sent to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. for additional infantry training in May 1944. On December 27, he, and many others, embarked on a troop ship for Guadalcanal…

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PTO & CBI reactions to V-E Day

US Army 77th Division hears the news on Okinawa

Victory in Europe was welcome news to Allied troops in the Pacific and the China-Burma-India theaters of war. They greeted it with thanksgiving but there was little celebration. As a London Times special correspondent in Burma wrote, “The war is over. Let us get on with the war.” Now that Europe would no longer be receiving the bulk of troops and materiel, officers and enlisted personnel in the war against Japan hoped they would be given more men and equipment quickly, in order to end their war sooner.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa, the CBI and elsewhere. Kamikazes still made suicide dives to sink Allied ships. The lights may have gone on over Europe and America, but a funeral pall still darkened the Pacific and Asia.

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

Smitty, my father, when asked how he had felt, merely shrugged. “I was happy for my fellow soldiers over there, but we had work to do, so we didn’t think about it very long.”

From The May 7, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

OKINAWA, May 6 (ANS)—The reported death of Adolf Hitler and the word of surrender of the German armies in Italy was good news to soldiers, sailors and marines here but there was no celebrating.Most of the fighting men figured it wouldn’t mean a thing to them “until we can see some help coming and see a chance of ending the war out here.”

They termed Hitler’s death “good riddance” and said it was a good thing he went that way because there probably would have been lots of bickering around if we had taken him alive.”

Gen. Daniel I. Sultan

Gen. Dan I. Sultan, commander of the India-Burma Theater, on V-E Day, paid tribute to the fighting men who won the European war in a short statement to the troops of the India-Burma Theater broadcast over the American Army radio stations in the Theater. The text of Gen. Sultan’s statement:
“Today in Europe, German military might has been broken. After almost six years, organized hostilities have ceased. The great work of reconstruction of the shattered continent can now begin.
“We recognize the tremendous achievements of the Allied Armies in Europe who won this victory, for we too have been fighting. We know the cost of driving back a tenacious enemy – we know the necessity for close co-operation of all branches of our forces, the close union with our allies in the common cause. We know the heartbreaking conditions of combat under adverse weather and over difficult terrain – the back-breaking work of construction and supply in support of combat operations. So, as fighting men, we pay tribute to the fighting men in Europe.
“Their victory is in part our victory. We have done with less man and supplies, so that they might have more. Their victory brings our victory nearer. The men who broke the German ground defenses in the west, who destroyed her essential industries from the air, can now turn their attention to the war with Japan. The industrial strength of the United States, until now producing for the war both in Europe and in Asia, can turn its full productive force to the Far East.
“This is the day of Germany’s defeat and Europe’s liberation, but we must not forget that there is still a tough battle to be fought before the Japs are licked. Every one of us knows his part in that fight; and if every one of us will do his part to the utmost, Japan’s defeat and the liberation of Asia will come surely and swiftly.”

The Pacific War

 

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia greeted V-E Day with the question, “Since when has it been customary to celebrate victory halfway through a contest?” The war with Japan had been the great threat to Australia itself, and the country’s sons were still fighting and dying in that war. Accordingly, the mood was more somber than in Europe. On May 9, some 100,000 people attended a service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

For the most part New Zealanders observed V-E Day on May 9, although there was some spontaneous dancing in the streets. Preparations had been underway for weeks, in part to keep celebrations from getting out of control. Events included speeches, thanksgiving services, and the singing of the national anthems of New Zealand, America and the Soviet Union. A People’s Victory March in Christchurch drew 25,000.

In the U.S., many communities attempted to subdue celebrations, wanting to give the occasion the solemnity they felt it deserved and reminding Americans that, as Truman said, “Our victory is only half over.” Across the country, however, joyous celebrations broke out. Thousands gathered in New York’s Times Square. New Orleans took on the appearance of Mardi Gras, with people dancing in the streets. Church bells rang out the glorious news in small towns and major cities.

In the Soviet Union, Stalin himself seemed less than enthusiastic. His deputy Nikita Khrushchev telephoned to congratulate the Soviet leader on his victory, and Stalin reportedly snapped at him, “Why are you bothering me? I am working.” The USSR’s official victory parade took place in a downpour over a month later, on June 24.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

‘Bring back rationing!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Harold Bishop – Sacramento, CA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Christopher A. Celiz – Summerville, SC; US Army, Afghanistan (7th deployment), Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Dallas ‘Chris’ Christenson – Pensecola, FL, US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

John Hart – Keesville, NY; US Army / US Navy

Melvin Hilscher – Kulm, ND; US Army, WWII

James McLean – AUS; RA Air Force # 428761, WWII, Flight Sgt., 83rd Squadron

George Meyer – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, Medical Corps

Ruskin Reddoch – Troy, AL; USMC, WWII, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

Elliot Seidman – Delray Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

Maria Swafford – Boydton, VA; Civilian, US Map Service, D.C., WWII

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Col. Hiromishi Yahara on Okinawa

Lines of defense on Okinawa. Top Japanese officers were in the bottom line of bunkers.

Colonel Hiromishi Yahara was third in command of the Japanese defenses on Okinawa. Read all about his story below.

It was Colonel Hiromishi Yahara who designed and implemented the jiykusen, or the yard-by-yard battle of attrition that cost the American forces so many casualties in the three-month battle, and he was the highest ranking officer to survive the battle and make it back to Tokyo. Before the overall commander on the island, Lt. Gen. Mitsuru Ushijima, committed ritual suicide in the battle’s final days, he instructed Yahara to escape to Tokyo to make a final report to the emperor.

Yahara was captured by the Americans, which bothered him immensely—to be captured or to surrender was considered a disgrace to one’s family—but eventually he did return to Japan.  In 1973, Yahara still felt strongly that the garrison at Okinawa, as well as the people of Okinawa themselves, had been betrayed by Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo.  Because he faced personal attacks for surviving the battle, Yahara decided to write a book to set the record straight.


The result is a fascinating and unique look at the last, decisive battle of the Pacific War, written by a surviving member of the defeated Japanese command on Okinawa.  Yahara was a gifted and meticulous strategist, highly respected by his peers. Because he had spent two years in the United States as an exchange officer prior to World War II, he knew his enemy better than did his superiors at Okinawa, Ushijima and Maj. Gen. Isamu Cho.

Yahara makes a startling revelation in the book regarding the events surrounding the American landing on Okinawa on April 1, 1945.  According to Yahara, the plans drawn up in Tokyo called for Japanese air power to play the decisive role in the battle for Okinawa prior to the actual landing.  Japanese planes flying from the mainland along with aircraft launched by the Japanese Combined Fleet—conventional fighters and kamikaze suicide attackers—were supposed to strike the U.S. Fifth Fleet offshore prior to the landing and annihilate the American landing forces while they were still in their ships.  The 32nd Imperial Army entrenched on Okinawa was to play a minor role, mopping up the survivors of the American landing forces as they struggled ashore.

Giretsu Commandos on Okinawa

To Yahara, the failure to launch the promised air attack on April 1 sealed the fate of the island’s garrison—it never had a chance for victory. Hundreds of thousands of Okinawan citizens had been betrayed as well, Yahara believed, sacrificed to the whims of the Japanese high command.

Although his love for his country never wavered, Yahara was unique among his peers.  He fully recognized the flaws in traditional Japanese military thinking—the Bushido code, or way of the warrior—and he was disgusted as he watched his superiors repeat the errors of previous eras.  The Imperial Army had a “blood and guts” mentality; it had been undefeated since winning the Sino-Japanese War in 1895.  To the Japanese militarists’ way of thinking, the combination of Japanese spirit and the willingness to die for the emperor would overcome any material advantage enjoyed by an enemy.

Japanese bunker

Yahara was convinced that the initial Japanese strategy for Okinawa—depending on air power—would fail.  Japan’s air forces were seriously degraded by early 1945, and it had lost many experienced pilots. American aircraft were now technically superior, and Japan’s Navy was down to just a few surviving carriers.  Yahara believed that the only chance for his country’s survival lay in the proper use of its remaining ground forces.

After the promised air assault did not materialize, he went ahead with his planned defenses on the ground.  He would fight for time, making the invaders pay dearly for every inch of ground, to allow Japan to prepare its defenses on the main islands for the Allied invasion that was sure to come.  Yahara’s tactics on Okinawa would utilize the island’s terrain, which was perfectly suited for defense, to wage an ugly war of attrition. His soldiers would go underground in caves and concrete bunkers to survive air, artillery, and naval gunfire, and then battle American ground forces for every inch of island real estate. His intricate, multi-layered defensive positions and the tenacity of the 110,000-man 32nd Army combined to prolong the battle for three long and exceedingly bloody months.

Col. Hiromishi Yahara

In his book, Yahara admits that he despised both the self-delusion practiced by his superiors and the false propaganda foisted upon the Okinawan people, who were told that capture by American troops would result in rape, torture, and death, to which suicide was preferable.

Condensed from an article by John Walker.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 Military Humor – BOOT CAMP 

‘Sign me up for swing shift basic training! I don’t think I could handle early morning hours.’

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bathurst – Madison, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frank Conger – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bennington

Missing Man formation

Warren Foss – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

James Gavette – Bradford, PA; US Army, WWII

Samuel Tom Holiday – Kayeta, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, Purple Heart

Norman Jackson – Watertown, NY; US merchant Marine, WWII

Francis McCormack – Rutland, VT; USMC

Irving Press – Windsor, CT; US Army, WWII

Raymond Rzepecki Sr. – Central Falls, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Pfc, B-24 tail gunner, 370th

Omar Shaffer – Linden, VA; US Navy, WWII, gunner

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