Intermission Story (4) – A Japanese Ace

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

“In the ocean of the military, reflective of all distinguished pilots, an honored Buddhist person.”  So translates the name awarded to Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Nishizawa following his death in 1944.  In life, however, he earned himself a very different title.

The Devil of Rabaul, they called him, and not without good reason.

Rabaul 1943

Rabaul 1943

Skilled pilots on both sides fought terrifying aerial battles, carried out daring raids against the enemy and engaged with combatants in the air, on the land and on the sea. Yet even amongst the many outstanding Japanese aces, there was no one quite like Nishizawa.

The outrageous aerobatics, performed in the early summer of 1942, could easily have cost him his life. Instead, the soldiers on the ground held their fire, and by the time Nishizawa returned to his own base, a letter had already arrived congratulating him on his maneuvers – and inviting him back for the “all-out welcome” he deserved.  The Devil of Rabaul chose to decline that particular invitation, of course.

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

In fact, even amongst his own comrades he seemed like a figure out of legend. Nishizawa was known as a strange and solitary character, for he seemed ever more content with the status of an outsider as his celebrated status increased. Tall, thin and strikingly pale, Nishizawa was far from forthcoming, and even once his name became synonymous with acts of courage and valor, he kept to himself.

Even in death, elements of mystery still cling to the man who seemed to stray so close to myth. Nishizawa had already been present at some of the key battles fought in that geographical theatre of the war, and October 1944 found him escorting the first of Japan’s major kamikaze attacks against the Allies. He himself was only present to back up the five bombers, but as the attack unfolded, something extraordinary occurred.

The young pilot watched his comrades hurtling to certain death, their planes ripping into the US warships below. Led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki, the explosions caused by four of the five planes triggered chain reactions throughout the vessels. In the sky overhead, Nishizawa was also engaged in combat, successfully bringing down two F6F Hellcats and raising the total number of his confirmed kills to 88. It was a clear victory for the Japanese fighters, but even as he fought, Nishizawa had a striking vision.

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

While the carnage unfolded before his eyes, he saw another event take place –his own death. Though accounts vary as to the exact nature of the fate he envisioned for himself, he returned from the mission without a shadow of a doubt in his mind. To the Devil of Rabaul, it seemed his end was close at hand.

Once again, he held true to his courageous nature. While another man might have tried to run from his fate, the Devil of Rabaul wasted no time in facing his destiny head on. The very next day, with his premonition still at the forefront of his mind, he himself requested a position on the next suicide squad kamikaze mission. If he had to die, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa was going to do it in style.

Of course, his request was refused.  By denying his wish, Nishizawa’s superiors sealed the fate of their finest pilot.

He was assigned to a different mission in the end, and the following morning set out as a passenger on a transport aircraft, setting off from Mabalacat. The weather was fine, with clear skies and low winds – the region had always been known for its gentler climate.

High in the clear October skies over Mindoro Island, two planes appeared in the distance. They were far behind, but rapidly closing the distance. The US fighters, a pair of F6F Hellcats, were now in hot pursuit, though even they had no idea just who they were bearing down upon.

As the three planes flew above the town of Calapan, American pilot Lt. Harold P. Newell sent the lumbering transport plane before him down in flames.

At the age of 24, just days after he predicted his own end, the Devil of Rabaul was dead.

In his short career, the Japanese Ace of Aces had earned the respect of his enemies and his comrades alike. He had become a nationally recognised symbol of bravery, patriotism and fearlessness in the face of death. Hiroyoshi Nishizawa walks to this day a unique line between a man and a myth, with a story rivalled by few others in its mysterious and evocative nature.

Like all the great figures of legend, the legacy of the man now known as Bukai-in Kohan Giko Kyoshi lives on, even after death. In the ocean of the military, Nishizawa is remembered as an honored Buddhist person, the Devil of Rabaul and the Ace of Aces.

By Malcolm Higgins (@Mhiggins95)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Helen Dellinger – Lincoln County, NC; Civil Air Patrol, WWII

William Emnott – Oshkosh, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Edward Fanning – Englewood, FL; Merchant Marines, WWII

Jack Heyn – W.Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 3rd Bombardment Group/5th Air Force, photographer

Francis Higgiins – Salem MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Kronenberger – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Ora “O.P.” Miller – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Air Transport Unit, pilot

Irena Nowakowska – Warsaw, POL; Polish Underground Army (Armia Krajowa), WWII

Richard Powell – OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Leslie Scace – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII

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Intermission Story (3) – Cpl. Delmer R. Beam & PTSD

Cpl. Delmer Beam

Taken from the book, “Soldiers Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs” with permission by Myra Miller; written by Marshall Miller.

War Stories don’t always end when the shooting stops and soldiers return to civilian life.  The family of former Army Corporal Delmer Beam can tell you all about he horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Cpl. Beam;s separation papers list him as a “Combat Infantryman” in the Army’s 6th Division, 1st Infantry Regiment, C Company.  His WWII experiences started in 1939, as a 17-year old, at Fort Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina and stretched into August 1945, after several years of bitter fighting in the South Pacific against Japanese forces at New Guinea and the Philippines.

Delmer’s wife, Gladys, told her children, Lonnie, Roger and Lana, that the father they came to know after the war was nothing like the “joyful, fun guy” who gave 6½ years of his life – and numerous difficult years beyond – to the cause of freedom.

Gladys said the war destroyed her husband, both mentally and physically.  In the mid-1960’s, Lana said he submitted to shock treatments at Mount Vernon Hospital to calm down his combat issues.  The children couldn’t understand why they weren’t allowed to shoot fireworks on the 4th of July.

Delmer and Gladys Beam

The few stories Beam told about his experiences were tough to hear. Like the one where soldiers were ordered to shoot thirty rounds of ammunition every morning into the surrounding trees to protect the camp from Japanese snipers, who would climb high to get maximum angles on their targets.  Once, Beam recalled, several soldiers were killed by a sniper, even after the morning strafing.  After an exhaustive search, the sniper finally was located hiding in a water canvas bag hanging from a tree.  He had crawled in, poked a small hole in the canvas and shot his victims with a pistol.

Soldier’s Stories

Japanese marksmen and fierce fighting weren’t the only obstacles thrown in Beam’s path.  Malaria was a difficult burden and an attack from scrub typhus mites nearly killed him.  Delmer told his family he got so sick from the mites that he was presumed dead while lying on a stretcher on a bench.  Someone saw him move however and he was transferred to a hospital ship.

His son Roger, chronicled his memories of his Dad’s experience :

As a young boy, I was always enamored with army war stories.  I would ask him about the war many times.  Only on a very few occasions would he talk about it.  It is strange how I can remember some of the stories he told me when I can’t remember what i did yesterday….

He said he saw GI’s almost kill each other over a piece of chicken wire.  The reason is that they would stretch the wire over their fox holes so the Japanese hand grenades would hit the wire and bounce back before it exploded.  It rained every day in the jungle and was very hot and humid…

He told me about his best friend, a young 19-year old from Hope, Arkansas.   While they were being attacked one day by Japanese, my Dad kept telling him to stop sticking his head up over the embankment they were behind, but the young man kept doing it until he got hit in the head and died in my dad’s arms.  This has always made a picturesque impression on me…

I know he was haunted the rest of his life about what he went through, just like so many others.  He was a good dad and even got better the older he got… Dad never met a stranger, he would talk to anyone.

Leather map case

Despite his health issues, Delmer spent his post-war years in Dixon, Missouri, and worked at Fort Leonard Wood as a fire inspector.  He died in 1991 at age 70.  His daughter had these words to remember her Dad:  I guess the most uplifting thing about my dad was… he really believed that he survived when others died because God wasn’t done with him yet.

From Beam’s grandson, Roger Beam Jr., :

My grandpa Delmar told me this story several times as a small boy.  I think he always got a kick out of it and was probably one of his “better” memories of the war.

He told me of the time his squad was out one evening climbing around the sides of trees collecting peppers that they used to flavor basically all their food.  They had rifles slung and arms full of peppers.  As they came around a tree, to their shock and surprise they ran into a squad of Japanese soldiers doing the exact same thing!  He said the resulting chaos was both terrifying and hilarious, as both groups scrambled away.  Not a shot was fired and they saved their peppers!

In the midst of such a horrible time for my grandfather, it does make smile a bit remembering how he smiled when telling this story.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current PTSD Assistance –

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38624/new-va-online-tool-helps-veterans-learn-compare-effective-ptsd-treatments/

https://www.va.gov/VLER/vler-health-exchange-registration-guide.asp?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vler-promo2017-vawide

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38287/veterans-conquer-depression-equine-therapy/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38060/va-announces-new-strategic-partnerships-advance-solutions-tbi-ptsd/

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Military / Home Front Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Armstrong – NYC, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LCI

Gustave Breaux – Notleyville, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO / Vietnam, CMSgt. (Ret. 28 yrs.)

Joseph Dixon – Ochlocknee, GA; US Navy, WWII

Parker ‘Bill’ Fredericks – Midvale, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO / Korea, Lt.Col. (Ret. 26 yrs.)

Roy James – Sylvarina, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Jarrosak – W.Rutland, VT; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Darcy Larking – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Army # 624362, Pvt.

Robert Shoemaker – Killeen, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point Class of ’46, General (Ret.)

Hans Traber – Unterseen, SWITZ; Swiss Army, WWII

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USS Hornet (CV-12) – A Father’s Untold War Story – November – December 1944

Another story you won’t want to miss!!

USS Hornet (CV-12)-A Father's Untold War Story

John T. Ryan US Navy John T. Ryan US Navy

The world is still at war and my father, Seaman First Class, John Thomas Ryan is still serving on the USS Hornet (CV-12).

I should have included the following photograph in my posts about October 1944.

Overhead view of an ammo ship replenishing USS Hornet (CV-12), October 1944. Note the forward antenna masts half way up. Overhead view of an ammo ship replenishing USS Hornet (CV-12), October 1944. Note the forward antenna masts half way up.

Nov-Dec 1944 – Shipping and land strikes in the Philippine area, support of the Mindoro invasion.(According to ship’s log)

Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (Photo #: 80-G-294131). Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane.
Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the…

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Intermission (2) – Home Front – The Blitz Kids of Palm Beach, FL

The Elliot Children

Three young siblings sit at a fountain.  Two girls in matching dresses and white, floppy bonnets; a lad in a schoolboy’s jacket and shorts.  Their smiles are subdued.  The children are long-term guests at the compound of one of Palm Beach’s more famed denizens, Charles Merrill.

Across the sea, their mother pines for her son and two daughters.  But she knows they are safer in America than they would be in England.  Night after night, the full fury of the Nazi war machine bombs their homeland.  “This photo shows Alistair, Anne and Jean Eliot one Sunday at a church in Palm Beach called Bethesda,” poet and writer Alistair Eliot, now 84, recalled. [Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.  Anne on the left; Jean in the middle.]

Charles Merrill

Their emergency host being Charles Merrill, founder of the world’s largest brokerage firm.   Alistair knows little about his family’s connections to the Merrills.  “I am unaware as to how or why these three were chosen, but I met them during the summer months when they accompanied my grandfather to Southampton, NY,” said Merrill Lynch Magowan.

What brought these children to Palm Beach, Florida was the Blitz.

Even before the raids started, British parents started thinking about getting their children out.  The Elliots first planned to move theirs to Australia, Canada or South Africa.  Starting in June 1940, a board that coordinated children’s passage was swamped with applications.

Late in the evening of 17 September 1940, the City of Benares  was 4 days out from Liverpool when a torpedo slammed into it.  The attacked killed 131 of the 200 crewmembers, 131 of the 197 of the passenger – including 70 of the 90 children – this would end the government program.

The British National Archives shows that privately sponsored programs continued and that’s how the Elliots got to the U.S.  In late November 1940, Mrs. Elliot and her 3 children crossed the Atlantic, bad weather and German U-boats and all.  Mrs. Elliot returned to England after she gave the children their Christmas presents.   Alistair said that other ships in their convoy were sunk, “We were attacked at night and I saw ships burning and heard the destroyers whooping rushing past us like Marine ambulances.”

In Palm Beach, the 3 were among many who saw the war come right to them.  In their case, for the second time.  “I saw ships burning on the horizon, in the Gulf Stream, as we were swimming – one time we got covered with oil that had floated in from a sunk tanker,” he said.

Alistair Elliot

Charles Merrill’s biographer, Langdon Hammer, said, Charles Merrill was moved by the heroism of the British… and was eager to do something for the war effort.  He welcomed the Elliot siblings as foster children, seeing not only to their safety, but to their upbringing and education.  He even hired them a governess, and a  British nurse named Jessie Love.”

Charles Merrill died at 70 on 7 October 1956, he would not be remembered for his generous hosting of the children, but as for creating a brokerage empire.  He is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in W.Palm Beach, Florida.  Alistair Elliot wrote to honor his mother, “My mother was a heroine in her own unspoken way.  It had to be done, and she did it, was all she had to say.”

Charles Edward Merrill, 1885-1956

Condensed from an article by Eliot Kleinberg, Palm Beach Post, staff writer, but it can also be located in Stars and Stripes.

Click on images to enlarge and read captions.

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Home Front Humor – 

“THE NEIGHBORS SAY SHE SOUNDS TOO MUCH LIKE AN AIR-RAID SIREN”

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Dean Armstrong – Hutchinson, KS; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Lt., pilot

Charles Bell III – Mt. Pleasant, SC; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division, West Point Class of 1950

Daniel Doyle – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Afghanistan, Major

Norman Fraser – North York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Don Hill – Troy, MI; US Army, WWII

Grant Iverson – Washington, UT; US Navy, WWII

Ray James – Sylvarina, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, F/2/8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Philip LaForce – Oxford, MA; US Army, WWII, SSgt., POW, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Archie Newell – Lemmon, SD; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pvt., 2nd Tank Battalion, KIA (Tarawa)

Calvin Wilhite Jr. – Memphis, TN; US Army, WWII, Sgt.

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Intermission Story (1) – A Castaway’s War Against the Japanese

Lt. Hugh Barr Miller w/ flag he retrieved from Arundel Island

Lt. Hugh Barr Miller w/ flag he retrieved from Arundel Island

In The Castaway’s War, Stephen Harding has fastened on one U.S. Navy officer’s amazing exploits in the South Pacific—an adventure much publicized during and immediately after World War II, but long forgotten since—and fleshed it out into a full-scale narrative not only of the episode itself, but of the moral and physical shaping of the man who accomplished it. Mining official records of the U.S. and Japanese navies, personal letters, and recollections, Harding creates a retelling that is not only gripping, but fully documented. [Harding is the editor of World War II’s sister publication, Military History.]

9780306823404

A Robinson Crusoe story set in wartime.

The feat that made a hero and news media darling of Lieutenant Hugh Barr Miller Jr. began 43 minutes after midnight on July 5, 1943, off the coast of the Solomon Islands. A Japanese torpedo struck Miller’s destroyer, the USS Strong. Miller rescued many of his men, but before he could board the rescue ship that had arrived, it fled under enemy fire. The USS Strong went down, and Miller went into the water wearing a kapok life jacket. Seriously injured from the shock wave created as the Strong’s depth charges exploded, he was pulled onto a floater net holding three other survivors. The four men washed ashore three days later at Arundel, a small Japanese-occupied island just ten miles long and six miles wide.

Lt. Hugh Barr Miller aboard the USS Strong

Born on 19 January 1910, Hugh Miller became a star quarterback for the University of Alabama in the 1930 season.  He led the team to win the Rose Bowl game played on New years Day 1931.  The Crimson Tide crushed the Washington Cougars 24-0.

Adm. Halsey, Hugh Miller & Eleanor Roosevelt when Miller received the Navy Cross & Purple Heart

Miller’s incredible tale unfolds over the 38 days he remained stranded.  After suffering from near-fatal injuries and exposure to the elements, he ordered the enlisted men who had landed with him to leave him behind and make for an American-held island. However, he miraculously recovered. Using woodsman skills learned in his adolescence and grit inspired by his collegiate football coach, Miller managed not only to evade Japanese search parties, but to kill more than a half dozen Japanese soldiers. The sojourn on Arundel finally ended when Miller signaled a low-flying American TBM Avenger and the pilot sent a seaplane to rescue the lone castaway.

USS Strong, sunk at Kula Gulf

USS Strong, sunk at Kula Gulf

Harding, contemptuous of “the chest-thumping, testosterone-fueled prose” in which Miller’s episode was so often retold in pulp publications in the immediate postwar years, recounts Miller’s story in calm, precise detail, carefully correcting the myths and inaccuracies that adhered over the years. This is Miller’s entire life, sketching in his prewar years and how they forged the man who became the hero of Arundel, chronicling the Strong’s wartime missions and maneuverings, and following Miller through his postwar career as a navy lawyer and military court judge.

So while the heart of the book—the 90 pages covering the time from the torpedoing of the destroyer to Miller’s rescue from Arundel—is certainly the most riveting, the reader is able to put Miller’s experience into the perspective of the full life of a man who, while perhaps not extraordinary, did extraordinary things.

Hugh Barr Miller passed away 21 June 1978.

The Castaway’s War will be made into a full-length movie.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Celani Jr. – Lancaster, CA; US Navy, Naval Special Warfare Command, Lt. Comdr., pilot

Matthew ‘Hattie’ Hatfield – Everleigh, ENG; British Army, Royal Tank Reg., Cpl.

Darren Neilson – Blockburn, ENG; British Army, Royal Tank Regiment, Cpl.

Fred I. Sonnenfeld – Bronx, NY; US Army, Cpl.

George P. Teel Jr. – White Haven, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 8th Army, Cpl.

Robert J. York – Tamaqua, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, Lt. Col.

FROM THE USS FITZGERALD

Shingo A. Douglass – San Diego, CA; US Navy, Yeoman 3rd Class

Noe Hernandez – Weslaco, TX; US Navy, Gunner’s mate 2nd Class

NgocT T. Huynh – Oakville, CT; US Navy, Sonar Tech 3rd Class

Alex Martin – Halethorpe. MD; Personnel Specialist 1st Class

Gary L. Rehm Jr. – Elyria, OH; Fire Controlman 1dt Class

Dakota Kyle Rigsby – Palmyra, VA; US Navy, Gunner’s mate Seaman

Carlosvictor G. Sibayan – Chula Vista, CA; Fire Controlman 2nd Class

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11th Airborne Division – end of 1944

 

Gen. Swing and his staff during a briefing on Leyte.

My father swore that this incident occurred, but on which island, I can not say. Although Smitty already felt great respect for his commander, General Swing, he developed even more after witnessing this event: “A bunch of us were hunkered down due to the resistance we suddenly encountered. Everyone dove for cover and tried to figure out where the bullets were coming from except one guy still standing and looking around. (The general did not have his insignia on his uniform.) One G.I. yelled out, ‘Get down you f–kin’ jerk! You want your head blown off?’ I looked over and saw it was the old man himself and thought jeez is that soldier ever going to get reamed when we get back. But, the general got down.  I asked him later that evening why he let the soldier off without a word, and answered that the kid was right!”

General Joseph Swing
[On the back of this photo. Smitty wrote, “My General”]

There are other stories about Swing that are quite similar, including one where, rather than getting down, he actually walked over to the palm tree where the sniper was firing from and pointed him out as the U.S. sharpshooters dropped him.
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Leyte, 1944

From the moment the 11th Airborne landed on Leyte, the fighting was heavy, but they made excellent process across the island. Suzuki’s Thirty-Fifth Army became desperate, especially after the fall of Ormoc, which cut off his troops from their naval supply.  Smitty’s division would soon be put back in reserve as they rest up for Luzon.
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11th A/B on Leyte, 1944

While on Leyte, the 11th A/B was attached to General Krueger’s Sixth Army. A superior reference guide to the movements of this unit can be found in the various books by, Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr. (Ret.). The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division gives detailed accounts by the author, who himself was the commander of the 11th Division’s B Battery of the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion. And – a very nice man I might add. I was privileged to have two phone conversations with the general.

Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, Jr.

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By the end of December, the enemy had suffered 113,221 casualties and lost 2,748 planes.  The American loss was reported at 11,217.  This time also marked the point when Japanese General Yamashita sustained perhaps the greatest defeat in his country’s history.  Ninety percent of enemy troops on Leyte were killed or committed suicide.

From Saipan, Allied B-29s were beginning to make their bombing runs over mainland Japan.

21 December 1944, General Swing and Col. Quandt flew to Manarawat in cub planes.  Upon landing, the general was said to look “as muddy as a dog-faced private.”  (Swing would often be in the thick of things and this description of him was common.)  He slept that night in the camp’s only nipa hut, which ended up being destroyed the next day.

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Personal Note –  About Intermission Stories – We will continue with following the chronologically and have more stories about Smitty after what I call the Intermission Stories that are filled in between the end of one year and the start of the next.  They are eye-witness accounts, data, stories that have been missed in 1944 or are leading up to 1945.  We have so many new followers, I felt it needed some explanation.  There will also be home front episodes.

I hope you all find something you’re interested in, maybe a chuckle or two or even a tear.  Please feel free to contribute any story you know about from veterans you’ve known or had a discussion with – or even your own story.  Also, remember the Farewell Salutes are for anyone to contribute to, the veteran need not be recently deceased.  Simply put their information in the comment section and I will put them on the following post.  Have a wonderful weekend everybody!!

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Military Humor – 

BUDGET CUTS

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Farewell Salutes –

Sylvan Alcabes – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII

E. Lee Bowman – Broadway, VA; US Navy, WWII

Daniel Doyle – Sarasota, FL; US Army, Major

Thomas Fahey Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Margarito Gomez – KS; US Army, WWII, CBI, Corps of Engineers, Bronze Star

Henry Hickman – Palmerston, North, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 403004, WWII, Flt. Sgt.

William Hoks – Lola, WI; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Lane – Chatham, CAN; RC Army, WWII, 17th Field Reg/3rd Forward Observer Unit

Lawrence Smith – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, Yeoman

Leroy Zeedyk – Kankakee, IL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LST-169

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U.S. Army’s 242nd Birthday / Flag Day

THE U.S. ARMY

AMERICA’S FIRST NATIONAL INSTITUTION

U.S. Army uniforms through the years

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FLAG DAY 

Today is Flag Day, an annual observance of the Second Continental Congress’ official adoption of the stars and stripes in 1777. At the time, they “resolved that the flag of the 13 United States” be represented by 13 alternating red and white stripes and the union by 13 white stars in a blue field, “representing a new constellation.” Now, more than 200 years later and with an updated design, the flag is an American icon.  Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is the only state to recognize it as a legal holiday.

U.S. Army Sergeant Joey Odoms’ audition to sing the National Anthem from Afghanistan. On  10 November 2016, he performed in Baltimore, Maryland.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Dillion Baldridge – Youngsville, NC; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Cpl., KIA

William Bays- Barstow, CA; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Sgt., KIA

Eric Houck – Baltimore, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, 101st Airborne Division, Sgt., KIA

R. Patrick McGinley – Plainville, CT; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Robert ‘Allen’ O’Berry – Kissimmee, FL; US Army, Sgt. (Ret. 20 yrs.)

Marcella Remery – W.Palm Beach, FL; US Army WAC

Harold Roland Jr. – Atlanta, GA; US Army, Korea, 82nd Airborne Division

Richard Stackhouse – Indianapolis, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., B-24 bombardier

Robert Wilke Sr. – Owens Cross Roads, AL; US Army, Vietnam, Lt.Colonel, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Samuel Wilson – Rice, VA; WWII & Vietnam, ‘Merrill’s Marauders, Lt. General (Ret. 37 yrs.), Silver Star (2), Bronze Star (2)

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Gen. Kenney on the End of 1944

90st Bombardment Group; 5th Air Force; 319th, B-24s

General Kenney, Commander of the Fifth Air Force reported:

“Just before dark on 26 December, a Navy Reconnaissance plane sighted a Jap naval force of 1 heavy cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 6 destroyers about 85 miles NW of Mindoro {Philippines], headed toward San Jose.  We had available on out 2 strips there, 12 B-25s from the 71s Recon Squadron, the 58th Fighter Group (P-47s), the 8th Fighter Group (P-38s and the 110 Tactical Recon Squadron (P-40s).

“Every airplane that could fly took off on the attack, which continued until after midnight.  The Japs kept on coming and the planes kept shuttling back and forth, emptying their bomb racks and ammunition belts and returning for more.  In addition to the difficulty of locating and attacking the Nip vessels in the dark, the enemy made the job still harder by bombing our airdromes at intervals through the night.

Gen. MacArthur & Gen. Kenney

“In order to see what they were bombing and strafing, some of our pilots actually turned their landing lights on the Jap naval vessels.  With neither time nor information for briefings during the operation, it was every man for himself and probably the wildest scramble the Nip or ourselves had ever been in.

“Ar 11:00 P.M. the enemy fleet started shelling our fields and kept it up for an hour.  Fires broke out in our gasoline dumps, airplanes were hit, the runways pitted, but the kids still kept up their attack.  The P-47s couldn’t get at their bomb dump because of the fire, so they simply loaded up with ammunition and strafed the decks of every ship in the Jap force.  They said it was “like flying over a blast furnace, with all those guns firing at us.”

“Shortly after midnight. the Jap fleet turned around and headed north. They had been hurt.  A destroyer had been sunk and a cruiser and 2 destroyers heavily damaged.

“The attack had saved our shipping at San Jose from destruction, but it had cost us something too.  Twenty-five fighter pilots and B-25 crew members missing.  We had lost 2 B-25s and 29 fighter aircraft.  During the next few days we picked up 16 of the kids who were still floating around the China Sea in their life rafts.  I got Gen. MacArthur to approve a citation for each of the units that took part in the show.

Lt. Phyllis Hocking, 36 Evac Hospital, Palo, Leyte at Church of Transfiguration

On the 30th, Lt.Col. Howard S. Ellmore, a likable, happy-go-lucky, little blond boy from Shreveport, LA, leading the 417th Attack Group, the “Sky Lancers” caught a Jap convoy in Lingayen Gulf, off Vigan on the west coast of Luzon.  In a whirlwind low-level attack, a destroyer, a destroyer escort, 2 large freighters and one smaller were sunk.

“It was a fitting climax to 1944, which had been an advance from Finschaven to Mindoro, a distance of 2400 miles, equal to that from Washington to San Francisco.  During that time, my kids had sunk a half million tons of Jap shipping and destroyed 3000 Jap aircraft.  Our losses of aircraft in combat during the year were 818.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Hazel Bogaard – Sioux Falls, SD; US Army WAC, WWII, CBI, 142nd General Hospital ship, 2nd Lt.

John S. Czyscon – NY Mills, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 711th Ordnance Co./188th parachute Reg./11th Airborne Div.

A soldier’s death

Norman Fraser Sr. – No. York, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Raymond Hall – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4213081, WWII, PTO

Virgil Motsinger – Eugene, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Anzio (CVE-57)

Jack O’Neill – OR & CA; US Navy, WWII, pilot

Robert E. Oxford – Concord, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, “The Hump”, 1st Lt., KIA

Bobby Stubbs – Sedalia, MO; Korea & Vietnam, Captain (Ret.)

Adam West – Walla Walla, WA; US Army, American Forces Network, (beloved actor)

Vincent Vann Higginbotham Sr. – Springer, OK; US Merchant Marine, WWII

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Kempeitai of WWII and the POW’s

Kanchanaburi (Kanburi). Prisoners of war, in their quarters in an open-sided attap hut in the POW camp (commonly called Kanburi by the Australians). All seem aware that their photograph is being taken secretly, at risk to themselves and the photographer if film or camera were discovered by the Japanese. Many prisoners were brought here from Burma after the Burma-Thailand railway was completed.

The Kempeitai (憲兵隊, Kenpeitai, “Military Police Corps”), was the military police arm of the Imperial Japanese Army from 1881 to 1945.  It was not a conventional military police as we know them, but more of a secret police.  A member of the corps was called a kempei.

For prisoners of the Japanese life was never easy – even though conditions had eased somewhat for many men who had survived the building of the Burma Siam death railway.

Kanchanaburi in Thailand was regarded as one of the better camps, where there was a relatively regular supply of food. Malnourishment and the associated diseases were still common here but most men eked out a living.

Kempeitai soldier

Ken Adams, a medic with the RAMC who worked in the camp hospital, describes conditions at the end of 1944, when they knew from Allied bombing raids that the war was going their way. Trying to find out any details was a perilous business:

The railway station and stores also were bombed repeatedly, but our camp was far enough away from them and we avoided casualties.

Towards the end of the year Allied planes flew over our camp most days, going to bomb something or coming back from a raid, and camp security now required the excavation of a substantial ditch, perhaps 20 feet deep and at least 30 feet across, around the entire camp.

This was a massive undertaking without mechanical assistance and was similar to the ditch excavated around the camp at Taimuang. I think similar ditches were carved out around camps across southern Thailand, a reflection of fundamental changes in the world outside the camps: only a few months before a simple bamboo fence, drawbridge and gate had satisfied camp security requirements.

The Kempeitai’s presence increased through the year. These stocky little policemen with their fondness for torture, dark glasses and swords that were too big for them, filled everyone with fear. They didn’t often make forays into our quarters but were unnecessarily destructive when they did, throwing our kit about with abandon. A lingering look from them made you quake.

I remember a lad at the aerodrome camp who was trussed up in a drainage ditch near one of the huts. I managed to talk to him and he said he’d attempted to escape and was waiting for the Kempeitai. He thought they were taking him to Singapore for execution.

The Kempeitai were horrible little bastards. My most vivid memory of them is being lined up outside a hut as they beat a bloke to death who’d been caught with a radio hidden in a tin of peanuts. We had to stand to attention and listen to his screaming. The beating lasted a long time. I can’t say how long but the bastards knew how to prolong this torture and didn’t want him to die too quickly. I can still hear those screams.

While this was happening, the camp gunso sauntered among our ranks, kicking blokes in the shins if they didn’t meet his notion of standing to attention. If the purpose of the violence was to provide an object lesson in why not to build and operate a radio, it was very effective.

We speculated endlessly on the meaning of all this bombing, digging and secret police activity. We also speculated on what the Japanese were trying to achieve by making propaganda films at this time about our ‘privileged’ lives as prisoners.

We were filmed resplendent in new clothes we’d never see again, within drooling distance of fine foods we’d never eat and holding tennis rackets we’d never use to hit a ball.

Did the air strikes mean the end of the war was just around the corner? Did all the digging anticipate possible landings by paratroops and attempts to arm prisoners? Was the stage being set for a defensive tussle that might outlive us? Was the filming part of a strategy to rewrite history in preparation for a post-war world when we’d be reconciled?

Kanchanaburi, Thailand, 1944

 

 

Ken Adams wrote the book: “Healing In Hell: The Memoirs of a Far Eastern POW Medic”

This information is mostly from WW2 Today and Wikipedia.

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Military Humor – C.B.I. Roundup style – STRICTLY G.I.

“LET’S GET THAT POCKET BUTTONED UP THERE SOLDIER!”

“…AND TO PVT. JENKINS FOR TYPING 120 WORDS PER MINUTE…”

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Farewell Salutes –

James Bailey – Atlantic, IA; US Army, WWII

Archibald Gray – Matamata, NZ; RNZ Army # 422703, WWII

James Harmon – Orleans, IN; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LST

Robert Jones – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret. 27 yrs.), pilot

Victor Maccini – Wellesley, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Robert ‘Allen’ O’Berry – Kissimmee, FL; US Army, Sgt. (Ret. 20 yrs.)

Peter Sallis – Middlesex, ENG; RAF, WWII, wireless mechanic, (beloved actor)

Margaret Treleaven – Saskatoon, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO

William Weinstein – NY; US Army, WWII, SSgt.

James Willis – Norfolk, VA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bailey

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December 1944 (4)

British troops rest with their mules after crossing the Chindwin River near Sittaung, Burma, 1944

4 December – in Burma, the British 14th Army established 3 beachheads on the Chindwin River as part of Operation Extended Capital.  From here, XXXIII Corps drove southeast towards Schewbo and Mandalay in a 2-prong attack: in the south, IV Corps would push down Kabbaw Valley about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Mandalay; in the north, the 19th Indian Division would start a decoy offensive from Sittaung towards Indaw.

6 December – in the Mariana Islands, one US B-29 Superfortress was destroyed and 2 more damaged during an early morning raid by 10 Japanese Betty bombers.  Six of the enemy aircraft were downed by antiaircraft fire.

8 December – the US Army Air Corps began one of the the most extensive aerial campaigns of WWII.  A 72-day bombardment of Iwo Jima by B-24 and B-25 bombers.  Despite the island having already sustained previous attacks, this was the preparation for a mid-February 1945 US invasion.

With the defeats of the Japanese Operation Inchi-Go in China, Stilwell saw this as an opportunity to command all the armies to remove the enemy.  Chiang insisted to FDR that Stilwell be removed – and he was.  New York Times correspondent Atkinson, stationed in the CBI theater, wrote:

The decision to relieve General Stilwell represents the political triumph of a moribund, anti-democratic regime that is more concerned with maintaining its political supremacy than in driving the Japanese out of China. The Chinese Communists… have good armies that they are claiming to be fighting guerrilla warfare against the Japanese in North China—actually they are covertly or even overtly building themselves up to fight Generalissimo’s government forces… The Generalissimo [Chiang Kai-shek] naturally regards these armies as the chief threat to the country and his supremacy… has seen no need to make sincere attempt to arrange at least a truce with them for the duration of the war… No diplomatic genius could have overcome the Generalissimo’s basic unwillingness to risk his armies in battle with the Japanese.

Burma 

15 December – in Burma, the British troops in the north met up with the Chinese and American forces at Banmauk.  The combined troops set off to focus in on Schwebo and Mandalay.  They started by way of the Myitkyina-Mandalay railway and the Irrawaddy River.

16 December – British carrier aircraft in the Dutch East Indies bombed the Japanese oil installations at Belawan-Deli on Sumatra.

19 December – in the East China Sea, the American submarine USS Redfish attacked and sank the Japanese carrier IJN Unryu.

23 December – in Burma, the 74th Brigade/25th Indian Div. took Donbaik.  The 81st and 82nd W.African Div. advanced southeast to Muohaung and isolated the enemy in Akyab from the main Japanese 28th  Army.  By the end of 1944, the 36th Div. was across the Irrawaddy River.

Soldiers of the E.African Army crossing the Chindwin River by ferry, Burma, Dec. 1944

27 December – US submarines reported sinking 27 Japanese vessels throughout the Pacific and Far Eastern waters; including a carrier, destroyer, cruiser and the remainder a list of cargo and escort ships.

29 December – Gen. Groves, Commander of the Manhattan Project, sent a top-secret report to the desk of Gen. Marshall, “The first bomb, without previous full scale test, which we do not believe is necessary, should be ready about 1 August 1945.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – STRICTLY G.I.  by EHRET, from CBI Roundup

“WHAT’S THIS RUMOR ABOUT GOING OVERSEAS?”

“LET’S PICK UP THIS FOX HOLE AND PUT IT OVER THERE.”

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Farewell Salutes –   

George Aylmore – W.AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO

Douglad Baptiste – Manitoba, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Carl Eckman – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Ward Goessling Jr. – Norman, OK; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT, Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Anthony Read – King’s Lynn, ENG; British Army, WWII, Captain

James Smith – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

Herbert Thorpe Sr. – Marlboro, MA; US Army, WWII

Lawrence Ulrey – Columbus, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radarman, USS Mobjack (AVP-27)

William Vassar – Cromwell, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO / Korea Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Calvin Young – Lancaster, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 134th Division

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