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January 1945 cont’d

11th Airborne, Leyte

 

As the fighting for the 11th Airborne Division, on Leyte, came to a close, the battalions worked their way back to Bito Beach.  The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery and the 457th Parachute Field Artillery remained in strategic positions to cover them.

The Luzon Attack Force, commanded by VAdmiral Kinkaid, under MacArthur, was composed of 7th Fleet units and numbered more than 850 ships. This was divided into the Lingayen Attack Force (Vice Admiral Wilkinson commanding), the San Fabian Attack Force (Vice Admiral Barbey), a reinforcement group (R Admiral Conolly commanding), a fire support and bombardment group ( VAdmiral Oldendorf ) and surface and air covering groups (Rear Admiral Berkey and Rear Admiral C.T. Durgin, respectively, commanding). The Luzon Attack Force was to transport, put ashore and support elements of the 6th U.S. Army (Lieutenant General Walter Krueger) to assist in the seizure and development of the Lingayen area.

2→3 January – A military report showed that 111 enemy aircraft were destroyed on and above Formosa and the Ryukyu Islands.  B-24’s hit Haha Jima and Iwo Jima over a seven hour period and areas of Luzon and the Netherland East Indies (NEI) continued to be hit.

In preparation for the upcoming invasions of Iwo Jima, Okinawa and eventually Japan, Gen. MacArthur was placed in command of US ground forces and Adm. Nimitz over all naval forces.

3→4 January – the 3rd Fleet, operating under Admiral Halsey, with its fast carrier task force commanded by VAdmiral McCain, was to cover and protect the operation by air strikes over Luzon.  There was little airborne opposition, but unfavorable weather conditions somewhat reduced the toll of enemy ships, planes and facilities destroyed.

Yamashita’s division of Luzon

Early in January, Japan’s General Yamashita pulled his Fourteenth Army (260,000 men) back off of Luzon’s beach to conserve them. He was aware of the forthcoming invasions of American troops.

Yamashita divided his men into three defensive groups; the largest, the Shobu Group, under his personal command numbered 152,000 troops, defended northern Luzon. The smallest group, totaling 30,000 troops, known as the Kembu Group, under the command of Tsukada, defended Bataan and the western shores. The last group, the Shimbu Group, totaling 80,000 men under the command of Yokoyama, defended Manila and southern Luzon.

Yamashita tried to rebuild his army but was forced to retreat from Manila to the Sierra Madre Mts. of northern Luzon, as well as the Cordillera Central Mts. Yamashita ordered all troops, except those tasked with security, out of the city.

Almost immediately, IJN RAdm. Sanji  Iwabuchi re-occupied Manila with 16,000 sailors, with the intent of destroying all port facilities and naval storehouses. Once there, Iwabuchi took command of the 3,750 Army security troops, and against Yamashita’s specific order, turned the city into a battlefield.

Major Thomas McGuire

7 January – US pilot and ace, Major Thomas McGuire (38 victories) was killed in a low-level combat with a group of Japanese Zero fighters, led by Shiochi Sugita, the 3rd highest scoring ace of the IJN Air Force, over Negros Island.

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Military Humor – 

If it’s stupid, but it works > it ain’t stupid.

If at first you don’t succeed > call in an airstrike.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James J. Bednarcik – Cleveland, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, SeaBee

Lawrence Brooks (112) – Norwood, LA; US Army, Australia, Pfc., 91st Engineering Battalion

Final Mission

Vincent D’Andrea – Sloatsburg, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Broome

John Farnsworth (101) – Salem, MA; Civilian Conservation Corps  / US Army, WWII

David Gilbert (105) – South Bend, IN; US Navy, WWII

Richard “Dick” Lutes – Wiscasset, ME; US Navy, Vietnam, Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic, Black Beret, River PT Sailor

Timothy D. Minatrea – Quitman, TX; US Navy, Desert Storm, Aviation Electricians Mate 1st Class

David V. Nguyen – Oakland, CA; CA National Guard, 870th MP Co.

Charles A. Peachtree Jr. – Lexington, KY; US Army, WWII, infantry

Juanita Quintero (100) – Pinole, CA; Civilian, welder, Richmond Shipyards

Edwin Schmidt – Alton, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, cartographer

Billy Turner – Ardmore, OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Wesley Woods – Hornlake, MS; US Army, MSgt., 1st Stryker Brigade/25th Infantry Division

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1 January 1945

5th Air Force strafing Clark Air Field, 1945

 

Ringing in the new year 1945 with fireworks had a far different meaning in the Pacific and CBI Theaters than we’re used to.  It began with ______

In the Philippines – bombings of Clark Field on Luzon and Sasa on the island of Mindanao.  Wasile Bay enemy bivouac areas felt the bombardments from overhead B-24’s and B-25’s.  Manila saw the fighter-bombers as shipyards and other airfields and ammunition dumps were blown.  US Air Force planes sank the Japanese ship No. 7, Taiko Maru and No. 3, Taiwan Maru, off Masinloc, P.I.

Philippine Islands

Also in the Philippines – the USS Stingray delivered 35 tons of supplies to Filipino forces on the north coast of Tawi Tawi.   HMS Staesman sank four small Japanese vessels with gunfire northeast of Sumatra.

In the Netherland East Indies – the IJN Kyyokku Maru was sunk by a mine that was previously laif by HMN Tradewind off Mergui.

From Saipan – The 7th Air Force had 19 B-24’s bomb Iwo Jima.  This was followed by additional bombers during the evening hours in waves.

In China – railroads, warehouses, industry and gun positions were bombed.  Suchow Airfield lost 25 aircraft.  Armed ground reconnaissance units hit between Xiaolan and Hsuchang.

India-Burma – had the tenth Air Force bombing furl dumps, villages, supply areas, tanks and enemy troops at several locations.  Four other targets of opportunity were found along the Irrawaddy River while large-scale transport operations proceeded as planned.

When we last spoke in the war posts, the 11th Airborne Division was on Leyte and still battling a well dug-in enemy in the uncharted mountains of the island.   As the fighting for the 11th Airborne on Leyte came to a close, the battalions worked their way back to Bito Beach.  The 674th and 675th Glider Field Artillery and the 457th Parachute Field Artillery remained in strategic positions to cover them.

Despite MacArthur declaring Leyte secure on Christmas Day 1944, even Gen. Robert Eichelberger said in relation to the “mopping-up” his men were left with, “The Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island…  Soon Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley… well equipped and apparently well-fed.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign we killed more than 27,000 Japanese…”

Col. Austin “Shifty” Shofner, USMC, [ the only man to lead a successful escape from a Japanese POW camp (1943)], was assigned to the Army’s 37th Division as an observer and boarded the USS Mount McKinley at New Guinea and sailing for Luzon.  Within a week, he would witness the onset of the Kamikaze Special Attack Force aiming their aircraft at the US Navy in Lingayen Gulf.  The future Brigadier General would assist in the planning of the rescue plans of the Cabanatuan POW camp where over 500 Allied survivors of the Bataan Death March were being held.

Col. Shafer being tended to.

References used: “Pacific War” by John Davison; Pacific Wrecks; “The Pacific” by Hugh Ambrose; WW2 Timelines, World War 2 Photos and “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frederick W. Anderson (100) – Southington, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT Base # 2

Lee Anthony – Petrolia, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Rome E. Barr – Martins Ferry, OH; US Navy, WWII, USS Loy (Destroyer Escort)

Nando A. Cavalieri – Eveleth, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Captain, 324/91/8th Air Force, B-17G pilot, KIA (Döberitz, GER)

Edward Conway – Canon City, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Electrician’s Mate 1st Class # 3718589, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Don D. Dowler Jr. – Clarinda, IA; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Edwyna Green (100) – Summerset, NZ; NZ Women’s Air Corps, WWII, LCPL # 812146

Richard “Demo Dick” Marcinko – Langsford, PA; US Navy, Vietnam, Iran, SEAL Team # 6 Commander, 4 Bronze Stars, Silver Star (Ret. 25 y.)

Wilbur F. Newton – Mound City, MO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class # 3760544, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Henry Steele – Corbett, OR; US Army

Jack Tison – Bifay, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Medic

Betty White – Oak Park, IL; Civilian, WWII, American Women’s Volunteer Service, PX truck driver  /  Beloved Actress

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Leyte, eye-witness account from Gen. Robert Eichelberger

Gen. Douglas MacArthur, left, Lt. Gen. Robert L. Eichelberger, right.

“Eighth Army took over Leyte on Christmas Day.  There were 8 divisions fighting there when I assumed command.  When the 32nd Div. and 1st Cavalry broke through on a narrow front, GHQ described the Leyte campaign as officially closed and future operations as “mopping-up.”

“Actually, the Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island.  This estimate was in serious error.  Soon, Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley, well equipped and apparently well-fed.  It took several months of the roughest kind of combat to defeat this army.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign, we killed more than 27,000 Japanese.

Leyte painting, “FOLLOW ME!” by Col Aubrey Newman

“Many others, evacuated safely by bancas (small boats), and reappeared to fight the 8th Army on other islands.  I called these singularly alive veteran troops the Ghosts of Leyte.

“I am a great admirer of Gen. MacArthur as a military strategist…  But I must admit that after 6 years serving under him, I never understood the public relations policy that either he or his assistants established.  It seems to me ill advised to announce victories when a first phase had been accomplished…

“Too often, as at Buna, Sanananda, as on Leyte, Mindanao and Luzon, the struggle was to go on for a long time. Often these announcements produce bitterness among combat troops, and with good cause.  The phrase “mopping-up” had no particular appeal for a haggard, muddy sergeant of the Americal Division whose platoon had just been wiped out in western Leyte…  Or to the historian of the 11th Airborne, who wrote:

‘Through mud and rain, over treacherous rain-swollen gorges, through jungle growth, over slippery, narrow, root-tangled, steep foot trails, the Angels pushed wet to clear the Leyte mountain range…  It was bitter, exhausting, rugged fighting – physically the most terrible we were ever to know.’

11th Airborne field artillery on Leyte

The combat infantryman deserved the best and usually fared the poorest in the matter of sugar plums, luxuries and mail from home.  The home folks in America were vastly generous, but transport to the front could not always carry out their good intentions.  Ammunition and rations came first.  This – the G.I. could understand… But, it was disconcerting to find out he had only been “mopping -up”.

“If there is another war, I recommend that the military and the correspondents and everyone else concerned, drop the phrase “mopping-up” from their vocabularies.  It is NOT a good enough phrase to die for.”

This post is from “Our Jungle Road to Tokyo” by General Robert Eichelberger.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Clifford H. Bailey – Acoma, NM; (Acoma Indian Reservation); US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Benjamin R. Bazzell – Seymour, CT; US Army, Korea, Cpl; HQ/57FA/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Chester Benoit – Putnam, CT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 503/11th Airborne Division

James E. Cruise – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Navigator/ Flight Officer

Charles W. Harpe Jr. – Ashland, KY; USMC, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Captain (Ret. 33 y.)

Anthony F. Mendonca – Waipahu, HI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Co A/106/27th Infantry Division, KIA (Saipan)

Lawrence Overley – Los Angeles, CA; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman 2nd Class #3820643, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Robert Leslie Putnam – Mason, OH; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation / Korea, 188 &187th/11th Airborne Division // Deputy Sheriff, Police Chief

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/224877961/robert-leslie-putnam

James N. Stryker – W.Nanticoke, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., Co. L/3/23/2nd Infantry Division, KIA (Han’gye, SK)

Morris E. Swackhammer – Binghamton, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc., Co. C/1/143/36th Infantry Division, KIA (Fraize, FRA)

Flora Wilhelm – Evansville, IN; Civilian, WWII, aircraft riveter

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Leyte | First-hand account – Purple Heart Hill

Purple Heart Hill

Pfc John Chiesa, E Company/188th Regiment/11th Airborne and Privates Davis and Duncan were on the point going up, what would become known as, Purple Heart Hill on 26 December 1944.  Chiesa recalled:

“We just got to the top of this hill when all hell broke loose.  The Japs opened up with their wood peckers and rifles.  Duncan got hit in the rump and he went tumbling down the hill.  I hit the ground and prayed.  Finally, Davis and i jumped up and went diving over the ridge.  We could not see the Japs because they hide pretty good in the jungle.  They were firing and we were trying to fire back, but we could not see them to know where to shoot at.

Japanese woodpecker


“Finally, our Platoon leader, Sgt. Kelly, got up on one knee and started to point to show us where to shoot.  About that time, the Japs got him and he was dead.  He was one hell of a soldier, believe me.

“Me, Pvt. Hodges and three other guys in our company went up to the side of the hill and we laid there waiting for someone to tell us what our next move was.  While we waited, I got hungry so i turned around facing down the hill and got out one of my K rations.  I was opening up the can when 20 feet from me this Jap jumped out of the bushes.  He looked at me and I looked at him.  I think he was as surprised as I was.

“I had an M1 rifle laying across my lap.  Everything was done automatically. (Our training came in handy.)  I grabbed the rifle, turned and pulled the trigger.  He was doing the same thing, but I was luckier.  I hit him smack in his Adam’s apple.  I can still see the surprised look on his face…  The thing that will always be on my mind is that if I didn’t stop to eat, those Japs woulda killed all 5 of us.

Col. Robert Soule

“When we came back down the hill, Col. Soule came to me and asked what I would do to get those Japs and take the hill.  I thought he was joking.  Here is a colonel, and a damned good one, asking his Pfc how to take a hill.

“I told him, ‘Just bomb the hell out of them, blow the hill up.’  We went up the hill the next morning, and after a good bombardment, we took the hill.”

The “good bombardment” had come from A Battery of the 457th.  Capt. Bobo Holloway of the 188th moved within 25 yards of the Japanese position and directed the firing of the artillery, and some 105mm howitzer and 155mm guns.

On 27 December, when they stormed Purple Heart Hill, they encountered hand-to-hand combat, then proceeded to occupy the old enemy holes as the Japanese evicted them.  Those of the enemy that escaped and headed north, ran into part of Col. Pearsons’ 187th Regiment, (Smitty’s unit)..  The bloody battle for Purple Heart Hill had lasted for almost 5 weeks.

11TH AIRBORNE HOSPITAL ON LEYTE

Information is from “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Gen. E.M. Flanagan (Ret.)

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Military Humor –

“It says: ‘I am an American with 94 points and if lost in enemy territory, Please Get Me Home”‘

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Barnett – Philadelphia, PA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Allen J. Blake – Algona, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Medical/503/11 Airborne Division

Anthony Costanzo – Queens, NY; US Army, WWII & Korea

TAPS

Francis L. Coune (102) – Tampa, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 pilot

Bob Dole – Russell, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, Colonel, 10th Mountain Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart  /  U.S. Senator

Buford H. Dyer – Barberton, OH; US navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

William W. Hail – Los Angeles, CA; US Air Force, Vietnam, Lt. Col. # 553421612, pilot, 1131st Special Activity Sq., MIA (Quang Tri Provence, SV)

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

Mary Schmaelzle – Springfield, MA; Civilian, WWII, Pratt Whitney

Carl A. Scott Jr. – Savannah, GA; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division

Richard A. Umstead Sr. – Chelsea, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, radioman

F. Jackson Worthington – Ontario, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

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6 December 1944 Japanese Paratroopers | Happy Thanksgiving!

IJA paratroopers at the ready

This condensed eye witness account was written by BGen. Henry J. Muller, Jr.; courtesy of “The Drop Zone” website and published in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper, Matt Underwood, Editor.

Henry Muller, US Army

 

“TRANSPORTS!!” – “JAPS!!” – “PARATROOPERS!!”

“The time was 1800 hours, 6 December 1944 and at first it sounded like a swarm of bees in the distance.  Then it became clear.  No paratrooper could mistake the drone of a formation of troop carrier aircraft.  Someone outside shouted “AIRCRAFT!!” – then many – “JAP TRANSPORTS!!” – “PARATROOPERS!!”

Japanese paratroopers

“The division staff dashed out of the mess tent looking skyward.  By now, a dozen parachutes had opened above us and everyone began firing at them.  I even emptied 2 clips from my .45 at the nearest parachutists.  Most jumped well beyond our HQ, landing in and about the San Pablo airstrip.  Only a few who jumped too soon dropped over us and floated down just north of our perimeter.

Japanese para attack

“There was considerable rifle fire from the vicinity of the airstrip and some from the HQ area.  Someone ordered that the generator be shut down as the lights could attract sniper fire.  Each section had been required to dig foxholes and trenches around their tents, although rather shallow soil piled on the upper rim provided cover from small arms fire if one kept low.

Col. Douglass Quandt

“During the night, the G-3 Col. Quandt prepared a plan for a provisional battalion of Ordnance and Quartermaster companies, with odds and ends of Service and Administrative troops, to counterattack across the airstrip at first light.

“The firing had subsided, but we had no contact with the small aerial resupply detachment at the strip.  So early that morning, Gen. Swing and I, accompanied by his aide and dismounted driver, made our way to the airstrip for a first-hand appraisal of the situation.

“Our counterattack had cleared the field… the Japanese paratroopers had withdrawn into a wooded area north of the strip.  They had burned some of our light aircraft along with small stores of aviation fuel and various supplies which were part of our resupply effort for units in the mountains.”

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Gen. Robert Eichelberger

This eye witness account is from General Robert Eichelberger, Commander of the Eighth Army on Leyte as written in his book, “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo”

“There is a memento of this struggle now in the Military Academy at West Point.  [General] Joe Swing gave it to me, and I sent it on from the Pacific.

“During the fighting on an airstrip, two ducking and dodging American GI’s – Allen W. Osborne and Eustis A. Jolly – were hand-carrying ammunition to the troops under fire.  They noticed a large Japanese flag fluttering in a tree and, being incorrigible souvenir hunters, decided to acquire it.

“Each time they attempted to shinny up the tree, they were met by a fusillade of Japanese bullets.  So they changed their tactics.  They got an ax from their truck and while still under fire, chopped down the tree.  That hard-won Japanese flag now hangs in the West Point museum.

“How can you explain youngsters like that?  Despite the calamity howlers they continue to exist.  Whatever challenge the future holds, I think Americans can meet it.”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE !!

For an idea of what it was like… (I recommend fast forwarding to 5:50)

 

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO OUR TROOPS

I WISH YOU ALL A HAPPY THANKSGIVING _ WHETHER YOU CELEBRATE THIS HOLIDAY OR NOT
I have done a bunch of Thanksgiving posts over the years – take your pick……

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/?s=thanksgiving

 

🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃🦃

Military Turkey  Humor –

“TAKE YOUR PICK!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lynn Aas (100) – ND; US Army, WWII, ETO, 17th Airborne Division, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Clarissa Churchill – London, ENG; Civilian, WWII, decoder, Ministry of Information

Kenneth R. Foreman – Mount Orab, OH; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co A/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Ben Groesbeck – Meridian, ID; US Army, Korea, 187th Airborne Regiment

Juan F. Gutierrez – Sante Fe, NM; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pfc., 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, KIA (Cabanatan POW Camp, Luzon, P.I.)

John ‘Mike’ Lappano – Spokane, WA; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Mariam L. McNally – New Albany, IN; US Womens Marine Corps, WWII

Jimmy Rowland – Prentiss County, MS; US Army, Korea, PTO,  Pfc. #14299700, Heavy Weapons Co./19/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Kum River, Taejon, SK)

Edward M. Ryan – NYC, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt. # 12026079, HQ Co/1/105/27th Infantry Division, Bronze Star, KIA (Saipan)

Ben Skardon (104) – Walterboro, SC; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bataan March survivor  /  Korea, Colonel (Ret. 20 y.), 3-Bronze Stars, 2 -Silver Stars

Arthur Talis – Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Puget Sound

Minoru “Daddy Mike” Yoneda – San Martin, CA; US Navy, Korea & Vietnam (Ret. 33 y.),  / Civilian, Sasebo Naval Base, Japan

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December 1944 Leyte

USS Ward off of Ormac

6 December – the main thrust of Operation Wa on Leyte, P.I. was provided by the Japanese 26th Division, minus the battalion that was attempting to protect Ormoc, but the enemy found it difficult to maintain their schedule given to them by the Manila headquarters.  General Suzuki requested a 2-day delay, but he was denied.

Only 300 Japanese paratroopers of the 16th Division were left after desertions to jump on the Buraen airfield.  The 700 troopers of the 3rd Parachute Regiment, flying in from Luzon, ran into heavy flak and lost 4 planes.  The remaining Japanese

Major Shirai Tsuneharu suiting up for Leyte jump.

aircraft dropped their troopers on the 11th Airborne Headquarters Company.  [Smitty’s unit] (an eye witness story on this will appear next Monday)

8→9 December – 500 more enemy paratroopers were assigned to to jump on an airfield above Ormoc near Highway 2, but they landed 5 miles north of their target.  Col. Mitsui, with poorly armed service units, was dug-in on a high ground position below the city waiting for support.  MGen. A. Bruce’s US 77th Division broke through the defense.  He sent the following message to Corps Commander, John Hodge: “HAVE ROLLED TWO SEVENS IN ORMOC. COME SEVEN, COME ELEVEN.”  [referencing to the 77th; 7th and 11th divisions].

Mortars by Ormac

9 December – two more enemy convoys were enroute to Ormoc Bay.  The first convoy had 3,000 men of the 8th Division and 900 tons of matériel and supplies in 5 transports, 3 destroyers and 2 sub-chasers with an escort of about 30 fighters.  US Marine Corsairs sank 3 transports and then one more was sunk in a combined USMC/Army aircraft effort.

The other convoy of 2 destroyers and 2 transports carried 700 men, tanks, and mortars.  These were spotted by the destroyer Coghlan which proceeded to sink one of the Japanese vessels.  Despite the fact that so many enemy ships were destroyed, a very large number of reinforcements made it to shore, but their effectiveness was hampered by the amount of supplies that went to bottom of the ocean.

Oryoku Maru sinking and POWs abandon ship in Subic Bay. This picture was provided by David Demether.

13 December – 1,800 prisoners at Santo Tomás, Luzon began marching to Pier 7 to board the enemy “hell ship” Oroyoku-Maru.  It was sunk 2 days later near Subic Bay by American carrier aircraft.  Angry Japanese guards shot at the men trying to escape the ship’s sinking hull and those struggling in the water.  Those that made it to shore were sent out on other ships 27 December and 2 January.  Out of the original 1800 Americans, 1,426 perished.

Also on this date, the cruiser USS Nashville and destroyer USS Haraden were damaged by kamikaze pilots.

15→20 December – The Visayan Force [ between Mindanao and Luzon are the Visayan Islands – Cebu, Panay, Negros, Leyte and Samar.], the US 24th Division landed on Mindoro just off the SW coast of Luzon.  The island only had a small garrison, but 4 abandoned airfields that would soon be used by the US Army Air Corps.  The 503rd PRCT came ashore.  They could not jump in due to the weather.

On and over Luzon, US carrier aircraft destroyed 225 enemy aircraft in 3 separate attacks.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gus M. Betzares – Richmond, VA; USMC, WWII & Korea

Seth F. Beyeler – Fish Haven, ID; USMC, WWII, PTO

Francis DiMarco – Stonington, CT; US Army, WWII, Medic, 117th Evac

A. Linwood Holton Jr. – Big Stone Gap, VA; US Navy, Japanese Occupation, submarine service

Paul Kitagaki – Oakland, CA; US Air Force, radar/electronics

Dow H. Luetscher – Madison, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Co L/347/87th Infantry Division

Pacquale Manno – brn: ITA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Fenton D. McVannan – W.Endicott, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO

William O’Donnell IV – Brighton, MI; US Army, 101st Airborne Division

Joseph Pallotta – Cleveland, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO

William Pencak – Adams, TN; US Army, HQ Co/3/511/11th Airborne Division

John Soliz – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Medical/221/11th Airborne Division

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Leyte 1944 | Another Eye Witness Account

John Holland, 11th Airborne Division

For another insight into the landing at Bito Beach, Leyte, John Holland, of the 675th Glider Field Artillery/11th Airborne Division speaks here…

“February 18, 1943, I was assigned and shipped by train to Camp MacKall, Hoffman, North Carolina, and I arrived on the 22th.  The Army had started their 1st Airborne Division, which included glider and paratroops together.  A division of about 8,000 included artillery, infantry, engineering, anti-aircraft artillery, tanks and support units.

“I was assigned to  675th Field Artillery, Battery A unit.  This was a unit of 105 howitzers, short barrel with split rails to fit in the gliders for transport to battle areas.  I was in the Communication Section which had to set up telephones and switchboards to all positions and also radio.

After landing on Leyte… ” Further enemy action did not occur until just before dark when 3 Japanese planes came in from the east, over the high area inland and dropped 2 bombs; one was a dud and the other exploded just east of our area. The planes circled and started back to us, then turned away as 7 of our planes intercepted and shot down a Zeke.

Spotters | 11th Airborne

“Then about dark, we heard incoming shells and we all hit the fox holes.  All shells hit either on the beach or short of our position.  At about 2000 hours, a groups of Japanese soldiers started hollering and running to our position.  We killed all but one and he fell into a large hole before he got to us.  The next day, just north of our position, several LSTs landed cameramen and reporters.”

John’s unit stayed on the beach for 2 more days and nights under fire from enemy planes an ground troops.  On the 4th day, they began to move inland.  It took the 2 weeks to push through the center of Leyte’s rough terrain to the coast.  When they got there, they helped the people of the villages put their houses back together.

Many of our soldiers were stricken by yellow jaundice and malaria.   We received replacements and started moving to several small islands, securing them and cleaning pockets of Japanese soldiers from them..”

This excerpt is from an article that first ran in “The Voice of the Angels” newspaper for the 11th Airborne Div. Assoc.

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Military Humor – 

“Them wuz his exack words – ‘I envy th’ way you dogfaces git first pick o’ wimmen an’ likker in towns”‘

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Farewell Salutes – 

W. Emmett “Bud” Barnes (103) – Coeur d’Alene, ID; US Army, WWII / US Army Reserves (Ret.30 y.)

Guerrino “Reno” Belmessieri – San Francisco, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pfc.

Farewell

Larry Goergen  (100) – Osage, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Patrick J. Hernandez – Harlingen, TX; US Army,108th MP Co./503/16th MP Brigade

Octavious Mabine – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Mess Attendant 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor, HI)

Carl Madsen – Weldon Spring, MO; US Air Force  /  NFL re-play official

Melva Phillips – Sal Lake City, UT; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Thaddeus Piekos (101) – White Plains, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Armand C. Sedgeley – SD; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, bombardier

Lloyd C. Wade – Westminster, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Abraham Woods – Marion, AL; US Army, Vietnam, Pfc. # 63004267, Co. C/4/9/25th Infantry Division, KIA

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Smitty’s Letter XV “Land”

Native outrigger canoes meet up with a Coast Guard transport.

[Please do not be offended by certain remarks, remember that these letters were written 77 years ago when people lived in another time and another world].

As the ships drew closer to Leyte, the American soldiers already on shore were being hampered by logistical problems which caused a severe delay in capturing the island.  When the 11th A/B division arrived on Bito Beach, General Hodge was finally able to move General Arnold’s 7th division and their plans started to come together.

Leyte activity map | enlarge for detail

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

We landed here in the Philippines yesterday morn, but before leaving the ship, the Japs treated us with their honorable (?) presence in the form of bombing planes.  Shore batteries kept hammering at them in the gloom of a misty a.m. and the tracer’s bullets reaching up to the planes made a very pretty but gruesome sight.   The way those tracer shells can pick out the planes you would think that they had a score to settle and just can’t wait to even it.

We landed finally on the beach, being taken to it in those much touted and not highly praised enough landing boats.  How boats can ground themselves  on land the way they do and still get off again unscratched is really a marvel.  Those boys who handle them also deserve a lot of credit and, as Winchell would say, “A great big orchid is due.”

The natives here were real friendly and helpful in a dozen different ways.  They ran up to the landing boats as soon as the bow of the boat sunk its bottom into the beach and helped us carry off our burdensome equipment.  It reminded me of Penn or Grand Central Stations with porters running helter-skelter all over the place.  The only thing missing to make the picture complete were the tell-tale red caps on their heads.

It wasn’t long after landing that we were organized into work groups and sent off to our chores.  Work kept on until we were hours into the night despite the fact that again, Jap planes came over.  I am happy to report that they will not be able to do so again, that is – not the same ones.

During the day we were handed K-rations for our dinner and after the excellent food we had aboard ship, they sure tasted like hell.  Just before dark last night, we were allowed a few moments to ourselves and at once set to work getting our tents erected.  Here again, the native men came in handy helping us to either put up the tents or dig our slit trenches.  Of course they don’t do any of this work for nothing, but for items such as undershirts, trousers, soap or most anything in the line of clothing.

I will write more about the people in a later chapter.  After all, you can’t do well to write about them on so short an acquaintance.  Right now we are busy setting up a camp decent enough to live in.  Having a few minutes to spare in between tents.  I thought I’d write this down before it completely slipped my unrententive and feeble brain.  There goes the whistle calling us back to work now, so until the next ten minute rest period, I’ll close with loads of love and car loads of kisses,

Love, Everett

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard R. Belden – Warren County, NY, US Army, Korea, Cpl. # 12107317, HQ Co/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir, NK)

Roger Butts – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Cook 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Gen. Colin Powell

Elvagine “Gene” Ertzberger – Rainier, WA; Civilian, WWII, shipyard welder

Lorenz D. Haselhofer – Watsonville, CA; US Navy, USS Hancock

Sonny Karcher – Enid, OK; US Army, Cold War

Fred M. Montanari – Westmoreland County, PA; US Air Force, pilot

Larry E. Murphy – E. St. Louis, IL; US Air Force & US Army, Cmdr. Sgt. Major (Ret. 36 y.)

Steven L. Nolin – New Brockton, AL; US Army Air Corps, Japanese Occupation, 188/11th Airborne Division

Henry G. Piper Sr. – Englewood, NJ; US Army, WWII, APO (Alaska)

Colin Powell – NYC, NY; US Army, Vietnam / General (Ret. 35 y.), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff / Sec. of State

Edward Souza – New Bedford, MA; US Air Force

James Wallace – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-24 waist gunner, POW (escaped)

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Smitty’s Letter XIV “On The Move (again)”

LSTs unload at Leyte

By mid-November, Gen. Krueger’s 4 divisions held only a small fraction of Leyte and Yamashita’s reinforcements were still landing.  The weather was grounding aircraft on both sides.

18 November, the 11th Airborne joined in on the King II Operation.  The 2nd battalion of the 187th Regiment went aboard the USS Calvert to land on Bito Beach.  Being as Smitty was part of Gen. Swing’s staff in HQ Company, I do not know if he went aboard this ship.

Berthing

 

Letter XIV                                                                             “On The Move (again)”

 

Dear Mom, 

We have been at sea now for three days heading toward someplace the Land and the great white father in Washington only knows.

As I sit here writing this, I just can’t help but feel like a very small insignificant part of something so vast that the mind can’t in any way begin to comprehend what it is all about.  Here I am on a ship heading out to something, someplace, and it was all planned probably months ago, miles and miles away from anywheres near here.  Suddenly it all takes form.  Transports and other ships stream into the harbor and just as quickly and quietly we are made loose and moving out.  It all happens so fast and so smoothly that you can’t help but admire it all.

Of course, as serious as it all is, the army just can’t help but be the cause of many amusing incidents.  When we first landed in New Guinea we got lost looking for our camp and coming down to the boats, the trucks again got lost and so we had to travel up and down the beach until finally, instead of us finding the boats — the boats found us.  Climbing up the gangplank with our packs and duffel bags always provide an amusing incident or two, but at the time seem pretty damn dangerous.

On board ship, we are once again packed in like sardines down in the hold.  Once shown our bunk, we proceed at once to get rid of our equipment and dash up on deck to pick out some spot where we can spend the night,  It isn’t long after this that the details are handed out — and so — what could have been a very pleasant voyage soon turns out to be anything else but.  I was lucky in that I was handed a detail that only worked for an hour each day, but the poor guys that hit the broom detail were at it all day long.  All we could hear, all day long, over the speaker system was: “Army broom detail, moping and brooms, clean sweep down forward aft, all decks.”  They kept it up all the time until soon one of the fellas made up a little ditty about it and sang it every time we saw a broom coming down the deck.

The food was excellent and really worth talking about.  On the first trip coming over from the states, we dreaded the thought of eating, but on this ship, it was more than a welcome thought.  Generally, when you go to a movie there are news reel pictures of convoys of ships and the men aboard.  They always try to show you a few playing cards or joking and say that this is how the boys relieve the tension they are under.  Well, I don’t know about the seriousness of the situation was anything like what the news reels portray.

Of course, it was a strange sight to see the boys at night line up at the side scanning the sky and distant horizon.  This was generally though at night and early dawn.  What we expected to see, I don’t know and what our reaction would be, if we did see something — I hesitate to predict.  It won’t be long after this letter is written that we will land or at least sight our destination, so wishing  to be wide-awake when we do, I’ll close this letter now and hit the hay hoping I sleep an uninterrupted sleep.

Till next time, “Good night and pleasant dreams.”           

               Love, Everett

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Lucius E. Agee – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, aviation radioman, USS BonHomme Richard

Dick Barlow – Manchester, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO, motorcycle dispatch rider

OUR FLAG
Courtesy of: Dan Antion

Duane E. Dewey – Grand Rapids, MI; USMCR, Korea, Cpl., Medal of Honor

Gabriel J. Eggus – NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, P-39 pilot # 0-669878, 100/71st Recon Group, KIA (Wewak, NG)

Edwin A. Jacoby – brn: GER/ Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  Korea, Sgt.

Sam Kendrick – Wexford, IRE; US Army, WWII, ETO

David L. Long – Milwaukee, WI; US Army, tank commander, 1/72/2nd Infantry Division

Alan E. Petersen – Brownton, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 1st Lt., 345/98/9th Air Force, B-24 bombardier, KIA (Ploiesti, ROM)

Joseph M. Robertson – Paragould, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 2797547, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Pete Turk – Scammon, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3422928, USS California, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Murray Weiss – Kellogg, ID; US Air Force

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The Showers

Unfortunately, I do not remember which island this story occurred on.

Smitty did not write home about his experience with the showers. .. BUT,

He was coming back into camp after having a nice cold shower.  He walked back with a towel wrapped around his middle and held it closed with his left hand.  The jungle appeared quiet except for the buzzing of the insects whizzing around him.  [The New Guinea “salute” is said to actually be the act of swatting the insects!)

He said, “You know how annoying just one mosquito can be when it’s hovering by your ears.  This was like a swarm and I tried like hell to use my right hand to swat them away from my face.  When I began to approach our tents there was not one man to be seen and I couldn’t imagine where they all went.  As I got closer I could hear the G.I.s yelling and they were waving their arms as they crouched in their tents, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.  Besides, I was too preoccupied with swatting the bugs that seemed the size of half-dollars. 

“When I got back to my tent complaining about how aggravating the bugs on the island were, I asked them what all the hooting and hollering was all about.  All they kept doing was checking my skin and asking if I was alright. 

Somebody yelled, ‘Those were no jungle bugs — that’s shrapnel!’  When they discovered that I had been hit, someone happily said that I could put in for a Purple Heart.”

Sea Bees’ showers in the Pacific

After a good laugh between Dad and I, I asked if he ever put in for the medal.  He laughed again and said that he was too embarrassed.  “For one thing I felt stupid for not realizing what was going on and second, I didn’t want to be grouped into being one of those guys that put in for a Purple Heart every time they nicked themselves shaving.  It would be like taking something away from the men who actually did get wounded and deserved the medal.”

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – 

Sad Sack Shower

Sad Sack

The funnier side of Army life – Pride in one’s work!

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Farewell Salutes – 

John G. Bock Jr. – Lincoln, NE; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Seaman 2nd Class # 3167160, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Martin Gelb (101) – Brooklyn, NY; US Army / OSS, WWII, ETO

Final Mission

Carl H. Graham – Hackensack, NJ; US Navy, Korea, USS Boyd & Yarnall

George Grater – Hoboken, NJ; US Army, Korea, 1st Lt.

Charles E. Hiltibran – Cable, OH; US Army, Korea, Cpl., 1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Thomas A. Lipscomb Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Korea

George J. Palermo – Chestnut Hill, PA; US Air Force, Korea, Cryptographer

George Psihas – Detroit, MI; US Army, West Point Class of ’51, Korea, M1 Abrams Tank trailblazer

Donald Rumsfeld – Winnetka, IL; US Navy, pilot  /  Congressman, NATO, White House Chief of Staff, Sec. of Defense

George R. Russum – Lake Worth, FL; US Navy, USS Forrestal

Calvin Shepherd – Inkster, MI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Montford Point Marines

Francis W. Wiemerslage – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Sgt. # 16146369, B-17 ball turret gunner, 549/385/8th Air Force, KIA (Dresden, GER)

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From the US Navy helicopter crash off Mexico

James P. Buriak – Salem, VA; US Navy, Helicopter crewman 2nd Class

Sarah F. Burns – Severna Park, MD; US Navy, Corpsman 2nd Class

Bradley A. Foster – Oakhurst, CA; US Navy, pilot, Lt.

Paul R. Fridley – Annandale, VA; US Navy, pilot, Lt.

Bailey J. Tucker – St. Louis, MO; US Navy, Corpsman 3rd Class

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DON’T KNOW HOW I MISSED THIS DRAWING OF SMITTY’S FOR LAST WEEK’S POST

( I’M CLAIMING A SENIOR MOMENT…)

Latrines, by Smitty, (Everett Smith)

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