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11th Airborne Division – June 1944 – Lt. Gen. G.C. Kenney

Crashed Zero, Lae, New Guinea

Smitty always made mention of how hard the soldiers before him had to struggle.  He noticed that no matter how hard people or nature tried to disguise their surroundings, the scars of war were everywhere.  In New Guinea, my father had a clear view of the battle remnants of General Robert Eichelberger’s Australian and American troops from when they fought on a similar terrain and in battles as fiercely intense as Guadalcanal – on each island the territories had to be taken inch by inch.  (Many veterans know of what I speak.)

Japanese equipment

Lt. Gen. George C. Kenney, Chief of Allied Air Forces, in the southwest Pacific sent his complaints to the War Dept.  and Gen. “Hap” Arnold, head of the U.S. Army Air Forces to explain just that in 1942:

“… The Japanese is still being underrated.  There is no question of our being able to defeat him, but the time, effort, blood and money required to do the job may run to proportions beyond all conception, particularly if the devil is allowed to develop the resources he is now holding.

Gen. George C. Kenney

“Look at us in Buna.  There are hundreds of Buna ahead for us.  The Japanese there has been in a hopeless position for months.  He has been outnumbered heavily throughout the show.  His garrison has been whittled down to a handful by bombing and strafing.  He has no air support and his own Navy has not been able to get passed our air blockade to help him.  He has seen lots of Japs sunk off shore a few miles away.  He has been short on rations and has had to conserve his ammunition, as his replenishment from submarines and small boats working down from Lae at night and once by parachute from airplanes has been precarious, to say the least.  The Emperor told them to hold, and believe me, they have held!  As to their morale — they still yell out to our troops, “What’s the matter, Yanks?  Are you yellow?  Why don’t you come in and fight?”  A few snipers, asked to surrender after being surrounded, called back, “If you bastards think you are good enough, come and get us!”

“…I’m afraid that a lot of people, who think this Jap is a “pushover” as soon as Germany falls, are due for a rude awakening.  We will have to call on all our patriotism, stamina, guts and maybe some crusading spirit or religious fervor thrown in to beat him.  No amateur team will take this boy out.  We have got to turn professional.  Another thing: there are no quiet sectors in which troops get started off gradually, as in the last war.  There are no breathers on this schedule.  You take on Notre Dame every time you play!”

Gen. Eichelberger

It was after this one month later after this report that the specialized training for the 11th A/B began and the War Dept. also saw the need for improved weapons for this “new type of war.”   Under the direction of Colonel William Borden this effort resulted in: 105-mm and 155-mm mortars, flamethrowers, ground rockets, colored smoke grenades and the skidpans for towing heavy artillery in muddy terrains.

But – still at this point – only about 15% of the Allied resources were going to the Pacific.

 

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Military Humor – 

“Sorry sir, but the lads won’t go over the top if the ladder hasn’t been health and safety tested.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Abraham Bashara – Lawrence, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ralph C. Battles – Boaz, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor

Gary Cohen – Tuscaloosa, AL; Civilian, Veteran’s Dept. Psychologist, (Florida condo collapse)

Louis N. Crosby – Orangeburg, SC; US Army, Korea, Pfc., Co A/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Warren G.H. DeVault – Rhea, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt. # 34493012, Co F/2/12/4th Infantry Div, Bronze Star, KIA (Hürtgen, GER)

Dielon Harwood – Guion, TX; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret.)

William MacDonald – Quincy, MA; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

Frank Nicholls, NZ; RNZ Army # 436280, WWII

Ward Russo – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Essex, mechanic

Edwin Sedran – Far Rockaway, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Elaine Smith – Syracuse, NY; US Coast Guard SPARS, WWII

Glen F. White – MO; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc. # 371100, Co A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, Silver Star,  KIA (Betio, Tarawa Atoll)

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What should the caption be?

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MEMORIAL DAY 2021

Our nation marks Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to brave Americans who gave their life for this country. Many generations have sacrificed in defense of our nation, our liberty, and our desire to improve our country. On Memorial Day, we humbly honor these incredible patriots and have a solemn duty to uphold their legacy.

At its core, Memorial Day speaks of personal sacrifice for a greater good. It resonates in the stories of ordinary Americans, who fought for a better world and were willing to lay down their lives. Our way of life is shaped by those who have served and those who were lost. We have benefited from their positive influence on our world. It is our solemn duty to honor for our fallen brothers and sisters in arms and their families. This day reflects on heroes from historically distant wars passed and current operations. We honor their legacy and work toward a peaceful future, in which wars are a faded memory.

I encourage you all to keep the legacy of our fallen brothers and sisters in arms alive within your communities. Take time to reflect together with your friends, neighbors, groups, and communities, so those stories and sacrifices are never forgotten.

Respectfully, Colonel Christopher K. Lacouture 913th Airlift Group Commander

The image of the poppy is from: Marylou at natuurfreak3 click on image to enlarge.

I know that many are looking forward to their bar-b-ques and celebrations, especially after a year and a half of lockdowns, and quarantines, but Please take a moment to remember why we have this commemorative weekend.

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Also from Marylou is this wonderful Memorial Day ecard…

https://www.jacquielawson.com/ecard/pickup/r84d51b776ded4f769f2bacd6c8e9f2b4?source=jl999&utm_medium=pickup&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=receivercontent

From: Lt. Colonel Sam Lombardo (Ret.) _____

 “This is our Memorial Day/ In our land of the free/ It’s because of those who sacrificed/ Whose graves you’re here to see/ They fought on foreign lands/ And across the open sea/ And paid the ultimate price/ To keep you and I free/ So put all things aside/ And honor this important day/ Which we have dedicated/ As our Memorial Day.”

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NOT YOUR USUAL MILITARY HUMOR    –    PLEASE click on each to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wayne L. Adams Sr. (102) – Dolton, IL; US Army, WWII

Carl D. Berry Jr. – Hinsdale, IL; US Army, WWII  /  US Air Force, Korea

Carl M. Bradley – Shelly, ID; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Wayne M. Evans – Hamilton, MT; US Army, WWII, PTO, Pvt., Battery G/59th Coast Artillery Reg., POW/KIA (Cabanatuan Camp, Luzon, P.I.)

Charlton H. Ferguson – Kosciusko, MS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Musician 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Nicholas H. Hamilton – Las Vegas, NE; US Air Force, pilot

Brenda McDaniel – Springfield, VA; US Army, Nurse Corps

Edward McDaniel Jr. – US Army, Colonel, Medical Corps (MD)

Joseph R. Mooradian – Union Grove, WI; US Merchant Marines, WWII  /  US Army, Korea

Burl Mullins – Dorton, KY; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Heavy Mortar Co/ 3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

William D. Tucker – Bedford, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

John Warner – Alexandria, VA; US Navy / USMC, Korea / Secretary of the Navy / 30 y. US Senator

Aviation Trails

 

Structure of the USAAC – Airforces

The structure of the American Air Force is complex and confusing. Much of it was formed hurriedly during the Second World War, but elements can be traced back as far as the First World War. At its peak, there were almost 2.5 million people employed within its scope both within the United States and overseas in one of the many theatres of operation.

At the start of the Second World War, there were 4 air forces, (designated by district), which were then renumbered 1 – 4 in early 1941. These stayed based within the U.S. covering the West Coast and some training operations on the East Coast and in the southern U.S. The newly established forces were then formed for overseas service. The Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Twentieth covering the Pacific / Asia campaigns; the Eighth, Ninth, Twelfth and Fifteenth, the European / African / Middle East Theatre; the Sixth covering Panama and finally the Eleventh covering Alaska. During the period 7th December 1941 to 2nd September 1945, there were 16 …..

To read the original post…….

Before the Journey Begins

A well researched blog, I know you all will be interested!

Stanley Hall's Diary

This is a most precious page in Flight Sergeant W.S. Hall’s log book. There is everything I need on it to find out when and where some photos were taken.W S Hall Service Record
Rongotai N.Z. 24-8-1940 to 2-9-1942 (2 years and 9 days)

W S Hall black album page 19 600dpi

W S Hall black album page 19 group picture 1942

ITW Rotorua N.Z. 3-9-1942 to 15-10-1942 (I.T.W. is Initial Training Wing) (42 days)

EFTS Harewood N.Z 16-10-1942 to 1-1-1943 (E.F.T.S. is Elementary Flying Training School) (77 days)

SFTS Woodbourne N.Z 2-1-1943 to 7-5-1943 (S.F.T.S. is Special Flying Training School) (125 days)

No. 12 P.R.C. Brighton, England 8-7-1943 to 14-9-1943 (P.R.C. is Personnel Reception Centre) (69 days)

Flats Brighton City

Residential District Brighton

No. 6 PAFU Little Rissington, Glos 15-9-1943 to 7-2-1944 (P.A.F.U. is Pilots Advanced Flying Unit) (145 days)

Little Rissington 2 600dpi.jpg

Little Rissington 1  600dpi.jpg

img146.jpg

20180920_062211

No. 5 PDC Blackpool, Lancs 8-2-1944 to 19-2-1944 (No. 5 Personnel Despatch Centre) (11 days)

No. 1 ME. A.P. C. Jerusalem 8-3-1944 to 14-4-1944 (A.P.C. – Armament Practice Camp) (37 days)

76 O.T.U. Aqir 15-4-1944 to 16-7-1944…

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Duct Tape and WWII

 

During the WWII, U.S. troops in the heat of battle had a strangely impractical way of reloading their weapons.

Cartridges used for grenade launchers was one example. Boxed, sealed with wax and taped over to protect them from moisture, soldiers would need to pull on a tab to peel off the paper tape and break the seal. Sure, it worked… except when it didn’t, soldiers were left scrambling to pry the boxes open.

waterproof ammo boxes

Vesta Stoudt had been working at a factory packing and inspecting these cartridges when she got to thinking that there had to be a better way. She also happened to be a mother of two sons serving in the Navy and was particularly perturbed that their lives and countless others were left to such chance.

Concerned for the welfare of sons, she discussed with her supervisors an idea she had to fabricate a tape made from strong, water-resistant cloth. And when nothing came of her efforts, she penned a letter to then-President Franklin Roosevelt detailing her proposal (which included a hand-sketched diagram) and closing by making a plea to his conscience:

“We can’t let them down by giving them a box of cartridges that takes a minute or two to open, enabling the enemy to take lives that might be saved had the box been taped with strong tape that can be opened in a split second. Please, Mr. President, do something about this at once; not tomorrow or soon, but now.”

Oddly enough, Roosevelt passed Stoudt’s recommendation on to military officials, and in two weeks time, she received notice that her suggestion is being considered and not too long after was informed that her proposal had been approved. The letter also commended her idea was of “exceptional merit.”

Before long, Johnson & Johnson, which specialized in medical supplies, was assigned and developed a sturdy cloth tape with a strong adhesive that would come to be known as “duck tape,” which garnered the company an Army/Navy “E” Award, an honor given out as a distinction of excellence in the production of war equipment.

Army/Navy E Pennant

While Johnson & Johnson was officially credited with the invention of duct tape, it’s a concerned mother who will be remembered as the mother of duct tape.

The initial iteration that Johnson & Johnson came up with isn’t much different from the version on the market today. Comprised of a piece of mesh cloth, which gives it tensile strength and rigidity to be torn by hand and waterproof polyethylene (plastic), duct tape is made by feeding the materials into a mixture that forms the rubber-based adhesive.

Unlike glue, which forms a bond once the substance hardens, duct tape is a pressure-sensitive adhesive that relies on the degree in which pressure is applied. The stronger the pressure, the stronger the bond, particularly with surfaces that are clean, smooth and hard.

Duct tape was a huge hit with soldiers due to its strength, versatility and waterproof properties. Used to make all sorts of repairs from boots to furniture, it’s also a popular fixture in the world of motorsports, where crews use strips to patch up dents.

During the war duck tape was distributed to soldier’s to use in sealing ammo cans. Industrious soldiers quickly started using it for all manner of repairs thanks to its strong adhesive and sturdy construction. When millions of soldiers returned home from the war, they brought their respect for duct tape with them, rapidly introducing the now ubiquitous tape into popular culture.

Film crews working on-set have a version called gaffer’s tape, which doesn’t leave a sticky residue. Even NASA Astronauts pack a roll when they go on space missions.

on aircraft

Besides repairs, other creative uses for duct tape include strengthening cellular reception on the Apple iPhone 4 and as a form of medical treatment for removing warts called duct tape occlusion therapy, which research hasn’t been proven to be effective.

“Duct” or “duck” tape?

In this case, either pronunciation would be correct. According to Johnson & Johnson’s website, the original green sticky cloth tape got its name during world war II when soldiers started calling it duck tape for the way liquids seem to roll off like water off a duck’s back.

Not long after the war, the company launched a metallic-silver version called duct tape after executives discovered it can also be used to seal heating ducts. Interestingly enough, however, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory conducted field tests on heating ducts and determined that duct tape was insufficient for that purpose.

By :  Tuan C. Nguyen

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Military Humor – 

DUCT TAPE DOESN’T FIX EVERYTHING!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Steven Bailey – Houston, TX; US Army, Kuwait, 82nd Airborne Division, Bronze Star

Harry Beal – Meyersdale, PA; US Navy, 1st SEAL

Robert Collins – Rockaway, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. A/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Thomas Hard Sr. – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, POW

Reed Mattair – Williston, FL; US Army, WWII, PTO

Paul Moore Sr. – Portsmouth, VA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS West Virginia, SeaBee, Pearl Harbor survivor

Edward Sulewski – So. Milwaukee, WI; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Alexander Suprin – brn: Poland; USMC, WWII, PTO

Thomas Whitaker – Marquette, MI; US Army, WWII, Engineering Corps

Dominic Zangari (100) – Lancaster, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 34 y.)

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Military Radio – Armed Forces Network

1943 ‘G.I. Jive’ sheet music by Johnny Mercer

ARMED FORCES NETWORK

Although American Forces Network Radio has officially been on the air for 60 years, listeners began tuning in at the end of World War I.

A Navy lieutenant in France broadcasted information and live entertainment to troops accompanying President Wilson to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.  Radio was a novelty then, and little equipment was given to overseas military broadcasting until the United States started gearing up for World War II.

playing music for the troops

Bored soldiers in Panama and Alaska created makeshift transmitters and aired records, according to an Armed Forces Radio pamphlet. The U.S. military was unaware of the broadcasts until celebrities wrote asking how to send the stations recordings.

During the first days of the U.S. entry into World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s staff members set up military radio stations in the Philippines. Their success paved the way for the Armed Forces Radio Service.

In May 1942, the Army commissioned broadcasting executive Tom Lewis as a major and assigned him to create a viable military radio network.

Its primary goal was to keep morale high, a daunting task when the enemy already was broadcasting to Allied troops, in the personas of the infamous “Axis Sally” and “Tokyo Rose.” Playing popular American music, they tried to demoralize troops with talk about missing home.

On July 4, 1943, the Armed Forces Network went on the air, using the BBC’s London studios. With British and Canadian radio stations, it formed the Allied Expeditionary Forces Program. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted to ensure the stations worked together and all allies were getting the same message.

“G.I. Jive” disc, 1943

To boost morale, AFRS headquarters in Los Angeles produced shows such as “G.I. Jive,” shipping them to stations on special “V-Discs.” By early 1945, about 300 Armed Forces Radio Stations worldwide were broadcasting. (There are some V-discs available on e-bay)

Then came peacetime.

By 1949, just 60 stations were operating. But broadcasters who remained in Europe with the occupying forces took on a new role. Music and information were broadcast from Bremen to Berlin — giving many Europeans their first exposure to American culture and music.

AFN brought jazz, blues, rock ’n’ roll and country and western to audiences starved for music. The shows were so popular that when the leftist Greens Party urged Germany to quit NATO in the 1980s and called for U.S. troops to leave, it made one exception.

“The U.S. military should go home, but leave AFN behind,” a Greens leader demanded.

When the Korean War started in 1950, AFRS leased several portable trailers and followed the troops as “Radio Vagabond.” The American Forces Korea Network was established in Seoul later that year.

While the organization changed its name to the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service in 1954, the focus remained on radio.

The American Forces Vietnam Network (AFVN) was established in 1962, during the Vietnam War, mostly for numerous military advisers there. It served as the backdrop for the 1988 movie, “Good Morning, Vietnam!”

But broadcasting to the troops as the war heated up was no day on a Hollywood set.

During the Tet Offensive, AFVN studios in Hue City were attacked. The staff fought off the Viet Cong for five days before the station manager and several others were captured. They spent five years in a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp.

Recently, Armed Forces Radio quickly mobilized for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

A mobile broadcasting van deployed to Saudi Arabia, where the American Forces Desert Network was established in 1991 and broadcast for the first time from Kuwait shortly after the Iraqi occupation ended. Since then, it has become a fixture throughout the region.

Tech. Sgt. Mark Hatfield, 36, was “out in the middle of nowhere … at a secret base detached from civilization” as a structural maintainer on F-15s, with the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) during Desert Storm.

About a month after he arrived, AFDN went into operation.

“I remember when they came on line … I had my little transistor radio, and sure enough, there it was,” he said.

Someone also bought a radio for the hangar. “We cranked it because news was coming out left and right about the war,” Hatfield added.

“It was good because that was our only source of real information. You get out in the middle of nowhere, you don’t really hear it from the U.S side of things … uncensored, coming in from the U.S.”

“Good Morning, Vietnam!”

Today, American Forces Radio and Television Service operates about 300 radio and television outlets, serving an audience of 1.3 million listeners and viewers on every continent and U.S. Navy ship at sea.

“As long as there’s military there, we’re going to be there.”

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Military Humor –

Marines from Los Angeles

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bermudez – Dallas, TX; US Army, Kuwait, SSgt.

Edward R. Burka – Washington D.C.; US Army Medical Corps (airborne), BGeneral

Dorothy (Schmidt) Cole (107) – OH; USMC Women’s 1st Battalion, WWII

Hyman Coran – Sharon, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, flight instructor

Michael Domico – Westville, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt., radio/gunner

Veronica Federici – Fulton, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Michael Morris – Cass Lake, MN; US Air Force, TSgt., 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (Europe)

Vincent Pale – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, POW

Claude Spicer – McComas, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 30 y.)

Robert Wendler – Newport, RI; US Navy, WWII, Navy band

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Ordnance Spitfire in the Pacific War

Australia’s highest scoring fighter pilot of WWII, Clive ‘Killer’ Caldwell, helps push his Spitfire CR-C JL394 out of camouflage, Aug. 1943

The Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Indian Air Force and the RAF also used Spitfires against Japanese forces in the Pacific theater. The first Spitfires in the Far East were two photo-reconnaissance (PR IV) aircraft which operated from airfields in India from October 1942.

Clive Caldwell

Japanese raids on Northern Australia hastened the formation in late 1942 of No. 1 Wing RAAF comprising No. 54 RAF Squadron No. 452 Squadron RAAF, and No. 457 Squadron RAAF under the command of  Clive Caldwell. The wing arrived at Darwin in February 1943, and saw constant action until September. The Mk Vc versions received by the RAAF proved unreliable and, initially at least, had a relatively high loss rate. This was due to several factors, including pilot inexperience, engine over-speed due to the loss of oil from the propeller speed reduction unit (a problem resolved by the use of a heavier grade of oil), and the practice of draining glycol coolant before shipment, resulting in internal corrosion of the Merlin engines.

Another factor in the initial high attrition rate was the relatively short endurance of the Spitfire, most of the sorties were, flown over the wide expanse of ocean between Australia, New Guinea and Timor. Even when fitted with drop tanks the Spitfires could not afford to fly too far from base without the danger of running out of fuel over water. As a result, when an incoming raid was detected, the Spitfires were forced to climb as fast as possible in an attempt to get into a favorable position.

RCAF Spitfire 411 Squadron

In the prevailing hot, humid climate this meant that the Merlin engines were often overheating even before combat was joined. The Spitfires were fitted with the Vokes tropical filters which reduced performance: in an attempt to increase performance the filters on several Spitfires were removed and replaced by the standard non-tropicalized air intake and lower engine cowlings which had been manufactured by the base workshops. The experiment proved to be a failure and the Spitfires were quickly refitted with the tropical filters.

Many of the Australian and British airmen who flew in 1 Wing were experienced combat veterans, some of whom who had flown P-40s with the Desert Air Force in North Africa, while others had flown Spitfires over Europe. They were used to being able to outmaneuver opposing fighters and were shocked to discover that the Zeros they were now flying against were able to outmaneuver the Spitfire.

Raid on Darwin (May 2, 1943)

Strength

Japanese                Australians and British

27 Zeros                33 spitfires

25 Bombers

Aircraft lost

6-10                    14

That was just one raid.. For almost two years beginning Feb 1942 the airspace over North West Australia was routinely penetrated by Japanese raids, about 70 in total.

Spitfires in Darwin

By mid-1943 the heavy losses imposed on the Japanese Navy in the Solomon Islands campaign and in New Guinea meant that the JNAF could not keep up its attacks on northern Australia. Other units equipped with the Spitfires in the SW Pacific Area included No. 79 Squadron, No. 85 Squadron RAAF, No. 458 Squadron RAF and No. 459 Squadron RAF.

In the SE Asia, the first Spitfire Vcs reached three squadrons on the India-Burma front in November 1943. Spitfire pilots met Japanese for the first time on Boxing Day, 1943. A pair of Spitfires piloted by Flying Officer Geoffrey William Andrews and Flight Sergeant Harry B. Chatfield attacked a formation of Japanese planes over Chittagong.  Andrews destroyed a fighter and a bomber, damaging a second, while Chatfield shot down another two. On the last day of 1943, Royal Australian Air Force Spitfires destroyed eleven Japanese bombers and three fighters. Churchill complimented the Australian Squadron for their “brilliant exploit”.

Pilots trudge thru the mud at the advanced airbase in Burma after sorties with the Japanese.

Spitfires ensured that the Allies gained and held air superiority during the battles of Kohima and Imphal from early to mid 1944, in which the Japanese attempt to destroy the British 14th Army and invade India was also defeated. By 1945, when the Allies launched offensives into Burma, the Japanese were unable to challenge the Allies’ air supremacy. Spitfires took part in the last major pitched battle of the war involving the Western allies – No. 607 Squadron and No. 273 Squadron flying the MKVIII armed with 500 pound bombs helped destroy a Japan breakout attempt at Sittang Bend in July and early August 1945.

This post  was the suggestion of Dan Antion.

Resources: Pacific Spitfires.com; History Exchange; Wiki; Aviation Profiles.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Atterson – Clark Range, TN; US Army, Japanese Occupation, 11th Airborne Division

Howard E. Cook Jr, – W. Palm Beach, FL; US Navy, pilot

Courtesy of John @ https://lvphotoblog.com/

Frank ‘Slick’ Dercher – Kansas City, KS; US Navy, WWII, USS California

Patricia Felton – Queensland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 46253, WREN, WWII

James Garrison – Johnston, IA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 24th Division, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Clyde Hymel – Garyville, LA; USMC, WWII, PO, Silver Star

Millard “Smoke” Lea – Union City, IN; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne Division

Robert Malone – Alexandria, VA; US Army, WWII

Paul Niloff – Sherbrooke, CAN, RC Army, WWII, Medical Corps

Ralph Peavy – Liberty, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Chuck Yeager – Myra, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, mechanic / pilot / test pilot / Vietnam, BGeneral (Ret. 34 y.), Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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Ordnance P-38 Lightning

P-38 in the Pacific

Perhaps Colonel Ben Kelsey, a P-38 test pilot, summed up the war bird’s legacy best of all. “(That) comfortable old cluck,” he said, “would fly like hell, fight like a wasp upstairs, and land like a butterfly.”

The P-38 was the most successful USAAF fighter in the Pacific War. It served with four separate air forces, spread out from Australia to Alaska. The most successful American Ace of the Second World War, Major Richard Bong, scored all 40 of his victories flying the P-38 Lightning over the Pacific.

P-38

The 11th Air Force was allocated the task of defending the Aleutian Islands, in the far north of the Pacific. There the extra reliability provided by the twin engines of the P-38 was essential, with missions being flown over long distances and in poor weather. The first P-38 victories of the war fell to pilots of the 11th Air Force. On 4 August 1942 two Kawanishi flying boats were claimed by Lt. Kenneth Ambrose and Lt. Stanley Long of the 54th Fighter Squadron. The Aleutian islands did not retain their importance, and by the middle of 1943 the 11th was something of a backwater.

The 7th Air Force covered the Central Pacific. Its P-38s saw little combat, but flew endless hours of patrols over waters whose importance ended with the battle of Midway. The only exception was the 531st FS, which joined the force escorting bombers attacking Truk and Iwo Jima.

Cactus Air Force w/ P-38, by Jack Fellows

The two main uses of the P-38 in the Pacific were the 5th and 13th Air Forces. The 5th Air Force had been formed in Australia during 1942, and was soon active over Papua. The 13th was activated at the start of 1943, in the South Pacific. Its first HQ was on Espiritu Santo (now part of Vanuatu), in the New Hebrides. Its early duties took its aircraft into the Solomon Islands, and most famously onto Guadalcanal. As the war developed the areas of operations of the two air forces slowly came together, until on 15 June 1944 they were combined as part of the Far East Air Forces.

The 13th Air Force contained two P-38 Fighter Groups, the 18th and the 347th. In November 1942 aircraft from the 339th FS of the 347th FG were sent to Guadalcanal. They also operated against Japanese island bases in the Solomon Islands. They came together with the 5th Air Force during the Allied advance west along Papua and New Guinea, eventually taking over responsibility for neutralizing Rabaul.

SeaBees with a P-38

The 5th Air Force was the biggest user of the P-38, with four fighter groups (8th, 35th, 49th and 475th). During 1943 and the first part of 1944 they were engaged in the campaigns in Papua and New Guinea, first helping to repel the Japanese attempts to capture Port Moresby, and then in the long counter-attack that eventually pushed the Japanese off most of the island. They also had early responsibility for the campaign to neutralize the Japanese stronghold of Rabaul.

The P-38 was the primary American fighter during the invasion of the Philippines. It was able to operate from bases too primitive for the P-51D Mustang, which was thus unable to play a significant role in the early fighting in the Philippines. It would be P-38 units that were first to move back onto the Philippines, where they played a crucial role in destroying the Japanese air force on the islands.

P-38 Lightning, by Jack Fellows

The P-38 could generally out-climb and out-dive any Japanese fighters (other than the Kawasaki Ki-61 “Tony”, which was better armed and heavier than most Japanese fighters). It could not out-turn or out-maneuver the more nimble Japanese fighters, so successful American pilots learnt not to try. A formation of P-38s flown well could cope with just about any Japanese aircraft.

The P-38 was popular amongst American pilots for other reasons. Many pilots of single-engine aircraft learned to dread flying over the sea – if the engine failed over land, at least you could bail out and walk away, even if it was into captivity, but that option was not available hundreds of miles out to sea. In contrast, in a twin-engine P-38 a single engine failure posed only a minor problem, generally only delaying its return to a friendly base.

The Lightning was involved in the single most famous fighter mission of the Second World War. On 18 April 1943 a flight of P-38s from the 339th Fighter Squadron, based on Guadalcanal, flew a long range mission to intercept an aircraft carrying Admiral Yamamoto. His itinerary on a morale boasting tour of Japanese bases had been intercepted, and the code broken four days earlier. It was decided to make an attempt to intercept his aircraft. However, in order to prevent the Japanese realizing that their codes had been broken, the intercepting units had to fly a winding 400 mile route, making it look like the attack on Yamamoto’s aircraft had been a chance encounter. Only the P-38 had the range to carry out this long range mission. Yamamoto’s aircraft was successfully found and shot down, and the Admiral killed. The long range P-38 had inflicted a telling blow on Japanese morale.

This post was suggested by Will Pennington

Resources: Lockheed Martin; History of War; “P-38 Lightning Aces of the Pacific and CBI” by John Stanaway; air wing media and vbader.com

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Tomi Curry – Gary, IN; US Army Reserves

Thomas S. Dennison – Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Michael Goodboe – USA; US Navy SEAL, Middle East, Silver Star, 4 Bronze Stars / CIA paramilitary, KIA (Somalia)

Charlie Hare – Wheeling, WV; US Army, Korea, Co. F/187th RCT

Kelliann Leli – Palin, NJ; US Air Force, UAE, Captain, 60th Air Mobility Wing, Medic

Frank Macon – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

James Russell – Lake Worth, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co/187/11th Airborne Division

Clayton E. Stoess (102) – Crestwood, KY; US Navy, WWII, Lt.

Walter A. Suberg (100) – Glenview, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, pilot

W. Robert Trounson – CA; US Army / Civilian, Stars & Stripes Chief Editor (Pacific)

Ordnance P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific

WWII painting, P-47 Thunderbolt

The P-47 Thunderbolt was not generally welcomed in the Pacific theatre. It was seen as too clumsy to compete with the very agile Japanese fighters and it did not have the range for operations over the vast expanses of the Pacific. Worse, the P-47 was best at the high altitudes at which American bombers operated over Europe.  However, in Japan most combat occurred below 20,000 feet, where the P-47 was at its least maneuverable.

Despite these problems, General George C. Kenney, commander of the 5th Air Force in the SW Pacific, was determined to acquire as many aircraft as possible for his command.  The Lockheed P-38 Lighting was popular with American pilots in the Pacific, but not available in sufficient numbers.

The U.S. Navy escort carrier USS Barnes (ACV-20) underway in the Pacific Ocean on 1 July 1943, transporting U.S. Army Air Forces Lockheed P-38 Lightning and Republic P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft.

Fortunately for Kenney, the first Thunderbolt unit to reach him was the 348th Fighter Group,  commanded by Col. Neel Kearby.  He was very enthusiastic about the P-47, and had put some thought into the best way to take advantage of the big fighter. One of its strengths was a very high speed in the dive.   He had put some thought into the best way to take advantage of the big fighter. One of its strengths was its very high speed in the dive. Kearby decided to take advantage of that.

IMG_1747

WO Russell Precians, UAAF, with the RAF in Burma, from Trove archives Sent from Garrulous Gwendoline

Immediately after taking off,  his P-47s would climb to a high altitude.  At that height they would head towards their target, normally a Japanese base. Once close to the base they would dive into the attack. By the time they reached the target, they would be travelling at very high speed. Having made their attack, they would then use that high speed to climb back to high altitude before the Japanese could react.

Newly arrived USAAF Republic P-47 Thunderbolts lined up in a maintenance area at Agana Airfield, Guam, Marianas Islands on 28 March 1945.

These tactics would have been familiar to many British pilots of the Battle of Britain, having been used by pilots of the Messerschmitt Bf 109, who would reach high altitude over France, then swoop down on British fighters climbing to attack German bombers.  They were particularly effective in the SW Pacific.  Between August and December 1943 the 348th Fighter Group claimed over 150 victories while losing only 8 pilots. Kearby himself would become the highest scoring American P-47 Ace of the SW Pacific, with 22 confirmed kills.

Japanese Ki-43 War Thunder

The weak low level performance and limited maneuverability of the Thunderbolt was still a weakness.  Kearby himself was killed on 6 March 1944 during a fighter sweep over Wewak, when he stayed at low level to confirm a probably kill and was caught by a Ki-43.

The P-47 was never popular amongst pilots who were used to the P-38 Lighting, although many were forced to fly it in early in 1944.  The P-38 units had suffered relatively heavy losses in the fighting over Rabaul in November 1943, and P-38s were still in short supply. However, during 1944 the P-47 was slowly phased out in the SW Pacific. Suitable targets on New Guinea were in increasingly short supply. Those units that had converted from the P-38 were often able to convert back during the year. Early in 1945 even the 348th would move away from the Thunderbolt, moving onto the Merlin powered P-51D Mustang.  By the end of the war the only Thunderbolt unit remaining in the Fifth Air Force was the 58th Fighter Group, a ground attack unit.

P-47 design

In mid-1944 the 7th Air Force finally received the Thunderbolt and the Mustang. This was just in time for them to take part in the invasion of Saipan, flying onto the island in June 1944.  On Saipan the P-47 saw action in the ground attack role.

The capture of Iwo Jima and then Okinawa finally allowed the 7th’s Thunderbolts to see air to air combat. The two islands were used as bases during the increasingly heavy strategic bombing campaign over Japan.  Both Thunderbolt and Mustang units saw service in the high altitude bomber escort role at which the Thunderbolt excelled. The same period saw the arrival of the long range P-47N, which had a range of close to 2,000 miles with drop tanks.

P-47 firing its M2 machine guns during night gunnery

In terms of victories gained, the Thunderbolt’s best moment in the Central Pacific came in late May 1945. Kamikaze attacks were threatening Allied shipping around Okinawa, and so the 318th Fighter Group was allowed to fly fighter sweeps over southern Japan, with the aim of intercepting potential Kamikaze aircraft far from their targets.  In 2 sweeps, on 25 and 28 May, the Thunderbolts claimed nearly 40 victories.

The career of the P-47 Thunderbolt in the Pacific is a good example of how important it was for the pilot to adjust their tactics to their aircraft. If a Thunderbolt pilot allowed himself to be dragged into a low level dogfight then they were in serious trouble.

Mexican P-47D Thunderbolt over the Philippines.

Nicknamed as the “Jug” due to its silhouette looking like a milk jug,( some say it was named Jug, short for juggernaut )  Apart from US service, the P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft saw action as part of the British RAF, the French Air Force, Soviet Air Force and also as part of the contingent of pilots hailing from Brazil and Mexico who also participated as part of the Allied war effort.

RAF Thunderbolt Mk.II readying for a sortie over Burma. January 1945

The idea for this post came from Teagan Riordain Geneviene.

Research from: the Smithsonian Museum; Pacific Encyclopedia; History of War and War History on line.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Elizabeth Brook – Galeburg, IL; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Lt.

Ethel Calabakas — Port Arthur, CAN; RC Army, WWII

John Hill – Webster, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-boats

Michael Kormos Jr. – Wilkes Barre, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 406th Squadron

Cleveland Lemon Jr. – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Charles M. Lentz – Independence, MO; US Navy, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 22 y.)

Terrance B. Salazar – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Spc., 82nd Airborne Division

James A. Scott – Aiken, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Frederick Trader – Oriska, ND; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 2nd Lt., bombardier/navigator

Raymond R. Veckruise – Gary, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Del Ray Echo Hawk

”Ken’s Men Against the Empire, vol. I”

I acquired “Ken’s Men, Against the Empire, volume I” during this pandemic of ours and when I reached the story of Bootless Bay, I couldn’t get it out of my mind, so I decided to share it with you all.  I thank the research of Lawrence J. Hickey and the IHRA for over 373 pages of unforgettable stories, plus a sneak preview of Volume II.  I can’t praise this organization enough.  I recommend you all try at least one of their books.

Del Ray Echo Hawk

Rescue from Bootless Bay

As men fought on the ground in New Guinea, the 5th Air Force was in the sky above them.  The B-24D, the “Ben Buzzard”, 43rd Bombardment Group/64th Bombardment Squadron, with Lt. Stephen Blount as pilot, could be heard over the radio at Seven Mile Drome as they returned in violent weather over the Owen Stanley Mts.,  and then the roar of the engines abruptly ceased…

“Ben Buzzard” 43rd Bombardment Group

Gas was leaking from a split in the trailing edge of the left wing; then one of the engines on the left wing suddenly quit and the radio operator couldn’t raise the tower, he had no idea if they were receiving his messages.

“Ben Buzzard” skipped across the water, then porpoised.  The rear part of the plane split and flipped over the nose.  Blount, not wearing his seatbelt, was catapulted through the Plexiglas windshield.

Jack Matisoff & Del Ray Echo Hawk, best friends

It was 18 October 1943 when Staff Sgt. DelRay Echo Hawk, who had been manning one of the waist guns and wounded, popped to the surface.  He then filled his lungs and dove back underwater.  He swam to the waist area of the aircraft, bent back the rear fuselage and pulled SSgt. Clayton L. Landon out of the wrecked Liberator.  Del Ray’s hands were cut and bleeding from the jagged metal, but he had saved Landon’s life.

Major Harold M. Brecht, who had just landed, hurried to his plane with another pilot and took off in search of the missing crew.  Their flight path took them directly down the length of Bootless Bay, where Blount and co-pilot, Julian Petty were yelling and waving frantically…

Crew taken in front of “Lucky Lucille”. Top 2nd from right is Jack Matisoff, 4th from Right, Echo Hawk. Signatures on back: Julian Al Petty, John R. O’Neal Jr., Coltrane C. Sherrill, Bob Lee, Bob Mason, Delray Echo Hawk, Albert Richter Jr., Jack Shainfine, Arthur Brent

Apparently unseen, the 4 surviving crewmen continued to ride the 3-foot swells.  Fortunately, within a few minutes a canoe appeared and turned in their direction.  Inside were 2 curious Australian enlisted men, who had seen the plane disappear and commandeered a native boat to investigate.

After a hurried discussion, it was decided that the men would hold onto the side of the canoe and be towed.

The Australians at the camp formed 2 long parallel lines 200 yards out in the water.  The Americans were passed from one man to another until they were safely on shore.

Landon and Echo Hawk, the most seriously injured, were laid out on the beach to await an ambulance.  They were then transported to a field hospital.

Lt. Blount would recommend Del Ray Echo Hawk, a member of the Oklahoma  Cherokee Nation, for the Silver Star for his exceptional bravery in rescuing SSgt. Landon.  Echo Hawk later received the Soldier’s Medal and the entire crew was awarded the Purple Heart.

Grave marker for Del Ray Echo Hawk

This story was condensed.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert D. Bay – Chesterfield, MI; US Army, WWII, PTO, Corps of Engineers, MGen. (Ret.)

Shirley (Cherrington) Beachum – Catawissa, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, link instructor

From: Cora Metz posters

Wilfred C. Cloutier – Guilford, VT; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Ralph Dunwoody – Aberdeen, SD; US Army, WWII, Intelligence & Recon

Dorothy D. Garippo – Roselle, IL; US Navy WAVE, WWII, nurse

Yvonne H. Jackson – Owego, NY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Gene M. Kirby – Davenport, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO

A.J. Laughlin – New Carlisle, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Moreland – Paducah, TX; US Army, WWII, 2nd Division

Raymond Sontag (101) – Creve Coeur, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt.

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