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Camp MacKall, Smitty and the Knollwood Maneuvers

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

WACO glider at Camp MacKall – reverse side reads: “Hello Mom, Finally got some cards that can let you see what these gliders we ride around in look like. This picture was taken on our camp field. I have a few more that I’ll send to you. Regards to all. Hope to be home this Wednesday.” Everett

Station Hospital, Camp MacKall, NC

The type of construction used for the barracks at Camp MacKall and the above hospital is called a “theatre of operations.”  Built on pilings and constructed of green sawed pine boards which is then covered with type 4 black tar paper.  The wood was cut from trees on the camp property using 7 sawmills running 24/7.  When the boards dried out, the 2 pot-bellied stoves were incapable of keeping the men warm.  Smitty spent some time at that hospital when the army discovered he did not perspire.  The medication took 3 weeks to kick in and then he was back to marching.

Knollwood Maneuvers

The Knollwood Maneuver would not only be the deciding factor for the 11th Airborne, but also for future paratrooper divisions as a whole.  5 December 1943, Army Ground Forces test team deployed a composite combat team from the 17th A/B, plus a battalion from Col. Duke McEntee’s 541st Parachute Infantry Regiment to be situated at Knollwood Airport and other critical points to act as the ‘enemy.’

Viewer to this operation included: Under Secretary of War, Robert Patterson; General McNair; General Ridgeway (82nd A/B); BGen. Lee Donovan; Airborne Command and several teams of high-ranking inspectors from the War Dept., Army Ground Forces and Army Air Forces.

Camp MacKall, 1943, triangular runway

On midnight of Dec. 6, 1943, 200 C-47 Dakota transports carried the troopers and towed the 234 gliders from five separate airfields to begin the operation.  The lift-offs were timed so that each plane would join the column in its proper place.  The aircraft became a vee-of-vees, nine ships wide as the formations grew larger.  They made a rendezvous on the Atlantic coastline and took a 200 mile circular route before aiming toward the inland drop zones; most of the men would jump during evening’s darkness at 1200′.  Almost all the troopers and gliders hit the proper DZ (drop Zones) and LZs (landing zone).  However, the division chief of staff and his glider load landed in a road on the Fort Bragg artillery range.

Weather conditions were not conducive for jumping as the rain became sleet, but still, 85% were successful.  There were 2 casualties and 48 injuries.  The 11th Airborne “captured” and “held” the Aberdeen and Knollwood Airports from the defending forces.  The exercise came to an end on Dec. 12 – Smitty’s 29th birthday.  The War Dept., after reviewing the reports, replied to Gen. Swing that they had been wrong and the training for such a specialized unit should proceed. (As it would turn out, their training had only just begun. )

For a complete and detailed look at the Knollwood Maneuvers, a friend of mine, Eugene Piasecki, U.S. Army Historian,has his data online now…

https://arsof-history.org/articles/v4n1_knollwood_page_1.html

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News from home: Smitty’s friend, George Dunlop rescued two Navy pilots after their training plane crashed into Jamaica Bay.  The company of soldiers that were stationed on Broad Channel became an actual camp and decided to call it — Camp Smith!  War bond drives were going on as well as the dimming of the street lamps.

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Military Humor –

Learning on the job.

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Arthur R. D’Agostino – Staten Island, NY; US Army, WWII, TSgt., 8th Armored Division / post that includes Mr. D’Agostino will be published at a later date

Gordon M. Hill – CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, pilot, 416th Squadron

Courtesy of Dan Antion

Burtell M. Jefferson – Washington D.C.; US Army, WWII, PTO / Police Chief

Herbert C. Jensen – Farmington, UT; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Henry LaBonte – Brockton, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Eugene Richard Skotch – East Meadow, NY; US Army, Vietnam, Pfc., KIA (Gia Dinh Province)

Walter A. Smead – Saratoga County, NY; US Army, Korea, Cpl. Battery A/57th Field Artillery/7th Infantry Div., KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Everett R. Stewart – Anderson, CA; US Navy, WWII, Petty Officer 2nd Cl., USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Joseph E. Tinkham Jr. – South Gardiner, ME; US Army, Vietnam, !st Calvery Division, Adj. Gen. of Maine National Guard, MGeneral (Ret. 37 y.)

Bertram G. Voorhees – Pasadena, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

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The Army Airborne and the start to Camp MacKall

Airborne, Camp MacKall

The original idea for an American airborne came from Gen. Billy Mitchell in 1918.  His  commander, Gen. Pershing agreed, but once the WWI Armistice was signed, the plan was terminated.  In the late 1920’s, Germany began training parachute units and in the 1930’s, they led the world in gliders.  Russia created the Air Landing Corps in 1935.  Japan started in 1940 with German instructors.  The U.S. did not take note until Germany was successful on Crete in 1941.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

The American tradition was born when 48 men jumped at Ft. Benning on Aug. 16, 1940, where  Private Eberhard, promised to yell to his buddies below, was the first to shout out “Geronimo”.  General William Lee is considered the “Father of the Airborne.”  My father, Everett Smith or “Smitty” (as you’ll get to know him),  did not care for heights or jumping, so I asked him – “Why volunteer?”  He shrugged and said, “They pay you more in the paratroopers.”  Smitty had a dry sense of humor which you will see more of in the letters he wrote to his mother in future posts.  He did however accept his boot camp, sharp shooting, glider & parachute training as a way  of learning new things he would otherwise have never experienced. [One of his statements driven into me – ” Like any job, always try your best.”]  Since he was 27 and much older than other recruits, he was often referred to by the nickname of “Pops.”

Camp MacKall postcard

The 11th Airborne Division was formed on Feb. 25, 1943 and their conditioning was so severe that most of the men felt combat would be a breeze.  They were the first A/B division formed from scratch, so instead of following the manuals – they were writing their own.  The camp was under construction 24/7 and they took classes sitting in folding chairs and easels were used for map reading, first-aid, weapons, foxholes, rules of land warfare, communications, field fortifications, and so on.  Between May and June one battalion at a time went to Fort Benning for jump school.

glider jumping

When the time came for Stage A of jump school, it was scratched since the men were already as fit as possible.  Stage B, was learning to tumble, equipment knowledge, sliding down a 30′ cable and packing a parachute.  In Stage C, they used a 250-foot tower, forerunner to the one at Coney Island, to simulate a jump.  Stage D, they earned their jump wings and boots.  In June, the units began training in every circumstance that might arise in combat.

The gliders used were WACO CG 4A, boxlike contraptions with wings.  The skeleton was small gauge steel covered with canvas; a wingspan of 84 feet, length of 49 feet and carried 3,700 pounds = two pilots and 13 fully loaded soldiers or a jeep and 6 men. The casualty list developing these appeared endless to the men.  Smitty could not listen to “Taps” without tearing up, even in his later years.

WACO glider in take off from Camp MacKall field.

21 June, the division entered the unit training program.  During July, all units went on 10-day bivouacs and to Fort Bragg.  Glider formal training occurred at Maxton Air Base.

In July, in Sicily, Operation Husky went terribly awry, due to the weather conditions –  3,800 paratroopers were separated from their gliders and each other.  The casualty rate was exorbitant.  This created serious doubts about the practicality of a division size airborne.  Proof would rest on the shoulders of the 11th and their commander, Gen. Joseph May Swing.  A demonstration called the “Pea Patch Show” was displayed for Sec. of War, Stimson.  He gave Swing a positive review, but it did not convince Gen. Marshall or McNair.  The fate of the Airborne Command rested on the upcoming Knollwood Maneuvers.

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Smitty’s hometown of Broad Channel sent out a free issue of their newspaper, “The Banner”, to every hometown soldier and this became another source of back front info, along with news from his mother and friends:

News that Smitty got from home at this point:  Broad Channel was getting their own air raid siren.  (Broad Channel is one-mile long and about 4-blocks wide).  His neighbors, the Hausmans, heard from their POW son in the Philippines.  And – his divorce papers were final, Smitty was single again.

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Military Humor –

‘I dropped out of Parachute School.’

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Ashby – Sun City, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Carl Bradley – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Leo Brown – Lima, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, USS Colorado,3rd Marine Division

Benjamin Goldfarb – Toronto, CAN; US Army, WWII, PTO, Surgical tech, 54th General Hospital, Philippines

Daniel C. Helix – Concord, CA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, MGeneral, Purple Heart / Mayor

Denis H. Hiskett – USA; US Navy, WWII, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Robert L. Moore – Queens, NY; USMC, Korea & Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt.

Thomas O’Keefe – Washington D.C.; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT  /  CIA

George Semonik Jr. – Sewickley, PA; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer, 82nd Airborne Division (Ret. 20 y.)

Shelby Treadway – Manchester, KY; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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Everett (Smitty) Smith

young Everett and Mother, Anna

Everett Smith was born Dec. 12, 1914 and grew up with the gentle waves of Jamaica Bay on an island one mile long and barely four blocks wide.  This was the tight-knit community of Broad Channel, New York.  He resided with his mother, Anna at peaceful 207 East 9th Road and spent his days between school, working and helping to care for his grandmother.

Aerial view of Broad Channel

 

Smitty’s, Broad Channel, NY

Everett’s nickname had always been “Smitty” and so, the name of his fishing station came to be.  In 1939, at 24 years of age, he married a woman named Catherine and she joined the Smith household.

News of Hitler and his rise to power filtered into the newspapers and radio, but Anna still had the memories of WWI and their financial struggles in what would be become known as the Great Depression made the problems of Europe so far away.

Grassy Point, Broad Channel, where Smitty often tended bar.

The majority of the U.S. population held the ideal of isolationism in high regard and the Smith household agreed wholeheartedly.  Everett was baffled by FDR’s election as his past political and personal records indicated both amoral and often criminal behavior.  The president began to stretch his powers to the limit to assist his friend, Winston Churchill, while U.S. citizens were straining to survive.

On Oct. 30, 1940, Roosevelt spouted in Boston, “I give you one more assurance.  I have said it before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent to any foreign wars.”  My father did not believe FDR then and as we look back — he was right.

Draft card
You’re in the Army now!

Everett received his draft notice in Sept. 1942.  He would be sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey where he volunteered for the paratroopers.  He would immediately then be sent to Camp MacKall, North Carolina for the start of his vigorous training.  Smitty became part of one of the most unique army units of its day, the HQ Co./187th/ 11th Airborne Division.

Smitty, 187th RCT/11th Airborne Division, Camp MacKall 1943

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chris Andreadakis – Youngstown, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO

Paul Brown (100) – Saginaw, MI; US navy, WWII

Arlington Cemetery

Thomas ‘Millar’ Bryce (101) – Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, navigator

Robert “Cookie” Cook  (100) – Rochester, NY; US Army, WWII

Aaron M. Fish – USA; US Navy, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 5, Petty Officer 3rd Class

Dick Hall (100) – Murray, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 94th Chemical Mortars/3rd Army Tank Battalion, Lt.

E. Allan Logel (100) – Mapelwood, NJ; US Army, WWII, PTO, Captain, Strategic planning

Donald Myers – Cambria, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO & Korea

Ken P. Smith – USA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2/187/11th Airborne Division

Martha Watts – Charleston, NC; US Army WAC, WWII

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Pacific Paratrooper reboot…..

Smitty reclining in fron, on the far right, with the HQ Company/187th Regiment/11th Airborne

Pacific Paratrooper will now only publish one post per week.

I first started this website to honor my father and his HQ Co./187th/11th Airborne Division and that is what we intend on doing once again.  Smitty never said, “I did this” or “I did that,”  it was always – “The 11th did IT!”

From the beginning, Everett A. Smith (AKA: Smitty), will be re-introduced, his entrance into WWII, the letters he wrote home and the world that surrounded them at the time.

The Farewell Salutes will continue,  as will the Military Humor columns.  If there is someone you wish to honor in the Salutes, don’t hesitate to give me similar information as you see for others.

1943 11th Airborne yearbook

As a member of the 11th Airborne Association (Member # 4511) myself, I am privy to their newsletter, “The Voice of the Angels,”  and I will be using quotes and stories from that publication.  Matt Underwood, Editor Emeritus, JoAnn, Editor, and the officers of the Association have been of great assistance to me and I thank them very much for their help.

This website is ever changing and being updated, because further knowledge is always being learned.  Smitty told me and many others, “I try to learn something every day.  When I stop, Please, close the lid.”  I have never forgotten that motto to live by and I sincerely hope you all do the same.

Please, DO continue to share what stories you know and/or a link to data you’ve uncovered and put them in the comments.  I am afraid no emails will be opened.  If you are not a blogger, you can Follow by clicking the Follow button in the top right-hand corner of each post.

11th A/B shoulder patch

I thank you all for your contributions in the past and hope you will continue to do so.  If you are new to this site – WELCOME!!  We have a wonderful group of people participating here – join them.

Please remember that these countries, in the following posts, were in a horrendous war and NOTHING written or quoted here is with the intent to disparage any people or nations.  And, I have tried to limit the amount of gory details without shading the facts.  I hope I succeed.

As always – Click on images to enlarge them.

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Military Humor –

Some definitions you may want to keep in mind:

ARMY – a body of men assembled to rectify the mistakes of the diplomats

Critical Terrain: Terrain that if not secured, grabbed, taken or camped out on — you are screwed.

DRAFT BOARD – the world’s largest travel agency

MILITARY EXPERT – one who tells you what will happen next week – and then explains why it didn’t

NEW GUINEA SALUTE – waving the hand over the mess kit to ward off the flies

PACIFIST – a person who fights with everybody BUT the enemy

Pound The Crap Out Of: Somewhere between disrupt and destroy and slightly more than neutralize.

Technique: A noun, used in the phrase: “That’s one technique.” Translated – That’s a really screwed up way to execute this operation and you will probably kill your entire unit. But if you want to do it that way – go ahead.”

WAR – a time that starts off paying old scores and ends up by paying new debts

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Arens – Lansing, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Charles “Stu” Bachmann – Bertrand, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., B-17 tailgunner

Rosewarne Memorial, courtesy of Destinations Journey

Alvin Cawthon – Tucumcari, NM; US Army, WWII / National Guard (Ret. 42 y.)

Elbert Edwards – Southaven, MS; US Army, WWII, 1st Lt.

Juan Gutierrez – USA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 200th Coast Artillery Regiment, Bataan March, POW, KIA (Luzon, P.I.)

Eddie Hrivnak – Lakewood, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, frogman

David Mottoli – Lawrence, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 25th Fighter Squadron / Grumman (Ret.)

Don Newman – South Bend, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 pilot instructor

George Samson – McGee’s Mills, PA; US Coast Guard, WWII

John Toppi Sr. – Providence, RI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Warwick

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WWII poster

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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…….

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 – M3 Howitzer

M3 105mm Howitzer

Should anyone wish to further research the 11th Airborne’s field artillery, the division constituted the 674th and 675th Airborne Field Artillery.

674th Airborne Field Artillery

The 105 mm Howitzer M3 was a light howitzer designed for use by airborne troops. The gun utilized the barrel of the 105 mm howitzer M2, shortened and fitted to a slightly modified split trail carriage of the 75 mm pack howitzer. The howitzer was used by the U.S. Army during WWII.  It was issued to airborne units and the cannon companies of infantry regiments.

Paratrooper Everett Smith (Smitty, far right) during training

The howitzer was designed to fire the same ammunition as the longer M2. However, it turned out that shorter barrel resulted in incomplete burning of the propelling charge. The problem could be solved by use of faster burning powder. Otherwise the design was considered acceptable and was standardized as 105 mm Howitzer M3 on Carriage M3. The carriage was soon succeeded by the M3A1, which had trails made from thicker plate. Even stronger tubular trails were designed, but never reached production.

The production started in February 1943 and continued until May 1944; an additional bunch was produced in April–June 1945.

 

Production of М3, pcs.[2]
Year 1943 1944 1945 Total
Produced, pcs. 1,965 410 205 2,580

The gun fired semi-fixed ammunition, similar to the ammunition of the M2; it used the same projectiles and the same 105 mm Cartridge Case M14, but with different propelling charge. The latter used faster burning powder to avoid incomplete burning; it consisted of a base charge and four increments, forming five charges from 1 (the smallest) to 5 (the largest).

In an emergency, gunners were authorized to fire M1 HE rounds prepared for the Howitzer M2, but only with charges from 1 to 3. M1 HE rounds for the M3 could be fired from an M2 with any charge.

HEAT M67 Shell had non-adjustable propelling charge. For blank ammunition, a shorter Cartridge Case M15 with black powder charge was used.

 

Available ammunition
Type Model Weight (round/projectile) Filler Muzzle velocity Range
HE HE M1 Shell 18.35 kg (40 lb) / 14.97 kg (33 lb) 50/50 TNT or amatol* 2.18 kg (4 lb 13 oz) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)
HEAT-T HEAT M67 Shell 16.62 kg (37 lb) / 13.25 kg (29 lb) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,760 m (8,500 yd)
Smoke WP M60 Shell 18.97 kg (42 lb) / 15.56 kg (34 lb) White Phosphorus, 1.84 kg (4.1 lb) 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)
Smoke FS M60 Shell 19.65 kg (43 lb) / Sulfur trioxide in Chlorosulfonic acid, 2.09 kg (4 lb 10 oz)
Smoke HC BE M84 Shell 18.29 kg (40 lb) / 14.91 kg (33 lb) Zinc chloride 311 m/s (1,020 ft/s) 7,585 m (8,300 yd)

* Amatol is a highly explosive material made from a mixture of TNT and ammonium nitrate.   Amatol was used extensively during WWI and WWII.

 

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor –

Light Artillery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mildred (Andrews) Andres – Baton Rouge, LA; US Army WAC, German Occupation, Sgt.

FINAL MISSION

Patricia Delaney – Evanston, IL; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Lt. JG

Thomas A. Dennison – Lander, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

John Jarvie – Rock Springs, WY; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, MSgt., Engineering, (Ret. 21 y.)

Theodore Lumpkin Jr. (100) – Angeleno, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 2nd Lt., 100th Fighter Squadron, Intelligence; Lt. Col. (Ret.)

Davis Mosqueda – Boise, ID; USMC, Silent Drill Corps, LCpl.

Louis V. O’Brien – Providence, RI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 486/352 Fighter Group, 2nd Lt., pilot

Madge (Watkins) Redwood – Auckland, NZ; NZ Army WAAC, WWII, # 813240, 9th Coastal Regiment

Brian D. Sicknick – NJ; National Guard, Middle East, Sgt., /  US Capitol Police, 1st Responder Unit

James Wento – Lynn, MA; US Army, SSgt., 2-2 Assault Helicopter Battalion/2nd Combat Assault

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54th Troop Carrier Wing and the 11th Airborne Division

54th TCW patch

The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was established on 26 February 1943 [one day after the 11th A/B Div. at Camp MacKall] and commenced air transport and medical air evacuation operations in support of Fifth Air Force on 26 May 1943. advancing as battle lines permitted.

The unit took part in the airborne invasion of Nadzab, New Guinea in September 1943 by dropping the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, as well as Australian engineers and heavy equipment.

The wing employed C-47’s almost exclusively, but during late 1943 and much of 1944 also used 13 converted B-17E’s for armed transport missions in enemy-held territory. The 54th supported every major advance made by the allies in the Southwest Pacific Theater operating from primitive airstrips carved from jungles and air-dropping cargo where airstrips unavailable.

In July 1944, the wing dropped 1,418 paratroopers on Noemfoor Island to aid the allied invasion forces. Then assumed the task of handling all freight and personnel moving in troop carrier aircraft in the Southwest Pacific, in addition to scheduled and unscheduled air movement of cargo and troops, and air evacuation of wounded personnel.

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In preparation for airborne operations in the Philippines, the 54th TCW conducted joint training with the 11th Airborne Division.  August and September 1944 were held in Nadzab.  Due to the demands of transport resources in building up Allied strength in Netherlands, New Guinea, the wing rotated the squadrons in Doboduru where they received refresher training in paradrops and aerial supply.  The training proved to be of great value at Tagaytay Ridge, Corregidor and in the Cagayan Valley, Luzon, when the 11th A/B need a lift for their paratroopers and gliders.

Early December 1944, the 5th Air Force HQ was attacked as well as the 44th Station Hospital.  The 187th HQ Company [Smitty was there], set up a perimeter.  They stood there through the night, rifles ready.  By morning there were 19 dead enemy soldiers.  Col. Pearson sent out patrols that located another 17 Japanese hiding out in the rice paddies..

By late 1944 and during the early months of 1945, most wing missions were flown to the Philippines.  In February 1945, the wing flew three more airborne operations, all in the Philippines, to help encircle Japanese concentrations.   For the 11th A/B Division’s jump on Aparri in north Luzon, the first plane off the ground was piloted by Col. John Lackey. Wing C-47s dropped napalm on Caraboa Island in Manila Bay in March 1945.

When hostilities ended on Luzon, the wing moved the entire 11th Airborne Division (11,300 personnel) from the Philippines to Okinawa on short notice.  It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted the men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply.

The 54th then began transporting occupation forces into Japan, beginning with General Swing, the 187th Regiment (and Smitty).  On the first day, 123 aircraft brought 4,200 troopers to Atsugi Airfield.  During September 1945, the wing also evacuated over 17,000 former prisoners of war from Japan to the Philippines.

General R. L. Eichelberger, at right, with Maj. Gen. J. M. Swing, Commander, 11th
Airborne Division, receives the report of Japanese officers at Atsugi airfield,
during the initial landings.

The wing served as part of the occupation forces in Japan from 25 September 1945 to about 26 January 1946, while continuing routine air transport operations and a scheduled courier service. Beginning in December 1945 and continuing into mid-1946, most of the wing’s components were reassigned to other units or inactivated, and on 15 January 1946 the wing became a component of the Far East (soon, Pacific) Air Service Command.

Moving to the Philippines, the wing gained new components and flew scheduled routes between Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and the Hawaiian Islands.  Replaced by the 403rd Troop Carrier Group on 31 May 1946 and was inactivated.

Further, more detailed information can be found in the publications by the IHRA.

This article incorporates material from the US Air Force Historical Research Agency, “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division” & “Rakassans”, both by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Wikipedia and US Airborne Commando Operations.

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From:  GP Cox to all my readers, friends and occasional drop-ins…

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Military Humor – 

‘I count only four parachutes. Where’s Mr. Simms?’

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Farewell Salutes – 

George ‘Pete’ Buckley – Salem, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, glider pilot

DeArmond Canada (100) – US Army, WWII

Forest M. Dickson – Cheyenne, WY; US Air Force, Korea, Airman 2nd Class

Walter Ferris – Armagh, No.IRE; British Royal Engineers, WWII / Indian Army, Bombay Sappers, CBI

Joseph M. Gasper (102) – Elwood City, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 3 Bronze Stars

Frank ‘Buck-shot’ Kipp – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO, mine clearing

George Monthan – Tucson, AZ; US Navy, WWII, Comdr. VF-103, ‘Air Boss’ USS Saratoga / Joint Chief of Staff

Kenneth O’Hare – Ainsworth, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ Co./11th Airborne Division

Margaret (Callihan) Prince (100) – Doddridge County, WV; Civilian, WWII, Dupont/Manhattan Project

William Salley – Springfield, SC; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), Purple Heart

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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.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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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 Mitchell B-25, the Ultimate Strafer

Running a gantlet of flak and enemy fighters on September 2, 1943, North American B-25Ds of the 405th Bomb Squadron employ tactics devised by Major Paul “Pappy” Gunn in an attack on Japanese transports in New Guinea’s Wewak Harbor. “Tokyo Sleeper” by: Jack Fellows

Pappy Gunn didn’t develop the skip-bombing technique. It was first used in battle by B-17s on October 23, 1942 (tail end of Chapter 4 in Ken’s Men, Vol. I). The B-25 was certainly better suited for the job and Pappy Gunn and Jack Fox were the ones to modify the B-25 to make it work. Major Edward Larner deserves a lot of credit for convincing his squadron’s crews that they could pull off the technique in battle after they watched his crew successfully use it on a ship during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea.

Searching on the internet, one can locate more stories containing the B-25 Mitchell bomber than most any other.  During the Second World War, the high adaptability of the B-25 Mitchell Bomber–named in honor of the pioneer of U.S. military aviation, Brigadier General William L. Mitchell–paid off as it served extensively in missions including both high and low altitude bombing, tree-top level strafing, anti-shipping, supply, photo reconnaissance, and other support.

B-25 Mitchell schematic.

Production of this twin-engine medium bomber commenced in late 1939 by North American Aviation, following a requirement from the U. S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) for a high-altitude medium bomber. By the end of the war, about 9,816 Mitchells were manufactured, with several variants.

Generally, the Mitchell bomber weighed 19,850 pounds when empty, had a maximum take-off weight of 35,000 pounds, and was built to hold a crew of six comprising the pilot and co-pilot, a navigator who doubled as a bombardier, a turret gunner who also served as an engineer, and a radioman who performed duties as a waist and tail gunner.

North American Aviation factory workers mounting an engine on a B-25 bomber, Inglewood, California, United States, 1942.

It was powered by two Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 radial engines which dissipated about 3,400 hp, and performed with a top speed of 272 mph at 13,000 feet, although it was most effective at a speed of 230 mph.

Anywhere from 12-18 12.7mm machine guns, a T13E1 cannon, and 3,000 pounds of bombs comprised its armament. It had a 1,984-lb ventral shackle and racks, capable of holding a Mark 13 Torpedo and eight 127mm rockets for ground attacks, respectively.

The B-25 performed in all the theaters of the Second World War and was mainly used by the United States Army Air Force, Royal Air Force, Soviet Air Force, and the United States Marine Corps.

North American’s plant in Kansas City, Kan., October 1942. As the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor approached, American industry was growing and flexing its muscles. Photo from the Office of War Information, Library of Congress.

Mitchell bombers participated in campaigns in the Solomon Islands, Aleutian Islands, Papua New Guinea, and New Britain, among others. Owing to the tropical nature of the environment, mid-level bombing was less efficient, and thus the B-25s were adapted to serve as low-altitude attack bombers.

During the Southwest Pacific campaigns, the B-25 enormously contributed to Allied victories as the 5th Air Force devastated the Japanese forces through skip-bombing attacks on ships and Japanese airfields.

In the China-Burma-India theater of the war, B-25s were widely used for interdiction, close air support, and battlefield isolation.

The B-25’s extraordinary capabilities as a bomber were first brought to the limelight following their performance in the Tokyo Raid of 18 April 1942, in which the hitherto impregnable home islands of Japan were attacked.

Armorer cleaning the bore of a 75mm cannon mounted in a B-25G Mitchell bomber of the 820th Bomb Squadron, Tarawa, Gilbert Islands; March-April 1944.

In a military sense, the Doolittle Raid was a failure. The small task force of which he and his crews were the centerpiece was detected while Hornet was still 150 miles short of the intended takeoff point. The B-25s were launched on a contingency plan to save the carrier– to clear the flight deck so its fighters could be positioned for launch to defend against attack.

Doolittle and the Navy had agreed to sacrifice the bombers in the event the task force was detected by the Japanese. With the task force having been spotted, the mission had been compromised and the airplanes were sent out with the crews knowing it was unlikely that they would reach China.  They did reach their targets and east wind helped to bring most of the men home.

The power of the B-25 strafers was demonstrated to the world in early March 1943, when the 3rd Attack Group delivered the knockout blow to a 14-ship Japanese convoy that was sitting just outside Lae Harbor during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea. A low-level strafing and skip-bombing attack by 12 modified B-25s and a dozen A-20s left every single transport and most of their escorts either sinking or badly damaged. Naval historian Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison referred to the attack as “the most devastating attack of the war by airplanes against ships.”

From the radio operator’s position in a USMC PBJ Mitchell, Japanese POW 2Lt Minoru Wada looks for landmarks to find the Japanese 100th Infantry Division headquarters complex, 9 August 1945, Mindanao, Philippines.

Beginning with the sale of B-25s to the Dutch, North American produced thousands of Mitchell’s for other nations. Considering that the Fifth Air Force was originally headquartered in Australia, it was only natural that the Royal Australian Air Force would operate B-25s of its own. A little-known fact of World War II in the Pacific is that when the 90th Bombardment Squadron was first equipped with B-25s, there were not enough American pilots and gunners to man them. To fill the gap, several RAAF airmen volunteered to fly with American pilots. Most of the co-pilots and many of the gunners in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea were Australian.

Their sturdiness and ease of maintenance under primitive environmental conditions were characteristics that aided the durability of the B-25s during the war. By the end of the war, they had completed more than 300 missions.

This post was suggested by Dan Antion @ No Facilities.

Resources used: National Interest; Air History on line; Boeing; History.com and pacific War Encyclopedia and the IHRA.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Current News –  7 December 2020, Pearl Harbor Day

For Pacific Paratrooper’s past posts for this date: Videos with a different view

Kimmel and Short

Pearl Harbor Remembered

WWII After WWII’s series

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Military Humor –

“I’ll get onto it in a minute. Everything is so darn steady.”
From November 14, 1942

“One thing I can’t understand about this sentry business. Can you imagine anybody answering ‘Foe’?”
From December 6, 1941

WWII humor from the Saturday Evening Post magazine.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Adams – Fairfield, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO

Orville Cox – Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Alfred Dawson (103) – Bailieboro, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, radar

Stephen Gudek Sr. – Dracut, MA; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Chief Petty Officer (Ret. 20 y.)

Keith Hobson – Chico, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

John Lappin – Washington D.C.; US Army, WWII /  FBI

Betty Murray – Salisbury, MD; Civilian, WWII, military uniform seamstress

Harold F. Trapp – LaPorte, IN; US Navy, WWII, Fire Controlman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

William H. Trapp – LaPorte, IN; US Navy, WWII, Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Carl Zumbano – Venice, FL; US Navy, WWII, SeaBees

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