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Los Banos – conclusion

Los Banos in art

 

Inside the Los Baños compound, all was suddenly noise and confusion. “That morning, as I walked out of the barracks with my family to line up for 7:00 am roll call, I looked up into the sky and over a field near our camp saw several C-47 transport planes,” the paratroopers took approximately 15 minutes to assemble and move the 900 yards or so to the barrier around the compound.

Los Banos line of amtraks

“After a rapid assembly,” remembered Lieutenant Ringler, “there was only minor enemy resistance, which was eliminated.” Some of the men used a dry riverbed on the edge of the drop zone that angled toward the camp to provide cover as they rushed forward.”

467th Reg. support

“Within 20 minutes of the first shots, the firing seemed to die down. Most of the Japanese guards were either killed or fled to the south and west, away from the incoming paratroopers. All the guards doing their morning calisthenics in an open area to the south of the compound were either killed or scared off.

Los Banos liberation, pic taken by Jerry Sam

“Although most of the sentries and pillboxes had already been silenced, some had to be eliminated by the Company B paratroopers”, remembered Robert A. Wheeler, a 12-year-old internee.

Los Banos evac internee on stretcher

Young internee Bill Rivers remembered, “A whole herd of the damnedest vehicles I’d ever seen, roared into the camp. When I saw the white star with the two bars on each side, I feared that the Russians had somehow rescued us, as I’d never seen that insignia before. But when I heard one soldier profanely order [another soldier nicknamed] ‘Red’ to give him the field phone, I believe I heaved a sigh of relief.”

Dr, Dana Nance & wife, Anna in TN 1939. Only medical doctor in camp

Two of the first men to jump out of the amtracs were General Whitney and his mysterious civilian companion. As Major Burgess recalled, the two men went into the camp and after a short time General Whitney came out carrying “several boxes well tied together containing documents which he deemed to be of considerable military significance. I didn’t believe it at first, but he was really sincere about keeping those boxes together and was with them all of the time.”

USN nurse Dorothy Sill (US Navy pic)

Although the contents of those boxes were never made public, it is believed that the information on the captured papers was used against the Japanese during subsequent war crimes trials.

About 9:30 am, 21/2 hours after the Los Baños Raid had begun, Colonel Gibbs and his fully loaded amtracs finally began the slow crawl back to San Antonio and Laguna de Bay. Those people that could not fit in the amtracs began walking back to the beach.

Maryknoll sister before becoming prisoners

Father William R. McCarthy, an internee Catholic priest, remembered those that walked. “Men, women and children followed,” he wrote, “bundles under their arms or dangling from sticks, carrying their scant possessions with them…. With many others we walked over the highway of freedom against a background of flames, as one straw barracks quickly followed another in an all-consuming fire fanned by the morning breeze.”

Registration and temporary housing back at Old Bilibid

Unfortunately, when the Japanese discovered that the Los Baños prisoners had been spirited away from under their very noses, they retaliated against the Filipino residents in the barrio of Los Baños. Shortly after finding the internment camp empty and destroyed by fire, the Japanese rounded up an estimated 1,400 Filipinos, tied them to the stilts holding up their houses, and set the structures on fire.

For these crimes and for others committed against the Filipino people and the internees at Los Baños, Lt. Gen. Fujishige and Warrant Officer Sadaaki Konishi, a brutally sadistic supply officer at the camp, were summarily found guilty by the subsequent war crimes commission and executed.

Sadaaki Konishi – as a POW himself

This was an extraordinary operation , expertly carried out in one day of dramatic courage and cooperation in battle.  Not one person was lost saving 2,122 people.

 

Resources: The Los Baños Raid and History of the 11th Airborne Division, by Gen. E.M. Flanagan Jr.; Rescue at Los Baños, by Bruce Henderson.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Masao Akiyama – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO, 100th Battalion

Billy Bates – Dallas, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, LT., P-51 pilot

Max Desfor (104) – Rockville, MD; Korea, War photographer, Pulitzer Prize

Ralph Finch – Santa Rosa, CA; US Army, WWII, medic

John Gazo – Windsor, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, 408 “Goose” Squadron, POW

Carlos Hathcock – North Little Rock, AR; USMC, Vietnam, Gunnery Sgt., Silver Star

Gustave Jacobsen – Tacoma, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 gunner 32 missions (Ret. 33y.)

Maureen Lancaster – Norwich, ENG; WRAF, WWII, radio operator

Bernard Madnick – CT & Delray, FL; US Navy, WWII, USS Ellyson

Verrill ‘Sonny’ Worcester – Jonesport, ME; US Army, Vietnam, Iran, Sgt. Maj. (Ret. 22 y.)

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Los Banos (1)

Generals Eichelberger and Swing discussing plans of operation on Luzon

“I doubt that any airborne unit in the world will ever be able to rival the Los Baños prison raid.  It is the textbook airborne operation for all ages and all armies.”

____ General Colin Powell, US Army, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 25 February 1993

By this time, Everett “Smitty” Smith was an NCO and when I’d asked him many years ago if he was part of the Los Baños Raid, he said, “No, I was occupied somewhere else.” As best as I can find in my research, he was busy with the rest of the 187th near the 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion that was commanded by Captain Flanagan. (The captain would later become Lt. General E.M. Flanagan, author of many WWII historical books.) Although Smitty wasn’t at this dramatic feat of the 11th Airborne Division, it deserves any and all the attention it gets.  It is an operation that anyone associated with the division remains proud of to this day.

Lt.General E.M. Flanagan

G-2 Henry Muller was required to collect any and all intelligence that he could, from anywhere he could find it – that was his job.  A grower from Mindanao who had recently traveled south from Manila told him how awful the prisoners of Los Baños were doing.  This was the first Muller had heard of the camp.  It turned out Gen. Swing, commander of the 11th Airborne Division also had not been told about it.  They presumed that being it was outside the area of their orders from MacArthur to be the reason of this lack of info.  But Muller could not forget what the grower had said, “They are in pitiful shape.  They’re dying.”  He had to find out all he could about that camp.

BGen. Henry Muller, Jr., G-2, 11th A/B Div.

During the attack toward Manila, Swing’s staff had been gathering intelligence and drawing up plans for the raid on Los Baños, located 40 miles (other resources say 26 miles), behind Japanese lines. As envisioned, Swing wanted his planners to use both an airborne and amphibious attack. Swing wanted his paratroopers to land near the prison compound and destroy the Japanese garrison while his amphibious force swept across Laguna de Bay equipped with vehicles for transporting the internees to safety. Additionally, Swing felt that a diversionary attack was crucial to draw the Japanese troops away from the camp.

The raid would entail of a four-pronged attack. The 511th PIR Provisional Reconnaissance Platoon under Lieutenant George E. Skau, aided by local guerrillas, would move into an area opposite the camp prior to the strike. Then, simultaneous with a parachute drop of Lieutenant John M. Ringler’s Company B of the 511th PIR and an amphibious landing by Major Henry A. Burgess’s 1st Battalion, minus the airdropped company but reinforced with a platoon from C Company, 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion and two howitzers from Battery D, 457th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, the recon platoon and guerrillas would eliminate the sentries along the wire.

Jerry Sams at Los Banos. pic taken w/ his hidden camera

While the amphibious force amtracs of the 672nd Amphibious Tractor Battalion rolled up onto the beach from Laguna de Bay and continued toward the camp, the company of paratroopers would link up with the recon platoon and guerrillas and wipe out the rest of the garrison. When the amphibious force reached the camp, it would deploy to the south and west to block any reaction by the Japanese.

Margaret Whitaker helping her mother wash her hair at Los Banos

The fourth force would form a flying column composed of the 1st Battalion, 188th Glider Infantry Regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. Ernie LaFlamme, the 675th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, the 472nd Glider Field Artillery Battalion, and Company B of the 637th Tank Destroyer Battalion and move by road around the southwest end of Laguna de Bay up to the gates of the camp. This force, under the command of Lt. Col. Robert H. Soule and designated “Los Baños Force,” would bring enough trucks with it to carry out all the internees and paratroopers. If the fourth group could not reach the camp, the internees could be ferried out in the amtracs across Laguna de Bay while the paratroopers fought their way out. The raid was scheduled for dawn on February 23, 1945, a moonless night.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Samuel Baney – Houma, LA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Robert Conway – Lubbock, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 43rd Infantry

Edward Duncan – Clyde, MI; US Army, WWII

Jill Farquharson(102) – NOR; Air Transport Aux. “ATA Girl”, WWII, ETO, pilot

Charles Jonason – Howard Beach, NY; US Navy, WWII

Albert Kirlin – Lincoln, NE; US Air Force, PTO Occupation

Elenor Peat – Dargaville, NZ; RNZ Air Force # W4377, WWII

Wallace Stack – Levittown, PA; US Army, SSgt., 82nd Airborne Division

Paul Tomas SR. Ambry, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Steven Zozaya – Kingman, AZ; US Army, WWII, PTO, Purple Heart

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February 1945 (4)

US Army soldiers on Luzon

The battles for Manila, Bataan, and Corregidor were only the beginning of the Luzon Campaign. Both Shobu Group, securing northern Luzon, and the bulk of Shimbu Group, defending the south, remained intact. With about 50,000 men at his disposal, the Shimbu Group commander, General Yokoyama, had deployed some 30,000 of them immediately east and south of Manila, with the remainder arrayed along the narrow Bicol Peninsula to the southwest.

Japanese groups on Luzon

The main Japanese defenses near the capital were built around the 8th and 105th divisions, with the rest of the manpower drawn from a jumble of other units and provisional organizations. East of Manila, their positions were organized in considerable depth but lacked good lines of supply and reinforcement. Shimbu Group’s eastern defenses obviously presented the most immediate threat to American control of the Manila area and would have to be dealt with first.

As soon as Manila was secured, he wanted the 11th Airborne Division to clear the area south of the capital, assisted by the independent 158th Infantry.

A reminder of what these soldiers were up against …
The stretch of blockhouses and pillboxes and tunnels, known as the Genko Line were filled with every imaginable weapon available from the Japanese arsenal. Along mountains, under fields and connecting the rolling hills lay the traps of heinous sorts silently in wait for any or all of the troopers.

The 1,200 two and three-story blockhouses entrenched with at least 6,000 enemy soldiers that lined the southern edge of Manila. A massive feat of ingenuity.

The size of some of these tunnels is amazing.  They could be large enough for a boat or plane and then some appear too small for a human to hide in.

18 February 1945, an unusual situation was discovered in Manila when three soldiers were returning to their headquarters in a mansion set on Dewey Boulevard South. A few blocks away, the troopers entered a house only to discover three Japanese men in robes and talking while they drank their tea. Somehow, they had been operating out of that house without realizing that the American HQ and General Swing were so close. It seemed incredible they were not discovered before. The three men were killed trying to escape the building.

Going door-to-door on Luzon

The commander of the 188th regiment turned his unit over to Gen. Pearson, now commander of the 187th, and they were incorporated into the Task Force and set out to attack Mabato Point. This zone sat two thousand yards south of Fort McKinley and held the Japanese Southern Forces Abe Battalion on the northwest shore of Laguna de Bay. This position gave the enemy an excellent vantage point of observation and fields that could be set on fire. As with the rest of the Genko Line, this area had been prepared by Japanese and Filipino workers since 1942 and had fortified tunnels. G-2 estimated about 800 of the enemy were hold up on Mabato.

Pearson put the 187th traveling along the railroad tracks and other regiments and battalions to other areas. When each unit was set, mid-morning on this date, Company B of the 187th launched the attack. The 457 Parachute Field Artillery was there to support with their pack 75s. Later that afternoon, air strikes were called in because the enemy was so well defended. When napalm was used, the fires used up so much oxygen that the enemy soldiers in the tunnels began to suffocate.

 

19 February, the Task Force struck again, but were having difficulty due to Japanese mortar fire. Finally, the mortar observers were located where they hid in the trees and sharp shooters took them out. A Japanese medical officer surrendered and through a Nisei interpreter informed Pearson that there were about 400 more Japanese in the area. A Filipino volunteer went to the enemy with a message of truce, giving one half hour of cease fire time for anyone to surrender. The end result has conflicting stories, but the fighting did continue. The surviving 15 officers of Abe Battalion were marched by their commander to the Point and committed hara-kiri. By 21 February, all resistance on Mabato Point had ended, but the Japanese were far from defeated in the Philippines.

Photos and data with the assistance of Rakkasans by Gen. Flanagan; The U.S. Army; ibiblio.org; Wikipedia,  Manila Hub & “Luzon” by the U.S. Army Center of Military History by Dale Andrade

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Myriam Alley – Tacoma, WA; US Army WAC, WWII

Lancer Carlson – McKinley, WI; US Navy, WWII, ATO

George Dane – Iowa City, IA; US Army, WWII

James Elia – Gilbert, AZ; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ed Ficarra – Williamson, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 119th Armored Engineer Battalion

Annna Guzlas (102) – Connellsville, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

James Hansen – Duluth, MN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Otis ‘Nudge’ Norris – St. Petersburg, FL; USMC, WWII, PTO

F.Stewart Stover – North Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Pfc., Purple Heart

Dan Wescott – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, WWII, 17th Airborne Division

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Current News – Bataan Mile Markers

Bataan mile marker, before and after.

CLARK AIR BASE, Philippines – Jungle moss and roadwork are threatening historical markers along the Bataan Death March trail in the Philippines, says an American who’s waging a lonely battle to preserve them.

Bob Hudson’s father, Tech. Sgt. Richard Hudson, was among tens of thousands of troops forced to march nearly 70 miles from the Bataan Peninsula to Japanese prisoner-of-war camps after the surrender of U.S. and Filipino forces on April 9, 1942. Thousands perished during the trek, which included intense heat and harsh treatment from the guards.

Bataan Death March

The government of former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos installed the first markers — made of metal — along the path in the 1960s, Hudson told a group of veterans last month in Angeles City, Philippines. In 2000, the Filipino-American Memorial Endowment, or FAME — an organization seeking to preserve the nation’s war memorials — replaced them with 139 white concrete markers.

Bob & Rosalie Hudson

Those markers are sturdier than the old ones, some of which were stolen as souvenirs or sold for scrap metal. But the inexorable growth of the surrounding jungle and the tropical heat and humidity are taking a toll on them.

“These markers require a lot of maintenance,” Hudson said.  Since 2012, he and his wife, Rosalie, have spent many weekends along the Death March trail pulling weeds and cleaning and repainting the markers, which quickly get covered in mold and moss.

Rosalie Hudson working.

Hudson said he started the work to honor his late father, who on his death bed asked his son to track down a daughter he left behind in the Philippines during the war.

The elder Hudson — who survived the death march, a voyage to Japan in a “hell ship,” forced labor in a mine and the atomic bombing of Nagasaki — returned to the Philippines to look for his fiancé after the war. He found out that she had been raped and murdered by Japanese troops, and that their daughter had been adopted.

The younger Hudson moved to the Philippines in 2012 and tracked down the children of his half-sister, Leonida Hudson Cortes. Though he learned that she died in 1999, his work on the Death March markers continues.

A local power company is helping maintain 11 markers at the start of the trail, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Angeles City is looking after the final seven. Hudson said that leaves 1

“I’m almost 70 years old,” he said. “It is getting to be a difficult project for me.”

Recent damage to some of the markers by road workers hasn’t made it easier, he said.

FAME provides the couple with paint and the VFW recently donated some money to help fund the project. Those who want to help can find more information at: http://filipino-americanmemorials.org/donate/

Article is from Stars and Stripes magazine.

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More Current News – you up for the challenge?

A Special Request (2018 Navy SEAL Swim/Ruck Challenge)
This summer, 6 June 2018 to be specific and during part of the annual D-Day remembrance festivities a very unique and special event will take place:  The 2018 Navy SEAL Swim/Ruck Challenge.  A friend of the Sons of Liberty Museum and the Army Air Corps Library and Museum and an active duty SEAL, will take part in this event and along with 24 other participants will swim in the English Channel, climb cliffs on Omaha Beach and Ruck to St. Lo. this event supports our friends of the Navy SEAL Museum and Trident House in Fort Pierce, FL.  Read More & Support This Event

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Military Humor –

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bryce Blakely Jr. – Orleans, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, gunner, 828/485/15th AF

John Cunningham – San Francisco, CA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Thomas Evans – Buffalo, NY; US Navy, WWII, APO, radioman

Gunnar Frey Jr. – Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 12th Air Force

Cop Howard – Whangamata, NZ; NZ Army # 230124, WWII

Marion Jenkins – Portland, ME; US Coast Guard, WWII

Alex Littlefield – Daytona Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, pilot

James ‘Bill’ Majors – Fort Payne, AL; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Guillermo Green-Sanchez – Coamo, PR; US Army, WWII, Korea, Sgt.FC

Stanley Stegnerski – Gastomia, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII. ETO, 2nd Lt., P-51 pilot, KIA

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The Final Cavalry Charge Commander freed

“Never Surrender: The Ed Ramsey Story” is a new documentary about the WWII hero who led the last cavalry charge in US military history.  This 4 minute video is well worth watching.

Born in Illinois, Edwin Ramsey died at the age of 95 in 2013. He had been placed in command of the elite 26thCavalry Regiment in the Philippines. Most of his time was spent playing polo with other officers until the Japanese troops invaded Manila.

While in the Philippines, Ramsey found himself in facing down a large body of Japanese infantry, supported by tanks, while he and his men were mounted on horseback. With no other options available, Ramsey ordered his cavalry to charge – the last cavalry charge in American Military History. It was effective, too. The Japanese Infantry, surprised and terrified, broke and fled, and Ramsey and his small group held their position under heavy fire for five hours until reinforcements arrived.

The last Charge, 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts),

After this incident, he led the famous offensive in the jungle of the Philippines. He took command of the Filipino resistance in 1942, after their commander was captured, and the forces under him eventually grew to more than 40,000 guerrilla fighters. He survived extreme malnutrition and tropical diseases, the LA Times reported.

Enduring malaria, malnutrition, dysentery and an appendectomy without anesthesia during his service with the Philippine resistance, he received honors from several Philippine presidents and was revered in the Filipino American community.

It makes for an interesting tale but the film, directed by Steven C. Barber and Matt Hausle with some narration by Josh Brolin, spends a lot of time on polo and Ramsey’s career with Hughes Aircraft Co. after the war.

The movie includes the usual line-up of historians, retired military personnel and family members. It even includes scenes with Ramsey, filmed from 2003 and 2012.

Strangely, though, no Filipino veterans are represented in the film despite Ramsey’s time spent lobbying in Congress to restore the benefits that were promised them.

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Military Humor – 

What age Cavalry?

New Age Cavalry

 

 

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Current News –

Please wish your New Zealand neighbors a great Waitangi Day for 6 February!!

https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/waitangi-day-2016/

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Farewell Salutes – 

Reginald Brazier – Winnipeg, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Edward DeVries – Uxbridge, MA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee, 64th Naval Construction

Edward Fredricksen – Bayport, MN; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

William Jerome – Roanoke, VA; US Army, WWII

Harry Lamas – Mobile, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Cliford Naleski – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, Chief Warrant Officer (Ret. 27 y.)

Robert Olson – St. Paul, MN; War Dept., WWII, intelligence

Robert Plant – RI; USMC, WWII, PTO, machine-gunner

Donal Sipe Sr. – Bakersfield, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Jeremiah & Nevada

Harold Warren – Steep Falls, ME; US Army, 503rd/11th Airborne Division

Santo Tomas Internment Camp

Santo Tomas Internment Camp, aerial view.

Santo Tomás Internment Camp [STIC] was the largest of several camps in the Philippines in which the Japanese interned enemy civilians, mostly Americans, in World War II. The campus of the University of Santo Tomás in Manila was utilized for the camp which housed more than 4,000 internees from January 1942 until February 1945.

Over a period of several days, the Japanese occupiers of Manila collected all enemy aliens in Manila and transported them to the University of Santo Tomás, a fenced compound 50 acres (22 ha) in size. Thousands of people, mostly Americans and British, staked out living and sleeping quarters for themselves and their families in the buildings of the University. The Japanese mostly let the foreigners fend for themselves except for appointing room monitors and ordering a 7:30 p.m. roll call every night.

American flag draped over balcony of building as American and Filipino civilians cheer their release from the Japanese prison camp at Santo Tomas University folllowing Allied liberation of the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

The Japanese selected a business executive named Earl Carroll as head of the internee government and he selected five, later nine, men he knew to serve as an executive committee. They appointed a British missionary who had lived in Japan, Ernest Stanley, as interpreter. Santo Tomás quickly became a “miniature city.’ The internees created several committees to manage affairs, including a police force, set up a hospital with the abundant medical personnel available, and began providing morning and evening meals to more than 1,000 internees who did not have food.

Carl Mydans. Freed American and Filipino prisoners outside main entrance of Santo Tomas University which was used as a Japanese prison camp before Allied liberation forces entered the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

Santo Tomás became increasingly crowded as internees from outlying camps and islands were transferred into the camp. With the population in Santo Tomás approaching 5,000, the Japanese on May 9, 1943 announced that 800 men would be transferred to a new camp, Los Banos, 37 miles (68 km) distant, the then campus of the University of the Philippines College of Agriculture, now part of University of the Philippines Los Baños. On May 14, the 800 men were loaded on trains and left Santo Tomás. In succeeding months, other enemy aliens were transferred to Los Baños including a large number of missionaries and clergymen who were previously allowed to remain outside the internment camps provided they pledged not to engage in politics.

Carl Mydans. Emaciated father feeding Army rations to his son after he and his family were freed from a Japanese prison camp following the Allied liberation of the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines. February 05, 1945

The American force that liberated the internees at Santo Tomas was small and the Japanese still had soldiers near the compound. Fighting went on for several days. The internees received food and medical treatment but were not allowed to leave Santo Tomas. Registration of them for return to their countries of origin began. On February 7, General Douglas MacArthur visited the compound, an event that was accompanied by Japanese shelling. That night and again on February 10, 28 people in the compound were killed in the artillery barrage, including 16 internees.

Carl Mydans. Two emaciated American civilians, Lee Rogers (L) & John C. Todd, sit outside gym which had been used as a Japanese prison camp following their release by Allied forces liberating the city. Manila, Luzon, Philippines, February 05, 1945

The evacuation of the internees began on February 11. Sixty-four U.S army nurses interned in Santo Tomas were the first to leave that day and board airplanes for the United States. Flights and ships to the United States for most internees began on February 22.  Although food became adequate with the arrival of American soldiers, life continued to be difficult. The lingering effects of near-starvation for so many months saw 48 people die in the camp in February, the highest death total for any month. Most internees could not leave the camp because of a lack of housing in Manila.

Click on images to enlarge.

Photography and information from: “Return To The Philippines World War II” by Rafael Steinberg; Prison Photography.org; Philippine Internment; Trinity College Digital Repository;

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Military Humor –

You have your point of view – and I have mine.

For when you just want to reach out and touch someone.

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Myriam (Wescott) Alley – Tacoma, WA; US Army WAC, WWII

Charles Edeal – Sumner, NE; civilian, WWII, Africa & CBI, B-25 aircraft mechanic

Campbell Henderson – Cairns, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII, PTO, Radar Unit 53, Cape Astrolabe, Malaita

Rick Jolly – Hong Kong/London, ENG; Royal Navy, Falklands War, surgeon

Robert Kozul – Fairmont, WV; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Donald LeSuer – Jay, ME; US Army, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 911 Signal Corps

Martin Newman – brn: London, ENG/Canberra, AUS; RA Air Force, Wing Commander

Angelo Rolando – Rocky Hill, CT; US Army, WWII, Pfc, Purple Heart

Robert Tulk – Tiffin, OH; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Addison Mort Walker – Kansas City, MO; US Army, WWII, ETO /cartoonist628x471

 

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Japanese weaponry

Firing a ‘knee’ mortar.

When it came to weapons production, the Imperial Japanese Army’s requirements often came in second to the needs of the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Army was an infantry-heavy organization that lacked much in the way of the modern heavy weaponry other armies enjoyed. 

To help compensate for the lack of heavy weapons, the Imperial Japanese Army worked hard to develop large numbers of what were probably the best light infantrymen in the world at the time. Their creed stressed relentless offensive action seeking a quick decision and emphasizing spiritual factors including zealous dedication and fighting spirit. Night attacks were a true specialty, and their weaponry reflected their light and fast doctrine.

To offset their frequent lack of artillery, the Japanese augmented their firepower through the extensive use of mortars, the best and most cost-effective substitute for industry-intensive heavier artillery.  Technically, Japanese light “knee” mortars at first merely bridged the gap between hand grenades and true mortars and were more properly referred to as grenade dischargers.

The Model 89 was by far the most prolific of the grenade dischargers and the weapon most commonly encountered by Allied Marines and soldiers throughout the various theaters of the Pacific War. Technically known as the Hachikyu Shiki Jutekidanto, or 89 Model Heavy Grenade Discharger, the new weapon featured a wide variety of improvements over the old Type 10 and had almost universally replaced the former weapon by 1941. To the frontline Japanese infantryman, the Type 89 was most often referred to as the Juteki.

To fire, the gunner removed the fuse’s safety pin and dropped the bomb tail first down the muzzle of the knee mortar. A pull on the leather lanyard attached to the trigger then fired the weapon. The firing pin struck a percussion cap primer that fired the propelling charge, which also caused a copper driving band on the charge body to push out and engage the rifling of the barrel. The force of discharge also set back and armed the fuse in the nose projectile and re-cocked the mainspring inside the mortar.  This was usually done at a 45-degree angle.

Despite these relatively crude controls, a soldier could quickly and easily be trained to fire the Type 89 knee mortar with impressive accuracy. While it could be fired by one man, a knee mortar with a three-man crew could maintain an effective rate of fire of 25 rounds per minute.

 Lt. Col. Merritt “Red Mike” Edson, leader of the famous Marine Raiders, critically evaluated the knee mortar and insisted American forces badly needed an equivalent. He listed the following reasons:

“1. It is a one man load.

2. A man can carry ten rounds on his person besides his weapon.

3. It has a high rate of fire.

4. It gives to the platoon commander a weapon of this type which is immediately available to him.

5. This mortar uses the Jap all-purpose hand grenade….”

A Marine Corps legend, then-Lt. Col. Lewis “Chesty” Puller seconded Edson’s opinion. “I consider it imperative that the Army and Marines be equipped with knee mortars and only carry one type grenade.”

Army Sergeant C.W. Arrowood completely agreed: “The Jap knee mortar gives us hell. They come in fast, thick, and accurate. Can’t we have one?”

M79 40mm grenade launcher

The answer to Sergeant Arrowood’s question was a resounding No. United States forces soldiered on with the little loved rifle grenade until the advent of the M79 40mm grenade launcher during the early stages of the Vietnam War.

References: Warfare History Network;

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Military Humor – 

You can always count on your scoped grenade launching silenced pistol bipod w/ attached katana handle crowbar!

Because no Zombie Apocalypse survival kit is truly complete w/out a grenade launcher & a few bandoleers of HE rounds.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Cecil Akigg (100) – Calgary, CAN; RC Army, WWII, ETO, radar technician

Nicholas Baxter – Harrisburg, PA; US Army, Co. M/187th/11th Airborne Division

Benjamin Bold – Rotorua, NZ; NZ Army # 267128, WWII, Pvt., J Force

Jean Doyle – Tyngsboro, MA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, 1st Lt.

Luther Gordon – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart, Silver Star

Melton ‘Dale’ Hair – Tulsa, OK; US Navy, WWII

Herschell Johnson – Dothan, AL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Armored Division

John Kelly Jr. – Billings, MT; US Navy, WWII

Richard Pettijohn – Naples, FL; US Army, WWII, ATO, radio operator

Gordon Sherwood – Yarmouth, ME; US Army, Korea

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February 1945 (3)

Flamethrower

While advancing, the 11th Airborne encountered heavy barrages from machine guns, mortars, artillery and grenades streaming from tunnels and caves above the highway.  After the enemy was eradicated, the command post dug in on the side of the road.  In the middle of the night, they were attacked.  Headquarters Company used flame throwers and rifle fire to fend them off.

My father, Smitty, would wrinkle his nose at the mere sight of a flame thrower on TV.  He said, “Once you smell burning flesh, it stays with you.  There’s nothing worse.  Every time I see one of those things flare up, even in a movie, I can smell the fuel and flesh all over again.”

The importance of Manila cannot be stressed enough. The natural harbor has served as a strategically situated port for commerce and trade for centuries. Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay are connected by the Pasig River.

Pasig River before the war.

Following the initial American breakthrough on the fourth, fighting raged throughout the city for almost a month. The battle quickly came down to a series of bitter street-to-street and house-to-house struggles. In an attempt to protect the city and its civilians, MacArthur placed stringent restrictions on U.S. artillery and air support. But massive devastation to the urban area could not be avoided. In the north, General Griswold continued to push elements of the XIV Corps south from Santo Tomas University toward the Pasig River.

Late on the afternoon of 4 February he ordered the 2d Squadron, 5th Cavalry, to seize Quezon Bridge, the only crossing over the Pasig that the Japanese had not destroyed. As the squadron approached the bridge, enemy heavy machine guns opened up from a formidable roadblock thrown up across Quezon Boulevard. The Japanese had pounded steel stakes into the pavement, sown the area with mines, and lined up old truck bodies across the road. Unable to advance farther, the cavalry withdrew after nightfall. As the Americans pulled back, the Japanese blew up the bridge.

117th Engineering Batt./37th Div. on Luzon

The next day, 5 February, went more smoothly. Once the 37th Division began to move into Manila, Griswold divided the northern section of the city into two sectors, with the 37th responsible for the western half and the 1st Cavalry responsible for the eastern part.

By the afternoon of the 8th, 37th Division units had cleared most Japanese from their sector, although the damage done to the residential districts was extensive. The Japanese added to the destruction by demolishing buildings and military installations as they withdrew. But the division’s costliest fighting occurred on Provisor Island, a small industrial center on the Pasig River. The Japanese garrison, probably less than a battalion, held off elements of the division until 11 February.

The 1st Cavalry Division had an easier time, encountering little opposition in the suburbs east of Manila. Although the 7th and 8th Cavalry fought pitched battles near two water supply installations north of the city, by 10 February the cavalry had extended its control south of the river. That night, the XIV Corps established for the first time separate bridgeheads on both banks of the Pasig River.

US Army, Luzon

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery.

Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – B-17 ‘Memphis Belle’ 

Memphis Belle

17 May 2018, the inspiration for 2 movies, the ‘Memphis Belle’ will be put on permanent display, on the 75th anniversary of her 25th mission, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.  She is now fully restored!!

110 Spaatz Street, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433

for GPS instructions: 5717 Huberville Ave., Riverside, OH 45431

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldin style – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Burton Atkinson – Toronto, CA; RC Army, WWII, ETO, (attached to British 8th Army)

Glen ‘Swede’ Bergau – Dalkena, WA; US Army, WWII

Arthur Bowkett – New Plymouth, NZ; Royal Marines, WWII, Cpl.

Robert Covington – Grantsville, UT; US Army, Korea

Hyman Fine – Bethesda, MD; US Navy, WWII, Cmdr. / US Air Force, Pentagon

Leo LeBlanc – providence, RI; US Army, WWII, ETO,8th Armored Tank

Roy Miller – Glen Cove, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 navigator

Henry Nowak – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Donald Pittman – Kansas City, MO; US Navy, WWII, Korea, (Ret. 20 y.)

David Toschi – San Francisco, CA ; US Army, Korea

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February 1945 (1) – Manila

Nichols Field bombing, 6 Feb. 1945

The 6th and 8th Armies on Luzon were repeatedly in close and brutal combat with the Japanese.  By dawn on 4 February the paratroopers ran into increasingly heavy and harassing fire from Japanese riflemen and machine gunners. At the Paranaque River, just south of the Manila city limits, the battalion halted at a badly damaged bridge only to be battered by Japanese artillery fire from Nichols Field. The 11th Airborne Division had reached the main Japanese defenses south of the capital and could go no further.

US Army on Luzon, February 1945

Regarding Manila as indefensible, General Yamashita had originally ordered the commander of Shimbu Group, General Yokoyama Shizuo, to destroy all bridges and other vital installations and evacuate the city as soon as strong American forces made their appearance. However, Rear Adm. Iwabachi Sanji, the naval commander for the Manila area, vowed to resist the Americans and countermanded the order. Determined to support the admiral as best he could, Yokoyama contributed three Army battalions to Iwabachi’s 16,000-man Manila Naval Defense Force and prepared for battle. The sailors knew little about infantry tactics or street fighting, but they were well armed and entrenched throughout the capital. Iwabachi resolved to fight to the last man.

11th Airborne Div. path into Luzon

On 4 February 1945, General MacArthur announced the imminent recapture of the capital while his staff planned a victory parade. But the battle for Manila had barely begun. Almost at once the 1st Cavalry Division in the north and the 11th Airborne Division in the south reported stiffening Japanese resistance to further advances into the city. As one airborne company commander remarked in mock seriousness, “Tell Halsey to stop looking for the Jap Fleet; it’s dying on Nichols Field.” All thoughts of a parade had to be put aside.

Entering Manila

The final attack on the outer Japanese defenses came from the 11th Airborne Division, under the XIV Corps control since 10 February. The division had been halted at Nichols Field on the fourth and since then had been battling firmly entrenched Japanese naval troops, backed up by heavy fire from concealed artillery. Only on 11 February did the airfield finally fall to the paratroopers, but the acquisition allowed the 11th Airborne Division to complete the American encirclement of Manila on the night of the twelfth.

Corregidor, aerial view

As February opened, the 7th Allied Air Force continually bombed Iwo Jima, Marcus Island and Corregidor, while the 5th Allied Air Force not only targeted Corregidor as well, but Cavite, Cebu City, enemy positions on Mindanao and Borneo.

[Actually, since 15 June 1944, the US Navy and Army Air Forces together began naval bombardments and air raids against Iwo Jima, which would become the longest and most intense in the Pacific theater.  These would contain a combination of naval artillery shellings and aerial bombings that went on for nine months.  On 17 June, the, USS Blessman sent Underwater demolition Team 15 (UDT-15) toward Blue Beach for reconnaissance. The Japanese infantry fired on them, killing one American diver. On the evening of 18 June, the Blessman was hit by a bomb from a Japanese warplane, killing 40 sailors, including 15 members of her UDT.]

Unaware of Kuribayashi’s tunnel defense system on Iwo Jima, many of the Americans assumed the majority of the Japanese garrison were killed by the constant bombing raids.   “Well, this will be easy. The Japanese will surrender Iwo Jima without a fight.” – Chester W. Nimitz

References: “Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division by Gen. EM Flanagan Jr.; US Army History: Luzon; Pacific Wrecks & US Navy records; “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Horace Ashenfelter – Phoenixville, PA; US Air Force, pilot / Olympic Gold medal / FBI

Dominick Bove – Wilmington, DE; USMC, WWII, PTO, 3rd Division, Bronze Star

Marshall Clark – Frewsburg, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

Donald Dammert – Cincinnatti, OH; US Navy, WWII

James Holton – Alma, GA; US Army, Vietnam

Ray Jones – Greenwood, WV; US Army, WWII

John Peter Jr. – Belleville, IL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, medic

Donald Solin – W.AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO, pilot

James Speed – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 74023

Bruce ‘Bear’ Whitehouse – Bloomfield, NJ; US Army, Korea, 73rd Tank Battalion

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First Hand Account – Home Front on Luzon

Fellow blogger at https://subliblog.wordpress.com/ and author of “BAHALA NA (Come What May)”, Rosalinda R. Morgan, remembers a story her father told her about discovering the Americans had returned to Luzon.  The pictures here have been taken from her Photo Gallery, available on her blog.  Please be sure to visit her.

Mr. & Mrs. Mateo Rosales on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.

My father told me this story of what happened in his town when the American soldiers came back to rescue the Philippines.

One night, they heard a loud explosion. It was dark around where my parents were camping in their makeshift village. There were nipa huts scattered under dense mango trees and roofs were covered with leaves. One by one, men came out and looked where the noise was coming from. It was a moonless night. It was total darkness except for the lights coming from the explosion.

Somebody called out. “The Americans are coming! The Americans are coming!” When the people heard that, they all came out of hiding. There was a promontory in the area where they could watch the flashing light. They climbed the little hill and looked out toward the horizon. The area was wide open field and there were no trees blocking the view. One could see all the way to Taal Lake.

They could see where the flashing lights were coming from. It looked like they were coming from Lemery. From where my parents stood, they could hear the artillery shells going back and forth. The shootings got louder and louder. Trees and debris were flying high up where the artillery landed. The Americans were not shooting far enough. It could be that they did not know where the Japanese were or the range of the artillery fire was not long enough. The shooting went on all night.

In the morning, they found out the shots from the previous night landed in the cemetery nearby where empty shells were everywhere. It was still quite a distance where the Japanese were occupying Mt. Makulot in Cuenca on the far side of Taal Lake.

Lake Taal across from Tagaytay, in the distance is Mt. Makulot.

In no time, the Americans set up a camp with several tents in Taal at the Plaza across the big cathedral. Then, the U.S. soldiers started marching inland toward the Japanese camp. When they reached Alitagtag, some people saw soldiers marching up the road. At first, they were scared thinking they were Japanese, then they realized they were white-skinned and tall. Instantly, they knew it had to be the Americans. Then they got excited. Someone ran to the field where everyone was hiding and informed them. People started coming out running to the street, waving their arms and cheering them on. The American did not expect the kind of reception they were getting and it became very unsettling. The cheering went on for several minutes. Some civilians were asking for food, others just waved and said “Hi Joe.” They were deliriously happy to see the Americans. They asked if MacArthur was coming. The GIs said yes. That news were received with loud cheer.

The soldiers told them to evacuate to the Elementary School and the nearby church. Some evacuees settled in the elementary school. My parents decided to stay overnight at the church. There were several evacuees in the church. The little group, huddled together, sat in the pews all night, some praying, some just sitting quietly until their eyes got tired and they dozed off to sleep.

Later in the night, the shooting started again. This time, the Japanese shells started coming in their direction. The Japanese started shooting at the school. Artillery fire was coming from Mt. Makulot. All night long, the shooting never abated. All the evacuees at the school were moved to the church and the rectory in the cover of darkness. It was a long night for the evacuees.

By daybreak, the shooting stopped. The evacuees were told to move again. This time they were told to move to Taal. My parents together with my two unmarried uncles joined the throng evacuating to Taal. My uncles brought sacks of rice, kamote and some clothing. My father had me on his shoulder as he trod along with my mother.

Within an hour, there were thousands of people evacuating. Men, young and old with their wives and children joined in. Everybody looked scared but nobody protested. They were just following what the American soldiers told them.

The evacuation ran smoothly with the American soldiers flanking the evacuees and leading the way. However, the throng was getting bigger as they reached several villages. More people joined the evacuation as it progressed its way through towns. Some people stopped along the way trying to rest their feet. My parents kept their pace slowly, rested for a few minutes every now and then. They were totally exhausted when they reached Taal. It took them all day to get there.

The jungle at Alitagtag. This picture is the cover for “BAHALA NA”

At Taal, the evacuees were taken in by the residents of Taal. In the morning, they went to the U.S. Camp to get breakfast. For a week, my parents stayed in Taal with the rest of the evacuees. While the evacuees were being housed and fed in Taal, the American soldiers continued their march to Alitagag and then the shooting continued at night until the American troops reached Cuenca.

By this time, the evacuees at Taal were moved again. People began to scatter around several nearby villages. One of my mother’s aunts and her family were among the evacuees in Taal. Mom’s aunt wanted my parents to join them and hide near the sugar cane fields which were not far from Taal. My father wanted to return to Alitagtag so my mother asked her aunt to join them instead. The aunt said they were tired of walking and believed they would be safe in the sugar cane fields.

My parents returned to their hiding place in Alitagtag. They thought staying at their own property was the best option for them. The American soldiers were now past Alitagtag and on their way to Manila to join MacArthur’s force trying to enter Manila. Later on, my father heard there was heavy fighting as the American soldiers crossed Cuenca where the Japanese were at Mt. Makulot.

In a few days, the Japanese burned the sugar cane field where my mother’s aunt’s family and other evacuees went into hiding. They were all killed and my parents were very lucky to make their own choice and saving their lives.

Click on images to enlarge. 

Also – Remember to stop in, see the other photos and say Hi…

Rosalinda R. Morgan

“BAHALA NA (Come What May)

 

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Joe Appleby – El Paso, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, TSgt., B-24 gunner/radio, 8th Air Force

Erven Boettner – Roca, NE; US Army, WWII, Col. (Ret.)

John Donahue – Shrewsbury, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 5th Air Force

Jean Doyle – Tyngsboro, MA; US Army Air Corps WAC, WWII, 1st Lt.

Raynald Goulet – Portland, ME; USMC, WWII, pilot

Anna Mae Hays – Buffalo, NY; US Army WAC nurse, CBI / Korea & Vietnam, 1st female general (Ret.)

James Janes – Louisville, KY; US Army, WWII, medic

Paul Moll III – St Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Arthur Schoenfield – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Army # 4434429, WWII, Sgt.

Howard Wolfgram – Waukesha, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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