Blog Archives

December 1944 (2)

Avenger on the deck of the USS Anzio, Typhoon Cobra, December 1944

16 December – Douglas MacArthur was promoted to Five-Star General.  It seemed that General MacArthur’s promotion to General of the Army would require assistance from many sides.  It posed a problem in the respect that there was no such object as a five-star insignia in existence in the Pacific.  A clever Filipino silversmith created one from a miscellaneous collection of Dutch, Australian and Filipino coins.

USS Langley (CVL-27), Typhoon Cobra

17 December – Typhoon Cobra hit the Philippine Islands.  TF-38 was caught off-guard and the destroyers, USS Hull, Mongham and Spence were sunk and 22 other vessels received damage.  While 150 aircraft were blown off the decks of the carriers, more than 750 sailors drowned.

19 December – Adm. Nimitz was made Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet and Pacific Areas, thereby promoting him to Fleet Admiral of the US Navy, a 5-Star Admiral.

USS Bryant

21→22 December – an American destroyer, the USS Bryant was damaged by the Japanese kamikaze pilots off Mindoro, P.I.  The Bryant had seen the plane approaching and while maneuvering to avoid collision, the kamikaze basically just clipped her and exploded beneath the waves.

22→29 December – Japanese Gen. Yamashita radioed Gen. Suzuki’s headquarters in Cebu City: “RE-DEPLY YOUR TROOPS TO FIGHT EXTENDED HOLDING ACTIONS IN AREAS OF YOUR CHOICE.  SELECT AREAS SUCH AS BACALOD ON NEGROS WHICH ARE HIGHLY SUITABLE FOR SELF-SUSTAINING ACTION.  THIS MESSAGE RELIEVES YOU OF YOUR ASSIGNED MISSION.”

Gen. Yamashita

This message would not reach Suzuki for 3 days, by which time his troops were being surprised by Gen. Bruce’s men.  The enemy fled to San Isidro and Palompon was taken by the 77th Division unopposed on Christmas Day.  Suzuki and about 10,000 of his troops concentrated at Mount Canquipot, whose eastern and western slopes made the sector a natural fortress.  They could hear Christmas carols coming from the G.I.’s.  Stragglers arrived from the Japanese 1st Division and 68th Brigade, but lost 100 men a day due to starvation.

29 December – Suzuki received a mess age from Gen. Fukue stating that the 102nd Division were leaving in boats for Cebu.  When Suzuki ordered them to remain in place – his message was ignored.  Approximately 743 men, all that remained of the prize Gem Division would evacuate by 12 January 1945.  Gen. Eichelberger’s 8th Army closed in on Suzuki and Mount Canquipot.

25 December – Yamashita informed Suzuki that he considered Leyte a lost cause and this date was originally designated as the end of organized resistance on Leyte, but the troops that remained assigned to the “mopping-up” of the island [7th Division] would beg to differ.

26 December – a Japanese naval force bombarded US installations on Mindoro and the Americans sank the IJN destroyer Kiyoshimo, (清霜, “Clear Frost”).

click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – for those finally returning home…

Homer Abney – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea, Sgt., KIA

Robert Barnett – Austin, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Captain, pilot, KIA

Murray Cargile – Robertsonville, NC; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Seaman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Louis Damewood – Carroll County, MD; US Army, Korea, Cpl.,HQ/3/38/2nd Div., KIA

Joseph Durakovich – Gary, IN; US Army, Korea, MSgt., KIA

William Kennedy – Titonka, IA; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Fireman 1st Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

James Mainhart – Butler, PA; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

George Perreault – Burlington, VT; US Army, Korea, Cpl., KIA

William Ryan – Hoboken, NJ; USMC, Vietnam, 1st Lt., KIA

James Whitehurst – Dotham, AL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., KIA (Tarawa)

Those that still remain missing – 

from WWII – 73,060

Korea – 7,751

Vietnam – 1,611

Iraq – 6

At the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.

A military ceremony was held for unclaimed cremains of five Veterans from Potter County (Amarillo), Texas. The Veterans are:

Michael Topp
Michael Papencheck
Ronald Stevenson
Laird Orton Jr.
Jerry Harris

Eye Witness Account for Leyte

AMTRAC (alligator)

As November 1944 is coming to a close, the 2nd Battalion/187th Regiment/11th Airborne Division moved up from Bito Beach to the mountains just west of Burauen and it’s an eye-opener for the men.  This is the account of CWO William Nelson, personnel officer of the 2nd. wrote:

The Second was literally ferried to the new position in those strange vehicles called amtracs.  Enroute, we stared like yokels at a starlet, as we crossed the coastal plain between Dulag and Burauen, for up to this time, we had no idea of the magnitude of the American effort on Leyte.

Soldiers in a field hospital, P.I., WWII

We passed ammunition dumps by the dozen; 155 batteries; truck battalions; field hospitals and many special-unit headquarters.  Finally, as we neared Burauen, we clanked past airstrips jammed  with P-38’s.  All these installations were literally bogged down in the mud.  In fact, the typhoons of October and the continuing deluge had all but washed out the 6th Army’s Service troops and the 5th Air Force back across the beach.

Arriving at Burauen, the battalion found the dry areas – the relatively dry areas of the town already occupied by an Air Force MP platoon, an Ordnance Battalion and the 44th General Hospital.  The battalion of the 511th we were to relieve was preparing to move out.  A.F. files cheerfully informed us that the Nips bombed away at the strips almost every night, although lately his nightly application had become a bit feeble.  [Similar to what the beach troops had already been through – maybe it was the same pilot?!]

Operations maps 28 November 1944

Down near one of the airstrips was located the headquarters of our division.  This half-flooded landing field had been allotted to the 11th A/B and from it aerial resupply missions were being launched in support of the 511th.  Up on the hill, at the edge of town,was the 5th Air Force Headquarters, where it overlooked the three airstrips of its fighter squadrons.

At any rate, the job of the 2nd battalion was to protect this whole gigantic, and confused, melange, and accordingly, it occupied positions about 800 yards west of the town on a low hill dominating the surrounding flat-land.

These notations made by CWO Nelson were found in “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division” by Lt.General E.M. Flanagan, Jr. US Army (ret. 30 years).  I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with the general twice.  It will remain as a highlight of my life.

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Personal Note – 

I finally succumbed to an interview request, and you can come and see how good or bad I am at talking about myself!  Come and visit my only attempt at this!!

GP Cox in action…..

https://meetthebloggersblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/02/pacific-paratrooper-by-gp-cox/

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Albright – Stone Ridge, NY; US Army, 188th/11th Airborne Division

Hymie Epstein – NE; US Army, WWII, PTO, Medic, (Buna-Gona) KIA

Michael Galajdik – Elwood, IL; US Navy, WWII, fireman, (Pearl Harbor), KIA

Vernon Grow – Redding, CA; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma,( Pearl Harbor) KIA

Jack Harold – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 4242, WWII, PTO

Jessie Kuster – Hartford, CT/RI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, ETO, Yeoman

Robert Peers – Vancouver, CAN; RC Navy (Ret.), Korea, Captain

Leonard Rood – DePere, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 423rd Bomb Squadron

Louis Sanchez – Witchita, KS; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Melvin VanGundy Jr. – Jacksonville, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot “Little Colonel”, POW

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Eye Witness Account – Leyte

Leyte-Patrol

Leyte patrol

These events took place in November 1944, therefore please do not be offended by any offensive language.

This was written by Pfc Deane Edward Marks, Light Machine-Gun (LMG) Platoon/HQ2/11th Airborne Division.  From “No One Smiled On Leyte,” published in the “Voice of the Angels” newspaper, Matt Underwood, Editor.

“…It was still raining.  We had no idea where we were going.  Someone mentioned Ormoc, wherever that was.  We heard that somewhere ahead, part of the C/511th was surrounded by the Nips.  We didn’t have any idea what the hell was going on.  After a day or two of walking, we arrive where the C/5511 had been.  Now, I see my first dead man, he was a trooper.  Now I realize what was going on.  It was real, real.  Somehow the mud seemed wetter, the rain colder and the stomach emptier.

Type 96 LMG

“…every now and then they would open up with their “woodpecker”. [name given to the Japanese Nambu 6.5mm light machine-gun Model 96] … the only thing you do is drop to the ground and roll over a time or two so when you lifted your head, you would not be in the sights of the shooter … ole Vicbert D. Sharp, LMG Platoon Sgt., starts wiggling up the side of the slope with his M-1.  He stopped, saw a sniper in a tree, then another and with 2 quick shots, using Kentucky windage, he got the both of those Nips.

“One day we climbed up a very large plateau and moved up our LMG.  We didn’t know why – shucks we never knew WHY we did anything.  We just kept putting our feet in the mucky brown footprint in front of us.  About 2 hours after we set up, we looked out into the valley and ‘holy cow!’ here came this C-47 barreling at eye level perhaps a thousand yards to our front … a slew of red and yellow parapacks dropped and troopers started jumping …  We finally figured out that they were the 457th Airborne Artillery also part of the 11th Airborne!

Cameraman on Leyte

“We headed back to our perimeter around a place called Lubi …we looked up to see at least 6 C-47s flying at 6-8 hundred feet overhead.  I found out later that they were Japanese “Tabbys” (a DC-2 built in Japan), loaded with a few hundred Nip paratroopers headed for the airstrips around Burauen … raised hell for a few days and nights and were finally driven off by the HQ Company/11th Airborne.  (Smitty was there.)

“All the time the rain kept falling.  We were all damp and cold.  After dark, one’s eyes got big as saucers.  You couldn’t see 5′ in front of you and your imagination would run rampant.  There were Japanese out there and one consolation was, they were just as wet, muddy and cold as we were.  Sitting in your foxhole at night and waiting to see if they would try to slip through was something else.  You were full of anxiety….”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –50

To Remember – April 25th is ANZAC Day!  To view this blog’s posts on that memorial day – type ANZAC Day in the search box [top right].

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Valor with Honor” will be screened on Vimeo starting May 2017 for Asian Pacific Heritage Month.    “Valor with Honor” not only records the deeds and emotions of the veterans of the 442nd, but highlights the difficult struggle of the brave Nisei both on and off the battlefield.



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Military Humor –

“THIS WASN’T COVERED IN THE MANUAL!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Allen – Little Rock, AR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Bullwheel

Clifford Cursons – Wellington, NZ; RNZ Army # 239426, WWII, gunner

Arthur Gordon – Rochester, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cabot

Gary Hardman – Newcastle, AUS; RA Navy, Vietnam, HMAS’ Ibis & Parramatta

Robert Kabat – Cleveland, OH; US Army, 17th Airborne Division

Michael Mastel – Hague, ND; US Army, WWII, PTO, surgery technician

Walter Roderick – Fall River, MA; US Navy, WWII

Richard Saggau – Denison, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 101st Airborne Division

George Teale – Vineland, NJ; US Army, WWII

Jack Wilson (106) – Willow Springs, IL; US Army, WWII

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CBI November Round-up

r678

5 November – 53 B-29’s of the 20th US Army Air Corps made a round-trip of 3700 miles (5950 km) from Calcutta, India to bomb enemy installations around Singapore and the Pangkalan oil refinery on Sumatra, Dutch East Indies Indonesian).

Construction on Ledo Road

As shown by the photos, the Ledo Road was an ever-constant process of being built while it was used to deliver supplies.

Accurate supply drops in Burma.

10TH AIR FORCE HQ, in BURMA – You generally associate pin-point bombing with fighter and bomber planes. But then you’re not giving a fair shake to the gang who fly the 10th Air Force’s Troop Carrier and Combat Cargo planes, who have a remarkable record for accuracy in supply dropping.
Battle lines in Burma have been so fluid at times that the pilots’ instructions were out of date an hour after take-off. In many cases, they had to be briefed on new targets while in the air. But so fine has been their marksmanship, that seldom, if ever, have they ‘chuted a package to the wrong team in the jungle warfare.
Less than two hours before the picture at left was taken, the territory was in Jap hands. While the pilot was in the air, he was ordered to this point. Advance Allied patrols, left center, wait to pick up the packages.

Home Never Like This
BUT PIPELINERS NOT STUMPED

BURMA – Ferrying supplies into camp on an improvised raft of empty gasoline drums was never taught at Camp Claiborne to the SOS Engineers who operate the CBI Pipeline. Nor was the proper way to manage a rubber life boat a part of their Field Manuals. And certainly, checking for leaks in the pipeline daily in an assault boat was not prescribed as SOP. All three of these amphibious operations, however, comprise normal “daily dozens” for certain members of the Engineer Petroleum Distribution Companies under Engineer Division No.1.
With the roads washed out and almost surrounded by water, the men of one pumping station devised a raft, using four empty 55-gallon gasoline drums lashed together. Propelled by bamboo poles, this craft crosses the “River Styx,” as the body of water has been locally nicknamed, several times daily to bring in supplies.
Farther along the line lies “Twin Islands,” another pumping station. The station itself is on “Island Number One,” while on “Island Number Two” a mile or more away live the men. An assault boat, powered by a 22 horsepower Johnson outboard motor, plies back and forth between the islands, carrying tools and equipment and the men who work at the pumps. This detachment of men is the proud possessor of a second boat in their boathouse, this one being an inflated rubber one of the type carried in aircraft for emergency use! It is a “personnel carrier” only, and serves as a ferry between the home island and nearby solid ground.
Another assault boat with an outboard motor is used at one point to make the daily pipeline patrol for leaks. As gasoline is easily detected on the surface of the water a leak is quickly spotted. This group of men is the envy of all the pipeline walkers who walk many weary miles a day looking for leaks.
These “Amphibious Pipeliners” are seriously considering designing a shoulder patch of their own, complete with rampant motorboats, crossed bamboo poles, and quartered gasoline drums.

US Army WAC’s in the CBI

WAC’s In China
CHUNGKING – Two WAC’s, members of Maj. Gen. A. C. Wedemeyer’s staff, reached the never-never land of China this week, strengthening the tiny contingent of Army nurses and Red Cross girls already serving on the far side of The Hump.
Wedemeyer declared: “I visualize bringing in more WAC’s, nurses and Red Cross members. It will be done gradually, of course, and the women will relieve men now employed on secretarial and other posts.”
The new commander of U.S. troops in China explained: “In my opinion it will improve the morale of the men.”
(You have something there, general – Ed.)

Some articles and all of the photos are from the CBI Roundup newspaper published during the war.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – C.B.I. Style 

“NO! NO! EUNICE! DON’T GET SO UPSET JUST BECAUSE A G.I. FORGETS TO SALUTE!”

“BUT IT WON’T GET THERE BY CHRISTMAS IF IT GOES BY BOAT!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Atkinson – Berkley Springs, WV; AVG (American Volunteer Group), WWII, CBI, “Flying Tigers”, KIA

Luis Armendariz – El Paso, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 27th Infantry Division

Daniel Davis – Lowell, IN; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Bobby Finestone – Chelsea, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII, ETO, USS Bayfield

Bartley Furey – Tampa, FL; US Army, Vietnam, West Point graduate, Field Artillery, 1st Air Cavalry Div. (Ret. 28 yrs.), Silver Star

Berna Kowalski – Blakley Island, WA; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO, Lt., nurse

James Lenahan – Indianapolis, IN; US Navy, WWII & Korea, Pharmacist mate

Frank Nash – Mobile, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 433rd Troop Carrier Group, pilot

Eleanore Quatrano – Asbury Park, NY; US Army WAC, WWII

Freda Lee Smith – Temperance, MI; US Navy WAVES, WWII

William Tomko – Westfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII

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And so it begins….

11th Airborne Division on Leyte

22 November 1944, the 11th Airborne Division received orders to relieve the 7th Infantry Division along the Burauen-La Pag-Bugho line and destroy all enemy on their way and in that sector.  While the 77th and 32nd divisions converged on the valley, the 11th moved into the central mountain pass from the east.  During this time on Leyte, the 11th A/B was under the command of the Sixth Army.

24 November – General Swing, commander of the 11th Airborne Division, moved his HQ to San Pablo.  To protect the 5th Air Force HQ of Gen. Whitehead he moved the 674th and 675th Glider Artillery Battalions to the mission which instantly made them infantrymen.  Contact patrols went out from the 187th Regiment to keep abreast of the 7th Division’s movements.  Some would witness their first “banzai attack.”

Field Order Number 28 instructed them to continue through a very rough and densely forested area called the Cordillera.   The rainy season dragged on and on and the mud not only caked on their boots (making it difficult to walk), but it ate clear through the footwear within a week.  The uniforms began to rot away.  The men were quickly beginning to realize why the natives wished to be paid in clothing rather than food or cash.

Action map

One part of the Headquarters Company was left guarding the perimeter of Mawala and the remainder of the unit went upstream to Manarawat to defend that perimeter.  The 221st Airborne Medical Company, with two portable surgical hospitals, took nip-thatched huts and lined them with parachutes.  Despite the trials and tribulations of the troopers after they landed between Abuyog and Tarragona just four days previous, they proceeded in their mission to relieve the 24th and 37th infantry divisions.

Considering the advances the U.S. forces had already gained, especially at the ports and airfields, the Japanese Imperial Headquarters sent an edict to their troops demanding the destruction of Dulag and Tacloban airstrips.  Japanese paratroopers immediately set out to jump on the Burauen airstrip; some missed their targets and landed on other airstrips.

Yank magazine

Also on this date, the 5th Air Force (now known as the Far East Air Force, Southwest Pacific Area), sent B-24’s and B-25’s to bomb Bacolod Airfield and Ipil on Negros Island.  They also hit bridges and barges in the Ormoc area.  Sasa Airfield on Mindanao was bombed as well.  All throughout this month, the FEAF and the 7th Air Force made persistent runs on Iwo Jima.

During November alone, 23 inches of rain fell and the battles for Leyte were being won during four typhoons.  Roads began to collapse and wash away, mud slides abounded and distinguishing a rice paddy from a campsite was impossible.  Foxholes were completely flooded.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Curcio – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gasconade

Mark DeAlencar – Edgewood, MD; US Army, Afghanistan, 7th Special Forces, KIA

Stewart Dennis – Port Lincoln, AUS; RA Air Force LAC # 122461

Harold Evans – Spokane, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, E/188th/11th Airborne Division

William Fagan – Bethlehem, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Ralph Harkness – Tampa, FL; US Navy, WWII, ETO, Captain (Ret.)

Robert Milner – Haynesville, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-51 pilot “Little Rebel”

Jeanne Newhouse – San Diego, CA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Fred Otto – Greene, ND; US Navy, WWII,PTO, Seaman 1st Class, USS Vicksburg

Mary Philpo – Detroit, MI; civilian, B-24 aircraft parts, Willow Run

Vernon Weber – Saint Donatus, IA; US Navy, WWII


Smitty’s Letter XV – “Landing”

All ashore that’s going’ ashore…..

November 1944: Two Coast Guard-manned landing ships open their jaws as U.S. soldiers line up to build sandbag piers out to the ramps, on Leyte island, Philippines. (AP Photo)

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

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Letter XV                                         Landing                        Somewhere in the Philippines

Dear Mom,

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

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

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

November 1944: U.S. landing ship tanks are seen from above as they pour military equipment onto the shores of Leyte island, to support invading forces in the Philippines. (AP Photo)

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

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

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

Love, Everett

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Max Brown – Alma, MI; US Army, WWII, Military Police

Harold DeRose – Indianmound, TN; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Robert Fairbank – Gilbert, AZ; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Boy Scout Farewell Salute

Victor Galletly – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44189, WWII

Zeb Kilpatrick – Hendersonville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, C/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leo ‘Bill’ LeFevre – Jamestown, ND; US Army, WWII

David Maxwell – Brisbane, AUS; RA Air Force, WWII

Jose Ocampo – San Jose, CA; US Navy, WWII

Dick Patterson – Fort Worth, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO

Anthony Randi – New Haven, CT; US Army, WWII, Cpl.

Donald Thompson – Spokane, WA; US Army, WWII

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Landing the 11th Airborne Division

Medic on Leyte

As General Eichelberger said more than once: “The 11th Airborne Division are the fightingest men I’ve ever seen.” And the largest and most violent armed conflict in history was about to start for these men.

November of 1944 arrived and with that came packing up for the next destination, Leyte, Philippines. It also meant the arrival of the rains, an understatement to say the least. Such downpours are alien to those who do not live in the tropics. Even the darkness is unique when it arrives in a flash and the blackness envelops everything like a sweeping shroud. A man’s eyes can no longer be trusted; he stands as though blindfolded.

11 November – 9 APA’s (naval transport ships designed to attack) and AKA’s (cargo ships designed to attack) would be required to carry the 11th A/B on to their target from Oro Bay with an escort of 9 US destroyers. Due to the constant barrage of weather, the journey lasted from Nov. 11 until the 18th. The Battle of Leyte was officially code-named “King II Operation.”

The division’s historian noted, “Fortunately, the trip was made in Navy-manned ships.  It was fortunate because the food we had was the best we had eaten since Camp Stoneman, California…  As far as we were able to determine, the trip was uneventful – with one exception.  One sub did venture within detecting range, we were immediately sent to out emergency positions.  But a DE took off after the Jap craft and the alert was called off.

“Aboard ship, troops spent their time talking endlessly about the immediate and post-war future.  Some gambled the days away… Now we had time to ponder and we found ourselves ready for combat.  We didn’t know then – no one knew – how soon we were to be committed; but it came sooner than any of us anticipated.  The Angels were about to make some fighting history.”

Activity map

When the 11th airborne landed at Bito Beach, Leyte, they immediately began to unload the ships.  The troopers worked around the clock, even as the tail end of the convoy was being attacked by Zeros.  (The Japanese most certainly had other planes, but the G.I.s tended to call them all Zeros.)  The beach gradually became an ammo dump as Bito Beach was surrounded by water on three sides and a swamp covered the fourth, it was technically an island and therefore they were unable to move the crates out until the engineers built them some bridges.  Throughout all this, air raids were being called which impeded progress all the more.

19 November 1944 – a kamikaze sank one of the transport ships only 1,500 yards offshore.  It was left where it sank, sticking partway out of the water.  The men used it as a sight to adjust the artillery aimed at the sea.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News – 

Cecil Hotel, Westminster, RAF’s 1st HQ

A reminder that Britain’s Royal Air Force will celebrate their 99th Birthday, having been formed 1 April 1918.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Blair Cummings – Scarbourgh, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hilary P. Jones

Frank Dallas – Fayetteville, NC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/11th Airborne Division (Ret. 27 years)

Robert Glade – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Korea

Iris Hunter – Warwickshire, ENG; RAF, WWII

Emmett Kirkpatrick – Roanoke, VA; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Robert Lilley – Ft. Gratlot, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Arthur McNamara – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Richard Morgan – Rollings, MT; US Army, Korea, A Co/187th RCT

Gale Tedball – Eugene, OR; US Navy, WWII, USS Detroit

William Young – Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Air Force #  4310091, WWII

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October 1944 (6)

While the Imperial Navy was floundering in their attempts to halt the persistent invasion of Leyte, Gen. Yamashita was in his headquarters at Fort McKinley on Luzon.  He was receiving very little information from his own people and upon hearing of the US landing, he was heard to say, “Very interesting.  But where is Leyte?”  [The Japanese general had only just been transferred from Manchuria.]

Yamashita did not feel that the Japanese all-out standing defense should be on Leyte and he refused to supply more troops to the island.  But he was overruled.  Gen. Terauchi, knowing that the island’s occupation by the Americans would divide their bases, so reinforcements would be sent in.

MacArthur inspecting the beach

21 October – Most of the Japanese beach defenses had been shattered by bombing and strafing and a majority of the 1st Battalion/16th Division had been wiped out.  Parts of Tacloban had been liberated by the US troops and Gen. Makino was now forced to split the remainder of his 16th Div. in half, North and South Defense Forces.

As the ground forces continued fighting, Japanese aircraft from all other bases in the Philippines arrived on Luzon to support the plans for a counteroffensive.

25 October – Gen. Sosaku Suzuki, in charge of defending the Central Philippines, still was receiving inferior or misleading intelligence and remained confident of Japanese victory because:  He still expected support from the Navy; he had glowing reports concerning Formosa; he was told that ALL US carriers had been sunk and no American aircraft were flying over his headquarters on Cebu.  Suzuki told his Chief of Staff, Gen. Tomochika, “…we are about to step on the center of the stage.  There is no greater honor or privilege.”

Two Japanese units were on en-route to Luzon:  the Japanese 1st Division [the Gem Division] to land at Ormoc on the west coast and the 26th Division at Carigara in the north.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The assault continued after a rapid consolidation of the first few days  objectives.  Numerous enemy counterattacks were beaten off in all areas during the next few days as advancing forces reported increased resistance on every front.  By the end of the third day, over 2,000 Japanese had been reported killed…

“On 24 October, elements of the XCorps began a drive up the Leyte side of San Juanico Strait, while farther south other units of the Corps pushed westward.  At the same time, the XXIV Corps directed attacks northward and westward.  The 96th Div., moving inland from Dulag, met heavy opposition from fortified positions on Catmon Hill, a terrain feature dominating the division’s zone of action and giving protection to enemy mortars bobbing shells toward the assault shipping in Leyte Gulf.  Catmon Hill was initially by-passed, then neutralized by naval guns and field artillery and finally cleared of the enemy by 31 October.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

“try to say something funny, Joe”

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Jack Agnew – Hamilton, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Leonard Beford – Falmouth, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Herbert Creacey – Roseburg, OR; US Navy, WWII

Catherine Ewell – Zachary, LA; US Army WAC, WWII, nurse

Herbert Good – Bound Brook, NJ; US Army, WWII

Frank Hill –  Christchurch, NZ; RNZ Navy, WWII

Ralph Konze – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Caldon Norman – Mineapolis, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

John S. Powell Jr. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, Korea, Captain

Gerald Shepler – Liberty, IN; US Army, Korea, K/3/187th Airborne RCT, KIA

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October 1944 (5)

 

20 October – the X and XXIV Corps of the 6th Army, under General Krueger, made their amphibious landing on a 25-mile (40 km) stretch of coastline between Dulag and Tacloban on the eastern side of Leyte.

At o945, the 1st Cavalry went ashore on White Beach, the 24th Infantry Division went on their left at Red Beach and the 96th Infantry Division landed further south on Orange and Blue Beaches.  They all moved inland for about a mile, hitting stiffer resistance as they went.

The 7th Infantry Division at Violet and Yellow Beaches had the lightest opposition, but Dulag was taken by the following day.  MacArthur described the view he witnessed from the flag bridge of the USS Nashville:

Gen. MacArthur surveys the beachhead ay Leyte.

Landings are explosive once the shooting begins and now thousands of guns were throwing their shells with a roar that was incessant and deafening.  Rocker vapor trails criss-crossed the sky and black, ugly ominous pillars of smoke began to rise.  High overhead, swarms of airplanes darted into the maelstrom.  And across what would have ordinarily been a glinting, untroubled blue sea, the black dots of the landing craft churned towards the beaches.

From my vantage point, I had a clear view of everything that took place.  Troops were going ashore at Red Beach near Palo, at San Jose on White Beach and at the southern tip of Leyte on tiny Pansom Island…

MacArthur became impatient and ordered a landing craft to carry him and President Osmeña to Red Beach for a dramatically staged arrival back to the Philippines.  But the boatload of VIP’s and press were caught in a traffic jam of vessels making an effort to the same makeshift pier.  The harassed beachmaster directed the VIP’s away and said, “Let ’em walk!” This more and likely is the reason for his surly expression in the famous photograph, despite him trying later to create a better one.

Mac went into the 24th’s area and sat on a log with Osmeña and a Signal Officer gave the general a microphone.  The “Voice of Freedom” was back on the air and Mac gave his speech, “People of the Philippines, I have returned…”  His aides noticed that the speech left him shaken and visibly moved.

By evening, a 17-mile beachfront was taken with only light casualties, but a serious enemy counter-attack came with Japanese torpedoes bombers that scored a hit on the USS Honolulu.  Approximately 22,000 enemy troops were dug into their positions in the hills behind Tacloban.

The X Corps had unfavorable conditions in terrain and sporadic mortar and artillery fire which caused them to take 5 days to complete unloading.  This however did not prevent them from the establishment of their beachhead.

MacArthur’s summary:

“The enemy’s anticipation of attack in Mindanao caused him to be caught unawares in Leyte and the beachheads of the Tacloban area…  The naval forces consisted of the 7th US Fleet, the Australian Squadron and supporting elements of the 3rd US Fleet.  Air support was given by naval carrier forces, the Far East Air Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force.  The enemy’s forces include the 14th Army Group under Field Marshall Count Terauchi, of which 7 divisions have been identified – 16th, 26th, 30th, 100th, 102nd, 103rd and the 105th.”

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Military Humor – 

“Cause no one’s going to notice a branch covered moving tank…”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Harry Adams Sr. – New Cumberland, PA; US Army, WWII

Robert Clark – Westmoreland, NH; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

Cleo Douglas – Berwyn, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Doris Graham – Blanchard, MI; US Navy WAVE, WWII, Unit 32 nurse

Virgile Green – Paron, AK; US Army, WWII, PTO

Raymond McCormick – E.Greenwich, RI; US Navy, WWII, USS Wisconsin, Alabama & South Dakota

Naomi Oliver – Wanganui, NZ; Women’s Nurse Corps # 816540, WWII

George Psiropoulos – Fon du Lac, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Infantry Div., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Frank Southern – Dipton, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 272 Squadron navigator, POW

Lester Tenney – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, tank commander, Bataan POW

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October 1944 (2)

October 20, 1944: U.S. troops head toward the beaches of Leyte island during the amphibious assault to reconquest the Philippines. (AP Photo)

October 20, 1944: U.S. troops head toward the beaches of Leyte island during the amphibious assault to reconquest the Philippines. (AP Photo)

15→16 October – Carrier aircraft again set off to bomb shipping and installations at the Manila Bay, Luzon area on both days.  The Japanese lost: 20 aircraft shot down and 30-40 destroyed on the ground.

17→18 October – Northern Luzon and again the Manila Bay area were attacked by the carrier aircraft and the enemy this time lost 56 aircraft; four ships were sunk, with 23 others damaged.  The US lost 7 aircraft.

19 October – Carrier aircraft bombed, rocketed and strafed select targets in the Visayas Group of the Philippines.  The US 6th Army , under Gen. MacArthur began landings on Leyte which pushed the Japanese Navy to act.

22→23 October – Three enemy task forces converged for battle.  The Japanese Combined Fleet were underway for Operation Sho, (Sho  = Victory) and they would meet with their first casualties from the US submarines Darter and Dace in the Palawan Passage.

Just after 0500 hours, LtComdr. Benitez said to his men, “It looks like the 4th of July out there!”  Adm. Kurita’s cruisers IJN Atago & Maya of  the 1st Strike Force were ht and sinking.  The enemy’s position was passed on to command and the US Task Force 38/3rd Fleet sailed to the Sibuyan Sea to intercept.  The Second Battle of the Philippine Sea was underway and it would continue through 27 October.

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[It will take the next few posts to try and encapsulate all that transpired in this short period of time – Please bear with me.]

Japanese losses would include: 2 battleships, 4 carriers, 6 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers, 3 small cruisers or destroyers, and 6 destroyers.  Severely damaged were: 1 battleship, 5 cruisers, 7 destroyers.  Others with damage: 6 battleships,4 heavy destroyers, 1 light cruiser and 10 destroyers.

US losses: the light carrier Princeton and 2 escort carriers, the Saint ‘Lo and Gambier Bay were sunk.  Two destroyers, Johnston and Hoel went under, along with 1 destroyer escort, the Samuel B. Roberts and a few smaller craft.

[The story of the USS Samuel B. Roberts can be read in the book “For Crew and Country,” by John Wukovits.  It is an inspiring book to read.]

24 October – Adm. Mitscher’s aircraft assaulted Adm. Kurita’s Center Force and the Nishimura/Shima Sounthern Force while their planes  were out hitting US concerns around the Philippines.  The Princeton was hit by a kamikaze carrying a 100-pound bomb that went through her deck.  The Birmingham was damaged by later explosions as she assisted the damaged carrier; this killed 200 seamen.

The following 10 minute video shows both Allied and Japanese photography.


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Military Humor – Navy style

war

“I have a funny feeling about those blind dates of ours.”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Millard Ball – Clarksville, TN; US Merchant Marine, WWII / US Army, Korea, 187th RCT / Vietnam, 101st Airborne, CSgtM (Ret. 45 years)

Victor Carty – San Jose, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, aircraft mechanicsalute

Edward Cooke – Fonda, IA; US Navy (USNA graduate), WWII, CBI, minesweeper, VAdmiral

Warren Ferguson – Seattle, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3167th Signal Corps

Teresa Gies – Wellington, NZ; RNZ Air Force, WWII

Harry Hamilton Sr. – St. Petersburg, FL; US Navy, WWII

Matuszewski Klemens – Taragowa, POL; Polish Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Paul Martin – Croghan, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 318 Fighter Sq./7th Air Force, Cpl.

Richard Ramsey – Bloomington, IN; US Navy, WWII, LST-947

Frank Yates – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 502/101st Airborne, Sgt.

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