Blog Archives

Follow up story for the Battle of Savo Island

Eric Geddes and his crew

With thanks to Pierre Lagacé for finding this information.  [Should anyone require research on WWII, especially the ETO, this is the man to know!]

Battle of Savo Island in art

 

 

https://richardharmervfn101.wordpress.com/2020/08/10/bloody-savo-revisited-sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/

Battle of Savo Island

Sole survivor fights to clear WWII shadow

For the follow-up video….

https://www.abc.net.au/7.30/sole-survivor-fights-to-clear-wwii-shadow/4468200

Eric Geddes WINS!!!

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-27/raaf-veteran-wins-fight-to-clear-crews-name/5844958

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Arnold – Des Plaines, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Shirley Hugh Barker (104) – Beloit, WI; US Army, WWII, 82nd Airborne Division

Raymond Dietrich – Muscatine, IA; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Ira Edmondson – Texarkana, AR; US Army, WWII, 42nd “Rainbow Division”

Jack Frisch – Colorado Springs, CO; US Army, German Occupation, 547th Ordnance / NFL running back

Philip A, Goddard – Morrisville, VT; US Army, Medical Unit/82nd Airborne Division, doctor

Carl Humpfer Jr. – St. John, IN; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea

Kenneth Kokrine – Tanana, AK; US Army, Vietnam, radioman

Charles Mirachi – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Enterprise / Civilian, US Navy

Ronald Perry – New Haven, CT; US Army, Vietnam, 1st Calvary, Col. (Ret.), Silver Star, 2-DFC’s, 3 Bronze Stars, Purple Heart

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C/O Postmaster – Book Review

Thomas “Ozzie” St. George, a student in the School of Journalism, University of Minnesota, and an athlete, would find himself soon in the U.S. Army as his country entered WWII.  BUT – This is not a war, combat blood ‘n’ guts diary.

St. George sent excerpts of his training, his not-so-glamorous voyage across the Pacific and the year he spent in Australia discovering a new culture, to the ‘San Francisco Chronicle’.

Cpl. St. George numbered his pieces, knowing full-well the difficult route they would travel to get back to the U.S.  These pieces would arrive at the newspaper, with his sketches completely out of order, but the Chronicle printed them and the readers loved them.  One does not even need to “read between the lines” to visualize what this G.I. was trying to say as he learned about fish & chips, unusual pub hours, Australian slang and living a military life.

Dancing with Americans

“Ozzie” and his fellow G.I.s needed to learn the odd hours of the local pubs.  The Australian women were friendly, but not “easy”, as they used to say back then.  Families often invited the soldiers to dinner.  This was an entirely different world than the Americans were accustom – and learn quickly they would have to do!

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As seen with the Army cooks on page 55:

“…we went to breakfast.  Most of us, I’m afraid, were looking forward to large helpings of ham and eggs, our usual reward for a night’s activity.  Instead we had coffee made with chicory (a course kind of gravel) and our first lesson in the anatomy of the sheep, as found in mutton stew.  Thick was this stew, like cold glue, full of unidentifiable vegetables and with all the delicious appeal of a soggy snowbank.”

American G.I.’s w/ koalas

 Should be lucky enough to locate a copy of this book, I know there are chapters you will nod your head in agreement with St. George and you’ll laugh at others.  The sketches will amuse you – no matter what the content.

 

In the words of Corporal Thomas St. George ….

“With most of us, this army career is by far the greatest experience we will ever have.  I only hope that in reading about a few of these experiences you get half the kick out of it that we got when they were happening to us…”

Thomas ‘Ozzie’ St. George

From his obituary:

Thomas Richard “Ozzie” St. George left this earth on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at the age of 94.  Originally with the 32nd Infantry, he soon joined the staff of Yank Magazine and covered the war from Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines. While serving in the army, he met his future wife, Staff Sgt. Amelia “Mimi” Vitali of Philadelphia. They married while in the Philippines.

He spent the next 50 years at newspapers in San Diego, Philadelphia, Rochester and St. Paul. He was a reporter, sports editor, cartoonist, copy editor and columnist (“Slice of Wry” – St. Paul Pioneer Press). Ozzie retired from the Pioneer Press in 1994. Two books were written by Ozzie while he was in the Army: “C/O Postmaster,” a Book of the Month Club selection, and “Proceed Without Delay.” Following his retirement, he also self-published the Eddie Devlin Compendium: “Old Tim’s Estate,” “Wildcat Strike,” “The Bloody Wet,” “Bringing Chesty Home,” “Replevy for a Flute,” “Clyde Strikes Back,” “Flacks,” “Deadlines” and “The Survivors.”

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Military Political Cartoons – 

“HAVEN’T WE MET BEFORE?”

“GET YOUR DIRTY PAWS OFFA THERE!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth “Kage” Allen – UT; US Air Force, 1st Lt., Air Academy graduate, F-15C pilot, 493rd Fighter Squadron/48th Fighter Wing

Wilton Brown – Avant, MS; US Navy, USS Princeton, / US Air Force, Korea, MSgt. (Ret.)

Wallace Harrelson (100) – Galloway, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Eva Lyons – Scottsdale, AZ; Civilian, WWII, P-38 assembler

Angus McRonald – Petercutter, SCOT, RAF, WWII

Russell Mericle Jr. – Lima, OH; US Army, Vietnam, 101st Airborne Division, Colonel, West Point graduate

William “Bill” Okamoto (100) – Torrance, CA; US Army, WWII

William Ostrosky – Uniondale, NY; US Navy, WWII

Joseph Pauro – Audubon, NJ; US Navy, WWII, ETO/PTO, Purple Heart

Thomas D. Siefke (100) – Indianapolis, IN; USMC, WWII, Sgt., Bronze Star, Purple Heart

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Trinity Beach, Australia

Trinity Beach, 1st Amphibious, Dec. 1, 1944

Trinity Beach was once a World War II training ground, where troops practiced all aspects of amphibious warfare before heading into war zones north of Australia.

Between May 1943 and December 144, thousands of Australian troops were rotated through this area for training in all aspects of beach warfare.  trainees were from the Australian 9th Australian Division which had recently returned from Tobruk and Alamein.  They were followed by members of the 6th and 7th  divisions that had been involved in campaigns in Egypt, Libya, Cyprus, Greece and New Guinea.

Training was a joint Australian-American army-navy exercise.  British ships and Navy personnel were occasionally involved.  Trinity Beach was the HQ for a number of units and the troops camped along Captain Cook Highway, particularly at Deadman’s Gully near Clifton Beach.

Training was intensive and involved both day and nighttime activities.  Troops undertaking this training included infantry, gunners, engineers, mechanics, signalers, ordnance, intelligence and field ambulance personnel.

Trinity Beach training

Trinity Beach had been a place for families during the holidays, this changed when the 532nd Engineer Special Brigade arrived in April 1943.  Troops were rotated between inland jungle training on the Atherton Tableland to amphibious training on the beaches.   This was done prior to embarkation to the front lines in Papua New Guinea.

Assault training was only one aspect of the training activities at Trinity.  Logistics, including load training, was undertaken.  The 1st Australian Corps Combined Operations Amphibious program co-ordinated  by the 6th Australian Div. had 5 key tasks:

1- Delivery of essential supplies from key ports to forward areas, which were close to combat and only accessible by sea

2-Carriage of troops, especially in amphibious assaults.

3- Evacuations of wounded.

4- Local carriage of equipment, stores and salvage.

5-Building of minor port facilities, such as jetties and landing stages.

Trinity Beach, 11 Sept. 1944

During the Pacific War, Cairns became one of Australia’s largest military embarkation ports and the region was dotted with a variety of facilities and camps.

HMAS Kuranda and the RAAF Catalina base were located in north Cairns wharf area and a Catalina slip facility on Admirlty Island in Trinity Inlet.  An American transhipment port was located at the mouth of Smiths Creek.  Aerodomes were established at Mareeba and cairns.  A very large hospital was established at Rocky Creek on the Atherton Tableland, with a second located on the west side of Cairns at Jungara.  A medical research and development unit was based there.  Radar and communications facilities were established throughout this area.

Trinity Beach today

For one and a half frantic years, thousands of troops moved in and out of the Trinity Beach area.  After the training headquarters were shut down, Trinity Beach slipped back into being a place for beach-going weekenders.

Excerpts from: Cairns arts and culture.com.au

This article was suggested by Gallivanta!!  Thank you for the idea, Ann!!

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert S. Chessum – Matamata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4311266, WWII

Joshua Fuller – Orlando, FL; US Navy, Commander, pilot

Murray Hilford – Whangaparaoa, NZ; RNZ Navy # 9474, WWII, ETO, Able Seaman

Enrique Roman-Martinez – Chino, CA; US Army, Spc., HQ Co./37/2/82nd Airborne Division

James Moir – New Town, NZ; RNZ Army # 205256, WWII

Vincent Segars – Valdosta, GA; US Navy, Captain, pilot (30 y.), Bronze Star

Peter B. Sheppard – AUS; Royal Australian Military Hospital, Cpl., # 0708811, Vietnam

Jimmy Sinclair (107) – ENG; British Royal Artillery, WWII, “Desert Rats”

Raymond Tompkins – Salem, OR; US Navy, WWII, Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class

Robert J. Wells – Eagle, CO; US Navy, WWII, gunner, USS Cornvallis, Bucknell & Whiteriver

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25 April ANZAC Women

 

ANZAC Women

With today’s pandemic situation, we are seeing many similarities to WWI (ending in 1919), the 1920 pandemic, the Great Depression and WWII predicaments that also affected the entire planet.

We are additionally discovering that along with our militarys, there are many others that deserve our thanks and appreciation.  So __ with that in mind, I chose, along with Garrulous Gwendoline’s encouragement, to salute the nurses that risked their lives working beside the ANZAC troops that are to be honored this 25 April.

 

Miss Phyllis M. Boissier 

(pictured bottom right in the above image)

Elected Matron of Manly Cottage Hospital in 1912, Boissier then joined the World War I effort. She signed up with the Australian Army Nursing Service and traveled to Egypt in 1914. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross for her war service at Gezirah, where she tended to the wounded soldiers from Gallipoli. She became Matron of the hospital at Dieppe, France in 1917.

In 1918 she accepted the role of Matron at the RPAH. During her years as Matron, Miss Boissier contended with overcrowding in the wards.  She also dealt with complications related to a new onsite building project which caused increased expenditures exacerbated by the Great Depression.   An outbreak of pneumonic flu challenged Miss Bossier, as almost one hundred nurses became sick and were unfit to work.

Pearl Elizabeth Corkhill

Pearl Corkhill

Australian nurse Pearl Elizabeth Corkhill earned a prestigious Military Medal for her bravery as she tended to injured patients during a heavy air raid by German forces. She was serving at a casualty clearing station not far from the front line in Abbeville, France when it came under attack on 23 August, 1918.

During the bombing, Corkhill remained calm and continued to tend to her wounded patients, despite the danger.

Louise Mack

(10 October 1870 – 23 November 1935)

Marie Louise Hamilton Mack was an Australian poet, journalist and novelist. During the First World War, she reported from the front line for London’s Daily Mail and Evening News. She later wrote an autobiography titled A Woman’s Experiences in the Great War and was the author of 16 novels and a book of poetry.

New Zealand nurse, E.S. Barker, Malta 1915

Esther Barker – 

New Zealand’s Ms. Barker and 2 friends were caught in France when war broke out and they sewed shirts for the troops.  During the Gallipoli campaign, “The Trio” as the three artists called themselves, joined up as British Red Cross voluntary aides and sailed for Malta with about 200 other women.

WRN Enid Bell

Enid Bell –

Ms. Bell, a New Zealand nurse Enid Bell was the first ever member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service.  Enid Bell trained as an ambulance driver, and went to France with the British Red Cross in April 1917

Elizabeth Kenny

(20 September 1880 – 30 November 1952)

Elizabeth Kenny was an unaccredited Australian nurse, who developed a controversial new approach to polio treatment while caring for ill soldiers during the First World War.  Her muscle rehabilitation principles became the foundation of physiotherapy.

Working in Australia as an unaccredited bush nurse, Kenny was later accepted to serve during WWI.

She was assigned to dangerous missions on “dark ships”, transport that ran with all lights off between Australia and England. She made 16 round trips and one around the world and was officially promoted to the rank of Sister..

Katie Louisa Ardill

(3 August 1886 – 3 January 1955)

Katie Louisa Ardill was among the first female doctors to join the British Expeditionary Forces in 1915 after her application to serve with the Australian Expeditionary Forces was rejected because she was a woman. At that time, the Australian government prohibited women from service, compelling them to join overseas units instead.

She served as a doctor, treating wounded soldiers for four years in Britain, France and Egypt during the First World War and was promoted to the rank of Captain.

Major Alice Ross-King 

Major Alice Ross-King

(5 August 1887 – 17 August 1968)

Alice Ross-King was one of four nurses awarded a Military Medal for their selfless actions at a casualty clearing station close to the trenches during an air raid in France on 22 July 1917.

Ross-King rescued patients in tents shattered by bombs, either carrying them to safety or putting tables over their beds to protect them. She and three other nurses, Dorothy Cawood, Mary Jane Derrer, and Clare Deacon, were recognized for their courageous actions.

When WWII broke out, Alice re-enlisted with the Australian Army Women’s Medical Services and was heavily involved in raising funds for the Red Cross.

Lest we forget.

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Military Humor – 

desert humor

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Trevor Beech – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Navy # 4345, WWII, radar

Allan Godbaz – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4311330

Ian Gordon – Richmond, AUS; RA Air Force, Air Commodore (Ret.)

Gordon Habgood – NZ; RNZ Air Force, Squadron leader

Roger Midgley – Gandarra, AUS; RA Navy #R63489

John Parkes – Pukeohe, NZ; RNZ Army # 16417

Dorothy (Ford) Pollard – Rotorua, NZ; WRNZ Air Force # 4374, WWII

Reece Stratford – Nelson, NZ; 2NZEF # 273145, WWII, 23rd Battalion

Barry Tebbs – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Air Force LAC # 344661

Michael Wright – Canberra, AUS; RA Navy, Commander (Ret.)

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Trials in the Pacific

 

Courtroom gallery of spectators, Manila, P.I.

For those of you who have regularly visited this site, you are aware of posts I already published concerning the war trials, some of the most prominent figures which are Posted Here.

This below is a short round-up of other trials that occurred….

Rabaul – the gallows used

Hundreds of others were also prosecuted in the American trials, including Lt. General Matsaharu Homma, the man who actually did order the Bataan Death March and the bombing of the undefended “open city” of Manila. His headquarters had been 500 yards from the road the prisoners had marched and died on and he had admitted having driven down that road of blood many times. He was sentenced to hang.  His wife appealed to MacArthur to spare him – which he refused, but did execute Homma by the less disgraceful method of firing squad.

During these trials in the Philippines, 215 Japanese faced criminal charges and 20 were declared innocent and 92 were given the death sentence. In one case, Philippine President Manuel Roxas appealed to China’s Chiang Kai-shek to spare the life of one Japanese officer who had saved his life and that of several other Filipinos. The request was granted.

American tribunals were held in Shanghai for those accused of executing American airmen under the “Enemy Airmen’s Act” due to the Doolittle raid on Japan in April 1942, when many prisoners were murdered as an act of revenge for that mission of bombing Japan early in the war.

The U.S. Navy tried the Japanese accused of crimes on the islands. Three were held on Kwajalein, in the Marshall Islands and 44 were put on trial on Guam. These were closely held in conjunction with British, Australian and Indonesian officials. Abe Koso, became the naval commander at Kwajalein and ordered the beheading of nine Marine Raiders that were left behind after the Makin Raid. Koso defended his acts by claiming the Marines were U.S. spies. The tribunal rejected his claim and 19 June 1947, he was hanged.

Singapore, 21 Jan. 1946

There were 19 cases brought up for medical experiments at Truk. (Most people have only heard of these abominable acts from the Nazis.) Another was held for the slaughter of 98 Pan American airline employees on Wake Island in 1943. And ten others were sentenced to death; 18 were convicted of murdering civilians in the Palaus.

The largest trial of 503 Japanese was held by Australia for cruelty to prisoners on Amoina and 92 were convicted. In Rabaul, New Britain, 1,000 American and British POWs were forced to march 165 miles and only 183 made it the entire route. The Japanese commander executed the survivors. The officer had survived the war – but not the court.

Australian MP’s guard 4 Japanese Officers of Borneo POW Guard Unit, in front of 9th Div. HQ, Labuan Island, Dec 1945

The Netherlands tried an ugly case for Vice Admiral Michiaki Kamada who ordered 1,500 natives of Borneo murdered. Four others were executed for their participation in the awful treatment of 2,000 Dutch prisoners on Flores Island. Another case involved the treatment of 5,000 Indonesian laborers, 500 Allied POWs and 1,000 civilians.

China tried 800 defendants, whereby 500 were convicted and 149 sentenced to death.

The French held the least number of trials and dealt with them as ordinary crimes. Five Japanese were given the death penalty for the murder of American airmen in Indochina. The French were still holding their trials as late as November 1951.

As mentioned previously, the Russian “trials” were held as propaganda against the West. The charges would be dismissed, due to “arrested development.” ( suggesting that the Japanese were hindered in their development since they were not subject to Soviet culture and education.) The Soviets publicly made it clear that they were “on to” Japan and her American friend’s plot against them.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas R. Boggs – Glaston Oaks, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. F/511/11th Airborne Division

Donald Dennis – Monroe, WA; US Army, WWII, PTO, 146th Field Artillery

Herbert Ginn _ Bangor, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Robert A. Henderson – Spooner, WI; USMC, WWII, PTO

Thomas Manier Sr. – Big Beaver, MI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Lyman, sonar

Horace Middleton – Northumberton, PA; US Army, WWII, Pvt., Co. F/2/5307 Composite (Merrill’s Marauders), KIA (Burma)

Michael Priano – Brooklyn, NY; OSS, CBI, frogman

Arthur C. Ramirez – US Army, Korea, Cpl., B Batt./57th FA/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin)

Lionel “Buck” Rogers – Muskoka Lakes, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Leland Smith – Vallejo, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 489th Bomb Group, machinist

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British Commonwealth Occupation Forces – Japan

 

Participation in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) marked the first time that Australians were involved in the military occupation of a sovereign nation which it had defeated in war. BCOF participation in the allied occupation force was announced on 31 January 1946, though planning and negotiations had been in progress since the end of the war. The main body of Australian troops arrived in Japan on 21 February.

Up to 45,000 Australians served in BCOF, including an infantry contingent of 4,700, base units consisting of 5,300, an air force wing of 2,200 and 130 from the Australian General Hospital. The Australian Navy also had a presence in the region as part of the British Pacific Fleet. For two thirds of the period of occupation the Commonwealth was represented solely by Australians and throughout its existence BCOF was always commanded by an Australian officer.

Japanese prefectures

The BCOF area of responsibility was the western prefectures of Shimani, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters were located at Kure, the army was encamped at Hiro, the RAAF at Iwakuni, and the naval shore establishment at the former Japanese naval base at Kure. At the peak of its involvement the Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over 20 million Japanese citizens and 57,000 sq. kilometres of country. Adjacent to the area of Australian responsibility were prefectures occupied by the 2 New Zealand EF (Japan), the British and Indian Division (Brindiv) and, further away, the US 8th Army. 

100 Yen BCOF note

The main Australian occupation component was the 34th Infantry Brigade, which arrived in early 1946, and was made up of the 65th, 66th and 67th Battalions. The RAN ships that served were: HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Shropshire and the destroyers: HMAS AruntaBataanCulgoaMurchisonShoalhavenQuadrantQuiberon. Landing Ships Infantry: ManooraWestralia and Kanimbla were used for transport. 

The Australian air force component was stationed at Bofu, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The RAAF Squadrons which served were No. 76, No. 77 and No. 82, all flying Mustangs. The air force component of BCOF was known as BCAIR. By 1950 only one Australian squadron, No 77, remained in Japan.

By early 1947, BCOF had begun to decline from its peak of over 40,000 service personnel from the UK, New Zealand, India and Australia and, by the end of 1948, BCOF was composed entirely of Australians. The force was dismantled during 1951 as responsibilities in Japan were handed over to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. Some personnel stayed on to serve in the Korean War. Members of No 77 Squadron, for example, had their ‘going home’ celebrations interrupted by the news that they were to be sent immediately to Korea. BCOF ceased to exist on 28 April 1951 when the Japanese Peace Treaty came into effect.

BCOF

The primary objective of BCOF was to enforce the terms of the unconditional surrender that had ended the war the previous September. The task of exercising military government over Japan was the responsibility of the United States forces. BCOF was required to maintain military control and to supervise the demilitarization and disposal of the remnants of Japan’s war making capacity. To this end, Australian army and air force personnel were involved in the location and securing of military stores and installations.

BCOF medal, Australian

The Intelligence Sections of the Australian battalions were given targets to investigate by BCOF Headquarters, in the form of grid references for dumps of Japanese military equipment. Warlike materials were destroyed and other equipment was kept for use by BCOF or returned to the Japanese. The destruction or conversion to civilian use of military equipment was carried out by Japanese civilians under Australian supervision. Regular patrols and road reconnaissances were initiated and carried out in the Australian area of responsibility as part of BCOF’s general surveillance duties.

The RAN component of BCOF was responsible for patrolling the Inland Sea to prevent both smuggling and the illegal immigration of Koreans to Japan. In this task they were assisted by the RAAF whose aircraft were also involved in tracking vessels suspected of smuggling or transporting illegal immigrants. RAAF squadrons also flew surveillance patrols over each of the prefectures in the BCOF zone in order to help locate left over weapons and ordnance.

During 1947, the BCOF began to wind down its presence in Japan. However, BCOF bases provided staging posts for Commonwealth forces deployed to the Korean War from 1950 onwards. The BCOF was effectively wound-up in 1951, as control of Commonwealth forces in Japan was transferred to British Commonwealth Forces Korea.

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BCOF Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kjell F. Andersen – New London, CT; Merchant Marines, WWII, ETO, / US Army, Korea

Mary Barraco – Renaix, BEL; Danish Resistance, WWII, Captain, USO, POW

Albert Bracy (104) – Durham, CAN; Queen’s Own Rifles, WWII, Hamilton Light Infantry

Leslie Edgerton – NZ; RAF/ RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, 75th Squadron

Lyle “Moose” Hardy – Belconnen, AUS; RA Air Force, Sgt., (Ret.)

Kenneth Johnson – Doncaster, ENG; RAF, WWII, Warrant Officer, 61st & 9th Squadrons

Alan Lepper – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 432823, WWII

Vera McLane – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Photograph intelligence

James K. Thompson – Allentown, NY/Largo, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Esme Wirth – Leeton, AUS; Australian Womens Land Army, WWII

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Merredin, Australia

This is more and likely an area that not many know of or would even consider as concerned with WWII, but the World War II Sites in Merredin provide a fascinating insight into the role the Central Wheatbelt played in Australia’s preparation for World War II.

Military history enthusiasts will be captivated by the RAAF No 10 Store Depot which comprises of igloo shaped tin hangars.  They were originally built in 1943 to store American aircraft for the war. From the sky the hangars were camouflaged to look like a salt lake.

Take a drive to the High Frequency Direction Finding Installation, also known as the Radar Hut. It was built to give advance warning of an impending invasion.

Merredin

The country town of Merredin is a three hour drive northeast of Perth. A visit to the Australian General Army Hospital and the nearby Military Museum will complete your World War II tour of Merredin.

Australian General Army Hospital

Located off Benson Rd, The remains of the former field Hospital that was relocated to Merredin from Gaza Ridge, Palestine in 1942 can be viewed in native bushland adjacent to Merredin Peak. Extensive interpretation on site, but only the foundation of the hospital are visible.

Aviation Fuel Tanks

These tanks can be viewed from the car park of the BP Roadhouse on the Great Eastern Highway. Part of a home has been built on top of the aviation fuel tanks which sit partly above and partly below ground. The tanks held six million litres of fuel used at the Cunderdin Airfield.

RAAF WWII Supply Hangar, Merredin

RAAF No10 Stores Depot

Located on the Nungarin-Merredin Road / Railway Ave. These igloo shaped hangars were part of the RAAF No10 Stores Depot commenced in 1943. The Depot held bulk and technical stores, especially radar and radio spares. Sheets of tin placed on the ground helped camouflage the site as a salt lake. RAAF personnel lived in nearby houses with vegetable gardens and flowers beds rather than barracks, also as a camouflage technique. On Private property, can be viewed from the roadside.

HF/DF Installation

Located on the Merredin-Chandler road. In the paddock just past Hunts Dam is the High Frequency Direction Finding Installation, locally known as the Radar Hut. It’s role was to give advance warning of an impending invasion. It is believed to have been completed in February 1945. On Private property, can be viewed from the roadside.

Ammunition Dumps

Nokaning East Road (gravel road). Scattered rows of rounded concrete buildings set in the paddocks. The 46 concrete igloos were constructed to house a wide range of munitions. You can still make out the numbers on some doors. The area would have been guarded by personnel who lived in approximately 40 timber framed buildings hidden amongst the trees.  On Private property, can be viewed from the roadside.

At the Military Museum

Military Museum

This museum located on the Great Eastern Highway contains memorabilia from all major conflicts since World War 1 and is a great place from which to start your exploration of the Military history of the Wheatbelt.

Vietnam Veteran’s Reflection Pond Memorial

Located in Roy Little Park , Merredin this monument constructed by Wheatbelt Vietnam Veterans was dedicated on Long Tan Day, August 18th 2006, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jackey D. Blosser – WV; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. D/1/32/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Glenn Crocker – Maize, KS; US Navy, WWII, pilot

James Dennis – Sussex, ENG; 28th Batt./Royal Essex Regiment/5th Army, WWII

Jack Garwood – Villages, FL; US Army, WWII, ETO

Edward Herbert – Boonton, PA; 11th Airborne Division

Max W. Lower – Lewiston, UT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, TSgt., 345/98/9th Air Force, KIA (Romania)

James McCauley – Tucson, AZ; USMC, WWII, pilot

Patrick Ryan – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, WWII

Gerald Smith – Denver, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO / US Army, Korea, 7th Infantry Division

Frederick Willman Jr. – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

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Ruby Boye, WRAN Coastwatcher

Ruby Boye

 

MRS. RUBY BOYE lived with her husband, Mr. Skov Boye, at Vanikoro, a small tropical island in the Santa Cruz group of the then British Solomon Islands

Soon after the commencement of World War 2, the Australian Navy installed a powerful AWA tele-radio for communication between Vanikoro and Tulagi. The radio was operated by a qualified telegraphist on the island.

The Vanikoro radio operator wished to return to Australia to join the RAAF.  Before departing, he taught Ruby how to transmit weather reports and operate the radio in code, and during the following months she learned Morse Code from a book.  Eric Feldt, the Commander in Charge of the Coastwatcher movement,  appointed Mr. and Mrs. Boye as members of his organization.

Ruby Boye on Vanikoro

Mr. and Mrs. Boye realized the importance of Vanikoro in relation to coastwatching, and few white men knew more about the Solomons and Santa Cruz Islands than Mr. Boye.  When the evacuee ship arrived, Ruby refused to leave, announcing that she proposed to stay and operate her radio.  As well as their own safety, Mr. and Mrs. Boye had their two sons, Ken in the RAAF and Don, still a schoolboy in Sydney, to consider.

With the evacuation of the other Europeans from Vanikoro, Ruby and Skov took on many extra tasks. They had to act as doctor treating the sick. They extracted teeth and arbitrated disputes between the natives.

After the Japanese landed at Tulagi, Charles Bignell, a Solomon Islands plantation owner, called at Vanikoro in his ketch for fresh water and food. Charles warned Ruby and her husband that a Japanese ship was in the Santa Anna area. Charles’ wife, Kathleen, and son, Ted, both good friends of Ruby’s, had been captured by the Japanese at Rabaul. Margaret Clarence’s book ‘Yield Not to the Wind‘ covers this episode.

Ruby Boye

Between 4th and 8th May 1942, the Battle of the Coral Sea took place. Ruby,  some 700 miles away from the Coral Sea Battle area, was sending out coded meteorological data, and acted as an emergency relay station in communicating reports between coastwatching stations in the Solomons and Vila, the US Navy base receiving station, in the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu).

The USS Lexington was lost while the Japanese carrier Shoho was sunk. HMAS  Australia and Hobart took part in the battle. The Japanese main object, the capture of Port Moresby, was denied them, nor did they ever get as far south again.

Even so in 1942 Japanese naval forces were operating north, south, east and west of Vanikoro.  Ruby was on duty during the Battle of Savo Island in August 1942, when HMAS Canberra was lost, together with the USS  AstoriaVincennes and Quincy.

Guadalcanal, where the Japanese fought until early 1943, was only some 500 miles north by west of Vanikoro and during that critical period, Ruby was in easy range of Japanese aircraft that flew at low heights over the Island on many occasions. For safety reasons it was decided to relocate the tall radio mast and equipment across the river from the living quarters.

A punt.

After the suspension bridge crossing the river from the residence to the radio shack was destroyed in a cyclone, four times a day, often in torrential tropical downpours, this indomitable lady had to cross the crocodile-infested Lawrence River by punt, and then often walk through ankle-deep mud to transmit the important meteorological data obtained from her own readings.

The night transmitting session was the most hair-raising, because the crocodiles became active at dusk. Spotlights would sometimes reveal the evil eyes gleaming like two orange lights in the dark. In fact a number of dogs and cats were killed and fowls perched under Ruby’s residence were often seized by the crocodiles.

Newspaper article on Ruby Boye

In September 1942, the USS Wasp was torpedoed while covering a Guadalcanal Troop Convoy. The burning carrier sank with the loss of 193 sailors, leaving during that month the USS Hornet as the only operational undamaged US carrier in the Pacific. The Hornet was to meet her end in the Battle of Santa Cruz, in October 1942. In the same engagement, the Japanese carriers Zuiho and Shokaku were damaged. This battle took place very close to the Island Group of which Vanikoro was part. Ruby recalls: After sending the usual weather report, an English-speaking Japanese voice came crackling through. ‘Calling Mrs. Boye, Japanese Commander say you get out.’ The message at this point was jammed by other coastwatchers and she was informed later the rest of the message was unprintable.

Japanese aircraft dropped pamphlets to the Vanikoro natives telling them to work for the Japanese and report the whereabouts of Europeans. On Guadacanal, coastwatchers found the bodies of nuns and priests bayoneted  by the Japanese. As a result of the Japanese threats, it was considered desirable that Ruby should be in uniform for the sake of her own protection.

Remainder of Ruby Boye article.

At times US Navy seaplane tenders, including the USS Curtiss, were based at Vanikoro to refuel and service Catalina flying boats.  A group of American Naval Officers landed, Mr. Boye was greeted by an Admiral who said ‘My name is Halsey. I’d like to meet that wonderful lady who operates the radio here.’ Admiral William A. ‘Bull’ Halsey was the C- in-C of the South Pacific area at that time.  He had such a high regard for Ruby that he arranged for a US Naval Catalina Flying Boat to take her south for medical treatment for shingles. While Ruby was on sick leave, she was replaced by four US Naval Radio men, two on duty and two off.

In 1944 Ruby was awarded the BEM for meritorious service as a Coastwatcher in the Solomons. In addition, she received the 1939/45 Star, the Pacific Star, the War Medal and the Australian Service Medal, the Returned From Active Service Badge and is a Life Member of the WRANS Association.

The letters of appreciation, the photos and autographs from Admirals Nimitz, Halsey and Fitch and the recent invitation to Texas for the Grand Opening of the Admiral Nimitz Memorial mean more to Ruby than money.

Ruby returned to Sydney in 1947 with her husband when he became terminally ill. He arrived in Sydney just two weeks before his death.  Ruby Boye passed away 14 September 1990.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Saturday Evening Post style – 

“And when you go forth into the world,
be it as riveters, welders, or mechanics,
keep ever bright before you the slogan of
Sweet Lawn Seminary—’A lady, first, a lady always!'”
June 5, 1943

“It’s some game she learned in the Army.”
August 22, 1942

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph F. Boschetti – Philadelphia, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO, KIA (Tarawa)

Edward Dillon (100) – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 3rd Army

Philip Gamache – Blairsville, GA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Richard Keatinge – Tenderfield, AUS; Australian Military, WWII, Medical Team

Imogene Kinge – Monette, TX; Civilian, “Rosie”, aircraft construction

Birdie McInnis – Clanton, AL; Civilian, WWII, Brooklyn Army Airfield, aircraft inspector

Richard Oster – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Gerald B. Raeymacker – Erie, PA; US Army, Korea, Sgt., KIA (Chosin Reservoir)

Evelyn Smith – Westwood, KS; Civilian, Secretary to the Commander of the 6th Corps, Camp McCoy

Louis Wiesehan Jr. – Richmond, IN; USMC; WWII, PTO, F/2/8th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

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RAF in the Pacific War

British Flight Training School No. 1, Terrell, TX

After the fall of the Dutch East Indies, the British RAF contributed six squadrons to the Pacific Air War.

March 1941 allowed for the training of Allied pilots on U.S. soil and the formation of British Flying Training Schools.  These unique establishments were owned by American operators, staffed with civilian instructors, but supervised by British flight officers. Each school, and there were seven located throughout the southern and southwestern United States, utilized RAF’s own training syllabus.

The aircraft were supplied by the U.S. Army Air Corps.  Campuses were located in Terrell, Texas; Lancaster, California; Miami, Oklahoma; Mesa, Arizona; Clewiston, Florida; Ponca City, Oklahoma; and Sweetwater, Texas.

AT-6 2A RAF Texan (aka Harvard)

During the period of greatest threat to Australia in 1942, Winston Churchill agreed to release three squadrons of Spitfires from service in England.  This included No. 54 squadron plus two RAAF expeditionary squadrons serving in Britain, Nos. 452 and 457.  The Spitfire was at the time the premier Allied air defense fighter.

Pilots of RAF No. 54 Squadron

The squadrons arrived in Australia in October 1942 and were grouped as No. 1 Wing.  They were assigned the defense of the Darwin area in January of 1943.  The Wing remained in that role for the remainder of the war.  In late 1943 two additional RAF Squadrons were formed in Australia, Nos. 548 and 549.  These relieved the RAAF Spitfire squadrons for eventual duty with the 1st RAAF Tactical Air Force.

RAF C-47 Dakota over Burma

No. 618 Squadron, a Mosquito squadron armed with the Wallis bomb for anti-shipping missions was sent to the Pacific in late 1944 but never saw active service and was disbanded in June 1945.

In 1945 two Dakota squadrons, Nos. 238 and 243, were sent to the Pacific to provide support for the British Pacific Fleet.

The RAF’s No. 205 squadron, which was stationed in Ceylon, was responsible for air services between Ceylon and Australia during the war.

Raf ground crew & Singhalese lowering a Catalina of the 240th Squadron into the water, Red Hills Lake, Ceylon, 4 August 1945

Should the war have continued beyond VJ day, the RAF planned to send the “Tiger Force” to Okinawa to support operations against the Japanese home islands.  As of 10 July 1945, the “Tiger Force” was planned to be composed of No. 5 (RAF) Group and No. 6 (RCAF) Group with 9 British, 8 Canadian, 2 Australian, and 1 New Zealand heavy bomber squadrons.  The Force was to be supported by Pathfinder Squadron and a Photo/Weather Recon squadron from the RAF and 3 Transport and one air/sea rescue Squadrons from the RCAF.

Click on images to enlarge.

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British Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eileen Brown – London, ENG; WRAF, WWII, ETO

Irving Fenster – Tulsa, OK; US Navy, WWII

Tedd Holeman – Sugar City, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQS/127 Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Stanley Jones – Shrewsbury, ENG; RAF, Chaplain

Daniel Lynn Jr. – Krupp, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO / Korea

Stanley Mellot – Grand John, CAN; RAF, WWII, navigator

James Raymond – Katanning, AUS, RAF, WWII

Paul Seifert Sr. – Bethlehem, PA; US Army, Korea, 82nd Airborne Division

David ‘Ken’ Thomas – Brown’s Bay, NZ; RAF # 1669434, WWII

Arthur Wan – Milwaukee, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Klandasan July 1st 1945

From Dennis O’Brien, a talented writer and devoted son – he remembers!

dnobrienpoetry

From Syria to Milne Bay,
At Shaggy ridge, the fall of Lae,
Two men had seen each other right,
Now one last battle left to fight.

From landing craft they hit the sand;
At Klandasan the diggers land.
The Alligators roll ahead,
But quiet and still, a man lies dead.

He thought the end within his reach,
But now he sleeps upon this beach.
His blankets are the tropic sands
And at his head his rifle stands

With slouch hat for a digger’s cross,
For those to come, to mark the loss,
As by the grave there stands his mate;
For some the war will end too late.

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