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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.

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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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Australian/New Zealand Z-Force

Z Force, also known as Special Operations Executive (SOE), Special Operations Australia (SOA) or the Services Recon Dept. (SRD)—was a joint Allied special forces unit formed during the World War II to operate behind Japanese lines in SE Asia. Predominantly Australian, Z Special Unit was a specialist reconnaissance and sabotage unit that included British, Dutch, New Zealand, Timorese and Indonesian members, predominantly operating on Borneo and the islands of the former Netherlands East Indies.

The unit carried out a total of 81 covert operations in the SW Pacific Theater, with parties inserted by parachute or submarine to provide intelligence and conduct guerrilla warfare.

Crew of the ‘Krait’, Operation Jaywick, 1943

The best known of these missions were Operation Jaywick and Operation Rimau, both of which involved raids on Japanese shipping in Singapore harbour; the latter of which resulted in the deaths of 23 commandos either in action or by execution after capture.

Although the unit was disbanded after the war, many of the training techniques and operational procedures employed were later used during the formation of other Australian Army special forces units and they remain a model for guerrilla operations to this day.

On 25 March 1945, Tom Harrisson was parachuted with seven Z Force operatives from a Consolidated Liberator onto a high plateau occupied by the Kelabit people.  His efforts to rescue stranded American airmen shot down over Borneo are a central part of “The Airmen and the Headhunters.”  The unit he commanded was called SEMUT – 1, six Australians and one New Zealander, all younger than the major, but had years’ more experience from fighting in New Guinea, mainland SE Asia and North Africa.  (I highly recommend the book).

Z Force 1945

Throughout June and July 1945, several operations under the aegis of Operation Platypus were launched in the Balikpapan area of Borneo.

In his memoirs, former leading aircraftsman Jack Wong Sue claimed that Z Special Unit commandos in Borneo killed 1,700 Japanese for the loss of 112 commandos, as well as training more than 6,000 guerrillas. According to Sue, the activities of the commandos laid the groundwork for the Allied invasion of Borneo in 1945.

Borneo Campaign

During the southern winter of 1944, twenty-two New Zealand soldiers, based at Trentham Military Camp, 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of Wellington, New Zealand were sent to train with Z Special Unit in Melbourne, Australia. They were then sent to Fraser Commando School, on Fraser Island, Queensland, to be trained in using parachutes, unarmed combat, explosives and the Malay language. Four New Zealanders were killed during operations in Borneo.

Major Donald Stott and Captain McMillan were both presumed drowned in heavy seas while going ashore in a rubber boat from the submarine USS Perch (SS-313) in Balikpapan Bay on 20 March 1945. Their bodies were never found. Warrant Officer Houghton made it to shore in a second boat but was captured ten days later and languished in Balikpapan Prison where he died of beriberi about 20 April 1945.

The last of the Z Force, 2012

Signalman Ernie Myers, a trained Z Special Unit operative in Platypus VII, parachuted into enemy-held territory near Semoi on 30 June 1945, but landed with two other operatives inside a Japanese camp area. They resisted strongly, but the Australian in the party was killed and Myers was captured along with the Malay interpreter of the group. Both men were tortured for three days, before being beheaded. Their bodies were recovered soon after the Japanese surrender when Lieutenant Bob Tapper, another New Zealander who was working with the War Graves Commission, discovered their remains. Evidence given to the commission by native witnesses ensured that the Japanese involved paid the penalty for this atrocity.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Howard Allison – Wichita, KS; US Army, WWII, PTO, MSgt.

Phillip Barksdale – Bowie, AZ; US Navy, WWII / US Army, Korea, Engineer Technician

David Ferland – Hornell, ME; US Coast Guard, Navy & Air Force, 1st Class Gunner’s Mate, (Ret.)

Edgar Gifford – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, surgical tech.

Harold Henderson, Knoxville, TN; USMC, WWII, PTO, 9/3rd Division & CBI, 7th Service Regiment

Clifford Moore – Des Moines, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Robert Shaffer – Pawtucket, RI; US Coast Guard, WWII

Woodrow Smith – Vidor, TX; US Army, WWII

Jack Young – Murphy, NC; US Navy, WWII, PTO & Korea

Josef Zawitkowski – Nisko, POL/Buffalo, NY; Polish Home Army, “Ojciec Jan” unit, Deputy Cmdr.

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The Generals, Australians and Borneo (2)

The Borneo Campaign Map

From: “General Kenney Reports”

[continued from the previous post where the Generals were on the island of Labaun after the Australian troops had landed to take it back from the Japanese.]

We got to the USS Boise and the next morning we all went over to the beach near Brooketon.  Gen. Wooten joined us.  We waded through a half mile of swamp to a road where 6 jeeps picked us up and drove into the town of Brooketon itself.  The place was completely wrecked by bombing.

Australian soldiers firing artillery, Borneo

Wooten said they encountered very little opposition until they got about 10 miles inland, where they were in contact with about 500 Japs who were dug in on a hill commanding the road.  He had radioed for some airplanes from Palawan to blast their artillery out of the hills so he could use the road.

MacArthur, of course, wanted to see what as going on, so we climbed in the jeeps and headed off for more trouble.  About 5 miles down the road we came to an overturned Jap truck.  It seemed that about 2 hours before, the truck with 12 Nips on board, had dashed along the road with the lights turned on, the horns blowing, and the fools all yelling “Banzai”, heading for the Aussies who were marching toward them.  The Aussie machine-gunners had taken care of the truck and all the Japs.

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MacArthur on Labaun, Borneo 10 June 1945

From: “The Australian Experience”

The decision to bring forward the OBOE VI operation, on the western side of Borneo, was a strategic surprise to the Japanese. The area around Brunei Bay facilitated rapid deployments and operational maneuver from the sea. General MacArthur set Z-Day as 10 June 1945. Naval and landing force command for the Brunei Bay amphibious assault, landing 33,500 personnel and 49,500 tons of supplies and equipment was delegated to Rear Admiral Royal, and Major General George Wootten, commander of the Australian 9th Division.

The Brunei Bay operation was, according to MacArthur, ‘flawlessly executed’. Between 10 June 1945 and the end of the war, the fighting at Brunei Bay and Labuan led to the loss of 119 Australians killed and a further 221 wounded. At least eight Americans lost their lives and 55 were wounded. The Japanese lost 1,375 and 130 captured during this operation, although guerillas probably killed another 1,800 throughout British Borneo.

Borneo, 1945

The order of battle for the ground forces for the OBOE II is indicative of the Australian Army’s approach. Australians made up 94 per cent of the invasion force. It was built around the Australian 7th Infantry Division. The major Australian contribution, its nine infantry battalions (in three brigades) were central to the activities of the ground force. The Australian artillery and armored units were allocated an infantry support role, and were not well versed in the application of combined arms teams.

The US Army provided the specialist amphibious ship-to-shore units for the Australian division. While the Australian Army was responsible for beach operations, the Navy provided a Beachmaster and the RAN Beach Commandos. The NEI troops did fight but were also employed as interpreters and as security for the Netherland Indies civil affairs organization. The RAAF airfield construction squadrons, which were attached to the ground force commander, were to land early and have an airbase ready for Allied aircraft in just four days.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Atilano ‘Al’ David – Angeles, P.I. & NM; WWII, PTO, Sgt. 31st Regiment Philippine Division, (Bataan Death March survivor)

Harold P. DeMoss – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Ensign, Fighting Squadron 100, KIA

Hubert Fuller – Huntington, WV; US Army, WWII, PTO, 147th Signal/7th Armored/3rd Army

Frank Guerrieri Sr. – Garfield, NJ; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS St. Louis

John Hickman – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14321

Kathy Meinsen – Bastrop, TX; US Army

Gerald Nehring – Hinckley, IL; US Army, WWII, CBI

Thomas Reilly – Scituate, MA; US Coast Guard, Chief Boatswain’s Mate (Ret. 24 y.)

Norman Summers – Auckland, NZ; Royal Navy # MX801257 / RNZ Navy # 12177

Julian Waldman – Oceanside, NY; US Army, WWII

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Personal Note – I have having a little computer trouble.  If I do not answer comments or visit your site, I will do so as soon as possible.   Thank you for your patience.

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May > June for Smitty and the 11th Airborne

117th Engineer Battalion, Luzon

The 11th Airborne continued their patrols, mopping up details and training at Lipa, Luzon, P.I.  General Swing had another jump school built that created 1,000 newly qualified paratroopers out of their latest replacements.

The new glider school concentrated on the “snatch pickup” method, whereby a CG-4A Glider on the ground with a towrope and a C-47 with a hook. As the plane goes overhead at an altitude of 15 feet, it snatches up the glider and brings it to 120 mph in a matter of a few seconds. (The noise from the plane, shock and whiplash must have been overwhelming.)

With May drawing to a close and the Japanese Army being pushed to the northeast, the 11th Airborne knew something was brewing, but then Smitty got a surprise.

Brisbane 1945

8 June 1945, Cpl. Everett Smith found himself and four others from the division on leave in Australia and Smitty was determined to have a good time! Those that went to Brisbane on the same orders for TDY were:
Lt. Col. Francis W. Regnier MC HQ 11th A/B Div.
Major George K. Oliver INF HQ 11th A/B Div.
T Sgt. Manuel C. DeBeon Jr. 187th Glider Infantry
Tec 4 Beverly A. Ferreira HQ 11th A/B Div.
The orders were signed by Major E.W. Wyman Jr., Adjutant General of Luzon

Townsville, Queensland, WWII

My father never told me very much about his R&R and probably for a good reason. (For one, my mother was always around listening.) He did say that when he first arrived in Australia, he wanted a haircut and a shave. While the barber was working on him, he remarked that the pores in Smitty’s nose appeared enlarged. My father answered, “You spend five months in the jungles of New Guinea and see what your nose looks like.” Dad said after that, his money was no good. Everyone in the barbershop made such a fuss over him that he never got a word in edgewise. They were so extremely grateful to anyone who served in New Guinea. Smitty did always tell me he wished he could make a trip back there; he thought Australia and her people were great, but sadly, he never did.

Perhaps this young lady, Joan, was the reason Smitty wouldn’t talk about his time on leave.

“Happy Landing, Joan”

In another part of the war….

The Sixth Australian Division attacked and occupied Wewak, New Guinea. This is relevant because it housed the headquarters of the Japanese Eighteenth Army. A major boon for the PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations).

23 May, at least 65 square miles of Tokyo had been incinerated by bombs and napalm. Later, the same action was taken over Yokohama, Osaka and Kobe. This left over 100 square miles of the principle Japanese cities devastated and one-third of the country’s construction destroyed. Japan’s factories were demolished.

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Current News – U.S. Coast Guard – 228 years old this 4 August 2018

 

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Burnett – Lexington, KY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Duane Caitlin – Waverly, NY; US Coast Guard

Walter Geer – New Oxford, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Thomas Horn – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Alfred Johnson Jr. – Washington D.C.; US Coast Guard, WWII

Roy Meyer – Tucson, AZ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 449th Bombardment Group, B-24 waist-gunner

Edward Patapanian – Boston, MA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Brady Spillane – Great Falls, MT; US Army, 82 Airborne Division

William Thomure – Columbus, OH; US Coast Guard, WWII

James Watt – Whangamata, NZ; RNZ Army # 811867, WWII, PTO, 22nd/9th Brigade

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Australian Troops: Wewak,New Guinea

Painting of Aussies in New Guinea, artist unknown

I hope many of you remember the battles that were started for liberating New Guinea back at the original stage of the Pacific War – at this point – they were still going on.

The operations were characterized by prolonged small-scale patrolling with small-scale company attacks. Progress was slowed by the difficulties of transporting supplies overland or by barge and the flash flooding of a number of the rivers the Australians had to cross. In one incident, seven men from the 2/3rd Battalion drowned in the swollen waters of the Danmap River which had risen suddenly after a torrential downpour. After Dogreto Bay was occupied, the supply problems eased somewhat.

Wewak, New Guinea map

On 16 March 1945, the airfields at But and Dagua on the coast were occupied, although fighting continued further inland from there over the course of the following fortnight. On 25 March, Lieutenant Albert Chowne, a platoon commander from the Australian 2/2nd Battalion led an attack on a Japanese position that was holding up the advance on Wewak. For his actions he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

Albert Chowne

In the Torricelli Mountains the 17th Brigade continued its advance against stubborn Japanese defense. Nevertheless, by 23 April 1945 they had secured Maprik. The fall of Maprik allowed the Australians to begin constructing an airfield 8 miles (13 km) away at Hayfield, and this was completed on 14 May allowing reinforcements and supplies to be flown in.

Elsewhere the 19th Brigade had begun its assault on Wewak in early May. HMAS Hobart, Arunta, Warramunga, Swan and HMS Newfoundland (of the British Pacific Fleet) as well as the RAAF bombarded the Wewak defenses. On 11 May, a landing at Dove Bay by Farida Force was undertaken to encircle Wewak and prevent the escape of its garrison. Wewak fell on the same day, as the 19th Brigade occupied its airfield.

HMAS Warramunga

The fighting around Wewak airfield continued until 15 May, however, when men from the 2/4th Battalion, with armoured support, attacked Japanese positions overlooking the airstrip. It was during this attack that Private Edward Kenna carried out the deeds that led to him being awarded the Victoria Cross.

Edward Kenna

Following this, the remaining Japanese in the area withdrew into the Prince Alexander Mountains to the south of Wewak. To counter this, the 16th Brigade was dispatched to follow them up, and push them towards the 17th Brigade which advanced towards the east towards Maprik.

Australian 2/3 Battalion at memorial for fallen comrades, New Guinea 1945

These operations continued until 11 August, by which time the 16th Brigade had reached Numoikum, about 23 kilometres (14 mi) from Wewak, while the 17th Brigade had captured Kairivu, 24 kilometres (15 mi) from Wewak. At this stage, word was received that the Japanese government had begun discussing terms for a possible surrender and so offensive operations were brought to a halt.

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Military Humor – 

‘Psst. It’s okay in here, but don’t go around calling $690 billion ‘chump change.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Philip Barbary – Murray Valley, AUS; Australian Army # 45018, Vietnam, 104 Signal Squadron

Robert Costello – Newcastle, AUS; Australian Army, Vietnam

Robert Forstburg – Upper Darby, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 101st Airborne Division

Ralph Regis Giles – Lowell, MA; US Army, Korea, KIA

Gordon Herrick – Rochester, NY; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Glen McGraw – Centerville, IN; US Army, WWII

Eric Rapps – ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, 8th Army

Doris Sherman (101) – Como, AUS; Royal Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, Chief Petty Officer, nurse

Betty Tallarico – Dorothy, WV; Civilian, US Navy draftsman

Geoffrey ‘Boy’ Wellum – Cornwall, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO, 65th Squadron, Distinguished Flying Cross

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PTO & CBI reactions to V-E Day

US Army 77th Division hears the news on Okinawa

Victory in Europe was welcome news to Allied troops in the Pacific and the China-Burma-India theaters of war. They greeted it with thanksgiving but there was little celebration. As a London Times special correspondent in Burma wrote, “The war is over. Let us get on with the war.” Now that Europe would no longer be receiving the bulk of troops and materiel, officers and enlisted personnel in the war against Japan hoped they would be given more men and equipment quickly, in order to end their war sooner.

Meanwhile, fighting continued in New Guinea, the Philippines, Okinawa, the CBI and elsewhere. Kamikazes still made suicide dives to sink Allied ships. The lights may have gone on over Europe and America, but a funeral pall still darkened the Pacific and Asia.

SMITTY _ New Guinea 10/24/44

Smitty, my father, when asked how he had felt, merely shrugged. “I was happy for my fellow soldiers over there, but we had work to do, so we didn’t think about it very long.”

From The May 7, 1945 Edition of Stars and Stripes

OKINAWA, May 6 (ANS)—The reported death of Adolf Hitler and the word of surrender of the German armies in Italy was good news to soldiers, sailors and marines here but there was no celebrating.Most of the fighting men figured it wouldn’t mean a thing to them “until we can see some help coming and see a chance of ending the war out here.”

They termed Hitler’s death “good riddance” and said it was a good thing he went that way because there probably would have been lots of bickering around if we had taken him alive.”

Gen. Daniel I. Sultan

Gen. Dan I. Sultan, commander of the India-Burma Theater, on V-E Day, paid tribute to the fighting men who won the European war in a short statement to the troops of the India-Burma Theater broadcast over the American Army radio stations in the Theater. The text of Gen. Sultan’s statement:
“Today in Europe, German military might has been broken. After almost six years, organized hostilities have ceased. The great work of reconstruction of the shattered continent can now begin.
“We recognize the tremendous achievements of the Allied Armies in Europe who won this victory, for we too have been fighting. We know the cost of driving back a tenacious enemy – we know the necessity for close co-operation of all branches of our forces, the close union with our allies in the common cause. We know the heartbreaking conditions of combat under adverse weather and over difficult terrain – the back-breaking work of construction and supply in support of combat operations. So, as fighting men, we pay tribute to the fighting men in Europe.
“Their victory is in part our victory. We have done with less man and supplies, so that they might have more. Their victory brings our victory nearer. The men who broke the German ground defenses in the west, who destroyed her essential industries from the air, can now turn their attention to the war with Japan. The industrial strength of the United States, until now producing for the war both in Europe and in Asia, can turn its full productive force to the Far East.
“This is the day of Germany’s defeat and Europe’s liberation, but we must not forget that there is still a tough battle to be fought before the Japs are licked. Every one of us knows his part in that fight; and if every one of us will do his part to the utmost, Japan’s defeat and the liberation of Asia will come surely and swiftly.”

The Pacific War

 

The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia greeted V-E Day with the question, “Since when has it been customary to celebrate victory halfway through a contest?” The war with Japan had been the great threat to Australia itself, and the country’s sons were still fighting and dying in that war. Accordingly, the mood was more somber than in Europe. On May 9, some 100,000 people attended a service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne.

For the most part New Zealanders observed V-E Day on May 9, although there was some spontaneous dancing in the streets. Preparations had been underway for weeks, in part to keep celebrations from getting out of control. Events included speeches, thanksgiving services, and the singing of the national anthems of New Zealand, America and the Soviet Union. A People’s Victory March in Christchurch drew 25,000.

In the U.S., many communities attempted to subdue celebrations, wanting to give the occasion the solemnity they felt it deserved and reminding Americans that, as Truman said, “Our victory is only half over.” Across the country, however, joyous celebrations broke out. Thousands gathered in New York’s Times Square. New Orleans took on the appearance of Mardi Gras, with people dancing in the streets. Church bells rang out the glorious news in small towns and major cities.

In the Soviet Union, Stalin himself seemed less than enthusiastic. His deputy Nikita Khrushchev telephoned to congratulate the Soviet leader on his victory, and Stalin reportedly snapped at him, “Why are you bothering me? I am working.” The USSR’s official victory parade took place in a downpour over a month later, on June 24.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

‘Bring back rationing!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Harold Bishop – Sacramento, CA; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Christopher A. Celiz – Summerville, SC; US Army, Afghanistan (7th deployment), Sgt. 1st Class, KIA

Dallas ‘Chris’ Christenson – Pensecola, FL, US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

John Hart – Keesville, NY; US Army / US Navy

Melvin Hilscher – Kulm, ND; US Army, WWII

James McLean – AUS; RA Air Force # 428761, WWII, Flight Sgt., 83rd Squadron

George Meyer – Bristol, CT; US Navy, WWII, Medical Corps

Ruskin Reddoch – Troy, AL; USMC, WWII, 1st Lt., Silver Star, Purple Heart

Elliot Seidman – Delray Beach, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman

Maria Swafford – Boydton, VA; Civilian, US Map Service, D.C., WWII

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HMAS Australia

HMAS Australia, imagery scanned from Navy Historic Archive

Possibly the ship with the most colorful World War II history was HMAS Australia, fondly known as “The Aussie”. The Aussie fought for almost the entire duration of the war. A county class cruiser commissioned in 1928 she was the second ship to bear the name of her country.

With the outbreak of WWII Aussie sailed for the Atlantic to begin her long wartime career that she was to fight on all fronts and against all enemies.  In September, 1940, she was in Operation Menace off Dakar, French West Africa.  Bombers of the Luftwaffe tried in vain to sink her whilst she was berthed alongside in Liverpool during the period when the city suffered its worst blitz. During her war service Aussie went everywhere.

n December 1941 when Japan entered the war Aussie became the flagship or Rear Admiral Crace, followed by Admiral Crutchley and then Commodore Collins.  In January 1942 the cruiser assisted in escorting the first US troops to Australia. Operating in the Coral Sea it pursued and attacked the Japanese from Guadalcanal to Hollandia, surviving everything its enemies could throw at her, until…

HMAS Australia funnel damage

Out of the blue skies of Leyte came the ‘Divine Wind” or the Kamikaze. The first Kamikaze hit against Aussie was by a A6M5 Zero-Sen Fighter fitted with a 200 kilogram bomb, the impact of this snapped one leg of the ship’s tripod mast, causing a huge shower of wreckage to rain down upon the compass platform.  Underneath it lay Captain Dechaineaux mortally wounded along with many others, amongst them Commodore J. Collins, hero of the HMAS Sydney.  Four days later, after the initial Kamikaze attack, Aussie again suffered the brunt of another, her sleek hull and distinctive row of three funnels drawing the suicidal pilots to her.

more HMAS Australia damage

HMAS Australia was needed badly by the R.A.N for she was the last surviving seaworthy member of the country’s heavy cruiser fleet the rest having been sunk and Hobart badly damaged. So she was quickly returned to active service.

She headed straight back to Philippine waters and on the afternoon of 5th January 1945 at Lingayen Gulf,  The Kamikazes targeted her again.  Her new Captain Armstrong flung the ship about wildly, but another bomb laden aircraft slammed into to her. The casualties were high – 25 men killed and 30 seriously wounded, most were badly needed guns crews.

Despite extensive damage she joined HMAS Shropshire and other US units to aid in the bombardment of San Fernando and Poro Point.  A new wave of Kamikazes then attacked, a Aichi ‘Val’ Dive Bomber surviving the murderous fire thrown up by all ships collided headlong into her upper deck exploding in an enormous fireball.  Several guns crews died instantly and a severe shock wave shuddered throughout the ship. This hit accounted for another 14 dead and 26 seriously wounded. by now Aussie’s AA defenses were all but eliminated.

HMAS Australia damage to the twin 4-inch mount

At dawn on 8th January the allied fleet resumed its bombardment and the Kamikazes renewed their suicidal attacks.  Aussie was the last ship in the line and was once again singled out.   The Aussie’s gunners throwing up withering fire at a Mitsubishi “Dinah” Bomber until at last shooting it down, but not before it released its bomb which exploded close to the waterline, punching a large hole in the hull.

Taking a dangerous list to port another ‘Dinah’ roared in.  Those guns still in operation tore the bomber to bits and it showered down aviation fuel upon the sailors whilst its massive engine smashed through the bulkhead of the Captain’s Day Cabin. Within seconds another ‘Dinah’ roared in, the Aussie gunners frantically trying to shoot it down, succeeding, within just 15 metres, the propeller blades embedding themselves in a life-raft.  The aircraft skidded into the hull ripping another large hole and damaging yet another fuel tank, whilst two mess decks were completely destroyed. Aussie by now was in bad shape, her speed reduced to fifteen knots to avoid causing more damage,  still hung in and managed to continue the fight with what was left of her.

The following day the Japs decided to finish the Flagship off knowing she was almost dead in the water. As another plane raced in heading for her bridge its pilot misjudged his attack line and slammed into the yardarm slewing the aircraft around so as to miss the bridge area and taking out the top of the foremost funnel. Sliced off cleanly it crashed to the deck. There were no casualties from this hit but it spelled the end for Aussie. Two boilers had to be shut down because of insufficient updraft.  Aussie’s war had come to an end.

The war for HMAS Australia was over.

Information from the Royal Australian Navy Gun Plot; Australian Navy and Joey’s Walkabout

The Australian Navy link includes some fantastic photographs!

Click on images to enlarge.

 

Current News – Doris “Dorie” Miller

Dorie Miller statue in progress

A 9-foot stature sculptured by Eddie Dixon will be unveiled today, Thursday, 7 December 2017, in honor of Doris “Dorie” Miller – Hero of Pearl Harbor!  On the banks of the Brazos River, Miller relatives and former crew of the USS Doris Miller will attend the ceremony for the Waco, Texas born seaman.

For a full story of Mr. Miller please click HERE!

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Margaret Abbott Hanson – CAN; RC Army, WWII, Regina Rifle Regiment

Deane Brees – Creston, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Gallatin, signalman

Paul Ciccarelli – Monessen, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co A/188/11th Airborne Division

Walter Eacott – Melbourne, AUS; RAF, WWII, night fighter pilot / RAAF, Squadron Leader

Charles Greene – Middleboro, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 916 Medical Ambulance, Bronze Star

James Lane – Wannambool, AUS; RA Navy # 57966, CPO

Francis Mitchell – Walkanae, NZ; RNZ Navy # 13840. Korea

David Nesbitt – Sidney, AUS; RA Air Force # 420355, WWII

Joseph Pisano – Queens, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, F/367/101st Airborne Division

Michael Vertucci – Maspeth, NY; US Army, KOrea

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Current News – WWII Chapel in Australia + Purple Heart Day

St. Christopher’s

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia — As 33,000 troops take part in Talisman Saber war games near Rockhampton along the central Queensland coast, a small chapel overlooking a pasture serves as a reminder of when about 70,000 U.S. soldiers called the city home.

The nondenominational Saint Christophers Chapel, built in 1943 by the Army’s 542nd Engineer Battalion, is the only structure remaining from when Rockhampton served as a springboard and training location for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s World War II island-hopping campaign. The city hosted the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th, 32nd and 41st infantry divisions on a half-dozen camps between 1942-44.

Along with the open-air, pavilion-style chapel, the grounds include a band rotunda dedicated to a servicemember who helped maintain the chapel decades ago. A concrete pillar from an artillery declination station used by 41st Infantry Division howitzers stands at the chapel’s foot, a

Cliff Hudson, 79, of Sawtell, New South Wales, first visited the chapel about 30 years ago because it shares its name with his son.  “My wife always wanted our daughter to get married here because of the Christopher name,” he said.

Hudson said he is drawn by the chapel’s interior boards listing names, sporting events and results of competitions from the 1940s. The boards were taken from a nearby war-era sports field and placed inside and U.S. and Australian flags and seals adorn the gates and interior.

Saint Christopher’s nearly deteriorated in the years after WWII. Vandals destroyed parts of the chapel in 1959, prompting locals and the 41st Infantry Division Association to start caring for the site. Today, the chapel and its grounds are immaculately maintained, and church services are held each year on the Sunday closest to the Fourth of July.

Julie Henderson, 77, of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, said she’s glad the chapel still stands.  “It’s nice to come and remember the soldiers who served in the war because we weren’t there,” she said.

 

 

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For further information about the chapel please click HERE!

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Military Humor – from the Prisoners themselves – 

Air Activity in Java

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Farewell Salutes –

William Andrews Jr. – Palm Springs, FL; US Air Force, Korea, Bronze Star

Lowell Bailey – Thomaston, GA; US Army, Korea, POW

Bruce D’Agostino – Natick, MA; US Air Force, photographer (Founder of Humanitaian International)

John Ekenbarger – Nashua, NH; US Army, Korea, POW

Richard Ford – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

George Franklin – Pensacola, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division, demolition

Quentin Gifford – Mankato, MN; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Thomas Madison – Austin, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 20 yrs.), pilot, POW

Warren Glenn Ranscht – Racine, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, WIA

Albert Zuidema – Falls Church, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, WIA

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Personal Note – for Purple Heart Day posts click HERE!

Please remember that today 7 August is the U.S. observation of Purple Heart Day.  Shake the hand of a veteran!

And say a prayer for our 3 Marines missing in the waters off Australia.  Thank You.

Lt. Benjamin R. Cross of Bethel, Maine; Cpl. Nathan Ordway of Wichita, Kansas; and Pfc Reuben Velasco of California.

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