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25 November 1944

Lieutenant Yamaguchi’s Yokosuka D4Y3 (Type 33) Suisei diving at Essex, 25 November 1944. The dive brakes are extended and the non-self-sealing port wing tank is trailing fuel vapor and/or smoke

Aircraft from the Task Forces 38.2 and 38.3 both bombed The Japanese shipping off central Luzon in the Philippine Islands.  Planes from the American aircraft carrier, USS Ticonderoga (CV-14), sank the enemy heavy cruiser IJN Kumano in Dasol Bay.  Hellcats and Avengers from the Ticonderoga, Essex, Langley and Intrepid attacked a Japanese convoy and sank the IJN Yasojima and landing ships.  The enemy army cargo ship Manei Maru was sunk and the Kasagisan Maru was damaged.

Kamikazes broke through the US Navy’s defenses and pushed on to attack and damage the USS Essex, IntrepidHancock and Cabot.   The following 4-minute video is actual footage.

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Military Humor – Disney & Looney Tunes at war – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

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

Calvin Davis – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, WWII, PTO & Korea (Ret. 28 years)

Saying goodbye to the Greatest Generation

James Hanson – Framingham, MA; US Army, 503/11th Airborne Division

Ray Hickman – Kodak, TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 137th Ordnance, Sgt.

Joseph Kerwin – McAllen, TX; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. Major, 82nd Airborne (Ret. 30 years)

Arthur W. Manning – UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 249th Squadron

Ralph Mohl – W.Chester, OH; US Merchant Marine, WWII

James Munro – Melbourne, AUS; AIF, WWII, Brigadier (Ret.)

Donald Noehren – Harlan, IA; US Army, Korea, HQ/2nd Combat Engineers/2nd Infantry Div., POW, KIA

Thelma Powers – Sedan, NM; Civilian, WWII, ATO,  Elnendorf Field, Alaska, air traffic comptroller

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Lost at Sea

A look into the air war and saving pilots!

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IHRA

As November 1944 began, the 345th Bomb Group was flying to the staging base of Morotai, where they would then take part in missions that targeted islands in the Philippines. Morotai was three hours away from their base at Biak Island. While this hop could be considered routine, weather once again thwarted plans of landing at Morotai on November 6th. As the B-25 pilots attempted to fly through the stormy weather, Morotai went on red alert and the control tower went off the air. It became extremely difficult for the crews to find their way to Morotai without a radio signal, not to mention a way out of the storm. Several pilots turned around. One, Lt. Edward Reel, remained in the area, hoping to catch a station. Aboard his B-25 were six crewmen as well as two passengers.

Hours passed. Reel had descended to find the bottom of the clouds…

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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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November 1944 (1)

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay

Ordeal at Ormoc Bay, FEAF, by Steve Ferguson, and can be purchased here…

https://irandpcorp.com/products/ordeal-at-ormoc-bay/

3 November – When the Japanese 57th Regiment arrived at Limon, Gen. Krueger’s 24th Division was on the other side of the mountain range.  Rather than attack the lightly defended enemy positions, he halted his troops.  For some reason, he was expecting a possible enemy amphibious landing and the US attack would not begin for 2 more days.

5→10 November – in the 19th year of Showa, for the Japanese, the G.I. mortar and machine-gun fire seemed to nearly wipe out the squad scaling the ridge.  As the brush caught fire, the Americans of I Company/3rd Battalion/21st Infantry Regiment/ 24th Division, attacked and charged over the ridge until the enemy’s big guns opened up.  Another Japanese force arrived and the US troops retreated.  This would be known as Breakneck Ridge [Yahiro Hill to the Japanese].

Leyte activity map

Even with the support of the 1st Cavalry, the soldiers were pushed back, but they would return on the 8th.  They then proceeded to continually hit the ridge until the 10th, when the Japanese 3rd Battalion was ordered to tenshin. (which means to turn around and advance).  The few survivors remaining did make it back to their supply depot.

6 November – Japanese convoy MA-TA 31 escorted by 2 cruisers and other escorting vessels was attacked by a wolfpack of US submarines, Batfish, Ray, Raton, Bream and Guitarro at Luzon.  The Ray fired 6 rear torpedoes at the enemy cruiser  Kumano and destroyed her bow.

US Hellcat fighters and bombers with Avenger torpedo planes attacked enemy airfields and shipping installations throughout southern Luzon.  The US aircraft were intercepted by about 80 Japanese fighters and a dogfight ensued over Clark Field.  The enemy lost 58 planes and 25 more later in the day.  More than 100 Japanese aircraft were destroyed on the ground.  One cruiser sank in Manila Harbor and 10 other vessels were heavily damaged.

10→11 November – Another Japanese convoy, carrying 10,000 reinforcements for Leyte, escorted by 4 destroyers, a minesweeper and a submarine chaser.  They were screened by 3 other destroyers, but were intercepted by the US 10th Fleet aircraft as they made their turn into Ormoc Bay.  Before they could reach the harbor, the TF-38 aircraft attacked.  The first wave aimed at the transports.  The second wave hit the destroyers and third wave strafed the beaches and the burning destroyers.  Nine of the ships sank and 13 enemy planes providing air cover were shot down.

The FEAF (Far East Air Force, the 5th A.F.) used 24 B-24’s to hit Dumaguerte Airfield on Negros Island in the P.I. and fighter-bombers were sent to the Palompon area on Leyte.  Targets of opportunity were hit on Mindanao.  Fighter-bombers and B-25s hit shipping and Namlea Airfield, and P-38s hit Kendari Airfield on Celebes Island while B-24a bombed the Nimring River area.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Teamwork, Beetle-style!!

cover for Beetle Bailey comic book

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Farewell Salutes – 

Sverre Alvestad – Norway/Glen Oaks, CAN; Royal Norwegian Navy, WWII, ace pilot

Charles Cawthorn – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Lancaster pilot (Ret. 30 yrs.), 61st Squadron, POW

Lou Duva – Paterson, NJ; US Army, WWII

Howard Engh – Gig Harbor, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Lawrence Hanson – St. Paul, MN; US Navy, WWII (Ret. 26 years)

Kenneth Lawson – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, Spitfire pilot

Paul Pavlus – Panama City, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne / USAF, 82nd Airborne, MSgt.

Joe Rogers – Jackson, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, flight instructor

Albert Schlegel – Cleveland, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Capt. Pilot, KIA

Francis Took – AUS; RA Navy # 37327

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Liberty Belle’s Last Flight

A survival story for heroes in October 1944.

IHRA

Balikpapan. A Japanese stronghold in the earlier part of the Pacific war. At the time, it was heavily defended by some of Japan’s best pilots, and the Allies hoped to change that soon. General George C. Kenney in particular felt that if Fifth Air Force was to destroy the oil refineries on the island, it would be a huge setback in Japan’s attempt to hold onto its position in the southwest Pacific. Over the summer, Kenney directed the 380th Bomb Group to bomb several refineries in the area, with little success, though they were a factor in some fuel shortages. By September, he was eager to send his forces back to Balikpapan. There were a few missions flown by the Thirteenth Air Force and the 90th Bomb Group, however, approximately 40% of the planes flown on these mission were either lost or too damaged to be put back in service…

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Flying The Hump

To honor the men who flew to support the men on the ground….

The Java Gold's Blog

The first massive airlift in history

One of the chapters in ‘The Java Gold’  is dedicated to ‘…flying the Hump…’as the ‘air bridge’ into China across the Himalayas soon became known. ‘It was the first massive airlift in history.

image The Himalayas as seen after take off from a field in Assam

‘The Hump’  started early in 1942, initially with just a handful of aircrew and airplanes. Most of these planes were hastily ‘converted’ civilian DC-3’s that had been ferried across the Atlantic, Africa and India by a Pan American subsidiary. Often the former civilian owner’s logo and lettering couldstill be seen shining through the hastily applied olive drab army paint.
The US 10th Air Force, ATC and CNAC attempted to carry 10.000 tons of cargo each month into the beleaguered Kunming area that was isolated after the loss of the Burma Road.

image Chabua airfield in 1944, with a view of…

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October 1944 (4)

USS Samuel B. Roberts

USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413)

Halsey was battling Ozawa’s Decoy Force at Cape Engaño where the last surviving Japanese ship from the Pearl Harbor attacks, IJN Zuikaku was ablaze and abandoned.  The Chitose was dead in the water.  Commander Hathaway’s USS Heerman was badly damaged, along with the Hoel, Johnston and Samuel B. Roberts.

IJN Chikuma

IJN Chikuma

When Halsey retreated south, the remaining ships had planes out that proceeded to hit the IJN Chikuma and Chokai before they too retreated.  The Zuikaku sank and hour later the Zuiha succumbed, followed by the Chiyoda.

In less than 7 hours ____

At 0750, escort carrier GAMBIER BAY, dead in water, is continually hit by 8-inch shells, set afire and floods.

IJN Chokai

IJN Chokai

At 0805, CruDiv 4’s CHOKAI, hit and set afire by numerous bombs from KITKUN BAY’s aircraft, goes dead in the water. At 0807, GAMBIER BAY, capsizes and sinks.

At 0814, Vice Admiral Kurita orders all ships to assemble and head north. At 0850, CruDiv 7’s CHIKUMA and TONE, followed by CruDiv 5’s HAGURO and CHOKAI, pursue “Taffy Three’s” escort carriers. At 0853, CHIKUMA is attacked by four TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers from “Taffy Two”. She is hit in stern port quarter by a MK-13 aircraft torpedo that severs her stern and disables her port screw and rudder.

At 0907, CHIKUMA reports to YAMATO that she has been torpedoed and is unnnavigable. Then at 0920, CHIKUMA reports that she has lost a propeller, is making 18 knots, but is unsteerable. At 0930, CHIKUMA reports she is at 11-25N, 126-48E and making nine knots.

At 1020, Force A reverses course towards Leyte Gulf. At 1105, CHIKUMA is attacked by five TBMs from KITKUN BAY. She is hit portside amidships by two torpedoes and her engine rooms flood. Power is lost. She comes to a stop and takes on a list to portside. At 1110, destroyer NOWAKI is dispatched to assist her.

After 1415, CHIKUMA is attacked by three TBMs from ORMANNEY BAY led by VC-75’s CO, Lt Allen W. Smith. Three torpedoes hit her portside near amidships. NOWAKI takes off her survivors then scuttles her with torpedoes. At 1430, CHIKUMA capsizes and sinks by the stern at 11-25N, 126-36E.

USS Heermann at Battle of Samar, by: Dwight Shepler

USS Heermann at Battle of Samar, by: Dwight Shepler

26 October 1944: 65 miles SSE of Legaspi, Philippines. At 0054, NOWAKI is crippled and set afire by gunfire from Task Force 34.5’s VINCENNES (CL-64), BILOXI (CL-80) and MIAMI (CL-89) and DesDiv 103’s MILLER (DD-535), OWEN (DD-536) and LEWIS HANCOCK (DD-675).  At 0149, NOWAKI, dead in the water, is sunk by gunfire and torpedoes from the destroyers at 13N, 124-54E. NOWAKI goes down with all hands, including CHIKUMA’s survivors.

Ship list from Wikipedia:

Allied losses:

The United States lost six warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf:

Japanese losses:

The Japanese lost 26 warships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf:

Listed Japanese losses include only those ships sunk in the battle. After the nominal end of the battle, several damaged ships were faced with the option of either making their way to Singapore, which was close to Japan’s oil supplies but could not undertake comprehensive repairs, or making their way back to Japan where there were better repair facilities but scant oil. The cruiser Kumano and battleship Kongo were sunk retreating to Japan. Cruisers Takao and Myoko were stranded, unrepairable, in Singapore. Many of the other survivors of the battle were bombed and sunk at anchor in Japan, unable to move without fuel.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – in Naval Training –

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Farewell Salutes –

Chester Bochus – Licoln, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Ralph Gardener – Battle Creek, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO & CBI, 9th Air Force, Transport Command

Margaret Jaffe – Santa Cruz, CA; US Army Nursing Corps, WWII1e12f2d7f401d503e1678a3a20527afb-jpglord-kitcheners-farewell-salute

Harold Knowles – Bathhurst, NB, CAN; RC Signal Corps, Korea

Richard Lonien – Everett, WA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Brian P. Odiorne – Ware, MA; US Army, Iraq, 2/82/3/1st Cavalry Division, cannon crew

George Russell – Clifton Heights, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Company C/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Elwin Swigart – Molalla, OR; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Keith Wells – Lakewiew, TX; USMC, WWII, PTO, 5th Marine Div., Lt., Navy Cross, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Leonard Woods – Christchurch, NZ; RAF # 1330880, WWII, Warrant officer

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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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This WASP Couldn’t Wait to Fly

To honor our females veterans.

Writing of Kayleen Reusser-Home

marty-wyall-in-googles

Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall – WASP

One benefit of interviewing World War II veterans is the opportunity to develop friendships. My husband and I consider Marty Wyall a friend. Below is a shortened version of her story from my book, WWII Legacies: Stories of Northeast IN Veterans. You can hear Marty speak about her World War II experiences here. She’s still a spunky gal!

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Mary Anna (‘Marty’) Martin Wyall of Fort Wayne learned about the WASP program from a magazine ad while studying bacteriology at DePauw University in 1942. The idea of flying intrigued her. “There was a war on and I wanted to help my country,” she said.

Her family was not keen on the idea. “Mother thought it was morally wrong for me to join the WASP,” she said. “She came from the Victorian era. I told her she would have to accept it…

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Friendship After Bombing Davao

Here is a close-up personal look at what occurred during one of the countless missions I mention.

IHRA

Two 63rd Squadron B-24 Snoopers took off from Owi Island on the night of September 4, 1944 to bomb Matina Airdome at Davao, Mindinao. One of the B-24s soon turned back due to radar failure. Captain Roland T. Fisher, pilot of the other B-24, “MISS LIBERTY,” continued on alone. Fisher had flown night missions with the Royal Air Force in 1941 and would soon be needing every ounce of skill he had acquired over the last few years.

Twenty-one years after this mission, Fisher recounted his experience: “I could see again the bright moon in the clear night sky and the green shadow of Cape San Agustin below. I had entered Davao Gulf by crossing from the Pacific over the peninsula into the head of the gulf and made nearly a straight-on approach over Samal Isle to Matina air strip. I remember thinking perhaps this would allow me to enter…

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