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A subject we’ve all enjoyed in the past! Thank you, Pierre!

Preserving the Past

Featuring Clarence Simonsen

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Kiwis Over the Pacific

Flight Officer, Geoff Fisken

During early World War II operations in the Pacific, Geoff Fisken would become one of the most outstanding pilots of the RNZAF—the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

Fisken was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, in 1918, and during the 1930s he learned to fly a de Havilland Gypsy Moth biplane. In 1939, Fisken was working for a farmer in Masterton, and at the outbreak of war in Europe he volunteered for flying duty.  In October 1941, as the threat of war with Japan was increasing, No. 67 Squadron was moved to Mingaladon, Burma, but Fisken was posted instead to No. 243 Squadron RAF.

With the Japanese attacks across East Asia and the western Pacific on December 8, 1941, No. 243 Squadron was assigned to defend the Royal Navy’s Force Z––the battleship HMS Prince of Walesand battlecruiser HMS Repulse. Two days later the British warships were attacked and sunk by Japanese air units. Then, as the Japanese advanced down the Malay Peninsula, Singapore became the target of an increasing number of bombing raids.

RNZ on Guadalcanal

After continuous missions,  No. 243 Squadron had lost the majority of its pilots and virtually all its aircraft. As a result, it was merged with No. 453 Squadron of the RAAF, which continued to operate along with No. 488 Squadron RNZAF.  Fisken claimed another fighter destroyed on February 1. Five days later he was bounced by two Japanese fighters, shooting down one while narrowly escaping the other, though he was injured in the arm and leg by a cannon shell. On the eve of Singapore’s surrender, Commonwealth pilots were withdrawn to Batavia (now Jakarta), Java, and later to Australia. As a result of his performance in Singapore, Geoff Fisken received a commission and was promoted to the rank of pilot officer.

Fisken was just one of hundreds of New Zealanders––Kiwis––who loved nothing more than a good brawl but of whom little is known today outside their island nation.

“Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox

Many of you history buffs out there already have “Too Young To Die” by Bryan Cox or have seen a book review and already know The story of  Flight Sergeant Bryan Cox, who suffered a failure of both his radio and lights during the return flight but happened to stumble upon the landing strip at Green Island just as he was nearly out of fuel. It was not only a fortunate day for him, but also his 20th birthday. Below is another story of that day…

Bryan Cox (19), WWII

Continually fighting throughout the war, on January 15, 1945, during a strike on Toboi Wharf in Simpson Harbor at Rabaul, conducted by aircraft of Nos. 14 and 16 Squadrons flying from Green Island and No. 24 from Bougainville––a total of 36 Corsairs––one was knocked down by antiaircraft fire. The F4U was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Francis George Keefe of No. 14 Squadron, who managed to bail out, landing in the harbor.

An exceptional swimmer, Keefe struck out for the harbor entrance. For some time he made good progress. Then, in the middle of the afternoon, by which time he had been swimming for six hours, the tide and wind changed and he began to drift back up the harbor.

RNZAF on Green Island

A rescue force had been quickly organized while sections of Corsairs kept watch overhead to prevent Japanese attempts to capture Keefe. Two bamboo rafts were assembled and loaded aboard a Ventura at Green Island, intended to be dropped to the downed pilot.

As two Corsairs orbited above Rabaul awaiting the arrival of the Ventura, an American Catalina pilot circling just beyond the harbor entrance spotted Keefe and twice requested permission to land and pick him up. The request was denied both times by the officer in charge, Squadron Leader Paul Green, the commander of No. 16 Squadron, due to the threat posed by Japanese coastal and antiaircraft guns.

RNZAF doing maintenance after a Rabaul mission

When the Ventura arrived, it was accompanied by another 12 Corsairs, whose task was to strafe the Rabaul waterfront while the Ventura dropped the rafts. Everything went as planned, but Keefe failed or was unable to reach the rafts. The rescue was then aborted, and all aircraft were directed to return to base.

Approximately halfway back to Green Island, the Corsairs encountered a tropical storm front stretching across the horizon and down to sea level. Due to limited navigation aids, the aircraft were required to maintain a tight formation as the storm and darkness reduced visibility. The pilots could only see the navigation lights of the other aircraft in their flight.

Five of the Corsairs crashed into the sea, one crashed at Green Island as it was making its landing approach, and a seventh simply disappeared. The lost pilots included Flight Lieutenant B.S. Hay, Flight Officer A.N. Saward, Flight Sergeant I.J. Munro, and Flight Sergeant J.S. McArthur from No. 14 Squadron and Flight Lieutenant T.R.F. Johnson, Flight Officer G. Randell, and Flight Sergeant R.W. Albrecht from No. 16 Squadron.

RNZAF on Espiritu Santo

After the war, it was reported by Japanese troops captured at Rabaul that Keefe had managed to swim ashore. With a wounded arm, he was taken prisoner and died a few days later.

From September 3, 1939, to August 15, 1945, a total of 3,687 RNZAF personnel died in service, the majority with RAF Bomber Command flying in Britain and over Europe. The RNZAF had grown from a small prewar force to over 41,000 men and women (WAAFs) by 1945, including just over 10,000 serving with the RAF in Europe and Africa; 24 RNZAF squadrons saw service in the Pacific. On VJ Day, the RNZAF had more than 7,000 of its personnel stationed throughout the Solomons and Bismarcks.

The Kiwi airmen had not only fought proudly against their Japanese foes, but also carved out a place for themselves among their much larger Allies—Britain, Australia, and the United States—as they wrote their names into the history of the Pacific air war.

Click on images to enlarge.

Information from: ‘WWII Magazine’ and ‘Too Young To Die’ by Bryan Cox. Another excellent resource you might wish to look into “Kiwi Air Power” by Matthew Wright.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Earl Baugh – Searcy, AR; US Navy, WWII, SeaBees

Avadon Chaves – Modesto, CA; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/6/2nd Brig. Combat Team

Raymond Debenham – Kalapol, NZ; RNZ Navy # 14075

RNZAF Airtrainers perform farewell flight

David Fail – Manawatu, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 412665, WWII

Bruce McCandless – Boston, MA; US Navy, Cuba, pilot / NASA, astronaut

Peter O’Donnell – Auckland, NZ ; RNZ Air Force # M83478

Bryan Raos – Te Kauwhata, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 459204, Flight Lt.

Robert Scott – Linwood, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 414822, WWII

John Sweeney – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 452589, WWII

Jerry Yellin – Newark, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 78th Fighter Squadron, P-51 pilot

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Smitty’s Guard Duty – Letter XVI – conclusion

In the event that you missed the previous post, Cpl. Smith serving in the 11th Airborne during WWII, was attempting to visualize his first experience at standing guard duty in a combat zone to his mother in a letter.

At one point, the situation appears critical and the next – a comedy of errors.  Nevertheless, this half of the letter describes his four-hour rest period and the following two hours of standing guard.  Hope you stick around to see how he does.

*****          *****          *****

Guard Duty (con’t)

As soon as your relief man comes along, you strut back to your tent feeling as proud as all hell knowing that you are a conqueror of the night and a tried and true veteran of the guard.  You are supposed to get four hours of rest or sleep before going on for your second shift, but for some reason or another the time just flits away and just as you close your eyes in deep slumber — in walks the sergeant of the guard and out you go sleepily rubbing your eyes wondering how in the devil you are ever going to keep awake for the next two hours.

As you sit on the stump of a tree surveying what you have just four hours ago mentally overcame, you begin to think of home.  Now, thinking of home is alright in the daytime with a load of griping G.I.s around, but at night on a lonesome post, it is strictly out.  Not only do you think of things you shouldn’t, but soon you are feeling sad and more lonely than ever knowing that no one cares and that the whole world is against you.  Not only is this bad for you, it doesn’t even help to pass the time.

 You turn your thoughts elsewhere trying next to figure out what the cooks will try to feed you tomorrow.  Here again is a very poor time-passing thought as you know damn well they’ll feed you bully-beef in its most gruesome form.  Soon your eyes feel heavy again and seem like they’re going to close and you wonder if it would be okay to light up a cigarette. 

 Here again the book says what to do, but heck, as I said before, the guy who wrote it isn’t out here, so what does he know?  You daringly light one up, trying desperately to shield the light and take a big, deep drag.  I found that it isn’t the inhaling of the cigarette that keeps you awake, but the ever constant threat of being caught in the act.  You look at your watch and find to your dismay that you still have an hour and forty-five minutes left to go.

Damn but the time sure does drag along.  Wonder why it doesn’t speed up and pass on just as it does when you are off.  Oh!  Well, sit down again and hum a tune or two, maybe that will help.  Gosh, sure wish someone would come along to talk.  Ho-hum, lets see now.  What will I do tomorrow on my time off?  This last thought is sure to pass away in 15 to 20 minutes, but why it should, I don’t know.  You know damn well that no matter what you may plan for tomorrow’s off-time, it will only be discarded and you will spend that time in bed asleep. 

 Light up another cigarette, sweat it out, swear a little at the dragging time, hum another tune, think more about home, think of you and the army, swear good and plenty and after that thought — look at your watch.

Hey — what goes on here? — that damn relief is over a half-minute late — who does he think he is anyway?  Swear.  Brother how you are swearing and cursing now.  Oh!  Oh!  There’s a light coming your way — the relief.  “Oh boy, sleep ahead.”

“So long bud, the whole damn post is yours.  Take it easy, it ain’t too bad.  Goodnite.”  —  And so ends your first night of guard duty as you wearily drag yourself to your bunk too damn tired to even undress.

Hey Mom, hope you enjoyed this as much as some of the others here did.  Meant to send this off before now, but you know me.

Love,  Everett

 

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Military Humor – 

WWI soldiers had their brand of humor too for guard duty.

Soldiers and Officers from 16 Air Assault Brigade, build snow men during their break to stand guard.

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Bond – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, 187th RCT, Colonel (Ret.)

Cornelius Cunningham – Bronx, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt. 27th Division

Teddy Drapper Sr. – Chinle, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 5th Marine Div.

Stuart Haw Jr. – St. Louis, MO; US Army, 11th Airborne Div., Military Police

Charles Quarles – Hockessin, DE; US Navy, WWII, electronic tech’s mate

Edward Rowny (100) – Baltimore, MD; US Army, WWII, ETO/Korea & Vietnam, West Point grad., Lt.General (Ret.), Presidential adviser

Nola ‘Paddy’ Scott – Auckland, NZ; RNZ Navy # 621, WWII

Wilburn Timmons – Jonesboro, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Douglas Voyzey – AUS; RA Army # 2137680, Vietnam, KIA

George B Willis Sr. – Leupp, AZ; USMC, WWII, PTO, Navajo Code Talker, 2nd Marine Division

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1 January 1945

5th Air Force strafing Hayabusa Clark Field, 1945

Ringing in the new year 1945 with fireworks had a far different meaning in the Pacific and CBI Theaters than we’re used to.  It began with ______

In the Philippines – bombings of Clark Field on Luzon and Sasa on the island of Mindanao.  Wasile Bay enemy bivouac areas felt the bombardments from overhead B-24’s and B-25’s.  Manila saw the fighter-bombers as shipyards and other airfields and ammunition dumps were blown.  US Air Force planes sank the Japanese ship No. 7, Taiko Maru and No. 3, Taiwan Maru, off Masinloc, P.I.

Philippine Islands

Also in the Philippines – the USS Stingray delivered 35 tons of supplies to Filipino forces on the north coast of Tawi Tawi.   HMS Staesman sank four small Japanese vessels with gunfire northeast of Sumatra.

In the Netherland East Indies – the IJN Kyyokku Maru was sunk by a mine that was previously laif by HMN Tradewind off Mergui.

nose art from the 7th Air Force

From Saipan – The 7th Air Force had 19 B-24’s bomb Iwo Jima.  This was followed by additional bombers during the evening hours in waves.

In China – railroads, warehouses, industry and gun positions were bombed.  Suchow Airfield lost 25 aircraft.  Armed ground reconnaissance units hit between Xiaolan and Hsuchang.

Xiaolan, China indicated

India-Burma – had the tenth Air Force bombing furl dumps, villages, supply areas, tanks and enemy troops at several locations.  Four other targets of opportunity were found along the Irrawaddy River while large-scale transport operations proceeded as planned.

When we last spoke in the war posts, the 11th Airborne Division was on Leyte and still battling a well dug-in enemy in the uncharted mountains of the island.  Despite MacArthur declaring Leyte secure on Christmas Day 1944, even Gen. Robert Eichelberger said in relation to the “mopping-up” his men were left with, “The Japanese Army was still intact.  I was told there were only 6,000 Japanese left on the island…  Soon Japanese began streaming across the Ormoc Valley… well equipped and apparently well-fed.  Between Christmas Day and the end of the campaign we killed more than 27,000 Japanese…”

Col. Shofner

Col. Austin “Shifty” Shofner, USMC, [ the only man to lead a successful escape from a Japanese POW camp (1943)], was assigned to the Army’s 37th Division as an observer and boarded the USS Mount McKinley at New Guinea and sailing for Luzon.  Within a week, he would witness the onset of the Kamikaze Special Attack Force aiming their aircraft at the US Navy in Lingayen Gulf.  The future Brigadier General would assist in the planning of the rescue plans of the Cabanatuan POW camp where over 500 Allied survivors of the Bataan Death March were being held.

References used: “Pacific War” by John Davison; Pacific Wrecks; “The Pacific” by Hugh Ambrose; WW2 Timelines, World War 2 Photos and “Our Jungle Road To Tokyo” by Gen. Robert Eichelberger.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Matthew Chialasti – LA; US Navy, Airman, LT.,KIA (Philippines, C-2A crash)

Steven Combs – FL; US Navy, LT., Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, KIA, (P.I. C-2A Greyhound crash).

Bryan Grosso – FL; US Navy, Ordnance Airman Apprentice, KIA, (P.I. C-2A Greyhound crash)

Jim Louvier – WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Lt., Fighter pilot

Greg Miller – Long Beach, CA; Utah National Guard

Delbert Nash – Tewksbury, MA; USMC, WWII, PTO, pilot

Robert Plant – ME; USMC, Korea

Robert Sellers – Dayton, OH; US Army

James Woodward – Covington, GA; US Navy, WWII

“Red” Veazey – Plainview, TX; US Navy, WWII

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Drones are not a new idea – Intermission Story (28)

The Reaper Global Hawk RQ-4

Unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones, are most often associated with airstrikes in modern warfare, but their history goes much further back than that. While drones came into the spotlight during the early years of the 21st century the idea of a remotely-operated flying machine was developed much earlier. A forerunner of what we consider today to be an unmanned aerial vehicle was an Austrian balloon used during the siege of Venice in 1849.

During WWI many eccentric weapons were developed on all sides of the conflict. One was the pilotless aircraft that operated with the help of Archibald Low’s revolutionary radio controlled techniques.  The Ruston Proctor Aerial Target represented the cutting edge of drone technology in 1916. Low, nicknamed “the father of radio guidance systems,” was happy for the project to be developed further and used in kamikaze-style ramming strikes against Zeppelins.

The Kettering Bug

Another project led the way for further research of UAVs.  The Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane, also known as the “Flying Bomb,” or the “Aerial Torpedo,”  went from Britain to the USA in 1917, resulting in an upgraded American version named the Kettering Bug.  Although it was considered to be a large success, the war ended before it could be utilized.

Cruise missiles, which perform under similar principles as unmanned aerial vehicles, are single use weapons. Drones are carriers and users of armament, or other equipment, depending on their given role.

After WWI there was a lot of interest in producing and improving remote-controlled flying weapons. The US Army took the initiative in further exploring such concepts.

RAE Larynx on destroyer HMS Stronghold, July 1927

After the war, three Standard E-1 biplanes were converted into UAVs. While the Americans were laying the groundwork for drones, the British Royal Navy conducted tests of aerial torpedo designs such as the RAE Larynx. In 1927 and 1929 the Larynx was launched from warships under autopilot.

DH-82 Queen Bee

Pilotless aircraft were also made as aerial targets. Among the projects used for target practice was the “DH.82B Queen Bee”. It derived from the De Havilland Tiger Moth biplane trainer which was adapted to new radio technology.  She was the first returnable and reusable.

The name “Queen Bee” is considered to have introduced the term “drone” into general use. During the 1930s the term specifically referred to radio-controlled aerial targets. Once World War II broke out, it started to represent any remotely-controlled pilotless aerial vehicle.

Reginald Denny Hobby Shop

Reginald Denny went from England to the United States in 1919, intending to become an actor in Hollywood, but he also pursued another dream. Together with his partners, he opened Reginald Denny Industries and a shop that specialized in model planes, called the Reginald Denny Hobby Shops.

OQ-2A Radioplane

The business evolved into the Radioplane Company, and Denny offered his target drones to the military. He believed the drones would be very useful, especially for training anti-aircraft crews. Denny and his company produced 15,000 target drones for the US army just before and during WWII. His most famous model was called Radioplane OQ-2.

Curtis N2C-2 target drone 1938/39

Around the same time, during the late 1930s, the US Navy developed the Curtiss N2C-2. This unmanned aerial vehicle was remotely controlled from another aircraft, which made the design revolutionary. The US Army Air Force (USAAF) also adopted this concept and started improving it. The primary use of the technology was still as target practice for AA gunmen. However, as America was preparing for war, the UAV experiments were being redirected for combat use.

In 1940 the TDN-1 assault drone was capable of carrying a 1,000-pound bomb and was deemed fit for service. It was easy to produce and passed on tests. However, the drone was too hard to control, and as complications were expected once it entered combat conditions it never saw action.

During Operation Aphrodite in 1944, some modified B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator heavy bombers were used as enormous aerial torpedoes, but they also failed to see wider service. They proved to be ineffective. One of the reasons why the concept was abandoned was the death of Joseph Kennedy Jr, brother of the future president, who died alongside his crewmember during one of the raids as part of Operation Aphrodite.

Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy

TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]:: ATTEMPTED FIRST APHRODITE ATTACK TWELVE AUGUST WITH ROBOT TAKING OFF FROM FERSFIELD AT ONE EIGHT ZERO FIVE HOURS PD ROBOT EXPLODED IN THE AIR AT APPROXIMATELY TWO THOUSAND FEET EIGHT MILES SOUTHEAST OF HALESWORTH AT ONE EIGHT TWO ZERO HOURS PD WILFORD J. WILLY CMA SR GRADE LIEUTENANT AND JOSEPH P. KENNEDY SR GRADE LIEUTENANT CMA BOTH USNR CMA WERE KILLED PD COMMANDER SMITH CMA IN COMMAND OF THIS UNIT CMA IS MAKING FULL REPORT TO US NAVAL OPERATIONS PD A MORE DETAILED REPORT WILL BE FORWARDED TO YOU WHEN INTERROGATION IS COMPLETED :: TOP SECRET [DECLASSIFIED]

The development of pulsejet engines enabled the Germans to produce the fearsome V-1 Flying Bomb which at the time represented the pinnacle of guided missile systems. The Americans also introduced the pulsejet engine during the war, but once again only to produce target drones like the Katydid TD2D/KDD/KDH. The real boom in the UAV industry was yet to come, during the troublesome years of the Cold War.

Sources of information:Fly Historic Wings; Reuters; Nova; War History online; and Ctie.monash.edu.au “The Pioneers”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Juan Alvardo – Pawnee, TX; US Army, WWII

Harold Biebel – Belleville, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Frybarger

Arthur Fain – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Trinidad Gameroz – Lincoln, NM; US Navy, WWII, ETO

John McNulty – Vancouver, CAN; RC Air Force, helicopter pilot

Donald Percy – Adams, NY; US Navy, radioman

George Purves – W. AUS; RAF; WWII, / RA Air Force, Mid-East & Vietnam

Norman Silveira – Alvarado, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 2/187th/11th Airborne Divison

William Walker – Hawkes Bay, NZ; RNZ Navy # DJX569685, WWII, ETO

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LeClare Allerthorn Walker’s biography

75 years later – WE REMEMBER!

RCAF No. 403 Squadron

Biography and pictures courtesy of Richard Walker

 LeCLARE ALLERTHORN WALKER (1918)

LeClare Walker 1942

“Clare” Walker (1918)
(picture taken 1942)

LeClare Allerthorn Walker, known as Clare, was born in Norwich, Ontario, Canada on 22 June, 1918, the 2nd child of Spence Allerthorn and Mildred Loral (born Bushell) Walker.

When Clare was just two years of age, in 1920, he moved with his parents to Troy, New York, U.S.A. He attended No.18 Elementary School there from 1924 to 1932. During the last 2 years of this period he was very active in the Boy Scouts of America. In the summer of 1932 the family, now consisting of 6 children, returned to Norwich where Clare attended High School and graduated in 1938. During his High School years he was a member of the High School Cadet Corp in which he served as Commanding Officer for 3 of those years. He was also active in sports…

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National Airborne Day – 16 August

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“Airborne All the Way”

Author unknown

$_35

These men with silver wings

Troopers from the sky above

In whom devotion springs

What spirit so unites them?

In brotherhood they say

Their answer loud and clear.

“Airborne All the Way.”

 

 

 

These are the men of danger

As in open door they stand

With static line above them

And ripcord in their hand.

While earthbound they are falling

A silent prayer they say

“Lord be with us forever,

Airborne All the Way.”

One day they’ll make their final jump

Saint Mike will tap them out

The good Lord will be waiting

He knows what they’re about

And answering in unison

He’ll hear the troopers say

“We’re glad to be aboard, Sir,

Airborne All the Way!”

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For another outstanding poem in honor of the U.S. Army Airborne – Please visit, Lee at ……

https://mypoetrythatrhymes.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/happy-birthday-us-army-airborne/

Click on images to enlarge.

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Personal Note – icon_lol

Please check out the honor365 site– they have honored Smitty  !!!!

I was very proud that they requested dad’s information.

 

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Military Humor –

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Melvin Alsager – Mount Home, ID; US Air Force, 28th Recon Squadron

Harold Davis – Zanesville, OH; US Army, WWII, PTO, Silver Star, Bronze Star, KIA

John Freitag – Ashland, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, POWhalfstaffflag

Victor Greenblatt – Brooklyn, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, navigator

Christopher M. Harris – Jackson Springs, NC; US Army, Afghanistan, Spc, 2/504/1 BCT/82nd Airborne, KIA

Jonathan M. Hunter – Columbus, IN; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 2/504/1 BCT/82nd Airborne, KIA

Dr. Janet Kemp – Carthage, NY; Civilian, VA’s National Mental Health Program Dir.; VA Crisis Hotline, Ret. 30 years, Service To America Medal

James Miles – Dallas, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, Lt.Col. (Ret.)

Henry Soderholm – Malden, MA; US Air Force, Vietnam, MSgt. (Ret.)

Thomas Vogt – St. Louis, MO; US Army, WWII & Korea

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Intermission Story (11) – 54th Troop Carrier Wing and the 11th Airborne Division

The 54th Troop Carrier Wing was established on 26 February 1943 [one day after the 11th A/B Div. at Camp MacKall] and commenced air transport and medical air evacuation operations in support of Fifth Air Force on 26 May 1943. advancing as battle lines permitted.

The unit took part in the airborne invasion of Nadzab, New Guinea in September 1943 by dropping the 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment, as well as Australian engineers and heavy equipment.

The wing employed C-47’s almost exclusively, but during late 1943 and much of 1944 also used 13 converted B-17E’s for armed transport missions in enemy-held territory. The 54th supported every major advance made by the allies in the Southwest Pacific Theater operating from primitive airstrips carved from jungles and air-dropping cargo where airstrips unavailable.

In July 1944, the wing dropped 1,418 paratroopers on Noemfoor Island to aid the allied invasion forces. Then assumed the task of handling all freight and personnel moving in troop carrier aircraft in the Southwest Pacific, in addition to scheduled and unscheduled air movement of cargo and troops, and air evacuation of wounded personnel.

In preparation for airborne operations in the Philippines, the 54th TCW conducted joint training with the 11th Airborne Division.  August and September 1944 were held in Nadzab.  Due to the demands of transport resources in building up Allied strength in Netherlands, New Guinea, the wing rotated the squadrons in Doboduru where they received refresher training in paradrops and aerial supply.  The training proved to be of great value at Tagatay Ridge, Corregidor and in the Cagayan Valley, Luzon, when the 11th A/B need a lift for their paratroopers and gliders.

Early December 1944, the 5th Air Force HQ was attacked as well as the 44th Station Hospital.  The 187th HQ Company [Smitty was there], set up a perimeter.  They stood there through the night, rifles ready.  By morning there were 19 dead enemy soldiers.  Col. Pearson sent out patrols that located another 17 Japanese hiding out in the rice paddies..

Okinawa

By late 1944 and during the early months of 1945, most wing missions were flown to the Philippines.  In February 1945, the wing flew three more airborne operations, all in the Philippines, to help encircle Japanese concentrations.   For the 11th A/B Division’s jump on Aparri in north Luzon, the first plane off the ground was piloted by Col. John Lackey. Wing C-47s dropped napalm on Caraboa Island in Manila Bay in March 1945.

11th-airborne-paradrop-june-45-luzon-8x10 (800x640)

11th Airborne Division paradrop, June 1945

When hostilities ended on Luzon, the wing moved the entire 11th Airborne Division (11,300 personnel) from the Philippines to Okinawa on short notice.  It would take the 54th Troop Carrier Wing two days to transport the 11th Airborne using 351 C-46s, 151 C-47s and 99 B-24s; with their bombs removed and crammed with troopers. The planes had carted the men; 1,161,000 pounds of equipment and 120 special-purpose jeeps for communication and supply.

Glider training

The 54th then began transporting occupation forces into Japan, beginning with General Swing, the 187th Regiment (and Smitty).  On the first day, 123 aircraft brought 4,200 troopers to Atsugi Airfield.  During September 1945, the wing also evacuated over 17,000 former prisoners of war from Japan to the Philippines.

The wing served as part of the occupation forces in Japan from 25 September 1945 to about 26 January 1946, while continuing routine air transport operations and a scheduled courier service. Beginning in December 1945 and continuing into mid-1946, most of the wing’s components were reassigned to other units or inactivated, and on 15 January 1946 the wing became a component of the Far East (soon, Pacific) Air Service Command.

Towing a glider.

Moving to the Philippines, the wing gained new components and flew scheduled routes between Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and the Hawaiian Islands.  Replaced by the 403rd Troop Carrier Group on 31 May 1946 and was inactivated.

Further, more detailed information can be found in the publications by the IHRA.

This article incorporates material from the US Air Force Historical Research Agency, “The Angels: The History of the 11th Airborne Division” & “Rakassans”, both by Gen. E.M. Flanagan; Wikipedia and US Airborne Commando Operations.

  Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Bettridge – Denver, CO; US Army, WWII & Korea

Gerard Caporaso – Chatham, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, (author: “From the Top Turret: A Memoir of WW2 and the American Dream”)

Daniel Cooney – Plandome, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Prosper “Trapper” Couronne – Whitewood, CAN; RC Army, Korea, Warrant Officer (Ret. 24 yrs.), 1st PPCLI

Bruce Goff – Elmwood, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 4214914, WWII

Fred Hartman Sr. – Horsehead, NY; US Army, WWII & Korea

Myron Hollman – Wausau, WI; US Navy, WWII/ US Army, Korea/ US Air Force, Vietnam

Theodore Matula – Lantana, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-47 pilot

Lloyd Urbine – Ft. Wayne, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Winton – Bowie, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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The Fight for Mindoro

A clearly detailed description of following through on a mission!!

d8280cc1a69d6cf46fd49e02caa35208--mindoro-pt-boat

Night Action off Mindoro by Jack Fellows On the night of December 26, 1944, this radar-equipped B-24M night intruder, piloted by Lt. Samuel L. Flinner of the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group attacked and immobilized the Imperial Japanese Navy Yugumo-class destroyer, Kiyoshimo, off the Philippine island of Mindoro, where it was left behind and sunk by a PT boat.http://irandpcorp.com/products/night-action-off-mindoro/
Find this Pin and more on Ken’s Men Against the Empire Vol. II.
Night Action off Mindoro by Jack Fellows
Jack Fellows Figuratives, Landscapes, Sketches & more.

IHRA

Expanding a little more on last week’s post…

As 1944 was wrapping up in the Pacific Theater, units continued their march northward with the invasion and seizure of the island of Mindoro and continuing attacks on Clark Field, Luzon. Mindoro was considered a strategic asset for continued attacks and the eventual push towards reclaiming Luzon from the Japanese. The Japanese knew this, and even though they were driven off Mindoro on December 15th, they weren’t going to give up easily.

Two airfields were constructed on Mindoro within 13 days of the Allied takeover in preparation for the invasion of Luzon. Admiral Masatomi Kumura did not want to see these airfields become usable by the Americans and he assembled eight ships to sail from Vietnam on December 24th to Mindoro in hopes of disrupting the building efforts. It wasn’t until the 26th that their presence was detected some hours south of…

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Intermission Story (4) – A Japanese Ace

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

“In the ocean of the military, reflective of all distinguished pilots, an honored Buddhist person.”  So translates the name awarded to Japanese pilot Hiroyoshi Nishizawa following his death in 1944.  In life, however, he earned himself a very different title.

The Devil of Rabaul, they called him, and not without good reason.

Rabaul 1943

Rabaul 1943

Skilled pilots on both sides fought terrifying aerial battles, carried out daring raids against the enemy and engaged with combatants in the air, on the land and on the sea. Yet even amongst the many outstanding Japanese aces, there was no one quite like Nishizawa.

The outrageous aerobatics, performed in the early summer of 1942, could easily have cost him his life. Instead, the soldiers on the ground held their fire, and by the time Nishizawa returned to his own base, a letter had already arrived congratulating him on his maneuvers – and inviting him back for the “all-out welcome” he deserved.  The Devil of Rabaul chose to decline that particular invitation, of course.

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

Hiroyoshi Nishizawa

In fact, even amongst his own comrades he seemed like a figure out of legend. Nishizawa was known as a strange and solitary character, for he seemed ever more content with the status of an outsider as his celebrated status increased. Tall, thin and strikingly pale, Nishizawa was far from forthcoming, and even once his name became synonymous with acts of courage and valor, he kept to himself.

Even in death, elements of mystery still cling to the man who seemed to stray so close to myth. Nishizawa had already been present at some of the key battles fought in that geographical theatre of the war, and October 1944 found him escorting the first of Japan’s major kamikaze attacks against the Allies. He himself was only present to back up the five bombers, but as the attack unfolded, something extraordinary occurred.

The young pilot watched his comrades hurtling to certain death, their planes ripping into the US warships below. Led by Lieutenant Yukio Seki, the explosions caused by four of the five planes triggered chain reactions throughout the vessels. In the sky overhead, Nishizawa was also engaged in combat, successfully bringing down two F6F Hellcats and raising the total number of his confirmed kills to 88. It was a clear victory for the Japanese fighters, but even as he fought, Nishizawa had a striking vision.

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

Nishizawa in his Mitsubishi Zero A6M3, 1943

While the carnage unfolded before his eyes, he saw another event take place –his own death. Though accounts vary as to the exact nature of the fate he envisioned for himself, he returned from the mission without a shadow of a doubt in his mind. To the Devil of Rabaul, it seemed his end was close at hand.

Once again, he held true to his courageous nature. While another man might have tried to run from his fate, the Devil of Rabaul wasted no time in facing his destiny head on. The very next day, with his premonition still at the forefront of his mind, he himself requested a position on the next suicide squad kamikaze mission. If he had to die, Hiroyoshi Nishizawa was going to do it in style.

Of course, his request was refused.  By denying his wish, Nishizawa’s superiors sealed the fate of their finest pilot.

He was assigned to a different mission in the end, and the following morning set out as a passenger on a transport aircraft, setting off from Mabalacat. The weather was fine, with clear skies and low winds – the region had always been known for its gentler climate.

High in the clear October skies over Mindoro Island, two planes appeared in the distance. They were far behind, but rapidly closing the distance. The US fighters, a pair of F6F Hellcats, were now in hot pursuit, though even they had no idea just who they were bearing down upon.

As the three planes flew above the town of Calapan, American pilot Lt. Harold P. Newell sent the lumbering transport plane before him down in flames.

At the age of 24, just days after he predicted his own end, the Devil of Rabaul was dead.

In his short career, the Japanese Ace of Aces had earned the respect of his enemies and his comrades alike. He had become a nationally recognised symbol of bravery, patriotism and fearlessness in the face of death. Hiroyoshi Nishizawa walks to this day a unique line between a man and a myth, with a story rivalled by few others in its mysterious and evocative nature.

Like all the great figures of legend, the legacy of the man now known as Bukai-in Kohan Giko Kyoshi lives on, even after death. In the ocean of the military, Nishizawa is remembered as an honored Buddhist person, the Devil of Rabaul and the Ace of Aces.

By Malcolm Higgins (@Mhiggins95)

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – from the Kunihiko Hisa cartoon album – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Helen Dellinger – Lincoln County, NC; Civil Air Patrol, WWII

William Emnott – Oshkosh, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Edward Fanning – Englewood, FL; Merchant Marines, WWII

Jack Heyn – W.Des Moines, IA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 3rd Bombardment Group/5th Air Force, photographer

Francis Higgiins – Salem MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Jack Kronenberger – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Ora “O.P.” Miller – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Air Transport Unit, pilot

Irena Nowakowska – Warsaw, POL; Polish Underground Army (Armia Krajowa), WWII

Richard Powell – OH; US Navy, WWII, ETO

Leslie Scace – London, ENG; Royal Navy, WWII

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