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Nudge In Rear Came Too Soon, So Mitchell Gunner Bombed Wrong Target In China

b25-12a

B-25, “Ormoc Bay”, by: Jack Fellows from the IHRA

By Sgt. Marion Hargrove

SOMEWHERE IN CHINA–This story has been held back for a while because the fellow was mighty sensitive about it, and he happens to be a tech sergeant, 6 feet 2 and weighing 200 pounds. He’s cooled off a little, so now it can be told.

The tech sergeant is Karl May of Yakima, Wash., an aerial engineer and gunner in one of the local Mitchell B-25 bombers. The tale goes back to the time when he was still a buck private, working as an armorer in his squadron and bucking like hell for a job on a combat crew.

They finally let him go on a few missions to try him out. He got along fine until his third trip. That was the raid on the big Jap base at Hankow, former Chinese capital, on the Yangtze.

There were two minor defects that day in the bomber to  which May was assigned: there were no racks in the ship for fragmentation bombs and the interphones were temporarily out of commission.

Well, they were working the thing out all right without fragracks or interphones. They had Pvt. May squatting by the photo hole with a stack of frag bombs and the understanding that when the turret gunner nudged him in the behind he was to cut loose with all he had.

Fragmentation bomb

It happened that the bomber had a passenger that day–maybe an observer from Washington, maybe a newspaperman, maybe just a sightseer.

This worth person grew unaccustomedly chilly, saw that the draft came from the open photo hole and decided to ask the private beside it to close it. The private – yep, it was May – had his back turned, so the passenger sought to attract his attention with a gentle nudge in the rear.

Pvt. May reacted like the eager beaver he was. He held one frag bomb over the hole and let it drop. Then he turned another loose into thin air. He was preparing to drop every bomb in the ship – until he was rudely and violently stopped. To May’s dismay he learned: 1) that the ship was nowhere near Hankow, 2) that he had been given no signal and, 3) that he had just wasted a couple hundred dollars’ worth of U.S. high explosives.

B-25 dropping frag bombs

The mission proceeded to Hankow, where May dropped the rest of  his bombs through the photo hole, an armful at a time. But his heart was heavy at the thought of having goofed previously.

When the plane returned to its base, there was an intelligence report from the Chinese Army waiting for it.  According to this report, two bombs dropped on a Japanese barge on the Yangtze had scored direct hits, sinking the barge and drowning 160 Japanese soldiers.

T/Sgt. May never tells the story himself and he gets mad when he hears anyone else tell it.  Only those who’ve seen the records will believe it.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Wayne Bauer – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, WWII, ATO

Harry Carlsen – Chicago, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, 2nd Marine Division, KIA (Tarawa)

Images is courtesy of:
https://mywarjournals.com/

James Fleischer – Detroit, MI; US Army

John Guice – Greenville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Robert Hegel – IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 15th Air Force, navigator

Claude A. Rowe – Chuka Vista, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Tuskegee

Elizabeth Schwantes – Kaukauna, WI; US Coast Guard, WWII

Leslie Thickpenny – Pukekohe, NZ; NZ Air Force, WWII, flight engineer

Henry Wheeler (100) – Buffalo, NY; US Army, WWII, 12th Army, Intelligence, Bronze Star

Robert Zeigler Jr. – Ft Lauderdale, FL; US Army, Korea

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C.B.I. Theater – June 1945 (1)

Harassed and groggy after ever-increasing aerial blows, residents of Japan’s main cities once more sought shelter underground this week as Super-Forts rode high and unchallenged over the island kingdom. But, for once, the giant planes did not only unleash cargoes of flaming death. Huge paper bombardments also rained down on the cities, spraying millions of propaganda leaflets over wide areas.


Text of the leaflets was soon revealed by Radio Tokyo, which reported they were signed by President Truman and advised the Japanese people to get out of the war or face the same destruction that was accorded the German people. “Unconditional surrender,” the broadcast reported the pamphlets as reading “would not mean obliteration or slavery for the Japanese people.”
However, Uncle Sam’s airmen backed up the threats implied in the propaganda warfare with two “knockout” punches aimed at Nippon’s “glass jaw” – her concentrated industrial empire.

As Maj. Gen. Curtis S. Lemay, Commander of the 12th Bomber Command, assessed the results of last week’s destruction raids on Tokyo in an announcement that 51 square miles surrounding the Imperial Palace grounds in the heart of Japan’s capital city are “great masses of gray ashes and fire-blackened ruins of the few buildings left standing.” Super-Forts struck in force at Yokohama and Osaka.

Metrotogoshi Railway Station, Tokyo, after incendiary bombing.

The next day, more than 450 B-29’s returned from the heaviest daylight raid on Japan and reported giant fires were burning all over the industrial section of Tokyo’s port city of Yokohama. Later the enemy High Command conceded that “considerable damage” was inflicted and reported a high wind was spreading fires throughout the city’s automotive, aircraft, shipbuilding and rubber plants. Aerial photographs revealed that the raid, in which 3,200 tons of incendiary bombs were dropped, had burned out nearly seven square miles of Yokohama’s principal business and industrial center.

The Super-Forts were out again, this time striking at the manufacturing center of Osaka. More than 450 bombers, escorted by 150 Mustang fighters, dropped 3,200 tons of bombs. The attack was concentrated on harbor facilities, shipyards, warehouses and factories. Reports indicated that 86 square miles of Japan’s most highly industrialized city were destroyed or heavily damaged and Japanese broadcasts admitted that flames started throughout the manufacturing heart of the city were only gradually being brought under control.

Osaka 1945

The naval air force was out in strength, too. Striking on two successive days, planes attacked Southern Kyushu airfields from which the Japs have been launching suicide aerial attacks against the American fleet. Meanwhile, the Jap government announced that the entire naval air corps of Japan has been converted into a “suicide corps” for attacks against Allied warships.

*****          *****          *****

The British this week announced formation of new SEAC Army, the 12th, under the command of Lt. Gen. Montague Stopford, to be based in Rangoon.
In the meantime, the 14th Army continued its mopping up operations in Burma, with the enemy making desperate attempts to keep open his escape routes to the east.
At the “Kama” escape route, north of Prome and east of the Irrawaddy River, the British killed 1,221 Japs in a series of engagements.
In the Kalaw, area Empire troops have captured a “staircase,” which goes up to the mountains northwest of Kalaw. This was rugged terrain and presented difficulties comparable to any in the entire Burma campaign.
The Japs are resisting in Burma from Pegu in the south to Mawchi Road in the north. British reports say the enemy is just as fanatical as ever in his resistance. During the week, planes of Eastern Air Command hit troop concentrations in Moulmein and attacked the jetty area in Martaban.

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Military Humor – CBI Roundup Style – 

“BE CAREFUL, JOE! IT MIGHT BE A TRAP!”

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

William Blancheri – Los Angeles, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pharmacists Mate,  2/2nd Marines, KIA (Betio)

Harry ‘Bud’ Calsen – Brookfield, IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, TSgt., A/2nd Amphibian Unit, KIA (Betio)

Robert Holmes – Salt Lake City, UT; USMC, Pfc., KIA (USS Oklahoma)

Robert Kitchner –  Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, Korea

Richard Murphy – Washington DC; USMC, WWII, PTO, SSgt., 6th Marines, KIA (Saipan)

Henry Sakaida – Los Angeles, CA; Civilian, Pacific War Historian, eg: “Winged Samurai”, “The Siege of Rabaul”, “Pacific Air Command WWII”

Lester Schade – Holton, WI; USMC, WWII, PTO, Captain, 4th Marines, KIA,  (Enoura Maru, hellship)

Neil Simon – Bronx, NY; US Army Air Corps, (renown playwriter)

Arthur Weiss – St. Louis, MO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Lowell “Whip” Wilson – Lynchburg, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 306th Bomber Group, Silver Star

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Kamikaze Action Report – sample from May 1945

Treasures from the USS Evans

The USS Evans and Hadley departed from the Hagushi anchorage at Yomitan, Okinawa on the afternoon of 10 May 1945, under orders of CTG 51.5, and arrived on Radar Picket Station #15 about 1500.  Other ships in support on that station were LSM 193, LCS 82, LCS 83 and LCS 84.  The latter four ships were disposed in a diamond formation 1000 yards on a side, their course reversed about every half hour by signal, speed maintained at 10 knots.  Hadley and Evans were in column in that order, speed 15 knots, distance 1500 yards, circling the support formation at a distance of about one mile.  Hadley was Fighter Director Ship and controlled a small Combat Air Patrol. Evans was Fire Support Ship.  At 1934 hours that evening a Japanese “Kate” was shot down by this ship.

From 0151 until 0340, 11 May 1945, remained at General Quarters as there were enemy aircraft in immediate vicinity, probably on reconnaissance missions. Early in the morning of the 11th, a general warning was received from Commander Fifth Fleet to expect heavy air raids during the day.

Enemy aircraft were again in the area from 0640 to 0654, after which we were in the clear until commencement of the action which this report covers.

At 0835 with Evans closing Hadley from 3500 yards on his starboard quarter, Evans and Hadley both opened fire with 5″ on an enemy aircraft (type undetermined) closing on Hadley’s starboard beam.  Hits were observed and the plane was splashed dead ahead of Evans.

At 0839 a “Zeke” approached from high on starboard quarter in steep dive, taken under fire by Evans’ 5″ battery at 7000 yards, by 40MM at 3500 yards, and shot down in flames at 2500 yards.  At 0841 a “Zeke” approached from high on starboard quarter in steep suicide dive and was shot down by 40MM and 20MM fire, hitting the water 800 yards on starboard beam.

At 0845 a “Tony” approached on Evans port bow in a shallow dive at high speed and was taken under fire by main battery at 5000 yards.  Hits were observed and plane splashed close aboard Hadley on her port quarter.

aircraft identifier

Less than two minutes later a “Tony” approached from high and deep on port quarter in a very steep dive, was taken under fire by 40MM and 20MM and set on fire.  It dropped a bomb close aboard on starboard bow, and was shot down by 5″ battery at 1500 yards off the starboard bow going away.  At 0849 an “Oscar” approached from port quarter in shallow dive at high speed.  Taken under fire by 5″ battery at 6000 yards and 40MM battery at 4000 yards, it crashed in flames 1000 yards off port quarter of Evans.  Less than a minute later, without ceasing fire, and with 5″ guns in automatic, the director was slowed forward from port quarter to port beam and approaching “Jill” was taken under fire at 10,000 yards. This “Jill” was shot down at 7,000 yards.

“Zeke”

At 0851 a “Kate” was observed closing Evans rapidly on a bearing of 330° relative, and taken under fire at 5000 yards by main battery. The enemy plane, although hit and burning severely, continued to close until at about 200 yards nearly broad on port bow it launched a torpedo. Hard left rudder was applied, with the ship making about 10 knots, and fortunately the torpedo crossed just ahead of bow less than 25 yards. The “Kate”, already on fire, was shot down going away 2000 yards off starboard bow by 5″ fire.

At 0854 a “Tony” approaching from Evans port bow was taken under fire by Hadley and Evans’ main batteries at 7000 yards, with hits observed from both ships.  Plane was shot down an equal distance from Hadley and Evans at 3500 yards (an assist with Hadley).

0856 observed “Val” coming in from high and deep on port quarter. It was taken under fire by main battery at 6000 yards, by machine guns at 4000 yards. Numerous hits were scored and the enemy plane set on fire. Although he attempted to suicide, it appeared the plane was out of control as it crossed over ship and crashed in water 2000 yards off starboard bow.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Henry Arnold – Huntsville, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS New Orleans / US Army, Lt.Col. (Ret.)

Robert ‘Don’ Bass – Tampa, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, radioman 3rd Class

John DeLang Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII

Robert Foster – Denmark, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO

Leonard Gamble – Waikato, NZ; RNZCI # 652525, WWII

Wasil Glushko – Simpson, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 navigator

Frank Johnston – Lowell, MA; US Army Air Corps, 187th/11th Airborne Division

Stanley McChristian Sr. (100) – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-24 co-pilot, 454th/15th Air Force

Shirley Richardson – Moose Jaw, CAN; RC Air Force Women’s Corps, WWII

Glen Snoddy – Shelbyville, TN; US Army, WWII, (Fuzz Tone engineer)

 

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Remember the 15

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B-25 raid on Formosa by the 498th’s ‘Jaunty Jo’ # 192 over Byoritsu Oil Refinery; it crashed seconds later. (Maurice J. Eppstein, John C. Hanna Collections) courtesy of IHRA

So much happened at once in the Pacific all at the same time, we get help here from the International Historical Research Associates!!

IHRA

May 18, 1945 was an all too eventful day for the 65th Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group. Seven of its B-24s were sent to make up a third of a 21-plane raid with the 403rd and 64th Squadrons on Tainan Airdrome, located on Formosa (now Taiwan). Antiaircraft fire was heavy and accurate, and coming from both Tainan and the nearby Okayama Airdrome. Aircrews noticed two strange types of antiaircraft bursts. One looked like a gasoline fire bursting in midair, the other appeared to be a stream of fire trailed by smoke.

As the crews made their runs, 1/Lt. James J. Franklin’s B-24 took a direct hit and exploded. All ten members of the crew as well as an observer were killed. To the right of Franklin was 1/Lt. Rudolph J. Cherkauer in B-24 #373, which felt the brunt of the explosion and ended up leaving Tainan with two hundred new…

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Crazy for PBY Catalina Flying Boats

CBI Theater – April 1945

400,000 PAY TRIBUTE TO DEPARTED LEADER IN SIMPLE LAST RITES

Roundup Staff Articles from 19 and 26 April 1945 issues


The body of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 31st President of the United States, was lowered to its final resting place in the soil of his Hyde Park, N.Y., home this week as 140,000,000 Americans from Washington to New Delhi paid tribute to their leader.
The last rites at the White House and at Hyde Park were of extreme simplicity to follow through to the end the Lincoln-esque democracy that has characterized the 12 year and 80 day duty of President Roosevelt as head of the Republic of the United States.
A special train brought the body from Warm Springs, Ga., where he died of cerebral hemorrhage last week, to Washington, D.C., thence on to his native State of New York.
As the President’s casket was carried into the White House the Marine Band played Lead, Kindly Light.

General Stratemeyer

HUMOROUS TIMES IN WAR!

Cpl. Joan Reidinger was a “little scared,” she admits, when Maj. Gen. George E. Stratemeyer, Eastern Air Command commanding general, invited her to tea recently.
It seems that Joan had written a poem entitled The Army Goes to Tea for Yank, and although the verses went on to “rib” the brass for their take-off on the British customs in India, Stratemeyer liked the poem; hence the invitation. Here is The Army Goes to Tea:

I should like to see the captain,” said the colonel to the WAC,
“I’m sorry, sir, he isn’t here, but he will soon be back.”
“But come, we’re going on a flight; the plane, it leaves at three.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the WAC replied, “the captain’s out to tea.”
The telephone it jingled, and the WAC with voice of cheer
Said, “Colonel Doodle’s office, but the colonel isn’t here.”
“This is General Snipe,” the answer came, “so tell me, where is he?”
“I’m sorry, sir,” the WAC replied, “the colonel’s gone to tea.”
“I’ve got to get an order through,” the irate major said.
“If we don’t get some rations soon, my men will be all dead!
Please take me to Lt. Snoot, I know my point he’ll see.”
“I’m sorry, sir, Lt. Snoot has just stepped out to tea.”
And so it goes across the world, wherever tea they serve,
This strange civilian custom that the officers observe.
But if you’re just a poor G.I., you’re frowned upon, you see,
If you should try, at four o’clock, to stop your work for tea!

 

Handling snakes, Army style

AIR SERVICE COMMAND BASE, INDIA – The guide books say, “If a snake crawls onto your body, freeze in your tracks! The snake will not harm you and will soon go away.”
Cpl. Pleasant C. Templeton, photo lab wallah of an Air Service Group, had the unpleasant opportunity to test this theory while on guard duty one recent night.
Stooping over to avert the icy wind and blinding rain of the winter monsoon, Templeton felt a “sizeable” snake creep up into his lap. Remembering the advice, he remained perfectly still while the reptile playfully investigated such curiosities as his luminous-dial wrist watch and shiny overcoat buttons.
Friend snake apparently had read the same guide book and behaved accordingly. Fifteen minutes later, he wriggled off into the grass. Templeton still can’t comb his hair down. – Cpl. RAY LOWERY.

 

Partial view of the P-61 Pierre Lagace made for me.

10TH AIR FORCE USING P-61 PLANE IN THEATER 

HQ., 10TH AIR FORCE, BURMA – Presence of the P-61 Black Widow in the India-Burma Theater has been officially announced by the 10th Air Force.
During the past months, this deadly night fighter, operating under a blanket of security restrictions, has practically wiped out all nocturnal Jap raiders from Burma skies. Today, for lack of its particular type of target, the Black Widow has been transformed into a fighter-bomber, blasting retreating enemy forces with 500-pound bombs.
With its twin engines and twin tails, the Black Widow resembles the P-38 Lightning although much heavier and carrying a three-man crew – pilot, observer and crew chief. Its climbing power, tremendous speed and special radio detection equipment enables the P-61 to achieve great tactical surprise on enemy aircraft.
The 10th Air Force’s Black Widow squadron is commanded by Lt. Col. James S. Michael, veteran of North Africa and Italy campaigns. His operations officer is Maj. Thomas N. Wilson.
Capt. Walter A. Storck, who, at 38, is probably one of the oldest active fighter pilots in the service, is flight leader of the Black Widows. In the past 16 years, Storck has accumulated more than 6,000 hours in the air, flying everything from an L-5 liaison plane to the newest jet-propelled aircraft.

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Military Humor – CBI style – 

“AND JUST WHERE IS THAT GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL I WAS SUPPOSE TO GET?”

“THIS IS THE OUTFIT I BOUGHT TO GO ON A DATE WITH AN ENLISTED MAN.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leonard Applebaum – Bronx, NY; Merchant Marines / US Army

Robert G. Buchert (100) – Cincinnatti, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Sgt. Major, 152nd AAA/11th Airborne Division

Frank C. Carlucci III – Scranton, PA; Defense Secretary to Pres. Ronald Reagan

William Clark – Canberra, AUS; RA Air Force, 692 Squadron

William Flowers – Topeka, KS; US Navy, WWII

Walter Kane – Ware, MA; US Army, WWII

Fred Love – Delray Beach, FL; US Army, Medical Corps

John McIntyre – NZ; New Zealand Army # 477617, Vietnam

Carolyn Losee Spears – Westfield, NJ; US Navy WAVES, WWII, Chief Petty Officer

Harold Wilkerson – Clinton, IA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 1277 Engineers, Bronze Star

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Navy Diary for end of March 1945

USS Montpelier

From “Pacific War Diary” by James J. Fahey of the USS Montpelier

Friday, March 16, 1945 – We left Subic Bay, traveled to Mindoro and anchored.  We may be ordered to troops on the southeast side of Mindanao.  We had plane recognition every day as usual.  We have movies of our planes and the enemy’s so we can tell the difference.  Tonight many B-24 bombers returned after a raid on China.  One of the planes came in on 3 motors.

The Press News reported that the Japanese lost approximately 4000 airplanes in the Philippine campaign.  British Lancaster bomber loads were increased to carry 11-ton bombs for the first time yesterday.  They are capable of destroying 5 city blocks each, being the largest bombs in the world.

James J. Fahey

Tuesday, March 20, 1945 – B-29s dropped leaflets on Japan telling the inhabitants that the bombing would cease when they stopped fighting.  They also warned people to stay away from military areas,  Bomber from Iwo Jima will bomb Japan soon.

I left the ship today for recreation on the beach at Mindoro.  We received a ride from an Army truck and went to the town about 10 miles away.  HQ for the 5th Air Force was also accommodated on the island.  I saw a couple of Red Cross girls there.  Some of the men bought corn whiskey from the soldiers.  They paid $17 for one pint.  That must be some kind of record.

Sunday, March 25, 1945 – Today is palm Sunday, our third in the Pacific.  The Australian cruiser Hobart was here, but left yesterday with the Phoenix and Boise.  The Cleveland, Denver and Montpelier are the only cruisers here now.  The men would like to join Bull Halsey’s Third Fleet, but they are only letting the newer ships go with the 3rd.

The other night we were ordered to battle stations.  Around midnight, Jap bombers struck at Manila.  They did not attack the ships in the bay.

USS Franklin, in the Task Force, 60 miles off the coast of Japan. This is what Seaman Fahey was missing. One Japanese “Betty” bomber dropped 2 bombs. All planes on deck were lost as were 832 crew members.

The Press News reported that 274 tons of bombs have been falling on Germany every hour for the past 3 weeks.  This is more than England received during the entire war.  The Japs lost 10,000 aircraft in the past 7 months.

Sunday, April 1, 1945 – A British task force is now operating with the American Fleet off Japan.  Today at noon approximately 100 LCIs arrived.  Some action must be in store.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ted Brewer – Omaha, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, CM Sgt. (Ret. 26 y.)

Willie Cardin – Hartford, CT; US Army, 11th & 82nd Airborne Divisions

Robert Gilmour – Manitoba, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Wendell Hawley – Burlington, VT; US Army, WWII

Alan Konzelman – Patterson, NJ; US Navy, engineer, 6th Fleet

William Lynch – Washington DC; US Navy, WWII, Radioman 3rd Class

Mark Pitalo – Biloxi, MS; USMC, WWII & Korea

Harry Sergerdell – Broad Channel, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Thomas Turner – Gaffney, SC; US Navy, WWII, submarine service

Willis Williams – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Commander (Ret.)

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CBI Theater – March 1945 – part two

FILL ‘ER UP !!
C-109 at Kurmitola, India

USE RUSSIAN VODKA FOR LIGHTER FLUID

HQ., CHINA WING, ATC – An officer, just arrived at one of the India-China Division’s China bases, was relaxing in bed at the close of his first day of duty.
It was then that he received lesson number one on how to get along in China. As he watched, his roommate removed the cork from a large bottle of colorless liquid and carefully filled his lighter. A few minutes later, after he had finished shaving, he rubbed his face briskly with lotion – out of the same bottle. Then he took down a pair of trousers and removed two spots – still using the same magic fluid.
Once dressed, the officer opened a can of fruit juice and poured it into two glasses, adding generous slugs out of the bottle. The newcomer looked at his drink doubtfully, but his roommate reassured him.
“It’s okay,” he said, “pretty fair vodka made by a Russian in town. Up here in China, everything does double duty.”

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MGen. Howard Davidson

HQ., 10TH AIR FORCE, BURMA – A Tactical Air Communications Squadron of Maj. Gen. Howard C. Davidson’s 10th Air Force has a simple way of letting Squadron Headquarters know when they have entered a town in Burma. They simply ship back a dog.
This Air Corps outfit, the only one of its kind in the Theater, accompanies virtually all of the Allied Ground Forces to direct 10th Air Force planes in bombing and strafing in joint co-operation with ground attacks. Since these teams accompany the forward infantry elements, they are usually among the first to enter captured towns and villages.
Their custom is to grab the first available dog after entering a town where heavy fighting has been encountered, name the dog after the place, then send it back as a mascot. Since they have been in about every major operation in North Burma, the number of dog-mascots has grown to be a major feeding problem.
The prima donna of all the dogs is one called “Commedation,” so named after the boys were given a unit commendation by the Commanding General of the 19th Air Force.

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INGENUITY

3 new crew chiefs of the XX Bomber Command display Bronze Star Medals awarded for efficiency in maintaining B-29’s operating in the CBI. M/Sgt. Kenneth Day, Waban, Mass.; M/Sgt. William Kolynych, Clifton Heights, Pa.; and M/Sgt. Bruce Mahler, Seattle, Wash.

BENGAL AIR DEPOT – “You might think my boys were all jewelers or precision instrument men before the war. Actaully, most of them are Army trained.”
The source of this quotation was T/Sgt. Jim Glynn, section chief of the Ordnance instrument repair shop at Bengal Air Depot. Glynn, who formerly worked for an electrical power house equipment firm, is convinced that Army training is capable of producing craftsmen as skilled as any in civilian life.
When he received greetings from the President, T/4 Murray Waldron was in Boston. Besides working for a BS degree in physics, Waldron was getting some time experience with the Polaroid Optical Co. Special jobs that have come his way include making color filters for movie cameras used by combat photographers and the replacing of the original plastic washers on binoculars by ribber ones. The latter job provides an air-tight seal protecting delicate parts from dust and moisture.
Lake Placid, N.Y. is the hometown of T/3 Frederick Smith, a college student before he became a G.I. Smith lends his talents to telescopes. A contribution he has collaborated on was the finding of a suitable method of cleaning fungus from prisms. Nitric acid provided the ultimate solution. A wooden clamp to hold small parts in the hand while working, modeled after the diamond setter’s ring holder, has proved to be another time saver.
Pfc. J. W. Miller hasn’t wandered far from his former job of lens grinder since slipping into the khaki. India, as far as the job goes, isn’t much different from Austin, Tex. Pressure for production has necessitated using medical soap jars for acid containers, medical atomizers for dispensing alcohol in cleaning lenses, and the manufacture of a cleaning machine that does 5 watches at once.

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Military Humor – CBI “Strickly G.I.”  by Ehert

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eugene Chernoy- Santa Monica, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO (Borneo), 6th Army AF Combat Camera Unit (13th AF), TSgt., Purple Heart

Richard Eckert – Chicago, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division, bugler

Angel Flight

Frank Fariello – Bronx, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 41st Fighter Sq., Lt.Col. (Ret. 20 y.), pilot (187 combat missions)

Robert Hair – Wainuiomata, NZ; RNZ Navy # 692000, Warrant Officer (Ret. 21 y.)

Henry LY – Brn: Canton, CHI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, corpsman

Jack McCaffrey – Lavender Bay, AUS; # NX320255, Borneo

John Parry – Atlanta, GA; US Army, WWII, CBI, TSgt.

Albert Schlitz – Paris, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Louis Tanner – Houston, TX; USMC, Pfc., 3/5/1st Marine Division, KIA (Palau)

Marlyn Wilcox – Gibbon, NE; US Navy, WWII, CBI

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View « WWII Aircraft Nose Art » on YouTube

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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