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Lt. William J. Lang (1919-1944)

A more personal look at the Arisan Maru‘Hell ship’.

Texas History Notebook

Bill Lang was an aviator in WWII.  Bill was the son of prominent Dallas architect William J. Lang, Sr. and the grandson of Otto H. Lang, both of whom were well known in the area.  The Lang name had long been associated with the architectural firm Lang and Witchell, a company that designed many of the buildings that still stand in Dallas.

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Intermission (4) – 74th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March

6,600 march in New Mexico to honor the Bataan fighters.

6,600 march in New Mexico to honor the Bataan fighters.

As we discuss and chronicle this war, we must not forget that the POWs of Bataan were at this point, still in captivity in various prisons of the Pacific and trying to survive.

Ralph Rodriguez says he’s not a hero. He doesn’t even want to talk about his wartime experiences of battling the Japanese and surviving the Bataan Death March.

“But I do it because I need to help people remember,” said Rodriquez, 98, following Saturday’s ceremony honoring Bataan Death March survivors who are still living, as well as those who have died since April 1942, when U.S. military commanders stationed on the Bataan peninsula in the Philippines surrendered to the Japanese.

“It’s not fun to really suffer or be tortured,” the Albuquerque man said.

Rodriquez was one of about 100 people, mostly military personnel, who attended the event near the Bataan Memorial Building on Galisteo Street to mark the 74th anniversary of a journey “too painful to remember, too tragic to not.”

While 74 may seen an odd anniversary to mark — unlike next year’s milestone 75th — time is thinning the ranks of the Bataan survivors. Each year, their numbers dwindle a little more — nine have died since last April’s ceremony. Nine others died the year before that. Every anniversary of the march is significant.

Bataan surrenders

Bataan surrenders

Just three showed up for Saturday’s event — Rodriguez, William Overmier, 97, and Atilano “Al” David, 95.

From December 1941 to April 1942, some 1,800 New Mexico soldiers fought alongside Filipinos to repel Japanese invaders on the Bataan peninsula. On April 9, Bataan’s military commanders surrendered.

The American and Filipino defenders were either killed, captured or forced to march 65 miles through the jungle. Japanese soldiers used their bayonets and bullets along the way to kill the weak, wounded and defiant ones.

Those who survived the march ended up in prisoner-of-war camps where violence, malnutrition and disease took their toll. By the war’s end, just 900 New Mexico soldiers were alive to return home.

David, a native Filipino who moved to the United States in the mid-1950s, was one of the luckier ones.

Weak from a combat wound and suffering from malaria, he knew he faced a risk of being bayoneted or beheaded. And had he made it to a concentration camp, he said, he would not have lasted long. But two of his military buddies who had been carrying him made a decision that saved his life: When Japanese guards were not looking, they pushed David through some deep jungle brush, and the marchers passed him by.

With the aid of local Filipinos, he had recovered within a month and was battling alongside Filipino guerrilla fighters in the jungles, ambushing Japanese supply convoys.

On the day the American military surrendered to the Japanese, he said, “We were crying. I was crying.” Despite being ill-equipped and surviving on one bowl of rice a week, however, many Americans and Filipinos wanted to fight on, he said.

The Bataan battle, he said, was a combination of horror, chaos and death. He recounted with a tone of sorrow how he and some other soldiers had mistakenly shot down an American B-17 bomber, killing its crew, in the thick of battle.

“What can you say about something like that? Sadness,” he said.

Before the Americans surrendered, David felt like the defenders didn’t have a chance. “If we had had reinforcements, the proper equipment and air cover, we could have blown them all away,” he said. “We had no air cover, ineffective weapons and untrained soldiers. The Navy abandoned us. We were doomed from the start.

“We were waiting for Superman and Captain Marvel to win the war for us.”

Still, David avoided the grisly fate that many of his comrades met during or after the march.

Ralph Rodriguez, Jr., POW

Ralph Rodriguez, Jr., POW

For years, he resented the Japanese, who, he said, treated the Filipino prisoners much worse than their American counterparts. One day in the mid-1950s, he found himself shaking with rage when he saw a Japanese man on the subway in New York City.

“Something came over me. I wanted to do something violent to him. Strangle him. But I overcame it.”

Now, he said, he bears no ill will toward the Japanese: “We cannot generalize a nation.”

Bataan Memorial

Bataan Memorial in the Philippines

David just completed a memoir of his wartime experiences called End of the Trail. He hopes it can be published before the 75th anniversary of the march next year.

At 95, his mind is still sharp, though he relies on a wheelchair to get around. But there are still things he won’t talk about regarding Bataan and the war.

“War is an insult to humanity,” he said.

And, like Rodriguez, he says it’s not the soldiers who are the heroes. It’s their families, the ones who wait at home for them to return.

Or suffer when they don’t come back at all.

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©2016 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.)

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POW Sketches by: Ben Steele

Drinking from the mud hole. by: Ben Steele, POW

Drinking from the mud hole.
by: Ben Steele, POW

The shooting of a straggler. By Ben Steele, POW

The shooting of a straggler.
By Ben Steele, POW

Break time for the prisoners. by: Ben Steele, POW

Break time for the prisoners.
by: Ben Steele, POW

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Emanuel ‘Bob’ Amann – St. Louis, MO; USMC, WWII/ Korea, POW (Ret. 20 years)

Jesse Baltazar – Falls Church, VA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bataan POW/US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Maj. (Ret.)

Benjamin “Bill” Bint – Saskatoon, CAN; RC Navy, WWII, ETO, POW, HMCS Athabaskan

Howard Brooks – Greeneville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO (Java), POW (CBI), USS HoustonLonely_candle

John Edwards – Oakham, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW/Korea & Vietnam, Purple Heart, Col. (Ret.)

Murray Leonard Goldschlager – Bronx, NY, US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Alan Jones – Pahiatua, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 391706, POW, Sgt.

Jose Salas – Santa Rita, NM; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW

Glenna Stoner – Rochester, NY; US Navy WAVE, USS Hope, nurse

La Verne Woods – Hazen, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW

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From those that were there… (5)

American helmet, grenade rifle & flag taken by a Japanese photographer, April 1942

American helmet, grenade rifle & flag taken by a Japanese photographer, April 1942

 

William Burton Clark – US Army, Staff Sergeant/ New Mexico National Guard/200th Coast Artillery

William Burton Clark

William Burton Clark

Mr. Clark was at Clark Airfield when the Japanese attacked 8 December 1941 manning his 3-inch antiaircraft gun and spent 33 months as a POW.  In his Veterans History Project audio, he gave a 92 minute interview.  He spoke of the attack of Pearl, as seen from the Philippines, appeared to be a conspiracy.  In his talk of the trek to San Fernando, “I went down on that march and 2 angels picked me up.  At the camp, a grave detail of 250 men worked every morning.”

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Ralph Levenburg – from Clinton, Iowa – US Army Air Corps/17th Pursuit Squadron –

Ralph Levenberg

Ralph Levenberg

“When the surrender came on April 9, everyone accepted that as a relief – until it soaked in what surrender really meant.” [As to the Japanese guards enduring the severe discipline of their superiors for a minor infraction.]  “The officer removed a small sword sheath from his belt and began beating this guard in the face murmuring comments to him the whole time.  The [enemy] guard never wavered until he dropped completely unconscious.  His face was just absolutely like he’d been run over by a tractor.”

Alf Larson – from Minnesota – US Armycapturenews

“Guys around me dropped, but if you tried to help them, you’d get beat up or killed.  After a while you just went blank and you became a machine, a walking machine.”

 

Kermit Lay – from Altus, Oklahoma – H Company/31st Infantry, Lieutenant

Lt. Kermit Lay

Lt. Kermit Lay

He remembered the hopelessness of trying to get a group of POWs to drag a semi-conscious officer along the road.  “It made them a target of the enemy soldiers assigned to shoot stragglers.  When the guard got to us, he rammed his bayonet right through Captain Miller.  Naturally we dropped him and ran up and got into the middle of the column.”

Albert Brown –  from Nebraska – US Army

Albert Brown

Albert Brown

During his 3 years as a POW, Albert Brown suffered a broken back and neck, a bayonet wound and a dozen tropical diseases.  But Brown survived and documented it all, using a nub of a pencil to scrawl details into a tiny tablet he concealed in the lining of his canvas bag.  When he was freed, a doctor told the 40-year-old artillery officer to enjoy life while he could, because he would not live to be 50.  When Mr. Brown passed away in 2011 – he was 105 years old!  “Doc’s story has as much relevance for today’s wounded warriors as it did for veterans of his own era,” said Kevin Moore, co-author of the book, “Forsaken Heroes of the Pacific War: One Man’s True Story.”

Albert Brown w/ a ROTC group in 2005

Albert Brown w/ a ROTC group in 2005

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updated Military Humor – Budget cuts

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Farewell Salutes – 

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Henry Alcones – Santa Rosa, CA; Filipino Guerrillas & US Army, WWII, PTO, Bataan Death March Survivor

Geoffrey Campbell – Rotorua, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 44136

Ernest Garceau – Newport, NH; US Army, WWIIimg_96953714425802

Gordon Harris – Peachland, BC, CAN; RAF & 8th Gurkha Rifles, WWII, CBI

Carl Monteleone – WPalm Bch, FL; US Navy, WWII

Robert Oakley – Dallas, TX; US Navy Intelligence, State Dept., Ambassador

Bert Rownd – Little Rock, AR; US Coast Guard & Navy, WWII

Ronnie Shaffer – Marshalltown, IA; USMC, Vietnam

John Wargo – Springfield, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Donald Washburn – Trumbull, CT; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Cabot

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From those that were there… (4)

Just prior to starting the Bataan Death March

Just prior to starting the Bataan Death March

Lester Tenney was out of Chicago, Illinois and into the US Army 192nd Tank Battalion when the Bataan Death March made it’s infamous mark in history.  It has been 69 years since since his released ______

Lester Tenney

Lester Tenney

“The march became known as the Bataan Death March, not just because of how many died, but because of they way they died.  If you stopped, you were killed.  If you had a malaria attack and had to stop for help, you were killed.  If you had dysentery and had to stop to relieve yourself, you were killed. Without food or water and with constant beatings, the march became unbearable.  Seeking a drink  of water from a caribou wallow resulted in dysentery and drinking water from a free-flowing artesian well resulted in being killed.

“And how did they kill you?  By shooting or bayoneting you or by decapitation.  And in one instance, burying the soldier alive.  The March was the beginning of 3½ years of hell.  If you survived the Bataan Death March, you were then sent to Japan on old Japanese freighters [Hell Ships] whose military officers refused to place Red Cross or POW markings on the ships — thereby making them targets for American submarines and air force fighter planes.

Lester Tenney

Lester Tenney

If you survived the Bataan Death March, the POW camp in the Philippines and the ship to Japan, you were then placed into forced labor with some of Japan’s leading industrial giants and required to work their mines, on their docks or in their factories.

Hospital building at POW camp # 17

Hospital building at POW camp # 17

“The companies failed to feed us adequately, failed to take care of our medical needs and failed to stop the physical abuse that was orchestrated and carried out by the civilian workers of those same Japanese companies.  The everyday beatings with shovels, hammers and pick-axes caused severe lifetime injuries to those of us who survived.”

A more recent photo of Mr. Tenney

A more recent photo of Mr. Tenney

Mr. Tenney’s WWII profile lists: Camp O’Donnell, Camp Cabanatuan, and the Fukuoka camp # 17, Matsui coal mine.  He has written his autobiography in “My Hitch in Hell.”  The story and information in this post is from: CNN.com and www. CVCRA. org.

Book cover of "My Hitch in Hell" released in Japan.

Book cover of “My Hitch in Hell” released in Japan.

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Military Humor –  Rivalries___

Silent Observer

Silent Observer

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638ccff978b16b8959bbcfb07eb30ca3

 

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Farewell Salutes – border

Albert Adler – Brooklyn, NY; US Navy, Quartermaster, USS Ault

James Brickel – DC & FL; US Air Force, LtGeneral, pilot, Silver Star, Air Force Cross

Amerigo “Mickey” Dezuzio – Paterson, NJ, US Army16292

John Farley – Saskatoon, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

Lewis Johns – Middlemore, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 442756

Glen Noel – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII

Judith Stinson – Sydney, AUS; Australian Army Nursing Corps

George Storch – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

Paul Tidwell Jr. – Delray, FL; US Air Force, Korea

Raimond Winslow – Falmouth, ME; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st Marine Division

Bernard Zimmerman – Palos Park, IL; US Army, WWII, Signal Corps

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From those that were there… (3)

 

Richard Gordon, MP, 1942

Richard Gordon, MP, 1942

Richard M. Gordon was born and raised in NYC’s neighborhood called “Hell’s Kitchen” and when asked where he preferred to serve, the Philippines or Panama, he chose the point on the map farthest away from the ‘old neighborhood.’  Gordon was originally with F Company/31st US Infantry Regiment, but was transferred to help form a new unit, the 12th MPs, the only Philippine Scout Unit with both American and Filipino enlisted men.  He made a point to start his interview off with ___

“I was captured – I did not surrender.  Most of my fellow soldiers felt as I did – that we could not lose.  We believed it was just a question of when the promised reinforcements would arrive.  We were lied to – but by Washington, not by General Douglas MacArthur.

12th MP Brass

12th MP Brass

“We never knew defeat was imminent until our commanding general told us he had surrendered.  At the time, no one believed him, and when they found out it was true, many were in tears.  We felt we indeed had been ‘expendable.’  During a later prison camp session held by our Bataan garrison CO, MGen. Edward P. King, Jr., before he was shipped out to Mukden, Manchuria, he told us we had been asked to lay down a bunt to gain time.  The baseball metaphor was probably the best way to explain why we were there in the first place.

 

“Gen. Lough gave us the word of our unit’s surrender.  After hearing this, we camped in combat positions on Mount Bataan, known at the time as Signal Hill.  A small group of us went farther up the mountain, in an effort to avoid surrender.  Several days passed with no sign of the enemy.  Hungry and in need of provisions, Cpl. Elmer Parks [of Oklahoma] and I volunteered to drive down the hill to our last position in search of supplies.  Elmer was driving and I was riding shotgun in a Dodge pickup truck.  We gathered up a number of Garand M1 rifles and decided to go a little farther down the road.

The Mariveles, today

The Mariveles, today

“…we came upon a huge banyan tree, so large it served as a road divider.  As we approached, a lone Japanese soldier holding a rifle stepped out from behind it.  Elmer stopped the truck and we stared at one another.  The thought of attempting to run occurred to both of us, as did the thought of picking up one of the M1s.  But neither of us did a thing other than stare at the Japanese soldier.  Finally, he motioned to us to get out of the truck.

“At that moment, 10 -15 more Japanese came out of the brush.  They surely had us in their sights all the time.  These were front-line troops, scouring the area for enemy resistance.  They took turns hitting us with the butts of their rifles.  We were searched and any valuables we had – were taken.  On our way down the mountain I saw our battalion commander, Major James Ivy, bare from the waist up and dead with countless bayonet holes in his back.

Richard Gordon

Richard Gordon

“Walking down that mountain…where the road leveled off into the West Road of Bataan…That night was so dark and confused that I immediately lost contact with Elmer.  I assumed he had died.  I never saw him again – until a reunion 47 years later at Fort Sill, OK.”

Richard Gordon remained a POW until the end of the war, but continued his military career and retired a Major in the U.S. Army.  He is the founder of the Battling Bastards of Bataan Group.  Major Gordon passed away 26 July 2003 and is buried at Arlington Cemetery.  The information here was compiled from both the Philippine Scout Heritage Society and historynet.com

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updated Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Richard Bissette – Essey Junction, VT; (’42) US Coast Guard, WWII; (’46) USMC; US Army, Korea, Sgt. Major, (Ret. 34 combined years)

Walter Figg Jr. – Louisville, KY; US Army, WWIImilitary

Walter Geisinger – Springfield, VA; US Air Force, LtColonel, (Ret.)

Earl Knight – Yuma, AZ; US Army, WWII

James MacRae – Mount Prospect, IL; US Army, WWII, 14th Armored Div.

Irvine Mitchell – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 421748, WWII, pilot

James Schwantes – Mayville, WI, US Army, WWII

Kenneth Tobin – Kingia AUS; 5th Australian Army

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From those that were there…(1)

Bataan Death March

Bataan Death March

Captain William Dyess was a fighter pilot stationed on Luzon when the Japanese invaded.  He offered a shockingly graphic account of the ordeal in the “Chicago Tribune” newspaper in 1943.  Initially his story was censored, but cleared for publication when the war effort turned to retaking the Philippines.  The captain was one of a handful that escaped captivity. The following is only a portion of Capt. Dyess’ story, due to the length of the series and the truly atrocious episodes related, I have chosen what I feel is best.  The entire length can be located in “Combat, WWII Pacific” edited by Don Congdon.

Willian Edwin Dyess

Willian Edwin Dyess

About a mile east of the hospital [at Little Baguio] we encountered a major traffic jam.  On either side of the congested road hundreds of Jap soldiers were unloading ammunition and equipment.  Our contingent of more than 600 American and Filipino prisoners filtered through, giving the Japs as wide a berth as the limited space permitted.  This was to avoid being searched, slugged, or pressed into duty as cargadores [burden carriers]. Through the swirling dust we could see a long line of trucks, standing bumper to bumper.  There were hundreds of them.  And every last one was an American make.  I saw Fords – which predominated – Chevrolets, GMCs and others.  These were not captured trucks.  They bore Jap army insignia and had been landed from the ships of the invasion fleet.  It is hard to describe what we felt at seeing these familiar American machines, filled with jeering, snarling Japs.  It was sort of super-sinking feeling.  We had become accustomed to having American iron thrown at us, but this was a little too much.

LtColonel Willian Dyess

LtColonel Willian Dyess

It was dark when we marched across Bataan field, which with Cabcaben field I had commanded two days before.  It was difficult walking in the darkness.  Now and again we passed the huddled forms of men who had collapsed from fatigue or had been bayoneted.  I didn’t kid myself that I was safe simply because I was keeping up with the pace.  The bloodthirsty devils now were killing us for diversion. Skulking along, a hundred yards behind our contingent, came a “clean-up squad.”  Their helpless victims, sprawled darkly against the white of the road, were easy targets.  As members of the murder squad stooped over each huddled form, there would be an orange flash in the darkness and a sharp report.  The bodies were left where they lay, that other prisoners coming behind us might see them.

William Dyess' ribbons

William Dyess’ ribbons

 

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Most popular guy in camp!

Most popular guy in camp

Target Practice

Target Practice

Cartoon postcards are courtesy of Chris @ Muscleheaded, CLICK HERE to see his site. ################################################################################ For those people looking for a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day post, I felt I did not know what to add to last year’s – which can be located HERE! ############################################################################### Current news – 

USS Kailua (Dickenson)

USS Kailua (Dickenson)

USS Kailau historical site

USS Kailau historical site

The cable ship, Dickenson, was chartered by the US Navy after Pearl Harbor and renamed the USS Kailau.  Her remains have recently been located lying intact 20 miles from Oahu in 2,000 feet of water by the Hawaii Research Laboratory & the NOAA.  Her initial use was to keep global telecommunications open and later she became the target for submarine periscope practice, but her resting place was never marked.   ################################################################################# Farewell Salutes –  Justus Belfield – Utica, NY; US Army, MSgt., WWII, ETO Albert Bueler – Farmington, NH; US Coast Guard, Vietnamrose-flag Theophile Chusty, Jr – Baton Rouge, LA; US MC, Cpl., WWII Albert Debreceny – Taranaki, NZ; NZ Ammunition Corps, Sgt., WWII Robert Glod, Sr – Schaumburg, IL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Kitkun Bay Florence Hutchison – Edmonton, CAN; RC Navy, WWII Joseph Lapka – Woodland, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO Philip Mack Jr – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, *th Air Force, B-17 co-pilot Leon Reed – Jupiter, FL; US Air Force, Col. (Ret.), Vietnam, fighter pilot (189 missions) , 559 Tactical Fighter Sq/ 12th Wing Elias Saavedra – San Rafael, NM; New Mexico National Guard, Bataan survivor ##############################################################################

April 1942 (1)

As the Japanes invaded, they took over the newspapers and portrayed themselves as peaceful liberators.

As the Japanes invaded, they took over the newspapers and portrayed themselves as peaceful liberators.

1 April – Japanese forces made two more landings on New Guinea, one at Hollandia in the north and Sorong on the west.  / Buka Island, in the Solomons, went into enemy hands.  /  In the Indian Ocean, the Japanese carrier Ryuji led a naval raiding party against Allied shipping along the Orissa coast for 10 days and sank 24 merchant vessels as the Japanese Blitz continued to rage on.

Andaman Island area

Andaman Island area

2 April, the entire territory of Western Burma went under Japanese control as their 15th Army pushed the Allied Burma Army backwards.  The US Army Air Force B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers attacked the enemy around the Andaman Islands.

As Army Chaplains held communion services on Good Friday, the enemy bombed the center of the American lines on Bataan so heavily that the jungle went ablaze.  The G.I.s were forced to escape the black smoke as the Japanese went through the 3-mile gap of the defenses.  The next day, the enemy planted their flag on top of Mount Samat, the highest point of the Mariveles Mountains.  The Japanese 4th Division bombed for 5 hours before the onset of 2 days of heavy combat.

Mount Samat, (on left), 1942

Mount Samat, (on left), 1942

MacArthur radioed in his orders for a counteroffensive and Wainwright relayed this order to MGeneral Edward King on the peninsula, but King knew it was an impossible task.  A Navy doctor on-board a boat headed for Corregidor described the scene: “The air was filled with smoke and flying debris, the din was terrific and horrifying.  A gasoline dump was dynamited which intensified the blast which hurled rock, boulders and human fragments all over the area and into the sea, sinking smaller boats in the harbor and injuring the occupants…”

Mitsubushi - Ki 30s over Bataan front line

Mitsubushi – Ki 30s over Bataan front line

8 April – the troops on Bataan were ordered to destroy their equipment and prepare to surrender.  King signaled Corregidor, “We have no further means of organized resistance.”  Wainwright refused the idea of surrender.

9 April – King ordered the flags of truce to be raised at 0600 hours, he saw no other alternative to save the lives of the men that remained.  The news arrived at the ‘Rock’ too late to be refused.  When Gen. King laid his pistol on the table at the Japanese headquarters, he compared it to Gen. Lee’s shame at Appomatox on the same day of 1865.  MacArthur said at a press conference, “No army has done so much with so little and nothing became of it more than its last hours of trial and agony.”

POWs

POWs

Gen. Homma’s HQ had estimated about 25,000 POWs would need to be transported, but now they were faced with 78,000 American and Filipino troops.  The enemy logistics broke down and 9 April would begin the trek, for men already ill and malnourished, of 65 miles (104 km) long.  One in three would die along the way.

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Military Humor – camo

law-order-girlfriend-mistress-girl_in_every_port-ports-sailors-dpan3387l

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Anthony Bonvetti Sr. – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII

William Dubois – New Castle, CO; US Air Force, Capt., Operation Inherent Resolve, 77th Fighter Squadron, F-16 pilot

Louis Forni – Geneva, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO,  3rd Division21 guns

Oval Goad – Alexandria, KY; US Army, WWII & Korea

Sol Hofkins (100) – Golden Lakes Village, FL; USA, WWII, PTO

Brian Mall – Auckland, NZ; RA Army # 2400794, K Force, Lance Cpl.

James McGrath Jr. – US & CAN; US Navy & CAN. Reserves, WWII

Robert Pratt – Lake Worth, FL; US Army, Korea

Angelo Zampieri – Dover, NH; US Navy, WWII / US Air Force, Korea

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March 1942 (2)

Pacific map after March 1942

Pacific map after March 1942

In Australia, the civilians learned that two of their ships went down in the Java Sea.

Trove archives

Trove archives

Crewmen of the HMAS Yarra, 1942

Crewmen of the HMAS Yarra, 1942

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12 March – before being flown out of the Philippine Islands, General Douglas MacArthur said his famous parting words, “I shall return,” and Lt.Gen. Jonathan Wainwright assumed command.  Pres. Roosevelt’s empty promises of, “mile-long” convoys of relief on their way – were never sent.

13 March – The submarine, USS Gar sank the Japanese cargo ship, Chichiubu Maru, off the coast of Honshu Province, Japan.

14 March – The first convoy of 30,000 American troops began to arrive in Australia.  (Since 2 March, all physically fit Australian men were considered eligible for war service.

16-18 March – in New Guinea, US and Australian air units attacked the Japanese shipping and shore installations around Lae and Salamura.  Two enemy heavy cruisers were sunk and 10 other vessels were either sunk or damaged.

Gen. Wainwright (L) & Gen. MacArthur (R), March, 1942

Gen. Wainwright (L) & Gen. MacArthur (R), March, 1942

On Corregidor, Gen. Wainwright told his men, “If the Japanese can take the’Rock’, they’ll find me here no matter what orders I receive.”  On Bataan, the front line along the Mariveles Mountains, the half-starved American and Filipino [who had been forced to kill and eat their mules and horses weeks before] suffered from malaria, which had reached epidemic proportions.  Simply lifting a rifle was a painful ordeal due to beriberi and dysentery, as well.

US trained Filipino soldiers prepare to blow a bridge before the enemy reaches them.

US trained Filipino soldiers prepare to blow a bridge before the enemy reaches them.

 

21-22 March – the forces trapped on the Bataan Peninsula began to move over to the fortified island, 2 miles off the coast of Luzon.  The strategic position of the Rock in Manila Bay was quite vital to the Japanese as even more US and Filipinos amassed on its levels. But as this was being done, Japanese General Homma was planning a new offensive for the start of April for his 15,000 troops, 140 artillery pieces and 80 bombers.

British & Chinese forces in Burma

British & Chinese forces in Burma

23 March – the Japanese captured the Andaman Islands, an archipelago in the Bay of Bengal in the Indian Ocean.  They were put under the authority of Subhas Chandia Bose, a Japanese sympathizer.

Chinese troops digging anti-tank ditches in Burma.

Chinese troops digging anti-tank ditches in Burma.

In Burma, the airfield at Magwe went into enemy hand.  After violent fighting, the Chinese 5th Army in the central area were defeated and the Japanese took over the airfield at Toungou.

During this month, Churchill succumbed to pressure and announced that post-war India would achieve semi-independent status as a dominion.  But, the Nationalist Indian Congress Party made demands for immediate independence.  In Ceylon, Admiral Sir James Somerville became commander of the Far East Fleet.  Admiral E.J. King was made US Chief of Naval Operations in addition to being the Commander-in-Chief of the US Fleet.

Adm. King, 1942

Adm. King, 1942

Meetings were held between the US and Britain to divide the operational responsibilities of WWII: The US took the Pacific, including Australia and New Zealand.  This was then split between 2 commands: Adm. Nimitz with the Pacific Ocean areas, North Central and South; Gen. MacArthur as commander of the Southwest Pacific.  The British took from Singapore westwards to the Mediterranean.

[Personal observation – I found it difficult to believe that these guidelines were decided upon when Churchill refused to send a fleet to Singapore for the CBI and the U.S. maintained a “Europe First” strategy.  Your opinion?]

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

SLANG2

19421

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Allen – Ola, TX; USMC, Vietnam (2 tours), E3 LCPL

George Barefoot – Charlotte, NC; US Army, WWII, 1102 Engineerswwii-memorial-011me

Grandon Carmack – Chambersburg, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO

Terry Elworthy -Saanich, CAN; C. Merchant Marine, RC Navy (Ret.), WWII

Robert Fulenwider – Ft. Lauderdale, FL; US Army, WWII

Jack Karford – BowMar, CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Stanley Lines – Glen Innes, NZ; RA Army # VX80596

Virginia Melvin – WPalm Bch, FL; US Army (Ret. 20 years), nurse

Chuck Randazzo – Jamestown, NY; US Army, Korea

Warren Sander – SoWindsor, CT & Palm City, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Engstrom

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