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The Elephant Company – Intermission Story (14)

(c) Cuneo Estate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Cuneo Estate; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

James Howard “Billy” Williams went to Burma in 1920, fresh out of the service for WWI, for a position as a ‘forest man’.  It was there he became increasingly educated on the intelligence, character and welfare of elephants.

When Japan invaded Burma in 1942, Williams joined the elite British Force 136.  [a unit that today would compared to Rangers, SEALs and Delta Force].  Being older and wiser in the ways of the jungles, Williams’ tale of war and daring would become legendary.

In 1944, Lt.Colonel Williams, along with his Karen workers, uzis, elephant tenders, and the animals themselves made the stairway in Burma.  They go upward, a sheer rockface escarpment, narrowly escaping the Japanese hot on their trail, through the mountains of Imphal.

While many times the massive beasts stood on their hind legs to scale an ascent that surpassed Hannibal in the Alps.  All 53 elephants were successful and the workers and refugees alike followed close behind to the ridge and eventual safety.

Williams’ sketch of the ridge.

Years later, General Slim would say of the climb, “This is the story of how a man, over the years, by character, patience, sympathy and courage, gained the confidence of men and animals, so when the time of testing came – that mutual trust held.”

Williams and his company would continue in Burma to alter history with the 270 bridges built and erected to create the largest known Bailey bridge across the Chindurin at Kalewa in December.

Williams’ sketch for his memoir cover

James “Billy” Williams was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1945.  He would forever cherish his memories of the animals and the jungle, as shown in his memoir, “Elephant Bill” published in 1950. (originally titled, “1920-1946, Elephants in Peace, Love and War”)

Williams passed away on 30 July 1958, at the age of 60, during an emergency appendectomy operation.  His son, Treve, had gone to Australia for veterinary school a year previous.

Williams’ sketch of the Bailey Bridge

This information and pictures were derived from “Elephant Company” by Vicki C. Croke.

Click on images to enlarge.

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 CBI Roundup – Military Humor – 

“The folks at home are going to love this shot of me!”

“You can stand there all day – but you’re NOT getting a Section 8!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kevin Bushell – MD; US Navy, USS John McCain, Electrician Tech 2nd Class, KIA

Timothy Eckels Jr. – MD; US Navy, USS John McCain, Information Systems Tech 2nd Class, KIA

Charles N. Findley – MI; US Navy, USS John McCain, Electrician Tech 1st Class; KIA

James L. Hutchinson – CA; US Army Air Corps # 1014403, WWII, PTO, POW, KIA (Bataan, Camp O’Donnell, Section # 4)

Cory G. Ingram – NY; US Navy, USS John McCain, Information Systems Tech 2nd Class, KIA

Abraham Lopez – El Paso,TX; US Navy, USS John McCain,Interior Communication Electrician 1st Class, KIA

James McMillen – Jonesboro, GA; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, 11th and 101st Airborne Divisions, CO for 16th Battalion, Lt.Col.

Peter Roper – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, ETO / Korea, aviation medicine

Alan Sayers (102) – NZ; RNZ Navy # 1/15/2685

Louis Vetere – Brooklyn, NY; US Army, WWII, PTO

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December 1944 (4)

British troops rest with their mules after crossing the Chindwin River near Sittaung, Burma, 1944

4 December – in Burma, the British 14th Army established 3 beachheads on the Chindwin River as part of Operation Extended Capital.  From here, XXXIII Corps drove southeast towards Schewbo and Mandalay in a 2-prong attack: in the south, IV Corps would push down Kabbaw Valley about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of Mandalay; in the north, the 19th Indian Division would start a decoy offensive from Sittaung towards Indaw.

6 December – in the Mariana Islands, one US B-29 Superfortress was destroyed and 2 more damaged during an early morning raid by 10 Japanese Betty bombers.  Six of the enemy aircraft were downed by antiaircraft fire.

8 December – the US Army Air Corps began one of the the most extensive aerial campaigns of WWII.  A 72-day bombardment of Iwo Jima by B-24 and B-25 bombers.  Despite the island having already sustained previous attacks, this was the preparation for a mid-February 1945 US invasion.

With the defeats of the Japanese Operation Inchi-Go in China, Stilwell saw this as an opportunity to command all the armies to remove the enemy.  Chiang insisted to FDR that Stilwell be removed – and he was.  New York Times correspondent Atkinson, stationed in the CBI theater, wrote:

The decision to relieve General Stilwell represents the political triumph of a moribund, anti-democratic regime that is more concerned with maintaining its political supremacy than in driving the Japanese out of China. The Chinese Communists… have good armies that they are claiming to be fighting guerrilla warfare against the Japanese in North China—actually they are covertly or even overtly building themselves up to fight Generalissimo’s government forces… The Generalissimo [Chiang Kai-shek] naturally regards these armies as the chief threat to the country and his supremacy… has seen no need to make sincere attempt to arrange at least a truce with them for the duration of the war… No diplomatic genius could have overcome the Generalissimo’s basic unwillingness to risk his armies in battle with the Japanese.

Burma 

15 December – in Burma, the British troops in the north met up with the Chinese and American forces at Banmauk.  The combined troops set off to focus in on Schwebo and Mandalay.  They started by way of the Myitkyina-Mandalay railway and the Irrawaddy River.

16 December – British carrier aircraft in the Dutch East Indies bombed the Japanese oil installations at Belawan-Deli on Sumatra.

19 December – in the East China Sea, the American submarine USS Redfish attacked and sank the Japanese carrier IJN Unryu.

23 December – in Burma, the 74th Brigade/25th Indian Div. took Donbaik.  The 81st and 82nd W.African Div. advanced southeast to Muohaung and isolated the enemy in Akyab from the main Japanese 28th  Army.  By the end of 1944, the 36th Div. was across the Irrawaddy River.

Soldiers of the E.African Army crossing the Chindwin River by ferry, Burma, Dec. 1944

27 December – US submarines reported sinking 27 Japanese vessels throughout the Pacific and Far Eastern waters; including a carrier, destroyer, cruiser and the remainder a list of cargo and escort ships.

29 December – Gen. Groves, Commander of the Manhattan Project, sent a top-secret report to the desk of Gen. Marshall, “The first bomb, without previous full scale test, which we do not believe is necessary, should be ready about 1 August 1945.”

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – STRICTLY G.I.  by EHRET, from CBI Roundup

“WHAT’S THIS RUMOR ABOUT GOING OVERSEAS?”

“LET’S PICK UP THIS FOX HOLE AND PUT IT OVER THERE.”

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Farewell Salutes –   

George Aylmore – W.AUS; RA Air Force, WWII, ETO

Douglad Baptiste – Manitoba, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII

Carl Eckman – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Ward Goessling Jr. – Norman, OK; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT, Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Anthony Read – King’s Lynn, ENG; British Army, WWII, Captain

James Smith – Dallas, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Colonel (Ret.)

Herbert Thorpe Sr. – Marlboro, MA; US Army, WWII

Lawrence Ulrey – Columbus, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radarman, USS Mobjack (AVP-27)

William Vassar – Cromwell, CT; US Army, WWII, PTO / Korea Lt.Colonel (Ret.)

Calvin Young – Lancaster, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 134th Division

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October 1944 (7)

Chiang Kai-shek and Gen. Stilwell

2 October – Lord Mountbatten, Commander of the SEAC, continued issuing pressure on the Japanese 15th Army in Burma.  The British IV and XXXIII Corps pursued the enemy even throughout the monsoon season.

6 October – FDR relieved Gen. Joseph Stilwell of his post as Chief of Staff to Chiang Kai-shek in an effort to appease the Nationalist leader.  [Chiang wanted to withdraw his Y Force, the Chinese Nationalist Revolutionary Army) from Burma, but when Stilwell notified FDR of his plans, he lost his patience.  FDR had tried to put Stilwell in charge of the Y Force so it could be reenforced, but Chiang became offended and the President made an about-face.

Gen. Stilwell in the field

Stilwell’s domain was split into two parts.  MGen. Albert C. Wedermeyer became Chiang’s new Chief of Staff and Chief of the China Theater.  Lt.Gen. Daniel Sultan, and engineer officer and Stilwell’s CBI deputy, now took over the India-Burma Theater.

10 October – The oil refineries at Balikpapen were devastated by a US raid using B-24 bombers in North Borneo.  Being as this area was producing 40% of Japan’s oil imports at this stage, the attack greatly affected the enemy’s resources.

As the British XV Corps prepared to advance down the Burma coastline, Gen. Sultan could now call on one British and 5 Chinese divisions, as well as a new long-range penetration group, the 532nd Brigade, known as the Mars Task Force.  This brigade-size unit consisted of the 475th infantry, containing survivors of Operation Galahad and the recently dismounted 124th Cavalry of the Texas National Guard.  A detailed account of their movements can be found HERE!

The Allies possessed nearly complete command of the air and an Allied victory in Burma was only a matter of time.  The CBI’s logistics apparatus was well established as their advance continued in 2 stages.

The suicide kamikaze attacks increased around Leyte.  The destroyer, the USS Abner Road, was sunk.  The US Vessels, Anderson, Claxton, Ammen and two other destroyers received damage.

“Burma Peacock” salvage boys shown in this photo are: W/O Herbert Carr, Capt. Charles A. Herzog, S/Sgt. Don Hall, M/Sgt. Irving C. Sallette, Pfc. Ernest Luzier, Sgts. Roland Wechsler and Clifford Baumgart.

CBI Roundup – October 26, 1944 –  “Bring ‘Em Back Alive” they’re beginning to call Chief W.O. Herbert W. Carr of this Air Service Group’s reclamation detachment. Carr makes a specialty of going into jungle or rice paddies or the mountain country in search of crashed airplanes; of bringing out those ships whole or in “complete pieces;” and recently he climaxed all his previous Frank-Buck exploits.
He took a crew behind Jap lines, and brought back a C-47 which had crashed into a crater hole – the location being behind the known perimeter of the Jap knees.
According to the commander of Carr’s outfit, the “Burma Peacock’s,” the opportunity to attempt reclamation came by merest chance, when a liaison airplane reported having seen a mired C-47 on the ground.
The party was flown into the area by Capt. Charles A. Herzog, on a UC-64 light cargo ship.  Equipment consisted of two five-gallon cans of drinking water, K-rations, 180 pounds of rice, 10 pounds of tea, and 20 pounds of sugar, in addition to kits of tools, a chain hoist, axe and other items for the job. The rice, tea and sugar were for such coolie helpers as they hoped to impress from neighboring jungle settlements.
For the next six days the men fumed and tussled in the hot sun; gradually jacked up and pulled the C-47 from the bottom of a bomb crater; repaired its gear and got its engines going.
At first, no coolies appeared, so a runner was dispatched to try to rent some elephants, when and if the pachyderms could be located. One elephant almost arrived on the job, but unfortunately Dumbo put his foot into a booby trap and plunged, screaming with hurt, through the grass, his body stinging with shrapnel. In a day, the coolies, ever sensing the need for their well-paid services, began to show up.
The extra workmen were sorely needed, according to Carr, who was forced to call off work on the first all-day shift, due to excessive heat and lack of salt to counteract the drain of energy. Eventually, the C-47 was removed from the crater by piece-meal hauling along a fresh-cut incline up the mud slopes.
When the airplane was on dry land again, engines were turned up, and the craft soon was lined up for take-off. However, an overnight wait came into the picture, the ship being absent one pilot. In the morning Combat Cargo Command dropped in with a pilot; the rejuvenated C-47 took off like a breeze, and another craft had been brought back “alive” under the ministrations of “Frank Buck” Carr.
No trouble was caused by Japs during the stay of the mechani-commandos. The Japs had learned from previous experience that Chindits and Chinese-American forces do not allow Nippons to intrude on workers without one hell of a fight.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – CBI Round-up style – 

“You Myitkyina boys should have seen the Carolina maneuvers!”

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jack Albert – Charleston, WV; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Medical Corps

Jack Bates – Presque Isle, ME; US Army, WWII, ETO

Ronald Cagle – Palm Beach, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division, communications

Dorothy Cook Eierman – Townsend, DE; civilian aircraft spotting station, WWII

painting “Take a Trip With Me” by SFC Peter G. Varisano

Gordon Fowler – Ottawa, CAN; RC Army, WWII

Vernon Galle – San Antonio, TX; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Pres. Jackson

Leslie Langford – Battle Creek, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Eric Mexted – Waikato, NZ; RNZ Army # 242467, WWII, 22nd Battalion

Donald Peterson – Salt Lake City, UT; US Navy, WWII

Marge Tarnowski – Madison, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, radio operator

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June 1944 (5)

Clearing a road-block on the Imphal-Kohima Road

Clearing a road-block on the Imphal-Kohima Road

Around the wide Pacific…….

14 June – Iwo Jima, in the Volcano Island group, and Chichi Jima & Haha Jima, in the Bonins, were attacked by US carrier aircraft.  Installations were bombed and strafed.  The Japanese lost: 39 planes shot down, 25 aircraft destroyed on the ground, 2 freighters sunk and several heavily damaged.  The US lost: 8 aircraft, with 3 more downed the following day.

15 June – on Biak Island, New Guinea, US ground forces were not making progress due to cliff-side ambushes.  MacArthur sent in Gen. Eichelberger to take over the command.

In Japan, 47 China-based B-29’s bombed Yawata, the nation’s steel center.  Not much damage was incurred on the plant although the civilian casualty rate was high.  This was the first attack by land-based aircraft on Japan’s mainland.

Ichi-Go Plan

Ichi-Go Plan

18 June – the Japanese Ichi-Go offensive captured Changsha, Burma.  They continued to advance, which put Gen. Chennault’s B-29 bases in jeopardy.

19-20 June – enemy installations on Pagan were bombed and strafed by US aircraft.  From here, until 7 July, Guam and Rota were attacked each day at least once by carrier forces.

Japanese tanks and troops in CBI

Japanese tanks and troops in CBI

22-26 June – in the CBI, the enemy siege and fighting at Imphal, India lasted 88 days.  The Japanese U-Go offensive unraveled as the British 2nd Division and 5th Indian Division finally met up at the Imphal-Kohima Road, Milestone 107.  In Burma, the town of Mogaung fell to the 77th LRP Brigade and the Chinese 38th Div.  They then turned east to Myitkyina, where the US and Chinese forces were already laying siege.

Kuril Islands

Kuril Islands

In the Kuril Islands, Kurabu Zaki, on Paramushir, and important enemy base, was bombarded by ground units.  This action would be repeated on 30 June.

28 June – US troops on Saipan reached Nafutan Point on the southeast tip of the island.  It had taken nearly 2 weeks to cover 4 miles (6 km).

*****          *****

Melvyn Douglas

Melvyn Douglas

Article from the ‘CBI Roundup’ newspaper

MELVYN DOUGLAS CRASH LANDS

INDIA – Capt. Melvyn Douglas, motion picture star now serving in CBI as a Special Service Officer, and 17 other passengers on an airplane owe their lives to the cool piloting of 1st Lt. Harold L. Griffith, of Los Angeles, Calif., it was revealed this week.

After riding out a severe storm and bucking terrific headwinds, Griffith was forced to make a difficult “belly landing.” The dangerous crash landing was made on a dry lake, flanked on three sides by hills, and was accomplished without a moon for illumination.

Capt. Douglas and the other passengers, including Capt. Roger F. Howe, Seattle, Wash., and Glenn Abbey, of Dodgeville, Wis., member of the American Mission at New Delhi, had high praise for Lt. Griffith and his co-pilot, Lt. James M. George, of Seminole, Tex., and Sgt. E. B. Halzlip, Eatonton, Ga., radio operator.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

CBI humor

CBI humor

CBI humor

CBI humor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Gloria (Gove) Allen – Delray Beach, FL; USO, WWII

Luxembourg American Cemetery

Luxembourg American Cemetery

Paul Chess (Fiszel Czyz) – brn: POL/Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII

Cyrus Duval – Twinsburg, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

John Farrel Sr. – Bronx, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Paul Healy Newport, RI; US Army, Vietnam

Edward Isbell – OK; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Charles Kessler – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

John McCreight – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, navigator

Charles Prophit – Tquesta, FL; US Navy, Vietnam

Geneva (Shepard) Richard – Womelsdorf, PA; US Army WAC, WWII, driver

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April 1944 (2)

Battle of Kohima

Battle of Kohima

4 April – In the CBI, the Japanese started their offensive towards India by attacking Kohima, India.  This operation would suffer from supply problems and the typhoon season.  Over 30,000 of the enemy would eventually be lost to due to disease and starvation.  Ground troops in Burma received support from the 10th Air Force as over 120 aircraft struck Japanese railroads and supply areas.

5-6 April – the Japanese 138th, 58th and 24th regiments of the 31st Div. surrounded the Allied troops at Kohima into a 10-mile pocket.  The 58th attempted to make a surprise attack at the center, but were thwarted by the Royal West Kents.   Within the circle, dependent on air supply were the 17th Indian Light Div., 50th Parachute Brigade, 5th Indian Div, 23rd Indian Div. and the 254th Tank Brigade.

10th Gurkha Rifles clearing 'Scraggy Hill' at Imphal

10th Gurkha Rifles clearing ‘Scraggy Hill’ at Imphal

6-18 April – the Japanese 53rd in Burma took the Chindit supply base known as “White City.”  The Chindits in northern Burma received glider-borne reinforcements.  They then occupied the Japanese base at Indau and that cut the enemy off from southern Burma.

7 April – in Japan, it was decided that despite the Army being overstretched in the Pacific and Burma, the new offensive in China would commence.  Inchi-Go’s objective was to occupy south China, thereby providing open land routes to their other forces in Malaya and Thailand while crushing US air bases.

7-13 April – in India, the Japanese 138th Regiment encircled the 161st Indian Brigade and took Kohima, but further into the settlement, 1500 troops [mostly the Assam Rifles and 4th Royal West Kents), best back the invaders.

14-18 April – the Allied XXXIII Corps began to try relief operations in the Kohima area.  The 5th Brigade/2nd Div. smashed the Japanese roadblock at Zubza and made a break in the circle around the 161st Indian Division.

18 April – the Allied troops were finally relieved in the Kohima area as the 5th Brigade reached them.  This does not in any way slow the fighting down.  Both sides tried to encircle the other with flanking maneuvers.

Kohima War Cemetery

Kohima War Cemetery

26-27 April – the Allied XXXIII Corps started a major offensive to retake Kohima.  The 5th attacked the Japanese right flank from the north and the 4th Brigade came from the south.  After the British took the road junction, both sides took entrenched positions about 72 feet apart, around the “Tennis Court”.  The following 2 weeks would bring heavy and close-quarter battles.

27-28 April – in New Guinea, the Cyclops Airdrome had limited operation.  With the swift success at Hollandia, plans by generals MacArthur and Kenney began to take form on heading west.

A short gallery of photos of constructing an airdrome in WWII.

Click on images to enlarge.

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CBI Military Humor – 

The CBI version of being sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

The CBI version of being sold the Brooklyn Bridge.

"Corporal Gee Eye" always getting into trouble!!

“Corporal Gee Eye” always getting into trouble!!

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Eddie Agurkis – Newburgh, NY; USMC, WWII & Korea

salutetop

The Salute

Simon Bromley – AUS; RA Air Force

Ethel Gay Carmichael – Leader, CAN; RC Air Force (WD), WWII

Edward Ebanks – Hollywood, FL; Merchant Marine (Ret. 45 years)

Paul Kelly Sr. – Brighton, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 pilot “Millie K”

John McCambridge – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

Samuel Prather – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt.

Andrew Repasky – Library, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne, artillery

Robert Segil – Salt Lake City, UT; US Army, WWII, PTO, Lt., tank destroyer unit

Ruth Turner – Knoxville, TN; US Cadet Nursing Corps, WWII

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March 1944 (1)

Marauder Sgt. Gerald Silvey watches Sgt. Robert Passanisi repair the 60 ib. SCR 300 FM Transceiver

Marauder Sgt. Gerald Silvey watches Sgt. Robert Passanisi repair the 60 ib. SCR 300 FM Transceiver

5 March – in the CBI, the Chinese 22nd and 38th divisions captured Maingkwan in the Hukawng Valley in Burma.  On their left flank, the US troops of Merrill’s Marauders crossed the Tanai River and took Walaboum.  Despite a serious lack of food and enduring combat, including suicidal bayonet charges of the Japanese 18th Division, under Gen. Tanaka, the Allied casualties were light.

Chindit forces in north Burma launched Operation Thursday.  The 77th and 111th LRP (Long Range Patrol) Brigades, (~ 9000 men), along with their 1,300 mules were deployed by glider and transports by the recently formed American Air Commando, under Col. Phillip Cochrane.  Their mission was to establish landing strips for air supply and to cut the flow of enemy supplies and communication in the Mitkyina area.  More of the brigades would be flown in over the next 3 months.

Gen. Renya Matguchi’s plan of U-Go began in Central Burma with the 33rd, 15th and 31st divisions, with 7,000 of Bose’s Indian National Army in support.  Their goal was to halt any Allied offensive in that sector, enter India and cut off the Tiddim-Imphal Road; a major supply route.

Chindit operations map

Chindit operations map

On the 12th of March, the enemy reached Witok on the approach to Shenan Saddle.  The 17th Indian Div., under Lt.Gen. A.P. Scoones, became trapped by the Japanese 33rd Div. and the 28th Indian Div. was encircled by Matguchi’s 15th Div.  Mountbatten called in the American Hump and the RAF for assistance.  Other units of the 15th attacked “Broadway”, an Allied airfield in the Chindit area the following day.

As those Allied units fell back from the Japanese offensive, the troops in the Arakan made progress.  They recaptured Buthidawng and the enemy fortress at Razabil.

Chindits, 77th Division

Chindits, 77th Division

15-16 March – the second phase of U-Go started with the Japanese troops, east of Imphal, heading west to meet up with the other units coming up from the south.  Meanwhile, the enemy 33rd Div. began a 3-prong assault toward Kohima.  Chindit troops cut the Japanese supply railways on the 16th.

23-30 March – the 14th LRP Brigade landed at “Aberdeen” landing zone in support of the Chindits near Manhton.  On the 25th, MGen. Orde Wingate, leader of the Chindits and pioneers of Tactical innovations, was killed in an air crash over Burma.  MGen. W. Letaigne would succeed him.  By the 30th, the Chidit operations began to falter.  The 16th Brigade retreated from the Japanese 53 rd. defense at Indaw.

Click on images to enlarge.

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C.B.I.  Military Humor – 

r3260

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Farewell Salutes – 

Charles Anderson – Grand Rapids, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO, Corps of Engineers

Roy Anderson – Cloquet, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 330th Troop Carrier Sq. (The Hump), C-47 pilot

John Burke – Shelley, ID; US Army, WWII, CBIimages-1

Brett Burney – Hamilton, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 403939, WWII, Africa & Burma

Llyod Diedrichsen – Scribner, NE; US Navy, WWII, CBI, Scouts & Raiders

Bruce Evans – Cold Lake, CAN; Vintage Wings of Canada pilot

Steven Harris – Huntsville, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers, 11th Airborne Division

Magdalena Leones – Lubuagan, PI; Philippine-American Army (USAFIP), WWII, PTO, Silver Star

Richard Reinhardt – Rochester, NY; US Army, WWII, ETO, 172nd Combat Engineers

Charles Smith – Winfield, KS; US Army Air Corps, WWII

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Lt. Alec Horwood, in the C.B.I. Theatre

Lt. Alec George Horwood, Victoria Cross; Queen's Royal West Surrey Reg., British Army

Lt. Alec George Horwood, Victoria Cross; Queen’s Royal West Surrey Reg., British Army

As the Japanese prepared for a major assault through north Burma into India, the British were attempting a more aggressive approach into occupied Burma. The fighting was conducted in dense jungle where the Japanese strong points were well concealed – and they fought to the death.

As a Sergeant in the 6th Battalion The Queen’s Royal Regiment Alec Horwood had been captured at Dunkirk but had escaped as they were being escorted through Antwerp, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. After being Commissioned he was attached to the 1st Battalion The Northamptonshire Regiment and he now found himself in the jungle fighting of Burma:

Queen's Royal West Surrey Regimental badge.

Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regimental badge.

At Kyauchaw on 18th January 1944, Lieutenant Horwood accompanied the forward company of The Northamptonshire Regiment into action against a Japanese defended locality with his forward mortar observation post.

Throughout that day he lay in an exposed position which had been completely bared of cover by concentrated air bombing and effectively shot his own mortars and those of a half troop of another unit while the company was maneuvering to locate the exact position of the enemy bunkers and machine-gun nests. During the whole of this time Lieutenant Horwood was under intense sniper, machine-gun, and mortar fire, and at night he came back with most valuable information about the enemy.

On 19th January, he moved forward with another company and established an observation post on a precipitous ridge. From here, while under continual fire from the enemy, he directed accurate mortar fire in support of two attacks which were put in during the day. He also carried out a personal reconnaissance along and about the bare ridge, deliberately drawing the enemy fire so that the fresh company which he had led to the position, and which was to carry out an attack, might see the enemy positions.

Lieutenant Horwood remained on the ridge during the night 19th-20th January and on the morning of 20th January shot the mortars again to support a fresh attack by another company put in from the rear of the enemy. He was convinced that the enemy would crack and volunteered to lead the attack planned for that afternoon.

He led this attack with such calm resolute bravery, that the enemy were reached and while standing up in the wire, directing and leading the men with complete disregard to the enemy fire which was then at point blank range, he was mortally wounded.

on patrol in Burma, 1944

on patrol in Burma, 1944

By his fine example of leadership on the 18th, 19th and 20th January when continually under fire, by his personal example to others of reconnoitering, guiding and bringing up ammunition in addition to his duties at the mortar observation post, all of which were carried out under great physical difficulties and in exposed positions, this officer set the highest example of bravery and devotion to duty which all ranks responded to magnificently.

The cool, calculated actions of this officer, coupled with his magnificent bearing and bravery which culminated in his death on the enemy wire, very largely contributed to the ultimate success of the operation which resulted in the capture of the position on the 24th January.

London Gazette
30th March 1944

Information from WWII Today.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

aaa5

 

 

morale

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Farewell Salutes –

Stuart Boze – Genesee, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Vincent Chatfield – Plimmerton, NZ; RNZ Army # 537217, WWII

They all stand together.

They all stand together.

Andrew Clement – Quincy, MA; US Navy, Djibouti (Op. Enduring Freedom), Petty Officer

Donald Morris – Moore, OK; US Army, WWII/ US Air Force, Korea

Francis John Pound – Winnipeg, CAN; Royal Canadian Navy, WWII, KIA

John Quinn – Indianapolis, IN; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Harmon Smith – Chester, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Korea

Calvin Tackett – Longview, TX; US Army, WWII

Paul VanLuvender – Scranton, PA; US Navy, WWII, USS Melvin

Raymond Walters – Trenton, NJ; US Navy, WWII

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December 1943 (2)

Cape Gloucester

Cape Gloucester

15-31 December – the US Army’s 112th Cavalry tried to surprise the enemy at Arawe, south-central New Britain in rubber boats, but the flimsy vessels were shot to pieces.  The main force did get ashore by conventional means, however.  After suffering numerous air raids, they repulsed a Japanese counterattack.  This landing was intended as a diversion for the following attack.

At Cape Gloucester, on the north side of New Britain, the 1st Marine Division, with the 11th Marine Artillery Regiment, under Gen. William Rubertus, found the same situation of mud, swamp and unbroken jungle as the 112th did, making advance to Rabaul impossible.  In retaliation, the Japanese sank the destroyer, USS Brownson and damaged 3 other vessels including a landing boat.

Cape Gloucester airdrome during pre-invasion bombing

Cape Gloucester airdrome during pre-invasion bombing

The main operation for this began 26 December with a naval barrage from both the US Navy and RAN warships.  This was followed by air attacks from the US Army Air Corps and RAAF aircraft, who also created a smoke screen for the ground troops.  The enemy they faced were the Japanese 17th Div. under MGen. Matsuda, augmented by the “Matsuda Force” consisting of the 65th Infantry Brigade and elements of the 51st Div.  (The remainder of the 51st were on New Guinea.).

soldiers moving sacks in the Ramu Valley, New Guinea, 1943

soldiers moving sacks in the Ramu Valley, New Guinea, 1943

On New Guinea, the Australian 7th Div., under Gen. Vassey, were ahead of schedule going through the Ramu Valley on the south side of the Finschhafen Mt. Range.  They took the 6,000-foot pass nicknamed “Shaggy Peak” on the 26th.  The 6th Army received orders to take Saidor, thereby cutting off the Japanese retreat.

Australian troops (center of pix) scale 'Shaggy Peak"

Australian troops (center of pix) scale ‘Shaggy Peak”

During December, Britain’s XV Corps were building up their forces to face the Japanese 15th Army on Burma, as they planned an offensive operation into eatern India.  The enemy increased their bombing of Indian Allied air bases and coastal positions.  Calcutta was hit, killing 350 people.  The airfield at Tinsukia alone was hit by 70 Japanese aircraft.

Troops of the Japanese 15th Army in Burma

Troops of the Japanese 15th Army in Burma

Air Chief Marshall, Sir Richard Peirse, became the overall commander of the Allied air unites, including the USAAF, within the South East Asia Command (SEAC).  The RAF 3rd Tactical Air Force was formed; and the SEAC’s name was changed to the Eastern Air Command.

Gen. Stilwell took command of all the Chinese troops operating in the India/Burma area on the 15th.  On the 24th, this force pushed forward into the Hukawng Valley in an offensive operation aimed for Myitkyina and the vital airfield situated nearby.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

Naval Base Guam – treatment chamber for decompression sickness is good to go!  Divers, read HERE!

Eielson AFB – airmen build an ice bridge in Alaska.  Read HERE!

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Envelope Art during Christmas – 

envelope art

envelope art

1942_0159

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ken Adam – brn: Berlin, GER, London, ENG; RAF, WWII,pilot

Charles Brady – Lake Park, FL; US Navy, Koreadogtagslg

Robert Dyson – Stubenville, OH; US Army, WWII, ETO, 11th Armored Division

Walter Edwards – Deland, IL; US Navy, WWII, USS Fallriver/Korea, USS Newport News

Martin T. Feeney – Broad Channel, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII

Albert Friedman – Spokane, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Victor Giusti – Memphis, TN; US Navy, WWII, Norden Bombsight

Robert Hoasley – York, UK; RAF, WWII, ETO, 617th Squadron, gunner & radioman

Robert Prout – Barrington, RI; US Army, WWII

Elwin Schott – Plantation, FL; US Army, WWII, POW

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May 1943 (1)

2 Spitfires take off from an airfield near Darwin.

2 Spitfires take off from an airfield near Darwin.

2 May – Darwin, Australia was bombed by 20 Japanese bombers and Zero fighter aircraft.  This was the 54th airstrike on the country.  The No. 1 Wing RAAF intercepted the enemy planes after the attack and suffered heavy losses.Buildings were damaged, but there were no casualties.  Further data on Australian bombings can be located  here.

5 May – in Alaska,   an 11th Air Force weather reconnaissance airplane over Attu observed a floatplane burning on the water. Fourteen B-24’s, 17 B-25’s, 16 P-38’s, 32 P-40’s, and 5 F-5A’s flew 4 attack missions to Attu and 6 [partly with Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilots] to Kiska targets that included Main Camp, a radar site, North and South Head, a runway, and Gertrude Cove installations. Bombs were dropped on Attu installations and fighters strafed and set afire one seaplane and silenced the AA guns.

Dinnertime on Kiska

Dinnertime on Kiska

Japanese forces in Central China began a massive offensive into Hunan Province in an effort to gain territories of rice production.  US commanders that would have liked to put air bases in China were disappointed by intermittent Chinese cooperation with the enemy.

7 May –  5th Air Force B-17’s and B-24’s bombed supply dumps, and other targets at Madang and Madang Airfield.  Meanwhile, Japanese fighters from Wewak were on patrol and intercepted seven B-17s and six B-24s over Madang.  The B-17s reported interception by seven Japanese fighters including two that dropped aerial bombs that missed by a considerable distance. Four B-17s were damaged, one seriously.//

Chindits behind enemy lines, Burma, May 1943.

Chindits behind enemy lines, Burma, May 1943.

7-14 May – in Burma, the British offensive into the Arakan finally collapsed and were driven north.  The Japanese retook Maundau and Buthidaung, which put the Allies back to their starting positions.nventional attacks.  A-20’s hit forces in the Green’s Hill area. On Timor, B-25’s pounded Penfoesi.  The B-17F “Reckless Mountain Boys” 41-24518 was lost.   Returning from a mission to Aru , the RAAF Hudson A-16-116 was lost.

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8 May – as part of the Operation Cartwheel, US Dauntless and Liberator aircraft bombed various enemy installations throughout the Solomon Islands.  Three Japanese destroyers were damaged; one seriously.

 Port Moresby Station Hospital

Port Moresby Station Hospital

9 May –  5th Air Force B-24’s and B-17’s bombed Manokwari, Nabire, Kaimana, Madang Airfield and the Wewak area. B-25’s hit the airfield at Gasmata.

10 May –  the 10th Air Force in Burma had 6 P-40’s bomb and strafe Kwitu, leaving several areas burning fiercely in China.  The 14th Air Force in French Indochina had eight P-40’s fly an offensive sweep against communications in the Nam Dinh and Hanoi areas. Four locomotives and 3 riverboats are destroyed, a train carrying troops and supplies was heavily damaged, and several trucks of troops were destroyed.//

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Rivalry Humor – military-humor-marines-vs-army

0ec78c9958d3d6954d74171a7e89ce4c

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Marvin Alderson – Hartford, SD; US Army, ETO, 3rd Armored Division, Signal Corps, Sgt.

Albert Alderton – Tamahere, NZ; British Navy, WWIITaps

Tony Bruno – Gurnee, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-29 gunner

William Halsey III – Huntsville, AL; US Army, WWII, Engineer Amphibian, Major

Joseph Iannuzzi Jr. – Port Chester, NY; US Army, Korea, 2 Purple Hearts, Silver Star

Samuel McNeill – Southern, NJ; US Army, Vietnam, Dental Corps

Francis ‘Fritz’ Reardon, US Navy, WWII

Jordan Spears – Memphis, IN; USMC, Tiltrotor Sq. ’63/Marine Aircraft Group 16, USS Makin Island, pilot

William Tremaine – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII & Korea

Joshua Wheeler – Muldrow, OK; US Army, Iraq, Delta Force, Master Sgt., Bronze Stars

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April 1943 (2)

US troops in Alaska, 1943

US troops in Alaska, 1943

13 April – 78 US aircraft of the 11th Air Force made 11 separate attacks at the Japanese airfield and military barracks at the Main Camp and strafed the beach on Kiska, Alaska.  Heavy AA fire downed 2 P-38s and one B-25

In New Guinea, the 5th Air Force’s heavy and medium bombers carried out widespread but unsuccessful attacks on individual enemy vessels. Japanese aircraft carried out a heavy attack on the Milne Bay area, severely damaging 1 vessel, beaching 1 vessel, and hitting 2 others, but doing very little damage to USAAF facilities in the area. The AA defenses and the 40+ P-40’s and P-38’s that intercepted the enemy strike claimed 14 airplanes shot down. Dick Bong became a Double Ace when he got his 10th kill, a Betty.

Port Moresby station hospital, 1943 LEAD Technologies Inc

Port Moresby station hospital, 1943
LEAD Technologies Inc

MacArthur and Halsey met for the first time.  Mac’s reaction, “I liked him [Halsey] from the moment we met.”  Halsey would later write, “Five minutes after I reported, I felt as if we were lifelong friends.  We had our arguments, but they always ended pleasantly.”  Three days later, they completed the blueprint for Operation Cartwheel.15 April – the Eleventh Air Force flew reconnaissance over Kiska, Attu, Semichis, and Agattu spoted no new enemy activities. Two bomber missions from Adak and eleven fighter missions from Amchitka, composed of 23 B-24’s, 20 B-25’s, 25 P-38’s, and 44 P-40’s, hit Kiska; 1 F-5A took photos while 85 tons of bombs are dropped. Fires resulted on North Head and Little Kiska. One B-24 is shot down in flames and four bombers receive battle damage.

Bomber crew on Adak - note pin-up girl collection courtesy of "Life"

Bomber crew on Adak – note pin-up girl collection
courtesy of “Life”

16 April – Alaska –   Seven B-24’s  bombed and scored 8 direct hits on the runway and gun emplacements at Attu. One B-24 and 2 F-5A’s needed to abort due to weather. [flying over the Aleutians was often near impossible]. Four B-25’s, thirty-one P-38’s, and fourteen P-40’s hit Kiska nine times, bombing installations and strafing gun emplacements and 3 parked airplanes.

17 April – Burma –  the 10th Air Force’s 7 B-25’s bombed the Myitnge bridge and scored 4 damaging hits. Ten others hit the Myitnge railroad works. Sixteen P-40’s damaged the bridge at Kamaing, attacked the town of Nanyaseik, and scored hits on the north approach to the bridge at Namti. Six B-24’s damage the south approach to the Pazundaung railroad bridge.

map_tarawa_atoll

20-21 April – US aircraft attacked the enemy base at Nauru.  The Japanese retaliated the next day by bombing US positions on the Ellice Islands.  In Washington, FDR declared that all war criminals will be tried after an Allied victory.

23-31 April – US bombers of the 7th Air Force attacked the Japanese airfield on Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands.  By the end of the month, the Japanese forces in the Aleutians were cut off from Japan and US invasion forces were sailing from San Francisco; 11,000 of the Army’s 7th Infantry Division and 29 ships.  This included the Idaho, Pennsylvania and Nevada.  The submarines Narwhal and Nautilus would lead them in on 4 May.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – Aleutian style – 

Painfull Schwin Dentist - Enter on Full Flaps

Painfull Schwin Dentist – Enter on Full Flaps

TREE - only one on Attu.

TREE – only one on Attu.

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Macon ‘Bud’ Ballantine – Jacksonville, Fl; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Intrepid

Kenneth Handford – Ballarat, AUS; RA Air Force # 145108, 39th Operational Base Unit, aircraftsman

Craig Karrer – Egg Harbor, NJ; US Navy, Korea, USS Antietam

Aleutians, 1943

Aleutians, 1943

Malcolm Mathias – Blue Mound, IL; US Army, WWII, 10th Mountain Division

Cresencio Romero – Santa Ana, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 675th Artillery Reg.

Harold Ross – Stephenson, MI; US Army, WWII, ETO

Stanley Szwed – Port Read, NJ; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 711th Ordnance Reg.

Donald Tabers – Mayfield, KY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Kenneth Tate – Austin, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQ/511th Reg.

Herbert Winfiele – Houston, TX; US Army, Korea, Lt.

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