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1 April 1945 – Okinawa

Okinawa invasion map

Codenamed Operation Iceberg, this was a major battle of the Pacific War fought on the island of Okinawa by U. S. Marine and Army forces against the Imperial Japanese Army.

The United States created the Tenth Army, a cross-branch force consisting of the 7th, 27th, 77th, and 96th infantry divisions of the US Army with the 1st, 2nd, and 6th divisions of the Marine Corps, to fight on the island. The Tenth was unique in that it had its own tactical air force (joint Army-Marine command), and was also supported by combined naval and amphibious forces.

On this day in 1945, after suffering the loss of 116 planes and damage to three aircraft carriers, 50,000 U.S. combat troops of the 10th Army, under the command of Lieutenant General Simon B. Buckner Jr., land on the southwest coast of the Japanese island of Okinawa, 350 miles south of Kyushu, the southern main island of Japan.

Marine & Navy aircraft destroyed all enemy aircraft on land. Shown here is Yontan Airfield

Determined to seize Okinawa as a base of operations for the army ground and air forces for a later assault on mainland Japan, more than 1,300 ships converged on the island, finally putting ashore 50,000 combat troops on April 1. The Americans quickly seized two airfields and advanced inland to cut the island’s waist. They battled nearly 120,000 Japanese army, militia, and labor troops under the command of Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima.

See some of the action in this 4 minute video………

The naval campaign against Okinawa began in late March 1945, as the carriers of the BPF began striking Japanese airfields in the Sakishima Islands. To the east of Okinawa, Mitscher’s carrier provided cover from kamikazes approaching from Kyushu. Japanese air attacks proved light the first several days of the campaign but increased on April 6 when a force of 400 aircraft attempted to attack the fleet.

The high point of the naval campaign came on April 7 when the Japanese launched Operation Ten-Go.  It was during this operation that they attempted to drive their battleship Yamato through the Allied fleet with the goal of beaching it on Okinawa for use a shore battery.

Initial U.S. landings began on March 26 when elements of the 77th Infantry Division captured the Kerama Islands to the west of Okinawa. On March 31, Marines occupied Keise Shima. Only eight miles from Okinawa, the Marines quickly emplaced artillery on these islets to support future operations. The main assault moved forward against the Hagushi beaches on the west coast of Okinawa on April 1. This was supported by a feint against the Minatoga beaches on the southeast coast by the 2nd Marine Division. Coming ashore, Geiger and Hodge’s men quickly swept across the south-central part of the island capturing the Kadena and Yomitan airfields (Map).

US Army 77th Infantry soldiers trudge thru the mud & flooding on Okinawa

Having encountered light resistance, Buckner ordered the 6th Marine Division to begin clearing the northern part of the island. Proceeding up the Ishikawa Isthmus, they battled through rough terrain before encountering the main Japanese defenses on the Motobu Peninsula.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current News –

The remains of five Australians who were murdered by the Japanese in World War II appear to have been discovered on the island of Nauru.  The five men were working as civilians on the island in 1943, not soldiers, so there is, unfortunately, no money available to repatriate them.

Frederick Royden Chalmers volunteered to remain on the island along with four other men in order to help the islanders deal with the Japanese invasion they knew was coming.  Chalmers was 62 years old when he was killed. The other four men were Bernard Quin, 48, Wilfred Shugg, 39, William Doyle, 47, and Frederick Harmer, 44. They were captured by the invading forces and eventually dragged onto the beach where they were killed on March 25, 1943.

The family of Chalmers wants his body returned to Australia. The Unrecovered War Casualties Unit of the Australian Army Defense Force and the Department of Foreign Affairs both claim to be unauthorized to bring the remains of the men back home.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Stevie Barnett – Matthews, MO; US Navy, Vietnam,Chief Petty Officer (Ret.)

Ira ‘Pete’ Chesley – North Platte, NE; US Army, WWII, ETO, 9th Armored Division

Thomas Eager – Watertown, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Princeton

Bob Funderburke – Rock Hill, SC; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Jessie Gale – Tetonia, ID; US Navy, WWII, ATO

Michael Littrell Sr. – Louisville, KY; USMC, Vietnam

William Patterson – Santa Barbara, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Col. (Ret.), 42 Ordnance Div.

Lloyd Robertson – Cralk, CAN; RC Navy, WWII

John Siler – Banner, OK; Merchant Marine, WWII

Francis Weniger – Plankinton, SD; US Navy, WWII, PTO

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Intermission Story (3) – Cpl. Delmer R. Beam & PTSD

Cpl. Delmer Beam

Taken from the book, “Soldiers Stories: A Collection of WWII Memoirs” with permission by Myra Miller; written by Marshall Miller.

War Stories don’t always end when the shooting stops and soldiers return to civilian life.  The family of former Army Corporal Delmer Beam can tell you all about he horrors of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Cpl. Beam;s separation papers list him as a “Combat Infantryman” in the Army’s 6th Division, 1st Infantry Regiment, C Company.  His WWII experiences started in 1939, as a 17-year old, at Fort Jackson near Columbia, South Carolina and stretched into August 1945, after several years of bitter fighting in the South Pacific against Japanese forces at New Guinea and the Philippines.

Delmer’s wife, Gladys, told her children, Lonnie, Roger and Lana, that the father they came to know after the war was nothing like the “joyful, fun guy” who gave 6½ years of his life – and numerous difficult years beyond – to the cause of freedom.

Gladys said the war destroyed her husband, both mentally and physically.  In the mid-1960’s, Lana said he submitted to shock treatments at Mount Vernon Hospital to calm down his combat issues.  The children couldn’t understand why they weren’t allowed to shoot fireworks on the 4th of July.

Delmer and Gladys Beam

The few stories Beam told about his experiences were tough to hear. Like the one where soldiers were ordered to shoot thirty rounds of ammunition every morning into the surrounding trees to protect the camp from Japanese snipers, who would climb high to get maximum angles on their targets.  Once, Beam recalled, several soldiers were killed by a sniper, even after the morning strafing.  After an exhaustive search, the sniper finally was located hiding in a water canvas bag hanging from a tree.  He had crawled in, poked a small hole in the canvas and shot his victims with a pistol.

Soldier’s Stories

Japanese marksmen and fierce fighting weren’t the only obstacles thrown in Beam’s path.  Malaria was a difficult burden and an attack from scrub typhus mites nearly killed him.  Delmer told his family he got so sick from the mites that he was presumed dead while lying on a stretcher on a bench.  Someone saw him move however and he was transferred to a hospital ship.

His son Roger, chronicled his memories of his Dad’s experience :

As a young boy, I was always enamored with army war stories.  I would ask him about the war many times.  Only on a very few occasions would he talk about it.  It is strange how I can remember some of the stories he told me when I can’t remember what i did yesterday….

He said he saw GI’s almost kill each other over a piece of chicken wire.  The reason is that they would stretch the wire over their fox holes so the Japanese hand grenades would hit the wire and bounce back before it exploded.  It rained every day in the jungle and was very hot and humid…

He told me about his best friend, a young 19-year old from Hope, Arkansas.   While they were being attacked one day by Japanese, my Dad kept telling him to stop sticking his head up over the embankment they were behind, but the young man kept doing it until he got hit in the head and died in my dad’s arms.  This has always made a picturesque impression on me…

I know he was haunted the rest of his life about what he went through, just like so many others.  He was a good dad and even got better the older he got… Dad never met a stranger, he would talk to anyone.

Leather map case

Despite his health issues, Delmer spent his post-war years in Dixon, Missouri, and worked at Fort Leonard Wood as a fire inspector.  He died in 1991 at age 70.  His daughter had these words to remember her Dad:  I guess the most uplifting thing about my dad was… he really believed that he survived when others died because God wasn’t done with him yet.

From Beam’s grandson, Roger Beam Jr., :

My grandpa Delmar told me this story several times as a small boy.  I think he always got a kick out of it and was probably one of his “better” memories of the war.

He told me of the time his squad was out one evening climbing around the sides of trees collecting peppers that they used to flavor basically all their food.  They had rifles slung and arms full of peppers.  As they came around a tree, to their shock and surprise they ran into a squad of Japanese soldiers doing the exact same thing!  He said the resulting chaos was both terrifying and hilarious, as both groups scrambled away.  Not a shot was fired and they saved their peppers!

In the midst of such a horrible time for my grandfather, it does make smile a bit remembering how he smiled when telling this story.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Current PTSD Assistance –

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38624/new-va-online-tool-helps-veterans-learn-compare-effective-ptsd-treatments/

https://www.va.gov/VLER/vler-health-exchange-registration-guide.asp?utm_source=govdelivery&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=vler-promo2017-vawide

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38287/veterans-conquer-depression-equine-therapy/

http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/38060/va-announces-new-strategic-partnerships-advance-solutions-tbi-ptsd/

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Military / Home Front Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Joseph Armstrong – NYC, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, LCI

Gustave Breaux – Notleyville, LA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO / Vietnam, CMSgt. (Ret. 28 yrs.)

Joseph Dixon – Ochlocknee, GA; US Navy, WWII

Parker ‘Bill’ Fredericks – Midvale, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO / Korea, Lt.Col. (Ret. 26 yrs.)

Roy James – Sylvarina, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO

John Jarrosak – W.Rutland, VT; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

Darcy Larking – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Army # 624362, Pvt.

Robert Shoemaker – Killeen, TX; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, West Point Class of ’46, General (Ret.)

Hans Traber – Unterseen, SWITZ; Swiss Army, WWII

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Peleliu – Eye Witness Account

" Thousand Yard Stare" by Thomas C. Lea III

” Thousand Yard Stare” by Thomas C. Lea III

“The main cause of the 1st Marines going through the ordeal of Peleliu was the rugged and well-defended terrain of the Umurbrogol Hills.  They were honeycombed with caves and enemy strongholds.  Spearheading the grueling assault was Colonel “Chesty” Puller’s 1st Regiment.  The following are excerpts from Pvt. Russell Davis:

We went quickly into line, backing and plunging a bit in the surf like race horses in the starting gate. The control oflicers in the picket boats sighted along the line and then waved us ahead. We took off into the wake of the second Wave, but it was hard to see them when they were in the troughs of the swells.

Everyone was up and yelling but Buck and the squad leader. They crouched low; both of them were young but their faces looked old with determination and fear. When we hit the beach they would have the job to do, and we would do whatever they told us to do.

It was almost a glorious feeling, roaring in toward he beach with fear gone for the moment. We were in motion with thousands of tons of armed might at our backs; and it seemed that nothing could stop us. We were an old and tried outfit, led by men like Buck and the squad leader, who would know what to do when the time came to do it. As we rolled in on Peleliu, and before we were hit, the excitement took us and we were not afraid of anything. Some men began to chant: “Drive! Drivel!Drive!”

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I saw the amphibious tractor in front of us go up in a shellburst. For a moment I didn’t realize what I had seen. Somebody said: “Hey, I think they hit him,” in a complaining tone, as though it were against the rules to do that.

The amtrac flamed, spread gas on the water, and wallowed in a puddle of fire. Men spilled from it. The driver of our tractor screamed so loud we heard him above everything. He had seen the hit and he was very frightened.”

After Pvt. Davis landed and joined in the fight:

“Clawing and crawling up the cliff went platoons that were no more than squads and companies that were no more than large platoon.  From the base of the cliffs we could pick out each man and follow him until he got hit, went to the ground or climbed to the top.  Not many made it to the top.

As they toiled, caves, gulley’s and holes opened up the Japanese dashed out to roll grenades down on them and sometimes to lock body to body in desperate wrestling matches.  Knives and bayonets flashed on the hillside.  I saw one man straighten and lunge to kick something that attacked his legs like a mad dog.  He reached and heaved, and a Japanese soldier came end over end down the hill.  The machine-gunner yelled encouragement.”

The Attacks on the hills during the first week of battle cost Puller’s regiment 1/3 its strength.

Russell Davis wrote the book, “Marine At War”.

Thomas C. Lea III, war correspondent for “Life” magazine, author and artist of the “2000 Yard Stare” and “The Price” said about the actual Marine on Peleliu: “He left the States 31 months ago. He was wounded in his first campaign. He has had tropical diseases.  He half-sleeps at night and gouges Japs out of holes all day. Two-thirds of his company has been killed or wounded. He will return to attack this morning. How much can a human being endure?”usmc-c-peleliu-p3b

As seen from the air on D-Day, 15 September 1944, Beaches WHITE 1 and 2, on which the 1st and 3d Battalions, 1st Marines, landed. Capt George P. Hunt’s Company K, 3/1, was on the extreme left flank of the 1st Marine Division.
Department of Defense Photo (USN) 283745

References: US Army Center of Military Information; World War II Today and ibiblio.org.

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Military Humor –

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leo Adams – Brighton Bch., NY; US Army, WWII, Lt., US 5th Army

Alice Attchison – Saskatchewan, CAN; RC Woman’s Air Force, WWII

Frank Bartos – McHenry, IL; USMC, WWII, PTOth-jpg1

John Caddell – Belmont, NH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Haggard

Clarence Day – Wanganui, NZ; RNZ Army # 446267, WWII, Engineers

Gilbert Meehan – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

William ‘Ryan’ Owens – Peoria, IL; US Navy SEAL, Yemen, KIA

Charles Rupprecht – Collierville, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Div., Communications

Carl Stearns – Oshkosh, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea, SSgt.

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Japanese Diary on Kolombangara

Aerial view of Kolombangara, 1943

Aerial view of Kolombangara, 1943

In New Georgia on the Soloman Islands a Japanese private soldier found himself thrown into a campaign that had already been lost. He and his companions from the 23rd Infantry Regiment were landed on Baanga Island, where the troops in occupation were already in retreat. U.S. forces were already well established on nearby islands and the seas around were patrolled by PT boats and destroyers, making it increasingly difficult for the Japanese to land reinforcements or supplies.

Little is known about Tadashi Higa apart from what was found in his diary which was found by the Americans and translated for intelligence purposes. On the 3rd August 1943 he made the following entry

Kolombangara

Kolombangara

We walked along either starving or chewing hard tack. The men in the forces that were withdrawing had pale faces; and there was one casualty in torn clothing who went along using a sword as a cane.

Being just one battalion, we are helpless. We withdrew further. We must withdraw tonight, for our number will be up when day breaks. To advance would have meant death. The situation is indescribable.

The day broke. Enemy planes came roaring toward us, and if we had been detected, it would have meant our end.

The force has spent three days and four nights hiding in the brush without eating, and soaking wet. We were unable to advance a step. We were awaiting the order for an immediate withdrawal to Kolombanga.

Everybody picked coconuts. The enemy was hurriedly constructing an airfield opposite us. We could see them so clearly that it seemed we could have touched them. It only meant that more air attacks were in store for us. Our lives were worthless, for there was no order for withdrawal after all. I have come to hate the men who cause wars. The withdrawal order didn’t come through tonight either.

Our rations have run out. I felt as though I had Malaria, and I took quinine tablets and Hinomarin to keep alive. I was merely awaiting my fate and yet I wanted to die fighting.

It isn’t merely that Japan is being defeated. I felt like crying. Being wet, and in a jungle full of mosquitoes, I thought of home. Ah! The letters from home last month. Ten letters and fourteen or fifteen postcards after a year without any word. There were also letters from my parents.

News from HARUKO, I cherish deeply. But the new was that my beloved younger sister has died, has become a cold, black corpse. Oh! When I thought of her fate, the tears came. I really cried. I felt bitter toward Providence. When I realized that fate determines our lives, my mind became calm. Although death comes sooner or later, I felt sorry for my sister who had to die so young. I prayed for the repose of her soul.

Our parents must be bereaved. Furthermore my mother, who is always thinking about me, must be going through an ordeal worse than death. War is sad.

Nature remains unaffected by such things, though. The morning sun shone, the wind blew softly, yet rain fell plentifully. The hard tack was wet and gave out a foul odor; nobody ate it. We did nothing except gnaw on coconuts.

Two large landing barges were attacked by torpedo boats while they were transporting material to this island. One squad of our CO was on them. I wonder what happened to them.

We talked about home, and we criticized war conditions. We ate no food; our life was just this and nothing else. There was talk that, even today, dead bodies floated up on the north shore. When we thought of their deaths, we were overcome with sorrow.

There was talk that the men of the Southeast Div have not yet arrived. We could not expect them, because our forces, driven hither and thither, must have been roaming about these lonely islands. I wondered what would become of them! I wondered, too, what fate had in store for us!

Despite his sadness and his despair on 13th August Tadashi made his last entry in his diary:

We are determined to resist to the last soldier, and with that intention I lay down my pen.

It was the same situation as on Attu in the northern Pacific, despite knowing that they fought without hope of victory, or even of surviving, the ordinary Japanese soldier saw no alternative but to fight on.

His diary was eventually found on 20th August, what became of Tadashi Higa is not known. The diary was translated by the Combat Intelligence Center, South Pacific Force, and is now retained by the U.S. Naval Historical Center.

From WWIIToday.com?

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Military Humor – 6a00d8341bfadb53ef00e54f2c2fcf8834-640wi

Do a brave thing today!

Do a brave thing today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Arnold – Durham, NC; US Army, Korea

William Dellraria – Chelsea, MA & FL; Merchant Marine, WWIIeagles-with-bowed-heads

Joseph Gathercoal – Chicago, IL; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Donald Johnson – Howard Beach, NY; US Army, Korea era

Percy Jarrell – Hillsboro, OH; US Merchant Marine, WWII

Davis Meyer – Spokane, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Charles Rollins –  Calendonia, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

George Sakato – Colton, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Nisei 442nd RCT, Medal of Honor

Edward Tutty – Hawks Bay, NZ; RNZ Army # 45053, WWII, 29th Battery

James Wylie – TX & NC; USMC; WWII, Korea, Col. (Ret.), pilot

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Combat Photographers

US Marine Corps photo, Guam

US Marine Corps photo, Guam (Who took this picture?)

When you watch the TV news, videos or newsreels and see the daring reporter enter a combat area – ask yourself – ‘who went in there first to record that moment?’  The unsung heroes of combat photographers have been supplying the public with information since their cameras were invented:

Adolph Hitler being installed as Chancellor of Germany and all of his subsequent conquests across Europe; Mussolini’s troops in Ethiopia; the Battle of Britain and the invasion of Russia were all captured and seen in newspapers and newsreels shown in 14,000 local U.S. neighborhood theaters.  When Japan invaded China, two American newsreel cameramen were there – Norman Alley of Universal and Eric Mayell of Fox Movietone.

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Norman Alley & Eric Mayell, USS Panay, 1937

Enlisted, drafted or civilian, the men often dropped their cameras to pick up a rifle and so few people realize the price often paid.  But during WWII, the home front was hungry for news of the war and their loved ones – and the cameras were rolling.

To name only a few ….

Ken Bell

Ken Bell

-Fred Baylis of Paramount, enroute from Germany’s invasion of France to Sicily was killed when his plane burned.
– Ken Bell, a Lt. in the Canadian Army Film and Photo Unit, worked in the ETO.
– Margaret Bourke-White, the first female war correspondent and only foreign photographer in Moscow when Germany

Margaret Bourke-White

Margaret Bourke-White

invaded Russia, moved on to cover more of the ETO.

Robert Capa

Robert Capa

– Robert Capa, filmed the Spanish Civil War, Sino-Japan War, the ETO and while at the First Indochina War, stepped on a land mine and died with his camera in his hand.
– Dickey Chapelle, only female photographer on Iwo Jima, also covered Okinawa and continued to work in Vietnam.

Dickey Chapelle

Dickey Chapelle

-Earle Crotchett of Universal, caught in a Japanese air raid on New Guinea, broke his leg – but caught the attack on film.
– Harold Dunkley, one of Australia’s longest serving photographers, captured the CBI, the Philippines and returned for the Korean War.

Harold Dunkley

Harold Dunkley

– Lee Embree, a US Army SSgt., took the first air-to-air photographs of Japanese pilots bombing Pearl Harbor and then went out to cover the PTO.
– 2nd Lt. Donald Mittelstaedt, saw action in most every battle of the Pacific, including the 11th Airborne Division while they were in Battangas Province, south of Manila, P.I.

Donald Mittelstaedt w/ the 11th A/B near Manila

Donald Mittelstaedt w/ the 11th A/B near Manila

-Dave Oliver of Pathe News, skipped clear of a German shell while picturing the 5th Allied Army in Italy.

– Damien Parer of Paramount, traveled with the Marines from Pearl Harbor to Palau, where he was shot and killed by machine-gun fire in September 1944.

Rey Scott

Rey Scott

Rey Scott, wrote, produced and shot the documentary “Kukan, The Battle Cry of China” and traveled to Chongquing and filmed the Japanese bombings of the city from the rooftop of the US Embassy building.  He flew 9 missions for the taping of “Report From the Aleutians” and continued to film as both a civilian and soldier.

William Clothier

William Clothier

Major William Wyler, more widely known as a director, flew missions for the filming of “Memphis Belle” along with Captains Harold Tannenbaum and Bill Clothier.  Wyler was awarded the Air Medal for his 5 sorties, but came home deaf.  Tannenbaum was killed in action.  Clothier rose to LtColonel and flew 17 missions for the ‘Belle.’

Sadly, not all will be mentioned here, the US Navy had 11 combat-photography units and there was the US Army Pictorial Service.  Other countries sent there their units.  Sgt. Bert Balaban took Wake Island aerials; Sgt.’s Norman Hatch & Obie Newcomb were at Tarawa; Cpl. Arthur J. Kiely Jr. in Saipan and Lt. Dewey Wrigley was on Attu, Alaska and in Sicily & southern France.

Norm Hatch speaks with Herb Schlosberg.

Norm Hatch speaks with Herb Schlosberg.

USMC SSgt. Louis Lowery took the original [and to me, the most noteworthy] picture of raising the flag on Iwo Jima.  The second photo (and most famous) was orchestrated by Joe Rosenthal, but taken by Bob Campbell and Bill Genaust.  Genaust was killed in action nine days later.

Capt. Lou Lowrey

Capt. Lou Lowrey

These men and so many more deserve higher honors than they ever received for the perils they withstood to give the world the pictures we are all still privileged to see today.  They captured History.

Click images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – S.N.A.F.U.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Alexander Bonnyman Jr. – Knoxville, TN; USMC, WWII, Lt., PTO, Medal of Honor, KIA > Body returned home.

John DeMarco – Troy, NY; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTOTaps

Paul Gaeke – Hobe Sound, FL; US Army, Vietnam, artillery

Robert Lutes – Mountain Home, AR; US Air Force, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, pilot, Bronze Star, DFC

Francis J. Menchey – Gettysburg, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class

Michael Metcalf – Boynton Beach, FL; US Army, Pvt. 1st Class, Afghanistan

Paul Piché – Nanalmo, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, ETO, 443 Squadron

Donald Sirl – Cleveland, OH; US Army, Korea

Lilian Gladys Tompkins – Hamilton, NZ; WWII, nurse, Changi POW

Eldridge Williams – Miami, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Tuskegee airman,/ Korea

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I am having a difficult time with the new Reader program.  Should I happen to miss anyone’s latest post – please leave a comment so that I can get back to you – THANK YOU!!

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November 1942 (3)

Australian servicemen raise their flag after capturing Kokoda from the enemy

Australian servicemen raise their flag after capturing Kokoda from the enemy

 

2 November – this date marks the point where the Australian forces on New Guinea retook Kokoda as they pushed the Japanese approximately half-way back across the Track.

8-13 November – MacArthur moved his advance headquarters to Port Moresby, [far from any evidence of the harsh conditions under which the men were fighting], and he became impatient with the lack of speed in succeeding against the enemy.  MGen. “Bloody George” Vassey was sent to the 7th Australian Division.  Two days later, Vassey used the enemy’s favorite tactic against them – a flanking movement on the town of Oivi.  This forced 1,200 battered Japanese to cross the raging Kumusi River.  The safety of Port Moresby was now secured.

Impressive and dramatic actual films of the Kokoda Track caught the realties of war….

Gen. Horii, the Japanese commander drowned as his makeshift boat overturned while attempting to cross the river.  A Japanese newsman reported, “The soldiers had eaten anything to appease hunger – young shoots of trees, roots of grass, even cakes of earth… they could no longer digest food.  Many vomited and died.”

14 November – to speed up the Papuan operation, MacArthur flew in the 126th and 128th regiments of the US 32nd Infantry Div., under Gen. E.F. Harding, to assist at Buna.  The Australians concentrated on Gona and the 5th Air Force controlled the skies along the coast for supplies to enter Cape Nelson.  Imperial Gen. Hitoshi Imamura [conqueror of the Dutch East Indies], sent 2,000 troops to Buna to support the 5,000 at the New Guinea ports.

Gen. Sir Thomas Blamey & LtGen. Robert Eichelberger in front of a captured enemy bunker in New Guinea

Gen. Sir Thomas Blamey & LtGen. Robert Eichelberger in front of a captured enemy bunker in New Guinea

General Harding would later regret ever stating that Buna would be “easy pickings.”  Neither the Australians or the Americans had the artillery necessary to break through the enemy fortifications.  For their bunkers and tunnels, the enemy used tree trunks, steel and concrete to reinforce their positions.

The 3rd New Zealand Division was on Fiji and the 2nd Div. remained fighting in the Middle East.  The Royal New Zealand Air Force did however send a squadron of Hudsons to Guadalcanal during this month.

Through the periscope, the USS Wahoo views their Japanese target submerge.

Through the periscope, the USS Wahoo views their Japanese target submerge.

17-19 November – the Japanese on the Kokoda Track were forced back to the Buna/Gona area and received reinforcements.  The American attack on Buna was not successful.

24-30 November –  the enemy landed troops at Munda Point, New Georgia.  These 5 islands were originally by-passed by the Japanese in favor of Guadalcanal, 100 miles south.  US Intelligence was aware of the enemy convoy on the 28th, but thought little of the landing.

Col. Edward V. Rickenbacker rescued after being lost at sea since 2 Oct.

Col. Edward V. Rickenbacker rescued after being lost at sea since 2 Oct.

Despite any failures on the part of the Japanese during this month, the expertise of the enemy night-flying groups was expertly demonstrated.  This started the US into a serious look into furthering their own techniques and technology.

28 November – the US Army 22nd Construction Battalion reached Sitka, Alaska to begin work on over 155 projects.  They would remain there until 1 May 1943.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Shelva Abbott – Highland Hts., KY; US Army, WWII

Joseph Buzbee – WPalm Beach, FL; US Navy, WWIIBFC at sunset (800x543)

Patrick Kelliher – Whangaparaoa, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 452487, WWII, gunner

John Jones – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII

Ernest Legge – Jamaica, VT; US Navy, Korea, SeaBee

Richard Murphy Jr. – Washington DC; USMC, WWII, CBI, SSgt.

Walter Oetting – Fort Wayne, IN; US Army, WWII, Korea, Sgt., chief mechanic

Robert Satterthwaite – Lake Worth, FL; USMC, Vietnam, Cpl E-3

John Vicary – AUS; 26 AIF, WWII, Merauke Force, Pvt.

George Williams Jr. – Wilmington, NC; US Navy, Vietnam, sub USS Skipjack

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Correspondent’s View

The Golden Stairs up Imita Ridge. Engineers cut more than 2,000 steps into the mountain.

The Golden Stairs up Imita Ridge. Engineers cut more than 2,000 steps into the mountain.

October 1942, Australian journalist, George H. Johnston, recorded his graphic account of the rigors, of what he called, the toughest fighting in the world: 6451302 “The insect life, from scorpions to butterflies, is impressive, but only for a time though.  You eventually reach a stage when flora and fauna and even the Japs gradually lose interest.  Your mental processes allow you to be conscious of only one thing – ‘The Track’ – or more usually – ‘The Bloody Track.’

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“You listen to your legs creaking and stare at the ground and think of the next stretch of mud and you wonder if the hills will even end.  Up one almost perpendicular mountain face more than 2,000 steps have been cut out of the mud and built up with felled saplings inside which the packed earth has long since become black glue.  Each step is 2-foot high.  You slip on 1-in-3.  There are no resting places.  Climbing it is the supreme agony of mind and spirit.  The troops, with fine irony, have christened it ‘The Golden Staircase.”

Men & horses transport equipment down a stretch of Kokoda Track near Ower's Corner.

Men & horses transport equipment down a stretch of Kokoda Track near Ower’s Corner.

“Life changes as you push up the track.  Standards of living deteriorate, sometimes below normally accepted standards even of primitive existence.  Thoughts become somber, humour takes on a glum, almost macabre quality.  When men reach the nadir of mental and physical agony there are times when sickness or injury or even death seem like things to be welcomed. “Near Efogi, on a slimy section of the track that reeks with the stench of death, the remain of an enemy soldier lie on a crude stretcher, abandoned by the Japanese retreat.  The flesh has gone from his bones and a white bony claw sticks out of a ragged uniform sleeve stretching across the track.  Every Australian who passes, plodding up the muddy rise that leads to the pass, grasps the skeleton’s grisly hand, shakes it fervently and says, ‘Good on you, sport!’ before wearily moving on.” 11459675_112671632690 George H.Johnston (1912-1970) – best known for his book, “My Brother Jack,” he was a war correspondent during WWII for the Melbourne “Argus” newspaper. Click on images to enlarge. #################################################################################

Sad Sack’s Military Humor – 

Building the shower

Building the shower

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Farewell Salutes – 

Vernon Casanave – Palm Bch, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, SSgt.

Hiram Davidson – Little Rock, AR; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. Major

Peter Dawson – brn : Yorkshire, UK & Horsey, AUS; Royal Navy, 10 yrs.,anzac

Thomas Gordon – Pueblo, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

St. Clair Knight Jr. – Greenville, SC; US Army, WWII, ETO, Capt., 102nd Infantry Div.

Albert Laubenstein – Saskatoon, CAN; RC Artillery & Infantry/Lincoln & Welland Reg., ETO, KIA 1/26/45

Erwin Murdock – Boynton Bch., FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunner’s mate 2nd class

Melvin Raley – Gibson, GA; US Army, WWII, ETO, H Co/22 Inf.Reg/4th Inf.Div/3rd Army

Charles Stevenson – Timaru, NZ; RNZ Army # 821225, 27 MG Battalion

Marvin Underwood – Evansville, IN; US Army, WWII, PTO, 158th RCT, Purple Heart, Bronze Star #################################################################################

June 1942 (1)

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, 4 June 1942 - shipping and oil storage ablaze

Dutch Harbor, Alaska, 4 June 1942 – shipping and oil storage ablaze

Aleutian Islands, Alaska

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As of 1 June 1942, American military strength in Alaska stood at 45,000 men, with about 13,000 at Cold Bay (Fort Randall), on the tip of the Alaskan Peninsula and at 2 Aleutian bases: the Naval facility at Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island and a recently built Army air base, (Fort Glenn), on Umnak Island.  Army strength, less air force personnel at those 3 bases totaled no more than 2,300, composed mainly of infantry, field and antiaircraft artillery troops and a large construction engineer contingent [rushed in for the construction of the bases].

Admiral Theobald

Admiral Theobald

On Admiral Robert Theobald’s arrival at Kodiak, he assumed control of the US Army Air Corps’ 11 Air Force, commanded by General Butler.  This force consisted of 10 heavy and 34 medium bombers and 95 fighters, divided between its main base, Elmendorf Airfield, in Anchorage and at airfields at Cold Bay and on Umnak.  Theobald ordered Butler to locate the Japanese fleet that was reported heading for Dutch Harbor and attack it with its bombers, concentrating on sinking Hosogaya’s 2 aircraft carriers.   Once they eliminate the enemy planes, Task Force-8 would engage the enemy fleet.

Dutch Harbor, Alaska

Dutch Harbor, Alaska

On the afternoon of 2 June, a naval patrol plane spotted the approaching enemy fleet and reported its location as 800 miles sw of Dutch Harbor.  Theobald placed his entire command on full alert.  Shortly thereafter, the bad weather rolled in and the enemy fleet could no longer be found.  The destroyers, USS King and Talbot, seaplane tender, Gillis, USCG cutter Onondaga, US Army transports President Fillmore and Morlen all weighed anchor and called battle stations.

206th Coast Artillery gun emplacement

206th Coast Artillery gun emplacement

For the Japanese, the Aleutian Campaign was initially intended as a reconnaissance in force.  Adak was to be occupied, any US installation there destroyed, its harbors mined and then the force would withdraw and land on Attu – all by the Japanese Army.  Kiska was to be occupied by their Naval force and held until fall, whereby they would evacuate before the severe winter weather moved in.  The reason for this, the Japanese flying boats could cover the northern half of the 1,400 miles between Adak and Midway.  The first blow on the Aleutians was to be one day before Midway to confuse the Americans and throw their timing.

The principle elements of the Japanese Second Mobile Force were the 2 carriers Ryujo and Junyo and launched their attack against Dutch Harbor 3 June.  Only 6 fighters and 13 carrier attack planes (all from the Ryujo reached the target due to the weather.  The next wave of 32 planes, with experienced pilots, reached their target and did considerable damage.  Upon returning from the attack, the Junyo planes chose a rendezvous point off Umnak Island which turned out to be almost directly over a US airfield that the enemy had had no previous knowledge of.  Here they lost 4 aircraft to the defending US fighters.

Click on images to enlarge.

To be continued….

Judy Hardy at Greatest Generation Lessons and I are coordinating the military and home front views of this period.  Judy had her Uncle Ced in Alaska on an Army base at this time and her family retained the letters of correspondence.  

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Military Humor – 

OLD SERVICEMEN

OLD SERVICEMEN

NEW SERVICEMEN

NEW SERVICEMEN

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Farewell Salutes – 

Jeff Brown – Dundee, NY; US Army, Captain (Ret. 20 years)

Jim Cameron – Juneau, AK; US Army, 82nd Airborne Infantryimg_96953714425802

Frank Duran – Tampa, FL; USMC, Shore party crane operator

Vic Ison – Covington, GA; USMC, WWII, PTO / US Army, Korea

Robert Murphy – Bedford, NH; US Army, Korea

Dale Noyes – Victor, IA; USMC; WWII, PTO

Try Reeves Jr. – Hokes Bluff, AL; US Air Force (Ret. 33 years), Vietnam 2 tours

John Swinkels – New Lynn, NZ; RNetherlands Army # 260816143, Prinses Irene Regiment

Allan Thompson – Beaufort, AUS; RA Air Force # 408936, WWII

Alexander Vraciu – W.Sacramento, CA; US Navy, ace pilot, PTO, Navy Cross

Johnny Workman – Talihina, OK; USMC, Vietnam

Lawrence Ziegler – Comox, CAN; RC Artillery, WWII, / RC Air Force (Ret.)

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Malayan Campaign (2)

Gen. Bennet at Gemas

Gen. Bennet at Gemas

General Bennett’s story continued_______

Then came the battle of Bakri where the 19th and 29th held the road for several days although they were being attacked on all sides.  The men who survived fought their way back…destroyed their equipment and tried to filter back in small parties.

Next, the Japanese concentrated on the Batu Pahat…they landed men in sampans.  Troops had just arrived from England and were quite unused to Malayan conditions and they were unsuccessful in landing at Batu Pahat.  This meant our force at Gemas was almost cut off.  Our withdrawal from the Gemas area was one of the saddest events of the campaign from the Australian point of view.  During the next week the whole force was gradually withdrawn.

Singapore

Singapore

Sadly the men crossed the causeway to Singapore Island.  Our position was strengthened by the arrival of the 4th (W.A.) Machine Gun Battalion.  The 7 Australian battalions were given the western half of the island.  The A.I.F had the 44th Indian Brigade.  The 3rd Indian Corps had the newly arrived English division.  When the men began to build beach posts for machine-guns and beach lights, the Japanese aircraft flew up and down bombing them.

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The Japanese were able to observe the Australian positions so closely by air, they made maps showing everyone of them.  They launched their attacks in boats in the dark overwhelming the thin defense…Our units received inadequate support from other units…It must be remembered that many of these troops were exhausted after the long fight in Malaya.

Lookout

Lookout

Even at this stage, the A.I.F. managed to form a strong perimeter, which the enemy smashed over and over again…retirements on our flanks forced withdrawals until our line approached the city itself.  Then the enemy was able to concentrate his whole air force and many of his guns on Singapore, which was being reduced to a pile of rubble.  Casualties among the civilians were very heavy.  The city’s water supply was cut off.

Brig. Duncan Maxwell

Brig. Duncan Maxwell

Our forces were so depleted in the A.I.F. that it was necessary to use noncombatant troops…signalers, Army Service Corps and ordnance – did fine work.  At the end we occupied a perimeter we refused to budge.  It was in this position when the direction to surrender was made.  Brigadier Maxwell who is a doctor in civilian life was given permission to hand over his command to work in an Australian hospital – all the nurses had been withdrawn from the island.

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[General Bennett made an escape from Singapore to Australia via Java.  Brigadier Maxwell remained a prisoner until September 1945; when he returned to Australia.]

Click on images to enlarge.

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British Military Humor – 

Home Guard cadets

Home Guard cadets

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kathleen Daniels – Michigan & FL; US Army7388b_To-Honor-Ones-Country-Wreath

Robert Isgrove – Botony, NZ; RNZ Navy # 16636, WWII

Thomas Lapinski – Toledo, OH; US Army, 187th RCT, Korea

Rowena Littrell – Austin, TX; US  Army, WWII, nurse corps

Peter Miles – Coffs Harbour Base, AUS; RA Navy

Jeffrey Piter – WPalm Beach, FL; US Army, Vietnam

William Royal – Sun City, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Capt.(Ret. 20 years), 390 Bomber Group

Ronald Stuart – CAN; British Army “Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders & Madras Reg., Capt. & Canadian Militia & Intelligence, WWII

Alva Tubbs – Kenai, AK; US Navy, WWII, Underwater Demolition Team

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National POW/MIA Recognition Day (2)

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FOR ALL THOSE WHO BORE THE TRIALS – PAST AND PRESENT – MAY THEY ALWAYS COME HOME!

To view last years POW/MIA Day post click HERE

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POW/MIA

by: Abe Jones

For as long as we have Wars
And we send our Young to fight
We’ll have Those who are Missing
And the P.O.W.’s plight.
 
All People of this Nation
Have this Duty to fulfill,
We must keep Them in our thoughts
And, We must have the Will
 
To bring every One home
And those POW/MIAs
And leave NO Souls behind.
 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Pamela Brement – Tucson, AZ; civilian internee, WWII, Philippinespowmia

John Gulberanson – Roveville, MN; US navy, WWII, POW Santo Tomas, Philippines; Korea

Richard Klema – Wilson, KS & Morro Bay, CA; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Buel Knight – Tuscaloosa, AL; US Army, ETO, POW / USMC, Korea, Vietnam

Bruno Lombardi – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, 91st Bomb Group, Purple Heart, POW

Robert Miller – Owosso, Mich; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

Danile Segrete – Northport, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, POW

Harry Shevchuck – Wilmington, DE; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

John Swett – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, POW

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