Blog Archives

Current News – WWII Chapel in Australia + Purple Heart Day

St. Christopher’s

ROCKHAMPTON, Australia — As 33,000 troops take part in Talisman Saber war games near Rockhampton along the central Queensland coast, a small chapel overlooking a pasture serves as a reminder of when about 70,000 U.S. soldiers called the city home.

The nondenominational Saint Christophers Chapel, built in 1943 by the Army’s 542nd Engineer Battalion, is the only structure remaining from when Rockhampton served as a springboard and training location for Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s World War II island-hopping campaign. The city hosted the 1st Cavalry Division and the 24th, 32nd and 41st infantry divisions on a half-dozen camps between 1942-44.

Along with the open-air, pavilion-style chapel, the grounds include a band rotunda dedicated to a servicemember who helped maintain the chapel decades ago. A concrete pillar from an artillery declination station used by 41st Infantry Division howitzers stands at the chapel’s foot, a

Cliff Hudson, 79, of Sawtell, New South Wales, first visited the chapel about 30 years ago because it shares its name with his son.  “My wife always wanted our daughter to get married here because of the Christopher name,” he said.

Hudson said he is drawn by the chapel’s interior boards listing names, sporting events and results of competitions from the 1940s. The boards were taken from a nearby war-era sports field and placed inside and U.S. and Australian flags and seals adorn the gates and interior.

Saint Christopher’s nearly deteriorated in the years after WWII. Vandals destroyed parts of the chapel in 1959, prompting locals and the 41st Infantry Division Association to start caring for the site. Today, the chapel and its grounds are immaculately maintained, and church services are held each year on the Sunday closest to the Fourth of July.

Julie Henderson, 77, of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, said she’s glad the chapel still stands.  “It’s nice to come and remember the soldiers who served in the war because we weren’t there,” she said.

 

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

For further information about the chapel please click HERE!

#####################################################################################

Military Humor – from the Prisoners themselves – 

Air Activity in Java

#####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes –

William Andrews Jr. – Palm Springs, FL; US Air Force, Korea, Bronze Star

Lowell Bailey – Thomaston, GA; US Army, Korea, POW

Bruce D’Agostino – Natick, MA; US Air Force, photographer (Founder of Humanitaian International)

John Ekenbarger – Nashua, NH; US Army, Korea, POW

Richard Ford – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, WWII

George Franklin – Pensacola, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division, demolition

Quentin Gifford – Mankato, MN; US Navy, WWII, USS Oklahoma, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

Thomas Madison – Austin, TX; US Air Force, Vietnam, Col. (Ret. 20 yrs.), pilot, POW

Warren Glenn Ranscht – Racine, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, WIA

Albert Zuidema – Falls Church, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, pilot, WIA

####################################################################################

Personal Note – for Purple Heart Day posts click HERE!

Please remember that today 7 August is the U.S. observation of Purple Heart Day.  Shake the hand of a veteran!

And say a prayer for our 3 Marines missing in the waters off Australia.  Thank You.

Lt. Benjamin R. Cross of Bethel, Maine; Cpl. Nathan Ordway of Wichita, Kansas; and Pfc Reuben Velasco of California.

#####################################################################################

 

Advertisements

C.B.I. Roundup, 24 February 1944

r79

HELL, HIGH WATER
FAIL TO HALT BIG JOB
 

 It’s a little silly to tell United States Army Engineers that a job is impossible. It’s especially silly when they are building a road and under the command of a peripatetic old guy like Col. Lewis Pick. 

 Pick has white hair and didn’t develop his sturdy bottom sitting behind desks. He developed it travelling up and down the Ledo Road in a jeep, telling the boys with the hairy ears that they had to get so many miles done that day and damn the rain, the jungle, the mud, the mosquitoes, the mountains and the consequences. 

Lewis A. Pick

Lewis A. Pick

We are not trying to imply that Pick has gone forth like Lancelot in gilded armor, driving the lead bulldozer and challenging his boys to keep up. He probably couldn’t drive a bulldozer if he had to. What we are trying to say is that Pick is the guy who puts ants in everyone’s pants and delivered an engineering project that must equal in immensity and difficulty any that has ever been attempted by the United States Army. 

Pick doesn’t live in an ivory tower and neither do the boys whose muscles are actually building what is intended to be a new line of communication into China. These junior officers and men live along the road, on top of saw-tooth ridges, and are quite comfortable now. This, gentle readers, is the “dry” season. It only rains about four days out of five and the guys building the road only get wet on the outside. Later, when the monsoon opens, they’ll get wet from sweat and wet from rain and their clothes will never dry out, their shoes will mold, leeches will construct dugouts in their navels, mosquitoes will be as big as B-25’s, the mud will be the same only more so, but they’ll continue to build the road. 

US Corps of Engineers in the CBI.

US Corps of Engineers in the CBI.

 An officer will get an order from Pick to build five miles in 24 hours and he’ll say, “What does that damn fool think I am, a magician?” He’ll tell his sergeant, who will explain, “I’ve got four bulldozers. Two haven’t got clutches anymore. One is hitting on three cylinders. The other will be busy pushing stuck trucks that are never kept off this God-forsaken boulevard so we can build it.” 

They’ll gripe, curse, say it can’t be done, get their T/5 slips and build the five miles. They’ll never admit it was possible to build it. They’ll alibi that it was done because of some fortuitous circumstance beyond their control and say it can’t be done again. The truth is that it will be done again., and again, regardless of circumstances, and one day American trucks with Chinese and American drivers will be rumbling back up the Burma Road to China. 

When this road was started, the cynics went to work in earnest. It couldn’t be done, they said, and it did undoubtedly falter for a while. Then came reinforcements and Pick. The Americans, Chinese, Indians and assorted tribesmen have already pushed the road ahead at a faster pace than these same cynics ever believed possible. The road has been partially graveled, trucks move ahead, never stopping to permit construction to proceed unhampered. 

The first convoy down the Ledo Road, led by Gen. Pick.

The first convoy down the Ledo Road, led by Gen. Pick.

This road is not the Roosevelt Highway and 15-miles-per-hour speed limit signs make you shake your head and wonder how you can ever go that fast without telescoping your spine. It isn’t worth much for Sunday driving in your convertible coupe.  This road is a yellow scar torn through the lush, green jungle and a monument to officers and men who have imagination, who will take a chance, who are tough and who won’t be licked by the elements. 

[Under the outstanding command of General Pick, the Ledo Road was completed in only 2 ½ years.]

Click on images to enlarge.

#####################################################################################

CBI Military Humor – 

r525

r80

 

 #####################################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

Clarence Agress – Knoxville, TN; US Army WWII, CBI, 38th Evacuation Hospital, doctor

William Alloy – New Orleans, LA; US Army, Corps of Engineers (Ret. 38 yrs.)

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

Max Baker – Topeka, KS; US Army, WWII, PTO, Corps of Engineers bomb squad

Dominic Bonfanti – Ansonia, CT ; US Army, WWII, PTO, 277th Combat EngineersAmerican-Flag-Eagle2

Vincent Gonzalez – Camarillo, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 9th Combat Cargo Unit/10th AF

Roy Hardesty Jr. – Shelbville, KY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI

Alfred Kleeman – Brn: Stuttgart, GER; NY; US Army, WWII, CBI, 653rd Topographic Engineer Battalion, SSgt.

Hugh Purnel Jr. – Seattle, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 10th Air Force (The Hump)

Conrad Thompson – Youngstown, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Recon Photography, SSgt.

Joseph Williamson – Fort Mill, SC; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, Sgt. Major

####################################################################################

Army Aviation Engineers

Combat Engineer poster

Combat Engineer poster

 

Aviation engineers committed to the Japanese war had a more varied experience than did their colleagues in the ETO.  Climatic conditions ranged from the Arctic storms of Alaska to the tropical heat of the South Pacific.  The engineers also had to make adjustments to varying patterns of command.  In the SW Pacific, the Army’s aviation engineers played their largest role in the PTO.

U.S. Engineers build an airfield in northern Australia

U.S. Engineers build an airfield in northern Australia

The rout of Allied forces from the Philippines and East Indies in early 1942 made Australia the inevitable base, unless it too should succumb.  Airfields around Darwin were the most urgent construction requirement when the 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion, first in that theater, arrived.  For more than 3 months, they cleared sites, then grated and graveled them for use by fighters and transports.  Seven airfields were completed when the 808th left for Port Moresby in July.

CBI Engineers

CBI Engineers

In New Guinea the problems were far worse than the planners had anticipated: the distances, the lack of docks and roads, the jungles and mountains, health and morale in one of the most primitive parts of the world – the 200 runways built between Australia and Okinawa, roads, camps sites, docks, hospitals, depots, storage facilities and whatever else was needed; sometimes with the assistance of the SeaBees.

US Army 1st Engineers

US Army 1st Engineers

When the situation became desperate by Japanese movement, the AAF required extensive facilities developed during and under enemy action.  The Jackson Drome near Port Moresby was improved amid bombings, ships unloading, aircraft repairs and the saturation of the rainy season.

127th A/B Engineers

127th A/B Engineers

On 12 November 1942, the 127th Airborne Engineer Battalion was instituted.  It was activated as an element of the 11th Airborne Division on 25 February 1943 at Camp MacKall, NC, the birthplace of many an airborne unit.  The battalion consisted of 3 letter companies, A, B, C, plus a Headquarters and Service Company.

C Company/127th

C Company/127th

From the date of activation until June 1945, the battalion was commanded by Lt.Col. Douglas C. Davis.  In the decade that followed, units of this type became permanent Airborne Engineer Battalions and they were the only ones remaining in the US Army after WWII.  Being assigned and reassigned, these men formed closely knit friendships.

unis3

The initial phase of organization and unit training for the 127th A/B Engineers was conducted at Camp MacKall.  It was there that the kinks were worked out of this novel type of organization.  Experienced engineer officers and non-commissioned officers tackled the new problems that airborne capability imposed.

The time at Camp MacKall spent in training men to fill the ranks of this unique battalion was a two-fold job.  First, engineer soldiers had to be produced and then soldier engineers trained in the revolutionary vertical deployment.  This herculean task of training and organization was accomplished in a relatively short period before the entire 11th Airborne moved on to jungle warfare training and advanced unit operations at Camp Polk, Louisiana.

Click on images to enlarge.

###############################################################################

Military Humor – Route_225e64_1267680

Sad Sack engineer leads the way.

Sad Sack engineer leads the way.

 

 

###############################################################################

Farewell Salutes – 

James Angels – San Diego, CA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret.)

Bruce Badcock – AUS; RA Air Force # 31835, WWII, PTO & CBIMediumPic634249020853470000

Madeline Bartley – Brooklyn, NY; Salvation Army, WWII, Pilot, flew planes between bases

Francis Buckholz – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, ETO, 733rd Field Artillery Batt./3rd Army

Robert Dubreuil – Clarksville, TN; US Army, Korea & Vietnam, Sgt. (ret.)

Redman J. Engle – Pitman, NJ; US Army, Korea, !87th RCT

Roberta Freeman – Katikati, NZ; WAAC # 811163, WWII, Signal Corps

William Meuser – Poughkeepsie, NY; US Navy, WWII & Korea

Chester Sourthworth – Kunkirk, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, A Co/472 Artillery/11th A/B

Mary Witt – WPalm Beach, FL & MD; WWII, Civilian parachute packer

###############################################################################

%d bloggers like this: