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USS West Virginia – Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay

USS West Virginia, pre-WWII

Her wounds had been grievous that morning in 1941, when Japanese torpedo bombers  swept low over the shallow waters of Pearl Harbor and unleashed their deadly cargoes at the easy targets moored along Battleship Row.  The surface might of the U.S. Pacific Fleet was virtually helpless against the onslaught, and those ships moored outboard received the brunt of the devastating attack.

Oklahoma capsized and West Virginia took 7 torpedoes into her port side, gouging huge holes in her hull.  Two modified artillery shells, configured as

USS West Virginia (BB-48)

aerial bombs, struck aft.  The ship’s captain, Mervyn Bennion, was cut down by a steel fragment but remained in command, perishing with courage and later receiving a posthumous Medal of Honor.  Dorie Miller, a cook, manned a machine-gun and received the Navy Cross for heroism.

Alert counterflooding kept West Virginia from capsizing and the heavily damaged battleship settled to the bottom of Pearl Harbor upright and on an even keel.  A total of 106 West Virginia sailors were killed that fateful morning.

USS West Virgina @ Pearl Harbor. USCG boat in front saving sailors

At first glance, it appeared that the battleship might be a total loss.  However, salvage and recovery efforts were quickly begun.  West Virginia was refloated and pumped dry.  The bodies of sailors entombed on the ship for days were recovered.  The torpedo holes were patched, and the Colorado- class ship, first launched in November 1921, sailed for Puget Sound Navy Yard, in Bremerton, WA, for a substantial rebuild.

December 7th memories.

After 2 years of modernization,  USS West Virginia was ready for combat duty.  In October, she joined the shore bombardment group off of Leyte, P.I.  Here, her main 16-inch guns barked at the Japanese.  She gained another measure of revenge in the night Battle of Surigao Strait.  Along with the Mississippi, and other Pearl Harbor veterans Tennessee, Maryland, California and Pennsylvania they pounded an enemy surface squadron.

USS West Virginia, sinking at Pearl Harbor

West Virginia, affectionately known to her crew as, “Big Weevie”, later provided fire support for the amphibious landings at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, remaining to lend heavy artillery as the operations progressed.  She was struck by a Kamikaze plane off Okinawa that killed 4 sailors, but she remained on station until her mission was completed.

When the news of the Japanese surrender reached her crew, the USS West Virginia was ordered to sail for Tokyo Bay.  She arrived on 31 August, and her contingent of Marines went shore.

West Virginia was the largest ship of the U.S. Navy present at both Pearl Harbor and the  2 September surrender ceremonies.  The only other U.S. warship that were at both events was the light cruiser USS Detroit.

USS West Virginia, 1944

After lending 5 musicians from her band to play during the surrender proceedings, she only had one more task to complete: transporting 25,554 fighting men from Pearl Harbor to San Diego, CA, during Operation Magic Carpet, the mammoth undertaking to bring American personnel home from the Pacific.

West Virginia in Hawaii preparing for home, Oct. 1945

She was decommissioned in 1947, and put in the Pacific Reserve Fleet until 1959.  After a storied career spanning 4 decades, she was towed to New York harbor to be broken up for scrap.

The West Virginia’s bell sits in the state museum at Charleston, her wheel and binnacle are at the Hampton Roads Museum, her mast at West Virginia University and an antiaircraft gun in a park at Parkersburg.

WWII History Network.

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Military Humor – Navy Style – 

THE VIEW IS PRETTIEST FROM THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN.

WHY C.O.’S DON’T GET MUCH SLEEP!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Frank Anthon – Cincinnati, OH; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc, Co. A/1/6/2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, KIA (Tarawa)

Warren G.H. DeVault – TN; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pvt., Co. F/2/12/4th Infantry Division, KIA (Hürtgen, GER

HONOR

Roland Fafard – Worchester, MA; US Navy, WWII, SeaBee

Bernie Lieder – Greenwood Township, MN; US Army, WWII, ETO  /  MN Representative

Douglas ‘Knute’ Nelson – Haynesville, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Marvin Pretzer – Bay City, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Donald Rusk – Clarks Hill, IN; US Army, Korea, Sgt.

Norma Schrader – Bridgeport, CT; US Army WAC, WWII

Donald Stouli – Robbinsdal, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-17 pilot, 303 Bomb Group  /  US Air Force, Korea

Julian C. Wills (100) – Flingsville, KY; US Army, WWII, MSgt.

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Army Corps of Engineers in Japan after WWII

Osaka, Japan, 1945, canvas tanks of water purification station run by the 323rd Engineers/98th Division

Under the terms of surrender that ended World War II, Japan fell under Allied occupation. U.S. Army engineers faced a daunting challenge in constructing facilities for the occupation forces and rebuilding the vanquished nation’s infrastructure. The immediate postwar standard of living in Japan had sunk to subsistence levels and U.S. Army Air Force bombing raids destroyed much of the nation’s industrial base. Roadways originally were designed for light vehicle traffic and frequently were unsurfaced, and railroads often were of differing gauges. Unskilled labor was plentiful but craftsmen were scarce. Sewage systems were nonexistent. To complicate matters, at the occupation’s outset, Japanese construction firms were not considered financially sound nor did they operate with bonding or insurance.

Under the Far East Command—the ruling authority in occupied Japan—the Supreme Commander for Allied Powers created an engineer district equivalent, the Army Construction Agency, Japan, to accomplish all project work, with project review performed by the Army Forces Pacific theater engineer. However, the engineering support for the occupation was the responsibility of engineers from the U.S. Eighth Army, the Sixth Army Engineers out of Kyushu, and elements of the 5th Air Force Engineers. Additionally, to overcome a shortage of engineer troops, indigenous labor gangs were organized.

872nd Airborne Engineers repair Atsugi Airdome runway.

The intact Japanese civil government bore the financial responsibility for infrastructure reconstruction, including military programs. American area commanders funded projects by levying requisitions known as procurement demands on local Japanese administrations. After some abuses arose, the commanders lost their ability to make such requisitions. Instead all requirements were processed through General Headquarters. Eventually, the Japanese government, using Termination of War funds, was able to procure its own construction contractors. All were Japanese companies either created or expanded in response to the building requirements.

The centerpiece of the U.S. reconstruction effort in Japan was the base-building program to construct facilities supporting the occupation forces that at the same time would have joint-use applications. While in the early part of the occupation the U.S. military engaged in or supervised the Japanese in humanitarian and related civilian activities, the bulk of the engineering projects it performed involved converting existing facilities for the Eighth Army and other military units. Housing, hospitals, airfields, and administrative and operational structures were provided for American garrison divisions by rehabilitating former Imperial Army military camps. Many Japanese housing units were converted to house Americans and their dependents.

Quonset hut originally barracks for the 736th Engineers reused as office space for the 598th Engineer base, 1947

Other than some prefabricated buildings and petroleum tanks, building materials came from the local economy. In all, 15,000 dependent housing units were built or converted. Furthermore, former Japanese military ports and industrial plants became not only U.S. Army depots and logistics staging areas but also dual-use facilities. Repair and utilities support to all installations was funneled through regional post engineers, under whom utilities detachments and technicians resided. Because of the lack of civilian-operated heavy earth-moving equipment, engineer units performed all earthworks. By 1950, Army engineers had carried out total construction valued at more than $400 million.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, a new and extensive construction support program had a direct effect on Japan’s rehabilitation. Procurement totaled nearly $1 billion annually by 1953 and involved contracts with 3,000 Japanese firms. By the end of 1951 the Japanese were able to negotiate an end to Allied occupation.

598th Engineers Supply Div. at Yokohama base, 1948

The peace treaty that went into effect in 1952 allowed for a mutual defense pact under which U.S. forces remained in Japan. This agreement began the permanent base construction that has continued with the establishment of the Far East District in 1957 and the Japan Engineer District in 1972. The work of Army engineers, although begun in the wake of a war with such terrible devastation, in large measure contributed to the rise of a former enemy as both an advanced, democratic nation and a stable bulwark for American interests in the wider region. This effort lives on in the continued cooperation among uniformed and civilian employees of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, its contractors, other U.S. agencies abroad, local nationals, and the host government.

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Happy 73rd Birthday –  U.S. Air Force

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Military Humor –

Army Engineers

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Farewell Salutes – 

Thomas Berry – Kilgore, TX; US Navy, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Master Electrician

Robert L. Davisson – Savanna, IL; US Air Force, Korea, Sgt., radio operator

Charles Hill – Madison, TN; US Army, Co. C/127th Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Albert Jenkins – Billings, MT; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, aircraft mechanic

Jason K. Phan – Anaheim, CA; US Air Force, Kuwait, Senior Airman, 386th Expeditionary Security Force

Richard Fox – Racine, WI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, P-47 pilot, 368/396/9th Air Force

Robert Libby – Hiram, ME; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Palmer Mart – Elkhart, IN; US Navy,WWII, radioman

Terry R. Santos – San Francisco, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Recon/11th Airborne Division

Arthur Smith (100) – Kendaia, NY; US Army, WWII, ATO, Corps of Engineers

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First-hand account: Okinawa

Louis Meehl, WWII

It wasn’t always the enemy they had to contend with…

Louis Meehl

After the war started, I decided I had to get into the service, this didn’t make my folks very happy, especially my dad, but I just had to go.  So, I enlisted in the Army Air Corps.  They made me a gunner and sent me to the Pacific.  I flew on A-20’s in the 417th Bomb Group, B-24’s in the 90th and B-25’s in the 38th.  I was on the islands all through the western Pacific, New Guinea, the Philippines, the Ryukyus, and even up to Japan later on.

It was after the war had ended and we’d moved up to an airstrip on a little island called Ie Shima, right next to Okinawa.  It was the island where Ernie Pyle was killed.  We were living there in the usual primitive conditions that we’d put up with on all the islands – tents, C and K rations, nothing to do but fly missions.  The airstrip there was right near the beach, well, the island was so small that everything was right near the beach, and of course our tents were close to the coast.

Ernie Pyle, le Shima

We got word that a storm was coming and the pilots flew our squadron’s planes off somewhere.  The rest of us on the flight crews and the ground crews were left behind to fend for ourselves.  The wind started blowing, the rain was coming down, and we were trying to hold on to our tents to keep them from blowing over,

Well, it turned out this storm was a typhoon and the wind blew stronger and stronger, and the rain was being driven horizontally.  What a storm!  I’d never experienced anything like it.  After a while, we couldn’t hold the tents up anymore.  First one of the tents blew down, then another, and pretty soon all the tents were down, and we were outside in the weather.

There was no other shelter – our bombing and the Navy’s shelling when we’d taken the island had flattened all the trees and it was just bare sand and rock.  And the wind just kept blowing harder!

Okinawa, naval typhoon damage

Next thing we knew the tents and everything inside them started to blow away, right off the island and out into the ocean.  We just couldn’t hold on to them under those conditions – the wind just ripped anything out of our hands if you tried to hold on to it.  So after the tents and everything was gone, all we could do was huddle together and try to protect ourselves.  It was like we were just a bunch of wet, cold sheep huddled together – and the wind kept blowing even harder.

We’d rotate the guys on the outside of the huddle toward the middle because the rain was being blown so hard it hurt when it hit you.  We all took our turns on the outside of the group.  Some of us had bruises from that rain afterwards.

Okinawa, typhoon tent

 

[ I was unable to locate le Shima photos of the storm, hence the Okinawa pictures.  I suppose everyone’s camera went to sea. ]

This seemed to go on for hours, and the whole time we just stayed there huddled together,  When the wind and rain finally started to let up, it dawned on us that everything we had was gone.  I had a lot of photos from all the islands we’d been on, some souvenirs, and of course the rest of my clothes and personal effects, and they were just gone.

Our planes came back and they flew in more tents for us, but later when I shipped back to the States I didn’t have much more to take home with me that the clothes I had on the day the storm started!

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Bernice Cooke – Toronto, CAN; RC Air Force, WWII, nurse

George C. Evans – Bay Village, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Reynaldo ‘Chita’ Gonzolaz – Newton, KS; US Army, Korea, Sgt., 2nd Division

Peter Hanson – Laconia, NH; US Army, Vietnam, Captain, 101st Airborne Division

Christopher Knoop – Buffalo, NY; US Army, Desert Storm, 810th MP Co., communications

Donald Ottomeyer – St. Louis, MO; US Army, Lt., 101st Airborne Division

John D. Roper – Nashville, TN; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Westmoreland & Pontiac

Juan Serna Sr. – Pharr, TX; US Army, WWII / National Guard (Ret. 25 y.)

Michael Stickley – Broad Channel, NY; US Army, Vietnam

Pansy Yankey (100) – Brashear, TX; Civilian, North American Aviation, WWII, drill press operator

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The Wreck of the IJN Chokai

IJN Chokai, 1942 -by: Paul Wright

Chokai was the last of the four-strong Takao class of heavy cruisers built for the Imperial Japanese Navy in the late 1920s. Imperial Japanese designers worked for several years under the restrictions of the Washington Naval Treaty to make warships that were superior in quality to their American and British opponents, but the tonnage limitations imposed by the treaty made designs that would satisfy the General Staff almost impossible.

In WWII,  Chokai participated in several of the early operations in Southeast Asia, including convoy escort, assisting in the Hunt for Force Z, and the destruction of ABDA forces.

In March 1942, the IJN made a raid into the Indian Ocean with impressive results. The British aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the heavy cruisers Cornwall and Dorsetshire, and the destroyers Tenedos and Vampire were all sunk. Additionally, several ports were raided on the island of Ceylon and the Indian mainland, and more than 25 merchant vessels were sunk for the loss of around 25 Japanese aircraft.

After a short refit at Yokosuka, Chokai was assigned to the occupation force for the Midway Invasion operation, with the intention of providing support to the Special Naval Landing Forces while they assaulted the atoll. However, the destruction of the Kido Butai and the resulting loss of Japanese air cover on June 4th resulted in the failure of the operation, and Chokai returned to Japan.

IJN heavy cruiser Chokai at Ruk 20 Nov. 1942, Yamato in background

On the night of August 9th, Chokai acted as the flagship for Vice Admiral Mikawa as the 6th Cruiser Division went into the Battle of Savo Island, a mostly one-sided beating of the Allied naval forces in the waters off the island.  Four Allied heavy cruisers were sunk (CanberraAstoriaVincennes, and Quincy) by the combined weight of gunfire and torpedoes from the Japanese force, and another survived with heavy damage. Despite the surprise of the attack, two Japanese cruisers were damaged by return fire, including ChokaiQuincy and Astoria succeeded at hitting Chokai’s Number I turret, disabling it and killing 34 of the crew inside. Repairs are made at Rabaul over the next several days.

For the rest of 1942, Chokai participated in bombardments of Henderson Field and escorted Tokyo express convoys to the island. For several more months most of Chokai’s time was spent escorting convoys, and in some minor refits that added newer radar and more AA guns.  In June 1944, she was part of the Mobile Force at the Battle of the Philippine Sea, a colossally one-sided battle that saw the loss of three Japanese aircraft carriers, three more carriers damaged, damage to several surface combatants, and the loss of more than 700 aircraft. Chokai emerged unscathed from the battle.

 

October 1944 would see the end of Chokai. In an effort to halt the American landing on the island of Leyte, the IJN put together a massive operation to divert the main striking power of the US navy away from the island, so that their battleships and cruisers could attack the vulnerable transport ships in the gulf.

IJN Center Force departing Brunei Bay, Borneo, for P.I. 22 Oct. 1944 w/ Yamato & Musashi

The Center Force under Admiral Takeo Kurita comprised four battleships (including Yamato and Musashi, the largest battleships ever built), ten heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and fifteen destroyers. Despite two devastating attacks on the 23rd and 24th by American submarines and aircraft (which sank two of her sister ships and critically damaged another), Chokai made it into the gulf for what would have been the main event.

During the Battle off Samar on October 25th, the Center Force totally failed to utilize its advantage in survivability and firepower and was turned back by the boldness and audacity of the Americans in the small task forces that were supporting the marines on the island. For the loss of an escort carrier, two destroyers, a destroyer escort, several aircraft, and damage to several other warships, the Japanese lost three more heavy cruisers and another three were seriously damaged.

At 0558 the Center Force opened fire on Taffy 3, by 0850 Chokai started to take 5” shellfire from the guns on the escort carriers and destroyer escort Roberts. It is probable that several of them were from USS White Plains (CVE-66).  Less than ten minutes later, reports indicate a large explosion, long believed to be from Chokai’s torpedoes detonating from a near hit by a 5” shell. Her engines and rudder were disabled, and she fell out of formation. At 0905, a flight of four TBM Avengers from Kitkun Bay scored a hit with a 500 pound bomb on the stern, and they reported billowing smoke.

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Towards the end of the hour, the heavy cruiser Tone reports that Chokai is dead in the water. Kurita orders the destroyer Fujinami to escort the stricken cruiser away a few minutes after 1000, and the destroyer takes off the survivors. At last, at 2148 hours Fujunami reports that she had scuttled Chokai with torpedoes.

But even after their ship was sunk, Chokai’s crew weren’t safe. On October 27th, while diverting to pick up more survivors from another lost Japanese ship, aircraft from USS Essex attacked Fujinami in the afternoon. Fujunami was sunk with all hands, including all of the survivors from Chokai.

On May 5th, 2019, the R/V Petrel located Chokai at a depth of 16,970 feet (5,173 meters), and on May 30th they conducted an ROV survey of the wreck.  Chokai is resting upright, her bow broke off in front of the Number I turret and is resting about 980 feet (300 meters) away, an aircraft catapult also broke away, and the rear deck has fallen in.

Aside from that, most of the ship is in one piece.

 

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Military Humor – Navy Chief style – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Leon Ahlquist – Scarborough, ME; US Navy, WWII, USS Antietam

Daniel H. Bergolc – Euclid, OH; US Army, Iraq & Afghanistan, Captain, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts

Jack Childress – Ridgeland, MS; USMC, WWII, PTO, 1st marine Division, 3 purple Hearts

Robert Dishmond – Science Hill, KY; US Army, Korea, 101st Airborne & 3rd Infantry Division

Charles Gwinn – Silverdale, WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. B/674 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Norris Halstead – Notomine, WV; US Navy, WWII

Fred Kerhoff – Lena, IL; US Army, WWII

Laverne Mertz – Walnut, IA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Oliver Williams Jr. – New Orleans, LA; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Hutchins

Thomas Francis Wills – NYC, NY; US Navy, WWII, ETO & PTO, radioman 1st Class, USS Upshur Inshore Patrol/10th ND/Navy 116; USS Chickadee, Monitor & Dyess

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Japan’s Underground

Ammunition is removed from storage cave at Takatsuki Dump, Osaka.

General Swing made General Pierson commander of the 187th and 188th joint group which became known as the Miyagi Task Force. They set up their headquarters in an insurance company building in Sendai. The principle responsibility of the Miyagi Task Force was to collect and destroy all arms, munitions and armament factories. They were also charged with seeing that General MacArthur’s edicts were all carried out. Many of the military installations had underground tunnels filled with drill presses and machine tools of all types. The entire zone needed to be demilitarized and equipment destroyed. Colonel Tipton discovered a submarine base for the two-man subs and a small group of men still guarding them. They told the colonel that they just wanted to go home.

The Japanese mainland was still potentially a colossal armed camp, and there was an obvious military gamble in landing with only two and a half divisions, then confronted by fifty-nine Japanese divisions, thirty-six brigades, and forty-five-odd regiments plus naval and air forces.

In this, June 23, 2015 photo, journalists walk underground tunnels that Japan’s Imperial Navy once used as secret headquarters underneath of Hiyoshi Campus. (Eugene Hoshiko)

On a hillside overlooking a field where students play volleyball, an inconspicuous entrance leads down a slope—and seemingly back in time—to Japan’s secret Imperial Navy headquarters in the final months of World War II. Here, Japan’s navy leaders made plans for the fiercest battles from late 1944 to the war’s end in August 1945. The navy commanders went rushing to the underground command center whenever US B-29 bombers flew over. The tunnel had ventilation ducts, a battery room, food storage with ample stock of sake, and deciphering and communications departments.

Considerable stocks of war equipment were dispersed amid the tangled masses of fire blackened girders, in thousands of caches located deep in the hills, in carefully constructed tunnels and warehouses, and over miles of Japanese landscape. Along the shores near the great ports, there remained many permanent fortresses. Japan’s frantic preparations for a last ditch stand against invasion resulted in numerous hastily built coastal defenses. (Plate No. 41) The majority of these coastal defenses were manned by brigades. The larger and more permanent installations were equipped with heavy artillery and were concentrated in strategic locations such as the peninsula which forms Tokyo Bay, the northern entrance to the Inland Sea, the southern tip of Kyushu, and the coastline around Fukuoka. Almost three hundred airfields, ranging from bomber and supply strips to “Kamikaze” strips, sheltered some 6,000 Japanese combat aircraft capable of providing air cover and close support for the ground and naval forces. (Plate No. 42) Japanese arsenals, munitions factories, steel plants, aircraft factories, and ordnance depots were widely scattered throughout the country.   Japanese naval vessels consisting of carriers, battleships, destroyers, submarines, and auxiliary and maintenance craft were anchored in all of the major ports.

June 23, 2015 photo, staff members of Keio University walk underground tunnels that Japan’s Imperial Navy once used as secret headquarters underneath of Hiyoshi Campus in Yokohama. (Eugene Hoshiko)

In the Sixth Army zone during the month of November 1945, at least ten ports were in operation, and approximately 4,500 tons of ammunition were disposed of daily.

Records later indicated that actually some 2,468,665 rifles and carbines were received by the Occupation forces and later disposed of. The Japanese reported more artillery ammunition than small arms ammunition. Ammunition for the grenade launcher, often known as the “knee mortar,” was also more plentiful; some 51,000,000 rounds were reported, or an average of 1,794 rounds for each weapon.

This Japanese underground bunker consists of many rooms and was built by Korean and Chinese forced laborers during the Second World War.

a check on the police stations in Aomori, Hirosaki, and Sambongi (all towns in Aomori Prefecture) produced some 1,880 rifles, 1,881 bayonets, 18 light machine guns, 505,260 rounds of rifle and machine gun ammunition, 46,980 rounds of blank ammunition, one case of TNT, and 150 military swords. Daily G-2 and CIC reports revealed many instances of smaller caches, sometimes in school compounds.

The Matsushiro Underground Imperial Headquarters (松代大本営跡, Matsushiro Daihon’ei Ato, “Matsushiro Imperial Headquarters Site”) was a large underground bunker complex built during WWII in the town of Matsushiro which is now a suburb of Nagano, Japan.  The facility was constructed so that the central organs of government of Imperial Japan could be transferred there. In its construction, three mountains that were symbolic of the Matsushiro municipality were damaged.

Entrance to the Matsushiro Zouzan underground shelter

Approximately seven million armed men, including those in the outlying theaters, had  laid down their weapons. In the accomplishment of the extraordinarily difficult and dangerous surrender of Japan, unique in the annals of history, not a shot was necessary, not even a drop of Allied blood was shed. 

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Military Humor –

‘I count only four parachutes. Where’s Mr. Simms?’

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Quarantine Humor –

“I’ve found the stupidity virus.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Nancy Binetti – Roselle, NJ; Civilian, WWII, Canden Shipyards

Juan M. Covarrubias – Hanford, CA; US Army, Iraq, Spc., 1/227/1st Air Calvary Division, KIA

Robert Drake (100) – Pueblo, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO

John Hilty – MD; US Army, Iraq, Sgt. 1st Class, 1/227 Aviation Regiment/ 1/1st Calvary Division, KIA

Glenn Kraft – Cumberland, WI; US Navy, WWII, PTO, pilot

Eldon “Pounce” Musgrave – Athens, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, B-24 crewman

Marshall Roberts – OK; Oklahoma Air National Guard, Iraq, SSgt., KIA

Vera Schapps (106) – NYC, NY; Civilian, WWII, Air Raid Warden

Bob Underwood – DeWitt, AR; US Air Force, Korea, Sgt. (Airman 1st Class), Medic / Red Cross, Baptist Minister

Jennie Zito – Thompson’s Station, TN; Civilian, WWII, Pratt & Whitney Aircraft

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Letter Home, From Tokyo – conclusion

Here is the conclusion of the letter Joe Teri wrote home as he settled in during the Occupation of Japan.  Please do not be offended by any slang that was used back in the day.  The pictures are examples, none accompanied the letter.

Our airforce has done perfect precision bombing, they only wrecked just what they wanted to, the train system is perfect, the trolley line is in good condition, but the War plants are a mass of rubbish.  The Japs have had more equipt than our eyes can believe, even our General here said, we under estimated the Japs at the time of our arrival here, by 60 percent and thats an awful lot, we had planned during the War to make an invasion here, if we had to we would have never got here it would have been suicide for every man and ship.  The land out here is all Mts and islands and in those Mts the Japs have hundreds and hundreds of dual 16 inch guns, those guns are about the most powerful guns any one can have one alone is as big as the biggest one on our ships, so you can Just imagine what 2 of them together can do, they have a channel here about 50 miles long all surrounded with islands, and the ships have to travel about 2 knots an hour in order to get by the islands.  The Japs have caves, miles long with enough equiptment to have a war for at least 10 years they even have complete factories never touched yet in the caves, it must have taken 50 years to get all this accomplished we are destroying the Jap war equipt every day.  I hear a lot of exploding all day long every day.  General Eichenberger says it will take years to destroy all the Jap war equipt and he is right as no matter where you look theres thousands of tons of equipt.  My Colenel says we haven’t discovered half of the things the Japs have yet, they have everything hidden in caves, and perfectly concealed, we have to go hunting for all there things each day. so it will take months and months to find them as the Jap civilians don’t even know where all there loaded packed caves are, every day a bunch of new ones turn up.  Can you imagine these Japs having all that.  What I have been writing is no rumor, it is the actual truth, if it wasnt for the Atomic bomb, this war would have lasted for years to come, as the U.S. has underestimated the Japs by a very long margin, that Atomic bomb is a miracle sent down from heaven.  Well enough of this war talk as the war is over now.  Tokyo is about 400 miles from here, the trains run to there, I sure hope I can get to see that city before I come home, I have been looking for souveniers, but as yet, havent found anything, the japs havent any thing at all except the War equipt and thats in the U.S. Army hands now, they don’t even have enough clothes to wear, they dress in rags, the weather here is pretty cold just now, they have a big snow fall each winter so I guess Ill see a very very lonesome White Christmas.

This club I am working and living in is a very, very beautiful Jap home, a Jap General used to live here, it is in perfect condition and a pretty new home, it has 18 rooms in it with sliding panel windows and doors, over 100 of them the whole house can be opened on all sides, it has beautiful furniture in it made very low, as the the Japs sit on the straw mats on the floor, also take their shoes off when entering any home, their is a jap phone here, still working, servants quarters and a push button bell system, that shows the no of the room at the back hallway for every room here, just like we have in our hospitals, electric system, with electric heat, all marble fire place, Gas for cooling, 2 beautiful lavortories with running water, the Japs dont use stools, they squat, a real big wash room, laundry room, an extra serving kitchen next to the dining room, thats where I built my nice little service bar, only done a little fixing up as the room is almost perfect for a service bar, we have real good U.S. radio here, fire extingishers and beautiful carvings all the sliding doors in the house are made of wood lining with paper frames they sure are delicate, have of them are ripped already, a beautiful terrace, and a real beautiful entrance with a drive way to the entrance, hard wood beautiful floors, 2 real nice hall ways, with all the rooms in between them, the lawn is beautiful it has build in little hills with real old flat big stones to sit on around them, grass, and a lot of real ancient beautiful trees even a lamp post made out of a tree in the lawn, it has wooden shutters all around the house, the house is mostly made out of wood and sand cement, it could burn up in 20 minutes, they have a real nice hot steam bath room, but no running hot water, it is all to beautiful to believe and I am living here, it is my home, while out here, isnt that swell.

Well I have to close the bar now as it is 10:30 PM, so will close this letter now, I hope you have enjoyed reading this letter, I have tried to it interesting, I could write for days, but havent the time, Im praying all 3 of you are in the best of health.  I am in good health and getting along fairly well.  All my Love and best Regards to all of you, Write soon.  Kiss Don for me.

Your Brother in Law                         G.I. Joe Teri

Im sending you 5 yen, 1 yen and 50 sen.  One yen is 16-⅓ cents 100 sens make 1 yen – 15 yen make dollar

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  Military Humor –   Reader’s Digest style – 

“No Ferguson, the military does Not have Casual Fridays!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Paul Bloom – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII, Africa, Meteorologist

Christopher Curry – Terra haute, IN; US Army, Iraq, Sgt., 3/21/1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team/25th Division, KIA

Richard Hunt – Pittsburgh, PA; American Field Service, WWII, India

Robert D. Jenks – Sutherland, IA; USMC, WWII, PTO, D Co./6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Frederick Kroesen – Phillipsburg, NJ; US Army, WWII, ETO; Korea & Vietnam, General (Ret. 40 y.) / Army VChief of Staff

J. Howard Lucas – Dogwood, AL; US Navy, WWII

Matthew Morgan – East Islip, NY; US Navy, WWII, USS Fiske

Austin Newman – Oneida, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Don Shula – Grand River, OH; Ohio National Guard, Korea / NFL Coach

Florence Wilhelmsen – Brooklyn, NY; Civilian, USO entertainer, WWII

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Letter Home From Tokyo – part one

We have Mrs P. to thank for this letter.  It came from her neighbor, Len G. whose uncle Joe reached Japan and wanted the family to know what it was like for him.  This letter is being re-typed exactly as it originally reads.

 

Wednesday Evening

Nov. 14, 1945 – 9PM

Kure, Japan

My Dear Carters & Son:

Received your most enjoyable letter some time ago on Oct 18, I was so very busy ever since I landed here in Japan, that I really hadn’t much time to write, I still owe about 4 letters out and hope I can get them written in the very near future, believe me.  I am on duty now, while writing this letter to you, business is very slow now, so I have a good chance in getting this letter written.  I am so sorry and ask your apoligy for not writing sooner, I’ll try to answer your next letter as soon as possible.  I’m certain I’ll have more time then.  I will write to Mother & Dad, next first chance I get.  I wrote a letter to Elaine today, shall mail both of these in the morning.  I miss her and baby so very much.  I love both of them more than anything in the world.  I miss all of you terribly.  I’m praying hard for my home coming day to come, as yet, I don’t know when I’ll ever be home as nothing has been said about discharging fathers yet.  A lot of high pointers are leaving every day, the 60 pointers will start leaving next week, I only have 21 points, so I’ll never get home by the point system, my only hope is discharging fathers.  I may be home in March or April, I hope it will be much sooner.

 

I guess Elaine has been telling you most of the news about me, so you should know, just about what I have been doing.  I sure have done a lot of traveling in a short time, since I left the States I have been at the Marshalls Islands, Carolinas Islands, Leyte, Mindonao and now here in Kure, Japan.  I also have been at Okinawa, passed by Iwo Jima, that sure has been a lot of traveling.  Don’t you think so. Japan surrendered when I was near the Carolinas, coming from the States, I was on the ocean 50 days out of 60.  I’m sure tired of ships, after I get home, I don’t care if I ever see another ship, living on those ships was terrible, we lived just like rats and were packed like sardines.  I hope my trip back home won’t be that bad  The food has been terrible all the way here, until I got the luckiest break I ever got before in this rotten army, about 3 weeks ago, my C O called me in his office and told me, he looked up my records and seen I was a bartender and manager in civilian life, so the F.A. Division is opening an officers club and be the bartender.  there are 167 officers in this club, so I told him, I will gladly take that Job, and I’ll do my utmost best, so here I am at the officers club now,  I live just like a civilian now, I live here at the club and eat at the officers mess, I eat like a king now, all I want and plenty of real fresh food, steaks, chops, eggs, butter, fresh veg. and lots of other real good food, before I came here, I have been eating C and K rations ever since I have been on land since I have left the states.  I also made 2 ratings since I came to Japan, about a month ago I made Pfc and last week I made T-5 – thats the same rating as a corpal, so I am now a corporal, it means about $18.00 a month more, not that I care for anything in this lousy army, I still want to be a plain old civilian, I was given this T-5 rating because I know the bar trade and am in charge of the Bar here at the club, another fellow also lives here with me, he is the stewart, but knows nothing about the business.  As long as I have to stay out here, I am very much satisfied with this bartender job I have.  I also have to take care of the club in the daytime and see that the 4 Japs we have working here, do a good job in cleaning up and other things we need done, I don’t have any more inspections, formations, waiting on line to eat, live in a real cold rotton barrack, Gaurd Duty and any one to order me around, on different dirty details, I am now my own boss, dress in my uniform every day and do just about anything I please, except leave the club, I live just like a civilian, and am respected by the officers and there are quite a few Colenels and high officers here, even the General gets drunk here, they all say I’m doing a swell job and always thank me, I even make tips here not much, but about $5.00 a week, that isn’t so bad considering Im in the army.

Hokkaido on R&R skiing

Notice this paper I am writing on it is Japanese Naval business paper, the writing on it says Super fine Naval paper that’s what my Jap worker told me.  The Japs are behaving very nicely and do just as we tell them to.  The women do all the work and the men do nothing, these women out here do twice as much work than the average man in the states, its unbelievable the way they work, they are about 100 yrs backward, and do everything the hard way, they even carry their babies over their backs, the way I carry my pack coming over here.  They still have a lot of ancient customs and very hard to understand, they also are plenty sneaky and smart.  This city Kure, is a, or rather was a very  big industrial War plant city, it has, bus lines, trolleys, trains, electricity, Gas, steam heat, and a lot of modern things in it, the population  one time was over 300 thousand, I dont know what it is now, Hiroshima is only 15 miles from here, I visited the outskirts of it, and all I can see is dirt and more dirt, not even a house or anything for miles & miles, thats where the Atomic bomb was dropped, boy I still cant believe my eyes that one bomb can do that much damage.  Hiroshima also was a big Industrial city with a population of over 300 thousand now it looks like the wide open spaces in Texas, no one would not believe it, if he were told that Hiroshima once had big factories and homes in it, and could see nothing but dirt there now.  Kure has also been terribly bombed, but the magnificent part of it is that all the War plants, Airplane base, Submarine base and war tings were bombed to rubbish and the homes weren’t even touched.

To be continued …..

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Military Humor –

“Of course I speak your language — I can say Both takusan and sukoshi!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quarantine Humor – 

(Frankly, I’ll miss the quarantine humor when this pandemic is all over, but for ALL our sake, I hope we whip this disease soon!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Mary (Dyer) Alligood – Winter Garden, FL; US Navy WAVES, WWII

James Beggs – Bethesda, MD; US Navy, aeronautics / NASA, Administrator

William Bolinger – LaFollette, TN; US Army, WWII, PTO, TSgt., Bronze Star

John Dewey – Galva, IL; US Army, WWII, ETO, 10th Mountain Division

Hugh Fricks – Seattle, WA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Lt., 6th Marines, Navy Cross, KIA (Tarawa)

Philip Kahn (100) – NYC, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 pilot

Howard Miller – San Mateo, CA; USMC, WWII, PTO, Co A/1/6th Marines, KIA (Tarawa)

Carlos Santos Sr. (101) – Ludlow, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Paul Stonehart – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, radar

Robert Wilson – Villa Rica, GA; US Army, WWII & Korea, Captain

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11th Airborne Medic (2)

11th A/B medics

Being as the world situation hasn’t changed much and the previous post was so well received, I decided all of you must be glad I haven’t gotten back to any sad or depressing posts on the Pacific side of the war.

So, here is another story told to us by Ray Sweet of the Medical Detachment/152nd Airborne Anti Aircraft Battalion/11th Airborne Division.

During WWII, aluminum was a fairly precious metal , so iron was used to manufacture beer containers for use overseas.  (A beer post will follow this one).

Into the dispensary one day came this small patient accompanied by her frantic mother, who spoke no English.  The little one, while playing, had found an empty beer can.  For some reason or another, she chose to insert her tongue only to find the can now firmly stuck to the end of her tongue and impossible to remove.

The medics on duty, seeing her big, brown eyes full of fear and a tear upon her tiny cheek, were beside themselves as what to do.  After a hurried conference,it was decided to call the motor pool to come with some tin snips and assist.  Upon seeing the huge automotive sheers, both mother and child became even more frightened.

Airborne Medic, even in antiaircraft units

After an hour of very careful and painstaking work on the part of the motor pool, all but a jagged, star-shaped piece of metal surrounding the tongue had been removed.  Then it was the medics’ turn to address the problem.

Using two pair of forceps, the metal ring around the tongue was slowly bent backwards and forwards.  It seemed like a thousand times before it broke and fell free, without a trace of blood.  The little one ran to her mother crying and it was over.

The ambulance driver and the big, gruff guy from the motor pool that everyone called “Sarge” were both in tears, but it was over.

There were definitely advantages to being a medic, that made up for all the bloody and boring bits!

 

This story was originally published in “The Voice of the Angels”, 11th A/B Division newspaper.

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Military Humor –

CPR exhibited by one who knows…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corona virus – on the lighter side – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Edward Bloch – Philadelphia, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Milik J. Craig – USA; US Army, Spec., 1/501st Infantry Regiment

Andy Frasieur (101) – Yoncalla, OR; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Chirf Warrant Officer, Purple Heart

Titus Hagy – Harpers Ferry, WV; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

Arlyn V. Mathewson – Bailey, OH; US Army, Korea, 11th Airborne Division

John Prine – Chicago, IL; US Army / singer

Lloyd Puett – Etowah, TN; US Navy, WWII, Seaman 1st Class

Cody L. Randall – Wasilla, AK; US Army, Sgt., Co. C/307th Expeditionary Signal Battalion

Donald D. Stoddard – Boulder, CO; USMC, WWII, ETO & PTO, 2nd, 6th & 8th Marines, Sgt., KIA (Tarawa)

Jason A. Thomas – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, Spec., 1st Squadron/40th Cavalry Regiment

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U.S. to compensate Guam for the Japanese Occupation

Japanese POWs play baseball in their compound, Guam 1945

Guam the small island with a big history.

The history of the twentieth century is littered with the dead. There were men and women transported to the Nazi death camps, others that suffered and died in Cambodian killing fields, yet more killed in Rwanda for being from the wrong tribe.

But behind all the attention-grabbing headline horrors are smaller, no less terrible war crimes.

On the day the Imperial Japanese Navy launched its attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, December 7th, 1941, another attack was getting underway on the US island territory of Guam in Micronesia

Landing on the beach the Japanese 144th Infantry Regiment, South Seas Detachment took on the small US military garrison taking two days to defeat the Americans.

The Japanese assault outnumbered the US ten to one in manpower and brought the might of twenty ships, including four heavy cruisers and four destroyers, to bear on the single minesweeper and two small patrol boats at the garrison port. The Americans scuttled the minesweeper and one of the patrol boats before surrendering in the Western Pacific.

The occupation of Guam lasted more than two-and-a-half years. 406 US military personnel were captured and the native Chamorros people were pressed into servitude, interned in concentration camps, suffered rape and torture.

The island was recaptured after a battle that lasted through July and August 1944 and a war reparations treaty was signed with Japan in 1951, preventing the government of Guam from suing Japan for war damages.

This did nothing to heal the sense the survivors of the war atrocities felt that they had been abandoned by the US Government.

Now, more than seventy-five years after their liberation, the Chamorros are receiving financial compensation for the crimes committed by the Japanese during the occupation.

The funds are not coming from Japan but from US Section-30 cash, a fund sent to Guam to pay for general obligations and projects.

It is a compromise following many decades of appeals and lobbying by members of Congress and residents of the island and was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2016.

Survivors will receive money on a sliding scale, $10,000 for people interned or sent on forced marches, $12,000 for personal injury or who had been forced to work for the occupiers, $15,000 for severe injury, including rape and $25,000 for relatives of those killed.

These amounts are broadly in line with claims paid out to survivors of Japanese occupations on other island territories in the region. The federal agency set a window of one year for all applications for compensation.

Antonina Palomo Cross was just seven years old when the Japanese invaded and was at a church service when the sirens filled the air.

Her family had to give up their home to the invaders and were forced to march to a concentration camp. On a forced march the family had to carry Antonina’s baby sister who had died from malnutrition.

She is now 85  and says of her compensation pay-out that she is happy to get it despite the amount not yet being confirmed.

Approximately three-thousand residents, manåmko or ‘elders’ in the Chamorros language are likely to qualify for the money although some have been hesitant about making a claim.

Chamorro performers

Judith Perez, who at seventy-six was just a babe in arms at the time, regrets that her parents never received such recognition for suffering, “It’s great to have money, but the people who are more deserving of it are the ones who really suffered physically and mentally, but they’re gone,” she said.

In 2004, a federal Guam War Claims Review Commission found the U.S. had a moral obligation to compensate Guam for war damages in part because of its 1951 peace treaty with Japan.

Commission member Benjamin Cruz said the U.S. did not want to further burden Japan with reparations as it sought to recover from the war. But the treaty effectively prevented Guam from suing Japan for damages.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.

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Military Humor – Bill Mauldon style – 

That can’t be a combat man. He’s lookin’ for a fight.”

“Let’s grab this one, Willie. He’s packed wit’ vitamins.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Coy Beluse – Hattiesburg, MS; US Navy, WWII

William Calvert Sr. – Montclair, NJ; US Army, WWII, Medical Corps

Thomas Donzal – Eugene, OR; RAF/US Army Air Corps,WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Colonel (Ret.)

John Fruzyna – Northlake, IL; US Army, Korea, HQ Co./187th RCT

Richard Hover – Los Angeles, CA; US Army, Korea, Purple Heart

Lester Jackson – Muldrow, OK; US Arm, WWII, PTO

Edward Murphy – Claymont, DE; USMC, WWII, ETO, Sgt., 2nd Marine Division, Bronze Star

Roy Ourso – White Castle, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO, 4th Marine Division / Korea

Norman C. Rosfeld Jr. – Green Tree, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, B-29 radioman

Jeanne Scallon – Harrisburg, PA; US Army WAC, WWII

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British Commonwealth Occupation Forces – Japan

 

Participation in the British Commonwealth Occupation Force (BCOF) marked the first time that Australians were involved in the military occupation of a sovereign nation which it had defeated in war. BCOF participation in the allied occupation force was announced on 31 January 1946, though planning and negotiations had been in progress since the end of the war. The main body of Australian troops arrived in Japan on 21 February.

Up to 45,000 Australians served in BCOF, including an infantry contingent of 4,700, base units consisting of 5,300, an air force wing of 2,200 and 130 from the Australian General Hospital. The Australian Navy also had a presence in the region as part of the British Pacific Fleet. For two thirds of the period of occupation the Commonwealth was represented solely by Australians and throughout its existence BCOF was always commanded by an Australian officer.

Japanese prefectures

The BCOF area of responsibility was the western prefectures of Shimani, Yamaguchi, Tottori, Okayama, Hiroshima and Shikoku Island. BCOF headquarters were located at Kure, the army was encamped at Hiro, the RAAF at Iwakuni, and the naval shore establishment at the former Japanese naval base at Kure. At the peak of its involvement the Australian component of BCOF was responsible for over 20 million Japanese citizens and 57,000 sq. kilometres of country. Adjacent to the area of Australian responsibility were prefectures occupied by the 2 New Zealand EF (Japan), the British and Indian Division (Brindiv) and, further away, the US 8th Army. 

100 Yen BCOF note

The main Australian occupation component was the 34th Infantry Brigade, which arrived in early 1946, and was made up of the 65th, 66th and 67th Battalions. The RAN ships that served were: HMAS Australia, HMAS Hobart, HMAS Shropshire and the destroyers: HMAS AruntaBataanCulgoaMurchisonShoalhavenQuadrantQuiberon. Landing Ships Infantry: ManooraWestralia and Kanimbla were used for transport. 

The Australian air force component was stationed at Bofu, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The RAAF Squadrons which served were No. 76, No. 77 and No. 82, all flying Mustangs. The air force component of BCOF was known as BCAIR. By 1950 only one Australian squadron, No 77, remained in Japan.

By early 1947, BCOF had begun to decline from its peak of over 40,000 service personnel from the UK, New Zealand, India and Australia and, by the end of 1948, BCOF was composed entirely of Australians. The force was dismantled during 1951 as responsibilities in Japan were handed over to the British Commonwealth Forces Korea. Some personnel stayed on to serve in the Korean War. Members of No 77 Squadron, for example, had their ‘going home’ celebrations interrupted by the news that they were to be sent immediately to Korea. BCOF ceased to exist on 28 April 1951 when the Japanese Peace Treaty came into effect.

BCOF

The primary objective of BCOF was to enforce the terms of the unconditional surrender that had ended the war the previous September. The task of exercising military government over Japan was the responsibility of the United States forces. BCOF was required to maintain military control and to supervise the demilitarization and disposal of the remnants of Japan’s war making capacity. To this end, Australian army and air force personnel were involved in the location and securing of military stores and installations.

BCOF medal, Australian

The Intelligence Sections of the Australian battalions were given targets to investigate by BCOF Headquarters, in the form of grid references for dumps of Japanese military equipment. Warlike materials were destroyed and other equipment was kept for use by BCOF or returned to the Japanese. The destruction or conversion to civilian use of military equipment was carried out by Japanese civilians under Australian supervision. Regular patrols and road reconnaissances were initiated and carried out in the Australian area of responsibility as part of BCOF’s general surveillance duties.

The RAN component of BCOF was responsible for patrolling the Inland Sea to prevent both smuggling and the illegal immigration of Koreans to Japan. In this task they were assisted by the RAAF whose aircraft were also involved in tracking vessels suspected of smuggling or transporting illegal immigrants. RAAF squadrons also flew surveillance patrols over each of the prefectures in the BCOF zone in order to help locate left over weapons and ordnance.

During 1947, the BCOF began to wind down its presence in Japan. However, BCOF bases provided staging posts for Commonwealth forces deployed to the Korean War from 1950 onwards. The BCOF was effectively wound-up in 1951, as control of Commonwealth forces in Japan was transferred to British Commonwealth Forces Korea.

Click on images to enlarge.

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BCOF Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kjell F. Andersen – New London, CT; Merchant Marines, WWII, ETO, / US Army, Korea

Mary Barraco – Renaix, BEL; Danish Resistance, WWII, Captain, USO, POW

Albert Bracy (104) – Durham, CAN; Queen’s Own Rifles, WWII, Hamilton Light Infantry

Leslie Edgerton – NZ; RAF/ RNZ Air Force, WWII, ETO, 75th Squadron

Lyle “Moose” Hardy – Belconnen, AUS; RA Air Force, Sgt., (Ret.)

Kenneth Johnson – Doncaster, ENG; RAF, WWII, Warrant Officer, 61st & 9th Squadrons

Alan Lepper – Taranaki, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 432823, WWII

Vera McLane – London, ENG; RAF, WWII, Photograph intelligence

James K. Thompson – Allentown, NY/Largo, FL; US Army, 11th Airborne Division

Esme Wirth – Leeton, AUS; Australian Womens Land Army, WWII

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